Tuesday, 31 July 2007

I am the Light of the World

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” - John 8v12

I have recently learned a new song by Christ Tomlin called, “Here I am to worship.” The song starts with these lyrics:

Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness.
Opened my eyes, let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You

It really summarises some of what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the light of the world…” An older song puts it this way; “The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin, the Light of the World is Jesus.”

Darkness is the perfect description of a world without Christ. Darkness is discouraging, discomfiting, and disorientating. Light is comforting. It gives us direction and it opens paths. It reveals a pathway where we don’t know how to walk. The Bible tells us that the wicked walk in darkness and they don’t know at what they stumble.

Into that darkness God sent His Son, the Light of the World. There is no need to walk in darkness; we already have the Light of the World. Those around us need the Light that we have. We too are called lights in this world. Does our light truly reflect the Light of the World to those around us?

Monday, 30 July 2007

Cast the first stone

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” - John 8v7

Jesus had a wonderful compassion for all. While the Pharisees and scribes did everything they could to trap Him, He kept ministering. Here they brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. The law said that someone caught in adultery had to be stoned for their crime. Surely this was something that Jesus could not get out of, He was stuck, either He would have to condone her stoning, which went against His compassion, or He would have to let her go, which went against the law.

As was usual, Jesus was not going to be trapped. He bent down and wrote something in the sand. Whatever He wrote it had some kind of impact. The law said that her accusers had to be innocent of the same crime and they would cast the first stone. So Jesus called on the first stone thrower, the innocent accuser. At that, everyone walked away – there were no accusers to throw the first stone.

What did Jesus do next? Was this an excuse for her to go on sinning? Did the fact that she had no accusers give he licence to continue on? Jesus lifted her up and told her to go on her way, but He first told her, “Leave your life of sin.”

While Jesus did not condone her sin, He also did not tolerate the judgemental attitude of the Pharisees who wanted her judged while ignoring their own. This reminds me of the mote in the eye illustration; we always are quick to judge others; but what about our own sin? Are we as quick to want our own sin judged as we are another’s? I am afraid not.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

If any man thirst

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” - John 7v37

Back in Isaiah there is a marvellous invitation given; “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Back in Isaiah’s day, as in Jesus’ day, and as in our day, there is a great spiritual hunger and thirst. The world tries everything to satiate their thirst, yet no matter what they try they are always thirsty again. Even Christians can seek to satisfy their thirst in the wrong manner. We can think that if we are busy enough, or serving enough, or active enough we can satisfy that thirst for God.

In the middle of the great feast, while there was plenty of physical eating drinking Jesus boldly rose and said, “If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink.” Jesus was speaking of the perfect fulfilment of what Isaiah had spoken all those years before. He spoke of the marvellous gift of the Holy Spirit which He was going to offer.

Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as springs of living water. He said that whoever comes to Him will have these springs of living water flowing out of his belly. There is no need to us to ever be spiritually thirsty. We get so busy with doing what we think is so necessary, or we seek satisfaction in so many things of the world that we often find ourselves thirsty when there is no need to be.

When we are thirsty it is because we choose to be, not because there is nothing to drink. We have springs of living water available, lets immerse ourselves in theat ever flowing fountain!

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Judge not according to the appearance

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” - John 7v24

For a good part of my Christian life I had (and still have at times) a major spiritual problem. I tended to judge people by what I saw when I met or saw them. I judged people by the clothes they wore, the music they listened to, the way they cut their hair, the church they went to, or any number of other things. When we do this of course it gives us a preconceived bias the colours the rest of our relationship. It is a destructive practice.

What does Jesus say? He simply tells is not to judge that way. Does that mean we never make a spiritual judgement? Does that mean we take an “anything goes” attitude? No, but it does mean that we make discernment based on the word of God alone. Even then we need to make righteous judgements, based on what is right, not on our personal preferences or our biases.

Let’s be careful that we judge others not by what we see, but by what God’s word says.

Friday, 27 July 2007

No man spoke openly of him

“Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.” - John 7v13

As the feast of the Tabernacles approached his brothers tried to encourage Him to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles to show everyone who He was. As His brothers they wanted Him to make Himself known. We have to wonder if part of the reason was so that they could be as famous as He was to be. He told them that He would not go up to the feast with them, but He did go up a little later, but He did so privately.

