DAILY DEVOTIONS

6 sept 2021

Lilac breasted Roller Sept 21.jpg

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord,

my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19 : 14

Reading:
Mark 8:27-30

In our reading today Jesus asks who the people think He is.  The answers are Elijah, John the Baptist or a prophet.  Then He asks who the disciples think He is.  Peter as usual is quick to answer, “You are the Messiah.”  Jesus knows it is too early in His ministry, the disciples’ and people’s development for this proclamation to be made public.  It could cut Jesus’ ministry short and hasten His death.  Hence Jesus tells the disciples to keep the knowledge of the Messiahship to themselves.   

Words can both harm and heal.  They can give peace, hope and new life to the soul.  If said at the wrong time, even if they are the true, they can cause much harm and have significant consequences.  The right words, at the right time, can bring peace and healing.  Sometimes we are required to just be quiet and listen and be present with the person with problems, or just to give a word of encouragement, and not to share facts about the situation.

If our words to others are led by Jesus’ grace, given with gentleness, patience and most importantly with LOVE, it can be most helpful.  If we speak outside of these parameters we will speak outside of God’s calling.  This also applies to when we share our own experiences of Jesus.  There are times when it is not appropriate.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, give us the wisdom to recognize when You call us to speak the truth and when to share our Christian experiences.   Guide our words that they may help and heal our neighbours. And most importantly,

“Restore us, O God Almighty; make Your face shine upon us,

that we may be saved.”- Psalm 80:7

Amen.

7 sept 2021

Image by John Royle

As the deer pants for streams of water,
   so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

Psalm 42: 1-2a

Sin is a word that dominates the Bible. The first eleven(11) chapters of the Bible  try to explain why the world is in such a mess. These chapters of Genesis trace the trouble to sin. Sin has many faces. It is disobedience to what God requires and desires. Sin is also to coerce someone to participate in the act of disobedience. (Genesis 3: 1-7). Genesis 11 explains the sin of human beings seeking to be like God, power for themselves. (Genesis 11: 4.)  Sin is therefore the common condition of humans in every age and generation. We all do wrong and fail to do right, whether we intend it or not. Sin can hold us captive and we need a way out. David’s deeds were terrible, but Israel felt obliged to record it in her most sacred Scriptures, but Israel also remembered to record David’s truthfulness when confronted by the prophet Nathan. “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12: 13). David chose to confess and made no attempt to cover up his deeds. David accepts the consequences of his wrongdoings. Confessing our sin and finding forgiveness, do not absolve us from the consequences of our wrongdoings. Forgiveness brings restoration which is the work of God. It brings healing and restores the relationship between God and us,  between our neighbours and ourselves and between us and creation. The good news of the Gospel is that with God forgiveness is overflowing. Forgiveness is a mighty fountain from which we all are invited to drink,  to wash and be cleansed. The Gospels remind us that we receive  cleansing and forgiveness as gift, through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear God, Father and Mother of us all,

we come with expectant hearts,

hoping for fresh insights into Your will in our lives.

We ask forgiveness for all those times You have tried to show us the way

and we looked the other way.

We thank You for Your grace that is sufficient and Your mercies are always new.

Thank You for restoring our relationship with You, through the death and resurrection

of Jesus, Your Son, our Lord and Saviour.

Amen.

8 Sept 2021

Image by Bart van meele

 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.
Psalm 57: 5

Reading:
Psalm 57

After David’s  battle with Goliath and his victories over the Philistines, he became the great hero of Israel:

As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
    and David his tens of thousands.” - 1 Sam 18:7

However this caused king Soul to become jealous and fearful of David. 1 Sam 18:8
After trying every scheme possible to get rid of David, the relationship between David and king Saul deteriorated to the point where the jealous Saul decided to kill David. 
David did not understand why this was happening: “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?” 1 Sam 20:1

Eventually he had to flee to the city of Gath, the birthplace of Goliath.  There the same refrain that made him famous caused David to be recognised by the servants of the king of Gath.

1 Sam 21:11
In order to not be killed by king Achish, David had to pretend to be insane and fled into the Judean desert, and eventually came to Adullam where he hid inside the cave with his family.
David went from famous and beloved hero of the nation, dining in  the kings court to hiding in a cave in enemy country, fearing for his life and the lives of those with him.
There is an old proverb that says "The devil loves to fish in troubled waters"
When we find ourselves in situations out of our control where we have no answers, our own thoughts and emotions can get the better of us. We can despair, become angry, depressed or just completely paralyzed. 

