Philippians. What has Value to You?
Devotion by Graeme Harrison)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his loving kindness endures forever.
I was hard pressed, and almost fell,
but the Lord helped me.
You are my God and I will praise you.
You are my God and I will extol you.
Philippians 3:1-7 Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.
1Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
(Philippians 3:1-7 NIV)
Thought for the Day:
Paul is obviously disgusted at a group of Jewish Christians who were teaching that nobody can be saved without being circumcised. It is a bit like those Pentecostal groups who taught that you weren’t a real Christian unless you spoke in tongues. It really upset Paul that people were undermining Christians’ simple confidence in Christ to save them. Paul is not being argumentative, rather, he is protecting those he loves from people who could really mess up their relationship with God. He is like a mother bear protecting her helpless cubs.
He showed what he really thought about the false teachers’ so-called “add ons” to faith by reminding them of how much of these valuable add ons in life he had. Then he showed how little he valued these same things as an example to the younger Christians to follow.
But the question for us is whether we are like Paul or those false teachers? Do we value Christ plus some extra thing to make us feel safe and at peace with God? What might an “add on” be in your life? Good deeds? Church attendance. Hanging out with only good people? Other ideas …
It is only by naming something that is wrong that we can begin to set it aside and be free of it. Then we find real peace as a gift from the One who love you.
This year has been unique for us. Early in the pandemic shut down we decided to support you in your isolation with daily devotions. One day at a time spent in the presence of God means every day has some aspect of joy no matter how difficult.
This has been a tiring year for most people and I include myself in that. So now it is time to have a rest. Daily devotions might be back at the start of school term. We will do a reassessment before then.
In the meantime, feel free to try out alternative daily devotions. I have enjoyed YouVersion which hosts a large variety of devotional styles from great to aweful. However, you get to choose which devotion series you would like to try. Try here https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/
Whatever you choose give each day to God and listen to him as he speaks to you about life.
In the words of our church vision "Everyone Closer to God".
Grace and Peace,
Graeme and Vic
Christmas Is Really For The Children
Christmas is really
for the children.
Especially for children
who like animals, stables,
stars and babies wrapped
is swaddling clothes.
Then there were wise men,
Kings in fine robes,
humble shepherds and a
hint of rich perfume.
Easter is not really
for the children
unless accompanied by
a cream filled egg.
It has whips, blood, nails,
a spear and allegations
of body snatching.
It involves politics, God
and the sins of the world.
It is not good for people
of nervous disposition.
They would do better to
think on rabbits, chickens
And the first snowdrop
This slightly jarring poem from Steve Turner reminds us that a shallow take on Christmas loses sight of the profound nature of God’s entry into the world and his ultimate purpose. A young betrothed Jewish girl of no significance has her story told for the next 2,000 years. Ah the simplicity and profoundness.
So, as we come to Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ. We can so easily get caught up in the holiday festivities; school and work breakups visiting extended family, decorating our houses buying presence... we forget to pause give thanks for the love, hope and joy found in Jesus – our Saviour and friend. As we exchange gifts with loved ones, it is out of remembrance of the gift God gave us in Jesus. The gift that we are loved, are never alone and can have hope for the future.
After Jesus was born, a small group of wise men visited him. They recognised the kingship of Jesus and they “worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). We too, can offer up our worship and thanks to God through prayers this Christmas. Prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of hope, love and joy. We also have commoner shepherds entering the picture equally celebrating the coming of the Messiah.
Here we are 2020 and Christmas this year looks different to previous years. It may not match up to the commercial images you see or hopes you may have. But the meaning of Christmas doesn’t depend on the gifts under a tree or the type of food on your table. The message of Christmas doesn’t change if you are surrounded by family or missing loved ones. It is not affected by the house you live in – or don’t live in.
God’s love is for everyone. You are not alone. You are loved, and you can feel hopeful and joyful. That is the true meaning of Christmas.
Lord, in this holy season of prayer and song and laughter, we praise you for the great wonders you have sent us: for shining star and angel's song, for infant's cry in lowly manger. We praise you for the Word made flesh in a little Child. We behold his glory; and are bathed in its radiance.
Galatians 6: 1 – 6
Brothers, if someone is
caught in a sin, you who
are spiritual should
restore him gently. But
watch yourself, or you
also may be tempted.
A bloke once had a go at me saying my blessing for ministry would be taken away! It was delivered with great gusto, it was blunt and public, leaving me feeling furious and judged.
The context was this: a few of us were sitting in a mate’s shed discussing the whole gay marriage question (this was about 8 years ago when it had emerged as a big question for the wider church). As the conversation progressed there were big, bold statements of condemnation of gays and of those who sought to endorse marriage for them.
I shared with these blokes that my nephew was gay and as consequence had experienced his share of bullying and rejection growing up. As his uncle I did my best to respect, validate and love my troubled nephew. I posed the question to all present in the shed; when eventually my nephew decides to marry, do I compound his rejection and invalidation by refusing to support the marriage or do I affirm and engage with him and his partner and call them to live the values and grace of his Christian heritage to the full. What does God call me to do? And that’s when this bloke dropped his clanger.
I reckon there are times when the best of Christianity can be swallowed up by the worst, and often the worst is simply mean-spirited attacks from within our faith communities. Not inspiring for those looking on at the church while it beats up on itself.
Our Lord made it really clear if you’re struggling with a brother or sister in Christ, go and sort it out, don’t further demonise them don’t assume the worst of them because you simply can’t agree on a matter. The best way to resolve the disagreement is between the two of you (Matt 18:15). It’s awkward, uncomfortable and it takes prayer. When resolved, that relationship can be stronger than ever. And it’s your opportunity to grow, in wisdom and as a disciple.
God of friendship and forgiveness,
You lead us on life’s journey As we gather in Your name,
Open our minds to know Your voice.
Open our hands to do Your work.
And open our hearts to hold Your Spirit.