A regular thought for the day, by David Spence.

Read more from April 2020

Read more from May 2020

Saturday 27 June 2020

Good morning

As we come to the end of another week, we are definitely beginning to see an easing of the restrictions that have surrounded us over these past months, which is a considerable relief, but, I expect there are many who will feel very anxious and cautious about venturing into places that they have been avoiding or from which they have been excluded by law.

I love the way the psalmist faces a new day, when he says: “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my strength, I will sing to you, you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.” (Psalm 59 v 16 & 17) He wrote this when he was being hounded and in danger of death, which might be how some of us will feel as we push back the boundaries. He verbalises that he is in the Lord’s hands, the Lord is his strength, and he is entirely safe.

Let us pause for a few moments as we reflect on that……

So, with our confidence firmly focused in Jesus, we move forwards in the strength of his Spirit living within us. His Spirit gives us the strength we need for each day, the wisdom and guidance for each day and, as we listen to his voice through his word, we find all we need for the journey ahead – one day at a time. “March on, my soul, be strong”, Deborah sings in Judges 5 v 21, but we must only go in the strength of the Lord, not in our own strength.

Jesus calls us “come unto me” and urges us to be yoked together with him (Matthew 11 v 28) – here is the source of our daily strength, which enables us to move forward into the unknown hours of each day resting in him, safe and secure, knowing for certain that he sees the path ahead and has only the best planned out for us. “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29 v 11) What greater certainty can we have?

Let us reflect on that today……..

“Let the beloved of the Lord (that is us!) rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests secure between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33 v 12)

Pause…….

And finally, as I conclude these “Thoughts”, I would like to thank you all for letting me travel with you through these past months and allowing me to share some thoughts with you. Thank you also to many of you who have sent me appreciative and encouraging emails – they have meant a lot to me and have kept me going.

I trust that, through the scriptures we have reflected on together, that we have all been strengthened in our faith, drawn closer to Jesus and come to rejoice and thank him more and more for his amazing love and faithfulness to us, which is changeless and everlasting.

As we go forward, let us rest on Jesus, our Rock and our Redeemer, who is immovable and eternal.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Friday 26 June 2020

Good morning

As I look out on another glorious day, it makes me reflect with great thankfulness on the amazing weather, with which we have been blessed during lockdown. We have been able to take in the stunning beauty of God’s creation as it has continuously unfolded before our eyes. The various different wild flowers that all come in succession as the weeks go by, the different butterflies that take to the wing at their “appointed times” and a host of birds and animals as they bring forth their young.

This all reminds me of Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3 v 1) And he continues;  “God…has made everything beautiful in its time.” (v 11) We are certainly blessed by the beauty of everything our Heavenly Father has made. But, continues Solomon, “He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done.” Here he acknowledges, as indeed must we, that we cannot even begin to scrape the surface of understanding what God has done – he just asks us to believe and put our trust in him morning by morning. Finally he concludes with absolute certainty, “I know that everything God does will endure for ever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.” (v 14) This is our reassurance in the eternal stability of our Rock and our Redeemer.

As I reflect on appointed times, I am reminded that “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law (us), that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, (writes Paul) God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out Abba Father. So you are…God’s child” (Galatians 4 v 4 – 7)

Here we have the wonder of God’s grace to us – his riches poured into our hearts, bringing us into his family as his precious children – the overflowing favour of God, on which we can always depend, available to us at all times and in all situations – this is our daily inheritance as his children.

Let us reflect on the wonder of this as we go into this new day…….

Small wonder that the psalmist, as he caught a future glimpse of this wonderful grace, was recurrently rejoicing in the enormity of God’s love and the eternal nature of God’s faithfulness. Jesus said of the Psalms and the Prophets, “These are the Scriptures that testify about me.” (John 5 v 39) We can rest in the security of his loving arms.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Thursday 25 June 2020

Good morning on yet another wonderful clear morning.

Hot weather like this reminds us of the need to keep “well-watered” and nourished in order to maintain our lives. And that makes me reflect about how we can water and nourish our spiritual lives through all winds and weathers.

This phrase, “well-watered” reminds me of promises the Lord makes through Isaiah in Chapter 58, when  he says, “He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58 v 11) Here is a lovely promise that gives us such reassurance of the Lord’s provision for our spiritual lives even in adverse situations.

But the whole context of this chapter is of paramount importance because this lovely promises is conditional on how we respond to the Lord. If I paraphrase the earlier verses, we are being told to stop putting on a ‘show of religion’, which is all about us, and start thinking of and spending our time on caring for and looking after others, especially those who are in far less fortunate situations than we are. Here is exactly the teaching of Jesus when he said that we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart,…soul…and mind….and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22 v 37) “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”, said Jesus (v 40), and this passage in Isaiah exemplifies that.

This was Jesus’ single “New commandment” that he gave to us, his followers, “Love one another.” I think this time in lockdown has taught us all just how much more we need to love one another, encourage and nurture one another and focus on the needs of others.

And, returning to Isaiah, we see that there is a further lovely promise for those who live as Jesus has asked us to; “then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like noonday. The Lord will guide you always.” (58 v 10)

Let us reflect on what Jesus asks us to do as we go into this day………

Love and blessings to you all

David

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Good morning – what a beautiful day!

