Andrews thoughts for the day
"It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew the time had come to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love".
(John Ch 13 v 1).
We are reaching the climax of this week. The Thursday is a day of action for Jesus, emotionally, physically mentally and most of all spiritually. He meets His disciples in the Upper Room. He humbly washes their feet. At the meal He takes bread - 'This is my body broken for you.' He takes the cup - 'This cup is the new Covenant in my blood'. He goes out from the meal into the darkness of Gethsemane - 'Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but yours be done'. In the Garden He is betrayed with a kiss and arrested.
He is taken to the Palace of the High Priest for interrogation, where in the courtyard He is denied by Peter- 'I don't know the man!'
The Thursday merges into the Friday but that day must wait!
"I cannot tell how silently He suffered, as with His peace He graced this place of tears, or how His heart upon the Cross was broken, the crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know, He heals the broken-hearted, and stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear, and lifts the burden from the heavy laden, for yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world is here"
A prayer :-
"Our Lord, and our God, we bow down, in all humility, in worship acknowledging the full extent of Your love for us in Jesus.' Amen.
"At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was near by, they laid Jesus there."
(John Ch 19 vs 41 and 42).
It's the morning after the day before! It is the Sabbath in the Jewish tradition. Others know it as Easter Saturday. The body of Jesus has been respectfully laid to rest in the garden tomb which was sealed with a large stone. The followers of Jesus would be distraught. Today is a surreal day. It is as though there was a universal power cut over the whole of creation as the Light of the world has been extinguished.
There is no more Jesus and we cannot begin to imagine what that would mean for us were it not for the promises that on the third day He would rise again. We can but wait quietly in hope and in expectation for the celebration of that hope to be fulfilled in the dawning of the Easter Day.
'Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Saviour; waiting the coming day, Jesus, my Lord..........'.
'Lord we wait anxiously in anticipation for the day of your rising. Help us to live every day in the hope of Your eternal promises.'
"When they carried out all that was written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead, and for many days He was seen by those who travelled with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now His witnesses to our people."
(Acts Ch 13 vs 30 and 31).
Last week, Holy Week, was a significant week culminating in a momentous weekend. The Spirit of God opened our hearts and minds to the fullness of God's love for us in the death of Jesus, only then to be followed by the amazing revelation of the unique power of God at work in the resurrection on the Easter Day. God could not allow His Son to see decay.
This weekend has been like a power surge to our faith, and a springboard to propel us forward into the future, trusting in the Almighty and all powerful God whose hand we have seen at work. Through our new life in Him we live life on a different level. 'No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of life."
"Because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone.'
A prayer: - 'Thank you Lord for your resurrection power at work within us. Help us in our lives to testify to our risen Saviour and Lord'.
"A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!'. Then He said to Thomas, 'put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe'. Thomas said to Him, 'My Lord and My God!'.
Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed'.".
(John Ch 20 vs 26 to 29).
We are all familiar with nicknames and for better or worse we may have had one! One of the best known from Scripture is that given to Thomas. He is 'Doubting Thomas'. He had not been present a week earlier when the risen Lord had appeared to the other disciples and he failed to accept what they told him. He would not believe unless he saw for himself the nail prints in Jesus' hands and the spear wound in Jesus' side.
Jesus returns to the disciples a second time when Thomas is present and His wounds are revealed as Jesus imparts His peace once again, thus reassuring Thomas who exclaims, 'My Lord and my God. ' We are not able to see the wounds of Jesus for ourselves but as He says , 'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.' In our questionings and in our doubtings may Jesus come alongside us to reassure us, bless us, and grant us His peace by the power of His Spirit that we too may exclaim, 'My Lord and My God'.
"When doubts and fears arise, teach me Thy way! When storms o'er spread the skies, teach me Thy way. Shine through the cloud and rain, through sorrow, toil and pain; make Thou my pathway plain; teach me Thy way.'
A prayer: - ' Lord, in whatever I have to face today, help me to trust You and to know You are with me in Your risen presence.' Amen.
"Afterwards Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 'I'm going to fish', Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We'll go with you'. So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing! "
(John Ch 21 vs 1 to 3).
