Reflection on Matthew 14:13-21

Scripture

When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion on them and cured their sick.

Observation
Jesus hears about the death of John the Baptist and travels across the lake to a deserted place. The crowds follow Him on foot and assemble at the place Jesus disembarks. Jesus has great compassion on the crowd and heals all the sick people.
Faced with a hungry crowd, the disciples urge Jesus to send the people away. Jesus tells the disciples that they must feed the crowd.
The disciples bring Jesus five loaves and two fish. He gives thanks and hands them back to the disciples to distribute. Miraculously, they feed five thousand men plus women and children, and have much more left over than they started with.

Application
God’s ability to provide what we need is only limited by our ability to yield to Him whatever resources we already have.
One of the big problems in our culture is that we want to fix things ourselves. We think we are so rich and so skilful that we can solve any problem. In doing this, we often leave God out of the solution.
Jesus took what was offered and lifted it up to God, and then the miracle happened.
We must do the same.

Prayer
Father I thank you for the many talents, gifts and resources that I have from you. Help me to offer them back to you for your purposes and for your empowering. Amen.

Reflection on Romans 9:1-5

Scripture

My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed- cut off from Christ- if that would save them.

Observation
Paul is filled with grief and sorrow for his people, his Jewish brothers and sisters who are unsaved. If it would save them, he would be willing to be cursed and cut off forever from Christ for their sake.
The Jews are the people of Israel, chosen by God. God gave them the privilege of worshipping Him. Christ was an Israelite at least as far as His human nature is concerned.

Application
Paul is passionate to see his people, the Jews, saved. This teaches us two things:

1. There is no place for anti-Semitism in the church. God loves the Jews and wants them to be reconciled to Him through the gospel.
2. We too should be passionate about our own people being saved. The people in my city, the people in my nation, the people in my planet all need the gospel.

Prayer
Father, you are passionate about seeing people come into reconciliation with you. Show me who you want me to share the gospel with today. Amen.

Revival in Iran

From International Christian Concern:

Revival in Iran: ‘I Want to Be a Christian’

ICC Note: With violence following Christians throughout the Middle East and governments brutally repressing the church, it can be hard to look past the persecution. However, a closer look at the church in Iran brings an encouraging note to the recent wave of arrests. A revival is taking place in Iran, bringing many to Jesus Christ, though at great costs as many are forced to leave the country or risk arrest. Local house churches have celebrated baptisms, salvation, and a renewed faith. This comes as an encouragement that through the tribulation and persecution, the church is not dead in Iran but continues to grow among its believers.

Read the rest here

Reflection on Genesis 32:22-31

Scripture

Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”) for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”

Observation

Jacob prepares to meet with his brother Esau, sending his wives, sons and possessions across the river ahead of him.

During the night, a man comes and wrestles with Jacob until dawn. The man touches Jacob’s hip, dislocating it, but Jacob holds on to him.

Jacob demands the man’s blessing. The man responds by changing his name from Jacob (deceiver) to Israel (“God fights”) because Jacob has fought with God and man.

From that day, Jacob walks with a limp. The people of Israel do not eat the tendon near the hip, in memory of this.

Application

Jacob was a trickster and a deceiver. Here, he wrestles with God to secure a blessing from Him. Ironically, Jacob already had all the blessing he needed from God, so his struggle is in vain.

Jacob needed to stop fighting and scheming and learn to trust the Lord and submit to Him.

Many people spend years struggling against God only to find that it wasn’t necessary. We don’t need to fight against a God who has given everything for us.

Prayer

Father God, forgive me for resisting your purposes in my life. I surrender myself to you now and declare the fighting is over. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 13:31-52

Scripture

He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure whatever is new and whatever is old.”

Observation
Jesus speaks many parables to describe God’s kingdom.
The kingdom is like a mustard seed that grows from a tiny seed to become a large shrub.
It is like yeast of which a tiny quantity quickly spreads through all the flour.
It is like treasure in a field or a pearl for which someone would sell all they own in order to possess it.
It is like a net that drags in all kinds of fish in the expectation of a sorting of good fish from bad.

Application
The kingdom of God is both simple and beyond our imagining. The simple part is that the kingdom is any person or group of people that puts serving Jesus Christ as the first priority in their daily life.
These parables show that the kingdom is much bigger than the local church. It spreads across the world, infiltrating every part of society, growing mysteriously and affecting both the saved and the unsaved. Often the influence of the kingdom is invisible but its effects can be seen.
Wherever there are christians following Jesus, the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of people, drawing men and women into the kingdom.

Prayer
Father please let me be the yeast in the world, the mustard seed in the field, an agent for your purposes today. Amen.

Reflection on Romans 8:26-39

Scripture

No power in the sky above or the world below- indeed, nothing in all of creation- will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Observation

We have the Holy Spirit who helps us in our weakness. We often don’t know how to pray, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.

In everything God is working for our good. If God is for us, who can be against us? God gave up His Son for us, so no one can condemn us.

Nothing on earth, in heaven or in hell is able to separate us from the love of God.

Application

In a million ways, God shows His love for us. We have the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of adoption- in our hearts reminding us of God’s grace. We have the knowledge that everything in our lives is being used by God for our good.

God is good and there is nothing bad in Him.

He holds us close to His heart, safely in His hand. In that place there is nothing that can separate us from His love.

This is so awesome! God loves me and will never let me go. He will never stop loving me. Nothing in all creation can pull me away from Him.

There is just one thing that can stop the flow of love- me.

Prayer

Father teach me to love you more. When the world lures me away from you, help me to turn my eyes back to you and your unfailing love. Amen.

Reflection on Genesis 29:15-28

 

Scripture

So Jacob worked for seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong it seemed to him but a few days.

 

Observation

Jacob is staying with Laban his uncle. Here he meets Rachel and falls In love with her.

When Laban offers to pay Jacob for working on his farm, Jacob asks for Rachel in return for working for seven years. The time goes very quickly because of his love for her.

Finally the date of the marriage arrives. Laban pulls a trick on Jacob and sends Leah to his bed instead of Rachel. The next morning Jacob is horrified. A week later, he marries Rachel in exchange for the promise of another seven years of work.

 

Application

Jacob the ticker is himself tricked by his uncle Laban. In order to get to the place where he could become the father of God’s people, Jacob needed to have his character re-shaped. What better way for this deceiver than to be on the receiving end of another man’s deception?

The Lord is wanting to strip away our bad attitudes and persistent sin. He will use whatever method is necessary to make us like Christ.

In my experience it can be painful to undergo this retraining process, but it is so beneficial to us.

 

Prayer

Father, I see that you are equipping me for heaven. Help me to see when you are moulding me and to co-operate with you. Amen.