Ask

2015.04.30

“Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.”

(Psalm 25:3-5)

Reflection:
If you ever need to use a map to find your way to a specific place, it can be quite a daunting prospect. When you open the book to the page that you need, you are faced with an amazing array of lines, all seeming to run in different directions. Many are different colours and, if your sight is at all challenged, the names are almost impossible to read.

In life we are also faced with a multitude of options, almost every day. They force us to make business and personal decisions, individual and family, moral and ethical. Some choices are made on the spur of the moment – such as whether to stop for, or go through, a yellow traffic light. The basis on which that decision was made had, in fact, been laid some time previously. They constitute the foundations on which, and from which, so many of our selections are made. Jesus laid vital foundations in the desert after His baptism, during the ‘temptations’ that are, indeed, common to us all.

The Christian is faced with these choices, many of which are made more difficult because of our natural inclinations. As disciples of Christ we have to learn how to pick out and select the correct paths, often different to the confusing variety offered by the world. Hence, the prayer of the psalmist, Show me – teach me – lead me. The more that we ask, and the more that He responds, the better able we are to understand, and then to select the correct path or response ourselves. Like the traveller, however, we do need to have a destination in mind. That end is always where Christ is glorified and reigns supreme.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

Response:
Choose the destination for your life, for today and every day. Ask God to help you to make the right choices.

Prayer:

Lord God, my beginning and my end is in You. Please help me to discern and choose Your Way in my everyday life, and to desire no other way instead. In Jesus Name. Amen

—————-

Advertisement

It could be me

2015.04.29b

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions
with all kinds of prayers and requests”

(Ephesians 6:18)

Reflection:
Scripture calls us to pray in many places – and not only for ourselves but for others as well.

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

There is terrible suffering in the world at the moment. The focus now is on Nepal. Some estimates put the death toll as high as 10 000. At the moment the confirmed figures are 4349 died and over 7 000 injured – with more information still to come in from remote villages. In addition the homes and lives of countless others have been devastated. Rescue workers are still battling to find and help those in need whilst specialised teams and supplies are just beginning to come in from elsewhere in the world. There is a long road of recovery and healing ahead with the fear that disease might take hold and spread. ‘Citing government figures, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said an estimated 8 million people have been affected by the quake in 39 of Nepal’s districts, and more than 1.4 million need food assistance, including 750,000 who live near the epicenter in poor quality housing.’

In addition to this the United Nations has warned of a ‘towering humanitarian crisis’, in what they say is the forgotten situation in the ‘strife-torn Central African Republic.’ ‘Since December 2013 nearly 900 000 people have been displaced, including more than 460 000 who have become refugees.’

These are only two areas. Our news reports refer to many others, including the agonies of countless individuals and families.

Please join in praying for these and other areas of need known to you. They involve real people – men, women and many, many children – who are crying out for help in their pain and suffering. We know what our God is capable of so we ask Him to intervene from His love in all these lives and situations. Many of the people may not know Him or be able to pray at the moment – we can do it for them, and keep on praying until the need is over.

Response suggestions:
Pray morning and evening. Set your phone alarm for midday and pray then. Pray as you hear or read the news. Pray whenever you hear a siren or see a need. Short prayers are fine. Be a person of prayer.

Prayer:

Father, please help me to pray for others as I would like them to pray for me if I were in their situations. As the men brought their friend to the feet of Jesus help us to bring them to You. Amen.

———————–

Praise God

2015.04.28

“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD,
for he is good; his love endures forever.”

(Psalm 106:1)

Reflection:
Many times in Scripture we are encouraged to give thanks to God.

It seems to me that my days are filled with sights, sounds, tastes, fragrances, feelings, objects, emotions, blessings and people for which I can thank God. A home, food, clothes, work, family, friends, gardens, nature, birds, animals, modern conveniences and the wonder of love are just a few. And then of course there are the wonderful ways in which He has revealed Himself to us and been active in our lives.

I was amazed again today at the grandeur of a large white cloud in full sail against a deep blue sky. The fluffy edges were a blindingly light-touched white and rimmed the soft and gentle rosy-grey beneath. I have watched in wonder as a little girl just six months old slept peacefully in my arms; listened to magnificent music; looked at members of my family as we ate together, and listened to the happy chatter and laughter that surrounded me. I’ve sat down at a computer and read the messages and information that appeared almost magically on the screen. I’ve looked at the garden in the fading light of the day – enjoying the colours and variety of shapes and textures – and listened to the birds quietening themselves for the evening ahead. I’ve drunk a long cool drink by only moving one hand, and heard a plane fly high overhead. There is no shortage of things for which to be thankful.

Sometimes I am happy to say simply, “Thank You Lord for….” At other times I can be more descriptive and say that a beautiful sunset is breathtakingly lovely. I still like the story of a man who would thank God by saying, “Jesus, you did it again! Good work, Jesus! I like that, that’s really like you!” There is a fullness of heart there to which I’m sure the Lord responds.

