At church yesterday evening, we thought about how we mark or celebrate special days in the year. In the UK today, with Mark a particularly special and historic day.
On this, the date of Queen Elizabeth II funeral, we remember her life and service, and we give thanks to God for her Christian faith.
It is likely to be an emotional day for many, particularly so for the Royal family. I expect that many of us will not just mourn the loss of the Queen, but will remember friends or relatives who are also no longer with us.
Many millions may watch the funeral today, and I pray that her Christian faith is front and centre, and that many people will hear the gospel.
This is also a particularly special and difficult day for my own family. I will not go into details here, but needless to say I would very much appreciate your prayers.
I will return to normal posting tomorrow on the blog, but could not let today pass without saying these few words.
Thanks for reading, and thank you for your prayers. God bless you this day.
I want to start this post with a little challenge for you, similar to what you might find in a children’s workbook or puzzle book. It’s a “fill in the blank…”
Complete the following sentence:
“God, if I have found favour in your eyes, please… FILL IN THE BLANK.”
How would you complete this? Is it immediately obvious to you, or do you need a little time to think about it?
Would you ask for something physical, such as health or strength? Or would it be something financial or material that you needed? Perhaps it would be an ask on behalf of someone else, such as salvation or a particular spiritual blessing?
How would you fill in the blank? #God if I have favour in your eyes, please…? #Bible #Jesus #Christianity
We may have all kinds of different ideas on how to complete this line, but, as it happens, we find out the “correct” answer as the Bible tells us. These are, in fact, words of Moses and I want to spend a few minutes thinking about how he completed the sentence.
Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me your way, now, that I may know you, so that I may find favor in your sight; and consider that this nation is your people.”
The answer is: “Show me your ways!”
Hands up all of you who filled in the blank in this same way? I must confess that I would not have.
Moses’ prayer is incredibly humbling (to me at least, how about you?) He asked God to show him His way so that he might know Him. For Moses, the “prize” he sought more than anything was to know God. It was not physical, financial or even spiritual blessing, instead it was the privilege of knowing God.
Think of all the things we seek after in our lives. Some seek fame, through a variety of means right from YouTube artists to Hollywood actors. Others seek fortune, gambling or working themselves sick. Others seek satisfaction in romantic relationships, career or political power, and others move from hobby to hobby, house to house, friendship group to friendship group. Moses sought none of these things.
Paul the Apostle valued knowing God far above all else, just as Moses did.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Paul counted everything as rubbish next to knowing Christ.
Paul counted everything as rubbish next to knowing #Christ #Jesus #Bible
How much value do you place in knowing Jesus? It is rather easy to say the words, “It’s the most important thing…” but if I looked at your life and how you spend your time, would I draw the same conclusion?
I am humbled at the thought.
Lord, show me Your way that I might know You! Help me to see all else as loos in comparison to knowing You! Let my diary, my bank statement, my social media feeds, my words, thoughts and actions all demonstrate that there is nothing in my life that is more important than You. In Jesus’ name, Amen
If you live outside of the UK, it may be difficult to grasp the magnitude of feeling surrounding the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Talking to many people about this, lots feel a genuine sense of loss at her death. Few have actually met her, and yet have been impacted by her passing.
Her many decades of service, her kindness, and her Christian faith all play a part in this.
Another reason people have felt her death so profoundly is because it reminds us of our own losses. for me, this event has reminded me of my own late grandmother – who we affectionately referred to as the Queen of our family.
If you are experiencing loss at the moment, the pain of grief, or have been reminded of such things, then I pray for you today.
Heavenly father, we thank you for the life and service of our late Queen. we pray for her family at the moment, asking you to comfort them, and indeed, to comfort all those who feel her loss.
Lord, I pray for all of those who are reminded of their own grief at the moment. May you also comfort them, strengthening them and giving them peace.
Let us remember, with Thanksgiving, those we have lost. we thank you, dear God, for the impact these people have had on our lives. We pray to, that we may be a positive influence in the lives of those around us.
We thank you heavenly father, for your grace and mercy toward us. May you bless King Charles and the UK government with wisdom at this time, as they lead the nation.
As we consider the Christian example of our late Queen, may the nation of the UK return to faith in Christ.
