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2020 Bible Reflections

April 21st 2020: Psalm 8

Psalm 8[a]

For the director of music. According to gittith.[b] A psalm of David.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?[c]

You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e]
    and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their[g] feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

To call someone ‘our Lord’ is a powerful thing. Before we even get to the ‘all the earth’ part of the phrase that begins and ends this psalm, we are confronted with the idea of familiarity. This psalmist knows that the Lord is the Lord of them and their people. What comfort that must have been through the joys and sorrows of life. To know God and to know that the God they served and who loved them was not just a minor local deity, but the God of the whole Earth. It’s this God who has made men and women ‘a little lower than the angels’ to rule, or to take care of, the Earth.

Having faith in the God whose name is majestic in all the earth doesn’t by any means give us a free pass to treat people, creation or anything else just as we want to. We are always to do our best to remember that God is, as well as majestic, holy, good and just. Holiness, Goodness, Justice. These are all qualities of a Christian person who is filled with the Spirit of God. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be holier than thou or anything. I regularly stumble and slip and fall. What I am saying is that it is one thing to, rightly, recognise God’s goodness and holiness, to worship God and to be thankful. It is quite another to live our lives in response in such a way which we are making it clear that we believe these things.

Something To Do

How can you do good in such a way today as to show people that you love God? Not just with words but with actions.

Something To Pray

Pray that God would help you to understand more of just how good, kind and loving he is today.

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2020 Bible Reflections

April 20th 2020: Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

——–
‘You’ve searched me and you’ve known me’. Can there be a more terrifying and comforting in equal measure opening phrase in all of Scripture. What if God actually sees straight into me and knows me for who I really am? What then? I think if I ever stopped to realise that I am completely known by God I would be completely undone. There is no hiding place. I’m not sure if I even want there to be one anyway. But what these few words say to me is that faith in God, loving God, knowing God, being known by God is not something to be over-relaxed about. This is serious stuff. When we come to pray, to sing, to worship, to talk about God and his Word, we are talking about the one who sees all that we are, individually and together as humanity and yet loves us just the same. Some days I can’t get my head around that at all.
But yet, a few verses later, we have
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
Fearfully in this context means amazingly, rather than in the sense of needing to be frightened. The handiwork of God is powerful and good and the writer of the psalm, the ones who sing this song, they thank God because they are wonderfully made and completely known. Have you been able to do that recently?
At the end of the psalm, the psalmist is so confident in who they are in God that they invite Him to again search and know them. And then the desire which I think most of us could join in with, ‘lead me in the way which is everlasting.’ I hope you will let God do that today.
Something To Do
Think about the aspect of yourself that you like the least. Even that bit of you is fearfully and wonderfully made. Be kind to yourself today.
Something To Pray
Pray for those who struggle with knowing they are enough, either enough for God, themselves or for other people. Ask God to use you to help them today.
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2020 Bible Reflections

April 16th 2020: Luke 7:11-17

Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

‘A great prophet has appeared among us’ the people said. I don’t know about you but I’m not too used to seeing people raised from the dead. These days we hear about it sometimes in parts of the Church (although not so often in the Western World, interestingly). Jesus raised the son of the widow. Why? I wonder if it was because the widow needed the son, as well as to show something of the glory of God. We’re told that Jesus’s heart went out to the widow. And so he did something utterly outrageous and overcame physics and biology to restore the lost son to her, to reverse the crushing pain of the defeat of losing her precious son.

And yet the people still didn’t see him as saviour or messiah. They saw him as a great prophet, in the line of great prophets that had spread through the history of Israel.

Who are the great prophets of our day, I wonder. A very subjective question indeed and I won’t speculate here, but it feels a similar time in a lot of ways to the time in which Jesus was ministering in person on Earth. A succession of men and women come along to point us to truth, hope, justice, just enough to get through the day and often they can be a great help to a world which so often feels like it needs resetting or cheering up. Even in this very moment there is a lot of talk about the Church needing a reset. Perhaps that’s what’s happening in 2020. Whatever is really going on and whoever is speaking truth to power, speaking truth in places where it isn’t often heard, the question that springs forward to me from this reading today is, are we so distracted looking for prophets and people to change things around that we miss the very Saviour of the world walking, moving, loving and serving in our midst? I hope not.