Late last evening, I was ‘talking’ to one of the three very hefty young bullocks at the field gate opposite – they are now extremely bulky but they are very friendly – he came right up and nosed my hand, even though he is a little nervous of humans.

It makes me reflect on the words of the psalmist; “every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50 v 10) It is so difficult for our brains to grasp the fact that God holds absolutely everything in his hands and that he is always caring for us – it is beyond our comprehension. But we are not asked to understand it – we are asked to believe it!! “Trust in God, Trust also in me,” said Jesus (John 14 v 1) And, as we trust, we are able with the psalmist to hear God say to us, “call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you.” (Psalm 50 v 14)

The unfathomable depth of the love and care of Jesus is inexplicable to us – beyond our understanding – but beautifully demonstrated in that lovely parable of the prodigal son. Even though the son had wronged his father ‘irretrievably’ by human standards, he is welcomed with open arms and taken into the loving embrace of the father. Given that his clothes were filthy and he stank of pigs, which was complete anathema to his Jewish father, this was a warmth of welcome that was ‘way beyond understanding’ – truly beyond belief. This is the perfect picture of the love and care that Jesus has for each and every one of us.

No matter what depths of difficulties may be surrounding us – no matter the incredible mess we may have brought on ourselves – no matter the pain and anguish we may be going through, the “deep, deep love of Jesus” surrounds us at all times as we trust in him. The old hymn expresses the thought of his love “surrounding” us – not only is it “vast, unmeasured, boundless and free”, but it is “rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me. Underneath me, all around me, is the current of his love…” We can be sure at all times that we are completely surrounded by his love as he holds us in his hands.

Let us reflect on that this morning and thank him for the wonder of his love……..

“I am convinced that…’nothing’ in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8 v 38)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Good morning

Yesterday we were able to meet up with the last two of our grandchildren outdoors in Northamptonshire, which was a great delight. “Electronic video communication” is amazing -where would we have been without it – but there is no substitute for face to face contact. I think lockdown has made us value personal contact much more than before and I hope it is a lesson we will carry with us as we go forward. It provides blessing and nurture for those involved.

There is a lesson here too for our spiritual lives, which reminds me of the lovely verse in Exodus 33 that speaks about Moses’ relationship with the Lord, which I know I reflected on with you many weeks ago but it bears further reflection as we can learn so much from it and there is so much encouragement in it. You may recall that Moses always created a special place, removed from everyone else, where he went to meet with the Lord and there, “the Lord would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33 v 11) It was not so much the special nature of the place, it was that it was away from everyone else, “outside the camp some distance away.” (v 7) A place of silence where we can “be still” and listen to the Lord’s voice is so important for us. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and rest”, said Jesus, (Mark 6 v 31) – it is there we can meet with Jesus face to face.

In that ‘place apart’, Moses said to the Lord, “teach me your ways that I may know you” (v 13). Here is a prayer for every one of us as we spend time in the silence with the Lord. And the response is a promise for all of us; “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” (v 14) It is very striking the number of times Jesus talks to his disciples about ‘rest for their souls’ – this is that deep inner peace that he gives to each of us as we trust in him more and more each day – a peace that cannot be found anywhere else.

Moses had lots of difficulties yet to face ahead of him as indeed will we have in the weeks, months and years ahead. But the same reassurance and encouragement is available to us every day as we stay close to Jesus. We, like Moses, can hear him say to us “I know you by name” and, on the strength of that wonderful promise, we can go forward with confidence and trust.

Let us reflect on that as we go into this new day………

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43 v 1)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Monday 22 June 2020

Good morning

Earlier start today as we are off to see our Northamptonshire grandchildren this morning.

As we enter another new working week and our Year 6 children will be able to get back into school this week, which will be a great move forward – slowly we are moving towards that light at the end of the tunnel.

‘Moving towards the light’ causes me to reflect on the wonderful light of Jesus and our need to be living in his light – always moving closer and closer to the radiance of his light, which both fills our own lives with his blessing and illumines the path ahead of us – and, my goodness, we certainly need all the light we can get for the way ahead. Peter reminds us in his first latter that we have been “called out of darkness into his wonderful light,” (1 Peter 2 v 9) and Paul, writing in his second letter to the church in Corinth, says, “For God, who said ‘let light shine out of darkness’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4 v 6)

So, this morning I am reflecting on what Jesus says to us about his light. John’s gospel starts with the affirmation that “the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1 v 9), having said a few lines earlier, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (v 3) Here we have the wonderful truth that Jesus is both life and light to each and every one of us who believe and trust in him – as John assures us a few verses later, “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (v 12) What a gift! We have his life, his light, and we have become his children – children of God.

Later in John’s gospel, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world, whoever believes in me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8 v 12) Also, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no-one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12 v 46) We can rest in the assurance of Jesus’ light that will fill our lives as we stay close to him, no matter how many ‘dark things’ may be going on all around us. So, however ‘dark’ things may be for us as individuals, we must allow the warm and loving light of Jesus to shine in, change our perspective, and give us  a new focus – a focus that enables us to know and take heart from the fact that Jesus holds us in his ever-loving hands.

A further thought, which gives us a responsibility as we go forward – Paul, writing to the Ephesians, encourages us saying, “now you are light in the Lord, live as children of light.” (Ephesians 5 v 8) So, he gives us a challenge – not only do we have the blessing and light that Jesus gives us but we are to live out that light and so be lights for him in our daily lives.

