Monday 28 July 2014

TFTD - 28 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

28 July 2014

2 Samuel 14
Jeremiah 18
Romans 1; 2


Today we started reading Paul’s letter to the Romans: it is a most meaningful letter for its 16 chapters cover the things that those who desire to truly believe in and follow Christ should understand. Paul is writing to those “called to be saints” [Romans 1:7]   Do you feel - in your heart - that this includes you?

Paul’s aim is that they (and you) “may be encouraged by each other’s faith ..” [Romans 1:12].  The foundation to this is their (and our) belief in God - and his creative power in bringing all things into being “for”, writes Paul, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness  and unrighteousness of men, who, by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them … his invisible attributes, namely his divine power … have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” [Romans 1:18-20].

For at least the last 150 years more and more have been “claiming to be wise” [Romans 1:22] in theorising that there is no God and that all that exists sort of, invented itself!  There is nothing really new in this - in Paul’s day philosophers had their theories so that they had no sense of responsibility to a Creator - and today many convince themselves - that there is not, nor ever has been, a Creator. The only ‘responsibility’ they have is between themselves - and what a mess they are making of that!

The Jewish ‘world’ came to an ugly end about 500 years before Christ.  Our chapter today in Jeremiah [18] tells us about the final decadent years of the kings descended from David, God declares to the distressed prophet, “I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity” [Jeremiah 18:17]  Later, the Roman ‘world’ came to an ugly end as “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity … they exchanged the truth about God for a lie…” [Romans 1:24-25]   In the 2nd chapter Paul tells all who have such an attitude, “you are storing up wrath for yourselves on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed.” [Romans 2:5]  The ultimate “day of wrath” appears to be getting very close - let us get closer and closer to God that we may clearly see his “face” when the world faces a terrible “calamity”.
- DC

Thought for the Day

28 July 2014

"Learning" of Christ, as Paul said in Ephesians 4:23-24, is "being renewed in the spirit of your mind, putting on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." As Peter said, "For even to this were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps." (1 Peter 2:21) Since the death of Christ on Calvary and his ascension to his Father, we have left, apart from prayer, apart from faith, but an example to follow. Whatever we may do in this world has to be compared with that example and whenever we feel inclined to take the easy way out, let us think "But you have not so learned Christ". (Ephesians 4:20)"

- W. Bury
The Risen Christ (1959)

TFTD - 27 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

27 July 2014

2 Samuel 13
Jeremiah 17
Matthew 28


Fear seems to be incompatible with joy!  Yet “fear” in the Bible often means a feeling of complete awe, being overwhelmed with feelings of astonishment at some event.  Now, how can you experience this - and have joy at the same time?  The answer is seen when you really put your minds to imagining the situation described in our Matthew reading (Chapter 28) today.  “Toward the dawn … Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb (of Jesus)” [Matthew 28:1]

They (and it seems from the other Gospels that there was at least one other woman) got up in the middle of the night; their object was to embalm the body of their Lord, [Mark 16:1] their last opportunity to do so before it began to decompose. They probably did not know that Nicodemus had brought “a mixture of myrrh and aloes” [John 19:39] when they put the body into the tomb.

They get to the tomb and to their awe an angel is there and says to them, “Do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead … so they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy” [Matthew 28:5-8]  Can we enter into their feelings at least a little?

Jesus met them “and they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him.” [Matthew 28:9] The risen Lord is now their Lord in an even greater sense.  The women were the first to really believe - they had been among the women watching the crucifixion from a distance [Matthew 27:55-56], they had been the ones willing to get up in the middle of the night, dress and with flickering burning “torches” wend their way to the garden in which was his tomb [John 19:41] and the dawn was just breaking as they arrived.

