Make me clean again

“Cleanse me with hyssop,
 and I will be clean;
wash me,
and I will be whiter than snow”
(Psalm 51:7)

Reflection:
Lying in a hospital bed one day I looked up to see two strapping nurses come through the door of my ward. Sensing trouble I asked what they were there for and heard the response, “We have come to wash you.” There was nothing I could do except smile weakly and submit myself to the indignity of it all.

In fact they were very professional and very good – and maintained throughout a conversation with each other that had nothing to do with me. Once they had left I was both very relieved and surprised at how much better I felt to be cleaner.

There are times when we cannot cleanse ourselves – and that is particularly true when there is some sin that has left us feeling soiled and stained. It is then that we almost desperately need God to come and cleanse us – not casually whilst talking of something else –but purposefully and with focussed attention. This is what David had in mind when after the realisation of his sins with and because of Bathsheba he cried out to God,

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

There is a cleansing that can only come from God. That is it necessary is underlined by Jesus who said,

“Unless I wash you,
you have no part with me.”

(John 13:8)

That it is freely available to the repentant sinner is made clear by John,

“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)

All of us have sins that we need to bring to the Lord – for forgiveness, cleansing and healing. And having done so we should ensure that we also take time to forgive ourselves. For who are we to remain in judgement of ourselves when the Lord of the Cross has set us free!

Response:
Don’t delay – do it know. Ask the Holy Spirit to witness God’s forgiveness to your spirit.

Prayer:

Father God I confess  to You that I have sinned in these ways …… . Please forgive me, cleanse me of the sin and stain, heal me of the weaknesses and strengthen me against the temptations, in Jesus name. Amen.

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My Resting Place

“You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance”
(Psalm 32:7)

Reflection:
We all need a place in which to hide –a place where we can deal with the pain, the hurt, the failures, the rejection, the loneliness and the shame that is a part of our lives. It is a place where we can look at the reality of our emotions and lives, and where we can bring them into the open without facing further hurt and humiliation.

What God offers us though is not just a place in which to lie and lick our wounds but something far more meaningful and precious as well. He offers us Himself as that hiding place – safe and secure, strong and gentle, patient, forgiving and very loving. And it is there that we can find the warm smile, the everlasting arms, the strongly beating heart, the gentle cleansing breath and the tender, loving glance of the Father.

He is not offering us just safety from the trials and tribulations of the world, and from our own failures and sins. He is offering us something far more important. That is a place where the essential ‘me’ can be safe, where it cannot be harmed but nourished and developed, and where to find the forgiveness and love that sets us free both now and forever. It is a place to which – or rather to Whom – we can withdraw at any time for counsel, encouragement and refreshment, before we stand up for ‘another go at life.’ It is a place of unconditional love as well as guidance and strength.

God has this in mind when He says,

  • “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15)
  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)

Response:
Develop the habit of withdrawing into the presence of God to open your heart to Him and to listen in the quietness  – and sometimes to the embracing silence.

Prayer:

Father I come to You with my pain and my joy, my hurts and my fears. Please cleanse, heal and embrace me in Your love and strengthen me to walk on with You. Amen.

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Songs of Praise

“Where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy”
(Psalm 65:8)

Reflection:
I have loved and still love God’s great gifts of morning and evening, sunrise and sunset, dawn and dusk. And I understand fully the translation which proclaims,

“The gates of the morning and evening
sing Your praise.”

I have been fortunate enough to know times when I could sleep next to the ocean with curtains wide. And, as the sun began to show its golden rim above the distant horizon, I have sprung from my bed and gone out to greet the dawn.  There with the surging and whispering sea I have welcomed the morning with wonder and praise. Every part of me has thrilled to the sense of God as He has ushered in another opportunity to know and enjoy His love and life.

At other times I have stood knee-deep in the swirling surf and watched in awe as the sun went down in a sky-wide blaze of glorious colour. And as I gazed in speechless and almost tearful wonder the Artist produced another range of colours from His palette. With gentle hand and loving touch He painted the silent clouds again and again with ever-softening hues – turning often to watch my face and smile.

Eugene Peterson translates it like this.

‘Dawn and dusk take turns
calling ‘come and worship’

It is a message for all to see and hear – if only we will. For a glorious moment it lifts our eyes and our spirits from the obsessions, the pain and the burdens of the moment. It offers us an injection of cleansing beauty, of enlightening truth and of blessed hope. It’s a space in which to pause and say’, ‘Of course; Thank You,’ and to be still. For silence also is praise to You, our great God of love.

Response:
Make time to look and wonder at the God of creation.

Prayer:

Lord help me to hear the voice of Your creation as it reaches out to me in love and blessing. Amen.