Let us go into this new working week with the light of Jesus filling our hearts…….

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life. of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27 v 1)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Sunday 21 June 2020

Good morning

There is lots of uncertainty all around us – debates about how far we need to keep apart – debates about how to get all the children back to school in September – endless discussion about the reopening of the hospitality sector and whether or not people will be able to go away for a summer holiday or not – what ever-fluctuating times we live in!

How blessed we are to know and have the certainty of the love of our Heavenly Father so that we can wake up to each day knowing that we are safe and secure in his loving hands. It reminds me of Isaiah’s song of praise: “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvellous things.” (Isaiah 25 v 1)

Here Isaiah thanks the Lord for his “perfect faithfulness” – this is a phrase overflowing with meaning – faithfulness is not enough to express the Lord’s steadfastness towards us – only “perfect faithfulness” is sufficient to reassure us of the fact that he is always the same.

“No one can snatch them out of my hand”, said Jesus (John 10 v 28), as he spoke of us, his sheep, saying, “my sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” (v 27) This is the “perfect faithfulness” of which Isaiah was speaking – the steadfast love of the Lord, which endures for ever.

No wonder Isaiah continues to praise the Lord as he says, “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat……Surely this is our God; we trusted in him and he saved us. This the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” (25 v 4 & 9)

Let us reflect on our Lord’s “perfect faithfulness” as we go into this new day……..

“O Lord, be gracious to us; be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” (Isaiah 33 v 2)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Saturday 20 June 2020

Good morning

We are at a time in this current crisis when many are beginning to flag – feeling worn out with it all – how can we possibly go on like this. When will some relief come? When on earth will we be able to meet, socialise, eat and drink together again?

I well remember a time of feeling like that more than 25 years ago now. I had been heavily involved for months in the building of a new hospital department (never again!!!) – it had been demanding and time consuming in the midst of my normal clinical life. At last it was done and I went away for a few days to walk in the mountains and recharge the batteries. The day after I arrived there, I fell ill, such that I had to make my way slowly home over the next couple of days. I remember thinking that morning, how on earth will I have the strength to get back and plunge straight into the pressures of clinical practice? A verse came to my mind that morning – “As your days, so shall your strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33 v 25 KJV) And God gave me the strength for each day that lay ahead. This verse has always remained a very special promise for me – for each day God gives us, he will also give us the strength for what it contains – such encouragement when we are going through difficult or exhausting times.

I want to reflect on that thought today as we face the unknown prospect of how things may unfold or work out in the days ahead. The psalmist clearly went through just such experiences and had the same feelings – “my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” (Psalm 73 v 26) He reflected on the fact that the Lord had promised to be with him at all times and he reminded himself of that. In doing so,  he himself said to the Lord, “yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel.” (73 v 23) He reflected on the Lord’s constant presence with him giving him all the strength, wisdom, security and guidance that he needed.

Paul also looked back over the many difficulties and disasters he had encountered  and wrote to the Philippians, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4 v 13)

Today let us draw on the strength that Jesus gives us as we stay close to him…….

The Lord gives strength to his people, the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29 v 11)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Friday 19 June 2020

Good morning

The rainfall of the last day or so has been extremely welcome to the farmers, who were in great need of it – also the gardeners are glad of it. It makes us all realise how blessed we have been throughout lockdown to have had largely-speaking dry and sunny weather, enabling us to be out of doors and appreciating the beauty of the countryside around us. It reminds us to be thankful each day for all that God provides for us.

The thunder, lightning and driving rain makes me think of stormy times and experiences, which, metaphorically speaking, are like the times we are negotiating at present. I am reminded of Jesus’ disciples, caught out in the middle of the lake when a storm blew up – they were being “buffeted by the waves” (Matthew 14 v 24) and, no doubt, they were anxious. Jesus was, of course, close by, caring for them and comes near to them walking on the water. His words are full of encouragement: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (v 27)

These words, so full of care and compassion, echo through the centuries to each and every one of us. “Courage” – Jesus gives us the strength we need for everything we will encounter each day. “It is I” – the everlasting promise of his presence with us at all times. “Don’t be afraid” – Jesus gives us his peace, which overcomes our fears and anxieties. This encouragement and reassurance is ours day by day no matter what adversities may face us.

Peter, as was his won’t, immediately says – “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” (v 28) “Come”, says Jesus, and Peter “walked on the water and came towards Jesus.” Here was an amazing few moments, Peter walking on the water through the wind and waves – but then he took his eyes off Jesus and started to focus on the waves and the wind – the anxieties pressing around him – and he began to sink. Jesus saves him and says, “why did you doubt?” (v 31) Jesus can make us walk securely through all the storms of life – but we need to keep our focus fixed on him.

Let us reflect on this and renew our focus as we go into this day………

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12 v 2)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Thursday 18 June 2020

Good morning

Despite all the restrictions that lockdown has imposed upon us, there have been many blessings, not least of which has been the slowing of the pace of life. And this slower pace has enabled us to appreciate so much more fully all the blessings that the Lord provides all the time but we rush past without even noticing! The wild flowers, butterflies, birds and newly-leafed trees have all been a real joy through this glorious springtime. And now we have fledgling blue tits, blackbirds and robins all hopping around the garden being industriously fed by busy parents.

