A regular thought for the day, by David Spence.

Read more from April 2020

Sunday 24 May 2020

Good morning

In several conversations recently, both face to face and on the ‘phone, I have sensed a residual anxiety, like a dark cloud, hanging over some folk as they consider the concept of going out and about more as the lockdown is gradually released.

As we move into each new day, let us listen to Isaiah’s prayer, “O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” (Isaiah 33 v 2)

Of course, difficult times and unexpected happenings cause us to be anxious – this is only natural – especially when we are dealing with things that are way out of our control, and indeed outside the control of any human being. Yesterday’s strong wind exemplified a force that is beyond our control. Then we need to stay close to the one who is all powerful, who is control of all things. Jesus said “Abide/remain in me” (John 15 v 4) – this encapsulates the need for closeness – constant contact – open communication. These are all things we need to develop more and more each day as we walk with Jesus.

So let us be encouraged that we can go through each day close to Jesus, held in his hands, safe with the one who is stronger than all the problems and difficulties that we may be facing.

The psalmist also encountered anxiety-ridden times but he also knew where to go: “I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.” (Psalm 61 v 2) I always love that thought of “the rock that is higher than I” – there can be no safer place.

Let us reflect on that today…..

Love and blessings to you all

David

Saturday 23 May 2020

Good morning on this very breezy morning – especially here in Marshfield!

As I watch the wind sweeping through the trees, I am reflecting on the power of the wind – one of the many wonders of the hand of God in creation – so beautifully expressed in that lovely old Russian hymn, “Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, How great Thou art.”

We find ourselves in a time of great disruption – the winds of change have certainly swept into and through all our lives – it was unexpected, who could have imagined this as we turned into this New Year?

It reminds me of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus asleep in the back of the boat. “Without warning, a furious storm came up….” (Matthew 8 v 24) “the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern sleeping on a cushion.” (Mark 4 v 37) It was only when things got really bad that they went to Jesus and started speaking to him – and, of course, he intervened and stilled the storm. “Why are you so afraid?” says Jesus, “Do you still have no faith?” (v 40)

As I reflect on this incident, I ask myself, ‘where is Jesus in my boat?’ – is he kept in a little place in the stern? And, how quickly do I turn to him when things get difficult in life? Is it only when I can’t do it in my own strength? Have I learned the lesson to “take it to the Lord in prayer” straight away? He will always be there for each one of us – he will always calm the storm through which we are going – he will always surround us with his peace. He promises these things to each of us and he is always faithful.

Let us go into this day reflecting on Jesus’ love and faithfulness…..

“With everlasting kindness i will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer….though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” (Isaiah 54 v 8 & 10)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Friday 22 May 2020

Good morning

As we continue in our restricted lifestyle, I am sure many are feeling very hemmed in and stuck, which leads to feeling pretty dejected, certainly some of the time. It is good at such times – better still all of the time! – to rejoice in the wonder of the springtime with which we are being blessed. The ever burgeoning beauty of God’s creation is all around us – the wild flowers abound – the swallows, swifts and house martins are wheeling around above our heads – all tangible reminders of the unshakeable changelessness of our Creator God and Heavenly Father.

No wonder the psalmist says, “I will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness” (Psalm 138 v 2) and, reflecting on the fact that he may well experience very difficult circumstances, he continues, “though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life;…the Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures for ever.” (v 7 & 8) This is a lovely reassurance of the Lord’s personal dealings with each of us – the Lord fulfilling his purpose for every one of us – we are in his loving hands and he cares for us.

Jeremiah found himself in very hard times and recalls; “I called on your name O Lord, from the depths of the pit…you came near when i called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear’. O Lord, you took up my case, you redeemed my life.” (Lamentations 3 v 55)

He is recalling the time when he was lowered by rope into a deep cistern because the officials did not like the fact that he was faithfully telling them the word of God. The cistern “had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.” He was left to die. (Jeremiah 38 v 6) Even in such dire circumstances, Jeremiah lifted his voice to the Lord and he provided for his rescue.

The psalmist reflects on the personal reality of God’s love and care: “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. He turned his ear to me – I will call on him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116 v 1)

Let us go into this day resting in our Saviour’s unfailing love and care for each one of us……..

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid…the Lord is with me; he is my helper.” (Psalm 118 v 6)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Thursday 21 May 2020

Good morning on this Ascension Day.

