Need a positive, uplifting and encouraging message for today?
To help us feel a little more connected at a time when we are more isolated due to the current pandemic we’ve created this page to share messages written by our church family. These will be uplifting, devotional and inspiring. You won’t find messages of doom and gloom here. We have a wonderful God who loves us and a wonderful church family. Let’s continue to be Church, stay connected and pray for our world.
If you would like to write something to encourage and uplift others please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 19th July 2020, Shared by Sheila
Reflections and Prayers: a nation of gardeners – by John Bell
This is the 7th of a series of weekly Reflections and Prayers being offered to the Norley Methodist Church congregation and to colleagues and friends in many places near and far. They are sourced from a variety of people. You are invited to use them for personal reflection and to share and retain them as you wish.
Morning has broken……
You are awake, you have drawn back the curtains, perhaps looking out on your garden: God has created a new day and the birds are singing in innocent and unconditional celebration. Now join in and sing (you know the lovely tune, Bunessan, named after a village on the Scottish island of Mull): [first verse starts ‘Morning has broken like the first morning’]
‘Sweet the rain’s new fall sunlit from heaven,
like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
sprung in completeness where his feet pass.’
Gardens and gardening – some reflections
The title this week is taken from an article in The Economist newspaper (May 2nd 2020) which suggests that gardens and gardening can play an important role in sustaining physical and mental health during this time of crisis and lockdown: surveys indicate that between eight and nine Britons out of ten have a private garden. Perhaps those without them cultivate in window boxes and the like, as the Swiss do on their south-facing chalet balconies.
The prime minister has just announced a very modest relaxation of the lockdown which permits us to spend time in parks (why ever were some closed?ditto, garden centres) and we look forward to the day when National Trust and similar gardens may re-open. Normally, people would now be flocking to attractions such as Bodnant in North Wales, Nymans in West Sussex andCragside in Northumberland to admire the vast arrays of stunningly colourful rhododendrons. All is not lost – this photowas taken on Norley Road, Cuddington, last week.
Last Sunday, May 10th, was Garden Day, when people had to visit each other’s gardens virtually rather than in person, or perhaps inspect them from the road whilst on their once daily exercise outings. Most garden owners had plenty of time to prepare them this year: lawns beautifully manicured, edges and hedges trimmed to the centimetre, flowers and plants lovingly coaxed and tended, paths free of alien weeds and moss.
It is evident that many people have turned to their gardens as a solace and a therapy because they offer a purposeful and optimistic activity. Imagining that those unremarkable seeds will be transformed into bright, blooming flowers requires some faith in the future and perhaps offers some consolation when other pleasures, such as family get-togethers, are denied. For those, like me, who have no pretence to green-fingers, there is still a sense of modest achievement as parts of the garden begin to look slightly more presentable. In truth, gardening and gardens make most of us feel better, whether crawling on our knees with a trowel or sitting on a bench in quiet contemplation. And so, to the next piece…….
Gardens in poetry, hymns and scripture
Gardens and flowers have always been a rich vein for poets and hymnwriters. Think of some – go on, recite or sing them out loud, in the kitchen or front room or back garden. What springs to mind? Never mind that some may sound dated: they contain beauty, insight, memory, truth and a sense of God’s creation and purpose.
My earliest memories are of A A Milne’s ‘The Dormouse and the Doctor’ published in ‘When we were very young’ which began its fifteenrather repetitive verses with the immortal lines:
There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
And all the day long he’d wonderful view of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).
From the age of four I have always known the colours of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue) in that order.
Perhaps you have brought to mind William Wordsworth’s poem ‘Daffodils’ which were ‘beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze’. Or Jimmie Rodgers’ popular song ‘English Country Garden’. Or Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Glory of the Garden’ which ventures into the Garden of Eden in its last verse, beginning ‘Oh, Adam was a gardener….’ Which brings us neatly to biblical gardens.
Three stand out: the Garden of Eden, Gethsemane and the Resurrection Garden (belonging to Joseph of Arimathea), each a dramatic scene in its own way, but connected by the narrative of creation and human sin, the inescapable cross of Jesus and his triumph over sin and death, so that we may know forgiveness and life.Gardens, yes, but none were, in their moment of ultimate significance, admired for their beauty. Eden became synonymous with the fall of humankind; Gethsemane with the heart-wrenching struggle of Jesus to remain obedient (and being cruelly let down by his sleeping friends); and Joseph’s private garden, a provision for his own tomb, pressed into urgent service to lay the body of Jesus before the Sabbath began at sundown, and on the third day, to become the scene of the most extraordinary revelation in history to Mary, Peter and other disciples.
As we reflect on the biblical gardens of old, we rejoicein the glory of gardens as we see and enjoy them now. After references to some who pot begonias, some who bud a rose, some hardly fit to trust with anything that grows [that’s me], and half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his (or her) knees, Kipling reaches a crescendo in his poem’s eighth verse:
‘So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away’.
Amen to that, .Enjoy the garden and may it be a blessing to you when so much else is forbidden.
And a final prayer
Almighty God, we thank you for being the gardener of our hearts. As we look around our world at many signs of beautiful growth, we pray that you would give us grace to open our secret gardens to you and encourage you to replace the unholy with your wonderful. We place this request in the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord.
Thursday 21st May 2020, Shared by Fiona
Over the last few weeks, I have been reading Adam Bede, by George Eliot. No doubt many of you have read it. If not, I would heartily recommend it.
It is a fictional narrative, of great brilliance, about the lives of rural folk living in 19th century Staffordshire, amongst whom the influence of the Methodists was very prominent. It features a young lady preacher, Dinah Morris and the story is woven around a true event, told to George Eliot many years before she wrote the book, by her Aunt Samuel. Her aunt had been a Methodist preacher and told her the story of a woman, Mary Voce, a young woman with a very murky past, who had been condemned to death at the Lent Assizes in Nottingham and executed on the gallows, on 16th March 1802, for the wilful murder, by poisoning, of her infant child.
This woman had denied the charge, despite overwhelming evidence and had a hardened and implacable heart. George Eliot’s aunt and other ladies from the Methodist chapel had remained in the prison cell with Mary Voce from the time of her sentence to the time of her execution, even travelling in the cart with her to the gallows.
In the book, Adams Bede, Dinah Morris, the lay preacher goes through a similar experience, with a young servant girl called Hetty Sorrel. At the end of the book, the Penguin version contains appendices which give contemporary accounts of Mary Voce’s trial. One of the accounts is by members of Aunt Samuel’s church, who remained with Mary Voce throughout her last few days on earth.
