Hebrews Ch 4 verse 16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Grace is one of those words that we hear quite regularly in Church and Christian circles, but it is also one that we often need to unpack. I remember from my early days someone explaining it in the following way.
G – God’s
R – Riches
A – At
C – Christ’s
E – Expense
This has always remained with me over the years. Alongside my desk stuck on the side of a filing cabinet is a ‘poem’, or a hymn, by Annie Johnson Flint [Google soon comes up with the verses]. It is about God’s grace, and in particular about the fact that we only ever begin to understand and experience it, when our own abilities fail, and we come to the end of our own resources. It reminds us of the unlimited inexhaustible provisions of God, which are available to all those who would trust in him. The verse above from the letter to the Hebrews encourages us to approach God with confidence, in the full knowledge that all that we need is there and is freely available to us.
Dear Lord Jesus, may we come to you with confidence, knowing that;
Your Love has no limit; Your grace has no measure.
Your power has no boundary known unto men.
For out of Your infinite riches in Jesus,
You giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
Psalm 115 Verse 1 reads, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory”
This Psalm goes on to almost give a taunt (verses 3-8), ridiculing and mocking false Gods and Idols which in our minds probably brings up images of ancient idol worship using images and objects fashioned and formed by human hands.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but on the road between Hoyland Common and Harley there stands in a field a large bronze bull shaped statue. This always reminds me of the time when the Israelites formed a golden calf in the wilderness after being rescued from Egypt on their way to the Promised Land, and they started to worship it while Moses had gone up the mountain to receive God’s Commandments-how quickly they had forgotten the Lord their God who had rescued them from slavery! As we think of idols in this way it almost seems glaringly obvious how futile, as the Psalm states, to worship something which is ‘the work of human hands’. (verse 4)
However all too often and subtly, idols today might be the things that overly dominate our time, money, gaze and passions to distract us from keeping the Living God, our Creator, at the forefront of our lives. A good moto for us might be to worship the Creator rather than the created. (Romans 1v25) This Easter let us remind ourselves that the God who sent and raised His Son Jesus to new life for us is the only Lord. There are no other Gods beside Him. (Exodus 20v2) This Psalm ends with the words…’Praise the Lord!’
Victorious, living, loving Lord; as we thank you for a new day, help us to put you first in our lives. Thank you for all the good things you give us. Help us to praise you in the way we live our lives today.
Isaiah Ch 40 verses 4-5 “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low: the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all the people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
This was written long before Jesus was born and was seen as part of what John the Baptist would say in preparation for the work of Jesus. John would prepare the way for the glory of Jesus God’s son to come into this world because God loves us so much.
It is also though looking forward to the time when all things will be made new.
More so now than ever when things are so uncertain and difficult it is important to remember that God is going to make a new heaven and earth. “The glory of the Lord is going to be revealed and all people will see it together”
Death and sickness will be gone. Coronavirus will be gone. We will live in the light and love of God. Hallelujah, this life is but a brief moment in time, and then we will know the love of God in full.
Dear God, Thank you that your glory is going to be revealed. Thank you that there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. Thank you that he old things will pass away and everything will be made new.
Luke Ch 24 verse 44 “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled’.”
There are numerous places in the Gospels where it says similar things to the verse above. They speak of Jesus’ actions fulfilling what had been spoken before by the Prophets and other significant people in the Old Testament. For those who were looking out for the Messiah the clues and signs were there. We remember Anna & Simeon who upon seeing the young Jesus in the Temple spoke of his significance to all who would listen. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus were all part of God’s pre-ordained plan to bring salvation to this world.
We could not, and cannot, redeem ourselves, so God had to come himself, in line with his own plan, spoken through the Prophets and foretelling his own arrival. Then when the fulness of time came, after around 400 years of silence from the end of the Old Testament book of Malachi, the incarnation takes place, Immanuel, God with us, arrives into a stable in Bethlehem.
We today continue to fulfil the words of Jesus, as the Body of Christ, we are given the task of bearing witness to all that has gone before.
Dear Lord Jesus, as you fulfilled all that was spoken of your coming in the Old Testament, may we fulfil all that you expect of us as your Church, your Body.
Exodus Ch 15 verses 1-21 Verse 2: “The Lord is my strength and my might, and He has become my salvation…”
These words, in praise and thanks to God their redeemer, were sung by Moses and Israel having just witnessed the mighty, liberating acts of Almighty God: not only had God sent the ten plagues in judgement upon Egypt, but He had finally parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross safely to freedom away from the Egyptians who had enslaved and were pursuing them.
Passages in the Old Testament such as this one can often help us when we struggle to find the words to pray. We can read these verses and echo them as a prayer of praise in our own hearts to God our Father. This is the same God who we worship, and who chose ultimately and all powerfully through the work of Jesus on the cross to make a way for us to approach Him with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16)
Perhaps today we can read these verses again (1-21) and make this a prayer of praise and worship to our Holy and loving God. He is our Father who has revealed Himself through Israel, but supremely He has shown His love through the person of Jesus Christ, His Son our Lord.
Phil Ch 1 verse 9 “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”
Paul who wrote the above was always praying for people to know God’s love more and more.
Jesus, when asked a question about what was the most important commandment replied that loving God and our neighbour as ourselves was the most important.
Love, as the song says, makes the world go round.
Love is The Most Important Thing!
We know a little about love. We may know the love of a parent, of a spouse, of a child and we may have a lot of love for our family and friends.
We do not truly know though, how wide and deep and endless and intense God’s love is for us.
Let’s pray during this time for us all to know and experience God’s love more than we do now. And also, to be able to love others in the way that God loves them.
Dear God, Thank you for your overflowing love for us all. Increase our knowledge and awareness of it.
Fill us too with overflowing practical love for others. Teach us ways to show our love to others in ways appropriate for them.
Colossians Ch2 verses 1-15
There is a strange resonance as we read these verses today. Paul wrote this (and other letters) from house arrest in Rome. [It would be easy to make too much of an analogy to our current situation today!] But the tone and message which Paul sends to the church in Colossae can be equally poignant for us as we read this in our own homes now.
As we speak to each other by phone, see one another on a screen and stay in touch by other means such as post, email, text etc may we hold the body of Christ, which is each one of us, in prayer. Verse 2 says: “I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love so that…” as we read this verse in its entirety this can become our prayer for those we think about and call to mind today. Verse 5 says: “For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” I’m sure many of us can echo this verse! May this be our prayer for all of us in the coming days. Verse 6 says: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him…” So, let us remember Jesus and abide in Him, who will watch over us, guide us, prays for us and leads us – until we meet again!
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are closer than close to all who trust and follow you. Please bless us and encourage us as we look to share your love in new and different ways; apart yet very much connected as your church.