Daily devotions

Even though services at the West Church have been resumed a series of short texts will still be provided to help with meditation and strengthen faith.

Wednesday 12th May 2021

Psalm 119:105 NIV

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.

What is the first thing we look for when we are planning a road trip? Well I know that I look for my faithful route map book. As I do not have a gismo that tells me the way, as I drive from my home to my chosen destination. I have to plan well ahead to ensure I reach the place I want to go to. Not just me of course we all need to do the same. We also have to look out for the road signs which help to keep us on the right road. Just like when we are travelling along life’s path we have the Bible; God’s word; to read to assist us to plan ahead to reach the destination of our Christian life.  Which we all want to reach to see our Heavenly Father face to face. In the reading for today’s devotion, we are told that God’s word is a lamp for the feet and a light for the path.  When we use the lamps that God provides they are just like the road signs we look for on our travels.  We choose which way to go but if we follow God’s lamps and read our bibles we will most certainly choose the Christian path and be a light to guide others along the way and love one another as God loves us. God knows us from beginning to end of our lives and he will guide our feet along life’s path

Loving Lord, we thank you that you know us and lead us every day along our life’s journey, help us to remain on the Christian path so we may walk alongside you in everything we do.

 

Tuesday 11th May 2021

Psalm 1:4 “Not so the wicked!

                     They are like chaff

                     that the wind blows away.”

Matthew 3:12 “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

 

Chaff is the outside layer of wheat grains which is considered worthless for making flour and bread. In days of yore winnowing with a fork meant laboriously throwing the wheat in the air to allow the chaff to blow away. Later farmers used chaff blowers to do the same job with less effort. Now the chaff blower is built into a combine harvester making the winnowing process virtually effortless.

In Jesus’s day and indeed in many poor rural areas today winnowing was a common activity. It is easy to understand why biblical authors used it as an analogy for the separation of the faithful and the faithless. The words in Matthew 3:12 are spoken by John the Baptist and were a warning to those around, and particularly to the sceptical Pharisees to be prepared for judgement by God.

Is our faith like chaff? Are we close to the good grain but are easily blown away?  We need to be with God not to be distracted by the worthlessness of ungodly pursuits. 

 

Friday 06 May 2021

Ps.25,5: “You are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.”

1Jn.5,15: “We know that he hears us.”

The story of God with mankind as told in Scripture by Himself helps us to understand our own story. One of the bright truths shining out of it is put well by one of our own story tellers, Selma Lagerlof. It is this that ‘The power of God to help is so great there is always a way and a means for him to help you.’

Thursday 06 May 2021

Ps.145,15-16: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”

Lk.12,22-24: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have not storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

We are accustomed to see nature in ways that make us largely blind to the providential care and compassion of the Creator to whom for its life it looks, because it depends on his giving. This feeds into the already existing inclination to satisfy one’s natural needs and desires by nature and to let nature define and delimit these desires and needs.
Despite protestations to the contrary, believers in practice often go about satisfying their natural needs and desires as if there was no God who values them greatly – more than birds whose dependence on God is exemplary! – and knows that they need these things (Mt.6,32). Worry and undue concern are the result, and so is the lack of prayerful trust and the knowledge of that life which is more than food.
Help is found in seeking the kingdom of God – which is found in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

Tuesday 4th May 2021

Isaiah 3:10, 11 “Tell the righteous it will be well with them,

                         for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.

                         Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them!

                         They will be paid back for what their hands have done.

 

Isaiah 1:17        “learn to do right!

                          Seek justice,

                          encourage the oppressed.

                          Defend the cause of the fatherless,

                           plead the case of the widow.”

 

Micah 6:8          “He has showed you, O man, what is good.

                          And what does the Lord require of you?

                         To act justly and to love mercy

                         and to walk humbly with your God.”

 

‘It’s not fair!’, ‘Justice must be done.’  

Isaiah and Micah were contemporaries around 700 BC at which time ‘Israel’ referred to two kingdoms. Israel in the north and Judea in the south.  At the time of these prophets the people of both kingdoms were reverting to idolatry, immorality and unjust behaviour all of which was making God angry. The prophets berate the people of all Israel and warn of destruction at the hands of their enemies the Assyrians.

