Reflection on John 10:11-18

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+10.11-18

Scripture

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and they know me.”

Observation

Jesus is the good shepherd who sacrifices His life for the sheep. A hired hand is in it for the money; he doesn’t care about the sheep.

Jesus is the good shepherd. He knows His sheep and they know Him. He gives His life for the sheep. He has sheep from a different sheep fold and He will bring the flocks together.

Application

Jesus is the good shepherd. He is not a faithless hireling who runs at the first sign of danger. He lays down His life for the sake of His sheep.

There is nothing that Jesus will not do for His sheep. He won’t always give us what we want, but He will meet every need that we have. He is the good shepherd.

He knows us by name. He sees us the way we really are. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses, our victories and our failures. He knows us as closely as He knows the Father. And He loves us.

He wants us to know Him also. To have the strong, unbreakable bonds of friendship. He wants us to invest time and energy in seeking His face.

It is said that in the time of Jesus, shepherds would often put their sheep in a shared sheepfold overnight. In the morning, the shepherds would call their respective sheep but name, and their sheep would hear the voice of their own shepherd and go to them.

Jesus’ sheep know their shepherd. They know when He calls their name and they follow Him.

Prayer

Jesus, you are my good shepherd. Thank you for sacrificing your life for me. Amen.

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Reflection on Psalm 23:1

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+23

Scripture

The Lord is my shepherd

I have all that I need

Prayer

You, O God, are my shepherd.

I used to be a lone ranger sheep, not even knowing I was a sheep. I thought I was God, or at least, the shepherd of my own soul.

I would go where I wanted, pursuing the green meadows and fresh water myself. I made my soul sick on the excesses of the world. It would have killed me.

But then you came into my life. Now Lord you lead me in the right paths.

You are my shepherd Lord. You lead me to the best places. Sometimes it feels like I am in a desert place, but you are always there, right beside me, pointing out the green shoots.

Because of you Lord I have everything I need.

I don’t have a yacht or a plane or a fancy house. Sometimes the bank balance gets low. But Lord I do have everything I need- family and friends who love me, a purpose for my life, food on the table and a promise of eternal life.

I lack no good thing.

You are my provider, my abundance. In you there is no lack and no shortage, as long as I follow you and walk in the path you set for me.

When I wander away from you, it is into the place of danger. When I stay with you, it is joy and provision.

So Lord I will walk with you all the days of my life, knowing that you are the good shepherd.

Reflection on Acts 4:1-12

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+4.1-12

Scripture

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

Observation

After the crippled man is healed, Peter addressed the crowd. While he and John are still speaking, some priests and guards come to arrest them as the priests are disturbed by their teaching. Many in the crowd believe their message and so the number of believers has grown to 5,000 men plus women and children.

The next day, the priests question Peter and John, demanding to know by what power they had healed the man. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, testifies that the man was healed by the name of Jesus, whom they, the priests, had crucified but God had raised from the dead. He goes on to say that there is no other name by which people can be saved.

Application

There is healing in the name of Jesus, and salvation in the name of Jesus. There is no other name, no other salvation.

Unbelievers say that all religions lead to God. But only one name will save us from hell and bring us to heaven. Only one name will bring healing, wholeness and new life.

The name of Jesus is powerful. Demons flee when they hear the name preached. They wither in fear at the testimony of righteous men and women.

Why would we seek another name, another salvation?

Yet some people do exactly this. Some people claim to be born again but run after other gods. A little bit of Christ, a little bit of Allah and a touch of Krishna.

Salvation is not a buffet in which we can take a little of what appeals to us.

There is only one Lord, our saviour Jesus Christ.

No other name will save you. No other “god” will heal you or take you to eternal life.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, your name is above all names. Thank you for saving me through your death on the cross. Amen.

Reflection on Luke 24:35-49

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+24.35-49

Scripture

And I will send the Holy Spirit just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

Observation

Resurrection evening.

The two disciples from Emmaus tell the other disciples of their meeting with the risen Lord on their way home. While they are still talking, Jesus suddenly appears. The entire group is afraid because they think it is a ghost.

Why are you afraid?” asks Jesus. He invites them to touch Him to see that He is real. He eats some fish so that they can see He is not a ghost.

Jesus then teaches them about how the Scriptures had spoken of His death and resurrection and the forgiveness that He would bring.

He tells them to wait in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills them with heavenly power.

Application

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would fill them with the power from heaven. These were ordinary men and women who would soon be filled with the Spirit. It must have been hard for them to grasp what this meant for them.

Jesus tells them not to leave the city until they are filled with the Holy Spirit. One problem with the church today is that we are too dependent on our own plans and our own wisdom, and not dependent enough on the Holy Spirit.

We need the Spirit’s power to achieve His plans for us. Jesus tells us to wait for the Spirit to come. We must seek His guidance, His wisdom and His power.

When He fills us, then it is time to go and witness to the grace and love of Jesus, even to the ends of the earth. It is the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that makes it possible to take the gospel everywhere we go.

