Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Temple

And as he taught them, he said,
“Is it not written:
‘My house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations’?
But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ” Mark 11.17

Jesus has cleared the temple. He was outraged to enter the temple and see the way in which it was being abused. It resembled a market place rather than God’s holy citadel. Buying and selling was rife, money changers were perhaps more prominent than priests and worshippers. Jesus reacted strongly. He caused chaos among the dealers and reminded everyone of the true purpose and function of the temple.

God’s holy habitation is not for commercial exploitation. Specifically it is to be a house of prayer. Prayer is communication with God. This indicates intimate connection and relationship. The temple is a chosen and anointed place for this to occur. The temple, therefore, is a holy place, a place set apart. It must not, it cannot, be contaminated by humanity’s wheeling and dealing.

Paul reminds me that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3.16; 6.19). Just as with the Jerusalem Temple, the temple of my body is a ‘place’ dedicated to God and to His holy purposes. I have a commitment and an obligation to treat this temple well. I need to keep my temple healthy in body, mind and spirit. I cannot allow abuse of any kind that may cause results comparable to the commercial abuse of the Jerusalem sanctuary. No, my body is a temple, truly a sanctuary for God’s Holy Spirit, and I have a responsibility to look to its appropriate upkeep and use.

I realise that I am too weak to ensure the optimum state of well being of this temple that goes everywhere with me and is involved in all that I do. But I am reminded also that the Holy Spirit plays a part in this. It’s His temple. He ‘lives in me’. Hallelujah! I know I can call on Him to direct me in the right paths and help me to stay there.

Holy God,

I am reminded today that my body is indeed a temple of Your Holy Spirit. I re-dedicate this temple to You. Fill me, please, to overflowing with Your presence. I pray for the atmosphere of holy reverence to be apparent in my person. May the temple that is me be a sanctuary, a haven of rest in peace and in communion with the most high, the most loving, the most Holy.

Cleanse me of any impurity as my Lord Jesus cleansed the Temple. fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Keep me clean and free from defect. I cannot do this for myself, my flesh and my weakness interfere. I surrender these to You. I invite You to take them and let me be free of all worldly and evil influence.

I’m Yours, Lord. Take me and make me truly Yours, in Jesus name I ask. Amen.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

God's agents

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Rom. 12.15

Life has many moods; different situations provoke and spawn differing reactions. We cannot always live  in sunshine. We do not always live in shadow, in doom, depression and disaster.

We may experience days of rejoicing and also days of mourning. Faith does not exempt the believer from the agonies of life. Faith can, however, strengthen the Christian to face whatever upheaval threatens, and to press through to overcoming. Nothing lasts, not even hard times!

There is another blessing for the Christian, as this verse indicates. This is the support of others. Paul exhorts us to be there for one another, to be there with one another. And our presence and support is not restricted to the good times. Certainly, we are to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. How good it is to share good things with others. Our joy increases as we extend it to friends and family and strangers.

Then there are times of grief and misery. We may feel utterly and hopelessly alone at such times. We greatly need others to be there, with us and for us. Similarly, we are to be there for others. We may experience difficulty in such moments, not knowing what to say or do. Often it is sufficient simply to be there. Words can be redundant, especially trite sayings or banal expressions. No, sometimes sitting quietly with one who is grieving is enough. Nothing more is required. We mourn with those who mourn. Indeed, we become truly God’s agents at such times. We are His presence, in person, with the one who is either rejoicing or mourning.

Dear  Lord,

Thank You for the opportunities You give me to re-present You to people. Please fit me and enable me to rejoice to the fullest with those who are rejoicing. and let me genuinely and deeply be there for those who mourn. Thank You. Amen.

Sunday, 19 October 2014


As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.      Ezra 4.23

The Jews experienced ongoing opposition. Chapter 4 appears to contain a summary of various attempts to thwart their efforts to restore full and fitting worship to God in a rebuilt temple.

And it doesn't change! History is littered with similar stories. Indeed in many parts of the world today religious persecution, especially of Christians, is rampant. Humanity's fall (Genesis chapter 3) is truly a sad event, for it seems to have unleashed a horrific backlash against God. Sin, often seen as the major negative effect of the fall, is clear demonstration of this.

The insidious nature of the enemy's evil ways is further seen in the subtle manner in which even the most liberal governments today are averse to true religious freedom. The Christian God is well and truly under attack. Yet, praise God, He is bigger than anything that may seek to come against Him.

In all things, even when the darkness is greatest, I am convinced that He is supreme. Nothing happens without His knowing or allowing.

Great God and Mighty Redeemer,

I am thankful to be Your son. I rejoice in the relationship I have with You. I pray for this sick world and seek Your strength and protection. May I ever proclaim You as my Lord and my God.

Empower me please to face any opposition that may come, to face it and to overcome it.

I thank You for the present liberty we experience in some parts of the world. I pray for the more oppressive regimes, and seek Your protection for Your people. Dear Lord, please safeguard them, each one. Hold them close. Let them know Your love and Your presence in ever-growing measure.

Be with us, Lord, and lead us on into glorious victory. In Jesus' name I ask.  Amen.

Friday, 17 October 2014

According to ability

According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 drachmas of gold, 5,000 minas of silver and 100 priestly garments.                                Ezra 2.69

The exiles have returned to Jerusalem from Babylon and they are making their offerings at the house of the Lord. This historical and practical statement is something of a precursory indicator for the believer on their journey of salvation and sanctification.

We are called to God’s temple. He draws us out of Babylon unto Himself. Here begins a work of rebuilding and of re-creation. And here we offer ourselves fully to Him. Just as the returning exiles, we are called to give “according to our ability”, and we should not hold back in this glorious venture – and adventure!

