Friday, 30 June 2017
"Ask and it will be given to you;seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Matt. 7.7,8
Jesus is speaking; God is talking. While Jesus addresses the disciples, I hear God speaking to me. He is telling me my needs will be provided for, but He is also saying that I have a part to play. I must ask. If I do I can expect that it will be given to me. If I seek, I will find. And if I knock, the door will be opened.
Of course, I am mindful that God is God, I am not! And so, in my asking, my seeking, and my knocking, let me be aware that God will answer in His way - and in His time. The answer I receive may not be the answer that I hope for. Yet I trust God, and I believe what He brings to me will be for my benefit. This may not be immediately clear to me. I have had experiences where it has taken a considerable time for me to see that God's action for me is the right one. Yet, time and again,
I have been able to say, 'Now I see why God did ...' Or 'Now I know why God allowed ...'
My relationship with God assures me that His concern is for my well-being - pure and simple. (Rom. 8.31) God is good and His goodness works for the good to me. (Rom. 8.28)
I do not need deep and lengthy searches to see God's goodness. I believe I experience it every day. I don't always understand it, but I trust God and I know that His love is for me and for my well-being. God's love is expressed through His goodness, His care, His understanding, His mercy, and His grace.
Jesus' invitation to ask, to seek, and to knock at the door is open to anyone who will respond to Him. How good is this!
I thank You for Your goodness. I thank You for the many times You have worked for the good in my life. I accept Jesus' invitation to ask, to seek, and to knock.
I pray for any who may be in need at this time. I ask that You alert them, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to the out working of Your goodness in their lives if they ask, seek or knock.
I give my gratitude to You for Your constant presence in my life. Thank You. I bless You. Amen.
Wednesday, 28 June 2017
Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said. Acts 14. 21b. 22
Luke relates how Barnabas and Paul visited Lystra and ministered to the people there. Paul healed a crippled man. The crowds acclaimed the two visitors as gods, but Barnabas and Paul tore their clothes when they heard of this. They declared themselves to be only human, and they shared the good news of the living God. But some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and persuaded the crowd against Barnabas and Paul. Paul was stoned and left for dead. He was not dead, however, and the next day he and Barnabas returned to Derbe. There they preached the good news and won a large number of disciples. Following this, they ministered to the disciples at Lystra, Iconium and Antioch.
Paul was not using empty words when he encouraged the disciples to remain true to the faith despite the hardships they might be subjected to. Paul had experienced such hardships first hand. His experience, in total, likely surpassed the suffering of many another believer.
When a person connects with God there is no magical assurance of a trouble free life. Indeed, the opposite may well be the case. God's ways appear to be so different to the ways of the world. The true God-followers may face ridicule, indifference or even persecution for their faith. I believe God's promises ought to be prominent in the midst of any suffering: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Heb. 13.5); "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt. 28.20 b)
I hold close to You. I know not whether there are sufferings that I may be called on to endure in Your name. What I do know is that You have suffered in the extreme, and You did it for me.
If there is suffering, help me, please, to endure and to win through. Your love for me brought You through the sufferings that others imposed on You. May my love for You cause me to hold fast , to look to You, and to remember that You are always with me. You will lead me through the suffering; You will strengthen me and uphold me; You will pray to the Father for me. Thank You. Amen.
Monday, 26 June 2017
A new adventure stared yesterday when I set out with my daughter, Louise and, of course, in company with Jesus, on a holiday to Italy and Croatia with a brief stopover in Bangkok en route.
If events of interest to my readers occur in this time, I will share them. Otherwise I will continue with posts from my prayer journal.
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15.10,11
The instruction is simple. Many of the encouragements I receive from Jesus are simple, simple but not always easy to live out. I might say that the commands of Jesus encapsulate the essence of the Christian life: Love God with every fibre of your being, with all that you are. And love your neighbour as you would wish to be loved yourself. Simple, isn't it, but not easy to fulfil.
So, what can I do in applying myself to obey the commands of Jesus? Firstly, and without doubt, I look to Him. Jesus is the perfect example of obedience to God. As I read His story in the Gospels, I receive clear guidance and direction. I note how Jesus looked upon people with compassion. I interpret compassion as entering into, and sharing, their situation. This may be a place of trial and difficulty for them. It might explain adverse our contrary behaviour, and it might bring a better measure of understanding to me.
Jesus tells me that as I walk in obedience to His commands, so I remain in His love. My desire is to remain always in His love. I may never fully deserve it, but He gives it freely. My earnest efforts in living to His commands are the way to go.
