Reflection on Mark 12:28-34

Scripture
“To love him with all your heart, with al your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Observation
A teacher of the Law hears Jesus debating with various religious leaders. He asks Jesus which commandment is the most important.

Jesus replies that there are two: to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself.

The teacher recognises that this is a good answer- to love God and neighbour is more important than all sacrifices. Jesus sees his heart and tells him he is not far from God’s kingdom.

Application
A teacher of the Law comes to Jesus to ask questions, but unlike other leaders, he is not looking to trick Jesus or to justify himself- he just wants to please God the best way he can.

There is a profound difference in heart attitudes between those looking for religious knowledge or brownie points to assuage feelings of guilt, and those who genuinely love the Lord and desire to please Him.

This is the fundamental key to walking in the ways of God.

Prayer
Lord you have shown us that love for you and love for people are at the heart of your kingdom. Help me to walk in the way of love today. Amen.

Reflection on Hebrews 9:11-15

Scripture
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Observation
Christ became the perfect High Priest through His own blood sacrifice. This blood is of infinitely greater value than the blood of animals. The blood of bulls and goats cleanses us from outward actions; how much more will the blood of Christ cleanse our consciences!

All other high priests passed through a tabernacle made by human hands. But Christ went through a tabernacle that is in heaven and is not touched by the decay of creation.

So Christ us the mediator of a new covenant that those who are called may receive an eternal inheritance.

Application
There is a tendency in some parts of the church to add various parts of Old Testament religion such as Sabbath observances and other parts of the Law.

The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that this is pointless. We have a greater High Priest, a perfect sacrifice, a permanent tabernacle. Why would we want to go back?

To add to what Christ has already done is arrogance and folly. Hebrews describes these things as “acts that lead to death” or “lifeless rituals.”

We must remain thankful for what God has done for us in Christ. To add anything to this wondrous gift is to make it less precious.

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, you have done it all! Thank you. Amen

Reflection on Ruth 1:1-21

Scripture

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.”

Observation

A famine breaks out in Israel, and a man and wife travel with their two sons to Moab. The sons marry there and after some time the three men all die, leaving their wives widows.

Some time later, Naomi hears that the famine has ended and decides to return to her home town of Bethlehem. She urges her two daughters-in-la to stay in Moab and remarry. However Ruth is determined to stay with Naomi.

Ruth and Naomi arrive in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Application

Naomi’s life has not turned out as she had hoped. All the men in her life have been taken away, and she has no real prospect for financial security. But Ruth is determined to stand with her and to journey back to Bethlehem with her.

Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi and her pledge to follow Naomi’s God stand out as the positives in this bleak picture. Ruth willingly sacrifices her own self-interest for the sake of Naomi.

We see in this a picture of Christ who laid down His life to redeem us and His total faithfulness to His people.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the example of Ruth who risked her own security and future for the sake of another. Please help me to have this kind of faithfulness to the people around me. Amen.

Reflection on Mark 10:46-52

Scripture
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Observation
Jesus an His disciples pass through Jericho on their way to Jerusalem. On the outskirts of the town, a blind man named Bartimaeus is sitting begging. When he hears that Jesus is passing by, he calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The crowds try to hush Bartimaeus, but Jesus stops and calls him over. Jesus asks him what he wants. “I want to see” is the reply. Jesus tells Bartimaeus that his faith has healed him. Bartimaeus receives his sight and follows Jesus.

Application
We instinctively feel that god’s grace is in short supply and must be rationed out. The crowd thinks Jesus doesn’t have time, power or the desire to heal a mere beggar. We often put restrictions on grace in the same way, expecting that only certain people will be healed (and then only by the mighty anointed man of God) or that salvation is only available to some classes of people.

The grace of Jesus is bigger than our puny limitations. Jesus heals believers and atheists, thieves and kings.

Bartimaeus had faith in Jesus. Jesus had ample grace for this man’s needs. With Him there is always enough.

Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you,” but here the verb also means “saved.” Bartimaeus was healed by Jesus and also saved by Him, and he went on to follow Jesus along the road.

Saving faith, healing faith. Both require a trust in the power and the goodness of God.

Prayer
Lord you are the God who saves and the God who heals. May every part of my life be transformed by your touch. Amen.

Reflection on Hebrews 7:23-28

Scripture
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Observation
Under the old covenant, the priests were mortal human beings so their tenure was limited by death. Jesus lives forever, so His priesthood is permanent. Therefore He saves us completely because He is always there to intercede for us.

The other priests have to offer daily sacrifices for themselves and for the sins of the people. Jesus sacrificed Himself once for all sins. Jesus is perfect so His priesthood remains forever.

Application
Jesus is our perfect High Priest forever. He is the one-time sacrifice for all sins, the eternal intercessor for our salvation.

God’s love is that expansive- it covers every sin for all time. The only restriction is in us- will we receive the forgiveness which is our in Christ?

Prayer
Today Lord I receive your grace. I ask for your forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ. May your blood wash away all my sin. Amen.

Sunscreen- Not Climate Change- Killing Reefs

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The equivalent of one drop of the active ingredient in sunscreen into 3 1/2 Olympic swimming pools of water is enough to kill corals. Scientists discovered that it is this, not “ocean acidification” or warming allegedly caused by CO2 that is damaging the world’s coral reefs.

From WUWT:

Oops! It may not be ‘ocean acidification’ killing coral after all – common chemical found in sunscreen is poisonous to coral reefs

From the AMERICAN FRIENDS OF TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY and the “settled science” department:

Sunscreen is proven toxic to coral reefs
Tel Aviv University researchers discover chemical found in most sunscreen lotions poses an existential threat to young corals

 

The daily use of sunscreen bearing an SPF of 15 or higher is widely acknowledged as essential to skin cancer prevention, not to mention skin damage associated with aging. Though this sunscreen may be very good for us, it may be very bad for the environment, a new Tel Aviv University study finds.

New research published inArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicologyfinds that a common chemical in sunscreen lotions and other cosmetic products poses an existential threat — even in miniscule concentrations — to the planet’s corals and coral reefs. “The chemical, oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), is found in more than 3,500 sunscreen products worldwide. It pollutes coral reefs via swimmers who wear sunscreen or wastewater discharges from municipal sewage outfalls and coastal septic systems,” said Dr. Omri Bronstein of TAU’s Department of Zoology, one of the principal researchers.

The study was conducted by a team of marine scientists from TAU, including Prof. Yossi Loya, also of the Department of Zoology, the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia, the National Aquarium (US), the US. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and other labs in the US.

Read the full article here

Reflection on Mark 10:35-45

Scripture

“Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

Observation

James and John come to Jesus and ask if they can sit on either side of Him- that is have the places of power- when Jesus comes into His glory. Jesus responds that there is a cup to drink and a baptism to receive. But it is not up to Him to grant this request.

The other apostles are indignant at James and John. Jesus tells them that to rule over the others they must become a slave of all. Jesus Himself did not come to rule but to serve and lay down His life.

Application

For many people, it is natural to seek promotion. We are told from an early age that we need to put ourselves forward.

Jesus’ kingdom is different from the world. For Jesus, influence and promotion come through serving others, not through self-centred methods.

Actually this is the way it works, even in the world. Career advancement comes through serving the needs of the employer. Even political leadership rests ultimately in serving the needs of the voters.

Serving others does not come naturally to most people, even christians. We must learn to look to what the Holy Spirit is asking us to do, regardless of the inconvenience, and to the needs of the people around us.

Prayer

Lord help me to absorb the truth that the way up is down, the way to influence is service. Please show me today who I am to serve and what tasks I need to do. Amen.