God gave Himself for me. Am I willing to give myself to Him? I hope so. I’m sometimes unsure of just what ability I have. I question my ability. I think a better course of action would be to surrender my ability, along with all of myself, to Him and allow Him to have His way, fully and freely, in me and with me. I see this as moving me to undertake whatever comes before me.

My confidence is to be in Him, and not in me. If I see every opening as God-given (and, I believe, He has shown me this), then I need not question whether or not I am able. I simply need to move ahead in the knowledge that nothing is impossible to Him.

Lord God, Precious Saviour,

As the exiles returned to Jerusalem, so I come to You. I offer You my all. I am Yours! I seek not to please or satisfy myself, but You.

My heart cry is to honour You in all that I am and everything that I do. I surrender my abilities to You and ask You to enable me, by Your divine will and power, to carry through on all that You ask and require of me.

I believe that every opening comes from You. I commit to follow through on those I sense within myself to be true openings and I ask You to firmly block off any apparent opening if it is not of You.

I ask these things in Jesus’ name.                       Amen.

My book “God Talk” is available through major Internet booksellers.
A taste of the book's content can be seen in the You Tube clip (Search: Peter Francis - "God Talk").

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Sober judgment

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.                                        Romans 12.5

The first aspect of this verse that comes clearly to me is that Paul is speaking forth in grace. What he says I can receive as encouragement, but many may see it as criticism or even condemnation. And so, it is important to see that Paul is acting in grace.

This grace does not originate in Paul. It is given to him by God. God’s grace signifies to me the sweetest love and concern.

Paul’s act of grace is to tell me, in effect, not to big note myself. I am to think of myself with “sober judgment”. This suggests a temperate, even humble approach. Yes, the humble approach sits well with me.

I have been given a measure of faith by God. This enables me to be and to do what He would have of me. All that I do, I do in His power. There is no praise or kudos to me. But I do experience a most wonderful fulfilment when I give myself into His hands.

Here, then, is my contribution. God can do whatever He desires. Strangely, yes most oddly, He determines to use me as a co-worker. But He leaves me free to choose to work with Him. All He requires of me is to say “Yes”. Everything else He will provide. How blessed I am to be taken by Him into such wonderful partnership. I cannot think highly of myself. I’m just so grateful that He deems to work in me, with me, and through me.

Dear Lord,

Thank You, Thank You, most precious One, for reaching out to me as You do. Thank You for inviting me to share the journey, and all it entails, with You. Thank You for loving me.   Amen.

My book “God Talk” is available through major Internet booksellers.
A taste of the book's content can be seen in the You Tube clip (Search: Peter Francis - "God Talk").

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Living sacrifice

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.              Romans 12.1

Paul’s first mention in this sentence is of God’s mercy. This is the all-important factor in our relationship with Him. God is most merciful and it is His mercy that enables and facilitates my relationship with Him.

Paul encourages me to offer my body as a living sacrifice. I am to “live” in the state and condition of a sacrifice. What does this mean? As I ponder the term “living sacrifice”, that is, a sacrifice that is alive and living, another phrase comes to my mind – a witness to Jesus. I see these two expressions linked. Jesus lived always and only to do the will of the Father. He looked to the Father for direction. He lived in humble obedience. Surely this was living sacrifice.

Jesus calls me to follow Him. Let me then seek to live as He lived, calling on the Father to unfold His will in my life, to lead me in the plans and purposes He has for me. I also need to give myself to live out this life to the best of my human, and weak, ability. I won’t come anywhere near Jesus in the perfection of this living sacrifice yet, I believe, as I give myself to Him, He will be merciful and tolerant with me. May my spiritual act of worship unfold daily as I seek to live in Him and with Him. I give myself to pleasing God.

Lord, Holy God,

I come before You in humility. I give myself to Your way for me. Please show me the way and lead me in it. May I follow my Lord Jesus in the manner of a living sacrifice.

I yearn to worship You with every part of my being. Show me when I’m vulnerable to the ways of the enemy. Cover me, please, with Your mercy and grace. Let me know Your protection, in Jesus’ name I ask.           Amen.

Sunday, 5 October 2014


Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.           Ezra 4.4

The Jews had commenced reconstruction of the temple. When the surrounding peoples (the enemies of Judah) first heard about this, they offered to help, claiming that they also sought the Lord God and wished to sacrifice to Him. Though these were the people of Samaria, they were likely migrants from Mesopotamia and Aram, who served their own gods, but also worshipped the Lord as the god of the land (of Samaria).

It is possible that Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the other leaders considered this an act of convenience and not of true belief and commitment. They rejected the offer of help. Whereupon the people set on them.

I am getting particular insight in to this cameo of scripture, which is this: If someone is not faithfully and truly dedicated to God, they are likely to become belligerent, angry and threatening if they are challenged in their belief. I believe there is only one God (albeit in Holy Trinity) who is a jealous God. He demands our obeisance. When we truly believe, we are not likely to react as “the enemies of Judah” did when challenged.

God gifts us with fruits of the Spirit which include long-suffering and, of course, love. If challenged, I am called to patiently endure, persevere – and love. I do not change my mind or back down because of challenge. Rather I look to God to strengthen me, which He surely will.

Lord God,

I pray that nothing or no one will discourage me in my pursuit of you. I commit to You and seek more of You.

I ask You to strengthen me in any and every adversity. Be my strength, and also my guide. Lead me only where You would have me go.

I commit to venture through every door that opens before me and I ask You to firmly close any door You do not wish me to take. I ask these things in Jesus’ name.                      Amen.

My book “God Talk” is available through major Internet booksellers.
A taste of the book's content can be seen in the You Tube clip (Search: Peter Francis - "God Talk").