Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The Joyful Benediction:

Bless You
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
The Joyful Benediction:
“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”(Jude 24-25)

                Jude came to trust Christ after his resurrection and he identified with the church in Jerusalem. Led by the Spirit Jude wrote a letter to focus on the dangerous unsaved people in the church who were teaching false doctrine and turning the grace of our God into a license for immorality. Jude uses vivid metaphors to describe these false teachers and pronounced their ultimate doom. He then tells true believers how to remain faithful and then adds this benediction filled with its promise of security, eternal glory and joy.
                Jude’s letter is a warning but within its message to God’s people there is the promise of love and security and the promise of a glorious future. Only those who do not have the Spirit need be afraid. Jude’s instructions for walking safely, starting by remembering the Word of God. As we obey God’s will, the way becomes clearer.  We are to keep building our faith and grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus as revealed in the Word, spending time in fellowship with God’s people and training ourselves in godliness. Praying in the Spirit accompanies studying them and this brings balance to them. We are also to look for the return of the Lord so that we may be pure. While we are waiting we should also be serving. For one day we shall see his glory and share His glory and there will be great joy.
Most people pass by this book of Jude because it is very short and often neglected. Yet it is a concise presentation of how we are to live for Christ as we await his return or as we prepare ourselves to be taken up into God’s heaven. Yet Jude gives clear instructions of walking with Christ and as a result of this there will be joy.B ut where do we find the joy in our lives today?  As we prepare to welcome Jesus into our lives again this Christmas where do you seek and will you find joy? How do we address this in light of personal losses- unemployment, death of loved ones, wondering of future life?
Jesus Other and You this is how we define joy if we truly believe and have faith in serving him. But are we willing to do this? If you are searching for joy at this time in Advent consider the baby in the manger and how much joy he brought not only to Mary and Joseph but to the visiting shepherds. Can we too get excited and feel the joy?
God of grace and love we praise you and we rejoice in your lover for us. Hep us to find our joy in you. Help us to seek your guidance and peace as we strive to live and show our love for others. Enable us to experience the joy we have in Christ. Amen.
Next Reflection will be Jan 9: “The Benediction of Love” Ephesians 6:23-24 RESOURCE: Warren W. Wiersbe.  Bless You: Receiving and Sharing the Blessings of the Lord. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, 8th printing- 2018. (p161-167)       

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Hope Benediction:

Bless You
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Hope Benediction:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13
              According to Paul the three abiding Christian virtues are faith- which compels us to look up and have confidence in the true and living God; love constrains us to that the future is our friend because Jesus is our living Lord.
look around and encourage those who need our help; and hope motivates us to look ahead with assurance, knowing
              Hope is part of the spiritual energy and vision that keeps us going when everything seems against us. The Bible compares hope to an anchor “firm and secure”. The odd thing about this anchor is that it doesn’t go down into the depths but reaches up to the heights of heaven where Jesus is and nothing can move it.  Our anchor is Jesus for he is our hope (I Tim 1:1)
              True hope enables us to look at earth from heaven’s point of view and see the present in the light of the future and this keeps us going no matter how difficult the circumstances may be.
There are several examples of people who lived in hope- Joseph waiting in Egyptian prison, Israel suffering under slavery, Joshua facing Canaanite nations, David resolutely waiting for his throne and Jeremiah painfully watching the Jewish nation crumbling around him.
              The benediction of hope leads us to live in the future tense which changes the past and the present and makes life more exciting.
How hopeful are you of your future? The future of your children/ grandchildren?  Just what do you hope for them as they continue to grow and mature in this world?
Hope begins with salvation as a person trust Christ and in that moment they are justified by faith and receive God’s peace. There is also a gift of hope in Jesus because there is no need to fear life or death; time or eternity. There is hope beyond the empty tomb because Jesus is alive!
PRAYER Thank you God for this blessing of hope which calls us from our past, to face our confessions of today and leads us to a future with you. Guide us always and enable us to grow in faith. Amen.
Next Week: “The Benediction of Joy” Jude 24-25
RESOURCE: Warren W. Wiersbe.  Bless You: Receiving and Sharing the Blessings of the Lord. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, 8th printing- 2018. (p.65-74)        

The Trinity Blessing:

