My Strength

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
(Psalm 18:1)

Lent 16

Around 1000 BC God had rejected Saul as king, and through Samuel anointed David – some years before Saul’s death. They were difficult years for David as after his defeat of the Philistine giant Goliath Saul became very jealous of him, tried to kill him and even went out hunting for him with his troops. Twice David had the opportunity of killing Saul but refused to raise his hand against ‘the Lord’s anointed.’ Having been filled with the Spirit he comes across as an attractive and promising young man with a glorious vision of God.  It is revealed in his attitude towards the challenges issued by Goliath against the terrified Israelite army led by Saul,

“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  (1 Samuel 17:26)

David was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse. He became the second and greatest of the kings of Israel, a great warrior, a musician, an eloquent poet and prophet – as revealed in the Psalms – one of the most prominent figures in history and the king from whose descendants the Messiah would be said to come.

For all his great attributes and blessings he still fell into sin. His uncontrolled lust for Bathsheba caused him to break at least five of the Ten Commandments – he coveted another man’s wife, committed adultery, ordered her husband’s death, stole and bore false witness. For this he was confronted by God through the prophet Nathan and the son borne of his liaison with Bathsheba –  now his wife –  died. However, his acknowledgement and repentance of his sins was very real as revealed in Psalm 51,

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” (Psalm 51:1-4)

For all David’s very real shortcomings the one thing that he never did was to turn away to other gods. Scripture says of him that ‘his heart was fully devoted to the Lord his God’ (1 Kings 11:4), and David himself would sing,

“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1-2)

His story is a story of someone who did seek to love, honour and obey His God. And when He fell he discovered not only that God was still there with Him but that the reality of God’s forgiveness was more than anyone could have imagined.

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  (Psalm 103:10-12)

David was a real person who met and responded to the reality of God in the reality of his life. He knew that his sins were forgiven, that his merits were God’s mercies and that his life was God’s gift. We can too if we will put our trust in God.


Father God, wherever I am and whatever I am doing please help me to be aware of You and to trust completely in Your love and forgiveness. Amen.





“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up,
the seed sprouts and grows,
though he does not know how”
(Mark 4:27)

Something is happening within you.

Day and night, whether you are aware of it or not, the seed of new life planted by God is growing. There may be times when it appears to grow quite quickly for the ground within you is open and clear. At other times it may hardly seem to move at all. This may be because it has encountered a spot that is hard-packed and tight, or else a seemingly solid stone is in the way, or because it is waiting for something.

However the growth will not be stopped but will continue. For the Kingdom of God, represented by this seed, is irresistible. We may facilitate the growth through the openness and intimacy of our relationship with the Lord, and our willing submission to His will. But the power that enables the seed to grow against all odds, and the water that feeds it on its way, come not from us but from the Spirit of God Himself.

The Good News of the Gospel that is the power for the salvation of everyone who believes (Roman 1:16) is this small seed that grows into the fullness of salvation. It is the Living Word of Jesus Christ spoken by God into the world and which will accomplish everything that He wills and determines – in each of us as well.

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”
(Isaiah 55:11)

As a believer in Christ, no matter how small your faith might seem,  you are a child of God – and He is at work within you in a very personal way.

Continue to open the doors of your life to the Lord – you can trust Him with what is inside.


Dear Lord God, as best as I am able, I invite You into every area of my life – to cleanse and heal, transform and develop me. May the seed You have planted grow freely and bear much fruit in a way that will delight You. Amen.






“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.”
(Psalm 19:1-2)

I walked outside one night and looked up. It was a cloudless night and, even in our suburb, enough of the sky was visible to make me pause in awe and wonder. The stars shone out from the dark depths of space like diamonds on the deep blue cloak of God. I stood in stillness and let His glory touch me for those precious moments. How great is our God indeed,

 “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

(Psalm 33:6)

It is a mighty and marvellous act of creation – by an almighty, beautiful and loving God. They sing His praises in sounds and words that we cannot hear and reduce us at last to the silence of true worship and adoration. I found myself longing for less of me in my life and more of God – more than I knew I could handle but not more than I could desire. I have a longing sometime to just disappear into His love and glory – like a wave on the beach slips back into the vast and all-embracing ocean.

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.”

(Psalm 42:1-2)

How much more precious were those moments and the thoughts and feelings that they prompted, than everything that the world has to offer in terms of pleasure, wisdom and achievement. How much more to hold onto in the times of pain, sin and sorrow.

God speaks to us in so many ways, not least in and through our everyday exposure to His creation. It is a message worth perceiving, believing and receiving. It is worth our deepest response.

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.”

Look, Listen, Worship


“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)



Lord’s Prayer 4

“Your Kingdom Come”
(Matthew 6:10)


In His important Sermon on the Mount Jesus identified some of the things that are naturally the focus of our attention, and then gave us this directive,

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

 It is important, both for God and for us, that His kingdom does come right here where we are. In fact these three prayer requests are all about bringing change on the earth.