Our world is in deep spiritual darkness, but the dawn must be near. Are we awake and ready for our time “of fear and great joy”?  The inexpressible drama of the return of our Lord from heaven will totally confound the minds of everyone!  They cannot even begin to comprehend the nature of the experience of the time of trouble about to come.  It will be greater than anything ever seen on earth before!  At that time God’s angels gather will his elect! [Matthew 24:31]  Dare you not believe?  What agonies of mind will all others experience.  Let us read and meditate on God’s word as often as we can  “encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” [Hebrews 10:25]
- DC

Thought for the Day

27 July 2014

"The love of God and love of neighbour were not sectioned off in the Lord’s life; they were interconnected and indivisible in his words and actions. Even in his death we see, on the one hand, a loving obedience to his heavenly Father and, on the other, we see him laying down his life for his friends. The Lord Jesus’s whole life-in every part-was lived in the context of his faith. At all times and in all activities, every word and attitude was motivated by a central love of God."

- Martin Turton
Bearing the Infirmities of the Weak (1996)

Saturday 26 July 2014

TFTD - 26 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

26 July 2014

2 Samuel 12
Jeremiah 16
Matthew 27


What is the evidence that leads to belief?  Well it depends what is  the object of belief - the urgency of our minds in searching for evidence to convince us of belief!  For some it is the opposite, the searching for evidence to convince our disbelief - this is seen in those who do not want to believe in a Creator. In God’s wisdom he has allowed for us to need a degree of faith, the need for us to put together the evidence - and then appreciate how it all dovetails together.

Our meditation on this arose from today’s reading of chapter 27 in Matthew and the dreadful account of the unjust trial and crucifixion of Jesus.  They had seen and heard of so much evidence of the remarkable God-given heavenly powers that Jesus could exercise, also, if they had really known the words of the prophets,  they would have realized the clear evidence that Jesus was their expected Messiah.   The climax of the determined scepticism came when “the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself … let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in him.” [Matthew 27:41-42]

What does it take for us to believe?  Just as important if not more so, do we possess such a conviction of belief that it makes a profound difference to our way of living?  Our chapter in Jeremiah today [16] provides a very interesting piece of evidence to encourage the faith of Jeremiah.  He is told, “the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt’, but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them, ‘For I will bring them back to their own land …” [Jeremiah 16:14-15]

That this refers to more than the return from Babylon 70 years later is made even clearer in Jeremiah 16:17-18 “ … afterward I will send for many hunters and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill …”   Then we read a wonderful prayer by Jeremiah in reaction to this vision of the future, ‘O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, for to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: ‘Our fathers have inherited lies,  worthless things …” [Jeremiah 16:19]

Let us echo Jeremiah’s prayer and say, “O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble” … we do believe in your Son O LORD, we wait to see the wonder of your revealing of yourself to Israel, we are increasingly sure the time is near when, as God’s words at the end of our chapter state, “… I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the LORD.”
- DC
We read 2 Samuel 12:4 of Nathan's parable of what David had done:
"And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he SPARED to take of his own flock and of his own herd..."

David's response:
"the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no PITY"

BUT, the rich man had shown pity, the words "SPARED" and "PITY", are both the same Hebrew. The rich man had shown pity for his own, but no pity towards another. It can be easy to show compassion for our own, that which we have a vested interest in, but how compassionate are we outside of that, and to others?

Let us never forget the great pity that has been shown unto us, and that it is our duty to show pity and compassion to all:
"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful" (Luke 6:35-36)

Thought for the Day

26 July 2014

"To those early disciples who sought the company of the Lord Jesus when he was on earth, the coming Kingdom seemed far off. To us who strive to follow in faith, the return of our Lord seems long delayed. But the end is sure, for all who call upon the Father, not only in times of trial but in all the changing scenes of life. For those whose constant practice is to seek the Father’s presence day and night in prayer, the Kingdom is near."

