Ezekiel Ch 33 verse 20 But I will judge each of you according to your own ways.
On many occasions, I have heard people say that God is unfair, generally because they have asked me about a particular point or issue and have not liked the answer that I have given them. When they say “unfair” what they really mean is that the answer I have given them is not in line with their own thinking, or their own understanding.
The simplicity and beauty of this verse is that it states that firstly, each of us will be judged according to God’s judgement and not one tainted by human sin, and secondly, that we will be judged on our own words and actions.
Our own judgements are unfortunately affected by the failings of fallen humanity, so we are judging whilst looking through dirty lenses, so we do not see clearly. Whereas God is able to judge each of us equally because he knows us and sees us as we really are.
Dear Lord Jesus, help us to see things as you see them, that we might be gracious in our judgements of others and honest as we judge ourselves.
1 Kings 8 verse 5 ‘King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel …were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.’
We read here the account of the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant into the newly completed Temple in Jerusalem which Solomon had built. We live in such different times today. The whole idea and scale of this animal sacrifice fills me (and I remember someone I met recently) with revulsion and thoughts of cruelty even. But stopping a moment, we remember this was long before the very Son of God was offered up by God Himself to become the one, true, sufficient and final sacrifice to deal once and for all the problem of man’s sin. Perhaps now as we think again of this scene in 1 Kings, we can begin to grasp the seriousness and necessity to deal with our guilt and wrongdoing before God. The painful truth though is that this continual requirement in the Old Covenant for sacrifice by Israel, could never properly deal with the issue of mankind’s sin. They would have to look forward, and thankfully we can look back to Jesus, through the cross, to receive the total solution.
Lord Jesus, we can only imagine the cost, pain and agony it cost you to fully set us free and forgive us. Turn our hearts to fully receive what you have done for us. In your words…’It is finished!’
Matt Ch 14 verses 29 & 30 He (Jesus) said “Come”. So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord save me!”
Have you ever tried to walk along a beam or a wall as a child and then when halfway along you wobbled and fell; or, walking up a steep hill or along a high ridge, noticing the drop resort to crawling on your knees or you can’t move?
I’m not good with heights and I have dropped to my knees and crawled on several occasions. My brain and eyes cannot cope with looking at the drop.
I’m the same with going too fast on a bike especially downhill. I have to slow down. I get too worried about wobbling and crashing. You only have to look at some of the crashes on the recent Tour de France to see some of the injuries you can get.
In a way, it’s similar in our Christian life. If we look at some of the problems and difficulties in the world and maybe in our life, we can get wobbly and worried and anxious. Especially this is the case in recent times.
It’s in these times that we especially need to fix our eyes on Jesus who has everything in His hands. Remember that old chorus:-
Fix your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
Let’s say it today as a prayer.
Philippians Ch 4 verse 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Last week my father who is 97 asked me what does it mean to be happy, and even before I had a chance to answer he said, ‘is it to be content and at peace’? His answer to his own question was exactly what I would have said, and I would have quoted this very verse because it is one, I have used many times before.
Here Paul says that no matter whether he has a lot or a little he has learned to be content. In other words, his contentment is not based on what he has or what he lacks, they are purely peripheral to his sense of contentment. This is because that contentment is based upon something else that is eternal, not something that is temporal such as food or wealth. The secret of his contentment is rooted in his faith in Jesus Christ, in his position as a child of God, chosen and adopted into God’s family, and finally in his assurance that eternity with God is his future inheritance.
In the light of all this whether you have a lot to eat or a little, or whether you are wealthy or in need, pale into insignificance. Real contentment is rooted in God through the life and death of Jesus, not through such temporal things as food or money.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that contentment comes not through what we have, but rather in who we have.
Psalm 5 verse 3 ‘In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice…I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.’
Well, a few challenges for us here. Yes, it says ‘in the morning’. You may not regard yourself as a morning person, but there is great value in starting the day well. What I mean is, committing the day ahead into God’s hands. Maybe thanking Him and being deliberate about turning to Him afresh – I think of it like switching on a light…not just stumbling into the day but being alive to God. And yes to go on to ‘lay my requests before You’. No problem here-God is big enough to accommodate all our needs and prayers. Before rushing into the day, though that idea of waiting might just help us stop and listen a moment and have an attitude of expecting God’s answers in His way.
Lord God, thank you for your many gifts to us all. As we stop in your presence, we pray your blessing on all workplaces; people we know at work: please protect and provide for them in safety. Amen.
Matt Ch 5 verse 9 Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God
I’m sure many of you will remember John Hume who died in August. He was an Irish Nationalist politician from Northern Ireland. He took a huge risk and was involved in talks with Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams, their leader, and both governments to promote peace. But as is the case he was heavily criticized by both sides for talking to the other. But the talks eventually led to the IRA ceasefire and provided the setting for the eventual Good Friday agreement. He received the Nobel Peace Prize and the Gandhi peace prize.
He was always optimistic and one journalist asked him why and he said: “If you tell people that what you want to happen is already happening then it is much more likely to happen!!”
In our own settings, we too can work for peace and provide positive words instead of negative whenever we can. Positive actions and a smile on our face will go a long way.
Lord make us instruments of your peace
Colossians Ch 1 verse 28 We proclaim him
It might be said that the Church has many messages, love thy neighbour, the eternal hope we have in God, all things come from God, God is the creator of everything, etc…..
But at its heart, all of these and more are secondary to the central message about the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Churches that fail to proclaim the message of Jesus first and foremost are doomed to fail, however good and well-meaning their proclamations and protestations are. Just to talk about the ministry of the Church in the context of a social gospel is not sufficient, yes it is important to see every human valued, fed, clothed, sheltered and given hope, but these alone will not give them the key to eternal life, without the message of Jesus being part of the ‘package’.
Paul talked about the message of the gospel being foolishness to some, and whilst this is increasingly true today, this should not inhibit our proclamation of the message that there is salvation in no one but Jesus [Acts 4 v 12].
Dear Lord Jesus, in all that we seek to do individually and collectively help us to put you at the heart of our every word and action.