Speaking the Truth in Love

Ephesians 4:11-16
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.Verse 15 (NIV) 

It is so very sad that abuse by some in the church family causes us to shy away from doing the very thing scripture tells us to do. Our focus verse today is sometimes quoted as an excuse by people who feel they must speak the truth to someone – and yet they fail miserably to do so with love. Instead, their thoughtless, harsh way of talking to others hurts feelings and leaves gaping wounds in their relationships. Paul isn’t giving us license to do that. He’s encouraging Christians to speak truthfully and lovingly. This is not licence to push our own agenda or build a case for or against someone. 

Sometimes, “speaking the truth in love” involves confronting and rebuking when correction is needed. Jesus himself said as much in Revelation 3:19“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” Paul cautioned young Timothy, whom he had appointed the pastor of the church at Ephesus, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father” (1 Timothy 5:1). 

Sometimes uncomfortable words have to be spoken, but they must be said in a loving way. If no one talks about an obvious problem, it lurks in the background, it undermines trust and it eats away at relationships. Those occasions need to be handled with oceans of love, with volumes of care and most of all with the presence of Jesus. He alone can provide the grace needed for these kinds of encounters. 

Father make us wise, transparent, truthful and humble. When we need to speak the truth in love, bath us in your love so that we speak and act godly. Amen. 


Judges 2:20-23 (NIV) 
Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.” The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua. 

I recall the time that I prayed a very hard prayer: “Lord do whatever it takes to make my friend see the error of his ways.” The next day my friend was in jail. That was not what I expected, however, the longterm result was that good fruit has been growing from my friend since those days. 

Peter writes that Christians will suffer for their faith, but unrighteous behavior or compromising the faith will also produce suffering (1 Peter 4:15). If we ignore God’s commands, we may well face consequences. As James points out, we are not to merely listen to God’s word, we are to do what it says (James 1:22). 

One author describes Israel’s disobedience with James image of the person that looks at his face in the mirror and forgets what he sees (James 1:22-25). That image also raises a question for us: Are God’s people suffering today for their faith or for their lack of obedience? 

We regularly pray for our fellow believers around the world who suffer for their faith. Perhaps we also need prayer for believers who do not or cannot yet take responsibility for their lack of obedience?   

Scripture asks every generation to examine if the testing of our faith is a result of our faith or faithlessness. Hebrew 12:7-10 instructs us to bear with suffering, regardless of the reason for suffering, because God means it for good, for growth, for an example for others. 

May our worship today provoke us to self-examination and to direct our eyes to Jesus for the sake of our spiritual health. 

Lord, please show us and forgive us our sins – and if we suffer, may it be for Jesus’ sake. Amen. 

Bearing Fruit

Romans 2:12-16 
If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely. Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God. Verse 12-13 (MSG) 

Have you ever been charged with the accusation that, “You just think you are holier than me & my friends.” I have a few times, and it always makes me feel a little sick inside. I don’t ever want to appear or act like I am better than someone else, however the truth is that if we walk with Jesus, we may appear “a little more holy.” 

Trying to be “holy” in what I do is not the same as trying to earn my salvation by aiming to be righteous. We are saved only by God’s grace. It has nothing to do with how well I perform as/or like a Christian. But once we are saved and declared righteous through Christ, there is an expectation that we will try to live a righteous life out of thanks for our salvation. Both the Old and New Testaments teach that the way I live says something about who I am and how I really understand the faith journey. Jesus taught that you can tell something about a tree by the fruit it bears (Matthew 7:16-20). 

Just doing good things is not really Paul’s point. The question is whether or not the good things I do come from a heart that belongs to Jesus. Is the fruit of my life reflecting that I am grafted into the tree of life (Proverbs 11:30)? Do all the things I do reflect that my heart belongs to him? 

I also do bad things, because I am still a sinner. But God wants me to have integrity; God wants my faith connected with all I think, do, and say. And God’s Spirit helps me to live that way. God wants to shape me from the inside out. When I belong to him, that’s what I want God to do as well. 

Lord make me a bearer of good fruit that I might reflect you in my life. Guide me in my walk for your name’s sake. Amen.  


Luke 4:31-37 
They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. Verse 32 (NIV) 

When I am part of a gathering where a meal is part of the event, it seems inevitable that I am the one who is chosen to say grace before the meal. It is as if my prayers are more meaningful or I have a better connection to God than others. Recently, I have taken to joking that it must be that I am a “professional prayer.” Of course, the reality is that I have no more authority because I am a pastor than anyone else who has a relationship with our Heavenly Father.  

