Mark Ch 4 verse 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
This same question was asked by the inhabitants of Jerusalem as Jesus rode into the city on what we remember as Palm Sunday [Matthew 21 v 10]. It is a question that has been asked many times and continues to be asked today.
‘Who is this’? Was the question asked of Jesus in 1st century Palestine and depending on who you ask today the answers are as numerous as they ever have been. Jesus even asked his disciples in Mark Ch 8, ‘who do men say that I am?’ If it was not clear for many of those who saw and heard him then it is no surprise that people today are equally unclear.
As today, Jesus divided opinion, to some he was a blasphemer and a charlatan, to others a prophet speaking of the coming of God’s Kingdom, whilst to a smaller number of people he was something more, but what that was they could not be sure, certainly not this side of the empty tomb.
Books have been written, lectures given, opinions divided and blood shed, and still, many ask the same question as the disciples and inhabitants of Jerusalem.
For those of us who know him, who have experienced his forgiveness, love, and healing. For those whose faith in him is as tangible as the ground on which they stand, and his presence is as real as the clouds in the sky, then he is God. To be precise the second person of the Trinity, God in human form, but who has ascended back from where he came.
It is precisely because he is God that the question has been asked because he doesn’t fit into any predetermined norms, tick any boxes or fit into a spreadsheet. That is not what God is like, he works to his agenda, and that is where our problem is because his agenda looks nothing like one we would have put forward. Maybe it is our expectations that need adjusting because if we look in the wrong place, we will never find the right answer.
Dear Lord Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, creator of all we survey and all we cannot comprehend, and yet the one who washed feet, healed the sick and spoke words of comfort, come to us this day that we might know you for ourselves.
Psalm 96 verse 5 ‘For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.’
Thinking from Sunday about difficult questions we or those around us may pose – here’s a big one – what about other religions – do they all lead to God? Well, what does Scripture clearly teach…and our verse for today plainly spell out for us? We worship the Living God, who ‘made the heavens’, each of us and the world around us. He has made Himself known supremely through the sending of His beloved and only Son to live as one of us here on earth. So we do not have to wonder what He is like; Jesus has shown us, His Spirit has inspired His Word in the Bible to reveal His plan of salvation for us. Most importantly we know that it is only through Jesus, that we can be received and ourselves receive the love, forgiveness and welcome of God the Father. As Jesus Himself said…’I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ (John 14) We can’t and must not avoid or erode God’s Word of truth. Whether people accept it or not is a matter for them. Let us pray for eyes of faith and hearts of obedience to follow faithfully as He is faithful.
Lord, as we await the fulfilment of your new creation, may we hold fast and commend your Word of Truth to others.
Luke Ch 7 verse 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Very rarely are people referred to as ‘bad’, in fact in general the opposite is true, people are usually portrayed as being intrinsically good. Because of this, the general public have great problems with the idea that God judges us because of our failures. If people don’t really fail, then surely there is nothing really of much substance to judge them on.
Maybe this is at the heart of the words of this verse because people feel that they are good and do not do any real harm, then they do not feel that there is much to forgive and therefore their gratitude to God is diminished.
But the person who is fully aware of their failings and recognises that there is much to be forgiven for is enormously grateful to God for their forgiveness and therefore loves much.
As we look around Church and see the different people gathered there weekly, maybe those that seem to be most grateful for God’s forgiveness are those that are aware of their own failings.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your great and all-encompassing forgiveness, may the reality of our own failings cause us to love you above everything else.
Psalm 105 verse 4 ‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.’
God’s people are reminded in the words of this Psalm how the God of Israel called them, guided them, journeyed with them and led them out of bondage and slavery in Egypt into the land He promised to give them. It also highlights how His hand was against those that had held them captive and how His marvellous deeds were performed to give glory to His name. This is the same Almighty God we are called to likewise follow – through and by the New Covenant sealed with the life-blood of Jesus the Son of God. So He also becomes our God and Father and we can therefore likewise meditate and take these words of verse 4 above to heart and make them our watch-words: ‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.’ Let’s keep these words close and say them often as He also leads and guides us today.
Mighty God, we pray for your ways and your purposes to be made known here in Wath.
1 Corinthians Ch 15 verse 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character”.
A verse that I have had quoted to me by others in my younger years, and one I have quoted at my children, without little effect upon them I might say. But nonetheless, it is a verse that is true as we all know, some through sad experience.
How many people have got carried away whilst in the company of persons who had questionable moral and ethical motives, and ultimately found out that they had got themselves into situations that seriously affected or shipwrecked their lives? How many of us looking back over our lives have realised that we have had ‘lucky’ escapes, and watched as the lives of others have spiralled out of control and realised that it could have been us? Many of us I would hazard a guess.
That old statement that ‘those who play with fire get burned; comes to mind. God gives us free will, he doesn’t impose himself on us or force us into a predetermined Christian shape, but he does offer us gems of wisdom that help steer us in our journey of faith, and this is one of them.
If we think that we can play fast and loose with sin, then Paul’s warning is direct and to the point, we mislead ourselves, because corruption will overcome us.
Dear Lord Jesus, may the gems of scripture guide us and lead us into all truth, that we might be saved from self-deception.
Ephesians Ch 1 verse 17 ‘I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.’
Two points from this verse today: Firstly our prayer for each other and those for whom God is calling to follow Him – is that we would each be given ‘the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.’ This is the kind of revelation which shows us Jesus to be not only sent by God the Father to live amongst us, but that through Him and by what He did that first Easter, we can each of us know the Father’s great love and be called His children. The second point is; ‘so that you may know Him better.’ How do we do this? Well yes, we need God’s Spirit to help each of us. We can’t do it alone. Every day we need His grace and love to pick us up, cleanse us and enable us to follow Him. How do we do this – well a good rhythm for each day is to read something from the Bible and let its words speak to us and lead us to prayer – our conversation with the Father who loves each of us.
O Lord, hear our prayer. Please bring healing, new life and hope in your name to Wath upon Dearne.
James Ch 2 verse 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
From verse 14 of this passage until this verse James writes that a faith that is not backed up by actions is irreconcilable with believing in God. He makes it clear that it is our works that prove that we have faith, they are the evidence that is there for all to see that what we say with our lips is lived out in our actions.
As part of his argument, James reaches back into the Old Testament and talks of how the faith of Abraham and Rahab was manifested by their actions, and that if faith does not have any works, then it is dead.
What James is saying is that to claim to have faith in God, if it is real and is not just empty words, then it will so affect our lives that it will radiate from our every word and action. That the motivation to love others will come from knowing that we are loved and accepted by God, and our faith in this God will be evidenced by this love emanating from us.
His use of the word ‘dead’ is a stinging rebuke to those who were arguing to the contrary in this matter. If our faith is devoid of actions that prove our faith, then our faith is not faith at all, it is dead!
Dear Lord Jesus, so may the flame of love burn within us so that all may see that we are your witnesses, whose lives are given in word and deed to proclaim our faith in you.