Matthew Ch 6 verses 25 – 34 In verse 28 Jesus says, ‘Consider the lilies of the field’, he then goes onto speak of their beauty, and how if God values lilies then how much more he values us.
On Monday afternoon I had cause to visit Cortonwood Retail Park to buy some pet food. What I found was that all the clothes shops were closed until further notice, apparently to protect both staff and customers. Any other day of the week these same shops are selling clothes to make their wearers look better. But when issues of greater importance come along what we wear begins to pale into insignificance, when what we all want to be is healthy. A clip my son showed me on his phone was of a Mayor in Italy berating people for inviting mobile hairdressers into their homes. His comment was that if you end up in a coffin, who will be bothered about your hairstyle? It might be blunt, but he is getting at an important point, what difference does it make what you look like when there are greater issues at stake. In our current situation, many of us are finding that those things that we thought were important, are fairly insignificant. In the passage, Jesus goes on to tell his hearers not to worry, for God knows what we need. He then directs us to seek God first and says that when we do, then all the things that we need will be given to us, but the underlying thought is that when we put God first, that many of those things we thought were important lose their significance.
Dear Lord Jesus, help us to seek first your kingdom, that your Holy Spirit might lead us into a greater degree of trust in you, that peace might reign in our hearts.
Please Read PSALM 102 (click here)
This Psalm is entitled ‘A Prayer for Help’ and verse 1 states ‘Hear my prayer O Lord, let my cry come to you’. As a church, we are called at this time to especially pray for our Nation, the World and individuals in the fight against illness and infection. I am sure we are all feeling this call to prayer separately in isolation yet all together as one body of believers. Such prayers make us realise what things are really of value and of first importance in life as we think of the desperate need to cry out to God for health and protection.
As we pray let us remember also the message of hope this Psalm speaks of: ‘He will regard the prayer of the destitute and will not despise their prayer.’ Verse 17. May we all be encouraged to continue to lift our prayers to God our Heavenly Father who delights to hear us and who has compassion on all that He has made.
I have been so encouraged by the many acts, expressions and demonstrations of God’s love in so many practical ways shown to those in particular need around our community. It is amazing to see how people are looking out for each other, making contact and ensuring that no one is left isolated or forgotten. Maybe these small acts of kindness are some of the ways God answers prayer through you and me towards others in need.
Lord God, we pray for the leaders of the World that they may be guided and given wisdom to make right decisions at this time of crisis and turmoil. We pray for our own Nation for all who work to care, protect and safeguard the sick and vulnerable. We pray for our own community and our neighbours. May those who feel alone and isolated come to know more fully your presence, love and peace. Thank you loving God for the gift of prayer. Help us to turn to you with boldness and confidence trusting that you hear us. We pray that your Will would be done in and through the precious name of Jesus your Son our Lord and Saviour.
Genesis 1:26-27,2:18 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So, God created mankind in his own image.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”
Being alone is hard. We were not created to be alone. We are meant to live in community, not confinement. We are created to support and help one another.
But remember God is love, God created us, God is faithful and will never leave us or forsake us.
Because mankind has God’s creativity we live in a time of good communication, telephones, computers, meetings and services via the internet etc Let’s support one another using one or more of these forms of communication and perhaps getting to know each other better and knowing God’s love in a deeper way.
Dear God today, please remind us that this time of social distancing and isolation will not last forever. Give us the strength to endure this difficult season and deepen our connection with You and Your people. Empower us with an extra dose of Your love, peace, hope and joy, because we need it. Remind us of Your promises, and please heal our land.
John Ch 1 verse 5 ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’.
This is probably one of the most well-known verses in the whole of John’s Gospel. It expresses a simple fact that if you bring light into darkness then the light is visible, no matter how dark it is. On another occasion in John’s Gospel Jesus referred to himself as ‘The Light of the World’, not a light but as the light.
This imagery is clear, as far as Jesus was concerned, he was distinct, and the first disciples and the Church have agreed with him. He was distinct in that as God his influence in this world is way beyond that of any human, before or after. I always think of Jesus shining in the darkness in two ways, firstly that he illuminates the way forward making following him clear. Secondly, that in the difficulties that are always present in life in one form or another, as we look to Jesus, and away from our own difficulties, then the light of his presence puts things into perspective. No matter how dark the situation the light of the presence of Jesus is always visible above and beyond the problem. As the limitations on our movements are ratcheted up you might like to take time to ponder where it is that you would like Jesus to bring some clarity and direction, to the darkness that isolation can bring upon us.