I am reflecting this morning on Jesus’ Ascension, which is only ‘described’ by Luke, both at the end of his gospel and at the beginning of Acts. (Luke 24 v  50 & Acts 1 v 9) Luke gathered all his material by thorough and painstaking research learned from those who were the eyewitnesses at the time so, in these few verses, we have an accurate picture as reported by the eleven disciples and the others with them – we are not told how many were present.

Since his resurrection, Jesus had been appearing and reappearing to his disciples, often unexpectedly. I think this is sometimes how we feel – at times Jesus seems very close and at others very distant. It was almost as if each reappearance was to teach his followers that he is actually with them even though they may not be able to see him – almost like his reassurance on the lake: “I am here! Don’t be afraid.”(John 6 v 20), on which we reflected a few days ago.

And now, by his very visible Ascension, Jesus makes it very clear that he has left this earth and returned to heaven. But he has promised “another Counsellor” (John 14 v 16) and they are to wait for him to arrive. (paraphrase) This “other Counsellor” will ALWAYS be with them, whether they ‘feel’ him or not. We take hold of this truth by faith as we trust Jesus day by day.

As I reflect on this Ascension account, I also see Jesus giving instructions – “you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1 v 8), “starting right here in this place where you are” (paraphrase) – the place where I have put you. That’s a challenge for each one of us – do our lives reflect the love and peace of Jesus to those around us as we go through each day?

We always need reminding of our task – just as they did – because the next thing is that they are just standing staring up into the sky! And two angels have to refocus them – they are not stargazers but witnesses –  and thus encourage them on their way.

Let us reflect today on the wonderful truth that Jesus is always with us as we get on and do what he asked us to do……

Let us thank Jesus for his constant presence with us through his Spirit.

“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28 v 20)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Good morning

What a wonderful morning! Nature and creation all spread out before our eyes with amazing clarity. During our lockdown we have had so much more time to take it all in, observe it more closely and, hopefully, learn some lessons.

“Learn a lesson from the fog tree,” said Jesus in Matthew 24 v 32. Now, of course, Jesus was speaking in a completely different context in that passage but the rhythms of nature teach us so much and we can learn from them.

We reflected yesterday on our absolute need to feed from God’s word – “the words that i have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life,” said Jesus in John 6 v 63 – and Simon Peter reflected this truth when he said a few moments later – “Lord,…you have the words of eternal life.” (v 68)

I watch as the flowers open up towards the sunshine and plants grow out in the direction of the sunshine – all turning and focusing on the warmth and radiance of God’s provision. They know that is how they get their sustenance and are enabled to grow. As I reflect on this, I realise how true that is to enable my spiritual growth and I take it to heart. Paul, writing to the Romans, says “everything…was written to teach us so that through…the encouragement of the scriptures we might have life.” (Romans 15 v 4)

Our present difficulties are very unsettling – news is changing all the time – statistics get better, next day they are worse – none of it seems to be stable or reliable. But, “the word of the Lord stands for ever” (Isaiah 40 v 8, 1 Peter 1 v 25) – always the same, always stable, always secure – He has given us a firm place to stand – let us turn towards the warmth and light that His word gives us.

Jesus, who said “my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24 v 35) remains the “same, yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13 v 8) – his promises and eternal, steadfast and sure – he still says “come unto me… and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11 v 28) and “I have told you these things that in me you may have peace.” (John 16 v 33) There’s the secret, we find it all in Jesus as we stay close to him, listen to his voice and follow him.

Today, let’s reflect on the words of Jesus and experience his peace and rest……

Let’s conclude with the psalmist, who wrote: “From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him.” (Psalm 103 v 17)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Good morning

As I sit at my desk this morning looking out over the field, the sheep, now newly shorn and slim, are constantly grazing on the fresh grass.Their lambs, now getting very sturdy, are nosing and nibbling at the grass and learning to graze but still needing to suckle and get milk from their mothers.

This scene makes me reflect on the constant need for us to be feeding from God’s word in order to grow and be able to be a source of “food” – love, encouragement and peace to those around us.

Jesus says in John 6 v 35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.” The trouble, we often say, is that we are “too busy” in our day to spend time feeding from Jesus’ word and so we rush on “unfed” and fail to grow closer to Jesus. This time of lockdown has ‘made’ all of us slow down and it is a great opportunity to take stock of our lives and refocus our priorities.

