The Horror of Life

•May 7, 2021 • Leave a Comment

This is the text of my Daily Devotions for our Circuit website for today, focussing on Readings from the Life Journal Reading Plan, today 2 Samuel 13-14 and Matthew 24.

This is the video version if you would prefer to listen to it:

The readings from 2 Samuel recount the horrific events of the rape of Tamar. Not what we want for our daily edification! Tales of horror in the bible always seem so shocking – I can get enough of that on the news of life today. I don’t know about you, but I was hoping for something gentle, and sustaining today. Something peaceful that I could rest in.

And yet…

The bible has all life. I guess the very reason I was hoping for something positive is the reason such things are in the bible. It is about real people. It is not a sanatised version of history showing us only how people behaved well, but also their cruelty and horror as well. Because that is human life. It is an account of people, who sometimes did amazing things for God and their fellow human – and at other times got things very wrong and caused damage and distress. Human beings have long been cruel, stupid, thoughtless and wandered a long way from God.

But the fact that these things are here in the bible does not mean that God approves of the acts of violence. Their inclusion in the bible is not saying this is ok, but shows how very wrong humans can get it, how people think it is ok to lie and manipulate and do the very worst of crimes. There is a cycle that continues throughout the Old Testament: the people think God is amazing, they follow God’s ways, something else seems more attractive, they live a long way from how God would want, and eventually somone comes along who points them back to God, they realise what they have done, come back to God, but soon start the cycle again. That is human life.

Which is pretty much echoed in the reading from Matthew 24. After warnings about all kinds of strange and terrifying things that will happen in the end times we come to the question of the faithful or unfaithful servant.

One has been put in charge of looking after and feeding the other servants. But what will they do when they think no one is looking? How will they behave when the overseer is not there?

Will they behave with integrity and care? Or will they do their own thing, meet their own wants and needs?

This is the challenge for us. This is not a passage that is about sitting comfortably looking at others behaviour and smugly judging it. I can be so easily get distracted from God’s ways. So what about me? How do I behave? Perhaps if I think God is not looking, or if I forget, or get wrapped up in my desires over God’s? Do I do the right thing? It might not seem as horrific a thing as rape, but do I always do the right thing where I could? Or do I scheme, manipulate and do all I can to make what I want to happen be? It is in that kind of behaviour that others get hurt and damaged – and it doesn’t do the perputrator much good either.

We have the chance, through what Jesus has shown us in his life and death, to be the Faithful Servant, to live God’s ways every day, for that to become such an ingrained part of our behaviour. We have seen God’s ways lived out through Jesus. Can I live in that way? Will I?

When I see the horrific way that humans sometimes behave towards one another, can I choose to do the right thing, to live God’s way?

Lord,
human beings are such amazing creatures.
We can do so much good
and yet at other times do so much harm.

Forgive me
the times I have got things very wrong,
focussed in what I want
rather than on what you ask of me
and what is best for others.
Forgive me when I loop between the two.

Lord,
may my focus,
my reason for being
be to live like you
with your heart and your mind.

May I be faithful.
Always for you.

And the song suggestion:

God in Every Time

•April 23, 2021 • Leave a Comment

The readings for this week, amongst others are John 10:11-18, Jesus the Good Shepherd and the much known and loved Psalm 23 the Lord is My Shepherd.  A very strong theme of God’s love and care for each and every one of us.

Life, inevitably, has its hard times.  Circumstances we would rather not face, situations that terrify us, stresses we would rather not have.  It can be all too easy at times to think that God has abandoned us, left us to fight our own fights, to deal alone with whatever comes to us.  But that is not what God promises us.

Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

God is our Shepherd.

God does not watch over us, doing his job but ultimately disinterested.  God is totally invested in us and our wellbeing.  The relationship is not one of someone asked to keep an eye on us, but an invested relationship because we are God’s.  So when trials, difficulties, terrors, threats and dangers come, as they inevitably will, God doesn’t turn tail and run, abandon us, leave us to fend for ourselves to fight against whatever perils come along. God is there.  God stays with us.  God will never abandon us, because God knows us, loves us and is willing to lay down his life for our own.

God loves us, and that love is shown in presence, deep care and even sacrifice.

The beautiful Psalm 23 reminds us of all the ways God walks with us through life.  When we might ask, “Where is God in all this?”, the answer is right there along with you.  somewhere, somehow, we can know all can be ok because we have God with us.  Things may seem awful, but we are not alone in them – God is with us.  God is everything, and holds us in our pain, our anguish, our despair.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

When we are weary and exhausted, God gives us rest and holds our burdens.  God gives us somewhere to rest and gives us refreshment.  When all around is frantic, God takes us to a place where we can rest in that presence – a place of peace – deep peace.  A place to get the strength needed.  Strength for today and tomorrow.

When we cannot cope – God can.  God renews us and leads us.  When we don’t know where to go, what to do, God does…

God takes us.  We are not alone.  We are not lost.  God is there.

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

When we are afraid, when we feel so alone, God’s protection is there.  A shepherd would normally carry a rod. This rod would be used for protection and a weapon against wild animals.  The staff to hook sheep out of trouble.  Comfort here stands for protection, peace, preservation, strength, and assurance in the hard places of life.    The sheep follow their shepherd, believing that they will look after them.  In God is the courage.

Throughout life, even when things are bad, God gives us in abundance.  It’s not just a sandwich and a drink, but a banquet and an overflowing cup.  And God does it in a way to give us honour.  Where our enemies can see how much God loves us.  We are God’s honoured guests.  God is so glad to welcome us and care for us. 

God’s promises are for every day.  For good day and bad days.  For sad days and happy days.  For easy days and difficult days. For mountain tops and valley bottoms.  And we are welcome to live with God – our place is with God – now and always.  Nowhere we go – nothing we go through is without God’s love and goodness there with us.  God’s house is our home – anytime.  We can trust in God always.

I don’t know the way.

I like to think I do,
that I can get myself there,
chart my own waters,
make my own decisions,
know what is best

but…

But I can be easily distracted
by something that looks interesting,
tasty,
shiny.


Sometimes

I like to walk on the wild side,
laugh in the face of danger,
challenge good advice.

“I won’t fall down there.”
“Who says that’s not good for me?”
“But I just want to taste.”

But you,
you Lord,
you know what I need
and you will lead me there
if only I am not so stubborn.

You know the green, lush fields,
the safe spaces,
the resting place
for me.

You watch me like a hawk,
ready to catch,
to water,
to lovingly tend and rescue me
yourself,
whatever the cost.

You love me
and walk with me
every day of my life,
every step I take,
you are there,
whether I see you or not.

However difficult,
desperate,
painful
things are

You,
you are there.

You walk with me.

Companionable,
Caring,
loving,
tending
God.

May I learn to hear your voice
and follow it
all the days of my life.

Resurrection – What About Me?

•April 9, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Here is my pre-recorded Daily Devotion for today, an opportunity for personal reflection on the events of Holy Week and Easter:

The bible reading that goes with it:

44 Then he said to them, “These are the very things I told you about while I was still with you: everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the writings of the prophets, and the Psalms had to come true.”

45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer and must rise from death three days later, 47 and in his name the message about repentance and the forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And I myself will send upon you what my Father has promised. But you must wait in the city until the power from above comes down upon you.”

Luke 24:44-49

And the song suggestion:

From my book Voices Through Holy Week and Easter

 
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