- David Walters
Prayer and Faith (1968)

Friday 25 July 2014

TFTD - 25 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

25 July 2014

2 Samuel 11
Jeremiah 15
Matthew 26


Today’s readings bring us to that very sad and disturbing account of David’s adultery with Bathsheba. He asked who she was and was plainly told “Is this not Bathsheba … the wife of Uriah” [2 Samuel 11:3]. To try to cover up his adultery he uses his authority to arrange the death of Uriah.  How could David have been so blind to commit such a dreadful sin ­ two sins really ­ murder to try to cover up the first.  Let’s weigh up the situation.

When someone has total power and is answerable to no other human, then there is always the potential to misuse that power.  The only human being to succeed in overcoming all forms of temptation was Jesus ­ and his temptations revolved around the misuse of his special powers.  David had achieved in his life everything that was humanly possible, except that God did not permit him to fulfil his dream of building a magnificent temple to his God. It is clear he had a very committed and energetic mind; he set about assembling much of the material that would be needed to build the temple.

Note how there is a strange lull in his activity at the time of his sin.  Today’s chapter indicates that when winter is over it is customary for “kings to go out to battle” [2 Samuel 11:1], this would be to reassert their control over their dominions, yet this time David decided not to go but “remained in Jerusalem” and “sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel” [2 Samuel 11:1].

There is an important lesson for us here; there can never be a time when we can take life ‘easy’, can relax when there is work at hand to be done in service to our Lord, that we can take or ‘make’ the opportunity to do.  The Lord has given his servants different talents, abilities and opportunities and when we shirk using the one’s we have and perhaps sub-consciously feeling, “my Lord delays his coming”, we start to give opportunity for distractions and attractions to lodge in our minds and we start to drift off course.  We have just read in Matthew about the servant who said, “My Master is delayed … and eats and drinks with the drunkards” [Matthew 24:48-49], that servant ends up “in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Matthew 24:51]

Mercifully the Lord “put away” David’s sin because he had already proved himself an exceptional servant, he nevertheless suffered the consequences for the rest of his life, his authority was undermined, especially with Joab, and he lost confidence in himself.   The lesson for us is plain, it is never time to ‘take time off’ when there is work for the Lord to be done.
- DC

Thought for the Day

25 July 2014

"Truth and righteousness, the foundation; readiness to preach the gospel with joy and eagerness. Paul himself was so deeply grateful that he had been chosen as the servant of Jesus that he could say, “If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). How many of us feel the same way as Paul? How many of us realize that every saint is a priest (1 Peter 2:9) and that his work is to minister the gospel to the nations? Every saint: it is your job and mine; it must not be left to the few."

- John Marshall
Portrait of the Saint

TFTD - 24 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

Matthew 25:7
"Then all those virgins arose, and TRIMMED their lamps."

All the virgins TRIMMED their lamps, yet for x5 it was to no effect, as they had no oil in their lamps. Unless a lamp was trimmed regularly it was ineffective, it was compromised. BUT unless there was oil in the lamp, the activity of trimming was of no use.

The Greek for TRIMMED means to adorn/decorate, and is used by Paul to Titus:
"...shewing all good fidelity; that they may ADORN the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." (Titus 2:10)

May we take in the oil of the word that we may be a people adorned with the doctrine of God and not adorned with the ways of this would.
24 July 2014

2 Samuel 10
Jeremiah 14
Matthew 25


We meditate on God’s words to Jeremiah that show why he does not respond positively to the prophet’s plea.  The prophet had said to God, “Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O LORD, for your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you” [Jeremiah 14:7].  The LORD responds, “Thus says the LORD concerning this people: ‘They have loved to wander … they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them; now he will  … punish their sins.’” [Jeremiah 14:10]  If we are focussed on God to direct our feet ­ by reading and believing his word ­ our Heavenly Father knows the intentions of our heart.

In Jeremiah’s time there are others who claim to be prophets ­ they are giving the people a false message. He says, “Ah, Lord God, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor will you have famine, but I will give you assured peace …” [Jeremiah 14:13] We see a kind of parallel to this today, it is very sad.  The memorial services being held after the tragic death of nearly 300 people killed in the plane crash try to give, to at least some, the belief that their loved ones now have a new form of existence.

