Reflection on Ephesians 5:5-14

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+5.6-14

Scripture

Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.

Observation

We must not associate with people who seek to deceive with empty words for the wrath of God is coming down on the disobedient.

We were once darkness, but now in Christ we are light. So we must live as children of the light. We must have nothing to do with the shameful deeds of darkness.

Application

Sometimes Paul puts it straight and simple- try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. That summarises the role of every christian.

We have been rescued from the darkness and now we must learn to live in he light as children of the light.

Sin must go, but righteous deeds must come in. We need to try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.

Reading, studying and meditating on Scripture are a great way to do this. Scripture is God’s inspired word. Daily reading of the Bible is as important to the soul as eating is to the body.

Listening prayer is another important discipline. Prayer is not about laying out my demands before God who knows what we need before we even ask. Prayer is a two way conversation in which we still our heart to hear the still small voice of God.

By telling us to try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord, Paul reminds us this is a process, a gradual alignment of my will with the Lord’s.

We don’t always get it right, but that’s not the point. It is the intention or desire to please God that is important, not the total adherence to a set of rules.

God loves me. Because of His love for me, I am learning to love Him. I want to please Him because I love Him. I delight in God’s pleasure.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, please help me to learn how to please God. Remind me to read Scripture and pray daily. Teach me each day how to live my life as an offering to you.

Reflection on 1 Samuel 16:1-13

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+16.1-13

Scripture

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily on David from that day forward.

Observation

The Lord tells David to go to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king. He tells him to take a heifer and tell people he has come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. He is to invite Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice, and the Lord will show him which one to anoint.

So one by one Jesse’s sons are brought to Samuel. For each one the Lord tells Samuel, “This is not the one.” Finally, Samuel asks Jesse if there is another son. It turns out that there is another son, the youngest, David is out minding the sheep. When he is brought in, Jesse anoints him with oil, and the Lord fills him with His Spirit.

Application

Anointed for the task, the Spirit of God comes mightily on David.

A human act of anointing with oil signifies the divine act of filling. David is filled with the Holy Spirit for a purpose- to be king of Israel.

Yet David must wait several years and fight for the crown. There is anointing and then there is equipping and training.

We all need to be anointed or filled with the Holy Spirit in order to fulfil the task God has appointed for us. But often the anointing leads to training which doesn’t necessarily make any sense to us.

The Lord removes His blessing from Saul, yet Saul remains as king. He gives the blessing to David, but he must wait and learn to be the Lord’s king.

There are people who receive an anointing or a calling to ministry and then immediately assume they can start the ministry straight away without further training.

There are others who train for ministry but never had any calling or gifting, trusting in their own strength alone.

Either way can be a disaster. We need the anointing and we need the equipping.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for your Spirit so freely and abundantly given to all who follow Jesus. Help me to see what you have called me to, and to seek out your training for that task. Amen.

Reflection on John 4:1-42

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+4.1-52

Scripture

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

Observation

Jesus passes through the Samaritan city of Sychar where He stops at a well. A woman comes to draw water, and He asks her for a drink.

Jesus says to the woman that while the well water will satisfy for a little while, He has living water which satisfies permanently and becomes like a spring which flows out to others. He then tells her to go get her husband, but she replies she doesn’t have one. Jesus agrees that the man she has now is no husband, and she has had five husbands previously. She goes into the town to tell people about Jesus.

Many of the people from the city then believe because of the woman’s testimony, and many more come out to see Jesus for themselves.

Application

When we come to Jesus, He gives us living water that satisfies. Jesus takes this common activity of collecting water to drink and turns it into something profoundly spiritual. This is similar to the way that bread and wine carry power when we celebrate Communion.

The water of life satisfies spiritual thirst. David wrote in Psalm 42, “As the deer longs for the water so my soul thirsts for you.” Those who do not know Jesus are desperate for the freedom, intimacy, and love that He offers. They fill that need with all kinds of things that satisfy briefly.

Only Jesus meets that thirst, that desperate longing for God.

The living water wells up within us like a spring, flowing out to others and helping them to come themselves to the living water.

The Samaritan woman rushes off to tell her friends about the Messiah, who is Jewish and saves Samaritans. When we are touched by the Lord, we want to share that experience with others.

It’s not just about personal evangelism. The living water transforms our friends and neighbours as we learn to be life givers everywhere we go. The water brings life to everyone it touches.

Prayer

Jesus you are the water of life. Saturate the parched places in my soul and make me a spring of living water to bless others. Amen.

Reflection on Romans 5:1-11

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+5.1-11

Scripture

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Observation

We are justified by faith and so we have peace with God through Christ. Even though we suffer we can rejoice because suffering leads to endurance, character and hope. God’s love has been POURED out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

At the right time, while we were still weak, Christ died for us, the ungodly ones. God’s love is so big that while we were still in our sins Christ died for us.

Application

While we were still weak Christ died to pay for our sins. We were God’s enemies, estranged and living in rebellion. But the Father sent His Son to die for us.

A soldier will lay down his life for his country. A parent will die to save their child. People will risk their lives to save a friend, sometimes even a stranger.

But Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us while we were still at war with Him.