'Gone fishin' ! The disciples reassemble in the relative safety of Galilee after all the trauma of Jerusalem. Peter takes the lead and suggests they go back to what they know best,- fishing! Their first attempt is unsuccessful and doubtless in their frustration they spoke about the ones that got away! They are to discover there is no going back from the events of Jerusalem. They cannot turn their backs on Easter for this is the start of something big as the Risen Lord prepares to surprise them. There is no going back for us either after Easter, no return to the old ways. We live daily in the joy of sins forgiven at Calvary, and in the power and celebration of the Risen Lord at Easter. God is doing a new thing!
'You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains, You raise me up to walk on stormy seas; I am strong when I am on Your shoulders - You raise me up to more than I can be'.
A prayer :- 'Lord, help me to live in the power of Your resurrection today, whatever I may have to face.' Amen.
"God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.." (Acts Ch 2 v 32).
May we be witnesses in our worship today to the Risen Lord.
"When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught'. Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn."
(John Ch 21 vs 10 and 11).
1,2 3,4,5....153! Such was the total number of fish caught, when the disciples obeyed the instruction of Jesus to drop the net on the other side of the boat. (v6). This huge catch was in marked contrast to the failed night of fishing the disciples had. Many have tried to work out the significance of the number, '153'. For me it points to the God who is exact and precise in all His ways and who is able to do, 'immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..' (Ephesians Ch 3 v 20). He is the, 'God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.' (Ephesians Ch 1 v 3). His greatest blessing to us is in our crucified, risen and ascended Lord.
"Count your blessings - name then one by one - and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!".
' Loving God, how we praise You and thank you that You are a loving Heavenly Father who knows how
to give good gifts to His children. Supremely we thank you for the gift of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.' Amen.
"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord', he said, 'You know that I love You.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs'."
(John Ch 21 v 15).
"Can I have a word?". It is a phrase that has an ominous ring to it as we may wonder what our questioner is about to say. Jesus, in effect is saying that to Peter as He takes him aside after breakfast for a, 'one to one'. The Lord is about to commission Peter, the rock, to be a shepherd of the Lord's sheep but He needs to be assured of his total and undivided love and loyalty first and foremost. This is the Peter who denied his Lord three times and this is the Lord who showed the ,'full extent of His love' on the Cross. The response of Peter, doubtless feeling a measure of guilt, is to say, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Being aware of the full extent of The Lord"s total love and absolute forgiveness to us we can but respond as Peter, 'Yes, Lord, You know that I love You'....'Can I have a word?'.
"My Jesus, my Saviour, Lord there is none like You ; all of my days, I want to praise, the wonders of Your mighty love. My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength, let every breath, all that I am, never cease to worship You...".
A prayer: -
"Yes, Lord, you know that I love You! Help me to live out Your love for me in my life."
"The third time He said to him, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?'. He said, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You'. Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep."
(John Ch 21 v 17).
Oh no, not again! - Yes again! Jesus, for a third time, questions Peter about his love for Him, and the frustration is starting to break through in Peter. Peter's response to the Lord, who knows all things, is tantamount to a confession on his part, concerning his threefold denial of his Lord on the night of Jesus' trial. Knowing Peter's heart, Jesus is fully aware of this, and Peter knows it too, yet Jesus in love for him is willing to forgive and to call him to feed His sheep. 'You know that I love You', affirms Peter three times, just as, I trust, He knows that we love Him too, in response to His love, forgiveness and acceptance of us.
"Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!"
A prayer:- 'Lord, I come to You today praising You for Your grace, Your forgiveness, and Your love for me, undeserving as I am'. Amen.
"Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is going to betray You?'). When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."
(John Ch 21 vs 20 to 22).
Following on from Jesus' tete-a-tete with Peter we discover that Peter is peeved that he has been singled out for that special chat with the Lord. Is he the only one to get this treatment? Peter asks Jesus, 'what about him?' He refers to John who calls himself, 'the one Jesus loved!' Jesus response is in effect to say to Peter, 'leave him to me,' 'you must follow me.' Our relationship with the Lord is threefold. First and foremost there is our personal relationship with the Lord as Saviour.
Secondly there is our relationship with one another through Him as part of His body, the Church. Thirdly there is our relationship with Him in the big picture whereby, '..our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.'