A few days ago we read this from Spurgeon, as part of our Thought for the Day:
‘The thief upon the cross was justified the moment that he turned the eye of faith to Jesus;’
The story of Mary Voce’s life and death is a moving example of what Spurgeon speaks of and of the compassion of God and the power of the Gospel, as we can see from the extracts below of the gripping account subsequently written by the chapel members of what transpired between the Friday of her conviction and Tuesday, the day of her execution:
“… it is evident that all the anguish she experienced on Friday was merely worldly sorrow, but very early on Saturday morning her conscience was truly awakened, and she declared she was now convinced that Hell must be her portion, unless she both confessed her guilt and obtained pardon through Jesus Christ.
… About two o’clock the same morning she confessed the Murder, but remained still much distressed with a load of guilt on her soul, for she became very sensible that she was under the condemnation of the law of God; all that forenoon she manifested real penitence and earnestly sought the Lord, but in the afternoon, her distress on account of her sins increased very much; she frequently said, she had such a weight of guilt upon her soul, that she thought her heart would certainly break, exclaiming, Oh, my heart will break! my heart will break!
… About five o’clock her mind was much softened, and she freely and fully confessed with real penitential contrition of soul all the sins she recollected being guilty of, continuing in earnest agonising prayer to God for mercy.
Miss UNWIN and Miss RICHARDS were shortly after engaged in prayer imploring the mercy of God in her behalf, when she suddenly stopped them, by exclaiming in a surprise of gratitude and joy, ‘Oh, what has the Lord done for me!’
On being asked what he had done for her, she replied, ‘He has forgiven me all my sins, I feel it in my heart!’ Her load of guilt and misery was instantly gone, peace and resignation flowed into her happy soul! She immediately exclaimed, ‘How happy I am, I don’t wonder at your taking such pains with me, if you feel as happy as I do, I could not have thought it possible, what happy lives you must live!
Shortly after, when JOHN CLARKE, Miss RICHARDS, and ELIZABETH TOMLINSON were at prayer with her, she felt the evidence of her pardon much clearer, her consolation was amazingly increased, she never after felt any doubt, nor the least degree of the fear of death. After she found peace, her sins appeared in their true light… She observed that her imprisonment was the best thing that ever happened to her.
… Before her soul was set at liberty, she was much concerned at the thought of being made such a public spectacle, but ever after, all shame was banished from her mind. She could scarcely take any nourishment after her condemnation, till she experienced the pardoning love of God, but afterwards could take her food, and sleep, as usual. She frequently said that God loved her, and she felt she loved him.
The prison was indeed a Bethel to all who had the privilege of visiting her. The few hours we were with her, were some of the happiest of our lives, she was so triumphant, so delivered from every degree of fear, so lost in wonder, love and praise, was such a proof that perfect love casteth out all fear that hath torment, that our grateful souls felt an increasing love to God for his goodness to her, and at the same time the most perfect union of spirit, and the most ardent christian affection with hers.
Mr Bonington very humanely requested JOHN CLARKE to prepare her mind for the entrance of the Sheriff, and his Officers, she immediately said, ‘They might come forward, for she had no fear of death;’
… On the road to the gallows she frequently said to Miss RICHARDS, ELIZ. TOMLINSON, and JOHN CLARKE, who at her request attended her in the cart to the place of execution, ‘This is the best day I ever saw, I am quite happy, I had rather die than live,’ and frequently uttered short ejaculatory sentences chiefly of praise to God; it seemed indeed that her prayer was almost all turned into praise. – On the road she observed, ‘I am so happy, I cannot cry, I cannot shed one tear;’ when the cart arrived at the fatal tree, Miss RICHARDS said to her, We are got there, Mary; ‘Well,’ she said, ‘Bless the Lord,’ with a triumphant and heavenly smile on her countenance.
… She met the Executioner with a smile, and gave him her hand, saying, when he asked her to forgive him, ‘Bless you, I have nothing against you, somebody must do it,’ and assisted him in placing the ropes.
She desired the people at the gallows to take warning by her, and assured them that she was happy, and that she was confident she should be in Glory directly, observing, that indeed Glory had already begun in her happy soul. After the cap was drawn over her face, while the Executioner was fastening the rope, she repeated her former exclamations of ‘Glory! Glory to Jesus!’ adding, ‘I shall soon be in Glory, – Glory is indeed already begun in my soul, and the angels of God are about me!’ which were her last words.
In the evening Mr KANE preached a sermon on the occasion, to a very crowded audience, in the Methodist Chapel, Halifax Lane, from these words, ‘Is not this a Brand plucked from the fire?’ HENRY TAFT.”
Friday 15th May 2020, Shared by Fiona
Here is a great thought for the day from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening:
“And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:39
The believer in Christ receives a present justification. Faith does not produce this fruit by-and-by, but now. So far as justification is the result of faith, it is given to the soul in the moment when it closes with Christ, and accepts Him as its all in all. Are those who stand before the throne of God justified now? So are we, as truly and as clearly justified as those who walk in white and sing melodious praises to celestial harps.
The thief upon the cross was justified the moment that he turned the eye of faith to Jesus; and Paul, the aged, after years of service, was not more justified than was that thief with no service at all.
We are today accepted in the Beloved, today absolved from sin, today acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! soul-transporting thought! There are some clusters of Eshcol’s vine, which we shall not be able to gather until we enter heaven; but this is a bough which runs over the wall. This is not as the grain of the land, which we can never eat until we cross the Jordan; but this is part of the manna in the wilderness, a portion of our daily nutriment with which God supplies us in our journeying to and fro.
We are now—even now pardoned; even now are our sins put away; even now we stand in the sight of God accepted—as though we had never been guilty. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” There is not a sin in the Book of God, even now, against one of His people. Who dares to lay anything to their charge? There is neither speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing remaining upon any one believer in the matter of justification in the sight of the Judge of all the earth.
Let present privilege awaken us to present duty, and now, while life lasts, let us spend and be spent for our sweet Lord Jesus.
Friday 8th May 2020
Today Tarporley rememberers those who fought and died for our freedom during the Second World War. In a video shared today ‘Tarporley VE Day Video‘ our pastor Nic shares Psalm 31, a pslam of thanks giving.
14 But my trust is in you, O Lord;
you are my God.
15 I am always in your care;
save me from my enemies,
from those who persecute me.
16 Look on your servant with kindness;
save me in your constant love.
17 I call to you, Lord;
don’t let me be disgraced.
May the wicked be disgraced;
may they go silently down to the world of the dead.
18 Silence those liars—
all the proud and arrogant
who speak with contempt about the righteous.
19 How wonderful are the good things
you keep for those who honor you!
Everyone knows how good you are,
how securely you protect those who trust you.
20 You hide them in the safety of your presence
from the plots of others;
in a safe shelter you hide them
from the insults of their enemies.
21 Praise the Lord!
How wonderfully he showed his love for me
when I was surrounded and attacked!
22 I was afraid and thought
that he had driven me out of his presence.
But he heard my cry,
when I called to him for help.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people.
The Lord protects the faithful,
but punishes the proud as they deserve.
24 Be strong, be courageous,
all you that hope in the Lord.
Thursday 4th May 2020, Shared by Fiona
I regularly read a blog from an Anglican who styles himself ‘Archbishop Cranmer’. This weeks post on the subject of rest is a good read.
From creation, God has gone to extraordinary lengths to emphasise to mankind the importance of rest.
Tuesday 5th May 2020, Shared by Gill
Cast your mind back – a couple of months ago. We were just learning and hearing about the new Corona Virus and its devastating affect on lives.
Like many, I am sure, I turned one evening to God’s word. Hoping to find peace and to quite my beating heart and mind.
I was going to turn to one of my favorite passages in the bible which talks about God’s faithfulness, but instead I opened my bible where I had put a sticky marker. The marker had written on it a passage in 1 Timothy – but was attached to a page in the Psalms.
It was Psalm 66
Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
2 Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name.”[a]
5 Come and see what God has done,
his awesome deeds for mankind!
6 He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.
7 He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.
So through these weeks this has been my comfort – our God is an awesome God. Let us praise Him.
Thursday 30th April 2020,
Wednesday 29th April 2020, Shared by Peter
This isolation has been very good for me, I am blessed to have a wonderful talent that I enjoy. I have been painting a lot of pictures of my holidays and of Tarporley but I seem to have hit a sweet spot during lockdown and I am thrilled by the results.
I can’t wait to show everybody (possibly in November). So I say to you all, get your paints or crafts out and have a go, creativity is a wonderful gift from God.
A prayer for times of isolation
‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39)
God of heaven and earth,
in these times of isolation,
apart from loved ones
distant from friends
away from neighbours
thank you that there is nothing
in all of creation,
not even coronavirus,
that is able to separate us from your love.
And may your love that never fails
continue to be shared
through the kindness of strangers
looking out for each other,
for neighbours near and far
all recognising our shared vulnerability,
each of us grateful for every breath,
and willing everyone to know the gift
of a full and healthy life.
Keep us all in your care.
I was very encouraged by Nic’s talk on Psalm 84 on Sunday. Spurgeon’s message for today provides similar encouragement to draw near to the ever-present God of our salvation and with joy, draw deeply on Him.
From Spurgeon’s Evening and Morning 27th April “God, even our own God.” Psalm 67:6
It is strange how little use we make of the spiritual blessings which God gives us—but it is stranger still how little use we make of God Himself. Though He is “our own God,” we apply ourselves but little to Him, and ask but little of Him.
How seldom do we ask counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business, without seeking His guidance! In our troubles how constantly do we strive to bear our burdens ourselves, instead of casting them upon the Lord, that He may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, “I am yours—come and make use of me as you will; you may freely come to my store, and the oftener the more welcome.”
It is our own fault if we make not free with the riches of our God. Then, since you have such a friend, and He invites you, draw from Him daily. Never lack—while you have a God to go to; never fear or faint—while you have God to help you; go to your treasure house—and take whatever you need—there is all that you can want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to you. He can supply you with all; or, better still, He can be to you instead of all.
Let me urge you, then, to make use of your God. Make use of Him in prayer. Go to Him often, because He is your God. O, will you fail to use so great a privilege? Fly to Him, tell Him all your needs. Use Him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has beclouded you—use your God as a “sun;” if some strong enemy has beset you—find in Jehovah a “shield,” for He is a sun and shield to His people. If you have lost your way in the mazes of life—use Him as a “guide,” for He will direct you.
Whatever you are, and wherever you are, remember God is just what you need, and just where you need—and that He can do all you need.
One of my favourite stories is about Cleopas , a disciple and a colleague , walking back to Emmaus from Jerusalem.
They are downcast, disillusioned and dispirited. It’s all gone wrong . The occupying army have murdered the man they believed to be the Messiah. It’s now day three and although there were reports of angels and an empty tomb it all seems to have failed.
Jesus is initially hidden from being recognised but as they walked along the road Cleopas later says “didn’t our hearts burn within us as this stranger exploded the Scriptures to us”.
Only when Jesus breaks the bread does the penny drop. They are so excited that, despite the hour, they hurtle back to Jerusalem to find the other disciples.
Today we would call it a “ lightbulb moment” when at last, maybe after years of struggling/ wrestling/ seeking an answer ….it suddenly dawns on us. And often it’s been there quite some time.
There’s plenty of doom and gloom, sadness and despair out there today but…..we do have the answer.
Let’s ask and pray for a million “ lightbulb moments“ amongst all those who see only darkness in front of them.
Start by reading Luke 24:13-35
May God enable us to bear witness to the resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ
Colossians 3:2 (Amplified Bible)When giants are in the land, when doubts swarm your mind, turn your thoughts to God. Your best thoughts are God thoughts.
“Do not be afraid”
You may have heard that one of the commands that appears most often in the Bible is, “Do not be afraid.” This tells us something very significant: God knows we need to hear it!
Have you ever noticed that in most of the situations these words are spoken in Scripture, the people hearing them often have every reason to be afraid? Whether it’s in the face of powerful armies or mighty angelic beings, from a human perspective it is totally understandable that they would be afraid!
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way: walk in it”
He Knows the Way
“What is God’s will for me?” Everyone asks that question at one point or another, especially during decision making times. People try to be very conscious of God’s will because they fear disappointing him and missing his blessings.
God’s will is for you to be so close to Him that you are confident that He is always leading you. True, the way may sometimes seem confusing or obscure. But God knows the way – the best way – to take you.
Today, listen to God, and he will make his will know to you. Then obey him as he reveals the path. You may find that you are already walking in it.
Dear Lord, thank you for teaching me your will. Help me to be so close to you that I always know I am going when you want. Amen
“Last December one man in China ate a bat and now we have a pandemic”
That line appeared in a newspaper column a week or two ago. Whilst it may not be strictly true (perhaps it wasn’t a bat) it is almost certain that Covid -19 started off in the animal kingdom then transferred across to humans, probably through the food chain.
Now this may seem a strange way to start a spiritual reflection, but bear with me – we will get there in the end.