Jesus was moved for the widow and he restored to her what was lost, broken, and healed her pain. He remained so moved that he went to the cross, through all that came with that, which most of us cannot even imagine and defeated death, moved with compassion to see wrong made right, hurt turned to healing, loss turned to love. He did it because he knew his Father’s heart was filled with compassion for us. The Father’s heart is filled with compassion for you. You might not feel it, sense it or see it, but I promise you it is true.

Something To Do

Find a way of showing compassion to someone you meet today

Something To Pray

Ask God to show you his heart for you. Don’t be alarmed if it feels overwhelming when you do. And then ask him to show you his heart for those around you. If you feel invited to move and do something for others, go to it.

 

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2020 Bible Reflections

April 14th 2020: Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

You can listen to today’s Psalm here: Psalm 136 audio
How often do you wish you could be sure that the goodness of God was a reality? How often do you find yourself hearing about this God from other people, perhaps people who seem a little off, or a little odd, but who also have a kind of contentment and confidence that the God they talk about loves them? And not just them either, but that the love he has for them could extend to anyone around who asked for it. People who don’t ‘get’ Christians (and there are lots of reasons not to ‘get’ Christians) often find it off-putting, infuriating even, that when things are tough and all the visible evidence points to God having long ago left the building, the faith of the one who truly trusts God remains strong. It makes no sense at all. Why would a person, or people, who appear to have been cut off, a people who have been let down, disappointed, hurt even, by the God who they put their trust in, keep on going back to him with love and trust and with thankful hearts.
It’s all in the psalm above what I’m writing here. The love of God has endured throughout everything that Israel has faced.
And so it endures today, through everything we face, whether individually or as a society. What will be remembered about us who claimed to have faith in God as we lived through the time of Covid-19 a hundred, two hundred, even a thousand years from now? Will it be that we remained thankful and praised God for his goodness? I hope so.
As we think back to the love Jesus showed and lived out through all he did at the first Easter, remember that whatever it seems like now, death is defeated, fear has no power anymore, unless we decide to allow it to have power in our lives. I’m bad at being fearful. It happens to me a lot, but the perfect love of God, love that endures forever, triumphs over fear. If we ask God into our lives, in he comes. And we need never be the same after that.
Something To Do
Write a list of all that you’re thankful for today. Give it time so that you don’t just write down the things that first come to mind. Then
Something To Pray
Thank God for each one in turn.
Categories
2020 Bible Reflections

April 11th 2020: Psalm 142

Psalm 142

A maskilof David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me.

You can listen to today’s Psalm here: Psalm 142 audio

David speaks this psalm from within a cave. It’s an important detail, particularly resonant today on Holy Saturday, when we remember the body of Jesus, in Joseph’s tomb, on the day of lost hope and quiet turmoil that his friends and disciples were going through. Yes, he had promised that if he, was destroyed he would rise within 3 days. Yes, those who had been paying attention might have been hopeful of something miraculous taking place, but Jesus’s family friends and followers had just watched the flame of hope and the light of love die, apparently, with the death of Jesus as they awoke on this Saturday. And they were frightened. Life was locked in a cave.

And so we return to David, another who spent time hiding in a cave, pursued by his enemies and, it often seems to me, by his own fears, doubts and questions, both about himself and his life and about whether the God he had put his hope in was really going to come through for him and save him. It’s a fair enough question and just as David asked it, the followers of Jesus asked it whilst he was in a cave, so it seems understandable to me that many of us might be in a place of doubt and questions and crying out to God for deliverance. Only a few days before this in his own story, Jesus had asked God if there was any possibility of the cup of suffering being taken from him. When the answer came back a resounding no, he once again set his face to what was needed and required of him and gave his life, his all, on the cross, scorning its shame, so that the possibility of resurrection might exist not just for him but for all.

