"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.
Thoughtful Word “Be Born Again”
John 3:7 NIV ‘You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again”.’
These are words from Jesus. They are taken out of a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee—so had a very strict understanding and observance of the religious ceremonies and practices. But he had some questions and asked Jesus for clarity.
However Nicodemus was not exactly thrilled with the response that Jesus gave him, and left him asking more questions.
It is here that Jesus’ explains that no one, (not even learned, smart, law abiding people) can enter into the Kingdom of God, unless they are born again.
So what does ‘be born again’ mean? In short, because of our sin, that is all that stuff that separates us from a holy and pure God, we are spiritually dead. But that is not where the news ends. Jesus paid the way for us to get back to God, clearing our debt of sin, with His own life. This is only possible when we acknowledge our sin, and accept Jesus as our Saviour. Then through no action of our own, we are given new life, being born again. This new birth gives us eternal life! All because God loves us so much and Jesus sacrificed Himself to pay the price.
So it is clear that there are two groups of people in this world….those that are born again and those that are not, so still spiritually dead.
Which group are you in?
If you can say with assurance that you follow Jesus and have been born again and received His Holy Spirit—we rejoice with you!
If you are yet to make that decision, what is stopping you? If you would like to talk to someone, a pastor, pastoral carer or another believer, we would really encourage you to do that today.
For those who are born again...
Do you live a life that is honouring of that gift of life? Are you sharing that gift at every opportunity that you are given?
Perhaps you did give your life some years ago, but you know deep in your heart, there are some things you are holding back. Perhaps you have wandered and distanced yourself from God, or are you just ‘being good/religious’. Please don’t be discouraged. God loves you so much He is still waiting with open arms with more grace and mercy than you would ever need. Today is the day. Repent, tell Jesus all about it, and become a new creation in Christ today.
John 1:12-13 NIV “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Thoughtful Word for this week “Be Witnesses”
Acts 22:15 NIV "You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard."
This verse is amid the account of Saul becoming Paul. Saul was an avid Jew, he was taught by a Rabbi, was thoroughly instructed in religious traditions and was passionate about God. However he was ready to kill anyone on this ‘new program’ - those who were following Jesus. He keenly had them arrested.
Then he had an encounter with Jesus and everything changed.
Those of us who have had a life changing encounter with Jesus, may not have had an extreme interaction like Paul, but it is still just as significant and life changing.
For us to bear witness we simply need to reflect on Jesus. Doesn’t He make your heart warm when you do that!
The thought of witnessing can be a little overwhelming, however you are probably doing it already. Really? Yep!
Whenever you have a conversation about how much you enjoyed church this week, or what you learned from the message, is witnessing.
Whenever you speak about how God has answered prayer or given you peace about a situation or challenge you are facing, that is witnessing. When you speak to how you cope because you are able to trust in a faithful God, is witnessing.
However, we do need to be intentional with our witnessing as well. Here a few tips to reflect on:
· Remember that feeling when you first discovered Jesus and accepted Him as your Lord and Saviour? Use that to motivate and stir you on.
· Is there someone that God has placed on your heart and mind to share Him with? Then make arrangements to meet up with them regularly and build on your connection with a warm smile, eye contact and gentle conversation.
· Observe and listen. Ask Holy Spirit to prompt you with discerning questions and the cue when to speak and when to listen.
· Understand that often people are needing to feel cared for before they will open up.
· Be flexible, we are all unique and respond in different ways. Good news is God understands people perfectly and can work in spite of us. So relax and go with the flow.
· The most important part is prayer. Pray God will direct you, put people and opportunities in your path, guide your conversations and give you the wisdom and discernment to respond as He would lead you.
In short witnessing starts with conversation and care. Let’s give it another go!
Loving Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me so much you sent Your Son to save me. Lord, develop my faith, deepen my understanding and help me to build relationships so that I may witness to others just how good You are, In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."
This week continues in our Be series, and follows Be Holy. The evidence of being holy is seen in our Christian living. It is not enough that we read the Bible, and know what it says, we actually have to live it out—be doers. What’s more is that we will find that we are further blessed in our doing.
When we actively seek God’s Will and follow His ways and do what He would have us do, we are blessed. This is basically because God is all knowing, and all love. He is our Heavenly Father– His heart’s desire is for us to be with Him, which is the best option for us. He really does want what is the best for us. Is that always what we like or want, no. But as His children He loves us so much, He will discipline, train and teach us. Sometimes they are hard lessons to learn. As a result blessings beyond our imagination.