One of the best things about a church fellowship is the variety of the members. In virtually no other setting do you find people of such varying age or experience. Think about it, most of your friends are likely a similar age to you, or in the same season of life. In church though, you could just as easily be sat next to a young family or an octogenarian.
No matter what the age profile of your church, today I am suggesting you identify an individual or family and set about praying for them consistently throughout this week. You might choose someone you know well, or you may decide to select a family you have spent little time with. Either way, make them your prayer mission for the week.
People are generally very appreciative of prayer. I know I need a lot of prayer coverage, and so if someone offered to set about praying for me for a week, I’d be very glad of it.
People appreciate #prayer – I know I do! #Pray for someone this #Sunday #Bible #Jesus #Church
What would be even better though is to let them know. Don’t just pray for them at a distance, tell them that this is what you are doing. You can even ask them what is happening that week that you could specifically pray for. Use your phone or a notebook to write things down if your memory is not all that reliable.
You can pray for the spiritual health of the family, that God would bless their working lives, that the Lord would protect them from harm this week, and that the Holy Spirit would reveal God’s love to them in a new or deeper way. Pray for their health. Pray for their home. Pray for their time with God to be productive and fruitful.
Do not merely ask for things though, remember to thank God for them and for their place in your fellowship.
Listen to what God is telling you too, as He may have a word of encouragement for them.
If you really feel led to, you could keep a prayer journal over the course of the week and present it back to them the following Sunday. What a blessing that would be!
I hope that this exercise will not just be a blessing to them, but it will encourage and uplift you also. What a privilege it is to stand alongside someone and invite the Lord into their lives.
#Pray without ceasing – #Bible #Jesus #Prayer #Christianity
We conclude our trio of studies on Psalm 36 today by reviewing the final six verses. So far, we have considered David’s revelation of sinfulness in part 1 – A Revelation of Wickedness, and then yesterday we thought about some of the attributes of God in – Faithful to the Skies.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings.
8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your river of delights.
9 For you are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see.
10 Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
give justice to those with honest hearts.
11 Don’t let the proud trample me
or the wicked push me around.
12 Look! Those who do evil have fallen!
They are thrown down, never to rise again.
Psalm 36:7-12 NLT
Verse seven reminds us of how precious God’s unfailing love is. In many ways, this is obvious but that makes it all too easy to just pass it over. Preciousness means value, not necessarily financial, but something we prize. God does not have to love us (in a sense). Although it would be against His character and nature, He could look upon our sinfulness and reject us outright. God’s love is not to be taken lightly or for granted. The more precious something is, the more it tends to cost, and God’s love cost Him His Son.
Many Christians ask themselves if God really loves them. They may not feel loved, and so question whether God cares at all. In the hectic world we live in, it can be difficult to hear from God at times. This leads us to think He is distant, or even uncaring. Not so! I often ask myself how well or often I hear from God, and my answer is usually the same. When I set aside other things, sit down in the quiet with Him, and listen – truly listen – I inevitably hear what God is telling me. To hear God speak into my life through His Word or in other ways is a true privilege, and it reminds me how much He really does care for me. And the same is true for you.
God’s love is not just restricted to us however, but extends to all humanity (as verse seven reminds us). John 3:16 springs to mind here:
For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life
John 3:16 NLT
God’s love extends to all humanity. While this does not mean all will accept it, it does affirm that it is available to all. The Bible does not support the idea that all people will be saved, no matter what, for that idea cheapens the cross and leaves little incentive to live a godly life in Christ Jesus. There is a hell to avoid, and while the thought does not bless me, I rejoice that God has made a way for us. Let each of us tell as many as we can of God’s saving love which never fails.
Upon first reading of verse eight, I am not certain if it refers to physical food and drink, or rather points to something more spiritual. God does indeed provide us food and sustenance, and it is certainly important to take a moment to thank Him at each meal time. Not everyone has the abundance of food we do, so it is right not to take our material blessings for granted.
Looking to verse nine as well, I wonder if David was thinking of more spiritual food in verse eight. Verse nine shows us that God is the fountain of life for us. While we need food to survive, we need God no less so. He controls all things, sustains all things, and our next breath is utterly dependent on Him and His grace towards us. God is not just our life, but our light as well. 1 John 1:5 echoes this psalm in telling us God is light. We cannot hope to see our way through this life or the next without the light of God. We cannot hope to understand, nor can we see the right way to go unless God first shows us the way. His Word is indeed a lamp unto our feet as Psalm 119:105 tells us.