One thing is clear. Man (by which I mean mankind), has a problem. With all his knowledge, experience, ingenuity and technology he has been caught out by something so small that you could get millions of them on a pinhead. Man was not prepared and what we see today is the result. At the end of all this will mankind come to the conclusion that, despite all our confidence, we cannot control our own destiny? Human nature being what it is, the answer is ‘probably not’. But we are not yet at that point anyway. The problem still exists and now dominates life across the world. As Christians, we should bear in mind what the Bible has always told us. God is in control of this world, man is not, despite what he thinks. But mankind has a problem, and as members of the human race, so do we. But think back to the Children of Israel and learn a lesson.
As the people stood on the borders of the Promised Land their spies reported that the current inhabitants of that land were giants, and there could be no hope of defeating them. Suddenly the people decided that Egypt may be a good place to live after all. Certainly, return seemed to be a better option than defeat or worse still, annihilation. You see, they lost sight of one important fact. No matter how big the problem, God is always bigger. He was fully aware of the issues and had they trusted him he would have enabled his people to face and overcome them – which is exactly what happened 38 years later when a new generation came along
The same applies today. God is fully aware of our problems, and he will enable us to face them. How he will do that is down to his sovereignty but be sure of one thing – he is always bigger than the problem. We may be members of the human race, and we currently have to live with the consequences of that, but more importantly, we are born again citizens of the Kingdom of God and he is there for us. The most repeated promise that comes to us from God appears in numerous forms in scripture, but it can be summed up as “Do not be afraid. I will always be with you”. Let’s take heart from it, live by it, and be seen to live by it.
‘A heart at leisure from itself’.
A hymn by Anna Laetitia Waring
Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come I do not fear to see;
But I ask Thee for a present mind intent on pleasing Thee.
I ask Thee for a thoughtful love, through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles, and to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself, to soothe and sympathize.
I would not have the restless will that hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child, and guided where I go.
Wherever in the world I am, in whatso’er estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts to keep and cultivate;
And a work of lowly love to do for the Lord on whom I wait.
So I ask Thee for the daily strength, to none that ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life while keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space, if Thou be glorified.
And if some things I do not ask in my cup of blessing be,
I would have my spirit filled the more with grateful love to Thee,
More careful, not to serve Thee much, but to please Thee perfectly.
There are briers besetting every path that call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot, and an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee is happy anywhere.
In a service which Thy will appoints there are no bonds for me;
For my inmost heart is taught “the truth” that makes Thy children “free”
And a life of self-renouncing love is a life of liberty.
In yesterdays service Nic told a parable of the poor man who met the king, it’s not from the Bible but helped Nic to make his point. The poor man was expecting to receive from the king but yet the king asked him for something. He reluctantly gave the king 3 grains, after the king left him he looked down and saw three pieces of gold. If only he had give more! Read a more detailed account here
And how often do we treat Jesus the very same way? We keep back many important areas of our lives, instead of entrusting them to His care – and then we wonder why our lives are so lacking in abundance, power and healing.
But the good news is that, unlike the king in the story above, our King does not leave town, never to return. And because of this, my friends, NOW is the time to repent for our self-centeredness, unbelief and spiritual miserlyness, by placing our lives once again on the altar of God. And when we really do this, we can expect His blessings to once again begin to flow in our lives.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
A Prayer for the Front-liners
Heavenly Father, thank You for the frontliners caring for, protecting, and serving our communities, our families, and us. Thank You for these servant leaders, called to this work, trained for such a time as this, daily risking their own health and safety for others.
Please protect them from harm. Give them courage and strength. Draw close, Lord, and let them feel Your presence throughout the long hours they are working.
Father, please provide everything they need, both for the people they are serving and for their loved ones. Surround them with people who will help and support them and their families, even as they selflessly care for others.
You said we would face troubles in this world, but also that You had overcome it. Please work together with our frontliners, Lord, to ultimately bring about the best outcome possible.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
This morning I read the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8).
It’s not one of the most famous parables; but Jesus talks about a widow persistently asking for justice from an unjust judge, and it reminds us to persevere in prayer, particularly for justice, and of how God will, indeed, ‘bring about justice for his chosen ones’.
Whilst I was reading there was a huge kerfuffle going on outside. There are several birds nesting in the hedge out the front, and the young ones were clearly hungry (or starving as my children would say!) well what a noise! And it went on for about an hour… what a beautiful illustration of persistently asking for something!
The Lord is my Keeper
In recent days, as someone who shares responsibility for the care of an elderly person, I have had not a few sudden thoughts of panic, related to things like – did I remember to wash my hands before… whatever task I was in the middle of; or did I remember to thoroughly wipe over the items I just bought in the shop? The thought of being responsible for bringing a potentially deadly virus into someone else’s home is one which I have been finding totally unnerving.
I have been much comforted by meditating on the first verse of Psalm 127 and have found peace in the reality that I can only do what I can do and that, in the final analysis, I depend on God entirely for His covering and protection.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
As I often do, I went to Spurgeon for his thoughts on this verse. This is what he says:
“Note that the Psalmist does not bid the builder cease from labouring, nor suggest that watchmen should neglect their duty, nor that men should show their trust in God by doing nothing: nay, he supposes that they will do all that they can do, and then he forbids their fixing their trust in what they have done, and assures them that all creature effort will be in vain unless the Creator puts forth his power, to render second causes effectual.
“Holy Scripture endorses the order of Cromwell—”Trust in God, and keep your powder dry”: only here the sense is varied, and we are told that the dried powder will not win the victory unless we trust in God. Happy is the man who hits the golden mean by so working as to believe in God, and so believing in God as to work without fear.”
Spurgeon, in his ‘Treasury of David’ also draws on the experience of Madame Jeanne Guyon: He tells us:
One important lesson which Madame Guyon learned from her temptations and follies was that of her entire dependence on Divine grace. “I became”, she says, “deeply assured of what the prophet hath said, “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
“When I looked to thee, O my Lord, thou wast my faithful keeper; thou didst continually defend my heart against all kinds of enemies. But, alas! when left to myself, I was all weakness. How easily did my enemies prevail over me! Let others ascribe their victories to their own fidelity: as for myself, I shall never attribute them to anything else than thy paternal care. I have too often experienced, to my cost, what I should be without thee, to presume in the least on any wisdom or efforts of my own. It is to thee, O God, my Deliverer, that I owe everything! And it is a source of infinite satisfaction, that I am thus indebted to thee.”—From the Life of Jeanne Bouvier de la Mothe Guyon, 1648-1717.
I am learning to rest more deeply in the knowledge that “The Lord is my keeper”, or in the words of the Welsh hymn: “Mae’re Iesu yn Geidwad i mi.”
I was also blessed to discover this ancient Celtic prayer: “What need I fear?”
