Daily Update #236

7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

Exodus 32:7-14

The incident of the Israelites making and then worshipping the golden calf underlines our human predisposition toward sin.  Moses has gone up to Mount Sinai to receive God’s detailed instructions, including the law and commandments written on the original tablets of stone by God himself.  He sets off on his own in the middle of Exodus chapter 24 and is away for 40 days and 40 nights.  

The people of Israel become restless and demand the Aaron makes gods for them who will go before them.  Moses is on the mountain receiving God’s instructions.  They are at the foot of the mountain and can’t wait, so they take matters into their own hands and go after other gods.  

This is no surprise to God.  He tells Moses that the people have become corrupt, that they have turned away from God’s commands and that they have worshipped the idol they have created.  This passage includes the first mention of “stiff-necked”, which is a settled rebellion against God, a lack of willingness to submit to his sovereignty, his rule over their lives.  

The result is looming disaster.  The Lord announces his intention to destroy his people and instead make Moses into a great nation.  While it’s not explicit in the text, it certainly appears that the Lord is using this incident to test Moses as well, to see how he will react to the sin of his fellow Israelites.  Will he quietly accept becoming a great nation personally?  Will he abandon his fellow Israelites to the consequences of their sin and rebellion against God?  

Thankfully, Moses rises to the occasion and makes three pleas on behalf of the people of Israel.  It is important to note the grounds he gives.  He does not at all attempt to excuse or minimise the sin of the people.  Instead, he appeals to God to protect his reputation, as well as showing his mercy and his faithfulness.  

Firstly God’s reputation.  By destroying the people of Israel, despite good cause, it would look as if God had brought his people out of Egypt only for destruction at Mount Sinai.  The report of this event to the Egyptians would given them opportunity to question God’s motives in bringing his people out of Egypt.  Did he really go to all that trouble, just to wipe them out?  

Secondly, God’s mercy.  Moses appeals to God to turn from his fierce anger and to relent.  This is an appeal for mercy, based on God’s character, and should not be interpreted as God somehow changing his mind.  God is unchanging, in contrast to people who are fickle and volatile.  His unchanging character is to show mercy and love to those who don’t deserve them.  

Thirdly, God’s faithfulness.  Moses reminds God of his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Israel (Jacob).  He reminds God that he swore by himself to make their descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and to give them the promised land.  

As a result of these pleas, God has mercy on the people and spares them.  

I take it that this incident is to help us as we ponder God’s will in various situations which we might face.  In the Lord’s Prayer we ask for God’s will to be done, in earth as it is in heaven.  These pleas by Moses are based on God’s character, on his reputation, his mercy and his faithfulness.  These should be the main ways we approach God in our situations.  Rather than being focused on our views, our objectives, what we think is right in our limited understanding of things, let’s focus on what really matters, which is God’s reputation, his mercy and his faithfulness.  If and when we pray that God will act to show his goodness, his mercy and his faithfulness, surely this is really solid ground?!  God has promised, how can anything resist his will, go against his plan to show his glory and his goodness to all peoples, as well as graciously save his people?  

So as we pray, let’s consciously step back from our own cares and concerns.  Instead, let’s focus on what brings God honour, those things which highlight his character and his faithfulness.  Then the things of earth will grow strangely dim as we bask in his presence, enjoy his favour and watch him in action to answer prayer and make sure that his will gets done!  

Tomorrow’s passage:  2 Samuel 4:7-12

Daily Update #235

Isa 49:8-15; Ps 145:8-18; John 5:17-30

I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, Isa49:8

There’s an old East German joke about a man arranging a plumber. The plumber can come on a Thursday in six months time. Morning or evening says the man. It’s six months away, says the Plumber, what difference does it make? I have an electrician coming in the morning, says the man.

I wonder if you have a good memory, but I wonder how far ‘ahead’ it goes. We can normally remember significant events, especially if they were particularly emotional. But can we remember things in the long haul? As the days blur a bit, I need to remember what lies ahead. Would I remember a plumber coming on Thursday in six months time?

Isaiah today reflects on memory. The Nation of Israel is in exile and will return to Jerusalem. We have studied some parts of that in our series in Nehemiah, which I hope you found helpful. We know that God’s covenant with Israel is not going to be fulfilled in the way the nation expected. In 49:7 the Servant, (Holy One) are depicted separately from Israel, who are now called Zion. The promises remain real but the circumstances are going to be different. God’s memory is perfect, he does not forget his promise and in 49:8, we learn this promise is an individual given as a covenant to the people. He is the promise that God made and God’s redemption will be effected through him.

