Be ... Joyful

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12 NIV

It is interesting that ‘be joyful’ follows on from the topics of ‘be transformed’ and ‘be slow to anger’. When we think about it, when we are in a position of being transformed, and allowing God’s Holy Spirit to work in and through us, it is then we have the by-products of controlling our temper. When this happens our hearts and mind can be focussed on the hope of Jesus, which leads to being joyful.

This week our verse speaks about being joyful in hope. Hope is often confused, as we tend to use it in a different context to how the Bible speaks of it.

This spiritual hope is not a ‘I hope it doesn’t rain’ or ‘ I hope I can do xyz’ it is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.

When God speaks about hope, He is talking about an anchor for our souls. It is secure enough to cling onto, no matter our circumstances. It is a promise of wonderful things to come as the price has already been paid. As Christians we know that it was out of God’s love for the world that He sent His Son Jesus to die and be raised from death, overcoming sin, so that we could experience a life of faith and hope.

The promises of things to come is also found in hope. Jesus tells us of that hope when He says to the disciples that He is going to prepare a place for us, when everything is ready, He will come and get us, so that we will always be with Him.

As we reflect on Jesus’ words again, let them fill us with joyful hope.

As per Romans 5:13 says,

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, help me to hear You saying, "I am Your hope" over all the other voices. Lord, Your word says, You are the hope for hopeless so I'm running to You with both hands stretched out and grabbing on to You. Please fill me with hope and give me a tangible reminder today that Your hope is unbreakable.

I accept Your hope with deep appreciation and thank You that it leads to deep joy. I pray that Your joy will be more and more evident in my life as I actively practice joy in Your hope.

May You use me as I show and share Your joy and hope to others, so they too may experience the joy which is freely available to all who believe and accept Jesus.

Thank and praise You Lord. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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Be ... Self Controlled

“Be Self-Controlled”

‘The end of all things is near. You must be self-controlled and alert, to be able to pray.’ 1 Peter 4:7

Today’s focus is self control.

Peter is writing to the Christians who were suffering for Jesus’ sake and is offering a perspective which is both encouraging and a warning: It’s almost over.

The Messiah has come, lived, died, been resurrected and ascended back to His Father where He reigns. True, by God’s grace, it has been 2,000+ years since these words, but the day continues to draw ever nearer.

So what is our right response to this awareness? Panic? Isolation? Indulgence in pleasure-seeking? Peter’s answer is that the most rational response is to pray. And, that prayer requires strong and clear minds. To do this we must be ‘self-controlled’ or alert, or exercising sound judgement about our choices. ‘Sober mind’ is the term that is also used, meaning to be temperate, have an outlook that reflects true balance, serious.

The whole word-family comes from two words in the Greek, sōos ("safe") and phrēn ("what regulates life,") which in English gives us the term ‘diaphram’.

Here’s an example: An opera singer controls the length (quality) of their tones by their diaphragm, which even controls our ability to breathe and moderates heartbeat. This regulates (‘brings safety’) to the body, keeping it properly controlled.

This self control is both the gift of God and the result of the believer making conscious decisions to cultivate this way of life. Self control is listed with fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:23). This is a reminder that to get this fruit you need to be a gardener, exerting persevering effort and practice over time to yield a harvest. Even this, however, is a Spirit-empowered effort enabled by God’s grace.

Peter writes, that we must be self-controlled or alert, or exercising sound judgement about our choices, in other words we should be careful about how we live. Our choices impact our ability to think clearly. It is better to be self-controlled so that we can pray.

How necessary is prayer for Christians? It is crucial. How concerned are we about keeping our minds nimble and focused for the purpose of praying? That’s perhaps a harder question. What, if anything, is keeping us from thinking clearly and praying faithfully?

Loving Father, I come to You to ask for You to give me clear thinking. Help me to separate the truth of what You are calling me to do from the lies of the enemy. Do not allow the enemy to cloud my thinking. Help me to stay close to You and to easily recognise Your voice. Cast all negative thinking from me, as I know it is not from You. Help me to practice self control so that I can examine my thinking often and be focussed on You and Your ways, not mine. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

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Be ... Steadfast

‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.‘ 1 Cor 15:58

Today we look at the command to be steadfast.