The wonderful thing is that God’s word is always available to us and, by his Spirit, he will open its pages to our hearts and minds shining his light into our lives. The Bible has many pictures of the constant source of nourishment in God’s word – the tree planted by the river (Jeremiah 17 and Psalm 1), which never fails to bear fruit because it is constantly fed – the river in Ezekiel 47 where the fruit trees grow on its banks.

This latter picture is very special; “Fruit trees of all kinds grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47 v 12) What a lovely picture of constant feeding, fruitfulness and blessing and the secret is the source, for the waters of the river flow out from God himself. (47 v 1)

The sheep are not rushing about – they are feeding…… let’s reflect on that today…….

Job observed: “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23 v 12)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Monday 18 May 2020

Good morning

Earlier this morning we were reading part of John chapter 6 where Jesus walks on the water immediately after feeding the 5000. As we read from the New Living Translation, I was struck by the lovely simplicity of Jesus words to his disciples.

This incident is a perfect picture of the situation in which we find ourselves at present. The disciples are going about their normal life – taking a boat across the lake, something that certainly some of them had done countless times before. “Soon a gale swept down upon them” (John 6 v 18) – how very true – we have been engulfed by just such a gale in the form of this virus. “The sea grew very rough” John continues – things have indeed become “very rough” for us – unbearably so for many.

“Suddenly they saw Jesus” – this made me wonder if their difficult circumstances had finally made them wonder where Jesus was – after all, they had decided to go ahead without him (v 19) and now they absolutely recognised their desperate need of him. This is so often true of us – we go ahead doing our own thing in our own strength, as it were ‘leaving Jesus behind’.

But it was the way in which Jesus’ words to them are translated in the NLT that really struck me this morning; “I am here! Don’t be afraid.” Those words of Jesus say everything – he is with us – there is no need to be anxious or afraid.

Throughout the Bible God says time and time again “Fear not” or “Don’t be afraid” – why? – because he promises that he will always be with us – in every storm and every disaster. He is our Rock, our Refuge and our Redeemer.

Let’s reflect on that for  few moments…….and make sure we don’t leave him behind.

As we go through today, let’s carry Jesus’ words with us – “I am here! Don’t be afraid.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Sunday 17 May 2020

Good morning

On these clear, sunlit mornings I am reminded that we are experiencing God’s light, which illuminates everything. When we are in a dark place, we long for light – often in the darkness of night we may be awake and full of anxiety, longing for the light of morning. The watchmen in Psalm 130 v 6 is a picture of longing for the daylight to come but the psalmist says “my soul waits for the Lord more than that” (paraphrase). Why? Because “in his word I put my hope.” (v 5)

The psalmist teaches us that in the Lord and in his word we find light and peace and encouragement – so, he continues; “put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” (v 7) Here is our security, rooted in our Saviour and Redeemer whose love is unfailing and whose faithfulness is everlasting.

We are in such difficult times – there is grief and loss all around us – but the love of Jesus never changes and he is always with us. “Those who look to him are radiant” says the psalmist (34 v 5) and continues “taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed are those who take refuge in him.” (v 8)

John the Baptist’s father, in his song after the birth of his son, likened Jesus to “the morning light from heaven breaking on us to give light in our darkness and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1 v 78 NLT)

Let us rest secure in Jesus love and peace today………

‘The Lord appeared to us saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” (Jeremiah 31 v 3)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Saturday 16 May 2020

Good morning

Yesterday afternoon we spent a good deal of time disentangling ivy from a Viburnum (“Snowball” bush) that is now about 18 feet tall and has many of its beautiful snowball flowers. The ivy has been there for decades and was both weighing down the branches of the bush and entwined tightly around them, thus robbing them of nutrients and making it difficult for them to flourish. Areas of the bush were not looking very healthy and were not in flower. We observed afterwards that those areas should thrive and flower much better next year!

Reflecting on this experience makes me think of the writer to the Hebrews exhorting us to “throw off every weight that slows us down and the sin that so easily entangles” and to “fix our eyes on Jesus , the author and perfecter of our faith.” As we reflect on this, we can realise, as with the example of the bush, when we are focused on other things and absorbed in them, it is so easy for entanglements – like the ivy – to creep up and begin to rob us of our vital spiritual connection with Jesus.

