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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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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Listen

“Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day’s work”
(Proverbs 8:34 MSG)

Reflection:
There are three voices that speak to me at the beginning of every day.

One is my own, telling me of all my needs and wants and fears. The next is the world’s sending a flood of mixed messages – immersing me in the lives, events and traumas around the globe together with an unending stream of advertisements about things that could make my life more worthwhile. And then there is the quiet whisper of the Lord, telling me to slow down as I read His word and to listen for the message that He has for me today.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that the God of the ages, the Lord God Almighty, wishes to talk with this little being, one of the smallest grains of sand on the vast beaches of humanity. At other times it is almost inconceivable that the Saviour who hears the cries of those caught up in the latest natural and man-made tragedies should come to ‘sit awhile with me’ in the quiet stillness of the early hours. And yet He is always ‘there’ – always with me, always listening and attentive, always with a response, even if it is just the special silence of companionship.

Time and again He has something for me, some word of encouragement or direction, some insight or inspiration, some reminder of His great love and provision. And the notebook that is my almost constant companion is filled with these snippets of love and life. Some are words for the day. However others are treasures that have become foundational to the future as well.

Blessed indeed are those who listen for God and to Him – in His Word, in prayer, in creation and through the day. For they will come to know the joy of His voice and presence.

Response:
Don’t fret or strain – practice listening at all times

Prayer:

“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” And like Samuel help me Father to hear You as You speak to me and to learn to recognise Your voice more and more. Amen.”

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Such Blessings

“Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed?
Where are the other nine?
Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
(Luke 17:17-18)

Reflection:
Whenever I read this account I am convicted of how very much I take for granted.

Jesus has just healed 10 lepers. He sent them off to show themselves to the priest to be declared healed and able to take their place in society again. As they went, the record tells us, ‘they were cleansed.” The effect on them must have been remarkable – for they were healed not only physically but of their being social outcasts, having only other diseased people as there companions and friends.

One of them returned to Jesus ‘praising God in a loud voice’ and ‘threw himself at Jesus feet and thanked Him.’ Looking at him, a Samaritan, Jesus asked the question – “Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” By implication most, if not all, of the others had been Israelites. The sadness was that as much as they may have rejoiced in their healing they ignored the One who had healed them and given them back the gift of life and living.

Every day is a day of the wonder and grace of God. Each one is an occasion when we may look for Him and find Him in new ways. Each moment offers us the opportunity to return our thoughts to Him and to speak to Him of our lives and His love. And there is so much for which to thank Him – from the wonder of our minds and bodies to the awesome extent, detail and beauty of His creation, from the ongoing blessing of His forgiveness, cleansing and healing of our spirits to the people who have been and are a blessing in our lives.

Response:
Take a moment now to thank God for something or someone who has blessed you – and maybe to thank them as well.

Prayer:

Thank You Father for the life You have given me, for my new life in Jesus Christ, and for the countless ways in which You have reached out to me in love and blessing. Thank You so very much. Amen

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What I am

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus”
(Ephesians 2:10)

Reflection:
 I am not what the world has made of me. I am who and what God created me to be, and into which He is leading me and expressing through me.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

However, this newness is not something or someone that God has recently dreamed up. My true identity and nature goes back into the mists before our time began. And God is restoring me into that image which has all the beauty of something new and untarnished – a someone I have never seen or even imagined.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
(Ephesians 1:4-5)

George Appleton, in his beautiful and deeply insightful prayer, expressed it like this,

“Give me a candle of the Spirit,
O God,
as I go down into the depths of my being.
Show me the hidden things,
the creatures of my dreams,
the storehouse of forgotten memories
and hurts.
Take me down
to the spring of my life,
and tell me my nature and my name.
Give me freedom to grow,
so that I may become that self,
the seed of which  You planted in me at my making.”

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Words of Life

“Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law”
(Psalm 119:18)

Reflection:
“What about me!” When things get tough and I’m feeling down it is so easy for that cry to rise to my lips.

This morning in my reading it struck me how often some of the kings of Israel would immediately turn to the Lord in a problem. They went to find out what He had to say – and not only to plead for help. Sometimes His response was challenging where they had been guilty of ongoing sin – whilst at others it was encouraging and affirming.

I know for myself that when I have gone seeking Him in prayer and Scripture He invariably responds with a direct word or a biblical passage. Sometimes the response has been immediate whilst at others He has quietly waited until He has brought me to a better spiritual place – often where I am quieter and prepared to listen!

Again and again He has spoken to me through a word that has caught my attention whilst reading. As I have paused, there has come a stillness and quietness within and I have been comforted, encouraged and strengthened by His presence and response.

He does not always remove the problem but the knowledge of His intimate and loving presence has given me peace. And I have walked forward with Him.

Response:
What God wants to say in a situation is more precious than my demands

Prayer:

Father, You are with me always – and You care so much for me and about me. Help me to stay close to You and to trust You with all of me. Amen.

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Get Wise

“Asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
 (Colossians 1:9)

Reflections:
We are told by Paul that in everything we should present our requests to God. (Philippians 4:6) However prayer should also include our praying for the things that God wants. Some of these are set out for us in the Lord’s Prayer where we can join our desires to those of God.

Now Paul turns his attentions to our individual and corporate growth and maturity – praying that God will fill is with the knowledge of His will – obviously in all things – through our growth in spiritual wisdom and understanding. This comes through the work and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit within us as well as through our growth in knowledge and understanding as we walk with God along the path that He has set for us. The more we know of God and His ways, and the more we get to know Him personally, the deeper will be our understanding of His will and ways in our life situation.

Because we can trust that He is the God of Love we can trust His will and His ways for us. They are designed to draw us closer to Him and into a deeper and more fulfilling relationship.

  • “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)

The purpose of this prayer of Pauls is not only to bless us but to enable us to more readily and purposefully fulfil the will of God both for us and through us.

  • “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)

Response:
We are called to make Paul’s prayer for the Colossians our own prayer for ourselves and our Christian community.

Prayer:

Lord fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that I may live a life worthy of You in every way. Amen.

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