Alone with none but you, my God
I journey on my way.
What need I fear, when you are near
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within your hand,
Than if a host around me stand.
My destined time is known to you,
And death will keep his hour;
Did warriors strong around me throng,
They could not stay his power:
No walls of stone can man defend
If you your messenger will send.
My life I yield to your decree,
And bow to your control
In peaceful calm, for from your arm
No power can wrest my soul:
Could earthly omens e’er appal
A man that heeds the heavenly call?
The child of God can fear no ill,
His chosen, dread no foe;
We leave our fate with you, and wait
Your bidding when to go:
‘Tis not from chance our comfort springs,
You are our trust, O King of kings.
Source: Attributed to St. Columba, 521-597.
Source of this version: http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/hymn-lyrics/alone_with_none_but_thee_my_god.htm
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Whose Voice Do We Listen To?
In these days, when we have the internet, giving us news instantly from near and far, social media groups and pages, emails, texts and so on it is easy to become confused and anxious. The internet and in particular, social media gives everyone the space to have their say (which obviously can be a very good thing indeed) But all too often, these are people’s own opinions or even the internet equivalent of Chinese Whispers or worse Fake News.
On the positive side, technology has played a fantastic part in keeping people in touch, highlighting needs, getting people from across the globe and even small communities working together. And my absolute favourite, the Chapel Sunday Service!
But, and maybe it’s just me, it can feel a little overwhelming with so many things to read, reply to, keep up to date with, let alone trying to decipher what’s actually true. Amidst all of this I am reminded that we have an opportunity to spend, quite possibly, more time than usual listening to our Father’s voice, reading His Word, which we know to be the absolute truth, worshipping him and focusing on what he has to say to each of us. I am certain that if we listen to His voice, we won’t be disappointed.
Further to my earlier contribution to ‘Thought for the Day’…I was thinking more about what it would actually be like if Jesus turned up at our bungalow and permanently moved in with us and the parallels for our spiritual walk with him.
Now while I know in my head and heart that we are temples of God’s Holy Spirit…I was reminded of the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies in the actual temple in Jerusalem. Such specific instructions went into the building of both, such beautiful craftmanship, ornate decoration and purification offerings to ensure it was a fit place for God’s presence to dwell. What implications could there be for our lives, our hearts?
I had previously felt we could do nothing by ourselves to change things but rather needed to cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit. This had been very reassuring…for we all want to do that don’t we? However, I felt the Lord reminding me and us all of a scripture:
Amos 7 verse 8
“I will set a plumb-line in the midst of my people”
and feeling that this is a time of cleansing and preparation for his people. A time to come out and be separate…a time to consecrate ourselves to Him.
Now this can be a scary scripture…for a plumb-line is definitely straight and unyielding and application of a spiritual plumb-line would absolutely involve some pruning and changes…but once again I felt the Lord reminding me that a plumb-line is in fact a tool, a guide to help builders/decorators keep a straight line…its nothing to fear rather it’s eagerly to be desired…we all need one!!
Now…where to find this plumb-line?? Thankfully we all have easy access… as all we need to know about how God would have us live our lives is contained in his word…the sword of the Spirit which is; “living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit…and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart”.
Thank you Father that as we go about our daily lives we can rely on the presence of your Holy Spirit of truth and power, the Comforter, the Advocate to lead us by straight paths and help us not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed to reflect the glorious likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.
One Christian charity doing amazing work in the UK is The Message Trust, they do incredible work in schools and prisons. This is an interesting article about identity.
Identity. It’s a small but very powerful word. The bedrock of how we think and feel about ourselves, it’s the value we place on what we do and it affects almost every single part of our lives. But one harsh comment, a ‘dislike’ on social media or friends turning against us and, if we’re not secure in who we are, it can so easily be rocked.
Joe, our Respect ME worker in the North East was in a school recently running a lesson for Year 11’s about how precious and valuable their lives are, pointing them all the time to the love of Jesus.
As part of the lesson he held up a box and said ‘inside there’s something of incredible value, I would even go as far as to say it’s priceless.’ He then asked if anyone would like to look inside. Unaware that the inside of the box was mirrored, a Year 11 lad put up his hand to volunteer. As he opened it up Joe said ‘It’s priceless. Do you believe that?’ To which he replied, ‘I do now!’.
Why do you look for the living among the dead?
Nicky Gumbel writes in The Bible in One Year –
Years ago, a young member of our congregation at Holy Trinity Brompton had a job working in the library of a major national newspaper.
This newspaper kept files of old cuttings about every well-known person.
The files were kept in rows of long shelves and were separated into ‘living’ people and ‘dead’ people.
One day, the young man was looking through the files of dead people and came across a large file marked ‘Jesus Christ’. He glanced over his shoulder to check that no one was looking and quickly moved the file from the ‘dead’ people section to the ‘living’ people section.
Jesus Christ is alive. He is risen from the dead. To anyone looking for him among files of dead people, the angels would say, ‘why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!’ Luke 24:5-6
Victory is not a dirty word. Jesus is the great Victor. As Bishop Lesslie Newbigin often said, ‘The resurrection is not the reversal of a defeat but the manifestation of a victory.’ The cross was not a defeat. On the cross, Jesus won a great victory for us over sin, death and the powers of evil.
He saved you!
In ‘The Bible in One Year‘ Nicky Gumbel writes:
On the 13th of January 1982, Air Florida flight 90 taking off from Washington DC, crashed into the Potomac River. It was winter and the river was full of ice. The crash happened near a bridge going over the river.
The TV cameras could see everything. Millions of viewers, sitting in their living rooms, watched as a helicopter overhead let down a life-belt on a line to a man struggling in the water. He grabbed the line, swam to another survivor just by him, clipped the woman in and they hoisted her up to safety. The helicopter let down the line again, and again the man did the same thing. He swam to someone else, and rescued them. He saved others, before finally, exhausted, him he himself drowned.
Why did this man not save himself? The answer is that he was out to save others. In an even more amazing way, Jesus did not save himself because he was out to save you and me.
Today, focus your thoughts on Jesus, the Saviour of the world, and meditate on how he saved you.
The Pink Moon
On Monday evening, I stepped out into the garden to let Brandy have a run around. As I looked across at Joan and Trevor’s house, I was literally arrested by the sight of the moon, suspended above it. It was so clear and seemed so near. It shone with such a sense of peace and well-being, I was transfixed and couldn’t stop drinking in the sight. Its very presence, its stillness, its clarity spoke volumes about the steadfastness and power of a loving God.