David hiding in his cave cried out to God but still wanted to make it clear that he trusted God. Jesus trusted God and his plan all the way to the cross, the cave and the depths of death. Will we trust God through our own doubts and suffering in the hope that Sunday is coming?

Something To Do

Commit to contentment. What gifts have you been given that you can enjoy and use for the benefit of other people?

Something To Pray

Lord, you invite us to enter into the fellowship of Jesus’s sufferings. Help us to wait in this place of pain and watch with you for the dawn of tomorrow’s brand new day and brand new hope.

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2020 Bible Reflections

Good Friday Reflection

Yesterday morning, quite early (!), I was invited to give a ‘thought for the day’ on BBC Northampton, linking in with Good Friday being the start of what is usually a big weekend in the football season. Even though I’d rather it was better known for other reasons, of course, it was great to be invited to share with those listening. In lieu of a reflection post for yesterday – sorry, it’s been a busy time preparing things for Good Friday and Easter Sunday – here’s the reflection I shared.

Haydon

—–

It could be a Friday like any other. Looking out of my window as I share these thoughts with you this morning, all looks quiet, the sun is rising and the day looks like it has the chance to be a bright one ahead. 

And then I remember: it’s a Bank Holiday, Good Friday. No work for most of you listening today, time to rest, time with family and plenty besides, no doubt.

And then I remember: Good Friday should mean it’s a weekend with two Cobblers games in it. One of my favourite weekends of the year. So often promotion and relegation issues have been settled decisively one way or another this weekend. It’s never boring being a Cobblers fan, as many of you will know. Except of course this year there is no football to punctuate the Easter weekend. This is a Bank Holiday weekend unlike any that any of us has ever known in a series of days and weeks unlike any of us have ever known.

There was another Friday, long ago that could have been just another day and indeed was for many. But not for one man. For that one man, dying on a hill in Palestine in a supreme act of love and sacrifice, made faith, hope and love real and reachable for each one of us. And if you reach out today searching for enough faith, hope and love to get through today, you’ll find Jesus is already there, reaching out for you. Good Friday, Best Friday. It could have been just another day. But it wasn’t. Thank goodness for that.

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2020 Bible Reflections

April 7th 2020: Psalm 55:13-23

Psalm 55:13-23 New International Version (NIV)

13 But it is you, a man like myself,
    my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
    at the house of God,
as we walked about
    among the worshipers.

15 Let death take my enemies by surprise;
    let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
    for evil finds lodging among them.

16 As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
17 Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.
18 He rescues me unharmed
    from the battle waged against me,
    even though many oppose me.
19 God, who is enthroned from of old,
    who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
    because they have no fear of God.

20 My companion attacks his friends;
    he violates his covenant.
21 His talk is smooth as butter,
    yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
    yet they are drawn swords.

22 Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
    into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
    will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you.

Listen to Psalm 55 here: Psalm 55 audio

Have you ever looked at someone else and thought ‘I used to really like that person but now I’m really glad I’m not like them anymore’? That seems to be what’s going on in today’s reading.

Even though the outcome at the end of it all is fantastic and something that is an ideal aim for any of us in these pressing times – ‘But as for me, I trust in you’ – as I read these words today I want to sound a note of caution. It’s a note of caution that when we look back in a few years’ time might not seem rational or relevant but which I think is key now. We have been asked to live a certain way at this time for the good of one another. One another = both ourselves and everybody else. It’s perfectly easy to look about us and see people who are not living to the standards that we think they ought to at the best of times, but that is especially so now. Have any of us tutted as we’ve seen people walking past our houses less than 2 feet apart recently? That’s a bit like the psalmist and his companion. Both once worshipped together in the temple and expressed love for God and one another, but then the psalmist reckons that he kept to the rules he’d been given whilst his companion certainly did not.