  •     Hallowed be Your Name
  •     Your Kingdom Come
  •     Your Will be Done

and may all these happen ‘on earth as it is in heaven’

 These conditions already exist in heaven, but they are yet to be fully implemented on earth. Other names, kingdoms and wills try to rule down here. However, if God’s glory is to spread throughout the world then the starting point has to be with the ones who pray this prayer – you and me. In praying for these things we are identifying the need in our own lives, as well as in the world around us, and committing ourselves to being the first areas in which God works.

 It is important to realise that this initial work of God will take place within us, for that is where the need is greatest. Once the inner transformation is taking place it will, of itself, begin to affect the world in which we live. The Kingdom of God had first to become established within the people of God,

“because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

 Until the Second Coming Jesus will seek to reign in and through His people. As His people we have to accept that the battle between good and evil starts within, which is where the first victories need to be won and the glory of God revealed. We are not alone in these battles, God the Holy Spirit is within us and with us. If we allow it He will guide, empower, heal and establish us. The greater freedom that He has within our lives the greater will be the result, for He is God’s ‘conscious presence and enabling grace.’ Through Him we are “clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24

 To pray this prayer with integrity we must want God to be glorified in and through and around us, we must want His Kingdom to come fully in the world in which we live, and we must be prepared to be changed and to become agents of change as the Holy Spirit responds. God is not going to make the world a better place so that we can sin more comfortably.

Ask God to help you to truly want His kingdom to come, within you and around you.


Father – Your Kingdom come – on earth (and in me) as it is in heaven.


Open your stable

2015.12.15“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
(Luke 2:1-7)

Mary could have been forgiven for wondering why the God who had caused her to be pregnant could not have timed it all better, or at least arranged for a proper room to be available for her – after all this was His Son! Even Joseph, in the midst of his concerns for his young bride and his frustration at not being able to provide for her, could have been bewildered. God seemed to be absent when they needed Him most –after all, this had been His idea not theirs!

And yet God is not like an anxious and hard-working father desperately trying to finish his work so that the family can leave for their holiday –and then finding he had forgotten to book accommodation. God is God, sovereign and almighty. He knew then, as He knows now, exactly what He was about and He had timed everything perfectly in terms of His own plans and purposes. And, there was accommodation for them – it was just not what they would have expected although it suited God’s purposes admirably. And that really is the point isn’t it?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”(Isaiah 55:8-9)

But, a manger in a stable? Not a particularly pleasant, sweet -smelling or hygienic place – and certainly unlikely to start a new fashion. But then, apart from some of the other interpretations and symbolism, isn’t such a stable rather like the condition of our hearts and lives at times. Very earthy, dung and other bodily discharges staining and tramped into the floor, noisy with the shoving and baying presence of animal-like lusts and desires and the food to feed them, untidy, dark and generally unattractive – to us, to others who might catch a glimpse of them, and certainly to God.

And yet it is here that God chose for Jesus to be born – not in a king’s palace or under the sparkling stars on a fresh-smelling and wind-cleansed mountainside. Here in a stable – because His real ministry would be in the stables of our lives and not in the guest-prepared sitting rooms. And, as He is born into our stables, there is a transformation – light, life, love and beauty enter into our darkness – not with the brutal scrubbing brushes and nose-wrinkling disinfectants of harsh criticism, but with the gentle, smiling, understanding, and loving tears of acceptance, healing and salvation.

Don’t keep Him out of your stable – that was His destination and purpose from the beginning!

Come in Lord Jesus – thank You so very much!


Lord Jesus, be born into all of me  and fill me with Your love, light and life now and forever, Amen.




“I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory”
(Psalm 63:2)

‘Miracles don’t stick.’

So said a friend recently. He was commenting on the attitude of the disciples as they travelled with Jesus. Notwithstanding the power that they had seen Him exercise they were still anxious and agitated whenever the next problem arose. Many of us would see that same tendency in ourselves.

Yet Scripture teaches that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He has not run out of power nor has He chosen to now desert us. On the contrary His promise is to ‘be with you always.’

David has this sense of God. Whenever he gets into trouble and whenever he is in need his first thought seems to be to turn to God. He tells God how he is, reminds himself of God’s love and power, and expresses his trust that God will see him through. These words of his are telling. He has ‘seen You’ and ‘beheld Your power and Your glory.’ He has been strongly aware of God in the sanctuary during worship and has been aware of His power and glory in his own life. As he reminds himself of this he can say with prayerful confidence.

“My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast.” (Psalm 63:8 CCP)

Our memories of God are important – both those that come to us through Scripture as well as the precious encounters in our own lives. They tell of a God who is personal, loving and intimate, and always present.

My soul clings to You; Your right hand holds me fast


Lord Jesus help me to trust in Your love, presence and power, that will be sufficient for all my needs as I walk with You into eternity. Amen.


