Devotion by Graeme Harrison)
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways.
Reclothe us in our rightful minds,
In purer lives thy service find
In deeper reverence praise,
In deeper reverence praise.
Breathe through the heats of our desires
Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm,
O still small voice of calm.
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) (Book of a Thousand Prayers)
Titus 2:1-14. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.
You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
6Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
9Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.
11For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
(Titus 2:1-14 NIV)
Thought for the Day:
So why have Titus readings at Christmas? Our passage talks about salvation and a Saviour. The letter to Titus makes it pretty blunt what salvation is and what we are being saved from. Paul is not writing to a church of academics and philosophers, but straightforward people who need you to speak in straightforward language. Paul’s blunt honest guidance would have been readily understood and immensely practical from their point of view.
I once attended another Christian community where the youth pastor got up and told them in no uncertain language that they had to stop doing drugs and keep away from violence and crime. No one was in any doubt about what salvation was when he was finished. But his blunt honesty enabled them to choose.
I wonder if people have clarity about salvation when we speak? Are you clear?
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.