Reflection on Mark 4:26-34

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Scripture

Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand.

Observation

Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a farmer who sows seed. Without any intervention the seed grows and matures until harvest time.

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that grows and becomes a bush.

Jesus used many stories to describe the kingdom, but He always explained them to the disciples.

Application

The kingdom of God is like a farmer and it is like a tiny seed. How can it be both?

Jesus knew that we relate better to stories than to theological doctrines. We need the doctrines for knowledge but the stories speak to our heart.

The kingdom of God is organic and relational. It is also unstoppable.

These are the messages in these brief stories. We can see in our mind the farmer planting, the shoots emerging and the harvest taking place, all without human strategy or plant growth conferences.

God’s kingdom has been growing for 2000 years. Of the increase of His government there shall be no end.

My testimony of experiencing God’s grace in Christ is one of the stories that God can use to bring people to faith. It is not enough by itself because people need to relate to Christ, not just to me. But it is a powerful expression for people who have never related to Jesus.

The kingdom of God is like a young man who refused to believe in God. One night he had a dream…

Every story is different because every person is different. The story of grace remains the same and expresses itself through our individual stories.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the power of stories especially the story of the kingdom. Help me to share this story with others. Amen.

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Reflection on 2 Corinthians 5:6-17

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Scripture

We live by believing not by seeing.

Observation

Paul would rather be at home with the Lord, but whether here or in heaven, his desire is to please Christ. We will all be judged and receive what we deserve for all our deeds, both good and evil.

Paul’s ministry might not seem as spectacular as some, but he has a sincere heart. Christ’s love controls him.

Instead of viewing people from a human perspective, he now sees everyone who belongs to Christ as a new person. The old has gone, a new life has begun.

Application

We walk by faith and not by sight.

Every part of our thinking needs to be transformed by the grace of God so that we see all things from God’s perspective and not from human wisdom. We listen to the Holy Spirit rather than relying on our senses and judgement.

When choosing a king to follow Saul, the prophet Samuel heard the Lord say “People judge by the outward appearance but I look at the heart.” We need to overcome our natural tendency to judge people by the way they look. Everyone who is born again is precious to God regardless of their appearance.

When we look at world and national events and even our personal situations, we need to discern the underlying spiritual forces. We are not contending against flesh and blood but the spiritual powers. We must see beyond surface appearances and use the eyes of faith.

Finally, when we are tempted to disappointment because we are not getting to the place that the Lord has called us to, we need to look through the eyes of faith. What seems to us to be an obstacle or failure may in fact be a part of the journey to where we are going, equipping us for ministry by making us stronger in faith.

Prayer

Lord please help me to live by faith rather than sight, to see your perspective, not just a human perspective. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 4:5-12

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Scripture

For God who said, “Let brilliant light shine in the darkness” is the one who has cascaded his light into us- the brilliant dawning light of the glorious knowledge of God as we gaze into the face of Jesus Christ.

Observation

Paul doesn’t preach himself but Christ. Christ is the source of the light of the glorious knowledge of God.

We are the ordinary clay pots that carry the treasure of God’s presence. So when Paul is beaten and persecuted, he does not give up. As an apostle, Paul is constantly handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Christ is released into His people.

Application

It is God’s nature to cause light to shine into the darkness. Evil flees the light but goodness seeks it.

We can know God’s glory- really know it- through Christ. This intimate knowledge of God is like a light that sears through our souls cleansing evil from us and restoring us into right relationship with Him.

This light, this transforming glory, comes as we gaze upon the face of Jesus Christ. Some translations express it as “stand face to face with Him.”

Radiance cascades from the Father, through the Son and into us as we seek Jesus. How do we do this? Prayer, worship and Scripture. These are the channels through which we talk to Jesus face to face.

Here is the miracle: God chooses His glory to rest on ordinary people- clay pots. The container does not matter, just God’s presence.

If only we could see the treasure that is so freely available to us, waiting to cascade over us and through us.

I need to daily, constantly seek to spend face to face time with Christ, to let God’s glory fill and refill me.

Prayer

Lord, fill me with the glorious presence of your Spirit so that your light will shine round into the darkness. Amen.

Reflection on 1 Samuel 3:1-21

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Scripture

As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said was proved to be reliable.

Observation

The boy Samuel grows up serving the Lord in the Tabernacle. In those days messages from the Lord were rare and visions were uncommon.

One night, as Samuel is sleeping, the Lord calls to him. Samuel thinks it is Eli calling so he goes to find out what is wrong. Eli tells him to go to sleep. This is repeated three times before Eli works out that it is the Lord calling Samuel.

So the Lord speaks to Samuel and warns him that judgement is about to fall on Eli and his two sons. Eli instructs Samuel to tell him everything the Lord has said.

