DAILY DEVOTIONS

04 Oct 2021

Image by Simon Wilkes

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. --- He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither
Psalm 1:1a+3

When one considers the life of a tree and compares this to our lives there are some questions, we ought to ask of ourselves.

Who am I?  Who have I become?  Who and what do I value in my life?  What good have I done?   These questions touch our very souls and connect us to the core of our being.  We cannot grow without change as with the tree; it changes with the seasons.  It requires food and water through its roots and leaves.  But it does not do this on its own.  The tree’s growth is even better when it is grows close to a river.  It grows fruit; food for birds, animals, and us humans.  Elephants eat the core of branches or the bark of some trees.  Squirrels eat the nuts from a tree.  Other animals eat the roots of a tree.  The branches and leaves provide shelter and resting places for many birds.  We can apply these analogies to our own lives.

“Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit; the sun does not shine on itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves.  Living for others is a rule of nature.  We are all born to help each other.  No matter how difficult it is … Life is good when you are happy; but much better when others are happy because of you.” Quote from Pope Francis.

When we think of the roots of a tree, who and what has given us our spiritual nourishment and guidance?  The trunk of a tree gives it its strength; what gives us our strength to live our lives?  The leaves produce nourishment, but with time fall to the ground; have we been productive and learnt to let go of things we no longer need?  The bark provides protection for the tree; what protects and comforts us?  The new buds and growth provide new life for the tree; what fills us with hope and new life?  We know that our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, is the answers to all these questions.  Proverbs teaches us to : “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Prayer:

O Lord Jesus be our river of life providing us with spiritual nourishment and guidance and so help us to bear good fruits, so that we can help others and bring glory to Your name.

Amen.

05 Oct 2021

Image by Vangelis Batsikostas

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
   my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2

Jerusalem is undergoing a horrible siege by the Babylonians. Jeremiah has been imprisoned by king Zedekiah. In the chaos and uncertainty Jeremiah seeks that which reminds him of God’s faithfulness, God’s presence and God’s care. In a time of loss and despair Jeremiah looks for signs of hope and to the future. Jeremiah buys a field a piece of land. The land beyond the walls of Jerusalem was worthless, because it was already in the hands of the Babylonians. Jeremiah’s prophecy had foretold the great siege that was now taking place.  His prophecy warned  Israel and Judah about the consequences of their disobedience and unfaithfulness, now it was coming to fulfillment. The purchase of the land, is an expression of Jeremiah’s trust in God and his belief in God’s promises. “For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”( Jeremiah 32:15). There is no indication of when this will happen or how long the exile will last. The only important thing for Jeremiah is God’s promise. We are under siege by a pandemic that we do not fully know or understand. We move from one Covid level to the next. Let us like Jeremiah keep our faith in our faithful God. We have no idea of when this pandemic will pass or end. In these uncertain times let us hold on to God, who in Jesus came to live among us, so that in Jesus we may see God’s glory, experience God’s love and live assured of God’s promises.

Prayer:

Eternal God, You treasure and love Your people with a constant love.

In Your love free us from our fear of the unknown.

Liberate us from our insecurities about life and the future.

Prod us to act, to change and to grow.

We pray with contrite hearts, genuine hope and a deep trust in Your love.

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

Amen

06 Oct 2021

Image by Félix Lam

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For God’s name alone is exalted,
Whose splendor rises above heaven and earth.
Psalm 148:13

Reading:
Mark 9:14-29

Jesus was preparing the disciples for future ministry
In Mark 3:13-15 we read:
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.

Mark 6:7
Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
 
In Mark 9:14-21, the disciples were acting as representatives of Jesus, given authority and entrusted by Him with his ministry.
But in trying to heal the boy, they faced a spiritual battle that was beyond their own resources.

