Look and Listen

“The LORD came and stood there,
calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
(1 Samuel 3:10)

Lent 14

It is abundantly clear from Scripture that God communicates with His people. He does so directly, through His appointed spokespeople, through the Scriptures, through circumstances and through His creation.

  • “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
  • “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

He came to Samuel during the night and called out to him, He kept on doing so until Samuel was in a position to understand that it was God calling him and not Eli. Samuel could then give the correct response of “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” God didn’t give up – He kept on until He was heard.

Jesus said that “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:4). We need to practice listening for Him and to Him all the time. Wherever we are, and whatever we are doing, we should be listening for the voice of the Lord – for what it is that He might wish to say to us. It might be a word of comfort, strength or encouragement, a word of love, a word of direction or warning, or a word where He shares with us something of Himself. He is with us always so He will already be there too.

Take time to enjoy and marvel at God’s creation and at the Creator who brought it to life. Take time to soak in the Scriptures as they too speak of the Lord and bring His words to us. Take time in the stress and busyness of life to Be Still before the Lord allowing Him the opportunity to sit with you. And in all this listen for His quiet voice or flash of understanding. Ask Him to help you to hear and expect that He will do so. Persevere and you will begin to recognise and rejoice in His voice.

God’s communication with us is important. Important for our faith, important for our relationship with Him, important for our witness and important for the work to which He has called us.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)


Father, please help me to listen for You, to hear You and to respond to what You say to me. Help me also to love Your Scriptures and to soak in Your word. Amen.



Holy Ground

“The place where you are standing
is holy ground”
(Exodus 3:5)

When God called Moses to Him at the burning bush He told him to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. The earth would not have looked any different to Moses, but he obeyed without question knowing himself to be in the presence of God. And there he stood in all his fallenness – which included pride, murder and desertion – and waited on God.

Wherever God chooses to meet with us becomes holy ground – because of His presence that reaches out and embraces us. It is here that He has chosen to engage with us, who we are and as we are, at a specific moment in time that is of His choosing.  Peter in his boat, Matthew in the tax collector’s booth, Zacchaeus up a tree, the adulterous woman in the temple courts, the sinful woman at Jesus feet, the moment in time when we heard and responded to His call – all holy moments in places holy at the time.

And when, at His prompting, we turn to God in sin, shame, need and despair – and He meets us as He will – it becomes a holy moment on holy ground. We often fail to recognise it because we are caught up with ourselves and our need. But He is with us, and we with Him, in a special way.

In fact whenever and wherever we engage with God, and He with us, we enter into a holy place that needs to be acknowledged and respected.  Our equivalent of taking off our shoes would be to separate ourselves for those moments from the things and activities of the world – giving Him our full, humble and undivided attention.

As an exercise – take off your shoes and say the Lord’s Prayer slowly. Feel the ground beneath your feet – recognise God is standing before you. Be still for a few moments.

Whenever you pray – deliberately recognise the holy presence of God .


Lord God I stand in Your presence on holy ground. I am quiet before You, knowing that You are looking upon me and smiling. It is good. Thank You so much.



Come Aside

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”
(Luke 5:16)

It is possible to pray at all times and at any time. However, as with people too, deep and meaningful communication with God is very difficult when we are distracted by other things and other people.

Jesus often withdrew from such distractions into lonely places where He could give God His undivided attention in worship, petition and in listening for and to God’s response. This is vividly portrayed in His prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane where He again withdrew into the night by Himself to agonise before God. The blessing that He received strengthened Him to face the trials that lay ahead.

Whilst God may well answer our ‘prayers on the run’ there is nothing as meaningful as time spent quietly with Him. It is there that we learn to value and enjoy Him for who and what He is  – not merely for what He can do for us. When David exhorts us to ‘worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ he is urging us to turn aside into the Lord’s presence. There we can become aware of His unique and awesome difference to everything about our world.  And as His holiness washes over us it draws us into itself, cleansing and renewing us. In that moment of holiness we celebrate and enjoy our oneness with Him, often in silent awe and wonder.

Establish your own ‘lonely place’ – within easy reach – and visit it often. You will find Him waiting for you there.


Lord God sometimes all I want is to sit and look at You and know You, and for You to look at me and know me. Help me to not miss out because of my busyness and agitation. Amen.

(Photo: (c) Catherine Bondonno)

Bow Down

“Come, let us worship and bow down,
 and kneel before the LORD our Maker”
(Psalm 95:6)

I came across this verse again the other day. Reading it I felt moved to do what is says. So I knelt, bowed my head, and worshipped the Lord. They were very precious moments.

Our bodies are a part of us and we use them all the time to communicate our feelings. Their attitude at any one moment can also influence the way that we express ourselves. So kneeling humbly to the Lord is both an expression of worship as well as laying the foundation for the way that our hearts and minds and mouths themselves speak.

