DAILY DEVOTIONS

13 sept 2021

Image by Joanne Gerber
Submit yourself, then,  to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and He will come near to you.
James 4 : 7 – 8a

In his letter James gives very practical and down to earth advice on how we as Christians, ought to lead our lives.  He strongly recommends that we seek God’s wisdom, which is “pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” vs 17b.  When our lives communicate self-entitlement, hypocrisy and judgementalism, dishonest practices and when we compromise our values, then we are following the ways of the world and not God’s way.  Therefore our lifestyles can reveal the kind of wisdom we choose and the choices we make.

There are times when we feel vulnerable, in conflict with others and feel unsure of what is leading to our decisions and reactions.  Then we need to share with a trusted fellow Christian as to whose wisdom we are really following.   We often react because of unresolved emotional conflicts within ourselves. (a war within us).  When we follow “wisdom” from above, things will really change in our lives, not only for our own benefit , but also for those around us.  This wisdom is not self-centered but considers others.  Wisdom is not about receiving recognition, but actually giving recognition, honour and glory to God our Father.

“You alone are my strength, my shield, to You alone may my spirit yield.  You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship You.  ”  Extract from SOF 27

Prayer:

Heavenly Father we would humbly like to submit ourselves to You and Your wisdom.  Help us to draw close to You so that we may experience Your nearness and Your wisdom.   May we discern Your wisdom from among the many messages that surround us and that come from within, so that we may honour and glorify You with our lives.

Amen.

14 sept 2021

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I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
   with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
   through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
   that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
Psalm 89:1-2

Reading:
Isaiah 5: 1-7

In this text the prophet Isaiah uses a parable to  paint a picture of God’s love  for Israel and Judah, a love for us, revealed in the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. The opening line of the parable uses tender language as God, “the beloved”, sings a love song to the people whose devotion God seeks. At the very heart of God, a love song spoken and sung. God serenades God’s people. The extravagant gift of God’s love is a vineyard on a fertile hill, an image of God’s extravagant love expressed through the cross of Jesus. Planting a vineyard is not an overnight endeavour, it takes time and energy and sacrifice. With care God prepares the vineyard. God “dug it, cleared it of stones and planted it with choice vines.”  No expense was spared to ensure the finest of vines yielding the most delicious fruit. The music that at first was a love song, now becomes a lament, because the prized vineyard, invested with” choice vines”,  yields “sour grapes.” This promising vineyard now turns barren, empty of promise and void of hope. The prophet now compares the life of Judah and Israel to the vineyard, they had come into being with promise and blessing, but they have squandered their gift and frustrate their future. We learn from this picture that God’s good gifts of life and love, painted as a vineyard, are entrusted to us with hope that  a harvest of “justice” and “ righteousness “(vs.), may continually season our lives and life. In Jesus God has spared no gift of love, forgiveness , mercy and grace. This beloved of the vineyard is intentional in “digging up, removing stones and planting” seeking that which is  good for us. This is a picture of God worth framing on the walls of our hearts,  the God whose light and love, grace and mercy, revealed in and through Jesus, are never withheld from any one of us.

Prayer:

Holy God, we come before You with wonder and humility.

Your amazing grace sustains us.

Thank you for the gift of life and the gift of Your Holy Presence

and unconditional acceptance.

Catch us when we stumble and lift us when we fall.

Forgive our sins and heal our brokenness with Your redemptive love.

In the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

Amen.