Jesus reminds us of this when he says: “no branch can bear fruit by itself….neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15 v 4)  So the need for each one of us to keep close to Jesus is paramount, not only so that we can be fruitful but also, as Jesus goes on to say, that “his joy may be in us and that our joy may be complete.” (John 15 v 11) This is a beautiful promise – the experience of his joy and love and peace in our lives every day.

This thought is beautifully expressed in the old Victorian hymn: “Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know; Spirit breathing from above, you have taught me it is so. O this full and perfect peace! O this presence so divine! In a love which cannot cease, I am his, and he is mine.”

Let’s reflect on the wonder of his love today and keep unhindered connection to his everlasting supply…….

We can rest in his unfailing love: “Now, this is what the Lord says…. you are precious and honoured in my sight and i love you.” (Isaiah 43 v 4)

Love and blessings to you all

David

Friday 15 May 2020

Good morning

The last couple of mornings we have been going through John 4 – the wonderful account of Jesus meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well where he was resting tired, thirsty and hungry on his long journey from Jerusalem back to Galilee. It is a lovely illustration of Jesus’ care and compassion for someone struggling with difficult circumstances and clearly isolated from society, which is why she went to the well in the heat of the day when no-one else was around. What an amazing and life-changing surprise she got!

Most of us also find ourselves in isolated and difficult circumstances and I am reflecting this morning on what Jesus offered her and what he offers each one of us today and every day – ‘living water’. “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4 v 14) This is a wonderful promise, Jesus giving us the water of life to restore and refresh our souls.

Not long after this, when Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles, “he said in a loud voice, if anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 8 v 37). As we put our faith in  Jesus and keep our faith focused on him, so he pours his living water into us, quenching our thirst, restoring our flagging spirits and then, through us, that water can flow to others.

These words Jesus spoke reflect God’s words long before in Isaiah 55 – “Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; Come,….without money and without cost,…listen, listen to me…and your soul will delight…Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you.” (v 1 – 3)

Let us reflect today on the wonderful covenant of love Jesus has made with each one of us……….

Let’s conclude with the words of the psalmist: “O God,…my soul thirsts for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water…Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you, I will praise you as long as i live…Because you are my help, I will sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63 v 1 – 8)

Living water from the everlasting spring in a dry and weary land – praise his name.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Thursday 14 May 2020

Good morning

There is a wonderful clarity about the quality of the light this morning – the details of everything spread out in front of us are etched out, enhancing the beauty before our eyes.

But light not only gives clarity of vision, it also, by its very nature, gives warmth. We certainly need light and warmth in these difficult and uncertain times – warmth gives us comfort and light gives us encouragement – we speak of seeing light at the end of the tunnel and it lifts our spirits.

I find myself reflecting on the light that Jesus brings into our lives as we trust in him. John spoke of Jesus’ coming into the world “the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (John 1 v 9) – Jesus, of course, described himself as “The light of the world” – and follows with: “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8 v 12)

In our current circumstances we need the light of Jesus more and more, to lift our hearts from our situation into the light and warmth of his love. The psalmist reminds us – “the unfolding of your words gives light” (119 v 130) and, as we spend time close to Jesus and reading his word, we soak up the light and warmth that he gives us.

We thought yesterday about our names being engraved on the palms of his hands, and those same hands are always stretched out towards us offering us his light and warmth to buoy us up and enable us to lift our eyes to him, the source of all light and love.

Let us reflect on the wonder of the light and love of our Saviour today………

Well over 50 years ago, when I was a student, I well remember singing that lovely hymn I quoted a few days ago at the end of an evening service and the last verse, not only speaks volumes about Jesus’ light but also draws a commitment from each of us to walk in his light.

“I heard the voice of Jesus say I am this dark world’s light; look unto me, your morn shall rise and all your day be bright. I looked to Jesus and I found, in him my star, my sun;  and in that light of life I’ll walk till travelling days are done.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Good morning

Yesterday a lamb got its head stuck through the mesh in the perimeter fence while it was trying to nibble at some succulent bits and pieces in the hedgerow. It was bleating away but its mother was about 70 yards away with the other twin just grazing unconcernedly! The mother ewe made no attempt to come and investigate. Janet and I had to cut a bit of the hedge away to free it – it wriggled like mad and is now big and sturdy – then it careered off to its mother and had a good feed from her!