Bless You
Wednesday, November 2821, 2018
The Trinity Blessing:
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
 and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
 2 Corinthians 13:14
                When we think on God we need to remember that Jesus  God as Trinity worked together in the creation of the universe. Then the angel Gabriel explained to Mary how the miracle of the incarnation (Jesus born into human history) would take place. Each person of the Godhead would be involved (Luke 1:35) “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
named the Father first, then the Son and then the Spirit and He united them with the word and. These are not three gods or different names for one God who reveals Himself in different ways at different times.
                Another story demonstrating the Trinity working together is when Jesus  is baptised. As he comes up out of the water, the Spirit descends and the voice of the Father speaks. (Matthew 3:16-17). There are other examples of the Trinity and these are explained because people had spiritual experiences as they encountered the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; as they walked with Jesus and depended on the Spirit.
                What is this grace?  The yoke of Christ is easy and light Matthew 11:28-30. And it is through grace we have the living reality in Jesus. Law condemns but grace transforms. When one understands this grace- though he was rich, he became poor for our sakes-.  This grace involves faithfulness and discipleship, that is following Jesus regularly
                We are to love our enemies, pray for them, and do good acts of love with and for them.  As we do this, we imitate the Father because God deeply loved and loves the world. Jesus didn’t feel sorry for us but He did what was necessary to save us.  And we are to love others. Christian love is an act of the will of faith in action.
                The Holy Spirit loves us so much that He is willing to live in us and be our helper. We are to have fellowship with each other—koinonia that is, to have in common the love of Jesus and to experience the Spirit within. We have Jesus in common- this is why we gather and feel blessed.
                When this blessing is shared- we often will respond and also with you. This is so that the worship leader who says it is also receiving the blessing from others. Yet we might wonder  should we be saying such words aloud? Are we directing the grace, love and fellowship of God or are we merely asking for guidance and strength?
                When you hear these words are you responding to them with love, and grace? What about the Spirit’s call to have fellowship with others. We need to be with others to understand God’s blessings. Thomas Merton wrote,” The most dangerous man in the world is the contemplative who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attraction of an interior voice but will not listen to others. He identifies the will of God with anything that makes him feel, within his own heart, a big, warm, sweet interior glory …Such a man can wreck a whole city or even a  nation.”
                As Christians we need to search the Bible for God’s wisdom, praying for guidance and power and seeking to glorify God’s Son. Are we doing this?
These words are often shared in greeting or preparation to depart from each other in worship. They pronounce a blessing that is taught and received. But one must asked, do we receive these gifts from God and/or are we using these blessings to minister to others?

As we begin Advent this week- how might you offer this blessing in faith to others? How might you live it out?
PRAYER Bless us O God. Three in One, Creator, Christ and Spirit as we strive to live and share you love with others. Help us to grow in faith and knowledge of your Word as we seek your guidance and strength. Amen.

Next Week: “The Spiritual Leader’s Benediction” Acts 20:32
Warren W. Wiersbe.  Bless You: Receiving and Sharing the Blessings of the Lord. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, 8th printing- 2018. (p.29-46)

The Peace Benediction:

Bless You
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
The Peace Benediction:
“Now may the Lord of peace h8mself give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.
 2 Thessalonians 3:16
              The peace the world offers is a temporary distraction,
not a permanent possession. This peace is usually based on deception, not reality and never really solves the problems of the heart. Ultimately true peace comes only when we are right with God and have His peace within. In order to have ‘peace with God we must have ‘peace through faith in Jesus.
              The world offers medications and treatments for those who are troubled and these buy a temporary fix for anxiety. Yet peace is what is desperately needed. A Christian’s inner peace comes from having a balance of knowing God and growing spiritually.  People often search for distractions to combat inner turmoil but these are only temporary. Only the Lord of peace can give peace.
              God’s peace is a Person- Jesus Christ yet as he approached the cross he brought division because people have to choose him. To receive God’s peace is to welcome Jesus for He is what is needed for the long term.
              Once receive Christ’s peace, we should share it  as we enter or leave a place and offer a blessing of peace so that the other person’s problems are minimal and solutions are found in Jesus.
              The Beatles 1969 hit “Give Peace a Chance” includes these words” All we are saying si give peace a chance.” Spiritually peace is a sure thing if the Prince of Peace reigns in our hearts. In this world—it is either Go to Pieces or Go in peace. And it is God’s people who can help to make a difference. Remember the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi== “Lord make me an instrument of your peace.” A daily prayer to be a blessing to others.

How crucial is it that the world finds peace?  When we hear of many natural disasters we respond with love and carefully share in peace but only  for a short time. But when something resembling normal comes we are often left alone. From where does your peace come? The Prince of Peace is on the way as we anticipate Christmas, do you know this Christ Jesus? He is our peace and the one who shall lead us.  As we continue in Advent, how might you offer this blessing of peace to others? How might you live it out?
PRAYER Bless us O God of peace and enable us to know Jesus and have within our hearts and minds. Enable us to experience your peace and your spirit as we share in this Advent time of preparation. Amen.