15 sept 2021

Image by Jessica Ruscello
Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.
Isaiah 25:1

 

Reading:
1 Peter 1

In 1 Peter 1, Peter writes to "Gods elect", the followers of Christ who were persecuted by the Romans and the Jewish establishment, and scattered over various Roman provinces. Christian Brothers and sisters living in exile, forced to flee from their homes, maligned, despised often living in fear.
Peter greets them by saying "Grace and peace be yours in abundance"
It seems strange and contradictory to wish people grace and peace when those were the very last things that they were experiencing.
But Peter was not unaware or insensitive to their situation. Their Grace and Peace stemmed from the fact that though they had not seen Jesus, they believed in Him.
Not only did they believe in Him but they loved Him. And their Love for Jesus filled them with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
That Joy that came from receiving salvation through the precious blood of Christ as a result of their faith
The tense Peter used for "receiving" was the present continuous tense - a way to convey any action or condition that is happening right now, frequently, and may be ongoing. Like them, we are also right now being saved.

"Salvation," according to the Bible, comes in three ways. The first is "justification," which is the one-time salvation from an eternity in hell. The second is "sanctification," which is the ongoing process of salvation from the influence of sin in our lives. The third is the permanent and complete absence of sin we will experience in heaven.
God has promised that our salvation, by His grace through our faith in Christ, is done, is being done, and will be done. In Him, we can be completely confident in all aspects of that salvation. In Him we have an inheritance in heaven that can never spoil or fade. He is always with us. He loves us, He cares for us and nothing can ever separate us from His love. May the joy of this knowledge lead us to follow the example of His footsteps, to live our lives in holy obedience to Him at all times in all circumstances so that through our lives we may declare His praises and be light to the world.

Prayer:

Father we thank you for your Word. We thank you for your Love, your Grace and your Mercy
We thank you for the precious gift of Salvation in Your Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Help us to speak and to boldly live your word in this world. We praise your Holy name

Amen.

16 sept 2021

Image by Sean Kuriyan
May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 
2 Thessalonians 2 : 16 – 17

A Litany of being God’s Instruments of Goodness  

For the talents and the abundance of gifts that are ours…

For the faith that stirs and grows in our hearts…

For the many people who have been Your instruments of goodness in our lives…

For the moments when we have known the song of Your presence in a special way…

For the times when Your goodness has made music through us….

God who sings through us, we thank You.

When fear rises up in us and we do not believe in our ability to be Your instrument…

When the busyness and schedules of our lives press upon us and create questions about Your song within us…

When we doubt Your presence in the difficult aspects of our days…

When we lose sight of the truth that we are called to be instruments of goodness…

When emptiness, loneliness, and other struggles keep us from hearing Your melody of love…                                       

God of goodness, help us trust in You.

As the song of Your love grows in us and the call to be Your instrument becomes clearer to us….

As we go forth from here with the desire to be Your instruments of love…

God of love, sing Your song through us.

“Gory be to God, whose power, working in us, can do more than we ask or imagine.”  Amen.  (Ephesians 3 : 21)

17 sept 2021

Image by David Clode
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:8-9

Reading:
Hosea 11:1-11

In this passage the prophet Hosea tell the familiar story of Israel’s relationship with God. Hosea begins by reminding the people of the early years of their relationship. “ When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”( Hosea 11:1 NIV.) Following their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the people strayed from their relationship with God and turned to idols. They did not remember the blessings that God bestowed in the years of their wilderness wanderings. Forgotten were the many times God had cared for them. Heartbroken, God cries out for them , as God  remembers all those times of nurturing, feeding and teaching Israel, like a parent would care for a child. The good news is that God will not give up on a wayward child.

(11: 8-9).  In the heart of God compassion grows warm and tender and God will not execute God’s “fierce anger.” Hosea reminds us of the truth of God’s divine parenting. Hosea presents God as a parent whose love knows no limit, whose grace knows no measure and whose nature is to continue granting forgiveness. Jesus expresses God’s love and nurturing in the parable of the gardener, the vine and the branches. To this life of  love, grace, forgiveness nurturing and growth God continues to invite us.

Prayer:

Gracious God, thank You that in Jesus You remembered us.

Your love is always close and warm, Your grace always sufficient.

You are generous in Your forgiveness, removing all our sin and guilt.

We praise You and bless You for the death and resurrection of Jesus,

for in Him we have life in all its fullness.

Amen