Sin Leaves A Stain But God Is Wipes It Out

31st July

Have mercy on me, O God, because of Your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognise my rebellion…”

Psalm 51:1-3a

David will always be remembered as a man after God’s own heart. Yet he, like most other men in the bible, had his faults too. One day as he was standing on the rooftop of his home, he spotted the beautiful Bathsheba bathing. In an act of what can only be described at selfish lust, he ordered her to his palace, impregnated her and killed her husband to cover it up. It almost sounds like something from a Romantic Thriller Movie, yet it really did happen. In fact so real was the guilt of David’s actions, it led him to write this repentant psalm to God.

The emotions David expresses here in this psalm are so very real. If we are honest, we too can relate to the pain and the guilt that personal sin has in our lives. Sometimes sin can feel like a big concrete wall between you and God. In fact that’s what the enemy wants us to think. His desire is that we feel so bad about our sin, that we feel we cannot even talk to God. Yet that is a lie. Yes sin is bad, yes it does create a barrier between us and God and yes there are consequences to our sins, but God does forgive and He does want to renew His relationship with us daily.

David knew that guilt and the consequence of sin can haunt ‘day and night’. He knew that if he didn’t repent, it would crush him, ruin him and even destroy him. However, thankfully David recognised his rebellion, repented and enjoyed the fruit of God’s forgiveness. He knew that he could rely on the unfailing of love of God, on His great compassion and that through the grace of God, his sin could be wiped clean.

Today let us come before the throne of God with the confidence that Jesus has paid our debt, that God is gracious and compassionate and that He can remove the stain of our sins. Thank you Jesus.

The Troublesome Sons

30th July

Then Jesus explained His meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did.”

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus often used questions to present His listeners with a powerful teaching. Today’s passage is no different. In the preceding verses, the Pharisees approach Jesus and question by what His authority He was able to teach others and to do the signs and miracles that He was doing. He never directly answers them but instead, in the next passage, throws a question back to the Pharisees in the form of a story.

He explained that there were two sons. The father was an owner of a vineyard and asked his older son to go out and work in the vineyard. He flatly refuses and says ‘No, I wont go!’ After a while the older son changes his mind and agrees to work in the vineyard. The same question is asked to the younger son who gladly agrees but never goes. Jesus asks His listeners the question, “Which of the two obeyed his father?” They all answer rightly, “The first”.

Jesus explains His question but highlighting a simple truth. The tax collectors and prostitutes obeyed and will enter the Kingdom of God, but those who don’t, won’t. Although there is a much deeper meaning to this statement, there is also a simple truth. Jesus doesn’t differentiate between tax collectors and prostitutes (sinners) and the so called Pharisees (hypocrites). He is more interested in those who although may refuse the Gospel at first, turn from their sinful ways, acknowledge they are wrong, repent and enjoy the blessing of a redeemed life. However there is a strong warning for those who agree to following the Gospel in word, but in reality their lifestyles and actions are contrary to what the Gospel teaches.

Let us take the opportunity to turn from our rebellion, put our trust in Jesus, rely on His grace and not just be followers of Jesus in word but also through the way we live our lives.

He Must Be Greater And I Must Become Less

29th July

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. He has come from above and is greater than anyone else.”

John 3:30-31a

Jesus and John the Baptist had many similarities. They not only were cousins but shared a passion for holiness, righteous living and were marginalised by society yet popular at the same time. A lot of people expected John the Baptist to be the Messiah, a claim which he avidly denied. John’s teaching caused much division and was hard to hear because of the convicting truths, of which eventually led to his execution by Herod.

Yet John the Baptist knew who he was. He knew that he was only a sign post to the true Messiah. He was, as he said in his words, the best man at the wedding feast glad to hear the wedding vows. In fact John often passionately denied the claims that he was the Messiah, even stating that he was not worthy to tie the sandals of Jesus. He was aware that Jesus was someone special.

In today’s verse John declares a truth which was not just powerful when he said it 2000 years ago, but even more so now in a Godless and selfish society. He declared that he should become less and less and Jesus should become greater and greater. This is such a powerful statement. So often we try to dictate our own lives, live in our strength, and try to include God as an after thought. Yet our prayers should be that our own desires and selfish ambitions should become less and less so that God can be greater in our lives. When He becomes more in our lives, we hand over the reigns to way we live so that He drives, He leads and He guides. We become less fixated on ourselves and more on Jesus and His Kingdom purposes. We realise who He is and live our lives accordingly.

