All Posts By

Alastair Butcher

Ephesians Chapter 6

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 Ephesians 6:7-8 – “… rendering service with a good will as to the Lord, and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or free.”

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Paul starts this section off by encouraging bondservants, those who are under the authority of another either temporarily or permanently, to obey their earthly masters and to render service with a good will, but then recognises that this broad principle applies to both those who are bondservants and those who are free from such obligations. Whether we are adults in the workplace, or children at school, this applies to us.

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As Christians, we are called to be cheerful and diligent workers, “rendering service with a good will.” How do I work? Do I honour God with the way that I work? To quote Charles Spurgeon – “Grace makes us the servants of God while still we are the servants of men: it enables us to do the business of heaven while we are attending to the business of earth: it sanctifies the common duties of life by showing us how to perform them in the light of heaven.”

Pray//
Lord, help me to work diligently and be a blessing to those around me. Lord, I know that you see and recognize those who work with integrity. Give me opportunities to do the business of heaven while attending to the business of earth. Amen.

 

Ephesians Chapter 5

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Ephesians 5:1-2 – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

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Paul connects the fact that we should imitate God as His beloved children. This shows us that our ability to be an imitator of God and walk in His ways is not a precondition to being close to Him, but something that we are able to do because He has already brought us close. He then clarifies what it means to imitate God, and we see that to imitate God is to imitate Christ, because they are one and the same, that we should love others as Christ loves us.

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 Newlife’s statement of mission is summed up in the simple statement: “More People, More Like Jesus.” To be more like Jesus, is to love sacrificially like He did. This challenges me! Who is one person in my week that I can choose to love sacrificially? To give up my wants and desires to love them, as He gave up everything for me?

Pray//
Lord, walking like Christ is hard. Help us by the power of your Spirit to love those around us as you loved us. Give us the wisdom, the courage and the opportunities to speak well into the lives around us, and to love them well. Amen.

Ephesians Chapter 4

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Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

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This verse occurs in a passage where Paul is talking to the believers in Ephesus about the new life that God has called them to, now that He has purified them, accepted them and included them into His family. All speech has the potential to build up, or to cut down, so it makes sense for it to be included in such a passage.

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As Christians, we are called to live differently, and the words that we choose to use are included in that. How can we decide to use our words to encourage, build up, teach, and grow one another, rather than just cutting people down? Our speech should be focussed on building others up and bringing joy “as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Pray//
Lord, help my words to bless rather than to destroy. Help me to be a Christian who loves others and builds them up with my words. Holy Spirit helps me. Help me to find the right words to provide the encouragement that your people need. Amen.

Ephesians Chapter 3

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Ephesians 3:4 – “when you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ.”

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The mystery Paul was talking about here was the fact that God opened His Gospel and kingdom to Gentiles (as discussed yesterday). However, Paul is making it clear that his words, written with the help of the Holy Spirit, are an insight into the mystery of Christ.

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How would my REAP change if I perceived it this way? Not just a spiritual discipline, but sitting before God’s Word, with the help of the Spirit, to gain an insight into the mystery of Christ! Not a chore, but learning about one of the deepest and most profound mysteries in all of Creation is made open to all of us with the flick of a page.
Pray//
Lord, stoke my fire for Your Word and Your truth. Help me to be someone who is rooted in Your truth and in an understanding of who You are. Holy Spirit, help me to see clearly. Amen.

Ephesians Chapter 1

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Ephesians 1:17-18 – “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…”

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 Paul makes a very interesting statement here, that we receive a Spirit of wisdom and revelation, and need the eyes of our heart to be enlightened, or informed. And what are we being informed about? Hope, and the reason we have for our hope, which is Christ Jesus.

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Sometimes, it can seem like theology, or understanding God, is beyond us, and it can be very easy to get disheartened. First, this passage shows that understanding only comes by the Spirit, which means that understanding God is not out of reach for anyone! Secondly, it shows that our understanding of God isn’t just designed to be only head knowledge, but knowledge that deepens our hope in, and love for Jesus.
Pray//
Lord, give us your Spirit, and open our hearts to understand you. Help us to depend on you, not our own intellectual strength. Lord, would we be people who know you, and know what it is to hope in you. Amen.

Galatians Chapter 6

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Galatians 6:1 – “Brothers and sisters, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore them in a sense of gentleness…”

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What does this passage mean? Well, first of all, the word “caught” isn’t referring to them being “caught out” doing the wrong thing. It more means that they are “caught up” in sin, and so this passage refers to someone who isn’t seeking to intentionally sin, but is someone who made a mistake. Paul encourages that they should be “restored” to faith gently, not ignored, excused, or condemned; but restored.

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How do I correct those around me? Paul encourages us to strike a balance. There can be a tendency to shy away from giving correction, and pretend that nothing is wrong, or we can be too harsh on someone and cause more harm than good. How can we correct those around us such that we strike a godly balance, and our input is a blessing?

Pray//
Lord, help me to love those around me well. Help give me the courage to speak words of loving, biblical correction into those around me, but to do so with love and gentleness, guarding against pride, that my speech would bless those around me. Amen.

Romans Chapter 13

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Romans 13:11-12

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So, let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.

