<link>http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog</link> <description /> <language>en</language> <pubDate>Mon, 21 Nov 2011 04:59:52 GMT</pubDate> <lastBuildDate>Sat, 21 Oct 2017 08:46:05 GMT</lastBuildDate> <ttl>60</ttl> <item> <title>Praise the Lord http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/praise-the-lord <p> Scripture: Psalm 117, ‘Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, just 2 verses (or just 12 words in the original Hebrew). It starts and finishes with the word Hallelujah, or ‘praise the Lord,’ which is reinforced by the phrase ‘extol him, all peoples.’ As far as I can tell to ‘extol’ someone is to praise them, they pretty much have the same meaning. And the psalmist gives two reasons to praise the Lord. The first is because of the ‘greatness’ of his ‘steadfast love.’ The word ‘great’ can be translated as mighty, or powerful, or superior. And the phrase ‘steadfast love’ translates the Hebrew word ‘hesed,’ which refers to God’s covenantal love, a love that never fails, that is steadfast, or dependable. Secondly, we are to praise the Lord because his ‘faithfulness endures forever.’ The word faithfulness ‘emeth,’ is another significant Hebrew word that describes God’s trustworthiness, the fact that God will remain true to his promises. The point the psalmist is making is that our hope and joy and peace are founded on God’s love and faithfulness. If we are in a covenant relationship with God we are in the best place possible. We have every reason to praise the Lord.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Application: Firstly, do you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ? Have you experienced God’s love in Jesus? Has God promised to forgive all your sins through your faith in Jesus’ death on the cross? God’s steadfast love and faithfulness are only experienced through faith in Jesus. Jesus is the expression of God’s love, and the fulfilment of his promises. If you have experienced God’s love and faithfulness, then praise the Lord. Praise him through singing, praise him through music, praise him with his people. Praise him by exercising your spiritual gifts, praise him through your sacrificial giving, praise him in your service. Praise him through your work, praise him in your daily life, praise him with your every breathe! Praise the Lord!</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You because of Your steadfast love that You have shown towards me in so many ways, but especially through Your Son, Jesus who died for me and through his death reconciled me with You. Lord, I praise You for making me Your child, when I deserved Your condemnation. I praise You for Your faithfulness, that despite my failings and my sins, You never give up on me. Lord, I extol You because You are the Lord of the heavens and the earth, and You are worthy of all honour and praise. Lord, may I praise You will all that I am. May I show my love for You with all my soul, mind and strength. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.&nbsp;</p> Wed, 09 Sep 2015 22:56:24 GMT 96824e9b-27c6-4c1d-86fb-509b79b30148 God's Deliverance http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/gods-deliverance <p> Scripture: Psalm 116:8-9, ‘For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: The Psalmist talks about a near death experience, where ‘the snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol (or the grave) laid hold on me. (v3)’ He doesn’t describe his circumstances other than to say that he was ‘greatly afflicted (v10)’ and that the Lord had ‘loosed his bonds. (v16, which may just be referring to the ‘snares of death.’)’ But whatever the circumstances were he called on the name of the Lord, who graciously delivered him (v4-7). The Lord delivered his soul from death, his eyes from tears, and his feet from stumbling. It’s possible that the idea of stumbling may refer to sin, in which case these three things may describe his physical, emotional and spiritual state. Whatever the case the result is that he ‘will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.’ The term ‘walk’ often refers to our ‘spiritual walk’ especially when it’s connected with the phrase ‘before the Lord.’ The Psalmist actually goes on to describe how he will respond to the Lord for his deliverance (v12-19).</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Application: You may have experienced God’s deliverance from a near death experience, or maybe from something less serious, but as Christians we have all experienced God’s deliverance from our sins and an eternity in hell. And we may have experienced God’s deliverance form our tears we look forward to the day when all our tears will be wiped away. And while we experience God’s deliverance from particular sins we look forward to the day when we will be made perfect. We have experienced the deliverance of the Lord, and like the psalmist we have been given the opportunity to ‘walk before the Lord in the land of the living.’ In light of your deliverance how are you walking?