Next Week: “The Benediction of Hope” Romans 15:13
Warren W. Wiersbe.  Bless You: Receiving and Sharing the Blessings of the Lord. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, 8th printing- 2018. (p.131-138)

Friday, 23 November 2018

Bless You part 2

Bless You
Numbers 6:22-27
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

                Continuing with the Benediction of Israel (Numbers 6:22-27)   We read in Psalm 84; 11 “God is a sun and shield” and Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Christians are the children of light and should walk in the light. What the sun is to our universe, Jesus is to His people, the source of light and life. If we want to know where we are going, we must live in the light. If we want to produce fruit for God’s glory, we must live in the light. For the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness and truth.
we read “ God makes His Face to Shine on Us and Is Gracious to us”.
                We receive God’s grace when we need it, when we are living for God and when we come to Him. God’s grace gives us what we don’t deserve but because we belong to Jesus we are blessed in His abundant love.It is only by grace that we can enjoy the family of God because it is through God’s grace how we entered it.
                God is gracious throughout the Bible- to Moses, to King Hezekiah (2 Chron.30:9) and Ezra  (9;8) and Nehemiah.(9:17,31) Paul focused on God’s grace stating, He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Rom.8:32 God, in his grace, gave us Jesus the best he had and so what would keep Him from giving us the lesser gifts that we need? God longs to be gracious and show his compassion but we don’t often pay attention!
                God lifts his countenance to us and gives us peace. What does this mean? God’s focus is turned toward us if we follow him. Our responsibility is to repent, confess our sins and seek His face. We need to have God pleased with what we do. The last words of Jesus are not the Great Commission but repent or else (Rev. 2-3) If we humble ourselves and pray ans eek my face and turn from their wicked way then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2Chron.7:14)
                But what is God’s smile? It is the secret of peace in the heart of the individual believer and in the church congregation. It is what we each as individuals and as church should be yearning to  have. It is shalom—which includes health , happiness, satisfaction and completion, kindness, agreement, salvation, friendship and the richness of a full life. If we are not experiencing this shalom, we need to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face as it turns from its wicked ways.  For then, God’s light will shine upon us.
Are you shining God’s light wherever you go? Are you enabling God to smile as you go about your everyday work and life? How does this blessing of the OT enable you to think and reflect upon your relationship with God and with others?

PRAYER Bless us O God as we seek your smiling face upon our lives. Hear us as we confess our sins to you and by your grace we pray that your will forgive. Hear these our prayers. Amen.

Next Week: “The Benediction of the Trinity”  2 Corinthians 13:14
Warren W. Wiersbe.  Bless You: Receiving and Sharing the Blessings of the Lord. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, 8th printing- 2018. (p.24-27)

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Bless You

Bless You

Numbers 6:22-27

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

                Continuing with the Benediction of Israel (Numbers 6:22-27) we noted that it was considered in three ways—a) the benediction of Israel the nation; B) Israel the man who founded the 12 tribes and ‘C) the Israel of God” that Paul mentions in Galatians 6:16.   the Israel of God.
This week we focus on C)
                Who is the Israel of God? Is there is a difference in identifying this nation/people faithful community but are we understanding these as such?
Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches focuses primarily on the relationship of the Jewish law to the message of grace. Paul stated that all true believers are the spiritual children of Abraham and share in God’s promised blessing. Gal 3:6-15 If you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s see and heirs according to the promise.
Under old covenant Israel is in relationship with God. But with Christ, this relationship is the church. The church can say with Israel—“The lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want” and “I will fear no evil” Because Jesus is our Shepherd, as we trust and follow him, we always have provision and protection. This is because God blesses the Church and Keeps it.  God blesses those who follow him and prove that they are His because they listen to him. Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21

In reading this portion of this blessing do you understand it differently? How? For many to read the ISRAEL as the church enables them to think that this means me, not just the people who entered the Promised Land, but those who today come to Christ and follow him. They are living out their faith in Christ as they serve their church.
Jesus prayed that His true disciples would be with Him in heaven and that the Father always answers the prayers of His Son (John 11:41-42)  When a believer dies, the Father answers this prayer and take that soul to heaven to dwell in the place Jesus has prepared.

NEXT week—We will consider the words” God makes His face to shine on us and is gracious to us”
Meanwhile Pray the words of the blessing over and over. Reflect on the words and pray for clarity in meaning.

PRAYER Thank you God that you call us your people –Israel the church, children in faith and co-heirs with Christ. Thank you for this enduring blessing as we continue to bless others in your name. Amen.

Warren W. Wiersbe.  Bless You: Receiving and Sharing the Blessings of the Lord. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, 8th printing- 2018. (p.22-24)

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Angry at Change, Process, others? Part 5

Angry at Change, Process, others? Part 5
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
How to Handle Anger in Godly Ways:

1)      Acknowledge it. We all get angry and so recognize it for what it is. Pour out your thoughts and feelings to God.  Psalm 55: 1-3
Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.