To worship the Lord from this verse, I found, is to acknowledge Him as the One True God, the Mighty Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is the One who gave us life and placed us here in an environment that He had prepared for us – and for which He had formed and equipped us. He has surrounded us with the most amazing beauty, variety and abundance – so much of which we can enjoy and appreciate freely. In it, and through it, He reveals so much about Himself to those who look and listen and feel and taste and marvel at the One who created all of it.

In these times we can become over casual in our attitude to the Lord. As good as some familiarity is it can take us away from the awe, wonder and reverence which should also accompany our relationship with Him.

Try it a few times and see. Let your own words come freely. If you cannot kneel then do so in your mind and heart.


Lord God You really are amazing, filled with beauty and love. Thank You for allowing us to share in the wonder of Your creation – and that we are able to do so. Please keep opening our eyes to new appreciations of Your glory. Amen.


Pray Again

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
(Timothy 2:1-2)

There is an enormous burden of responsibility resting upon the shoulders of the present national leaders. From global warming to fragile economies to internal unrest and ongoing wars, coupled with a seeming deterioration in honesty and integrity, nothing is simple. For better or for worse these are the men and women who will influence the lives of millions over the next few years.

It is no wonder that Paul calls us to prayer, and to pray specifically for ‘all those in authority.’ The reason is simple, so that we all ‘may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’ We know what they need – God’s help and direction, whether they are aware of it or not. Solomon prayed for wisdom so that he might govern and lead God’s people properly. His prayer pleased God who not only gave him such wisdom but many other blessings as well.

It is easy to bemoan the current state of affairs and to criticize the people in power. But, whether that criticism is justified or not, it will not change anything. Prayer might.

God has invited and instructed us to pray. The epistles call upon us to pray. Prayer asks God to be involved and to bring His will and wisdom to bear. Prayer tells God, and reminds us, that we need Him. Scripture records many instances where God has heard and responded to the prayers of His people. The world really needs it now – particularly as God seems to have been increasingly side-lined.

As Christians we are called to pray, and to pray intentionally that God’s will is done. We must not stop until it is.

Focus on some key leaders in your nation and church and pray for them every day. Pray that God will guide and lead them. Pray that they become believers. Ask others to join you.


Father, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – in me, in my church, and in the leaders in our land. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.




I want to see

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
 The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
(Mark 10:51)

Two things happened to the blind man who appealed to the Lord to have mercy on him.

One was that he received the gift of sight – and what a wonderful gift it must have been. Not only could he see but think for a moment of what he could see – the sky, the clouds, the plants, the birds, the colours and textures and patterns everywhere, and all the people.

Then, and most wonderful of all, he could look into the smiling, delight-filled face of the Lord Himself. Set free from the darkness he would have seen the Light both physically and spiritually. It is no wonder that he then ‘followed Jesus along the road.’

We all want and need to ‘see’ more and more of the Lord – to know and appreciate Him in deeper and higher ways. As our relationship with Him increases we can ask Him to reveal more of Himself and about Himself to us.

This is also the wonder of Scripture. It is filled with accounts of God at work in the world. And each time we read and reflect on them there is the possibility of a new insight, a new relevance, and new depth to what we perceive. And the beauty of Creation is that it too reveals something of the beauty and character of the Creator whenever we pause to let it speak to us.

Keep asking the Lord to give you new sight and insight.


Lord, we want to see Jesus and to know Him better and better. Please help us. Amen.


Core Value 3

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God”
( Philippians 4:6)

After God and His Word the next core value of ours must be Prayer – for prayer is our communication with God. Without proper and two-way communication both our prayer life and our daily lives become one-sided and often misguided. If the Incarnation of Jesus Christ has taught us one thing it is that God cares for, and engages with, His people.

We are encouraged in Scripture to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and about everything (Philippians 4:6). Jesus also taught us to persevere in prayer (Luke 18:1). There will be so much that we want to say to God.

However prayer is not only about our concerns but about God’s desires as well. This comes out clearly in the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples. Very definitely God’s will is placed first and foremost.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“`Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
(Matthew 6:9-10)

Our prayer life becomes far more dynamic if we are also praying the prayers that God would want us to – that intentionally align themselves with His will and purpose. For this to happen we needs must ask Him what He would wish us to pray, and then listen for His response. It may take practice but as we persevere we will learn to recognise the ways in which He talks to us.

We are told that

“Christ Jesus … is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34)

This is very inspirational and encouraging – and how wonderful to align our prayers with His. They will be the love-filled prayers that God desires to answer because they will be the best for us and our situations. Some of them will surprise us.

And for those instances where, for whatever reason, we do not know how to pray then we can do so in the Spirit – either in tongues or by holding the situation wordlessly before God as our spirit communicates with His – silently or through our tears and anguish.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27)

Prayer is far more than sending texts off into the blue. It is at the heart of a living relationship with the Living God, and one of the most vital and valuable activities in which we can engage – even at the initial level described here. Given the opportunity God will take us far deeper.


Holy Spirit please enter into my prayers – guide me, and help me to listen for, and to recognise, the voice of God in the way that He chooses to communicate with me. Amen.


