Matthew Ch 7 verse 21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
There are a number of places in the Bible where the distinction is made between saying and doing. In verse 24 of this chapter there is the story of the wise and foolish builders, with the ending indicating that only those who act on what they hear are counted as wise.
The Bible continually makes the point that to say that we believe in something but without acting upon what it is that we say that we believe in, in reality means that we do not really believe it. Hence those opening words, not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven’.
It is not enough to call Jesus Lord, that is but the first step on the road to Christian belief, by some margin the greater step is to act in line with that belief. To confess Jesus as Lord means to allow him to be Lord over every part of your life. Your morals, your speech, your finances, your time etc, I am sure that you get the point. Or as someone once said, ‘what is it about the word every that you don’t get’?
Dear Lord Jesus, just to pray those opening 3 words is an act of confession, help us to live out the life of faith and love you have called us to.
Psalm 43 verse 5 ‘Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God!’
I wonder today how you feel about positive affirmations? Have you ever tried looking at yourself for example in the mirror and giving yourself a good dose of self-talk before walking out of the door to face the world! It certainly has its place…but maybe in moderation! I think this verse above, could actually be one of those sentences which we could say or even shout out to ourselves. Almost as if an angel, a fellow believer, a friend or our biggest supporter might be saying it to us – encouraging us to look up, and affirm where our hope lies and declaring it aloud to the world. If it’s not in the mirror, let’s at least say it out loud, together today; and may God’s Word inspire, lift and send us out with His praise on our lips and in our hearts.
My Saviour and my God! I trust you, I look to you and I worship you today. When the darkness closes in Lord, help me to walk towards your light and truth.
John Ch 4 verse 53 ‘Then the Father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he and all his household believed.’
This may sound obvious a thing to say; but we need to be those who also take Jesus at His word. His promises, commands, teaching and very way of life lead us to the Father’s side. His words are words of eternal life and we can wholly trust them, and hold them close through life’s journey. Jesus here is in Galilee at the start of His earthly ministry. A royal official’s son was sick and near to death: but at the word of Jesus, God’s own Son, the boy is healed. I love the faith evident in the father where we read in verse 50: ‘The man took Jesus at His word and departed.’ We too are called to trust, believe and take Him at His word in our time.
Jesus, only say the word and I will be healed. Bring your healing, renewing and rebirth to our nation, locality and those for whom we pray.
Genesis Ch 50 verse 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done,
The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis is probably my favourite story in the whole of the Bible. It covers over 12 chapters and there are numerous twists and turns, but the central tenet of the story is about the providence of God, particularly his oversight of and provision for those who love and serve him.
At the end of the story after their father dies Joseph’s brothers fear that he may choose to seek revenge for the way that they treated him. Which after reading the story you could easily understand.
But, and here is the key to the story, Joseph has seen the bigger picture, he recognises that this was not some family fallout with potentially devastating consequences for all concerned. Joseph sees that even though his brothers acted selfishly and premeditatively, that God used their sinful actions for the working out of his own purposes. Those being the protection of his own chosen people during the years of famine that were coming, safe under the protection of Pharaoh and the vast resources that Joseph had stored away.
As we look at world history and the current dramas that are unfurling across the globe, we need to recognise that God can take the most terrible circumstances caused by human sin, and can use them for good, particularly for the good of those who love and serve him.
Dear Lord Jesus, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to discern where you are at work in the midst of your world.
John Ch 6 verses 28 & 29 ‘Then they [the crowd] asked Him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.’
On reading this passage, my mind recalls the acronym ‘KISS’ which stands for ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’! You’ve probably heard this before. Apparently it originated in the 1960s as a reminder that things often work best when not over-complicated (engineering). Here, the crowd were looking for Jesus to perform miracles and signs that they might then believe in Him. It may seem hard for us to understand, but here they are, with Jesus in front of them, and yet they asked for more. Here He was, teaching God’s ways, revealing the Kingdom of God; God’s own Son who had come amongst them. What He came up against was hard, unbelieving hearts. He just wanted them to stop reaching out for endless answers and focus on Him. To really trust and believe in Him: that is the first step. Keeping it simple following Him actually unlocks all the answers. Through Him we come to God the Father-the fount of all knowledge, wisdom and who understands all mysteries.
O Lord, give us a simple unwavering trust in Jesus your Son. Remembering today those who have lost so much: loved ones, livelihoods, jobs and security. Have mercy Lord we pray.
Ephesians Ch 2 verse 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
One of the key actions of the death and resurrection of Jesus is to reconcile fallen humanity to God. In order to understand why this is so important we have to come to an understanding of the corrosive impact of human sin.
To put it simply sin separates, it separates us from each other in a variety of ways, but in particular it separates us from God. Throughout the Bible it is clear that the sin which is present from the first few pages, right up until the final book, is the cause of all our human pain and that we can do nothing at all about it.
Furthermore because of our failure to prevent sin seeping into every level of human life, irrespective of how good we try to be, God had to come himself into our world and to build the bridge that allowed us to be reconciled to him.
Our sin made God hostile towards us because he hates it, and the only way that hostility could end was if that sin was removed, and as we could not do it then God acted on our behalf.
Hence the importance of reconciliation, that God acted for us who were tainted with sin, that we might be cleansed and reconciled to him. That reconciliation opens up the door to eternal life to each and every person who will embrace it for themselves.
Dear Lord Jesus, as we journey through Lent towards Holy Week and the cross, help your Church to rejoice in the reconciliation that you have wrought through your death and resurrection.
Mark Ch 5 verse 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
Sometimes the simplest advice is the best. Fear is often irrational, it is often about the unknown, or about the uncertainty that not knowing can bring.
As humans we want to know, it is just part of who we are and how we were created, but we cannot know everything because only God knows that. Knowing everything is part of who God is, the term that refers to him knowing everything is ‘omniscient’.
The inability to know everything is what usually leads to fear. What will happen when I die, what is wrong with me, why doesn’t God answer my prayer, and I could go on and on.
In 1 John Ch 4 v 18 the writers states that ‘perfect love casts out all fear’. If we know that God loves us and wants the best for us then there is no need to fear, all we need to do is trust and believe.
How sure are you that God loves you, wants the best for you and requires nothing in return but that you believe in him?
In our Baptism service the Priest asks the congregation if they believe in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and they respond with the words, ‘I believe and trust in him’.
All God asks is that daily we affirm those Baptismal vows and believe and trust in him. As I said, sometimes the simplest advice is the best!
Dear Lord Jesus, today in the full knowledge of your unfailing love for me I affirm once again that I believe and trust in you.