Friday, 31 May 2019

Teach us to Pray

Teach us to Pray
How  to Pray

                Jesus prayed and taught his disciples to pray.
As believers, we are called to pray because this is the way we communicate with God. We may not understand exactly how prayer works but we know that God asks us to come to him. When John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus, he taught his followers the tradition of prayer. Even though the disciples of Jesus were Jewish and would have memorized the Psalms and shared in Sabbath prayers or their lives, praying in their every day was not how they lived. Remembering that this was a time before all could read and write the disciples wanted to know how to pray.
                Prayer is a lifetime pursuit. Even those who have prayed their entire lives have not truly mastered having meaningful interactions with God. Jesus’ response to this question is in how he teaches them to pray what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer” which begins “Our Father,..”
                Prayer to our Father- “Father” refers to God as the Creator. God the Father is in relationship with us his children and even though we might not all feel comfortable saying Our “FATHER” we might remember that God as a loving parent is always with us- we who are connected as brothers and sisters. So we pray in community with each other.
                Pray in Jesus’ name. Often we end our prayers saying “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” We read in John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” When we pray in Jesus’ name we speak not in our own power but in the name of the One who has all authority in heaven and earth. Our lives and prayers must align with that which honours Christ.
                Pray in the Spirit, The Spirit helps us in our weakness especially in those time when we might be conflicted as to what to ask for. The Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans from our hearts.  The Spirit is the intercessor our helper when we don’t know what to say or when our prayers don’t seem perfect. The Spirit knows our hearts and knows the Father and in that gap the Spirit is.
                Approach God Confidently. When we pray we are to approach God filled with confidence so that we may receive mercy and grace from God who will help us in our times of need.
                Pray continually. We are to live in constant conversation with the One who loves us. We address Him when we wake up; we worship Him when we see the sunrise; we give thanks for our daily bread at breakfast; we praise Him for work and ask for skill in engaging in it; we pray that our love will abound and that God will use us to share the gospel; we lament over broken relationship and we talk to Him about traffic while driving. We may seek His guidance and strength when challenged, or impatient or needing to comfort another person. We pray for our government, country and world leaders. As long as we are awake we invite Him into our lives.
                We are also to pray in devotion, alertness and with thanks. Paul’s instruction to the Colossians tell us to ‘devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful.” This means to be set apart and ready. We are also to be thankful otherwise we are only making a shopping list of what we want and need. Prayer consists of praise, lament, confession, requests for others and for ourselves and thanks.
                Pray without using words—silence, sitting or standing in an attitude of quiet and waiting in God’s presence. Silent prayer is reflective of “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Ps 46:9-10.
How do you pray and for what/whom? Jesus’ disciples wanted and needed to learn to pray and we all learn and continue to learn about prayer because it is our way of communicating with God. But how do you pray? What do you say or do you keep silence? How does praying help you grow in your relationship with Jesus- God- Spirit?
PRAYER Our FATHER God  of love we praise you and thank you for the gift of prayer. We thank you that Jesus took the time to teach his disciples about prayer. We thank you that Paul also wrote about the need for prayers in our lives not just occasionally but continually1 help us to delve into our being and share our thoughts and feelings with you so that you will answer with love and hope. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
RESOURCE:  Sandra Glahn, “Teach Us to Pray,” Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, p.19-29.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Teach us to Pray How NOT to Pray

