Reflection on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+1.1-10

Scripture

When we told you the good news, it was with power and assurance that come from the Holy Spirit, and not simply with words.

Observation

Paul writes with warm words to the church n Thessalonica. He tells them how he always thanks God for them in his prayers.

God loves these people, having chosen them. When Paul brought the gospel, it wasn’t just words, but came with conviction and the power of the Holy Spirit. When they accepted the gospel, they followed Paul’s example, and they themselves became an example for all the Lord’s followers,

Application

Whether we are preaching to thousands or sharing with an individual, the true gospel comes with the power and confidence of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit our words are just empty.

The power of the Holy Spirit comes in many forms– it may be a miracle or healing, a word of knowledge or a prophecy. When the power of the Holy Spirit is moving, hearts are opened to the reality of God and the salvation He offers in Christ.

Christianity is not a religion or philosophy that promotes a doctrine or way of living. Christianity is a living relationship with a living Saviour. The manifest power of the Holy Spirit shows the power of God to save everyone who puts their faith in Jesus.

The assurance or confidence of the Holy Spirit is a witness to the power of the gospel in our lives. How do we expect people to believe what we ourselves are not confident in? The confidence comes from the deep relationship we have with the Father through the Spirit.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness, giving us not just the words to speak but the confidence to express our love for our Lord.

Prayer

Lord, help me to share your gospel with the people I see today. Let my words be backed up by the power and the assurance of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Reflection on Exodus 33:12-33

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+33.12-33

Scripture

But if you go with us, everyone will know that you are pleased with your people and with me. That way we will be different from the rest of the people on earth.”

Observation

Moses asks the Lord who his assistant is to be and what His plan for the people is. The Lord replies, “I will go with you and give you peace.”

Then Moses replies, “I’m not going anywhere unless you go with us. If you do go with us we will be different to every other people.” The Lord says He will do this.

Moses asks to see the Lord’s glory. The Lord hides him in a crack in a rock so that Moses only sees a small part of His glory, otherwise he would die.

Application

The children of Israel are passing through the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land. The Lord leads them daily by means of a pillar of smoke and fire.

Moses is now saying to the Lord, “You have led us this far; don’t abandon us now because I’m not going anywhere without you.”

Israel was meant to be different from all the other nations. The powerful presence of the Lord directing the nation and individuals would set them apart as holy and righteousness.

Christians have something even more powerful. God with us, God in us, the Holy Spirit directing, leading and encouraging us.

We need to learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit, and to obey the Holy Spirit. The power and character of Jesus need to become evident in our lives so that everyone knows that christians are different from the other people in the world.

Prayer

Lord, teach me how to hear you and obey your voice. Show me how to follow the paths you want me to go down. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 22:15-22

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22.15-22

Scripture

Jesus told them, “give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.”

Observation

The Pharisees start to plan how they can trick Jesus into saying something to offend either the Romans or the people. They try to butter Him up with flattery before unloading their question- is it right to pay taxes to the Emperor?

The Pharisees think they have in in a trap, but Jesus sees through their plan. If He says it is not right to pay taxes to Rome, they can have Him charged with treason. If He says it is right to pay taxes, then the people will lose faith in Him.

Jesus responds by getting a coin and saying it is right to the Emperor the coin with his name and image on it, but we must give to God what belongs to God.

Application

Some Christians rile against paying taxes to Governments that they see as ungodly. But other parts of Scripture encourage us to submit to the powers that are over us because the authorities are God’s gift to us, even when they fail to exercise their power justly.

Here Jesus says that the Emperor’s name and image are on the coin so really he owns it all anyway. It is right to pay taxes even if we find them unfair.

On the other hand, the name and image of God are on our souls, so we should give all that we are back to God. Caesar can have his money, but let God have the one thing that truly matters, and that is your whole being.

It is easy to get obsessed with money even to the exclusion of worshipping the Lord. My life is to be totally dedicated to Him. I want to be found honouring God, not worshipping mammon.

When I die, money and taxes will end, but my love for God will last for eternity.

Prayer

Today Lord I recognise that it is your image that is stamped on my soul. I will give myself to you in every way. Amen.

Reflection on Philippians 4:1-9

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+4.1-9

Scripture

Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.

Observation

Paul now moves on to deal with some personal issues in the church at Philippi. The women who are fighting must stop.

We should rejoice always. Anxiety must give way to faithful, thankful prayer. When we present our requests to God, He will give us His peace.

Finally we must keep our minds set on whatever is true, pure, right and holy.

Application

Anxiety is one of the defining emotions of this age. We are safer than ever, healthier than ever and more fearful than ever.

We like to be in control of every part of our lives. But there are some things– terrorists and illness, for example– which we cannot control.

Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything but to trust God in everything.

We say that God is in control, but often we do not really believe this. If I truly believe that God is in control, I don’t have to worry about what today might bring.