As we look throughout Scripture we can learn more about steadfastness.

To be steadfast means to be firm, sure and unwavering. It is resolute, strong, steady and unshakable. Does this describe your faith?

Is your soul, your most inner self, absolute about God—His love for you and your worth in His eyes? Do you trust God with your life more than you trust yourself? This means to trust His decisions, no matter what!

Hebrews 3:14 tells us that we are to be steadfast to the end. This means once we make the resolve to look to God, we keep our focus on Him and not give up. We are to set our hearts and be faithful to God.

What if we are not steadfast? If we have a look at Psalms 78:1-8 we see that lack of steadfastness is an act of rebellion.

What does it take to be steadfast? It takes decisiveness—If you check out Joshua 24:14-25 you read the account of Joshua telling the people what it required to be steadfast—choose who you are going to serve and do it today!

God is a jealous or zealous God we know this from Exodus 20 & Deuteronomy 5. God’s heart longs for each us to be in relationship with Him. For us to give Him our undivided attention.

In the New Testament, Paul explains a similar jealousy for the hearts of new believers. He does not want them to be led away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. See 2 Cor 11:2.

You see it is God and God alone, we can’t have a foot in both camps; we can’t have a little bit of this and little bit of that—it is all God or its nothing.

Those who believe, can have the most glorious assurance and thrilling confidence, that every promise of God will be fulfilled, including the resurrection and life everlasting. It is for this reason that we should live in the light of this confident hope. Our trust in God’s Word should be steadfast, and our faith immovable—no matter what trials and tribulations we may be called upon to face.

We are encouraged to be fruitful in our work, our serving and our living and to do the good work that God has given us to do. Let us never doubt God’s Word, but with joy fulfil our calling enthusiastically. Let us be steadfast and praise God we do have a sure hope and an eternal inheritance since the time we placed our trust in Christ.

Loving Father, what a glorious future You have purposed and planned for all who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. May we never doubt You or Your Word. Please enable me to be steadfast in my daily walk with You and remain strong in my faith. Help me to be productive and to carry out the tasks that You have put aside for each of us to do. May all we do bring You praise and glory, In Your Son’s name, Amen.

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Be ... Generous

“Be Generous”

When we think about generosity, what do we think? Is it just a good idea; to be generous once in a while, if you can? Let’s have a look at a few verses from the New Testament…..

“God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it. He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing us with great praise to God.” 2 Corinthians 9: 7b-11

We have a wonderfully generous God don’t we? John 3:16 also reminds us of His generosity in sending Jesus. Jesus in turn, so generous that He gave up His own life for our sake.

As Christians we are called to be generous, and what’s more we can see here in Cor 9 that God’s generosity is given so that we can in turn, give!

How are we to be generous? Well basically in any and everything, whatever needs to be done, is the way The Message shares it. The Bible covers a lot on this topic but if we just look at the rest of Chapter 9 of 2 Corinthians we learn the following:

· We need to plan to be generous, and be ready.

· We need to be generous willingly.

· We need be abundant in our generosity and not under compulsion, but a heart decision.

· We need to be generous in what we have.

· We need to be thankful to God in our generosity.

· Our generosity needs to be gracious, not expecting anything in return.

What is the purpose of our generosity? Not only does it meet needs, we are God’s hands in practical ways. It encourages others to recognise who Jesus is, as we live out our faith.

What is the outcome of our generosity? It produces great praise to God!

Let us be found willingly seeking ways in which we can share the generosity that God has given us. Our faith, our forgiveness, our provisions—all of it. Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!

Prayer:

Holy Father, there is nothing we have that You have not given us. All we have and all we are belong to You, bought with the blood of Jesus.

To spend selfishly and to give without sacrifice is the way of the world, but generosity is the way of those who call Christ their Lord. So, help us to increase in generosity until it can be said that there is no needy person among us. Help us to be trustworthy with such a little thing as money

that You may trust us with true riches.

Above all, help us to be generous because You, Father, are generous. May we show what You are like to all the world, and may it produce great praise for You!

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Be ...Thankful

“Be Thankful”

“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

If you say it quickly it sounds easy, right?

We all know that it isn’t that easy for us. Being thankful in all circumstances is the most challenging. Easier when things are going well, but when they don’t, how many of us are actually eager to give thanks?