We know this is Jesus. But do we remember all God’s promises are fulfilled in him? Zion is in a bad way. It is desolate and there are none among the people who can claim their inheritance..’ Though we don’t see it for some while later in the Bible, (John 18:36 for example), God’s focus is for the people to inherit the spiritual ‘land’ of the Kingdom and the ‘inheritance’ of Spirit. In spite of this remarkable turnaround verses 9-11, and the impact it has upon the people around them, verse 12, which brings joyous celebration, v13; by verse 14, the people have returned to their own desolation, declaring that God had forgotten them.

So in the middle of their mess, they forget. They forgot they were loved and cared for by a god who would never abandon them, but would one day abandon himself for them. They let the things around them swamp them and hide from them the glory that lay ahead. Do we forget the covenant that God  made with us in Jesus Christ?

Can we focus on Jesus in such a way that whatever today brings to us will not shake us? How many of Jesus’ promises can we remember? What is coming at me today that Jesus’ promises can help?

Let’s pray
Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessed are you, Lord our God. How sweet are your words to the taste, sweeter than honey to the mouth. How precious are your commands for our life, more than the finest gold in our hands. How marvellous is your will for the world, Unending is your love for the nations. Our voices shall sing of your promises and our lips declare your praise. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Blessed be God for ever. Amen.

Tomorrow’s readings are: Exod 32:7-14, Ps 106:19-23,John 5:31-47
After Easter we will continue daily reflections througha couple of Bible books as it is easier to see the thread of God’s work.

Daily Update #234

Today’s Readings:  Ezekiel 47:1-9,12.   Psalm 46:1-11.    John 5:1-3, 5-16.

‘1 God is on our side: refuge and strength, help for us in adversity; exceedingly to be found! 2 Therefore we will not fear when the earth changes – when mountains shift into the heart of the seas. 3 Its waters boil up boisterously; mountains shake by its swelling- 4 a river! Its streams gladden the city of God, the holiest of the dwelling-places of the Most High. 5 God is at its centre; it will not be shifted. God will help it at the approach of morning. 6 Nations were boisterous; kingdoms shifted; he uttered his voice; the earth melts! 7 Yahweh of Hosts is with us; top-security for us is the God of Jacob. 8 Come, gaze at the deeds of Yahweh- how he has placed desolations in the earth: 9 making wars cease to the end of  the earth; the bow he shatters; and he cuts the spar in pieces; the wagons he burns with fire. 10 Relax, and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the earth. 11 Yahweh of Hosts is with us; top-security for us is the God of Jacob.’ (‘Psalms By The Day: A New Devotional Translation’ by Alec Moyer, 2016).

Even if a bit ‘clunky’ at first reading, fresh translations of psalms such as Psalm 46 can open up new insights beyond the familiar language. I prefer the New International Version’s verse 10 but it is also good to know that ‘being still’ before God involves calmness and even being relaxed! I would now like to give out some homework so that you benefit fully from today’s Psalm. Please read it alongside the two following psalms because they really do go together. Psalms  46-48 reflect on God’s last minute deliverance of Jerusalem in around 701 BC from the invasion of the Assyrian King Sennacherib (see 2Kings 19:35-37). Firstly, Psalm 46 considers the clamour and threats of violence that are hushed by God’s ‘still small voice of calm’, and His authority over His creation. Then Psalm 47 reminds us of His all-powerful and ultimately victorious oversight of the nations. Psalm 48 celebrates God’s saving of His holy city on mount Zion. It ends with the lovely words “For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end” (v14).

These three psalms speak reassuringly to us in our turbulent times. Today the nations continue to fight the pandemic, over 20 million people are starving in Yemen, Mount Etna on Sicily has been erupting again and Myanmar has had a military coup. We are trying to come to terms with the fragility of western democracy following the violent attack on the US Congress of 6th January. Once again, the nations are ‘in uproar’ and ‘kingdoms fall’. There is much fear and instability even where peaceful times have been enjoyed in recent years. However, we will be able to support each other, our families, friends and neighbours if our lives reflect the great truths in Psalm 46 (NIV):

verses 1-2a,7,11“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear” (v1, 2a). God is Immanuel – ‘with us’, for us and for ever!

verse 10: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” We can step aside from all the noise of our world to rest in God’s presence. He will in time be recognised in all His glory over all the earth.

verse 11: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” God is not only with us for ever. He is our ‘safe place’. Like a mighty fortress which is never breached and over-run, He protects His people for ever – in this life and beyond.

