Matt 7:3 (NLT) And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?
I was at the Optician’s the other day. Usual routine, running through a health questionnaire, drops in my eyes for photographs of the retina, peripheral vision checks, peering through a series of lenses located in an uncomfortable frame and so on. I usually bring up the subject of “floaters”, in case some new treatment has been developed. “Floaters” – little specks of matter that cast shadows on the retina at the back of the eye. Nothing significant most of the time. “Just a function of aging,” says the optician. Very helpful!
Jesus had something to say about “floaters”, only these were specks (probably sawdust, as He was a carpenter) in the eye of someone we know. He was talking about a fault we see in a person, but one they don’t seem to see in themselves. But Jesus said we can’t hope to see specks in our friend’s eye because we have a log in the way, blocking out our vision. The “floaters” in my eyes are so small they need a lot of magnification and clarity to see them. In fact, without the right equipment they can’t be seen at all. And so it is with our “logs” – we need the right spiritual equipment to see them so that, with God’s help, we can move them out of the way. When someone’s behaviour irritates us, and we are itching to administer some therapy, always refer to the Carpenter first – He is the Master at removing logs and bringing clarity to our vision! Once sorted, we will probably find that the speck in our friend’s eye just isn’t there anymore. Strange that!
I heard a song the other day on YouTube by some American young people, a band called United Pursuit. The bridge to the song goes:
So take me back, back to the beginning, When I was young, Running through the fields with You.
Do we remember those early days, when, all of a sudden, Jesus jumped out of the Bible into our hearts? That day of new beginnings when the Jesus of the Gospels became a personal revelation of the Gospel of Jesus? Those days of excitement when we realised there’s a new world out there? Where God is sovereign? If these young people, essentially fairly new Christians, have the realisation that their beginnings are to be revered, how much more for us older Christians. I know we can’t turn back the clock, neither should we try, but we must always remember, even experience again, the passion which accompanied our birth into God’s Kingdom. Don’t know how? Just ask Jesus to take you back to your beginnings, and then bask in the experience. And then share it with others. Believe you me, it’s infectious!
The Pope recently made two comments, as reported in the Independent newspaper – “The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the Divine Creator but, rather, requires it” and “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.” I think I agree with these comments because they form a bridge between the Biblical account of origins, and the evidence emerging as our scientists probe ever deeper into what exists around us. However, the problem that the secular evolutionists, philosophers, astronomers and physicists have is that they can’t explain where matter, the “stuff” that forms stars, planets, worms, etc., came from in the first place. If you Google this question, you will find many different theories, but that is all they are. Theories. So sad that today our scientists will stay awake at night thinking of ways around actually accepting that there is a Divine Creator. The God I know is infinitely powerful and capable, but He also knows me personally. Truly amazing!
John 3:8 (NLT) Jesus replied, “…The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
I live in a semi-rural part of West Fife. About a five-minute walk away there is a vantage point from where, across arable and dairy farm land, I can see the steam, flares and smoke of the Grangemouth industrial complex to the South-West, the Fintry hills to the West, the Ochils to the North, and the suburbia of Dunfermline and a West-Fife village or two to the East. A landscape of contrasts. But there are two fairly new additions to the landscape – wind turbines. Blades lazily winding around, generating power for our homes and businesses. But wind power harnessed in this way is nothing new; windmills have been a feature of previous landscapes and generations, wind power forcing millstones around to grind corn. Apparently, the words ‘Spirit’ and ‘wind’ in our text today, and in the original Greek, can mean much the same thing. So, the same way as we know little about the origins of the gust that we just heard whistling around the corner of the house, we know little about how God will birth His Spirit into our lives and circumstances. But we must be ready to harness the power of the Spirit, setting the blades of our spiritual windmills to maximise the power of His presence in our lives, and the lives of those around us. Where will the wind of the Spirit blow you, and into you, this week?
