14 June 2021

Image by cyrus gomez

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.   

  Ephesians 4 : 32

Reading:

Mark 1:40-45

Asked to define the difference between “pity” and “compassion,” a woman answered : “Pity” feels bad for someone in trouble or in need; “compassion” goes a-visiting, taking a pot of soup or a freshly baked cake.

Compassion leads to personal involvement in another’s situation. Jesus is our prime example.  He touched a leper and healed him.  He touched an outcast!  Compassion made Jesus willing to become involved in a person’s distress.  He taught His disciples to do things for others without expecting anything in return.  With Christ-like love and compassion and with prayer, we can become aware of what the real problem is that besets someone.

Remember the time when some friends lowered their friend through the roof to where Jesus was.  Jesus said, “Friend your sins are forgiven.”  The people around them asked why Jesus had not laid His hands on him and healed him.  Jesus asked them which was easier, “Your sins are forgiven,” or “get up and walk.”  So, Jesus said, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

Yes, Jesus had compassion on the man and knew what he really needed!  But the friends also had compassion and brought their friend to Jesus, with  several difficulties.

Prayer:

O Lord Jesus, open our eyes that we may see the needs of others; open our ears that we may hear their cries; open our hearts that we may share Your love with them.  Show us where love and hope and faith is needed.  Direct us as to who we ought to lift to You in prayer and may Your Holy Spirit take our prayers and present them to You.  We ask this in Your glorious name. 

 Amen.

15 June 2021

Image by Ali Zahdhan

The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life
of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1

Reading:

John 12-20

I started last Friday with the ‘I AM’, sayings of Jesus. Jesus’ claim to these words refers to God’s revelation of Godself to Moses at the burning bush. (Exodus 3 :14).  Jesus was in the Temple courts for The Feast of  Tabernacles. (John 7). On the evening of the first day there was a ceremony called ’The Illumination of the Temple.’ According to Dr. William Barclay it happened in the Court of the Women. Four great candelabra were prepared. When darkness came these candelabra were lit and the light could be seen from all over Jerusalem. Jesus is saying you have seen the candelabra lit up Jerusalem, ‘I am the light of the world,’ not for just one night, but for eternity. Anyone, therefore who becomes a Christ follower, will have light for his/her pathway of life. The light in the Temple will flicker and die, but God’s light in Jesus lasts for ever. In the opening chapter of his Gospel, John introducing Jesus to the world states: “ In Him was life, and that life was the light for all people.”(John 1:4.).

Prayer:

O God our light and our salvation,

You are infinite in Your acts of love, mercy , grace and forgiveness.

By Your Spirit empower us to carry the light of Christ into the world.

In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.

AMEN.

16 June 2021

Image by Mick Haupt

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.

Psalm 40:5

Reading:

Daniel 3

When confronted by a king "furious with rage" for not worshipping his golden statue , Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's response was not very respectful:
God is able to save us. But even if he doesn't, we refuse to bow down.
Their courage and faith is astonishing as it was a certain fact that their answer would be their death sentences - Nebuchadnezzar  was a brutal immoral King who would show no mercy.
Their statement showed their faith not only in God's delivering power but also their faith in God's ultimate plan. As Job declares: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him" (Job 13:15, KJV).

It is easy to serve and praise God when he blesses us and things go our way.  We often easily tell others  to hang in there and that God has reasons for what He does, without really thinking what it is like being in their shoes.
It is much harder to remain faithful to God and praise Him when things arent going well, to keep the faith when we are faced with seemingly unsolvable problems and insurmountable obstacles. Its difficult to remain steadfast in our prayers when God does not answer.  
But though we often vacillate between faith and doubt, God is absolutely unchanging
Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Gods  past faithfulness is a guarantee of future faithfulness.
When we are struggling to trust God, he invites us to turn to him for sustaining grace.
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Psalm 18:30 – As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
He is a God whose character never changes: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:21-23 

When we reflect on the Nature of God and His steadfast love, we have to pray the  words of Psalm 42:5 
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”

Prayer:

Father we thank you your steadfast love and mercy.

We thank you that you are the same forever.
We thank you for the examples of faith in those who have gone before us.
Lord our Hope is in you for you are trustworthy.

Lord we need you and we look to you for help.

Help us to keep our eyes on You.

We give it all to you in Jesus name.

Amen

17 June 2021

Diver int he Reef

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

 Romans 8:38 – 39

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he tells them and us that nothing and I mean nothing, can come between God and us.  Nobody can drive a wedge between us and God’s love for us.  We know that there is a lot of evil in the world today, both subtle and overt.

 

I believe God is trying to teach us through this Covid-19 virus pandemic, that we all need to change our ways and confess our wrong attitudes, our self-centeredness, our seeking after power and its misuse, our dishonesty, and our self-entitlement.  The Lord appeared to Solomon and promised that if the people He had called, would truly humble themselves, turn to Him and confess their evil ways, he would hear their prayers and would forgive them their sins and most importantly “would heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7 : 14

 

Jesus did not just die a terrible death, but He died for each individual one of us, so that our sins would be forgiven if we but turned to Him.  He opened the doors to God’s dwelling and made us children of God.  Therefore, Paul believed as he did, that nothing could separate us from God’s Love.

Prayer:

I pray that you, being rooted  and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3 : 17 – 19

18 June 2021

Image by Alexei Maridashvili

Open for me the gates of the righteous;
   I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.

Psalm 118: 19

Reading:

John 1: 1-15

The image of Jesus being the gate for the sheep as well as the shepherd who enters through the gate and lead His sheep out need  to be kept together. A shepherd without a sheepfold, or a sheepfold without a gate, makes no sense. When Jesus speaks of the gate, the fence metaphor is implied. Again, a gate without a fence would be absurd. The gate is the entryway into a place of safety and protection. Jesus reminds us that those who enter through Him, live in a life-giving relationship with Him, finds God’s gift of abundant life.

Prayer:

Gracious God, we give You thanks for our community of faith,

St. John the Evangelist United Church.

As those, part of Jesus’ flock, help us to listen for the sound of His voice, and to heed His offer of security for our common life together.

For the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Amen