Dear Lord Jesus, please shine the light of your presence into the uncertainty that this virus is having upon our world. May we see a way forward through trusting in you.
Hebrews 11:1 ‘Now Faith is being sure of things hoped for and certain of things not seen.’ This was a recent memory verse at All Saints. Do please read this chapter 11 (click here) as it goes on to give many examples of Bible characters who lived by faith.
At this difficult time, many of us are daring to hope that one day life as we know it may get back to ‘normal’. I was chatting to a lady across the street in Wath on Monday (before being confined to home!) and our conversation made me think of the possible ways we can learn from these days of enforced ‘rest’. It certainly reminds us of our own weakness, vulnerability and mortality. But it might also force us to evaluate how we live our lives and what impact we have on the environment around us. It certainly is a chance to stop, look and listen to creation: the quiet enables us to hear nature and notice Spring about to burst forth. It gives us time to enjoy the God-given world around us; the blue sky, bright sunshine and fresh air. These are the blessings of life that our normal fast-paced life cause us to often pass by. When our ‘normal’ lives resume as we hope and pray they will, I pray that this time will have taught us how we can live differently and in a kinder way to care for and respect God’s creation and to take more notice of our neighbours and to see how we can love them in good times as well as bad.
Loving God, as we watch, wait and pray during this difficult season of life, may we see your handiwork in the world you have created around us. We are sorry for our part in spoiling your creation. We pray for your Kingdom to come and we pray for the suffering World around us that you would bring healing, restoration and new life. Give us faith to turn to you and to persevere in praying for a brighter tomorrow whilst giving thanks for the gift of life and for the gift of this day.
Jeremiah Ch 29 verses 11 – 13 ‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’
If you know anything of the book of Jeremiah, you will be aware that his call to be a Prophet was at a particularly difficult time in the history of Judah. He was called to inform them that their constant disobedience to God’s laws was going to result in their land being invaded, and the people taken captive. So not exactly good news! As Jeremiah spoke out his message, he received the not unexpected response from his listeners, which was to put it mildly, negative. But during his proclamations, Jeremiah speaks these words in Chapter 29. They are not words that say that all will be well, which is what everyone wanted to hear. They are words that say that ultimately when you have gone through all the difficulties that are coming upon you, that God still has a plan for you to prosper, a future for you when you turn to him with all your heart.
In fact, in verse 10 God informs them that it will be 70 years before this comes to pass when most if not all the present generation have died. This came true in the reign of Cyrus the Persian and is recorded in the Old Testament book of Ezra. Currently, we might feel like praying ‘please take covid19 away’, but the reality is that we are facing weeks and months of difficulties. But like the Judaeans we can be sure that there is a future for us to prosper in, and that as we continue to pray and seek after God that he will be with us through all that we face and that he will give us hope in the midst of it.
Dear Lord Jesus, we pray that the experiences of the past and the revelation that comes through reading the Bible will help us to remain faithful disciples in the uncertainty of the coming weeks and months.
John 12:12 ‘The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel!’
It is a strange feeling of emptiness as we are unable to meet as countless generations have done before us as a local church to mark, celebrate and to gather in fellowship to remember and call to mind the great events such as Palm Sunday in the Christian calendar at this time. Perhaps however as we read think and pray as individuals these events will resonate more personally for each of us as we grow in our own walk of faith in the person of Jesus Christ. This year, for example, we will be unable to give away a palm cross or offer prayer for a passer-by in the street or market place.
Maybe however our own necessary withdrawing from gathering together might remind us of the persecuted church throughout the world who daily face opposition and threat to their lives for following as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. We may be separated for a season: others may be permanently prevented from gathering as a church and may have meetings banned and Churches closed and face violence towards themselves, their families and loved ones.
Lord Jesus, as we look at images of the Cross in our homes or in our minds may we remember with gratitude how you suffered in order that we might gain freedom and life through your precious name. We pray today for all who suffer for following you around the world. We bring before you a country on our mind at this time and in a moment of silence we pray for them.
Lord Jesus, help us where we are to lift high your cross in our lives that others may come to know your love through what we say, think and do in your name.