Jesus told us that our Father knows what we need even before we do. So we must learn to trust that He will direct our paths and believe that He will give us what we need to handle each day.

When we leave our cares with God, trusting in His goodness, then anxiety gives way to peace that passes all human understanding.

Prayer

Father I thank you for the knowledge that you will give me all that I need for today. I confess that sometimes I forget that you are in control and that you are good. Help me to hand over all worry to you. Amen.

Reflection on Exodus 32:1-14

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+32.1-14

Scripture

After the people saw that Moses had been on the mountain for a long time, they went to Aaron and said, “Make us an image of a god who will lead and protect us. Moses brought us out of Egypt, but nobody knows what has happened to him.”

Observation

While Moses is up on the mountain receiving God’s Law, the people come to Aaron to get him to make an idol for them. Aaron has a statue of a bull made, and the people worship it and carry on “like wild people.”

The Lord tells Moses to get back down to the people. He threatens to kill them for their idolatry and replace them with Moses’ offspring. Moses intercedes and the Lord relents.

Application

How easy it is to move from faith to idolatry. How quickly we can start to worship the “gods” we can see and touch rather than the true God whom we cannot see.

It is hard to believe, but the people of Israel had seen daily miracles, but still quickly pursued an idol when the opportunity presented itself

We are not so blatant about it, but there are many false gods around us that fight for our adoration– family, security, approval of others, money, sex, significance, worship, religion.

There are so many idols but only one Saviour.

For this reason, we must keep our eyes on Jesus all day every day. We must start our days in prayer, end our days in prayer and fill the days with prayer.

Regular reading of the Bible will help us to set our directions in accordance with the ways of Christ.

With so many temptations to worship the idols of our heart, we need to ensure that we worship only the Lord.

Prayer

Father, I confess that it is all too easy for my hear to seek pleasure in false gods. Please keep me safe in my worship of you alone. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 22:1-14

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22.1-14

Scripture

Many are invited, but only a few are chosen.”

Observation

Jesus tells another parable that speaks about the great grace of God and the hard- heartedness of His people.

A king gives a wedding feast for his son. The invited guests ignore the invitation, offering lame excuses and some even beating and killing the servants.

Enraged, the king sends his servants to go the street corners and invite everyone to the feast. One of these guests turns up not wearing the correct clothes, and so the king orders him thrown out into the darkness.

Application

God’s heart for humanity is bigger than we can imagine. He invites everyone to come to His wedding banquet.

The response of the invited guests is appalling. They treat the invitation as something of little importance. A royal wedding is always a social event, but here the chosen ones treat it with contempt.

Many people treat God’s invitation to the biggest wedding party ever with similar contempt. They would rather tend to their business or carry on with ordinary life than to think of God’s offer of eternal life.

Often christians feel guilty for not sharing the gospel enough. I don’t think that for many people at least in the West the problem is not hearing the gospel. The problem for many is that having heard it, they reject the offer,

Many are invited but only a few are chosen” may more accurately be written only a few allow themselves to be chosen.

This is the time for salvation. Do not put this offer off to one side or reject it completely. Let God into your life and let Him transform you.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for opening eternity to all who will say “Yes” to you. May all who read these words accept your invitation. Amen.

Reflection on Philippians 3:1-14

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+3.1-14

Scripture

But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless.

Observation

Paul warns us against the “dogs” who want to re-introduce circumcision. When it comes to that, Paul was the Pharisee of Pharisees. He was zealous for the Law of Moses to the point of persecuting the church.

Christ has revolutionised his values. That which he once considered valuable he now sees as worthless. Christ has taken hold of Paul so that ll he wants is Christ,

Paul has not yet reached the goal, but he keeps running the race in order to win the prize that God has for him.

Application

When Christ takes hold of us, He completely overturns our value system. The things we used to pursue suddenly become pointless in our eyes.

Instead of the flesh we prioritise the spirit.

Instead of finding security in our job or identity in our career, we now find these in Christ.

Instead of plotting our own life directions, we surrender all to God.

Instead of secular entertainment we pursue Christian edification.

Some of these changes come quickly to us as we choose to follow Christ. Others take years or decades as we learn to align our values with those of Christ.

It is possible that ungodly activities – the sins of the flesh– have such a tight hold on us that we are blind to their significance. Some things can be addictions in which our flesh literally fights against our spirit.

But in all these things Christ is the victor. He is stronger than satan and will give us the strength to overcome.

The important thing is to keep running the race. We must not give up or grow discouraged. Keep pursuing Christ. Let Him take hold of you and let His grace transform you from the inside.

It’s not so much about giving things up that we know are wrong. It is about letting the Holy Spirit change your way of looking at life and eternity.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, I confess that there are aspects of my life which I ty to run in my own strength. Please come in and change my values so that what I now cherish I come to see as trash. Amen.