DAILY DEVOTIONS

16 Aug 2021

Image by Brandon LeClaire

We are the temple of the living God.  God said, “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”  ---  “I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters,”  says the Lord Almighty.

2 Corinthians 6 : 16b + 18

Reading:
 1 Kings 6:11-14

Our Lord stopped David from building a temple for Him but allowed his son Solomon to build one for Him to live in, in place of a tent, which was mobile and could be taken wherever God’s people were.  The great mystery of God’s presence is that the highest heavens cannot contain Him.  The wonder of our loving God is that He stooped down to dwell on earth, in the physical body of Jesus, not only that, but to dwell in our own hearts.  We often tend to hold in awe our Church’s building, but it is only a building and is never permanent, nothing made by human hands is permanent. The Church’s ministry lives on through those who carry out God’s work and love in the world, you and I!  

At this time with the pandemic when many of us have not been able to physically worship our Lord in our churches, we can take comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”

(1 Corinthians 6 : 19).  Therefor we can worship our Lord wherever we are.  Saying that, it is also important to have time to worship Him with others when we join together in His physical Church.  Jesus promised that when two or three come together in His name He will be there amongst them.  There is a great joy in being able to worship and praise our Lord together.  The Psalmist in Psalm 84 says, “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.”

(Psalm 84 1 – 2).

The true work of God is the work of believing and the work of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer:

We praise You and we worship You Lord, that You sent Your only Son to live among us.  We thank you for the physical buildings of our Churches, but also that You live within each of us, so enabling us to worship You and to do Your will by sharing Your love with the world.  Amen.

Amen

17 Aug 2021

Image by Stefan Widua

Have mercy on me, O God,
   according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
   blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
   and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:1,2

Reading: 
Mark 9:33-35

On this occasion Jesus was teaching His disciples the importance of humility. Jesus praises humility on a number of occasions e.g. “ Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”(Matthew 5:5.) Jesus’ teaching is about humility before God and in our relationships with others. Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector to: “some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.” (Luke 18: 9-14). It is the tax collector who raises his voice to God in prayer, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.”  And this man, Jesus teaches, finds forgiveness.  The tax collector demonstrates that it is trust in God’s mercy, not in one’s own merit that assures forgiveness. On another occasion Jesus taught the virtue of humility at a dinner in the home of a Pharisee. (Luke 14: 7-11.)  Jesus makes it clear that it is not the place of the guest to presume his or her station. The host extends the invitation. Honour is given not earned, recognition is a gift not a right. Humility means that we rejoice in having been called to participate in the Kingdom established through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We celebrate that we the chosen  vessels of God’s mercy, love and grace.

Prayer:

God of mercy, God of grace,

show the brightness of your face;

shine upon us, Saviour, shine,

fill your church with light divine;

and your saving health extend

unto earth’s remotest end.

(Henry Francis Lyte 1793- 1847) ( WOV 379 vs 1.)

18 Aug 2021

Image by GreenForce Staffing

Cast all your anxiety on Him,

because He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

Reading: 
1 Kings 17

The widower and her son were preparing their last meal, before dying from starvation. They were victims of the famine caused by the great drought which the Lord allowed through Elijah's prayer ( James 5:17-18), as punishment for king Ahab's Baal worship. The drought was a demonstration of Gods power over Baal who was thought to be a sky god, a god who controlled the weather.
Elijah himself suffered from the effects of the drought when his miraculous provisions came to and end. He demonstrates his obedience and faith by asking the
poorest of the poor for food and water. The widower demonstrates her amazing faith in listening to Elijah and her willingness to deny her  own needs and sustain him.
It is so difficult to have faith in God when everything around us makes no sense. When faith and obedience in Him goes against our own perceived understanding and common sense. It is so much more difficult to obey in faith and cling onto hope when we experience suffering.
Romans 8:28 states: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” 
God’s children have “been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).
Do we believe and trust that God will use all things for our good? The Bible asserts that He Will!
Pastor and author Randy Alcorn writes: If we foolishly assume that our Father has no right to our trust unless he makes his infinite wisdom completely understandable, we create an impossible situation — not because of his limitations, because of ours (Isaiah 55:8–9).
God fulfilled His promise to the widow, her son, and Elijah. God used her as a channel of supply and their needs were met as a result.
Have faith in Him who is so much bigger than we can ever understand or fathom.
He is ever faithful even when we are not. 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
2 Corinthians 4:16–18

Prayer:

Our Father in Heaven. We thank you for your Love.

