Monday, 31 December 2012

Will you give me ...

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “will you give me a drink?”                               John 4.7

This simple sentence opens a significant discourse. And it all begins with Jesus asking something of someone else. Jesus had the most amazing and exciting news for this woman. Indeed, in a short space of time, the whole of her village had been impacted, and many lives had been changed. But Jesus’ intro had not been, “Have I got something for you? You’ve got to listen to this!” His approach had been to ask her to do something for Him, to give Him aid.

This demonstrates a wonderful way to engage a person, enabling follow through in further relationship. Christians have the most precious message to share yet we have no right to force it upon anyone. But with the right approach, the message will be received. It will be effective and the Kingdom of God will grow.

I pray for opportunities, many opportunities to share God’s love and the salvation hope that is in Jesus. But I need to do so in the right way, with the right opening.

Lord God,

What a wonderful example of connection and engagement Jesus illustrates in His meeting with the Samaritan woman. I thank You for the revelation of this.

I pray for many God-given opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel of love. I pray also that I will be sensitive to the right approach. I ask for Holy Spirit guidance. Your Word has said that the Holy Spirit will show me and even give me the words to say. I thank You, Lord.

I pray for the growth of the kingdom of God and I pray, in Jesus’ Name, that I may play a significant part in that growth.                                                                                          Amen.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Every effort

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this (a new heaven and a new earth), make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.      
2 Peter 3.14

In his first letter (1.19) Peter describes Christ as without blemish or defect. Here he is exhorting believers to follow their Master. I do not believe we will attain this state of spotlessness and blamelessness on our own and, indeed, I don’t see Peter asking for this. He asks us simply to make every effort.

As we apply ourselves, we can seek God’s assistance. And, growing more like Him, we will grow also in peace with Him. We have peace with God by being justified by faith, but this peace can be upset when we fail to live as God desires.

Correction comes in turning to Him. We face fully the way that God wants us to go. We make every effort to please Him, and we seek His help in all our being and doing. The peace of God will follow. Thank God for His goodness and mercy.

Lord God,

I commit to make every effort I can to be found spotless and blameless. But I ask Your help in this. I pray that You will lead me through this day. Let me be who You want me to be. Let me do only those things that You would have me do.

I thank You for the peace I have in You. Peace is a hallmark of Your presence with me. I rejoice in my life with You. Circumstances do not dictate the way I live. My living is in Your hands.

I praise You for the wonderful love you have for me. Lead me forward, Lord. Let us do what You want to do, in Jesus’ Name I ask.                                                                 Amen.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Stumbling block

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”      Matt. 16.23

I’m sensing fresh insights into this verse as I read and contemplate it today. And this present perspective gives me much to consider and action. Jesus has told His disciples of the suffering and death that is soon to come to Him. Peter responds with a denial, and resolve that this shall not happen. In the circumstances this is not an unreasonable reaction. Peter’s heart is to protect the one he loves. I think I might have responded in a very similar way.

Then I read Jesus’ none-too-pleasant response. It is a positive outburst against Peter’s desire to protect and preserve. At first I’m tempted to shout out “Hang on, Jesus, he’s only thinking of You.” Yet I know this is not altogether true. Peter is possibly thinking largely about himself. He might have a measure of concern over what is to happen to his beloved master, but I feel his prime concern is for himself. Confronted by the reality of losing Jesus, he does the only thing he knows to do in defence.

But, let’s try to look at what this means in God’s eyes. Firstly, Jesus is accusing him of being a stumbling block. Wow, did He really say that? Apparently so! This man who acted instantly in defence of his friend was actually making himself a stumbling block. What does this say to me? I am seriously challenged to think that I just might, even in my most sincere efforts to walk with Jesus and be pleasing to Him, actually make myself a stumbling block. How might I guard against this? Perhaps one thing I can do is to be most careful of my response and reaction in all things. This might work, but only to a limited extent I feel, for I am human and I will forget. I will be carried often more by immediate instant human reaction than by considered response. Nevertheless, I can be cautious. I can also seek out the grace of God and I can be a lot more confident of God’s grace carrying me through than I can be of my own efforts.

The second “accusation” that Jesus levels against Peter is that he is focussed on the things of man and not the things of God. How this stings! Oh, how often do we embrace and espouse the things of men and have the audacity to masquerade them as the things of God.