I relate this little real-life incident with the lack of concern from the mother because it reminds me of the verses in Isaiah 49……”Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Thought she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49 v 15)

Here is the most wonderful, loving reassurance from the Lord. As individuals we get ourselves into a terrible mess at times, just as this little lamb did yesterday, or indeed, as we are at present, circumstances way beyond our control may plunge us into very difficult circumstances. Family and friends  may desert and ignore us – leave us to our own devices – but the Lord has promised “I will never leave you or forsake you” and we can rely on his everlasting faithfulness.

“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” – what an amazing thought – yours and my names are engraved on the palms of his hands – such love, such care, such compassion – always the same and always there…..

Let’s pause this morning and just dwell on the wonder of that reality………

And my thoughts are also taken to the reassuring words of Jesus – “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10 v 27 & 28) Let us go into this day secure in our Saviour and reassured that we are always in his hands.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Good morning on this crisp, clear day.

One of the great benefits of lockdown is that many of us are going at a much slower pace and, as a result, taking so much more notice of the amazing beauty of nature all around us – pausing to examine the wild flowers, the intricacy of the blossom and the kaleidoscope of colour set out before us. We can indeed “Be still and know that I am God.” Speaking personally, I hope that this time will be a lesson not to cram every moment with activity in the future but to learn to pause and be still.

It is so often in the stillness that God speaks to us – when the noise and rush of our day is not crowding him out as can so easily happen. “Come to me”… Jesus said (Matthew 11 v 28)…”and you will find rest for your souls.” It is almost as if Jesus is saying to us – alone with me you will experience my peace.

But, of course, he also says at the same time, “take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” O, you say, that doesn’t sound so peaceful and restful! But, if we pause and think, taking his yoke will mean that he is bearing our burdens with us so they become much lighter and, as we are yoked with him, we absorb his peace.

I love the way Eugene Petersen paraphrases these verses in ‘The Message’. He puts it this way – “Come to me…I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” – now there’s a thought – let’s reflect on that today………

No wonder the psalmist broke out in praise as he wrote – “Truly my soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him – he alone is my rock” (Psalm 62 v 1).

So many problems, griefs and difficulties surround us in our present circumstances; “Trust in him at all times O people” continues the psalmist (v 8) “pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

I will finish with some words from Horatius Bonar’s wonderful old hymn, inspired by Matthew 11 v 28…

“I heard the voice of Jesus say, come unto me and rest; lay down, you weary one, lay down, your head upon my breast. I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad; I found in him a resting place, and he has made me glad.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Monday 11 May 2020

Good morning on this brisk and beautiful morning.

Those of you who watched Songs of Praise yesterday will have seen Catherine Jenkins singing, “There will be peace in the valley for me one day.” This is an old Gospel Song from the late 1930’s inspired by the words in Isaiah 11 (also repeated in Isaiah 65) describing a scene of unimaginable peace with the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the goat, the calf and the lion lying down together and all of them being led by a little child. (v 6) Peace like this sounds impossible!……

The secret of this is found in its source, which we find at the beginning of chapter 11……

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, from his roots a branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord – and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

This is one of Isaiah’s wonderful prophecies about Jesus. We see here the workings of his Spirit, which he promised to each of us who trusts in him to live within us to be our Counsellor, “teaching us all things and reminding us of everything Jesus has said.” (John 14 v 26) And the result is peace (v 27) – the peace of Jesus, “which passes all understanding.”

And Isaiah comes to the same conclusion – the wonderful peace, which he has depicted, comes about because “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.” (11 v 9) So, filled with his Spirit, we experience his peace.

Let us reflect on the peace of Jesus throughout today…….

May his peace reflect in our lives today. We pray in the words of the last chapter of Hebrews (13 v 20):  “May the God of peace….. equip us with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Sunday 10 May 2020

Good morning

As I know some others of you will have done, we were reading Psalm 136 earlier this morning. This unique Psalm repeats the same phrase 26 times: “His love endures for ever” – expressed in other versions as “His faithful or unfailing love” or in the Amplified version as “His mercy and loving kindness” – all wonderful words expressing the warmth, security and comfort of God’s love for us – expressed repeatedly throughout the Psalms – such special reassurance for us as we go through the present uncertain circumstances.