While He was there some of the discussion was about Him. Some people said that He was a good man; some said that He was a deceiver, but none spoke openly of Him, not even His brothers who were there.

Sadly, this situation applies to more than just those at the feast. It is easy enough for us to speak about Christ in a general way. Yet, how often do we speak openly of Him? Those at the feast didn’t speak for fear of the Jews. What fear keeps us from speaking openly of Him?

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Even His brothers did not believe in Him

“For neither did his brethren believe in him.” - John 7:5

The phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” seems appropriate here. Very few would accept Jesus and put their faith in Him in His home region. In fact, even His brothers had not yet put their faith in Him.

It can be terribly frustrating to try and witness to those who are closest to us. They just don’t seem to cop on sometimes. Why will others listen, but not our family?

If I can say it without sounding sacrilegious, Jesus had the same problem. His family and friends would not trust Him enough to put their faith in Him. In the same light sometimes our family doesn’t trust us enough to believe the change in our lives.

What does it take? For Jesus it took going to the cross, dying, and being raised from the dead for His family to believe.

That’s not going to happen to us. But our family needs to see that the old man is truly dead, that we have been raised to walk in a new life in Christ. When our family sees the resurrected “us” then they will know it is real, just like Jesus family knew it was real when He rose from the dead.

Don’t be discouraged when the family does not believe. Be patient and let them see the new man in Christ.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Where else would we go?

“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” - John 6v68

This is where it really got tough. Jesus’ difficult teaching had scared many off. The peer pressure must have been intense. I was once in a service where the preacher compelled the vast majority of the congregation of thousands to walk the aisle. Not that I was any more prefect then than I am now, but I was not moved by the Holy Spirit to move. However, the peer pressure to move was intense. It is a powerful force.

Jesus knew how strong the pressure would be, so He asked the Twelve, “Are you going to leave as well?” You can almost sense the pain in the Saviour’s heart as He asked the question.

Peter was a mess at times, but here he steps forward and responds in a beautiful way that should always be in our minds. “Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” At the end of the day there is nothing greater that knowing that we have eternal life. Everything else around us is going to fade away. All the troubles of the world will soon be over.

When we get discouraged, distressed, or worn out we need to remember what we really have. Jesus had provided eternal life, where else would we want to go?

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

They walked no more with Him

“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” John v:66

This had to be tough teaching. The disciples really thought that following Jesus would mean that soon the Roman occupying army would be overthrown, Jesus would b eking, and they would all be in His cabinet. Yet down He is talking about eating His body and drinking His blood? This was really hard for them to swallow (pun intended). What could He be talking about? Did they have to be cannibals to follow Christ?

Jesus made it clear that He was speaking spiritually – “The words I speak are spirit and they are truth.” Still, this could not be a pleasant experience He was talking about. It wasn’t going to all that it was cracked up to me. They would have to partake of His suffering if they were going to follow Him.

So what happened next? Many turned back and followed Him no more. They couldn’t handle the pressure of partaking in the suffering.

It is easy for us to be critical of these disciples for turning back. Yet, we have to ask ourselves what we do when the going gets tough? It is wonderful to follow Christ when things are going well and are exciting. It’s not so easy when things get tough and suffering is involved. Like the disciples we too have a choice. We can turn back, or we can determine in His strength to continue following Him.

How sad it is when His followers turn back after all He does. Keep me Father from ever turning back.

Monday, 23 July 2007

They testify of me

“Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” - John 5v39

I find it interesting that Jesus spent so much time teaching the Pharisees. They were His greatest opponents, yet shortly after He shares with a Samaritan prostitute we find Him with the religious leaders trying to teach them. Here He pointed out that they did the right thing to a certain extent. They did search the Scriptures. They knew that that is where they could find eternal life. The problem is that that had focused on the law and created traditions while missing the key. Jesus told them that they needed to realise that Jesus spoke of Him. All that they had been reading, searching, and studying was fine, but they needed to see Him in the Scriptures.

There is a lesson for us here. That is the importance of us searching the Scriptures ourselves. It is only there that we find the testimony of Christ. We can’t know about Christ by all of the things that vie for our attention. The only way to learn of Christ is to continue searching the scriptures ourselves. We are not going to be Christ-like if we don’t know what He was like,

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Many of the Samaritans believed

“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” - John 4v39

In the minds of the disciples a town in Samaria would be the very last place that, in modern terminology, a revival would break out. After all, this was Samaria and Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. What possible impact could He have in this, of all towns?

