Contributors: Charles, Beth, Jose and John.
Mark Ch 8 verse 34 if anyone would come after me, they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Self-denial is not a particularly popular pastime, in the western world where most things are accessible to us at the click of a mouse button, the question might be asked why? If you want it, and can afford it, or your credit card has available credit left on it, then have it, life is too short to deny yourself it.
But the way of following Jesus is different, it is not about fulfilling our own personal agenda where we are at the centre of our every decision. Following Jesus means removing ourselves from the centre of our lives and placing him in our place. It requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves, to give away a coat if we have more than one, to seek first the kingdom of God and to die to selfish ambition. In other words, to live in an upside-down way, where the first are last, the meek will inherit the earth, where the hungry are filled with good things and the rich are sent away empty.
These are fine words plucked from the pages of the New Testament, but as we all know, self-denial is not a particularly popular pastime.
Dear Lord Jesus, may we look at the resources you have blessed us with, cast an eye at the clothes in our wardrobes and the food in our cupboards, and wonder who is in greater need than me? In the asking of the question does the journey to self-denial begin.
Galatians Ch 5 verse 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I don’t know how much you like fruit but this week I am enjoying fruit a lot this week. We have fresh cherries, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, blackcurrants etc. Some of the fruit is from our garden and some is from the supermarket. The choice of fruit we have in the summer is extensive and very tasty.
The fruit of the Spirit is also extensive and ‘tasty’ as people experience the fruit of our lives. We take up the nutrients of God’s word and the presence of the Holy Spirit and the fruit will appear.
It may feel sometimes as if we have no fruit but you do. Especially as you look back on the day or the week or the years you definitely will have been ‘fruiting’.
So today don’t hide your fruit in the fridge! Put it in a bowl on the table so that people may taste it and know that the Lord is good!
We ask you Holy Spirit, to boost our fruit production so that people may taste the fruit and be led to Jesus.
1 Samuel Ch 17 verse 45 ‘David said to the Philistine [Goliath], “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty…”
I was struck reading this account of David and Goliath just how forthright and trusting David was in the Lord his God. He had witnessed and known God’s protection and help as he had shepherded his father’s flocks as a young lad. Now that same faith and trust was coming to the fore against a menacing and threatening Philistine soldier and army.
He said to Saul [Israel’s king]: ‘let no-one lose heart on account of this Philistine…’ (verse 32)
There are many things today which can easily alarm and unsettle us from the worldwide spread of Covid, right down to the struggles and cares of daily life. May David’s words ring true for us today as we remember the same Lord David knew and worshipped is also our God, and He is with us. Let us also be encouraged by David’s faith and trust, not in human might, but in God’s love and protection for His children who are precious in His sight.
Jesus, our shepherd and strong defender, keep us trusting in you throughout this day. Praying today for students and young people that they would be guided in their learning and find open doors into training and employment.
Matthew Ch 24 Verse 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.
If you haven’t read chapter 24, I encourage you to do so first, before you read what I’m about to tell you.
In verse 8 it talks about birth pains or as we would call them labour pains. As all ladies who have had children know or those like myself who had 2 sections with the birth of my children, it is painful when you are in labour and it’s a messy process. Labour pains get closer to, the nearer the birth of your baby is to being born. Plus, you have the waters breaking and eventually the child is pushed out into the big wide world unceremoniously.
Jesus is explaining here how it will be before he returns. When you go into labour your contractions are quite widely spaced out, but the more you come to have your child delivered the closer the contractions come together, and the more painful it becomes. Any birth no matter how the child is born is painful and messy. This is how it’s going to be before Christ returns to the earth. Where you had the odd war here and there, and the odd earthquake now and again, throw in a volcanic eruption here and there, you are going to see more and more coming closer together. It talks about famine, persecution, and signs in the sky. It speaks about the sun being darkened, the moon having no light and stars falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens being shaken. Jesus the Messiah will then return. He went upwards and he will return coming from the heavens.
My question to you is are you ready to meet him. Jesus is coming back for his bride which is the church. Are you ready, or have you still got your curlers in and your frock in its bag?
Lord Jesus, I ask that you get your bride ready so that no one is left behind when the time comes for your return.
Luke Ch 19 verse 38 ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Luke tells us in this passage that ‘the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God’ (verse 37) as Jesus approached Jerusalem riding on a donkey. These followers had seen the miracles, heard Jesus’ teaching and believed, being called His disciples. We today are those who continue to praise, follow and believe in this same Jesus of Nazareth who did not avoid the road to Jerusalem and all the suffering and agony that lay ahead of Him there. Many of us will be yearning and praying for others who do not yet believe, that they too may join this great ‘crowd’ down the ages convinced by faith that Jesus is the Lord. So together, let’s remember to never give up praying and expecting others to see, hear and believe in this King Jesus, friend to the lost and Saviour of the world.
Jesus, receive our praise. Help us follow, help us pray for others to believe and know you to be their Lord and Saviour. Praying today for your protection and blessing over every area of our community.
Philippians Ch 3 verses 20 & 21 Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
What do you think of your body? Is it amazing?!! Are you superfit? Does it let you down? Do you get ill easily? Do you have many health problems? Is it feeling older? Does it get very tired?
Even though our bodies are part of who we are, we are never satisfied with them and of course they are limited with human frailties. It is very hard to imagine our resurrection bodies. But this verse is full of encouragement that our final destination is to be with our Lord Jesus Christ and our bodies will no longer be limited but will be like Jesus’ resurrection body and will be capable of unimagined things. So, take heart when you are in pain, feeling frail and weary that this will not always be so and for the moment rest in Jesus’ arms and draw on his strength.
Lord Jesus thank you that in the end you will make all things well and we will live with you in our resurrection bodies.
Galatians Ch 5 verse 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, ………
When Covid-19 arrived in New Zealand, the Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden encouraged the nation to be kind. No fancy words from a spin doctor guaranteed to win a few votes when election time comes round again, no just something nice and simple, be kind.
A recent report into wellness suggested that there is already some evidence that connecting kindly with others could help us feel good, become more resilient to stress and develop stronger relationships. Wow, so just by being kind to others can positively affect our own wellbeing, it’s a win, win scenario!
Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, one of those elements in our lives by which we radiate the love of God to those around us. That does not mean that only Christians can be kind, but it does mean that alongside the other fruits, those who live them out are living out the very character of God, and thereby revealing the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Who might we radiate kindness upon that they might experience the coming of the kingdom of God?
Dear Lord Jesus, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. May these not just be words, but a prayer fulfilled through us as we radiate your character through our lives.