''LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY''
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Today's scripture is from Psalm 139. It stuck me how different we are from the Lord. Steadfast seems to be the word of the day. Whilst we want to be considered steadfast and endeavour to be so in comparison to God's steadfastness ours seems so frail.Of course, we are a work in progress and it is a lifetime of learning from and trusting our creator which will change us completely to be like Him. How easy it is when faced with even quite minor problems to forget that he is with us and for us, wanting the very best in our lives. Cultivating a grateful heart, recognising God's love and mercy I believe comes with opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit for surely, we cannot do it by our own efforts.
In today's scripture Jesus talks of something which is important to us all; our daily food, that which we need to sustain our lives. At that time there were crowds that followed him about to hear what he had to say and Jesus was always mindful of people's physical needs, however in this passage He talks of that which we need for our spiritual and eternal life. We know that one can go without food for some time and survive and even without water for a little time. However, the bread and water He is offering is essential for life now and for a future with him in eternity. We know that some food and drink is not good for us. There are umpteen magazine articles that will tell us what are the right things to eat and drink which may very well give us a healthy life. What we do know is that there is no debate about whether the bread and water of life that Jesus offers is good for us, for He is that bread and water and that particular food brings eternal life. It is free to all who would receive it.
This morning's scripture is so full of hope and blessings which of course we all need. Sometimes we can forget what we have been given in Christ Jesus when we were adopted. Perhaps some of you were adopted as children as was I, and I suspect that gives a very different understanding to what it is to be part of a family than when you are born into one. Of course, I can only speak for myself. When you are adopted, there can be a sense of not really belonging, you may not have a 'known' history although there is also a sense of specialness too as you were chosen, not just happen to get there naturally.
All of us whether we have been brought up by birth families or not have a common experience of 'adoption by our heavenly Father'
It was not a chance happening. It says we were known and destined to be that before the foundation of the world. So, you see we all have a 'known' history which far out passes any family history that I or other earthly adoptees have dug up. To be known as children of God is a privilege but with it goes a responsibility. That is to live good and Holy lives which are honouring to him.
For those of us who might be feeling sad this morning's Psalm is very uplifting. It reminds us of the goodness of God and that He is there for us whatever our need. I have to often remind myself to look for God's hand upon situations, that He has got it covered and that my prayers go straight to His heart. We have a lot to praise Him for, sometimes we just need to open our eyes.
Our psalm today tells us how it really is. We are weak and the Lord is strong, like a tower. Whilst we reside with him, we are safe and protected. Problems will come our way but they will not defeat us; they will not breach the walls of God's tower. Of course, if we decide to go it alone, we find that actually we are not that strong at all. Fortunately, we don't have to be alone and if we are weak that is not a bad thing for it says in Corinthians that God's Grace is sufficient for us, His power made perfect in weakness.
Today's scripture tells of a dramatic story. Just when one might think 'it can't get much worse', the Apostles having been arrested and thrown into jail, they are sprung from the prison, by an angel of the Lord no less. No doubt those who were responsible had thought that the imprisonment would be the end of the story; life could go back as it once was. They hadn't reckoned on the power of God and his Word; nor had they taken account of the people's reaction to seeing and hearing from the Apostles.
I wonder how the Apostles reacted when they saw the angel. They had seen many miraculous events whilst with Jesus but angels were another order of things altogether. We can never know what God is going to do next in us and in the world. Although our own lives may seem to us, ordinary or even mundane, to the Lord they are not. What he did with the Apostles He can do with us. We can be used for good in many ways but only if we are alert to His Spirit and obedient to his call. We may be the vital link in the chain.
I have grown to love the psalms so much. Every human emotion is covered and it is a comfort to know that actually we all have similar joys and troubles. Fear is often mentioned. That is so disabling when it gets hold of us yet the scriptures tell us to not fear. It seems so much of our responses in life spring from fear. Fear of rejection, loneliness, the unknown, loss and all manner of things. I am absolutely positive that is not what the Lord wants for us. When fear overtakes us that is the time to positively reject it in Jesus’ nameand start praising Him for all that He is and has done for us. It will leave no room for fear.
I wonder what the day will bring. We can never tell, can we ? Sometimes we have plans, agendas, routines, hopes and wishes but all can change in the blink of an eye. You might find today's picture interesting. For me it represents how the Holy Spirit moves. That is the essence of this morning's scripture; we do not know where and how the Holy Spirit moves in the world and in His people. We know that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to ask questions. Had the Holy Spirit moved him to do so? We don't know too much of his life after that except that he went with Joseph of Arimathea to prepare Jesus's body for burial and it is understood that he was expelled from the synagogue for believing in Jesus Christ. I believe that God, through the Holy Spirit actively seeks all people to come to a relationship with Him. It is amazing when you ask people how they became Christians to hear the many and varied ways that the Lord came into their lives. That is how it works......we just don't know who, when and how he will speak into people's hearts. For our part we can pray and be ready to give a word of testimony at the right time that the Lord may use. Though we might have 'a plan for the day' the Holy Spirit can change that. He moves where He will. It is good to be open to that, who knows what will happen.
