Reflection on Job 42:1-16

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Scripture

‘I had only heard about you before .Now I have seen you with my own eyes.”

Observation

After the Lord’s confrontation with Job, Job now replies.

Job recognises that he was wrong to question the Lord’s wisdom because he was so ignorant. Having seen the Lord, Job now repents of his pride.

The Lord then speaks to Job’s friends and orders them to offer some burnt offerings, asking Job to pray for them.

The Lord then restores Job’s fortunes- wealth, livestock, sons and daughters. He lives a long and full life, dying at an old age.

Application

It makes a difference when we experience the Lord for ourselves instead of relying on other people’s knowledge of the Lord.

Job was a righteous man before, but in his suffering he sees the Lord and talks with the Lord for the first time.

We were meant for relationship with God. If we don’t have that relationship we will try to fill it in all kinds of unhealthy ways.

Religion is the substitution of laws, rituals, sacrifices and other behaviour patterns for the relationship for which we were created. So Job offered sacrifice after sacrifice to keep himself and his family right with God. He knew no better because he had only heard about God; he didn’t know God.

We each need to have our own encounter with God. It may not be God audibly addressing us out of a whirlwind. It might be as simple as a deep conviction that we need a saviour and God has given that saviour to us in Jesus. It might be what John Wesley called a “Strange warming of the heart” as he heard Scripture being read. It might be a vision of the risen Christ.

When we have that encounter and decide to follow Jesus, handing everything over to Him, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives to empower us and equip us for the walk of faith. Then we are completely new, born again in Christ Jesus,

Prayer

Thank you Lord for saving me. Help me to live every day in the power of your love. Amen.

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Reflection on Mark 10:17-31

 

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Scripture

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad because he had great wealth.

Observation

A rich young man comes to Jesus and asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds by listing the commandments. The man replies that he has kept them all.

Jesus then tells him he must give all he has to the poor, and then he will have treasure in heaven.

The man is sad at this, because he is rich.

The disciples are amazed and ask Jess if the rich cannot be saved, then who can be saved. Jesus tells them that what is impossible for men id possible with God.

Application

Jesus tells the rich young man that he must give all his wealth away to the poor and then he will have treasure in heaven. The man goes away sad because he has so much money.

This prescription of giving away possessions is not for everybody. Jesus gives this instruction to test this particular man’s motives.

When we put conditions on our discipleship with Jesus, we are setting up idols and are not really being disciples at all. For this man, wealth was more important than eternal life. He wanted eternity, but he wanted to enjoy this life first.

What are the idols that get in the way of my life? I am convinced that Jesus is first in everything, but there may be a point at which I say “No” to Him. I hope not. I sincerely believe not. Nobody knows what their idols are until God demands that we let them go.

Some people have placed their family above Jesus. They will not follow Him because they fear losing their family. For others, it is work or business opportunities.

Jesus will not tolerate second place in anyone’s life.

We must always be prepared to give up anything that we own for the sake of God’s kingdom.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, please show me any idols that I have which stop me from following you completely, and give me the grace to let them go. Amen.

Reflection on Hebrews 4:12-16

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Scripture

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest sword, cutting between soul and spirit, joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Observation

God’s word is powerful and alive. It exposes our secret thoughts and desires. Nothing is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed to Him.

Jesus is our High Priest in heaven. Having faced every temptation but remaining sinless, He understands our struggles. Now we can come boldly into God’s presence and find mercy and grace.

Application

The word of God is alive. The Bible is not some dusty old book that is out of date. It speaks to us because it is God’s timeless word. It brings conviction of sin and revelation of grace.

The word of God is powerful because it transforms lives of individuals and nations. As people are impacted by the word, their consciences are awakened to see how the world can be made a better place, more reflective of God’s kingdom.

The word of God is sharp. It gets right into our soul and spirit. It brings life to our spirit, empowering our relationship with Jesus. It rebukes our soul, convicting and cleansing us of sin.

The word of God exposes our secret thoughts and desires. We can put on a “holy” exterior that impresses people. But God looks at the heart, at what is going on inside us where nobody else can see. The word confronts our secret desires- both good and bad- and brings them to the surface.

To fully allow the word of God to have its full power in our lives, we need to read it in prayerful reverence, allowing the Holy Spirit to highlight words and sentences that we need to examine.

Prayer

Lord God, please help me to read your word regularly, prayerfully and attentively so that you can change my heart. Amen.

Reflection on Mark 10:1-16

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Scripture

When Jesus saw what was happening, he became indignant with his disciples and said to them, “Let all the little children come to me and never hinder them! Don’t you know that God’s kingdom realm exists for such as these?”

Observation

While Jesus is teaching the crowds, some Pharisees come to trap Him with a question. They ask if it is permissible for a man to divorce his wife.