This picture reminds me of a poem: “Said the robin to the sparrow, I should really like to know why these anxious human beings, rush about and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, Friend, I think that it must be, that they have no Heavenly father such as cares for you and me.”

It’s amusing but tells a deep truth. It reminds me of Jesus’ words – “fear not therefore for you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12 v 7) All our haste and rushing has been curtailed and we realise that in the midst of haste and hurry we have no time to turn our eyes to Jesus and to be still in his presence. And it is in the stillness that we can best hear his voice, which so often, as with Elijah of old comes “as a gentle whisper.” (1 Kings 19 v 12) I ask myself, how can I expect to hear “God’s gentle whisper” if I am rushing headlong from one thing to the next, packing my day with activity, however laudable that activity might appear. This, I think, is one of the lessons and blessings of lockdown.

Let us pause and reflect on the lessons and blessings lockdown has provided…….

Let us learn from the lessons Jesus taught us, “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6 v 31) Our Great Shepherd “makes us lie down in green pastures leads us beside quiet waters ” (Psalm 23 v 2) – there is no haste in these pictures – they portray quietness – places of receptiveness to the voice of Jesus. Let us learn from the blessings of lockdown and carry these lessons forward as it all eases.

Let us close with a prayer, which Paul Sawyer has just sent to me.

“Do not fear to bring your pain to God – Do not fear to bring your doubts – Do not fear to bing your lack of confidence – Do not fear to bring your worst as well as your best. Do not fear to bring your memories as well as your dreams, your hopes and your anguish. God knows you and loves you, God will never give up on you. Thank you God.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Good morning

There is a lovely verse in Isaiah 30, which has long been a favourite of mine, and on which I am reflecting this morning. “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust (confidence KJV) is your strength.” (Isaiah 30 v 15) Salvation gives us our security and future hope, whilst strength is the promise of God’s presence with us each day enabling us to meet all the demands we encounter. These are both beautifully expressed in a line from a hymn – “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…….Great is your faithfulness.”

In our present circumstances, this verse provides all the reassurance we need for each day and encourages us to rest on Jesus, just as he calls us to do when he says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11 v 28) And, as we rest on him, we draw down his strength, which “recharges us” to be able to live as he has asked us to do.

Let us pause for a moment and reflect on his wonderful provision…….

But, as is so often the case in scripture, there is a challenge for us in these verses and we see it in the context. The Lord is speaking to his people, who are “obstinate” (v 1), “unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction” (v 9) and “have rejected him” (v 12). And, the lovely verse on which we have reflected finishes on a sad note as the Lord says, “but you would have none of it.” (v 15b) Instead, his people said, no, we can do everything in our own strength and in our own way. (v 16 & 17 paraphrase) How often we behave exactly the same way – we ignore the provision of our Heavenly Father, thereby forfeiting his peace and rest, and go our own way.

But, in his mercy, all is not lost – he is always there for us, as Isaiah goes on to record: “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you, he rises to show compassion….blessed are all those who trust in him.” (v 18)

“How good is the God we adore, our faithful unchangeable friend. His love is as great as his power, and knows neither measure nor end.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Good morning

There is a lot of uncertainty all around us – with whom can we form ‘special bubbles’ – how many people can meet together out of doors (observing social distance) – when and where do we need face coverings etc., etc. – the list goes on and on! People complain about the “lack of clarity” coming from the country’s leaders both scientific, medical and political.

As I reflect on this ever-changing scene that is all around us, it makes me lift thanks and praise to our Heavenly Father, “with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning.” (James 1 v 17 KJV) As James write this passage, he describes God as the “Father of lights” – a wonderful reminder that God is the one who sheds light on the path ahead and illuminates our darkness – the one “from whom every good and prefect gift comes down.” (v 17) We will inevitably go through tough times, just as we are doing at present, but his light will always guide us – He never changes.

I think we are often prone to thinking that we have been forgotten or ignored by God, especially when the going gets tough. At such times we can reflect on his many promises in his word and, no matter how bleak things may look or how dejected we may feel, we can take heart and be uplifted.

Speaking through Isaiah long ago, God said: “Listen to me….you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth, even to your old age and grey hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46 v 3 & 4)

There we have an all-embracing promise that encompasses the whole of our lives – through thick and thin – through all the changes of the decades – God promises his presence to be with us and his  sustaining power to buoy us up in any and every situation.

As we go into this new day, let us pause and reflect on this wonderful reassurance………

“Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy; the praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Monday 15 June 2020

Good morning

As we start a new working and school week, many will be going back to things they have not done for many weeks and will be facing it with some concern both for their own safety as well as for the safety of others. Many will be going back to work in shops or indeed visiting shops that have been closed for 3 months and some secondary schools are welcoming teenagers back to school this week. There are levels of anxiety about all these new measures and some folk are on edge.

We have also witnessed violence over these past few days, both in our nation and in our village and this has perplexed us. These are all signs of lack of peace – expressions of pent up emotions that are then expressed in this way.

Jesus promises us “his peace” – this is not just peace in a vague, theoretical sort of way, it is his indwelling peace, which was his final gift or bequest to us as believers. “Abide in me” he says, “and I will abide in you.” (John 15 v 4 KJV) This word, “abide”, expresses a permanence, a certainty, a presence that fills that place through and through and Jesus abiding with us fills our beings with his peace. His peace is deep within us, underpinning all the bubbling turmoils that may be happening to us in our lives – a rock-like foundation that is unshaken by the raging issues and circumstances that may be affecting us. But it is a “two-way street”, we are just as much to ensure that we abide in him as he promises that he will abide in us. His promise is certain and immoveable but we have to work at it. That calls for us to be in constant contact with him, which enables us to draw on his inexhaustible peace.

