Fostering a life of faith

With some churches still affected by COVID-19 restrictions, we are sharing special devotional materials with the aim of helping to foster the home faith-life of LCA/NZ members. Most of these are from the Church@Home resources collection on a special webpage at There is also other faith-building content available through this page, including family resources, encouraging messages and Bible studies, as well as family and child safety, and health and wellbeing resource links, information for church workers, and details on how to support your congregation and the wider church’s mission through Regular Electronic Giving. If you have internet access and a printer, why not print off some resources and mail or deliver them to those who may otherwise miss out?

       – Lisa


These reflections are from a fresh set of devotions written for our LCA/NZ family and friends to help us to keep our eyes on Jesus as we face unsettling times. They can be used by families and individuals as part of the Church@Home resources during this season of uncertainty. You can find these and more on the LCA website at

To know Christ by Ruth Olsen

‘I want to know Christ’ (Philippians 3:10a).

Read Philippians 3:7–16.

Paul was willing to set aside the status of being ‘a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, and considering himself faultless regarding legalistic righteousness’; it’s all worth nothing in comparison with knowing Christ Jesus. He’d rather have been living in union with Christ through faith than still trying to achieve righteousness through the law, having discovered the righteousness gifted by God and received by faith.

Knowing Jesus personally is very different from knowing about Jesus. We start hearing of and knowing about Jesus, and then it’s a growth process, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. As we learn to take God at his word, believing that he means what he says, we start to mature or grow into who and what he has called us to be.

A child in a family will grow up into that family culture. As the child becomes an adult, there will be some things to leave behind, especially to press on in learning to be what the Lord has called him or her to be in this earthly life, using God-given gifts and abilities to serve and encourage others. For a child of God, that involves learning, letting go, receiving and taking up, sifting, sorting, discerning, training, stretching, applying, equipping – all guided by the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper, our Counsellor, our Trainer and our Enabler. He stirs in us the willingness needed and empowers us to ‘just do it’ in our daily life. For it is God who works in us to will and to act (do) according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).

Lord, help me willingly recognise your training, equipping, and onward call each day. Amen.

Pay it forward! by Sal Huckel

‘When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that happened’ (Matthew 18:31).

Get set for a wild ride of forgiveness, grace and mercy as we tackle a challenging lectionary scripture on these themes. Pray for discernment and new insights as we read together.

Read Matthew 18:21–35.

This passage is about God’s grace and forgiveness freely given to us, even though we have our own account with him that rightly should be settled, and is, by Jesus on the cross. Whatever way you do the maths, this kind of forgiveness feels too hard. Many modern-day messages say it’s okay to cut people off when they wrong us, and it’s perhaps easier to do that than ever before.

Today let’s consider the different ‘players’ or roles in the story. We have Peter asking the question. Is he wondering how long it is before he can be let off the hook, forgiving the same person time and time again? Are we?

We also have the king, settling accounts between his servants and offering grace and forgiveness for a sizeable debt. We can easily see God in this story, doing so with our own accounts with him. The unmerciful servant himself is forgiven a large debt, but rather than ‘paying it forward’ or passing that forgiveness on, he seizes his debtor for a much lesser amount.

But why are the ‘other servants’ here? They don’t seem essential to the plot. But Jesus’ words are never wasted! The servants witness the generosity and forgiveness of the master and the subsequent injustice. The servants petition for justice and the master acts. How can we put ourselves in their place once we have considered our own accounts? What are we witnessing? Just as in the reconciliation procedures in the previous passage (verses 15–20), the body is called in. Are you witnessing injustice and unforgiveness that may need to involve your action – naming it, praying to God for justice and doing more than simply looking on?

Lord, help me to keep a short account with you and with others. Remind me to pass on the forgiveness I receive from you as we pray so familiarly. Help me to discern the right approach where I witness a lack of mercy and forgiveness in others, and to bring it before you in prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love like Jesus by Pastor Chris Mann

‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44).

Read Matthew 5:38–48.

What’s the thing I love most about following Jesus? That there is no-one else like him.

What’s the thing I find hardest about following Jesus? That there is no-one else like him.

No-one else loves us as Jesus loves us – unconditionally, graciously, constantly.

But then Jesus goes and asks me, asks us, to do the same – to love unconditionally, graciously, constantly. It’s why we can say both ‘I am simply a forgiven sinner’ and ‘I shine Christ’s light into the darkness’.

We are called to be in the world, but not of the world, to be salt, light and a city on a hill. And if you ever want to stand out, if you ever want to be remarkable, if you ever want to have everyone look at you, then there is simply one thing to do: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

It’s what Jesus did when he went to the cross. And it is Jesus, in us, who helps us do it. And it is because we are God’s children that we can do it. Let’s love our enemies, as hard as it may be, just as Christ loves us.

Heavenly Father, I find it hard to love my enemies. It’s hard enough sometimes to love my own family, friends and others. Yet, you call me to follow you, to do what you do, to live how you lived – and still live. You ask me to do it because you have made me in your image, placed Christ in me and given me your Holy Spirit. Help me to live according to who I truly am – as your child. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A bigger table by Pastor Reid Matthias

‘If, then, God gave [the Gentiles] the same gift that he also gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, how could I possibly hinder God?’ (Acts 11:17).

Read Acts 11:1–18.

I vividly remember the ringing of the phone.

It was annoying because I was young and hungry. On the table in front of us was the holiday turkey, the potatoes and all the trimmings. The smell made us salivate and all that I wanted to do was dig in.

But the phone interrupted our hunger. It was the fire department and a local house had caught on fire. My grandfather and my uncle were volunteer firefighters; thus, they were called into action even though dinner was on the table.

So, we waited, staring at the food, hoping that they’d hurry up. And then the phone rang again. This time it was my grandfather. My grandma’s face was serious. She nodded a few times and then said, ‘Well, bring them over. There’s plenty to eat and plenty of room’.

She cradled the phone and then announced to everyone that Grandpa and Uncle Dale were bringing home the family whose house had just burned. I looked at the table, stacked with food, but already stuffed with chairs and I thought, ‘There’s no room for anyone else’.

Almost as if reading my thoughts, Grandma said, ‘It’s alright, everyone, there’s always more room at the table’.

So it was for the first believers in Christ. The feast had been served. All the good gifts of heaven are displayed before the Jewish Christians who wanted to keep the meal for themselves. God had another thing in mind:

There is always more room at my table.

God’s welcome to the meal, which is a foretaste of the feast to come, is open to all people regardless of past or even present.

How have you felt God’s grace opened to you?

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me eyes to see a grace larger than I could have ever imagined. Help me enjoy the gift. Amen.


Deuteronomy 31:8

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you.

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit.


Gracious God, trusting in your providence and presence, we bring our prayer for an end to this pandemic. We pray for your strengthening of those offering costly leadership during this crisis. We pray for all who are ill. We pray for those anxious about getting ill. We pray for those full of grief. We remember those who have died. We pray for your grace to sustain us as we do what we can in our context. We ask these things, as you encourage us so to do. ‘Ask and it will be given you’ (Matt 7:7). In resurrection faith, we offer our heartfelt prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

– From a National Council of Churches in Australia
initiative for a special time of prayer
focused on the COVID-19 pandemic

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