Be still for the presence of the Lord

I’ve had a lot on my mind recently, but one thing that is prominent at the moment is the number of people suffering from one illness or another, or struggling to cope with other circumstances.  In all of this, my mind keeps coming back to one song that I mentioned at prayer last week – Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord.

It first occurred to me while caring for our border collie (who had a stroke), she is awake at night (a lot) and barking.  Sometimes all she requires is someone to be beside her, to have her paw upon your arm and her chin resting on your hand as she drifts off to sleep with you sat in the most uncomfortable of positions and unable to move.  Parents can associate the image with caring for a sick child, where sometimes all that is required to allow the sick to have moments of peace is a comforting voice, and a gentle hand stroking your hair lulling you to sleep and respite from fits of coughing.  It occurred to me that as we journey through life, so too does God, alongside us, Jesus is there for us to talk to, to intercede on our behalf, and the Holy Spirit is there to guide us and protect us.  When we are having our moments of illness, anxiety, worry, panic, strife and insecurity, He is right there alongside us ready to give support and comfort – as a loving parent to us all; as any loving parent would for their children, as I have been doing for our dog, as you also do for those you love and care for, for your family and your friends.

I thank God that even though we may not always be aware of how much encouragement and support He provides us, that He is there alongside each of us, sharing our journey, is an act of beautiful love and I am thankful for that.  We should strive to reflect His love for us in all our interactions, with all our family, our friends, our colleagues, essentially everyone we meet; reflect our inner good Samaritan.  Sometimes all we need to do is be a presence for others, so be still for the presence of the Lord, He is beside you, and be still as a presence for others, be still your emotions, be still your heart, be still your breath, exude peace, be still, simply be.

Psalm 46:8-11 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[a] with fire.
10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.’
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

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Which is the greatest commandment?

Jesus replied: ‘ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
Matthew 22:37‭-‬39 NIVUK

Eden

We’ve been using prayer stations this month to allow the leadership of the church to take holidays and have a well-earned break. Obviously, there’s always some forward planning taking place, but everyone needs a chance to step away for a while. One of the prayers stations this year challenges us to give thanks to God, to reflect and pray, and if you’re feeling particularly creative, to create something.

To be honest, I was a bit stumped at first; it’s not every night your partner prays in front of everyone about the bubbling noises your stomach is making during evening prayer in the intercession, so I was feeling a bit lost. So I sat at the table and read the poetry, and thought. I thought and thought, and thought some more, and then I asked God for help, and this is what came out of my reflection.

Eden © 2019 M.Fisher. All Rights Reserved

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.

Genesis 2:8 NIV

It grew from the first line and took on a life of it’s own, so I signed it, stuck it onto backing card, and left it on the table in church; but not before I took the photo of it so I can share it with you, but again, I didn’t stop there. I like photography, so I dug out some pictures of flowers that I took around the church earlier this year, mostly backing shots for slides (now I know why I had the urge to take them) and did this to it…

Eden © 2019 M.Fisher. All Rights Reserved

Paul is undoubtedly right when he writes, in Romans, about the Holy Spirit interceding for us. It works within us, with us and through us; through our prayers and our actions. It allows us to act when we don’t know how to, allowing us to transform our inaction into action, our inability into ability.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27 NIV

I love that when we get stuck, the Holy Spirit is there to help guide us.

God bless you all.

[After all this, the only thing going through my head right now is should that have been an apostrophe s, nature’s grace, not natures grace … oh well, it is what it is.]

Lent 2019

Over the weeks of Lent this year we went through the Gospel of Luke at our Chapel on Tuesday nights, watching the Lumo Project videos and following the narrative in our bibles.  We also watched the version of the Gospel of Mark during our café church. Viewing both provided a different perspective on some events.  Sometimes watching the Gospel’s (the video series use the NIV version) allows us to recognise things that were not immediately obvious to us; we can pick up on visual clues as much as audible clues. This certainly became evident during our discussions after watching where we could see emotion expressed through the video.

Our church has the DVD’s but you can find them on Youtube and on bible.com too:

The Gospel of Luke

The Gospel of Mark

One of the things we picked up on in discussion is that Luke’s Gospel includes a lot about the humanity of things, such as when Mary went to see Elizabeth.  I suppose with being a physician, it is appropriate for him to write about the reaction of John in Elizabeth’s womb to the sound of Mary’s voice; he takes a similar approach in other parts of the narrative where he brings out the human nature of things. It is a very human experience, two mothers to be getting together, supporting each other, but at the same time we have John’s reaction; unrestricted, without physical boundaries, he shows clearly how joyful our spirit can be, through family, through Mary, through Jesus.,

Mark’s Gospel was dynamic, and quick at first, it had to be for the intended Roman audience, but he slows the pace during the last days of Jesus’s mission among the people of Israel to bring out the ‘drama’, and I would guess to emphasise the importance of it all. It provided a nice contrast of narrative styles, with plenty of crossover but also some elements set apart between the Gospel narratives, and the narrative of Mary and Elizabeth is one you’ll find in Luke but not in Mark.

Luke 1:39-45 New International Version (NIV)

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”

We can have great joy in knowing Jesus, as John the Baptist did, and like Mary, we can ponder all it brings within our hearts.

The First and the Last Vine

This is the first vine.

One day a seed was planted in good soil, and a great vine grew tall and strong upon the earth. It grew stronger with each year and bore healthy fruit.

One day, some men were passing and saw the vine and said to themselves “we like this vine, we will take a cutting from it and replant this vine in our own land” and so they took a cutting off the branches of the vine and replanted it in their own lands. The cutting grew roots and started to grow into a strong vine but it was not as great as the vine they had seen; its fruit was not as plentiful, however they were pleased with what they had grown and were happy for the new vine to remain. They kept the fruit and the seeds of this new vine to themselves.

It is not the first vine.

On yet another day, someone else was passing this new vine and decided to take some of the seeds, and yet another took a cutting, and so new vines grew strong in other land, but they were not as strong even though the fruit was good. Some did not keep the seed for themselves and shared it with others, but the vines that grew from the seed were not strong and had weak roots. So this continued with people taking cuttings from the first vine or growing vines from cuttings or from seed not of the first vine.

These are not the first vine.

Some people decided they would not take cuttings or plant seeds, but were jealous of the vines other people had planted, so they made their own from materials such as stone, brick, gold or silver. They tried to build larger than the first vine but were not able to match the growth of the vine which was tall and had many branches.

These are not vines.

As time progressed, some vines withered and died because they did not have the same strength as the first vine, and the vines made from other materials weathered away; Yet other vines died through the effort of men. Men had became competitive, glorifying their vines saying “my vine is better than yours, it’s fruit is sweeter, is more abundant and does not rot before it is consumed.”

The first vine was forgotten.

Eventually all the men started to argue more about whose vine was greater, war and famine ensued and the first vines growth started to suffer as man attempted to cast shadows over all the vines to spite their neighbours. Many vines withered and died, the fruit of the first vine did not appear.

Time passed.

Eventually someone walked by the first vine and noticed it was strong with deep roots and many branches, but was without fruit. They wondered what the fruit of the vine would be like. So they decided to nurture the vine and each season they would fertilise the soil around it, prune the dead wood and encourage new growth. All of their efforts were rewarded with time, and the vine bore fruit again. They shared the fruit with others who left their vines to wither to dust so they might benefit from the first vine. Everyone rejoiced in how lucky they were to have such a vine.

It is the true vine.
This is the last vine.

Trust in God

This week I went to the dentist and it occurred to me when I was going that we place a certain amount of trust in those who care for us whenever we visit, we become vulnerable, but we often only place that trust in them when we are there.

Whereas, as Children of God, we place our trust in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost every minute and every second of every day; so too must we become vulnerable to open ourselves up for His place in our lives. The trust we place in Him is far greater than any trust we place in individuals and I know I have fallen short of that at times.

I often need to remind myself that it is I, and not God, that is the source of any fear and doubt when I lack trust and that I must do my best to repay His trust in me because His trust never falters.  It will never vanish off the face of this earth and it is an eternal trust we receive, a parental trust and something so far greater than anything anyone could possibly return.  But return it we do, whenever and wherever we can, in prayer, in honesty, in who we are, for it is in and through Jesus that we find our salvation, by being like him, by learning from him, in seeing Him in ourselves and in each other, in loving God our Father and in loving our neighbour as we do ourselves.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’
Matthew 26:39 NIV

This weekend we will hear and read about the events that took place in and around Jerusalem so many years ago.  Jesus placed all of his trust in his Father, in our Father.  Even when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus was at his most vulnerable his trust in his Father remained steadfast, and his resolve to complete the most glorious gift we can ever receive remained strong, and he completed it through faith, through trust, and through love.

God bless you all this Easter.

Kingdom, power and glory

Have you ever wondered where the words

“For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever”

in the Lords Prayer, the Our Father, originate?

I did up until recently.  I was puzzled as to why it is different from the Bible and during a recent bible study through the Pilgrim course I found out why.

It turns out the early church added the words after the prayer Jesus taught became more widely used.  The context is the end of David’s life after the preparation of everything for the building of the temple.

David’s Praise to God

10 Then David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly; David said: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, for ever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.

14 ‘But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill-offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.

1 Chronicles 29:10-14 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

There’s a couple of things to take note of in this verse too:

  • ‘All the assembly’ refers to all of the gathered people of God in the temple – everyone was there!
  • ‘Blessed are you O Lord’ is an ancient Jewish way of beginning prayer, which is still used today in many prayers.

I discovered a deeper understanding and attachment to the Lords Prayer throughout the time we studied it.

Take some time and look at each line of the prayer, what does it mean to you?

Which part of the Our Father stands out the most or is most relevant to your right now?