Let us reflect for a moment on Jesus’ life. Just think how amazingly relaxed our Lord’s life was – a life full of serenity – always in constant communication with his Father and speaking the words the Father gave him. Here was the ultimate demonstration of inner peace and this is the peace that Jesus offers us in the midst of all “the changing scenes of life.”

What an wonderful and bountiful bequest he gave us – “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.” (John 14 v 27)

Let’s pause for a few moments this morning and really take in his peace……

So, as we start the new week, may we all “abide in him”, experience his peace and rest secure, certain of his presence with us for “he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10 v 23)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Sunday 14 June 2020

Good morning

On Friday, we met, as a group of six, our family from Nottingham in the grounds of a National Trust property in Warwickshire. We had not seen them since Christmas. Six months is a gaping hole in the lives of two primary school children and it was great to be reunited, albeit at a distance!

This estate has been there for hundreds of years and, centuries ago, someone clearly planted a great variety of well spaced-out trees, many of which are now large and majestic. I found myself reflecting on all that these trees had “seen” over these past 500 years and how they had stood there through storm and tempest, war and peace and all manner of difficulties. And yet their strength and stability was plain to see. It made me think of Jesus’ words about about the ‘plants’ and how “God clothes them” – and then tells us not to worry. (Matthew 7 v 30)

The trees just make sure their roots go down ever deeper into the richness of what God supplies in the earth below. That made me  reflect on the lesson of ensuring that our roots go ever deeper into the richness of God’s word and all the good things he provides for us and around us every day. Of course, that same picture is painted for us in Psalm 1 v 3 & Jeremiah 17 v 8 and Paul uses the same metaphor in Ephesians 3 v 17 when he says, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love…”

The love of Jesus is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom God has given us and that love fills us with the peace of Jesus. And, for me, that was another image those trees gave me – not just their might and majesty, but a profound sense of their serenity and peace. As we continue to go through this present set of difficulties, let us reflect on the peace that Jesus gives us in his love as we keep close to him.

Let us pause and reflect on that as we start this new day……

The Lord….shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him….the Lord alone led him.” (Deuteronomy 32 v 10)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Saturday 13 June 2020

Good morning

The other evening, we had a torrential cloudburst – it was like being in the monsoon in India! The water rushed down our lane, turning it into a river in spate – it was amazing to witness the sudden power of God seen in the forces of nature.

It makes me reflect on the fact that we have our security in this same wonderful power that surrounds us and keeps us through all the exigencies of life. It is because of this certainty that Jesus promises to us that we hear him saying to us “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God, trust also in me.” (John 14 v 1) I am always struck by the directness of this statement – it is not just a vague comment like let’s not let our hearts be troubled, but “do not let.” This is a direct instruction, one that takes constant working at on our part. When difficulties assail us, “do not let”, says Jesus, and tells us how to do that – “trust in God, trust also in me.”

Later in that chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus goes on to reassure us how both he and the Father “will come to us and make their home with us.” (v 23) This wonderful reality of God making his home within us by his Spirit gives us all the security we need and enables us to put into practice Jesus’ instruction “do not let your heart be troubled….” In the midst of all the current difficulties and restrictions, we can rest on his promised presence with us and turn our focus to him.

I think the psalmist was experiencing the same thoughts as he wrote, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures for ever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and evermore.” (Psalm 125 v 1 & 2) I love this picture of security, likened to being surrounded by mountains. Many of you know I am a great lover of being in the mountains, which always remind me of the mighty strength and immovable stability of our Heavenly Father.

Let us carry his strength and security with us into this day……..

Love and blessings to you all

David

Friday 12 June 2020

Good morning

Over these past days, I am perceiving rather more feelings of downheartedness as the lockdown continues to restrain us from being able to mix more freely and interact more normally – “it has all become very tedious”, is a common remark – how true!

Imagine, if you will, the feelings the psalmist had as he was “locked down” in the desert fleeing and fearing for his life from those trying to attack and kill him. It was a bit like what we are doing with this pandemic – only very much worse – we at least have our homes and shelter with food on our tables!

In Psalm 28, he demonstrates his source of strength, which he knows will carry him through. “To you I call, O Lord, my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me.” (v 1) We are so blessed that we do not need to add the second phrase, for Jesus has promised that he will always hear our prayers and he will always be beside us to support and carry us through our difficulties – “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28 v 20)

We rest in the certainty of Jesus’ presence with us, so, like the psalmist we can say: “Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry….the Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in him and I am helped. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation.” (Psalm 28 v 7 & 8) Here he moves from the singular to the plural, thereby including every one of us, his people, those who put their trust in Jesus, and so these words are very much for us – and he concludes with the final prayer to the Lord for us all; “be their shepherd and carry them for ever.” (v 9)

This lovely image of Jesus as the shepherd for each one of us is very uplifting, quite literally, as the thought of carrying us for ever paints a graphic picture of the shepherd carrying the young sheep across his shoulders, safe, secure and peaceful.