Teach us to Pray
How NOT to Pray

                               There are different ways to pray and there are
significant ways and times not to pray: 1) 1) praying even those there are broken relationships:   Jesus taught his disciples that if someone has unresolved conflict while they are on the way to engage in spiritual practices, that person should first stop and resolve the conflict before proceeding. Not everyone will respond to reconciliation but to initiate restoration is a good way to prepare to pray.
2) praying to get human praise: Jesus also had little tolerance for those who prayed, fasted and gave money so that everyone would see their good works. But prayer should focus on the goodness of God not on how great we are. People who pray to improve their standing in the court of public opinion receive nothing more from God, having already been paid in full in the form of human applause.
3) praying with too many words, or repeating words meaninglessly  Jesus also criticized those who pray long prayers in public and engage in meaningless repetition. Short prayers in public- long prayers in private. Think about what you are saying as you pray.  A good resource for prayers when you are not sure what to pray is praying the Psalms- as these are prayers written by people who have experienced similar things to you:  Psalm 150—if overwhelmed by God’s greatness-  ways to praise; Psalm 23- assurance;  Psalm 2 angry about injustice; Psalm 51  confession of sin\
4) Pray for others-focus on the spiritual needs of others.
Reflect for a moment about how you have prayed in the past. Have you prayed with a broken relationship on your heart? Have you prayed because the attention would be on you? What about repeating same phrases and statements just to be heard by other people? How much of your prayer time is about the needs of others? Do you really thank God?
What do you think of the suggestion ”short prayers in public, long prayers in private”? Do you practise prayer this way?

PRAYER God of grace we praise you for the gift of prayer and being able to talk with you about anything. Hel us to be aware of the needs of others and to bring these to you as we praise your name. Amen.

RESOURCE:  Sandra Glahn, “Teach Us to Pray,” Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, p.15-18

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Teach us to Pray The Object of Prayer

Teach us to Pray
The Object of Prayer

                The one we draw near to in prayer is so great, it’s only logical that we His creatures should approach Him in humility”. So states Sandra Glahn. 
Peter wrote to suffering Christians that we are to humble ourselves under God because he cares for us. Prayer makes a difference in our lives so we can tell him about our cares and our concerns. God loves us and is ‘near to all who call on him to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) God invites us to draw near and He promises that if we do, He will draw near to us.
                But what about the power of prayer?  As Christians we underestimate the power we invoke through prayer. God is so much power and yet He listens to what we ask. Even though he has created billions of stars in the many galaxies of the universe, he still hears the prayers of individuals. Prayer is “talking with the invisible, speak-worlds-into being, keeps tracks of all stars sent His Son for us God.” Because God is invisible we sometimes wonder if God really hears us when we pray and rain does not fall, when we ask for healing and it does not happen. But we should not give up but to pray continually. So often we are tempted to give up because we might feel that our prayers are not going anywhere. Yet Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” Petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving prayers are to be made for all people and God will hear and respond.
                To whom do you pray? What are you saying/asking/ sharing? Do you believe your prayers are answered your way or by God’s ways? Sometimes we may not like the answers we get—yes, no, maybe- not yet. But God does answer. The key thing about prayer is to do it and never quit. What we ask for might need to be modified and changed- but how we speak and share our thoughts with God goes beyond the words we say. For God knows our needs before we ask. God knows our joy and wonder, hurts and pains and is ready always to hear us. Just pray.
Have you ever felt that your prayers were left unanswered or totally opposite to what you wanted? What does this mean for us as we pray? God does answer prayer but He also knows the full picture of what your life involves and the choices you made. God’s answers to your prayers are intended to help and guide you. If you have concerns or questions, God will help! Just talk with God!
Holy God we praise you for the gift of prayer-being able to talk with you and seeking your guidance and strength in all that we do. Hear our prayers and in your love, answer. Amen.

RESOURCE:  Sandra Glahn, “Teach Us to Pray,” Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, p.1-14

Friday, 26 April 2019

Easter means Rejoice! Jesus is alive!

Wednesday, April 24. 2019
Easter means Rejoice! Jesus is alive!