I connect strongly with the words of Jesus to Peter in the first century. These very words are convicting another Peter in the twenty-first century. I want, more and more, to go God’s way. I believe God has done something powerful in me in just the last few days. My eyes are being opened to my need and desire to chase after God, to truly make Him first in my life. I must earnestly seek Him, and not just say it, for Who He is, and not with an ulterior motive of what He can do.

Lord God,

Your Word is living and powerful and it strikes me today with the force of a dart piercing my very being and reminding me of what is truly important – of Who You are and who I am.

I pray that I may never be a stumbling block to You. Lord, help me, show me, guide me and lead me in Your holy ways and the paths that lead to greater intimacy and knowing You.

My prayer is also that I be mindful and heartful of the things of God and not the things of men. Let me not chase the material values of this world. And let me not seek You for the sole purpose of what You might do for me.  Please allow nothing to get in the way of my relationship with You. May every day see me move further into Your being. My life is in You. Without You I am nothing. And so, I cry out to you.

If You desire that I sit at Your feet in wonderful adoration for the rest of my human existence, then so be it. If You have more for me to do, I am willing. Let us journey forth together. I receive Your new mercies this day and I rejoice and thank You that You have chosen me as Your child. Hallelujah!                                                                                                    Amen.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Little children - always

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”             Matt. 18.3

Little children are innocent and naive. Their understanding is simple. They are trusting and totally believing. But little children grow up. They become ‘wise’ and ‘all-knowing’. Trust is replaced by suspicion. Doubt takes over from belief. These are not qualifications for entry into the kingdom of heaven. Clever, worldly ways must be discarded and the wholesome attitude of little children completely recaptured in order to experience and enjoy all that God has for His children.

I want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I also want to enjoy the things of God in this earthly realm. My prayer is to become, truly, a child of God – a little child of God.

Lord God,

I thank You for this glorious day and the pleasures You bring to me in it. I think of the kingdom of heaven. I pray that I will, one day, gloriously enter the kingdom of heaven. I also pray the I will experience the fullness of life in You here on earth. I know I am Your child, for Jesus has given me that right. I receive it and I thank You with all of my being.

I pray that I might become truly ‘Your child’ – in every sense. May I know the guilelessness and trust of a little child. May my eyes be opened to see with innocence and purity. May I be able to follow Jesus who always said “I tell you the truth.”

Lord, please further Your act of creation in me. Please take from me any harshness or falseness that might have taken hold from the world and its ways. Please release me from all temptations of the flesh, and lead me to follow fully the way of the Spirit.

I love You and so desire to please You in all that I do. Let me truly be Your child. Make me Your child, in Jesus’ Name I ask.                                                                            Amen.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

At last, first

So the last will be first, and the first will be last.                           Matt. 20.16

The parable of the workers in the vineyard, with the eleventh hour employees receiving the same pay as those who had worked all day, could be viewed through fully human eyes as grossly unfair. It might just prompt indignant, if not angry, reaction.

But this is not God’s way. The parable is illustrative, as Matthew clearly records, of the kingdom of heaven. It is God’s heartfelt desire that none shall perish (2 Peter 3.9). God has no favourites – all are favoured equally by Him. This really is the most wonderful news. I can only rejoice in my spirit over this. For it gives me renewed hope for those (family, friends, acquaintances and strangers) who do not yet walk with God. The walk is not over. Even at the eleventh hour they might receive the full reward.

Lord God,

I thank You for Your exceedingly loving heart. I thank You for Your boundless saving grace. I thank You for eleventh-hour miracles.

I pray for those who do not receive You or acknowledge You as Lord. I cry out, Lord, that You might draw them to You. There are certain individuals that I’m thinking about right now and my prayer is that You will touch them and give them the grace to accept Your invitation. But I pray also for those I don’t know. Lord, I – like You – don’t want anyone to miss out on the wonderful gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. I ask You to act, to move upon people with Holy Spirit conviction. I also ask You to move on me and give me a greater concern for the lost and a heart to witness to them and cry out to You in their behalf.

Lord, may Your heavenly paymaster not shut shop, but be ready, at all times, to reward all those You draw to You. I pray this in Jesus’ Name.                                                        Amen.