Ezekiel Ch3 verses 4 & 7 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them………… But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate.
Just imagine if God told you to go and share his message of salvation with a group of people, but before you went he told you that they would not take any notice of you. You, like me, would probably think what a waste of time, why on earth should I bother? Regardless of this God told Ezekiel to go and tell the Israelites the message God had given him.
The context for the book of Ezekiel is that the Israelites had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians [the captivity spoken of by Jeremiah, and why he lamented so much], and they were feeling sorry for themselves. In this situation, you would have thought that they would have welcomed Ezekiel’s message, welcomed the fact that God was still speaking to them, but no their obstinacy prevailed.
We may feel the same when it comes to speaking to others of our faith, we may expect to be dismissed before we start, and apprehensive of the response. Like Ezekiel, God calls upon us to speak of his love and salvation to those around us irrespective of their response. God will ultimately judge everyone by how they have responded to his message of salvation, we are not called to judge, but we are called to make sure that everyone hears that message.
Dear Lord Jesus, please give us the boldness to speak to those around us of the salvation offered to all through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Zechariah Ch 4 verse 6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord.”
Here the Angel of the Lord is interpreting a vision given to Zechariah the prophet for Zerubbabel who was a political leader at that time in Israel. For the task in front of them at that point (building a second temple in Jerusalem as the first had been destroyed) God was reminding His people that they were to look to Him and the power of His Spirit to succeed. One thing our current crisis has shown us, as we see our economy and normal hustle and bustle of life falter, is that when all is said and done God is the One whom we need to look to, depend upon, and keep our trust in. Even for the Church (even if we had still been part of the SDF mission focus) plans for mission and strategies for growth in this season, we have to leave in God’s hands to be at work by His Spirit: we are helpless and lost with and without circumstances to do anything ‘by might nor power’.
This is also a liberating message to encourage us to let go and let God. In all areas of our lives: crying out to God for those in desperate need-wondering when danger and uncertainty will cease-yearning for a just and fair society. Whilst prayerfully doing our part we can and should look to God’s Majesty and wait for His Spirit to move and transform.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your love and compassion towards all that you have made. We pray for those most affected by cuts and loss of essential services for loved ones during times of austerity and now during the current pandemic. Living Lord, we pray.
2 Samuel 6 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.
Whilst looking at this portion of scripture what came to mind was how the Ark should have been carried. It had 2 poles which were slipped in at either side and it was carried by the Levite Priests. It reminded me of how the nobility where carried about before royal carriages, they were lifted up on thrones/litters and carried to their destinations. This showed how important that person was, and it also was a quiet statement to onlookers of who they were.
So you can now understand why God was upset with David and Uzzah. They had not recognised his Kingship, and they had not treated him with respect. Because the Ark was a box, they knew it was important, but they didn’t understand the relevance of God in the box. Sometimes we can have the same attitude and do not realise that we’re doing it. The Jewish people treated the Ark as an amulet to bring good luck or to keep disaster from coming near them. We need to be careful not to do the same thing ourselves.
Lord help us to be more respectful of the Holy Spirit and recognise his authority as part of the God Head and his Kingship. Lord help us not to try and put you in a box or treat you as some kind of amulet when we get into a sticky situation and then ignore you the rest of the time. Lord, I ask that you draw closer to us so that we can have a deeper understanding and a closer relationship with you.
Proverbs 23 verse 7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he
A lot has been made of the power of positive thinking, books have been written, many of them by management gurus where the focus is all about becoming more successful. There have also been numerous books written from the context of health, where the authors have extolled the power of positivity in helping to overcome both physical and mental health problems.
In many ways, this verse from the book of Proverbs supports some of this thinking. It does not say think yourself successful and you will be, or think yourself well and you will be, but it does say that what we believe about ourselves in the depth of our being, will affect the way we live our lives.
You can see this in some people, their whole demeanour is upbeat and positive, and they live their lives like that, whilst others are downbeat and lack confidence, and their lives mirror this. I can even see this in my own family!