(Philippians Ch 3 v 20). And Christ must be head of all three relationships in our lives.
'Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you; pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.
We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road; we are here to help each other - walk the mile and bear the load"
"Lord, help me today to love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, and with all my mind, and to love my neighbour as myself." Amen.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made." (John Ch 1 vs 1 to 3).
The names Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg are much in the news on issues to do with global warming, climate change, extinction of species and the threat to our planet. A biblical perspective to these issues begins with God who brought all things into being through the Word who is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in and through whom nothing was made that has been made. As human beings we have a responsibility to care for all that God has given us. The spiritual dimension we read in 1 Timothy Ch 4 v 4, 'For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the the Word of God and prayer'. As the springtime unfolds around us we give thanks to God - 'you in your small corner and I in mine!'.
'All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above, then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all His love.'
A prayer:- 'Lord we give thanks to You for the gift of life and for the world around us. Help us to care for all that You have given us.' Amen.
"God made two great lights- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good."
(Genesis Ch 1 vs 16 to 19).
From time immemorial there has been a fascination and intrigue with the 'heavenly bodies' in the sun, moon, stars and planets'. This week has seen a helicopter drone landing on Mars and booking a space flight to the moon is being actively considered! In Psalm 8 we read, 'O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth! You have set Your glory in the heavens....
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?'. He is the Almighty Creator having brought all things into being yet He cares for every one of us. Sun and moon bow down before Him and as Jesus dies on the Cross there is darkness over the whole land in honour of the Son of God who loves us and gave Himself for us.
'Lord of all being throned afar, Thy glory flames from sun and star; centre and soul of every sphere, yet to each loving heart how near.'
A prayer:- "Lord, help us to see Your glory today as the heavens declare the glory of the Risen Lord." Amen.
"The Lord is God and He has made His Light shine on us".
(Psalm 118 v 27).
May His Light so shine on us as we worship Him today.
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in."
(Isaiah Ch 40 vs 21 and 22).
60 years ago in 1961 the first human being was jettisoned into space. His name was Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut. His observation from space was to say, 'I see no God!". We may ask how he failed to see God in the amazing surroundings in which he found himself. In this week we cannot fail to be amazed at the beauty of the pink super moon which is visible on a clear night as it comes to the closest point to earth.
Therein we see God in His glory and magnificence. The Psamist asks, 'Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast'
(Ps 139 vs 7 to 10).
He is the Sovereign God who enters 'our space' in Jesus, in whom He reveals His power and His love.
A prayer:- "Our Lord and our God, come near to each one of us today, holding us fast in the warmth of Your embrace."
"From heaven You came, helpless Babe, entered our world, Your glory veiled, not to be served but to serve, and give Your life that we might live. This is our God , the servant King
"How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young - a place near Your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they are ever praising You."
(Psalm 84 vs 1 to 4).
It's 4.00 am and the dawn chorus is tuning up to burst into song at the start of the new day. Our feathered friends are very active at this time of the year as nest building gets under way. The Psamist is aware of this as he longs to be in God's house. He is doing a spot of bird watching as he sees the sparrows and swallows finding a nesting place in the eaves of the sanctuary, ostensibly worshipping their Maker as they fly close to the altar.
It is an illustration that Jesus uses as He calls us to 'Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet Your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?". ( Matthew Ch 6 vs 26 abd 27). This weekend marks International Dawn Chorus Day and as we listen to the Chorus, even at 4am (!), may our feathered friends have a message for us of trusting God, even in the worrying and difficult times in life.
"When through the woods and forest glades I wander - and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, and hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze;
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art!!"
A prayer;- 'How great You are, my Lord and my God and today I cast my burdens on to You." Amen
"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the Temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father into Your hands I commit my Spirit'. When He had said this, He breathed His His last."
(Luke Ch 23 vs 44 to 46).
It's Good Friday! - the bleakest day ever. The One 'Through whom all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made' - has been put to death. He has become the, 'Man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering', and in so doing identifies with us in all our sufferings and pain, even as we have witnessed in this past year. In giving of Himself, so completely, Jesus becomes the mediator and the guarantor of a New Covenant between us and God. In the Upper Room as He lifted the cup, He said, 'This cup is the New Covenant in my blood which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins'. He also said in the Upper Room, 'Greater love has no - one than this, that He lay down His life for His friends'. There can be no greater love than that of the Son of God who loves us and gave of Himself for us that we might have access to God.
