Psalm 27: 1-14 Verse 4: ‘One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…’
Our special place of worship is a very treasured building. It is the focus of key life events in so many families’ lives and has drawn and bourne witness to the Christian Gospel down the ages. It is hard for all of us not meeting there as the church of God. It forms a big part of our story, telling others and sharing the love of Christ to the glory of God in this generation.
This time of not meeting within its walls however can also help us let go just a little bit from holding too tightly to the tradition of ‘doing Church’, and rather remember that we have an eternal home which cannot fade. God’s presence is always with us wherever we are and He dwells within us when we turn to Him by faith. He is closer than close.
Lord, thank you that you never turn us away but welcome us into your kingdom through Jesus your Son. We pray today for all who are seeking financial or material help to get through these uncertain times. May they find security and provision for their needs.
James Ch 4 verses 3-15 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we go to this city……………Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. You are a mist that appears for a while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this”
Very stark and down to earth words from James aren’t they? And very apt for our time. Of course as we remember from looking at James a couple of weeks ago the disciples lives were very uncertain at the time of writing and they were in severe danger of persecution and death.
We have a lovely pair of blackbirds in our garden who are very tame especially the female one. They have had a tough time. They made a nest in our ivy and after hatching several chicks only one survived to leave the nest due to the shortage of worms, after a month or so without rain. Every time we went out they would approach us for food and they still do now.
And now I notice they are starting again building a nest this time a little further down the garden. They cheer me up every time I see them and I feel concerned for them and their future. They are entirely dependant on the weather, food availability etc and they do not know what tomorrow will bring. But they do have me looking over them!!
I am not saying we are like blackbirds but although our lives are fragile, and we do not know what tomorrow will bring especially as the lockdown is gradually being lifted we do have our loving heavenly Father looking out for us and that is very special and will sustain us as we move forward into the future.
Thank you Father God that you are our past, present and future.
Psalm 23 verse 4 I will fear no evil for you are with me.
Fear has the ability to incapacitate us, to prevent us living a normal life. It is a very strong emotion that all of us will have felt at some time in our lives, in fact some even enjoy the feeling & read books and watch films that provoke it. But in normal situations it is not enjoyable, and makes us wary and anxious in the midst of the situation we are in.
But David states that knowing the presence of God with him is the antidote to fear, that when God is with him, he will not fear evil. He is not just saying that he does not fear anything, but specifically he will not fear evil. Evil is a strong word and evokes ideas of something extremely bad, not just a fear of spiders or heights, but of an extremity. For David, the presence of God acts as the antidote to the worst type of fear that we could possibly imagine, that of absolute evil.
So, if that was David’s experience as a follower of God, so it can be ours. John writes that ‘perfect love casts out all fear’, so in knowing that we are loved and in spending time in the presence of the one who loves us, we too can experience the protection from fear that David knew.
Dear Lord Jesus, help us to dwell in your presence, to take time out of our day just to be with you, and experience your fear expelling love.
Proverbs Ch 4 verses 10-18 Verse 18: ‘But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.’
I guess for each of us there are some days we have woken with less of a spring in our step and less of a zest for the new day as the monotony of staying at home has sometimes set in! This is understandable: but this verse from Proverbs helps us wake up, smell the breeze, and come to our senses. Every day is a gift from God. Knowing that we are loved, cherished and made ‘righteous’ by the Son who loves us makes all the difference. None of us knows the number of our days, but let us be confident and assured that each day we are held close by Him, and each day we come closer to seeing Him face to face and entering into His eternal rest. May His light shine in our hearts today.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are the light of life. We pray your leading for our nation to find the best way out of this current crisis. Be with all who work in our emergency services. Come Lord Jesus.
Joel Ch 2 verses 25 & 26 I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten……. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full and you will praise the name of the Lord your God who has worked wonders for you.
I do love these verses. How many times have we said to ourselves “well that was a waste of time!”
I said it yesterday when I walked to the chemist and there was a sign outside saying closed from 12 till 2 Monday to Friday. I arrived at 12.20! I’ve said it many a time when I have gone wrong with my knitting or sewing and had to start again.
There may be months or years that you have written off as wasted or too unhappy to think about. However God never wastes anything! He also says he will restore those years to us in more abundance than we can imagine and we will wonder in amazement and sing praise to God. Just think how amazing it will be when it is safe to meet together again.
Dear God, we thank you that you restore wasted years to us and give us more than we have lost. Filled up and overflowing with your love and generosity. Help us to sing your praises even now.
Psalm 23 verse 4 Your rod and your staff they comfort me
For a shepherd like David the rod and/or staff were, amongst many things, a means of protection. In 1 Samuel Ch 17 v 34-36, David tells Saul that he protected the flock from ‘the lion and the bear’, and in the same way will deal with Goliath. His rod/staff would have been something he used to fight off the wild animals to protect the sheep.
But in the Psalm, it is God’s rod and staff that bring him comfort. For David is aware that as God is with him, so he is under God’s protection, that as a sheep in God’s flock so he is protected.
Psalm 100 says that ‘we are his people, the sheep of his pasture’. So, in the same way that David protected his flock, and was aware that as part of God’s flock that he was protected, so we, ‘his people’, are under the same protection. The rod/staff of God protects us as we nurture his presence, and so we find that we can live without fear.
Dear Lord Jesus, when there is so much uncertainty and confusion around us, and the news fails to put us at ease, thank you for the protection you give to us. We pray for those who are fearful and unprotected, that they may reach out to you and find in your presence the peace and comfort the world cannot give.
Ephesians Ch 5 verse 2 ‘…and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.’
How many people and instances can we remember when others’ generosity, compassion and sincere love has saved our life, protected or massively helped us? I can think of so many, and sometimes it’s hard to imagine how we might have got through without these friends or family looking out for us and watching our backs.
It’s hard for us to really grasp the enormity of God’s love for us in giving up His Son that first Easter. Maybe today is a good day to just stop…and contemplate such a love as this; that gave… And then to turn over in our mind what His life, death and resurrection have won for us… And finally if He hadn’t come… Thank you God for saving me!
O God we pray today for families in our town and in our thoughts. Be with all who are teaching, learning, working, caring and providing – all outside of normal patterns and routines and often from a distance. Help us all to be patient; thankful for what we have; and strive to live in love as you are love.