Friday, 30 November 2012
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt. 5.48
This encouragement from Jesus might seem like the impossible dream, yet it is God’s standard for us. Jesus sets up the high ideal of perfect love – love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. We may not achieve this ideal in this life, but we can offer ourselves for the task.
I have called these words an encouragement by Jesus, and this is how I receive them. I offer myself to Him and ask Him to work in me and with me, to mould me and lead me into a state of perfection. As I do this I determine to believe that He will guide me in a process of sanctification, drawing me closer to Him each day, cleansing me of impurity, showing me the right way and leading me in that way. He calls me to obedience. I will give of my utmost to obey.
I thank You for these words of encouragement. I know I cannot achieve perfection in this life but I offer myself to You with a plea for Your work of sanctification to be made manifest in me.
Show me Your way and lead me in it. I want to grow closer to You and to grow more like You with each passing day.
I’m Yours, Lord. I ask for an ability to hear You clearly as an acute reality within me. I want also an eagerness, an earnestness to willingly follow through with all that You ask of me and lead me into.
I love You. In love I seek more of You. I ask You to draw me closer, let me live in deep, and deepening, relationship with You. Fit me and use me to lead others into loving communion with You.
I surrender to You right now and ask You to lead me through this day. Have Your way with me. Enjoy me, please, and give me enjoyment in You. Thank You, I praise You and bless You.
Monday, 26 November 2012
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 111.10
For me, fear of the Lord is a deep and holy reverence. It is a profound respect for who He is and the power He wields. Yet it is more, for from His position of supreme power and authority, He showers love and grace, mercy and blessing upon me. This truly takes my breath away. This brings me to a place of utmost fear.
I am not always deserving of His love. Indeed, I wonder if the times when I truly deserve His love are any at all. I am quite good at deluding myself to my own behaviour. But, praise God, He can see through all of my delusions. And yet He loves me.
I know I have a fear – a holy respect – for You. Yet, as in many things, I ask for more. I claim Your promise that I will receive if I ask in the name of Jesus. I believe it is right to fear You. I believe that this is proper and I also believe it is right to have faith that all Your promises are true for me. They are “Yes” and “Amen”. I ask therefore for more fear of You and more faith in Your promises, and more expectation of their outworking.
Lord, I believe, but I earnestly ask You to help me in my unbelief. Remove all barriers and obstructions. I am ready to go forward with You. I seek the fullness of Christ in me and the power that He promised me in the Holy Spirit.
O God, you are so good. You are wonderful beyond measure. Draw me close. Feed me, nourish me. Let me know the fullness of Your provision in me, for me and through me.
I rejoice in You as the mighty God. Hallelujah! Fill me to overflowing with Your presence. Hear my passionate plea, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Friday, 23 November 2012
Part your heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Psalm 144.5
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! Isaiah 64.1
The might of God is beyond human comprehension. At His coming mountains will tremble and smoke. He can part seas and cause great upheaval in land masses. This is our great God.
He is also as gentle as a kitten and more loving than any mother. This is our heavenly Father.
I put these two contrasting qualities together and join to them all the characteristics and traits that lie between these two poles. And this is my God! He is mighty and tender, terrifying and loving. He is all things. And He embraces me.
I exalt You in Your awesome power. I praise You in Your holiness. I worship and adore You in Your love. You are everything to me.
Precious Father, I love You. I rejoice in every moment that I am aware of Your presence with me, leading and guiding me.
I invite You, once more, into the very centre of my life. I seek the fullness of Jesus in me. Come, fill me, Lord. Let me know You more. Draw me closer. I seek greater intimacy with You. I look for breakthrough. Lord, I’m yours. I’m so hopelessly in love with You. I sense Your hand upon me. I feel Your Spirit within me. Give me more, Lord. Please, I can’t get enough of You. Give me more, in Jesus’ Name I ask. Amen.
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means, “God with us”. Matt. 1.23
These words provide the perfect reminder of God’s constant presence with His people.
