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Reflections

These reflections help us look into the Bible to discover what God is saying to us today. We find Bible passages to read and questions to ponder. The themes are listed in the index below with each theme divided into seven sections.

The Source of all Blessing – Prospers

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The Reading: Psalm 1:1-6 

“In all he does, he prospers” (v3.) RSV

This verse is such an encouragement. The Christian whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” (v.2) will “prosper”. Now a warning, “prosper” does not mean grow sleek and wealthy. It quite clearly says that what he “does” (v.3) will prosper. And what are we doing? The follower of Jesus Christ will be doing the works that he did, and that he has sent his followers to do. That person will be fruitful in bringing in the kingdom of God on earth. He or she will be a peacemaker and a spreader of the Word of God.

It is of course true that God has promised to give us food and clothing (Matt. 6:31-33), and in a general sense if we work hard and honestly, our labours will usually bring us material growth and prosperity. That is the law of nature. But it is sadly true that many, many people work hard in slave-like conditions and receive hardly any benefit.

But the Christian, whether he prospers materially or not, can work the works of him who called him. He can bring blessing and prosperity to those around him.

Another warning. When it says “delight in the law …” it does not mean only spending time reading the Bible, and learning verses, and having theological thoughts: the Pharisees spent their time doing that! It is referring to reading with a desire to be changed and to try to live out the “law of the Lord”. The person who does that will prosper in “all he does” (v.3).

Help me, O Lord, to find out not only what You have done for me, but also how I can live in such a way that pleases You, and enables me to be fruitful. Amen. 

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1. What did the foolish man do wrong, and the wise man right?

Matthew 7:24-27

2. What does James teach about obedience?

James 1:22-25

 

The Source of Blessing – Delight in the Law

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The Reading:  Psalm 1:1-6 

His delight is in the law of the Lord” (v.2) RSV

The foolish person seeks wisdom and guidance for life from ungodly people, people whose lives do not show blessing.  But the wise person seeks the source of blessing from the Lord.  The “law of the Lord” (v.2) offers the wisdom of the ages.  It contains a combination of experience and revelation.  We ‘pooh pooh’ it at our peril!

The “law” of God is not just referring to the Ten Commandments, but to all the prophetic guidance contained within the scriptures.  When Paul extolled Timothy for knowing the scriptures from childhood, he was referring to the Old Testament, for at that time there was no ‘New Testament’.

Just recently someone rang me to say she had been reading Deuteronomy since I advocated that book in a sermon I preached the previous Sunday.  She claimed to have been incredibly blessed.

It’s not just the Jew who can benefit from these pre-Christian books.  They are inspired for all who wish to seek wisdom.  The Christian reader will gain insight and discover the secrets of a wholesome and fulfilling life.

But in reading, it is essential that we “delight” in it.  The scriptures are not like some nasty tasting tonic that we hold our breath to swallow.  We need to pray for a desire and an insight as we read.  We need to be hungry to hear the voice of God.  We need to chew (i.e. meditate) “day and night” like a cow chewing the cud!

Lord, open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous, wondrous things out of Thy law.  Amen. 

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1. Where did Joshua get his courage from?

Joshua 1:7-8

2. What effect did the Law have on King Josiah?

2 Kings 22:8-13

 

The Source of all Blessing – Walk Not

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The Reading:  Psalm 1:1-6 

Walks not … nor stands … nor sits” (v.1) RSV

 “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33) says St Paulwhen writing to the Corinthian church.  He was quoting a wise maxim of his day.  But it is equally true today.  We tend to be like a chameleon that changes it colour according to its surroundings.  Unless we are very careful and strong we will become like the people with whom we mix.

Psalm 1 warns us against the process of spending more and more time with those whose lives we don’t want to copy.  And yet by a process of osmosis their morals soak into us, and we end up joining them in the slide into destruction (v.6).  Note the process as given to us in this Psalm: “Walk not … nor stand … nor sit …” (v.1).  A casual walking conversation turns to a more permanent standing, and finally a sitting in deep involvement.

Note also the sorts of people who we need to beware of having for close friends: “the wicked … sinners … scoffers …” (v.1).  It is so easy for us to become critical, cynical, and coarse.  Instead we want to cultivate beautiful and robust character traits.

Now, of course, Jesus mixed with all sorts and conditions of people.  He was known for spending time with “publicans and sinners”.  The Pharisees thought this was terrible.  But Jesus loved all people, and indeed had come especially for the ‘lost’.  However, his strength was not drawn from such people.  He drew his strength from communion with his heavenly Father and fellowship with like-minded people.

So when we mix with others let our aim be to bless them and to be an example of godliness.

Dear Lord, thank you that you love all people and mix with everyone.  Help us to be so rooted in You that we can bless others rather than be tainted by them.  Amen. 

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1. Who moved towards, and then lived among the people of  Sodom?

Genesis 13:12-13 and 19:1, 15-16

2. Which of Paul’s helpers left him and why?

2 Timothy 4:10

The Source of Blessing – Blessed

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The Reading:  Psalm 1:1-6

“Blessed is the man” (v1.) RSV

We are going to consider the whole of this short Psalm over the next few weeks.  It will impart to us the secret of a fruitful and prosperous life, both here and hereafter.  It is the perfect Psalm to introduce the other 149 Psalms; its sets us on the right footing.  The Psalms have always been the prayer and worship book of God’s people, so let’s pause and delve into this first one.

“Blessed” is a wonderful description of what God offers the man or woman who follows Him.  Although the RSV uses the word “man” that is a generic word that, like “mankind”, includes all people whatever their age or gender.  Yet, in this case it is not referring to the human race as a whole, but to each individual.

“Blessed” does not mean “happy”.  Happiness depends on what happens!  Life will throw at us both pleasant and unpleasant circumstances.

The latter may make us feel unhappy.  Blessedness is dependent on something much more consistent than circumstances.  It comes from the consistent, loving and encouraging presence of God.  The Holy Spirit who lives within all believers, causes us to exult or rejoice in our innermost being, in spite of the ups and downs of life.

St Paul was a great exponent of rejoicing in all circumstances.  His letter to the Philippians, written whilst in prison, is shot through with the word ‘Rejoice’.

Forgive me, O Lord, when I spend my time grumbling; it shows such lack of faith.  Help me to rejoice in all circumstances, and so bring glory to You.  Amen.

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1. What does Paul instruct us to do?
Philippians 2:18 and 4:4

2. Who are blessed according to Jesus?
Matthew 5:1-11