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 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.

 

Shrove Tuesday 16th February 2021

Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes about the 11th century: ‘In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him.”

2 Chronicles 20:3 “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to enquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah”

Ezra 8:21 “There by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions”

 

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday which latter marks the beginning of Lent as the Christian churches start the build up to Holy Week. The name is derived from ‘shriven’ implying a time of confession of sins and receiving absolution before the fasting of Lent. In years gone by it was a time of using up any food stuffs which wouldn’t keep for the 40 days of Lent.  Eggs, butter and milk were easily turned into pancakes using a little flour.

In times of stress fasting has been associated with repentance and turning to God since Biblical times. Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, was faced with an invasion by an army of Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites.  Fasting was seen as allowing relief from daily cooking chores for time to be given to confessing sins and praying for forgiveness.

Similarly Ezra before leading his people 900 miles back to Jerusalem ordered them to fast and seek God’s assistance in this enormous undertaking.

The comparison with the current pandemic and the stresses it has produced is obvious. We should ensure that we have made our peace with God before we toss the pancakes.

 

Monday 15 February 2021

Jdg.10,15: “But the Israelites said to the LORD, ‘We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please recue us now.’”

Lk.15,7: “In the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.”

Having been given over into the hands of their enemies the Israelites realise: We have forsaken God’s ways, done what is wrong in his eyes and have worshiped other gods beside him. They acknowledge it is his doing and the justice of it. But knowing that God is so at work they cast themselves on him, saying: It is better to be in his hands than in that of the enemy, for our God can rescue, but the enemy enslaves.
And so they made known that God is one who rescues those who call on him and that, fierce as his hands are in judgement, it is better to commit oneself into his hands than to remain on a path that leads to destruction and means enslavement, for his hands are those of him who rescues.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rm.10,13; Acts 2,21)

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Rm.2,4)

 

Lord God, give us grace to know that you judge us so that we may learn righteousness when you rescue us through Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Friday 12th February 2021

Prov.3,7: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.”

Gal.6,4: “Each one should test their own actions.”

Two things I shall not do when I’m wise in my own eyes. 1) I will not fear the Lord, and 2) I will not shun evil, or positively, do good. But that means, being wise in my own eyes I will not actually be wise. For wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord and therefore proceeds to shun evil and do what is right by walking in his ways.
Wisdom must therefore be seen not as something I acquire and have myself taught through knowledge and experience, but as “the gift to recognise the will of God in the real and concrete tasks and circumstances of everyday life.” (D Bonhoeffer)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (Jam.1,5)

 

Lord God, let us not be wise in our own eyes and show us how not to be; make our eyes steady as we fix them on Christ. Amen

 

Thursday 11th February 2021

Mi.7,18: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

Rm.8,32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Sin puts us in the way of God’s anger. That is true. But it is only part of a greater truth – one to which God’s anger is related like a stretch of way to the overall destination, or like a punishing circumstance to the gaining of a beautiful insight.
This greater truth is God’s delight of putting us sinners in the way of his mercy, to pardon our sin and to forgive. Where God so delights, can we go on delighting in sin?

“Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Ps.103,2-5)

 

Lord God, bless us with a sense to taste your delight to show mercy, open our eyes to him who is your mercy, even Jesus your Son. Amen

 

Wednesday 10th February 2021

John 6:40 NIV

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

What do we hear so often when we are out and about with friends?  I do not want a lot in life but I really hope to be happy most of the time. We all understand that there are times when we will be sad, but we really do have a lot in our lives to be happy about, most of the time.  When we are happy we tend to want something else in our lives, then when we achieve that goal we turn to something else yet again to enrich our lives. We must learn at some point that we can be content and happy with our lives as they are. Instead of looking for new things on and on we should look to God who’s aim is to be with us and to care for us as we go along life’s path. Therefore, this should be our aim also, to be with God more and more in our lives and we will learn to have contentment in our daily walk with God.

As children we learn to love Jesus, God’s Son and as we mature it should turn into a much deeper level. We with our knowledge through the scriptures know that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected to eternal life with his Father. Which is what our aim should be. Living in faith is not too hard to believe in God and give him your worries and he will lift them for you. As in today’s jargon a trouble shared is a trouble halved. Now maybe that is flippant but I do not mean it to be. Personally I felt it was the answer as I would on praying be sharing troubles with our heavenly father so that he may take the strain out of all cares of today’s world for us. Putting trust in God to travel the road with us and having true faith is the way to happiness knowing that you have the will of God always working in you and for you. Focus on God be true to him and not on worldly possessions then true happiness through faithfulness will be yours eternally.

Loving Father take our lives and help us to see your hand at work in our lives. Help us to do your will trusting you always bringing us ever closer to you Amen.

