''LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY''
New: Rev'd John Poole will put out something on Fridays, and provide us with some ‘tasters’ for the coming Sunday
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Today's reading is a psalm of David, written when he was fleeing in fear of his life. He called upon the protection of the Almighty.
All manner of troubles may come our way; illness, poverty and persecution. Do we feel the protection of God at these times? I think sometimes we are not aware of it. That doesn't mean that the Lord isn't watching over us, for he neither sleeps nor slumbers.
There are times when we have to face what is happening around us and trust God for the outcome. David hid in a cave; we usually don't have that option! Whenever or whatever our troubles or problems we can call on the Lord to guide us through them. When we look back, we often see that his protective hand was upon us and that we have learnt something from the ordeal, even if it to recognise our own weakness and vulnerability.
The last year or more has been difficult, hasn't it? but we have come through. God has divine purposes for all our lives and the church and in trusting him we can be sure they will come to fruition.
Today's scripture is about choice; God's choice and our choice. Whilst God may have chosen us to be part of his Holy priesthood, there is still a choice to be made by us. There are many in the world who have rejected Jesus who is the cornerstone of our faith (hopefully not forever).
I was reading a passage written by Nicky Gumble who says, many can accept the idea of a loving God or even the Holy Spirit but the person of Jesus is often not accepted, they just don't get him. I wonder why that is? For us who know Jesus it is hardly understandable, maybe a step of faith has to be taken in accepting him and only then is He truly made known to us. The getting to know him never ends, that is the really exciting bit. Whilst Jesus is the cornerstone of the building we too are now part of it too and each is vital to the strength and stability of the whole.
There is no doubt that in most people's eyes Paul was a strong and brave man, even in the face of persecution and great suffering, the like of which we will probably will never have to face. He though, knew himself to be frail and vulnerable. He also knew that any strength or fine words were not his but came from the Lord. It was Grace alone which enabled him to persevere to the end of his life, still proclaiming Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.
It seems that when we recognise our weakness and limitations that the Lord steps in and becomes our strength. Clay jars actually can be very fragile and can easily be broken, perhaps the Lord likes broken vessels. I think he does. He certainly still uses us in our brokenness.
In our scripture this morning a question is posed; why does Jesus not reveal himself to the world and only to the few? Well, of course he could do but he has chosen to do it another way; though us.
Now there is something to ponder. We are to be instruments of showing Jesus and his love to others and the world. Each of us, without condemning ourselves, must look at our we are doing on that score. Would people know by our lives that we are Christians? Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to teach and lead us? Self-sufficiency just doesn't work in the Christian life; we are to be dependent on the Lord. When we are, He shows through.
May the 1st already, a public holiday here in Tenerife. Normally I would be travelling back to Jersey at this time of the year to see family and friends and to enjoy Jersey at its best; a time where everything is beginning to blossom. There is always a feeling of new life, a fresh start. Really it is just part of the cycle of life; there are the times when it all seems dormant, a kind of hibernation and then Spring with its hope of things to come, then Summer at full bloom where the earth is in jubilation and onwards to harvest, the gathering, the coming together of our efforts before we rest again in Winter.The Lord looks on it all and all of the earth's people. He has set us to work; however, all is dependent on him. We work with him acknowledging that it is he who is the author of life, the creator of plants, animals, and all good things. Our hope is in him and his steadfast goodness towards us. Without him we would surely struggle, indeed would we even have life?
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Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
until the destroying storms pass by.
I cry to God Most High,
to God who fulfils his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me,
he will put to shame those who trample on me. Selah
God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.
Psalm 57: 1-3
Almighty God and Father, you are our refuge in times of trouble and it is you alone who preserves our lives; we give you all our thanks and praise. All that we have and are is by your favour, may your purposes for our lives be fulfilled and all glory be given to you. Amen
To you then who believe, Jesus is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:7-10
Father Almighty, in compassion you found us and called us into your light. We praise and thank you for you endless love and care for us. May the light you have given us shine brightly in the world, leading others to know and love you too. As a Holy people let our lips, our actions, our very lives be honouring to you. Transform us we pray, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be all that you would have us be for your Glory. Amen
We do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you..
2 Corinthians 4:5-12
Father Almighty, we praise and thank you that you sent Jesus to walk among us, to show us your Holy ways, giving us the blueprint for living and proclaiming your Gospel of love and salvation. Though we are weak, in you we are strong and your Word in us is mightier than any sword. Give us Grace to persevere in the life you have called us to and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. May the treasure contained within us shine through our 'clay jar bodies' as a bright light in the darkness. Amen
Jesus said, They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
Father God, we give our thanks and praise for all that Jesus was, and still is today. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who teaches, encourages and inspires us. Forgive us when we fail to hear and listen to his voice or even deliberately choose to to disobey him. May we never be a stumbling block to others but rather a reflection of you, the living God in our lives. Come Holy Spirit and fill our lives.. Amen
The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth—
he who fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds.
A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.
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.
Psalm 33. 13-22
Father God, we worship your Holy name, for you are our strength and redeemer.We are but frail but we put our trust in you and in your great mercy, for we know that without you we can do nothing.Let all our endeavours be worthy and acceptable in your sight, as we humbly call upon you to direct and guide us in this life's journey. Protect and keep us and cause us to be a shining example of your Grace in our lives. Amen