If you enjoy or value something then tell God in your own words, as you would a friend. The more you do so the more you will find to appreciate. The more you tell Him the more you have a chance of one day hearing Him say to you, “I like it too!”

Spend a day more in thanking God than asking. It makes a difference to both of you.

Response:
Mentally list six things that mean a lot to you – and thank God for them.

Prayer:

Father, please open my eyes to the blessings in and around my life – and help me to appreciate them. Amen.

————————–

God’s Strength

2015.04.27

“I can do everything through Him
who gives me strength”

(Philippians 4:13)

Reflection:
Paul was writing from a Roman prison, as he drew toward the end of a life on earth that had been anything but uneventful. From His meeting with the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus until now he had sought to live, proclaim and teach Jesus as Lord.

In the course of his journey with Christ he had been flogged, stoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, imprisoned, abused and vilified, and he was now in prison again. He had known the loneliness of his missionary journeys, the rejection of his message and the imperfections of his companions – as well as his own. And yet at this stage he could say with confidence that,

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11)

This had come about because of his faith and trust in Christ, and the knowledge of the God who was with him at all times. He was certain that God would never abandon him or lose control of his situations. This was the peace that passes understanding. He was in God’s hands and nothing could snatch him away from God’s great hold on him – whatever the world might do.

Now he could affirm that he had been, and was still, able to do everything that God wanted of him – whatever that might be and whatever challenges that might lead him into. God was with him and would give him whatever was needed in a particular situation – wisdom, words, faith, courage, perseverance.

As you and I look into the week that lies ahead these words come to us, both to inspire us and to build our faith. Whatever the trials and challenges are that we might face, we can meet them, live through them and come through them in the strength and with the help that God will give us. In anything and everything, from the traffic, to work, family and relationship issues, to failures and financial difficulties, to insecurities, rejection and abuse, God is with us. Whatever else He might do, He will strengthen and guide us as we look to and trust in Him.

Response:
Give God your situation and the week ahead. Pray particularly for the difficulties that you foresee and the people involved. Ask God for guidance, strength and an awareness of His presence. Keep praying and listening. Memorise and keep saying today’s scripture.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, please help me to face this week in the confidence that, with Your help, I can meet and do all the things that You want me to. Please help me to commit everything to You and to seek Your guidance and strength. Thank You for always being with me. Amen.

————————–

Better and Better

2015.04.24

“He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 1:6)

Reflection:
Whatever may be happening – or not happening – in your life at the moment one thing is certain. God is at work. What He started in our salvation He will continue developing until it is completed. He will not cease until He can look into us and say with satisfaction “It is very good.”

The true quality of our life is not measured by what is happening around us or to us. It is what is happening within us that is vital. We will not always be aware of it – and sometimes will feel that we are not making progress. But that itself is an indication that God is at work and has effected some change within. As uncomfortable as it might be it is a step forward. He will be preparing the next step for us, and us for it.

In our life there will be some easy paths and some difficult challenges.  However all will lead us onwards and will be used by God to build us and to grow us in our relationship with Him and trust in Him. To trust in the Lord is to trust Him with every aspect of our lives all the time.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Having called us He will never desert us – even when we prove difficult!

Response:
Trust is a decision, take it. A mustard seed of faith is enough for a great God.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank You so much for what You have already done in my life, and for Your most wonderful sacrifice on the cross. Please help me to trust You more and more. Amen.

—————-

I am .. the Life

2015.04.23

“Christ Jesus .. has destroyed death
and has brought life and immortality to light
through the gospel.”

(2 Timothy 1:10)

Reflection:
For many people death is something to be feared and resisted at all costs.
Woody Allen reportedly once said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

By His own death and resurrection Jesus Christ has given to his followers a different perspective. Firstly He has gone through death Himself and, by rising again, has conquered it and deprived it of its power over Him and all others who are ‘in Him.’ Once we are united with Christ not even death has the power to separates us from Him – and He is very much alive!

Secondly we have His great promise.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26)

John Stott has explained it this way. ‘These verses contain a double promise of Jesus to His followers. The believer who lives will never die, because Christ is his life, and death will seem to him only a trivial episode. The believer who dies, however, will live again, because Christ is his resurrection. Thus Christ is both the life of those who live and the resurrection of those who die. Christ transforms both life and death.’

Jesus promise is validated by His own resurrection. Because we are a members of His Body and His Spirit lives within us His Life and Power reigns supreme – and we are quite safe.

Response:
Nothing can separate me ‘from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You are my Way, my Truth and my Life – help me to trust in You and to be at peace. Amen.

————————

Faith

2015.04.22

“that you may know …
his incomparably great power …

which he exerted in Christ
when he raised him from the dead”

(Ephesians 1:18-20)

Reflection:
As we look at ourselves, at the lives and actions of others, and at the state of the world, we can wonder whether God is really able to bring about change and transformation. Can He bring beauty instead of ashes and new life in place of deadly decay?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – never to die again – gives a clear answer. It is our great assurance of the supreme majesty and power of Almighty God, our Father.

