Acts Ch 13 verse 43 ‘many…followed Paul and Barnabus, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.’
That word ‘continue’ in this verse features in many a sermon. I guess it is like so many things in life such as learning as an instrument. The danger and temptation is to lay it aside because it is too hard or too much effort before we begin to see/hear more tuneful results which come from much practice. The results of walking the way of Christ, which Paul and Barnabus were passing on and teaching, however, lead to eternal rewards which bring life and fulfilment. Human nature means we can all do with encouragement from one another and from Scripture to ‘continue’. Whether it be temptations, laziness or obstacles, we can all do with the bolstering of fellow believers to keep on going and never give up. The good news is that as we do this and journey on, not in our own strength, but by the ‘grace of God’ He will be faithful and not let us go.
Lord Jesus, fill us, strengthen us and guide us. Help us to be your encouragement and your channel of God’s grace to others today.
Proverbs Ch 12 verse 1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.
The idea of loving discipline can be a strange one, we all know that discipline is a very strong theme in military organisations, and it is often present in hierarchical organisations. But here the writer links it with knowledge, and as a direct contrast links hating correction with stupidity.
To love discipline and to have a disciplined life is seen throughout the book of Proverbs as being wise, and ultimately as the key to knowledge. Whilst the undisciplined life that hates correction is seen as being stupid and the road to poverty and destruction.
In Matthew Ch 8 the Roman Centurion refers to himself as a man under authority, and Jesus proclaims that he has ‘not found anyone in Israel with such great faith’.
Recognising that we are under God’s authority, and that to follow Jesus is to be an obedient disciple, are important steps in coming to a greater knowledge of the purposes of God.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that you honour and look after those who honour you, that as we obediently follow you, you lead us into green pastures and guide our paths.
Psalm 103 verse 2 Praise the Lord and forget not all his benefits.
In this difficult time of yet more restrictions on our lives and the threat of a more serious outbreak of Covid it’s easy to forget all the benefits we have because of life in Christ.
I heard someone say earlier on in the Daily Service on the radio, whenever I feel I am suffering in any way I think of Jesus suffering on the cross and then it puts my suffering into perspective.
That’s not to minimise your difficulties and sufferings but just to remember that Jesus suffered so that we could become God’s children and experience all the fullness that He has for us.
Perhaps our difficulties could prompt us to pray for strength and perseverance for ourselves but also for those whose lives are blighted by famine, natural disasters, dictators and war as well as Covid.
Lord help us to remember your love and many blessings in our lives. Please help all those who suffer.
Ezra Ch 1 verse 1 ‘…the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm…’
This was an incredible moment: this king had defeated Babylon (who had taken Judah into exile) and was now ruler over a huge world empire. God used him to bring about God’s purposes – the return of exiles back to their own land and for some of them to be able to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. If we need it, here we can have our faith in Almighty God lifted as here is one major moment in Scripture showing God at work in the course of history to bring about His plans for His people and others. So let us trust Him in these our precarious times and our future into His hands; and be all the more eager to trust and follow Him ourselves as we wait for His leading.
Father God may your will be done. Holy Spirit, soften hard and proud hearts that faith and trust in Jesus the Son would bring freedom and true worship. Amen.
Proverbs Ch 4 verse 32 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
The heart was seen as the place out of which all our desires, emotions and motives flowed. It was perceived as the root of all our actions, the driving force for all that we might say or do. Jesus in the Book of Luke says, ‘out of the abundance [or overflow] of the heart the mouth speaks’. In other words, the mouth speaks what the innermost being of a person has already thought.
It is in this context that the writer of Proverbs warns the reader to guard their heart, and Paul in the 4th chapter of Philippians encourages his readers to ‘think on those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, honest and of good report’.
For if we allow our hearts to be polluted by what enters it, then what flows out of it will reflect that pollution. If we listen to criticism, engage in needless gossip, read and watch material that is contrary to Paul’s words in Philippians, and allow unforgiveness and self-centredness to take root within us, than what we do and say will reflect these things.
So, ‘above all else’, before we do or say anything, we need to guard what enters our hearts, for in doing so we will truly begin to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’.
Dear Lord Jesus, guard my heart, make me aware of those things that I engage with that are not wholesome, good or pure, that I may honour you and reflect your love to those around me.
Psalm 33 verses 1-3 Sing joyfully to the Lord you righteous…Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the 10 stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy
I was speaking to a colleague this morning who had started the day on a go-slow and feeling a bit down but some music came on, on the radio which she really liked. So she sang and danced to it before work and felt a lot better
I think most of us miss singing in church. It is good for us to make music, it does something to our whole being. Praise to our God in heaven and who is also with us on earth through his Holy Spirit is the best sort of music-making. Whether through traditional or modern music, quiet or loud there is usually some form of music which will help us in our praise.
Maybe it would help to deliberately make more time at home to listen to and sing along if possible to some worship music or play some on an instrument you play.
Lord help us in our praise of you!
Psalm 55 verse 22 ‘Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.’
As the gospel song goes…’take it to the Lord in prayer’. God has not only come close to us in the person of His Son entering our sinful world, but He invites us into close relationship with Him. Part of that closeness is the gift of prayer. I know it can be hard – days we don’t feel like it and when we are just in our own small world. But by just deciding to stop for a moment and give Him our worries and desires, so often we will find He helps us to pray, spurs a thought for us to pray a blessing on someone else or just to receive His touch on our own lives. That blessing is just part of our experience of being sustained under His everlasting wings.
Lord Jesus, teach us and help us to pray. With big prayers for your world, our nation and our local area; we come to you. May you bless us and those we pray for now.