Thoughts 18th – 24th June

Thursday 18th

Jeremiah Ch 37 verses 1 & 2    Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim. 2Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.

The context for this verse is that Jeremiah was trying to tell the King what God wanted him to do, which was to surrender the city of Jerusalem to the Babylonians who were surrounding them. But all the King’s other advisers were telling him not to surrender the city because they did not believe that the Babylonians would deal with them as Jeremiah had told them they would.

Time and time again Jeremiah proclaims that if they surrender, they will be taken into captivity, but their lives will be spared. But as verse 2 says no one ‘paid any attention’ to his words. The reality is that they were not words that they wanted to hear, what they wanted to hear was that God would save them, not that he was judging them for decades of sin and idolatry.

This begs the question, ‘how do we react when God directs us contrary to what our natural desires are’? Do we go with our own feelings, or do we trust the one who sees the end from the beginning, and who has promised never to leave or forsake us?

Dear Lord Jesus, when the way before us is uncertain help us to hear and act upon the still small voice of God.

Amen

 

Friday 19th

2 Samuel Ch 6  verses 6- 7    But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand and steadied the Ark of God.  Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him dead because of this.  So Uzzah died right there beside the Ark of God.

God had given them strict instructions on how things should be done, and they ignored his instructions.  Although our intentions maybe good in respect to God we must not be presumptuous to know what he wants and how things must be done.  God gives us laws in his word for a reason, these are there to protect us.  Like David and Uzzah in our ignorance, we shouldn’t ignore them and think we know better than God.  Sin has consequences as Uzzah found out.

Uzzah was trying to protect the Ark, but instead of following what God had told them to do, they chose instead to do what the Philistines had done.  Uzzah was not a Levite, plus the ark was to be carried by 2 poles and only by Levites.  They had not respected God, and Uzzah by touching the Ark paid the price by dying.  In our enthusiasm to come into a closer relationship with God, it must also be accompanied by obedience to his laws.  When David next moved the Ark to Jerusalem, he had learnt through this experience to be respectful and careful in his handling the Ark correctly.

Lord Jesus teach us to be respectful and show reverence in our relationship with you and to follow your commands which are there to protect us, even though we don’t understand why at times.

Amen

 

Saturday 20th

Psalm 30.  Verse 24    ‘Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.’

As we enter a new day, let us actively remind ourselves that God is for us and constantly watches over us his children.  Three times the psalmist describes the Lord as a ‘Refuge’.  Twice He is a ‘Rock’ and twice a ‘Fortress’.  You cannot get more solid descriptions than these.  In other words He’s got our backs covered!  If this is a day when we are struggling to look up, when burdens weigh heavily and when we long for a fresh start:  perhaps these words can help show us we are not alone, we are loved with His ‘steadfast love’ and nothing can take us away from His presence.  Let us so take time to meditate on these words from Psalm 30 and let them sink in.  ‘Be strong and let your heart take courage.’

God our Father, faithful One, Redeemer of my Soul.  As I go into today, may someone else see you at work in me.  I pray today for each member of my family by name. 

Amen.

 

Sunday 21st

Lamentations Ch 3 verses 22    because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

The book of Lamentations is only 5 chapters long, but it is exactly what the title says, a lamentation at the fall of Jerusalem and the divine judgement of God upon his people. Throughout the book of Jeremiah there is a constant unwillingness by the people of Israel to own their own sins, they deceive themselves into thinking that God will never let the city be taken.  They were sorely mistaken, as their sins had been piling up for years and this led to God’s judgement upon them.  Jeremiah had warned them and warned them, but they did not listen, and ultimately the city was taken, and the Babylonians plundered Jerusalem.

Lamentations is Jeremiah’s response as he pours out his heart in sadness at what has happened, but even in the midst of his lamenting he manages to speak words of hope.  It is because of God’s great love that they were not totally consumed, because ultimately even though the sins of Israel were very great, the compassions of God never fail.

Wow!  Just ponder those words, the compassions of God never fail.  No matter what we have done, how much we may fail, whatever depths of depravity we have fallen to, the compassions of God never fail!  Pondering this verse brings tears to my eyes as I realise once again how much God loves me.

And how much God loves you.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that your compassions never fail and that there is always a way back to reconciliation with you.

Amen

 

Monday 22nd

Ezekiel Ch 46 verse 20    He explained, “This is where the priests will cook the meat from the guilt offerings and sin offerings and bake the flour from the grain offerings into bread.  They will do it here to avoid carrying the sacrifices through the outer courtyard and endangering the people by transmitting holiness to them”.

This passage jumped out at me, particularly the part about endangering the people by transmitting holiness to them.  I think because we live in the world, we forget that God is a Holy God and before Jesus became our sin covering, this is what the Jewish people did.  What we sometimes can’t comprehend or appreciate is the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross, here was God in human form taking the sins of the world onto his Holy Body that had never experienced sin.  He paid a high price for you and for me so that we could have eternal life with him.  He closed the gap between God and man, so that man could come into a place and commune with God without having to offer sacrifices.  That is a high price.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for your sacrifice for me and I ask Lord that you will finish the work you have begun in us all.

Amen

 

Tuesday 23rd

Romans Ch 9  Verse 2    ‘I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.’

Paul here in Romans goes on to explain the reason for his ‘sorrow and unceasing anguish’.  He is bemoaning the unbelief and hardness of heart of his fellow Jews who have been given so much through their history (‘adoption…covenants…worship…promises’)-Verse 4.  However, many were unwilling to accept that Jesus was who He claimed to be:  the Messiah, Son of God, the one promised, revealed but then so cruelly put to death at the hands of their own leaders.  For Paul, who was steeped in the Jewish faith, a Pharisee and the one who persecuted those who followed Jesus, but who came face to face with the risen Christ:  their unbelief meant a rejection of the fulfilling of the Law, the revelation and salvation of all mankind, not least first for the Jew and then for the Gentiles too by faith in the powerful name of Jesus.  Let us give thanks for the Good News-the Gospel of Jesus Christ which Paul preached and is the treasure we receive and are called to pass on to others today.

Lord Jesus, help us to live your life in all we say and do.  Please give us a heart for the lost, for the weary and for the needy.  May your love surround this whole community. 

Amen.

 

Wednesday 24th

Revelation Ch 5 verses 11 – 13    Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice, they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise’.  And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang ‘Blessing and honour and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever’.

The book of Revelation is not an easy read, it is full of imagery which is not easy to understand, and many great theologians struggle to make it understandable.  But there are some parts which paint a magnificent picture of the glory of heaven and the utter joy of the worship that takes place there.  These are 2 such verses, this number beyond counting circling the throne of God and ‘in a loud voice saying worthy is the Lamb’

In verse 2 the question is asked, ‘who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll’?  In verse 12 this great number proclaim that the Lamb is worthy, that Lamb is Jesus, the one who was slain and the only one who is worthy to break open the seals.  Reading such verses sends a shiver down my back, as I imagine being part of that great number, joining with others of every creed, colour and language in proclaiming ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise’.

In 1988 I was part of around 55,000 people who joined in the March for Jesus around the streets of London.  To be part of such a crowd singing as we marched was the nearest I have ever got to the experience these verses reflect.  But what an experience it was, but it will prove to be nothing compared to being part of the crowd circled around the throne crying out these words.

Dear Lord Jesus, turn us from hymn singers to worshippers, from spectators to participants and continue to transform us from one degree of glory to another. That we may be formed into the likeness of our Lord ready to join with the angels and all of creation in crying ‘he is worthy’.

Amen

Listen here to a virtual choir singing