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.

Tuesday 22nd June 2021

Genesis 2: 29, 30  “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”

Psalm 8: 6-8 “You made him ruler over the works of your hands;

                             you put everything under his feet:

                          all the flocks and herds,

                             and the beasts of the field,

                          the birds of the air,

                             and the fish of the sea,

         all that swim the paths of the seas.”

 

The planet Earth is an amazing creation. We may have different views on how it was created but assuredly it is a work of genius. The complexities and subtleties of its structure, fauna and flora astound us every day. Its ability to provide us with warmth, food and air to breathe seems miraculous.

In Genesis God says I have provided all that is necessary for you to live, prosper and multiply. Now get on with it and look after it. The Psalmist recognises that man is the ruler of God’s providence but with this power comes responsibility. Man needs to look after what he has been given and increasingly he has become irresponsible. Pollution, overconsumption, bad husbandry and inequality of access to food and water have resulted in the earth’s resources being unsustainably depleted.

We are on track to destroy God’s wonderful creation unless we act responsibly, live sustainably and in harmony with one another so that we can read the words of Genesis 1: 31(part) “God saw all that he had made, and it was good.” and know that it is so. 

 

Friday 18 June 2021

Ps.60,11: “Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.”

2Thess.3,3: “The Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

‘So long as sight and reason find footing in matters, there is no place for faith and hope; the abundance of human helps puts not grace to proof, but the strength of faith is in the absence of them all. A man is stronger when he goes on his feet alone, than when he stands by a grip in his infancy, or leans on a staff in his old age: the two feet of faith and hope serve us best when we are fixed on the Rock of Zion alone.’
                                                                                - William Struther

 

Thursday 17th June 2021

Deut.28,12: “The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.”

1Pt.2,3: “Now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

It is good to be reminded to acknowledge with grateful hearts that behind the ways in which pour needs are satisfied, that behind success and prosperity, lies the giving and blessing hand of God.
Our own patient, determined and hard work – which we are mandated with – does not undo but prove the truth expressed in 1Cor.4,7: “What do you have that you did not receive?”
The danger, however, is that of putting the cart before the horse by making prosperity etc. the goal and God the means. Success and prosperity are not to come first on the list of things to seek when God is the giver. Jesus: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt.6,33)

 

Wednesday 16th June 2021

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father.” Ephesians 3:14

What is the first thing you do when you think about praying to God?  We know that we can pray at any time and we are so lucky to have the freedom to do that. I tend to start by getting all my requests in for my family and friends and the community, but I must remember that I cannot tell our Heavenly Father what to do, he does not ask us to do that, but we can make requests and that is exactly what we must do.  It is what makes our Father in Heaven glad, as when we come to God in prayer, he hears us and is indeed happy that we have opened up to him. Prayer is very much a two - way system yes we can do a lot of talking, but it is also very important to take time also to listen. Just stop and listen to hear God speaking to you through the Holy Spirit. We may not get the answers to our requests right away but God will answer when the time is right for the requests to be granted. We can pray and give thanks in all the times of our lives whether good or bad, God walks with us and if necessary carry us until we are well once more. All we need to do is speak to God he will hear you and be happy to have heard your conversations with him.

Loving Lord help us to take time to hear you speak to us through your Holy Spirit. Thank you that you are our best friend that we can turn to at any time, we bless and praise your Holy name. Amen.

 

Tuesday 15th June 2021

Psalm 9: 1,2 “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;

                                I will tell of all your wonders.

                          I will be glad and rejoice in you;

                                I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”

2 Chronicles 5: 13(part) “The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord,…”

Acts 16: 25 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and other prisoners were listening to them.”

 

Praise ye the Lord!  Hallelujah!  In these fraught times how we miss singing hymns of praise to God. Mumbling behind a mask isn’t the same. It’s praise on mute.

The wholehearted joy of the psalmist in praise of God stands out and what a spectacle it must have been in Jerusalem when the Ark of the Covenant was finally placed in Solomon’s magnificent temple in about 959 BC. The event was not only a celebration of the building but a thanksgiving to God for his bringing the people of Israel to the Promised Land. They knew who they needed to praise and thank for their good fortune.

In much less happy circumstances Paul and Silas locked up and chained in prison in Philippi praised God by praying and singing hymns.  In a dramatic manner their faith resulted in their release to allow them to continue, in spite of threats, to preach the Word of God.  We don’t have to rush around blowing trumpets, clashing cymbals or shouting but we should count our blessings daily and thank and praise God for them.

 

Friday 11th June 2021

Is.33,22: “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.”

Lk.9,20: “Jesus asked his disciples, ‘But what about you? Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘God’s Messiah.’”

‘To the lost Jesus comes as the way, to those in error as the truth, to the dead as the life, to the blind as the light, to the sick as the one who heals, to the mourning as the comforter, to the condemned as the liberator, to the deceived as the counsellor, to the despairing as the rescuer.’
(after Thomas à Kempis)

 

Thursday 10th June 2021

Ps.119,10: “I seek you will all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.”