Do you today recognise that you are a child of God, chosen by him to become part of his family? Do you know that he loves you, even though he sees your every failing and sin, that he loves you beyond what you could ever imagine? Do you believe that you have an eternity set before you, not based upon your own good works or charity, but on the death and resurrection of Jesus, and on the basis of the faith and trust you have put in him? Do you know and believe that death has no hold over you because Jesus has broken the bands of death and that we as his kin are assured of eternal life? Well, do you?
Because knowing and believing all of this will affect you in the depth of your being and will affect how you live. Today you are the child of a King, a joint heir with Jesus, and part of God’s chosen family. So today, before you step out of the door, remind yourself of this and live in the reality of what God says and thinks about you.
Dear Lord Jesus, today I thank you that I am a child of God and that you have chosen me to become part of your family. Help me to live in the light of this reality, that the presence of God might radiate from me wherever I go.
Psalm 139: verses 1+3 ‘O Lord, you have searched me and you know me…you are familiar with all my ways.’
This Psalm is a popular choice at funerals. Somehow the words of David here strike a chord as we think of endings and approaching our maker at the end of our earthly life. The phrase ‘to make our peace with God’ comes to mind. So often through life we can keep up pretences and hide sides of our personality or parts of our history that we wouldn’t even want to revisit ourselves! We naturally want to move on and often we like to present our best sides to the world – rather like on social media – capturing that pristine photo to post of ourselves: happy, glamorous and successful for all to see. But if we stop and consider for a moment; we never have to be like that before the Almighty, loving God who searches and knows us. If ever there was a Psalm worth shouting out, expressively and with passion…this is it! Have a go-read it out loud, but let the words challenge and speak to you, to me. Honestly – we know deep down they are true. And may our humble response be to just open ourselves up to God’s warm embrace and surrender to His love and mercy.
Oh Lord, our tears, and joys – you see and know them all. Hear the cries of all who are desperate for love, security, hope, and peace today. The names on our hearts, people, places, situations: receive our prayer.
Esther Ch 4 verse 15 – 17 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the King. If I must die, I must die.” So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
In the Old Testament prayer was often accompanied by fasting. I’ve fasted in the past but I’ve always drank water whilst doing it. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to last 3 days without food and water, but it showed how serious they were with God, and how much danger they were in. Plus going to see the King was an instant death sentence if you’d hadn’t been called. So Esther was taking her life in her hands.
Her attitude was if I must die, I must die. It wasn’t a case of saving her own skin, she didn’t have that option and she knew she couldn’t stay silent. Sometimes doing the right thing is hard to do, but if like Esther and the other Jews you come together with other believers to support one another and go through trials in unity you become stronger. Esther’s attitude wasn’t to look out for herself, but she chose to act, and because of this God worked a miracle through her to rescue the Jewish people from being murdered.
Lord help us, Lord, to be a community that supports one another in prayer and fasting, and a community of action when we need to step up to help others, and like Esther when we need to do the right thing, that we’ll not think twice about ourselves but think of others first.
Proverbs Ch3 verses 27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbour,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you” when you already have it with you.
Twice the words ‘do not’ are used in these two verses. These words are clear in their intention, they are to prevent the reader from being under any illusion about how we should respond to those to whom good is due. We are to give it to them immediately or as soon as possible. We are not to withhold it or put it off when it is within our ability to give it there and then.
Doing good should be one of those things that each of us as Christians finds is a natural response to God’s transforming power being at work in us. I am reminded of the phrase which says that ‘by their fruits, you shall know them’.
One of those fruits by which we are known as followers of Jesus is that we are doers of good, not just talkers of doing good, or those who encourage others to do good. No, but we are known by the fact that we do good to men and women of all faiths and none, to whom that that good is due.
Dear Lord Jesus, as your Church here in Wath may we be known, both collectively and individually, as those who can be called upon and relied upon to do good in your name.