Reflection on Mark 1:1-8

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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.

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Reflection on 2 Peter 3:8-18

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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

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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.

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.

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.