Prayer

Holy Spirit come and show me your plans for my life. Fill me with the power of heaven to live and witness for you. Amen.

Reflection on Acts 3:12-19

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+3.12-19

Scripture

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!”

Observation

Peter heals a crippled beggar in the Temple precinct. A crowd gathers as they see the man standing, walking and praising God.

Peter addresses the crowd, asking why they are surprised by this. It is not the goodness of the disciples, but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who healed him. The Jesus whom they rejected and killed, the author of life, is now risen from the dead.

The people killed Jesus in ignorance, but now God requires them to repent and turn to God so that their sins will be wiped away.

Application

We are all guilty of killing Jesus, the author of life. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We all need forgiveness and cleansing from our sins.

Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, every sin is taken care of. All is forgiven, if only we will accept it.

Jesus is the author of life, and so He is still alive. Death could not hold Him down. He shares His life with us so we know He will raise us to eternal life. This is the promise of Easter.

We can be sure that the resurrection is real because there were so many witnesses to the fact. They might have made it up, but so many of these witnesses died for what they believed. They were tortured and put to death, but not one of them ever confessed to a fake resurrection.

Jesus is alive, and because of Him, we will live for ever.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the promise of Easter. You are the author of life and you have defeated death for ever. Hallelujah!

Reading The Bible

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I was talking to one of my parishioners the other day about daily Bible reading. She said to me, “I find it so hard because my first reaction when I start to read is, I’ve read that before and I know what’s in it.”

This is a real problem for many people, especially christians who have been diligent for many years in reading the Word. At times I have (still do, occasionally) fallen into this trap.

So how do we overcome it?

I think the key is to approach our devotional time with expectation. We must expect that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us something that we need to know. To do that, we must slow down the process, slow our reading, become more meditative.

Here are some keys to reading the Bible more effectively.

  1. Stop using devotional books such as “Word For Today” and “Every Day With Jesus.” These are excellent resources, but the problem is that they can give you the “right answers” before you have worked at reading the word of God. They then stop you from digging deeper into the Scripture because you think you have got what you need. If you have been a committed christian for more than 5 years you need to cut the string. You don’t need it. I know it’s like parting a toddler from its dummy but really you can do this.
  2. Use a plan of some sort. I use the Revised Common Lectionary, because of my Uniting Church roots and because it gives you four passages a week from various parts of the Bible. You might prefer to go through a book of the Bible (a section of about a dozen or so verses), but don’t stick to your “favourite” books.
  3. Journal. This is the key to slowing down. Write down your thoughts. Use pen and paper rather than an electronic devise such as a tablet or computer. Yes you can type faster than you can write, and yes it is more legible. But remember that we are trying to slow down, to spend quality time with God.
  4. Use a meditative approach. The ancient process of lectio divina directs a method of contemplating, praying and living the Scriptures. There are many articles on the internet about lectio divina, including this brief description.

 

I often use the SOAP method pioneered by Wayne Cordeiro. Most of my Reflections published on my blog are in this format. Remember that this is a process for structuring your thoughts and writing in your journal.

  1. Pray. Ask God to show you what He wants you to see. Open your heart and mind to Him.
  2. Scripture: Read the passage. Is there a verse, sentence or phrase that leaps out at you? If not, read the passage through again and again until the most important phrase becomes obvious.  Write down this Scripture next to the letter S.
  3. Observe: Read the passage again and now summarise briefly what the passage is about. What is happening? What is said? This is the context for your highlighted Scripture.
  4. Application: Looking again at the highlighted Scripture, what does this mean? What does it mean for me today? How can I carry it with me, put it into practice?
  5. Prayer: Write down a short prayer asking God to help you with this.

This is a really simple but profound way of reading the Bible. It will bring your devotions to life.

The key to it all is that you are spending time in the presence of the Living God. It’s not about gaining knowledge or self-improvement. It’s about relationship with God.

 

Reflection on Philippians 2:5-11

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+2.5-11

Scripture

Instead he gave up his divine privileges.

Observation

We must learn to have the same attitude as Jesus Christ. He refused to cling to His glorious position, but humbled Himself to become a slave in obedience to God.

He died on the cross, and God lifted Him up to the place of honour so that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Application

Jesus gave up His divine privilege.

He lived in heaven as the divine Son of God, but gave up that exalted position for the sake of redeeming His people.

Jesus came into the earth is a human being. For our sake He gave it all up.

As we draw near to Easter, this is the mystery that must dominate our thinking. Jesus is the Son of God who laid aside His glory to become the Son of Man. He is truly God but also truly human.

He gave up all the glory, power and comfort of heaven to become like us and to rescue us.

He died and, mystery of mysteries, the divine Christ as abandoned by God. He died utterly separated from the Father, just as any human will die separated from the Father unless they know Him.

Jesus volunteered to go through all of this because of His love for us.

At the end of the age every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Those who are saved will confess it gladly. Those who are not united with Him will confess it reluctantly and with despair.

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for setting aside your divine glory to rescue me from sin. Amen.