Let our prayer be that we may decrease so He can be greater in and through our lives.

Give To Caesar What Is Caesar’s

28th July

He saw through their trickery and said, “Show me a Roman coin. Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well then,” He said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.””

Luke 20:23-25

The Pharisees, time and time again tried to catch Jesus out, make Him look like a fool, or at best get Him arrested by the Romans for breaking their laws. In a similar situation, the Pharisees again approach Jesus to catch Him out however this time under the disguise of some spies pretending to be honest men.

The ‘honest men’ approach Jesus with flattering words that seemed contrary to their malicious intentions of trying to have Jesus arrested. They pose a question to Jesus to try to trick Him, “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?” If Jesus answered yes then the religious leaders could have stirred up a storm and put Jesus in the same bracket as the pious and greedy tax collectors. They could have accused Jesus of putting burdensome demands onto the Jewish people who already felt that taxation from the Romans was unfair and unjust. However, if Jesus answered no, then the religious leaders could have reported Jesus to the Roman governors for inciting rebellion among the Jews. Perhaps they could have even accused Jesus of being a religious zealot trying to set His people free from the Roman authority.

However, Jesus in His supreme wisdom answered, yet again, with such intelligence and authority. His answer, “to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. Amazing. In answering this way He silenced His critics, didn’t incite rebellion and actually taught both the people listening and today’s reader an important lesson.

We need to obey the law of the land and pay our taxes faithfully (for in doing so we honour God) and give to God what belongs to God (after all, everything we have is God’s anyway). Jesus’ wisdom yet again silenced the Pharisee’s shrewd tactics and yet again, Jesus set us an example of how we too should live our lives, purely, justly and righteously.

God’s Love Is Powerful

27th July

Praise the Lord, all you nations. Praise Him, all you people of the earth. For His unfailing love for us is powerful; The Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!”

Psalm 117

There is no greater love than the love of Father God. In fact the Psalmist tells us that God’s love for us is POWERFUL. It is because of His powerful love that sin was defeated. It was His powerful love that resurrected Jesus from the grave. It is His powerful love that saves even the most hardened criminals. Because of His powerful love towards us we too can have an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. Even when we rebel against Him, His powerful love calls us back into His arms. He is faithful and just always. His faithfulness endures forever.

It is because we are loved with such a powerful love, that we can praise Him, we can love Him too, and we can love others with the same love He loves us with. His powerful love breaks the chains of addiction, fear and bondage. His powerful love is liberating. He powerful is constantly re-uniting broken families and bringing hope and justice to the world. Let us unite in praise to the Lord, because of His Powerful love towards us and because of His faithfulness.

Start your week in praise. Accept His Powerful love. Love God. Love yourself. Love others.

One Body In Everything

25th and 26th July

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honoured, all the parts are glad. All of you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it..”

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

Going to church on Sunday, shouldn’t be a religious checklist activity so that when you go home, you can tick the box that says ‘I went to church’. Church attendance is also not just for personal growth. It is not ‘what can I get from church’ but rather it should be ‘what can I give’, or ‘who can I serve’? There is something special about the body of the Christ. There is a deep connection. A church is often made up of many people from different walks of life, different cultures, different age groups and different spheres of influence. Yet all are united in the common factor of worshipping the same God together.

Furthermore, we are all there to support each other; There to lift each other up when we are feeling down, rejoice with each other when there is good news, encourage one another, cry with each other, pray and journey with each other. Our passion should not only be to see the lost come to Christ but to see our brothers and sisters running the race well, not wavering in faith and when life deals a hard blow, be there to support and pick them up. We should be the first to rejoice with our brothers and sisters when someone has received good news. We should praise God together.

Unity pleases God, helps us grow and stops the work of the enemy in our lives. The enemy lives to thwart unity. Yet in the power and because of the power of the Holy Spirit, we can live in love and harmony, bearing our brother’s burdens or rejoicing with our sister’s honour!

United In Christ

24th July

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves and some are free. But we have all been baptised into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

Yesterday I watched such a moving video. A local school choir in Stanton Island performed their end of the year piece to one of their teacher’s recently diagnosed with cancer. It was such an emotional video, as the words in the song included promises of getting through the struggle together as a class, of not leaving the teacher on her own and being her strength when she was weak.