When the Samaritan woman went back to town and told he people about Jesus many of the townspeople came out to learn more. When He spoke many more believed and acknowledged that Jesus was the Saviour of the world. This reminds me of the revival in Ninevah when Jonah preached.

The lesson is pretty clear for us. We never know where God is going to work. No area should even be a “write-off’ seen as not worthy of our time and effort. If this town in Samaria could see revival any place can. In fact, it seems that God often works in the place we would see as most unlikely.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

He that sows and he that reaps rejoice together

“And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” - John 4v36

Sowing and reaping go hand in hand. When crops are sown they must be reaped or they will go to waste. If there were no sowing they would be no reaping. The two are integral to crop production. Neither is more or less important that than the other.

Jesus told His disciples that the sowing for them had been done. All they had to do now was to go out and reap the harvest. The people had their knowledge of the true God and they knew Messiah was coming. The seeds had been planted and cultivated; all they had to do was reap the benefits.

In a rush to reap it seems that some have forgotten about sowing. Today there are many people and many places where the seeds have never been sown. There are places where there cannot be any reaping because there has been no sowing. We have diminished the role of the sower in far too many cases.

In reality sowers and reapers need to work hand in hand. We need to see this as team work where one is as vital as the other. Never be ashamed of being a sower; never tire of sowing. The day will come when there

Friday, 20 July 2007

In Spirit and truth

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

- John 4v24

The modern church talks a lot about worship. We have worship services, worship leaders, worship songs, and seminars on worship. We have traditional worship, contemporary worship, and mixed worship. We have changed the meaning of the word worship to talk about the style of a church service.

What is real worship? Whatever it is it is not the style of a church service. Worship, according to Jesus, is what happens in my heart. The Samaritan woman asked questions about where people should worship. Jesus pointed out that it really doesn’t matter. Worship, true worship, is what matter in spirit and in truth. It is what goes on between me and God. Worship is what honestly happens in my spirit and what is truthfully going on. Sometimes that worship may manifest itself in my behaviour or actions, but actions are not worship.

Lets be sure that we focus on Biblical worship, that which is in spirit and truth.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Where should we worship?

“The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” - John 4v19-20

How do we respond when confronted with our sin? As Jesus passed through Samaria He sat at a well at noon for a divine appointment. He sent the disciples into town to get some food, and then He was approached by a prostitute from the city. He asked her for water and she wondered why He, a Jew, would do that. They had no dealings with each other.

Jesus didn’t wait long to get the crux of the matter. He used her situation to bring her sin to light. When He did so she perceived that He was a prophet and tried to change the subject by pointing out that Jews and Samaritans worshipped in different places. She asked Him which one was right. He answered her quickly and got back on topic.

The point for us is to ask ourselves how we respond when God deals with our sin. When the Holy Spirit convicts us will we listen, or change the subject in our own minds? Lets be more like David than the Samaritan woman, and when God deals with our sin lets change our action and attitude instead of changing the subject.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Jesus needed to go through Samaria

“And he must needs go through Samaria.” - John 4v4

If Jews had to travel north in Jesus’ day they would do all they could to avoid Samaria. There was a mutual hatred between Jews and Samaritans that went way back. In the mind of some Jews the Samaritans were even worse then Gentiles because they were “half breeds.” There was no love lost between these two peoples.

As Jesus and the disciples made plans to travel north we read that Jesus needed to go through Samaria. The men must have wondered why they would do something like this. Why do we need to go THERE of all places? We know now that Jesus had a reason – He had to talk to a Samaritan prostitute! What? That makes it even more confusing. “We have to go a place like this, and when You get here you are going to talk to a woman like her?”

What a challenge for me. There are places that I may not want to go and people I may not want to deal with, but like Jesus perhaps these are the place I NEED to go because like the Samaritan prostitute they NEED Jesus.

Jesus needed to go through Samaria because He was needed. Where do you and I need to go for the same reason today?

