Thoughts 8th – 14th April

Thursday 8th

Luke Ch 24 verse 8    Then they remembered his words.

These words referring to the women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus, came after they had arrived at the tomb and encountered two men who told them that Jesus had risen.  In fact, they just reminded the women of what he had said regarding his death and beyond.   The fact of the empty tomb without a physical body was evidence that the words of the two men, and the words of Jesus, might be true.  But it was the physical encounter with the risen Christ that was the irrefutable evidence to those words.

In order to remember, a previous event has to have taken place, one that we have encountered in some way.  For the women it was the words of Jesus that they were reminded of.

How can we ever remember the words of Jesus if we have not read them, or how can we ever remember the words of the Bible if we have not read it?

Encountering the words of Holy Scripture by faithfully reading it does not only mean that we might remember it in the future, but also, we allow it to shape us, to influence us and mould us in the image of God.  Reading the Bible is a physical event, one in which we can also meet with the risen Christ and encounter the irrefutable evidence that He is Risen!

Dear Lord Jesus, give us a hunger and a thirst for the Bible, may it shape and mould us into disciples who can speak with confidence of our risen Lord.

Amen

Friday 9th

Hosea Ch 6 verse 2    on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence.’

This is one among many places in the Old Testament where we are pointed forward to what God would accomplish for mankind in the death and resurrection of the Son, Christ Jesus.  Indeed much of Scripture finds its meaning and fulfilment through His coming, to deal with mankind’s problem of sin and to, as the verse above points, bring us the gift of eternal life in the very presence of God Himself.  This is the wonderful Christian hope uniquely gifted by the work and mission of Christ the Son.  Let us, therefore, be a people of such hope; looking back in thankfulness for His work of salvation, and looking forward to the final fulfilment of the promised hope open to all by faith in Him today.

Mighty, victorious Lord; just as you rose again on the third day making a way for us who believe, help us be a people of hope, love and faith, today and always. 

Amen.

Saturday 10th

Psalm 119 verse 105    Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

How do you go about making important decisions?  Give it some thought, talk it over with family members, pray about it, toss a coin?  If you do pray about it then how might you expect God to answer you, and how might you discern that it was him responding to you?

Well, if we believe that God wants to speak to us and to guide us through life, then this verse has something to say to us about how that guidance might be transmitted to us.  It says quite clearly that God’s word, and in this case, I am taking that to be his written word, the Bible, is both a lamp and a light to the way forward.

Lamps and lights are generally about helping us to see the way forward in the dark, or in this context when we cannot judge what is the right decision to make or direction to take.  The Psalmist refers to God’s word as the source of help in illuminating to us the path that we should take.

The reference to light and darkness is prominent in the New Testament, Jesus refers to himself as ‘the light of the world’, and John’s Gospel refers to ‘the light shining in the darkness’. 

So, if you are searching for some direction, or need help in coming to a decision, then maybe the place to look is the Bible.  Why not pray and ask God to speak to you through his word, and then read it.

Dear Lord Jesus, I pray that as the light of the world you will illuminate my path so that I might see clearly and know the path that I should take.

Amen

Sunday 11th

Romans Ch 8 verse 1    Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

On at least 2 occasions over the past 6 months, I have read writers who have criticised God for being angry & narcissistic, not believers or sympathises you will understand.

The reason for their outbursts, well having read them before they are always the same, basically, they don’t like or agree with the things God says, or how God acts or what he expects of those who follow him.  Which is always easy to do when either you don’t believe in him or have no sort of relationship with him.  How many of us have looked at situations from afar, the relationships of others and criticised without really knowing those involved.  From what I hear North Korea is not a pleasant place to live and its leader is an egocentric dictator at best, but I have never been there or met anyone who has, so my judgement is shaped by the news and media in a country that does not like him or his political stand.  So it may not be correct!

The God of the Bible is clearly one of judgement, that is one of the roles of those who are in positions of authority, and God is the ultimate authority, there is no one higher.  But alongside this, there rests his love and grace, which are on the opposite side of the balance to his judgement.

This verse makes it clear that his judgement over our sin is overlooked if we are ‘in Christ Jesus’.  The phrase ‘in Christ Jesus’ is just Paul’s way of referring to those who are part of the body of Christ by putting their faith in him.

