Reflection on Deuteronomy 18:14-22

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+18.14-22

Scripture

You will know, because if the Lord says something will happen, it will happen. And if it doesn’t, you will know that the prophet was falsely claiming to speak for the Lord. Don’t be afraid of any prophet whose message doesn’t come from the Lord.”

Observation

Moses is addressing the people of Israel. He tells them that they are entering a land where the people practise magic and witchcraft. But they are not to do these things. Instead the Lord will give them a prophet just like Moses.

God’s prophet will speak the Lord’s message, and anyone who disobeys this message will answer to the Lord.

A prophet who falsely claims to speak for the Lord, or a prophet who speaks on behalf of another god, must be put to death. The Lord will validate His prophets by ensuring that what they predict will come to pass.

Application

The ministry of prophet is misunderstood by the church today as much as it was by Israel in the past.

There are many so-called prophets who are not prophets at all and do not speak for the Lord. We know this because they make predictions that do not come to pass. The Lord says we should not “fear” them. That is, we should not pay attention to their words or recognise their self-appointed role as prophets.

Where people claim to be speaking for the Lord, whether as prophets, preachers or teachers, we must exercise the spiritual gift of discernment of spirits. We should ask, “Is this person speaking by demonic spirits, by human thought or by the Holy Spirit?”

The enemy seeks to devour the people of God, and one of the key ways of doing this is to use false authority to lead people astray.

This is not to say that we should abandon all prophecy. The existence of false prophets implies the existence of true prophets. These are the humble, faithful speakers of God’s word. They hear God and speak it out to the church.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, let my heart and mind be truly open to you. If I am speaking may I only speak your words. If I am hearing may I discern when it is you speaking through them. In all prophetic experience may your name be glorified. Amen.

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Reflection on 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+7.29-31

Scripture

It won’t make any difference how much good you are getting from the world or how much you like it. This world is now passing away.

Observation

The Lord is coming soon so everything will change. Being married or single count for nothing. Our economic status and our position in the world are totally irrelevant in heaven.

Application

We spend so much time and energy in worldly matters. Our education, job, marriage (or otherwise), family, money, possessions can all dominate our thinking. Christians are not exempt from this.

It is important that we carry out our responsibilities diligently, but none of the things that we get anxious about carry any importance in heaven.

Money cannot save you.

Politicians cannot save you.

A nice house and secure job cannot save you.

We worry about these fleeting things that are inconsequential and neglect the issues of eternity and salvation.

At the gates of heaven we will not be asked, “Did you live in a nice house?”. No it will be, “Do you know Jesus and were you faithful to Him?”

The Lord is preparing us to be citizens of His kingdom. If we incest our love and affections on the things of this world, we cannot be listening to His lessons about eternity.

It’s all about priorities really. Do I live as if this life is all there is? Or do I see a vision of eternity, a distant city on a hill bathed in light that calls me home?

Prayer

Lord the cares of this life threaten daily to strangle my faith in you. Please help me to die to this life and to live for you. Amen.

Reflection on Jonah 3:1-10

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jonah+3.1-10

Scripture
When God saw that the people had stopped doing evil things, he had pity and did not destroy them as he had planned.

Observation
After Jonah’s sojourn in the fish, the Lord again tells him to go to Nineveh to warn the people of imminent judgement.

This time Jonah obeys the Lord and goes to Nineveh. In the heart of the city, Jonah warns the people “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed.”

The people believe the message and repent of their sins with fasting and by wearing sackcloth. The king hears what is happening and decrees that everyone, even the animals, must fast and pray.

The Lord sees that the people of Nineveh have repented so He does not destroy the city.

Application
A whole city repents, from the lowest of slaves right up to the king. This is a supernatural act by the Lord.

A whole city turns from its evil ways and seeks the Lord. As a result, judgement is averted.

What does it take for a city or a nation to turn to God? In this case it was a reluctant prophet sent to the city with a message of judgement. One man obeying God changed a city.

We never know how God will use our obedience. We so thing because we believe God is telling us to do them with no sense of anything great. Often we lay foundation which God uses to build something on.

The important message of Jonah is this: We must obey God even when we don’t want to, or it is inconvenient or difficult. When we do that, God can amplify our feeble efforts and transform a nation.

Prayer
Help me Lord to be faithful to you each day. Even when serving you is hard or unpleasant, please help me to follow your way. Amen.

Reflection on 1 Samuel 3:1-20

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+3.1-20

Scripture

In those days the Lord hardly ever spoke to people, and he didn’t appear to them in dreams very often.

Observation

Samuel is serving in the house of the Lord. One night, as Samuel is sleeping on a mat near the Ark of the Covenant, the Lord calls his name. Samuel thinks it is Eli calling him, so he goes to ask Eli what he wants. This happens three times. Finally Eli works out that it is the Lord, so he tells Samuel that next time this happens he should say, “I am listening Lord, what do you want me to do?”