Let us reflect on that picture throughout this day……

This is just what Jesus meant when he said, “come to me all you who are weary and over-burdened and i will give you rest.” (Matthew 11 v 28)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Thursday 11 June 2020

Good morning

One of our recent morning readings was entitled “don’t look back” and used the verse in Genesis 19 when Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. (19 v 26) Lot and his family had just experienced the most ghastly circumstances and God had said they were not to look back at the past and what they were leaving behind. We are also emerging from very difficult circumstances – albeit only a fraction of the horrors of Sodom and Gomorrah, but the principle of this lesson remains that we don’t spend our time looking back at past problems but we move forward into what God has for us in the future.

We see this lesson repeated in scripture – God says through Isaiah, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past, see I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43 v 18) Looking back tends to promote negative thinking, thoughts that drag us down rather than build us up. God goes on to describe how he is providing “water in the desert” and “streams in the wasteland” – his thoughts and plans for us are all positive – “to give drink to my people…that they may proclaim my praise.” (v 20 & 21) And the key to “forgetting the former things” is because of what he has done for us – “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (v 25)

If you are anything like me, there are probably things in the past that you wish had not been like they were and the memory of them will only drag us down – Jesus says – trust in me, you are forgiven – live in the light of the new life I give you.

Paul certainly had a past, which, if he wallowed in it, would have caused serious depression and negativity. He, however, expresses this same lesson for us in his letter to Philippi. He says, “one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal…to which God has called me…in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3 v 13 & 14)

Let us look forward – praising him – in the positive knowledge that he is leading us……

“This God is our God for ever and ever, he will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48 v 14)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Good morning

One of our yesterday’s morning readings was from Psalm 119 and spoke about being steeped in God’s word and storing it in our hearts – “I have hidden your word in my heart,” says the psalmist in verse 11, “so that I might not sin against you.” He goes on throughout this psalm to develop the principle of our need of God’s word to encourage us and lead us so that we keep close to Jesus. In ‘The Message’, Eugene Petersen paraphrases this as “I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart” – a vivid illustration of how God’s word is then always available to us whenever we need encouragement or when we encounter adverse situations.

The psalmist continues, as he thinks about God’s word, “Be blessed, God, train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth…..I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.” (v 12, 13 & 16 ‘The Message’)

Remember how Jesus, when being tempted by satan, turned every time to God’s word to find the secure response to the onslaught of the devil. (Luke 4 v 4ff) Here we see the blessing, strength and encouragement that God’s word gives us. Spending time with our Bibles means that we are spending time with Jesus, learning from him, listening to his voice, being fed by him. This is what Jesus meant when he tells us of our need to “remain in him and he will remain in us” (John 15 v 4), reminding us that we can’t do anything by ourselves. (v 5)

In these challenging and ever-changing times, we can be sure that Jesus is always the same – “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13 v 8) – and we can rely on his presence and strength as long as we stay close to him and feed from his word.

Going forward, things won’t be easy but “the Eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33 v 27)

Let us reflect on the safety and security he gives us as we go into this day……..

Love and blessings to you all

David

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Good morning

We are nearing the end of the twelfth week of these “Thoughts for today” and we are eventually beginning to see and experience the slackening of our locked-down situation. There is now a real possibility that we will be able to meet in churches and chapels again next month, albeit in restricted ways, yet to be defined. We certainly look forward to that time!

It is like the first glimpses of land when you have been on a long voyage. When I was small, we made a number of long sea voyages usually of one to two week’s duration, it being the main way of getting from A to B in those days (1940’s/!950’s). I well remember the mounting feeling of excitement when land was first spotted and standing on deck watching for many hours as that speck grew larger and larger until, finally, we neared our destination port. Sometimes the time at sea had been very rough, such as crossing the Atlantic in mid-winter and a safe haven looked very inviting.

As I reflect on what we have all been through in these past weeks, and let’s not forget it has been far worse for some than others, it is a bit like sighting land having endured a rough time at sea and knowing that a safe haven is coming. In Psalm 107, the psalmist writes about God’s people going through such experiences – mountainous waves, deep troughs (v 26) and the effect that such experiences had on them – courage melting away, being at their wits end (v 26 & 27). And he acknowledges the solution for each one of us – “they cried out to the Lord and he brought them out of their distress” (v 28) and finally “brought them to their desired haven.” (v 30)

Our difficulties and troubles may not be removed by the Lord, but that “desired haven” is the deep peace, which only Jesus can give and with which he fills us as we put our trust in him, knowing that we are utterly safe in his loving hands, no matter what else is happening around us.

Let us reflect on that as we go into this day………

And let us, today and every day, follow the example of the psalmist, when he says, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love.” (v 31)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Monday 8 June 2020

Good morning

We are just one week on following the Day of Pentecost. Back then, the Church had over 3000 people in it! They had no single building in which to meet so they met up together in groups wherever they could but, more importantly, they were “out there” intermingling with all the people in the places in which they lived.

Lockdown has taught us this all important lesson very clearly. We, the church of Jesus, are not a building, we are a people – a people who he has put in particular places to shine as lights for him – to be his hands and feet – to take his love to all around us.

We have had some rain  over the weekend – many gardeners are very relieved! Just as the rain revives the dry land, so the Spirit constantly revives us every day as we ask God to fill us afresh for what the new day holds for us.

