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

Extra strength for our faith journeys

With many people facing uncertainty, loss or grief almost two years into the COVID pandemic, we can all benefit from encouraging words, uplifting Scripture and a sense of God’s closeness. Nurturing our faith at home through regular devotions can help strengthen our relationship with Jesus. We pray that you will be blessed by the devotional materials here and in the Church@Home resources collection online at www.lca.org.au/churchhome

–Lisa

Psalm 62:1,2

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.

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 fixed on Jesus no matter what we face. You can find the full versions of these and others on the LCA website at www.lca.org.au/daily-devotion

Listening for the Lord’s voice by Rachael Stelzer

‘The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”’ (Jeremiah 31:3).

Read Jeremiah 31:1–6.

Today’s Bible passage is one of contrasts. The people of Israel have been defeated by the Babylonians and exiled from the Promised Land. Jeremiah has had many harsh and difficult things to say to the people. But in this passage, God comforts and promises to restore Israel.

God speaks gently and encouragingly through Jeremiah to ‘Virgin Israel’. God promises that they will dance once again with timbrels, that their farmers will again plant vineyards and enjoy their fruit, and most importantly, that they will once again be able to go to Zion, the holy mountain, to meet with God in the temple there.

Perhaps the hardest thing for the people is understanding God’s plan in all this devastation. God reminds them in this passage, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’ (Jeremiah 31:3).

On the face of it, God seems to have had a funny way of showing this! It is easy to fall into the trap of seeing the God of the Old Testament as vengeful and harsh – a total contrast from our New Testament understanding.

But throughout the history of God’s people, God has always shown his everlasting love – not just for them, but for all people. God’s master plan, the plan of salvation, has been coming to fruition. At times, it has taken disaster and generations of displacement and grief for the people to turn back to the Lord, but God has always been enacting his sovereign plan. And now they are recalling God’s words of everlasting love.

The people waited for their restoration and salvation. We wait for our restoration too. At times, it feels like we will never make it, and the many voices of our world compete for our attention. But we cling to the God who has loved us with an everlasting love, came to be one of us and will come back to restore all things. Thanks be to God!

Dear God, help me see you in every circumstance, loving me with an everlasting love, drawing me with unfailing kindness. Teach me the joy of waiting on you. Amen.

Drawn out of the water by Pastor Nathan Hedt

‘Pharaoh’s daughter named the child Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water”’ (Exodus 2:10).

Read Exodus 2:1–10.

Sometimes in life, it feels like we are in deep water. There seems to be no way out. But God’s plans are not only bigger than our own troubles; they are prepared over a longer timespan than we could conceive. God’s plans take in the sweep of a whole lifetime. Moses’ mother saw little hope, perhaps, when she was forced to place him in a basket on the Nile River. But God had other ideas.

God delights in working all things for good for those who love him! Ironically, it was Pharaoh’s order that Hebrew babies be thrown into the Nile that led his own daughter to adopt the child who would become God’s deliverer for the Hebrew people. Not only did Moses’ mother get to care for him, but she was also paid for the privilege! Later, God used Moses to deliver God’s people through the water of the Sea of Reeds in the great redemptive act of the Old Testament.

Like Moses, we too are people who are ‘drawn out of the water’. In the water of our own baptism, we get immersed in God’s redemptive plans and purposes for us. No matter how deep the waters we pass through, the water of baptism means we are deep within God’s plans for us. Our lives are plunged under the life of Jesus. Even our death is plunged into the death and resurrection of Jesus. Isaiah 43 expresses God’s promise for all he loves, all the people he draws out of the water:

‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you … For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour… do not be afraid, for I am with you.’

Dear God, sometimes it seems like I’m in really deep water and can see no way out. Thank you that you are working my troubles for my ultimate good and that in the water of baptism, you have promised to redeem and rescue me. Amen.

PRAYER 

STILL ME!

Still me Lord
Still me, so that I can hear you
Meet me here
Still me, I want to learn to love you
Take me deep
Meet me in the darkness
Bring your truth
Bring your light
Still me Lord!

– Julie Connah, from justprayer.org

John 16:24

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Confident victory! by Georgie Schuster

‘I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades!’ (Revelation 1:18).

Read Revelation 1:9–20.

This is not the image of ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’. Quite the opposite, in fact! The verses preceding this one describe Jesus as truly awesome, mighty, powerful, brilliant and glorious. Definitely not someone to be messed with! John’s human reaction was to ‘fall at his feet as though dead’. (That sounds a bit like fainting.)

But Jesus didn’t leave him. He touched him and told him not to be afraid. Then he declared these victorious truths, to John, to us and to everyone. These truths reverberate throughout all time and reach every ear, and I mean every single one! ‘I am the Living One; I was dead … I am alive forever … and I hold the keys of death and Hades.’

When we ‘picture Jesus’, we sometimes dwell on earlier accounts of him. Jesus, wandering around Israel hanging out with people, teaching and healing them, for example. Perhaps even the horrific picture of him on the cross. But he is not confined to that time and space any longer. Right now, he is living victoriously at the right hand of God the Father. And he’s got the keys!

To remember all he went through to redeem us and to know where he now reigns is humbling and awe-inspiring at the same time. But it also gives us tremendous confidence. His triumph is final. We share in the victory he paid for.

Don’t be afraid! You are loved.

Dear King Jesus, we are humbled and filled with awe as we come before you. We praise and adore your magnificent name. Thank you for your great mercy and love. You reign forevermore! Amen.

To the moon and back! by Darren Pope

‘There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars … When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’ (Luke 21:25a,28).

Read Luke 21:25–36.

Dappled silhouettes sway as lush leaves dance in the summer breeze. As they transition gently, the tarnished gnarled remnants flutter silently downward, weaving a mat of biomass. Wintery westerlies sing a restful lullaby, and dormancy prevails. Stillness. Rest. Recharge. The majestic magnolia tree framed by my window actively heralds new seasons. Patiently, we wait as across the night sky, celestial stars twinkle as moon phases wax and wane. The ordained passage of time ticks by.

Change is coming. Change is exponential by nature and our constant companion as we do life together. Driving past my magnolia, casual observers gain a momentary glimpse, a selective snapshot of ‘now’. They may only see full bloom or perhaps mere skeletal sticks. Change is incremental, too, honouring a journey of small daily growth.

Recharged, the tiny shoots become tightly twirled buds, bursting energetically into the light. Generous beauty is unveiled and shared. New life, hope and growth rise up. Advent pokes us in our slumber and stirs our anticipation of what is to come. In the tomb below Golgotha, dormant and still, Christ rested. Our loving Lord burst energetically into the light, and generous beauty was also unveiled and shared. Advent encourages us to lift our eyes in hope. A new season is coming. New life. Hope. God’s work changes everything.

His love is a timeless treasure. He loves you always.

He loves you to the moon and back!

Lord of love, thank you for the gift of your grace each day. Thank you for loving me, no matter what. Thank you for being with me today. You and me, Lord. Amen. Let’s go!  

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