Here are the final Thoughts for the Week that we started very early into the first lockdown last year.
Many thanks to Charles, Beth, Mike & Josie who have all contributed over the past 58 weeks.
From this coming Sunday, there will be a Thought for the Week in the Pew Sheet.
Thought for the Day, Commencing April 29th 2021
Isaiah Ch 57 verse 15 ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’
On Sunday at 8.30 am, we were thinking about ‘Contrasts’ especially looking at how Jesus left His heavenly home, in all its glory and splendour; to then live and suffer amongst sinful men. The verse above also points out a similar contrast: between God’s heavenly home, and also the offer He gives us all, made possible through the Son’s work of salvation, of making His home in our hearts. Of course, it seems impossible to think of God’s willingness and love for us to firstly want to do that – and secondly to have made a way for it to happen in and through Christ. But He has! Looking next at us; the psalmist shows us what’s required of us – to be contrite and lowly. Similar words would be humility and openness to the call and welcome God gives us in His Son. So let us give thanks for God’s presence with us today, wholly undeserved but freely given to us because of His love for us.
Lord, today we pray for those trying to restore livelihoods, work premises and businesses. Help us all navigate safely the changes slowly happening so we may both flourish and also safeguard health.
1 Corinthians Ch 15 verse 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I recently said in the Thursday morning service, that I think about death quite a lot. I think it has something to do with getting older, and the loss of my mother alongside the gradual deterioration of my father’s health. I recognise so much more that death is all around us, in nature, in our personal relationships, in the numerous cemeteries around the nation, and most poignantly in our own bodies.
That phrase, ‘in the midst of life we are in death’, rings truer and truer as I journey through my sixtieth year, and particularly as I look back at the friends and relatives who have died.
There is a finality to death that means that it is painful for those who remain, there is a sting, as it seems as if death is victorious. But here Paul challenges both those points because Jesus has risen from the dead the sting of death has been removed because there is no victory for death anymore. The resurrection means that death is not final, it might end our earthly life through the death of this mortal body, but it opens the door to us receiving a ‘spiritual body’ as we are resurrected with Christ at his second coming.
Note the word body, we do not return as disembodied spirits, angelic wraiths spending eternity drifting on clouds around the universe. The Bible talks of a new heaven and a new earth where we will dwell with Christ. It is for this reason that death has no sting, the grave has no victory, and we are people of hope and not despair.
Dear Lord Jesus, as we see the deterioration of the world around us that results in death, may we also see the new life that springs up as the seed once sown breaks forth from that death. Take away the fear of death and let your Spirit shine through us that we might be people of hope.
Psalm 111 verse 5 ‘He remembers His covenant for ever.’
This is the God we serve, who is Holy, trustworthy and pure. This verse gives us such reassurance; that the new and living way – the New Covenant – to the Father, enabled by the Son, is sure and steadfast. As this verse says, it is …’for ever’. It is an eternal covenant and God’s Holy Word testifies that …’He remembers’ it for eternity. Verse 9 in the psalm again emphasises this fact …’He ordained His covenant for ever’. Better than a friend’s promise; better than a legal document; better than an inscription on a memorial or plaque. This covenant demonstrates the vast compassionate love God has for each of us. And it has been sealed and made possible by the precious life of the Son, given on the Cross for us all. Hallelujah.
Lord, we pray for all planning weddings in the coming months especially here in Wath Church. We pray that they may come to know your covenant love for themselves.
1 Corinthians Ch 16 verse 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
Here is a verse that is all-encompassing, there is no way around it, no get-out clause. Behind everything that we do the motivation should be love. This can sound a bit wishy-washy and vague, but in reality, the opposite is true.
If God is love, not just loving but in essence is love, then as those in whom the Spirit of God dwells love should be intrinsic to who we are. In other words, being loving is not just something that we do, but as disciples of Christ in whom his new life is present, love is part of our DNA. As part of our DNA love cannot be separated from who we are as humans, and as Christians, it cannot be separated from what we do and how we live.
