• Fix these words

    I love what God said to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 11:17 – 18: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

    I wonder how seriously we take the Word of God.

    The Lord says he wants His Words fixed in our minds. Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12: 2).

    The moment we came to faith, our minds needed a complete overhaul, a deep clean. The only thing that can effectively do that is the words of Scripture. We need to read it, study it, meditate on it, wrestle with it, chew it over and over, remember it, pray it, apply it.

    We are also called to fix God’s word in our hearts. He wants us to desire it, to love it, to want it more than anything else, to find joy in it, to know it’s hope and peace.

    “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds”.

    Then tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. For thousands of years Jewish believers have worn phylacteries – small leather boxes worn on the arm and forehead containing texts from the Torah – the first 5 books of our Old Testament. What do you think we can do, with today’s technology to keep our precious Scriptures nearby, before us, around us, on us?

    Then we are to teach God’s Words and talk about them. To our kids, to our loved ones. Not simply reciting them, but discussing them, debating them, asking, hearing, listening, exploring their meaning. Agreeing. Disagreeing. Learning from each other. Paul encouraged the Ephesian believers to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph 5: 19).

    We are do this in our homes, we can do this when we walk along the road, when we are travelling together our cars, as we wait at the school gate, when we are shooting the breeze with a beer in hand.

    And we are fix His words when the conversation is just between Him and you. When you are alone with God. When there is no-one around to distract you. When only He can hear your thoughts. The last thing in your head before you fall asleep and the first when you wake and get up.

    “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

    4m | Oct 2, 2023
  • When God is Silent

    1 Samuel, chapter 28, contains what must be one of the strangest stories in the Bible.

    The prophet Samuel was dead and the king, Saul, with the Israelite army, found himself going to war with a fast-approaching Philistine army.

    Although Saul was an experienced soldier and army commander, on this day he “was afraid; terror filled his heart” (v 5). So, we are told, “He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets” (v 6).

    Saul tried accepted ways of seeking God at the time. For example, he would have known the story of Joseph and how God spoke by way of a dream to Pharaoh. Perhaps Saul and his men had slept, and no dream had presented itself.

    The Urim and Thummin were stones or sticks, one black and one white, kept in the high priest’s breastplate that were tossed to the ground to seek God for a yes or No answer. We are not quite sure how it worked but obviously, it did not give a satisfactory result for Saul.

    Saul would have known about Balaam as a prophet and more recently Samuel as people able to interpret the times through prophecy. If there were prophets present – nothing helpful was given that day.

    Saul inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer.


    And that can be true for us. God may never answer us about some things (For example, why did this or that happen?) Or if He does answer, it may not be straight away.

    Sometimes the Lord answers, but we fail to hear, or understand.

    What might we do during such times?


    Most would agree that Saul’s next decision was the worst one ever. He found a medium, explicitly against God’s law (“Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God” - Lev 19:31), and the woman obeyed Saul’s command to “bring up Samuel” (1 Sam 28: 11).

    Putting aside theological questions about whether a dead person can be “brought up” (a separate devotion, perhaps?) Samuel proceeded to repeat words that the Lord had previously spoken through him while he had been alive but went further to inform Saul that the battle with Philistia will not turn out well. In fact, he and his sons will die.

    I wonder if he regretted consulting the medium!


    So, what can we learn here? What can we do when God is or appears to be silent? Let me suggest two things.

    First, as we study 1 Samuel, we see that Saul was not a humble man, and his downfall came as a result of disobedience to God’s instructions. So, let’s learn from that and adopt a posture of humility. For some, that might mean confessing sins. For all of us it surely means taking time to worship God.

    Second, we can obey him. Maybe God has spoken to you in the past and you haven’t yet done what He said. We can also go back to Bible verses or stories that have spoken to you in the past and meditate on them.


    Job was a man who hit the silence of God. For 37 chapters, we saw him sitting in pain, having lost everything; desperate for answers; battling with unhelpful advice from his friends, and feeling that even God had abandoned him – and not knowing why.

