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Wednesday
Nov182015

Philip’s inclusivity

Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

:: John 1:45

The first thing Philip does after Jesus asks him to “follow me” (in John 1:43-44) is to immediately seek out his friend to share the exciting good news. “We’ve found the one we’ve been waiting for!” he exclaims to Nathanael. Can you hear his excitement? Evangelism can be made into this big thing, but it is simply the same as sharing any good news – we just have to tell someone!

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Wednesday
Nov112015

Under pressure to achieve

Whatever your plans for the future, you’ll become aware – if you’re not already - that other people have plans for you as well. Parents, grandparents, teachers and even friends will have expectations of you and some may not be too shy in telling you what those expectations are. By so doing, each person offers you their ideas for what “successful” should look like for you and what standards of “success” you should be trying to live up to.

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Wednesday
Nov042015

Lead us not into temptation

I don’t know about you, but the final line of The Lord’s Prayer and lead us not into temptation is the one that confuses me the most (Luke 11:4). To ask Father not to lead us somewhere seems to imply that he will lead us into temptation if we don’t ask, yet...

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

:: James 1:13

God does not tempt anyone, therefore he cannot lead us into temptation. Which begs the question: why do we pray for him not to????

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Wednesday
Oct282015

Be yourself instead of pretending to be super-spiritual 

I stood in a Borders woodland clearing; an afternoon stop in a dull cool summer day. There were a dozen of us on a long scout hike. I was the only Christian by any description. The discussion was red-hot. Lads I had known for years asked questions about what I believed and what difference being a Christian made. It was the moment that I had prayed for.

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Wednesday
Oct212015

Jehoshaphat’s reactions

In the third year of his reign Jehoshaphat sent his officials... to teach in the towns of Judah. With them were certain Levites... and the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the LORD...

:: 2 Chronicles 17:7-10

Jehoshaphat was a security conscious king. He started his reign by strengthening his nation against Israel and the other nations by wise placement of his army (2 Chronicles 17:1-2). But his best strategic move was sending out teachers of the law amongst the people. Because Jehoshaphat put God first, God sent fear upon the surrounding nations so that none made war against Jehoshaphat (see 2 Chronicles 17:10).

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Wednesday
Oct072015

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive others

I think that the line, ‘forgive us our sins, as we forgive others’ (Luke 11: 4) is the most challenging one of Jesus’ prayer. Asking God to forgive us our sins sounds easy, yet, if we’re to ask apart from religious obligation and instead ask out of the honesty of our hearts, we can battle to admit that we’ve done much wrong.

And then there’s the sticky issue of the clause Jesus adds to the topic, and wow, what a clause. Is Father’s forgiveness of our sins really conditional upon our forgiveness of other people...?

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Wednesday
Sep302015

Compelling love

We love because he first loved us. If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen.

:: 1 John 4:19-20

One of the issues with the way we love people is that we pick and choose who we love based on whether we like them. If they’re funny or attractive or talented, etc, they gain our love quicker than if they are not. We are to love simply because God loves us; we’re not to pick and choose! We love God by loving others.

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Wednesday
Sep232015

The practice of secrecy

I reckon one of the things that interests us most is what other people think of us.

A friend organised a group to go on a bike ride. Everyone was waiting patiently for the last few to arrive except for one lad who was anxiously looking out for his mates. He spotted them in the distance. What do you reckon he did when he noticed that neither of them was wearing a helmet? You got it; he slipped his helmet off and stuffed it in his bag before they reached him.

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Wednesday
Sep162015

Samson's strength

The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son.

:: Judges 13:3

Not many people have their birth announced by an angel… there’s Jesus, John the Baptist and Samson!  Samson certainly feels a strange addition to the list, yet each has in common God’s desire to bring deliverance for his people – this time Israel’s freedom from Philistine oppression. This angel tells Samson’s mother that her son is to be a Nazirite from womb until his death. This means he must not: (1) touch anything unclean; (2) drink wine or any other fermented drink; and (3) cut his hair. These things were to be symbols of this miracle boy’s wholehearted devotion to God.

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Wednesday
Sep092015

Under pressure to have sex

Some of the things I have learned are true from the movies:

  1. If a car crashes it will explode in a fireball.
  2. If you get shot  you'll still be able to run and fight like a boss (and any make-up worn will be completely intact).
  3. It is normal in relationships to meet, have sex, then be a bit awkward, then fall in love and be together.

What is weird about the above is that most people recognise that 1 and 2 are nonsense and don’t let it affect how they live, while living 3 like it’s what life should be like! So what is true about sex then?  

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Wednesday
Sep022015

Give us each day our daily bread

I find it is really easy to completely misread this line of Jesus’ prayer for God to give us each our daily bread (Luke 11:3). When I say it I find myself thinking of all the ways that God has provided for me and my immediate family. I inadvertently read it as if it says: “give us (my family) each day our daily bread.” For Jesus us and our are not meant to be so narrowly defined, but are intended to communicate something of God’s heart for us as humans and our needs as a world community.

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Wednesday
Aug262015

Meditating upon Scripture 

If you are at home look up for a moment - can you see any Bible verses anywhere? A post-it note with a verse on the side of the monitor? No? What about a fridge magnet, a poster, a calendar, eh...your mum's apron? No? Oh well, you just failed the Deuteronomy chapter 6 test (and you didn't even know you were sitting it - harsh!) In this chapter Moses encourages the people of Israel to regularly talk about God's Word, and all He has done for them. He tells them to put it where it couldn't be missed - write it on doorframes, mark it on your clothes...he wanted them to take it seriously. (Don't use marker pens on the doorframes or your clothes without the permission of your parents!)

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Wednesday
Aug192015

Saying goodbye

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair.

:: 1 Kings 19:19

When we first meet Elisha he is hard at work ploughing in a field – the author of 1 Kings even tells us which pair of oxen Elisha is ploughing with. This seems like such an insignificant detail that means very little to us, but let me tell you that twelve teams of oxen is a lot! Most families in Israel were so poor they could only afford to own a couple of chickens. Owning a single ox was a sign of wealth and was quite rare. And Elisha’s family owned 24!!! That would have been almost unheard of.

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Wednesday
Aug122015

Two become one, but who's in charge?

Boy meets girl. Girl gives up her dreams to be with boy. Boy keeps following his dreams just as he was before the girl arrived on the scene. Does this sound familiar? I see or hear of this kind of thing regularly in both dating and in marriage. The girl nearly always seems to lay down her dreams first and make the biggest sacrifices in order to make a relationship work. What is it in a woman’s sense of her identity that causes her to prioritise the boy’s dream over her own?

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Wednesday
Aug052015

Your kingdom come

Your kingdom come is the second of five things in the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus invites us to ask his father for (see Luke 11:2-4). It really should come as no surprise that kingdom is given this place near the top of the list. The kingdom is Father’s primary passion, his main focus, his greatest pleasure. Jesus told people that he was sent by his father to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43) and he continued doing this even after his death and resurrection (see Acts 1:3). Paul too spent the majority of his time teaching people about the kingdom of God (see Acts 28:23 and 28:30-31 for example).

So three things about God’s kingdom and what it tells us about God.

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