Thoughts 1st – 7th April

Thursday 1st

Colossians Ch 1 verse 5    ‘the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven…’

Paul here at the start of his letter to the Colossians, is giving thanks for them as he prays for them.  He is especially thankful for their faith in Christ and their love for their fellow believers.  I wonder what more special a prayer we may find than this with which we could pray for each other as we remember one another in our prayers.

As we journey on, following our Easter Day celebrations, the verse above reminds us that we have so much to be hopeful for.  As for all those we miss but who have died in faith, we are a people yes of faith and love; but also of great hope.  We are looking forward to all that Jesus has gone ahead to prepare for those who love Him.  So as we bear witness and as we pray for one another – may His faith, love and hope be the hallmarks of His eternal life in and ahead of each of us.

O Lord Jesus, thank you that you have shown us the way to the Father.  Keep us prayerful for each other and for the needy world around us.

 Amen.

Friday 2nd

Mark Ch 15 verses 15, 17, 19,20    Pilate had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. They put a purple robe on Him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on Him. Again and again, they struck him on the head with a staff and spat on Him. Falling on their knees they paid homage to Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on Him. Then they led him out to crucify Him.

I have been thinking about Jesus’ suffering and injuries prior to His death. This is because I have self-inflicted injuries due to my obsession with litter picking. (Ps I am not comparing my suffering with Jesus by the way… they just led me to think about His)

Last night I couldn’t sleep well because of numerous nettle stings and scratches from thorns. In the end, I got up and took some antihistamines and painkillers!! This is because I was litter picking flood line litter at the river Dearne’s edge. Lots of brambles and nettles present while trying to get people’s rubbish and stop it heading out to sea!

To me, litter is a sign of people’s general sinfulness and throw away culture, along with anyone privately or in authority unwilling to take responsibility.

This led me to think of Jesus’ sufferings because he came into this world to deal with the whole world’s sin! Apart from when I watched The Passion, a good number of years ago now, I had not dwelt on His sufferings in any meaningful way.

His physical suffering was just as awful as His mental suffering at feeling abandoned by His Father God.

His suffering was for me, for you and for everyone out there, good and bad alike.

Lord Jesus thank you that you suffered for us. That you suffered so that we could know you and your love and forgiveness in our lives. Help us never to take that for granted. Enable us in some way to spread that love and forgiveness in our daily lives.

Amen

Saturday 3rd

Mark Ch 15 v 21    A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.”

Simon of Cyrene, a man to the best of my knowledge mentioned in no other place in the New Testament, is suddenly thrust into a role for which unbeknown to him he would be forever famous.  He was just passing by coming in from the country and he finds that he is centre stage in one of the great dramas of history.

Upon reaching Golgotha the cross is taken from him and Jesus is crucified, and he disappears into the oblivion from which he came, probably unaware of the significance of his role.

Simon is one of the first of many to have played a part in the story of the Christian faith and then disappeared from the scene.  Many have said and done things that have furthered the cause of Christianity but are unknown to us, as their deeds are unrecorded.  Many have truly died to self, made great sacrifices and some have even given their lives, in the pursuit of telling others of the events of that first Easter.

We are part of that same story today; we are called to play our part no matter how insignificant we might think that is.  We are called to carry our own cross into this world to witness to the one who died on the cross of Calvary for our redemption.  Our names may not be noted, but the call to be witnesses, as were those 1st century disciples, is no less important.

Dear Lord Jesus, although we may be unknown to this world, may we be known to you as faithful witnesses, whose words and actions bear testimony to the events in which Simon played his part.

Amen

Sunday 4th

John Ch 11 verse  43 & 44    ‘Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.’

What an incredible, clear and powerful physical demonstration of Jesus’ authority over life and death itself.  Here He is seen raising His friend to life after he had been dead for four days and placed in a tomb.  Clearly, Lazarus would die a physical death again later, perhaps years later.  But what this event also points us all forward towards, is Jesus’ final act of sacrifice, giving Himself up to death, so that all who follow Him might also be raised up with Him into the Father’s presence as He was gloriously raised on the third day.  As Martha, Lazarus’ sister boldly declared by faith in verse 24 … so can we also boldly proclaim as we await the glorious and victorious Easter hope:  ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’

O Lord, keep our eyes on you and on the hope to which you have called us heavenward.  We pray today for daily hope for those in need of food, shelter, clothing, jobs, safety and most of all to know that you love them unconditionally.  Amen.

