Follow the Leader


“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?
And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders”
(Luke 15:4)

The gist of this parable is that a sheep wanders off from the flock and becomes lost. The Shepherd then leaves the rest of them and searches for the lost one until He finds it. Filled with joy he takes it back to the others.

The focus is very much on the Shepherd who is seen to be Jesus Christ Himself. He notices when we go off by ourselves and lose our way. He comes to us with the intention of leading us back again to where we belong under His care and protection.

However the story also requires us to look at ourselves and question just where we are in relation to the Lord at any moment in time. In what direction am I pointing and moving? What am I running from or rushing towards? Am I following Him or expecting that He will follow me? And is it perhaps time for me to stop right where I am, turn around and reach out to Him again?

In the world in which we live it is so easy for us to lose our focus, our values and priorities and to end up in a situation or state that we will regret. A regular check and an ongoing prayer can prevent much heartache and lead to more blessing than we imagine. If in the process we discover that we have wandered away from the Lord then we can ask Him to find us and lead us safely home again.

Ask the Lord to help you take stock of your relationship with Him


Lord Jesus please help me to see if I am pointing in the wrong direction and chasing the wrong goals. Help me to focus on You and to follow where You lead me. Amen.


Use God’s Spade


“This is the meaning of the parable:
The seed is the word of God”
(Luke 8:11)

A wonderful thing about Scripture is the way that it talks into our lives at all stages and in all ages.

Jesus told the parable of the Sower. The seed, as the Word of God, is sowed generously across the field. It falls onto hard paths, rocky areas, thistle and weed patches as well as onto open and receptive ground. Here is grows freely and achieves its purpose.

As I was reading it again recently I was struck by the truth that the field is me. Within the boundaries of my  life  are hard and unreceptive areas where the word has not penetrated, rocky and superficial areas where the word although attractive has not established a foothold, thistly and weed infested patches where life just crowds it out and some open patches waiting for more of it and receptive to it.

If all these areas where the same size that would mean that three-quarters of my life was not properly open to the Word of God. Even if the ‘good ground’ is by far the largest area then there are still three significant patches that are not responsive to God –  although He is still speaking to them. It’s quite a challenging thought and, of course, explains somethings about my life!

What now? Well for me the obvious step is to ask the Lord to show me where these non-receptive areas are -and then to ask for His help in addressing them. In terms of the parable the hard paths need some ploughing, the rocky areas need to have the rocks removed and the thistles need to be located and weeded out. It’s a question of looking at my priorities and the way that I think and live and making the adjustments that are called for.

The Good News is that it is not merely a question of getting rid of some barriers to a better life but of replacing them with what is better. Some of the rocks might prove quite challenging and resistant but as we persevere with God they will give way, and what a blessing that will prove to be.

The Proverb has is right – “Trust in the Lord with all you heart”, not just some of it.

Get into your field today – and do some prayerful digging with the Lord. He has some new flowers for you.


Lord thank You that You sow Your seed in all the areas of my life. Please help me to prepare all of them for You. Amen.


Heart Wash


“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting”
(Psalm 139:23-24)

It is wonderful to be able to trust God so much that we come before Him like this. There is no one else to whom we could say the same things with the same belief and assurance.

Here we open ourselves to our Father utterly and completely – with the desire that He examine each and every area of our lives. Such is our love for Him, and our wish to be totally pleasing to Him, that we hold nothing back.

Search me God, every part of me. Know even my heart – ‘for the heart is deceitful above all things’ (Jeremiah 17:9) and it is ‘the pure in heart’ (Matthew 5:8) who are blessed. Here is the desire for the Creator of the heart to examine, cleanse and repair it in ways that are impossible for us.

Run Your tests through me Lord God and pick up my anxieties – those areas in my life which make me nervous and afraid, whether for myself or for others. Prescribe Your healing and give to me more faith and a greater trust in You and in Your love and provision for me.

Examine me closely Father to pick up even the slightest hint of anything that offends You. Bring it to my attention so that, in turn, I might bring it before you in repentance and confession for your forgiveness, cleansing and healing.

And with this Lord, take my hand and lead me ‘not into temptation’ but ‘deliver me safely from evil’ as You lead me along the way of everlasting life with You.

Notice how the psalm ends on the same note with which it began. It is that the God who has searched me and knows me will continue to search me and know me as He leads me ever onward and upward. It is the Shepherd examining each member of the flock at the end of the day. It is the Saviour washing the feet of His followers after each journey. It is Love caring for the beloved.

I do want to be holy Lord – for You are holy and I long to please You.


“Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting”



Photo: (c) Catherine Bondonno

Always with you


“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast”
(Psalm 139:7-10)

A small boy, who had been told that God was always with him, walked quietly into the kitchen intent upon stealing a couple of biscuits. As he went through the door he turned to the air behind him and said crossly, “Don’t You ever get lost?” We are never alone.

There is no place on earth, or indeed in creation, where God is not present all the time. Whatever we are doing or not doing He is there. We cannot escape from His presence or be dragged away from it.  Whether in the desert wastes or in the dark and silent emptiness of space He is fully there at all times. He is present not only in the material world but in the spiritual as well. He sees and hears and knows everything.

