DAILY DEVOTIONS

19 July 2021

Image by Arthur Poulin

One of the disciples, Andrew said, “here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many.”   John 6 : 9

This is the start of one of Jesus’ miracles.  The message of this miracle is that even one little person can make a difference for many.  After Jesus prayed over the loaves and fishes, they distributed them among about five thousand people and still had 12 baskets’ full after everyone had had sufficient.

Who are you in this story? The young boy who is kind enough to share his little bit of food, knowing it can never be enough.  The disciples who are worried about how much money it would cost and where to find a shop to buy all the food needed to feed so many people?  Or are you just one of the crowd, who does not want to stop listening to Jesus’ teaching, but is getting hungry.

So often we are scared off from helping in a situation because it is just too big a problem.  What about the young boy who was throwing starfish back into the sea?  A stranger asked how the boy could help all the starfish on the beach, only to get the answer, “but for this starfish it makes a big difference.”

In this parable no matter who you are, you will get enough to eat.  In the kingdom of God there is enough to eat if only we would trust Jesus.

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”  Matthew 6:8 and

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4 : 19

Prayer:

Heavenly Father we praise and thank You that You know our every need even before we know it and when we ask in prayer You hear and answer us.  We thank you for all the food found in Your Kingdom and for You great generosity to us Your people.  Help us to be generous with what we have and content with what You provide.  We pray this in the wonderful name of Jesus.  Amen.

         

20 July 2021

Image by Fares Nimri

“Return, faithless people;
   I will cure you of backsliding.”

“Yes, we will come to you,
   for you are the Lord our God.

Jeremiah 3:22

I have just picked up a book by Christopher Maricle entitled : “The Jesus Priorities.” Maricle suggests that reading through the Gospels he discovered that Jesus healed people more than any other action He takes. Maricle suggests that in and through His acts of healing, Jesus leaves us four(4) principles: Compassion, Saying yes to strangers, Doing what is within our power to do and Seeing with the heart.

1. Heal through compassion. Compassion was central to Jesus’ daily life because it demonstrated God’s love . Compassion not only benefits others, but also frees us. When we adopt a compassionate spirit, it frees us from hostility, prejudice and fear. Jesus’ compassion lies at the heart of all His acts of healing. Mark 1:32-34 and Luke 4:40-41 reminds us that many,  with different ailments, were brought to Jesus and He healed them. In Mark 6:5 Jesus laid His hands on them  and healed them. Luke 9:11 makes it clear that healing is but one of the manifestations of the presence Of God’s Kingdom.

2. Say yes to strangers. The story of the Syrophoenician woman, demonstrates God’s love for the outsider. She was not Jewish, but Jesus treated strangers the same as His own followers. Mother Teresa remains one of the supreme examples of ministry to strangers. Her simple philosophy was to teach her nuns to be deeply in love with Jesus and then to find Jesus in the stranger and the poor.

3. Doing what is within your power. Jesus always responded with compassion to the need that confronted Him. Coming into Nain, Jesus responded to the pain of a widow, whose son had died. (Luke7: 11-17). In John 5 Jesus approached a man who had been sick for 38 years out of compassion for his suffering. With compassion each one of us has the power to be a source of healing. We not be able to do great things, but we can do small things with great love.

4. See with the heart.  Compassion begins with seeing the pain, cares, needs and crosses of another person. Jesus saw all people through the lens of compassion. Jesus invites us to live out of the law of love and to see people and the world through the lens of compassion.

Prayer:

Holy God, help us to stay deeply conscious of

Your compassionate love for all people.

Teach us to see  strangers  and all Your children

with compassionate eyes.

Grant us the courage to do what is within our power to do.

For the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom.

 Amen.

         

21 July 2021

Image by Kunal Shinde

Praise the Lord, all his works
   everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Psalm 103:22

Reading:
Psalm 103

Praise the Lord my Soul, that we belong to Him!

