CHURCH@HOME www.lca.org.au/churchhome

Opportunity to draw closer to Christ

Regular devotions can help nurture our faith and even that of our families, as they strengthen our relationship with Jesus, increase our trust in God and our openness to the call of his Spirit. We pray that you will receive blessings from the devotional materials here and in the Church@Home resources collection collated and shared on the special webpage at www.lca.org.au/churchhome

If you have internet access and a printer, why not print some and mail or deliver them to those who may otherwise miss out?

– Lisa

Isaiah 26:4

Trust in the Lord forever, for (he) is the Rock eternal.

DEVOTIONS FOR HOME WORSHIP

These reflections are adapted from a collection of devotions written for our LCANZ family and friends to help us to keep our eyes on Jesus. You can find the full versions of these and others on the LCA website at www.lca.org.au/daily-devotion

Proverbs 31’s unattainable woman by Sonia Hulme

‘A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies’ (Proverbs 31:10).

Read Proverbs 31:10–31.

The book of Proverbs is intriguing and earlier chapters also have plenty of female imagery. This is not surprising, considering the target audience of this ancient piece of writing. Young men, who were being prepared for life in court, who would lead and rule, needed schooling about living well. What better language to use to catch the attention of testosterone-fuelled teenagers than that of young women? Proverbs outlines their two choices – the path of wisdom (portrayed as a wise lady) or the path of foolishness (portrayed as a temptress and adulteress who will lead them astray). The ‘perfect wife’ which ends the book of Proverbs, then, can be seen as the ultimate portrayal of what it means to be wise.

With its male-centred focus, how do we read this passage and embody its truths? If I am not male and not going to rule, what does it say to me? How do I find this precious jewel, this capable and noble ‘wife’ (wisdom), to guide me in my life? For anyone – male or female – Proverbs 31 has a clue in its details. This woman lives well by taking care of the everyday things in her context. They will be different in your 21st-century world, but they are there, all the same. You may not have fields planted out and a husband sitting at the city gate while you make your linen garments, but there are plenty of ‘small things’ in your life, things that need to get done. What are the things you need to take care of, the things no-one else might see except you and God?

Take care of the small stuff, head into your day with Jesus walking beside you, and you are on the way to living wisely and well! When you fail, as you will, let Jesus into those struggles too, and receive his grace to keep on walking.

Lord, I am thankful you do not call me to aspire to be the Proverbs 31 woman but to be my wisest me in my context with the people you have placed around me. Help me live generously and love those around me with the love you have freely passed on to me. And when I need wisdom to live well, help me turn to you, the source of all perfect wisdom from God. Amen.

King David on how to run a fundraiser! by Pastor Stephen Abraham

‘But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand’ (1 Chronicles 29:14).

Read 1 Chronicles 29:10–19.

Have you ever been involved in building something for God’s kingdom?

Maybe your church was fundraising to update the worship centre or start a new school, school building project or program.

This is the setting for this text. In the final years of his reign, King David has it on his heart to finally build the temple in Jerusalem. Because he had ‘drawn blood’ as a military commander, he wasn’t permitted to build it. The actual oversight of building it would fall to David’s son, Solomon. But David was the initial project manager laying all the groundwork. We read in chapter 28 that the Spirit of God had inspired David with architectural plans to build this great and glorious temple – even down to the budgetary costings of gold and silver needed for the lampstands and finery! At the beginning of chapter 29, King David has a great assembly with all the leaders, commanders and officials (the well-to-do of society). And it’s like he holds our equivalent of a fundraising gala or benefactor dinner to raise money for the project.

And then, right at the high point of the event, as the money and donations are rolling in, this happens …

Re-read 1 Chronicles 29:10–13.

Yes, they break out into a full-blown worship service! Starting with this amazing song of praise (verses 10–13) that acknowledges that everyone’s riches belong to God anyway.

Re-read 1 Chronicles 29:13–20.

David breaks out into a prayer of gratefulness. Just reading it, you get the sense of the joy and excitement David had. As he prays in verse 17:

‘I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.’

I wonder whether these passages give us a model of how we can raise funds for projects the Spirit is guiding us to build.

Praise be to you, Heavenly Father, for all the wonderful gifts you have given us to enjoy. Thank you for the LLL and the hundreds of projects it has supported over the decades. Holy Spirit, guide our communities who are building. May we worship and acknowledge you as the giver of all good things as we donate those treasures that we have that are ‘on loan’ from you. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

PRAYER

LET YOUR WORD SHINE

Dear God,
let your Word
shine in our hearts
by your Holy Spirit.
Make it
so bright and warm
that we always find
our comfort and joy
in it.
Amen.

– Martin Luther (1483-1546AD), from justprayer.org

Childlike humility by Carolyn Ehrlich

But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest’ (Mark 9:34).

Read Mark 9:30–37.

Jesus and his disciples were travelling from place to place. Jesus had already predicted his death (Mark 8:31–33), and he had taught that being a disciple meant denying self and following him (Mark 8:34).

Peter, James and John had witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration, and still, the disciples argued among themselves about who was the greatest. How often do we (you, me) do this? How often do we experience that Jesus has something profound to say to us about who he is, about what is happening, about something supernatural, something that we do not understand? How often has Jesus spoken to us, given us his direction and asked us to do something, and still, we are concerned about our own greatness?

We gloss over what is supremely important in our walk with God, and we focus on ourselves. We justify, saying, ‘I am okay, better, smarter, stronger, prettier, more important, greater than … ’ Where is the humility and servitude in our approach?

Further along in this passage, we are instructed to welcome children. Yes, we are to take this literally, but we are also to embrace the childlike qualities of simplicity, innocence and humility. Instead of focusing on ourselves, on our own sense of self-importance and greatness, we are directed to welcome little children – because when we do, we welcome Jesus.

In Jesus’ time, welcoming implied service. A host serves their guest. Selfless serving is the hallmark of Christianity. So, we are to selflessly serve everybody, including children. How will you humble yourself and simply and innocently welcome God, our Father, today?

Father God, you are an amazing, gracious and wonderful God. Instead of welcoming you, I so often argue with others in ways that reflect my sense of self-importance and self-reported greatness. I do this privately and publicly. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. In Jesus’ awesome name, I pray, Amen.

How much is enough? by Pastor Mark Gierus

‘You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God’ (2 Corinthians 9:11).

Read 2 Corinthians 9:6–15.

When it comes to giving, how do you go? Do you give from what you have leftover, or do you give because you can?

If you won or inherited a substantial amount of money, what would you do with it? New car? Pay off debts, mortgage, and school fees, buy new clothes, take holidays (in our limited COVID context), or simply put it in the bank? But would you give some away?

What does God say about giving? Do you need to give a percentage? Or what you promise, no matter what? You see, it is not about the amount, nor is it up to you and me to judge what others should give. Saint Paul reminds us to give what we have decided to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion. This is about cheerful giving.

God wants us to give and to be generous and cheerful in giving. If it is not money, give your time cheerfully. If it is a skill someone else needs, share it with a cheerful heart. And if it is money, give what you decide cheerfully.

God will enrich us daily, especially by his word, so we can be generous with the gifts he gives us. I am talking about worldly things, but also the gifts of God’s grace, mercy and love, which we can share generously.

Start with a generous heart in everything you do, and God who is faithful will give you all you need to do the work he sends you to do in Jesus’ name.

Gracious Father, you give us so much. Help us give generously in all things – our time, our talents and our treasures, knowing that you have first given to us. Thank you that while we were still sinners, you generously gave us your only Son, Jesus, to suffer and die for our sins. Amen. 

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