 

Tuesday 9th February 2021

Chambers Dictionary. “grace n easy elegance in form or manner,…the undeserved mercy of God…”

A grace. “For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly grateful”

Wikipedia. “Grace in Christianity is the free and unmerited favour of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowing of blessings.”

Ephesians 1: 7, 8 “In him (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

 

What is it about the word ‘grace’ that makes it so important to the Christian faith? And indeed for many other faiths.  We talk about a graceful person meaning one who is kind, polite, non-judgemental and who has an easy manner and deportment. Grace is a not uncommon first name. The English word derives from the French with the same spelling and ultimately from the Greek charis; (Ancient Greek: χάρις) meaning grace, kindness and life.

It is the phrases from Chambers ‘…the undeserved mercy of God…’ and that from Wikipedia ‘…unmerited favour of God…’ that gives us the clue to the secret of the grace of God.  Paul in his letter to the Ephesians wrote about the ‘riches of God’s grace’ being ‘lavished’ on us.  Small wonder that the word grace became so central to faith.

For those who believe and are prepared to repent, to be forgiven however much we sin, is a prize to be treasured. 

 

Monday 8th February 2021

Jdg.5,31: “May all who love the LORD be like the sun when it rises in its strength.”

Jn.17,22: “Jesus prays: ‘I have given them the glory that you gave me.’”

Lifting the darkness like the sun dawning, chasing away the storm-clouds like the sun breaking through – these are suitable metaphors for the kind of glory that is available to those who love the Lord. It is a glory God wills to give.  Courage for the Lord’s sake and prayer will see it. Therefore let’s say ‘Amen’ to this: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph.3,16-19)

 

Lord, when desire for our own glory is in the way of yours, love is at risk. Rearrange us in our inner being by your Spirit so that your glory may been seen through us. Amen

 

Friday 5th February 2021

Ps.56,13: “You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”

Acts 12,7: “Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up!’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrist.”

Consistently and fully ‘walking before God in the light of life’ practically speaking is the life of Jesus.
When the Apostle Paul considered his own ability to do so, strongly wishing it(!), he found himself exclaiming: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Rm.7,24)
Do we wish strongly enough to walk before God in the light of life to consider truly how we are getting on with it? If we do, we too like Paul will reach for the answer of truth and grace in him who did what we could not: “Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rm.7,25)

 

Lord, the chains are strong that tie us to ways of death and darkness. But they are no match for the power of grace. Help us to walk by faith, in the light of your forgiveness. Amen

 

Thursday 4th February 2021

Ps.34,18: “The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

2Cor.1,5: “Just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

The person who hears and believes this most is the person who most perseveres in hope and in love for the Lord’s sake. This is why it is a true aspect of our faith.
But it rests on the Word’s say-so, for without it the flesh would not conclude from broken-heartedness and a crushed spirit that the Lord is close! And this Word is never clearer than in Christ on the cross – where the experience of total God-forsakenness by Christ led to his vindication and to man’s reconciliation with God.

We are not promised that by following Christ we will not experience being crushed in spirit and be broken-hearted, because his was a love that didn’t seek his own nor sided with what is wrong. Such love must be strong in weakness and victorious in suffering. But we are given comfort and strength in him – and always it is close by.

 

Lord, help us to learn that your grace is made perfect in weakness. Amen

 

Wednesday 3rd February 2021

Matthew 6:5-7

5“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Where do you do your praying?  Do you jump up and down waving your hands around where you can be seen or are you a quiet prayer, who settles down in a quiet room to speak to God himself not showing off to people around you. There are times when you can be carried away, when you are praying with others such as at a big gathering, and be moved to show just how much joy is in your heart. But it is when you are alone or with a few friends that the quiet prayer has deep feeling and an even closer relationship with God.  Have you gone into a small room away from everyone to pray? Sometimes we need to do that, just as Jesus went away from the crowds to have time to speak with his father alone and to listen to his word. Jesus teaches the way to prayer almost as a secret or not to be shared with anyone else.

But this is when Jesus explains about what is really expected of us as Christians, how to use our time, talents, and money for the church. These are the normal things that we do today for our churches.  But of course there are still some who want to be at the front to be seen as a better Christian than their neighbour. Or making huge gifts to the church that make them stand out just how religious they are that the can give such big gifts, this is not what Jesus teaches. He told his followers to go into a dark room to pray, so as not to show off. Instead we have to focus on God himself. In praise and thanks for all he does for us. When we speak to our Heavenly Father we speak to him truthfully and with love just as he does with us. we give him the glory and praise due to him. And we will see our rewards given, as quietly as our prayers are heard. It’s as the words of the hymn Tell me the old old story of Jesus and his love, tell me the story slowly so I can take it in. let us listen for God talking to us as we talk to him. Listen with our hearts. and we will surely receive his word to ourselves.

Prayer

Father in heaven, help us to listen out for you, help us to speak to you every day anywhere we can be with you.  Amen.