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)