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

God doesn’t give the Spirit by measure

“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” - John 3v34

For the first time ever here was one who did not only have the Holy Spirit for a short time or for a once off job, but One who was given the Spirit without measure. All of the godhead dwelt in Jesus bodily. He did not lack anything of God in Him so He was the entire Logos of God made corporal for the world so that He could show God to man. There is no one else like Him, He is all we need.

The more I read about Christ the more I am amazed that when I got saved He came to live and dwell in me. What does that mean for us? It seems clear that we don’t get part of Christ or the Spirit a salvation. It seems to say that we have all we need in Him. We don’t need more of Him – we simply need to yield to His control and let Him reign.

Christ has all of the Holy Spirit. I have all of Christ. I have all I need!

Monday, 16 July 2007

He must increase

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” - John 3v30

One day some of John’s disciples came to him and told him that Jesus was a short distance away preaching and baptising. It is clear that even in the early days there was a temptation toward ministry jealousy. It looks like they wanted John to run Him off, or at least get Him to move further away.

John’s response was brilliant. First he mentioned that his only purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus anyway, they were not in competition.

He then used a phrase that should epitomise all our service for Him. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John set a pattern for all of us. Our whole life should be about us decreasing and Jesus increasing. There is no room in our service for Christ for self-centredness or self promotion. It really is not about us. It is all about promoting Jesus. My goal should be that when people see me they actually see Jesus in me.

My whole life should be about me decreasing and Jesus increasing.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

For God so loved the world

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” - John 3v16

It is tempting when going through the word of God looking for nuggets or gleanings to overlook some things that are most familiar. However they are some things that we just can’t overlook. John 3v16 is probably the most familiar verse among Christians. Every verse is of equal importance, yet somehow this one seems to summarise the entire gospel.

“For God so loved he world…” What kind of love is this that allows the God of the universe to send His only Son to die on the cross for a sinner like me? Is the love that epitomises the God Who is love.

May I never get accustomed to John 3v16.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

He knew what was in man

“And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.- John 2v25

Sometimes as we walk through life with our thoughts and ideas, our concerns and emotions, and our feelings and fears we can think that no one else know what is going on inside our heads. When the thoughts are wrong and sinful we think we can “get away with it” since no one knows. When we have fearful thoughts we can think that we are dealing with it by ourselves and be afraid.

There is a wonderful truth that can be both challenging and encouraging at the same time. Jesus knows what is in men. He knows what is going on. It is an application of Psalm 139 to Jesus. There we learn that God has searched us out and He knows. It is even more obvious to us to day because when we accept Christ as Saviour He comes to live in us. He knows exactly what is going on inside our heads.

Convicting? Of course, if our thoughts are wrong. But how comforting when we feel alone and afraid that know that He knows all about it and will carry us through.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Grace for grace

“And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” - John 1v16

Many restaurants, especially in the States offer what they call a “bottomless coffee cup.” No matter how much coffee you drink, they keep refilling your cup. I have, dangerously, eaten at “all you can eat restaurants.” The worst for me is a pizza place called Ci Ci’s. Not only do you get all the pizza you can eat, they will make a pizza for you and it still is part of the “all you can eat.” There are all kinds of pizza and even desert pizzas! At Ci Ci’s when the pizza runs out they replace the pizza with pizza. On the counters at Ci Ci’s there is pizza for pizza!

As wonderful as that image is, there is an even more amazing “all you can consume” picture from Scripture. Where eventually Ci Ci’s could theoretically run out of pizza, there is something that NEVER runs out. God says that when we but our faith in Christ we have all the fullness of God. In addition we have “graced for grace.” What does that mean? It means that there is always grace in the place of grace. The counter of God’s grace never runs dry. While the staff at Ci Ci’s may lag and the counter may be temporarily empty, God’s grace NEVER runs out. There is always grace in the place of grace.

How wonderful to avail ourselves of “all you can use” grace!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Full of grace and truth

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” - John 1v14

When we think of Jesus many images come to mind. We see Him preaching and teaching. We see Him holding children. We see Him attacking the Pharisees and scribes. Which of these best depicts the character of Jesus?

I think we get a hint from John’s words here. As John remembers Jesus he says that they beheld His glory from the Father, but then he describes Him as “full of grace and truth.”