The LORD bluntly tells Jeremiah that these “prophets are prophesying lies in my name … a lying vision … the deceit of their own minds” [Jeremiah 14:14] The true vision is clear in the words of Jesus we read in Matthew 25. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” [Matthew 25:31]  Then will come the time of reward and punishment, we recall Jesus’ words we read in Matthew 22 silencing the Sadducees for refusing to believe there would be a resurrection [Matthew 22:23-30].

In today’s chapter Jesus spells out the reward for the faithful, for such as Jeremiah, those who show their faith by their priorities and work  ­ now -  “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” [Matthew 25:34] This is echoed by Paul in writing to the Hebrews, telling them that those who truly love and serve God  “all died in faith .. that they might rise again to a better life” [Hebrews 11:13,35]  Let us all have minds free of deceit, a sure hope of “a better life” when we “inherit” a place in God’s kingdom soon to come on earth.
- DC

Thought for the Day

24 July 2014

"Christ is for us the stairway that connects earth with heaven and brings God into touch with men. He ascended high above all principalities and powers from the lowliest place. We must follow, for as Peter says, “Hereunto were ye called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps.” His life was like ours in all but our failings. His death was for us if we are among his little ones."

- C.A. Ladson
God’s Care for His Own (1927)

TFTD - 23 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

23 July 2014

2 Samuel 8; 9
Jeremiah 13
Matthew 24


Today we have the dramatic chapter 24 in Matthew to read - about the climax Jesus said would come on the Jews and then on the  world because of utter godlessness. Much of what we read has two applications, first to the Jewish people because they had not recognised their Messiah - and had killed him - and then on the world as a whole because the message of Christ after “being proclaimed … as a testimony to all nations” [Matthew 24:14] had, as Jesus predicted, become corrupted “for false Christs and false prophets will arise … to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” [Matthew 24:24]

Just as “there will be great tribulation”  - and was - at the end of the Jewish nation, there will be greater tribulation at the end of the times of the Gentiles, “such as has not been from the beginning of the world … And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved.”  [Matthew 24:21-22] The tense of the language here reflects how God sees things, “declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done” as we read recently in Isaiah 46:10.

Back to the words of Jesus, some wonderful words that - at that time ‘he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds …” [Matthew 24:31] out of “the great tribulation.”

These words of Jesus are very familiar to most of us - maybe too familiar!  Is there a possibility our “hearts have grown dull” [Matthew 13:15] as we read last week?  Surely all the present troubles in the Middle East centred in and around God’s regathered people should be making us think - and become as mentally prepared as possible, for, said Jesus, ”concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but the Father only…  For as in those days before the flood  they were eating and drinking, marrying … they were unaware until the flood came … so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” [Matthew 24:36-37]

Our chapter ends with a telling parable about servants not being ready for the return of the Master, but says Jesus, “blessed is the servant whom his Master will find so doing”[Matthew 24:46] when the angels are sent forth to “gather his elect.”   Are you a servant who has responded to the Master’s call?  May you and I be in that situation and be found to be among those who are seen as “faithful and wise.” [Matthew 24:45]
- DC

Thought for the Day

23 July 2014

"Belief is a must! At this present moment we are required to walk by faith, and not by sight. We are not given the external evidences which were given to Jesus and to the Apostles, as when the Spirit of God descended in bodily form like unto a dove, or as cloven tongues of fire. Yet we have a profound consciousness in our hearts that our belief in God is being rewarded day by day. We may point to our desires after godliness; our rejoicing in His revelation; the peace we have found; and our hope."

- William Woodley
He That Cometh to God (1951)

Tuesday 22 July 2014

TFTD - 22 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

22 July 2014

2 Samuel 7
Jeremiah 12
Matthew 23


Today’s reading in 2 Samuel 7 is one that many know well: it is one of the most significant in the Old Testament.  King David has reached the pinnacle of his life, his love for God and his relationship with God has reached its highest point. It suddenly comes into his mind that he should build a Temple for the LORD where he can be permanently worshipped.