The media is full of the Duke of Edinburgh since his death last week. His life is being measured. It is interesting that our psalm this morning talks of the same; how our lives are to be judged. Some might say a person has achieved much by accumulation of wealth, honourably or not, some by how we are perceived by others or high up in the social scale we are. It is not wise to judge by these standards, they are as nothing to God. He sees our hearts; his judgement is much different to ours. Those who knew Prince Phillip personally have spoken of his attributes; his humour, his support of Queen Elizabeth and others, kindness rendered. The Lord will look upon his heart, at those things not whether he accumulated great wealth or power. In due course our lives will be measured too; it is a wise person who contemplates how God will view it.
Today will be a day of great sadness for those who knew and loved Prince Phillip personally, for those too who have been witness to his life for so long. I have often pondered on death especially when my own mother passed away. She too was old, 95. It was not an unexpected passing away but strangely still a shock. Somehow for many of us we are unacquainted with it, yet it will come to all. Can we ever be prepared for it ? Maybe we can and should for ourselves at least. Do we love and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, do we have hope in the resurrection of all who love him? Each of us must ponder that alone.Today there will be others who will have passed from death to life. As we pray for those who mourn Prince Phillip let us remember too others who have lost their loved ones or are watching the final hours of those who they will miss. Jesus too wept. God sees our tears and will comfort us.
Today's scripture from Isaiah is comforting. At times we all find ourselves on rocky and uneven paths and cannot see the way ahead; the Lord is with us, smoothing them out so that our foot might not slip. He talks about the blind; probably not those with physical blindness but with spiritual blindness, those who have not recognised the Light shining on their life's path. We are all spiritually blind at times, we see what we want to see so that we can carry on without change happening within us. The Lord still continues to shine that light until we do open our eyes. He wants heart change, not by our own effort but by allowing his love into our lives. Once that happens, we cannot help but be transformed.
Today's psalm was very poignant for the present situation. It reminds us of God's steadfast love for us. He does not withdraw his love and concern for us, ever, yet so often we are governed by our feelings which may change from day today. Sometimes our faith is strong, especially when life is going well; sometimes it is weak when problems come. I am sure that is not what the Lord would want for us, although he understands completely. He wants us to have faith every day. In another psalm it says 'the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end'. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of that when doubts and anxiety come. There are hard days and there are easy days, the Lord is with us in both.
He is risen, He is risen, He is risen! That is a truth I hope we are all singing in our hearts. Scripture says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.
It has not been an easy year where our singing in church has been curtailed. We are made to worship and singing is an important part of being able to do that. Easter day brings us such wonderful hymns of praise, exultation, affirmation of what has been achieved for us. Whether we can sing out loud or not, let us sing in our hearts ....or maybe an 'in the bath praiser'
Can't sing, wont sing; Did you know that the Lord hears us as we have the voices of angels?
God hears those praises, he loves them.
Feeling down; sing
Feeling good; sing
Feeling grateful; sing
Sing, sing, sing.
Today is Maundy Thursday where we would traditionally be celebrating Jesus washing the disciples' feet and the last supper. This year we have no actual service but is good to think about what it all means to us.Did you know that Maundy means command? Jesus' command through example was to be as a servant. I wonder how we are doing on that one. Are we being a servant to one another and those around us? I think maybe it is not too hard to be loving, helpful and servant-like to those who we know and love but it is quite a different order of things to be that to others we don't really care for. When Jesus was washing those disciples' feet and eating the last supper was there with him, Judas who would go on to betray him. It is extraordinary really. Of course, He knew that but still He continued in His appointed role of a Servant King. I wonder how many of us would have wanted or been able to do that. It is a great lesson to us all. Today we have the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us to be and do all that Jesus would want us to. He is our helper and there for us; we only have to ask.Tomorrow we have a joint Ecumenical service at 3pm at San Blas church. I hope you will join us if you can
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O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who spread out the earth on the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever. It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever;
who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 136 1-9, 24-26
Almighty God, our creator and redeemer we praise your Holy name. All that you have made declares your glory. As your children, created in your image may our love for you be as loyal and steadfast as yours to us. Open our eyes that we may see your hand in our lives; whether it be in the storms of life or in your enduring provision for us. Turn our hearts to gratitude in your great mercy towards now and for eternity. Amen
Jesus said to the followers, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”
Father Almighty, thank you that you give us all that is necessary for this life and life eternal. Your Son, our Saviour Jesus was obedient unto death for our sakes, may we too walk the way of the cross. By the power of the Holy Spirit let our lives be transformed into the likeness of Him, all that is seen in us be of Him, drawing all into the fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Father God, we thank you for your boundless love for us, so freely given, although by our own merits we do not deserve it. In love you have given us Jesus, have made us your own sons and daughters and given us Holy wisdom to live out our earthly life. May our lives be a shining example of Christ within us, our love abounding as was his and all we do draw people to you, our own Father. Amen
O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:1-8
Father and Almighty God, in love you sought us, in life you walk with us, in difficult times you uphold us and good times you share our joy. We praise and bless you.
