John 14:27 NIV
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Who doesn't need Christ's promised peace. I need it this very day.
Lord Jesus, may we know your peace. Amen
Matthew 16:24-26 NIV
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Dietrich Bonhoffer, commenting on this passage in the 1930s in Nazi Germany, wrote, 'When Christ calls a man (sic), he bids him come and die.' Bonhoffer was a pastor and theologian and stood up against Hitler, even to the extent fo joining with the group who sought to asassinate the evil tyrant. Bonhoffer was a man of peace and yet... He was hanged on the personal order of Hitler less than a month before the end of WW2. Following Christ Jesus lived out - he bids him come and die...
What might be the cross we are called to carry? By the way, the rewards are worth it.
Lord Jesus, please send your Holy Spirit that I might follow you. Amen.
Acts 2:1-4 NIV
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Over the last few week, I have been reminding us the Jesus is alive, that He is Risen. Now I remind us that Jesus keeps his promises. He promised that the Holy Spirit would come. Well, he has. As Christians, we are blessed that the Holy Spirit lives in us. Dwell for a moment on the outrageous and astonishing fact that we are indwelt by God, the Holy Spirit. It makes me kae my head in wonder.
Praise to the Lord, the giver of life, the Holy Spirit. In Jesus's name. Amen.
Romans 12:9-21 NIV
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
How do I compare when I read this passage about living as a disciple of Jesus Christ? It would be easy to feel rather lacking. Thanks be to God that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
The instructions in the passage are a fantastic description of what it means to live for Jesus. Please have another read and notice the contrast with how most people on the world expect to live. Only by the Holy Spirit can we hope to live in such a counter cultural way.
Come Holy Spirit and help me to live as Christ would have me live. Amen.
Please note that the next Food for the Soul will be posted on Saturday.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
He is alive, you know. As the song goes, 'You ask me how I know he lives. He lives within my heart.' We may not have seen Jesus in the way Mary saw him. However, we know he lives and we love that he lives. We are like Mary in another way; Jesus knows us by name. That warms my heart. I hope it warms yours, too. Will we be like Mary and tell people that we know the Risen Jesus?
Thank you, Jesus, that you know me by name and that you love me to the uttermost. Amen.
Luke 24:1-12 NIV
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
How amazed are we that Jesus is risen from the dead? Have we become too accustomed to the knowing Jesus is alive. Do we need to be a bit more like Peter, 'wondering...what has happened.'
'Wonder' can have more than one meaning: it can mean being a little confused, but it can also mean to marvel or to be amazed. Actually, in the original language the meaning is more akin to the latter. We ought to always marvel that Jesus is risen. It is life changing and life giving to know that death is defeated!
Lord Jesus, may we never lose the sense of wonder that you are risen, that you have defeated death. Thank you. Amen.
Matthew 28:1-10 NIV
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Just in case we have forgotten: JESUS IS ALIVE.
It is worth calling to mind that JESUS IS ALIVE.
Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed! Hallelujah. Amen. Hallelujah. Amen.
Mark 8:27-30 NIV
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
This is the key question: 'Who do you say I am?' How we respond to the question about who we think Jesus is, defines everything. To answer as Peter answered is the greatest act of faith and worship we can offer. How are we answering this question on this Sunday morning? Today? Tomorrow...?
Jesus, you are the messiah! Thanks be to God in your name. Amen.
New Revised Standard Version
Jeremiah’s Call and Commission
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
OK, this is about Jeremiah. But I think we can extend the idea to us. At least, I am content to do so. Content? Much more than that. Much more than content. Who does not delight in the security of knowing that God knew us before we were born. Now, which among us is God calling to a ministry of speaking to the nations. Maybe not something so grand; however, we are all called to serve and to share the good news of Jesus.
Thank you, Lord, for knowing me since before I was born. In Jesus's name. Amen.
New Revised Standard
The Glorious New Creation
17 For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating,
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy
and its people as a delight.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it
or the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime,
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat,
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord--
and their descendants as well.
24 Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.
A long read, so a very short reflection: God is good. God has great things in mind for us!
Lord God, may we live to see the day described. Not for us, but for your glory. In Jesus's name. Amen.
New International Version
10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.