2)       Learn to get angry slowly. Angry words spoken quickly are usually regretted later. Make sure you have good reason to be angry. Listen and ask questions.
                What did I feel angry about today?
                Where is my anger coming from?
                Why did I feel so threatened that I believed my anger was justifiable?
                Is my intense anger over something that’s actually insignificant?
                Is my anger for the benefit of another? Or is it directed against another?
                Did my anger further God’s interests or my own?
                Did I provoke anger in someone else today?

3)      Change your beliefs about God. Where is our anger rooted? Most of our feelings are based on deeply held beliefs about where life and security and significance are found. Most often our anger is not rooted in feelings, but in what we believe about God.
The challenge is not to change our feelings, but to change our thinking. Paul urges us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing an perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

4)      Confession. Praying to God not just that you were angry, but that you need to live life on God’s terms not yours. It also means repent of the angry resentment you have held against God and all the anger you inflicted on God and on others.
It also means turning toward God and choosing to live by the belief that he exists and that he rewards those who look for him, even when things don’t turn out the way you think they should.

5)      Under New Management. We can change what we believe by giving ourselves to the Spirit of God and under his influence, we will find our anger increasingly shaped and restrained by a new kind of self- control. By placing our anger under God’s care we will not dissolve and lose all anger. But we will be free to express and new and godly anger toward the kind of sin in ourselves and others that slowly angers the heart of God. How we respond to God determines how we work through the more immediate issues of our anger. How we ultimately answer God’s call, and respond to him determines our eternal destiny.
Anger is such a part of our world today- we don’t like something, someone, some person’s actions we get angry. Yet what does this mean about how we are called to love. Yet there are moments when anger is the ideal response. But how we control that anger is what this series of reflections have focused upon. Growing angry slowly enables us to collect our feelings and thoughts and then we are able to put them alongside each other.  After discerning the reason for the anger we can act accordingly and through prayer we may be able to control this anger.
Loving God help us to grow in wisdom as we seek to have you control our anger. We know we will get angry but as we seek to live like Christ help us and show your way to respond in love and with hope. Amen.
RESOURCE  “When Anger Burns: A Biblical View on Handling Anger” by Tim Jackson. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries. (p.28-0323-27)  Watch for a new topic next week!

Bless You

Bless You
Numbers 6:22-27

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
                The words bless, blessed and blessing are found over 500
times in the bible and describe such diverse things as rain, bumper crops, babies and salvation from sin. God blesses all kinds of people and through them brought blessing to the whole world. But what is a blessing?
                A blessing is any act of God that brings Him glory by accomplishing His will and helping His people grow and do His will. You cannot buy blessings or manufacture them as they can come only from God. God’s blessings are gracious gifts from heaven that meet our needs in ways that build us up and help us glorify the Lord.
                In some churches today just before the time of worship is over, a blessing is shared. It is also called a benediction which often is a biblical statement that states something good. This benediction enables the listener to receive a blessing in order to be a blessing to others in the coming week. But what are the blessings that God wants us to receive from Him and share with others? As followers of Jesus and believers in God’s love, we are channels of God’s blessings and not reservoirs only.
                Benediction of Israel  (Numbers 6:22-27) may be considered in three ways—the benediction of Israel the nation; Israel the man who founded the 12 tribes and ‘the Israel of God” that Paul mentions in Galatians 6:16.
A)      Benediction of Israel the Nation  God mentions the Israelites and they are the only nation in history that has entered into a covenant relationship with God. This began with God’s call to Abraham and the ‘covenant of a great nation’ (Gen 12:2-3)
Paul tells also of the blessings God gave the Jewish nation- Romans 9:3-5
God chose Jews to be His special people and gave them a land in which to live as long as they obeyed God’s law. Even though they were dispersed around the world the Jewish people were never assimilated into the other nations. Israel has glory and grace as well as provision and protection.

B)      Israel the man Jacob
Three experiences with God transformed Jacob into a man of God and a channel of God’s blessing to others: i) Jacob flees from his brother Esau and turns to God. He is assured by God that he would be blessed including the land of Canaan and descendants would bless the world.
ii) Jacob  sees the face of God after struggling with him. Gen32:22-32
iii)Jacob and son Joseph reunited and safe again in Egypt (Gen46:1-4,47-49)

When we consider this blessing/benediction- have we considered the 3 Israels or primarily the country of the Jewish nation? Does it make a difference for you that Jacob/ Israel was blessed by God in 3 different times and ways? What does this blessing mean for you?

NEXT week—We will include the 3rd way God blesses Israel in this benediction and reflect on it more.. meanwhile Pray the words of the blessing over and over. Reflect on the words bless and keep you; make face shine, turn his face…what do these mean to you in this moment?

PRAYER Holy God bless us O God through the words we have uttered many times before. Bless us as we praise your holy name. In Christ Jesus we ask. Amen.