The prophet Nathan tells him to go ahead, “do all that is in your heart” [2 Samuel 7:3], but “the same night the word of the LORD comes to Nathan” [2 Samuel 7:4] and among the many things he is told to tell David is “I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off your enemies from before you.  And will make of you a great name …” [2 Samuel 7:9]

Then there is a remarkable promise, “Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.  When your days are fulfilled … I will raise up your offspring after you … and I will establish his kingdom … and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.” [2 Samuel 7:11-13].  There is a short term and a long term, indeed, an everlasting promise in these words from God.  Solomon fulfils the short term promise of a son and he is also the one to build the physical house, the Temple in Jerusalem.

David is overwhelmed by the long term vision that is opened up to his mind. He “went in and sat before the LORD (in the tabernacle) and says, “Who am I , O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD.  You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come … you have brought about this greatness, to make your servant know it.” [2 Samuel 7:19,21]

We notice that the first words in the Gospel of Matthew are “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David …”  As with David, God was with the Lord Jesus wherever he went.  Remember his personal prayer, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me …” [John 11:41-42] Those who belong to Christ and truly live with that realization have the same blessing, “so that we might live through him.” [1 John 4:9]  and he will be with us wherever we go! Would that make us sometimes, maybe often, feel uncomfortable in the things we think? We say? We do? Let’s develop a really positive attitude every day. so that we each truly “live through him.”

The Greek word translated “through” has no direct English equivalent, but we noticed it occurs in our chapter in Matthew.  It is translated as “sake” - but look at its’ context!   “There will be great tribulation … and if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved, But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” [Matthew 24:21-22]  This means - that through, or because of, there still exists a faithful remnant God will act - and then “as the lightning comes … so will be the coming of the Son of Man,” [Matthew 24:27]  May we truly “live through him” realizing time of the “great while to come” is almost upon us.
- DC

Thought for the Day

22 July 2014

"Action is easier to control than thought or speech. Just as we do not say all we think, neither do we do all we say. This may be a good thing, because we can often improve on our words. We recall the short parable of the Master of the vineyard and his two sons, both of whom were asked to work in the vineyard, the one replying, “I go, Sir”, and the other, “I go not.” The first was not as good as his word, for he did not go. The second improved upon his word, and went. We should have the reputation of being as good as our word, but privately try to be better than our speech."

- H. Smalley
Christian Living (1960)

TFTD - 21 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

21 July 2014

2 Samuel 6
Jeremiah 11
Matthew 22


One of the most profound things Jesus said is in today’s chapter 22 in Matthew’s gospel.  Jesus is first challenged by the Pharisees [Matthew 22:15] who “plotted how to entangle him in his talk” by asking whether it was “lawful to pay taxes to Caesar.” His response is memorable!  At his request they brought to him a coin and he pointed to the “likeness” of Caesar on it saying “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”  adding “and to God the things that are God’s.  And what are we to render to God - if we believe we belong to him?   If we believe otherwise, this life is all we have - and how short is that likely to become!

The answer that Jesus later gave to a lawyer [Matthew 22:37] sums up what we are to render to God, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”  Do we? We must all answer this question - and surely heartfelt ‘thanksgiving’ should be included in our offering.