Please have a re read of the passage. Let delight in the Lord grow in you and flow from you. Looked at how God has dressed you: salvation and righteousness. Makes your soul rejoice, doesn't it?
And look at what is to come. What has started as an individual thing becomes multinational. Encouraged?
Lord God Almighty, please bring Isaiah's prophecy to pass. For Jesus's sake. Amen.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.
Herod has heard about all that was going on. He had heard about Jesus. Herod was completely perplexed. He needed to find out who was stirring the people. He needed to find out about an itinerant preacher, teacher, healer and miracle worker. Herod wanted to see Jesus. Herod needed Jesus, more than he knew, Herod needed Jesus. We follow the same Jesus. How can we show the Jesus we know, the very attractive Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are the same Jesus that Herod tried to see. Thank you that you are the same yesterday, today and forever. Amen.
Luke 8:22-25 NIV
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
Do we see Jesus as the one who can calm the storms in our life? How about going further and recognising that Jesus is calm personified. He is our peace.
When the squall comes: Jesus
When we are swamped: Jesus
When we are in great danger: Jesus
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Luke 8:16-18 NIV
“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”
What do you make of the last part of the passage? There are some passages that are really hard to understand. Why would someone with little have that little taken from them? Well, we are warned to listen carefully. The passage is about the light of faith and how we share our faith in Christ. We must take care how we listen, so that we respond obediently to Jesus’ teaching, rather than shrink from it because it convicts us of sin. If we respond obediently, we will receive more light. If we shrink back, what light we think we have will be taken from us. Well, that might be what it means...
Lord Jesus, please send your Holy Spirit to help me to listen carefully both for and to hour voice. Amen.
Luke 4:16-21 NIV
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Have you ever heard someone say that you don't need to go to church to be a Christian. Well, unless there are health type reasons, or genuine pastoral reasons why someone cannot gather regularly with other Christians, someone who says that is just plain wrong! It might be worth gently pointing out, to those with such a mistaken viewpoint, a simple phrase in this passage - Jesus went to synagogue 'as was his custom.' It seems to me that if regular gathering together for worship at 'church' was good enough for Jesus, it is a model we ought to follow. You see, at its root, the meaning of 'synagogue' is a gathering of a congregation. So is the root of 'church.' And Methodists who read this may well recall that John Wesley wrote that the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion.
Today is Sunday, the Lord's Day. As is our custom, let's go to church.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your modelling the good practice of joining with others to worship and learn and share in fellowship. May we do likewise. Amen.
When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
There is someone in this passage that touches me deeply...and it isn't Jesus. The Centurion knows the importance of faith to others. The Centurion knows that Jesus has the power to heal with just a word. The Centurion knows what it means to have power and authority. The Centurion knows what it means for others to be busy. The Centurion knows that he has faith. And Jesus responses to the faith and grace shown by the Centurion. Jesus describes the faith as great. The slave is healed!
Lord Jesus may I have the great faith of the centurion. May I have that faith without having to face the crisis of having one close to me facing death. Amen.
Luke 6:43-45 NRSV
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks."
Integrity. Being who we say we are. What we say and what we do are a mirror of what is in our heart. Are we WYSIWYGs. Do we reflect Christ Jesus, for surely he lives in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit.
May we show you to others, Lord Jesus. Amen.
He who lives forever created the whole universe;
the Lord alone will be justified.
To none has he given power to proclaim his works,
and who can search out his mighty deeds?
Who can measure his majestic power,
and who can fully recount his mercies?
It is not possible to diminish or increase them,
nor is it possible to fathom the wonders of the Lord.
How great is our God! It is impossible to measure or count God's power or mercy. Amazing is our majestic God. We can neither add to nor diminish God's greatness.
We worship and praise you, O Lord. For Jesus's sake and in his name. Amen.
Wisdom of Solomon 15:1-3
But you, our God, are kind and true,
patient, and ruling all things in mercy.
For even if we sin we are yours, knowing your power;
but we will not sin because we know that you acknowledge us as yours.
For to know you is complete righteousness,
and to know your power is the root of immortality.
'For even if we sin we are yours.' Isn't it amazing to know that our loving, merciful and wonderful God does not abandon is even in our sin. God is completely righteous and is the 'root of immortality.' Our eternity is safe with God because of Jesus. Rejoice that we are safe and secure.
