Acts Ch 1 verse 9 …he was taken up before their very eyes….
Today is Ascension Day in the Church’s calendar, the day we remember Jesus returned to His Father after spending time with his followers after his Resurrection. I am sure that those followers would have loved for him to stay longer, for them to have been able to point to him as proof of their belief in him, but he had to return.
In John Ch 14 v 2, Jesus had told his disciples that he had to go to ‘prepare a place for them’, ready for when they ultimately died and joined him in his Father’s house. He would be waiting for them, welcoming them as they stepped through death’s door and into the kingdom and realm of God. This must have taken away some of their fear and apprehension about death, and possibly gave them the confidence to face the future in the full knowledge that the threat of death was somewhat reduced.
In our current circumstance’s death is the focus of much of our media’s attention, but it is talked about in the context of fear. For us as Christians, the fear of death should also be reduced. Death is not a black hole of uncertainty or vague ethereal hope, but a meeting again with our Lord, a welcome to the Father’s house where pain, fear and uncertainty are absent. This central truth of our faith allowed the Apostle Paul to question where was ‘the sting of death, and the victory of the grave?’ [1 Corinthians Ch 15 v 55] As he pronounced that ‘death was swallowed up in victory’ [v54].
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the eternal hope that we have in you, through your life, death, resurrection, ascension and promises.
Psalm 81 Verse 1 ‘Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob.’
This Psalm is a cry from God Almighty for His people Israel to return and worship Him. Just as when it was written, so now the Lord who is the only God waits and beckons those He has created to praise and acknowledge Him. The churches may be shut; choirs and instruments not brought out; but just as His love for each of us never fails…so the song of hearts who love Him will go on giving glory to His name. He is the one who is worthy of all we offer in thanksgiving for all His mercy, forgiveness and life. So, whether alone, or joining with others listening or watching words and music, may we draw near to God our Father who delights to receive our worship and praise today. Alleluia!
Lord, you are Sovereign, King of Kings & Lord of Lords. Please guide and give knowledge and skill to all who are researching and working to develop a cure and protection against the current virus pandemic. Please keep our family, friends and neighbours safe as many endeavour to return to patterns of work and learning.
1 Corinthians Ch 1 verse 4 I always give thanks for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.
I am sat here in the garden thinking of all the faces I see at the Virtual Tuesday prayer meeting and the Virtual Coffee and Quiz afternoon on a Thursday. This also leads me to think of all the faces at All Saints that I haven’t seen on screen and I wonder how they are. But with all of you, I give thanks to God because of who you are, that I am privileged to know you and also am amazed at how generous everyone is. This should not surprise me though because your generosity springs from your faith in Jesus and from your being made in the likeness of God.
You have made scrubs etc, made up comfort bags, cycled miles on a static bike, phoned people, sorted out web sites and. other technical issues, made cakes, given money, prayed, chivvied people along to do various things that need doing, done thoughts for the day, sermons, encouraged…… I could go on.
Why don’t you spend some time today thinking of the people you know and giving thanks for all that they are.
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for all our friends and families and for who they are and for all their love and generosity.
Psalm 23 verse 5 You prepare a table before me
In our household over the past 7 weeks, the table has been prepared by different people cooking on different nights. We have shared out the job of providing, preparing, and cooking the food. The variety has been excellent, and to know you are responsible for only 1 night per week has been liberating. But we are all fully aware that the ultimate provision does not come from Aldi or Tesco but from God. He is the one who provides all that we need, and also much of what we want.
David also recognised that it was God who provided him with all that he needed, that he could only do so much, and that without God his table would be empty. Eating was and still is a large part of middle eastern life, it is much more than just food and a meal, there is something about gathering, about the fellowship and conversation. So, for David, this is not just a statement about food but is about being welcomed to God’s table, where all is provided for, and where we can experience fellowship and friendship.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that you provide us with all that we need and that through the sharing of bread and wine you invite us to share in the very life of God, to remember your death and to be drawn into the very family of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
1 John Ch 2 verse 28 ‘And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming.’
You will have seen the TV adverts recently; dwelling on how we are all emphasising and meaning more fully the questions and often posed statements such as: ‘How are you?’ ‘Stay safe’, and ‘Take care’. As a people who have Christ at the centre of our lives, saying the words ‘God Bless’ and ‘I’m praying for you’ will I know be equally heartfelt and sincere.
In addition to echoing the verse above for each of us, let us be reminded that we are each so precious and loved by God. I want to say today; you are missed and you are in our thoughts and prayers. May God richly Bless us where we are.
Lord Jesus, thank you that one day you are coming back to take us to your Father’s kingdom. We pray now for the many who will be fearful and apprehensive about losing jobs and livelihoods. Show us how to help, listen and love.
Ephesians Ch 3 verse 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us ….to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever Amen
Think of these words:- Able, do, immeasurably, power, more….
Hold these amazing words for a moment. Let them rumble around in your soul for a while. Allow them to form a prayer or praise or wonder within you. Allow them to raise your faith in the faithfulness and purpose and love of God.
Are there prayers you dare not pray/ Are there prayers that seem too big?
Think of some of them now. Write them down if that helps.
Then, when you can dare, pray some or all of these prayers and keep on praying them. See what God can do!
Praise to you Heavenly Father, praise and glory in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever
Psalm 23 v 5 in the presence of my enemies
The line before and after this line in the Psalm speak of what God does for us, he prepares, and he anoints. But this line sets things in a different context, that of being in the presence of our enemies. “Enemies” is a strong word, but probably includes all those we do not get on with, those who resent and dislike us, those who hold grudges or even hate us.
But David makes it clear that even when we are in the presence of those who are against us, God is still present with us, and even in those situations he wants to bless us.
In the UK Blessing towards the end the line, ‘he is for you’ is repeated numerous times. It expresses something that is at the heart of this Psalm, and many others, that no matter where we are, whatever the circumstances, whether we are amongst the holiest people alive today, or are a long way from him, he is with you if only we would reach out to him. In the morning and the evening, in your coming and your going, he is with you.
Why not take a moment to thank him that he is ‘for you’, and always has been and always will be, even in the most difficult of times.
Dear Lord Jesus, may we know your presence with us on every occasion, may we remember that you are ‘for us’, and that you will ‘never leave us or forsake us’.