The Price Of Betrayal

Reading: Luke & John’s Gospels, the Passion Narratives.

As we near the passion narrative of Good Friday and Easter I have been pondering the difference between Peter and Judas. Their stories are found in Gospels of Luke & John. Both men had to deal with disappointment in God, in Jesus, and in themselves. Both men had their faith challenged and picked by what and who they perceived Jesus to be. and what they thought He should be doing as the Messiah. In the heart of Judas those thoughts led to a bitterness and hardening of his heart and a self-centeredness. In that Judas became known as the thief who pilfered from the common purse of Jesus and his disciples. Known as the one who betrayed Jesus for thirty silver coins. Greed had replaced a trusting faith. Peter challenged Jesus and his prediction of the path ahead and was rebuked for his concern. Peter in his pride vowed he would never fail Jesus: “I am willing to go to jail or even die for you.” Peter turning to violence and cut off the ear of one of those coming to arrest Jesus . Peter who denied Jesus three times. Both mean failed Jesus, both men knew extreme remorse. In his remorse Judas hung himself. In his remorse Peter turned to Jesus. It has been said that the door to the human heart/soul only has a handle on the inside. Judas would not open up to Jesus in his failure and abandoned himself to death. Peter opened his heart to Jesus and abandoned himself to God’s grace, seeking forgiveness. This Easter season, it matters not what you have done or how you have failed God, there is grace for you -open up to Jesus.



On Waiting

Reading Genesis 40-41

I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. Sold into slavery by his brothers, he ended up in Egypt.  There he rose to be head slave of Potiphar’s house.  Falsely accused of an attack by Potiphar’s forward wife, he was jailed. There, again, he rose to be the head inmate, running day to day operations within the jail.  When Pharaoh’s baker and cup bearer disappointed him, they were thrown in jail. Each had a dream that troubled them and Joseph met with them and told them God could make the meaning clear.  God did speak through Joseph and each man’s dream was exactly what happened.  Joseph asked the men to remember him in jail.

The next part of the story begins “two years later…”.  I wonder about those two years, seems like a long time.  I struggle with waiting on things that are out of my control, tempted to nudge them along or slide toward despair.  We are not given any insight to Joseph’s state of mind as his 29th and 30th birthday slip by yet in jail for standing true to his principles.  We can infer that he continued to work and serve and see that prison ran smoothly, he was known for his efficiency, wisdom and discernment.


 So, I have to ask myself, “how do I wait?” 


Psalm 46:10 call us to “be still and know that I am God.”  This being still is not necessarily a stillness of movement and activity, it is also a calming of the inner being. When I am waiting and struggling with the wait my inner being is anything but calm.  I look to the words of Jesus, “my peace I give you, I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  Troubles and fears can incapacitate us, mere movement and action does not help that issue.  By orienting our lives to seek the presence and peace of Jesus we place our fears and concerns unto him.  The one who says “take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” will provide what is needed. 

May you, as you place your trust in and hope in Jesus, find the peace to wait well.

The Blessing

Reading Numbers 6:22-27

The blessing God gave to Moses for the people is one of my favourites to use as a benediction. On this New Year’s Eve morning of 2018 it is a fitting reading from my devotional guide.

It unpacks so beautifully…
The LORD bless you
and keep you.
The LORD make His face shine upon you
and be gracious to you.
The LORD turn His face toward you
and give you peace.

Oh LORD, how I desperately need your blessing and your keeping. How often do I begin to see the blessing as the result of my own actions and merit?  I let self begin to rule and try to keep me in charge.  It is in your keeping that I return to you in blessed release -I am yours.  I am all in. For the gift of your Holy Spirit and your sanctification that keeps me in your way, I am grateful.

Your face shining upon is simply the best thing. My most precious moments are in knowing your delight and being delighted in you.  Without your grace this is impossible.

As I turn in repentance I see your face turned toward me. In Jesus I discover the peace of forgiveness and the peace of assurance of salvation.  The peace of looking into your face knowing you will see me to the end -that glorious new beginning in eternity.