That power has already been operative in our lives as Christians to some extent. For becoming a Christian is not merely turning over a new leaf with a few small adjustments to our lifestyle. According to the New Testament the only words to adequately describe it are death and resurrection – death to the old and a new birth into the new. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead can raise us from spiritual death. Whether or not we perceived it at the time that power of God was operating in our lives in a way that assured us of eternal life – a life that physical death cannot harm.

As we continue in our walk with God we will need His power to keep operating within us as He enters more fully into our lives and living, bringing healing, cleansing and new life into every aspect.

“And we .. are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

It is the reason that we keep on praying – for whether in our private lives or in national and international relations and affairs, “nothing is impossible with God”

Response:
Ask – and keep on asking – for what is of God and it shall be given.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father help me to raise my eyes – my focus and my faith – more intentionally to You. Please help me to bring my life and that of the world around me to You for Your help. Amen.

———————

Cleansed from sin

2015.04.21

“And if Christ has not been raised,
your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

(1 Corinthians 15:17)

Reflection:
Men, women and children can buckle under the weight of the burden of sin and guilt. It  darkens lives, torments minds, encourages doubt and prevents us from living fully to our potential. Humanly speaking there is no freedom. As Lady Macbeth lamented,

Here’s the smell of the blood still:
All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
Hand. Oh, oh, oh!

David recognised that all sin was against God and only He could forgive and cleanse us.

• “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4)

• “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)

Jesus spoke a number of times of forgiveness and peace and referred to the communion cup as

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

An important significance of the resurrection is that it assures believers that God’s forgiveness is a reality. If Jesus had not risen again after His death we would have had no certainty that His death had achieved for us the forgiveness of sin, and opened the way into the presence of God. In raising Jesus God has assured us of the ‘one perfect and sufficient sacrifice’ – and that all who trust in Him receive a ‘full and free forgiveness.’

“the blood of Jesus .. purifies us from all sin.”  (1 John 1:7)

As John Stott has written, “The resurrection validates the cross.”

Response:
He bore my burden so that I would not have too.

Prayer:

Thank you Lord Jesus for taking my sin to the cross with You. Thank You too that as I now see You as the risen Lord I can fully trust that in You my sin is forgiven. Amen.

————————–

God is Alive

2015.04.20

“The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour .. We are witnesses of these things”

(Acts 5:30-32)

Reflection:
The religious leaders had rejected Jesus and plotted to kill Him. The crowds had joined in and together they had pressurised Pilate into sentencing Jesus to death. The soldiers had crucified Him and His body had been sealed inside a tomb. Human hope had been shattered by human rejection and action. Jesus had been taken from His followers by death.

Then God intervened in the only way that could save the situation. He decisively reversed the verdict passed on Jesus by humanity and validated Him as truly His Son – as He had done at His baptism. In doing so He endorsed Him forever as the Lord and Saviour of all creation.

Thereafter the proclamation in the early sermons followed a similar pattern – “You killed Him.” “God raised Him” “We are witnesses”

This resurrection of Jesus would also give great assurance to His followers both then and in the times to come, including now. Death in itself is not to be feared for God has clearly demonstrated that His power is sufficient to look after each one of us as we travel through into His eternal presence. And Christ – who said that “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God” (Luke 12:6) – will ensure that He is there for each and every one who believes in Him, to shepherd then safely home.

Response:
Jesus Christ is my Saviour now and when I die.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus you are my Saviour and my Shepherd. Please help me to trust You completely and to stay very close to You. Amen.

——————-

Press On

2015.04.17

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me….Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 3:12-14)

Reflection:
We have been called into a special relationship with God – to be His daughters and sons. We are also called to join Christ in His ministry to others and to the world. Paul knew that Jesus had taken hold of him with both aims in mind, and he was not going to give up on either of them. Insofar as Jesus had a purpose for his life he was going to do his best to see that it was completed.

Every athlete, particularly the long distance runners, will know all about the times when it would just be so much easier to give up. Those times when each muscle and every emotion is crying out, ‘no more of this; no more pain, no more loneliness; give up!’ Some carry on though and go through the pain barrier, find a ‘second wind’ and press on to the finishing line. Sometimes they will be out there alone, with no one to support them, but they persevere.

Life, including the Christian life, has many challenges, temptations and trials. However, the Christian has Someone running with them all the time, encouraging them, strengthening them, helping them up when they fall, reminding them of who they are and helping them to keep the goal in mind. You too can press on with Him until the time comes to say with deep satisfaction, “It is finished!”

In the world as it is where many have turned away, many have become luke-warm and many focus only on themselves – press on. Keep your eyes on the Lord, keep in His Way, keep the faith and remain one of His faithful ones’

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:16)

Response:
Whatever your pain barrier of the moment – ask God for help, for strength and for encouragement. Keep going with what is right. Trust Him, He will see you through. If in doubt about the direction to take – ask Him, and wait for Him to show you. He will.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, please help me not to give up on you, or on myself. Please continue to call me forward, guide me, strengthen me and encourage me.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
(Philippians 4:13)
—————————-