It is easy to slip into unjust thoughts and actions.  It is easy to be lukewarm in our belief.  It is easy to allow pleasurable sinfulness to take over.  The message form Isaiah and Micah can be summed up as ‘Watch out! Your lifestyle is under threat but repentance, following God’s ways and walking humbly with him is on offer to those who turn to Him.’

 

Friday 30 April 2021

Is.9,7: “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.”

Acts 10,36: “God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”

This prediction points to Jesus in whom it finds its fulfilment. So the angel Gabriel announced to Mary: “The Lord God will give him [Mary’s son] the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.” (Lk.1,33)
His government does not exalt the human will over against another, it is not about the power of having his own way. His government is the doing of the Father’s will, its character and nature is obedience to the will of God. Neither sin nor death nor devil could impose their will on him who obeyed the Father’s will. And so not fear ruled, but love, not injustice, but justice, not death, but life. As in him the government of sin and death and devil was broken, so for anyone who belongs to him by faith.

Peace of the kind found in Jesus is gained where the enemy overcome is not one without, but the enemy within of the sinner towards God. Where that is overcome, I go in peace. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom.5,8)

 

Thursday 29 April 2021

Ex.32,11.12: “Moses sought the favour of the LORD his God. ‘Lord’, he said, ‘… turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.’”

1Jn.2,1: “But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

Moses stood in before God for the people of Israel who had fashioned a golden calf and said, ‘This is your god, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ In his mediation for them Moses acknowledges and asserts what Israel had denied and cast aside, had ascribed to a creation of their own making – who God is, his being the LORD, their God.
God’s fierce anger at Israel’s violation of the 1st commandment makes clear what Israel’s choice truly meant (and what all idolatry truly means!): To live at cross-purposes with the way that leads to life and freedom.
Moses’ mediation for Israel worked because in seeking God’s favour he acknowledged who God was. In doing so he was a type of the true mediator of God through whose mediation the people would not just be spared, but would be changed – from living at cross-purposes with God to knowing Him.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” (1Tim.2,5)

 

Wednesday 28th April 2021

John 158-9 “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

 

How do we know how to give God the worship and love he deserves to have? The best way forward to manage this is, to be aware of your God given gifts, and then by using them to help others. We know that by doing for others we are pleasing God therefore; we are worshipping him just by using our gifts in any way we can. This also makes our love for God a church without walls, because we are using our different gifts not just on a Sunday in church but as we go about our daily lives and in our daily prayers. Our God created us all different but this is good as we can bring so much to the world around us. It does not need to “holy” the work done, just making a humble cup of tea for someone on their own can have a huge impact on that individual’s day. We often do not know the seeds that we have sown but if we do what we do in the power of the Holy Spirit then we will know that we are giving our Lord and God the honour and the glory deserved.  This we do in thanks for the gifts we have been given but also for his everlasting love to us keeping us safe in his loving care.  Enjoy the gifts we are given but enjoy them even more by sharing them with all who will be the better for receiving them. Our father in Heaven will be well pleased.

Heavenly Father, help me to live my life as to honour You. Help me to glorify Your name and to carry out the work that You have prepared for me to do. To Your praise and glory. Amen

 

Tuesday 27th April 2021

Judges 12:1 “The men of Ephraim called out their forces, crossed over to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, ‘Why did you go to fight the Ammonites without calling us to go with you? We’re going to burn down your house over your head.’”

John 2:15 “So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.”

Proverbs 12:16 “A fool shows his annoyance at once,

                                But a prudent man overlooks an insult”

2 Corinthians 11:19 (KJV) “For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.”

 

“That pay offer is insulting.” Show the cold shoulder. Cock-a-snook.

Why is it people bridle, feel insulted or take offence often over trivial matters?  From heads of nations to the next door neighbour the calculated snub is all too common.

Jephthah was a leader of the Israelites and very successful in battle. He had a reputation for ‘jawing’ rather than ‘waring’ but he upset by, allegedly not consulting Ephraim before waging war against the Ammonites. Jephthah became angry with Ephraim’s insults and ordered his army to kill large numbers of Ephraimites.

Jesus, too loses his cool with the merchants in the temple and sets about them with a whip because he felt his father, God, was being insulted by their behaviour.

These violent examples should not lead us to think physical or verbal retribution following an insult is acceptable. Far from it. Calm reasoning about, or even ignoring an insult will be pleasing to God. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians and the writer in Proverbs sum it up perfectly.