    But God did eventually speak to Job and although He didn’t answer all of his questions, he said enough to remind him that the Lord is sovereign over all the Earth.

    Sometimes, when God is silent, that’s all we need to know.

    5m | Sep 25, 2023
  • In peace I will lie down and Sleep

    The older I get, the harder it is to get a solid night’s sleep.  


    The experts will tell us that most adult bodies require something between 7 and 9 hours per night if we are going to feel refreshed in the morning and function well throughout the day.  


    Those who study this stuff are keen to point out the physical healing that takes place during the sleep cycle, along with growth and the formation of memories. If we don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, concentration the next day will likely be affected (as well as mood) with possible negative effects on heart and blood pressure. So, what does God have to say about the subject? 


    Here’s one story in the form of a psalm: Psalm 4. Written by David, it takes us to the prayers of a man in great distress. He is desperate for God to hear and answer, anxious for relief from his situation, and crying out for mercy. It would be easy to imagine this man, wide awake, on his knees, and searching for God in the cold loneliness of the night.  


    “Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer” (Ps 4: 1) 


    During the next 4 verses, David seems to be entertaining angry and imaginary conversations with those who have wronged him.  


    “How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies? You can be sure of this: The Lord will set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him” (v 2 – 3 NLT) 


    How many of us, like this, have stewed over previous unpleasant exchanges, well into the early hours, rehearsing things we would really like to say in person? 


    In verses 4 and 5, David speaks more generally, still imagining his adversaries (who are probably also tossing and turning), but now including his own soul on the receiving end of his words. His message is clear: it’s time to assume a new posture of humility and trust in the Lord. 


    “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.”  


    In other words, “maybe we are all angry about this situation, but let’s not sin. Let’s not do anything we will regret. Let’s examine, each one of us, our own hearts before the Lord. Let’s try to offer the sacrifice of a contrite heart and put our trust in Him.”  


    David returns to addressing the Lord in the next two verses, declaring that joy and all good things come from Him. Those who cause our anxiety may take our peace for a season, but let’s take it back. Let’s ask for The Lord’s light in the situation and meditate on it. Then pray for His joy and feel its warmth.  


    “Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound” (v 6 – 7) 


    No wonder, David can now calm his heart, fix his trust back on God and declare,  

    “In peace, I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (v 8 ESV) 


    As I think about my own sleep patterns, I may be getting older, and I may not need as much shut-eye as I used to, but I do believe the Lord wants me (and all of His children) to know a heart at peace with Him, as each night our heads hit the pillow. 

    5m | Sep 18, 2023
  • Blessed

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, 

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  

    Blessed are those who mourn, 

    for they will be comforted.  

    Blessed are the meek, 

    for they will inherit the earth.  

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 

    for they will be filled.  

    Blessed are the merciful, 

    for they will be shown mercy.  

    Blessed are the pure in heart,  

    for they will see God.  

    Blessed are the peacemakers,  

    for they will be called children of God.  

    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,  

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  

    Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5: 3 – 12). 


    Some of these people don’t sound blessed, do they?  

    I mean, those who are poor, people who are mourning loss, those who taste persecution. Or meek people who sound like they are too frightened to even show themselves. Some of the descriptions here don’t feel very attractive.  

    Even at the beginning of His ministry (where Matthew places this teaching), we hear Jesus preaching about a very different sort of kingdom. This is not a rally cry for this strong. This is an upside-down world where God’s favourites stand zero chance of attaining any kind of worldly success or influence. But it’s a place of genuine hope for the humble.  


    The poor in spirit know how much they need God. They need Him for everything. Even things most people take for granted. Therefore, the kingdom of Heaven is at their disposal.  

    Those who know the pain of loss will find the comfort of the Father. The meek, who others see as weak because they will never win by hurting or dominating others, will find great reward in God’s new world.  

    Those who are hungry, not for personal goals or dreams, but for things that are good in God’s eyes will be filled to the brim. The merciful will know what it is to be treated with mercy; the pure in heart will see the Lord in places where most fail to recognise Him.  

    The Lord will be especially pleased with those who strive for peace; those who will pay any price to mend a fracture or bring the lost one home.  