Warren W. Wiersbe.  Bless You: Receiving and Sharing the Blessings of the Lord. Grand Rapids,MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, 8th printing- 2018. (p.7-22)

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Angry at Change, Process, others? Part 4

Angry at Change, Process, others? Part 4

Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  James 1:19-20

                Why do we hang on to anger? There are three main reasons. 1)
to protect ourselves from additional pain. We choose to be angry because it is easier to control than pain and disappointment. What we tell others by our anger is that we are hurt too much to care about you. We are expending all our energy on our self and there is nothing left to protect others from our failure to love them.
                2) Deflection When we have done wrong we become angry. Instead of accepting the responsibility for our actions, we get angry. We use our anger as a weapon against those who expose and shame us. We try to turn the tables on them to get the attention off ourselves.
                3) Distancing. Anger can also be an attempt to make sure that others don’t get close enough to discover our weakness. We keep others away from us.
                If we are angry towards others it is because we feel we have been threatened, hurt, belittled, shames or controlled. Anger directed toward ourselves will fuel suicidal behaviour that strips vitality from life. Both lead to devastation.
                But what do we do with our anger? 1) Repression. Many people repress their anger because it is a frightening emotion and we want to avoid it. This often leads to depression because it is easier to shut down and no longer engage with their world because they have discovered that all their efforts to make life work on their terms have failed. Some people  also pretend that all is well but reality is that they feel nothing at all- no pain or joy.
2) Shallow confession. This is often recognized as mishandling anger and being quick to confess that you were angry and it is wrong. Yet it is important to explore our anger and expose its roots.
3) Outbursts of anger. We all need to express our feelings but it must be done with the discernment and regard for others.
Are you feeling angry right now? What has caused this feeling to emerge? Was it something you did or did someone hurt or offend, physically harm you or upset you so much that you are searching for words of anger? What do you normally do with this anger? Repress it, deflect it or dismiss it? Which is the best way to handle this anger for you? We are called to control our anger. This does not say not to get angry but to control it so that there is not a volcanic eruption, tucking it away forever or even half confessing something that is normal. Anger is an emotion we experience—we need to deal with it and why it emerges in us.
God of love, you know what it is like to become angry. How often you must feel this when people who have loved you their whole lives turn away from you or hurt you through their actions and words rather than sharing of themselves in love. As you get angry too, we need to know how we might control the anger but not throw it out. Help us to face these angry filled fears. We ask this as we know that you will continue to love us through all of it. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

RESOURCE  “When Anger Burns: A Biblical View on Handling Anger” by Tim Jackson. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries. (p.23-27)  We will conclude this series on anger next week!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Angry at Change, Process, others? Part 3

Angry at Change, Process, others? Part 3
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
                                                                                                James 4:1-3
                What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t’ they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

                 There are different sources for our anger- both external and internal. External factors do affect us as we think we are reacting to external stimuli. We even reason that ‘if we hadn’t been treated so poorly, we wouldn’t have gotten angry.”  As individuals we essentially live for ourselves and so when asked we often live primarily for ourselves. Life is unfair and this also causes us to be angry. Life is also difficult as it is filled with thorns and thistles (John 16:33) but what we perceive to be external sources for our anger are really external.
                We often get angry when we do not get what we want when we want it. The desires within us fuel our conflicts especially when we want something that matters to us. God created us with the desire for love and respect and with a longing to be enjoyed and to know that we matter. All the lesser desires are linked to the core desires of love and relationship.
                We are also afraid which grows out of a lack of faith and confidence that God is really who he says he is. And when we think this we look to find a  god of our own making which we think we can control.  We also rebel against God and look to others to provide what only God can supply. We fear we don’t have what it takes to make it on our own. We need others to agree with our plans. But we fear they won’t cooperate and give us what we want.
                We also rebel against God and this forces us to demand that others fill in for him. Inevitably they will fail and so these unfulfilled demands give rise to anger.
                Asking God to meet our needs is one thing. But when our desires become demands we become arrogant rebels. The solution for anger then requires a growing confidence in the presence and promises of One we cannot see. Through the disappointments, losses, and frustrations of life we must learn that our well-being lies not in our demands but in his loving and capable hands.
When was the last time you became anger? Who was receiving that anger from you? Under what circumstance did that person fail to meet your desires or demands? How did you respond when they said no? What should you have done instead?  When we have disagreements or fights and quarrels have we always considered asking God first? Or are we asking God with the wrong motives so that we can get what we want? And if we do not receive what we want with whom are we really angry?
Wonderful God we need to come to you in prayer prior to our growing angry but we often pray after words are said in anger that we cannot take back. Help us O God to ask you first; seek your way; and enable us to show you who we are and what it is we need from you. Love us O God we ask even when we are angry at and with you. This we ask in faith and in hope in Jesus’ name. Amen.         
RESOURCE  “When Anger Burns: A Biblical View on Handling Anger” by Tim Jackson. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries. (p.17-22)