In Jesus we see and find and experience the supreme expression of unfailing love – love personified – Jesus, who is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being,” (Hebrews 1 v 3) – Jesus, who said to Philip, “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14 v 9) –  Jesus, who said, “Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15 v 13) In this Easter season, we reflect with thankful hearts on his great sacrifice for each one of us on the Cross at Calvary.

Let’s have a few moments of reflection and thanksgiving……

The words from parts of two songs spring to my mind:

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; no merit of my own I claim, but wholly trust in Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

and the lovely refrain to Stuart Townsend’s version of Psalm 23:

“And I will trust in you alone, and I will trust in you alone, for your endless mercy follows me, your goodness will lead me home.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Saturday 9 May 2020

Good morning – what a glorious morning!

The beauty of God’s creation is spread out in front of our eyes. More and more wild flowers are appearing  and the bird song is increasing as more of the summer visitors arrive and add their voices to the symphony with which we are blessed. As we have reflected before, nature is unchanged because of the wonderful changelessness of our Heavenly Father. We join with the psalmist when he says: “Glorify the Lord with me, with me exalt his name.” (Psalm 34 v 3)

Everything of which we have spoken is the work of his hands. Earlier this morning we were reading what John says in the first chapter of his gospel about Jesus: “He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1 v 2 – 5 New Living Translation)

We are in “dark” times but we can rejoice that the light of Jesus and his love shines through our dark times and can never be put out. What we see in his creation reminds us of the wonder of his love and the beauty of his peace, which he offers to us throughout every day. Thus we are able to rest in him, certain of his faithfulness and security.

And we are presented with a challenge as we reflect on these thoughts. The light of Jesus is to shine through our lives so that the beauty of his love and peace flows out to others. “Those who look to the Lord are radiant”, says the psalmist (34 v 5), and we are called to radiate the love of Jesus so that his light can shine all the more brightly in the darkness. But radiance also embodies warmth and comfort – and we can be those who bring warmth and comfort to others.

Let us reflect on that and carry that challenge into this day……

As a prayer, Let’s finish with the words of a hymn we sometimes sing:

“Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me; all his wondrous compassion and purity: O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine, till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Friday 8 May 2020

Good morning

Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day. This day was planned a very long time ago – I know that from a planning meeting we had in school well over a year ago – and, of course, it was planned long before that. Many celebrations were planned but no-one could have imagined that they would not be able to take place because our circumstances have radically changed – life is completely different.

This makes me reflect on the potential changeability of our lives and focus on the things on which we can rely. An old hymn comes to my mind, the chorus of which is: “But, I know whom I have believed; and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him until that day.”

The inspiration for this hymn comes from Paul’s second letter to Timothy (1 v 12). This is Paul’s last ever letter – he is in prison awaiting his execution and he writes to his “son in the faith”, Timothy, who had accompanied him throughout most of his missionary journeys. Everything had changed for Paul – he been re-imprisoned, tried and sentenced to death and yet he rises above all his dreadful circumstances with the words of that chorus above.

Paul rests on the changeless grace of God, as he says earlier in that chapter; “God, who has called us and saved us…not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” So, Paul continues to Timothy, “guard your faith” (v14) and “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 v 1)

Let us rejoice today in the certainty we have in Jesus, “who has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (1 v 10)

The last verse of our hymn says:

“I know not what of good or ill may be reserved for me – of weary ways or golden days before his face I see…….But, I know whom I have believed.”

Let us lift our hearts in thanks and praise today……..

Love and blessings to you all

David

Thursday 7 May 2020

Good morning

My thoughts today are centred on Psalm 143.

As we are travelling through this time of great restrictions, anxiety and difficulty, this psalm is as relevant today as it was when David wrote it at a time when he was experiencing great traumas and afflictions both physically and spiritually.

David expresses his distress to the Lord very clearly – he is being “pursued and crushed” so that “his spirit grows faint within him.” (v 3) So he simply and honestly cries out to the Lord – “hear my prayer, listen to my cry.” (v 1) We can all too easily slip into this “crushed” frame of mind in difficult circumstances if we focus on the problems.