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A Song called Jesus

“The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.”
(Psalm 118:14)

 

Reflection:
Part of the victory song of Moses, after the great triumph of God in the Exodus through the sea, 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 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 song.’ 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 praises of God are 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.’

‘He has become my salvation.’  This Lord, who is at once Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not one who merely watches from a distance but is the God who has come to us – to seek us, find us, help us and lead us home through His awesome death and resurrection. Everything promised and prophesied in the Bible has found its truth and completion in the Lord Jesus. And, He has sought, called and embraced each one of His beloved in His eternal love – from which no one and nothing can ever separate us, once we have given ourselves back to Him.

I love you, O Lord,
my strength, my song
and my salvation.

Response:
Learn it – reflect on it – sing it

Prayer:

Thank You Lord – so very much. Amen.

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Handfuls of Love

“You will show me the path of life.
 In your presence is fullness of joy.
In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore”
(Psalm 16:11)

Reflection:
The Bible is full of treasures that speak to us in particular ways at different times. This one has always been a great friend that seems to keep appearing before me.

It reminds me that God is involved in my life. As the Good Shepherd, and as the Lord, He always goes before me and tells me to follow Him. In this way He will show me the way to go. It will not be merely a good way, or just a pleasant way, or even the easiest way. It will always be the best way for me in any situation. It will be the way of life now that is a part of the Way of Life that brings me fully and finally into His eternal presence and love.

But I may also know the reality of His presence even now – today and every day. Jesus promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20) and the Holy Spirit whom He has given us resides within us. This means too that I may know the pleasure of this presence. In fact it is far more than pleasure, it is joy – and joy to the fullest possible extent known to humans. Jesus said to us that

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete”
(John 15:11)

The final promise always raises a picture for me that comes from my childhood. My father would come home and sometimes hold out his closed right hand to me to indicate that there was a gift inside. I would take his great hand in my own small one and try to peel open his fingers so that I could access the treasure within. Whenever we are in God’s presence He has a gift for us that is either relevant to our need of the moment or is just a love token from our Father of great love. It is there for us to find and grasp.

We miss out on so much if we dash in and out of the presence of God. There do need to be times when we soak in His presence and His Word – allowing Him to draw closer and to give us more of Himself.

Response:
Ask Him to open these words to you – and for you.

Prayer:

Father help me to enter more fully into Your presence and allow You to choose how to bless me today. Amen.

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Loving the Word

“Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night”
(Psalm 1:1-2)

Reflection:
Following on from Jesus statement yesterday that,

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4)

We find the same truth expressed in the first of the Psalms.

“Blessed is the man (whose) … delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night”  (Psalm 1:1-2)

Importantly the Psalmist is not talking of a wilful obedience but of a delight of the heart – a joy and an inspiration. These are strong and influential words related more to love than to gritted determination. He tells us that we find this in the revelation contained in ‘the law of the Lord.’

The law referred to in this instance is not the merely the commandments and other laws given to the Israelites but the entire revelation of God, including very importantly the fact that He has provided for our forgiveness and salvation. He has also revealed truths and directions to help us in our life and living. All of it tells of the great love, commitment and faithfulness of God to His people – those who put their trust in Him. For example,

  • “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered”  (Psalm 32:1)
  • “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17)

If we soak ourselves in the Scriptures and allow God to use them to speak to us we will begin to discover the reason behind some of David’s great exclamations.

  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105)
  • “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counsellors”  (Psalm 119:24)
  • “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long”  (Psalm 119:97)

There is no doubt that David was passionate about the word of God.  It is all summed up for us as follows

  • “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7-11)

Response:
Read the Word expecting to discover some new truth, direction or assurance

Prayer:

Lord open Your Word to me, and me to Your Word, that I may delight in Your revelation of Yourself. Amen.

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Love of God 13

“Give thanks to the LORD,
for he is good.
His love endures forever”
(Psalm 136:1)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love.

There is a passage in the Psalms that is often used at funerals to signify the brevity of human life.

“As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more” (Psalm 103:15-16)

And as quickly as a flower of the field may be forgotten so does the world move on when we pass away – remembered by only a relative few. However the Psalm continues and reminds us of the Lord’s love which does not move on and forget.

“But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him” (Psalm 103:17)

God’s love is not short-lived and fickle. He loved us before we were born, He has loved us throughout our lives, He has loved us into His kingdom, and He will love us for all of eternity. And when the ‘wind blows over’ our place here and takes us with it God will be there for us with His arms open wide.

Our God is the Lord God Almighty. He is good. And His love endures forever. This needs to be at the forefront of our minds at all times. David recognised it when he prayed,

 “Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD” (Psalm 25:7)

Response:
I am loved  with an everlasting love by the God who is both holy and eternal.

Prayer:

Father my mind knows that You are good and that You love me. Please may this truth sink into the depths of my spirit as well and give new meaning to my life. Amen.

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