Colossians 3:23 instructs us that whatever we do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
We in our weakness can easily fall into the trap of doing things to just be ‘seen’ to being good. Do we work just as hard when the boss is not watching as when they are?
The book of James is a very practical book. He regularly speaks about practical action in the life of faith; encouraging God’s people to really live like people of God.
So lets reflect for a moment...ask ourselves some questions:
Do my actions, reflect what I believe?
Are my words seasoned with grace, love and encouragement?
Do I do things begrudgingly because I feel I have to?
When I am stressed, challenged, overwhelmed do I seek God or simply complain?
When I see people hurting, how do I respond?
Do I serve for the honour and glory of me or God?
Do I treat others as I would have them treat me?
Do I live out my faith at home as well or just when I leave my front door?
This week allow Holy Spirit move, grow and challenge any areas that you need to work on. Seek the Lord’s help with living a life that is seeking to be worthy of being a Christ follower.
Loving Heavenly Father, thank You for guiding us and loving us so much that You only desire good for us. Lord I am sorry for the many times I fall short and don’t do what or how I should. Please forgive me. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Continue to teach me I ask, so that all I do is done in the name of Jesus. Thank You for Jesus’ perfect example. May my actions today bring You all the Honour and Glory in Jesus name I pray, Amen.
1 Peter 1:16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” NIV
If you know even a little about God from the Bible you will know that His Holiness is something that we really can’t grasp or understand. In Isaiah 6, when the Angels spoke of the Lord they called Him Holy. But they didn’t just say “God is Holy” they said “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory”. Wow—first up they reiterate the word Holy to point out the depth of His Holiness and then go on to say the whole earth is full of His Holiness. That is really hard to get our minds around, isn’t it!
Then wait, there’s more! We are called to be holy as well? How can we do that, when we really don’t understand God’s holiness?
Ok, so what is holy? There are some helpful words in the descriptive language that was originally used: Words such as sacred, physically pure, morally blameless, one set apart, saint. (Strong's Concordance)
But wait, you and I are very aware of our failings; in fact we are more on the side of sinner rather than saint. However, the call for us to be holy is with the perspective of the great cost of our salvation and the hope that we can have as a result. Yes, we are sinners, but we are saved by grace. That grace, came in the form of Jesus Christ and He paid the price in our place as we simply couldn’t, no matter how hard we tried, such is God’s holiness.
Jesus came to earth as man and lived a perfect life to give us a wonderful example. When Jesus left the earth to be with His Heavenly Father, He did so, so that Holy Spirit could come. It is all part of God’s wonderful plan. So when He calls us to be holy He also has a plan for that too.
God’s Spirit which is also Holy is how we can ‘be holy’. We do have to do our part though, we have to ask the Lord God to fill us with His Holy Spirit and allow Him room to work within us.
When we open ourselves up, our thoughts, our motives, our mind, our heart, yes deep down where we live—when we let in Holy Spirit it is then that the transformation can begin.
We are not God, and we are imperfect, so it will take time and dedication on our part to keep on keeping on.
The good news is that we can rely on God because He is Holy, where He is, is Holy and because of His great love and grace, we can come to a Holy God, because He made a way for that to happen. So great is His love, He made it happen even though it came at great personal cost. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Our responsibility with being holy is to be as Christ—we need to honour God as Jesus does, we need to show love, serve others, abstain from sin (knowing that which is right and not doing it is also sin) and conduct ourselves in a holy manner. It will take practice to be on the look out for ways we can be set apart from the world and allow Jesus to be seen in us as a testament to who our God is, and all that has been done for us.
“Be inventive in hospitality”
Romans 12:12 The Message
We are blessed with various translations/versions of Gods Word that speak to us in different ways. Some people respond well to hearing in modern English, some warm to the more poetic, some much prefer to stick with what they first read. This week as we look at being inventive in hospitality let’s look at a few verses from a couple of versions, to help us explore Biblical hospitality.
In the original text of Romans 12:13 the word ‘hospitality’ here is to entertain strangers. The full verse says we are to share with the Lord’s people who are in need. So we can see, we are not to just limit hospitality to those we know, or who are Christians, it is everyone, yes even strangers.
Just as Ashley explored the integral connection of patience with love in last Sunday’s message; we can see that hospitality is also about love.
