HOSANNA !!

31 01 2011

DAY THIRTY-ONE : Job 19 v. 1 – 21 v. 34; Matthew 21 v. 1 – 17; Psalm 18 v. 1 – 6

JOB – begs his ‘friends’ to stop their tormenting. Again he points out that his tragedies have more to do with God’s purpose than with his own sin and failings. In ch. 19, Job makes some bold hope-filled claims :
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth”
He longs to see God in the future and has an assurance that he will !
He warns his ‘friends’ to be careful, or their careless talk will be judged harshly by God.

ZOPHAR – lets rip with a tirade about how bad it is for the wicked, and how God punishes the unrighteous harshly, whilst the righteous have a good life (if only !!!!). He paints a vivid picture of the tactics of evil – it tastes sweet initially (v.12), and then it begins to corrupt completely, like venom !

JOB – rebuffs Zophar’s assertion by talking of examples of the wicked who don’t always suffer. The wicked don’t always die painful deaths, with good people living long lives. Good and bad things happen to good and bad people alike, but God is sovereign.

MATTHEW
PALM PROCESSION – Oh, I was back in Jerusalem in my imagination today, remembering walking the way of the Palm Sunday procession from the Mount of Olives into the city. It was a very special journey. We even encountered a man with a donkey (looking for a few shekels for a photo opportunity).


It’s a powerful image to think of Jesus riding a young colt, fronting a procession of enthusiastic worshippers and fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies from Isaiah and Zechariah, and it causes quite a stir.

JESUS AT HIS ANGRIEST – we get the sense that the temple courts are corrupt, noisy, discriminatory, and Jesus boils over, and turns the tables. Jesus reminds them that the temple is to be a ‘house of prayer’. You can just feel the tension rising as you read these verses. The blind and the lame, as unclean, would not have been welcomed at the temple, but they come to Jesus, who heals them. When He is challenged by the religious leaders, He points out the it is the children who are leading the praises.  Bad day at the office for the chief priests, riots in the courts.
All this followed by a quiet night in Bethany.
It’s all hotting up in Jerusalem now.

PSALM – a song accredited to David when the Lord helped him flee from angry Saul.
My re-created Psalm 18 includes the following :

“My Lord, my God – how I love You
 I adore You for the strength I find in You.
 Oh Lord, You are my solid rock, my safe defence, my true rescuer.
 Oh God, You are my mountain-rock, I run to You for cover.
 You are my protecting shield, my strong deliverer, my safe stronghold.
 How worthy You are to be praised
 I cry out to You
 and You rescue me over and over again.”

What an awesome God we serve.

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What do you want me to do for you ?

30 01 2011

DAY THIRTY : Job 15 v. 1 – 18 v. 21; Matthew 20 v. 20 – 34; Psalm 17 v. 13 – 15

JOB – Round two of speeches from Job’s ‘friends’ kicks off with Eliphaz scorning the wisdom which is appearing in Job’s words, and he turns up the heat of his attack. He can’t believe that Job would argue with God and question his friends’ advice, suggesting that further punishment would be expected if Job doesn’t repent. In summary, Eliphaz says effectively, “Who do you think you are, to argue with God, and to reject our advice….?”

Job responds to his ‘miserable comforters’ by going through all he feels God has done against him, but believing that God will hear him out, and establish greater wisdom and faith:
“Upright men are appalled at this (Job’s suffering and deterioration),
 nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,
 and those with clean hands will grow stronger.”

Then more of the same from Bildad, reminding Job of the terrible fate to befall those who are wicked and evil – inappropriate, and little comfort to Job, who we were told in ch. 1 ‘was blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil’, and whom God trusted to endure great suffering. His friends are just missing the point.

MATTHEW
Mum puts in a good word….
Don’t we love the human touch in these encounters? A mum desiring the very best positions of honour for her sons. Quite what her view of the kingdom is, we can’t know, but she wants James and John to be Jesus’s right and left hand men. There is a cup of suffering they will all endure (not to the same depth as Jesus, Himself), but Jesus reminds them that the Father is in charge of such things (appointing people to their place in the kingdom), prepared in advance.

When the other disciples catch wind of this request, there are rumblings in the camp ! Jesus is unhappy with this jostling for supremacy, bickering over who goes first, that He reminds them of the topsy-turvy nature of His kingdom –
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Then Jesus shows a little more of what He is here to do, by healing the two blind men at the roadside. The simplicity of the question and answer, and Jesus’s ‘compassion’ for them (‘compassion’ is a strong word, implying a gut-wrenching pang which produces merciful and miraculous action from Jesus and his disciples), make this encounter such a beautiful one. The two men get their sight and follow Jesus. And we are left with Jesus’s question today,
“What do you want me to do for you?”

