Reflection on Mark 13:24-37

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+13.24-37

Scripture

No one knows the day or the time. The angels in heaven don’t know, and the Son himself doesn’t know. Only the Father knows.”

Observation

Jesus tells His disciples about the end times. The powers of the sky will be shaken. Then the Son will return in glory with the angels.

Just as we know when trees sprout leaves and blossoms that summer is on its way, we need to be alert for the signs of Jesus’ return.

No one knows the day or the time- not even the angels of heaven or Jesus Himself. Like servants overseeing a household while their master is away, we need to be diligently serving the Lord.

Application

No one knows the day. I get frustrated when I see a new prediction, always false of course. No one knows when this will be except our Father.

Jesus tells us that it could be any time so we need to live in eager expectation of His coming.

In this season called Advent, we prepare ourselves and wait expectantly to celebrate Jesus’ first coming. Although we assign a date to this event, we don’t really know the date of Jesus’ birthday. How much more then should we approach the timing of His return in humility and accept that we aren’t meant to know?

We know that He will come back to judge the living and the dead. We know that He will reign over all of creation and that the great enemies of mankind- sin and death- will be finally vanquished.

So we must wait expectantly. We must go about the Lord’s business each day serving Him as faithfully as if He was right here with us in visible form. He is right here with us (Immanuel- God is with us), but we sometimes forget.

If we daily live in submission to the Holy Spirit, we will be ready for Christ’s return whenever He comes.

Prayer

Come Lord Jesus come! May I be found diligently and joyfully serving your purposes when you do return. Amen.

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Reflection on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+1.1-9

Scripture

God can be trusted, and he chose you to be partners with his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Observation

Paul writes to the church at Corinth whom Jesus chose to be His own people. He prays for God’s blessing and peace to be with them.

Paul never stops thanking God for the church in Corinth. They will not miss out on any blessing as they await Christ’s return. God van be trusted to care for those whom He has chosen.

Application

In these few verses, Paul uses the word chose (or chosen) three times. Like the nation of Israel, these people were chosen by God to reflect His glory and to carry the gospel of Christ to their city and beyond.

We are chosen by God. He is sovereign.

We often think of the choices we make, including the decision to follow Christ.

But before we chose God, He chose us.

From before time began and long before I was even born, God had a plan for my life that included eternal life with Him.

The Lord arranged my life and manoeuvred key events in my life so that I would be ready to say “Yes” to Him.

This is not to say that my life is predetermined by God or that I am a robot following a divinely ordained program. At the intersection of divine will and human deciding there is always mystery.

God chose me! Why me as opposed to someone else, I do not know. I rejoice that He called and I answered.

As for those who have not said “Yes” to Jesus, I believe they were chosen too, but they have not yet realised the preciousness of God’s grace.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for reaching down and choosing me. Help me to see those whom you have chosen but do not yet realise it, and to share the Good News with them. Amen.

Reflection on Isaiah 64:1-9

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Photo by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+64.1-9

Scripture
And yet, O Lord, you are our Father
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We are all formed by your hand.

Observation
O Lord, come down. Our hearts are heavy with grief at the sins of our nation.

If only the Lord would come down and sort things out. No one has ever heard or seen a god like the Lord. There is no one like Him, and when He acts nations are shaken.

We are sinners, even the people who say they belong to Him. Sin is in our DNA from when we are conceived.

We are the clay, and He is the potter. We are His people, the work of His hands.

Application
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glorious destiny that God planned for us. And yet the Lord continues to love us. We do the most crass, stubborn and rebellious things, “and yet” God’s love continues to flow to us.

God is the potter and we are the clay. Life goes better for us when we allow God to mould us, when we respond to events, both good and hurtful, with trust and joy in the Lord.

If we remain pliable to His touch then just a little pressure will mould us to the right shape. But when we are rigid and unyielding, determined to do things our own way, then the Lord has to increase the pressure to push us into that beautiful form He designed us to be.

We all sin, but we are all formed by His hand. We all rebel, but He continues to shape us for His purposes.

Prayer
Lord Jesus I thank you that your love never fails. Your love never gives up or runs out. Help me to see that correction and redirection are a part of your love for me. Amen.

Reflection on Psalm 100

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms+100

Scripture

Shout with joy to the Lord all the earth!

Observation

Rejoice in the Lord! We, the followers of Jesus, must rejoice- even when life seems bad.

