Your Love-song

“The LORD is ..  my song”
(Psalm 118:14)

Reflection:
Humans have over the years composed many songs, not a few of which have been to glorify themselves. However, as our eyes are opened to the wonderful truth of the Lord, and our hearts and spirits respond to the revelation of His love and salvation, we may discover that one song rises joyfully above all the others.

The worship of God is the sweetest of all, and often it is enough just to sing out the name of Jesus. For me true worship must rise like a soaring eagle up into the heavens, and then descend into complete and holy silence  – where it is enough just to whisper again and again the one precious ‘name above all names’ – and then to be completely silent and silently complete in the stillness of the Spirit.

Also, and whenever I can, I love to ‘sing out’ in speech the wonders of this God of Love and of the love of God. He is truly ‘beautiful beyond description’ and, when I let Him, ‘my all in all.’ I have many stories to tell of God’s relationship with me, over all the ups and downs of my journey – of His love, presence, help, forgiveness and sharing of Himself. They all form a part of ‘my song.’

Response:
Recall and record some of the ways in which God has blessed you. Thank and praise Him for them. There are some wonderful songs and hymns that can be downloaded from ITunes – and the lyrics will be on the Internet. Use them if you wish as an aid.

Prayer:

Touch my spirit Lord with Your beauty and Your love. Help me to respond as You lead me into worship and the wonder of Your presence. Amen.

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Saving Power

“The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.”

(Psalm 118:14)

Reflection:
In the light of recent events – when so many people are completely at the mercy of a power so much greater than anything man has to offer – there is still One to whom we can turn.

Part of the victory song of Moses, after the great triumph of God in the Exodus through the sea, it is captured and sung again in this wonderful Psalm. It was still just a foretaste of the glorious salvation to be revealed by God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The dependency of man and the magnificent love and provision of God Almighty is reflected in the first of three ways.

‘The Lord is my strength’. Not for the first time has man discovered that that his greatest asset is his relationship with God, for whom nothing is impossible. In comparison with the majesty, power and wisdom of God we have nothing to offer that is of any comparable significance. Our great learning and achievements, using the abilities given to us by God, are as nothing in the light of His glory. Indeed at times we are totally helpless in the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional situations in which we find ourselves – as Moses discovered when he and the Israelites were trapped between the sea and the approaching Egyptian army. The warrior king David reflected all this in his Psalm 18 which opens with the humble and rejoicing acknowledgement,

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.”

The Lord is my strength. He is the One to whom we can turn and on whom we can rely. He may not change things as dramatically as He did for the Israelites, but He will be with us every step of the way – comforting, encouraging, strengthening, inspiring and protecting. And even if our bodies should succumb to the powers raging around us our eternal spirits are safe and secure in the heart and hands of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 Give Him the week with its challenges. Involve Him at every turn and in whatever you do. Ask Him for guidance, strength and everything else you might need. Be conscious of Him, and chat to Him, throughout the day and week. And, remember to thank Him!

And at this time please pray, and keep praying, for those who are caught up in the midst of such traumatic destruction and devastation.

Response:
“Yours Lord is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

Prayer:

Almighty Father, remember Your great love and compassion and at this time reach out Your invincible arm and Your life-giving hand to rescue, relieve and redeem those whose lives have been traumatised and threatened – for You alone are strong to save, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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My Life

“I love you, O LORD, my strength.”
(Psalm 18:1)

Reflection:
 “I Love You” –is a constant reminder of our decision and need to place God first at every moment and in every situation that we face. Our choice, and in response to the Great Commandment, is to have Him as the first priority in our lives. It also reminds us that we love Him because ‘He first loved us!’ We are His priority – and there is no clearer indication of this than the great statement of our Lord’s – and note that little word ‘so!’

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“O Lord” – is the expression of our love and service. He is God Almighty – the Trinity of God the Eternal Father, God the Son our Saviour and God the Holy Spirit who is with us and within us always. He is the God who had no beginning and has no end, the glorious and supreme Majesty who has desired us and sacrificed Himself for us so that we might receive, enjoy and respond to His Love. Our lives and work become an offering to Him.

‘My strength” – is our acknowledgement that without God we have nothing and cannot achieve anything of any great value. It is God in us who equips, empowers and enables us to live the life to which He has called us, and to do so in a fallen and unbelieving world. He gives us the love, the faith, the strength and the perseverance that we need – and from Him too comes the peace that passes understanding and the joy that is beyond any momentary happiness of the world.

Response:
Write the words into your diary (or somewhere that you will see them often). Learn them, say them, pray them through the week – and let them guide your thoughts, words and actions. Live them.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to love You more and to have you as my first priority, to do everything as an offering to You, and to look to You for all that I will need every day this week. Thank You so much for Your great love for me. Amen.

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Run towards the end

“Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us”
(Hebrews 12:1)

Reflection:
Firstly, there are spectators. There to watch, to support, to encourage and to applaud, they are keenly interested in and supportive of our Christian lives and ministries. This should also make us pause if we are tempted into something which is unhealthy, unhelpful and unholy!

Secondly, there is the training involved. We cannot possibly merely drift along in the great race of the Christian life. Like all serious athletes we should be looking at a regular and healthy balance in our life-style as well as discarding surplus weights and activities. Some of these may not be wrong in themselves but may hinder us in our particular journey. Others may well be directly detrimental to our spiritual and physical lives and efforts. Through it all we are expected to practice our own particular ‘disciplines’ or gifts and be aware and concerned about our fellow travellers.