But then he “meditates on all God’s works and all that God’s hands have done.” (v 5) Here is how each one of us can rise above our distressing feelings as we lift our eyes to Jesus and to what he has done for us and set our focus above and beyond our circumstances. As he focuses on the Lord, he says “let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you.” (v 8) His change of focus had enabled him to embrace and enjoy the wonder of God’s love for each of us – and the certainty that he is always with us, no matter what – his recurrent promise to us throughout scripture.

Let us reflect on that for a few moments…..

So in this Psalm we see honest prayer – ‘I’m at the end of my tether’ – a turning to God’s word that brings about a different focus – and then there’s a challenge – something for us to get on with…..

“Show me the way I should go,” says David, “teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me….” (v 8b & 10).

Jesus has told us his will, given us his command – “love one another” – let’s go out into this day with our focus on him to do his will – may his Spirit lead us to be channels of his love to others.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Good morning – what a glorious day!

Maybe just such a beautiful morning inspired the psalmist – “in the morning I will sing of your love;  for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my strength, I sing praise to you; for you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.” (Psalm 59 v 16 & 17)

We certainly find ourselves “in times of troubles” and scripture reassures us that the Lord is our “fortress – our loving God”, whose love reaches out to us at all times, whether those times are good or troublesome. The words of a hymn reflect the same thought; “Safe in the shadow of the Lord, beneath his hand and power, I trust in him, I trust in him, my fortress and my tower.”

Imagine a fortress it’s like a sheepfold for the sheep. In those days, and indeed still is in many rural and mountainous areas of this country today, sheepfolds were walled stone structures with one narrow entrance so the sheep were completely safe inside the fold. The shepherd would sleep across the narrow entrance forming the gate, just as Jesus describes himself in John 10 v 7.

“My sheep listen to my voice;” (says Jesus in John 10 v 17) “I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No-one can snatch them out of my hand.” Jesus is our ‘rock-solid’ certainty and security what ever troubles may come upon us.

We may have all sorts of doubts, anxieties and fears – we might like ‘proof’ of various things, just as many did in his day, but Jesus just reaches out to each of us in love, grace and mercy and says “trust in me.”

Let us go through today trusting in his great love and resting in his outstretched arms of love…….

Love and blessings to you all

David

Tuesday 5 May 2020

We have reflected in recent days on the vastness of God’s love for us – in the words of the old hymn, it  is “vast, unmeasured, boundless, free” – and we heard John’s words, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us.” (1 John 3 v 1) That word “lavished” is so full of meaning – painting a verbal picture of an overwhelming and abundant outpouring. And this love is to flow into us and out through us in the power of his Spirit.

This morning my thoughts went to the psalmist’s words in Psalm 89 v 1 – “I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare your love stands for ever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”

Here we see a heart full of praise and thankfulness – a heart that is enabled to rise above the difficulties and problems because it focuses on Jesus and his love. In the light of his love, surrounding each one of us for ever, other issues and burdens are lifted just as Jesus promised – “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11 v 28)

I was also reminded of a lovely song, which we have sung a number of times in Chapel over the years:

“My Heart will sing to you because of Your great love
A love so rich so pure a love beyond compare
The wilderness, the barren place, become a blessing in the warmth of Your embrace.

When earthly wisdom dims the light of knowing You
Or if my search for understanding clouds your way
To you I’ll fly, my hiding place, where revelation is beholding face to face

May my heart sing your praise for ever,
May my voice lift Your name my God
May my soul know no other treasure, than Your love, than Your love.”

As we reflect on his great love for us, may our hearts sing throughout this day as we rest secure in him.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Monday 4 May 2020

Yesterday we were reflecting on the certainty of God’s word. It made me reflect on how we can be slow to believe at times because we are always wanting ‘proof’.

It takes my mind back to the two travellers on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. We don’t know exactly who they both were – one was called Cleopas – but they clearly were some of “all the others” mentioned in verse 9.

They had not believed the women (v 11), who had reported (a) that the body of Jesus was not there and (b) that they had been told by the angels that Jesus had risen. All they could say was “some of our women amazed us” (v 22). So, “some of our companions” (v 24 – the men!) went to check – to get ‘proof’. But “Him they did not see” (v 24). Of course not – God had already sent his announcement from the angels carried by the women. But they would not believe. Too often, we are like this – not surprising the Jesus describes them in verse 25 as “slow of heart to believe.”

