Thoughts 25th Feb – 3rd Mar

Thursday 25th

John Ch 3 verse 30    ‘He must become greater; I must become less.’

Here John the Baptist is describing how he was not the Christ, but came to prepare the way for the Christ.  In chapter 1 John said; ‘the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’  How easy it would have been for John to revel in the crowds coming to him for baptism.  How easy it could have been for him to capitalise on this ‘success’ and forget the role he was actually called to perform and fulfill – as Isaiah prophesied: ‘I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘make straight the way for the Lord.’ (John 1: 23)  May this be a constant reminder for us that all of our prayers, acts of love and generosity and also our words should all be given to point others to this same Jesus, who is alive and lives in us who believe; that others might also believe and know.

Jesus, more of you we pray.  In your church, in our lives and in the lives of those we pray for today.  Jesus be seen in all we do. 

Amen.

 

Friday 26th

John Ch 2 verse 11    What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Have you ever asked yourself what was the purpose of the miracles that Jesus performed? Undoubtedly those that were healed, or those who received a physical benefit, being fed for example, obtained a tangible assistance and help, but what about others?

This verse taken from the story of Jesus turning water into wine reveals what their true purpose was.

Firstly, they revealed ‘his glory’, or maybe his divinity, they made him stand out as someone who was different, as someone who people took notice of.  This ultimately was his downfall, but it also made him the focal point of crowds who then listened to his teachings.  They revealed him as the one who had been spoken of throughout the Old Testament, the Messiah, even though so many failed to understand this.

Secondly, these signs prompted a response, his disciples and ultimately others believed in him.  This belief in him was central to the incarnation.  In Acts Ch 16 v 31, Paul and Silas say to their jailer, ‘“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’.  Thus, belief in Jesus, however simple is the key to salvation.

These signs were not just gimmicks but were intrinsic to the ministry of Jesus on this earth.

Dear Lord Jesus, may our lives be signs that reveal your glory and point others to believe in you.

Amen

 

Saturday 27th

Psalm 38: verse 1    ‘O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.’

I guess none of us like the thought of correction or discipline.   Does it bring back memories of being on the wrong side of the law…perhaps in school days or growing up knowing you have to face your parents or elders when your actions have caught up with you!  As we journey through Lent, maybe we can be attentive to areas of our lives our loving Heavenly Father may be wanting to challenge us about.  As we listen, it’s good to remember not to fear His correction – because He does love us and has forgiven us through the Son.  Correction and discipline are for our benefit; that we may grow in faith and maturity, even if it may be hard to receive at the time.  Let’s also remember these words from 1 John 4: 18: ‘There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…’

O Father, thank you for making forgiveness possible through your Son who gave Himself for us.  Help us to listen attentively to your voice and the cry for help from those in need around us.

 Amen.

 

Sunday 28th

Exodus Ch verse 14    God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you'”

John Ch 8 verse 58    “Truly, truly, I tell you,” Jesus declared, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

If you have ever found yourself in a situation where you could not keep your cool, where you came away from whatever happened with a sense that you felt uncomfortable; my friend, you are not alone!

We live in challenging times, as always, in a world that others have made in their clamour for power outside of God and over others, but also, isn’t it true that situations arise that demand something that is beyond us?

In the verses above, we get an idea of God’s unchangeable nature and in contrast, our inability to match this. Perhaps feeling discomfort is also part of the process of becoming nearer to Christ though, as it leads us to ‘ponder anew’ and to learn: if that is true, then feeling uncomfortable is entirely natural at times, and nothing to get upset about.

Thank you, Father, that we are made your children in your image. Let us not deceive ourselves or anyone else as to our true nature, which comes from you. For you chose us out of the world to be yours and your words remind us that when we say “I am”, this is your name we carry. Help us to love you and accept your unchanging Truth so that in time, we might be transformed again and again, according to your will.

Amen.

 

Monday 1st

Matthew Ch 12 verses 33 – 34    Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 

This verse makes it clear that we cannot hide what we are genuinely like, ultimately the reality of who we are will spill out.  If our hearts are selfish and for ourselves, then that is what will come out, alternatively if we are truly ‘seeking first the kingdom of God’ then this will be the motivation that will drive our actions.

As Christians, we can get awfully caught up in the ‘activities’ of the Church, in just keeping the building, services and ministries going.  The problem can be that in maintaining what is already going on we can miss out on just being worshippers, just coming to be with God alongside others.

Our primary calling as Christians is not to do things, however good they may be, but it is to share intimacy with God because everything we do should flow out of that intimacy, which results in it being done for the right reason. 

The heart that is full of love for God and our neighbours will inform a mouth that speaks accordingly, a mouth that overflows with praise and thanksgiving, and desires to produce good fruit.

Dear Lord Jesus, may we make time just to be with you, with no agenda and no prayer list.  Just to spend a few minutes in your presence and allowing you to fill our hearts with your agenda.

Amen

 

Tuesday 2nd

Ephesians Ch 1 verse 16    I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

How’s Lent going so far? Have you given up anything? Have you managed to keep it up?

Have you decided to do something every day? Are you still doing it? I am trying to litter pick as often as possible. Also, I am praying a particular prayer for someone at work.

Lent promises can be hard to keep so well done so far!

Paul in this verse is doing something every day not because it is Lent but because of his love for people who have become followers of Jesus.

He says he has ‘not stopped’ giving thanks for the Ephesians and he remembers them in prayer. That’s quite something, isn’t it? Paul is a hard act to follow but he is also an inspiration.

Perhaps during Lent, we could be thankful for someone or something each day. That might then lead you to pray for that person or situation.

Remember too that we are looking for God to surprise us with answered prayers during Lent. I am hoping too that the person I am praying about at work will have an answered prayer that will surprise everyone!

Lord Jesus thank you for Paul’s example of unceasing thanks and prayer. Enable us to be thankful and prayerful each day.

Amen.

 

Wednesday 3rd

Ephesians Ch 3 verse 20    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

St Paul’s confidence in God is nothing less than remarkable, but when we take time to look on the reasons for that confidence it is apparent that it was based upon his past experiences.

From the Damascus Road and his conversion from persecutor to believer, to being jailed, and to being stoned and left for dead, Paul lived out his faith.  He faced the challenges that came his way by looking to God for the answers, he never trusted in his own abilities, or of those around him.  The result was that he experienced extraordinary events [read the book of Acts from Ch 9 onwards] which reinforced his trust and confidence in God.

Many years ago a speaker once said these words, ‘a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument’, these are words that I have used in many a conversation about faith.  For Paul they were words that moulded his life, his personal experience of God destroyed any argument that was formed against him.

It meant that he recognised that God was ‘able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine’.  Just ponder those words, ‘more than we can ask or imagine’, beyond our wildest imaginations God can act and do!

This is the God who came in human form, died on a cross, ascended back to heaven and invites us into his family.  No wonder Paul had confidence, he knew that this God was working his purposes out, and that nothing could get in the way, and that all he had to do was trust him.

Dear Lord Jesus, root our faith in you in our hearts, give us confidence that as we look back at your actions in history, we may trust you for the future.

Amen