Thoughts 20th – 26th Aug

Thursday 20th 

Revelation Ch 6 verses 5 – 6    When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Come!”  I looked up and saw a black horse,  and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand.  And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay.  And don’t waste the olive oil and wine.”

The black horse represents famine in these verses because it draws our attention to the fact that a wheat bread loaf or 3 barley loaves will cost a day’s pay.  It also speaks of a shortage in olive oil and wine.  As we’ve seen in recent events, unrest and sickness have an impact on our economy and lifestyle.  Our economy is fragile and it only takes life to become unbalanced and we can get food shortages.  We’ve had an easy life in the west up till now, and we’ve never really had our politics upset our balanced lifestyles.  The white horse, I feel represents that change, the red horse is war.

This chapter talks about judgement coming and as we see in verses 5 and 6 the effects of this are famine.  Where you have famine, you have the next horse which is green which represents death.  Usually with famine comes disease, and death.  I know this isn’t a cheerful subject, but we can’t stick our heads in the sand forever and hope things will go away.  God is warning us here, to be ready for what is coming and for his return.  God in chapter 6 is still holding back judgment, so people have time to repent and come to Him and be saved. This is a reminder for us all to be sorry before God and ask him into your lives; we mustn’t leave it for too long, because time is running out.

Lord Jesus, I ask that you prepare each and every one of us for your return and get us ready for the things that you have warned us about so that we can come through it ready to meet you.

Amen.

 

Friday 21st

Galatians Ch 2 verse 20    I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Over the period of the lockdown, I have been reading a book about Christian luminaries: a luminary being someone who inspires or influences others.  For a number of these men and women, their faith played a significant part in their premature deaths.  In the face of oppression and threats, they chose to remain faithful to the gospel and to continue to speak out even though they knew the possible consequences. 

I am reminded of the famous quote, ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing’

As Christians, we are called to stand up for truth, justice and equality for all men and women, and to stand against oppression and evil in all its forms.  But doing this can be costly, whether it be the loss of a job or friends, verbal, or physical abuse, or even being killed, there is often a price to pay.

For Paul, it was not that his life was without value, but that he saw himself as already crucified, that he had already died to his own desires and aims, and that his life existed to proclaim the Christian message.  So, for him, death held no fear, because if he remained on earth, he could continue to be God’s witness, whilst if he died, he would be reconciled with his Lord.

Those Christian luminaries held to similar views, not to speak out was a denial of their faith, whilst the consequences of speaking out put their lives at risk.  But, along with Paul, having died to self, there was no real option.

Dear Lord Jesus, give us the boldness to lay aside our own personal desires and agendas and to proclaim the gospel in word and deed at every opportunity.

Amen.

 

Saturday 22nd

1 Samuel Ch 24 verse 12    ‘May the Lord judge between you [Saul] and me [David].  And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.’

This passage describes how after being hunted down by King Saul in his jealousy of David, even though David had the chance to take Saul’s life, he refuses.  This brings to mind the words of Paul in Romans Ch 12 where he reminds his readers not to ‘repay anyone evil for evil’ and ‘do not take revenge’ quoting Deuteronomy Ch 32.  The key point in all of this though is that we leave judgment, wrath and condemnation in God’s hands.  He is the one who is all-seeing, all-knowing and will bring all men to account.  It’s not that we’re saying ‘it doesn’t matter’.  The pain, hurt, injustice and suffering we feel is known and held by God.  Our response must be first to depend on the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Christ:  Yes for ourselves but also as we pray for those who have wronged us.  Secondly, we must leave the rest in God’s hands and trust Him for our futures.

Jesus, help us to lay our burdens, fears, pain and injustices at your feet.  We pray now for all who feel overlooked or unjustly treated.  Bringing to mind A level and GCSE grading and decisions about future study.

Amen.