As one year passes into the next it is but an arbitrary observance, yet it pulls me in to the reminder of my daily need to rely on you LORD.  It pulls me in to remember that my life has purpose day by day, year by year.  It pulls me in to remember that all is this is from you.

I trust you God, I trust your way.

Light Of The World

Reading John 1:1-8

One of the things I enjoy about the back yard is the soft glow of the solar lights in the night.  When one arrives home after dark, these lights are a comforting beacon of home.  Solar lights work because they charge their batteries through exposure to the light of the sun.  Once the sun goes down the lights flicker on and glow.  If the day has been cloudy the lights still work, but they may not last as long into the night before they dim.  For those of us who live by faith, we gain our power, our reserve for the dark nights if you will, through exposure to the Son.  John’s gospel begins with a marvelous description of Jesus, the creator God, the source of life, and that life is the light of humanity.  A light that shines into the darkness.  John says the darkness has not understood the light.  When someone, even someone very religious, has not been in the light of Jesus, they lack the power to understand that light of life.  Faith is about relationship with Jesus and out of that relationship comes light. We do not seek the light, we seek the one who is the light! John’s gospel describes John the Baptist as one who “was not the light”, but “came only as a witness to the light.”  Like a solar lamp, our goal in faith is to reflect the light of Jesus Christ.  Matthew recorded Jesus saying “let your light shine before others, so they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven” (5:16).  Our good deeds do not generate light, rather they reveal the presence of Jesus in our lives and His light shines out through us and glorifies the Father. 

For the believer then, the practices of our faith: reading the Bible, prayer, worship, fellowship, service, etc., serve not to generate our light, but allow us to draw nearer to Jesus so that the light of His presence is reflected in our lives.  When we struggle in faith, it does not mean that Jesus has left us, but it can indicate that we have pulled away from Jesus and our ‘batteries’ have not been charged to last the long dark night.  This is where the disciplines of faith can help us and empower us.  We may not sense the presence of Jesus, but we press on in/with/for Him.  Feelings come and go, just as a dull day can slow down the efficiency of a solar charger, it nevertheless still works. My illustration breaks down if we push it too far in this area, remember Jesus said

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me,
as the Scripture has said,
streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38). 

Nevertheless, we too, when we are down, struggling, hurt and wounded can still reflect the light of Christ, can still draw nearer to Him through our faith practices. The key is a sincere heart; seeking Jesus, never giving up on Jesus, trusting Jesus.  He said also (Matthew 6:22-23) that the eye is a lamp of the body, if your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light.  If we allow ourselves to be exposed to the things of life that are not of God, it affects the efficiency of our faith and capacity to be empowered and service God through the long night.  The best solar chargers actually rotate to take full advantage of the sun, perhaps is our faith is floundering or struggling we need to re-orient our posture towards Jesus, to be in the full light of His presence. That light can reveal some things that are not pretty, but late in life, John clings to the promise of God ‘if we confess our sins He is just and faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every unrighteousness!”
(1John 1:9).

May you, by basking in the Son, have your soul charged to glow with the love of God to those around!

Good Guilt!

Reading in Isaiah 6 and pondering the order of events.  Isaiah has a vision of the Lord God in his throne room.  A vision of great majesty, emphasising the holiness of God.  Isaiah’s response to this awesome vista is a painful realization of his own sinfulness before the Holy God.  God provides cleansing at Isaiah’s repentant confession.  God then declares that Isaiah’s guilt is taken away and his sin has been atoned for.  This is the essence of the faith journey, we encounter God, realize our sin, yield to God’s redemption and enter into His Kingdom.  Guilt is not always a bad feeling, if it draws us to seek God’s face.  False guilt will push us away from God, declare us unfit -which we are- but offers no redemption, only condemnation.  The issue is not our guilt, Paul reminds the Roman Church that all are guilty before God, the issue is one of redemption.  The sin that brings guilt needs atonement,  it needs dealt with, a penalty must be paid.  It cannot be swept under the rug or ignored, it must be faced.  Within Isaiah’s vision Go sent a seraph with a live coal to cleanse; for you and I, Jesus came and paid the penalty for our sin on the cross.  Isaiah 6 is an epic story because of the sense of calling to go and speak of God’s message.  After Isaiah is cleansed, and this is key, he hears God’s call, “whom shall I send?”  He can answer, “Here I am, send me!”  We sometimes get this mixed up, thinking our service for God will be what provides the atonement for our sin, but quite clearly our service arises out of God’s provision of atonement.  The gift of Isaiah is a gift for you today, serving God is not a condition for atonement, but a benefit of atonement.  God cleanses us to enter into His holiness, and from that place we can serve God. May you know the freedom of serving God from a guilt free heart!