And there is a further reward - the joy of Jesus will be with me. If I stop for a moment to merely consider the joy of Jesus, I am filled with excitement and expectation. His joy, His amazing, exquisite joy will be with me. O, Hallelujah! In His joy, my own joy will be complete. This speaks to me of union, my joining with Him in intimacy and completeness. I will know His joy; it will be reflected in my joy; I may be one with Him - what joy indeed this is!
Precious Lord Jesus,
I thrill to hear You offer me the fullness of my joy in You. I understand the need for me to give myself in obedience to Your commands. I endeavour to do this, but I seek Your help and the input of the Holy Spirit. Help me, please, to follow the Father's way for me, You know it so well. Journey with me, alongside me, through today and every day. I ask this in Your most powerful name. Amen.
Saturday, 24 June 2017
… and I trust in the Lord that I will come soon. Phil. 2.24
Paul has expressed his hope that Timothy may visit the Philippians. Now he shares his trust that God will make a way for him also to reach Philippi.
In hope, he is wishing for something. He is hopeful in expectation of its fulfilment. I see this as something within Paul. He, as it were, encourages himself to expect a certain result.
But now, he’s talking about trust. In trust he’s placing his reliance on God. He’s seeing in God the ability to bring forth a certain action. It’s like trust is a step further on from hope. Hope may be entirely within me, but trust can often involve another, something or someone external to me.
I can hope for all manner of things, in as wide a variety as my imagination allows. Trust, I suggest, is somewhat more prudent. To trust, I need a knowledge and confidence in “the other”.
Paul’s trust is in the Lord. I likewise place my trust in God. I have a certain knowledge of Him. But, more than this, I have experienced Him and the experience has assured my confidence in Him. His ways are not always my ways, but His way is the one I choose because I have seen its benefits to me. God will not always do what I hope for. Yet I will trust Him for I know the love He has for me and His desire to bless me.
Lord God, Loving Father,
I hope for many things, but I trust for just this: that You will have Your way in my life. I cannot rely on myself. I can rely on You, and I do so.
Have Your way in me, Lord. And let me not get in the way! Amen.
Thursday, 22 June 2017
I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; Phil. 2.23
Paul can’t be sure that he will send Timothy to visit the Philippians. He mentions his own situation. This might suggest his own ongoing need for Timothy to be with him, or it might mean he’s hopeful of release from prison that would enable him to visit Philippi in person.
Meanwhile, Paul holds to the hope that he has. Although abstract and intangible, Paul’s hope is somehow solid. It is a sensing inside him for good to come. Hope is a wonderful thing. In times of darkest threat many have been encouraged by hope. It can sway us in difficult and demoralising times to make a decision of positive impact, to choose to persevere and plough on.
Paul is unsure. I am unsure. Nobody can be sure in this life, where so much lies beyond our control.
But, like Paul, I can hold a hope inside me that encourages me to expect good things. I can express my hope to God, in prayer, and look to Him for support, encouragement and companionship. Paul did not have an easy life. My life has not experienced the depths of testing and trial that I read of with Paul. Nevertheless, I’ve known difficulties and suffering. I can share these with God and hope for improvement.
What I do not need to hope for, but know without any doubt, is that God is with me. He has told me so: “…remember, I am with you always… (Matt. 28.20). I am content in this.
I thank You for Your many promises. Today I remind myself that You are with me always. I express, and share with You, my hope for a more Christ-likeness to grow in me. I make this my prayer. Amen.
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
But you know that Timothy as proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. Phil. 2.22
Paul expresses a most wonderful relationship between himself and Timothy. He identifies with Timothy as a father with a son. Sadly, many fathers and sons do not enjoy good relationships. This is not what Paul is conveying. I sense he experienced a relationship of the utmost Godly nature with Timothy. So much so that they worked in excellent partnership. I see this as proof of the strength and solidity of their relating.
And the common work that they shared was that of the gospel message of Jesus Christ. They undoubtedly preached but, I suggest, their living relationship was as strong a testimony to the gospel of love and grace as any persuasive words they might have spoken.
Paul talks of Timothy’s worth. This gets me wondering about my possible, even potential, worth. Am I being taken by God into the greatest worth to Him? Indeed, have I given myself to Him to this end, and made myself freely available? I believe I have, but I can repeat and re-affirm my willingness in this.
I pray that I have a worth, not only in Your eyes but also to the ministry of the Gospel. I give myself anew to You. I invite You to lead me in whatever way You would for me. May I work with You in holy partnership.
I acknowledge the hindrance of the flesh and I surrender this to You. I ask You to lead me through. May my love for You shine stronger that the temptation of the enemy.
You are my Father. May I be a good son. Amen.
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