I am very aware that Jesus is the true authority and power. Without Jesus I can accomplish nothing of spiritual value. Without him I would simply be a carpenter going about my tasks and using my own acquired skills to try and accomplish something beneficial. To be a pastor, to lead a church, to share the truth of the Good News of Jesus, to have insight into God’s word all require the power of the Holy Spirit to be actively at work in my life. 

I think we all need this reminder in our lives. Any time we begin to think we have all the answers, we need to be reminded that ultimately it all comes from God. 

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, he told his disciples that all authority had been given to him. Then he sent them into the world as his representatives (Matthew 28:18-20.) Prior to his ascension into heaven he told the disciples they would receive power from on high (Acts 1:8). By his authority and by the power of the Holy Spirit we are sent to bring the Good News of grace and love to the world as well.  

Our faith isn’t built on our own abilities and strength. It is built on Jesus’ power and authority. 

Jesus, remind us every day that you are in charge. Your power and authority are supreme, and we are your people. Help us Lord to live in this world and show who you are to people every day. Amen. 

Children of God

Romans 8:28-39
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV) 

Consider what joy we ought to enjoy for today. God knows our sins, our thoughts, and what we hide from others. He also knows our tendency to disobey and hurt him again and again. Still, because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God always welcomes us back into his presence. No wonder John declares: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). God wants us to have the joy of fellowship with him forever. 

Now, consider our confidence for tomorrow. Scripture says that God made us, saved us, and teaches us. He also guides our paths each day and promises to lead us to his eternal home. What an awesome God.  

Do you ever wonder if we are good enough for God? Well that is the whole point of his amazing graceWe are not good enough – not even close. Despite our failure and inability, we are simply invited to love him who first loved us, and to look forward to the time when he will call us to himself! What an incredible privilege! What an incredible God! 

Dear Lord, please create a deep sense of our joy in your grace and give us confidence to face the future. Establish us in your love and lead us in your ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


Ephesians 2:14-18 
His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.Verses 15b – 16 (NIV) 

All of us at some point have some kind of prejudice. Most often it is due to ignorance about those who we see as different. Those who know our family might wonder what prejudice we have. Via adoption our six children represent ten different ethnicities or heritages. I discovered some years ago that I still had a prejudice about a particular cultural/religious group. I was actually surprised at myself. 

This is how one author described prejudice: Prejudice can be pictured as a circle that separates “us” from “them.” The people inside the circle are “normal” people, who are most like us – similar skin color, ethnicity, values, abilities, language, gender identity, and so on. Because “we” inside the circle are “normal,” everyone outside the circle is “abnormal” – people different from “us” in ethnicity, abilities, and so on.  

That is a good way to describe prejudice. As I write this there are many places around the world where demonstrations are being held due to prejudice being used against others simply due to the colour of their skin 

The ancient Israelites thought of themselves as normal people and everyone else as abnormal. In fact, they thought that they alone were selected to receive God’s favor. They were actually pretty smug about their special place in the world. 

Through the prophet Isaiah God told them that the promised Savior was coming for all people. “I will . . . make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). One day in our future prejudice will all be gone: “… and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9; Read Revelation 7 as well). 

Praise God that Jesus came to destroy the sinful distinction we make between “normal” and “abnormal” humans. He is creating a new humanity. Jesus came to put to death the hostility of prejudice and to create a new community of mutual love – no normal or abnormal people, no “us” and “them.” Just us in all our diversity. Hallelujah! 

Oh Lord, teach us to revel in the wonderful diversity you have created among us. Make our love reflect your love for all the people of the world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Father’s Day 


Psalm 68:5-6a  A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,is God in his holy dwelling.God sets the lonely in families, …. 

Matthew 9:36 - When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  


I have mentioned my dad on a few occasions. He was a good role model and he dropped bits of wisdom into my life that helped to shape my thinking and my attitudes. One thing my dad did not do was being very affectionate. I don’t believe I ever heard my dad say, “I love you” to any of us boys. I am certain that he did, and he showed it by his care for us, we just did not hear it. Every day is imperfections and strengths.  

Our heavenly Father is compassionate, kind and loving, especially of those who are alienated & alone (Ps.68:5-6a). He also disciplines, corrects and directs us through the scriptures and the person of the Holy Spirit. One thing that he is not: Is absent.   

Matthew allows us to look into the heart of Jesus and see that he cares for us the way a father would do for a wandering and aimless child. I have encountered many young people during my years of ministry who were harassed & helpless. Two teenaged brothers who found their mother hanged in the basement when they were children, and an absent father, never allowed them to adjust properly to life as adults. A teenaged girl rebelling in every possible way because her father was an authoritarian and ruled with an iron fist, devoid of love. A good father is not something we should take for granted. 