This ‘combination’ reminds me of God speaking through Isaiah, when he says, “I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants…” (Isaiah 44 v 3) God was speaking to Israel in these verses and the fulfilment of the outpouring of his Spirit came at Pentecost, hundreds of years later.

This picture of fresh water and God’s Spirit is used by Jesus when, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, he says: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7 v 37 – 39)

Let us reflect on that….and remember to ask him every morning for the filling of his Spirit……

As we go into this new day, may the fruit of his Spirit, “love, joy, peace,” flow out through us to all who come across our path today.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Sunday 7 June 2020

Good morning

On Friday evening, we were travelling back to the village after our first ‘outing” from the village for nigh on 3 months. It was pouring with rain with a heavy, black sky to the east and yet the sun was shining from the west. Quite suddenly a rainbow appeared and spread in a complete arch across the dark sky to the east. The colours were intense and brilliant – I don’t think I have ever seen such a bright rainbow. There is God’s promise, Janet said, and, as we watched, a second less bright rainbow appeared as if it was a reflection of the brilliance of the first.

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth,” (Genesis 9 v 13) was God’s promise to Noah after the flood had subsided. “Never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done,” said the Lord (8 v 21).

In the midst of this pandemic, which is ‘destroying’ hundreds of thousands of lives, the promise of God endures, rocklike and eternal and we can rest secure in his everlasting arms, no matter what may come across our path.

The psalmist writes: “In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge….turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go.” (Psalm 71 v 1 & 3) What an amazing reassurance that is for us, to know that each one of us has a “rock of refuge to which we can always go.”

As we reflect on that for a few moments, let us lift our thanks to the Lord……..

“For you have been my hope, O Lord, my confidence…..I have relied on you…..I will ever praise you.” (v 5 & 6)

But, as a final thought, there was a challenge in the rainbows – I perceived the brilliant, intense rainbow as a picture of Jesus and the second rainbow as a message to us of how we, Jesus’ followers, are asked to ensure that our lives are a reflection of him.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Saturday 6 June 2020

Good morning

The last two days seem to have been much busier than usual – there were actually things in the diary – something that had been pretty uncommon for several weeks!

It makes me reflect on the lessons that we may have been able to learn through this period of lockdown, when we have been ‘forced’ to turn down the pace of life and take the opportunity to be enthralled by the beauty and fascination of all that God has made, which is so wonderfully displayed all around us.

Over the years, i have allowed the “busyness” of life to filter out many of these other treasures or pay relatively scant attention to them. This has been a spring like no other in terms of the ability to saturate ourselves in the beauty of all that God gives us. Most importantly it has allowed God to speak to us, not only through all that we can see around us, but also in the increased time we have had just to be still in his presence and, therefore, more able to hear his voice.

It reminds me of that lovely encounter at the home of Martha and Mary recorded in Like 11.

You will recall that Jesus was on his journey and he comes to stay at the house of some old friends, all siblings – two sisters and a brother. One of the sisters, Mary, settles herself at Jesus’ feet and just listens to all that he is saying, hanging on his every word. The other sister, Martha, is bustling about doing all the very necessary chores, getting the supper, being a wonderful hostess, definitely doing very ‘good works’ and doing them for Jesus. “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 11 v 40)

She gets frustrated and irritated by the fact that her sister is just sitting there listening to Jesus and she asks Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her. I love the gentleness of Jesus’ response: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things – only one thing is needed….” (v 41) We can be so busy with “doing God’s work” that we neglect the time we need to spend sitting quietly “at his feet” and listening to his word.

Let’s make sure we learn the “lessons of the lockdown” as we move forward.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Friday 5 June 2020

Good morning

Yesterday Marshfield bade farewell to Pauline Miller, who had been a ray of sunshine in our community for decades.

I find myself reflecting on what was so special about Pauline and I am drawn to the shortest Psalm of all Psalm 117, which is only two verses in our Bibles.

“Praise the Lord all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever. Praise the Lord.”

Pauline had a firm and simple faith – she loved to praise the Lord and nothing gave her more pleasure than to join with others singing well-known songs of praise. She held on firmly to the wonderful truth and encouragement of this short Psalm that assures us of the enduring and everlasting nature of the Lord’s love and faithfulness to each and every one of us and this buoyed her up through all the things that she encountered.

Of course, we all benefitted from her wonderful skills with flowers and gardens – the path up to St Mary’s was always a picture – and I know, for her, this was a great part of the way in which she gave her thanks and praise to the Lord. Certainly the love of God shone out through her to all around her.

She was a great example to us all. May we all learn a lesson from her in the way that she rejoiced in and relied on the Lord’s changeless faithfulness and love.

Let us carry that thought with us into this day……

Love and blessings to you all

David

Thursday 4 June 2020

Good morning

As we reflected yesterday on the Lord’s leading and re-forming of our lives, it is reassuring and encouraging to see that the psalmist went through just the same experiences.

We can see this depicted in Psalm 25. He was clearly struggling with his past, right from youth up to and including the present day – and he appeals to the Lord’s love and mercy. “Remember, Lord, your great love and mercy, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.” (Psalm 25 v 6 & 7)

So he prays; “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour. and my hope is in you all day long.” (v 4) He realises that the only way he is going to be able to move forward along the best road for him is to have his focus in the right place –  “my eyes are ever on the Lord”, he says (v 15), adding (paraphrased) only he can help me avoid all the snares and problems along the road.

