John Ch 12 verse 1 ‘Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.’
There is so much to notice in this account of Jesus returning to Martha, Mary and Lazarus. There must have been gratitude and thankfulness in their hearts towards Jesus not only for the miracle of Lazarus being raised, but also that Jesus Himself, in whom they believed and trusted, was again with them. The hospitality that they were showing Jesus and His followers was perhaps a common sight as many were glad to welcome this miracle worker, this prophet: ‘this Christ, the Son of God’ – as Martha had declared to Him earlier in her acclamation of faith. But then our attention is drawn to Mary pouring the expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet in verse 3. She may have thought little of it. This may have been her natural way of showing her adoration to Jesus who meant so much and was her world – and who would soon turn it upside down in the events to come later in Jerusalem that first Easter. This act of compassion though was highlighted by Jesus even though Judas objected strongly.
We will always have ‘nay-sayers’ around us – like Judas in this account; but God will take the seemingly insignificant offerings we bring and use them for His glory and praise. Let’s keep on giving, serving and loving!
O Lord, we dedicate our way to you today. Praying now for all who mourn, for all in need or sick or lonely.
Titus Ch 3 verse 8 “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.“
It is amazing how when the occasion offers itself, non-Christians remind us that we are supposed to be pursuers of whatever is good. This is often to their gain and our loss! But there is an expectancy that as followers of Jesus we will be doers and pursuers of good. This verse shows them to be correct by using various words and phrases to support the argument.
Paul says that it is a ’trustworthy saying’ that he wants to ‘stress’, and that the doing of good is ’excellent and profitable for everyone’. But this is not just doing good as a decent citizen, but rather our doing good is to be an outworking of our trust in God. These are not just some cursory occasional acts of goodness, but are actions born out of our devotion to doing good, which in turn are the fruits of our trusting in God.
Down through the centuries, Christians have witnessed to their faith in Jesus by their actions, many of them charitable. We as the body of Christ here today are called upon and challenged to follow in the same footmarks of previous generations of believers. To be good news and to be devoted to doing what is good, are some of those footmarks that witness to the love of God that we have experienced.
Dear Lord Jesus, I pray that we might not just be doers of good things, but that we might be transformed by your Spirit into people who are devoted to pursuing good for the whole of society.
Psalm 82 verses 6 – 7 “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”
John Ch 3 verse 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Have you ever noticed you seem to have difficulty in breaking out of old habits? Myself, I notice that just when I thought I was getting it right, I went and did that thing I was trying to avoid.
During this period of lent, I guess anyone who gives up anything will notice they are at times being tempted. If you have ever tried to stop whatever you know is not a good idea, you will probably also have felt the same as I did – powerless or trapped.
At such times, it might often happen that you then go on to imagine you are a weak person, feel guilt, shame and give yourself all kinds of negative attributes. These are false identities though, which are snares because we then try to maintain them and in sorrow and victimhood too!
What a mess we are in if that is the case, but those negative voices are spoken by the accuser who is a liar. Of course, God is saying that for us to be like our manufactured image is not the destiny He has for us.
God of power and light, you give us freedom to live through the gifts of peace and true vision that we receive in your Holy Spirit. Thank you that because of your son, Jesus Christ, all we need to do to be saved from entrapment in habitual existence, is to believe in Christ and accept your Word.
Isaiah Ch 11 verse 10 ‘In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him, and His place of rest will be glorious.’
As we read this today, I picture you and I, perhaps sitting on our own bringing our focus towards God. I hope and pray we may encourage one another as we read this verse; to remember we are not actually on our own. As we praise and follow in God’s way, we are part of a great company of the children of God. Imagine the church locally, nationally, globally. All together under the banner of the cross of Christ, reminding us that He is our Lord and Saviour, and we together in the unity of the Spirit are one in God’s family. As the verse directs us towards, let us also be hopeful as we are all one day in Him to enter into His presence and eternal rest, as have all those who have died in faith. So as we sit alone in our homes, may we be reminded that we are not on our own; as long as we remain in Him and continue faithfully to follow and abide in His great love for us.
O Lord, call us, draw us, unite us in your amazing love. May that same love save and bring new life and hope to all who are lost, and for whom we pray now.
Mark Ch 9 verse 29 “And he said unto them, this kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”
If only the Church of Jesus Christ could fully understand the power, influence, and importance of prayer then we would see a different Church to the one we have currently experienced.
The Church I became a Christian in had a weekly prayer meeting where about 35 – 40 people gathered every Tuesday evening to pray for about 50 minutes. It was where I really learned to pray, there was no chatting or expressing of opinions, just 50 minutes of prayer. One after another people stood up and prayed, praising God and bringing the needs of the world before him. It was a Church where things happened, people came to faith and there was a tremendous sense of life and joy present.
After some years, the prayer meeting was closed down and home groups were started instead, over the next 2 years things changed and the Church was never the same, it lost its sense of power and influence. It was not deliberate, the change was meant to help the Church to grow, but it had the opposite effect.
Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus taking time out to pray, going off alone into the hills. If the Son of God needed to take time out to pray, to recharge his spiritual batteries to fulfill his earthly mission, then how much more do we need to do the same, and yet prayer is the most neglected Christian activity.
As Jesus says, ‘by nothing, but by prayer and fasting’, there is no short cut!
Dear Lord Jesus, help us to train our minds and to still our hearts that we might meet with you in prayer, and see your influence at work in us and through us to your glory.
Psalm 18 verse 2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation.”
When you think of a fortress what comes to mind. Do you think of a Welsh castle that is more of a ruin than still standing/ Do you think of Bamburgh Castle which still has quite a bit to look round? Do you think of an American-style fortress, built of timber in the Wild West?
When it comes to rocks do you think rocks at the coast are battered by the waves? Or maybe Ayer’s rock in Australia which is of such significance to the indigenous people.
Perhaps it depends on your experience of where you have been or what you have seen on television.
I tend to think of rocks at the coast which are bashed by the waves but still remain. Of course over years they will erode and wear, but for the purposes of an image, they are strong and firm. That is why many lighthouses are built on rock. It’s why in the Gospel parable we are recommended to build on firm rock and not sinking sand.
We are reminded in this verse that the Lord is all these things but then he changes it to MY God is all these things. It is personal. God is our everything and if you are in times of trouble and torment at the moment remember God is YOUR rock and he is YOUR fortress and YOUR deliverer.
Father God, our rock and our salvation, enable us to take refuge in you and seek your solace, comfort and protection.
Matthew Ch 13 verse 54 ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’
Here we see Jesus returning to His home town, teaching in the synagogue there. The peoples’ question above is answered in Isaiah 11 where the prophet speaks of a Branch rising from the stump of Jesse (verse 1): ‘The Spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…’ (verse 2)
Here we glimpse the Trinity at work: the Father sending the Son, full of the power of the Spirit. Through the coming of this Jesus, salvation is brought near to mankind. This same Spirit is at work in us too who follow as Christ’s disciples. He gives us also that wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge; the fear of God and His power to bear witness through our lives His saving grace and mercy.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Help us to testify through our life’s story; and may the story of God’s love in Christ draw the lost to your eternal welcome.