Thoughts 18 – 24th Feb

Thursday 18th

Genesis Ch 6 verse 9    This is the account of Noah and his family.  Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

I wonder what it takes to be accounted as righteous, blameless, and faithful?  It sounds like some sort of super Christian, a person who never does anything wrong, whose reputation amongst their peers is without reproach, and who daily follows and walks with God.  As I said, some sort of super Christian!

But as Chapter 9 reveals, Noah is as human as the rest of us and thank you God for that.  In fact, many of the significant figures in the Old Testament are found to have ‘feet of clay’ and are not quite as perfect as we can initially be led to believe, consider Moses, David, Samson, Gideon and Rahab, and that is just to start with.

So, what is it about them that merits their inclusion in the Old Testament?  Whilst having no definitive answer, I think it is down to two things.

Firstly, that when called upon by God to act they responded positively, even though they had or would ultimately reveal their human propensity to sin.  Secondly, even though that human propensity to sin was present, the intent of their hearts was to honour God and follow him.

So, recognising that our hearts too are also inclined to follow our own human desires and inclinations, do we have that intent to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God’, with the emphasis upon the word ‘first’, and to respond positively to the call of God?

Dear Lord Jesus, break me, melt me, mould me, and fill me, Spirit of the Lord fall afresh on me, that the first intention of my heart may be to seek after you.

Amen

 

Friday 19th

Mark Ch 4 verse 39    He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased and there was a dead calm.

So right now is there anything that is fighting for your attention? It could be outward circumstances like for these disciples (the wind and the sea) or it could be a load of jobs in the garden or the house.

It could just be that you don’t want to be quiet or still with your inner thoughts.

With me, it’s a combination of things. Jobs to do, tiredness etc, and then when I get the time I’ll read a book instead or listen to a podcast.

Somehow it’s hard for some of us to knuckle down and get some real peace and time with God. Silencing the noise in our lives takes a bit of time and determination! This is why we practise Lent. It’s a discipline, not to give up some token thing (although that can be good in itself) but to recentre our lives on Jesus the one who died for us and longs for us to experience his Peace, his Shalom and wholeness.

Lord Jesus Forgive us for putting you off in our lives. Give us the strength and discipline to re-center on you this Lent.

Amen

 

Saturday 20th

Psalm 36 verses 1 & 2    ‘There is no fear of God before his eyes.  For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.’

I’m sure you know many who you long to share your belief and love for God as you do.  Like me though, you wonder at their hard heart, closed attitude even, or ambivalence to possibly consider for themselves the faith you hold dear.  My prayer so often goes along the lines of ‘Come Holy Spirit…show them their need of you…break the barriers that prevent them knowing you…open their eyes to see you.’  As we continue to crave meaningful contact with others, may we not give up praying.  Praying for the world – God is Sovereign and is able to intervene and direct the course of history and hears the big as well as the small prayers we offer.  To pray for our nation – so in need of God’s transformation – He has the answers and hears the cry of our hearts.  For our community – that the Spirit of God would be at work to break down barriers, drawing men and women to God’s love in Christ.  For individuals, that Jesus would be Lord and Saviour of our lives – holding us in eternity in His love and peace.

Holy God, Sovereign in power and might.  May the love and appeal of Christ our Saviour be seen and heard in and through your church today. 

Amen.

 

Sunday 21st

Matthew Ch 7 verse 24    Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 

I appreciate straight-talking, you know where you are with straight talkers, the meaning is clear and there is no room for misunderstanding.  This is why I like the parable of the wise and foolish builders.  Within 4 verses Jesus tells this simple story and there is no chance of anyone not understanding what he is trying to say.

Most people are aware that buildings need good solid foundations, those that don’t often suffer from subsidence and can collapse.  In this verse Jesus makes use of this very fact from the world of construction, using imagery that most people would understand.

If his listeners wanted to build their lives on a solid foundation, then just hearing his words is not enough, the end result of this course of action comes in verses 26 – 27, subsidence and collapse.  A solid foundation is only produced by hearing the words of Jesus and putting them into practice, now what could be clearer than that?

Dear Lord Jesus, give us ears to hear, hearts to comprehend and understand, and faith to act, that we might be counted amongst the wise.

Amen

 

Monday 22nd

Acts Ch 3 verse 5,6 & 8    So the man gave them (Peter and John) his attention expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!  He jumped to his feet and began to walk.

I think I have a low expectation of what God can do for me and for other people.

This man had an expectation of money from Peter and John because that is what he usually got from begging every day at the temple gate (being crippled from birth).

When I pray, I am not sure deep down what I expect. Yes, I pray for all sorts of things. Jesus expects us to pray. He taught us the Lord’s prayer, but then when something unexpected happens which is way more than I thought would happen I am surprised! Why?! Can’t God do anything?

I bet this man was completely astonished to be healed. It was totally unexpected for him. Yet that is the joy of it! I bet Jesus was rejoicing in heaven at this man’s happiness. I suspect Jesus wants to surprise a lot more of us with his answers to prayer.

As we spend more time with Jesus this Lent, let’s pray for more of us to be surprised and rejoice at what he can do in our lives and in others.

Lord Jesus! Forgive us for our lack of faith. We want to have more faith. Help us in our unbelief! Surprise us this Lent!

Amen

 

Tuesday 23rd

Luke Ch 24 verse 32    And they said one to another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?’

Try to imagine that you are walking with a friend and talking about the remarkable things that have just happened including Jesus’ tomb being found empty apart from “two men stood by them in shining garments”. You both became aware of the presence of another person walking with you and later, as you recognised Him He vanished.

In the words above, these two disciples are only just recognising the effects that the presence of God had on them. Their hearts ‘burned within them’.

Have you ever wondered – how come we can miss His presence when He is with us all the time?

I think that much of what we learn is done in reflecting on what just happened and making sense of it; and that this is an entirely natural process. It certainly wasn’t taught in my school-days!

Holy Spirit, we thank you for your still, quiet voice that offers good advice. Help us to reflect on the times we didn’t get it right; so that we might feel the fire in our hearts as the love of God grows in us, and come to know the presence and peace of Christ through the practise of prayer.

Amen.

[Perhaps in considering ourselves as ‘grown up’, as do people of the world above a certain age – about 5 in my granddaughter’s case – we can easily forget that there is never-ending learning in being a disciple of Christ which means we are always a child of God.]

 

Wednesday 24th

John Ch 20 verse 29    ‘Then Jesus told him [Thomas], ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’

Do you feel ‘blessed’ today?  You should do, and are, as Jesus says here.  We are those who believe without having seen Jesus in the flesh.  Every time I read this, an excitement wells up within me; to know that we have been given the gift of faith – wow!  But then, when we think about it, this is in no way a blind faith.  We believe on account of God’s Word revealing the truth of who Jesus is, and why He came, and what He calls us to be in Him.  We believe, having been convinced by and seeing the confident, assured faith of others who have witnessed the transforming love of God touching and guiding their lives.  We believe because as we encounter, hear and understand; we begin to experience the touch of God in our own lives.  It may be a gentle nudging of the Spirit of God, it may be a sudden realisation that Jesus is calling us, it may be a gradual warming of our hearts to the sense of God’s presence always there, never leaving us, forever holding us close.

Lord Jesus, Lord of all, thank you for showing us your love and for drawing us to your truth and light.  Please bless the serve and sacrifice of so many in our own neighbourhood who daily do so much to bring relief, friendship and help to those in need.

 Amen.