Psalm 121:1-4 (NLT) I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
A lovely, crisp, start to the day this morning. The sun, still hidden by the horizon, was lighting up the sky towards the East, with a kaleidoscope of yellows, and pinks, and other colours mixed in. The most skilled artist could not have captured the beauty of the moment, encapsulated in the sunrise. And then I looked North, in time to see a snowy hilltop bathed in a pink glow. Breath-taking beauty. Incredible colours. Indescribable creation. How can anyone ever doubt the existence of our Creator God! We sing a song, “I see Your face in every sunrise…”. Jesus is there at the start of the day. But then, at Port Ban, we look across to Jura and see amazing sunsets, equalling the beauty of this morning’s sunrise. Jesus is there at the end of the day. The psalmist looked up to the hills and realised his Source is in our Creator God. Need any help this week? The Source of all we need is the Maker of all we see in nature around us. And He is always with us, every hour, every day, every night. We praise You O Lord!
Psa 42:5 (NIV) Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.
John 10:10 (NKJV) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
I met Fred this morning, walking his black spaniel, Lacky, a lovely dog, but like many spaniels, I’m sure it is wired into the moon! Lacky proceeded to bounce around me, completely oblivious to anything except for the joy of being out for a walk. Fred seemed a bit down in the mouth though, so cheerily, I asked him, “How are you today, Fred?” He replied, “Oh, so-so”. And he moved on with his walk, pulling bouncing Lacky behind him, but obviously preoccupied with some weighty matter. But it made me think about how much time we often spend, in an “Oh, so-so” manner, instead of living in the reality of today’s texts. The psalmist asked of himself, “Why are you downcast, O my soul.” He realised his state of mind and knew where the solution lies, by hoping in God and focussing his praise on Him. Jesus came to bring us abundant life, so let’s live in the reality of that this week. That is not to say we deny the reality of life and its situations; it is realising the reality that in Jesus there is a whole different perspective, as we hope in Him. And as we thank and praise Him, we can experience abundant life.
2 Cor 2:14-16 (NIV) But thanks be to God, who … uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
At our Soup Pot this week (every Friday our church provides a bowl of soup, bread and butter, a sausage roll, crisps, chocolate biscuits and a hot drink to the needy in our town), a lady was sharing her difficulties with having to attend a training course so that she can continue to receive her benefits. She has arthritis in her knees, is prone to panic attacks, and has other health challenges, but has been declared fit for work. But she doesn’t feel able enough to take on the challenge of a job. So we listened and made encouraging noises, before she left. Afterwards, frustration was expressed about not having an opportunity to bring Jesus into the conversation. And then, someone else shared a snippet he had read in the news about a man who, through homelessness, was forced to use a soup kitchen run by a big city church. However, before they could eat, they had to sing a hymn and pray, something he much resented.
Perhaps the right approach was beautifully put by Paul in today’s text, in that we are the fragrance, or aroma, of Christ, pleasing to those who are around us, whether they are Christians or not. The thing about a fragrance, if suitably applied, is that it will not be “in your face” but, by its very presence, will please and bless those around us. Sometimes I think we underestimate just how much of a fragrance we are, as we meet those around us in our daily walk. A kind word, a good deed, a listening ear – all can be the “fragrance of Christ” to those we meet. So I would encourage you this week to look for opportunities to be the “fragrance of Christ” in our homes, families, workplaces, churches, supermarkets; in fact any situation where we meet people.
It hit me anew on Easter Sunday. Jesus is alive! JESUS IS ALIVE! And my thoughts immediately turned to the reality that Jesus is still alive. Still alive today. And then a bit of a downer – why do I spend too much of my time as though He wasn’t? All those everyday happenings that I struggle with on my own. All those times when conversations take place without the enlightenment of the Easter Day dawn. All those occasions when the “news” stridently declares strife, conflicts, doom and gloom. Jesus please forgive us for our lack of belief, for the times when we shut You out.