However, God’s instructions are in order for a purpose. If we follow the order of this verse, we can do it and it then becomes a reminder, rather than a challenge.

Here is how: It starts with rejoicing. That is to have a joyful, celebratory spirit. Be ready to celebrate the fact of who you are in Jesus. Celebrate and be joyful for all He has done for us. Celebrate the fact that we live in Australia. Be joyful for the homes we have, the sun that rises every day to remind us of our faithful God. You get the picture.

Next we are to be praying.

Pray in the morning when you wake, pray as you dress and prepare for the day, pray for the day ahead. Praying continually is also about being in the presence of God. Being in thoughtful conversation with Him. Prayer is simply having an honest conversation with God. “What do You think about this?” “How would you like me to go about that?” “How good You are, thanks for helping me.” “I love You Lord.” “I can’t believe that happened!” “I don’t know if I can do this.” “Please help my friend”. “Wow, You have done it again, pulled it all together for Your glory.” “I am in awe.” “So, this happened, now what do I do?”. “Thanks God!” “Help me to sleep, my mind is in a spin”. “Good morning God, thanks for a new day.”

When our day is filled with joyfulness and prayer, it is so much easier to give thanks. It is then that we are reminded to say thank You Lord for the great things that are happening; because if we are really honest, we even forget to say thanks for the good and positive things don’t we?.

Giving thanks in the hard challenges is easier when we turn it around. Instead of I have just lost my job—we can give thanks that we have had the experience, and that God is still faithful and constant even though our situations are not.

We are struggling with lack of finances, we can be thankful that we can go to God the provider and we can ask for His help.

We are struggling with feelings of negativity, anxiety, worry, concern—we can give thanks that God and His love is so powerful that He surrounds us and strengthens us to enable us to continue the fight.

We see our loved ones struggling, we feel hopeless—we can give thanks for having people whom we love and can be loved by. We can give thanks for our God is a hope giving God and provides us with His Comforter and Helper- Holy Spirit to come near to the hurting.

May whatever your day entails today, let us rejoice and be glad for this is the day that the Lord has made.

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Year of Restoration 2021

Restoration. What does that mean for us? What does it mean when Scripture talks about God ’restores my soul’? How can God restore my soul?

For God to do anything in our lives, we need to let Him. We need to let the focus be on God’s work in our lives, not on the problems and seemingly hopeless issues.

In the coming weeks and months we are all being encouraged to look at restoration and what that means for us as individuals and as a church. We can explore together the many aspects of restoration and reflect over it bit by bit and allow God’s presence to reveal to us what needs restoring in our lives, and how we allow that restoration to happen.

In the famous Psalm 23—David writes about three principles of ‘restoring my soul’. These include rest, reflection and replenishment.

This Psalm is composed in a way that aids in a time of enjoyment, to rest and relax in God’s presence. Have you done that lately?

Secondly, restoration involves reflection. David's soul was restored as he looked at life from God’s perspective. He felt protected, safe and secure under the leadership of God. Are you feeling that protection, safety and security under God today?

Thirdly, restoration included replenishment. Both rest and reflection led to a renewed vigour to live for God. This replenishment also included an anticipation to be with God forever in the future.

With this perspective on life, David could live with a restored soul, prepared for the problems of the day. He knew God was with him, cared for him, and would never leave his side. There was no battle too big for him to face with God in his life.

The same is true in our own lives. If we wish to see God restore our soul, we need to make time to rest, reflect and replenish. We cannot expect to live life with a fresh sense of God’s presence in our lives, if we constantly rush from one issue to the next. To be restored takes time, focused on God and His greatness, to renew us with hope and joy regarding this life and anticipation for eternity.

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New Year Focus 2021

— Focus!

Have you ever driven a car into merging lanes, where traffic is to the left and right of you and you are all driving at full speed?

On my route to work, this happens daily. I have found that if I keep my eyes straight ahead and focus on my lane and speed, it all happens smoothly.

If however, I notice in my peripheral sight a large car, or truck merging towards me on my right and I take my eyes off the road ahead and look at their large, looming tyres, I can have a moment of panic!

It is likely to only be the perspective I am viewing the vehicle in the lane beside me, but it appears to be very, very close, even to the point I feel I need to swerve to avoid it. You and I both know if one swerves, it is not going to end well.