    And finally, blessings are gift-wrapped and ready in-store for those who are insulted, misunderstood and falsely accused, simply for doing the right thing. For following Jesus and conducting themselves His way. Nothing can stop the rewards to come.  

    4m | Sep 11, 2023
  • The Perfect Christian

    Recently, I have realised how easily I seem to fall short of God’s best.  

    I don’t think I am sinning more; in fact, by God’s grace, I believe He has changed me in profound ways since the day I put my trust in Him. But I feel like I am more aware of ways that I still need to change. An unclean thought in my mind, a critical word on my lips; my conscience still stings me when these things happen.  

    I see my impurities more clearly and I don’t like them. Perhaps this is part of the struggle Paul described in Romans chapter 7: “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being, I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Rom 7: 21 – 24).  

    Paul went on to write that the only hope he had for freedom and continual change towards Christ-likeness was Christ himself: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7: 25) 


    So, did Paul eventually achieve a sinless life whilst still on the planet? Sinless perfection? I don’t think so. To live a life without any wrongdoing this side of eternity feels impossible to me. Too difficult to attain.  

    So, when we read Jesus’ words in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount at the end of chapter 5, we can be forgiven for feeling confused, discouraged even. Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Be perfect? Surely, that’s a bar too high! How can anybody achieve that? 

    Jesus’ challenge in this section of the sermon comes at the conclusion of comments about how we should relate to those we might call enemies. We are to love them and pray for those who wish to do us harm. This was countercultural to the Jewish mindset of the 1st century who felt that they had a God-given right to judge and hate their enemies.  

    But Jesus had a knack of taking the Hebraic law from words on a scroll to the conscience of the heart. For example, “You may not have physically murdered anyone, but can you honestly say you represent your Father in heaven if you harbour hate in your heart? The same goes for committing adultery compared to just thinking about it.” (my paraphrase of Jesus’ words earlier in the sermon) 

    In other words, to those who thought they were “righteous” before God because they obeyed the 10 Commandments, Jesus challenged their thought life. Did it match up? So in the section about being perfect, Jesus is saying, “If you hate your enemies and only love those who love you, what makes you different to the idol worshipper down the road?”  


    In other words, if you think you are perfect, then prove it by displaying a clean and pure heart.  


    Fortunately, most of us who are aware of our sins and our shortcomings are far from believing we are perfect. We know we have a way to go, and we rejoice in the grace and mercy of God.  

    To the self-righteous, Jesus said “You think you’re perfect?  This is what perfection looks like – your inner integrity needs to match what you believe is on the outside. Seek to be that! And when you realise you are not there, call out to the Father for His help.” To the sinner, saved by grace, he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit – those that know their need for God. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to you” (Matt 5:3) 

    5m | Sep 4, 2023
  • The Suffering Servant

    One of the things that amazes me about the description of the Promised Messiah in Isaiah 52: 13 – 53: 12, is how vulnerable He is. Jesus, as the fulfilment of Isaiah’s words, will be a 'tender shoot' (53: 2), 'rejected by men' (53: 3), 'despised', and 'led like a lamb to the slaughter (53: 7).

    His strength will not be in the intimidation of others, or even of natural physical strength. He will have no power due to a high position in society.

    Instead, He will deliberately put himself in the path of the worst of human behaviour – like putting yourself in the way of a thundering train, except the train rages with hate and wants your blood.

    Matthew describes the moment when Jesus was arrested, and he includes the detail of Peter cutting off the high priest's servant’s ear. Jesus, to Peter's amazement, simply tells him: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father and he will at once put at my disposal more than 12 legions of angels?” (Matt 26: 53).

    He tells him to put his sword away and chooses instead to be unprotected. Vulnerable. The one who had once commanded stars into space, and who had spoken life and health into the sick and dying, at this moment in time chose to take anything cruel people and the demons of hell might throw at him.


