Monthly Archives: August 2012

Supernatural Encounters with God

Reading: John 2:1-11

Scripture

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. John 2:11 (NIV)

Observations

Miracles open the way to faith in those whose hearts are open to the things of God. Jesus' disciples had already decided to follow him, but it was early in the piece, and they were still watching him, formulating their views about him. Their faith was in its infancy, but this miracle at the wedding in Cana sure had an impact.

Of course, miracles by themselves don't guarantee faith, as evidenced by the reaction of the Pharisees to Jesus' miracles. But the “supernatural” sure opens doors, especially when God's love and kindness is revealed through it.

Application

I can't expect to make an eternally lasting impact in the lives of others simply through my own efforts. It is God who brings true transformation to our lives, and I need to be always open to the possibility of God doing his supernatural work through me. I need to be constantly asking, “What are you wanting to do here, Lord?” And then acting on the prompting that the Spirit gives me, no matter how silly it might seem. Jesus reveals how this works:

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19

Just as Jesus did what he saw his Father doing, I need to be alert, obedient to the Spirit, and open to what God is wanting to do.

Prayer

Father God, please open my eyes to what you are wanting to do in the situations I find myself in. “Your kingdom come on earth…” I offer myself to you, to be your agent in the world where I live. Holy Spirit, grant me faith and courage to act on your promptings, that I might be ready and available to usher people into a life-changing encounter with you.

 

 

Serving with Devotion

Reading: Ephesians 6:5-9

Scripture

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Ephesians 6:5-9a (NIV)

Observations

My attitude toward serving is important. I can't claim to be serving God wholeheartedly unless I am serving others with that very same attitude of heart. Whether we're talking about employer or employee, family or friends, people in the community or people in the church, my attitude is to be one of devotion.

Devotion: Love, loyalty or enthusiasm for a person, activity or cause.

Application

Serving wholeheartedly as if I were serving the Lord leaves no room for showing favouritism. It would be like saying, “Lord, I love you when I'm serving this person but not when I'm serving that person.” That's just not an option. Instead, every opportunity to serve is for me an opportunity to serve God. In fact, serving wholeheartedly those who I'd rather not serve is an opportunity to express my devotion to God all the more – my love, loyalty and enthusiasm for him and his purpose.

Prayer

Lord God, let your grace flow! As I serve others, let your grace flow to me and through me. In my own strength, I don't have what it takes, but your love is “wide and long and high and deep.” Please fill me with that love and help me to serve with love and devotion.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

 

God’s Work in Me

Reading: Joshua 1

Scripture

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

Observations

Joshua was about to lead several million people into a land that God had promised to his ancestors hundreds of years earlier. After all this time, he was the one to realise the promise. This would require military leadership as well as civil governance responsibilities.

Joshua had done his apprenticeship under Moses for 40 years or so. He knew what it was to be in God's presence, having spent much time with God in the Tent of Meeting. Yet now, prosperity and success depended on this one thing – that his mind and his heart be so filled with the Book of the Law that he would unswervingly live by God's Word. He was to think it, speak it, and live by it.

Application

The same applies to me, yet so much differently because of God's promise which is now fulfilled: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31:33 No longer must I try my hardest to internalise his Word, hoping thereby to obey it and somehow reach his required standard. Instead, God's Word is already within me, written on my heart, and his Spirit is now helping me to externalise or live out that Word.

The pressure now comes right off, because God himself is doing this work in me. “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11. Now as I read God's Word, I am transformed by it because the Spirit is doing this work in me. Now as I 'marinate' in the words of the Word, it's flavour can soak right through me. In effect, the Word is being fulfilled in my life, not because of my own efforts, but because God is doing it. Mine is simply to submit myself into his hands, cooperating with him and trusting him for everything.

Prayer

God, you are so good. Thank you for your precious Word. Thank you for opening your heart to me so that I can know you and enjoy your promises. And thank you Jesus for your sacrifice that has made all this possible. Holy Spirit, have you way in me now, and may all your plans and purposes for me be fulfilled.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

 

Tuning In With God

Reading: Mark 13

Scripture

Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” Mark 13:35-37 (NIV)

Observations

Jesus is clearly concerned that some of us who have committed out lives to him will somehow be lost because we have “gone to sleep”. Even Jesus doesn't know the exact time of his return, but his warning suggests it could catch us by surprise if we are not watching.

Application

There is a certain amount of self discipline I require to maintain my relationship with Jesus. I need the Holy Spirit to help me, but I need to consciously “tune in” with him as often as I can think of it.