                After the cruel agonizing death that Jesus endured on the cross
there is much to celebrate and give praise to God for as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection! He is alive!
                This past week one of our ladies distributed jelly beans of various colours in Ziploc bags. The prayer she included with the jelly beans expresses the joy and thankfulness we should be sharing about Christ’s gift of new life.
Red is for the blood He gave Green is for the grass He made
Yellow is for the sun so bright Orange is for the edge of night
Black is for the sins we made White is for the grace He gave
Purple is for His hours of sorrow Pink is for our new tomorrow
A bagful of jelly beans colourful and sweet; is a prayer, is a promise is an Easter Treat!
                These jelly beans share the message of God’s creation- from grass, to sunshine, sunset and then introduces Christ’s passion story of love – from the sins and God’s grace given to Jesus’ suffering and hope for salvation.
                What does Easter mean for you? As we enter into this season of rejoicing that Jesus is alive do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus? For if we do then this is the beginning of Christian faith. It is the hope we have that when we leave this earthly life we will not die but our spirits will live forever in God’s promised home.
                Jesus died an awful death; his burial was according to tradition and filled with love from the women who tended to his needs and to the man who gave his tomb so that Jesus could rest in peace. But death could not hold him. He rose from death to live again. And so when the women went to grieve at his tomb and anoint his body there was no need for this. Angels told them he was alive. Another account has Jesus speaking to Mary and calling her by name. She knew and believed. And so others soon learned of the resurrection from death.
                And this story of a man who preached in the countryside, was crucified and buried and who rose again has been told for many generations and in many ways. However we understand the story and however we see Jesus dying on the cross, we must remember that the light of life shone into that tomb and Jesus got up. He left some of the linens there and went out of the tomb.
                Today we believe: Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again. Just how do you share Jesus’ story? And are you willing to do so in faith?

God of grace and love we praise you for raising Christ Jesus to live again and that by his death and resurrection we may receive the gift and promise of eternal life. Bless us we pray as we yearn to know him and to see him for ourselves. Help us to see him wherever we go and whatever we do for by faith we have become his hands and feet and are called to tell his story. Praise be to you O Christ. Amen.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Out of suffering comes glory!

Wednesday, April 17. 2019

Out of suffering comes glory! This week is Holy Week when we
remember Jesus’ passion and love for his followers and through the ages those who have come to believe that he is the Son of God, Alpha and Omega, the Resurrection and the Life and all of the other names of endearment and titles that Jesus.
                This Holy Week we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosanna and yet we also remember crowds of some of the same people and many others also shouting, Crucify. As we see Jesus’ facing trials with Pontius Pilate, seeing Herod and Pilate unsure of what to do with him, Pilate lets the crowd decide. Crucify him.
                Crucifixion was considered the worst form of capital punishment known to humanity as those who were sentenced to death would linger on the cross for hours waiting for the pain and agony to stop.
                The cross was a tool by which people who committed crimes were killed. They were nailed high on these crosses and could be seen for miles around. Those who died on the cross suffered not just beatings, and whippings prior to be nailed to the crossbeams but ultimately suffocation as their bodies slumped forward cutting off the ability to breathe. Crucifixion was the ultimately penalty of that time and for Jesus to die this way with was cruel and beyond the punishment his so- called crime called for. Yet what is amazing that today people see crosses all over—Christian churches and people’s jewellery. The reason that the cross is such an important Christian symbol is because there is glory and praise offered to God, His Son Jesus and the Spirit because there is a relationship between glory and suffering.
                Jesus suffered on the cross and yet there is glory because he rose from death. The cross symbolized the place where he died; but the empty cross means that death could not hold him. There is life after death and it is the promise of God that we will one day experience his glory in his presence when our life on earth is complete.
                As we look to the cross upon which Jesus died, yes he did suffer and was in pain and agony. But the important thing about the Easter story is because he rose from death. The cross was the tool by which people tried to kill him, yet he conquered death. The cross is empty and is now seen as a symbol of hope. A symbol of life everlasting.
                Have you ever thought how the cross becomes a symbol of faith, affirmation and joy? What does Jesus’ suffering and death mean as we prepare to honour him in death and praise him on Easter morning?
God of love and life we praise you for your Gift to us in Jesus Christ, who through his passion and love showed us the extent of his mercy. By his death and resurrection we are saved and may receive the gift and hope of eternal life. Thank you God. Amen.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Lent- Easter 2019 “Why Did Jesus Come?”