    The next thing that strikes me is how misunderstood he was in this situation. 'We considered him stricken by God', foretells the prophecy in Isaiah (53 v 4). God must be angry with him because, surely “Cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree” (Gal 3: 13). Some called out: “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in 3 days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the son of God” (Matt 27: 40). Translation – ‘you think you’re so great? Prove it by coming down from the cross. You can’t do it, can you? Because obviously, God is against you!’


    With no shield or army to defend Him, no cheer of encouragement from the crowd and no understanding from people as to why God would allow all this to happen, the third thing that strikes me is how obedient he was. Submissive to those who arrested Him; obedient to His Father in Heaven.

    “…as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Is 53: 7)

     “…it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer” (53 v 10).

    “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will (Matt 26: 39).


    Sacrifice and suffering, resulting in death was the action that was needed. The Father asked it of His Son, and the Son asked His Father if there was another way. There wasn’t. So, Jesus walked into the clutches of his executioners, voicing no sound of resistance.

    “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors” (Is 53: 11 – 12)


    The vulnerable, misunderstood Son of God gave His life in obedience to the Father’s plan, so that eventually we might realise it was the only way for our sins to be taken away, borne by Him and then left in the grave. It was the only way for us to be brought back to life.

    5m | Aug 28, 2023
  • From Babel to Pentecost

    The Tower of Babel has to be one of the strangest stories in the Old Testament. Set at a time when all humans shared one common language, it describes a people who, after settling in a place called Shinar, decided to build a city with a very tall tower. Their reason? “So that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth” (Gen 11: 4).

    Ironically, it was this decision that motivated the Lord to scatter them anyway. He did it by confusing their language so that they would separate according to who could understand each other. I imagine each group moving away from the others until different gatherings were found all over the planet.

    At surface level, we find ourselves asking ‘Why does God seem threatened by these people building a tower?’ (v 6). Surely what they are building was not a big deal. For example, they could have been constructing some form of Ziggurat. Made from sun-baked clay, these were built by many ancient peoples in that period of history. They could reach as high as 30m. Let’s say, for argument's sake, Babel’s reached 100m.

    Bearing in mind, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai stands at 828m, why was this tower (or Ziggurat) in Genesis 11 a problem to God?


    When we look at the previous two chapters, we find that these people were descendants of Noah, the sole survivor (along with his immediate family) of the worldwide flood – a time of judgment from God because “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Gen 6: 5).

    At the end of the flood, they were told to “increase and multiply on the earth” (Gen 9: 7), but by settling in Shinar they were disobeying God – they didn’t want to increase and multiply; they didn’t want to be scattered (v 4).

    Instead, they chose to stay and make a name for themselves.

    “We don’t care what God wants; we will do something that exalts us.”


    God’s judgment came, the tower remained unfinished, and people became divided through language. And people have been divided through language and culture ever since.

    On the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, we note that the believers in Jesus were all together in one place” and “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (or languages) as the Spirit enabled them”.

    Visitors to Jerusalem “came from every nation under heaven”. Descendants of those scattered back in Genesis 11 heard the praises of God in their own language as the Spirit gave utterance. Many then believed Peter’s message as he proclaimed Christ, risen from the dead.

    No longer scattered, God brought people together as language led people to unity and a common faith in Jesus. 


    Pentecost was a moment in time when God started to reverse the effects of the ancient story of a tower in a place called Babel. Instead of language dividing, language united people. God had already done a new thing through Christ’s death and resurrection; now he was doing a new thing through the power of the Holy Spirit

    No wonder Paul urged the Ephesian church to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4: 3).

    Let’s be careful to do everything we can to maintain the unity of the Spirit. There are many things that divide, and opinions outnumber the stars in the sky but look carefully for Pentecost moments. Moments when the Spirit invites unity despite differences in culture and language. 

    5m | Aug 22, 2023
  • The Problem of Compromise

    As a young lad, David – the man destined to become Israel’s greatest king – showed remarkable character. Godly character.

    Volunteering to face off with the Philistine champion, Goliath, he shunned the shallow incentives offered by King Saul. Ignoring the wealth, tax incentives and opportunity for social advancement by marrying the king’s daughter, he simply asked, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam 17: 26)

    After soundly defeating the giant, he became a household name. Unfortunately, his newfound popularity placed him in the sights of a now envious King Saul and, in time, jealously drove the king to make multiple attempts on David’s life.

