Reflection on Malachi 3:1-5


Scripture

“Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple, the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

Observation

The Lord will send His messenger to prepare the way. Then the Lord will come suddenly and appear in the Temple.

The Lord is coming like a refiner’s fire. He will purify the silver, the Levites, so that He will have men who bring Him offerings in righteousness. Then the offerings of Judah will be acceptable.

Then the Lord will come against the sinners and the oppressors of the weak and vulnerable because they refuse to fear the Lord.

Application

The Lord has a different idea of time to us. Malachi, writing about 400 BC says the Lord will appear suddenly in His Temple. It took 400 years, but then it did seem suddenly when Jesus came.

The Lord is good in all things, even in His timing and in His “suddenlies”.

Jesus refined the people. He brought judgement, but not in the way that people expected.

Those who are looking for salvation in Christ and who turn to Him in repentance will find forgiveness and new life. They will be free of sin.

Those who refuse to follow Jesus will be judged because they refuse to fear God and turn away from the sins.

In John 3:16-21 we read that Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but His coming set a clear dividing line between the righteous and the evil. It is like a catalyst that is dropped into a test tube, and everything changes even though the catalyst remains untouched.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a saviour who came so that everyone who trusts in Him will live for ever.

Prayer

Thank you Father for the message of Christmas. Thank you for sending Jesus into the world “suddenly” for my salvation. Amen.

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Reflection on Luke 21:25-36



Scripture

“Keep a constant watch over your soul, and pray for the courage andgrace to prevail over these things that are destined to occur, andthat you will stand before the presence of the Son of Man with aclear conscience.”

Observation

When the Son of Man returns, there will be perplexing signs in the heavens, raging of the seas, and earthquakes. Then the Day ill come when Jesus returns in clouds and with power and miracles.

The trees show the changing of the seasons and, similarly, when we see these prophetic signs cme to pass, we will know that the earth is yielding to God’s kingdom.

The Day will come suddenly, and we are to make sure we keep our hearts and souls pure.

Application

The doctrine of Christ’s return is not about looking for the signs of the end times so much as making sure that we are ready.

Jesus here tells us to “keep a constant” watch over our souls.” In other words, I must constantly be aware of the state of my soul. That means watching out for sinful attitudes, treating people in a way that confirms Jesus’s love for them, being in touch with God through prayer, Scriptures and corporate worship.

Jesus wants us to have the grace and courage to overcome the adversities and temptations in our lives. This is not about the Great Tribulation and the Antichrist, but our daily life in the world. Am I allowing bitterness or vengeance or secret sins to take hold?

The aim of this is simple. Jesus wants us to be able to stand before Him with a clear conscience. How can we enter spiritual worship if our sins condemn us, much less enter the divine throne room?

All of us sin, even after we start to walk with the Lord. We must confess our sins to Him and receive His forgiveness so stand guiltless in His glory.

Prayer

Thank you Father that through the Blood of Christ I am free from sin. Help me to stay clean in you. Amen.

Reflection on Jeremiah 33:14-18

branch-stump

Scripture
“In those days and at that time, I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line.”

Observation
The Lord promises to restore to His people all that has been taken from them. At the right time there will be a Branch from the line of David- a righteous branch who will do what is right.

The Lord will also ensure that there will always be a descendant of David on the throne of Israel and a priest to continually offer sacrifices.

Application
The righteous Branch would come from David’s line at the right time- the kairos time, the appointed time.

The Branch, of course, is Jesus, whose birth we celebrate in a few weeks time.

God had promised that there would always be someone from David’s line on the throne in Israel. Jesus is that person. He reigns not just over Israel but the whole world.

King Jesus, the righteous Branch rules in righteousness. All earthly kings carry the stain of sin, but Jesus is not only sinless, He has defeated sin.

The righteous Branch from David’s line is bringing justice and holiness to the world even today.

Prayer
Lord you are that righteous Branch from the line of David. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah! Amen.

Reflection on John 18:33-37


Scripture

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

Observation

Jesus is before Pilate on trial for His life.

Pilate summons Jesus and says, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replies asking, “Is this your own idea?”

Pilate then asks, “What is it that you have done?” Jesus answers that His kingdom is not of this world, it is from another place.

Jesus goes on to say that He is in fact a king who has come into the world to testify to truth. Pilate cynically asks, “What is truth?”

Application

Jesus’ kingdom, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, is not of this world. All human kingdoms, no matter how benevolent, carry the taint of sin. Every king who was ever born was a sinner and therefore not perfect.

The values of Jesus’ kingdom are different to the values of human kingdoms.