Monday 5th

Genesis Ch 1 verse 26    “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'”

How many people do you know who suffer from poor self-esteem? Perhaps you are one of them. I certainly do pick up that this is an ongoing problem that is prevalent in the world and is linked to depression and anxiety too. Somehow, and at some point in our early life, most of us have tried to get a ‘fix’ on what kind of person we are – and therein lies a trap.

Let me ask you, have you ever seen your self? Have you ever seen anyone else’s self? I can predict the answer. To cut a long story short, we seem to create an image of who we think we are, which seems natural after all if we are like our maker – creative. But then what do we do with it? We talk to it, we blame it, we are at times cross with it, or even feel sorry for it; but it’s a man-made image and I say it is a trap because it is not who we really are.

As a counsellor I am forever pointing out to people that, despite their ideas of being this or that, they are actually different every day. As a disciple of Christ, I also know that being tied to a false image means we cannot taste the delicious freedom to be that which His divine majesty commands in His incomparable wisdom.

Lord, the light of mankind, show us that the only way for us to live is to take on The Christ; that accepting the Son, the image of the Father, we are created and configured according to your design and purpose. You intend us to rule the earth for you. Let us recognize that in order to keep your Word in a changing world, we need your transfiguration. May you make your face to shine upon us, so that, participating in you, our very lives become a witness to your heavenly glory.

Amen.

Tuesday 6th

Mark Ch 16 verse 2    Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”’

Human beings are very practical, even when there are great emergencies we still manage to hold onto that practical aspect.  As the women approach the tomb, they find themselves discussing a very real and practical problem.  The tomb had a large stone rolled in front of the entrance, obviously one too large for them to imagine that they could move.  Hence their question to one another, ‘who will roll the stone away’’?  A very reasonable question if they were to fulfill their plan of anointing the body of Jesus.  But moving the stone was not their job, their job was to anoint the body of Jesus.

But thankfully when they arrive the large stone has already been moved, and they were able to enter.

How many times in life do we put up barriers to doing things for God? Or to doing things in Church?  There are often very real and practical reasons for our reticence, and so we recoil at actually doing anything.  Imagine if those women had decided that it was not worth going to the tomb because the stone would restrict their entry?  It would have been a different story, as a different group of people would have come upon the tomb, because ultimately the purposes of God would not have been ruined because of human doubts and anxieties.

Maybe that is what we need to consider the next time that we encounter a problem or an issue that we might have the opportunity to be part of the answer to.  Not thinking well there is that problem, I have no experience in that area, I’ve never done that before, or that’s the Vicars job!

God’s purposes will not be diverted or become ineffectual because we do not act, no, he will simply use someone else.  So next time a stone needs moving, even a big heavy one, don’t say ‘Who will roll the stone away’, but rather ‘if God gets the stone moved, I will then play my part’, because we all have a part to play.

Dear Lord Jesus, help each of us not to put up barriers but to look at the opportunities to grow our faith by responding to the challenges of being faithful witnesses.

Amen

Wednesday 7th

Galatians 6: 14    ‘May I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…’

Paul here is urging his readers not to fall prey to those who were telling them they had to be circumcised in accordance with the law of the Old Covenant.  In verse 15 he goes on to say …’what counts is a new creation!’  In other words, he wants them to be reminded that they are free in Christ, saved by grace and should rejoice in the freedom faith in Jesus has brought them.  They, as for us and all who follow as Christ’s disciples, are people of the New Covenant.  Especially for Gentiles, as the Galatians and I guess all of us are, we have much to be thankful for:  that the Good News spoken, enacted and empowered by Jesus that first Easter is for all people.  Let us give thanks and boast all the more on the Cross of Christ and on nothing else.

Lord, thank you for saving us totally, 100%, on the Cross.  May we live and be pointers to others of the freedom we have in you alone. 

Amen.