‘In Psalm 46 we are at rest in Yahweh’s care; in Psalm 47 we are at rest on His finished work; in Psalm 48 we are at rest in hope. God will guide us to our dying day – yes, and beyond that into eternal glory’ (Revd Dr JA Motyer).

Today’s Prayer (after a short time of reflection): Thank you Lord that we are eternally safe with you. Please help us to cease striving in our own strength. May we relax and rest in who you are and in what you have done for us through Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

Daily Update #233

Today’s passages:     Isaiah 65:17-25;   Psalm 30.1-5,8,11-end;   John 4:43-end

For those of you who have been paying attention to the daily updates over the last year, you will no doubt have noticed, that I seem to have two consistent messages in the passages I have been given to share: firstly, pick whose side you are on – God’s side or the world’s side and secondly repent, make yourselves right with God.

So perhaps today you will rejoice with me as we read today’s excerpt from Isaiah 65. Here we glimpse into the future with Isaiah and see the promise of what is to come, if we have held fast to God.

17“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people ;the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
20 Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”

As a prophet of God, Isaiah has spent his life warning the people to turn back to God and crying out to God on behalf of His people for mercy and pardon. As we come to the end of the book of Isaiah, the Lord speaks, firstly about his judgement of his people and then of their final salvation. Indeed, even Peter says the “heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Then “in keeping with his promise,” God will create a “new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10, 13).

There is much debate about how this picture fits in with other revelations of the end times, but one thing is clear that both everything and everyone will be totally changed. The curse of sin which we currently live under will be lifted. Our lifespans will be extended, and peace will reign everywhere, even amongst the animals. All that is wrong on earth will be set right.

Our new heaven and earth will be way beyond anything we could imagine or dream of. All the worries and concerns of today will be no more, they will evaporate into the ether (v.17) as we enter God’s rest. God’s word is full of encouragement and promise for us. In Psalm 30, David retells how by calling out to God, he was rescued again and again. Whatever the hardships are that you are facing, you can take comfort in knowing that your “weeping may last through the night, but your joy will come in the morning”.(Psalm 30:5)

Over the past year, it has been hard to imagine what our ‘new normal’ would look like. Even today, we don’t really know. So, it is really impossible for us to fully comprehend the wonder that God has in store for us, as we move day by day towards this new reality. The Bible tells us that no-one knows the day or the hour, so all we can do is live in a way to prepare ourselves for this marvellous future when we will “always be God’s people” (Isaiah 66:22b). 

Let’s pray: Lord God, it is so easy for us to get caught up in our here and now and we often forget that you have an amazing future home prepared for us. Thank you that we can catch glimpses of it through your word and that we trust you to bring us through all our trials and tribulations, even when we can’t see the way ahead. Help us to take comfort in the fact that you have a plan and a future that includes us and may we remember that we can always be your people.  Amen

Tomorrow’s passages:  Ezekiel 47:1-9.12    Psalm 46:1-8    John 5:1-3,5-16

Daily Update #232

HOSEA 14,   PSALM 81: 6-10, 13, 16,   MARK 12:28-34

Many parents will relate to conversations beginning with “if you…
“if you eat too many sweets you will be sick”
“if you persist in riding your bike that way you will fall off and hurt yourself”
“if you drive recklessly you will find yourself in trouble with the police.”
etc. etc.
 A wise and loving parent puts boundaries around a child’s life and warns them what is likely to happen if they transgress.    Correction follows disobedience and progresses to stronger, more painful forms, if ignored.  
As children grow up, hopefully they learn self-discipline and become mature.  
God is a God of relationship who wants the best for His children.   In the days of Moses God gave His people the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20).   It made His people special.   No other nation had this sort of agreement with God – it was their privilege.    It was like a marriage covenant with responsibilities on both sides.     If God’s people obeyed the terms of the Covenant they would receive great blessings.  If not there would be pain.
At the time when Hosea and his contemporaries were speaking to the people – the marriage covenant between God and Israel had sadly gone very wrong.  God remained faithful on His side, but the Israelite nation was behaving, not as a loving wife, but as a prostitute.    Permissiveness, sexual laxity, alcohol consumption etc. had all left their mark.  The people adopted the ways of the surrounding nations and worshipped their gods instead of bowing to God Almighty.         
 A Holy God cannot allow His sinful children to go uncorrected and He allowed them to experience food and water shortages, crops that were diseased, plagues, storms, lightning strikes and earthquake.   Again and again God warned them of the consequences of their behaviour, but they did not listen.

