Monday, March 28, 2011

Daily Journal for Tuesday 29th of March 2011


S - What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25a

O - The sinful nature was alive and well even in Paul the Apostle. Though he lived a disciplined Christian life a war was being fought within. He felt like a prisioner. He felt like he was living in a body of death. "What a wretched man I am!" was his heartfelt cry. "Who will save me?" The clear answer comes - Paul is delivered from death through Jesus Christ and all the thanks goes to God.

A - There are a number of points of application that come straight to mind from reflecting on these verses...

  1. It's rare today to be wretched. There's not many people like Paul. Today it is rare to find people who wage this war in their bodies with sin. Many have either given up and surrendered long ago or have never tried to fight it because they haven't ever understood who God is and what his law requires. Others have known but prefered to make excuses and justify themselves rather than seek to fight it. 
  2. Even Christians can try to be good when they're wretched. Many Christians have not got to the point of crying out "wretched man that I am!" and realised that before a holy God they are completely ruined and need saving. They instead try to be good and when they fail they pretend that they still are good when they know that they aren't. They console themselves that at least they are better than others and judge and look down on them. This is far from Paul's position.
  3. I am wretched but rescued. I need to constantly remember that I am a wretched man, saved by a wonderful saviour. This, when pondered and delighted in will not only assure me of my new status in Christ but will also compell me to seek to live a holy life, every day, waging war against sin.
- Heavenly Father, thanks a million for sending Jesus. His death has brought me life, forgiveness and a whole new standing. Praise be to you! Amen.

Daily Readings - Leviticus 1-2 & Romans 7:7-25

Monday, March 21, 2011

Daily Journal for Tuesday 22nd of March 2011

More of Your Presence!

S - Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" Exodus 33:15-16

O - God's presence is crucial for mission! Moses asked God not to send him without his presence. We need God's presence with us as we do his work in the world. Why? These verses show that Moses wanted God's presence because it would clearly show to everyone who observed them that God was pleased with them. God's presence is a sign of God's pleasure. Also, Moses saw that God's presence would distinguish him and his people from all the other people in the world. They would be unique. They would stand out. They would be clearly seen as different because of God's presence. God's presence causes people to stand out in the crowd.

A - I long for a greater display of God's presence in my life and in our church. Like Moses, I want others to see us and know that God is pleased with us and goes with us. This Easter as people are invited to our gatherings my longing is that people will know God's presence and sense his favour on us. Jesus sent us out with a promise. "Go into all the world" and "I will be with you." He is with us. May this be known and experienced in our people.

I also long that God's presence would distinguish us from all others. I know that it already does, but I long for a holy reverence, an awe in our worship, a purity in our lives and a tangible expectation of God's transforming power when we gather together. I long that we would stand out, along with all the other churches in this region as those who know God and enjoy his presence.

P - Father, I pray for more of your presence. Fill us with your presence so others may see your favour and your people as uniquely yours. This Easter, show your glory! In Jesus name Amen.

Daily Readings: Exodus 33 & Romans 2:17-29

Monday, February 7, 2011

Daily Journal for Tuesday 8th of February 2011

A Dream Comes True

- When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before hime to the ground. Genesis 43:26

O - Joseph had had a dreamed that his brothers would one day bow down to him. When he shared it they hated him. So much so that they sold him. When Joseph was thrown into prison for a crime that he didn't commit he must have felt like the dream God had revealled to him would never happen. He could have easily given up, lost hope, turned away. But he didn't. When asked to interpret Pharaoh's dream he didn't take the credit. He told Pharaoh that God would interpret his dream. He tursted in God to lead Egypt as Pharaoh increased his position of authority.

Here in this verse, as his brothers bowed down, right to the ground, Joseph must have realised that it was God who had shown him the dream and it was God who had fulfilled the dream. What a moment for Joseph. He must have deeply known at this point the faithfulness of God.

A - I haven't had any dreams of fat things being eaten by skinny things or any dreams at all that I have felt God trying to reveal to me his plans for the future. But I do know that whether by dream or by his Word or his Spirit's promtings God can be trusted. What he says he will do!

Jesus said, "I will build my church." I know I have felt God clearly call me to be serving him as a pastor. He has shown me this in many clear ways. Now I must continue to be faithful, obeying and seeking his will as I serve him and his people here in Albury/Wodonga. I long to see Jesus build his church. I will trust as he fulfills his promises.