'Oh, to see the dawn of the darkest day; Christ on the road to Calvary. Tried by sinful men, torn and beaten then, nailed to a Cross of wood...This, the power of the Cross; Christ became - sin for us - took the blame , bore the wrath, - we stand forgiven at the Cross.'
A Prayer: - 'Our Lord and our God, as You have given of Yourself so completely for me, I give of myself totally to You today.' Amen.
"...just as Christ was raised from the dead, through the glory of God the Father, we too may live a new life."
(Romans Ch 6 v 4)
May we continue to know the presence of the Living Lord in worship today. HAPPY EASTER!!
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' . After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you!'
(John Ch 20 vs 19 to 21).
It was the evening of the Easter Day. The disciples were in lockdown, quite literally, barricaded in a locked room, possibly the Upper Room where the Last Supper had taken place. They were panicking and in fear of their lives that the fate which befell Jesus would be their's also. It is into this sense of desperation and panic that the risen Lord comes to calm their fears and bestow His reassuring Peace on them, not once but twice. This was the peace Jesus spoke of to them at the Last Supper when He said to them before the Cross, 'My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives, do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.' That peace is now confirmed to them by the risen Lord as it is confirmed to us having celebrated in the joy of our risen Saviour. May His powerful and comforting peace be ours today as we look at His hands and side and know His living presence with us.
"Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown? Jesus we know, and He is on the throne! "
A prayer: - " Lord, in all our uncertainties and fears, breathe the peace of the risen Lord on us today"
"Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognising Him". (Luke Ch 24 vs 13 to 16).
Two distraught homeward bound travellers on the way back from Jerusalem. They are heartbroken about events there. An unrecognised companion on the road engages them in conversation and He explains the significance of the events of Jerusalem and of how the Messiah had to suffer. He points them to the Scriptures and the ancient prophecies. They invite their fellow traveller into their home to eat where the unknown companion is recognised in the breaking of bread as the Risen Lord. The two are so excited and testify, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?' (v 32). Excitedly they then run all the way back to Jerusalem to share the good news with the disciples. "The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword."
(Hebrews Ch 4 v12)
"Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends, haven't you any fish?'. 'No!' , they answered. He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some'. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish."
(John Ch 21 vs 4 to 6).
What a contrast! From a group of disappointed fishermen who had caught nothing all night to a catch which was impossible to land. The difference comes about by responding to the advice of the 'stranger on the shore' who is to be recognised later as the Risen Lord!
His advice may have seemed to be irrational but when they act on it the evidence is there for them to see. Sometime God's Word and advice to us might appear to be unreasonable but when we take Him at His Word we discover that, 'My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts'.
(Isaiah Ch 55 v 9).
"Lord, You have come to the seashore, neither searching for the the rich or the wise, desiring only that I should follow.
O Lord, with Your eyes set upon me, gently smiling, You have spoken my name...'.
'Lord, help me to be accepting, in faith and without question, Your will for me and my life.' Amen.
"Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' . As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, 'It is the Lord,' he wrapped his outer garment around him, (for he had taken it off), and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from the shore, about a hundred yards."
(John Ch 21 vs 7 and 8).
One aspect of conducting worship during lockdown that I find unusual is that with no singing, keeping social distancing and wearing masks it is impossible to gauge the reaction of the restricted and silent congregation. Friends in Africa tell me that in their Churches in lockdown restrictions do not permit singing, dancing, hand waving, clapping, and they too have to abide by social distancing and wear masks!! What restrictions for them and for us.
There are no such inhibitions for John as he realises the stranger on the shore is the Risen Jesus and as he says with excitement to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'. Peter in turn has no restraint as he jumps overboard to get to the shore first. We may not be permitted to show outward expressions of our faith at this time but I trust that we have within us an inner sense of rejoicing and thanksgiving in the death and resurrection in our Saviour and Lord.
'Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is in you! The hope of glory in our hearts.