If we entertain ideas that God doesn’t mind what we do, reading this may come as a shock     He is grieved by sin.   God corrects His people in order to set them back on the right path.  He wants a Holy Bride.
Hosea chapter 14 is worth reading through several times very slowly.   God does not want His people to go through pain.   It is His last appeal to them.   He longs for them to return to Him.     It is beautiful in the way God expresses His deep love.    There is still time for them to repent of their waywardness and receive His blessings.

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you and return to the Lord.
Say to Him
“Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount war-horses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion.”

I will heal their waywardness and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots;
his young shoots will grow.
His splendour will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
Men will dwell again in his shade.
He will flourish like the corn.
He will blossom like a vine,
and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.

O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a green pine tree;
your fruitfulness comes from me.”
Who is wise? He will realise these things.
Who is discerning?  He will understand them.
The ways of the Lord are right;
the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”

 God always relates to His people in love.  At times His love is tender and at times it has to be tough.    Sadly, the Israelites still did not listen to His warnings and invitation.    They rejected the relationship and failed to repent of their sin.   
Ten years later the Assyrians came and took them into captivity.
Since Adam and Eve sinned at the beginning of time human beings have tried to live independently from God and worship something else instead. The sins of the Israelites have a very modern ring to them.    Many parents grieve over situations their children get themselves into and God grieves over some of the situations we get into. 
Some people think that God is a killjoy, but because He is our Creator His plan is for us to live dependently on Him and in obedience to His Commands.     Any other way leads to death.    Because we have free-will following the ways of the secular world may seem exiting at the time, but there are always consequences to our choices.     
MARK 12:28-34
The legally-minded scribe wanted to know which God’s most important Commands were.     Jesus reduced it to just two ways that we can please God… “To love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength and one’s neighbour as oneself”.     
That is enough challenge to last a lifetime….. a whole of life commitment, with God at the centre and reaching out to other people in love.   Only Jesus ever succeeded fully in this.    Soon after saying this He went to the cross – proving both.  
Relating to God means that we have a very high calling.   Often we fail.     Sometimes we have to learn lessons the hard way.     When we do, God’s grace and forgiveness are sufficient to set us back on the right pathway, as long we walk hand in hand with Him all the way.   

“Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways:
Reclothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.”
J.G. Whittier, 1807-92

Daily Update #231

23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’

27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.

Jeremiah 7:23-28

It’s a tough message from Jeremiah today.  But no less pertinent to our nation and us personally, for all that.  Jeremiah has the unpopular task of calling God’s people to account.  The Lord reminds his people of the covenant he made with them.  Firstly, he saved them by rescuing them from slavery under the Egyptians.  At Mount Sinai he spoke to the people he had redeemed, through his servant Moses, and gave them the law which was his clear instruction as to how to live.  The message was clear, obey this law and you will live and it will go well with you.  Sadly, the people went backward, became stiff-necked and did more and more evil.  God gave them many, many chances to reform.  He sent numerous servants, the prophets, to call people and warn them.  Yet all of his patience and ample warnings have fallen on deaf ears.  The verdict is stark.  

This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction.  Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.  

If this sounds scarily familiar, it is because we are facing a similar situation.  Fake news.  People who insist on making laws which are in direct opposition to clear teaching in scripture.  Stiff-necked people everywhere, convinced that they know better than our creator and sustainer, the Lord God.  The powerful ride rough-shod over the weak and helpless, widows and orphans, aliens and asylum seekers, poorer peoples who we can and should support but who we reject.  

So where next, what is to be done?  

Jesus calls his church to be different.  We are to be in the world, but not of the world.  We are to be salt and light in those places where he has sent us.  We are to be distinctive and counter-cultural, the aroma of Christ to those who are perishing.  

The Lord God has a plan.  He loves his creation and is calling his people.  Later in Jeremiah we read about his plan in the famous passage which recounts Jeremiah’s visit to the potter’s house:  

3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

Jeremiah 18:3-6

It would be easy for us to become discouraged, just to withdraw into our holy huddle and not engage with our world.  This would be against God’s plan.  He is a reforming God, who will literally remould us into his newly created people.  Our challenge is to be soft so that he can change us.  Not to fall into the stiff-necked attitude of those around us but instead to be those who listen, hear, change, repent, return to God and seek to honour him at all times.  

So let’s focus on how God is moulding us today.  What shape is he making us into, so that we can be the best that we can be for him?  How can we challenge others to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and to join us in this amazing journey of being reshaped into the people who will live forever and enjoy the new heaven and the new earth which will certainly come from God?  Food for thought.  

