DAILY DEVOTIONS

20 sept 2021

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Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. 
Psalm 124 : 8
I will do whatever you ask in my Name, so that the Son may bring glory
to the Father. 
John 14 : 13

James believes that when people come together in prayer, something beautiful happens.  We may come together to praise God when we are grateful and full of joy and in these moments it is easy to sing praises to God.  But we live in a world where many are suffering.  This suffering may take many forms.  It may be illness, depression, loneliness, abuse, loss of work, relationship problems, political and social oppression and deprivation.

In the world of advertising which surrounds us, we are led to believe that a new car, or new clothes or a trip to some exotic place will solve our problems. 

James feels strongly that if we are suffering, we ought to bring it to God in prayer and more specially to join with other Christians to pray together.  He describes these times, when our prayers go up to God, like incense rising with His presence.  James says quite strongly that suffering is very real and we all experience it in some way. 

When we are prayed over or with us in our suffering, it can make us feel very vulnerable, but the sharing can be very powerful because the Holy Spirit comes into those times, sharing our Lord’s love and grace with us.  In such times we need to trust our Lord to know how, when and where that healing and restoration will occur. 

Praying with and for one another, is both powerful and effective, bringing God’s presence into the situation.  James has a strong faith that embodies Jesus’ command to “LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

Prayer:

Merciful Lord Jesus, heal the brokenness in our hearts and minds.  Help us to share together  in prayer, in the healing steps of Your love.  God of mercy, inspire us to come together to pray for one another, so that You may be glorified.

Amen.

21 sept 2021

Image by Eric BARBEAU
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
Psalm 71:1-2

 

The Apostle Paul seeks to connect the life we live now with the life that is to come. St. Paul’s reference to an earthly tent and our being away from the Lord, speaks to the temporary nature of the lives we now live. St. Paul desires for the church at Corinth and for us, to have the present understood in the larger context of the eternal. For Paul, what should be the purpose of life in the present, must be our desire to please Christ. St. Paul believed that for the church in Corinth, seeking to please Christ, must remain part of their daily living in the face of suffering and persecution.  St. Paul is convinced that suffering is only temporary, but relationship with Jesus is eternal. The Holy Spirit is the guarantor of this promise and our source of strength to face the challenges and struggles of our time. The greatest temptation, St. Paul warns, is to get caught up in the appearances of life. He encourages the church to live by faith and not by sight. Our faith is grounded and rooted in the certainty of the victory over suffering, struggle and even death, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. With the goal of pleasing Christ, we seek to live from moment to moment, trusting in God’s  love and faithfulness, and we remain dedicated and committed in our relationship with Jesus.

Prayer:

O Lord of the universe, help us to realise that with You are new beginnings.

Teach us that everyday is an opportunity to please Christ.

We have often failed to trust You and to respond to Your gifts of love, mercy and grace,

for which we ask Your divine forgiveness.

Forgive our past and open us to new futures in the world and community

where You have called us to be.

In the name of Jesus, our Lord and Redeemer.

Amen.

22 sept 2021

Image by Nathan Anderson
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:25,26

The word “covenant” in the Bible is much like a contract. In Jeremiah chapter 31, God says, “The time is coming… when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers…because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them.” God speaks about two covenants, the new one and the one which had been broken but not by God.
God had made a covenant with Israel: “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations, you will be my treasured possession… you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”  (Exodus chapter 19, verses 5 & 6)
God would make Israel his special people for a special purpose, and on the other side Israel was to obey God fully. 
Sadly, in their sinfulness the Israelites  abandoned God and broke his covenant.