Unfortunately, there are times when I do not feel like behaving in a loving way, even though I know that I should, why, because I am still a sinner who is susceptible to his own base desires, many of them that are not loving. I am like most of us, a work in progress!
This is probably why Paul reminds his readers of their responsibility to do everything out of love. Sometimes it is good to be reminded of what we already know.
Dear Lord Jesus, I pray that the love of God that resides within us may flow out of our very pores, that the world around us may be touched by it.
This short Psalm (just 8 verses!) speaks of Assurance, and in particular of assurance of God’s protection. The word Assurance brings to mind the Hymn ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory Divine’. There is something precious, immovable and solid about assurance of faith which is a gift of God as we grow, and learn to trust Him through thick and thin.
Verse 1 says: ‘Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.’ Assurance in prayer is knowing that wherever, whenever; God hears us, knows us and loves us. It doesn’t have to be in words outspoken, but it can be the cry of the heart, our thoughts, sighs and mutterings guided by the Holy Spirit which God hears and listens to.
Verse 3 states: ‘for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy’. Assurance is also knowing that God is our refuge and help. He doesn’t just shield and protect us, but He also helps us and wants to prosper us.
Verse 4 says: ‘Let me abide in your tent for ever’ Assurance is knowing that nothing can take us away from His love: may we abide and know for sure that God’s presence is with us today in and through the love of Jesus-‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine’.
Lord, we thank you for the lives of those who have died in faith and whose loss we feel at this time. We pray Lord Jesus that you would be near to our loved ones near and far. May we grow in Assurance of faith as we trust in you.
Luke Ch 16 verse 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
This verse comes at the end of the story that Jesus told about a rich man and the poor man Lazarus, who both die and find themselves in different places, Hades, and in the arms of Abraham. Upon the rich man’s request to send word to his 5 brothers to warn them, Abraham responds with the words of this verse, which as we all know became a reality.
The books of Moses [the first 5 books of the Bible] and the Prophets formed a large and important part of the Old Testament, and it is to these that Jesus is alluding to in this story. He is making the point that if those who read and studied these books were not persuaded by them, then nothing would convince them, not even if someone rose from the dead, as he ultimately did.
That last fact means that there is a certain irony to this verse, because don’t forget Luke’s Gospel was written some years after the resurrection, and he was writing to other believers who knew of the event.
We should also be reminded that if there were those who knew the Old Testament, and were around at the time of the resurrection, and yet still did not believe, then we should not be surprised at the apathy that we often receive in telling the same story.
As I said in a recent sermon, it was not information that transformed the lives of those 1stcentury disciples, but revelation, as the risen Christ revealed himself to them. It is our personal experiences of the risen Christ that will ultimately prove to be the more powerful witness to those who do not believe, than any information.
Dear Lord Jesus, reveal yourself to those around us as our lives witness to the powerful transforming impact you continue to have on us, even today.
Deuteronomy Ch 8 verse 3 ‘to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.’
As we may recall, Jesus Himself used these words to rebut Satan when He was being tempted in the wilderness at the start of His earthly ministry. Jesus was of course hungry having spent 40 days in the desert, and the temptation was very real. Here in Deuteronomy, Israel is being reminded that even in their hunger whilst roaming the desert for 40 years after being freed from slavery in Egypt; God was humbling them, testing them and calling them to follow His commandments and worship Him only. God was faithful to them then, feeding them with Manna from heaven. Jesus was faithful before His Father on earth and remained sinless, defeating Satan and fulfilling God’s mission for Him on earth. We too are called to trust and follow Christ who has freed us from slavery to sin; to be likewise humble before God and walk in His ways. Just as Jesus depended on God’s life-giving Word, so must we in order to be fed spiritually and to withstand evil in our day.
Mighty God, we pray that light would triumph over darkness and that Christ’s reign would glorify you through your people here in Wath.