O Lord our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth. Thank you for never letting go of us. Thank you for forgiving us. Thank you for acknowledging us. Thank you for Jesus. Amen.
Sirach 51 (additional verses)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the God of praises,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the guardian of Israel,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to him who formed all things,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the redeemer of Israel,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to him who gathers the dispersed of Israel,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to him who rebuilt his city and his sanctuary,
for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to him who makes a horn to sprout for the house of David,
for his mercy endures forever;
In case we didn't notice, 'his mercy endures forever.'
And, I wonder, is Jesus, the horn that sprouts for David? What prophecy!
Thank you, Lord, that your mercy endures forever. Amen.
If you turn to him with all your heart and with all your soul,
to do what is true before him,
then he will turn to you
and will no longer hide his face from you.
So now see what he has done for you;
acknowledge him at the top of your voice.
Bless the Lord of righteousness,
and exalt the King of the ages.
In the land of my exile I acknowledge him
and show his power and majesty to a nation of sinners:
‘Turn back, you sinners, and do what is right before him;
perhaps he may look with favor upon you and show you mercy.’
As for me, I exalt my God,
and my soul rejoices in the King of heaven.
Many Protestant Christians don't often read the Apocrypha. From time to time it is worth dipping into. This passage about repententance speaks well to us. Turn to God with our whole self, heart and soul. We ought to notice what God has done for us and the shout about it 'at the top of your voice.' Let's bless the Lord and exalt him. Did you notice that Tobit even did this whilst in exile. Perhaps the lesson is to remember God when things are tough.
May I acknowledge you always, Lord. May I exalt you at the top of my voice. For Jesus's sake. Amen.
I will sing to my God a new song:
O Lord, you are great and glorious,
wonderful in strength, invincible.
Let all your creatures serve you,
for you spoke, and they were made.
You sent forth your spirit, and it formed them;
there is none that can resist your voice.
For the mountains shall be shaken to their foundations with the waters;
before your glance the rocks shall melt like wax.
But to those who fear you
you show mercy.
For every sacrifice as a fragrant offering is a small thing,
and the fat of all whole burnt-offerings to you is a very little thing;
but whoever fears the Lord is great for ever.
Today is the Lord's Day. Sundays are special. Let's be bold to sing a new song to the LORD. Why not write down a 'hymn' of praise. Make it up yourself. Pour out words of praise to our Lord.
Calling you worthy of praise doesn't cut it Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Amen. In Jesus's name, amen.
Nehemiah 4:7-9 NIV
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
If you find yourself doing God's work, you will often face opposition. Especially if what you are doing challenges someone's vested interests. That is what is happening here. The wall building was going well and was now being threatened. Look at the response: 'we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.' Prayer was coupled with action. What a challenge that is. How often do I pray for divine intervention? And how often don't I then act on the prayer. Here are some things to challenge us: more people are needy to work alongside the very poor andsome churches are struggling financially. Be careful what we pray for... We might be the answer to the prayer.
Lord Jesus help me to pray and post a guard. Amen.
Ezra 1:1-6 NIV
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “ ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’ ” Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. All their neighbours assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.
Time has passed. Seventy years of exile are to end. The people of Judah are to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. They are to go with the King's blessing. They are to go with riches and livestock and valuables, and more. Seventy years is a long time. Yet, the exile is over. They have not been abandoned by God. What do we take away from this? How much does this help us in the tougher times? Tougher times come to a close. God never abandons us. He is with us. God is with us. Emmauel.
Lord God Almighty, may we never forget your love for us. In Jesus's name. Amen.
John 11:25-26 NIV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Sometimes one's own life even more than one's own interpretation of Scripture has to find it's way into these daily posts. Today is one such occasion. Last night, just after 11, my mother-in-law died. However, she died whilst believing in Jesus. Jesus has been her Lord and Saviour for longer than I have known her.
Re-read the passage again. How do you answer Jesus's question. To corrupt some words of Joshua, 'As for me and my family, we will answer, 'Yes.' We believe that Christobel Ida Marigold lives still. We believe she is with Jesus.
Lord Jesus, may your servant Marigold, rest in your peace and rise in your glory. Amen