What a wonderful description. Full of grace and full of truth. Yes, we know that Jesus was righteous and never tolerated sin. He did have to rail on the Pharisees. He did overturn the money changer’s tables. Yet, it seems that both of these were directed at those who were hurting people. Jesus was the very epitome of grace and truth. Can you imagine what our lives would be like if we showed these to aspects in our lives? Can you imagine the impact of our testimony if people knew us as gracious and truthful?

We are called to be Christ-like. Would people say of us that we are “full of grace and truth” as live before them?

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

In the beginning was the Word

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - John 1v1

This is one of those verses that we have read and heard so often that we can quote it off without giving it a second thought. Yet, it is something that we cannot lust lay aside in our bank of basic knowledge and move on.

What is the import of this simple line? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” What this means to me is that the very Creator and Sustainer of the universe, God Himself lives and dwells in me. The eternal Logos came to earth to die for and live and empower me to live for Him.

Does my life reflect the Word, or does it reflect me? When people see me on the street, at school, or in the workplace who do they see? When I consider who dwells with me the natural result should be to honour and glorify Him by the life I live.

What impact does the eternal Word have on my life everyday?

Monday, 9 July 2007

Continually in the temple

“And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” - Luke 24v53

As the book of Luke comes to a close the disciples are finally convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead. When he ascends to heaven in their midst the Bible tells us that they went back and were “continually in the temple” and that as they did so they were praising and blessing God.

Clearly the early church met in the Temple. Historians and archaeologists tell us that there were meeting rooms around the Temple that Jews could use for various purposes. The disciples met there, from this context, continually to praise and bless God.

It seems that the disciples set a pattern that was followed by the church as they met together day by day to break bread and learn doctrine. To the early church the question seems to have been not, “How often do I have to go to church?” but “How often do I get to go to church?”

How have we lost this mindset? Where has it gone? We use the excuse that life is so busy and so hectic today that we really need a break to just “chill.” That doesn’t seem to be God’s plan. The disciples and early church had no supermarkets, no electric appliances, no microwaves, and no cars. Living was a full time job, but they still found a way to be in the Temple continually praising and blessing God.

Perhaps we should re-evaluate our priorities?

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Did our hearts not burn within us?

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” - Luke 24v32

How do we respond to God’s word? What affect does it have on us? Do we get to the point when we grow accustomed to or get used to His word?

After the crucifixion two of Jesus’ followers made their way to Emmaus. They were saddened by Jesus’ death and were discussing the events when a third man joined them on their way. As they walked they discussed the events together and it was clear that they hadn’t listen to or understood what He had said about the resurrection. When Jesus revealed Himself to them everything fell into place.

When it all fell into place they remembered the impact of Jesus’ words – “Did our hearts burn within us?” He then explained what made their hearts burn, “When He talked with us and opened the Scriptures to us.” It was Jesus’ teaching from the Scriptures that made their hearts burn.

Have our hearts grown so cold that the word of God is not able to burn in our hearts? If God’s word no longer burns we need to examine our hearts to once again allow the Bible to have the impact it once did.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

I am among you as He that serves

“For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.” - Luke 22v27

Jesus was coming to the end of His earthly ministries. There surely were all kinds of vital lessons they could have needed. What would He teach as His final lessons? Would He teach on God’s sovereignty or holiness? Would He do some more kingdom teaching? As they all sat down for their final meal together what would Jesus tell the disciples?

As they prepared for the meal Jesus reminded them that in normal life the greater at a meal are served by the lesser. It is the servants who serve, not the master of the house. Yet, He said that He, their Master and Teacher was the One who was going to serve.

I wonder what they thought at that moment. This flew in the face of all conventional culture and custom. Why would their Master serve them? The answer was clear; He had a few more lessons for them. Among those final lessons would be the lesson of service. The greatest are the servants. Our greatest work is to serve. If we truly desire to be great in His sight we must follow His example and learn to serve.

Friday, 6 July 2007

I will give you a mouth and wisdom

“For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist”. - Luke 21v15

What do you say when people oppose you in a trial and you really don’t know what to say? We all face situations when people make things difficult for us and we don’t know how to deal with it. Jesus was teaching on coming persecution when He addressed this issue.

He told the disciples, “When opposition comes don’t worry about what to say. I will give you words to say and I will give you wisdom. Your adversaries will not be able to answer.”