HE LIVES! HE LIVES! - His breath is in you....'
A prayer: 'Lord our God, we rejoice and praise You from the depth of our hearts for the victory You have won in Jesus over sin and death.'
"Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast'. None of the disciples dared ask Him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after He was raised from the dead".
(John Ch 21 vs 12 to 14.)
It's breakfast time and the risen Jesus is cooking. The last time such a group of the disciples had eaten with Jesus was in the Upper Room when He took the bread and shared the wine saying, 'this is my body broken for you', and, 'this cup is the new Covenant in my blood, shed for you'. Here by Galilee Jesus again takes bread and gives it to them. This is the first breakfast in the dawning of the new day in the resurrection era, with shades of the Upper Room and also memories of the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 when Jesus took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish. On that occasion Jesus declared , 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry and He who believes in Me will never be thirsty' (John Ch 6 v 35). This is a new beginning for the disciples as it is for us, as we also, with them, recognise Him as the Risen Lord.
"Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord to me, as Thou dids't break the bread beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord; my spirit longs for Thee, Thou living Word."
A prayer: - 'Lord, help me in this day to feed on You in my heart.' Amen.
"Again Jesus said, 'Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?'. He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love You.' Jesus said, 'take care of My sheep.'."
(John Ch 21 v 16).
'I've just told You, do I need to tell You again?' We can imagine the impetuous Peter thinking these thoughts as Jesus asks him a second time, 'Do you truly love me?' 'How many times does Jesus need to be told? The second time Jesus tweaks what He says to Peter from, 'feed my lambs' to 'feed my sheep' , in that he is to shepherd those who are new in their faith and those who are more mature. The love of the Good Shepherd for the sheep is total and absolute, is unchanging and unwavering. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His love for the sheep and there is no limit to the number of times we must profess our love for Him. 'Yes, Lord, You know that I love You! - Yes, Lord, You know that I love You! Yes Lord......'
"When I feel the touch of Your hand upon my life, it causes me to sing a song, that I love You Lord.
So from deep within my spirit singeth unto Thee, You are my King, You are my God, and I love you Lord!"
"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress."
(Psalm 46 vs 10 and 11).
In worship today, in Church or at home, may we have the assurance that God is with us by His Spirit and may He help us to be still in His presence through our faith in Jesus.
"This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."
(John Ch 21 vs 24 and 25).
John is signing off his Gospel record. He has been with Jesus through thick and thin throughout the whole period of His ministry. John can say in His First Letter, 'we have heard, seen with our eyes, looked at, hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life'. There is just so much more that he could have written but at Ch 20 vs 30 and 31, he writes, 'Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name". We thank God for the Gospel record and the truth of His Word. 'Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgements, and His paths beyond tracing out..' (Romans
Ch 11 v 13.)
'Spirit of God, unseen as the wind, gentle as is the dove; teach us the truth and help us believe, show us the Saviour's love.
You spoke to men long, long ago, gave us the written Word; we read it still, needing its truth, through it God's voice is heard....'
A prayer: - Lord, we pray with Samuel of old, 'Speak Lord for your servant is listening'.' Amen.
"But God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heaven's by His understanding." (Jeremiah Ch 10 v 12).
"The Lord God took the man and put Him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.". (Genesis Ch 2 v 15).
Today is World Earth Day, the theme of which this year is, 'Restore our earth'. President Biden today is to host a virtual climate summit of 40 world leaders. The Psalmist reminds us that, 'The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.'
(Psalm 24 vs 1 and 2).
He is THE Creator and as human beings He gives us responsibility for His creation as custodians and caretakers. Jesus in His ministry draws spiritual lessons for us from the world around Him, not least of which, speaking of His own death, is of the grain of wheat which falls into the earth and dies to bring forth a harvest. We are part of that harvest as we acknowledge Him as our Lord and Saviour and as the Lord of Creation.
"Lord of Creation, to You be all praise! Most mighty Your working, most wondrous Your ways! Your glory and might are beyond us to tell, and yet in the heart of the humble You dwell."
A prayer: -
"Thank you Father for another beautiful day. Help us to recognise Your handiwork and to care for Your creation." Amen.
"Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the Name of the Lord. Let the Name of the Lord be praised, both now and for evermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the Name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is exalted over all nations, His glory above the heavens."
(Psalm 113 vs 1 to 4).
The ancients would have no real understanding of the earth on its axis in relation to the sun but what they did have was a spiritual 'spin' on things cosmic. They constantly praised the Lord from day break to the setting of the sun. Ecclesiastes writes, 'The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises'. (Ch 1 v 5).
The prophet Isaiah similarly writes, 'I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from Me there is no God....so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness.'
He is the universal God who has so loved this world that He has given of His one and only Son - Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
'The sun that bids us rest is waking Your children neath the western sky, and hour by hour fresh lips are making Your wondrous deeds resound on high.'
Lord, today, I lift Your Name on high and sing Your praises for the beauty of the earth.' Amen.
"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the Lord or instructed Him as His Counsellor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed Him the path of understanding?"
(Isaiah Ch 40 vs 12 to 14).
The language of our verses is wonderfully poetic and paints for us a 'pen picture' of the creation and of the Creator who has brought it all into being. It is a masterpiece, and like visiting an art gallery we have to stand back to fully appreciate the beauty of the works of art and to gain an insight into the mind of the artist portrayed on the canvas. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in the world around us we have an insight into the wisdom and the power of God whose perfect love for us we see in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
'O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder consider all the works Thy hand hath made, I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, the power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, how great Thou art..
And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, - I scarce can take it in, that on the Cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin
...Then sings my soul...:
' My Lord and my God, God of infinite wisdom, how great You are; thank You Lord, for loving me.' Amen.
"O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live and in Your Name I will lift up my hands."
(Psalm 63 vs 1 to 4).
Water is a most precious and vital commodity of life. Generally we associate April with showers in abundance to bring forth May flowers! - but not so this month where average rainfall has been about 1% of what we would normally expect. In comparison many parts of the world can go for weeks, months and even years without significant rainfall.
The Christian Aid appeal this year focuses on such countries so badly affected by climate change and who face ongoing droughts. The verses in the Psalm today speak of living in a dry and weary land where there is no water yet the comparison is drawn with having a thirst for the Living God. This too is a parallel which Jesus speaks of as He meets with the woman of Samaria by a well and explains about 'Living water' , saying, 'the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life'. ( John Ch 4 v 14). As you turn on the tap today give thanks to God for running water and seek the Living Water which He alone can give.
'Spirit of God, come dwell within me. Open my heart, oh, come set me free. Fill me with love for Jesus my Lord, come fill me with Living Water.
Jesus is living, Jesus is here.
Jesus, my Lord , come closer to me. Jesus, our Saviour, dying for me, and rising to save His people'
A prayer: - 'Thank you, Lord for pure clean water as we pray for those who have so little of what we take for granted'. Amen.
"You will go out in joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed."
(Isaiah Ch 55 vs 12 and 13).
As we progress through springtime and approach the start of the month of May so we see the leaves unfolding in the trees in various shades of green. The prophet Isaiah is having a woodland walk where the 'hills are alive with the sound of music', and the trees swaying in the breeze suggest to him the worship of God with the branches clapping their hands. The most significant and monumental tree in all of human history has to be that tree on which our Lord was crucified.
The result of what happened on that tree brings joy to our hearts and a peace to our souls in praise and worship of our Lord and Saviour in the assurance of sins forgiven and the joy of the promise of eternal life. In 1 Peter Ch 2 v 24 we read, " He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree .....by His wounds you have been healed.'
Have a look at the trees today, be reminded of what God has done for you in Jesus, rejoice, and be at peace with Him'. That tree is for His renown and glory and is an everlasting sign of His love from which nothing can ever separate us.
"Jesus is Lord! Creation's voice proclaims it, for by His power each tree and flower was planned and made. Jesus is Lord! The universe declares it, sun, moon and stars in heaven cry - Jesus is Lord!
Jesus is Lord! Yet from His throne eternal in flesh He came to die in pain on Calvary's tree. Jesus is Lord! From Him all life proceeding, yet gave His life a ransom, thus setting us free.'
A prayer: - 'Lord as we look at trees today may we be filled with praise and joy at the cost you have borne for us' . Amen.