Lent- Easter 2019 “Why Did Jesus Come?”
April 3, 2019

                Mary Magdalene did something that no other human person
did. After the days of darkness when Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, Mary is the first at the grave and she will be the first to see the risen Saviour.
                Mary went to the garden broken hearted but went with a devotion that surpasses the certainty of death. She was hurting- the rabbi her teacher and guide was not dead. She was truly grieving Jesus’ death and not anticipating anything but doing the tasks of caring for the dead body. She loved Jesus and was filled with faith. She would come to know what crying in the night and then experiencing the joy of the morning.
                So when Mary arrived at the tomb and found it empty she was not grieving but was afraid. She ran to tell the disciples because she was afraid someone had stolen Jesus’ body. Returning to the tomb with Peter and John she began to mourn again. The death she had witnessed would have been called traumatic but now Jesus’ body was gone. Peter and John left to return to the rest of the disciples not really knowing what was going on. But they too were afraid.
                Mary was in the garden and crying. But then when Mary looked into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had ben lying. They asked, Why are you weeping?”  She answered—“Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there but did not recognize him. Jesus asked her, “Why are you crying?” Whom are you seeking? Mary thought this man was the gardener and wanted to know if he knew where Jesus’ body was. But then all Jesus said was “Mary.” She knew who it was… Rabboni Teacher!
                It is significant that Jesus appeared to a woman first. In first century women were generally viewed as being of low value and considered of little or no importance—but not to Jesus. He valued women and treated women with a dignity and honour the world of that day would have found shocking. Mary was broken hearted and grieving and wept at the side of the tomb. When she looked inside she saw the angels sitting where Jesus’ body had been. Their appearance was amazing but she only asked them about where Jesus body had been taken. Then turning around Jesus was in front of her but she did not know him.
                But when he spoke her name—she knew Jesus. She was shocked with joy. She answered teacher, master, equivalent of my dear Lord. She was no longer afraid she is in Jesus’ presence and he is alive!

Questions for Reflection
How important is it for you for someone to call you by name and to say it, spell it or write it correctly?  Jesus says Mary and her grieving turns to joy. Jesus knows Mary and she knew him because he said her name.
Jesus knows you  and calls to you like a shepherd knowing his sheep. Are you answering his call to hear the good news of his resurrection?
God of grace and love we praise you for Mary’s faith and hope; for not being afraid to enter the tomb and for grief to be seen by others. Mary did not know the gardener was Jesus but we know that He is the Saviour. Help us in this Lenten season to know who Jesus is as we remember his teachings of love and that he died for us. Amen.
Bill Crowder, For this He Came Jesus’ Journey to the Cross Grand Rapids,MI:Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2019

Monday, 25 March 2019

Why Did Jesus Come?

Lent- Easter 2019 “Why Did Jesus Come?”
March 27, 2019

Life Death and new life. Jesus’ purpose was to redeemer a fallen human
race. In order to dot his Christ had to do something unimaginable- kill death. He had to kill death dead and in order to do this, he himself had to do this. This is what the cross was all about. Killing death.
Jesus took sin’s penalty so that the guilty could be free. Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.”
One of the people who was closest to Jesus was Mary Magdalene.  Mary had been possessed by seven demons and yet through Jesus she was changed. She became a devoted follower of Jesus who walked in faith. Her life, values, priorities all had been changed. She did not want to be separated from Jesus and so she stayed with him when many others had left.
Mary Magdalene stood strongly at the cross. Heartbroken and devastated Mary stayed and witnessed the brutality of the cross and Jesus’ suffering. She needed to be with him along with other women.
When we walk through Lent are we walking far behind Jesus or in true devotion like Mary Magdalene. Mary’s life had changed because of Jesus and she trusted him so much she wanted to be with him always. And so she stayed with him even when he was on the cross.
As we reflect upon Jesus coming to us, do we devote ourselves fully to him?  Jesus came to save sinners- he healed many from afflictions, but he also healed people from their own poor choices. As we continue to learn about what this Lenten journey means for us—are we really wiling to understand that he came for us- you?
Out of Love for us O God you gave us Jesus. But turned away from his teachings as they felt threatened and insecure in their own way of thinking and learning. They were unsure of what it meant and means to be Christian just like us today. Yet in this Lenten season we can focus on Jesus’ as the one who came to save us. Like Mary Magdalene we need Jesus’ guidance and strength every day and so we ask O God that you would help us to discern who we are and what we might be able to do through faith and with hope. Guide us we pray as we continue to discern why Jesus came. Amen.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Smiling because of God’s Joy

