Friday, February 24, 2012

Joy and Grief

Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’

John's disciples have a genuine question for Jesus about fasting, which is a routine part of their faith practice.  Jesus' reply says there is a season for joy and there is a season for fasting.  We are to practice what is in season.

Jesus' foretells His coming passion and death that will cause so much grief for His followers.  But it has a wider application, shedding light on grief and joy and what to do with them.  The human condition by definition includes the wide range of emotional experiences from grief to joy.  Jesus gives permission to enter into both of these emotions when they are in season.  This is not a contradiction.  In fact it is part of the very fullness of life that Jesus brings. 

Today is my thirty-third wedding anniversary,  a cause of great joy.  Yesterday I heard a doctor tell my mother she had cancer, a cause of great grief.

We weep when our loved ones weep and rejoice when they are joyful.  What allows us to be free to do this is our firm faith in the promises of God made visible in Jesus.  The grief and even the joy is not the final word on our human experience.  The final word is the promise Jesus made when He said He has prepared a home for us where we can be with Him forever. That puts everything into its right perspective.  Today I can enter the joy and the grief knowing that all will be well.

Lord Jesus, both joy and grief were part of Your human experience.  This means they are sanctified by You.  Thank you Lord that I can find You where ever my emotions may lead me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Help for Little Faith

‘If you can?’ retorted Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for anyone who has faith.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!’

Jesus has just returned from the mountain where He was transfigured.  He finds a large crowd arguing with the disciples.  At the center is a father with a possessed son whom the disciples were unable to help.  Jesus probes the father with questions; questions that reveal his love for his son and faith in God.  This is enough for Jesus to act and the boy is delivered of the demon. 

"Yes Lord I believe.  Help me in my unbelief!".  This cry of the father to Jesus is a favorite prayer of mine.  I think it describes the human condition.  My faith waxes and wanes depending on how I'm distracted by the world.   The Good News is that Jesus never waxes and wanes.  The little faith that I do have is enough for Him to act; to deliver me of my demons.

Lord Jesus, You know the demons I struggle with.  Lord, I believe.  Help me in my unbelief!.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Speak Blessing

And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.

Jesus has taken Peter, James and John up a high mountain where He was transfigured into a blazing white glory.  God speaks over Jesus a blessing, an imprimatur so to speak, giving divine authority to everything Jesus says and does.

The spoken word of a father is powerful to bless or to curse.  My own father was never a great man of words and so I missed his direct spoken blessing over me.  However, I remember once being a Best Man and giving a speech that surprised everyone, including me, for its unexpected eloquence.  At the conclusion of the toast there was a round of applause and I remember hearing my father shout, "That's my boy!".  Thirty years after that event everyone else present will have forgotten that moment, but I never will.  My father spoke a blessing over me that will last forever in my memory.

I need to look for opportunities to speak blessing over my own children, starting today.

Father God, I know You have spoken blessing over me.  I am Your beloved son because I am conformed to the image of Your Son, the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


He (God) does not tempt anybody. Everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desire. Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it too has a child, and the child is death.

Saint James addresses the heart of the matter of sin, refuting the claim that God sends temptation.  The process of sin is always of our own making and is quite simple.  Our own unbridled temptation births desire, desire births sin that in turn births death.

I've often puzzled over the verse in the old Lord's prayer; "lead us not into temptation". As James clearly states, God could never tempt anyone with sin, so why ask Him not to?  I prefer the version saying "save us from the time of trial".  That recognises that the trial is often of my own making and I need God's saving grace to be rescued from it.  So, today I will face temptations to sin, in lust, greed, avarice, but with God's grace I will not give birth to sin.

          Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins 
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, 
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. 
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:

This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. 
The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.

The Pharisees have complained to Jesus that His disciples eat without washing their hands.  Jesus replies by identifying their hypocrisy, their main block to worthy worship and intimacy with God.

To have a heart close to Jesus is what I wish for.  Jesus desires to be close to me, so intimacy with Him is entirely up to me.   It is my hypocrisy, my lip-service that distances us. 

Lip-service comes naturally to me.  It usually involves self engrandisement.  This in turn comes from an insecurity, an anxiety in me to be liked.  The antidote is to take my focus off me and place it on to Jesus.  His unrestricted love dissolves all my need to strive for love.  I can do this any time, any place, even now...

Lord Jesus, forgive me of my lip-service.  Draw me to Your heart so I may bask in Your love today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Alone for Rest

Then he (Jesus) said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’.

The twelve apostles have returned from their first mission trip and are now reporting to Jesus on all they have done.  Mark records this work as preaching, casting out demons and healing the sick.  They had worked hard and Jesus determined that they needed rest, the sort of rest that can only be obtained in a lonely place.

Jesus is the master of relationships, yet He is saying that at times it is good to be alone. He often went out into the hills alone to pray. It is in this lonely place that I can be refreshed, be revitalised, can reconnect with God. In a busy household where there are always things to do, people to relate with, being alone can be a difficult thing to do.  Identifying a "prime-time" for loneliness can help.  For me this is mornings.  God wired me to be a "morning person" while most of my household aren't.   I can spend my mornings alone with God before the dust of daily battle engulfs me.

Thank you Lord for being faithfully present to me in the morning.  I recommit myself to this time alone with You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Man of Faith

He could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Jesus is in His home town teaching and performing miraculous healings.  The locals know of Jesus family and so refuse to accept who He really is, the Son of God.  Jesus is just as amazed by their lack of faith as He was amazed about the Centurion's greatness of faith.  A person's faith is significant to Jesus.

It seems faith is not just an option with Jesus.  It is essential in order to see and accept Him for who He truly is.  Faith means believing in things yet unseen (2 Corinthians 5:7).  How good is my faith?  Can I say like the Centurion, Jesus has said it so it will happen?  I have met men of faith and they seem to have a peace about them.  They don't worry.  Let me be a man of faith today.

Lord Jesus, You know I believe.  Help me in my unbelief.
Little Flower, please pray for me.