It brought home the truth that Paul writes about here in 1 Corinthians 12, about the necessity to get alongside one another in faith, acknowledging that we are all one body even though we are different. We may be separate body parts but we are all connected. No body part is more important than another. As individuals who are part of the body, we need to realise what our uses are and how we can be best used to support the other members of the body. Furthermore, the glue that holds us all together is the Holy Spirit living in each of us. Even though we may be different we are one in Christ.

Let us not forget the power of unity, the power of togetherness and the power of holding each other up in times of hardships. Let us lean on Christ for our strength and our brothers and sisters for support. After all, one match by itself is easily put out, yet a bunch of matches together is much harder to put out. Let us support each others flames and burn bright for the Kingdom of God.

A world united by Christ in the Power of the Holy Spirit is not an idyllic fantasy. It should be every Christian’s dream and lived out in reality. May our hearts align to the unity of Christ.

The Word Of God Hidden In Our Hearts

23rd July

How can a young person stay pure? By obeying Your word……I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Psalm 119:9, 11

God’s word is essential for our growth in Him and for our personal growth too. It contains messages of hope, direction and focus. It is a source of strength when we are weak. It is a daily encouragement to our souls. It’s words can convict us and it stands as direction manual that leads us to Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit’s revelation, each day we can learn something new as our eyes are opened to God’s thoughts through His word.

Yet one of the greatest attributes of God’s word is that it is a double edged sword that it used to defeat the enemies scheming plans and evil ways. David comments in Psalm 119 that the way to keep pure and holy, the way to have our hearts and minds fixed on the Lord constantly, is to have God’s word in our hearts daily. To have something hidden in your heart doesn’t suggest that it is a well kept secret that only pops up every now and again. It is the continual meditation on His word. It is reading His word everyday, not in a religious habitual practice but in knowing that it is our source of trust in God.

Our challenge is not just read or meditate upon it but to live it out in our lifestyles, obeying God’s commands and allowing His word to impact every part of our lives. Let us daily spend time with Lord, asking the Holy Spirit for His revelation and allowing His word to increase our love for Jesus and trust in Him.

Fix Your Mind On Good Things

22nd July

And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Philippians 4:8

Yesterday we talked about God being on our side, in every situation fighting for and with us, to overcome our problems and to be our hope in hopeless situations. In the same trail of thought, this passage in Philippians presents itself in a similar fashion but worded in a different way.

So often we can feel like the fight to keep our mind pure and holy is a draining war that we are loosing daily. Yet Paul’s advice to the church in Philippi was not to battle in their own strength but to let Jesus, the One who defeated sin, fight for us. Jesus has already won the battle. All we need to do is abide in that victory. When we try to control our minds in our strength, we not only fail but it becomes so draining each day.

Paul’s fatherly and pastoral advice is a reminder today, that although we must allow Jesus to fight for us, it is important to think about all the good things that God has done, is doing and will continue to do. When a thought comes into our mind contrary to what is good, lovely, admirable, true, pure and lovely, let us call on the Name of the Lord, to purge it out, send it back to where it came from and re-align our thoughts to what it of God. By meditating on the scriptures and letting them soak into our souls, we allow God’s goodness to permeate through our bodies. By guarding our ears and eyes from meditating on what is not good, it stops any foothold the enemy can have in our lives.

Let us think on God’s goodness, dwell on His faithfulness, meditate on His word, guard our hearts, minds and ears and allow Jesus’ victory to bear fruit in our lives.

God Is Good All The Time

21st July

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.”

Psalm 86:5

Newsflash…. God is on your side. He is not against you, He not sitting in Heaven pointing His finger at you waiting for you to slip up and to condemn you. On the contrary, God is your number supporter. He is willing you on in life’s race, ready to pick you up if you fall, answering your prayers, and carrying you when you have no energy left. If your image of God is not any of these, then you have misunderstood who God is.

There is a reason why God is constantly referred to as Abba Father in the bible. Why? Because He is our loving, kind and gracious Father. Even when situation may look bad, look like there is no hope, God is still working in the background to bless you and make a way out for you His child. He is so good. He is full of unfailing, unwavering and unending committed love. His love never runs out even if you behave badly, even if you make wrong choices or even if you you don’t want to believe it. His Fatherly heart is always caring for His children. His love is just always there, our job is to accept it.

Know this day that whatever you may be going through, God is on your side, willing you on, ready to forgive and pick you back up again, free you from bondage and is leading you to His Son Jesus Christ. God’s love is consistent and best of all, free!! As the old saying goes, God is good all the time and all the time God is good. He never changes even when our circumstances do. Put your trust, hopes and desires in Him and let Him transform your life.