P - Father, I thank you for the longings you have placed in my heart. Thanks for the signs that this year you may be up to a really great time of growth. I pray for our team of leaders and our church. We look to you. I trust in you.  I will obey! Amen.

Bible Reading - Genesis 43 & Matt 28

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Daily Journal for Wednesday 2nd of February 2011

They Knew Nothing...

S - "...they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away." Matthew 24:39.

O - In the days of Noah, before the flood, people were doing things that were displaying that they had no idea about what was coming. They were eating and drinking like there was nothing to worry about. They were getting married and planning their future lives when the rains started.

This Jesus says is what it will be like at the coming of the Son of Man. People will be unaware, caught off gaurd, knowing nothing about what will happen.

A - It's terrible to be caught off guard. Recent Queensland floods caught so many people completely off guard. Bush fires in Victoria 2009 caught so many people unaware. But Jesus wants us to know. He wants us to be prepared, to be ready and to be this will be hard firstly because of 'the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold' (v12). I'll need to stand firm and be strong while so many around me grow colder. The other reason that this will be hard is because no-one knows the time when Jesus will return (v30). It could be anytime so I need to be ready. Being strong and being ready until the end will help me and whoever else I can tell before I die to not be one of those who they could say "they knew nothing."

P - Father, I want to be ready for when Jesus comes again. I will seek to live each day standing firm and knowing that today could be the day he comes. Amen.

Daily Readings Genesis 37 & Matthew 24

Monday, January 31, 2011

Daily Journal for Tuesday 1st of February 2011

A Hearts Cry

S - "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
Matthew 23:37

O - Jesus addressed Jerusalem. Perhaps he was referring to the religious leaders, perhaps the nation as a whole. He refers to them as those "who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you." God had sent many prophets to them but their response was murder! Yet Jesus loves Jerusalem. He longs to gather their children tenderly, to protect and care for them, just like a mother hen does with her chicks. But...they were not willing. What a sad response to a loving God.

A - Even those who should know better, those who see themselves as religious and 'right' can reject the very God they say that they know and do violence to his purposes. A hard heart, a know-all approach does not move us closer but further away. Like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15), we can think that because of our good we are owed something by God, we deserve something from him, we are entitled to demand from him, and speak harshly to others on his behalf.

As a follower of Jesus and as a pastor, I must be careful to be constantly coming under Jesus's loving care. He is my all. He is the one who I want to be nurtured by and led by. I break his heart when I do violence to his advances.

P - Thank-you God for reaching out to me. You initiated our relationship! You softened my heart. I will do all that I can to keep a soft, responsive heart that is being shaped and cared for by you. Amen.

Daily Readings Genesis 35 -36 & Matthew 23

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Staff Meeting 2011

Here's a quick snap of our team at staff meeting last week.

We're looking forward to a great year ahead with Matthew Thorp (top left) and Mason Taylor (top right) joining the team this year. Also Mary and Wendy aren't in this photo. As you pray for our church pray for us! 

Daily Journal for Friday 28th of January 2011

If You Believe

S - 'If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.' Matthew 21:22

O - Jesus says to his disciples, to his followers that if they have faith they could tell a mountain to go jump in the lake and it would! Then he adds, 'If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.' He wasn't asking us to pray for real mountains like Huon Hill to get up and move. He was speaking figuratively. Huge problems, overwhelming circumstances, impossible situations, God can change completely if we pray.

We should expect prayer to make a difference, a huge difference, when we face difficult circumstances. Why? Because of who God is. He is able to do anything. He can't do for people what is impossible for them to do. Nothing is too hard for God!

Believing in the God who is able is the key to prayers that move mountains. It's not the size of the problem that counts but the size of the faith in God who is able. And just a mustard seed is enough. We can't manipulate, dictate or get God to do what is not in his will but we can receive is power through believing prayer.

A - What are the mountains in my life? I have challenges and difficulties before me that need God's power. For up-coming meetings with people, for preaching on Sunday, for the people of this city I need these mountains moved. How much am I praying in faith that God would do what only he can do? I know more miraculous, amazing things would happen if I prayed more with greater faith. And I know that i'd pray more if I believed more.