Verse ten and eleven turn into an apparent word of prayer. The psalmist asks God to pour out His unfailing love on those who love Him. As referred to above, God has done this at the cross of Calvary. I am not sure we now need ask God to pour out His love, but perhaps it is better to pray that we understand and perceive the love He has already shown. David asks God to give justice to those with honest hearts. Justice is a common theme in the Bible, and we trust God to make all things well in the end. Justice in this life is not guaranteed, but we know that the God of justice will indeed comfort the afflicted and wipe every tear from their eye.
Pour out your unfailing #love on those who love you; give #justice to those with honest hearts. Psa 36:10 NLT #Bible
Verse eleven seeks protection from the proud. I like the phrasing of the NLT here, as no one likes to be “pushed around.” This continues the theme of justice, and the cry to protect the downtrodden. The proud pick on the weak, exploiting them for their own gain. We, as the people of God, must not be like this. We must not show favouritism, nor exploit those who we think are beneath us. Time and time again the Bible speaks of looking after orphans and widows, and we must look after those who are in need or marginalised.
This psalm of contrasts comes to an end with an almost prophetic note. Behold, the psalmist cries out, the wicked are no more! David knows the justice of his God, and knows that the wicked cannot stand before Him. A time will come when sin will end. A time is coming soon when the wicked will see justice. At the end of all things, God will separate the sheep from the goats, and will take care of His sheep for all eternity. I want to be among them, and want you to be too.
You cannot have #love without #justice. #Bible #Jesus #Christianity
God’s love touched on in this psalm is not so far removed from His justice. To love someone means hating anyone or anything that would harm them. You cannot have love without justice. We give thanks that our God is both full of unfailing love, and a God of true justice. Receive His love today, and allow Jesus to pay the penalty for your sin so that justice is satisfied.
Do you ever feel like you are bothering God? Perhaps you have a need – a small one – and you look at all of the problems in the world and think, “This is too little for God…”
More likely perhaps, you believe that you ought to be able to handle this “thing” whatever it may be, and yet are struggling. I should be able to do this, you feel, and the Spirit urges you to ask God for help. Yet your pride stops you. You might not say the words exactly, but somehow feel like to ask God for this little thing is just plain silly.
I recall a story of a Bible teacher struggling to play a particular sport. Every move they made seemed to go wrong, and they felt a nudge from the Spirit to ask God to help them. They dismissed it, thinking “God isn’t interested in me playing this game…” But the leading persisted, and so, they prayed. “God, please help me play…” And their game improved dramatically.
When we have real problems in life, we do tend to take them to the Lord. If it is bigger than us, we know to pray to the One who is bigger than it all. Smaller matters of life though, we try to handle on our own. We think that trivial matters are too little for God. The truth is though, everything is little to God!
When you serve a God who is infinite in nature, all-powerful and beyond our comprehension; you begin to realise that every need you have is miniscule in comparison. To put it simply; God is big, and there is nothing above Him. Given that, our greatest need is but a minor thing to Him.
I do not want to speak ignorantly here, and realise that anyone reading this might be facing really difficult problems. Perhaps you are unwell, or someone you love is. Maybe you have lost a job, a home or worse a child. These are truly awful things, and I am not trivialising them today. God cares about what you care about. If it means something to you, then it means something to Him. When my youngest daughter tells me about the intricacies of the book she is reading, or the imaginary game she is playing, I do not see it as beneath me, but instead show interest in what she cares about. Likewise, our earthly trials may seem world-ending to us, and perhaps they are from our perspective, yet God – our Heavenly Father – loves us, and cares for our needs.
My point, then, is not to trivialise our problems, but to instead hold them up against our immeasurable God. A candle can light a room and burn your hand, yet if you hold it up to the Sun in the sky, you may barely be able to notice it. in the same way, your problems are very real, but are nothing next to our incredible Father.
This may not be the most theological of Bible posts today. It may not consider justification by faith, hermeneutics or apologetics. Still, I hope it encourages you!
Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
Ephesians 3:20 WEB
Familiar words these may be, but do not let them pass you by. God our Father can do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond all that we can ask or think! That should astonish us! That should humble us! That should throw us to our knees in prayer!
Nothing is too big for God! Nothing! In fact, everything is little to Him!