Daniel had a habit of tuning in with God three times every day. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God.” Daniel 6:10 I like this idea. I'm sure Daniel tuned in more often than three times a day, but by making these three times a part of his daily routine he safeguarded himself from “going to sleep” in his faith and remained alert, ready and available to serve his God.

How can I make purposeful “tuning in with God” a greater part of my daily routine? I already enjoy my morning 'snooze time' conversation with God before I get up. Perhaps I could tune in again when I clean my teeth, then with a 5-10 minute lunchtime walk, and in the evening with my “sneaking off with God” time. A short prayer template might be helpful to remind me to give thanks, to listen to God and to ask him for what I need.

Prayer

Jesus, I want to be ready and available to you every moment of the day and night. I know I sometimes get lost in my own thoughts, and might at times be oblivious to your Spirit prompting me, so please help me Holy Spirit to tune in. I want to truly know what it means to “Be joyful always, to pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances, knowing that this is (your) will for me in Christ Jesus.” (from 1Thess 5:16-18)

 

Eating at the King’s Table

Reading: Isaiah 54 – 55

Scripture

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Isaiah 55:1 (NIV)

Observations

This chapter contains the special offer of a lifetime, an invitation directly from God to us to come to Him and be satisfied, at no cost to ourselves. The generosity of the invitation is unquestionable. We can enjoy God's faithful love, and our souls the richest of fare. All we need do is turn from our sinful ways and our selfish thoughts and turn to the LORD, and he will freely pardon. The outcome of this will be joy.

This requires a new way of thinking. We come to a generous and good God who has purposed in his heart to show us His grace, and his plans will surely come to fruition.

Application

Just as thirst and hunger are things I experience every day, and satisfy with water and food, I can expect to feel spiritual hunger and thirst often. This is normal. How amazing that God invites me daily to come to his dining room, to eat at the king's table, and there satisfy my hunger and quench my thirst. But what does this mean in practice?

To come, to seek, to listen, to give ear, to forsake old ways and turn to God, to draw near expectantly, to dig into his Word, to reach out to him. It's up to me to “eat what is good, and my soul will delight in the richest of fare.” Isaiah 55:2

Prayer

I am so privileged Lord to be invited to your table. May nothing else satisfy my hunger and thirst. I most gratefully accept your generous invitation. May your thoughts become my thoughts, and your Word truly accomplish what you desire my life and achieve the purpose for which you sent it.

 

The Ultimate in Designer Clothing

Reading: Exodus 39:1-32

Scripture

The craftsmen made beautiful sacred garments of blue, purple, and scarlet cloth—clothing for Aaron to wear while ministering in the Holy Place, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Exodus 39:1 (NLT)

Observations

Nothing unholy can stand in the presence of our holy God. In order to serve in God's presence, Aaron needed to be made holy; “sanctified” or set apart for holy service. Sacrifices needed to be made on his behalf. Not only that, Aaron's garments needed to be made holy by the appropriate ceremony and sacrifice. In keeping with that need for holiness, the garments were crafted from the finest fabric, colourful and richly adorned to reflect the beauty that holiness brings.

Application

I too need to be adorned in holiness if am to enter the presence of my holy God. My old clothes are spoiled by sin and shame. Fortunately, I have some new ones! I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10

My new clothes come to me at great price. For Jesus, who bought them for me, was stripped of his at the cross, his garments of holiness replaced by my filthy rags in the sight of both God and man, so that I might be dressed and ready to be welcomed into the very presence of God.

I find it interesting that although his seamless “woven in one piece” undergarment was stripped from him, it was considered too valuable to be cut in pieces: “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” John 19:24a In the same way, Jesus' own holiness was not blemished or tainted at the cross. Rather, it became a precious gift, one that has somehow made its way into my hands, and into the hands of all who would humble themselves to receive it.

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for your incredible gift of holiness, for these precious clothes which now adorn me and qualify me to come into the presence of God my Father. Help me Jesus to wear them as they should be worn, to live in holiness and to carry myself in such a way that the giver of that holiness is recognised, praised and acknowledged as the source of everything that is holy and good.