I had no idea it was a special, ‘pink moon’. It seems to be having an impact on many people in this time of great upheaval. We know from Scripture the impact it had on a young shepherd boy called David:
Psalm 8:3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
Like David, looking at the moon on Monday evening gave me such a sense of God’s care for His creation.
It also gave me a strong sense of God’s enduring, covenant faithfulness. And then I discover that God intends the moon to be a faithful witness to His steadfast covenant with that same shepherd boy:
Ps 89 (NIV) 35 Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness— and I will not lie to David—
36 that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun;
37 it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.”
Standing gazing at the sight of the moon, suspended so majestically in the deep blue evening sky, made it seem as though it was almost watching over us. Then I read how God gave the moon a governmental role:
Ps 136(NIV) 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights —
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
Yet, this amazing object in the sky is nothing but a dead rock. It has no light or glory of its own. Its light and glory are both derived – from the sun, as it reflects the sun’s light to us in the darkness.
And that makes me think of how God draws people, out of darkness, out of spiritual death, to His Son, Jesus Christ, the eternal King of the line of the shepherd boy, David, so that, through faith in Jesus and in his death on the cross for rebellious humanity, we are abundantly pardoned, made alive in Him, the ‘Sun of righteousness’ and become, through His life in us, Light in the darkness.
And then I thought of how the Bible describes the Church, the moon to His sun, the Bride to be:
Song of Songs 6: 10 Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
majestic as the stars in procession?
And I marvel at how the heavens, by day and night, declare to us the greatest love story ever told:
Ps 19: (NIV) 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.
When preparing to take off on a flight you’ll often hear the cabin crew give the instruction “Put your own oxygen mask on first”.
My children usually look at me at this point to make sure I am listening and to acknowledge that, should we find ourselves in such a scenario where the oxygen masks become available, they will understand if I do not see to them first.
I sometimes feel as though God wants to say this to us. We are often so busy (doing good) that we forget to take the time alone with Him, taking in our oxygen, His Word. Imagine if we did, we would probably be better able to help those around us.
Two great quotes for you to think about today.
‘You are not to be a thermometer that reflects the temperature, but a thermostat that sets the temperature”
‘I have on my table a violin string,’ wrote Rabindranath Tagore. ‘It is free to move in any direction I like. If I twist one end it responds; it is free. But it is not free to sing. So I take it and fix it into my violin. I bind it and when it is bound, it is free for the first time to sing.’
True freedom comes when we bind ourselves to Jesus and fix our eyes on him. As the violin string comes alive when bound into the violin, so we come alive in Christ. Jesus is the great liberator. He sets us free.
At the heart of Christianity is a relationship with Jesus. Jesus died for you. He was raised to life and he is alive today. You cannot see him physically, but you can see him with the eyes of faith.
The writer of Hebrews says, ‘we see Jesus’ (Hebrews 2:9). Later, he writes, ‘let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith’ (12:2). He is both the author of our faith and the author of our salvation (2:10), described earlier as such a ‘great salvation’ (v.3).
What does this salvation involve? What are we freed from?
If Christianity is valid, why is there so much evil in the world?” To this the famous preacher replied, “With so much soap, why are there so many dirty people in the world? Christianity, like soap, must be personally applied if it is to make a difference in our lives.
Philippians 4 Verse 6
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’
“According to the text, we are both by prayer and supplication to make known our requests unto God. If any distinction be intended here, I suppose that by prayer is meant the general act of devotion and the mention of our usual needs; and by supplication I think would be intended our distinct entreaties and special petitions. ” – Charles Spurgeon
In these challenging and up-ending times, when we are faced with a situation that we could never have imagined possible, that has come upon us as it were ‘out of the blue’, that is life-disrupting and for many, life-threatening, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by it all.
I have found great strength and comfort in this last week, when I have been self-isolating, although, thankfully, not ill, in these scriptures from Lamentations 3:19-24
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
I have particularly been helped by verse 22 – Yet this is call to mind and therefore I have hope.
The writer makes a deliberate effort to rein in his thoughts and to remember the realities of God’s great love and his mercies, which, he reminds himself, are new every morning.
In the midst of the devastation all around him, he remembers, what the old Divines referred to as the ‘Providence’ of God.
There is a wonderfully strengthening book, written by one of the great Puritans, John Flavel, called ‘The Mystery of God’s Providence’. The Puritans had a very ‘bracing’ way of encouraging the saints.
I offer this extract as a reviving tonic for our souls:
“It may be we find ourselves sometimes assaulted with atheistical thoughts. We are tempted to think God has left all things below to the course and sway of nature, that our prayers do not reach Him (Lamentations 3:44), that He does not regard what evils befall us.
But tell me, saints, have you not enough at hand to stop the mouths of all such temptations? O do but reflect upon your own experiences, and solemnly ask your own hearts the following questions:
Have you never seen the all-sufficient God in the provisions He has made for you and yours, throughout all the way that you have gone? Who was it that supplied to you whatever was needful in all your straits? Was it not the Lord? ‘He hath given meat unto them that fear him; he will ever be mindful of his covenant’ (Psalm 111:5).
O do but consider the constancy, seasonableness and at some times the extraordinariness of these provisions, and how they have been given in answer to prayer, and [ignore] if you can, the convincing evidence of that great truth: ‘He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous’ (Job 36:7).
Have you not plainly discerned the care of God in your preservation from so many and great dangers as you have escaped and been carried through hitherto? How is it that you have survived so many mortal dangers, sicknesses, accidents, designs of enemies to ruin you? It is, I presume, beyond question with you that the very finger of God has been in these things, and that it is by His care alone you have been preserved.
When God had so signally delivered David from a dangerous disease and the plots of enemies against him, ‘By this,’ he says, ‘I know thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me’ (Psalm 41:11). He gathered from those gracious protections the care God had over him.
Have you not plainly discerned the hand of God in the returns and accomplishments of your prayers? Nothing can be more evident than this to men of observation. ‘I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles’ (Psalm 34:6).
Parallel to this runs the experience of thousands and ten thousands of Christians this day; they know they have the petitions they asked of Him. The mercy carries the very impress and stamp of the duty upon it, so that we can say, This is the mercy, the very mercy I have so often sought God about. O how satisfying and convincing are these things!
Have you not evidently discerned the Lord’s hand in the guiding and directing of your paths to your unforeseen advantage? Things that you never planned for yourselves have been brought about beyond all your thoughts. Many such things are with God; and which of all the saints has not found that word, ‘The way of man is not in himself’ (Jeremiah 10:23) verified by clear and undeniable experience?
I presume, if you will but look over the mercies you possess this day, you will find three to one, it may be ten to one, thus wrought by the Lord for you. And how satisfying beyond all arguments in the world are these experiences, that there is a God to whom His people are exceedingly dear, a God that performs all things for them (Psalm 57:2)!