For the times we have not recognised your hand upon our lives forgive us; attune our hearts to see you in all things; in love received from others, from the wonders of your creation, for Godly wisdom given so freely. Above all we give you thanks that you do not leave us comfortless. Amen
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me abide in your tent forever, find refuge under the shelter of your wings. Selah
For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
So I will always sing praises to your name, as I pay my vows day after day.
Father God, you indeed are our strong tower who protects and keeps us; we give you our praise and worship. Forgive the foolishness of hearts that believe in their own strength. Give us Grace and understanding to know your ways for our lives and keep us from all self deception and pride. We come to you as a child comes to its father, trusting in the goodness of a father's heart. Great is your mercy unto us. Amen
The high priest and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.
Lord God, your Word is life and health, powerful and life changing. We give thanks for the Apostles and all since then, who have preached and taught your Gospel of love and repentance. We pray that the Holy Spirit will open many more doors and hearts that all may come to know you. Give words to our voice that we too may share in the spreading of the 'whole message of life'. Amen
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.
Lord God and Father, we come to you in all our frailty and fears. Keep us close, that we may never wander from your side, help us to see that our comfort and safety are found in you. Forgive for the times we have failed to worship you as we ought, trust in your loving providence and be content in your presence. Create in us a humble and contrite heart that we never forget that you are the Holy one, the Almighty God who has saved and kept us. Amen
Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Almighty Father, we believe! Your Spirit moved and caused us to know and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts yearned for that we did not know, our minds fumbled with the truth that was before us and in your love and compassion you opened our eyes that we might be born anew by your Spirit. We praise your Holy name. May our new life in you be a testimony to those who seek, for those who have lost their way and for those who find it hard to believe. Amen.
For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honour; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this:that power belongs to God,
and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all according to their work.
Psalm 62: 5-12
Father Almighty, creator of all, you know our very being, our inner most thoughts and motives. Our hope is in you, for nothing else will bring us within your courts. Money, reputation, status; all counted as nothing before your throne. May our hearts be set on you, our works according to your hand, love for our neighbour the outpouring of your Spirit which was freely given to us. From the rising of the sun till the setting sun of our lives may it bring honour to your name. Amen
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Almighty and compassionate prayer, we thank you that you comfort those that mourn and heal the broken hearted. Give us give us peace of heart and mind and faith when our loved ones pass from this life to be with you. You alone number our days, from the beginning of time you know the coming and the going of our life. May we rest in the knowledge of your goodness and hope of eternal life. Amen
I will lead the blind by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.
Father God, you love us with an everlasting love and you do not despise us in our spiritual blindness. You caused light to come into the world to show us the way. Open our eyes that we might see; change our hearts that in loving you, that love will spill out to others. We praise your Holy name. Blessed be your Name forever. Amen
For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,even as we hope in you.
Almighty God, we thank that you are with us always. We thank you for your love which sustains us, for without you we would be lost and have no hope. Cause in us to have joy in all circumstances, praise you in adversity and have peace which withstands any pain or problem. Take compassion on our feeble ways and our little faith, give us strong hearts and minds that we may never waver from our trust in you and your mighty powers. Amen
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my might,and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.
Almighty God and Father, our hearts and mouths sing your praise.
Death has been defeated. Hallelujah
In the life giving sacrifice of Jesus we have been set free.
May we live in gratitude, our lives turned towards worshipping you, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You inhabit the praises of your people! Amen
After Jesus had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Loving God, you gave us Jesus for a short time on earth, to show us the way to you; He is with those who love Him for eternity. No earthly glory for Him who was a servant King, yet in all ways He showed the attributes of a Heavenly King. Lord give us Grace to follow in his footsteps, let us be to one another as He was; loving, giving, setting ourselves as each others' servants. May we glorify you in each humble deed and action. Amen