Tomorrow’s passages:  Hosea 14, Mark 12:28-34

Daily Update #231

 Deut 4:1-9 

7 ​What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?​’ 

The amazing difference between Christianity and all other faiths is the presence and relationship with God. No other faith actually promises this. Other faiths teach there is a god, but you could not possibly be with god. Or some teach that actually there is no god at all and that death is just a different state of being. Many people around us believe there is nothing at all, atheists (which derives from ​atheos​, people without hope, Eph 2:12). But Christianity stands out because rather than set out to ‘find God’, God has come to us. We have a sure and certain hope.  

 Verse 7 opens up this passage for me. It introduces the favour God shows us, the willingness to be  with his people, his commitment in spite of our failings, that he listens to our prayers ,that he cares is attentive when we call, compassionate when we hurt, delights in being with us as we can with him.

That we are loved by God. That we have hope, assurance and an ever faithful Lord and Saviour who  promised to be with us always. 

Israel, and so the church as the subsequent recipients of these promises, are to stand out as people  to whom God is near. That means that when we pray, when we speak, when we act, we can do so  knowing we are neither far from God and without hope. There is risk of becoming complacent, which    Moses warns us against, in verse 9, ‘Watch yourselves closely, so that you do not forget the things  your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.

How can we keep our life with God alive, fresh, present?  

Make time to be with him. Talk to him. Let him speak to you through his word, listen to his still small  voice in prayer, take him with you when you are walking, shopping, making essential journeys by car…   
  …just don’t leave him without him. The world needs to see that God IS near us.

Sovereign God,
the defence of those who trust in you
and the strength of those who suffer: 
 look with mercy on our affliction
and deliver us through our mighty Saviour Jesus Christ.

Almighty God, 
in Christ you make all things new: 
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Tomorrow’s readings  – Jer 7:23-28; Ps 95.1-2, 6-end; Luke 11:14-23

Daily Update #230

Today’s Readings:  Daniel 2:2,20-23.   Psalm 25:3-10.  Matt. 18:21-35.

‘3 No-one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. 4 Show me your ways O Lord, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long. 6 Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord. 8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant’ (Psalm 25:3-10).

This is a psalm for troubled and troublesome times. It is typical of King David’s psalms in that he is really troubled by his enemies. As ever, he is humble before God. He knows from experience that God’s love and help are always available to those who trust in Him. The lectionary gives us 8 of the 22 verses in Psalm 25 to reflect on today. We will look at them in 2 parts, to see what they teach us about God and the way He treats those who seek His protection and guidance.

1. verses 3-5 – the biblical idea of being shamed (‘reaping shame’) is more about being disappointed or let down than merely being embarrassed. King David’s prayerful listening to the Lord shows his awareness that if he is to serve Him well he needs to be still and learn from God about His paths and His truth (v4-5). So do we!

2. verses 6-10 – Now David asks God to remember His great compassion, mercy and love but not to remember the sins of his rebellious younger days (v6-7). As always, I will quote the late Dr Alec Motyer on these verses. No groans please because, as we all know, he explains things so much better than I ever could: “The holy God who insists on His holiness as the standard, is also the forgiving God. This means that He has other things on his mind than just our sinfulness and unworthiness. According to verses 6 and 7 He can look back over our sin-stained pass and forget what He has seen! But compared with what He banishes from mind and memory, three things are permanent: ‘compassion’ (His ‘passionate love’), His solemnly ‘committed love’ and His goodness.” Dr Motyer describes verse 8 as ‘remarkable’ since here David emphasises that “it is actually because God is good and upright that He bothers with sinners so as to lead and teach us. How good is that! We can say that it is because God is holy that He bothers.” Thank you yet again Alec for these great insights…… 

Our enjoyment of God’s holy character (and of His perfect plans for us) is conditional. We are to live in accordance with His ways, His teachings and His promises. Then in our difficult, but vaccine – improving, times we can remember and joyfully experience:

* God’s goodness and holiness (v8). 

* His wish to guide believers about “what is right and to teach them His way” (v9).     * that “All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful” (v10).

What should we do in response to these lovely truths for difficult times? It has been written of this psalm that “The first step in seeking the Lord during your hard times is to examine your heart and confess your sins, relying on His grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ” (Steven J Cole). So when you feel far from God and life is a big struggle, try waiting on the Lord like David. Then follow His lead. I will too.  (Mike W)

Today’s Prayer:Thank you Father that everything about you is good and that you love to bother even with us. We know that your love for us is so merciful that you sent Jesus to deal with our sins. Please teach us and guide us in your perfect ways. Amen.