Turn Round


“For this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.”
(Ezekiel 34:11)

God was angry with the careless and self-seeking attitude of the leaders of His people – the shepherds of Israel. He determined to ‘remove them from tending the flock’ and to take over the responsibility and pastoral care Himself. We find this beautifully and explicitly expressed by the Lord Jesus.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
• “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
• “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4)

Every believer is a believer because they have been sought out and called by the Lord. Having brought us into His eternal flock He continues to watch over us. When we stray, get lost or wounded He continues to seek us out to renew the reality of our relationship. Very often, however, we are facing in the wrong direction, pursuing our own goals or staring at the problems and dangers confronting us. We need to turn around and face the Lord again.

I once watched a shepherd rescue a sheep that had strayed away from the flock and across the road. The sheep was facing away from the flock, was unaware of the shepherd behind him and uncertain what to do. The shepherd walked up next to him and, taking him by the ear, led him back to where he belonged.

There may well be times when we are so preoccupied with ourselves and our fears that, not being open to the Lord, He might need to take us by the ear! It would be easier and more comfortable to turn back to Him in trust for His guidance and love before that. He is always there.

Be aware of the Lord with you throughout the day. Ensure that you are reading His Word both for guidance and for what it reveals to you of Him.


Lord Jesus help me to stay close to You, focussed on You and seeking Your guidance and will in every situation. Amen.



water baptism

“For he chose us in him
before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

(Ephesians 1:4)

“He chose us… to be holy.” Holy starts by meaning different. God is different to us. A church is different to other buildings. The Sabbath is different to other days. We are called to be different to the others – the non-believers – around us. If the world is in darkness our difference is that we are the light. The contrast should be clear and without doubt, wherever we are and whatever we are doing. We live to a different standard because we are different people.

We belong to God and to His body the Church. We have a place, position, purpose and potential that is meant for us and we have been gifted and empowered accordingly. Our holiness comes less from mere avoidance of sin and more from our relationship with God and our co-operation in His purpose for us.

And when we fall or fail, or danger and disaster threaten, we have someone to Whom we can turn.

Walk with God – not the other way round


Lord God I am yours. Please help me to trust You and allow You to live in and through me. Amen.


Who are you? 3

Salisbury Cathedral

“Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?

You are not your own;”

(1 Corinthians 6:19)

Jesus had promised to His followers that He would send them the Holy Spirit. He would live with us and be in us. This is the same Spirit of God who descended upon Jesus at His baptism. He is known to us as God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity.

As a Christian I am a son (child) of God, I am a friend of God, and the temple within which He lives. Paul’s use of the word temple is intentional. It is a place specifically built for and dedicated to God, and within which He is honoured, worshipped and glorified. Nothing foreign to this purpose and intention should be allowed to contaminate it – which is why Jesus was angered by what was taking place within the Jerusalem Temple and the reason for His cleansing it in such a dramatic way.

A friend will want to do what pleases the other which is why Jesus could say “you are my friends if you do what I command.” Not to do so would be a rejection of the relationship. So as temples chosen by God for His glory we should want to reflect His honour and glory both internally and externally – in body, mind and spirit. Not to do so would dishonour Him. When Jesus criticised the religious leaders of His day by calling them ‘white-washed tombs’ He was showing that their outward appearances were not supported by internal attitudes.

We have been chosen, called and confirmed to such privilege as the children, friends and temples of God. Humbly own the truth and live it.


Lord open my eyes to the truth of my salvation and my new identity in You. Help me please to honour You in my life and living. Amen.


Sin Matters


“They do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds.
Their sins engulf them; they are always before me.”

(Hosea 7:2)

Sin matters. One of its effects is that it can blind us to its reality and consequences. We can forget that we sin, choose not to acknowledge our sin and even forget our sins. However God does not forget. As the prophet explains God sees us through the separating cloud of our sin,

“It never crosses their mind that I keep account of their every crime. They’re mud-spattered head to toe with the residue of sin. I see who they are and what they’ve done.”  (Hosea 7:2; Message)

God cannot choose to merely forget our sins because they are always before Him. They are inseparable from us. The only solution to the problem would be if someone else could and would absorb them into himself and take the guilt, stain and consequences upon himself. And, because God is a holy and just God, the only person who could do that was Himself. This is what we recognise and celebrate in Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Now that believers have acknowledged, accepted and so become a part of this great sacrifice, their sins have been dealt with by Jesus on the cross. The awesome truth is that Jesus died for our sin of yesterday, today and tomorrow. As we repent and hand it to Him it is taken from us forever. This is why Jude could rejoice,

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy– to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25)

If sin matters so much , how much more seriously we then  need to take God and our relationship with Him.

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4)
• “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Once God has dealt with our sin, through the sacrifice of Jesus, there is no longer any record of it. It had been taken away from us with all its stain. There may be human and worldly consequences to be dealt with but it no longer stands as a barrier between God and ourselves. We have been set free.

Take time each day for some personal reflection. There will be sins that we need to acknowledge before God and for which we need to ask His forgiveness.


Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
in penitence I confess that I have sinned against You
through my own fault in thought, word and deed and in what I have left undone.
For the sake of Your Son, Christ our Lord
forgive me all that is past
and grant that I may serve You in newness of life to the glory of Your Name. Amen.