Daily devotions

During this time of services at the West Church being suspended a series of short texts will be provided by Rev John Vischer to help with meditation and strengthen faith.

Monday 30 March 2020

Jer.8, 4: “When men fall, do they not rise again? If one turns away, does he not return?”

Jn.6, 37: Jesus says: “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

What would you say if you saw someone stumble and fall to the ground, yet take no measure to get back on his feet, continuing instead to crawl on all four as if that were the norm? You would think that something is seriously wrong.

Actually, we can’t imagine that any person of sane mind would behave in such a way. Quite! Yet that is what God sees as He looks on His crowning creation – mankind. It presents to Him this very thing.

And we can see it too when we consider the humanity of Jesus Christ – the person and his words and his works: utterly glorious, upright, good and true, unaffected and genuine, and when we consider not only how far short we fall of this humanity but that we reject it for the sake of what we regard and want to be the norm. Is he not what man should be, could be, once was but now, due to sin, does not want to be?

When we come to Jesus Christ it is not just to learn what we should be and aren’t, still less to decide to improve on ourselves, but to be redeemed – helped up to walk, see and speak as one does how is upright. 

Saturday 28 March 2020

Ps.147, 11: “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”

Mk.3, 35: Jesus says: “Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

Whoever fears God can no longer believe that our human potential depends on doing our own will but has realised that it depends on doing His, willingly and freely. That is why the Bible says wisdom begins with the fear of God. It is also why the world’s mind has a serious problem with the fear of God and takes less than no pleasure in those that have it.

Not by having our will and securing our wishes do we become fully and truly human, do we become what we’re meant to be and deep down want to be (reach life’s potential that is ‘happiness’), but by doing the will of God.

And such do we become as we hope in God’s steadfast love – by belonging to Jesus Christ.

Friday 27 March 2020

Jer.17, 9-10: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

1Jn.3, 19-20: “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”

The thing about God’s word is that it gives it to us straight, that it aims at what is crucial and always accurately hits the target. Here it does the absolutely vital thing of going beyond the fact that something is not right about this and that in one’s circumstances to the central fact that something is not right with us. That we are desperately sick, that we all suffer from heart disease.

Do we truly know what is really going on in our heart? Of all objects of knowledge and understanding, is not the least known and understood one’s own heart, namely how it is in a state of profound sickness?

What is this sickness? It is that it hides from itself the fact that it does not, nor can, will what is good, i.e. that it does not, nor can, love God with all its strength. Its deceitfulness lies in the ways in which it hides or covers up our self-love and the bending of God’s will towards our own.

But God searches the heart and knows it fully even as we don’t. And judges it, as he must; he “tests the mind to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his ways.”

In Christ this judgment has been carried out. As we put our trust in him, as we believe in his name and do what he has commanded us, whenever we’re made to realise this deceitfulness of our heart we must stand on this: Christ has died to make us free, God’s grace is greater than our heart.

Thursday 26 March 2020

Ps.38, 18: “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.”

2Cor.7, 10: “Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regrets.”

What the Bible calls worldly grief is one that most would consider the only real one – sorrow over becoming separated from the things in this world that we enjoy. As we are all too aware life is at risk and in danger from many things that cause worldly grief.

Godly grief, as opposed to worldly grief, is known only where it is realised that the far greater and indeed the most serious threat to life is not war or pestilence or economic meltdown etc., but sin. Godly grief arises over the recognition of sin. It cannot be detected under any microscope but there is a test by which its presence is uncovered – the application of the laws which express God’s holiness and are most clearly displayed in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ.

The threat sin poses is that it robs us of the presence of God and delivers us over to the power of death. To grieve over it is a hopeful thing because it “produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret”.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1Jn.1, 9) Because the threat of sin is so serious let us rejoice in the gift of the forgiveness of sins which we receive through faith in Jesus, for it is our healing and our restoration to God.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Is.29, 16: “You turn things upside-down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?”

1Pt.5, 5: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another.”

A very strange scene indeed is being played out here (Is.29, 16), strange because those involved are oblivious of the fact that what they are doing is utterly absurd. But while it may be strange, nonetheless it is also very commonplace. The play is this: It’s about God being pulled before the forum of man’s reason and indicted – charged with malpractice and culpable neglect.

The absurdity of this becomes visible only through the revelation of God’s perspective: “How you turn things upside down!”

Does this divine charge hit home with us? Are we tempted in our present circumstances to think of God in such terms? If so what we are doing is we turn things upside down and what we ought to be doing is stop and think again! Can we maintain that we are God and are like him? Can we maintain that he is like us and so like others subject to what we make of him? Can we maintain that the thoughts by which we make of God what we will are of the same order as God’s word by which we were made? Can the formed clay deny that it received its form from the hands of the potter?

Let the absurdity of it serve to remind us that not we but God is judge and that we must not judge where we have nothing to judge, rather that we clothe ourselves, all of us, with humility. Let it clear our vision of the terms by which God has declared himself to be our faithful Saviour.  

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Ps.145, 17: “The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.”

Col.1, 9: “From the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

How are all of God’s ways righteous?   In the sense that it is by walking in them that we reach our goal and by flouting them that we turn from it. They are righteous also in the sense that they make our own ways become more righteous.

How are all of God’s works kind? In the sense that they are beneficial to us both directly (doing good) and indirectly (defeating evil). They are kind also in the sense that by them our own works are helped to become kinder.

Wisdom and understanding are exceedingly precious and the thing we must realise above all else is that they depend for their truth on God’s ways and works. And they are most clearly seen in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Therefore, even in the midst of many a pressing need what is needful is that we learn him, who he is and what we have in him, and make use of it.

Pray we all be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”