Thoughts 28th Jan – 3rd Feb

Thursday 28th

Amos Ch 5 verse 24     ‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’

The prophet Amos laments how God’s people Israel were continuing to outwardly follow and offer to God, but their hearts and therefore their actions were far from Godly.  What does he call on them to seek?  Justice and righteousness.  This theme is echoed in Psalm 33: 5 where it says: ‘The Lord loves righteousness and justice.’  If we know God loves it, then that is what we should seek to be and become ourselves too.  If we need a test for our thoughts and actions, maybe we can try to say ‘Amen’ after them to see if it is a comfortable match.  We can also ask ourselves; ‘what would Jesus do?’ (WWJD)  With His Spirit at work in us, let us pray that as we live and enter into this day, God’s justice and righteousness will be seen in and through our lives, lived to the glory of God our Father.

Lord, thank you for your love for each of us.  May your very presence in us radiate in all we think, say and do today. 

Amen.

 

Friday 29th

1 Peter Ch 5 verse 8    “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

I am sure there are many instances in the bible of people being advised to be watchful: to stay alert, and this is one of those examples. Here, Peter is saying to be of sober mind.

It is easier to see in others, what happens when they take on hubristic pride. It is one thing to be pleased and entirely something different when we feel this false pride.

We notice how pleased they seem to be with themselves, and how blind they have become as a result. It is as if they are blinded by their own light!

Has that ever happened to you? I must admit that, on thinking about such experiences now, I soon came crashing down. I made mistakes because I had been deceived into thinking how great I was, and the pain of feeling foolish took a while to go, feeling unable to accept love from others.

Looking at the quote from the bible, above, can you see how you can be devoured – eaten up by shame? The voice of the accuser roars so loud it obscures everything else, including the truth.

If you have ever read ‘The Screwtape Letters’ by C.S. Lewis, you will see that he writes about the things the trainee demon does to trick the subject – his ‘host’ – into losing faith in God so he can be destroyed. As Saint Peter says, the remedy is to ‘be alert’ and ‘of sober mind’ so you cannot be deceived by the invisible enemy.

Help us dear Lord to listen to your Word so we can avoid being tricked by the evil one and consumed by false pride. Allow us to accept the gift of your faith so that we may continually grow stronger in Christ. Make us passionate for you so that your Light will illuminate us and keep darkness away. Keep us wide-awake so that we can live in your Peace and do your works according to your will.   Praise the Lord!

In Jesus name,

 Amen.

 

Saturday 30th

Matt 5 verses 1-2, 8    Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside …… and began to teach them….. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

I’ve been reflecting on this over the past few days.  I hadn’t realized how radical Jesus was being when he said the pure in heart will see God.

You see the Jews of the day particularly the Pharisees were always seeking to be pure with their bodies. So they had a lot of rules they had to obey to maintain the purity of their bodies. They thought this was what God wanted. But now Jesus is saying the opposite. It’s your pure hearts that will enable you to see God.

But of course, we know that we cannot have pure hearts. It is Jesus who purifies our hearts. It is Jesus who cleanses our hearts.

Whilst here on earth although we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help purify our hearts and minds it is only when Jesus returns in power that we will be fully able to know Him

So this ‘Be Attitude’ is encouraging us to seek the presence of Jesus and as we do so we will find that we will see more of Jesus and therefore more of God.

Thank you Jesus that your saving love cleanses our hearts and as we seek purity in your presence so you reveal more of yourself to us.

Amen.

 

Sunday 31st

Hosea Ch 4 verse 1    ‘Hear the Word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land.’

The prophet Hosea brings words of judgement and condemnation against God’s people Israel.  Later in verse 1, they are berated for their lack of ‘faithfulness, love and acknowledgment of God.’  The picture painted in verse 2 reminds me of the days prior to the great flood in Noah’s time where the sin of the people was so great and detestable in God’s sight and to Noah himself.   ‘There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery…’  It is a depressing catalogue of depravity, reminding us of how low the human race can stoop.  The words of the opening verse, however, which read ‘…the Lord has a charge to bring against you…’ pointed my mind forward to the New Testament, and to Romans 8: 33 where Paul writes ‘Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.’  Remember back a few Sundays…we were thinking how God the Creator chooses us to know and accept His love in and through Christ His Son.  What a contrast!  Once and as soon as we are chosen and accepted into His family…there is no longer any charge against us.  In a sense, we are no different from the Israelites spoken of by Hosea.  We all deserve God’s wrath.  Let us be thankful today, therefore, over and above all that concerns us at this time, that we are chosen, loved and forgiven – no charge against us!

‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind forgive our foolish ways.’  Thank you for your amazing love and forgiveness.  Let others know, through us we pray, the life-giving, liberating love of Christ. 

Amen.

 

Monday 1st

Romans Ch 12 verse 12     Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer

If ever there was a verse that in as few words as possible gave a good directive as to how we as followers of Jesus ought to live our lives, then this is it.  Simple, straightforward, and achievable. 

Hope is something that should be a constant source of encouragement to us, not a hope based on our own abilities to succeed, but on God who is faithful and upon his promises to us.  The great hope that we have beyond death is the ultimate panacea to a world of brokenness and inequality.

We don’t like the idea of suffering; we much prefer the idea of a God who heals and keeps everything in the garden rosy.  Whilst I believe in a God who can and does heal, I also see in the scriptures and in the world that suffering is as much a part of life as any other.  It is very often out of painful afflictions that a maturity grows in us that is fruitful in a way that we could never have imagined.  We need on occasions that resilient patience which produces spiritual growth and compassion that we never knew existed.

Prayer is one area of the Christian life that most people struggle with.  Wandering minds, a sudden desire to take on that job we have been putting off for months, a brevity of things to pray about, and much more, all present barriers to prayer.   But here we are not called to be good at praying, or fulfil a certain amount of time in prayer, or even to persevere until we have cracked it, which we never will, but to be faithful in prayer. 

Prayer is much more about taking part in an active relationship with God, than a list of wants and desires.  As we are called to be faithful in our human relationships, so here we are called to be faithful in being with God, and out of that being with him a sharing of hearts takes place.  God desires not a shopping list, but us to know him, and be known by him so that the overflow is the bringing into his presence the needs of the world around us.

Dear Lord Jesus, keep us joyful, knowing that our hope is in you, keep us patient, in the knowledge that affliction often results in personal growth, and keep us faithful in spending some part of each day in your presence.

Amen

 

Tuesday 2nd

Psalm 82 verses 5 – 6     “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’

How can this be true, that we are ‘gods’? Let me ask an alternative question: “how can we not see it? It must be true if God says it is so!”

As Christians, we have hope in God, that His Kingdom will come and everything will change. As it stands, however, the world appears to be in a right mess. Apart from volcanoes and earthquakes, global warming is increasing the severity of hurricanes and flooding is becoming more frequent; rainforests are being destroyed along with the fabulous creatures that have lived there for millennia, and of course, we are in a terrible pandemic.

Mankind, as we sadly look on, is destroying his own home like a petulant infant, not knowing the harm he is doing. We ‘walk about in darkness’ and ‘the foundations of the earth are shaken’.

For me, the pivotal point here is that being born into the world, we tend to see things from a worldly perspective. God appears to be supernatural and we are natural.   However, bearing in mind the above, how does that sit with you?

Loving God who made the very foundations of the earth and also ourselves, you who know our true nature. Help open our eyes so that we are reminded every day that our true nature comes from you.

Amen

 

Wednesday 3rd

Phil Ch 4 verse 12    I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…. whether living in plenty or in want.

Oh, it is so difficult these days to remain content. Paul says he has learned to be content. So if Paul had to learn to be content it is obviously not easy. Paul had a lot of things to contend with:- persecution, shipwreck, prison, criticism and so on.

Our lives cannot compare to Paul’s. However, our circumstances have changed many times over the last year. Some of us have struggled with money, some with depression, some with Covid itself, many with loneliness, boredom, anxiety and so on.

And yet our lives are linked with Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So we have all the resources of God and his love and our fellow Christians to help us be content. It is not easy and we won’t always feel content. But we know that God works for the good of everyone who loves Him. He specializes in bringing good from bad. He will not let us cope with more than we can bear and we can know his peace and presence.

And so I pray this prayer of Paul earlier in Colossians:- Rejoice in the Lord…and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

Prayer for the Nation

Coronavirus: Archbishops invite the nation to pause, pray and remember 100,000 people ‘known to God and cherished by God’ every day at 6 pm.