Ephesians Ch 1 verses 15 – 16 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayer.
Last Saturday my eldest son flew to America to take up a 4-year post. I must confess that I am terrible at goodbyes, they are the one thing that touches my emotions like nothing else. I can do funerals, visit those terminally ill and face most other things in life without much of an issue, but departures, for some reason, are my emotional Achilles heel.
Because I knew that I would not be able to say it to him, I wrote verse 16 in a card for him and hid it in his case so he would find it when unpacking.
Paul in writing to the Church at Ephesus penned these words, that upon hearing of their faith and love, he ceaselessly gave thanks for them and prayed for them.
When we consider the role that Paul played in the establishing of the early Church, his journeys and visits across Asia Minor, and the constant challenges he faced, the fact that he was able to write his letters is astounding. Even more so, that he could be so personal and was able to focus upon a particular aspect of this Christian community and commit to giving thanks and praying for them.
What is it about your/our Church that causes you to give thanks and to make mention of them in your prayers?
Dear Lord Jesus, we have so much to be thankful for in being part of your Church, may our thankfulness overflow into prayers for our brothers and sisters, that we might be known for our faith and love.
1 Cor Ch 13 verse 13 ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’
Having to say goodbye to a loved one, perhaps seemingly prematurely, can be so hard. The grieving process can often stretch on, long after others have moved on and even forgotten. A funeral, burial or cremation can seem so final a parting. But something I heard a mourner say recently made me think: ‘Your love will live on in our hearts.’ Of course, that is so true because it’s not so much the accomplishments, achievements and even legacies that people leave behind: it’s the love they shared and gave that lives on in others. Our gifts, talents, abilities are all important and God-given, but as we read above, the greatest gift is love. Once we have received God’s love in our hearts, we are compelled to give it away. It’s easy to try and hold on to love for fear it may escape us; but the generous and Christ-like way is to share it, show it and shower it on others. Praise God that the source of His love never runs dry; rather like the picture of a gentle spring never drying up, or a torrent of water flowing downstream in a flooded river.
Pour over me, this gift of love. Lord Jesus, show me more of your amazing love and help me give it away lavishly.
Psalm 27 verse 1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear?“
I had one of those mornings today. Not one of those mornings, but one where I awoke singing hymns, dancing as I washed up the evidence of last night’s snack festival. Today I feel like I am the person I need to be.
What made all the difference? Has lockdown finished? NO – we all have a long way to go still. Have I been good? NO – to tell the truth, I have not but we won’t go into that here. Have I won the lottery? NO – I have no desire to have lots of money. Has something very difficult that I was trying to do worked out? NO – I have learned to stop pushing if something becomes so hard that it pushes me out of shape.
Isn’t it a mighty blessing to feel that God is close to you, on your side and not just forgives, but encourages you to notice the good things you already have?
Let me tell you, that keyword ‘feel’ makes all the difference! If you don’t feel it, you cannot honestly live it and what you feel like will be visible to others in the way you walk and talk, no matter how you try to hide it.
Lord, let us now look to you, the living One from whom we have our very awareness. Let us sense how joy comes from within, where we find you if – we do but look. Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is within and He also said it is at hand. What more do we need but the awareness of your living Presence in us and your Power working for us, so that we know that our blessings come from you? If we pray we can positively feel your forgiveness and mercy that shows us your way, which is the best that we can be and do. So please encourage us to pray every day. Let us open up our innermost secrets to you so we can be healed and energized by love.
Psalm 119 verse 15 ‘I will meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.’
Wasn’t it a sobering and tragic moment when we all heard that Covid deaths in this country had passed the hundred thousand mark? Most poignant for me was to hear that the rise in excess deaths, due to the pandemic, brought reminders of equally significant jumps in death rates during World War Two. And to think, we were hearing a year ago that if this country were to reach twenty thousand, we would be doing well! In very different ways to the War years, these are dark times. More than ever I feel this verse above draws us to remember God’s Word and the gift of Prayer to keep us and strengthen our faith in these times. Meditating on God’s Word may simply be to allow a verse of Scripture to sink deep. Reading the words over, pondering their truth, and letting them speak to our situation. Lingering, and taking that extra moment to just listen attentively, not letting distractions crowd in. I pray in so doing, we will all receive by the Spirit of God, His peace and inner hope as we await the dawn of brighter days.
Come Word of life, restore us in these days. Come breaking in, and set your church ablaze. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Proverbs Ch 18 verse 23 The poor plead for mercy, but the rich answer harshly.
Proverbs has a lot to say about the attitude of the rich, particularly about the way in which the rich feel that their wealth is a shield against the outside world. There is a feeling that the writer is warning the rich not to trust in, or abuse their riches, which is a recurring theme in many books of the Bible.
I don’t know what it is about having money, but for some, it seems to give them a feeling of superiority and causes them to look down on lesser folk. As if just because they have been blessed financially it gives them the right to speak and act in ways that ordinary people would never consider doing.
In this way money becomes divisive. Wars have been fought, political theories have been developed and imposed, arguments have developed, families have split, and people have been killed, all over wealth.
Whatever our financial situation, what we have is there to be used not worshipped. Whether it benefits us or others around us it cannot stop CV19, ageing, or ultimately, death, although some are trying hard to defy this!
The Bible clearly informs us that everything that we have is from God, it is not ours. We are merely guiding its flow, and our attitude to this knowledge should govern how we use the relative blessings that God has bestowed upon us, not use them to act in a superior way to those God has blessed in a different way.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the blessings that you have provided for each of your children, may our attitude be one of thankfulness and humility, recognising that ‘all things come from you and of your own do we give you’.
Matthew Ch 5 verse 43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
As I have grown older I have noticed how I used to condemn others in my mind if they showed disrespect towards me or even just didn’t behave as I thought they should do. It didn’t help and looking back I can now see that there were occasions where I could have built bridges, rather than burning them.
Jesus (and Paul) warn us against judging, and the passage above warns us not to hate, which is the kind of condemnation that often follows judgement, and also defiles us. Jesus warns us, graciously telling us what we can do to prevent making discord, in that He tells us to love our enemies and pray for them.
When we say “Our Father”, we mean Jesus’ Father, and also the Father of everyone – including the person who is against you. Surely Jesus’ words here include the implicit truth that, even though each person is unique, we all come from one source, and that just as we can easily fall on hard times, so can anyone else.
Lord of mercy and compassion, we thank you for the example set by your Son, Jesus Christ, and look to His words for your meaning, as revealed by your Holy Spirit. May we understand that even though every one of us is unique, we are all in need of healing to bring us back to you. May we take courage and learn to show mercy and compassion to others so that our lives might reflect your glory.
In the name of Christ,
Psalm 93 verse 1 & 2 ‘The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long age; you are from all eternity.’
As we consider the earth, the environment, and the amazing wonder of creation, it is good to stop and give praise and thanks to the Creator, our Heavenly Father who holds us, and all things in His care and protection. Of course, especially in these times, there is much to be concerned and take action about, regarding the plight of ecosystems, climate change, loss of species and global warming. Our first response must be to look up, acknowledge and seek God’s will and God’s answers. In response to His love in creation, we are then driven to want to care, protect and steward well the resources and environment around us. Just as we are called to love others made in His image, so we are also called to love and care for all that He has made. I end by quoting some words I heard on the radio the other day which got me thinking about these issues: ‘It is up to God to end things in His time…it is not for us to end things prematurely by our misuse and abuse of the earth’s resources and environment.’
O Lord, thank you for your amazing creation and all you give us for life and health. Help us to be loving stewards reflecting the love you first showed and demonstrated to us in Christ your son.