Thoughts 6th – 12th Aug

Thursday 6th

Joshua Ch 1 verse 6    be strong and courageous

Five times in the book of Joshua God speaks these words to Joshua, and twice in the book of Deuteronomy these same words are spoken to him, once by God and once by Moses [who he was about to take over from as leader]. 

Someone once said, ‘when God says do not fear, I start to get frightened’!  I guess the reason is that there must be something on the horizon not to fear, but what is it?  The person of Moses towers above all others in the early part of the Old Testament, so to take over from him was not something that was likely to be easy.  Joshua was well aware of this, he had seen the recalcitrant children of Israel on many occasions, and he knew what failings they were capable of and the challenge that he faced.  So, God spoke these four words to him, and again to reassure him, and again to make sure he got it.

Sometimes God asks us to do difficult things, things outside our ‘comfort zone’, things we have not done before, things we think others are better equipped for, but God wants you to do it.  The challenge for us is to trust in the God who has called us, not in our own abilities, not looking at the potential problems or implications.  Once we begin God may remind us again, and maybe again of his calling, the challenge for us is to keep our eyes on the one who has called us and not on the task in hand.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the stories of those who have faced the challenges of remaining faithful to you.  Please help us to grasp hold of the words that you speak to us, to believe them and live them out, laying aside doubt and fear and trusting that the one who calls is able to equip us for all he desires us to do. 



Friday 7th

1 Samuel Ch 16 verse 7    ‘Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

This is part of what God says to the prophet Samuel as he is being guided to the Lord’s appointed person to succeed King Saul as the King of Israel.  I am so often reminded, certainly in myself, how we are often influenced and persuaded by these ‘outward appearances’.  Such things as status, wealth, career, holidays and possessions can easily become the markers by which we judge people as being successful or to be admired and even copied.  How good it is though, when we turn away from the bright lights of the world, to know and hear again God say:  ‘…but the Lord looks at the heart.’  God doesn’t judge us by our bank balance or age of the car we drive.  He longs for our hearts:  to simply come and worship Him, adore Him, and keep Him at the forefront of our lives.

Lord, you know my heart – make it wholly yours.  For all who are searching for truth and answers today – may they find your Son, and through Him gain a new heart. 



Saturday 8th

John Ch 3 verse 3    Jesus replied,  “I tell you the truth unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

This might seem a harsh statement that Jesus gave to Nicodemus but basically he was saying to him, it didn’t matter how regularly he went to the temple or what standing he had, if he hadn’t made a sincere commitment to God and said sorry to God for the things he’d done wrong in his life he wouldn’t be accepted in.  He needed to accept the Holy Spirit into his life and be baptized in water as an outward sign.  He needed to repent, a word which isn’t too popular these days, but unless you are humble and are truly sorry to God you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.  Good works and being a nice person don’t cut it with God.  He looks at your heart and he knows if you’re genuine or not.  You can’t con God, you might be able to pull the wool over the local vicar or pastor of the church, but God knows if you’re being honest with him or not.

God wants people who are loyal to him, truly believe in him and want to follow him.  If there is someone out there who wants to know Jesus personally and wants to give their life to him, here’s a little prayer to help you.

Dear Lord Jesus, I ask you to please forgive me of all of my sins, and even the ones I feel so ashamed of that are hidden and no one knows about apart from you. I ask Lord that you will help me and heal me in these areas. Lord Jesus, I ask that your Holy Spirit would change me into a new creation and help me give my life to you today.  Enter in Lord and change me into a follower of you, so that I have a personal relationship with you from now on. 



Sunday 9th

Psalm Ch 36 verse 1    An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked…’

It’s hard isn’t it to place the label ‘sinful’ on the majority of people we know and see about our daily lives.  Sure we can also think of many who may be deserving of punishment, who might have committed ghastly crimes against humanity, or others who are considered by society to be a threat or a danger.  But your everyday man or woman on the street may well say of themselves, ‘I live a good life’ or ‘I don’t do anyone any harm’.