In 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8 and 1 Peter 4:9 the word ‘hospitality’ used here means to be fond of having guests. In other words love to be hospitable. Our actions are to be loving, not grumbling or complaining.
1 Peter 4:9
NIV “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling”
The Message “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully.”
Hebrews 13: 1-2 —also affirms this requirement of us as Christ followers:
The Message “Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed.”
NRSV “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
This Sunday we as a Church family are invited to share in being inventive in hospitality in a unique way. We are aware that each year the number grows for community families that participate in the events on 31st October—’halloween’ -’all saints day or ‘all hallow’s eve’ is what it is known as in the community. Why are people here in Australia adopting these sorts of celebrations? Not sure—but could it be that they are simply searching for that sense of community, a time that brings people together?
We at MCC are looking to meet our community as they are out and about and have our car park open to present an alternative. In John 8:12 Jesus says ‘I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’.
Let us be open to being inventive in hospitality in whatever way the Lord presents and let us start today!
The Light Party starts at 4pm to 8pm and will include a free sausage sizzle, photo booth, refreshments, live music and more. Please come along and connect with our community, be caring, loving and generous with your time, just like Jesus.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
This verse is a great snapshot of how our Christian lives should be. Note that again, the three methods used here are fruit of the Spirit—Joy, patience, faithfulness.
Sometimes being patient is hard enough, but patient in affliction! That is a big ask. That is why we have Holy Spirit to help us, we just can’t do it successfully in our own strength. However we have to participate and be intentional about how we approach our circumstances, in the easy and great times and the difficult and challenging times.
In James we read of the perspective we can have. James 5: 7-12 is filled with encouragement of those that are hurting, struggling or ‘in affliction’. We are being urged to remain patient and strong in our faith, because the day of the Lord is coming!
When we are stressed, under the pump and feeling like everything is falling apart, it is often our natural response to take it out on those around us. We all will reactive differently—some will snap sharply with our words or yell, others will clam up and become non-communicative and ‘shut out’ others, and others will behave somewhere in-between.
However, that is not how Jesus would react—we know that from many examples in the Bible.
We only need to read the Gospels in the New Testament to see Jesus’ patience with His disciples, those He dealt with, and then of course how He endured the cross.
There is no doubt waiting is hard when you are hurting, but James gives us a picture here of the farmer to encourage us. If you like growing your own produce or flowers you will know first hand watching that seed you have planted seems to take forever to sprout, grow and then produce. We know that worrying about it or wishing it would hurry does not change the outcome or speed up the process, does it? Likewise we are to have the same patience of the farmer and wait on the Lord for His perfect timing. In the meantime we can be comforted, encouraged and at peace about our circumstances and challenges, knowing that the Lord is in charge and we can remember and trust in His promises.
Heavenly Father, I pray for Your patience to influence every part of my life and circumstances. Help me to develop the patient endurance that perfects faith. Would you please help me to keep Your focus of the situations that surround me and to trust You in all things. Help me to be like the farmer and to wait on You to produce good works in me, for Your honour and glory. In Jesus name, Amen.
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. ” Colossians 4:2 NIV
Ever watched a western or spy movie? There is often at least one scene whereby the heroes are needing to be on the look out and often they will take it turns to be ‘on watch’. To be ‘on watch’ meant that you had to concentrate, stay awake and alert and on the look out. Perhaps sport is more your style—’en garde’ is the French term often heard when watching/playing a fencing game. En garde or on guard is the term that the referee uses to call the players to a position of preparation and readiness to act.
These scenarios are a bit like how we are to approach prayer. Paul records here for us to continue in prayer, other translations read for us to be devoted to prayer or be steadfast in prayer. In other words the Lord is teaching us that it is not intended that prayer should only be an event, that is done at certain times, places or occasions. The root word in the Greek means to persevere, to be constantly diligent.
Just like our ‘on watch’ heroes or ‘on guard’ fencing players, we are to be on alert, always aware of our surroundings, looking out for whom we can pray, being attentive, deliberate and always praying. (Thes. 5:16)
You see prayer isn’t frivolous or a careless act, it is sincere communication with our God. Whilst we are in awe of an Almighty God, ruler and creator of the world, He has made it possible, and in fact yearns to be in relationship and communication with us. Yes plain ordinary you and me. Why? Because He loves us so much. In fact He sent His one and only Son, so that we could be His children, co-heirs with Jesus.