Habakkuk said, “Even if the fig trees haven’t blossomed and there are no grapes on the vine and no oxen in my field, I will still rejoice in the Lord.”

Joy is not an emotion. It is a determination of the heart that looks above the problems of this dark age to the salvation that is ours in Christ.

This isn’t just “Don’t worry, be happy” for no good reason. This is choosing to remember that I belong to God.

For the Lord is good and His unfailing love lasts for ever, His faithfulness to each generation.”

There is much to lament in this world, and there are times when we must lament for the sin and brokenness in creation. For the follower of Jesus there is even more reason to rejoice.

God loves me. I will rejoice.

Christ in me, the hope of glory. I will rejoice.

Emmanuel, God is with us. I will rejoice.

Heaven bound. I will rejoice.

I have so much to be thankful for. How can I do anything but sing with joy to the world?

Prayer

Lord, I will rejoice in you today. Please remind me, when I am tempted to despair or anger, to instead rejoice in you. Amen.

Palliative Care The Correct Antidote to Euthanasia

Slipped in amongst the distraction of the Same Sex Marriage survey were attempts to legislate for assisted suicide in both Victoria and New South Wales. While the NSW legislation failed to pass Parliament, in Victoria the legislation is tracking to be passed.
In this article from the Centre for Independent Studies, Jessica Borbasi argues that if the truth about palliative care is understood, there is no need for any form of euthanasia.

Cancel the one-way tickets to Victoria

Jessica Borbasi

21 NOVEMBER 2017 | THE SPECTATOR; FLAT WHITE

health care pallative heartIt is a sad reality that perfectly well older Australians are looking into their futures and finding solace in the potential of physician-assisted suicide.

Irrespective of what this says about our society and our care of the elderly, the death myths driving the desire for a one-way ticket to Victoria (in anticipation of the legislation being passed) deserve to be critiqued before it’s too late.

Myth 1: Palliative care doesn’t work

There is sound evidence that palliative care not only provides relief from suffering — physical, psychosocial and spiritual — at the end of life but that it also improves satisfaction with care and rates of depression. The benefits of palliative care extend to families and carers.

In Australia, as little as 1-5% of people who receive palliative care have a sustained request to hasten their death.

Myth 2: Palliative care hastens death anyway

Despite popular belief, there is no evidence that quality palliative care — by relieving suffering — hastens death.

In fact, the landmark trial for palliative care found that those patients with lung cancer who received palliative care despite not receiving any ‘active’ treatment actually lived longer than those receiving chemotherapy. This was thought to be due to the reduced rates of depression among palliative care recipients — as depression likely hastens death.

Myth 3: Death is inevitably horrible

The overwhelming majority of patients who receive palliative care are not in pain when they die, do not request to hasten death, and are not fearful.

However, the overwhelming majority of older Australians who die from chronic disease do not receive palliative care. Dying within a health system that is geared towards curing and treating instead of caring and comforting means death has become dreaded.

Death is not inevitably horrible. It is the lack of palliative care and the way the system manages death that arouses dread.

Myth 4: 70% of Australians want to die at home

A South Australian study in 2006 asked participants as young as 15 where would they like to die if they had a terminal illness; 70% said ‘at home’. More robust research has asked people with a terminal illness and their families where they would like to die and where they would like to be cared for.

Most people want to be cared for at home but there is an increasing trend for both patients and their families to request a more supportive clinical environment in which to die. Death in hospital is not the problem — death without palliative care is.

Myth 5: Palliative care is about dying well

Palliative care has more to offer than a ‘good death’. A wealth of Australian and international evidenceshows that palliative care improves quality of life for both patients and their families. It does this by managing symptoms well and supporting patients to be as active as possible prior to death.

The peak of the baby boomer generation will reach 65 years of age in 2021 most of them will have four chronic diseases and with increasing frailty will die at very old ages (most don’t want to go the way their parents did).

We have four years to create a health system that can offer better community based care for older Australians with chronic disease.

Four years to re-arrange the fragmented health system and do away with the myths shrouding death.

We have even less time to provide a view of the future that isn’t so bleak as to inspire a desire to check into hotel Nembutal.

Dr Jessica Borbasi is a medical doctor and a research associate at the Centre for Independent Studies. She is the author of Life Before Death: Improving palliative care for older Australians.