We’re no different. Daily we choose sin over righteousness, lies over the truth, hurtful words over kindness, grudges over forgiveness, anger over patience, selfishness over selflessness. The list could go on.
If our status before God depended upon holding up an agreement with God, eternity would not look good for us. But here is where God’s “new” covenant comes in. This is a one-sided covenant, where God does something for us and that’s it. He says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” This sin-forgetting forgiveness is accomplished by the sinless life of Jesus, his death on the cross, and his victorious resurrection from the dead. Through faith in Jesus, God does not hold our sins against us. Through faith in Jesus, the God of heaven and earth is our God and we are his.
The only covenant, the only contract that matters for us is one-sided: God declares us his forgiven sons or daughters and he signed it with the blood of his Son, our Savior, Jesus.

Prayer:

Our Father in Heaven, we give you thanks you for your Love and Mercy.
So often Lord we forget the immense price paid for us by your Son
So often we take forgiveness for granted without truly reflecting on what it cost.
We thank you for the gift of Salvation through Jesus our Lord.
Help us to live our lives in thanks  to the honour and glory of Your name
We ask this in Jesus name
Amen

23 sept 2021

Image by Garth Manthe
As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”  
Matthew 3 : 16 – 17

I found the following description of the ‘voice from heaven’ which spoke to Jesus after His baptism very interesting.  I’m quoting from Faith for Daily Living.

 

The voice which Jesus heard at His Baptism is of extreme importance. “ This is My Son whom I love,” it said, “ In whom I am well pleased.”  This sentenced is composed of two quotations from the Old Testament.  The first is a quotation from Psalm 2 : 7.  Every Jew accepted this Psalm as a description of the Messiah, the mighty King of God who was to come.  The second part is a quotation from Isaiah 42 : 1 which is a description of the Suffering Servant, a description which culminates in Isaiah 53.  So, after His Baptism, Jesus received two certainties from His Father – the certainty that  He was indeed the chosen One of God, and the certainty that the way in front of Him was the way of a suffering servant ending in the Cross.  In that moment he knew that He was chosen to be King, but He also knew that His throne must be a Cross.   He knew then that he was destined to be a conqueror, but that His conquest must have as its weapon, the power of suffering love.

The voice from heaven acknowledged that He was the Messiah and it confirmed both His task and the only way of fulfilling of it.

(W Barclay, the Gospel of Matthew)

The baptism of Jesus is strange.  The voice is mysterious.  From that point Jesus set His face to minister, to suffer and to be obedient.  Jesus accepted His commission from His Father God.

Prayer:

O Lord Jesus Christ, You have said that You are the way, the truth, and the Life.

Help us not to stray from Your guidance, nor to distrust You, who is the truth, but to rest in and follow Your love and grace that what we do may be to the Glory of Your wonderful name.

Amen

24 sept 2021

Image by Jules D.
Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.
Psalm 81:1-2

The apostle Paul, through his letter to the church at Corinth, seeks to remind them  and us, that it is the love of Christ, that transforms and renews our being and doing. (renews who we  are and what we do.) In a sense the love of Christ becomes the source of how we live life. Through the redemptive work of Christ, His death and resurrection, that which is old has passed and God has done and is doing a new thing. In and through Christ God creates a new way of seeing and doing.  A new way of seeing and doing has radically replaced the old. This new life is grounded in God’s reconciling work in Christ, through His death and resurrection. “In Christ”, we no longer see in the same way and no longer act in the same way, for we have been reconciled to God. We are now Christ’s representatives in the world. St. Paul identifies two ways in which the death and resurrection of Jesus affects our lives. First, we are new creations, the old is gone forever. Second, as the redeemed  we now join in the reconciling work of Christ. Controlled by the love of Christ, we become Christ’s representatives to a hurting world, longing for healing, wholeness and salvation.

Prayer:

For the beauty and freshness of each new dawn,

we give thanks to You, Creator God.

For the food on our tables, the clothes in our closets and a place to call home,

we give thanks to You, Sustaining God.

For Your redeeming presence in times of joy and in times of tears,

in days of youth and in years of maturity,

in moments of ease and hours of challenge,

in good times and bad times, in sickness and in health,

We give thanks to You, Redeemer God.

Amen