Revelation Ch 3 verse 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
I wonder what you make of this verse on first reading. The book of Revelation is not an easy book to read or understand, that is because it is apocalyptic in its outlook, which basically means that it predicts future disaster and destruction. It uses a lot of picture language which we struggle to make sense of, but out of which some have made speculative predictions!
This verse comes at the beginning of the book before the apocalyptic material begins.
But what does it mean in the context of the book, and more importantly for us today? I think it is the same answer to both questions.
Which is, that in the midst of what can seem like the most terrible situations and circumstances, where we struggle to make sense of what is happening all around us. That if we take a step back and take time to ask ‘God what are you doing’ , and give time to raise our spiritual antenna, we will begin to discern [hear, but not with our ears] the voice of the Spirit of God at work.
That light will be shed into the darkness of our understanding and like the book of Revelation we will see the hand of God behind all that is taking place. Where the final act sees God triumphant, and the evil and all that is bad in this world cast into a darkness from which they will never return.
The challenge is to hear what God is saying, and not to imbibe the messages that come from the world around us.
Dear Lord Jesus, close our ears to the cacophony of the world around us, that we might discern the voice of your Spirit leading us into all truth.
2 Kings 17 verse 39 ‘…worship the lord your God; it is He who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.’
These words (recalled from Deuteronomy) continue a theme throughout Scripture; calling, reminding and encouraging all God’s people to remember the Lord their God, to worship Him only and to follow Him with undivided heart. The danger for Israel was that they so quickly turned and worshipped other, foreign, man-made Gods thus forgetting the One who had revealed Himself to them, rescued them from slavery in Egypt years before and given them a land, a hope and a future.
We are no different. We too need to hear these words afresh today. We also must heed the call to worship Him with all our lives – the Father, through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Son who brings us eternal hope and deliverance from all that is evil. Come let us worship.
Oh Lord, give us a new joy and passion in living for you so that others may see you alive and at work through us and come to a living faith themselves.
Colossians Ch 2 verse 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
When there are millions of images of Jesus in the world today, when his name is used in a derogatory way, and arguments about his very existence continue, it is easy to lose sight of who Jesus was.
We are talking about the second person of the Trinity, the alpha, and the omega, the one who existed before anything was ever created, and who will still be there when all we know has disintegrated. The eternal one who is all knowing, all powerful and is present in every corner of our known world. As the Apostle Paul says, ‘in him we live and move and have our being’!
As we move into the season of Advent and remember his coming into this world through the retelling of the Christmas story, we need to remind ourselves what the verse above reveals about him. That in Jesus the baby and ultimately the man, the very essence and being of God was present amongst us in human form.
He walked amongst us, felt and experienced all the joys and challenges of what it means to be human, and finally died as we die. He stepped into our world that he might open the door to his world to us, that we mortals might put on immortality and dwell with him.
This is that Jesus who we talk about and who is at the centre of our faith.
Dear Lord Jesus, as the world tries to trivialise you, may we see you as you truly are, and worship you in spirit and in truth.
Acts 28 verse 15 ‘At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.’
Paul knew since his conversion in Acts 9 that he would have to suffer much for the name of Jesus and speak of His Lord even to Kings and rulers. Here we see him on his way to Rome itself, the centre of the Roman world, where he would eventually come before none other than Caesar himself, and be able to defend the gospel in that important place. How crucial therefore is this little sentence above. Amidst all the opposition, hardship and turmoil that faced Paul, he still needed fellowship and the love and support of brothers and sisters along the way. We also need that day by day, step by step. We face nothing like the trials that Paul did. Nevertheless let us not underestimate the joy and blessing we can bring to others as we speak, pray and look to encourage one another in these difficult times.
Lord, thank you for keeping us in your love. Show us how our simple words and actions can radiate your light to others this day.
Daniel Ch 11 verse 32 but the people who do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.
What do you know of Her Majesty the Queen? I imagine that if a few of us got together we could put together quite a few facts about her, making up something of a life story, enough to inform anyone who was interested in hearing about her. But if I asked has anyone met the Queen I should be surprised if anyone answered yes.
It is possible to know a lot about someone without having met them, and actually knowing them personally.
This verse reflects that thought, it is the people who actually know God that are strong and do exploits. Not those who know about him, whether it be via the Bible or Church attendance. That knowing starts with believing in him, trusting in him and as our Christian life evolves it grows into knowing him. To know God and to journey through life with him is what the Christian faith is all about.
I am reminded of a song that we sang many years ago in Church, ‘to know him, to know him, is the cry of my heart, Spirit reveal him to me, to hear what he’s saying, brings life to my soul, to know him, to know him alone’.
Dear Lord Jesus, may our following grow into believing, may our believing grow into knowing, and our knowing strengthen us to do exploits for you.
Psalm 98 verse 4 ‘Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.’
The main Sunday worship at All Saints marked a turning point on the 18th! It was the first time we had heard the Organ (thank you JS) and the choir too (thank you all) for so many months. True, we could not all join in with the singing, but for many it will have helped lift our hearts and minds to worship our God and maker. This verse and indeed the whole Psalm speak of the people of God and indeed all of creation singing and shouting praise to our Lord and King for all He has done, for His saving power and simply because of who He is – the most high God – who alone deserves our songs and shouts of praise.
O Lord, you alone are worthy of the best we can bring. We pray for Wath – for its wide expanse, and for all who live and work in it – that your call to acknowledge and praise you would be heard and followed.
Acts Ch 9 verses 4 – 5 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
Acts Chapter nine tells the story of Saul’s [he became Paul] conversion from being a Jewish persecutor of Christians, to becoming a Jewish Christian. It was a dramatic conversion that took place on the road to Damascus, one that came out of the blue literally. And made him into the foremost character in the New Testament, second only to Jesus.
His story went before him, that he who had once been the agent of persecution was now a powerful proclaimer of the Gospel he once sought to destroy. His own experience of encountering God on the Damascus road was a powerful story that he used to tell others of the good news about Jesus.
It is easy to read the story and be awed by it, and by the influence it had on Paul and those who heard it. But we all have a story to tell about our coming to faith, it may not be as dramatic as his, but it is our story, our experience, and we should be confident in telling others. We may not be confident about talking about great issues of faith as we see them, but we can talk about what happened to us, because we were there.
Yes people will often argue about this aspect of faith and the other, but when it comes down to what happened to you and me, well as someone once said, ‘a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument’.
Dear Lord Jesus, please give us the confidence to speak about our own journey of faith to those who do not know you. May you take our story and use it to bring others to their own journey of faith.