This is no angry God with a giant ego, but a God who desires that none should perish, one who has made a way for us to have our sins overlooked by suffering himself, but also one who cannot turn a blind eye to the sin that marks each of us out.

‘There is now no condemnation’, are his words to those who are aware of their failures and are willing to call him Lord.

Dear Lord Jesus, please forgive the arrogance of your creation which often acts as if there is no higher authority than itself.

Amen

Monday 12th

John Ch 20 verse 18    ‘Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news:  ‘I have seen the Lord!’’

In John’s account as in the other gospels, it is Mary who first encounters the risen Lord.  Peter and his fellow disciple had visited the empty tomb but not seen Him; had seen the strips of cloth which had been wrapped around the crucified body, but had not seen angels as Mary did.  She was the one who was given that good news of hope bursting through the darkness of those cruel days.  The realisation that started to dawn, the glimmers of understanding about all that Jesus had said would happen.  Whether or not the disciples to whom she went to tell believed straight away; she nevertheless joyfully told and shared what had been disclosed to her.  The anguish, despair and death of the few days back were starting to fade as new hope started to break into their shattered lives.  That same hope is ours today, and given for all who would gladly receive this most wonderful of news.  Jesus has broken the grip of darkness and death.  His new life is for all who gladly receive this great news of joy and new birth.

Oh Lord, beyond the despair and helplessness in these our days, bring your hope, love and power to all who would gladly receive you today.

 Amen.

Tuesday 13th

Luke Ch 7 verse 9    When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.                                           

Wow just imagine if the son of God was saying that about you.  Here we find Jesus praising this Roman Centurion, a Gentile, someone who is part of the oppressive occupying army stationed in Israel to maintain law and order under Roman rule.  What is it that has caused such high praise to come from Jesus?  Well, it is quite simple, the Roman Centurion believed that if Jesus just spoke the word then his servant would be healed.

The key to this passage is the word ‘believed’, it is a word that is used much in the New Testament, by Jesus, his disciples, by the Apostle Paul and others.  It is that belief that Jesus can and will act on behalf of anyone who puts their faith in him that caused Jesus to respond with these words of praise.

Even amongst his own people Jesus had not found such faith, in fact, he had found a lot of scepticism and rejection.  If he had this kind of response amongst his own people who saw and heard him, we should not be surprised at the response that we get today in our society.

God does not ask or expect us to jump through hoops, gain some academic qualification, walk through a blazing furnace or perform some mighty deed to show our love for him, no he just asks us to believe.

It is so simple that most people miss it, but when God sees that belief matched by actions, he is amazed, it really is that simple.

Dear Lord Jesus, I believe help my unbelief, and help me to turn my silent belief into visible actions that we might be your witnesses.

Amen

Wednesday 14th

Revelation 18 verses 2 – 3    With a mighty voice he shouted:

“‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’[a]
She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
For all the nations have drunk 
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

If you have taken time to read the Bible you will be aware that there is quite a lot of imagery in it, which is not to be taken literally.  This is particularly true of the books of Daniel and Ezekiel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New Testament.

There are occasions when it is not clear if the imagery is meant to be interpreted in some way, but in considering this we have to ask, what did it mean to those who first read those words?  In 2021, looking back over 2000 years we might interpret them in the light of historical events that have taken place since, and see things very differently.

Passages such as this often follow familiar themes, this one is conveying the theme of judgement.  Babylon is depicted as all that is wrong with the world, a city that has grown rich on its detestable ways and its immorality.  A city that has been a centre of idolatry and in which many have gained great wealth through trading with her, and a city that has boasted that she is a Queen.

The mighty Babylon that stands for all that is contrary to God’s will and desire for his creation, is ultimately brought to its end, this place that has slaughtered God’s prophets, Babylon the great is fallen!

This image of God’s actions against all the evil and sin of this world is one of judgement.  There have been many times and places throughout history which have mirrored some of the detestable activities of Babylon the great, and there are many more still active today.  But we can be certain that in God’s good and perfect timing they will fall, evil will be overcome, and we will be encouraged to

Rejoice over her, you heavens!
Rejoice, you people of God!
Rejoice, apostles and prophets!
For God has judged her
with the judgment she imposed on you.”
[verse 29]

Dear Lord Jesus, guide our steps and keep us from the evil that one day you will judge, and help us to walk in the light and truth of your Holy Word.

Amen

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