There was no ceasefire or disarmament negotiations. This is a unilateral declaration of love.

We have been fighting our Father, warring against Him. In the middle of the war, He says “Enough!” and then the Son dies.

This is unheard of, unprecedented love. It is as if we were loaded up with an explosive vest to bomb heaven, and He unstraps the vest, pushes us away and takes the full force Himself.

This is our God who loves us so much.

There will be a time for judgement for those who continue to fight after the peace has been declared. But for now it is grace and mercy for all who receive Christ.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the cross. Thank you for loving me even before I knew you. Amen.

Reflection on Exodus 17:1-7

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+17.1-7

Scripture

I will be standing there, in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it so that the people may drink.”

Observation

The congregation of the Israelites journey through the wilderness as the Lord commands. They camp at Rephidim, but there is no water, and the people complain to Moses.

Moses goes to the Lord and asks Jim what he should do. The Lord tells him to strike the rock with his staff. So Moses does this, and the Lord provides water for the Israelites.

Application

The Lord is always with us. There is no place we can go where He is not already there.

When we are in dry places, dangerous places, anxious places or closed-in places, God is always with us.

If I am walking in the path set by the Lord, I can be sure that He is walking with me and He will give me the resources that I need to complete my assignment.

It is easy to have faith when I am by myself. It is much harder when I have to risk looking foolish in front of others. Moses seems to have often been in that place of having to trust God in front of the whole nation. What if he had got it wrong and God had not shown up?

Faith is risky. It is scary to let go of control and trust that I am hearing God correctly. What if I get it wrong and look stupid? What if I get it wrong and spoil someone else’s faith?

The Lord is big enough to handle the “What if’s” We just need to put out our hand to strike the rock, trusting that God is able to use us.

Prayer

Lord, please forgive my lack of faith and the fear that stops me from trusting you. Help me to reach out and believe that you are able. Amen.

Reflection on John 3:1-17

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+3.1-7

Scripture
“The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Observation
A Pharisee, a leader of the Jewish nation, comes to Jesus by night. He recognises that Jesus has the power of the presence of God. Jesus tells him that nobody can see God’s kingdom unless thy are born from above.

Nicodemus takes this as a literal, or physical, saying, but Jesus tells him that he needs to be born of the Spirit, not just in the flesh. Jesus says that He testifies about heavenly things because He is from heaven.

God sent His Son into the world to save the world not to bring condemnation.

Application
We know the wind- we hear it and see its effects. We appreciate a cooling wind on a hot day and we use the wind for sail boarding and flying kites. Some people even understand the physics of why the wind blows.

None of us understands where the wind comes from or goes to, or why it can be gusty one minute and calm the next. We don’t know the wind at all.

Everyone who is born of the Spirit is like that to those who are outside the Kingdom of God. I used to think this was talking about the ways of the Holy Spirit being mysterious, but it is those who are born of the Spirit- the christians- who are mysterious.

Who of those outside the Kingdom can understand our love for God’s word, our church gatherings, the mysteries of prayer?

As we learn to live in the grace of the Holy Spirit, the things we do become more and more distant from the ways of the world. In the best cases, the people of God are seen as worthy of respect or as gracious beyond imagining. A pastor hugs a man who days before had run over his little boy; a church that expresses love and forgiveness to a man who slaughtered a dozen at their prayer meeting.

“I could never do that,” they say. That is true because it is only the Holy Spirit who makes heroic grace possible.

Prayer
Lord may I be a mystery to the world as I seek to be led by your Spirit. May I be a testimony of your power and grace. Amen.

Reflection on Romans 5:12-21

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+512-21

Scripture

For just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.

Observation

Sin came into the world through Adam bringing death with it. Death spread to all because all sin. But Adam was a type or fore-runner of Christ,

The free gift of Christ is not like the sin of Adam. Many died because of Adam’s sin, but the grace of Jesus Christ abounds even more surely than the sin. Sin brings condemnation but Christ’s gift brings justification and life.

Law came in and sin multiplied, but where sin abounded grace abounded even more. Sin exercised dominion in death, but grace exercises dominion through justification that leads to eternal life in Christ.

Application

There are parallels between the act of Adam which leads to sin and death, and the act of Jesus Christ who laid down His own life in order to bring justification and eternal life to all.

We share in the sin of Adam because we share his DNA. We are born in sin and destined to die. There is no escape from the law of sin and death.

But Jesus came and cancelled the law of sin and death. He died to set us free from sin. We are justified- that is, made right with God- and therefore we can live forever with God.

The gift of life is available to all who will receive it. We all sin and die, but only those who accept the salvation that comes in Christ will share eternal life.

As John’s gospel says, the light has come into the darkness, but some people prefer the darkness and reject the light. God will not force salvation on anyone.

Eternal life is an awesome promise. We are surrounded by death. As we get older, or as we watch our parents get older, we see the law of death at work close up.

But, hallelujah! death does not win in the end. For those who are followers of Jesus Christ, life has defeated death because righteousness has defeated sin.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the certainty of eternal life. All because of Jesus’ death on the cross, I know my sins are forgiven and eternal life is mine. Amen.