As Christian families we have the added benefit of our dads having the example of a Heavenly Father filled with all the traits that help us to walk a path that blesses our families. As Christian dads we have the empowering Holy Spirit within us to help us be the kind of dads we need to be for our family and as an example in our community. 


Our Heavenly Father help our dads to be the best they can be and thank you for the dads you have blessed us with. Above all thank you for being our perfect heavenly Father. Amen 


Familiar But Not at Home! 

Luke 15:25-32. Verses 29-30 – ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 


I love the fifteenth chapter of Luke. Three parables of something being lost, then found and a celebration with a group because the lost was found and now was where it should be. But the last parable has a twist at the end that is very important for us to understand. 

The older brother was upset! I believe I would have been as well. Ever since he was young, he had worked on his father’s farm, without ever asking for any kind of recognition. But when his good-for-nothing, playboy brother came home penniless after squandering his inheritance, his father not only welcomed him with open arms but even put on a banquet to celebrate. It was too much. 

The father pleaded with him and explained the reason for his actions, but the older son refused to join the celebration. Like the Pharisees who served God out of a sense of duty, the older son had served his father—not out of devotion and love but because he felt he had to. The Pharisees had complained that Jesus welcomed sinners and ate with them (Luke 15:2). Similarly, the older son belly ached about his father’s welcome of his depraved, immoral, useless, younger brother. 

The response of the older son forces us to take a hard look at ourselves. Do we serve the Lord with love and devotion? Do we come to worship because we love the Lord, or out of a sense of duty? Do we give cheerfully or because it is expected of us? Are we willing, like God the Father, to forgive people in our lives who have hurt us? Do we understand that we are as much in need of forgiveness as the younger son, even though we may not have left for a distant country? This twist in the parable calls for some self-examination and some honest reflection. 

Am I just living my Christian life as a familiar pattern or ritual or am I truly at home with the Lord? 


Lord, our God, help us to search our hearts, to serve you with gladness, and to truly rejoice when a sinner comes back to you—because of Jesus. Amen. 

Where are the Other Nine?

Lk. 17:11-19.  Verse 17 – Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”


Humans were not meant to live in isolation.  I have heard that comment more than once during this pandemic. Social distancing, no gatherings, limited excursions away from your property are all designed to reduce our interaction and we understand but it is just not normal.

Suffering from leprosy, the ten men cried for mercy from a distance. They too must have felt isolated and alone. Although Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he noticed these people in need. Asking no questions, he said simply, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” According to custom, the priests would determine if they were healed.

Can you imagine their surprise as they noticed while on their way, they were healed? What excitement must have filled their hearts. What would have been lifelong banishment from a normal life, was over! They were cleansed, and now they could be part of the community again. They could go home.

Once again, the correct reaction comes from “the foreigner,” the Samaritan.  He saw his healing and hurried back, praising God with excitement, not caring what anyone thought. He was loud. He was ecstatic. After all, he was healed! Throwing himself at Jesus’ feet, he did what we expected from all ten who had been healed. He took the time to thank his healer.

Yet where were the other nine? Jesus’ question prompts us all to think about our thankfulness. The thankful Samaritan was healed physically and spiritually, as Jesus pointed out: “Your faith has made you well.” Healed from the deadly disease of sin, we need to ask, “How do I express thanks for my healing?” How do you?


Lord Jesus, forgiver of my sin, healer of all my other illnesses, humbly I bow down and thank you for the gifts of your life and your love. Amen

Taste and See

Psalm 34:8. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.


I am not one to experiment with new foods. So, it took my wife to convince me to try mangos. This was in Tanzania where mangos were plentiful and peaches, one of my favourite fruits did not grow. “Try it, you’ll like it,” was the advice I was given. Turns out I love mangos.

Try it you’ll like it; that’s what David is urging us to do. He is inviting us to experience what he has discovered: the goodness of God’s salvation. David is celebrating that God has rescued him from his fears and troubles.

Psalm 34 is a song of gratitude we can all sing when God brings us out of a “close call” situation. But David’s joy is only a foretaste of the complete and future redemption God will bring to all who trust in him, to all whom God will redeem through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

God promises great blessings to his people. God will deliver, guard, supply, listen, and redeem all who trust in his power to save. God himself also gives us the ability to believe and trust in him. And in response we seek to honor him in all things, speak truthfully, seek peace and justice, and humbly serve our God.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” This psalm is an invitation to take God at his word, to trust in the Lord and experience his goodness firsthand, to know God personally, realizing that he loves us more than we can imagine. The invitation is ours to receive, but it is also ours to give. What opportunities has God given us to share his invitation with others? Whom would God ask us to include in his rescue and deliverance?


Jesus, you are the bread of life, you are living water and your salvation is sweet like honey. Thank you for your invitation to “Taste & See!” Amen.