Christian life

Let me tell you… (Psalm 34)

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This Psalm is just absolutely jam-packed with gems about God and how God interacts with us his people.  It is a psalm full of personal and experiential knowledge of God’s nature and character.

It’s almost like David is explaining in the rest of the Psalm why he says in verse 1; “I will bless the LORD at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

David wants you and I to join him in magnifying the LORD with him, wants us to join in and exalt God’s name (God’s character and attributes) together.

My God answers prayer! (vs4-6,15,17)

David can testify that he called out for God, he enquired after God in threatening life situation after threatening life situation (David was a fugitive fearing for his life for 15yrs!) and he can testify that God answered when he called.  More than that God delivered him from all the threats that put fear into his heart.  ‘This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles’ (vs6)!  And because of this testimony David can declare that the face of those who look to God for their help – their faces are radiant (vs5).

What are you facing today?  Call out to your God who answers, who delivers, who saves.  Put your trust in the trustworthy ONE, so that your face may radiate on the day that God delivers you.

Angelic Help (vs7)

Angels are ministering spirits sent out by God to serve and protect God’s children (Hebrews 1:14).  David can testify to angelic protection, a heavenly body-guard for those who fear God.  This reminds me of the moment in Israel’s history when Elisha’s servant feared because of the formidable Syrian army amassed around the city and the servant was afraid and Elisha prayed that God would show him the mighty heavenly host that was arrayed around them to protect them and declared to his servant; “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us (angels) are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:15-17).

Know this.  God the Holy Spirit is with you (Hebrews 13:5) and God has sent an angelic body-guard to encamp around you!  So, do not fear.

Taste and See (vs8)

We learn in lots of ways, from what we read or hear from others, through modelling etc but experiential learning is one of the most powerful sources of learning.  David urges you and I to do as he has done – do ‘taste and see’ that God is a faithful deliverer.  This is an invitation an exhortation to find out for ourselves to experience that God is good!

Such knowledge of God hewn out of the experience of everyday life is unshakable and precious!  There are no short cuts but this is the exhortation of Scripture for you and I to discover for ourselves what David has discovered – God is good.


In The Presence of the King (Psalm 24)

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Who is God?

Who can appear before such a God?

Open up for God to come presence Himself with us!

These are questions this Psalm addresses.

God’s supreme authority (vs1-2)

Everything that exists in physical time and space, every atom and sub-atomic particle, every mountain range, every square metre on the planet is God’s!  More than that every person who has ever existed, whether they acknowledge God as God or not, was created lovingly by God and for His glory and His purposes (Romans 11:36).

God is unmatched and unrivalled, God made everything and so God owns everything!  The maker of something is its owner, they are the one who gets to determine the purpose and value.  Since God created everything, God is in supreme authority.

Who can appear before such a God? (Vs3-6)

Greatness, majesty & authority necessitate respect.  So, in light of God’s greatness, who can approach His awesome presence?

This God of king David’s, is not just supreme in authority but is also Holy.  There is no sin in His presence and so to approach God requires ‘clean hands and a pure heart’ from anyone who enters His presence.

And this introduces a dilemma for you and I!

After all who can claim to have pure hands that have not ever done wrong and a pure heart too that has not ever thought or intended wrong?

No one! (declares Romans 3:10-12)

Yet, I love the unspoken assumption here; there is something hard-wired into us as God’s created image bearers that desires to be the presence of our God and Maker.  Yet we have this dilemma, we can’t be in His presence with the state that our hands and hearts are in.

Paul writing to the Romans expresses this moral dilemma and then wonderfully reveals the solution God Himself provided to it;

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)

As Isaiah proclaimed; if we repent God will purify us from our sin and make us as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) if we ask Him to.  So thank God today for Jesus, thank God for forgiveness and therefore the ability to enter God’s awesome presence.

God wants to come close! (Vs7-10)

What an astounding idea that the God who created and owns everything is the very same God into whose presence we can come through the forgiveness Jesus offers us.

Even more astounding is this, that it is God who takes the initiative and God who wants to come and presence Himself with us!

The image in vs7-10 is of someone at the gate of the walled city of Jerusalem asking to enter and the gatekeepers calling out; ‘Who’s there?’

8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, 

the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! 

And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 

10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah 

The mighty one, the Ancient of Days, the King of glory, the Lord of hosts that’s who is knocking, that’s who wants to dwell amongst us, presence Himself with us!  It’s incredible good news.  This makes me think of Jesus in Revelation saying;

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice 

and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

The King of glory wants to presence Himself with you, with us.  We belong in His presence because He has removed our sin from us, given us His perfect righteousness so open the door, let Him come and presence Himself with you daily.