    David escaped harm by fleeing the nation’s capital, but on a couple of occasions, he had the opportunity to fight back. Fellow soldiers urged him to retaliate and strike the king down, but his response surprised them: “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord” (1 Sam 24: 6).

    David’s heart was to honour God with all of his actions, despite his unjust treatment by the king.

    But cracks soon started to show in the heart of this otherwise Godly man. Some commentators believe that his next decision marked the beginning of a slow descent to compromise.


    “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul”, lamented David in 1 Sam 27: 1, “the best thing I can do is escape to the land of the Philistines…”

    David took his family and private army to the city of Gath and King Ashish. Interestingly, he has been there before. In chapter 21 of 1 Samuel, David, then on his own, sought shelter in the same city, but he was so afraid of being captured and killed that he pretended to be insane. This place proved not to be a safe haven and, at the time, he snuck away as soon as he could.

    So, it should come as a surprise to us, that in 1 Sam 27: 2, he has gone back to the same guy. Why go back there?


    The immediate result of David and his men fleeing to Gath was that Saul gave up his search for him. So, good result, right?

    Maybe. But here’s the problem. First, there was no prayer here about going to Philistine territory. These people were God’s enemies as well as Israel’s. There was no seeking of God. No consulting of the ephod or prophet. David ‘thought to himself’ (we are told in v 1), instead of asking God what He thinks.

    Secondly, David and his men proceeded to indulge in some, let’s say, dubious practices. Every time he and his army went out to battle, they gave the impression to Aschish that they had been attacking their own people, hiding from him that they were, in fact, still wiping out Israel’s enemies.

    So, David abused the king's trust by lying. We might say he pretended to be someone else again. It seems that every time he goes to Gath, he lives a lie. Here in chapter 27, David is not being truthful about who he is and what he is doing. David has compromised his integrity.


    It makes me wonder how often I or we are tempted to live in enemy territory, to compromise who we are in Christ, to absorb ungodly attitudes, and to hope for things in the world that only God can provide.

    In going to Gath, David looked to ungodly humans for protection instead of God and, although he gained short-term peace (for 1 year 4 months,), it was at the cost of a clear conscience.

    When we compromise, we lose something of our transparency, our truthfulness, our innocence and our integrity.


    Reading further in 1 Samuel, we see the consequences of David’s compromise. In this case, his actions put his family in terrible danger.

    More than ever before, our world needs followers of Jesus who shine a clear, bright light, with no compromise. 

    6m | Aug 15, 2023
  • Positive Outcomes

    “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13: 8)


    I recently heard a Christian brother share the view that, although this verse is often quoted, rarely is it spoken in relation to the previous verse. In other words, we hear this wonderful truth as a stand-alone verse, but what is its message in context?


    The previous verse says this: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Heb 13: 7).


    In the midst of concluding remarks by the author of Hebrews, he calls his readers to remember their leaders – the ones, perhaps, who brought them to faith, or the ones who have in recent times nurtured their faith—the ones who have faithfully ministered God’s Word to them.


    He exhorts them to think about their leaders’ way of life. What might that mean? Perhaps he is referring to their integrity, their character. Certainly, the readers are challenged to imitate their leaders’ faith.


    But he doesn’t just draw attention to their leaders’ way of life, he wants them to see the outcomes of their leaders’ way of life. In other words, ‘Look Hebrews, don’t just make note of what Godly living looks like, see the outcomes, the fruit of Godly living. Be inspired by what a Godly life can achieve. Jesus Christ was the perfect example of a beautifully fruitful and glorious life. And he is the same today and will continue to be the same forever through the lives of those who love Him and serve Him.’


    What was it that Jesus once said? “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15: 5b)


    Positive outcomes in life are usually the result of positive inputs. Luck can play a part in some things, but, in general, a successful musical recital comes out of the many hours of focused practice. Consistent high performance on the field or track has been earned by the gruelling training away from the crowds. Positive outcomes flow from positive inputs.