But he is completely reassured in the certainty that the Lord knows best and has only his best interests in mind – “all the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful.” (v 10) And we can rest in the same assurance of the Lord’s hand leading us in our lives, whatever difficulties face us.

As we go into this new day with all the ups and downs that it may contain, let us keep our eyes on Jesus and depend on him to lead us and walk with us as we go forward.

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12 v 1)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Good morning

At the end of yesterday’s reflection, we used the words of a hymn, in which the writer reminded us that God, by his Spirit, is doing his transforming work in our lives in the same way as a potter moulds a lump of clay.

This thought reminds me of Jeremiah, who was told by God to “go down to the potter’s house and there I will give you my message.” (Jeremiah 18 v 1) What followed was an object lesson from the Lord about how he deals with each one of us.

“The pot he was shaping was marred in his hands” (18 v 4) – as I reflect on this, I get a picture of “non-compliant clay”, resisting the moulding hands of the potter. So, with great gentleness the potter ‘re-forms’ the clay “into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Here is a graphic illustration of the Spirit’s work in our lives and the two possible ways of responding to that work. Either we comply or we block him out and keep him in the background, ignoring his promptings.

God always works gently with us – he does not force us. He offers us peace of mind and rest for our souls as we walk with him and trust in him but we have to go along with that. In the passage in Jeremiah, the people refused to comply – they said, “no…we will continue with our own plans.” (v12) The outcome was disastrous!

Let us reflect for a few moments on what the Lord is doing in our lives…..

Now, let us be encouraged – there is a wonderfully positive picture in this passage; we are in the Lord’s hands and that is both the best and the safest place for each and every one of us. We may not like the position and circumstances in which we find ourselves but they all form part of that “re-forming” process in our lives as our Lord moulds us and makes us as he wants us to be.

Through Isaiah, the Lord says: “in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30 v 15) and this is the picture of stillness and willingness for the Lord to lead us forward in whatever way he chooses and we may be certain that, as we follow him, he will bless us with his peace.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Good morning

As this week after Pentecost progresses, I am reflecting on the way in which the Holy Spirit works in our lives – if and when we let him!

Taking that last thought first – Peter in his first sermon on the Day Of Pentecost said: “The promise is for you and your children and for….all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2 v 39) The promise is to all who believe and trust in Jesus as their Saviour and we receive forgiveness of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. (v 38)  So, the Spirit is our gift from God and, like any gift we receive, it’s a question of what we do with it and where we put it. Have you ever received a gift and really not known what on earth to do with it? So, you put it in a bottom drawer or in the top of the wardrobe and maybe come across it again years later.

We can be like that with the gift of the Spirit – tuck him away in a corner of our lives – and thus not give him the space and opportunity to work in us. Jesus told us that his Spirit will “teach us all things and remind us of everything Jesus has said.” (John 14 v 26) The opportunity for him to do that comes as we read our Bibles and so often some words we may have read, or heard read, many times before suddenly ‘come alive’, such that we say to ourselves, I’ve never noticed that before. So the Spirit gives us a clearer picture of Jesus and teaches us how we can become more like him.

O dear, you may say, that all sounds very difficult! But if we give him the space and time every day, the Spirit will do the work and help us forward.

I always find great encouragement from two verses in Philippians. The first is when Paul says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1 v 6)  And, in the next chapter he writes: “it is God who works in you both to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (2 v 13)

That really cheers me up – God will do the work by his Spirit – I’ve just got to give him the opportunity and make sure I don’t get in the way!

Let’s pause and reflect on that for a few moments……

We can pray with the old hymn:

“Have your own way, Lord, have your own way; you are the potter, I am the clay; mould me and make me after your will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Monday 1 June 2020

Good morning

Yesterday was a wonderful Day of Pentecost, gloriously sunny but with a gentle wind coming in bursts, reminding us of the ‘wind of the Spirit’ that blew “like a strong wind, gale force” on those 120 believers gathered in Jerusalem that Pentecost day all those years ago. (Acts 2 v 2 The Message)

God had poured out his Spirit, as Joel had prophesied (2 v 28), giving abundant provision for each and every believer and that wonderful provision is available to you and me today and every day. We reflected on the need to pray daily for a new filling of his Spirit to teach, guide and lead us through our day. Paul exhorts the Ephesian Christians, “be being filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5 v 18). This is the present continuous tense in the Greek and teaches us of our daily dependence on the filling of his Spirit as we start each day.

Jesus had promised his disciples – including us –  that he would send the Spirit (Counsellor) and that he would be with them for ever. “You know him,” said Jesus, “because he lives with you” (he is my Spirit) “and he will be in you.” (John 14 v 16) And Jesus follows on with a wonderful assurance, so full of compassion, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” (v 18)

For each one of us, this is the most uplifting assurance of his presence with us as we go into a new day. This is a ‘blessing of encouragement’ that is new every morning.

Let us reflect on that for a few moments, and give him thanks and praise……..

The Spirit transforms us, if we allow him to do so. As I close, here is an adaptation of a reflection from “God Calling”:

‘The way of the soul’s transformation is the way of companionship with Jesus. Not so much the asking him to make you this or that but living with him, thinking of him, talking to him – thus we grow more like him.’

Love and blessings to you all

David