Is it not fully convincing that there is a God who takes care of you, inasmuch as you have found in all the temptations and difficulties of your lives His promises still fulfilled and faithfully performed in all those conditions? I appeal to yourselves, whether you have not seen that promise made good: ‘I will be with him in trouble’ (Psalm 91:15) and that, ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it’ (1 Corinthians 10:13). Have not these been as clearly made out by Providence before your eyes, as the sun at noonday? What room then is left for atheistical suggestions in your breasts?”
I’ve noticed as I spend time shielding, the days seem to be shorter, the opposite to how I thought this isolation would be… all the calls from friends and family… every day I am noticing my lifestyle is changing in ways that are more fulfilling, more productive than they were before, I am making my own bread, cycling 7 miles a day on my excise bike, I’ll be fitter than I’ve been for many a year when we get back to a new and better normal, I am more conscious of God’s presence and a have a greater appreciation for life and God’s continuing provision. I believe it will come to pass, that our lives and the world will likewise be changed to more glorify the goodness of God, this is my prayer, that God’s Kingdom will ever increase.
Hi all, I thought this maybe of interest, below is a 14 day audio devotional exploring the heart of Christ.
‘It’s easy to become nervous, burdened, frustrated, and cynical in these uncertain and difficult days. We try to trust that God loves us, but are our lives evidence that he’s actually abandoned us? The gospel tells us not just what Christ has done—it reveals how deeply he cares for us in our struggle with sin and suffering.’
Keep sending in your thoughts and things you’d like to share, send them to email@example.com.
Have you been inspired or encouraged by a book or something you’ve read recently? Something that has really encouraged you? If so fill out the form below and I will share the results with you all soon. No Mills and Boon please 🙂, it needs to be uplifting, devotional and/or inspiring. Bible verses welcome.
A Prayer for Connection
Being alone is hard. We were created for community, not confinement.
But we’re grateful that no matter how alone we may feel, You never leave or forsake us. And, we’re grateful for technology that helps us stay in touch with each other.
Today, please remind us that this time of social distancing and isolation will not last forever.
Give us the strength to endure this difficult season, and deepen our connection with You and Your people.
Empower us with an extra dose of Your love, peace, hope and joy, because we need it. Remind us of Your promises, and please heal our land.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
My thought for the day is how much this situation has made me value the things I do have. When I make a meal, I think more carefully about the amounts I use, as food is not so easy to replace. I value the chance to walk around the village. I value the trees in blossom and the sun shining. It’s not that I didn’t value them before but now I think about it more and am far more appreciative.
I also value communication more. The chance to talk, even if it’s just a thankyou and hello to those we meet as one of us crosses over to avoid close contact. The phone calls to family we can’t see at the moment. The chat over the garden fence with my neighbour as I hang out washing. Even that job is a joy these days! Messages are ok but the sound of voices is so much better.
Most importantly I value my family, their health, their well-being, and them just being there for me even if it has to be at the end of the phone.
The point of all this is of course that God is making us re-evaluate our lives and the way we live them and what is actually valuable and important. We are stewards of his great creation and now is our chance to show Him we do care about the things and people He has given us. Let’s thank Him for all He provides, for His nurturing and His amazing love.
2 Timothy 1:14: Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
We are taking part in the Chapel’s 24 hours of prayer at 7pm and we thought we would share with you what we are doing in our hour. We have all chosen a song, Bible passage and these will be interspersed with prayers which we have made quite a list. We will also have a family communion. Feel free to join us from your home.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28sqs5H5hao – Reflection
Bible Passage – Philippians 4 4-9
Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoqbKyeKOBI – Praise you in this Storm – Casting Crowns
Bible Passage Psalm 121
Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0gu0nOaFsI – Who Shall I Fear – Chris Tomlin
Bible Passage Psalm 100
Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqBpifDpNKc Praise the Name (Hillsong)
Bible Passage Psalm 103
Love and Blessings
This comes from this mornings reading of Spurgeon’s great devotional, speaking on the example of Jesus in prayer:
“And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed.” — Matthew 26:39
There are several instructive features in our Savior’s prayer in His hour of trial. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from His three favored disciples. Believer, be much in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial. Family prayer, social prayer, prayer in the Church, will not suffice. These are very precious—but the best beaten spice will smoke in your censer in your private devotions, where no ear hears—but God’s. – Charles Spurgeon
My living room window overlooks the garden at the rear of the flats. If I look up from my laptop I can see bunches of daffodils waving in the breeze, squirrels leaping about with new vigour, pigeons wandering across the lawn, trees coming into leaf and a colourful bush with bright red leaves (please don’t ask me what it is!). The grass is growing rapidly – when will the contract gardeners return, I wonder. Very different to the dismal appearance a few weeks ago. All this speaks to me of new life – which comes out of the old.
What we are going through is unprecedented especially for those who did not live through the last war, but we will come through it. New life will come out of what seems so dismal now. Just as nature survives, so will we.
In the current situation we must feel concern, for ourselves, our families, our neighbours. But that is not the same as fear! Last week someone quoted a saying by Charles Spurgeon “Faith by cheering the heart keeps it free from the fear which, in times of pestilence, kills more than the plague itself.” Very appropriate! Many people are afraid, and at a human level who can blame them? My mind goes to words of Jesus in his Olivet Prophecy, possibly the most important of the “end times prophecies” in the Bible. Of those times he says “Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world …”(Luke 21:25-28) Now I am not saying that Covid-19 is, in itself, an indicator of the imminent return of Jesus, although perhaps as Christians we should be praying that it is. But what encourages me are the words which follow “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near”. The world would offer bad news, but Jesus gives his followers good news.
We may not understand why these things are happening, but faith tells us one thing. God knows all about them and everything is under his control. One way or another good will come out of bad (Romans 8:28). We can take comfort in that and, as much as we are able, try and share that comfort with others.
1 John 4:7
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”
Sometimes it feels like news updates are coming every few minutes. When we give so much of our attention to events beyond our control, we can lose sight of the power that we do still have. We can choose how we respond to our circumstances. And perhaps even more important, even in the midst of those circumstances, we can choose how we treat others.
Recently we reminded you about the time that Jesus’ disciples were afraid their boat might sink, but then He calmed the storm. Just like Jesus’ disciples, we’re all in the same boat with Jesus — but we’re also in it with each other. And we can choose to encourage one another, to support each other, to love each other, and to point each other back to Jesus.
“Love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
“We did a comparison in my GCSE History class of the Black Death (plague) in 1348 and the Great Plague of 1665.