Thirdly, there is the finishing line. The race of life is all about how and where we are going. This involves recognising and avoiding distractions and keeping our focus and attention on the Lord at all times so that we continually end up in the right place at the right time.

    “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

It is small wonder the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control. If we are to run our particular race faithfully and to the end – there to receive not just the applause of the spectators but the ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ from a smiling Lord Jesus – we will need the self-discipline required to make the journey less of a trial and more of a joy.

Response:
I have been chosen – let me own and finish my race

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You have chosen me to be a member of Your team. Help me to run my part of the race faithfully, and with commitment and self-control, living at all times to Your honour and glory. Amen.

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Cut Loose

“Let us throw off ..
the sin that so easily entangles”
 (Hebrews 12:1)

Reflection:
The deadly effect of sin is that it disengages us from our relationship with God and engages us in relationships with other things and other people, mostly centred on ourselves. The result is that we effectively submit ourselves to other lords which can very easily and quickly establish an authority in and over us. Satisfying them can become our priority before we are aware of it. It is small wonder that God so often equated such sin to adultery – that is being unfaithful to Him.

To try and live out the Christian life and to continue in some sinful behaviour is to guarantee that at best we will fall short of our potential in Christ and at worst to fall away from Him completely. The strange thing is that so often we are blind to the reality of our situations and try to justify it in some way or another – rather like Adam and Eve.  In the end it could destroy us.

David had it right. Instead of trying to rationalise and justify his sin over Bathsheba he went to the Lord with the great admission and acknowledgment of sin and asked for forgiveness. He went further then and prayed for God’s help in the future, for what he really needed –

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10)

Just as we cannot run with shackles on our legs so we cannot live fully and effectively whilst hauling our sins along with us. We need to let them go and seek instead to enter into the fullness of the life that Christ holds out to us. That does not imply that life will be easy, but it does mean that we can face up to it with the fullness of God within us and not held off at arm’s length because of things that, effectively, are closer to our hearts.

God has given us all of His heart. He asks the same from us so that we can more fully appreciate and share in the wonderful things that He has provided for us in and through Jesus Christ.

Response:
Take time to examine your life. Ask God to help you to recognise anything that has become a competitor for your attention.

Prayer:

Lord God help me please to want more of You all the time and not to seek to satisfy myself with the passing things of this world. Amen.

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Slim Down

“Let us throw off everything that hinders”
 (Hebrews 12:1)

Reflection:
Everyone who has ever been on a long hike will understand the handicap of trying to carry too much baggage – as will any athlete. So it is with our Christian walk – our journey with Christ.

There will be things that we have accumulated over the years – attitudes, habits, associations and indulgences – that weigh us down and distract us.  They will even prevent us from experiencing to the full the love and intimacy of the Lord, and fulfilling His desire for us.

Some things are easy to lay aside when we recognise them. Others may be more difficult. Some we may not wish to lose. Yet Jesus made it clear that He is offering us a choice that does not involve ‘both – and.’ He taught that we cannot have two Masters – we need to choose one. He affirmed in the Great Commandment that we cannot have two Lovers. And He did not come to offer us two lives, but one eternal life starting here and now. Until we make the choice, and invest our lives in the One great Love, we will be our own worst enemy, juggling our way through two lives – the one focussed on us and the other on the Lord. Neither will prove to be satisfying.

As we fill our lives with more of the Lord in all that we think and say and do we will have less space and time for other things and can begin to let them go. We will also recognise what is hindering us and dragging us off course and can look at pruning them away. There is One Lord who is the One Way, the One Truth and the One Life – and that is all there needs to be.

Response:
Make/Affirm your choice. Tackle your excess baggage one piece at a time. Pray for guidance and help. Keep at it.

Prayer:

Lord, please help me to recognise and lay aside the things that weigh me down and distract me in my journey with You. May You increasingly become my all in all and my great eternal Love. Amen.

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Lift your head

“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
 let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us”
(Hebrews 12:1)

Reflection:
We are not alone in this life. We know from His promise that the Lord is with us, and the Holy Spirit within us, at all times. But there are more. There are the living memories of those who before us were faithful witnesses to the truth and glory and salvation of God. Some of them suffered enormously but they held on to their faith and trust in God to the very end.

However it seems that the writer also presents them as being now witnesses to our lives and living. He portrays them as former athletes filling a great stadium and cheering and urging the present athletes on as they strive with every fibre of their being to successfully complete the race for which they have been selected. It is a magnificent picture and one that should fill us with hope, faith and encouragement.

Then of course there are also our fellow athletes. Life is not a competition against them but alongside our fellow believers against the distractions and prejudices and participants in a fallen world. The encouragement we receive along the way from someone running next to us, and the encouragement we can give to others by our words and example, are of inestimable value.

So as you face the future don’t give up or ease off. No matter the dark clouds around you or the sense of isolation that comes and tempts you with hopelessness – keep going. Lift you head to the whispered encouragement of the Lord, turn your ear to the calls of encouragement from Abraham, Joshua and David, Mary, Mary Magdalen and Peter and press on.

There is no going back, your starting point does not exist anymore. You are a pilgrim well into your journey and the goal gets closer every day.

Response:
With God’s help I can

Prayer:

Lord help me to be aware of you as I run my race, to know that You are always with me and that You will give me the strength and encouragement that I need and can pass on to others. Amen.

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