When Jesus told His disciples that He would “be with you always” He was not referring just to this. He was referring to an even more personal and intimate presence in their lives – that of the Holy Spirit. Dwelling within us He wold be able to feed and minister into the very centre of our lives and being. And it is from here that we will be able to tap into “the spring of water welling up to eternal life” – and ‘drink deeply from the cup of salvation.’ This means that at all times we will be able to turn to Him, knowing in faith that He is within us, to seek help, draw strength and peace from Him, and rest in His love.

There may be times when we will feel lost and alone, sightless within a dark cloud of despair and apathy. But still He is there – because He is everywhere and because He has promised to His people the intimacy of His presence. Our feelings are not the truth – He is the Truth. Everywhere we are, He says through the psalmist, His hand will guide us and hold us fast. What is more it will be His right hand – His hand of primary action. He will not be casual in these situations but very intentional. And it is when we are enabled to look back on it all that we will perceive the truth of it.

Reading the words is not enough. Pause and acknowledge His presence. Be still there for a moment. Thank Him. Then carry on.


Lord Jesus You are with me right now. I pause in Your presence. Thank You for being with me. Please guide me and hold me fast. Amen.


Always with you


“You hem me in–behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.”
(Psalm 139:5-6)

The Lord has laid His hand upon me. He is in my past and in my future and He is always with me –  the God of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, the God who is the Beginning and the End.

There is a special significance in knowing that His hand is upon me. In a moment in time He reached out and laid it there saying, “You are Mine.” And then instead of removing it He has left it in place as an indication both of His possession and of His presence. Ownership and Intimacy are united in the one action.

There is no inference that life will now be easy and stress-free. Indeed there will be times of pressure, challenge and danger – but there is the certainty of His presence at all times.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze”
(Isaiah 43:2)

All this is not unlike the wedding vows,

‘To have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse
for richer, for poorer
in sickness and in health
to love and to cherish
and to honour’

Both represent a covenant that found its beginning with God, and to which He is forever faithful. Why He should have chosen to do so, and at such cost, is beyond our powers both of comprehension and of imagination. But this is His choice and He remains faithful both to it and to His commitment.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:3-5)

One day we may understand – now we can only marvel.

The hand of God is upon me


Lord God, in faith I believe that You hand is upon me – may I know it as I look back, look forward and as I walk through this day. Thank You so much. Amen.


Someone knows me


“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.”

(Psalm 139:1-4)

There is something wonderfully liberating and deeply re-assuring in this. The awareness of Someone special who knows us completely, deeply and intimately, and still loves us totally and unconditionally. He knows us far better than we have even begun to know ourselves – and He looks at us without any misunderstanding and without requiring any explanations. By Him we are “fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

There are times when we will want to turn to God and pour out our hearts to Him. There will also be others when, in confusion, pain or loneliness, failure, sin and despair, we might turn to Him and, because we haven’t the knowledge or the words, say simply and urgently, “Lord, please read me!” Then in the silence that follows we allow Him to turn over the pages of our lives – physical, spiritual, mental and emotional – and fully absorb our reality.

These are very special moments for God. For we are not only saying that we cannot find the words – we are also telling Him that we want Him to know, and that we trust Him to know everything, to fully understand and to lovingly respond. In fact they will be moments promoted by the Spirit Himself –

“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)

God knows – God cares – God loves. Wonderful – isn’t He!

Be still – and know that I am God.


Father God, thank You so very much for knowing me fully, loving me deeply and holding me in Your heart. Amen.


I Belong


“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”
(Isaiah 43:1)

A few nights back, in the early hours of the morning, I was up looking out at the quiet, moonlit silence. The Lord prompted me to pick up and open my Bible. I did so and found myself reading these words – the first to appear at the top of the page.

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”

I stood and pondered their profound and wonderful significance. For indeed He had called me by name and here was the deeply personal reminder of that calling – together with the marvellous and intensely touching affirmation – “You are Mine!”

In a world of great insecurity where to be accepted and acceptable today is no guarantee of tomorrow, where the hurts, failures and rejections of yesterday cloud our vision of today and wrap the future in a shifting mist – where the loves and lovers of this day might be gone by the next – in the midst of all this painful uncertainty – I belong. I am owned and valued. There is a Someone who says of me with love, certainty and everlasting significance, “You are mine.”

 In fact the truth is that He looked for me, tracked me down, called and reached out to me, and took me into His life and His heart. It was no passing whim, no sudden impulse to be forgotten and ignored – but a deliberate and conscious decision and act that had eternity in mind.

What is true for me is true also for each and every one of the sons and daughters of this great and wonderful God. Whatever our earthly state the eternal truth remains and will never end either here or throughout the blissful endless ages to come.

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”

Take a moment to receive, accept and own this tremendous truth


Father God I am Yours – and I rejoice with humble awe and wonder. You have called me and are transforming me day by day into the person You always intended me to be –and You will never ever let me go. Thank You so much. Amen.


Photo: (c) Catherine Bondonno