God of Love 2

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
(Genesis 3:8-9)

God is a God of Love.

We see this vividly portrayed in the account of the Fall. Having realised that they had sinned Adam and Eve hid from God amongst the trees. However God – obviously aware of their sin – did not go away but looked for them, calling out at the same time, “Where are you?”  And the story of salvation began.

We see this attitude of God’s described again by Jesus in the parable of the Lost Sheep – where the Shepherd goes looking for the one that is lost and does not return until He has found it. In fact Jesus described His ministry in these terms,

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” 
(Luke 19:10)

Our Lord still searches for those who are lost – knocking at the doors of their lives and asking to be allowed in. And, when He has entered, He knocks on the inner doors that are closed to Him. His desire is to enter into every area of our lives with His Light, Love and Life – to bring healing and wholeness and to set us free from any bondage and crippling fear.

God’s is calling your name – to get your attention in a new way so that He can  enter into your life at a deeper level. If you can identify a closed or barren area in your life ask Him to enter into it.


Lord Jesus I long to be more fully found by You, and to rest in Your presence and love. Help me to open all of my doors to You so that I may begin to receive the fullness of Your love. Amen.



“They would have repented .. in sackcloth and ashes.”
(Matthew 11:21)


In the West Lent starts on Ash Wednesday
which this year falls tomorrow – 14 February 2018.

Good Friday is on 30 March and Easter Sunday on 1 April.

The ‘40 days’ of Lent are associated with the 40 days of Jesus fasting in the desert.
The 6 Sundays are excluded in the calculation as they are said to represent either the day of rest or the day of Jesus victory over death. 

In many churches there will be special services on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of the Journey to Easter. The theme is Penitence. Ashes will be blessed and used as a symbol of repentance. Many people will go forward to be marked with the sign of the cross, in ashes, on their forehead. These ashes are normally prepared from the Palm Crosses used on Palm Sunday the previous year. As they receive the cross of ashes they are exhorted to

“Turn away from sin and believe the good news.”

Lent is very significant. In its steady and purposeful build-up to Good Friday and Easter it ensures that they do not arrive and pass almost without notice. Here is the opportunity to reflect on ourselves and the world around us – to see the worldliness and sin that contaminates, separates and brutalizes and which prevents us from living to the potential of the daughters and sons of God. Repentance is importance for us and our world for it recognises that we need help – we need saving from ourselves, from each other and from the consequences of our actions. For unless we recognise sin we don’t recognise the need for a Saviour or understand what it is that He is about.

In many ways what is known as the Lent fast has been trivialised The true significance of Lent is not what we give up, even for God, but the awesome sacrifice that Christ made for us, and the self –denial and suffering that was involved. Any sacrifice of ours should be a reminder of, and association with, that greater sacrifice, and not a source of personal satisfaction. Scripturally our sacrifice is between God and ourselves and should be kept private.

For as much as we recognise the darkness of sin Lent can also become a wonderful opportunity. For we must reflect also on the holiness and love of God, the enormous blessing of knowing Him – and the great need for Him in our lives and the life of the world in which we live today.

This Year

  think of giving God an extra 10 minutes every day
to pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and deliberately
for someone.

On the first day adapt it and pray for yourself. On the next day/s pray it for individual members of your family. Then pray individually for the people with whom you work and associate every day. After that choose someone in the news who is suffering in some way .. and so on. Devote each day to a different individual. And if you travel on public transport pray the prayer for someone near you. 


Father – please help me to accept this opportunity to journey with You every day, and in so doing to draw closer to You. Please shine Your light into my life and into the lives of those for whom I pray. Amen.


God of Glory

“Glorify your Son,
that your Son may glorify you”

(John 17:1)

In one of His final and most significant prayers Jesus makes it clear that His overriding purpose was to glorify God – to honour Him and bring glory to His Name.

What was a priority for Jesus must therefore also be a priority in our own lives and relationship with God. This is why worship is so important. In it we remember before God His glory, majesty, grace and love and the awe-inspiring deeds that He has performed – from creation to salvation. We remind ourselves of who He is and what He has done, and honour Him as the One who has revealed Himself in these ways.

However, as Jesus Himself showed so clearly, worship is not merely the words that we speak but the lives that we live as well. For us the worship that proceeds from our mouths needs to both come from lives that have begun to be lived in honour of God as well as inspiring us to carry on and live such lives in the future.

It is so easy for our prayers to resemble a shopping list of needs and wants rather than an intimate conversation with a Father who loves us and wants to be loved by us. When this is the case it can happen that fear is often our motivation rather than faith. When we make worship a part of our daily conversation with God it reminds us of who and what He is and is like. This then lays a foundation of faith which makes all the difference.

When worship becomes a natural part of our lives it can seem to open us to the very presence of God both within and around us – a holy of holies in which we become very still and quiet, full of the knowledge of the presence of the Almighty.


Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty – who was and is and is to come.