Psalm 51. Verse 15 ‘O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.’
This may sound strange, but the other day I met with someone (at a distance of course!) and when it came to praying together I felt a bit rusty! You see on our own in isolation, with our prayers and bible reading, we can just be ourselves before our heavenly Father. He knows us as we are and accepts and welcomes us warts and all! Praying with others however brings in another dynamic; us, our prayer companion – each but also together looking up to God. It is this together that we’ve missed and so longed to experience again. How good it has been to open up the Church even for short periods and to see and greet one another safely.
We can, of course, come to pray wherever and whenever (even on Zoom!!) God delights to hear us and we don’t have to have all the words worked out beforehand. No words-great. Few words-great. Jumbled words-great. Let’s just have a go, let the Holy Spirit help us and feel all the more connected to our Father and to each other in the process. It’s all about relationship!
Lord Jesus, as you taught us, please help us to pray. We pray today for the little ones-finding it hard to understand about infection, distance; and missing out on so much learning, relating, and growing. In your name.
Psalm 103 v 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
So how far is the East from the West? When you think about it you realise that there is no answer, or maybe it is as far as the north is from the south? Which is not much help really. The distance is unmeasurable because to measure something you require a datum, a fixed starting point from which to measure. If we had this, we might say our transgressions are X miles removed from us, but the lack of a fixed point means that we cannot give a specific answer.
What we can be specific about is that there is always a gap between East & West, they can never converge, and therefore we can say that there will always be a gap between us and our transgressions. They have been removed from us, and the gap between us and them will never close to such an effect that we will be reunited with them.
Our transgressions have been removed from us, and we can be assured that we have seen the last of them. The death of Jesus on the cross, the shedding of his blood and his glorious resurrection and ascension are the reason why God has been able to remove our transgressions, and why we will never be reunited with them.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that our transgressions are gone, that your death is the moment in history that has separated us from them once and for all.
Psalm 68 verses 24 -26 Your procession has come into view, O God – the procession of my God and King as he goes into the sanctuary. Singers are in front, musicians behind, between them are young women playing tambourines. Praise God, all you people of Israel, praise the Lord, the source of Israel’s life.
Although things have been bad in the country due to Covid-19, Psalm 68 verse 25 came into my mind in connection with the Blessing Song done by 65 churches in the UK. Not only did 65 churches come into unity but they crossed the denominational divide. You could feel God’s presence so strongly and it really encouraged me personally. Where there is true unity in the spirit for the same purpose to come together for God, then it states in God’s word that it commands a Blessing. If we want more of God, then we need to honour him by dropping our denominational agendas and come together with one purpose in mind and that is to focus upon the Lord and Worship Him alone. It’s proved it can be done, now we have to move forward as the church of Christ together.
Lord Jesus help us to move forward in the direction that you want us to go, helping us to only follow the path that you have set out for us.
Psalm 117 ‘Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol Him, all you peoples! For great is His steadfast love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever. Praise the Lord!’
What a short Psalm-just 2 verses! I thought today it would be good to dwell on the ‘faithfulness’ of God. We often hear the word used to describe a ‘faithful’ husband or wife and it speaks of loyalty, commitment and love which is actually another of the words used at the start of that same sentence in the Psalm above to also describe the Lord. This reminds me that love and faithfulness go hand in glove together. If you know the hymn ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ then the words in that hymn give deep meaning to the word ‘faithfulness’. Phrases such as ‘no shadow of turning’, ‘pardon for sin’ and ‘thy hand hath provided’ all help convey God’s faithfulness, which we find hard to grasp and accept through our limited human eyes and experience. I pray that we would each know God’s faithfulness towards us this day and for eternity.
Faithful God thank you for all you lavish on us undeservedly yet so generously. We pray today for the elderly and infirm; who may feel the world is often passing them by. May they know your ‘peace that endureth’.
Philippians Ch 3 verse 13 – 14 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me
The Apostle Paul talks about persevering and remaining faithful in many of his letters to the Christian communities he visited and wrote to. He was aware that it was very easy to just drift along and claim the title of Christian without actually living the life of one. In these and other verses to the Church at Philippi he encourages them to leave behind the past and to strain towards the future, to press on to receive the prize God has for them.
Persecution was a very real threat to those early Christian communities, and Paul was aware that only those who were fully committed to Christ would be likely to persevere in the face of that persecution. So, he tells them what he does and calls upon them to follow his example.
Being a disciple of Christ means laying aside the past, and straining towards following Jesus, that we might receive the prize he has set before us.
Dear Lord Jesus, with the dawn of every new day may we wake with a fresh desire to press on towards our goal of knowing you and being made into your likeness.
Exodus Ch 6 verse 1 Then the Lord told Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!”
When God makes his mind up he delivers on his promises. God never goes back on his word and we can see that in Exodus 12 verse 31 to 32 where it states. Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. “Get out!” he ordered, “Leave my people- and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you said and be gone. Go, but bless me as you leave.”
Just as God had said Pharaoh ordered them to leave and the Egyptians urged them to go as well because they thought they’d end up dying. God knows how to deal with those in powerful positions like Pharaoh, and God protects those he loves. He could see how the Egyptians had treated the Israelites and he promised to rescue them.
Lord help us to trust you for deliverance when we’re in situations we feel we can’t handle and give us faith and perseverance to see things through to completion.
Luke Ch 24 verses 30 -31 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
Many great, and some not so great, books have been written about Holy Communion. Even what we call it reveals something about the Church we attend, is it the Lord’s Supper, Mass, The Eucharist, Breaking Bread, Holy Communion, An Agape Meal, or something different? Each of these statements reveals a nuanced theological stance that different traditions of Christians hold to, and unfortunately sometimes divide us.
But thankfully there are many themes that run through each understanding that are consistent. One of them is revealed in this passage from Luke, that it is often the case that in the simple act of giving thanks, blessing, breaking and the sharing of bread and wine that Jesus is revealed and recognised, and lives are changed. The ‘Media Vicar’ Richard Coles was one such person whose life changed direction after sharing in Holy Communion, and he is just one of many.
I hope and pray that as we return to Church and share in the sacraments of bread and wine once again, that our eyes might be opened to see Jesus, risen, ascended and glorified.
Dear Lord Jesus, give us a vision of you that transforms us from followers to believers, and to disciples and worshippers.