Invite Him now!

Two Bookends (Psalm 8)

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This Psalm is one with two bookends (vs1&9) that hold within them some reflection as the content held within those bookends of praise and exaltation of God.

Bookend #1:

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 

King David here addresses God as Yahweh, the eternal self-existent and only God of all who is also ‘our God’, the One who made a covenant with His people and established a unique relationship based love and commitment with us.

King David breaks out in praise and worship delighting in how majestic God is in all the earth!  When king David says; ‘how majestic is your name’ he is referring to God’s character, God’s attributes that are known to His people and in fact are known not just to His people, but known to the whole earth, all the nations because of the way God has intervened for His people and judged the nations of the earth!

The content between the bookends (vs2-8)

‘Out of the mouth of babies’ – the ESV commentators think that this phrase probably refers to God’s people who seem like little and insignificant babies compared to some of the impressive nations around them.

(vs2) David is reflecting on how God is His wisdom uses weak, small and seemingly insignificant people on the planet to make Himself known as the strong and mighty  One, through His interactions with them and through their actions and history.

(vs3-4) David considers all the magnificent things God has made in creation, and finds it astounding that God has set His attention and affection on us, on human beings.

(vs5-8) And yet David knows that God’s given us as little human beings a position, a place, a role as His agents having authority & responsibility for everything on the planet, and that is just an amazing thing to think about, to ponder and to praise God for and a responsibility to take seriously.

Bookend #2:

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 

At the end it all, Yahweh, our Yahweh we praise You for who You are and for what You’ve chosen to do, how You have set up the planet and how You have intervened for Your people, even for little me.  I praise You, we praise You.


•Write down the names of God you know and what they say about WHO God is WHAT God has done and then praise God for those things.

•Do you feel week, think of the church as weak and insignificant?  Can you see how God’s people have always felt like ‘babies’ compared to the nations?  How does this encourage you to think differently?

•Consider the role God has entrusted to us within creation, are you taking that role seriously?  What might need to change?

God’s Design (Nehemiah 10)

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In chapter 10 we read all the names of the people who as representatives signed the renwal of the covenant with God.  And we read details of how they renewed their contributions, their giving to the temple so that something could happen…

God’s design was always that 11 of the 12 tribes had been given land so that they could work the land and provide for themselves and that they should also bring their tithes into God’s storehouse which in turn would provide for the 12th tribe – the Levites who weren’t given their own fields/lands and so couldn’t provide for themselves but needed to rely on the other 11 tribes as they devoted themselves to serving in worship and ministry.

God’s design was that 1 tribe would consecrate (set themselves aside to focus on something) themselves so that they could serve God and serve the other 11 tribes by ministering to them.  And God’s design was that the other 11 tribes would commit to that 1 tribe in providing for them and would benefit from that 1 tribe in that they would be ministered to by that tribe.

God’s design is still the same, some are gifted and then set apart to give all their time to serving God by ministering to His people for their benefit, and those they minister to would in turn provide for them.  A symbiotic relationship that serves God’s purposes in all people.


Patient Forbearing Gracious Faithful God & Unfaithful People (Nehemiah 9)

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This incredible chapter of Scripture looks back on the story of God’s people from the time of Abraham to the present time of Nehemiah and the story is a remarkable one!

Read through the chapter and make note of every reference to God, every thing that describes who God is, what God is like & what God has done for His people…

What emerges is a powerfully clear incredible portrait of our great God!

Now go back through the chapter and look for every reference to God’s people and make not of how they/we are described…

They were and we too are a weak, disobedient people!

God is so patient with me and with you.  God is so faithful and gracious and loving inspite of what we are like.  Thank Him and praise Him!

Joy not sorrow… (Nehemiah 8:9-19)

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The renewal that started as Ezra read out the from the Book of the Law in 8:1-8 continues into a second day of rediscovering God’s word. In verse 13 we read that a group of people; heads of household, levites and priests got together for the express purpose of studying God’s Word together.

As they do so, they uncover a festival (the festival of Booths/Tabernacles) that had been ignored. It was a festival that looked back on the goodness of God’s care and provision for the people of God during the Wilderness years. They instruct the people to not mourn but to rejoice and to partake in this 7 day festival of feasting, sharing and joyful thanks to God.

So what? What relevance does this have to your life and mine?
Two things strike me from this verses.

1. Reading in Community

This rediscovery of God’s will for His people came about because a group of people got together to study God’s Word together. Historically, God’s word has not been read primarily in private but was more a communal activity.

We find this hard to imagine in our era which has the Bible unprecedentedly available on every device we own, and many believers frequently having more than one Bible in their homes.