The kingdom of Jesus does not expand by violent invasion. Rather it is like salt or yeast which seems to be insignificant but actually transforms what it is mixed with.

The kingdom advances by the salvation of individuals. Hearts and minds are changed from the kingdom of this world to allegiance to the king of heaven.

Unlike Islam, which advances by conquest and domination, the kingdom of Jesus advances quietly and by freedom.

As Jesus says, if His kingdom were of this world, His servants would physically fight for Him. This has been tried in the past with disastrous results.

God’s kingdom is the kingdom of agape, sacrificial love. That is our weapon.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you laid down your life for me. Help me to lay down my life for the sake of you and your kingdom. Help me to give myself away in loving my neighbours for your sake. Amen.

Reflection on Revelation 1:1-8

Scripture
“I am the Alpha and the Omega- the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come- the Almighty One.”

Observation
John describes his letter as a revelation from God of events soon to come. God blesses the person who reads the prophecy and those who obey it.

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the ruler of the kings of the world. He is coming, and everyone will see Him.

God is the first and the last, the one who is, who always was and is yet to come.

Application
God is the beginning and the end, the first and the last. He is outside of time, and there was not a time when He did not exist.

When we look at the powerful forces at work in the world whether military, political or corporate- we can be overwhelmed by them. Who can stand against them?

God is stronger than all these things. He is bigger than any created thing. He was there before them and will be there long after they have turned to dust. He is the first and the last, the Almighty God.

When it comes to our personal sufferings, our problems, relationships that are difficult, sins that we struggle with- God knows the end from the beginning. He is already at the place where these things are worked through.

God sees our heart, not just the situations we live through.

God is unchanging. He is always the same. Mountains may fall but God will not. Countries and cultures, families and neighbourhoods change, but God does not.

He is the rock. He is the one we can depend on always.

Prayer
Thank you Lord for the certainty that you will always be here. You will always be who you are now. There is no shadow of turning in you. Amen.

Reflection on Mark 13:1-8

Scripture
“When you hear of wars and rumours of was, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

Observation
Jesus and His disciples leave the Temple building, and one of them exclaims, “Look at these magnificent buildings!”

Jesus replies that the Temple will be so obliterated that not one stone will remain on another. He goes on to tell them that many will come claiming to be Jesus and to speak in His name, and they will deceive many people. There will be wars and rumours of wars, but the disciples are not to be alarmed.

Application
Although people often look at this passage as being about the end times, it primarily refers to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, when the Temple, which seemed so magnificent and indestructible, was totally destroyed.

There are two warnings in this passage that apply to us.

  1. Do not be deceived by false messiahs claiming to come in the name of the Lord. The people of God must exercise discernment. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice.” When celebrity preachers or political leaders offer a different gospel or a different salvation, we must recognise that they are a false messiah, a false teacher, a false leader- even if they claim to be born again.
  2. We must not be alarmed by the tumult of the nations. Wars have always been a part of human existence. In fact, we live in an era of unprecedented peace, yet people are more fearful than ever. Our focus must always be on Jesus rather than the affairs of the nations.

When people offer “peace in our time” without Jesus then we can be certain that they are a false messiah. Only Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Peace without Him is a false peace, brittle and short-lived.

Prayer
Help me, Holy Spirit, to discern what is true, edifying and from you. Let me see the truth in every situation and trust my fears and anxieties to you. Amen

Reflection on Hebrews 10:11-25

Scripture

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as we see the Day coming.

Observation

Priests offer sacrifices over and over, but Christ our High Priest offered the one perfect sacrifice and then sat down at God’s right hand. This one sacrifice atoned for all sin and so there is no longer any need for sacrifices.

Therefore we have confidence to enter the Holy Place knowing that our hearts and consciences have been made clean. We should spur one another on to good deeds, continuing to meet together to encourage one another.

Application

There is a wrong belief amongst some people that we don’t need church to walk with Jesus. Apparently that belief was there from the beginning, but in our increasingly individualistic and fragmented society it is becoming more common.

On the one hand, the New Testament reassures us that we have the Holy Spirit and don’t need anyone to teach us the ways of the Lord. On the other hand, the New Testament also emphasises frequently the corporate nature of the church which is described as the Body of Christ,

We need each other to ensure that we keep growing in Christ. We need each other to complement one another’s spiritual gifts. When we are left to our own devices it is easy to be deceived into believing that we are doing well. When we meet together the exuberance of others might encourage us to go deeper in Christ. Seeing others grow in the Lord can encourage us to see that we have more to learn, more to repent, more to grow.

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for the church, the Body of Christ in the world. Help me to be an encourager to my fellow christians and to be encouraged by them. Amen.