Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
During a visit to Tynemouth recently, I saw a plaque in a gift shop that said, “Beer is the answer, but I can’t remember the question.” A witty one-liner, connecting with the affinity and propensity of some for alcohol and reminding us of the unreliability of memories. I prefer the thought, “Jesus is the answer, whatever the question”. Because whatever issue in life I come up against, whenever I am at a loss to know what I should do, whenever there is a decision to be made, there is an answer, a way forward, and Jesus provides it. I’m not talking about trivial matters like, “What shall I wear this morning?”, but questions concerning the crossroads and weighty matters in life, where a wrong turning can lead to problems.
But the humbling thing is that if I look back in my life, I can see clearly those times when God directed my paths even when I didn’t ask the question. He was there, behind the scenes, making sure His answer was applied for my highest good, whether I asked Him or not. And when I strayed off the path and took a wrong turning, His heavenly sat-nav recalculated the route and brought me back on track. What a wonderful Saviour!
Psalm 23:1. The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I need.
I started my prayers this morning with a “Thank You”. I have increasingly come to appreciate in recent years that so much I take for granted is in fact due to the incredible and constant provision that God makes for me. Simple things, like in spite of the efforts of evil men, good prevails in the end. That I have air to breathe. Food to eat. Water to drink. A loyal and loving family. My health (apart from a few minor ‘creaks’!). So many things too numerous to mention. And when I talk to Him in prayer, and keep quiet long enough to hear a response, He answers me. This isn’t to say that life has no difficulties and disappointments for me, but I keep trying in such times (not always successfully!), to remind myself that God is Sovereign and is always there to talk to. And He is always willing to answer and provide the solutions I need.
So sad that most people in my community, my country, don’t believe in a personal God, a Being Who deeply desires a relationship with each of His created children. So sad that, looking at a Port Bàn sunset, they have no-One to thank. So sad that when they turn a tap, and water flows out, they take it for granted and instead demand it as their ‘right’. So sad, that they have no-One to turn to when disaster strikes. In the aftermath of the Manchester bombing, I know that God is reaching out with comfort and love to all the families and friends affected by this evil act. I pray today that they all open their hearts and let the “Light of the World” into their worlds.
Psalm 118:24. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
My birthday today. Not a big one thankfully, but one more notch in the shaft of life. They seem to becoming round quicker these days, but, to a Christian, to me, this life is but a precursor to a wonderful eternity, a training opportunity that God, in His wisdom, has allowed us to experience. And in His mercy, He gives us a wee glimpse through the gates of heaven from time to time, to help us along the road. So a day for rejoicing, that God has blessed me with another day, because He made it.
Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Much has been spoken about Jesus. Much has still to be said about Jesus. But through it all there is something special, something wonderful, something beautiful , something powerful, in all its simplicity, about the Name of Jesus. Songs have been written about His Name, prayers have been finished ‘in His Name’. Wonderful healings have taken place through His Name. The dead have been raised by the power of His Name. Lives have been changed dramatically through His Name. Souls have been saved by trusting in His Name. Relationships have been restored as His Name and Person is revered as Lord.
But here’s the thing – it is not just the five letters that make up His Name. Heaven forbid that anyone should think the Name of Jesus is some kind of incantation! It is the implication of what lies behind it. The Bible proclaims the character and mission of Jesus, setting out God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. And its climax is the personal realisation, available to everyone. that Jesus is the Son of God, Who cared for each one of us enough to come into this world to give His life for us. And through that realisation, we can now participate in His ministry, looking out for opportunities to introduce others, at their point of need, to the Name and Person of Jesus.
Josh 24:15. “…then choose today whom you will serve…as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
Life is full of choices. What to wear, what to eat, where to go. Careers. Education. Spouse. Who to vote for. And so on. The most important choice I ever made, by far, was to follow Jesus. But there were consequential choices that followed – I was working at that time for a “defence” contracting company, programming computers to teach British Army gunners how to shoot, with the different types of ordnance available to them. The Holy Spirit started to nudge me, saying that perhaps this was not the ideal job for a new Christian! So I made a choice. To move on to a new job. And I believe that as I have made choices since then, God has been behind me, continuing to “nudge” me, keeping me on the right road, gently correcting steering malfunctions on the way! I don’t know what the future holds, but I can look back with deep gratitude to a father Who cares for me, trusting that He will continue to direct my paths, step by step, for the rest of my days.
Psalm46 :10. Be still and know that I am God.
As I write this I am sitting in the sun at Port Bàn. It’s a quiet day, not many holiday makers here. As I look across to the Sound of Islay, the sea shimmers, reflecting the blinding brilliance of our local star. It’s quiet and peaceful, the only sound the breeze rustling through the indigenous vegetation. The sky devoid of the customary greyness, clouds banished by a high pressure weather system sitting slightly to the north of Scotland. At times like this it is easier to find God, there being no distractions, no hurly-burly of life-sapping demands from the busy lives we lead. But whatever we are doing, wherever we are, stillness is commanded by God. Because He knows how desperately we need to know that He is the great ‘I am’. That He has everything under control. That whatever our journey in life is, He is with us, step by step, day by day, moment by moment. And if we fail to feel His presence at anytime, let us try and take time out and ‘be still’ and listen. He is waiting.
2Tim 3:16. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (NLT)
The Bible. The Holy Bible. The Word of God. Holy Scriptures. The Old and New Testaments. No matter what description or name you choose, or use, we can’t get away from the fact that, to a Christian, the most treasured and precious companion is his or her copy of the Bible. What translation do you have? So many to choose from. How blessed we are that we can pick up a Bible and read it without anyone doing anything to stop us. But the wonder of it is underpinned by today’s verse from Paul’s second letter to Timothy – other versions say that all Scripture is ‘God-breathed’. Wow! Can you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as you lovingly and carefully lift your copy of the Bible? Are you overcome by the emotion of realising that this wonderful Book has God’s fingerprints all over and through it? That He has inspired His faithful servants to write down every thought, story, teaching, description, breathing out His love for us on every verse in the process? Even those tedious and difficult passages in Leviticus? Or the word pictures in Revelation? Do you get a red face when reading the Songs of Solomon? O Lord, let us never lose the wonder of reading the Bible. Bring it to life in our hearts and heads so that we will ‘See you more clearly, Love you more dearly, Follow you more nearly, day by day’. Amen!