This is all well and good except that right and good, or righteousness looks different in different people depending on who is looking. What I mean is this: I have quite a high awareness of my faults. You reading this might know about some of them but I’ll bet you don’t know all of them. I might look at you and think that you’re brilliant, but you might tell me that that’s only because I only see a certain side of you and if I really knew then I would lower my opinion.

I hope what I’m saying is making sense…Whether we puff ourselves up, do ourselves down, or do the same to other people, the Lord looks on he heart, the motivation we have, where we put our trust, as well as looking at our actions. Where is your heart today? What are you trusting? Don’t worry about what others are doing as much as you make sure that the log in your own eye is being attended to. Then when you say you trust God, when I say I trust God, it will have a better chance of actually being more fully true.

Something To Do

Think about whoever you live with or who you most regularly talk to. What is great about them? Make a list. If you’re feeling brave (!) tell the person what’s on it. It might surprise them!

Something To Pray

Pray that God would help you to see others the way He does and pray that He would increase your trust in Him today.

Categories
2020 Bible Reflections

April 6th 2020: Colossians 1:18-23

Colossians 1:18-23 New International Version (NIV)

18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleasedto have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven,and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.’

Listen to Colossians 1 here: Colossians 1 Audio

What we need at a time like this is words fit for a time such as this. What we need at a time like this is a Leader, a King, a Saviour, a Friend, fit for such a time as this. There’s not a prince, president or prime minister who could come close to the goodness of Jesus ‘for God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him and through him to reconcile to himself all things’. Wait a minute, I knew Jesus was great, but all the fullness of God, every part of God, all the bits I understand and all the bits I don’t understand, the bits that will stay beyond my comprehension for the whole of my life, all of it dwelt in Jesus? That’s mad. And  that’s not even all of it is it. Through Jesus (notice, not through Haydon, or you, whatever your name may be) everything is brought back together with God, whether it’s on Earth, in Heaven, or anywhere else. That’s even madder, isn’t it?

We can be presented holy and without blameless and accusation to God. That surely can’t be right. Even the most perfect-seeming of us is blamed for something, or accused of something, even if it’s only by us ourselves. More likely, we’re all the subject of blame and accusation, and rightly so. And you, Paul, writing this so that the Church can hear, having already said that Jesus is the head of it all and is the one who holds it all together, you’re saying that we can be free. We must have to do a huge amount for this freedom, surely?

We have to continue in the faith, stand firm, trust God and hold to the hope of the good news of Jesus Christ.

In one way really easy. At least for those of us who live in societies where we are not persecuted or prosecuted for following Jesus, but in another way a real challenge. What is the good news of Jesus Christ? Amongst other things, ‘no man knows greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’ or, ‘if you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me’, or again, ‘in this world you will have trouble’, not ‘you might have trouble’, but ‘you will have trouble’, ‘“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.””

Maybe it’s not so easy after all.

But in the end Jesus, who holds all things together and brought us the possibility of peace is the one who presents us to God. There is hope. Hope in Jesus. Hope is Jesus.

Something to Do

Think about your hopes for the next few weeks and months. What will you do to achieve them?

Something to Pray

Pray for those who are losing hope today, that they would know comfort. Pray that someone would come to mind for you to get in touch with today.

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2020 Bible Reflections

April 2nd 2020: Psalm 42

Listen to today’s Psalm here

It’s not always the case, but it is today: I’ve written a song which features a good portion of this psalm. Here is a recording made by Ghostree of that song back in 2011 in Nashville

Hope by Ghostree

Now we’ve got that out of the way, on to the passage itself.

It’s safe to say that the writer of today’s passage is not having a happy time of it. Things are going far from well. To have a downcast soul is more than just an expression we use after a bad day, or even a bad week or more, it seems to me that it’s the cumulative effect of being used to being downcast and disappointed over and over and over and over and over and over again. And so on. Not to be flippant about it at all. What I mean is that this person is desolate, in the depths of despair.