“The same day Sadducees came” with a question  about the outcome of the resurrection, for they did not believe in it.  Moses law says that “If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children” [Matthew 22:24] they claim that one childless woman was married in succession of 7 brothers as a result of being widowed.  They ask “In the resurrection therefore … whose wife will she be?” [Matthew 22:28]

Jesus tells them, “… you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” [Matthew 22:29-30]  The crowd “are astonished at his teaching” [Matthew 22:33] and so are we - perhaps astounded is a better word - our minds cannot grasp the kind of life that is to come for the redeemed.  Paul expresses it well for us, in quoting “… no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those that love him.” [1 Corinthians 2:9]   These words are not a precise quotation, but look and meditate on Isaiah 64:4 and Psalm 31:9. We ignore the fiction that angels have wings - but we meditate that being made “like angels in heaven” leads, as Paul says, to a life far beyond our imagination.
- DC

Thought for the Day

21 July 2014

"To him that overcometh will I give power over the nations," said the Lord Jesus. It is not a matter of overcoming human foes either with sword or tongue, but the more difficult task of overcoming self. The fact is that all the prophets have spoken will be fulfilled and "the Lord shall be king over all the earth." When he "comes in glory he will sit on the throne of his glory." Those who will be his friends then will be those who have followed his precept and example in the day of weakness. This involves cultivating all the virtues mentioned by the prophets and so emphasised, extended and completely fulfilled by our Lord."

- Islip Collyer
Our Lord and Master (1925)

TFTD - 20 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

20 July 2014

2 Samuel 4; 5
Jeremiah 10
Matthew 21


“Every man is stupid and without knowledge” we read today in Jeremiah 10:14. But man thinks he is the master of all kinds of knowledge! But he is without knowledge of the true God, the Creator, “who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.” [Jeremiah 10:12]

With the powerful telescopes, and special satellites and probes into space, scientists have in recent years learnt how much the universe has been immeasurably stretched out! In awe of the awareness he had gained of God’s creative powers ­ Jeremiah reflects on his own situation and writes, “I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.” [Jeremiah 10:23-24]

Surely Jeremiah’s attitude and words should also be ours, and should be evident every day in our thoughts and prayers to and through our Saviour, leading us to become increasingly strong in faith to be able to cope with the situation when … ! … when the Almighty corrects this world in his anger!

Ponder as to why God told Jeremiah not to pray for the people around him! We read this yesterday. Remember! "As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede for I will not hear you” [Jeremiah 7:16]. God repeats this to Jeremiah, look at Jeremiah 11:14 "Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.”

Is the world going to get into a totally desperate situation? Is it not approaching that now! It is sometimes said you will never find an atheist on a life raft. Will the whole world be in a life raft situation? Most nations are totally entrenched in their minds that there is no God so we cannot imagine much prayer will be offered when the world is at its wit’s end ­ it will be a scene of mass panic!! Will our faith be such that we will rise above this situation?

How often do we quote Luke 21:26 “ …people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” It is how we build up our faith now that will ensure we will not be shaken. In the areas of our weaknesses let us pray, “Correct me O LORD, but in justice: not in your anger”
- DC

Thought for the Day

20 July 2014

"There is a wholeness about Christ’s work of redemption. It began with his birth: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." There was completion in the last breath, when he said: "It is finished": and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit. And all was sealed and assured forever when: "He was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."

- Harry Tennant
Watford Easter Gathering, March 26, 1967

Sunday 20 July 2014

TFTD - 19 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

19 July 2014

2 Samuel 3
Jeremiah 9
Matthew 20


In Matthew today we read of the friction among the disciples of Jesus; this arose after the mother of two of them “came up to him (Jesus) with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him … ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one on your right hand and one on your left, in your kingdom” [Matthew 20:20-21] Why was this request made?

The desire for positions of honour always creates jealousy, this is provoked even more when there is boasting.  The request made the other ten “indignant.” [Matthew 20:24] Jesus called them to him and told them they should not allow themselves to be influenced by the spirit they saw around them “but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve … ” [Matthew 20:26-27]

These words are rather parallel with what we read of the words of the LORD to Jeremiah which we also read today.  “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD " [Jeremiah 9:23-24]