</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You have saved me from death, not in the sense that I won’t die, but in the fact that death no longer has any hold over me. Like Your Son Jesus rose from the grave so too will I rise to eternal life. And Lord, You have filled my life with joy and hope, You have delivered me from tears, and I look forward to the day when there will be no more sadness or pain. And Lord, You have delivered my life from sin. Keep my from stumbling that I may walk in Your ways and for Your glory. Lord, because of Your mercy and grace I will praise You as long as I live. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.</p> Tue, 08 Sep 2015 20:58:22 GMT 62caa267-d8d1-40bf-8933-b22797b2568d To God be the Glory http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/to-god-be-the-glory <p> Scripture: Psalm 115:1, ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: Psalm 115 starts with a radical statement of selflessness. The Psalmist asks the Lord to glorify, not his people, but himself. The fact that he repeats himself makes his desire emphatic, the only person who deserves glory is the Lord, because the Lord is loving and faithful. The Psalmist then goes on to discuss four huge themes. The first is that God is unlike other gods, because they are nothing but idols and those who worship them will come to nothing (v2-8). Next, the Psalmist begs God’s people to trust in the Lord (v9-11). Then he reminds God’s people that those who trust the Lord will be blessed (v12-15). Finally, the Psalmist says that the dead don’t praise the Lord, rather that’s our job (v16-18). God is worthy of glory and praise because he is God, he is trustworthy and faithful, he lovingly blesses his people.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Application: It’s not that we don’t do anything that’s praiseworthy, rather we just don’t come close to God. God is by far more deserving of praise and glory then we are. And yet we make life more about ourselves then about God. We think we deserve to be blessed, that we deserve to be recognized, that we deserve things to go right. But the truth is those things are a gift from God, and therefore he deserves our trust and our praise. How much do you live each day for yourself, and how much for God? Do you say ‘to my name be glory,’ rather than ‘to Your name O Lord, be glory?’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You are worthy of all trust and glory and praise, because You are the Lord of the heavens and the earth, because You are loving and faithful, because You pour out blessing on the undeserving. And yet Lord, so often I don’t give You glory, instead I live my life as if I am the center of the universe, as if I deserve the good things You give me. Lord, forgive my preoccupation with myself, and open my eyes to Your grandeur and grace. Change my heart that in everything I do I will acknowledge You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.</p> Mon, 07 Sep 2015 20:52:18 GMT d6f8519c-feff-4251-98b6-dc2ab8be8937 God's Presence Transforms http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/gods-presence-transforms <p> Scripture: Psalm 114:7-8, ‘Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: Psalm 114 talks about how God rescued his people from Egypt and made a way through the Red Sea and across the Jordan into the Promised Land. The Psalmist sees in these events ‘the presence of the Lord.’ In these final verses the psalmist mentions how God ‘turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.’ It’s likely that the Psalmist is thinking of the two times that Moses struck rock during the Exodus and water came forth (Ex 17:6; Num 20:11, see Dt 8:15).The point is that God can take the seemingly impossible and turn it into a blessing. Bare rock can become a pool of water, and hard flint into a spring.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Applications: What are the dry areas, or the areas of hardness in your life? Maybe you feel spiritually dry, or your relationships are emotionally dry, or maybe you have to deal with someone who has a hard heart. When we face these things on our own they can seem impossible situations, but when God is present he can soften the hardest of hearts, he can breathe new life into our relationships, including our relationship with him. Like the Israelites who cried out to the Lord, maybe we need to cry out to the Lord and ask him to come down and turn our rocky places into pools of water, and our hard-hearts into springs of living water.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, the truth is that often the dry and hard parts of my life are due to the fact that I am walking through life on my own. Lord, forgive my independence, and help me to seek You and Your blessing. Lord, help me to live my life in Your presence. Lord, may my life tremble before You. May the rocky parts of my life become pools of water. May the hard parts of my life become springs. Lord, change me and make me more like Your Son, Jesus Christ my Lord, in whose name I pray. Amen.</p> Sun, 06 Sep 2015 23:55:13 GMT d88bfbfe-a439-4a6a-8763-03193f1f8abf Who is like our God? http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/who-is-like-our-god <p> Scripture: Psalm 113:5, ‘Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high?’