Lord we thank you for your faithful promises and that

we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses to Your  

Grace, Mercy and provision.

Help us to keep our eyes firmly on You o Lord, and to not grow

weary and lose faith. We ask this in Jesus Holy name

Amen

19 Aug 2021

Image by Juli Kosolapova

The Lord says, “In the time of my favour I will answer you, in the day of salvation I will help you;” ---  say to the captives, “Come out, be free.”  ---  “They (like sheep) will feed beside the roads and find pastures on every barren hill; they will neither hunger nor thirst.  He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.  

Isaiah 49 : 8 – 10

Reading: 
1 Kings 8:41-43

In the first passage Isaiah is speaking to the Israelites in captivity in Babylon, who will soon be freed and returned to their homeland.  In the second reading Solomon is praying to the Lord for the foreigners who may come to Israel seeking the Lord.

In both passages the prophets of Israel see the compassionate Lord like a shepherd who will lead and care for all people.  Just as the shepherd who provides pasture and water for the sheep, so it is that the divine shepherd provides a prospect of rich spiritual food and water to all who come to Him.

Jesus also used the image of the shepherd and the sheep when teaching His disciples.  He is the ultimate compassionate shepherd who gives His life for the sheep.  He is still our shepherd; however barren our situation appears to be.  We can look to Him for spiritual food and hope.

We live in a time when there is a great deal of migration from one land to another, as well many, many refugees, fleeing from terrible situations.  Solomon prays for all foreigners that they may be treated well and welcomed into our places of worship, “ so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your Name and fear You.”  1 Kings 8 : 43c.

The God we serve loves and cares for all, as well as the strangers among us.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, our great shepherd, help us to love the strangers among us as You do, to care for them and to treat them justly.  You are our rock; in whom we can take refuge, our fortress, our deliverer, and our Shepherd.  You hear us when we turn to You and cry for help.  Lord You are our strength and our salvation.  Our hearts are filled with praise for You.  We give thanks to You, our Father God, for Your great love for us, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen

20 Aug 2021

Image by Victoria Palacios

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

The Apostle Paul reminded the Galatian church that they have been called to freedom, not as an opportunity to serve themselves, but to serve others. Jesus reminded His disciples who were caught up in a discussion regarding greatness, that true greatness was not a matter of place or position, but a matter of serving. “ I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22: 27b). This is a powerful reminder that we have been set free by Christ Jesus, so that we can serve the needs of the human family, especially the least, the lost, and the lonely.  Secondly, the Apostle Paul reminds us that those who are guided by the Fruit of the Spirit, have a vision that the gospel of Christ calls us to transform the world in whatever way we can. Jesus Christ became incarnate to redeem and re-dream the world. He lived and died and was raised from the dead, so that the world would be better and different.  Like Jesus our focus should turn to God and God’s desire for the world. Trusting in ourselves limit our freedom, but trusting in God, we allow God to be the centre of life, and to direct our efforts to improve the quality of life for those God in love entrusts to us. It means, allowing ourselves to be claimed and shaped by God to become a brand new person and to live in the world differently than we have ever lived before. The Fruit of the Spirit is therefore the manifestation of a transformed life. We are called not only to make a difference, but also to make the world (where we are) different.

Prayer:

Gracious God, ruler of the universe, creator of all the worlds and giver of life,

we praise You and marvel at Your goodness to us.

 Bring us back from our scattered lives and fragmented loyalties

to the shelter of Your fold.

Assure us once more of Your loving care,

and teach us again to bear witness to Your truth.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Saviour and Redeemer.

Amen