Smiling because of God’s Joy

Psalm 4:7 “Fill my heart with joy”

                The photographer grabs everyone’s attention and just as
the photo is to be taken she says, “Cheese”. All in the photo ultimately smile and the result is a beautiful photo of people smiling and appearing happy.
                But what is the photographer said, “sour” or “Winnie the Pooh”? Would the photograph be different? Yes, different facial expressions are made and this results in a negative picture.
                Yet what is more important is that when it comes to true happiness and joy it is not just a smile for the camera that is needed, but to have real peace and gladness is to have joy from the inside out not the outside in.
                In Psalm 4 David describes the different courses of action he took when he was feeling distressed. He asked God for relief. He also took comfort in knowing that he was favoured by God and that the Lord heard him when he called. David was also quiet before God. David did what was right put his trust in Him. He also rested in the assurance of God’s peace and safety. He was confident that in all of this he would receive joy in his heart as a gift from God.
From where do you experience and receive joy? God gives us this joy within when we believe and receive his Spirit. Do you know the joy of the Lord?
“You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grand and new wine.” (v.7)
God of love and mercy we pray that you will grant us your joy in our hearts today and forevermore. Enable us to smile and fully know the joy of the Lord. Amen.

From Psalms: 90 Devotions from Our Daily Bread c.2014 p 9

Friday, 8 February 2019

Eureka! I Get it!

Eureka! I Get it!
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

You are my Son, whom I love;  with you I am well pleased. Luke 3:22

                In this season after Epiphany we read through the stories of   God reveals to those at the Jordan River, His Son Jesus.
Jesus and how under certain circumstances God reveals to those around him, who he is. At Jesus’ baptism heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. The voice from heaven spoke and stated, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
                At the wedding in Cana, Jesus, his closest friends and his mother Mary are feasting at the banquet. Wine has been enjoyed by all the gifts and Mary in her concern for the hosts of the wedding feast tells Jesus that they are running low. Jesus objects to getting him involved but the servants listen to his instructions. Jesus uses water and water jugs and it becomes good wine. Good to serve to the guests at the wedding which will now continue without embarrassment. But only a few realize what has occurred—the servants, Jesus, Mary and maybe the master of the banquet.
                At the synagogue Jesus reads from Isaiah and announces that the words he is reading are about him. He is the fulfillment of the prophet. Many hear this, are stunned and then grow angry. They start talking amongst themselves and the temperature rises so much so that Jesus leaves.
                Who is Jesus? From these stories Jesus is being introduced by God to the people in Jesus’ life. Jesus’ mother Mary knows who he is and encourages him to help at a wedding. God speaks at his baptism and when Jesus acknowledges Isaiah’s prophecy being fulfilled he is unsure of what to do.
                But do you know what to do as you hear the stories of Jesus being introduced? Do you make connections with him? Can you relate to this man who is the Savour? Are you ready to follow him- yet? What else does God or jesus need to do to show you who he is and can be in your life?
                We know that soon after his baptism, he was tempted but it was after this he acknowledged his life’s purpose. He realize there was no going back to the carpentry shop. He had to go forward with God’s plan for his life. He then called his disciples who seemed more ready for an adventure then they really understood what was happening. But they followed anyway.
An epiphany is when something- makes sense, a discovery is made, an understanding is made clear and then next steps are taken. Have you experienced this with Jesus’ presence in your life? Are you able to know how you can and do connect with Jesus? Do you understand why God’s voice spoke at his baptism and acknowledged his presence?  Do you know this Jesus who was rejected in his own synagogue and walked out? Will you reject him too? Or will you shout I finally get this man/ saviour as my own? I just need to have faith and believe!
God your Spirit is upon all who hear the message of Jesus as Saviour and lord. But there are many who need to respond and receive this message in faith and with hope in order to state fully, “I Get it”. In faith O God I believe and pray for those who are uncertain, or who just don’t get what having faith in you really means. Help us O God as we struggle in faith to know you and to grow closer to you.
Hear our prayers O God. Amen.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Judgement or Justice

