Thursday, 27 February 2014
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30.18
These words bring to my mind the father who waits patiently for the return of his son (Luke, chapter 15). This is the personification of God. His delight is to shower grace on His creation. We were made for His pleasure, and His pleasure is for us to enjoy a deep and loving relationship with Him.
Does our sin get in the way of such a relationship? Only if we will allow it! Jesus has made the way for us to confess and repent, to be freed of our sin, and to return to the Father in restored relationship. Jesus constantly encourages us to take this course of action: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Why, oh why, don’t we take the easy way? So often, instead of turning to God immediately, in humble confession and sincere repentance, we torment ourselves with feelings of guilt, shame and unworthiness. Instead of using God’s sovereign weapon we hold on to the evil weapons of Satan. How dishonouring this is to the love and sacrifice of Jesus.
Let’s wake up and say “Be gone, Devil, with your pathetic weapons of guilt, shame and unworthiness. I embrace God’s weapons of love and grace, confession, repentance and forgiveness. I am a child of God and, right now, I rush into His arms and His tender care.”
Forgive me for my sins and transgressions. Forgive me and set me free from shame, guilt and unworthiness. These are Satan’s ways and not Yours. I spurn them and cast them off.
I come to You in humble confession. I lay my inadequacies before You and ask Your forgiveness and release. I embrace Your mercy, grace, love and blessing. I choose to walk with You today. I ask You to accompany me through all that will unfold. Lead me in Your way. I want to go no other way.
Take me now. Lead me on, in Jesus’ Name I ask. Amen.
Monday, 24 February 2014
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb. 12.3
The NIV Study Bible reminds us that Jesus suffered more than any of His disciples is asked to suffer. I am reminded of this often and it is indeed a great encouragement to me, as the NIV notes say (p. 1874). I find myself saying, “Lord, they haven’t yet done to me what they did to You.”
I haven’t suffered as He has and I very likely won’t suffer to the extent He did, whatever might befall me in the future. This, in itself, is a source of comfort to me.
The other aspect of this truth that impacts me is that Jesus, by His far greater degree of suffering, so completely understands what I might be going through. I think I really need to get hold of this, to let the reality settle fully into the essence of my being.
What am I saying? Jesus has experienced far greater temptation, trial and torment than anything I am likely to experience on this earth. He has endured, and He has overcome. He understands anything and everything that would seek to afflict me. He is my greatest ally and support. He is the help I need, the only help I need, in any situation.
You have experienced it all. There is nothing that may come my way to surprise You. Dear Lord, I thank you for this reminder today.
Right now, nothing afflicts me to any marked degree. I can come to You in joyful celebration of Your presence in my life. I feel like I want to skip through the day with delight in Your presence. Yet, even in this positive state, I know You are equally there for me when times seem not so good. You are ever ready to encourage and strengthen me. You are there to hearten me at all times. I rejoice in the wholeness of life in You. You are my way. You are my all. Hallelujah! Thank You. I praise Your Name. Amen.
Friday, 21 February 2014
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbour as yourself”, you are doing right. James 2.5
James endorses the “right” way for us. There are two aspects of this statement that speak clearly to me. The first is perhaps obvious. God wants us to love our neighbour. I would further suggest that the classification of “neighbour’ is all-embracing. After all, Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us. I believe it is difficult not to experience a measure of caring for those we pray for. So the first point is clear: We are to love all those that God has given to us as neighbours.
But we are to love them as we love ourselves! This second point is an interesting one. Through this commandment God is clearly telling me that I must love myself. But I do not believe this to be an egotistical, narcissistic, self-centred obsessiveness. Rather, I see it as a healthy self-respect. I acknowledge the person that God made me to be. I affirm that person and seek to live his life, in God, to the full. I will look to enjoy living this life that God has given me.
With a healthy self-image, and a similar respect for God’s sovereignty and leading, I am well placed to love my neighbour, whoever that might be.
I thank You for the person You created me to be. As my Christian journey has unfolded so also I have seen the true me uncovered. I like Your handiwork and I thank You for the love that formed me to be me.
I know there is more uncovering to come. I submit myself to You for Your further refining. I ask You to lead me in all relationships. Let me love others as You love me.
I love you with a sweet intensity. I rejoice in You. May I also love all those You bring to me to share Your love with.
Receive my love. Receive me, and lead me through this day, in Jesus’ Name I ask. Amen.
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name. Heb. 13.15
NIV Study Bible notes (p. 1876) remind us that “sacrifice” here is used metaphorically to represent an offering to God. The writer to the Hebrews makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is the full and final sacrifice that allows for the remitting of all sins that are sincerely confessed and genuinely repented of in His name. This sacrifice per se is no longer required of us. But praise and thanksgiving may be offered to God in profusion.
Paul exhorts us to give thanks in all circumstances. This tells me that no time or experience is exempt from the act of thanksgiving. When I am happy and things are going well it is not difficult to give thanks. When I am struggling with an issue, or feel badly let down by others, then it is a different matter to freely give thanks, to praise God for His wonder and goodness. At just such times I might become aware that thanksgiving is a sacrifice.
I believe such times give me opportunity to connect with Jesus in sacrificial offering and giving to God. I may not feel like presenting God with a sacrificial offering of praise. I remind myself that it’s not what I feel like doing, but my obedience to a Saviour and Lord who said, “Follow me” that guides me in what I choose to do. I remember that I always have a choice. I pray I may always choose the Jesus way.
Right now I can come before you in joyful praise and thanksgiving. It is not difficult. Yet I am mindful of the times when I may not feel like giving thanks. There are difficult days when the last thing I want to do is sing praises to You. I ask You to forgive me for this attitude and to help me, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to remember You – at all times – with thanksgiving in an offering of praise and worship.
Lord, let me be ever mindful of that most amazing sacrifice You made for me. I thank You now. May I continue to thank You every day of this earthly life. Give me strength, Lord, in Jesus’ Name I ask. Amen.
Saturday, 15 February 2014
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. James 3.5
My tongue, small in regard to the totality of my being, is capable of “setting a forest on fire”! I am aware that there are positive and negative impacts to this statement.
I can cause a lot of damage and harm with the improper use of my tongue. Malice is surprisingly easy to speak forth and, once spoken, cannot be retracted. I need to guard my tongue to ensure that I do not speak forth ungodly things.
But there is another way. Paul, in both letters to the church at Corinth says, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” If I am to make boasts at all, let them be in Jesus. Let Him be the focus and centre of all my speech. In everything I say, whether it might be seen as “boasting” or simply as normal everyday conversation, I pray that Jesus will be the source, the author and the finisher of my every word.
I surrender my tongue to You. I am mindful of times when my words are not what they might be. Forgive me, please.
I pray that my every thought be taken captive in obedience to Christ and that each word I speak will reflect His sovereign place in my life. I commit to this and I ask that Your Holy Spirit will lead me, guide me and show me the way. And, if I falter, I pray for Holy Spirit conviction to lead me back to the truth.
May my every word be pleasing to You. Take my tongue and my speech and make them Yours, in Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.