Friday 24th May
“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those whose hope is in His mercy.”
I am so thankful that God doesn’t have to rely on my strength otherwise he would be truly disappointed. In fact God doesn’t delight or take pleasure in the outward appearance of strength at all (that is not to say that he condemns physical strength or exercise). The Psalmist is simply stating that God is delighted when we put our hope in Him and not in ourselves or in our STRENGTH! In fact our own strength is fallible, temporary and no matter how strong we think we are both physically and Spiritually, without God we are nothing.
“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him.” In our church we are learning about what it means to fear God. It is not a scared emotion but rather an awareness and honour of a God who is far bigger, greater, stronger and HOLIER than us. If we “fear” Him, and put our “hope” in His strength and not ours then we will also be overcomers in all things. When we don’t take situations into our hands but rather “hope in His MERCY” then we draw on God’s resources and not ours. Take courage that God, the creator of the whole universe, has the power to sustain it, and also the power to help you in your circumstance!
Tuesday 7th May
“And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember He has identified you as His own….Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you!” (part of Ephesians 4:30-31 NLT)
I recently had a friend come from Italy and he was sharing something that really spoke to my heart and also reminded me of a sermon I had heard on Sunday at church.
My wife noticed that he was wearing an expensive branded jumper to which he quickly explained had been bought for him (it is quite un-like him to wear expensive clothes). After the laughter subsided he mentioned that although it is an expensive brand in England, it is unknown in Italy. What was expensive in England was practically worthless in Italy, all because of a simple label on the material. That simple label gave the item of clothing the “identity” that it was designed and made for this particular company, which of course added the value to the jumper. Interestingly as I pondered that thought, I realised what makes us recognisable in the world and what gives us our “identity” whereby people may recognise who we are and who designed us?
See a label on clothing may give value and sadly even status. Yet if the people around don’t recognise the label or branding then the value, your status and the company’s identity is worthless and meaningless. It is much the same with us. As Christ’s children we bear the mark of a believer. We are His representatives on this earth. However if we are not living as Christians then what separates us from the world and “identifies” us with the being like Christ?
Today’s passage specifically highlights the importance of living like Christ in all we do. What marks us as a Christian? Is it wrath, anger or malicious behaviour? Is it foolish and coarse joking? NO! It is being kind when there is an opportunity to be cruel. It is forgiving like Christ has forgiven you when someone mistreats you. It showing love when someone uses harsh words against you. This is not to say that we shouldn’t stand up for injustice but rather it is a Godly response to the world’s attitudes and behaviours. We might not be able to evangelise the world in one go, but our responses to life’s hardships shows Jesus to the world. Small acts of kindness and Christ like attitudes make huge differences in a Godless and ever increasing secular society.
Be different! Show Christ in all you do! Be identified as a follower of Jesus.
Thursday 2nd May
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The stillness of a spring day is something that cannot be matched. The warm sunlight beaming down on your face, birds gently chirping, creation singing to their maker and flowers elegantly showing off their variety of colours and smells. What can beat that feeling??
The truth is however, that sometimes life is not so rosy! Pressures of life can in one moment send us into a downward spiral of anger, shame, bitterness and resentment. If truth really be told, no matter how beautiful spring can be, emotions can often get the better of us when we allow situations to escalate and spiral out of control. It is in those times that we really need to draw near to God and ask Him to give us His perfect peace.
Jesus talks of this peace in John 14 verse 27. He encourages His disciples to take heart as He has just talked about His imminent ascension but reminds them that He will return and the Father will send the comforter, the Holy Spirit. Jesus concludes with this famous verse which not only stood as a comfort to the disciples but stands as a reminder for all peoples that where Jesus is, there is peace.
How encouraging that Jesus gives us His peace and that it is not of this world but from Him. Here is my interpretation of this verse. ‘I give you My peace, not as the world cheaply gives it. That temporary fix of peace that doesn’t satisfy. That peace that only paves over problems and never solves them. That peace that is gone at the first sight of a problem. No! I give you My peace. A free and comforting peace. A peace that is never ending. A peace that doesn’t require you to do but that is already DONE. A peace that is from my resources, from My heart to yours. A peace that says do not be afraid, do not be troubled no matter what you are going through. A peace that passes all human understanding of peace, that right there, in the middle of the storm, right at the heart of walls collapsing around you and mountains shaking beneath you, right there, I will give you stillness, comfort and rest. That is My peace. Why? Because I love YOU!!’
Let us not allow circumstances to dictate how we feel but let our Christ centered hearts rejoice in His peace in our lives. Amen!
Wednesday 1st May
“Be still, and know that I am your God…”
This morning as the sun slowly rises and creation comes alive, stop for one moment and take a deep breath. Look around at God’s creation and marvel at His handiwork.
The Psalmist says in verse 1 of chapter 46 that again God is our refuge and strength and an “always ready help in time of trouble.” In fact he adds to it that even if “earthquakes come and mountains crumble into the sea” we will not fear because HE is our God.
It is inevitable that we will face storms in our lives. We might even face a crumbling mountain, but one thing remains… God is our God and that means we are the winning side. Stop for a moment today and remember to be still and know that our refuge and strength, IS OUR GOD!