PSALMthough the suffering and opposition at times is very hard, “I – in righteousness shall see Your face; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with seeing Your likeness.”

This is our God, the Servant-King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.





Answering the call

29 01 2011

DAY TWENTY-NINE : Job 11 v. 1 – 14 v. 22; Matthew 20 v. 1 – 19; Psalm 17 v. 6 – 12

The common theme for me across the readings today has to do with ‘the call’ – either humanity calling out to God, or God calling humanity.

There’s also the theme which runs throughout Job, and which appears in the Matthew passage, that God can be accused of being ‘unfair’ because He is unpredictable; we can’t limit God to “if we do this…God must do that”. He acts in surprising ways.

IT’S ZOPHAR’S TURN – Like the previous two ‘friends’, Zophar contends that it’s only the wicked that suffer (and suffering is linked to our wickedness), the righteous don’t. Harsh words for Zophar tells Job that he probably deserves worse than he’s experienced, and that he would be better spending his time with God repenting of his wickedness rather than complaining about his suffering (call yourself a friend, Zophar ?).

JOB TURNS ON ZOPHAR (and the others) – This is Job’s longest response, at the end of the first set of conversations with each friend. Job points out to his friends that there are many examples in life / nature where it is hard to find simplistic principles (if you do this…then that will happen). Indeed to put that on God is to limit is power and to dishonour Him.

JOB TURNS ON GOD, AGAIN – I found Job’s attitude to God more open in this response, time bringing some more reflection into the situation, and wisdom digging deeper than the simple distortions his friends are offering. Job acknowledges that God is almighty:
‘To God belong wisdom and power, counsel and understanding;
 To Him belong strength and victory….”
In ch.13, Job does ask that God do two things for him – stop the suffering and show him where he has sinned.
In ch.14, as Job reflects on the fragility of life, he wonders if there is a new life beyond this one in God’s plan.
“Then You will call and I will answer You; You will long for the creature Your hand has made.”

I can just sense the wisdom being revealed in Job through his honest exchanges with his friends and with God.

THE CALL
12 v. 4 – Job is being mocked for calling on God and believing that God will answer (although we have to wait until ch. 38 before we hear from God in this book, and it feels like God is silent for a long time – perhaps He can’t get a word in edgeways with this lot).

13 v. 22 – Job invites God, “then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply.” He longs for an exchange with God.

14 v. 15 – Job wonders about the life to come when, “You will call and I will answer You…”

Jesus’s parable today is at one level about God calling people into His Kingdom / Vineyard, and people’s response to Him.

Psalm 17 v. 6 states a relationship between the psalmist and God, of call and answer
“I call on You, O God, for You will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.”

“The Workers in the Vineyard” by Kazakhstan Artist Nelly Bube.

MATTHEW – the parable of the workers in the vineyard is also about God calling people at different times, and people entering the Kingdom / vineyard work at different stages, but all receiving the same generous wage. In these days of Fair Trade where it is important that people receive a fair wage, you can just hear those who work longest, through the heat of the day, complaining ‘it’s not fair’.
The point, again, is that God will not be limited to our view of ‘fairness’. God can take us yelling ‘it’s not fair’, but here He clearly highlights the fact that He can do what He wills with His resources. Jesus’s question in the story, “or are you envious because I am generous?” is a great question.
This story comes after the encounter with the Rich Young Man, for whom his material gain was his big issue. He considered himself a ‘self-made man’, I guess. Whereas in the Parable of the Vineyard Workers, Jesus underlines dependance upon God (the landowner ?) and His ‘unfair’ generosity (grace).

It’s a topsy-turvy kingdom, isn’t it?

PSALM“Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings”
The psalmist knew suffering, and the attack of enemies, but also knew that real security was found sheltering in God’s presence.

My re-created thoughts :

Thank You, Almighty God,
for calling me.
Hear my cry for Your help,
for Your wisdom,
for Your direction,
that I may be ’employed for you’ in Your Vineyard,
or ‘laid aside for you’
as You continue to shape and perfect Your work in me.
And that I may know the shelter of Your protection
in the heat of the battle.
AMEN.





Camels, needles and wisdom….what a tangled web !!

28 01 2011

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT : Job 8 v. 1 – 10 v. 22; Matthew 19 v. 16 – 30; Proverbs 3 v. 11 – 20

FRIEND NUMBER TWO – Bildad
Again, an exchange between one of Job’s “friends” (Bildad this time), before Job complains to God.
Also, again, like Eliphaz’s contributions, Bildad appears to suggest that the Just God only sends punishment on the wicked, even suggesting that the death of Job’s children must be punishment for their sins (hardly words of comfort and reassurance). 
My imagination played with the idea that those who forget God, or those who are hypocritical, have trust “like a spider’s web….it does not stand….it does not endure.” In others’ eyes, the spider’s web stands for strength, persistence and determination (in relation to the spider building the web) – though the point here is that it can be wiped away in one moment. 