1Jn.5,3: “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands, and his commands are not burdensome.”

When God sends us in search for him, we realise that our whole being thirsts for him. Indeed, the way of happiness is to seek the Lord with all of one’s heart.
The writer of Ps.119 knows that for such seeking to be sincere, as it must be, it cannot be carried out on a path which bypasses the will of God in favour of goals that are self-serving in nature. The path in which God must be sought is laid out by his commands. But through our desires we are caused to stray from this path. Necessary therefore is the prayer: “do not let me stray from your commands.” And necessary also is the knowledge of the way in which God puts our heart in the way of his commands – by the forgiveness of sins through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2,21)

 

Wednesday 9th June 2021

Mark 12:42-44 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on."

How would you feel knowing that Jesus was watching how much our offerings were each week?  Would knowing this make you put more money in?  We can of course put nice big fat cheques in to boost the coffers.  In today’s world some people like to make it known that they have personally made a huge donation to whatever cause they might be involved in. While it is good for the cause the question is do they donate for the right reasons or is it to be seen to be giving the large donations therefore, taking the praise for themselves. Maybe there are some today that do this in church.

The answer is not how much money we put in but in the depth of feeling in our hearts for our Lord. That is what Jesus was looking at the offerings that particular day. The wealthy can give and did give but it was easy for them to give their offerings, but the widow who had only two small coins to her name yet gave them to the “church” she gave from the depths of her heart for her love of her Lord. And it also showed she had a deep faith that her Lord would provide for her. Jesus called the disciples to him to point out that this widow had given much, much more than all the others as it had come from her heart and her faith in God, knowing he would give her what she needed. There are times when we today might not have much to give but if it is given from a deep love and faith in Christ, then Christ will be more than happy with the gift you give. This devotion is just to let the Holy Spirit enter deep into your heart and to take time to pray for a deep and loving heart for Jesus.

Dear God, we abound in hope by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Fill us with all joy and peace as we believe in You. Holy Spirit, empower our lives to produce Your fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control Amen.

 

Tuesday 8th June 2021

Genesis 33:11 “’Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.’ And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.”

Matthew 2:11 “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh”

Do you like giving or receiving gifts? What are your motives for giving a gift?  Are you gifted? Freebies are often welcome because it is something for nothing but usually we give gifts for deeper reasons. Guilt, compassion, sympathy and love are the ‘nice’ ones. Gifting for favour, to seek attention or for bribery are not.

Jacob had had to flee from his brother, Esau’s wrath when he had deceitfully taken Esau’s birthright. Now a day of reckoning was at hand as Esau approached Jacob’s camp. Jacob had sent cattle and goats ahead to help mollify Esau’s anger and he and his family members paid humble respect. Surprisingly Esau was all charm and at first refused to accept his brother’s gifts. Were the cattle a bribe? Or an offering for the guilt of deceiving his brother? We can only speculate but certainly the brothers were reconciled.

The Magi’s gifts were different. Their gifts had symbolism with gold considered as fit for a king, incense for a deity and myrrh for someone going to die. They recognised this child as the Messiah and were happy to bow down and worship him.

These were all material gifts but given for reasons. All of us have gifts within ourselves. Are we prepared to use those gifts to further the spread of God’s word and ways by being kind, compassionate, considerate and generous to our neighbours?

 

Friday 4th June 2021

Ex.19,6: “You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

Eph.1,4: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

God never loses sight of this, even when the world and his people do. It unalterably fixes the direction and goal of God’s redemptive purpose for the world through his people. It was recognisable in the messages of the prophets he sent to his people and it was recognisable in the judgments on his people of which they were warned. It is, however, most easily recognisable in the focus of Jesus’ ministry which was clearly on living the kind of life that is obedient to the will of God. Indeed, so much is this the case that Jesus must be seen as the way in which God fulfils his intention to have for himself a people that constitute a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. For Jesus did not come to lay down a new law but to lay down his life on the cross and rise from the dead, so that sin before God should be forgiven and lew life in him by the Spirit should come to be.

Titus 2, 11ff.: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

 

Thursday 3rd June 2021

Ps.125,2: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and for evermore.”

2Thess.3,16: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

‘As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. The hill of Zion is the type of the believer's constancy, and the surrounding mountains are made emblems of the all surrounding presence of the Lord. The mountains around the holy city, though they do not make a circular wall, are, nevertheless, set like sentinels to guard her gates. God doth not enclose his people within ramparts and bulwarks, making their city to be a prison; but yet he so orders the arrangements of his providence that his saints are as safe as if they dwelt behind the strongest fortifications. 
… We are here taught that the Lord's people are those who trust him, for they are thus described in the first verses: the line of faith is the line of grace, those who trust in the Lord are chosen of the Lord. The two verses together prove the eternal safety of the saints: they must abide where God has placed them, and God must for ever protect them from all evil. It would be difficult to imagine greater safety than is here set forth.’