David turned his thoughts from his situation and his enemies  to God.
Psalm 57 recounts his prayer to God

He cried out to God and acknowledged God’s faithfulness.
He stated the problem.
He turned his thoughts on God’s works.
He exalted God.
He stated his problem again.
He decided to sing praises and give thanks to God.
He exalted God.

Though David was scared, his heart was steadfast because of Gods faithfulness: 
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Psalm 57:10

God is faithful, and we are called to walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7). We are called to trust God. Through times of joy and tribulation, God’s faithfulness remains consistent and steadfast. He is our provider. He uplifts us and encourages us. He comforts and strengthens us. He gives us a community to support us.
Ephesians 6:18 
God will provide us with what we need to persevere.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. - Heb 10:23


Prayer:
Father we thank you for your faithfulness
We thank you for our Lord and Saviour, our perfect example, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Lord Jesus, Help us when we grow weary and lose heart, when we struggle with things that don't make sense to us
Thank you for the examples of those who have gone before us.
Thank you for your word which is the light for our path.
We bring to you all our troubles and we confess our weakness and our sins.
Lord in you mercy, hear our prayers
To you be all honour and glory and praise
Amen!

8 sept 2021

Image by David Marcu
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Psalm 19 : 1

Reading:
James 3:1-12

James writes prophetically when he describes our tongues as small things like the bit we put in a horse’s mouth in order to control it and the rudder on a ship, which is relatively small but can used to direct and steer a ship in a stormy sea.  He also compares the tongue to a small spark which can set a forest fire alight.  He compares the tongue as a small part of the body and yet it can be a can be a powerful tool for good and evil when used in speech.  Speech is a gift from God and should be used with care.  Speech reflects the emotions we feel in our heart and if these emotions are bottled up, they can be like a dam that has burst.

There are times we act inconsistently, like when we bless God at times and curse our fellowmen at other times.  Speaking ill of someone, who is made in the image of God, can be compared to cursing God.  What a thought!  James compares this to the fact that fresh and salt water cannot flow from the same spring.

James calls us to tame the powerful beast that is our tongue.  If we want to control our tongues, we need first to make peace with God, and then to address our hearts   by confessing our bad thoughts and emotions and finally make peace with our neighbours.

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”   Mother Teresa

Prayer:

Lord God, heal our hearts so that we can control our tongues.  Help us to see Your reflection within every person we meet.  Help us to see how blessing one another through our words is a way to show our love and praise for You. 

We pray this to the glory of Your Name.

Amen.

9 sept 2021

Image by Ryan Hutton

But God is my King from long ago;
he brings salvation on the earth.

It was you who split open the sea by your power;
you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert.
It was you who opened up springs and streams;
you dried up the ever-flowing rivers.
The day is yours, and yours also the night;
you established the sun and moon.
It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter.
Psalm 74:12-17

This parable of Jesus works by using extravagant contrasts. A slave owes his king an astronomical amount of money, which he is unable to repay. Amazingly, the king forgives the debt completely! That slave then refuses to forgive a very small debt that a fellow slave owes him. He refuses to forgive a debt that is five hundred thousand times smaller than the amount he owed the king. In the Gospels  Jesus is presented as ‘the Great Forgiver’. This but one of many pictures that the Gospels present. Many of the people that Jesus encountered, with some form of disease, disability or struggle, was often met with the words, “Your sins are forgiven. Jesus teaches us to voice forgiveness in our prayers, “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12). Thus, for Christ -followers forgiveness is not an occasional act, but a way of life in Christ. It is how we embody and express our relationship with God and extend such a relationship to others. It is how we restore communion with God, with our neighbours and with the whole of creation. In so doing we participate with God, to make all things new. God is forever merciful. As Christ-followers we internalize it, and model it in our daily lives.

Prayer:

O, Lord, we ask this day: Forgive us our sins.

Make whole our brokenness and heal our wounds.

Bind us closer to You, O God,

And bind us closer to each other.

We make this humble request in the name of our Redeemer and Saviour,

Jesus Christ

Amen.