Luke Ch 19 verses 1-10 Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector.
Here is the account in Luke’s gospel where Jesus stopped and noticed Zacchaeus, who was described as a short man who could not see Jesus as He passed by. Yes, this man had climbed a tree to see Him, but Jesus took the time to stop and speak to him because He valued this man, that others would have despised, because he was a tax collector for the Roman authorities. Not only did Jesus stop and notice him, but Jesus even went to his house, received his hospitality, ate with him and we then see how Zacchaeus was so transformed by his encounter with Jesus that he says: ‘Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ (verse 8)
We never need to feel unworthy or unable to approach this same Jesus who is alive today and notices us and wants to meet with us. He shows us through this interaction with Zacchaeus that all are welcome, no one is excluded, all can come and eat at His table. If you feel yourself thinking ‘He won’t have time for me’…then think again; His love is strong enough to embrace each and every one of us.
Lord Jesus, thank you for knowing each of us intimately; help us to receive and be touched by your amazing love. We pray today for carers, in care homes, hospitals, homes and around our community.
Acts Ch 1 verse 7-8 He said to them ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
These were Jesus’ words to his disciples, but we can take heart from them too.
God’s people, past and present have this annoying tendency to drift into a sort of drifting!! We sort of slide away from God without realising it for various reasons. But the Spirit woos us and encourages us back into focusing on God and then on to our neighbours and our world. He didn’t promise that we would know everything but that we would receive power and strength to do his will. Thanks be to God and to the Holy Spirit.
Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your inward working in our hearts and lives and for enabling us to do your will in our world.
Esther Ch5 verses 1- 2 On the third day of the fast, Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the palace, just across from the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing there in the inner court, he welcomed her and held out the gold sceptre to her. So Esther approached and touched the end of the sceptre.
Esther was forced into a very difficult position; if she did nothing her family and the Jewish people would have died, and possibly herself. Her Uncle Mordecai and the Jewish people had been fasting in burlap and ashes, to show the seriousness of the situation they had been placed in by Haman’s hatred of the Jewish people and specifically Mordecai. To see the King without being summoned was a death sentence, but she had to reach out to the King to seek help. Miraculously for Esther, the King welcomed her by holding out the sceptre.
We’re in the same position in a way, we can’t go up to Buckingham Palace and seek an audience with the Queen, it’s against the law, same as it was with Esther. But we can seek an audience with the King of Kings and place our petitions and prayers before him, and we do know he listens and acts in our favour when we are in distress and in trouble. God always turns things around from bad to good for those he loves.
Lord help us to come to you and to trust you with everything that worries us.
Psalm 98 verse 1 ‘Sing to the Lord a new song.’
This Psalm begins by calling its readers to praise God for all He has done. It then calls us to praise Him with a ‘shout…song…music…’ and lastly ends with a picture of all creation praising our God, the creator and ‘judge’.
What ways do we find help us to praise God? Does it have to be on a Sunday or Thursday in Church? Do we miss the hymns, singing together, and do we miss the words and music of our services now limited to times of silent prayer in spaced out pews. Of course, many of us miss the congregational singing and we may also yearn for a particular style of worship and have our own preferences for traditional or modern forms of music. Our own homes though, for now, continue to be our places of worship, and thanks be to God that we can all choose the content, style and particular taste of praise and worship on offer. We can just press a button, or touch a screen. As we ‘sing to the Lord a new song’ may it help us to draw near to God and receive His blessing and love.
O Lord receive our adoration and praise we pray. Please bring your healing touch on those crying out to you today in pain, loss, sickness, loneliness and confusion. Lord in your mercy.
Galatians Ch 5 verse 1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
We were reminded in the June 28th sermon that we are dead to sin and alive to God. This verse reminds us of that again. Christ has set us free. We are no longer a slave to sin. It is no longer our master. Things of this world are to be enjoyed if they are good but we are no longer always striving after them. Yes, we do still sin and put ourselves first before others and God but this is not a dominant theme in our lives. Jesus is our new King. He has set us free to live for Him. Praise the Lord!
We praise you, Jesus, that by your death and resurrection you have set us free. Help us to live for you by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians Ch 12 v 37 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Sadly, for many people if they hear the word Church they think of a building, usually one that has a spire, and possibly a clock and some bells. That building they usually link with specific occasions, Sunday services, weddings, funerals, baptisms, and probably equate it with getting old and irrelevance.
But on numerous occasions in his letters, Paul reminds the Christian communities that they are the Church, with no thoughts of a building. The Church is supposed to be a vibrant living organism, or as the verse above puts it a body. Paul states clearly. ‘you are the body’, and ‘each of you is a part’, in other words, the Christian community is the body of Christ and each of us has a part to play, just as each part of our bodies has a particular function.
There are no passengers, no one set apart to just fill a pew, each of us has a role in the body of Christ, have you ever thought what yours might be? Just because some parts of the body are more visible does not mean that they are more important, I can live without a hand but not a liver or a heart!
This image of the body is easy for us to understand because we all have one, but if some parts of the body of our Church are not functioning as God desires, then our effectiveness to be a vibrant community of faith is compromised.
Dear Lord Jesus, what is that you want me to do so that I can be an effective part of the body of Christ here and now in my Church.
2 Cor Ch 3 verses 1-6 ‘Not that we are competent in ourselves, but our competence comes from God.’ (v. 5)
Someone said to me the other day ‘I couldn’t do what you do’. I have been pondering those words, especially as I don’t regard what I ‘do’ as anything special. As the verse above says though, whatever we do (as Ministers) is and should be guided and equipped by God’s Holy Spirit. More important, however, is the fact that each of us is given gifts and talents. Bits of our personalities may relate to others; our life experience may help us draw alongside and connect with neighbours. Some of our abilities with which we can help people in need may seem totally impossible to someone else. To that end, we are all unique and immensely loved by God the Father, and all that we are, all that we’ve been given is a blessing from Him and important in His service.
I want to thank God today for who you are, who He has made you to be, and all that He has given you. In big and small ways, let’s give God the glory and trust that He will use us to bless those around us.
Jesus: the Way, the Truth and the Life. Please draw your love and healing close to all on our mind today who are low, anxious or worried. Be to them new Faith, Hope and Love.