Galatians 2: 1-2 ‘Fourteen years later I [Paul] went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabus…I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.’
Barnabus, mentioned here, is seen working and travelling alongside Paul helping support and nurture the gentile church. He was known for his generosity (Acts 4) and as an encourager (Acts 11) and loyal co-worker. Apart from this, Barnabus doesn’t get many more mentions, but what a great way to be remembered! These three words: generosity, encouragement and loyalty can maybe help us today as we consider how others but more importantly God sees us. Generosity – giving of our time and money in God’s service; encouragement – lifting others and bearing one another’s burdens; loyalty – standing with people through thick and thin. Could we learn from any or all of these qualities? Is God stirring these gifts within us?
Lord thank you for Barnabus’ example. Help us to be a people and a church which is generous, encouraging and loyal. May you take our gifts and use them for your glory and in the service of others.
Psalm 23 verse 6 all the days of my life,
This is a phrase that I often refer to at funerals, because if you read this verse in its entirety the comma comes after the word life, and it is as if the comma is the point of death because after this the focus turns to the eternal. The comma expresses the break between the temporal and the eternal, that the God who has been with us throughout our lives, is, when we read the next line, the one in whose presence we will dwell beyond time.
But what comes home to me from this phrase is the sense of God always with us, every day, whether we are aware of it or not. Whether we acknowledge him or not, he is always there and has always been there. The theological word for this is omnipresent – he is everywhere and is therefore always with us.
David asked the question of God, ‘where can I flee from your presence’? The simple answer is nowhere. He will never leave us or forsake us.
Dear Lord Jesus, may we not only be aware of your presence in our heads, but may we experience your presence in our hearts.
Gal Ch 4 verses 4-7 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship . Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
As human beings, we all have a tendency to insecurity. Sometimes people mask this with overconfidence, or we may become critical of others in order to make us feel good. Some of us may never do certain things because we don’t feel confident/good enough to do them.
But with God, there is no need for insecurity. The term in verse 5 ‘adoption to sonship’ is a legal term for the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture. We as Christians have complete legal status as God’s adopted heirs whether we are male or female.
We are God’s children and he gives us all his riches. He is more than generous and wants to lavish us in his love.
We do not have to be good enough. We do not have to earn God’s love. Do you remember the song that was done by lots of Christians on YouTube ‘The Blessing’ which said that God is for us? He is not against us and is not looking for our faults. He wants to bless us and bring about the best for us and for his world. He loves us ‘warts and all’!!
Heavenly Father, thank you that all are equal in your sight.
Psalm 30 Verse 5 ‘For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.’
Forgiveness for us can often be easy to say, but so very hard to do. How many times do we think we have forgiven someone or something done to us, when the memory and hurt and pain keeps coming back. Humanly speaking, it can seem beyond us. The verse from today’s Psalm reminds us of God’s nature, which never changes. Yes, it is right and just that He should be angry at the sin and evil in the world, because He is a Holy God. However, through the cross, only His son Jesus makes forgiveness possible, and when He forgives it is lasting, whole and eternal. No wonder the previous verse says: ‘Sing to the Lord, you saints of His; praise His holy name.’
Lord Jesus, I ask, receive and thank you for your forgiveness today. I pray for those facing the very real threat of losing jobs as businesses and employers face uncertain futures. Please make a way where there seems to be no way.
Psalm 23 verse 6 and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Here David makes a bold statement, he does not say I hope to, or God willing or if I am good enough, he just states simply that his future beyond death’s door will be in God’s house. He just knew, there was no doubt in his mind, and we might ponder why? I think the answer is fairly simple, throughout his life he had honoured God and God had honoured him, protected him and provided for him. Even though David lived a life that was less than perfect in many ways, he had constantly returned to God and sought reconciliation.
Psalm 51 is one of my favourite Psalms, it is where David confesses his sin and seeks reconciliation with God, the full story of why is in 2 Samuel Ch 11 to Ch 12 v 25. It expresses the full range of human failure, and yet the limitless range of God’s forgiveness.
David could say ‘I will’ with certainty because he had experienced the love of God in such a measure in this life, that it left him with no doubts regarding the future.
Dear Lord Jesus, I ask that I might know you, whom to know is life eternal.
Gen Ch 26 verses 19-22 19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarrelled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarrelled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarrelled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.
This is a funny little incident that could have escalated into disaster. Each time Isaac and his servants dug a well, other herdsmen wanted the water saying it was theirs even though they hadn’t dug the well. Would you have had the patience to say OK I’ll dig another one and then when that was disputed dig another!! I can feel myself getting resentful now!!
But no Isaac showed the better way. He did not want an argument or dispute. He took the way of peace. There was plenty of water to spare and he was generous with it. With the world as it is, it is very easy to get resentful and argumentative and yes we must stand up for what is right but we must also take the way of peace. And as Christians, continue to be generous with everything we have as individuals and together as a church for as we know everything comes from God.
May the peace of God lead us into all truth.
Luke 12: 29 ‘And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it…your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.’
One thing I have noticed over the last few months is how much more central and important in our own minds meal times have become. What we are shopping for, preparing and cooking seem to occupy more of our attention than usual. This reminds me of when I was growing up, living in a hotel and seeing the non-stop planning, ordering and devising of menus to satisfy discerning guests-their happy holidays depended on it!
Our current circumstances perhaps more than before have helped remind us that we often take so much for granted: who grows and distributes our food, is it readily available, can I afford it and should I give some away. Times like this show us how vital food, water, shelter, health and safety are. It is almost as if other previously closely held choices such as leisure and travel are discarded because they are no longer an option anyway.
Maybe we can also use these experiences to return to the prayerful habit of giving thanks –saying grace-before we eat, praying for growers and farmers, and all who provide supplies in our shops. As we say the Lord’s Prayer, for example, the words ‘Give us today our daily bread’ carry a renewed relevance and meaning.
Lord help us seek your kingdom above all else. Thank you for your care and love to each of us. Help us to receive from you and freely give to others