There is something powerful about reading God’s Word in community, with others, allowing God to speak to you through others and to others from His Word. I love how this renewal of this festival God had initiated 1000yrs earlier was re-discovered as it were by the returning exiles as they read God’s word, studying it together.

I urge you to, not just read the bible alone, but to find ways to read it ‘in-community’. This will not only stimulate group learning but will also help to keep you from incorrect conclusions as you read and also provides some form of accountability for what you’ve felt God say through His Word.

This is one of the reasons in our church we have a Bible Reading Plan! By doing so, we are creating the context where by you and I can read the same passage in a day and share with one another even if we are not physically able to be in the same room.

You can also read in community, with your TRIO (A TRIO is 2-3 Christ followers who have committed themselves to an intentional spiritual friendship focussed on helping one another to follow Christ and His mission for their lives and the church) and or your Community Group.

2. The Ultimate Fruit of Repentance

The second stand out in this passage, is that the re-sensitisation to God’s word, the realisation by God’s people that they had sinned and failed to obey God’s commands did not only result in repentance and contrition.

When we have sinned and we see it, contrition (sadness over our sin) is appropriate but it is not appropriate to stay in that place! Contrition is part of repentance, it makes repentance possible in one sense but for repentance to be complete it needs to make way for the ultimate fruit of repentance which is JOY.

Where there has been true repentance joy is appropriate because having seen one’s sin, and having taken responsibility for one’s sin, and having asked God to forgive you of your sin, and having turned from your way of sin to a new way – then joy is the only appropriate response.

Scripture is clear that if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Because God is faithful to forgive the repentant sinner, joy is the appropriate response for those who have been forgiven, as joy honours God as having forgiven.

Therefore, to wallow in self-pity and shame does not honour Jesus but rather implies that Jesus can’t or hasn’t forgiven you, or implies that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough or that God has withheld forgiveness from you.

Friend, when we see that we have sinned, wronged God, wronged others, contrition is appropriate but it leads to what is ultimate because of Jesus – the joy of having been forgiven and set free.

So, face up to your sin, be sad about it but then repent and be forgiven and then rejoice in your great Jesus who is able to save you to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). Amen.




Wellness & God’s Word (Nehemiah 8:1-8)

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Wellness is a just modern term for an old idea.  Wellness refers to the holistic mental, physical, relational & spiritual well-being of a person.  I would argue that the term could also be applied to a group of people – the whole groups sense of stability and well-being in all these areas.

In terms of physical & relational wellness, the people of God in Nehemiah’s time had returned to the Promised Land and to Jerusalem, they had rebuilt the walls together side-by-side in a show of unity and as a result were secure and had rebuilt their esteem before the other nations, relationally injustices had been dealt with through repentance and restitution and yet something was still missing…

As we saw from the previous devotional, Nehemiah clearly had a life-giving relationship with God, but the people’s spirituality, their rhythms of worship had broken down and their lives did not reflect God’s covenant or God’s commandments.  So although there was great improvement there was still a need for spiritual renewal amongst God’s people.

Nehemiah chapters 8-12 records the spiritual renewal of God’s people that all started with the reading of God’s word in Nehemiah 8:1-8 by the priest & scribe – Ezra.

And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel.  (Nehemiah 8:1)

We read that all the men, the women & the children who could understand gathered as a mighty assembly to listen to God’s Word being read out to them all by Ezra.  We also read that there was great care taken by the Levites to help explain God’s Word and presumably apply it into the lives of the gathered congregation (vs7-8).

Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (Nehemiah 8:7-8)

Wellness is not possible without spiritual renewal!  Jesus urges us to ‘seek first the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 6:33) we need a life-giving relationship with Jesus restored in our life if we have any hope of wellness in all other areas.

What we learn from this passage is that wellness requires spiritual renewal and spiritual renewal is founded on God’s Word.  Our attitude to and commitment to God’s word is probably the single greatest factor in our spiritual well-being.  And so our own personal commitment to the authority of God’s word in our lives, our own reading and obeying God’s word and our listening to God’s word expounded and explained through preaching is crucial to spiritual vitality!

I love how the levites take pains to ensure that the people were helped (vs7) so that the people would understand and be able to obey and apply God’s Word to their lives (vs8).  This is the main reason I blog and write these devotionals each day, this is why we have a Bible Reading Plan in our church and this is why when we preach we want to preach from the text, reading, explaining and applying God’s word, not trying to impress or entertain but trying to help people understand and then apply God’s word so that they will be spiritually renewed and inspired to obey God.

Do you desire wellness? 

May I urge you to submit to God’s Word in your life, commit to reading, understanding and applying God’s word and then I promise you, you will grow spiritually.

Bless you!