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Thoughts 11th – 17th Feb

Thursday 9th

Psalm 23

At the beginning of our Thoughts of the week series some months back, John shared various verses from this well-loved Psalm.  Continuing with the idea of meditating on God’s Word, perhaps we could read it through together in its entirety today; I certainly needed to dwell on its life-giving words.  Perhaps we can picture Jesus, our great Shepherd and Lord, as we read it as a prayer now.  Let these comforting words bring you peace and healing this day.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. 

Amen.

Friday 10th

Colossians Ch 4 verses 10 – 11    My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings…….

There are a lot of greetings in the Apostle Paul’s letters.  Whenever he writes to a Church community, he greets them, and often, as in this case, sends the greetings of others.

We often do the same in our correspondence with one another, with statements like, ‘I hope you are well’, ‘best wishes’, or something similar.  There is something warming and uplifting about receiving kind and generous words, whether in person or via written communication.  They help to maintain good relationships as well as speaking positively to the recipient.  Occasionally after taking a wedding or a funeral I receive a card or e mail expressing thanks, it always leaves a warm glow as I feel that what I have done has been well received.

In our world of social media with billions of messages and online postings going out daily, there are millions of them that are negative, abusive and some we might class as evil.  In this context it is our opportunity to speak positively and to think the best of others, and to bring the warmth of a greeting to those in our circle of friends and family.  Surely this is the bare minimum of ‘loving your neighbour as yourself’?

How about over the next few days sending a card, e mail or some other type of message to someone who may be experiencing isolation at this time, just expressing a warm greeting or concern for their wellbeing.

Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for the welcome you have offered to us, please bring to our minds those who would be encouraged and built up by a message of greeting from us.  That the whole body of Christ would be built up in love.

Amen

Saturday 11th

John Ch 4 verse 34    My food said Jesus is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

What satisfies you? When thinking about filling your days at the weekend or the endless days if you are not working during this pandemic. At the end of some weekends if I have just mostly longed around I do not feel satisfied by the end of the weekend (unless I really need rest because I am ill, overworked etc)

If I have done creative things or spoken to different people via Zoom etc I feel more satisfied.

What about food? Are there some foods that are more satisfying than others?

Do you like savoury food? Do you prefer sweet things? Food is a very satisfying and necessary thing for our survival and enjoyment.

Yet in this verse Jesus (in response to his disciples urging him to have something to eat) says his food is something different. He is satisfied by doing what God wants him to do. Although he needs food he is saying that in the end the only true satisfaction is living the life God wants for us and leads us in. Let’s look and listen for God’s nudging and leading and guiding each day. Despite the Lockdown this is what ultimately gives us true satisfaction.

Father God help us to truly follow you and seek after doing your work here on earth

Amen.

Sunday 12th

Matthew 10:34-36    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

“ ‘a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

 

Do you know of any families in your location that seem to just cause trouble and commotion to the whole community? I do. When I was at school in Rotherham in the 70s, every one of a large family (9 children) apart from one was caught tunnelling through a wall into a post office to steal the safe and all the money!

The one who didn’t join in with this misadventure was a friend of mine. He eventually became a musician. I never asked what stopped him joining in with his family, but I can only think that, against all the pressure put on him, he consciously chose to separate himself from their activities.

We are not usually in close contact with gangs of robbers, but often people collude in trying to please the crowd and it is seen as a good thing to be liked by others. If we join in, however, it takes robs us of the grace and identity that God gives us.

Lord, we thank you for the understanding that you call us to be who we truly are. Sharpen our intellects in our prayers and reading, so we know we can choose to remain separate from people around us who are not of you. Let us resolve to put you first and let us remain faithful, knowing that the more difficult it is, the more help it will be to others in the long term and ourselves as we look back on that day.

Amen.

Monday 13th

Ecclesiastes Ch 7 Verse 29    ‘This only have I found:  God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.’

This verse reminded me of Jeremiah 17: 9 ‘The heart is deceitful above all things…’  We only have to look around us at world conflicts still being waged, the inequality and abuse of the earth’s resources unevenly shared and distributed and the lack of love and respect between fellow human beings to see this played out.  These are just some of the manifestations of man’s propensity to sin and go their own way with no regard for God’s intended plan for mankind.  But I am thankful today that the Son of God has provided a rescue plan – God’s one and only ‘scheme’ whereby man can turn back, and experience His love and forgiveness.  This is our chance to start over, to get back on the right track – God’s way to life.  We can’t fix our own problems alone.  It takes an attitude of surrender and receiving.  So let us pray.

Thank you, God our Father, that you willingly gave your Son Jesus to mend our broken lives.  We turn to you afresh and walk in your ways.  Let your healing love begin in us, and flow to others we pray.

 Amen.

Tuesday 14th

Genesis Ch 1 verse 1    In the beginning God created

In these words, are the most fundamental of Christian truths, that we are not a result of a chance happening, or the collision of some cosmic gases, but that we are the result of a conscious decision by a creator.  Who at the dawn of time acted in accordance with his own plan and purpose to make something that pleased him, and was shaped to according to his will. 

These words resonate with the opening verses of the Gospel of John, and it is clear that the writer is linking his Gospel with the opening book of the Old Testament.  He places the divine Word that was made flesh, back at the beginning of creation, not as a part of creation, but as the instigator and creator himself.

Creation was the masterplan of God, and one that he himself ultimately came and inhabited in order to redeem it to himself.  But we should never forget that even before creation, God existed in a trinity of love, both giving and receiving, and it is this movement of love that we are drawn into as we invite God to inhabit every part of our lives.

Dear Lord Jesus, may we be consumed by your love to such a degree, that by our very presence we radiate the life of God before we even say a word.

Amen

Wednesday 15th

Rev Ch 1 verse 10    I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.

Do you prefer to see things or hear things or both?

I must admit I love listening to the radio especially if it is a drama? I like imagining the people behind the voices!

I also like TV and film but I think if I had to choose between having a radio or a TV I would choose a radio. I also love reading which I suppose is visual but I also hear the text in my head as I read it with my eyes.

When John was spending time with God he had this amazing experience of hearing God but also seeing things. Whether this was in a dream or a vision we do not know.

God will use any of our senses to speak to us. I t may be that as we eat or taste something we will sense God saying something to us. Or maybe he will use our thoughts and you will find something popping into your head that you hadn’t previously been thinking about. An idea, or something to do!

As we spend time with God through the day whether consciously or unconsciously be prepared to ‘hear’ God speaking to you in surprising ways!

Lord Jesus help us to ‘hear’ your voice and know your mind as we go through our days with you.

Amen