Jesus replies that Moses permitted them to divorce, but this was an exception for their hard hearts. In fact it was God’s purpose from the beginning of creation for a man and woman to be joined together as one flesh. Nobody can separate what God has joined together.

Some parents want Jesus to bless their children, but the disciples keep sending them away. Jesus rebukes them, telling them that everyone who wants to enter the Kingdom must come to Him as a little child.

Application

The Pharisees come to Jesus wanting to show that they are better than Him at interpreting God’s will. Jesus says that this is not the way to God’s Kingdom. We must come as little children, ready to receive Him as God’s Word.

For many people, we start our walk with Jesus like a little child, ready to soak up everything Jesus will say to us. Then gradually we become like the Pharisees, the experts, the know-it-alls,

Religion is a very hard attitude to kill in our hearts. We desperately need to tame God, and so we become the experts on what He is like and what He wants.

Child- like humility and acceptance that we don’t have all the answers are the attitudes that bring us closer to God and His Kingdom.

Prayer

Lord, help me to repent of all my expert knowledge about you. Help me to be the little child in love with you. Amen.

Reflection on Hebrews 2:1-12

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Scripture

God, for whom and through whom, everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader to bring them into their salvation.

Observation

We must hold on carefully to the truth of salvation, otherwise we will drift away from the truth. God confirms the gospel through signs and wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We have been made a little lower than the angels, but we will have authority over all things. We see this already in the example of Jesus.

Everything was made for God, and He chose to bring many sons and daughters to glory. Jesus, as the first fruits of salvation, is the one who leads us into eternal life.

Application

God made all things by Himself and for Himself, and He chose to brings many creatures into His glory.

I was made by God and for God.

We live in an age of total individualism. Nobody feels any duty to have allegiance to any authority or institution. We obey the law out of fear of consequences, rather than because it is right to be obedient.

We are made for God’s good pleasure. Therefore we have a duty to try to please Him.

Our allegiance or loyalty is to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.

God’s plan from before creation was to raise many people to glory. He wants to share His glory with me.

The Creator, powerful and holy, shares His glory with me, a creature of spiritual weakness and a built-in tendency to sin. How great is God’s love that He should do this for me?

Prayer

Awesome, mighty God, I bow down and worship you. Your love for me is beyond my imagining. Thank you. Amen.

Reflection on Mark 9:38-50

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Scripture
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me.”

Observation
Some disciples tell Jesus that they saw a man casting out in His name and and they told him to stop doing it because he wasn’t a part of their group. Jesus tells them not to do this as anyone who is not opposed to them is for them.

It is better to rigorously remove sin from our lives, even removing parts of the body if necessary, than to maintain an intact body but go to hell.

Application
Tribalism is strong amongst christians. We love to criticise those whom we think are less pure in doctrine than we are. Google any famous preacher’s name, and there will be a host of hate pages criticising their ministry.

I don’t like Benny Hinn’s style. There are many things that he does that make me cringe. But he has led many people to the Lord, and God has used him to heal countless people. When I am walking in that level of power and authority I might have the qualification to correct him.

Too many people spend too much time pulling other christians apart. Jesus urges us to be more tolerant.

Does this mean that we cannot ever judge ministers? Is everyone who claims to speak for Jesus above correction?

Not at all. Every pastor, preacher, and indeed every christian, needs to be accountable to the Body in some way.

Rather than being critical of people we disagree with or are not part of our group, we must focus on our own ministry, sharing the Good News with the people God has called us to. Then we can leave the judging to Jesus.

Prayer
Lord, help me to be more open to brothers and sisters outside my “tribe” and to accept even those I choose to disagree with. Amen.

Reflection on James 5:13-20

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Scripture

Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Observation

Regardless of our situation we should pray. In hardship, pray. In happiness praise God. In sickness, get the elders to pray for you.

Confession and healing go together. Some sickness is caused by, or related to, sin. We should seek God’s forgiveness and then prayer for healing.

Righteous people pray powerful prayers. Elijah was just a man, but his prayers controlled the rain.

Application

One of the keys to receiving healing is to make sure that we are right with God. Nobody is perfectly righteousness and so, in that sense, we can be prone to attacks from the enemy at our weak places. Confessing our sins enables the Holy Spirit to work more effectively in our lives.

When we are right with God and walking in humble obedience our prayers release the grace of God in powerful ways.

Elijah listened to the voice of the Lord, and so he was able to command drought and rain. He didn’t do things presumptuously, but always in the context of a close relationship with God.

We must turn away from sin and pursue the Lord more passionately and more intentionally, so that we are able to be channels of His grace.

This is not a religious thing where we have to live in a certain way, constantly following rules laid down by somebody else. This is about loving our Father and wanting to be about His business.

Prayer

Lord, I confess my sins to you now. I ask for your forgiveness and for the ability to live in righteousness so that I can be an instrument of your grace. Amen.