Weekly Reflection • Growing in Jesus

Listen to the audio version of the reflection here or read below.

I greet you in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is so good to be back with you again sharing this short time of reflection. This is the third of the six-week series on discipleship in our Cathedral. I pray that you may profit greatly from the reflections on discipleship each of these six weeks.

I am keenly aware of the stress, anxiety and inconveniences that the extended and harsher lockdown has brought to many of you. As an Army Chaplain, I am also acutely mindful the added anger, frustration, stress and pain the situation in Afghanistan is bringing to our veterans, their families and the wider community. Please look after yourself and keep in touch. Feel free to reach out if you are not coping well. You do not need to walk this difficult path alone.

Let us now pause to commend ourselves and those whom we love to the mercy and protection of God.

Let us pray,

We pray for your love and compassion to abound as we walk through this challenging season. We ask for wisdom for those who bear the load of making decisions with widespread consequences. We pray for those who are suffering with sickness and all who are caring for them. We ask for protection for the weak and vulnerable to not succumb to the stress and strain of this present time. We pray for misinformation to be curbed that fear may take no hold in hearts and minds. As we exercise the good sense that you in your mercy provide, may we also approach each day in faith and peace, trusting in the truth of your goodness towards us. [1]

Prayer of the Week

Thirteen Sunday After Pentecost

Creator God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you: teach us to offer ourselves to your service, that here we may have your peace, and in the world to come may see you face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our Bible Reading this morning is taken from Ephesians 2:1-10.

Bible Reading

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Devotion: Growing in Jesus

When I was Primary School, I always wanted to grow up and be like a High School student because they were able to do many more things than me. When I eventually entered High School, I yearn to grow older like those in Senior High because they enjoyed much more freedom than me. When it was my turn to graduate from High School, I wish I was working because I then would have a salary and that means lots of money to spend. To be really alive is to want to progress in life. A healthy self seeks to expand itself. This is a natural part of life.

Today, I want to share with you about growing in Jesus as the reading from Ephesians liken our Christian life to a new life in Christ. Paul reminded the Christians there that they were once dead in their transgressions and sins but now made alive with Christ.

Many Christians start their spiritual life with a healthy dose of growth and enthusiasm. This continues for some time till that yearning fizzle out to a whimper. Now they just go on living without much fervour for spiritual growth. Christian life and their relationship with God have lost its excitement and anticipation. The warm glow is there but not the first love of delight and passion.

Paul’s fervour can clearly be seen in his animated description of the Ephesian Christians abhorrent past. He also reminded them of God’s love, mercy, grace and kindness in enabling their salvation and also still present now in their daily lives.

If we lack appreciation of our past and our great transformation brought about by God saving us, will often result in apathy our spiritual life. We have forgotten to what it was like before God saved us. We have lost sight of the greater things that awaits us in Christ Jesus. We will then be very akin to the Israelites in the wilderness, where they murmured about the small inconveniences of obeying and following God.

Our focus in life is now, the world. We are more interested in following the world than following God – forgetting that we are Jesus disciples and thus His followers.

Here is when Paul reminds us that God has made us alive with Christ, shows us his grace and love in our present new life because we are His masterpiece for good works.

Paul reminded Timothy is protégé the same thing when he said “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”[2]

As a disciple, let us follow God closely each day so that he can use us as a fitting vessel for his good works which he had prepared for each of us. We do this by discovering and learning new things in our relationship with God as we obey and follow him each day. This is growing in Christ.

Will you join me in growing spiritually by actively obeying and following Jesus Christ?

The Morning Collect

Almighty God, you fill all things with your presence. In your great love, keep us near you this day. Grant that in all our ways and doings we may remember that you see us, and may always have grace to know and perceive what things you would have us do, and give us strength to do the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[3]

The Blessing

O God who goes before you: Give you wisdom and strength to live this week as a true disciple of His. Give you courage enough to follow Him into the difficult places you rather avoid. Give you love enough to bear patiently with the hurts and struggles of your friends. Give you faith, patience and perseverance to hold His hand tightly each day. Give you peace enough to accept and nurture your own selves. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

Please be encouraged that in the chances and changes of these uncertain times, we obey and follow the unchanging Jesus Christ whose forgiveness, presence and help enables us to overcome our present circumstances to be his light and salt of this world.

Till we meet again, follow Christ joyfully, rejoice always, do good, love outrageously, enjoy life, praise God. Amen. Till we meet again, goodbye.

[1] – www.holyspiritewloe.com

[2] 2 Timothy 2:20-21

[3] Source: An Ancient Collect, fifth century. Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953