Since the beginning of time God’s unchanging plan has been to enjoy relationship with His people. Throughout the Old Testament God was there for His people, though often they ignored Him and lived in disobedience and alienation.
The words of this verse herald the New Testament, and the appearance of God in human form connecting with His people in the most real way and, finally, giving His life to save them.
And today, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, God is present in as many as will receive him. He is present and active. Praise the Lord!
I thank You for the promise of Immanuel – God with us. I rejoice in knowing that I am Yours. I commit to you as fully as I am able, and I ask You to lead me into greater fullness of You.
I pray that You would work in me. I echo the prayer of David and ask You to create a pure heart in me. I seek a brand-new heart which is pure to the core. I offer my heart to You. I ask to see all that I see with pure eyes, to hear with holy ears, and to act with Godly responses. I seek to be God-like at the core of my being.
I ask You to renew a steadfast spirit within me. Bring me to a place of consistency where I am not ‘up’ one minute and ‘down’ the next. I seek to be constant in You. I ask for a work of grace that will make me a rock, able to resist temptation at all times, holding me safe and sure in all the ever-changing situations of life.
I pray also for a willing spirit to sustain me. Lord, let me be willing – ever willing – to do whatever You may ask of me. I want to walk in continual obedience to Your will. I want to please You in all that I do and not be led astray by the whims and false imagining of my human condition. I want to live for You, Lord. Help me to do this with all of my being.
In Jesus Name I ask. Amen.
Saturday, 17 November 2012
Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some idols and installed one of his sons as his priest. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
Micah had stolen quite a substantial amount of silver from his mother. So, at the outset, we see a dubious side to his character. When he hears his mother utter a curse in respect to the theft, he confesses, doubtless fearing the curse and its possible effect. In her gratitude for the return of the silver, his mother consecrates it to the Lord, intending thereby to counteract the curse. At his mother’s suggestion, Micah creates a carved image and a cast idol, and sets up a shrine, installing one of his sons as a priest. What they are doing is paganising the worship of the true God. They are in direct contravention of the law:
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below (Exod. 20.4).
You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape... (Deut. 4.15,16).
Micah is further aided in this paganising behaviour by a Levite claiming descent from Moses, whom he took into his home as a priest (Judges 17.9,10).
As I reflect on this reading, I sense God give me a caution, and almost a plea. It is as if He’s saying:
“Micah was not alone in his wandering from the truth. Many others in his time professed to follow me yet strayed from right and good behaviour in relating to me. And this did not cease, not even with the coming of my Son in human form. Still today, in the twenty-first century people are inclined to follow their own ideas of how they will worship me and, supposedly, follow my will. In the story of Micah you read that Israel had no king and everyone did as he pleased. This is no excuse. I do not accept that you need a “king” or any other leader to keep you legitimate in my presence. Before me, every person is responsible for their own behaviour, and answerable to me, and to me alone.
I urge you not to be tempted to follow any fancies of your own thinking. I direct you to the instruction of my Word, and I ask you to give yourself to it. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Look to Him in all things. Take up His invitation to ‘Come, follow me’. Be as He would be. Hold close and true to His commandments to love the Lord your God with every part of your being, and to love your neighbour as you would want to be loved yourself. Consider also these words from the older testament to not lean on your own understanding but to trust me with all your heart, and acknowledge me in all things. I will lead you. I will not let you down nor abandon you. I have plans for you and I want to see you realise the plans and purposes that is my will for you. You need nothing else – no rites or rituals, no images or other creations. Keep it simple. Give yourself to me and be willing for me to lead and guide you. And, remember, I love you more than you could possible imagine.”
Lord, Mighty God, Precious Saviour and Loving Father,
I come to You in new commitment. I’m not aware of having created any idols or of adopting any divergent practices, but this does not clear me of having done so. If I have, unknowingly or unwittingly, followed such ways, I ask Your forgiveness.
I give myself to You and the ways of Jesus. I desire to focus so intently upon You that I become more and more infused by You. May You fill me and seep out from every pore of my being. Lead me, please, further into You, in Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.