Isaiah Ch 52 verse 7 ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’’
Today, I want to thank God for each of you – we are all made in God’s image, called to know and love Him and sent to radiate His love to those He places around us. This is a challenge I know – but it begins by realising how much God loves us and has blessed us. As we understand the riches of His grace to each of us, we then begin to feel prompted to give it away to those who haven’t yet heard, seen or felt this love from God our Father. So in whatever ways God calls us to ‘bring’ and ‘proclaim’ His good news – let us do it all knowing that our ‘God reigns’ and that we all have a part to play in giving His love away.
O Lord, give us a smile for others, a heart of love for others and a willing spirit to follow as you lead us today.
Proverbs Ch 11 verse 1 A false balance is an abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.
If there is one thing in life that I hate then it is dishonesty, and one thing that I appreciate then it is honesty. On many occasions’ honesty can be painful, such as when we have to confess our failings or make good on something we know that we have done wrong. There are also those occasions when we know that we have to speak up for what is right even though we know that it will strain our relationships with others.
There is a verse in the book of Proverbs that says, ‘faithful are the wounds of a friend’, or in our vernacular, a true friend who tells you some home truths is worthwhile listening to! We might add and put into practice.
No matter how we try to explain it dishonesty is a sin, and even though we have the habit of grading sin, from little to big, God does no such thing.
How many times have we experienced or seen a small act of dishonesty, or deviation from the truth, having huge consequences that were never considered when the original act was carried out? A French schoolgirl has recently admitted spreading false claims about a teacher in October 2020, subsequently, her father began a legal complaint and a social media campaign against him. A few days later the teacher, Samuel Paty, was killed and beheaded.
This verse says it clearly, dishonesty is an abomination to God, not a little sin, but acting justly gives him delight.
Dear Lord Jesus, may we bring you delight by choosing the path of honesty and integrity in all that we do and say.
1 Corinthians Ch 15 verse 20 ‘But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.’
What an inspiring declaration of faith; and all based on the eye witness of all those listed in the earlier verses – all to whom Jesus had appeared after He was raised on that first Easter Sunday. Verse 5 onwards speaks of Him appearing to the disciples and then to ‘more than five hundred of the brothers’ (verse 6). Paul goes on to say how Jesus appeared to James, then to all the apostles and last of all He appeared to me also…’ (verse 7) This is so important for us to get a handle on – just how many saw the risen Christ in the days after the Crucifixion. May we encounter, journey with and be witnesses today of our risen, glorified Lord. Part of our story, therefore, becomes the telling to others of our receiving His life, and what a difference knowing Him makes to our daily lives.
Lord Jesus, thank you for knowing me and walking with me. I welcome you afresh and pray you would reveal yourself to those who are seeking you today.
James Ch 1 verse 12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has [m]been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Perseverance is a word that to my mind implies effort under pressure. We generally don’t use the word when talking of those things that are easy or pleasurable. For example, I have never used the word in relation to a holiday, to the reading of a good book, or a nice pint of IPA.
We usually have to persevere at those things that are either difficult or that we don’t enjoy. Well in this case what is having to be persevered is a trial, what that trial is we are not told, but it is not important, it is the principle that matters. A trial can take many shapes, it may be a health issue, a difficult individual, challenging circumstances, suffering a wrong, persecution etc.
Whatever it is we face James exhorts the reader to keep going, to persevere, to continue to put in the effort even under the pressure that we may face. This is often whilst having to act in silence, without publicising the difficulties we are confronting, whilst calling out to God for help.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that perseverance produces character and hope. In other words, difficult situations are often the making of us, as they form and mould us. As Christians, our responses to trials help mould us into the likeness of Christ and as important as anything help to give us an eternal perspective.
Dear Lord Jesus, may our responses to the trials of life produce fruit that moulds us, so that in word and action we may be more like you.
Psalm 22 verse 22 ‘I will declare your name to my brothers, in the congregation I will praise you.’
I’m sure we all know, even if it has become a distant memory, of the joy and uplift we all receive through meeting together. It has been good to be able to re-start worship services again in Church for example, but we still have a long way to go before we truly feel a ‘congregation’ again. Verse 25 also says: ‘From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly.’ I know also how it doesn’t feel as it once did – no full singing – no full sharing of the peace – no full communion…I hope though that these verses encourage us not to lose heart. We do need each other. In Hebrews Chapter 10 it says…’let us not give up meeting together…’ We are not meant to be in isolation. God has given us families, friends and fellowship – for a reason. May we be encouraged to do all we can to remain in unity, building one another up and meeting together in the name of Him who loves us: so that the world may see and witness the love He offers and which we share one with another.
O Lord, have mercy – please build your Church. We pray now for the person you have chosen to work alongside us all especially in the Children and Families ministry.
Galatians Ch 5 verses 22 & 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,3 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The fruit that is referred to here is that which is produced by us as followers of Jesus. As followers of Jesus, those who have chosen to put their faith and trust in him, the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us, and Paul makes it clear that there should be evidence of that. He chooses to refer to that evidence as fruit.
Having read this verse many times it seems to me that Paul is actually referring to the fruit of the Spirit as being love and that the outworking of that love is expressed through the way that we live our lives. Through forgiving, being gentle and kind, showing self-control and being people of peace, etc.
We have all heard the saying about ‘talking the talk and walking the walk’. Well, it is easy to talk about being a follower of Jesus, but much more difficult to actually walk in his footsteps and live the life of a disciple. ‘Walking the walk’, is very much about living fruitful lives and expressing these fruits in our daily walk in the world, whilst responding to others in the ways that are in this verse.
Dear Lord Jesus, help us to be led by the Spirit and produce fruits that are evidence of our love for you and for others.
Exodus Chapter 15 verses 1-21
Verse 2: ‘The Lord is my strength and my might, and He has become my salvation…’
These words, in praise and thanks to God their redeemer, were sung by Moses and Israel having just witnessed the mighty, liberating acts of Almighty God: not only had God sent the ten plagues in judgement upon Egypt, but He had finally parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross safely to freedom away from the Egyptians who had enslaved and were pursuing them.
Passages in the Old Testament such as this one can often help us when we struggle to find the words to pray. We can read these verses and echo them as a prayer of praise in our own hearts to God our Father. This is the same God who we worship, and who chose ultimately and all powerfully through the work of Jesus on the cross to make a way for us to approach Him with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16)
Perhaps today we can read these verses again (1-21) and make this a prayer of praise and worship to our Holy and loving God. He is our Father who has revealed Himself through Israel, but supremely He has shown His love through the person of Jesus Christ, His Son our Lord.