The book of Acts shows how the disciples learnt how to serve their Lord in the right spirit.  One of those two sons of the mother who made the request became the first martyr. [Acts 12:2].  Recall how Jesus described his followers as sheep! He then made the point, “I am come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” [John 10:10] Let us follow and serve the “good shepherd” and aim to do the things in which he delights.  The more we know our Lord the more all human forms of boasting will disappear from our thoughts and we will instead ponder in our deepest meditations what it is to “understand and know” the Almighty.
- DC

Thought for the Day

19 July 2014

"Let us remember at all times that we are God’s people, not of the world; we are sojourners and strangers in it for a little time and must not imitate its modes of thought and life, but rather live as citizens of the heavenly country. Let us not love the unchristian, unsatisfying and perishing world around us, but rather let us seek to love the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts, remembering the solemn declaration: "the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."

- Anthony Higginson
Love Not the World (1976)

TFTD - 18 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

18 July 2014

2 Samuel 2
Jeremiah 8
Matthew 19


Our chapter (19) in Matthew contains several sayings of our Master that are most challenging. There was one that made his disciples “greatly astonished.” It was the outcome of a conversation that started when “a man came up to him saying, ‘Teacher what good deed must I do to inherit eternal life?” [Matthew 19:16] This causes Jesus to say, ‘If you would enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ and Jesus then lists the principal commandments, “You shall not “ … murder … commit adultery … shall not steal … bear false witness … will honour (your parents) … love your neighbour as yourself.” [Matthew 19:17,19]

The man responds, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack? Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” [Matthew 19:20-21] “The young man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Jesus tells his disciples how difficult it is ”for rich people to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples “were greatly astonished saying, “Who then can be saved?” [Matthew 19:25] We ponder our Lord’s reply, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” This is because God looks to see the true condition of our hearts: what are our priorities in life, what we have “left” behind so as to “do (work) for my name’s sake … and (therefore) will inherit eternal life.” [Matthew 19:29]

So we must each ask ourselves, what am I doing in the service of Jesus? Am I just giving him my spare time? How has being called to his service changed the priorities in my life? How do I use my Holydays? Only those who have their priorities right “can be saved” ­ but they will not have ‘earned’ salvation; Paul made a vital point in writing to the Corinthians, “we (are) working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain” [2 Corinthians 6:1] Do you fully appreciate his grace? Are you “working together” with your Saviour?
- DC

Thought for the Day

18 July 2014

"Soon the Lord will be in the earth. Will he find us in the Way? Or will he find that our feet have strayed from the Way of Truth that leads to life? The lessons are simple, but their application requires focus, free of the distractions of the world around us, so that we can be truly found following Jesus in the Way and bearing his cross."

- Allan Baird
The Way (1996)

TFTD - 17 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

17 July 2014

2 Samuel 1
Jeremiah 7
Matthew 18


Today’s chapter (18) in Matthew is full of parables: a central theme is that it is essential to have genuineness of heart.  A particular lesson is that this must be evident in our forgiveness of others: our heavenly Father sees and knows all.  Jesus had told his disciples before he sent them out that “nothing is covered …or hidden that will not be made known.” [Matthew 10:26]   His servants must serve him with total genuineness of heart.  Today’s chapter ends with the parable of the servant who treated his fellow servant unjustly, after his Master had been greatly forgiving to him.  Jesus makes the point, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother (or sister) from your heart.”

Nothing is ever hidden from the all-seeing ‘eye’ of the Lord.  Our world is somewhat pre-occupied at the moment because of invasions of privacy - but nothing is ‘private’ from God. The same point is made by God to the people through Jeremiah.  God sees all and the people “trust in deceptive words to no avail” [Jeremiah 7:8]. Our world is increasingly full of “deceptive words.”   God sees that their motives are all self-centred and no compassion is being shown - Jeremiah is not even to pray for them [Jeremiah 7:16]

In 2 Samuel 1, we read how an Amalekite gets hold of Saul’s crown after he dies and brings it to David expecting praise and a reward.  He falsely claims he had killed the badly wounded king.  David, greatly distressed at the news, especially the death of Jonathan, reacts in a godly way, and the Amalekite, instead of receiving some kind of honour is put to death after David says, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed? … Your blood be on your own head”  [2 Samuel 1:14,16]