Then Jesus teaches the two travellers from scripture. This is one of the great examples to us of how and where will be taught by Jesus through his Spirit – as we read his word. Pictures we have considered in past weeks have illustrated this for us – the “tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1) – the branch in John 15 – “no branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” (v 4)

No matter what the circumstances are around us, God will build us up and encourage us as we read his word and spend time in his presence listening to his voice.

Let us reflect on that as we go through today…..

“Moses said to the Lord….Teach me your ways that I may know you…..and the Lord replied, My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33 v 12 – 14)  Now there’s a promise we can hold onto through every day.

Love and blessings to you all

David

Sunday 3 May 2020

Good morning

During one of my conversations out in the village yesterday, I could perceive a real sense of fear in the words that I was hearing. This is absolutely natural in the circumstances that we are experiencing – we are all so prone to fear and anxiety.

A verse popped into my mind, (in the King James Version, as it often does!) “What time I am afraid, i will trust in thee.”

This is from Psalm 56. David wrote this when he was in very dire and difficult circumstances, having been captured by the Philistines as he fled from King Saul, who was trying to kill him. So he wrote: “When I am afraid,I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.” (v 3) He repeats these thoughts in v 10, “in God whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise – in God I trust; I will not be afraid.”

When there is repetition in scripture in  this way, it is to emphasise something to us – here we are being reassured about the the rock-solid certainty of God’s word. All through the Bible the words ‘fear not’, ‘don’t be afraid’, ‘do not be dismayed’ and like-meaning phrases appear again and again. We have a steadfast Rock, Redeemer and Saviour, who is always with us.

Let’s reflect on that throughout this day……..

Paul writes to the Romans – (beautifully captured in the New Living Translation); “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t and life can’t…..Our fears  for today, or our worries about tomorrow….nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Love and blessings to you all

David

Saturday 2 May 2020

There is a lamb just outside my window, stretched out on its side fast asleep, absolutely luxuriating in the warmth and radiance of the morning sunshine – a lovely peaceful, heart-warming scene – soaking up the warmth God’s sunshine. There was an old Victorian hymn, ‘The sunshine of God’s love’, the chorus of which went: “Always live in the sunshine, Gleaming from heaven above; The blessed glorious sunshine, Of your Redeemer’s love.”

It is a reminder of what we were reflecting on yesterday as we recalled Paul’s prayer that we would grasp and understand the ‘enormity’ of the love of Christ.

My thoughts turn to those lovely words in 1 John 3 v 1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” The amazing love of our Heavenly Father!

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

But love is not static – it is meant to flow – we soak up the sunshine of God’s love and He wants it to flow on through us to others. This flow is clearly illustrated by Paul in Romans 5 v 5: “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” “Poured out” – there is the flow – but this phrase not only illustrates fluid movement, it also embraces abundance – an outpouring!

So, as we rejoice and ‘luxuriate’ in the wonder of the amazing love of Jesus, it also ‘nudges’ us with the challenge that we are called to be channels through which the outpouring of his love into our lives will flow out to others who we meet day by day.

Let’s carry that thought with us through today……

Love and blessings to you all

David

Friday 1 May 2020

I am just watching a swallow as it swoops and skims low over the surface of the field opposite gathering its breakfast. It reminds me that in Jeremiah we read: “The Lord says…..Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration.” (Jeremiah 8 v 7)  This is the earliest known reference to bird migration in the literature of the world. Another wonderful reminder of the wonders of God’s word and the absolute changelessness of our Heavenly Father.

When all around us is changing all the time, it is imperative that we hold on to what we know is absolutely certain – the love and faithfulness of God.

We were reading earlier those verses in Ephesians 4, reminding us that we can so easily be tossed to and fro by outside influences but we need to be “holding to the truth in love becoming more and more in every way like Christ.” (v 15 New Living Translation) Our connection to Jesus, as the vine, or the trunk of the tree, of which we are the branches, is all that matters. Hence Paul prays in Ephesians 3 v 17 that we may be “rooted and established in love and….grasp the ‘vastness’ (paraphrase) of the love of Christ.” Then we can face all circumstances in the security of his love for us through every day.

This was David’s experience as he fled for his life from King Saul in the desert of Judah: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live…..because you are my help, I will sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63 v 3, 4 , 7 & 8)

Let us reflect on that today and rest in God’s love……..

Love and blessings to you all

David