 

Friday 23 April 2021

Is.7,4: “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart.”

1Cor.16,13: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

Every so often in our faith we realise that we have lacked courage, that we have not been strong in adversity, that we have let forceful voices and opinions cause us to lose heart and stray from a recognised truth or from a path we know to be right.
That can be a time of sorrow. But then we must let it be an opportunity of learning. The many examples of men and women who acted faithfully and hopefully with great calm and courage point us not to psychology but to the Word of God and to prayer which by being made use of nourish and strengthen faith, assure us of grace and enable us to grow.

A German author in his memoirs of WWII wrote about a person who in the midst of a bomb attack would get up from where people were sheltering and calmly do the right thing even at the risk of injury and death. “You could be sure,” he wrote, “that this was a praying person.”

By Word and prayer, especially in trying times, we learn God’s en-couragement.

 

Thursday 22 April 2021

Ps.34,5: “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

Rom.12,12: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Who are “those who look to the Lord” but they who are weak, helpless, “poor in spirit” (Mt.5,3), who tremble at God’s word and see little reason to boast about their own strength and understanding, who know of the deceitfulness of sin?
For why otherwise would they acknowledge Jesus, who in weakness died on a cross and was raised from the dead, as “Lord and Saviour”? For what in themselves they take pride in does not turn their eyes and heart to him, nor the ways and desires of their own will, but only sorrow over their sinfulness and need for God’s mercy.
In this self-conscious need of God’s mercy found in Jesus Christ, they are radiant in that God’s blessing rests on them – help is promised. May others laugh at such confidence (often sustained under tears and struggles!), what does it matter? God owns it. To Him is honour what to the world is shame.

 

Tuesday 20th April 2021

Genesis 46: 3, 4 “’I am God, the God of your father’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.’”

Exodus 1: 15, 16 “The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, ‘When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.’”

Psalm 18: 30 “As for God, his way is perfect;

                          The word of the Lord is flawless.

                          He is a shield

                          For all who take refuge in him.”

 

“Take courage”, “believe in yourself”, “have the courage of your convictions”.  These every day phrases evoke thoughts of coping in the face of difficulties which sometime seem overwhelming.

Many of us will have seen the musical ‘Joseph and his technicolour dream coat’. What fortitude he must have summoned up to survive being thrown in a well, sold to travelling merchants, made a slave and, falsely accused, thrown in jail.

Jacob, Joseph’s father, on hearing that his son was still alive courageously travelled with his extensive family to Egypt where they are all enslaved for 400 years.  A paranoid Pharaoh demanded that the Hebrew midwives kill all male offspring of Hebrew women.  What courage they must have had to cleverly get round the order.

The current pandemic presents us with a significant challenge to our ability to cope.  What sustained the Israelites in their adversity? Faith in God. The psalmist sums it up well. “He is a shield, for all who take refuge in him”.

 

Wednesday 14th April 2021

Galatians 6:10 (NIV)

 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” 

Are we all looking forward to when we can join together for tea and coffee and fellowship after the service again?  The reason I ask this question is, do you look out for anyone who is new or someone who might be on their own? Sometimes it is a good time to ask if, who you are speaking to is ok, or needing help in any way. Are we alert to the people around us either in church or wherever we are in and around our community?  We know that it can be difficult to approach someone if you actually notice or find out they are in need. Basically because we do not wish to offend and upset the person. Maybe they do not like to accept help but we won’t know unless we are brave enough to approach them to give the help in God’s name.  for all we know they may be praying to be helped and if we are in the position to help then we might just be getting nudged to do just that. We have to be aware that God will give the means to us to work in his precious name, therefore we cannot stand back we are his hands and his feet. And he has given us the power by the Holy Spirit in which to use our hands and our words of encouragement to help those who are in need.

In Galatians 6:10, the Apostle Paul encourages  the church in Galatia and the church today: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Even if it is ourselves in need God will provide, as we know he will be there walking beside us along the path of life and carrying us through when we are bowed down in fear and trepidation in worldly worries. He will love us even more when we ask and also give out to others his love and protection to our friends in need. God will seek out the needy. Let us be seekers to help others when we can.

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us individually.  And as we are part of Your much larger family. Help us to love others as You love them. Open our eyes and hearts to see the needs around us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.