    If our spiritual outcomes are those to be noticed by others; helpful, and even inspiring to others, what are the required inputs? Today’s verses each give us a clue.


    Jesus said, “Remain in me”. In other words, ‘keep your faith through your prayer life directed toward him. Don’t start drifting off into independence and self-achievement. He followed with “and I in you”, a few verses later in John 15, we hear the exhortation for His words to remain in us. God’s Word is to be in us, active, available, on speed dial, soaking/marinating in our minds and hearts, spoken out, lived out and talked about.


    And as we remember the leaders that inspired us, we note their faith that came from the Word in them. The same faith can define us too because, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever”. 

    5m | Aug 7, 2023
  • The Bright and Morning Star

    I am not really into Astronomy, although I probably should be because, in a previous life, I taught high school science. A friend allowed me to view Saturn and the moon through his telescope once and it was interesting, but it didn’t change my life.

    But I am fascinated by this: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22: 16).

    The morning star in Bible days was traditionally the planet Venus and it was sometimes a reference to the rising sun. Jesus is also using the term to describe himself.

    What might Jesus be saying here in Revelation 22?

    The morning star as the rising sun heralds a new day. I often watch sunrises out of my bedroom window and the emerging colours embracing the clouds can be breathtaking. Jesus also heralds a new spiritual day: Forgiveness and relationship with God through His sacrifice on the cross.


    Although scientists tell us that the sun has a finite life span, it is a very large number of years, and from our perspective, it is constant and reliable. It will rise in the morning and set in the evening without fail. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He is faithful and glorious forever.

    Can you remember a time when Jesus shone like the sun?

    After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

     Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

     While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matt 17:1 – 5)

    The disciples saw something of the Glory of God in Jesus.

    Before Peter, James and John, Jesus was revealed in literally a new light. Seen alongside Moses (representing the law) and Elijah (representing the Old Testament prophets), the voice of the Father confirmed him as the new and living fulfilment of every promise in Scripture.

    When people saw Venus rise in the early hours of the morning in Bible times, they knew the sun was also about to rise. Dawn was on its way. Venus represents the hope of a certain future, a very bright hope.

    So, when Jesus describes himself as the “Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star”, he is the promised Messiah, the fulfilment of the Hebrew Scriptures, the hope of salvation and eternal life, faithful and glorious, and even more wonderful than a beautiful sunrise.

    “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

    We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:16 – 19).

    6m | Jul 31, 2023
  • Speaking the Word

    Those who have been a Christian for a while will know the value of reading God’s Word on a regular basis. Often, we will read the Bible the same way we take in other information. We see the words on a page or a screen, we recognise them, and our brains sort out the meaning. Sometimes there is a sense that the message is for us, personally. We believe that the Holy Spirit is willing and able to minister truth to us as we read.


    But there are different ways of reading and sometimes the Scriptures encourage us to speak God’s Word. Out loud.


    King David, the worshipper, is not afraid to put voice to his love for the Lord: “My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever” (Ps 145: 12). The apostle, Peter, even seems to suggest that this is our central purpose: “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2: 9).


    In other words, we exist to declare praise and truth. Out loud.


    “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should” (Col 4: 3 – 4).


    So, we speak God’s Word back to the Lord in worship, and we declare His Word to those who are lost. We also speak God’s Word to ourselves.


    David has no qualms talking to himself in Psalm 42: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…”, repeating the questions and exhortation later in the psalm and in Ps 43: 5.


    When we speak to our souls, we remind ourselves of Biblical truth. When Moses was preparing the second-generation children of Israel to enter the Promised Land with the speeches we now know as the book of Deuteronomy, he wanted to impress upon them the life and death importance of obedience to God’s Word.


    He said, “the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it” (Deut 30: 14).


    Although the testimonies of God’s faithfulness and laws would have, to a certain extent, resided in their memories – their minds, the Lord wanted His Word in their hearts (where they will desire relationship with Him and obedience), but also in their mouths. They were to continually speak it out. They were to voice it to the Lord in worship, to each other, to their children (see Deut 6: 7) and to their own souls.


