Category Archives: community

Keeping Your Eyes Fixed

This is the text of my Going Deeper Daily Devotions for today:

Todays reading is Hebrews 12:1-24, but I am only going to read the first few verses, I will leave you to read the rest yourself. 

 As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us.  Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne.

When I was learning to drive, the one best pearls of wisdom that the wonderful Llewelyn imparted to me is “look at where you want to go”.  Keep your eyes focussed on the road ahead at where you are journeying to. 

Don’t look at the front of the bonnet, you are not prepared for what is ahead, and especially don’t start admiring the scenery to the left or right – or that is where you will end up heading.

It turns out, that is not only useful advice for driving, but also for faith.  I would dare to suggest it is also good advice for a pandemic.

We are running a race, Hebrews tells us.  I sincerely hope it is not a physical running race, or I don’t stand a chance!  If I can expand the metaphor further, it is not a sprint, but a marathon.  It is not about a short sharp burst of energy, but about the long game.  The race that lies before us is probably long and winding, with unexpected twists and turn – more like a steeplechase with various different obstacles! – but no so systematically placed.  We will all run it in our own way, with our own style.  But the writer of Hebrews tells us to run, always keeping our eyes on Jesus.  He is where we are going, he is the reason for the journey, it is on him we depend.  Take our eyes off him and we will become distracted, drop focus, lose momentum in our step, become confused about where we were going, what the goal actually was, or just head off in the wrong direction all together.

With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will not be distracted by the things on the periphery – those things that scare us, confuse us, take out focus, our interest, or just take us from the road and land us in a ditch.

Jesus should be our focus, the way, the guide.  With our eyes on Jesus, we are not avoiding the here and now, not just looking to the future, but thinking like Jesus each step of the way.

It seems very trite to ask,

‘what would Jesus do?’

but actually it can be a great question.  We will only reach the end if each step works. As we plough on with our natural reactions, it can be a great question to pull us up in any situation – never mind what I feel, what my knee jerk reaction might be, what would Jesus be doing in this situation? How is my vision of him going to effect what I do here, now?

When I finish this race, will I be able to look Jesus in the eye?

The passage finishes with these words:

22 Instead, you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, with its thousands of angels. 23 You have come to the joyful gathering of God’s first-born, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, who is the judge of all people, and to the spirits of good people made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, who arranged the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that promises much better things than does the blood of Abel.

That is race’s end – The city of the living God.  To the joyful gathering of God’s people.  To Jesus.

Each day, may that be our focus.

Lord
you call us to run this race of life.

We want to run it always with you,
always with our eyes fixed on you
and not distracted
by things that do not matter.

And so each day
may we look to you
and live
in the way that you would.

May God bless us this day in our journey
and every day.
May we know his presence.
Amen

Most Important of All

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I wanted to know
what The Most Important thing was,
which of all God’s words
was the greatest?
What it was most crucial to follow.

Jesus summed it all up in two phrases for me,
Love God
with everything you have got
and love your neighbour
as yourself.

So ‘all’ I have got to do
is love God,
my neighbour
and myself.

It sounds so easy put like that,
I could not disagree.

But actually,
when you think about it,
that is the whole world,
it encapsulates everyone.

Love of God is at the root,
in that is the love for the rest.
If my focus is on loving God,
love for everyone else
should flow through that.

If I can love myself,
in the knowledge
of the depths of God’s love for me,
I should be able to dwell in that love,
soak in it,
so that love overflows in me
onto all those around me.

All bound together
in a circle of love,
mutual support
and fellowship.

Lord,
may I learn to truly love you,
that you are
the most important thing
in my life,
and I may give you
all that I am.

I come
to let you love me.
To stay here,
as your arms stretch out
and hold me tight
– comforting,
healing,
warming,
letting me know
that I am known
and loved.

May I allow your love to sink deep into me.
And from there,
may I be at the point
of being able to love others,
from the security of knowing what I mean to you.

The Greatest Commandment

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

The Question about David’s Son

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: ‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
“The Lord said to my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand,
   until I put your enemies under your feet’ ”?
If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’ No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Matthew 22: 34-46

Taxes

File:Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 'Paying the Tax (The Tax Collector)' oil on panel, 1620-1640. USC Fisher Museum of Art.jpg

The Question about Paying Taxes

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Matthew 22: 15-22

What about taxes Jesus?
Surely you cannot agree with them.

Nobody likes paying taxes,
especially
when there is
a little bit,
or a lot,
added on
by the local collector…

Surely
our money
should be going to God
and not supporting a human ruler?

Surely
should be exempt,
make a stand,
refuse to pay?

What do you say Jesus?
Of course,
if you say we do not need to pay
we can report you
to the authorities,
let them know you are against them,
encouraging others
not to fulfil
their civic responsibility.

Then we would have you
and we would not
need to do it ourselves.

You want a coin?
Well yes,
of course it has the rulers head on,
that is what coins do.

So,
it is his money.
We need to pay our dues,
contribute for what we expect back,
pay our share
of the services we use
and to support those
who cannot pay as much as we can?

And having done that
we can give to God
what is his.

It is not an either-or situation,
it is both.

Giving to God
does not stop us giving what we owe
to society.

Forgive me Lord
when I am looking for excuses
to not share my resources,
to pay as little as possible,
while expecting much in return.

I guess that applies to society
and to you.

Give to me
a willing
and generous heart.