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Angry at Change, Process, others? Part 1

Angry at Change, Process, others? Part 1
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Exodus 22:24; 32:10-12
                Anger burns furiously hot in these passages from Exodus     
and it seems to consume others. But how are we to cope when we know that we will and do become angry? The Bible often paints a bitter image of anger yet God did get angry too! God’s anger was with his enemies or with his own people.
                Anger is neither: wrong or right until there is a motive. Anger can be productive and loving just as it can be destructive and selfish. We need to take time to discern our anger in order to see it for what it is. There are different kinds of anger. The first kind involves a person to do harm to himself or others and this is selfish. It is the kind of anger that destroys rather than buildings up. It is like a wrecking ball.
                 Genesis 4 tells the story of Cain and Abel. Both men brought sacrifices to God that reflected their occupations. But only Abel brought a sacrifice which pleased the Lord. Cain was very angry and his face was downcast. He became angry. God approached him and made it clear that he desired to accept him, but Cain had to come on God’s terms, not his own. God warned Cain telling him that if he did not do what is right, sin was crouching at him. Cain’s choice was difficult. He was hurt and angry because God would not accept his offering like his brother Abel’s. God gave him an opportunity to deal with his emotions. But Cain refused to do what God had asked and took matters into his own hands. Cain murders his brother and his heart is hardened. Instead of speaking to the one to whom he was angry, Cain killed his brother. God asked him where Abel was and he said “I don’t know.” God knows what happened to Abel and Cain was condemned. Cain paid for his anger because instead of humbling himself and accepting God’s direction and correction, he was rooted in self-centred efforts. His anger was to destroy.
                Have you ever been angry that you took it out on a wall or hit something in order to release the anger? What resulted because of this? Another person hurt, a wall damaged or relationship ended? How are we to control the anger that enrages us? How are we to calm ourselves down?
                It is important that you be angry and not bottle it up inside. But in order to alleviate and cool down, how do you cope with the anger within? Some people box—literally beating out the anger, others show their anger in their interpretation through arts and crafts. Others just play the piano or musical instrument in order to say it is ok from within. But you should deal with any anger promptly and then let it go.
What or who are you angry at or with? Why?  Are you able to fix this relationship? Do you want to? Often when there is anger it is not a good time to fight, but to do so means that emotions are out there and they are free to be heard and seen. But are you willing to listen and hear responses from others and not get angry again? Controlling our angry is a skill we learn over time. Sometimes it is confused with frustration but there is hope. This hope is in knowing that it is ok to get angry but it is better to figure out why, let it out and move on.  And sometimes God’s help, strength and guidance is required we just need to ask.

Holy God we praise you that we have emotions which include anger. This shows that we have the ability to think and reflect and to act on circumstances which we face. This also shows that we need you to guide us and lead us to something better as we strive to control our anger of self. Help us O God to be able to replace these moments of anger with hope and love. Amen.

RESOURCE  “When Anger Burns: A Biblical View on Handling Anger” by Tim Jackson. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries .

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Love in the Air

Love in the Air

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

                “Love is patient kind not jealous or boastful” Paul’s letter  Both couples were excited about getting married, being married and had anticipated their wedding day for years.  Different circumstances led both brides and grooms to wait a while to celebrate this happy day which would forever change their lives.
to the Corinthians includes information about how people were to get along in love, and with love being the focus. Yet what is love? This past week I had the privilege of officiating at two weddings of two very different couples experiencing life to its fullest and experiencing love.
                But what I experienced by sharing with these two couples will never soon be forgotten. Genuine love in the hearts and minds and in the actions and tears of all involved. There was joy on the grooms’ faces as their brides met them at the front of the church—not only did their brides radiate beauty through their smiles, but their eyes told the story that what they saw in each other was well beyond the physical attractions both couples had.  There is love, there is wonder and hope and through their smiles, there was also tears. Both couples acknowledged those around them, but it did not seem to matter as they held hands, looked into each others’ eyes and made their vows.
                Love between people is honest and giving. But this kind of love is only a portion of the love God has for us.  And as humans we cannot comprehend the depth of God’s love for us.  And what is also amazing is that the love these couples share now is only the beginning, a strong foundation of love which will grow stronger each day.
                God’s love is deep for each of us and to truly experience His love we need to practise it with everyone we meet. And especially those whom we call spouse/ partner/ husband or wife. Others who see you with your spouse should see love—like I have seen on many couples on the wedding day. It is hoped that this love will endure as we know it does not fail. But rejoices in the right!. May the love you experience from your spouse and/or family members be joyful and cause you to smile!  And remember God loves you even more!
God we pray for those who have and experience love. We ask for your blessing upon spouses-newlyweds or those married for many years. Bless them O God and remind them always of their love, when it was a twinkle in the eye as on the wedding day. Remind us all that love never ends and that we are called to love others as Christ did and to do so means putting aside all problems and focusing on another and their needs. Call us to love as you first loved us, we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Praying for Unknown People and Concerns