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This chapter seems cut into three distinct parts: one where Paul advises Christians to respect the governing authorities (so long as they don’t contradict God’s law); one where Paul is encouraging people to love their neighbours; and then this peculiar third section. However, what Paul calls the night is the present age, while the day is the coming kingdom that Christ will return to establish. Paul is encouraging the believers to live in the truth that the day is coming, and very soon. All that is of this world will wash away, and Christ will reign forever.

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This truth would radically affect the way that anyone would live! First, how would my attitude towards heavenly things: my possessions, my money, my job, even my earthly relationships change if I had the perspective that tomorrow Christ would come in glory, and all things of this age would be gone? And how would my attitude towards the things of God change if I knew that I would soon see Him face-to-face? This challenges me in what I spend time pursuing, building, and hoping for. To quote Martin Luther: “Live as if Christ died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back tomorrow.”

Pray //

Lord, help us not to get lost in the day-to-day, the earthly humdrum that always seems to beat a background noise to whatever we are doing. Help us to see things, and our time on this earth with Your perspective. Help us, by the power of Your Spirit, to prioritise what You prioritise, and to run the race You have set before us.

Romans Chapter 12

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Romans 12:1

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

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Paul, over the course of this chapter, gives an extraordinary summary of what the Christian life should look like, and is an excellent guide. However, if we aren’t careful, this can read like a laundry list of things to do, and we can lose track of the why. The first sentence of this chapter is critically important for any Christian to understand. Therefore, … in view of God’s mercy… we should do these things. Our good works should be a joyful overflow of God’s mercy, or else they will feel empty and unfulfilling. What gives us the strength to pray for those who curse us, and to love our enemies is God’s grace! The fact that he loved us while we were His enemies should fill us with such an empowering joy, as we do His works by the power of His Spirit.

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I can sometimes catch myself just doing the right thing out of a sense of duty, or sometimes without considering why. Do my good works stem from a great joy that I have in Christ? When we don’t feel good enough, or like we aren’t doing enough, the answer is not to try to force ourselves to do more good things. No, the answer is to delight more deeply in Christ. When we delight in Christ, to quote Richard Baxter, “All our service will be sweet to ourselves, and acceptable to God; if we delight in Him, then He surely delights in us.” All of the Christian life must flow from a deep delight in God, or it will be unsustainable.

Pray //

Lord, this week I have been weary. God thank you that you are so faithful, and so good to us. Give us a fresh reminder of joy, help us to delight in you more deeply. Remind us of how good you are, and how much you love us. Lord, you are worthy to be praised, and truly none is more wondrous and delightful than You.

Romans Chapter 11

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Romans 11:11
So I ask, did they [Israel] stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles so as to make Israel jealous.

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Paul is commenting that Israel and the Jewish people seemed to be in a state of stumbling, as they had executed Jesus, and their strict religious rules led many to ignore Christ. This lead many preachers to share the Gospel with the Gentiles instead and it was spreading like wildfire! Hallelujah! However, it was also always God’s plan for the life-giving faith that the Gentiles received to make these hardened Jews ‘jealous’ so that they would wonder what the Gentiles seemed to know that they didn’t. Paul is encouraging the Gentiles then, and us too, to live in a way that makes others wish that they had our faith.

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Do I live in such a way that others are jealous of the security that my faith gives me, and leaves them wondering what I have that they don’t? As Christians, we are called to live differently; and for our loving, Gospel-centred lives to stick out in secular culture like an opera singer in a library. The Roman Emperor Julian, writing in the fourth century commented that, to his shame, the Christians in Rome weren’t only looking after their poor, they were looking after the Roman poor as well, while the wealthy Romans did nothing! What are ways, big or small, that my life can stand out for the sake of the Gospel in love and in truth, leaving others wondering what I have?

Pray //

Lord, thank you that you are working in us each and every day by the power of your Holy Spirit. Lord, I pray that you would help me, by the power of your Spirit, to live a life that sticks out for Christ! I pray that you would give me big and small opportunities to share the Gospel, and love Your people.

Romans Chapter 10

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Romans 10:1-3
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

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Paul makes two primary points about the Israelites here, and the ways in which many of the Jewish religious leaders missed the mark in terms of how they approached their relationship with God. First off, although they seemed very passionate about God, their passion and zeal for Him just wasn’t based on the truth of who God was. Second, Paul remarks that these religious leaders sought to establish what they thought was right, instead of submitting to and trusting in what God said was right, and what God’s plan was. On closer inspection, these two things have a common root, either not understanding or refusing to acknowledge who God is and what He has to say.

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How can we avoid falling into the same error that the Pharisees fell into; corporately, individually and within our families? We’re already doing it! Faithfully spending time studying His Word and allowing that Word to transform us is so key here! A.W. Tozer once said, “We must do more than just believe the truth; we must allow the truth to transform us radically into new creatures in Christ.” This challenges me! How often do I faithfully seek to understand God’s Word and His ways? How often do I seek to measure all things to the truth of His Word, to ensure that I’m following in His way, and not my own? How often do I lay aside what might seem or feel good or right to me, based on what God has to say in Scripture?

Pray //

Lord, thank You for Your Word in the Bible. Thank You that You designed every intricate part of me, and that You know what is best for me, based on Your unfailing love and unending wisdom. Help me to understand You more and more each day, by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that Your Word is alive, filled to the brim with life-giving and soul-satisfying truth.