Judgement or Justice
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

For he has set a day when he will judge the world. Acts 17:31

                The defense attorneys have stated their case.
The prosecuting attorneys have shared the information received from police officers, medical experts, psychiatrists, witnesses, and the defendant as well. The case is now in the hands of the judge. The defendant stands ready to hear the judgement which side will win—guilty or not guilty? Will the decision be correct, fair, helpful and bring about peace? Will there be justice?
                When we think of God’s promises to us we may not think of God acting as judge being one of them. Yet it is because sometimes to us human beings, life is not fair. How we understand justice and how we interpret judgement makes a difference as to how we respond to decisions, verdicts, and the end results.
                There will come a day when everyone will be held accountable for their actions and inactions as they lived a human life on earth. This moment of accountability is when each person comes before God and God makes a decision about their eternal existence. Now this might sound scary—if you are guilty of some sins, but we are all sinners and have fallen short of God’s glory. And yet, we do not need to be afraid because a part of the promise God has made is that we are not alone. If we have said yes to Christ, then we know that Christ received the punishment for our sins upon him. Jesus is with us as our advocate extraordinaire! We just need to know whose we are by faith.
                These ideas were shared in discussions about God’s promises. But what about your promises which you made in your life?
                Parents often make promises and if these are not kept, the children soon learn that they are not worthy to be counted upon. Children make ‘pinky’ promises and sometimes we wonder why- yet there is sincerity in their hearts for the friendships which they define. But are the promises we make today worthy anything?
                There is a story of a man who promised to give his wife everything- including the moon. Each time the man saw a photo or an image of the moon, he would cut it out and she would put it on a wall in their home. Eventually, the woman realized that she really didn’t want the moon—but that the promise was more important.. He tried to fulfill his promise in the way he could. She did not need moon rocks—but the man himself. A lovely story because of his promises.
Have you made promises you cannot keep? Or have not kept? What was the result? What does this mean for you and your faith at this time? How do we respond in our faith and knowledge of God?
God keeps his promises. We are to be like him, so let us remember to do the same.

Thank you God for keeping your promises- even the promise to one day hold us accountable for our life. Show us and remind us of your love for us given in Jesus and guide us to live always for you. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Be a Blessing!

Bless You
Wednesday, January 16, 2018
Be a Blessing!
“…I will bless you…and you will be a blessing! Genesis 12:2