(Ch Spurgeon, The Treasury of David)

 

Wednesday 2nd June 2021

 

Make some time daily to listen to God

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

 

When you want to hear God speaking to you, then you just have to set some time in your daily life to stop, be still and listen. It is quite amazing when you actually step away from the daily grind of life and listen for his small voice of calm as the Holy Spirit through God, whispers in your ear. When you are rushing here and there, it is almost impossible to let God get a word in; after all Jesus took time away from the crowds to speak to and listen to his heavenly father. Then we must do the same to receive from God instruction on how we live our lives. When we speak to God in our prayers we must not expect to get an answer immediately, but we do get answers to our prayers whether it be that day or maybe even some time later. God answers our prayers when it is the right time for that prayer too be answered. We need to ask and be prepared to trust in our Heavenly Father for his guidance to which we may act upon.  I am often reminded of the words of the hymn; Take time to be holy, speak oft with the Lord. So apt to live our lives in our connection to God.

 

Prayer; heavenly Father help us to take time to speak and listen out for your voice guiding us. Help us to hear when you are speaking to us. We pray this in your precious name. Amen.

 

Tuesday 29th May 2021

Genesis 27: 34, 35 “When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, ‘Bless me – me too, my father!’ But he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.’”

Matthew 24: 4, 5 “Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no-one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.’”

Matthew 24: 24 “For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible”

 

‘Economical with the truth’, ‘White lies’, ‘Fibbing’.  These are every day sayings to indicate lying or deceit. Some will justify white lies to protect themselves or shield others from the truth but ultimately these actions often result in more and worse deceit and repercussions.

The story of Esau and his brother Jacob receiving their father’s blessing is convoluted but involves Rebekah, the mother of Esau and Jacob in arranging a deceitful plot to promote Jacob the younger brother to be his father’s, Isaac, successor. Rebekah was angry that Esau had taken two Hittite wives. The story takes an unhappy turn as the deceit is discovered with Jacob having to flee for his life.

Matthew describes Jesus’ teaching in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ where he warns the disciples against deceitful people who will claim to be who they are not.

With the Lord’s help through prayer we should avoid listening to ‘false prophets’ and ‘the devil in our own minds’ leading us to deceive others and more importantly, God.

 

Friday 28 May 2021

Mi.7,9: “He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.”

Acts 9,17: “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Faith in God gives the confidence that He will bring out into the light those who trust in Him as they experience life’s darkness. It recognizes, and confesses, the place of sinful disobedience and God’s wrath in this experience, but moves from there to the matter of God’s righteousness and says, ‘My cause stands in your hands, save me according to your gracious purpose.’

The ultimate test case of such confidence is the darkness of death. That it is warranted even here we know by Christ’s resurrection from the dead and God’s gracious purpose to bring us in him to life and light.

Jesus: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

Thursday 27 May 2021

Jos.14,8: Caleb said to Joshua, “My fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people sink. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.”

Rev.3,11-12: “Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.”

Fear went round the camp at the news and everyone caught it. Not, however, Caleb – not the man who “followed the LORD his God wholeheartedly.”
The fear to which, like a disease, the people yielded was born of an inability or similar to believe that God would keep his word to them and that God’s word would keep them. As a result, they failed to achieve what God had commanded and turned away towards the wastelands of the desert. Caleb’s answer to fear was to stay with the word of the LORD his God, even if it meant he stood alone and even as he would still share in the fate of the people. In doing so the word of the Lord kept him.

Faith conquers fear when it is grounded in God’s word.

 

Tuesday 25th May 2021

2 Kings 18: 5, 6 “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no-one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after. He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.”

Proverbs 25: 4, 5 “Remove the dross from the silver,

                             and out comes material for the silversmith;

                             remove the wicked from the king’s presence,

                             and his throne will be established through righteousness.”

Proverbs 16: 12  “Kings detest wrongdoing,

                           for a throne is established through righteousness.”

 

Hezekiah, son of David reigned as king in Judah for 43 years solely but firstly in conjunction with his father and later his son. He inherited a kingdom which had wandered from the ways of the Lord and he set about sweeping away false idols, altars and pagan temples. He re-opened the doors of the temple in Jerusalem which had been nailed shut by a predecessor. In the northern part of the Holy Land Israel didn’t keep the Lord’s commandments and as a result were conquered and taken to Assyria. Hezekiah resisted the Assyrians partly by agreeing to pay tribute to them.

But Hezekiah was not a forward planner and in spite of Isaiah, the prophet exhorting him to safeguard his reforms of the religious practices in Judah Hezekiah did nothing so disadvantaging the actions of his successors.

What should we take out of this story?  First and foremost Hezekiah trusted in the Lord and cemented his authority through righteousness. But he didn’t plan ahead.  We need to keep God’s ways in mind not just in the moment or for a week, month etc. but always.