We see the writer remembering days gone by, when going to the Temple (Church for us today, perhaps) and joining with the throng praising the Mighty One, the Holy One, the God of the people was the thing that the writer was able to do, loved to do, looked forward to doing.

It’s only been a few weeks for us since we were able to join together face to face to worship God. I wonder, in the days up to the time that we were asked to stay away from places of worship, had you got into the habit of going through the motions with God, with Church, with a life of worship? It’s easy for any of us to fall into that trap. And then so soon any of us can find the option of worshipping together in a physical Church building taken away, either as we do ourselves now, or through persecution or for a whole variety of other reasons. As the writer has done here, it would be easy to become downcast, in the depths of our being. When will this be over? When will this pain and sadness, fear and uncertainty, when will it stop?

Be like the writer here. Talk to yourself if you feel this way and tell yourself, ‘even so, I’m still going to praise God’. Praise God however you can, whether on your own, on the phone with others, joining in with gatherings online or however you’re able to. Whatever’s going on today, put your hope in God. We will praise Him still, our Saviour and our God.

Something To Do

Praise God! Praise gives fuel to faith and faith and trust in God is what will see us through whatever we may face now or in time to come.

Something To Pray

Pray for those who haven’t been able to gather with their fellow believers for some time because they have been attacked and persecuted for their faith. Pray that they would be strengthened and that when the right time comes, they would be freed.

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2020 Bible Reflections

April 1st 2020: Psalm 62

You can read today’s Psalm below

 Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me?
    Would all of you throw me down—
    this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
    from my lofty place;
    they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
    but in their hearts they curse.[b]

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
    the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
    together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
    or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
    do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
    two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
    according to what they have done.”

You can listen to today’s passage here: Psalm 62 Audio

I’m writing this post towards the end of the working day on Wednesday. A few hours from now, at 7pmGMT  I’ll be leading a short service of Evening Prayer on the Emmanuel Group of Churches Facebook page

During the time of the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak in the UK in 2020 it’s been a great joy for me to find that the Bible has words of comfort and hope as well as challenge. I know that a lot of people dismiss the idea that a book, or collection of books could have power beyond the words in other books, but it is fascinating to me how day by day something from this ancient collection of texts, songs and poems has connected very closely with me.

Today, the psalmist, David, repeats in a variety of ways that his soul finds rest, peace and hope only in God. David was a man who was reported to be ‘after God’s heart’, or to put it another way, someone God saw something of himself in. We can look for rest, peace, hope, even perhaps a little joy, in a  lot of places, particularly in uncertain times like those that we are living through at the moment, but true rest, true peace, true hope and true joy, I’ve only ever found them why I’ve admitted my need for God and invited Him to take my life and use it for His glory. I know that sounds church-y. Some of us just want to get out of this period of time alive, still breathing, still able to enjoy the delights of the world around us. That’s understandable. David was writing, and living, under pretty extreme pressure – sometimes through his own fault and sometimes because of enemies seeking to destroy him. A lot of talk recently has been that Covid-19 is an invisible enemy. So it would be easy to curl up and use every resource we have just to keep on breathing over these next weeks and months, with every hope and good wish that all will be ok in the end.

The thing is, unless hope has a foundation, it’s not really hope at all. It’s a strongly held wish. There’s a song we sing at Emmanuel along with Churches around the world that starts

‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness’

The goodness of God which David knew is the same goodness of God that Jesus showed in His life – his righteousness, his goodness was proved because He did what He was asked to do and completed the task set out for him without sinning (turning away from God and doing His own thing). His death, though hugely unfair and unimaginably painful, opened the way for anyone who wants to to know God and to be known by God. My hope is built on the truth that God knows and loves me and wants me to know Him too.

Power belongs to God, not me, and that’s exactly the right way round.

Something To Do

Make a list of the things you have hope in. Is God on the list? What else is?

Something To Pray

Pray for those who are powerless at the moment, that they would experience God using His power for their good.