- Father, I do believe. Increase my faith. Help me grow in faith and love and prayer so that I can see mountains moved in my life, in your church and in this city. Amen.

Daily Reading: Psalm 7-8 & Matthew 21:1-22

Monday, January 17, 2011

Daily Journal for Tuesday 18th of January 2011

Obeying Whatever the Cost

S - "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your own son." Genesis 22:12

O - God knew that Abraham feared him because he was even willing to sacrifice his son Isaac in order to obey God. This was incredible because Isaac was the promised son. He was the one that Sarah laughed about. The thought of having a child at her age was a joke to her. Abraham had just sent off Hagar and Ishmael because God had said it was going to be okay because, "it is through Isaac that your offspirng will be reckoned" (Gen 21:12). So Abraham trusted God and let any back up plan he may've had for God to fulfill his promise of a nation go. The promise was all to do with Isaac now. Then God says, "Sacrifice him..." (Gen 22:2). This must have seemed crazy to Abraham. "But what about the promise?" (see Genesis 12:1-3). "How else will a nation be born through me?" "What other way is there that you can fulfill the promise?" "It's not fair!" "I can't be hearing right." "No."

But scriptures don't record Abraham making any of these responses. Rather God says, "You have not withheld from me your own Son." Rather than telling God that he knew better, Abraham obeyed.

A - Trusting God, whatever the circumstances can be difficult but Abraham did it. Obeying God, whatever the cost - even when it seems to be putting the promises of God out of reach is very difficult, yet Abraham did it.

In my life, I feel that God has called me to make as great an impact on people's lives for Jesus as possible. I would love people to say about me that I helped them see Jesus. I would love them to be able to point to all the people that they have helped come to know and follow Jesus too. If I pursue this purpose only how I think best, I can miss what God might be asking me to do. What might appear hard or out of the ordinary I might ignore. But I must not ignore God's leading. Trust and obedience no matter what the circumstances or the cost will show that I love and fear the Lord.

P - Father, I pray that you would know without a doubt that I love you and am in awe of you. May my obedience to you no matter what SHOUT it to you every day. Amen.

Daily Readings - Genesis 21-22 & Matthew 13:1-23

Monday, January 10, 2011

Books I've Read in 2010

This past year has been a year of goodbye's and searching for new members in our staff team at the Church. With our Associate Pastor leaving for Melbourne to study and pastor a church and with our Church Administrator retiring we have been saying good-bye and working hard to find new great staff. For the first time in my six years here at Wodonga I have not taken all of my holidays so my reading is less than the previous years. I missed a couple of good chunks of time on holidays when I love to read and secretly compete with my wife to see who can read the most. That said I feel like my regular reading in the throws of ministry has increased which is encouraging to me.

So here are the books I have read for 2010.

Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain (Meir & Henderson), The Imperfect Board Member (Brown), How to Apply the Bible (Veerman), Death By Meeting (Lencioni), The Vertical Self (Sayers), 7 Practices of Effective Ministry (Stanley, Joiner & Jones), The Tipping Point (Gladwell), The Suprising Work of God (Edwards), Everyone Communicates Few Connect (Maxwell), Helping the Depressed (Ross), Colour Your World with NCD (Schwartz), Hudson Taylor (Taylor), The Contemplative Pastor (Peterson) and Short History of the Baptists (Vedder).

My favourite book would have probably been "7 Practices" or "The Tipping Point." I have tried to read books that really interest me while also broadening my reading so that I just don't stick to the categories I naturally love.

The only book not in the photo is "The Contemplative Pastor" which I have on my computer software "Logos 4." I read it by printing off sections at a time. I can't quite get into reading from a screen yet but I know this will increase in the coming years.

I've read two books for 2011 already as my holidays have just finished. Andy Stanley's "Principle of the Path" and have finished my first complete audio book "Vintage Church" by Mark Driscoll. I'm just finishing "Drive" by Daniel Pink and have been enjoying it too.

I think that what Rick Warren has said, "Leaders are readers" is true. Not all readers are leaders but people who are leading others need to be growing and learning so that they can serve the needs of those they lead.

As this year begins my pile of books are waiting for me to read and I am looking forward to growing as I read. We have a terrific new Administrator, a new Associate starting next week and plans for the full quota of holidays ahead!

What are you reading? What would you recommend?