I am a Methodist Minister, currently unable to be in active ministry due to chronic illness. This is, I hope my opportunity to interact with the world.
Of course anything I say here is my own opinion, and not endorsed or reflective of anyone else.
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This is the transcript of my Going Deeper devotions for our Circuit today.
Beginning with Psalm 121
11 Since all these things will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and dedicated to God, 12 as you wait for the Day of God and do your best to make it come soon—the Day when the heavens will burn up and be destroyed, and the heavenly bodies will be melted by the heat. 13 But we wait for what God has promised: new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will be at home.
There is not much to today’s reading, just two verses… but I guess what there is to say is important!
What is life all about? What does a life well lived look like? It looks Holy and dedicated to God.
As we spend these moments each day ‘Going Deeper’ that is our aim – to become more holy, more like God. That’s not ‘holier than thou’!, but dedicated to God. Our every action being God’s, living his ways, which may be different to our gut reaction. Pausing and considering, what is God’s way in this? And doing it.
As we wait for God’s promise of a new heaven and a new earth (which may well look similar to the vision in Psalm 121…) this is how we are called to live – for God.
Lord, may everything I think, do, and say be your way, reflecting you and your love.
Lord, I long to be holy, work your holy way in me.
The song that immediately came into my mind with this passage was Refiners Fire: “My heart’s one desire, is to be holy, set apart for you, Lord. I CHOOSE to be holy” Let’s pray that as we sing it today.
And may God bless us as we seek to live dedicated to him.
This is the script of the worship I prepared for our online service this morning, led almost entirely by prerecorded slots.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven, 23 because the Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who decided to check on his servants’ accounts. 24 He had just begun to do so when one of them was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 The servant did not have enough to pay his debt, so the king ordered him to be sold as a slave, with his wife and his children and all that he had, in order to pay the debt. 26 The servant fell on his knees before the king. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay you everything!’ 27 The king felt sorry for him, so he forgave him the debt and let him go.
28 “Then the man went out and met one of his fellow servants who owed him a few dollars. He grabbed him and started choking him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he said. 29 His fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back!’ 30 But he refused; instead, he had him thrown into jail until he should pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were very upset and went to the king and told him everything. 32 So he called the servant in. ‘You worthless slave!’ he said. ‘I forgave you the whole amount you owed me, just because you asked me to. 33 You should have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you.’ 34 The king was very angry, and he sent the servant to jail to be punished until he should pay back the whole amount.”
35 And Jesus concluded, “That is how my Father in heaven will treat every one of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
Last week on a day when my lungs were really bad, I had to ring 111 for advice. The doctor told me to take 10 puffs of Ventolin in one dose, two puffs at a time. I very quickly discovered that ten is a difficult number to keep count of.
Seven is a number beyond that which I would struggle to keep track of unless I was doing bars and gates! So seventy times seven is basically saying not keeping count – beyond any number that you can keep track of – just do it. That is Jesus advice in the question of keeping tally in how often we, or more specifically I, might want to forgive someone. Don’t count, there is no magic number assigned, just keep doing it.
Forgiveness is part of the Christian life, not being walked all over, but letting go of those things that someone has done to us that has hurt us, no longer letting it have any power in our life, or in the relationship with the person we feel has ‘sinned against us’.
Last week’s reading, the previous few verses to these, was about how to deal with disagreement in churches. The first thing you had to do was not chunter about it behind their back but go and talk to them about it. Probably if you haven’t got the guts to do that, you should let it go…
Jesus, as he often does, uses an exaggerated story – but to good effect. A man has had a huge debt forgiven him, but immediately goes out and threatens someone who owes him a very small amount. It seems that he has immediately forgotten the kindness that has been done to him and is determined to have back what he is owed. Ultimately that cost him the forgiveness and freedom that he had been gifted.
So I wonder, is one of the new paths God is opening up to us of forgiveness? That is a radical way to live – a way we could all benefit and live freer lives from.
If we live in awareness of all that we have been given and forgiven, that must surely make us live a generous and forgiving life. God’s grace in me, his generosity and forgiveness in my life, should lead to graciousness towards others.
God takes us to a new place, to live a new way.
In the Exodus passage God opens up the seas for his people to pass through to a new land and a new life. As I said, when I read that passage, the immediate thought in my head was ‘What is God opening up to us? What new land is God leading us to?’
Life feels like a constantly changing new land at the moment. The sand seems to be constantly shifting beneath our feet, just when we think we have worked one piece out, something else changes, we are constantly reassessing. But God is opening up a new place.
We have become part of a new Circuit, we are exploring where both physical and Zoom services are going, but God is taking us to a new place, opening the way before us.
Whatever that place will be, it must be a place of grace, of love, and of mutual forgiveness, living the life God has given us, the freedom from where we were, the release of the burdens we were carrying, that we affect our lives and our reactions. That we may be patient with others, as God is with us, and live by forgiveness and grace – that free gift of God to each one of us.
May God bless us, each on our journey with God and each other.
May you know God’s presence, this day and always. Amen
19 The angel of God, who had been in front of the army of Israel, moved and went to the rear. The pillar of cloud also moved until it was 20 between the Egyptians and the Israelites. The cloud made it dark for the Egyptians, but gave light to the people of Israel, and so the armies could not come near each other all night.
21 Moses held out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind. It blew all night and turned the sea into dry land. The water was divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides. 23 The Egyptians pursued them and went after them into the sea with all their horses, chariots, and drivers. 24 Just before dawn the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic.
25 He made the wheels of their chariots get stuck, so that they moved with great difficulty. The Egyptians said, “The Lord is fighting for the Israelites against us. Let’s get out of here!”
26 The Lord said to Moses, “Hold out your hand over the sea, and the water will come back over the Egyptians and their chariots and drivers.” 27 So Moses held out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the water returned to its normal level. The Egyptians tried to escape from the water, but the Lord threw them into the sea.
28 The water returned and covered the chariots, the drivers, and all the Egyptian army that had followed the Israelites into the sea; not one of them was left. 29 But the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides.
30 On that day the Lord saved the people of Israel from the Egyptians, and the Israelites saw them lying dead on the seashore. 31 When the Israelites saw the great power with which the Lord had defeated the Egyptians, they stood in awe of the Lord; and they had faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses.