Changes

Have you ever stopped to think about how much our lives revolve around change?  It is always there.

While we welcome some alteration into our lives, we often tend to focus our minds on those that aren’t welcome, and this is when it takes over our lives, our train of thought burns bad emotions and intentions deep inside, and ultimately turn us away from God.  When we allow that to happen, we fail ourselves; we fail God.

When we find ourselves in times like these, we can take comfort in the knowledge that God and our Lord Jesus Christ are always walking beside us, Jesus is interceding on our behalf, and the Holy Spirit is there to guide us.  We can turn to God, to Jesus, surrender to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, because They are the constant in our lives that does not change.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

In among all the change in our life, Jesus is always there, the rock that is our anchor, our cornerstone, the foundation of all foundations.

16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
    a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
    will never be stricken with panic.

Isaiah 28:16

Change happens; it does not always come from God, a lot of it is human-made, as a result of our greed, our desires, our attempt to apply our will over situations, our inability to follow Gods will; what we do in times like this can lead to disagreements, animosity, theft, hostility, and war.

There’s plenty to be said in the bible about change, it is full of change, starting at the very beginning with creation, variations in covenant with God, changes in nations, changes in people, initiated by the Holy Spirit (tongues of fire [Acts 2-3]), by Jesus (so many changes in hearts, minds and body), by God (far too many to contemplate or even begin to describe).  The point is that we should not fear change, we can embrace it even when we do not like it because we can be the light that turns bad to good.

The one thing that never changes is that God loves us all, and He made the most significant demonstration of that love by sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation; for we do not have to sacrifice anymore, as Jesus took upon himself all the sins of humanity and paid the price, our price, on our behalf, for all of our sins, for the sins of our predecessors, and the sins of our descendants.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:6-8

Life is full of new beginnings, fresh days with which we can become closer to Jesus, I thank the Lord our God for each new day, for each opportunity to start again, for new beginnings, for His eternal love, comfort and guidance through times of trouble.

Holy Jesus, ev’ry day,
keep us in the narrow way;
and when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds thy glory hide.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.
2 Corinthians 13:14

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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?

The Lords Prayer in the Bible

The Lords Prayer, as Jesus taught us to pray, is found in two of the Gospels in the New Testament. It appears in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke.

First the appearance in the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 6:9-13 New International Version (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

And the appearance in the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 11:2-4 New International Version (NIV)

He said to them, “When you pray, say:“‘Father,[a]
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.[b]
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c]
And lead us not into temptation.[d]’”

Footnotes
[a] Luke 11:2 Some manuscripts Our Father in heaven
[b] Luke 11:2 Some manuscripts come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
[c]Luke 11:4 Greek everyone who is indebted to us
[d] Luke 11:4 Some manuscripts temptation, but deliver us from the evil one

 

 

The Lords Prayer

We restarted our weekly bible study at cafe church following on from the busy Christmas period with the second instalment of the Pilgrim course – the Lords Prayer.

To start, here are the two versions that you come across in a worship service, use at home, in work or elsewhere.

Traditional Version

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen

Contemporary Version

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on  earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but delivery us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen

I grew up to learn and use the traditional language version of The Lords Prayer. It always makes me giggle a bit when, if I’m in a prayer group, either myself or someone else forgets we’re reading the contemporary version and slots in thy or says trespass instead of sin. Years of use makes me switch automatically into the traditional version without batting an eyelid, and it’s made me feel extremely conscious of which version is being used, especially in church or in groups. I have become more accustomed to the contemporary version over time, and I feel comfortable with it these days, it is just that habits are learnt and difficult to break and we have a tendency to revert, or if you like, run back to the things we feel more comfortable with.

[I will attempt to catch up with my blog to ensure I get all my thoughts together for future use and to create the writing habit that needs reviving.]

Lean on me

I was listening to the radio this week on the way home from work, and they were playing Bill Withers ‘Lean On Me.’

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to the song, but it occurred to me that I’d never actually listened to the lyrics before, just letting the song wash over me.

The chorus is fantastic of course:

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on.”

Everybody at some point in their lives needs somebody to lean on, someone they trust, who will hold them up and support them, who will brighten their day in dark times, who will not criticise, never disappoint, will hold confidences, sympathise and wrap you in warmth and comfort.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it!

A shoulder that is reliable, constantly there if we need it, and yet we do not have to rely on physical shoulders.  There is a massive amount of comfort to be held in spiritual support, and there’s only one thing we need to do to receive it, open our hearts to God, pray through Jesus and release the Holy Spirit that resides within us all.  Pray as often as we can and read the bible.  There’s a huge amount of support to be found in scripture, but you won’t find it if you don’t know that it’s there.  The Gideon NT, and most Bibles these days have references to scripture for various times of life; Pinterest is full of them.

I thank God that I can lean on Him whenever I struggle with life.  I disappoint myself that I sometimes forget to do this, but in times of reflection (usually after the fact), I recognise that I should be putting God first in situations, asking for His guidance and support beforehand, and not afterwards.

I thank God that when other people lean on us, He helps us support them, whatever weight we place on Him He provides support, we cannot fall; if we do it is through our negligence, but God is always there to pick us up.

We will always have Jesus by our side to lean on because when others lean on anyone who has given their heart to Christ, they too are leaning on Him, whether they know it or not.

People need others to lean on.  When they are walking through dark times, through the shadows of doubt, fear, sickness and sorrow, but out of the pit of darkness, we all provide the support and strength that others are lacking as they walk this part of their path.  Everyone can provide a light to brighten the path; we help hold them up when they are falling, He helps us all do that; we are their comfort in their sorrow, and we rejoice as much as they do when they can.

People lean on us, so it is important that we lean on God so that they also lean on Him, we do so through the words and life of Jesus, through recognising and accepting His gifts within us, and by utilising the Holy Spirit to bring Gods will upon this earth into fruition.

Not a number

This may be finished, it may be not,
I’ve yet to get past the wording clot
so in the meantime enjoy my rhyme
and I will be writing another time…

Oh, my Lord, He loves us all,
I beg thee see the truth
and answer to Gods open call
to live with love and youth.
He grants us life, to do His will
upon this Earth so bleak.
I wonder while I tread this mill
if I am seen as meek?

To walk the path of good is hard,
it’s often less well travelled.
So many temptations, be on your guard
or else be cruelly unravelled.
Wear Gods armour, pray each day
and turn yourself from evil,
for the devil and his hunters prey
upon the soul primaeval.

I pity those who wake, to die,
and envy those who will
sleep peacefully, as a baby, aye
so calm, and very still.
I lie here till my Lord doth come
to wake me from my slumber
and on that day rejoice, it’s done,
I am no more a number.

This is my ‘verse of today’ 🙂

Father, God in Heaven,
we thank you from the bottom of our hearts
for everything that is good in our lives.
Thank you for allowing us to share in your love,
for being a vessel to share that love with others,
and granting us the opportunity
to see the joy that it brings to others.
We often do not spend enough time with you,
but are thankful that you are always here with us,
despite our inadequacies,
Help us to become better disciples,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who resides with you, and intercedes on our behalf.

Amen

Being thankful to God

There are many types of prayer. I imagine the most used outside of the church environment are for supplication or intercession; for me or those I lift up to you. Many times when we pray we are usually praying because of something that is happening around us, to us, or to someone else, and these events fit into those two categories, but perhaps the one we’re most negligent in is just thankfulness to God.

Sometimes, instead of pleas to help me, help them, give me, give them, it’s about saying thank you:

Lord God, we give praise to you,
thank you for everything you do.
Thank you for being there;
for listening, when we do not,
and for friendship, when we are not.
Thank you for guiding us through life
and for all the things you provide.

Amen