They had failed in front of all the people, they had failed themselves and probably felt that they had failed Jesus.
God calls us to repent and depend on him.
Jesus arrives to a scene of chaos: The disciples surrounded by a large crowd, arguing with the Scribes. The father of the son frustrated, the boy no better.
"As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him."
There is something different about Jesus, His presence brings joy and wonder. He arrives in the midst of our chaos.
He gives grace to those who acknowledge their need.
The disciples failed as they relied on their own devices to handle the demon. They were self-reliant in stead of God-reliant.
“This kind can come out only by prayer” is what Jesus told them afterwards. Later in Acts we read that the disciples were continually engaging in prayer.
The father of the boy is aware of his need of Gods Grace. "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
When Jesus challenges him, the father says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
True faith is always aware of how inadequate it is.
Jesus meets us in our doubt and teaches us that “imperfect faith can be perfected.”
He is trustworthy. He has never broken a promise. Always rely on Him and approach Him in prayer:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.… Philippians 4:6
 

Prayer:

Our Father in Heaven
So often we fall short in our faith.
Often we rely on our own strength and wisdom instead of you o Lord
Help us in our unbelief especially in times when nothing makes sense.
Lord we thank you for your love and our deliverance through our Lord Jesus Christ
May your name be glorified forever and ever

Amen!

07 Oct 2021

Needle and Thread

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  The disciples said, “who can then be saved?’  Jesus said,

“With man this is impossible, but not for God.  All things are possible for God.” 
Mark 10 : 25 + 27

Reading:
Mark 10:17-27

We live in a world whose standards are not justice, equality, and freedom, rather one of gaining and displaying wealth.  Each action is a potential denial of God’s kingdom.

Jesus’ life and teaching are particularly challenging and draw people from many different walks of life to Him.   The man in our reading today is led to ask how he can obtain eternal life.  Jesus challenges him to give up his many possessions, which Jesus perceives to be his stumbling block.   Jesus sees  this as his stumbling block, and yet He loves him and is also saddened by his block.  Jesus uses the analogy of trying to push a camel through the eye of a needle and compares this to the difficulties this man is having in entering the kingdom of heaven.  The important point of Jesus’ teaching here, is that it is impossible for man to do it but that GOD CAN!!  “All things are possible for God!”

The values of God’s kingdom turn the values of the world upside down or rather “right-side up.”  It is incredible to know we have a Saviour who sees through all our hang-ups, distractions, and spiritual shortcomings, and still, He loves us.  Through Jesus, Gods works in and through us, restoring His creation, renewing, and transforming the world.   PRAISE THE LORD.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, turn our trust from the things of this world and its riches to trust in Your love, grace, and power.  Lord, you have shown us in the life , death, and resurrection of Your Son Jesus, that there is no length to which You will not go to save and deliver Your people. Show us each in our daily lives, those who are in need around us and help us to share Your love and mercy with them so that they may know You and come to worship You.

Amen.

08 Oct 2021

Image by Dawid Zawiła

I will exalt you, my God the King;
   I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
   and extol your name for ever and ever.

Psalm 145:1,2

The apostle Paul was vested in Timothy’s calling and ministry. Paul cared deeply for Timothy as a child in the faith. It would seem that Paul was now in the sunset years of his life, and he sought to encourage Timothy from the experiences of his own life. Timothy knew the story of Paul’s former life, Paul’s conversion and transformation. Timothy also knew about Paul’s struggles, suffering and persecution for the sake of the Gospel of Christ. These are words of encouragement as Timothy also will have to face suffering and persecution in his ministry. We live with different circumstances and challenges, but like Timothy, we are all called to share in the Gospel. We too have our examples of faithful servants of Christ, whose lives and witness left indelible marks on our lives. In these days of confusion and uncertainty ,we need to find in ourselves, the faith and courage to share the good news of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. I think the most effective way of witnessing for Christ, is by the way we live. It is evident in the way we treat others, in the way we do business, in the way we behave behind close doors. The apostle Paul knew the difficulties for an authentic life and witness. Therefore, Paul offers Timothy and us great news to sustain us: GOD is with us, GOD is for us, GOD has given us the power to be what GOD wants us to be and to do what GOD has called us to do, through the sacrifice of Jesus< His death and resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all God’s people.

Prayer:

Come, Holy Spirit, and rekindle in our hearts that which we know in our heads.

Keep our faith strong and our witness alive,

for the sake of Him, who died and was raised to life,

Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour.

Amen.