In 1348 they didn’t know about viruses or quarantine and it killed millions. In 1665 they realised the importance of quarantine and it killed much less.
Thank God that today we know so much more about quarantine, viruses and have immeasurably better medicine.
I was talking to my year 7 class about the difference between possibility and probability. It’s possible that I could win the lottery but it isn’t probable. It’s possible that I could get hit by a bus but as long as I look both ways when crossing it isn’t probable. And it’s possible that I could catch this disease but as long as I keep a safe distance from others, wash my hands regularly and avoid crowded areas, then it isn’t probable.
The Lord will help everyone through this, but he has also sent doctors, nurses, scientists, family and friends to do that (as well as our own sense!)”
Thank You God!
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God, that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:6-8
Father GOD, thank you for completing what you started in my life. I TRUST that no matter how dark things may seem, you are my shinning light of hope. I thank you for working behind the scenes to carry me through to the place of victory in every area of my life. In Jesus name our lord, amen.
When we find it difficult to know what to pray in these time, there’s no better focus than to prayer The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowing be thy Name… 🙏 ❤️
Here is a lovely quote from Charles Spurgeon on Psalm 91, from his ‘Treasury of David’. In fact, you could say that I recommend people to download the Treasury of David on Kindle, it is either free or 99p. It is wonderful to read Spurgeon’s commentary there on Ps 91 and his collection of older commentaries upon it. It’s also available online here.
Prayer for help in the Coronavirus crisis.
Dear Lord, during Your ministry on earth You showed Your power and caring by healing people of all ages and stations of life from physical, mental, and spiritual ailments. Be present now to help people who need Your loving touch because of COVID-19. May they feel Your power of healing through the care of doctors and nurses.
Take away the fear, anxiety, and feelings of isolation from people receiving treatment or under quarantine. Give them a sense of purpose in pursuing health and protecting others from exposure to the disease. Protect their families and friends and bring peace to all who love them.
As more people get sick, healthcare workers and first responders are working longer hours with fewer supplies and with more risk of contracting the new coronavirus themselves. Renew their energy and sustain them on long shifts. Bring Your protection upon them as they work with patients. Multiply their supplies so they have the protective items needed to stay safe on the job.
Inspire and invigorate the research doctors developing better tests to diagnose the virus, create vaccines to prevent it, and identify protocols to eliminate the disease’s spread.
Holy Spirit, as families adjust to everyone being home as businesses and schools close, we ask that You guide people in their new realities. Give husbands and wives grace for each other. Prompt worn-out parents to speak words of kindness and encouragement to their children. Help children find creative ways to experience the beauty of all You have created and continue learning.
Jesus, we thank You for Your faithfulness in how you have guided and equipped people in their jobs and have provided in the past. It can be scary and overwhelming not knowing how bills and obligations will be met or to not be able to provide for families. As people feel financial strain during the uncertainty, bring them comfort and peace, reminding them that You are there for them. Provide for them in their times of need.
Lord, we are so grateful for all the people who continue to work each day so that people are able to eat. We ask that You bless and protect them as they serve. Give them grace to handle disgruntled customers during supplies shortages. Keep their bodies healthy as they unload and stock boxes of supplies. Keep their cars and trucks running smoothly as they deliver needed supplies and food people have ordered online. And please protect them all from contracting the new coronavirus.
Almighty God, we know that everything is in Your sovereign control. We ask that You keep this new coronavirus from continuing to spread. Give government officials the ability to safely handle people arriving from other countries. Help people decide to stay home instead of traveling or going out needlessly. And while it may be heart-breaking, comfort families as they decide to keep their distance from elderly or other high-risk family members.
We are in Your hands Lord, and we look to You for help in this crisis.
In Jesus name, Amen
Here’s something to cheer you up:
We were talking on the phone to my 97 year old Aunt who is very deaf, she asked about our girls and if they were safe.
Janet replied “Lynne (our eldest girl) is stranded in Abu Dhabi”, “What she is Pregnant??” she exclaimed!
Janet replied “No why did you say that?”, my aunt replied “I thought you said she was having a Babby”.
You have to laugh! 😃
Here is a poem that was shared recently on FaceBook:
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
– Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM – March 13th 2020
Via Fostering Empathy Through Museums fb page
Out of the blue I received an email from Bethel Church a few minutes before I read Steve’s message about our thought for the day. The word that shouted out from my screen was “Victory”. This lyrics of this Bethel song are inspirational and tell us that “When trials unleash like a flood, the battle belongs to our God. As we cry out in worship, the victory is Yours. “ The rest is below for you to read. It is a battle but God “will rise to save” us. He will weather the storm and He will not let hell break us. Just continue to worship Him and he will listen and He will have the Victory.
This is my thought for you all today. Say it. Sing it. It doesn’t matter but it does matter to keep worshipping our amazing and victorious God.
Victory Is Yours
Our fight is with weapons unseen
Your enemies crash to their knees
As we rise up in worship
When trials unleash like a flood
The battle belongs to our God
As we cry out in worship
The victory is Yours
You’re riding on the storm
Your name is unfailing
Though kingdoms rise and fall
Your throne withstands it all
Your name is unshaken
What hell meant to break me has failed
Now nothing will silence my praise
I will cry out in worship
The walls of the prison will shake
The chain-breaking King will rise to save
As we cry out in worship
The victory is Yours
You’re riding on the storm
Your name is unfailing
Though kingdoms rise and fall
Your throne withstands it all
Your name is unshaken
Oh, it’s unshaken
You roar like thunder
Nothing can tame
God, all-powerful, all-powerful…
Now that we will have more time, who might we be ‘reviving’ our thoughts and concerns for and ‘making the most of’ the opportunity to show it? “
Thursday 19th March 2020, Written by Chris Kyle
Lord, help us all to look and rely on you for hope and strength, help us to think of others who will suffer through this tough situation the world finds itself in. be with our elderly and vulnerable in our community, help us to look after eachother. Help our leaders in government to make the right decisions and for us to make those decisions work for the good of our country. Lord our economy and many economies around the world, big businesses and small are going to suffer, I pray the right provision will help those people to focus on the bigger picture. Lord people have lost thier lives and our hearts go out to them and thier families. Lord there is going to be loss of one thing or another in the lives of people in your world during this pandemic but I believe the world will gain something far better as a result, but give us a resolve in our spirits to see your plan in all this turmoil. Lord calm our anxieties, lessen our fear for our futures and renew our Faith daily in your peace and guidance!!! Amen!!!
Shared by Anne Kelly
These are not my words as you can see but I think Justin Welby says it simply.
“Take practical steps of love for others to diminish your fear and demonstrate your faith.”