Back in Jeremiah we see  a parallel lesson, “This is a nation that did not obey the voice of the LORD  their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished …” [Jeremiah 7:28]  And today?  It is clear that our world totally fails to see that nothing can be hidden from the eyes of the Creator!  And for us? Truth must not perish “from (y)our heart”  - rather we should rejoice that we not only possess the truth - but we show, by the way we live, that it also possesses us - because we know that one day soon, maybe very soon, God will act so that all the world becomes aware that “nothing …is hidden” - and all lies and deception will be exposed in God’s kingdom.
- DC

Thought for the Day

17 July 2014

"It can be truthfully said that Jesus wants men and women more than they want him. He loves them more than they can ever love him. It is a love more persistent than man’s search for evil, a love more determined than man’s intent to enjoy the pleasures of sin, a love that knows no limit other than man’s refusal to respond. It is a love that extends to the most wayward that goes on living when everything seems hopeless. It is a love that calls with unwearied voice, pleading with the sinner to forsake his ways and live."

- W.G. Higginson
The Love of Christ (1952)

Wednesday 16 July 2014

TFTD - 16 July 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

16 July 2014

1 Samuel 31
Jeremiah 6
Matthew 17


Jesus constantly says things to his disciples which challenge their attitudes and expectations - can we learn lessons ourselves from this? In today’s 17th chapter of Matthew we see how “they were greatly distressed” [Matthew 17:23] after “Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.’”   Not long before, as we read yesterday, Jesus had rebuked Peter when Peter had said to him, “This shall never happen to you” [Matthew 16:22]

The message of his impending death was now starting to sink in - their minds are unsuccessful in putting this into focus with his words about the glory that would follow - sitting “on twelve thrones” as we will read in Matthew 19:28.  We read today of the three that witnessed his transfiguration, they “fell on their faces and were terrified.” [Matthew 17:6] when they heard the voice of God speaking from a bright cloud saying, “’This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’ [Matthew 17:5]

Such is our human nature, we have great difficulty in coping with events outside the realm of past experience. What if there is a warning of such events? The women who accompanied Jesus were somewhat better in coping with his tragic death than any of the 12 - and they were the first to visit the tomb and accept that he was wondrously raised again and now had an immortal body.

Our thoughts now go to what is to confront us in coming years, maybe even in coming months!  Will we be “greatly distressed” when, as we will soon read in Matthew 24:27,29 “as the lightning from the east so will be the coming of the Son of Man … the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light and the stars will fall …”  Some prefer to give a spiritual interpretation to this - but Jesus is literally returning!

Are we confident we will not be like the disciples, but will have a strong and confident faith anticipating the moment “he will send out his angels and they will gather his elect …”? [Matthew 24:31] - that will be literal.  We talk and study a lot about the glories that follow his return - and the disciples rejoiced in the promise of Jesus about their future, but that did not help them to cope with the tragedy that came first.

May our constant prayer be “Lord increase our faith” as the disciples requested of him [Luke 17:5] - and deserve  the same commendation Paul gave to the Thessalonians in his 2nd letter to them, “We ought always to give thanks to God for you brothers (& sisters), as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly.”
- DC

Thought for the Day

16 July 2014

"Salvation comes not by believing about God, but by believing God and no one else. The only way in which we can believe God is to take Him at His word: and for that purpose we must first find what the word is, and gain assurance that it is His word. Belief does not so much matter because it is desirable to know the facts, to be philosophically correct or theologically sound: it matters because if a man is to live he must know and believe God. He may believe in a god evolved in his own mind; he can only believe God by knowing God as He has revealed Himself. That is something a man can only do through God’s words and acts; but they must be God’s words, and no one else’s."

- L.G. Sargent
Why Belief Matters (1958)