Isn’t this so like us in life? When we take our eyes off Jesus, we can so easily become overwhelmed by our surroundings. They can even seem bigger than they actually are, but it is too late, we have gone into panic mode. The obstacle can become our ‘soul’ focus, we are now consumed with everything that is negative and troublesome and can’t see our way out. We are not alone in this. Let us look at Psalm 123:

“ Unto You lift I up my eyes, O You that dwells in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until that he has mercy on us. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. 4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorn of those who are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud”.

This Psalm starts by calling us to look up. It is important to remember that God has a perspective that no one else has. He alone can see all sides of a situation and He alone knows what the future holds and how situations will impact the future.

The Psalm also asks for mercy, or in other words favour, to be gracious towards. If you ever feel undeserving of God’s help, join the club. All of us are in need of a gracious God.

The Psalm finishes off with a believer of God in the middle of a hostile and scoffing world. Sound familiar? It is God alone and in His perfect timing that will right the wrongs. It is our challenge to keep our focus on God.

The key to this is surrendering to God as Lord (that is the One in control of our life) every day. If we acknowledge His Lordship then we will be following Him up the mountains of life rather than asking Him to follow us. As David wrote in Psalm 23, if the Lord is our Shepherd, we lack nothing.

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Christmas 2020

— Matthew 1:21

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Names in the Bible were truly significant because they often told us something about the person. This is particularly true of God whose many names are of utmost significance—every name of God in the Bible reveals something about Him.

When the angel visited Joseph, we read that Joseph was instructed to name the baby, Jesus. Whilst ‘Jesus’ is a fairly common Jewish name, it comes with huge significance.

‘Jesus’ is an English rendering of the Greek name Iēsous, which is a translation of the ancient Hebrew Yehoshua. This name is formed from Hebrew roots signifying “Jehovah is salvation”

The name Jesus is also significant because of who it represents—it means “God our Saviour”. Jesus Christ is Immanuel “God with us”.

Jesus name was chosen for Him by God.

Jesus’ name was a constant reminder of what God was going to accomplish.

The name Jesus reminds us about the amazing humility of the Son of God when he came as a man to die. As His followers, we must also strive to show the same selfless humility that Jesus demonstrated while on earth.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” ([Philippians 2:5–8](https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Phil%202.5%E2%80%938))

However, Jesus is not just a name of unmatched humility; it is also a name of infinite exaltation. His name is glorified far above every other name:

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” ([Philippians 2:9–11](https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Phil%202.9%E2%80%9311); cf. [Acts 4:12](https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Acts%204.12))

Praise the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our awesome Saviour!

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Christmas - A Spiritual Time

— Luke 2:8:16

“A Spiritual Time”.

You may be aware of the quote by French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin..

“We are not humans having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”

Sometimes we forget this. We get caught up in ‘life’ we often forget our actual purpose and the fact that ‘it’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.” Eph 1:1 TM

The Shepherds, as we read in Luke 2 were just living out their daily duties until they un-expectantly had quite the spiritual time.

We may not have angels visit us, as the shepherds did but we can have that amazing spirit filled experience. Even better, if we allow it, it is not a one time event, it’s a wonderful relationship that blesses every day.

The angels announced that the Saviour of the world has been born. This baby is the Messiah, Jesus the Christ the Son of the living God.

It is in Christ and only in Him that we find our identity and can have that spiritual connection we are all seeking.

We may think we know best, but God knows everything about us. He made you to love you and to give you purpose, one that only you can fulfil. We cannot find that identity in others, our job, our hobby or accomplishments or causes, if we try, we will only be disappointed.

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus and committed to following Him, why wait any longer?

Perhaps you are not feeling particularly spiritual; it may be time to evaluate how much you let Jesus in?

If you are following Jesus, then let’s join with the angels and praise God…

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests”

Luke 2:14 NIV

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me and giving me the opportunity to accept You. I confess my sin, and I believe that You are my Saviour. I receive You into every aspect of my life as my Lord. I turn everything over to You. Jesus, I want to use the rest of my life to serve You instead of serving myself, I commit to You and ask You to show me my purpose and accept me into your family. In Your name I pray, AMEN.

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