Reflection on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

A dove in the sky

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+1.16-24

Scripture

Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.

Observation

Paul tells us to rejoice always, pray constantly and be thankful in all circumstances. This is God’s will for us.

We must honour the Holy Spirit and His gifts rather than scoffing at them. We should test every prophecy and hold on to the good stuff.

Application

Many churches and individuals stifle the work of the Holy Spirit in many ways. They claim to be faithful and true to the word of God, but they fail at this point.

Some push the line that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today. If we believe that then every prophecy will be denied and every gift rejected.

We can squash the Holy Spirit in less obvious ways also. We can ignore the promptings of the Spirit to pray or speak to someone. We can dismiss a personal prophecy as irrelevant without asking God.

Often christians can ascribe more power to satan than to the Holy Spirit. “Stay away from that stuff,” they sat, “You might be deceived.” It is true that some people are led into error by a wrong use of spiritual gifts but do we really believe that the lies of satan are stronger than the truth of God?

We can also squash the Holy Spirit by assuming that we have all the answers. It is surprising how often christians fail to even pray about decisions they make, much less look for a divine answer.

Let us make every effort to hear God and stir into flame the measure of the Holy spirit that God has placed in us.

Prayer

Holy Spirit come and fill me. Help me to hear you whether it is in the still small voice or through the spoken word of prophecy. May I never quench your work in my life. Amen

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Reflection on Isaiah 61

isiaiah61

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah+1.1-11

Scripture

He has sent me to tell those who mourn

that the time of the Lord’s favour has come

and with it the say of God’s anger against their enemies.

Observation

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me

to bring good news to the poor

to comfort the broken hearted

to proclaim freedom for the captives

to declare the time of the Lord’s favour

God promises that He will bring joy to those who mourn and His justice will be revealed to all nations.

Application

Those who mourn because of injustice will find joy in the Lord. The time of God’s favour is coming.

There are times when we might feel abandoned by God, maybe because of injustice, opposition or a life or family out of our control.

But God is going to change all that. His favour will come and His blessing will be poured out.

God raises up the humble and brings joy to those who grieve. He is in the business of restoring lives, especially for those who trust in Him.

This is more than good news to the oppressed. He will also bring justice and judgement on those who oppress.

There are systems in the world which seem to lock some people into poverty, violent relationships or social deprivation. But God is going to judge those systems, not by oppressing the oppressors but by renewing the whole of society through the renewal of relationships and the transforming of our minds.

One day love, justice and peace will flow across the land like a mighty river in flood. Jesus’ death on the cross has released a kingdom that will never end, a justice for all that will never be undermined.

Prayer

Lord your desire is not just to forgive sins but to change all things so that those who are pulled down will be restored. Help me to see how I can be a channel for your justice. Amen.

Reflection on Mark 1:1-8

John_the_B_preaching_C-63

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+1.1-8

Scripture

John told the people, “Someone more powerful is going to come! And I’m not good enough even to stoop down and untie his sandals.”

Observation

The Good News starts with the appearance of John in the desert preparing the way of the Lord. His message is simple: “Turn back to God, be baptised and your sins will be forgiven.”

John also tells the people that someone is coming who will be more powerful. John baptises in water but coming one will baptise with the Holy Spirit.

Application

Despite his boldness in telling people of all classes, even King Herod, to repent of their sins, John the Baptist was a humble man. He recognised that his ministry was not about him, but about Jesus. On one occasion Jesus said, “I must decrease and Jesus must increase.”

Our culture does not do humility well. From an early age we are told that we can do anything, be anyone. We are told to push ourselves forward and be self-confident.

The way of God, though, is to be God-confident, trusting the Holy Spirit to promote us when necessary.

How many ministers could say, in all sincerity, with John “I’m not worthy to stoop down and untie his sandals”? How many of us even think in these terms?

To be a follower of Jesus means that we are obedient to His call and to His commandments. He is the one who is greater than all of us.

We are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as equal to everybody else. Our classless democratic society tries to pull down all distinctions except those it approves of.

Jesus is in another class altogether. He is the one and only Son of God. He truly is greater than us and worthy of all praise.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, please give me a revelation of your glory and help me to worship you as you truly are. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Peter 3:8-18

patience

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Peter+3.8-18

Scripture

The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.

Observation

Peter urges us to remember that God’s time scale isn’t the same as ours. A day and a thousand years are the same to Him. He isn’t being slow to keep his promises but patient. He is holding off judgement until everyone who will be saved is saved.

Judgement will come swiftly. The universe will be burned up in fire, and a new heaven and earth, perfect in every way, will be formed.

Application

The Lord isn’t slow in keeping His promises. He does not delay unnecessarily. In fact, His timing is always perfect.

Peter here is talking specifically about the end of history and Jesus’ return. The principle applies to every promise of God.

We measure time in days. God measures in generations and centuries. We desire fast food and instant coffee, but He follows a better way with better outcomes.

God is perfect in all of His dealings with people. This is something that we should rejoice in, especially those who struggle with chronic sins.

When we are impatient with God’s promises we are in danger of falling into doubt and then unbelief. We can be tempted to deny that God will do what He has promised to do.

We must persevere in faith, believing that all of God’s promises come to pass in His way and at His time.

Prayer

Lord, please help me to be patient in waiting for your promises to unfold. Grant me faith to hang on to you even when you seem to act more slowly than I would prefer. Amen.

Reflection on Isaiah 40:1-11

isaiah40

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+40.1-11

Scripture

Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.

Observation

Comfort Jerusalem, speak tenderly to her,” says the Lord.

He promises someone coming through the wilderness preparing the way of the Lord.

People are short-lived like grass, but God’s word endures for ever. Yes the Lord is coming, and He will rule over His people with power and gentleness.

Application

Hope is a force for life. When we lose hope and feel abandoned, we believe that life has no value.

Today I watched someone crumple before my eyes as a person in authority laid out a bleak future for her. He was laying out the worst case scenario- possible but unlikely. We spent the afternoon speaking to her words of hope and an alternative future,

For the people of Israel, the wrath of God smashed all hope for the future. The prophets painted a picture of hope, because the reality was that God had not abandoned them. Forced to a place of punishment for sin, God continued to love His people.

Christmas is a time of hope for christians as we celebrate the unfailing love of God who loved the world so much that He sent His one and only Son so that whoever trusts in Him should have eternal life (John 3:16)

No matter how bleak life seems, we have a God who refuses to abandon us and guarantees eternity to His followers.

That is great comfort for God’s people.

Prayer

Lord, I thank you for not giving up on me. Your love never fails, and I will celebrate you today. Amen.