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: These sorts of questions are rhetorical in nature, because the answer is meant to be obvious – there is no one like the Lord our God! When the psalmist talks about God being ‘seated on high,’ he means that he is the highest there is, there is no one above, or greater, than our God. Even in the ancient world this was a unique statement. The gods of ancient civilizations were either a part of a pantheon i.e. one of many, and you could argue who was the greatest, or the gods were fixed to a certain location, and again you could argue who was the greatest. But for the Jews ‘the Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! (v4)’ But even more than that the Lord helps his people. The Psalmist mentions two examples: the Lord lifts up the poor and needs and seats them amongst princes (v7-8), and he gives children to barren women (v9). And the only proper response is to praise him. In fact, we’re to bless his name ‘from this time forth and forevermore! (v2)’ And we’re to praise him ‘from the rising of the sun to its setting. (v3)’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Application: Can you say ‘who is like the Lord?’ Have you experienced the greatness of God in your life? Maybe you have experienced his provision, or protection at some point in your life. Maybe like the psalmist you were once needy, but then God richly blessed you, or you were once barren and God enabled you to have children. But one thing all of God’s people have experienced is his love and grace displayed in Jesus’ death on the cross. We can say ‘Who is like our God who sends his own Son to die in our place? Who is like our God who shows sinners with mercy and grace? Who is like our God who adopts their enemies as his own children?’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, there is no one like You, for You are above all things, Your glory is above the heavens. But even more You love those whom You have created, You love me, and You sent Your Son, Jesus to die in my place so that I could be reconciled with You. And You show Your great love for me in so many ways. Lord, You give me life and purpose, You fill me life with hope and joy, You uphold me in the difficult times, You forgive me again and again, even though I deserve Your condemnation. Lord, You treat me as a cherished son. Lord, forgive me when I don’t honour You with every breath that I take. Help me to praise You from the moment I wake until the moment I fall to sleep. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.</p> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 23:47:46 GMT 623bd958-47ea-47d9-befc-c1acf61af523 Not Afraid of Bad News http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/not-afraid-of-bad-news <p> Scripture: Psalm 112:7, ‘He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: Firstly, who is the ‘he’ in this verse? It’s the righteous man. The righteous man ‘fears the Lord and delights in his commandments. (v1)’ The righteous man ‘deals generously and conducts his affairs with justice. (v5)’ And the theme of this psalm is that his righteousness will last forever (v3,6,9). In verse 7 the psalmist says that the righteous man ‘is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.’ In this world broken by sin everyone receives bad news, news of sickness, persecution, injustice, death. But the man who ‘trusts in the Lord’ doesn’t allow bad news to shake him, rather his ‘heart remains firm.’ The next verse says ‘His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. (v8)’ The man who trusts in the Lord knows that in the end the Lord will vindicate him. The man who trusts the Lord knows that he is on the winning side; that the God who has all things in control is fighting for him.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Application: How do you react to bad news? Maybe you’ve been told that you’ve lost your job, or that your marriage is over, or that you retirement scheme has crashed, or that someone you love is dying. These things can easily lead to fear and uncertainty and questions – why would God allow this to happen? But do you trust the Lord? Do you believe that he has a purpose; that he is in control? Does your faith give you strength to face bad news with an unwavering heart? The psalmist isn’t minimizing the seriousness of the things that can go wrong in life, he just weighs them against the might and love of the Lord.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I trust in You, and yet sometimes my faith is so weak that even the smallest thing that goes wrong can make my heart quail. Lord, grow my faith in You that my heart may remain firm no matter the storms life may bring. Lord, when everything seems to turn into sinking sand, may You be my Rock. Lord, may people see my love and trust in You through how I deal with bad news. Lord, through Your Holy Spirit may I be a righteous man, one who trusts in You and whose heart never wavers. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.</p> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 23:06:25 GMT 97d006e5-d666-4bdd-aa64-c7fc37d7a845 Whole-Heartedness http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/whole-heartedness <p> Scripture: Psalm 111:1, ‘I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: This psalm is an acrostic, which means that each stanza starts with each successive Hebrew letter in the alphabet. The psalmist expresses his love and amazement at God. And he starts by giving thanks with his whole heart. Both giving thanks and whole-heartedness are key themes in the Bible. Because God is gracious i.e. he doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, the proper response is thanksgiving, or gratitude. And because God is God he deserves the first place in our lives. Rather than honour him half-heartedly, we’re to worship him with all our heart. But the psalmist also makes appoint that this isn’t a personal venture, but something that we do ‘in the company of the upright, in the congregation.’ Our worship isn’t just a personal response to God’s grace and majesty, it is also meant to encourage other people. Our honour of God is enhanced when it is proclaimed publically. It’s not that we want others to see us worship and think highly of us, but that they will hear how awesome God is and think highly of God.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Application: Firstly, if you have experienced God’s grace do you respond with thanksgiving? Are you grateful for God’s love expressed in Jesus Christ? Do you constantly thank God for how he has forgiven your sins? Secondly, do you honour God with all your heart? Have you given your all to God, whether that’s your commitment, your time, or your energy? Thirdly, are you committed to the public expression of your faith, particularly with God’s people? Are you in church every Sunday worshipping God with your brothers and sisters in Christ?</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, even though I am a sinner who deserves Your condemnation, You sent Your Son, Jesus to die for my sins on the cross, so that I could be saved from an eternity separated from You. Lord, there is nothing I can do except thank You for Your mercy and grace. Lord, may I love You with all my heart, as You have loved me. Lord, forgive me when I am half-hearted in my service, or half-hearted in my gratitude. Fill my heart with Your Holy Spirit that it might all be Yours. And Lord, may I encourage Your people wherever they are to remember Your great love in Jesus Christ, and to worship You with all their hearts as well. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.</p> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:59:52 GMT 619a7901-c6f3-48b6-838e-dc0d4726efbe Being the People of Christ http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/being-the-people-of-christ <p> Scripture: Psalm 110:3, ‘Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: Psalm 110 is one of the more difficult Psalms to understand. Almost every commentator, including the Jewish ones, believe that it refers to the Messiah. The reason is because David refers to this person as ‘my lord. (v1,4)’ This individual is not only greater than King David, he sits at Yahweh’s right hand (v1,5), he rules with a mighty scepter (v2), he judges the nations (v5-6), and he is a priest in the order of Melchizedek (v4). But verse 3 isn’t about the Messiah, but about his people. Firstly, Christians (Christ is the Greek for Messiah) ‘offer themselves freely.’ The Hebrew actually has the people giving themselves as a freewill offering to the Messiah. Paul reflects this idea when he calls us to offer our lives as a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1). Secondly, Christians wear ‘holy garments.’ It’s possible that this may mean ‘holy clothes’ as in the special clothes that priests wore, but as Christians we would see it as being clothed in the righteousness of Christ. The third phrase is rather difficult to translate. The phrase ‘womb of the morning,’ isn’t talking about the beginning of a new day, but the beginning of a new era i.e. the reign of Christ. As for ‘the dew of your youth will be yours,’ the NIV has a note that suggests ‘your young men will be like the dew’ i.e. like the morning dew covers the ground, so Christians will cover the earth.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Application: We can often get distracted by what Psalm 110 says about Jesus, and overlook what it says about his followers. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, this Psalm challenges you to then ask the following three questions. Firstly, are you freely offering your life to Jesus? Being a Christian is about willingly serving the One who willingly gave his life in service to us. Secondly, are you clothed in the righteousness of Christ? Is your right standing with God based solely on Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross? Thirdly, are you actively sharing your faith? Are you part of the process of Christianity covering the earth? Jesus is building his kingdom, and he uses us to do so.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, that he is the One that You promised to send in the Old Testament who would save Your people. Lord, I believe that he died for my sins, and that his perfect righteousness has become mine. So I ask You Lord, to forgive my selfishness and help me by Your Holy Spirit to freely offer my life in service of You. Lord, help me share the Good News that the Christ has come and that we can be made right with You. Lord, may Your people and Your praise cover this whole earth like the morning dew covers the ground. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.