Encouragement along our faith journey

With many people facing uncertainty, loss, or grief 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


Isaiah 41:13
I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.


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

Structures or relationships? by Pastor Peter Bean

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his followers said to him, ‘Look, Teacher! How beautiful the buildings are!’ (Mark 13:1).

Read Mark 13:1–8.

Perhaps you have visited some of the cathedrals of Europe, or possibly, like me, each year watching the Tour De France, you become mesmerised by the ancient monasteries, basilicas and churches. They are indeed beautiful. The stonework is often amazing. I usually wonder how they managed to construct these buildings without modern equipment. Marvels of the modern world!

This follower obviously thought the same of the temple in Jesus’ time. And perhaps rightly so. The temple was, after all, where God resided and where the high priest encountered him. Why would it not consist of beautiful buildings?

Yet Jesus was not interested in or impressed by this sort of beauty. He focused on the beauty inside a person. Jesus was not interested in God being confined to a particular place. In fact, as The Message version of John 1:14 puts it, God has moved into the neighbourhood! That’s Jesus. His focus is on people, on relationships.

Buildings have their place and serve their purpose. If they reflect the glory of God in their design and structure, that is even better. But they will rot; they will eventually fall down or be replaced.

Jesus’ relationship with us is constant; it is secure. We could even say it is beautiful.

Jesus’ love for us will continue no matter what wars, earthquakes or famines come. Our reality is to walk and live in that relationship; allow the love of Jesus to permeate our lives; live in the gifts of grace and forgiveness; and gain our security from a God who became a human being in Jesus Christ, who lives in and with us wherever we are.

Value your churches; admire the cathedrals; praise God for the human effort that went into glorifying God in these buildings. But above all that, value the presence of Jesus in your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to enable you to see God’s beauty everywhere.

Thank you, God, for the gift of beauty. Thank you for loving us, for gifting us grace and forgiveness. Help us to live as your people wherever we may be. Amen.

By force or by grace? by Pastor Reid Matthias

The kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and violent people have been raiding it (Matthew 11:12b).

Read Matthew 11:11–15.

I stare incredulously at the news.

Every day, serious broadcasters stare with sombre eyes towards a teleprompter reminding us that the world is not a safe place. Around every corner, danger sneaks into the night like a thief, waiting to steal our most prized possessions: our wealth, health, time and reputations. Thus, we isolate ourselves behind closed doors to avoid the violence that the broadcasters so quickly warn us about.

Contemporary culture is fuelled by pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth. This endless machine of sin promotes violence against the very things of God. In our context, we tend to think this violence is the media attacking Christian worship services or Christian freedoms. No, I believe this violence against the kingdom of heaven has more to do with what Jesus considers important – the foils of those seven deadly sins: faith, hope and love.

Today, we are still distracted by the powerful. Jesus wanted people to understand the Messiah would be about the blind receiving sight, the unhearing receiving the sound of music. Those paralysed can now move, those cast out are now included, and those who were dead can live again. And most blessedly, the poor (not just financially) can receive the greatest news of all (Matthew 11:4,5).

That the Messiah, Jesus Christ, had come to deliver them from the power and violence aimed against the kingdom of heaven was the greatest gift of all.

John the Baptist railed against the violence of the unjust against the kingdom of heaven. He was the prophet who pointed all people to Jesus, even those who would commit violence against him. Now John, the last of the prophets, points us towards Jesus. His words capture our imagination.

Jesus Christ has come, and though the world seeks violence against faith, hope and love, he has already won the war.

I pray that you will encounter the one John the Baptist pointed to, Jesus, the Messiah.

Holy Jesus, protect me from the violence of the world and help me be brave in standing up for those who need to see you. Amen.


O Christ our God
Ceaselessly we worship
Before your cross
That gives us life;
And praise your resurrection,
When on that third day
You made anew
Our failing nature
Showing us so clearly
The way back to heaven.
For you alone are good,
The Lover of humankind.

– John Damascus (676–749 AD), from

Psalm 34:8
Find out for yourself how good the Lord is. Happy are those who find safety with him.

How do you look from a distance? by Kathy Matuschka

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; but the proud, he knows them from afar (Psalm 138:6).

Read Psalm 138.

Picture this. God (as a person – we call this anthropomorphism), standing up the road, noticing someone in the distance coming towards him. God can tell by this person’s silhouette that they are haughty – proud, overconfident in their own abilities, judgemental of others.

Haughty people can be quite easily spotted by their body language … although, people who are using bravado to cover up for their insecurities can come across the same way.

Another time it can be difficult to spot haughtiness is when it’s yourself since you can’t see yourself from up the road! Sometimes, I am most likely to be haughty in my work within the church. As I start to see the fruit of my labour, I can hold too tightly onto God’s mission and claim it as my own. When I get on the treadmill of investing too much time and energy in ‘the cause’ instead of resting in God’s grace and God’s provision, haughtiness overtakes me. Then I hurt myself and others.

We all do it, and God continues to forgive our pridefulness and restore us.

It is time to let go and remember it is by God’s authority – and not our own – that God’s work is done. In trust and hope, we are invited to pray with the psalmist (verse 8) …

Your love, Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the work of your hands. Forgive my pride and help me grow to trust you more deeply. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Beautiful feet by Ruth Olsen

Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame (Romans 10:11).

Read Romans 10:11–17.

Have you ever felt embarrassed or shamed for trusting someone or something? I imagine this has happened to everyone at some point, also because that is how our spiritual enemy likes to work – shutting us down. After all, he specialises in accusing the followers of Jesus (see Revelation 12:9–11) – or anyone, really.

Each of us may face attempts to shame or embarrass us for being a follower of Jesus. Maybe those doing so are testing us to see how we will respond. Perhaps they have a genuine question they don’t know how to ask or who to ask. How we answer them can be a turning point for them.

The verses preceding today’s reading speak of believing with your heart and confessing with your mouth whom you believe, speaking of trusting Jesus (Romans 10:6–10). This contrasts with the efforts of the Jews (Israel) to get right with God, keeping the law instead of trusting in him. Taking God at his word and trusting him in and through Jesus is a ‘stumbling stone’ to fallen human nature that says, ‘I’ll do it my way’. But God’s ways of our being made right with him are not by our efforts or works, but by our trusting the one he has sent to us (Romans 9:30–10:10; John 6:29). As Isaiah wrote: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed”’ (Isaiah 28:16).

Is the message of Jesus a ‘stumbling stone’ to us also? Or do we believe that Jesus is the precious cornerstone and sure foundation, totally reliable and trustworthy – because of who he is and not because of what we are like? And are we willing for the Holy Spirit to lead us in sharing that message and thereby have ‘beautiful feet’?

Holy Spirit, help us do the ‘sweet swap’ and leave our embarrassment and shame at the cross of Jesus in exchange for courageous love. Embed it in our hearts that ‘anyone who trusts in Jesus will never be put to shame’. Bless you! Amen.

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