It was Jesus Himself however who said to the rich ruler in Luke 18:  ‘…why do you call me good?   No-one is good – except God alone.’  So in other words, our good deeds and our well-meaning and considerate lives in themselves are like filthy rags compared to God’s goodness.  We clearly need more – and that not from ourselves – only through a thorough washing from the inside out by Jesus Himself.  As verse 9 of the Psalm says:  ‘…for with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.’  May we know that ‘fountain of life’ for ourselves as we receive Him afresh today.

Lord Jesus, light of the world.  Hear our prayers for those we are burdened to pray for by name today:  the sick, lonely, needy and unloved.  Be near them, good Lord. 



Monday 10th

Romans Ch 1 verse 16    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

I would venture a guess that there are things that each of us is ashamed of, things we have done and things we have said, possibly many years ago?

Increasingly in society people of faith are viewed with some scepticism and cynicism, as though in a scientific age how could we possibly believe in a creator God who is active in the world today?   This can lead to faith being side-lined from the public sphere to the private one, and to a situation where we feel embarrassed, almost ashamed that contrary to the prevailing wind of society, we believe in God.  I contribute to a football forum on the internet, where those of faith are referred to as the ‘God botherers’, a derogatory phrase meant to be a put-down.  If the reference were to my gender or race there would be an outcry, but we are seen as fair game for ridicule.

First-century Christians faced even worse, much worse, but in the face of this Paul proclaims that he is ‘not ashamed’ of the message of Jesus.  This is not just about identifying with and as a follower of Jesus, but about recognising that every time we speak of the love of God revealed through the life and death of Jesus, that the power of God is released to bring the hearers to salvation through belief in that same Jesus.

So do not be silent, do not give in to the influence of a society that wants us to be silent, do not be ashamed to associate with and speak of Jesus, for through us the gospel and power of God are released.

Dear Lord Jesus, please take away our fears and anxieties about speaking of you, give us wisdom when to speak, give us boldness to speak with confidence, and give us grace to love people regardless of their response.



Tuesday 11th

1 Corinthians Ch 9 verses 20 – 22 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law, I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law, I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

I love these verses because they reveal Paul’s chameleon-like willingness to do whatever it takes to see others come to faith in Jesus.  He was willing to use his Jewish ancestry to reach the Jews, but to those who were outside the Jewish law [the Gentiles], he spoke as one freed from the constraints of the Jewish law.  He was willing to do whatever it took to get in amongst people and speak of God’s salvation plan through Jesus, and his approach was not a ‘one size fits all’.

We need people who will speak of Jesus at the gym and at the health club, we need them at the football ground and at the pub, and we need them at the supermarket and at the walking group.  This is not about forcing our views on others, but about being a clear Christian presence, and about telling the Christian story when the opportunity presents itself.

Paul was confident in what he was speaking about, that Jesus Christ the Messiah was the door to receiving God’s salvation, and he could speak out of his own experience.  We need to be confident in telling our own personal stories of our varied and different encounters with Jesus, but not just in Church, but beyond the Church doors wherever people meet.

Dear Lord Jesus, give us the confidence to speak of you wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself, may we tell of our journeys of faith with honesty and joy.



Wednesday 12th

Luke Ch 23 verse 14    ‘I have examined Him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against Him.’

It is hard to read on, as we do in this passage today, of how Jesus of Nazareth was so cruelly treated and sentenced to a savage Roman death.  Pilate had already pronounced Him innocent yet to please the people, he handed Him over to punishment and crucifixion.  The word injustice comes to mind.  All through history and in our own lives we can think of many injustices which go unresolved; innocent people being left to face the consequences of others’ cruelty and selfishness.  But coming back to Jesus, we have to remember it was the Father’s will that He be given up.  The good news is that He is coming back again at the end of time – Jesus the risen, victorious Lord – as the righteous judge to finally deal with all the injustice and evil in the world.  The most wonderful truth which we must cling to and celebrate is that all who cry out to Him, at the name of Jesus, will be saved from the Father’s wrath and instead enter into His glory and eternal rest.

Lord Jesus, thank you that you alone have the power to save.  We pray now for all who face injustice bringing to mind situations, places and faces.  Come Lord Jesus and set your people free.