As hard as opposition is we need not fear how we are going to handle it. Pray, then trust God to give us the wisdom to deal with the situation and the words to say.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Have mercy on me a sinner

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” - Luke 18v13

This is one of those passages that always stops me short when I read it. Two men went up to pray. The Pharisee prayed based on how good he was. “I pray, I give, I fast, etc, etc.” as though he were trying to persuade God as to how good he was. One must wonder about who he is trying to convince, God or himself.

On the other hand there is a publican, who won’t even approach the Temple because he feels so unworthy. When he prays it is simple and to the point – “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Of course in this account Jesus uses word to express heart attitudes. The Pharisee approached God on the basis of his goodness, the publican approached on the basis of his need.

Every time I approach God in prayer I need to remember that I do so on the basis of one thing – I am a sinner in need of His mercy. He doesn’t owe me anything.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Men ought always to pray

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” - Luke 18v1

Do you ever get tired of praying? Do you ever feel, “why bother”? We all go through times when it seems like prayer just isn’t worth it. Now, this may sound shocking and unspiritual, but sometimes we all experience thoughts that prayer just doesn’t “work.”

This problem is not unique. Jesus knew that it was a real problem and that is why He addressed it with the disciples. What did Jesus say about getting tired of praying? “Men ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Simple enough really isn’t it. What do we do when we get tired of praying? Well, we pray. “What do we do when it seems like prayer isn’t working? Well, we pray. And so it goes.

The key to praying is really pretty simple – just pray. We don’t really need books, CDs, and seminars. Just trust what Jesus says and keep on praying! Prayer is not to get God to perform according to our standards – prayer is to help us know Him better, so the more we pray, the more we see His will and way in our lives.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

One of them turned back

“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,” - Luke 17v15

As I have gone through the Bible this time I have been impressed with the number of times God deals with the topic of thanksgiving. The story of the lepers is one that always catches my eye and reminds of the need to be grateful for what God has done for us.

As Jesus was travelling he came across ten lepers. Because they were lepers it was a mixed crowd of Jews and at least one Samaritan. They asked for mercy and Jesus stopped, told them they were healed, and that they should go to the priest to have their cleansing confirmed.

They took off, but one, the Samaritan, turned back and came to Jesus. “With a loud voice” he glorified God and showed his gratitude. Sadly, only the one returned. “Where are the others?” Jesus asked.

I wonder how often in my life Jesus has had to say, “Where is Roger?” when He has done something for me. Thanksgiving always glorifies God.

May I remember the story of the thankful Samaritan when God does great things for me.

Monday, 2 July 2007

We have done our duty

“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” - Luke 17v10

What is our motivation for service? I have often heard it said that one of our goals is that some day we will get to hear Jesus say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Some are motivated by the crowns we will get to casts at Jesus’ feet. Some may be motivated by the praise of men and to hear their applause.

Yet, what does Jesus say about service? In this parable Jesus talks about a servant coming in from the fields after a hard days work. Does that servant expect his dinner to be laid out for him? No, he knows that he still has a meal to prepare. He is a servant, he knows that he has a job to do and does it because that is what he does.

So it is for us. Lest we think we are something special in our service let us see what Jesus said here. “When you have done all that is commanded say, ‘we are unprofitable servants, we have done our duty.’”

That’s what it is all about – we just do our jobs. No glitz, no glamour, no fanfare. Let’s just do our duty and leave the rest up to Him.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Increase our faith

“And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” - Luke 17v4-5

There are a lot of teachings in the word of God that would lead us to say “increase our faith.” The disciples had heard all kinds of amazing teachings that required a testing of their faith. I am not sure how often they asked this, but there was a hard teaching that led them to increase their faith.

At the beginning of Luke 17 Jesus taught on forgiveness. He said basically, If you brother offends you go to him and rebuke him. If he forgives you, forgive him. If he does it again, forgive him again – even if it happens seven times in the same day.”

Forgiveness is not always easy. We have been offended, our sensitivities scratched, an injustice perceived. It may not be too hard to forgive the first time, but what about if they do the same thing over and over and over again? How easy is it to forgive the seventh time someone offends us? And yet, Jesus still says, “forgive him.”

No wonder the disciples said, “Increase our faith.” Forgiveness – how do we do with that particular teaching? Might we all say, “Increase our faith”?