</p> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:16:46 GMT da5cfed7-d567-4af2-8ba6-9b119cb7d1c7 Responding to Persecution http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/responding-to-persecution <p> Scripture: Psalm 109:17, ‘He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: Psalm 109 is one of those difficult psalms that make us cringe when we read it. Scholars call it an imprecatory psalm, or a psalm of cursing, where the writer curses his enemy. The psalmist starts off with his accusation, ‘they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love. (v5)’ And so he asks God to destroy him and his family (v6-15). Just reading these first 15 verses, the psalmist comes across as vindictive, but when you get to verse 16 you see something else – justice. The psalmist is asking God to treat his enemies the same way, they not only treated him, but everyone else. His enemies ‘loved to curse, so let curses come upon him.’ They ‘did not delight in blessing, so may blessing be far from him.’ In the New Testament Jesus talked about ‘with the measure you use it will be measured to you.’ And James says, ‘judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. (Jam 2:13)’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Application: Firstly, we need to apply this principle personally. Do you delight in blessing others? Often we wonder why we don’t experience God’s blessing, maybe it’s because we don’t bless others. How are you being a blessing to others? Remember, in the way you bless others you will be blessed. Secondly, how should we react to those who make our lives difficult? Should we curse them like they have cursed us i.e. use this same principle against them? Well we actually know the fate of those who are cursed by God and it’s not pretty. We know what God’s justice looks like, we’ve seen it on the cross, and the Bible describes what hell will be like. As people who have experienced the mercy of God, maybe we should be merciful towards those who deserve justice, in the hope that they will repent.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, it’s so easy to read this stuff and think it doesn’t apply to my life, but Lord, it challenges me to think of how I live and how I respond to difficult people and situations. Lord, help me not be like the ungodly, instead help me to bless other people like You have blessed me. Help me to be merciful towards others, as You have been merciful to me. Help me not to seek justice for myself, but may I extend Your grace to others. But Lord, I ask that You will protect Your people from those who persecute them. Lord, do not turn a blind eye to the injustice in this world, at the persecution of your children, but come and make all things new. In Jesus’ name. Amen.</p> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 21:04:01 GMT 821bb50f-bb33-4490-b91a-a0cb31bb43ef The World Belongs to God http://www.westsidechristianchurch.com.au/apps/blog/the-world-belongs-to-god <p> Scripture: Psalm 108:8-9, ‘Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter. Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.’</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Observations: According to verse 7 this is what God has promised, that he owns the earth, and that he gives it as he chooses. The Psalmist is reminding himself that Gilead, and Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Judah, all belong to God. They didn’t belong to the Canaanites who lived in those places before God gave them to his people, and they don’t really belong to the Israelites either, they belong to God. And that idea is reinforced by the fact that Moab and Edom and Philistia were not part of Israel’s inheritance and yet they too belong to God. The whole earth belongs to God. The Psalmist brings this up because his prayer is that God would deliver his people from their enemies (v6), that he would go out and fight with their armies (v11), and defeat their foes (v13).</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Application: Often we feel like we are going into enemy territory when we go out to work, or go amongst non-Christians, but the truth is that this world belongs to God. Goodna belongs to God, Camira belongs to God, Springfield belongs to God, Australia belongs to God. We don’t live in a godless world, because this world belongs to God, but we live amongst people that don’t acknowledge God’s rule in their lives. So when you leave home this morning pray that God would go with you, that he would fight on your behalf, that he would defeat the hold of Satan and sin in the lives of the people you meet. Ask God to go before you today.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, this world belongs to You, I’ve always known that, but Lord, so often I don’t act like I believe it. Lord, I act as if I’m stepping out into a place where you aren’t, but there is nowhere that You aren’t already there. So Lord, as I step out into Your world today, may I be aware of Your presence, not only with me, but in every situation I find myself in. Lord, open my eyes to see how I might join You in the work that You are doing in people’s lives. Protect me from the real enemy, form Satan and the temptations of the world, form my own sinful desires. Help me be a light, that people might see Your glory and acknowledge Your Sovereign rule. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.</p> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 20:58:40 GMT 94317006-9d4d-4dfe-9799-93d1b223a736