 

In Psalm 103, David lists the benefits of knowing God 

Psalm 103:1-5:

1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
  all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
  and forget not all his benefits

3 who forgives all your sins
  and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
  and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things
  so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

How wonderful to reflect on the fact that we belong the Almighty, that we are able to speak to Him directly, that He hears our prayers and that He cares for us.

God forgives our sins! He heals our diseases. He "redeems us from the pit"- He is the  source of light and life. After giving us gifts like forgiveness, healing, and redemption, God gives us even more. He gives us love and he has concern for us when things are not going well. He does more than just give us good things—he helps us to want the things that are really good. God does not hide from us, we can know who God is by reading the Bible. We can know Him by his deeds today. A wonderful sunrise, the beauty of nature, when we are feeling sad and someone says or does something to help us, when we gather with God’s people to worship him, God makes his ways known to us. If we look for God’s goodness, we will see it.

Our world and way of life is constantly changing; kingdoms rise and fall, but God's rule is over everyone, and His rule is for eternity. 
Let us live in the reality and joy of God's great blessings and benefits for His children. 

Prayer:

Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit

You are worthy of all praise.

We worship Your Holy Name:

“I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 7:17-18:1).

 Amen.

         

22 July 2021

Image by Tijs van Leur

A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare a way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.  ---  And the glory of the Lord will be revealed.”   
Isaiah 40 : 3 + 5a.

Reading:
Psalm 14

Reading this Psalm made me think of the instigators, supporters and the criminals who took part in the violent uprising in our beloved country last week.

The Psalmist draws a distinction between those who deny God or worship other gods and end up in immoral behaviour, and the wise who seek God.   The Psalmist implies the self-congratulating possibility that many think of themselves as gods.  If you think there is no God or you think that you are god-like, then you begin to disregard others, which is completely contrary to the teaching of our Lord, that we should love others as we love ourselves.

The Psalmist asks the question, “Will evildoers never learn – those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the Lord?” (vs 4)

After a time of violence as we are seeing in our country it is easy to feel as if there is no wisdom among human beings.  When we see so much destruction and so many people suffering, it seems as though we are unable  to lift ourselves up and do good things for others. 

BUT we have a loving God, who sent His only Son Jesus to live among us and then to die for us, for OUR salvation.   He promises us that, “if my people will call on My Name and humble themselves and pray to Me and seek My face.  and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and HEAL their land.”  2 Chronicles 7 : 14.

Prayer:

Create in us a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within us. 

 Do not cast us from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from us.  

Restore to us the joy of Your salvation.  Psalm 51:10 – 12a.  

Loving Lord Jesus we pray for healing in our land, South Africa,

and a return to worshiping You and not any other gods.  

Spread Your loving and healing glory over our land.  

Amen         

23 July 2021

Image by Hush Naidoo

Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
   and let his banner over me be love.

Song of songs 2:4

Christopher Maricle ( The Jesus Priorities) makes love the second priority for Christ followers. I want to disagree. I think love should be the first, because every word spoken by Jesus, every act of healing and compassion, even His death and resurrection, is an expression of God’s love for a broken world and a wounded humanity. The question therefore is how do we respond to that love and become agents of God’s restoration and healing. Maricle suggests, and I agree that we become agents of mercy. God’s loving mercy is part of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus praises the virtue of mercy by saying: ”Blessed are the merciful.”(Matthew 5:7). In the parable of The Good Samaritan( Luke 10: 25-37), Jesus is questioned by a lawyer about how to inherit eternal life. In response to Jesus’ question about the law, the lawyer recites the Shema. Deuteronomy 6: 4-5; Leviticus 19:18). Jesus concludes by asking which of the characters in the story was a neighbor to the man who was attacked. The Lawyer answers, “The one who showed him mercy.”  Jesus acknowledges the correctness of his answer by saying: “Go and do likewise.” God’s love is shown by sharing with and caring for those in need. Jesus never stopped revealing the love of God to all.

Prayer:

Gracious God, help us to be a source of Your mercy.

Grant us the courage to extend Your love to the stranger and the needy.

In the name of Jesus and for the extension of His Kingdom.

Amen.