As he grows up Samuel develops a reputation as a prophet who accurately hears from the Lord.

Application

What a sad time in the history of Israel that very few people heard from the Lord or saw visions from Him. Samuel comes onto the scene as someone special who hears the Lord and speaks boldly for Him.

We live in such an age in the church. Very few people accurately hear the Lord, but we should all be like Samuel. The Holy Spirit has been poured out onto the church and all we who are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit should be listening for the voice of the Lord.

Unbelievers are turning to all kinds of false teachers because they are desperate for a touch from the Lord. If they cannot get it in the church they will go elsewhere.

We need to be like Samuel, practising in listening to God, cultivating and growing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Lord, please help me to listen to your voice. Show me how to grow in discernment and in prophecy. Let your voice be heard in the church and beyond. Amen.

Reflection on Romans 8:12-17

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Scripture

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters,you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

Observation

God’s Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. Therefore we are no longer captive to the sinful nature. If we live by the flesh we will die, but if we let the Spirit put to death our sinful nature, we will live.

We have received the Spirit of adoption by which we call God, “Abba, Father.” We are children of God and therefore heirs with Christ- both to glory and suffering.

Application

I have no obligation to sin.

All of humanity is bound to sin. We are captivated by it, ruled by self-centredness, pride, lust and greed.

When Jesus came into my life, I was born to a new life, born in the Spirit. The Spirit of God came in and set me free form the sinful nature.

I am now under no obligation to sin.

Before I was born again, all I knew was the fleshly sinful nature. I couldn’t avoid sin and had no desire to do so.

But the Spirit convicted me of sin and then forgave me and gave me the way out of sin. The fleshly sinful nature was replaced by the divine holy nature.

I don’t have to sin. I do sin, but there is no excuse. It is a choice to go back to the old ways, to let the flesh dictate my actions rather than the Holy Spirit.

It is awesome to realise that God really has set me free from sin.

No obligations to the sinful nature.

No necessity to sin.

Prayer

Lord, you really have set me free from sin. Once the flesh was all I had, but then you came and set me free. Now sin is a choice and holiness is my calling. Hallelujah! Please help me to make the right choice, to walk in the path of holiness. Amen.

Reflection on Isaiah 6:1-8

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Scripture

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Observation

Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on a lofty throne, the train of His robe filling the Temple. Mighty seraphim surround the throne singing praise to the Lord. The voices shake the Temple, and smoke fills it.

Isaiah is filled with fear because he recognises his own sin. One of the seraphim touches Isaiah’s lips with a burning coal from the altar and declares that his guilt is taken away.

Then the Lord asks, “Whom will I send to this people?” Isaiah volunteers, “Here I am Lord. Send me.”

Application

God is a sending, missionary God. His desire is to send His people to tell the world about sin, God’s love, and His forgiveness.

The mark of the truly born again christian is that they are willing to be “sent”; that is to be God’s messenger. Isaiah’s guilt was not taken away for his own benefit alone. It was done to equip him to go and tell God’s message.

We get it wrong when we think that we have been saved for our own benefit alone. The blessing is to be shared, for when we share a blessing we multiply it.

My salvation equips me to tell others how to be saved. In fact it energises me to “Go” and tell others.

God will not stop sending His people until the very last person on earth is saved.

Whenever we pray, praise or worship the Lord, our attitude should be, “Lord here I am. Send me.”

Prayer

Lord, please show me who you are sending me to today. Who is the person you want me to take the gospel to? Here I am Lord. Send me. Amen.

Reflection on Romans 8:22-27

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Scripture

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groans that cannot be expressed in words.

Observation

All creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth. We believers also groan because God has given us a foretaste of the future kingdom. We have a hope for a future and must wait patiently.

The Holy Spirit helps us to pray even when we don’t know what to pray. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us in groaning that cannot be expressed in words.

Application

Sometimes it is hard to know how to pray. God wants all people to be saved so that one is easy. But praying for specific issues relating to family, church, relationships, etc can be so much harder. Is what I want the same as what God wants? What is God’s purpose in this situation?

We must be careful of praying the answers we want.

Sometimes we can wait on the Lord and a direction for prayer will emerge. Then we can pray confidently knowing that this is God’s will.

Sometimes we have to just trust the Lord in our praying. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, and the gift of tongues is often the way forward.

When I pray in my prayer language I know that it is the Holy Spirit praying through me. I have nothing to offer but “groans”, but the Holy Spirit intercedes with me to bring about God’s purposes.

Lately I have been praying”I don’t know” a lot. I pray in tongues and trust that somehow God’s purposes will prevail. One day I will see the groaning answered.

Prayer

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the “groanings” of prayer we don’t understand but which you use. Amen.