Praying for Unknown People and Concerns

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

                Paul’s teaching to the church people of Thessalonica
called them to pray to God. He writes,” Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Praying in celebration of human events is easy. Rejoicing in God’s blessings is wonderful but what happens when you listen to the news of the day, whether international or local. How do you give thanks to God in these moments? Or even how do you pray for unknown situations or people? Why do we do this?
                The phrase, “I’ll pray for you,” is often uttered by both the faithful and those on the edge because these words may come across as negative. I’ll pray for you- because you need help from God. I’ll pray for you for a better outcome than this. I’ll pray for you because this is not what God or you wanted, is it? Yet when in earnest we say, “I’ll pray for you,” there is so much if we truly sit down and pray for people either aloud or in our hearts. The Spirit stirs us to what we focus upon and that is to focus on the individuals we know who need support for the circumstances they are in- facing losses, experiencing good news,. But it is not up to really know the end result, all we are to do is to lift up the people and the situation and let God answer in his way in His time.
                We pray for people to be ok during and after a flood, because we are aware the God can provide what is needed with the many faithful and willing people who share of themselves. God knows the bigger picture and who is willing to help. Our part is to pray and ask God to intercede through the Spirit by calling his followers to use their hands and feet to respond.
                We also pray for people we do know as they face surgeries, illnesses and chronic care issues. We become aware of situations we know and offer our concerns our thanksgiving and yet we know that it is  God who will respond, yes, no, not yet. So whether we know the individuals or do not it is important to pray . To talk with God about the situations and people who are in need is a vital part of our faith life and growth. To share about the needs of others is how we grow within and care for others. Praying is an act of faith with hope knowing that God will respond. Let us pray!     
Wonderful God as we pray for those affected by hurricane winds and flooding we know that you are holding those affected through this difficult time. We pray that you would comfort them in this time of loss, and enabling them to see that life is not over just changed. We also pray for those who feel that they are alone in this world and are searching for you. Be with all who are in need of comfort, healing and to be loved.  We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

What does it mean to be INCLUSIVE?

What does it mean to be INCLUSIVE?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mark 7: 24-37

                This scripture passage is the story of Jesus being challenged   Yet Jesus’ response was that he came to save the children of Israel. But the woman did not give up. She said the dogs in Israelite homes receive scraps that the children have left behind. Surely, the crumbs left by the dogs could be used for healing a Gentile woman?
in his ministry by a Syro-Phoenician woman who was Greek. This woman had heard of the man who performed miracles and healed people. When Jesus had left Galilee and gone into Tyre, this woman became aware of his presence because she was searching for a miracle for her daughter. The daughter was possessed by a demon and out of faith, this woman begged Jesus to heal the daughter.
                Jesus whole ministry was changed for not only did he come for the redemption of Jewish or God’s chosen people, Jesus can to save all people. As he was talking with this woman he acknowledged the strength of her faith and he told her that her daughter was healed.
                Did Jesus’ have a new perspective upon healing and even a wider perspective about his mission for all people?
                Jesus had just taught that everything God had made was good. There was nothing that was unclean. Yet in this story he was ready to exclude the Greek speaking Syro-Phoenician woman and her plea to heal her daughter.
                When we think of the church we say we want to be inclusive but are we really? Do we have conditional love for all people? We will welcome you to our church family, but… then the conditions are not made clear but one learns to see who is asked to do things, who is excluded from others. We also see that there are people who want everyone involved yet they themselves do not take part. Is this inclusive or exclusive?
                After Jesus healed this woman’s daughter, the passage continues with Jesus healing a mute and deaf man. The people were overwhelmed with amazement at his ability to do this. He has done everything well. But Jesus’ eyes were also opened—to realize that in his coming to earth, he would become the Saviour not only to the Jewish people, but to all who would receive him. Jesus became inclusive of all  people because this woman spoke up and asked for the crumbs of faith.
                Are you in need of healing? Or maybe you are searching about how to grow in faith? Realizing that Jesus too grew in his understanding of his mission, we may be content to know that we too will continue to learn to grow in knowledge of heart and mind. But we must be ready to ask the questions, to seek the answers and to be open to the Spirit moving in us all!
Wonderful Jesus, we ask for healing upon those who are not well physically bring healing to the bodies of those who have had surgery, mentally bring clear thoughts and hopes to those not sure of what is real; and openness to all who pray knowing that spiritually they are growing in you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Breath of Life