So the Lord calls Samuel again, and he asks Him What so you want me to do?” The Lord says that He is going to punish Eli and his family for disrespecting the sacrifices.

As Samuel grows up his reputation as a prophet increases across Israel.

Application

In the days before Samuel, the Lord rarely spoke to His people. This should have been a cause for some discomfort for the people of Israel, but we tend to accept things too readily.

The Lord is always speaking to us. His heart is to have relationship with us. If we are not able to hear from Him, the problem is on our side.

For some people the problem is simply lack of practice at listening. For others it might be fear or shame that makes them think that God does not have anything to say.

To start the process we might have to go back to basics. Like Samuel, we should ask, “Lord what do you want me to do?” It helps to write down what you think God is saying to you.

Be still and know that I am God!”

Be still- and let God speak to you.

Be still- and listen to the Holy Spirit

Be still.

Prayer

Lord, what do you want me to do? Help me to learn to hear your voice, the still small voice of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Reflection on Ephesians 3:1-12

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+3.1-12

Scripture

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

Observation

God Himself has now revealed His mysterious plan. This did not happen in previous generations, but now God has revealed it to His apostles and prophets.

The plan is this: Gentile believers in Christ and Jewish believers in Christ share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. We share in the same blessings because we are part of the same body.

God’s church is a testimony of God’s wisdom to all the powers and principalities.

Because of our faith in Christ we can come confidently and boldly into God’s presence.

Application

In the Old Testament only one person was allowed into the Holy of Holies- the place where God ‘s presence was- for one day each year. Now, as sons and daughters of the living God, every believer can enter into His presence at any time.

The Holy Place is open to all!

Unlike the High Priest we don’t need a sacrifice to make us clean. Jesus is the sacrifice who makes us clean all the time. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

What does it mean to come boldly and confidently into the presence of God? It means that we do not have to fear God’s judgement. Christ has turned away the wrath that is against sin.

It means that we can intercede and worship at the throne of our Creator, our Father. It means that we can express love to Him without having to find the exact right words. It means that we can sit at His feet and listen to His voice.

Part of the mystery of the gospel is that heaven has come down to earth. Ordinary people carry the presence of God with them and the division between the unseen world and the seen world no longer applies.

Prayer

Father, please help me to understand what it means to come into your presence and help me to live in that Holy Place. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 2:1-12

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+2.1-12

Scripture

About that time, some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

Observation

Jesus is born in Bethlehem. Some time later some wise men from the east arrive in Jerusalem to seek the king of the Jews.

King Herod is deeply disturbed by this, so he consults with the priests and religious teachers. They tell him that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem.

Herod calls in the wise men and tells them that the child is to be born in Bethlehem. He instructs them to come and tell him about the king so he can go and worship him also.

The wise men are led by the star to the house of Mary and Joseph. They present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and worship the baby.

The men return home but they go a different route for God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Application

Wise men from the east recognise the star as God’s message to them about the birth of Jesus. Astrology is not a recommended way to seek God’s direction- in fact Scripture condemns this. But God uses whatever means that He can in order to communicate with people.

Following the sign, the wise men take decisive action. They travel a long distance to worship this king that has been revealed to them.

The way of wisdom is to act on what God shows us to do. Sometimes it is not the right time and we need to wait, but usually when God shows us something He wants us to act.

We don’t all get signs in the sky, but we do get words of Scripture or a conviction from the Holy Spirit and then we should do what God is telling us.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, please help me to hear you and to do the things you tell me to do. May I always be confident in you when I step out in faith. Amen.

Reflection on Isaiah 61:10-62:3

 

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah+61.10-62.3

Scripture

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God

For he has dressed me in the garments of salvation

and draped me in a robe of righteousness.

Observation

Isaiah is overwhelmed with joy because he is dressed in salvation and righteousness, like a groom or a bride in wedding clothes.

The Lord will show justice to the nations and everyone will praise Him. The nations will see God’s righteousness and glory.

Application

When we see God’s glory we should be overwhelmed with joy. When we think of our relationship with God, joy should fill our soul.

When prayer or Bible study or worship become a chore, a ritual to be endured, then we have lost the plot. Joy is meant to be a centre piece in the christian life.

God has dressed me in the garment of salvation. I once was lost and dead in my sin. Then, miracle of miracles, Jesus reached down to me from the cross and brought cleansing and forgiveness. He walked out of the tomb and brought me resurrection life.

My life has meaning because I am in Christ. I am overwhelmed with joy at what God has done in me.

Joy is different to happiness. Happiness is fleeting- it literally depends on what is happening. Joy is eternal because it is a gift from God. Even in the greatest trial or the saddest moment, joy will be there waiting to bubble up to the surface like a spring of water.

I am saved in Christ, so I will rejoice.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of salvation. All my sins are gone, cleansed by your blood. Help me to remember this when the world overwhelms me. Amen.