                God told Abraham many years ago is still relevant to His children today. “Trust me and obey me and I will bless you, and you will be a blessing>”
                It is a wonderful thing to receive a blessing but it is even  Christians are to be channels for the sharing of blessings—Lord make a blessing.
more wonderful to be a blessing. Our world needs benediction Christians!
                God kept His promise to Abraham and the Jewish people—the knowledge of the one true and living God, the written Word of God and the Son of God who is my Lord and Saviour. Where are you blessed?
                Worship services—should include the desire for God to be present and to bless those who have gathered. And at the end so that all may leave with the assurance the same Lord who came to blessing our worship is with us as we depart and wherever we go.
Psalm 1  (Blessings in  vs 1-2 and then becomes a blessing (tree giving fruit to hungry) in vs. 3)
Blessed is the man/woman who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither; whatever he does prospers.
How are we blessings to others?= through communication and those with whom you come in contact. Give what you can and let God do the rest.
Blessed are the benediction believers, for they shall become more like Jesus as they share God’s blessings with others!
There shall be showers of blessing- an old hymn of faithful people. People who believed that God would bless them for faithful service and commitment. This is still held to be true and yet how often do we really feel blessed and are grateful?
A man had a great wife and family and yet did not fell blessed until he bought his dream car. Yet what occurred soon after was unthinkable. He had a terrible accident in the car and he was critically injured. As he recuperated in hospital he began to think about what was most important in his life—his wife of many years who stayed right beside him as he healed, his children, and their spouses, and his grandchildren. He realized then and there that the car was an old dream he had promised to himself many years ago and so he sold what was left of it to someone else. He declared to his family his renewed hope in God because of the blessings he forgot he had. This man now fully recovered ministers to others as one who was not sure about blessings from God until almost everything ws taken away. His faith was restored and he then in turn became a blessing by sharing his love for others with people who he believed needed to hear the good news of Jesus.

As we consider the blessings we have are we being fully honest with ourselves? Are we being focused on how we have been blessed and why us? Or are we seeking a vengeful reason? When we are blessed being human calls us to bless others. How have you blessed someone else today?

PRAYER God of love you have blessed us with the gift hope and promise of eternal life. Enable us to be a blessing to others in your holy and precious name. Fill us with your love O God and call us to be your faithful people. In Jesus’ name we ask. Amen
RESOURCE: Warren W. Wiersbe.   Bless You: Receiving and Sharing the Blessings of the Lord. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, 8th printing- 2018. (p 179-183)      

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

The Benediction of Love:

Bless You
Wednesday, January 9, 2018
The Benediction of Love:
“Peace to the brothers and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” Ephesians 6:23-24

                Christian love is an act of the will; it means treating
others the way the Lord treats us. Christian love isn’t a fuzzy feeling that we piously work up; it’s a precious fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in our hearts as we walk in the will of God. In this benediction, Paul mentions three recipients of Christian love whom we must not ignore.
1)      Beloved co-workers Paul depends on his co-workers and appreciates them. There are at least 36 men and women named by Paul.   Paul’s first task with his co-workers is to love them and pray for them. He then shared his plans and helped them to find God’s will. He knew that the church needs everyone to work together and all are co-workers in Jesus’ name.
2)      Beloved church congregations  The three essentials for a vibrant church—peace, love and faith. No church is perfect because people are not perfect but what is essential is to be filled with the Spirit and not imitating the world.
3)      Beloved Saviour and Lord   Loving Jesus is essential for successful Christian ministry. We need to first love Jesus before we love the lost and each other. For it is in Jesus that we will find joy. Grace, peace and faith bind together the hearts of believers who love Jesus with an undying love.
If we truly love Jesus we will love one another and give all the glory to God. Worship and service will exalt Jesus and not the minister or church. Undying love for Jesus leads to unchanging love for one another, unwavering faith in the promises of God, unfailing grace to meet every need and unbelievable peace among the children of God.
How much do you love others, yourself and Jesus? When we truly believe in Jesus and what he has done for us, our love for him must be first as we strive to minister to others. So when we offer a blessing of love to others we are doing so because of the Love we have for Jesus and He for us. How relevant is this for you today as you begin 2019? Are there people whom you are unsure about whether you should reach out to them? Or are you afraid to put your love of Jesus on the line? When blessings are shared- all is renewed and faith is restored. How much do we believe this? Are we willing to show others the love we have for Jesus?
PRAYER Holy God, bless us with your love, peace, joy and hope for we are believers and truly love you, Jesus our Saviour and the Spirit which continues to guide us always. Show us your way to reach out and bless others. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
RESOURCE: Warren W. Wiersbe.   Bless You: Receiving and Sharing the Blessings of the Lord. Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, 8th printing- 2018. (p 93-98)