 

No Worries! (Dispelling Darkness with Light)

Reading: Psalms 94 – 99; Philippians 4:4-8

Scripture

Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psalm 94:17-20 (NIV)

Observations

God is my help. Whenever I get that uncomfortable feeling that things in my life are getting out of control, that the weight of my responsibilities is too much to bear, it is God who supports me. His love is never overwhelmed. If I can just be filled to the measure with that love, there simply won't be room for anxiety. Paul gives some great advice on how to do this in Philippians 4:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:4-9 (NLT)

Application

My heart and my mind are like rooms which can be filled with either darkness or light. Pressures and worries bring darkness. The solution? Add light, and the darkness will be dispelled! How can I add light?

  • I can be joyful! This means focusing on and celebrating the good.
  • I can pray about everything and talk to God about what I need.
  • I can be thankful! Once again, this means focusing on the good.
  • I can consciously fill my mind with good stuff, and not allow lies or negativity a look in. Chewing on God's Word is a great way to do this.

Prayer

What a helpful book your Word is, Lord! Thank you for your love. Please help me to fill my mind with what is true and good, to always be thankful and to live a life characterised by joy.

 

Meant for His Presence

Reading: Jeremiah 5:1 – 8:3

Scripture

While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your fathers. I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim.’ Jeremiah 7:13-15 (NIV)

Observations

God always meant for us to be in His presence. He meant to speak to us and have us listen. He meant to call to us and have us answer. He meant to commune with us, enjoying our closeness as we enjoyed his. God knew that we would reject him and instead pursue things that are futile. Yet ultimately, his pleasure was to show us the depths of his love and grace by wooing us back to himself through Jesus. His was and is the ultimate act of love.

Application

From the beginning of his Word to the end, God reveals his desire for closeness with me. To draw near to God is a conscious intentional action. It includes setting time aside to seek him and to listen. “Lord, what do you want to say to me today? What do you want me to know?” God has given me choice, and the opportunity to truly know his presence. I seek it with all my heart.

Prayer

Father, I thank you for your presence. I choose to draw near to you. I gladly open my ears and my heart to you. Lord, I am listening. May I be a “house that bears your Name”, and may I always bring pleasure to you as I enjoy the riches of your kindness and grace.

 

Meeting the Needs Around Me

Reading: Exodus 36:7 – 38

Scripture

They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Exodus 38:8 (NIV)

Observations

In the time the Tent of Meeting was being made, mirrors were commonly made from either polished bronze or polished copper. One side of the round metal mirror would be polished bright to give a reflection, and the other side decorated with ornate designs. It seems that despite all the offerings made by the people of Israel for the Tent of Meeting, when it came time to make the wash basin and its stand, there was no bronze available.

It was time to have a quick offering, and the women who were the “servants in the house” provided what was needed. Mirrors were no doubt a valuable commodity for these women, and were perhaps not easily replaced. The call for bronze could have been put out to the wider community, but those close to the need were the ones who provided.

Application

Those closest to a need will in most cases be the best ones to provide help. Whether it be practical help, emotional support, or the provision of money or resources, I need to be ready and willing to give. I can't expect everyone to help, nor should I begrudge having to be the one who provides. There will always be more need than can be met, but I have the unique opportunity to help those in the place God has planted me. If we all did that, what a wonderful place the world could be.

Prayer

Thank you Lord God that you loved the world so much that you gave your only Son. Help me now to love the world you have placed me in. Help me to hold loosely to my “valuables”, and instead to be generous with my time and my resources in meeting the needs around me.

 

Do I Trust You, Lord?

Reading: John 1

Scripture

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter ). John 1:40-42 (NIV)

Observations

What a bombshell! Peter comes to meet the man who his brother thinks is the promised Messiah, and the very first thing Jesus does is change his name. “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas”. These two short sentences must have been pregnant with meaning for Peter. He would change from “one who has heard” to one who is a “rock”.

What must Peter have thought? “Jesus knows my name! Jesus knows something about me that I don't. Jesus can see into my future. He speaks as though he has the authority and the power to transform who I am. There is a purpose for my life that is inextricably linked to this man Jesus. But I hardly know him. And does he really know me? Doesn't he know that I am a sinful man? Is he really the Messiah? Do I trust this man enough to give up everything to follow him?”

Application

The question is, Do I trust this man Jesus enough to give up everything to follow him? It's a decision I made a long time ago, yet in many ways it's a decision I have to make every day, every time I come to him. Do I trust you, Lord? Enough to once again open my heart to you? To forsake everything that would lay claim to my affections and place you again in that number one place in my life?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I choose once again to trust you with my life. I offer you my future. I relinquish my own ambitions and invite you to direct me, and to transform me into your likeness. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

 

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