Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers, where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Respect.
Respect is something we all wish for, don’t always get and don’t always earn!
But we want to be respected as a person, we want to be heard, we want our opinions to matter, we want our needs to be met in a dignified and respected way. This is most seen, and most needed in our Care Homes which have been very much been under the spotlight in recent times during this Corona Virus Pandemic.
I believe since we are all made in the image of God, we all have the right to be respected, to be treated well, to be loved even. When do I see Jesus doing this for others? When he washed their feet.
the evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
John 13: 2-5
Dirty, prideful, sinful, corrupted men they may have been, but Jesus got down on his knees and respectfully, lovingly washed their feet.
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early and stay up late,toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
As we start to rebuild our lives, our homes, our work lives, our industries, our services, our country, we must build on God’s ways, God’s principles, God’s justices, God’s mercy, according to God’s laws, for if we don’t then really it is all in vain, and it all may come tumbling down amongst us again.
Unless we build our homes surrendered to God it is all in vain, no matter how beautiful we make them.
Unless we build our churches on the love of God it is all in vain and they will not be the places of refuge and worship they should be.
Unless our defences, our safety is trusting in God it is all in vain for no security is found except in God alone.
Unless our industry and services are built on the principles & justices of God, then it is all in vain for greed and corruption will quickly leak in and spread insidiously among the people.
Unless our work lives are surrendered to God and we work as if serving Him then it is all in vain, all our labour and burning the candle at both ends is in vain; even if we amass a bundle of wealth and material possessions, it is all vain and gives fleeting pleasure.
Unless our lives are centred and surrendered to God and His ways, we will never find our peace, our resting place.
Unless the Lord …..
The Lord …
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.
Let us build with God, let us build as God directs, let us build according to His ways, let us trust in Him alone for His providence, His supplies, His wisdom, His mercy and His love.
I have been pondering recently our different voices and how not only have we all got a story to tell, but that we tell it in our own way with our own ‘voice’.
Each story is different, each voice is different.
The ability for others to receive a story and to hear a voice differs from one to the other.
Sometimes it is hard to share our stories, they may contain shame, they may not be pleasant and they certainly make us vulnerable when we open up and share. However, I believe in the power of story, I believe it is in our stories that we find connection with others and it is in connection that we find grace to heal and bring relief.
But just as each of these stories are individualistic, so too are our voices, they contain our own special emphasis and nuance, they bring something of ‘us’ into the story, they personalize the story.
So how do we want to speak out our story? In shame and whispers? Or with grace and humility knowing that the One who writes our stories, is the One who redeems our stories and is the One who asks us to speak them out. Speak out the story of His redemption, speak out the story of His Love, speak out the story of His graces which reaches us in the depths and heights and midst of the messing middles.
Tell out His story which He is writing in our lives and do it with heads and hands raised high, giving the glory to the author & finisher of our story. Tell it out with voices full of confidence in our God, tell it out with awe, tell it with joy, tell it with the voice the Author has given us.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, lots of questions have been asked about ‘where is God in this?’. Well as we reflect on Psalm 19, we will see that God, as always has been and is revealing Himself in both the Creation and through the Bible.
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftmanship.
Day after Day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or word, their voice is never heard. YET their message has gone throughout the earth and their words to all the world.”
Day and night, sunrise and sunset, God, our creator paints the skies, His glory is seen, His craftmanship displayed; the order and structure of His creation revealed to all.
When we see a beautiful sunset or sunrise our reaction is one of awe at such intricate beauty, whether we turn up or not God still puts on that display, day after day, night after night they make Him known, pointing to His glory.
“God has made a home in the heavens for the sun, it bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after His wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.”
We see the sun pointing to God eager to burst out and be seen! Often here the sun is hidden behind the clouds, but it is still there, still doing it tour of duty, still pointing and reminding us that God is with us, reigning supreme in His universe.
“The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living”.
Just as God reveals Himself in creation, so too does He reveal Himself in His Word, our Bible. We see His glory, His craftmanship in creation and we see that same attention to detail and beauty as He shows us how to live good, balanced, healthy lives lived the right way with Him through His Word.
“Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true, each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to your servant, a great reward to those who obey them”.
Those laws of God, they are good! They are for our benefit! Just as we teach a child good, safe ways of living and lay down boundaries for behaviour, so does God do for us and they are good, they are sweet ways, they are to be desired and they are to be followed!.
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free from guilt and innocent of great sin.
Yes, God’s Word will point out our sin, it will show us our wrong thinking, our wrong ways, but it also shows us God’s forgiveness, God’s mercy and His love extended towards us in that He still loves us, despite our sin!
“May the words of my mouth & the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock & my redeemer”.
This is an appropriate prayer to end with, that our words & thoughts would be in alignment with God’s. And a final declaration of trust – O Lord, You are my rock, You are my redeemer.
What about you? Have you seen God in creation? Have you seen Him in His Word? Same God, same ways, still speaking day after day, night after night. Do you see Him on the throne, reigning over His universe and do you trust in Him, call Him your Lord and Saviour?
This post is written to link with #Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt today is “ENDURE”.
To endure = to bear without resistance or with patience.
And there my dear friends is my problem! I don’t seem to be able to bear with patience or without resistance! My first instinct at the first sign of trouble, pain or suffering is always resistance! I don’t want this trouble in my life, I want it out, finished with, never to return. I don’t want to endure hardship, I would much rather have an easy life, so I don’t endure with patience, I fret, I worry, I am cranky, I berate God with ‘why me’!
I have yet to learn grace to endure with patience, grace to bear without resistance.
Despite the fact God has taught me again and again about acceptance and surrender, it doesn’t seem to come easy for me; there is always an initial resistance.
I envy those who seem to bear with great patience the many sorrows of life, those who seem to accept both the good and bad things that come with the same grace and equanimity.
I long to grow in that grace, grace which endures, grace to rejoice in the enduring, grace to accept, grace to surrender without the struggle, without the resistance,
“Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10)
I have had a very safe and blessed Lockdown period, so it is the ‘post Lockdown’ phase which I dread, dread going back into the world, into busyness, into stress. I have taken solace today from the 23rd Psalm in the New Living Translation:
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
I have all that I need, even in the Lockdown, even when supplies were low, I have had all that I have needed.
He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength, He guides me along the right path, bringing honour to His Name.
This describes what Lockdown has been for me – a time of rest, a time just to sit and enjoy the green meadows, a time to reflect, study, write, a time to have my spiritual energy renewed.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod & staff protect and comfort me.
I have numerous fears & anxieties which raise their ugly heads when I think about the ‘post Lockdown’ period, but I remember that I don’t need to be afraid because no matter what, no matter the next valley, how deep or dark that may be, or what it will hold, it will be okay because the Lord Himself, the One who has let me rest besides those peaceful streams & meadows, He will still be there beside me. And when I am confused or have decisions to make His Word & Spirit will guard & guide me in the way to go.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honour me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
So even though the Devil knows my weak spots and knows exactly how to play on my fears – still even there, even then I can feast on the promises of God and my cup will overflow with His blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
No matter what the next phase of post Lockdown will look like, God’s goodness and unfailing love will PURSUE me, actively pursue me even in the yet unknown.
The Lord is my shepherd, He will give me all I need, He will be with me, He will pursue me. I can trust in Him.
Joining with the #Five Minute Friday Group of writers where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: People
I live in a rural, remote part of Scotland and don’t see a lot of people at the best of times, but especially not recently due to Lockdown with the Corona Virus. So when I hear figures of numbers of people who have died during the virus, I find it hard to get my head round such huge numbers, what does that even look like and how does that equate to individuals?
Then I think of the huge numbers of the redeemed standing before the throne:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number,
from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice,
“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Again such huge numbers, but what a joyful mix of people from every race, every tribe, a huge tapestry of colours of humans beings gathered from around the world. A huge symphony of voices raised together in Praise and Worship. Peoples, people, individuals whom God has loved, touched, chosen, called, redeemed, all joined together in Praise!
Peoples gathered together. Peoples joined together. Peoples praising together. Wow! cann’t get my head round that either! But I want to be there, I want to be part of that number, I want to join in that Praise, I want to be part of the People of God.