    The word was to be in their mouths, “so that you can do it”.


    What else?


    “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10: 8 – 9)


    The believers in Acts 4 claimed Psalm 2 as their own, speaking it out with one voice. As a result, they were filled with the Spirit and with boldness.


    Remarkable things can happen when speak God’s Word - salvation, the bold declaration of truth through worship and evangelism. And then power and transformation. 


    5m | Jul 24, 2023
  • God in the Storm

    Sometimes stuff happens, and it is not our fault.


    We didn’t sin. As far as we know we haven’t mistreated anybody. But something went wrong, something hit the fan and we have been caught in the ugly mess.


    It doesn’t seem fair.


    When David found himself on the end of King Saul’s insane jealousy (and almost on the end of a spear), he asked “What is my crime?”. That reminds us of another time someone was arrested and punished with no evidence of wrongdoing. “What crime has he committed?”, asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” (Matt 27: 23)


    Sometimes people are innocent, but the storms still rage against them.


    For us as believers and followers of Jesus, it is part of living in a fallen world. A world tainted by sin and occupied by humans who are “dead in their transgressions and sins” (Eph 2: 1). It is also part of being on a journey toward the Kingdom of God and Christlikeness.


    I came across this phrase: God uses the storm to form and transform. If we are willing, God will use the storms of life, to form Christ in our hearts and transform us from disobedient sinners to willing saints. From lost sheep to men and women of faith.


    After King Saul tried to kill David, the young man ran for his life. And tough times followed – there were tears and there was loneliness, fear, temptation, and anger. Being pinned to a wall by a spear was only the beginning of David’s problems.


    But in those early years before becoming king, David sought to do what was right. To obey God and trust God. For example, he refused to retaliate against Saul when the King tried to kill him, numerous times. In his early days of being on the run, he instinctively ran towards communion with God. Psalm 57 reveals the prayers of the young man hiding in the cave of Adullam, expressing praise and faith in the Lord’s power and might.


    What drove David to lean towards good choices, towards righteous decisions, even when the storms hit him at that time? Perhaps a clue is found in his attitude. The attitude that says, ‘I will keep my integrity (through this difficult time), I will not pay back evil for evil, but I will put my trust in God’.


    No wonder some say David is a shadow, a forerunner, a type of Christ. When we think of Jesus,

    the Apostle Peter wrote to the churches, Jesus “committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter2: 22 – 23)


    Jesus was the perfect fulfilment of the king who had a heart after God, who in the storm of betrayal cast his hope in the greatness and faithfulness of the living God.


    Next time you face a storm, remember that God is in it. In fact, God uses the storm to form and transform. 

    5m | Jul 17, 2023
  • Traditions

    "Traditions are good when the hold us to the Word of God, but if they prevent us from seeing revelation through a new work of the Spirit, we might be in danger of missing out. A healthy church will always hold these two things in tension: keeping to our Biblical roots as expressed in our traditions while listening to the leading of the Spirit today." 

    5m | Jul 10, 2023
  • The luckiest guy on the planet

    Barabbas cannot have believed his luck when his sentence of death was given to another.

    6m | Jun 26, 2023
  • Resting in uncertainty

    Resting in the Lord, trusting in Him, even though the future is uncertain

    5m | Jun 19, 2023
  • Water into wine

    Taking a fresh look at Jesus' first miracle in John 2

    6m | Jun 5, 2023
  • Remembrance

    What does it mean to remember Christ's death on the cross when we take the Bread and the Wine?

    4m | May 29, 2023
  • Clothed with the lamb

    How modern-day shepherds integrate rejected newborn lambs into new families is a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us on the cross

    4m | May 22, 2023
  • Holiness

    The Bible tells us that God is Holy. What does that mean? And we are called to be holy. What does that mean?

    5m | May 15, 2023
  • The Power of the Gospel

    .....That sounds a bit like the world we live in today, doesn’t it? And look! “When they heard about the resurrection of the dead...

    6m | May 8, 2022
4-minute Devotions - the Podcast