 

Sunday 23rd

John Ch 3 verse 8    The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

I have a love-hate relationship with the wind. Today it has been great for getting the washing dry. On a walk when you are with the wind it helps you.  When you are battling against it and it is raining it is very frustrating. Sailors love a certain amount of wind to get a good speed. Too blustery a wind and capsizing is an issue. Windsurfers love it when it is strong. When the sun is shining and it is very hot a cool breeze is very welcome. On a cool sunny day, the breeze is not welcome. Such are the joys of UK weather.

It’s a bit like that with our Christian life. Sometimes you really feel you are running with the wind of the Holy Spirit and you feel in touch with God. Other times life with God seems very tumultuous and it all seems a bit too much. Sometimes you can see others growing in their Christian faith and enjoying the wind of the Spirit when you don’t seem to be. But as it says in the above verse we do not know the ways of the Spirit. Our job is to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our life whether we are aware of it or not, whether the Holy Spirit is taking you to new places, or refreshing you where you are. The Holy Spirit prays for us constantly and wants to keep us growing in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s welcome that.

Holy Spirit thank you for your work and presence in our lives. Keep us working with you. Enable us to sense your prompting and leading.

Amen.

 

Monday 24th

Proverbs Ch 9 verses 13 – 18    Folly is an unruly woman……..…She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city,
15 calling out to those who pass by………….“Let all who are simple come to my house!”………….But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead

I love the book of Proverbs; it is probably one of the most under-read books in the Bible and yet every verse contains a gem of wisdom and guidance.  It uses picture language that you can see with your mind’s eye and allows you to visualise what it is that the writer is getting at.

These verses picture foolishness as a temptress, calling out to those who pass by, particularly the simple and those lacking sense, calling them to enter her house.  Seeking to entrap them and draw them in with promises of hidden pleasures, but in their naivety leading them to death.

How much more vivid this picture is than just saying ‘it’s foolish to be tempted by forbidden fruits, they will lead to disaster’.  No less true, but the imagery brings it to life.

Dear Lord Jesus, help us to love the words of scripture, to read it, to ponder it and to live it out.  Keep us alert to hear your words of wisdom, that we might steer clear of the paths of foolishness that lead to destruction.

Amen.

 

Tuesday 25th

Matthew 22 1 to 14    But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. “Friend, he asked, how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?” But the man had no reply.

It was customary for wedding guests to be given wedding clothes to wear to the banquet.  It was unthinkable to refuse to wear these clothes.  That would insult the host, who could only assume that the guest was arrogant and thought he didn’t need these clothes, or that he didn’t want to take part in the wedding celebration.  The wedding clothes show us a picture of the righteousness needed to enter God’s Kingdom.  In other words, accepting Christ as our Personal Saviour, and been covered by his blood – which covers our sins and makes us righteous before God.

Without this covering, we can’t enter into the wedding banquet.  Christ has provided these clothes of righteousness for everyone, but each person must choose to put them on in order to enter the banquet which leads to eternal life.  Unless we are willing to humble ourselves and follow Jesus’s instructions, like the man without the wedding clothes, we’ll be thrown out of the wedding banquet.

Lord Jesus, I ask that you help us to have the right attitude, and help us to be ready to put our wedding clothes on ready for your return.

Amen.

 

Wednesday 26th

Acts Ch 3 verse 19Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…’

Peter is speaking here to the crowd in the temple after the healing of the crippled man.  He loses no time in explaining that it was by the power of God and the name of Jesus that the man had been healed.  He makes it crystal clear what the onlookers had to do themselves to be healed.  That phrase; ‘…so that your sins may be wiped out’ sounds so final…and it is!  Rather like when you delete a file or song on a computer or gadget never to be able to retrieve it again!  But that is such incredible, releasing and freeing news for us who also have our sins ‘wiped out’.  They are washed away:  forgotten.  Let us be like that healed man who was overjoyed at the transformation in his life.  He went ‘walking and jumping and praising God.’  If not literally…we certainly can in our hearts!

Lord Jesus, thank you for healing and forgiving us.  We pray together for our Care Homes; their staff, residents and for their protection.  As they are prevented from having visitors – be their hope; their companion and their help.

Amen.