Breath of Life

 Wednesday, September 5, 2018

'And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life'   Genesis 2:7

                Spending time together as a family is a primary reason for taking
time away from work and the regular routine of life. This summer I was able to take that time away through July and August and so I took a break from writing the Reflections. Now with school back and a somewhat regular routine in place I will once again be writing my thoughts, asking questions of your faith and hopefully giving you something to reflect upon in the middle of the week that causes you to pray, read a Bible passage or even just to stop for a moment!
                One of the things I enjoyed doing most was while being at my parents’ home was to sit outside under the pine trees and read. I don’t recall what novel I was reading but it was such a wonderful setting. It had rained throughout the previous night and the fragrance of pine trees can never really be captured in a spray. It was truly captivating. While reading and sitting a few cars would drive by but other than these few vehicles it was quiet. Sometimes when silence came the song of birds as they flew over or a breeze went through the trees causing leaves to flitter. It was just quiet and this is when I breathed in the pine scent and said, “What a wonderful world!” It was truly a moment of inviting God’s Spirit within. I just sat there, closed my eyes and breathed in the fresh air and relaxed. Stopping all thoughts I exhaled and breathed in again. Things just slowed down for a short time. This is what is meant as clearing the mind and body at the same time! Yet in doing so, I was made to feel alive again! These few minutes are what I needed in order to recharge and to think about life, ministry and family and how all of these are so important in my life!
                But what about you? Did you take time to stop and breathe in to live and enjoy the moment? Did you stop and think about what life is about? Or maybe you were reflecting on what was occurring where you were and what you intend to do? Summer vacations are wonderful and people choose to do different things—filling each day with activities or lazing on a beach; finding the best restaurants to eat a slow dinner or buying groceries and picnicking in a parking lot. Yet what is important in all of these-is being together, discovering something new, and seeing each other learn and grow together.
                As we begin this new academic year and come back to church and worshiping God more regularly, we can take these ideals of what makes a good vacation and share them with our church family. What was a good experience can be shared with others- as long as our focus remains on loving each other God will guide us. We live in a hurry up world—but are we willing to stop and let God’s Spirit come into our being alive? Are we willing to say I need the Spirit in me to guide and protect me each day? Breathe again and receive God’s gift of life. Use every breath you receive to love others and it will make a difference in your life today and always.
God we praise you for life and new beginnings, challenges and dreams. As we stop to reflect we breathe in your presence and know that you are with us. Help us anew as we share with others and our church family this precious gift of life. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home    
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

                Have you ever taken a trip to see your childhood home?
How have you reacted- with comfort, concern, despair or even cried? Often when we see the home from years before we respond with mixed emotions for it is not the house we see before us, but the memories that come to the front of our hearts and minds. Memories of how we shared special times with our families at that place as we grew older. Memories of relatives and friends coming and going in time. Memories which will never be repeated. It was a house and a home for a time, but home was wherever you established relationships which in turn made new memories.

                When we think of home are we comforted, cared for and loved? We know that for many people home is not this place where loving caring people support and nurture you. It is a place of tears and hopelessness. Yet there is a place that is a forever home and with an eternal family that longs to grow larger. The church. The earthly church is a spiritual family that foreshadows the true, heavenly community for which we long for. For the faithful people of the church, our heavenly home is what we should be yearning for, preparing to see and experience and of course, fill us with hope.

                Paul wrote of the need to be with God and yearned for the eternal home which has been prepared. (2 Cor. 5:1-4) Our true citizenship is in heaven and Christ waits for us. But how do we prepare for this eternal dwelling place? We look to the church for support in times of crises, but are we willing to offer this support to others? The church is a foreshadowing of God’s great goal to create a united, like- minded people made up of every tribe and nation who will worship before God’s throne. This is the reason why we follow Jesus’ command known as the great commission. Matthew 28:19-20.

When was the last time you felt ‘homesick’, that is remembering life when you lived as a child, or youth? When young, children make many pictures and have many accomplishments. Often, parents will put these on the refrigerator so that the whole family can see these items. This often is seen as a sign of family support. Imagine if God had a refrigerator; would your pictures be on it?
In faith we believe God calls us to serve, to love others as Jesus taught and to share the message that is in our hearts—loving others. If we believe we need also to know that one day we will be called home by God to rest in heaven, where it is not a lonely place—but a place with the comforts of home- only better! God is in control and all we need do is sing his praise.  Are you yearning to go home one day?

Thank you God that you call us to be like families as we worship and work within our churches. Help us to know that you love us and that we do the work necessary for the sake of your story being told again and again. Hear these prayers as we pray for homes, families and the churches which serve as the family of God for each of us. Amen.

Resource:  (based upon) Kay Swatkowski “Make Yourself at Home: Discovering the Heart of the Church” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2016 (ch.10)    
PLEASE NOTE: Next Reflection sent out July 11!