The Greatest Of These Is Love

Reading Psalm 50, a Psalm that both encourages and challenges.  It begins with a beautiful image of God speaking through creation in sunrise and sunset, we land of the living skies people can resonate with that image!  The Psalm continues though with a rebuke for a tendency to place the practice of religion over the path of holiness.  Tradition and ritual serve us well when they point us toward the Master, they were never meant to be our master.  Our practices of faith and religion are meant to draw us closer to God, to encounter the love of the Creator and be in relationship with Him.  Holiness is something we cannot earn or merit, but in submitting to Christ it is bestowed and we then learn to walk in it with Jesus.  It is important to have that priority straight in our lives -relationship first, practices of religion to enhance relationship.  I write this article on Valentine’s day, we often use  1Corinthians 13 in weddings and this day as a reminder of the value of love.  It’s a good use of the passage, but in context it is not really about the love of a couple, it is about God’s love at work in and through us.  Chapters 12 and 14 discuss spiritual gifts and the unity of the church.  God is reminding us that gifts, like our rituals, have value to the body of Christ and growing in holiness, but they are not the goal or priority.  The priority we are told is this: “faith, hope & love, but the greatest of these is love.”  The Psalmist finishes with God’s call: “the one who sacrifices thank-offers honours me, and prepares the way so that I may show that one the salvation of God.”  A key to our religious practices, rituals and structure is thankfulness -learning to listen to God speaking to us in creation and in our lives.  A thankful heart is one that begins to grow in love.  A thankful heart is open to the salvation God has provided in Jesus Christ.  Give thanks with a grateful heart, God will lead you forward in faith, hope and love.

Light Of The World: Christmas Article 2017

There is always something special to me about the way we use light in our Christmas decorations.  During the dark daysnoopy 2016s of winter, these little lights are beacons of hope and warmth.  For the Christ-follower, Advent and Christmas is a call to be awakened by God’s presence in our lives. Our decorations using light nudge us to consider this great and amazing reality that God would become human.



Consider the account of creation in Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.   Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.   And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.   God saw that the light was good.”  (Gen 1:1-5)

Take note how John’s Gospel begins with a similar cadence; “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God… in Him was life, and that life was the light of mankind.” (John 1:1,4).  Light and life are identified as deeply intertwined, the advent demonstrates that the life of Christ is the light of humanity.  The first act of creation was light and the light was good.  Life and light coexist together. To have life is to have light… to have light is to have life.  John says the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

John also describes John the Baptist in verses 6-8. “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” John reminds us that that not everyone gets or accepts that Jesus is the light.

One of the themes of Advent is the sense of surprise in how, when and where Jesus entered this earth.  The people of Israel were expecting, even longing for the Messiah to come -but as a conquering King who would get rid of the Romans and establish them as God’s chosen and anointed peoples. The Magi went first to the palace of Herod to seek the new king. The people of that day missed the arrival of the true light that gives light to every person.  The Shepherds were guided to a stable, with a baby placed in a manger. For Jesus came not to redeem a nation or a peoples, but to redeem individuals.  So, John says: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—   children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) is why we celebrate Christmas and why light is such a significant part of that celebration.

The light of Christ is the light of mankind.  Having Christ within us means that we become light bearers.  We do not become the light -but Christ shines within us.  We shine like stars.  In these cold days of winter, as we celebrate the Advent of Jesus, may the light of Christ not only warm your hearts and souls, may the light of Christ be a beacon of hope and celebration to all with whom you come in contact.