Yes, we are to bring our cares and concerns to our God in prayer, but this verse really highlights the need to be in worship of God in prayer.
Prayer is to be an act of gratitude and thankfulness.
So often we fall into the trap, don’t we, of coming to God with our shopping list of things we feel we want or need. How often do we start with saying, ‘thank you God’?
Our challenge this week is two fold 1) set aside time to pray and 2) to start and finish our prayers with thanks and praise for God. Remember thanking God is about the things He does and gives us. Praising God is about acknowledging Him for who He is, His character and virtues. So the list of thanks and praise is unlimited when we think about it.
‘Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.’ Psalm 145:3
‘Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.’ Psalm 63:3-4
‘LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.’ Isaiah 25:1
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” Ephesians 4:32 NIV
As we look at the command to be kind—we see that the word kind is mentioned in its original form in the KJV 7 times. These references show it is interchanged with ‘easy’, ‘better’, ‘goodness’ and ‘good’. This gives us a wider picture of what kind really is. If one is kind they are easy to get along with. One feels better for being in their company and on the receiving end of their kindness. Being kind is always to be good.
When we look at the previous verse in Ephesians v31 ‘ Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice’ we see that kindness involves action. Truly kind people will actively look for opportunities to show kindness.
In Galatians 5:22 kindness is listed as one of the fruit of the Spirit. As Pastor Stephen reminded us in our message on joy, fruit is a reproduction of the life that is there. So the life of the Spirit in someone is going to produce His fruit, as it is a reproduction of God’s Holy character. So we know that, likewise, showing kindness is evidence that we are walking closely with the Lord and allowing Him to prompt our actions of love to others.
Although the word kind is not used more often in the New Testament, the principle of kindness certainly is.
Here are just a few verses (NRSV) to reflect on as we remind ourselves of how Jesus would have us ‘be’ each and everyday….
Starting with ‘The Golden Rule’
C Matthew 7:12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
C Galatians 6:9-10 “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for
those of the family of faith.”
C Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up.”
C 1 Thes. 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.”
Lord Jesus, You are always kind and our perfect example. Please help us to remember Your ways and allow You to work within so we outwardly show that heart of kindness, compassion and love to others. We say thank You for Your extreme act of kindness in dying in our place on the cross to allow us to have free access to salvation. May our actions show our deep appreciation for what You have done for us, and the love You have for all of us. Please help us as we seek to bring honour and glory to You as we are mindful to be kind to one another. We pray this in Your name, Amen.
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 NIV
“...slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” Titus 3:2 NIV
Both of these verses are in the New Testament. In the NIV there are often headings, that give us a context/subject of the following words.
Our Ephesians verse comes under the heading title of “Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ” and our Titus verse title is “Saved in order to do good.”
What great summaries to spur us on and instruct us, as God’s people and the ‘Body of Christ’. We have lots of guidance, help and direction in order for us to be mature, live in unity and do good and being gentle is a definite sign of being a Christ follower.
Note that humility sits right beside gentleness? Gentle in the Bible is by implication linked with patience and humility. Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionaries show that gentle in this context is showing moderation, an appropriate response.
Let’s have a think about it for a moment, ponder your interactions for the last week. When you left the conversation, would those you spoke with, have the lasting impression of you being gentle? You see being gentle is to have a demeanour that is dependent on the Lord. Yes, it can be risky, we may be rejected, even walked all over, but we can’t go wrong if we are following the example of Jesus Himself, can we?
Proverbs 16:24 tells us that ‘gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.’
As we reflect on being gentle, let us consider, what situation / conversation / challenge do we have before us that requires our gentleness to be evident, rather than perhaps, our aggressive or selfish response?
Let us be in prayer and seek the Lord’s help with having His demeanour, appropriate responses, delivered calmly, being gentle and humble.
Loving Father, we thank You for the wonderful and perfect example of Jesus. He had many opportunities during His time here to be anything but gentle, and yet He remained right at all times. Lord, forgive us for the times when we haven’t stopped to be gracious or gentle in our responses or behaviour. So many times we have acted in haste, allowed pride and self to get in the way. We ask that you help us to constantly be open to your Spirit, so that we too can be humble and gentle like Jesus. Help us to be the people You have called us to be, may we continue to mature in You, be unified with You and our family in Christ and do good. In Jesus precious name, we ask. Amen.
‘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.
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!
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!
“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.
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.