There is hope, at least, in Bildad’s words that “God will not cast away the blameless…He will yet fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with rejoicing.”

Job’s response is that God is unjust, that he’d love to take God to court over all this, but knows he would lose, because God is all-powerful, so he simply complains about the way God is treating him. There are a couple of times his words sparked my thinking….

9 v. 32 – 33 : “For He (God) is not a man that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us who may lay his hand on us both.”
Wesley points out that ‘we can no longer complain that there is no mediator. Jesus Christ now mediates between heaven and earth. To Him the Father has committed all authority and judgement.’ Jesus understands the human struggle and pleads our cause in the heavens.

10 v. 2 – 3 : “Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please You to oppress me, to spurn the work of Your hands….?
Job’s assumption is that it is God who is oppressing him, when, of course, it is Satan who has done the damage. Job is keen to know what is wrong in his life that he has had to suffer so much, and in his agony wishes he’d never been born.

THE RICH YOUNG MAN
This well-known story highlights a number of things for me :
Jesus states that obeying the commandments is an important part of entering the kingdom. I guess Jesus’s reply to the question “Which commandments?” is meant to sound like an “all of them”, rather than singling out those that are most important. Interestingly, though, the commandments Jesus chooses to highlight for the man are the ethical ones, around how we are to be with others, rather than the devotional ones, around how we are to be with God (no other gods, not taking His name in vain, keeping the sabbath day). Jesus also includes His own, “love your neighbour as yourself”.  
The man still senses he lacks something. Often our way (back) to God begins with a sense of lack, of there being something missing.

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Jesus sees that the need in this man is to be freed from the hold material possessions have over him. What’s preventing him from ‘following’ Jesus is the love of money and possession. This is the rich man’s challenge. There may be other ‘holds’ over us which Jesus needs us to be freed from in order to be perfect and to truly follow Him.

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus reminds his disciples that salvation and perfection are impossible for human beings, but only possible for God, that we need to look increasingly to have our needs met there, in Him.

His final word is hope-filled for the disciples who have left everything to follow Him, and a promise to us, too, of our eternal life, and the rewards / treasures being stored up in heaven.

PROVERBS
Wisdom is often perceived to be the Spirit (if the Word is Jesus), though both are in very essence, God.
The link to the Matthew passage is in Wisdom being more profitable than silver, with better returns than fine gold (treasures in heaven).
“Wisdom’s ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.”

My re-created thoughts :

Kindle Your fire in my soul
Help me live a life that’s whole
Let me reach that final goal in this hour
Heal my fractured life of pain
Help me feel alive again
Climb aboard the Kingdom-train by Your power.





Challenging wrong ideas…..about God, marriage, little children

27 01 2011

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN : Job 4 v. 1 – 7 v. 21; Matthew 19 v. 1 – 15; Psalm 17 v. 1 – 5

After Job’s first lament (yesterday) each of his friends speaks in turn, at length!

JOB’S COMFORTER NUMBER ONE – Eliphaz
The gist of Eliphaz’s response is an understanding of a God of reward and punishment. To Eliphaz, it’s simply that the righteous will prosper (materially and with a long life), and that the wicked will suffer and die sooner. Any experience of suffering must therefore be a punishment for wrongdoing, and we shouldn’t really complain.
However, Eliphaz extols Job’s virtues, giving examples of his selflessness and kindness, and we have seen God single Job out as righteous and faithful.
This book is about subtleties, though, for Eliphaz has a good grasp of the need to turn to God in our suffering (5 v. 8 – 16) to experience healing (5 v.18). I just find myself troubled at the notion that God, Himself “wounds” or “injures”, as a form of discipline.
Maybe, part of the purpose of this book is to really grasp the nettle of this notion that only good things should happen to good people, and bad things to bad people. Life isn’t like that, is it?

JOB’S RESPONSE – fightback round one !
Job tells his ‘friends’ that he is justified in complaining to God.
Job suggests his ‘friends’ are making it feel worse (by putting any of the blame on his wrongdoing and God’s discipline).
Job lets rip at God again,
“I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

I find myself wondering how many times these sort of questions are repeated even today.
“What have I done to deserve this ?”
“Why to bad things happen to good people – and good things happen to bad people ?”

Although those are justifiable questions to ask, maybe the deeper question (unanswerable) is
“Why does God allow suffering ?” (which can happen to both good and bad people)
and maybe, just maybe, clues to the answer lie right back in the story of the fall in Genesis, and the consequences of having been given free will.
Mmmm.

MATTHEW
In these verses today, Jesus is having to combat the view-of-the-day on divorce and on the place of young children.
Divorce – the Pharisees, again, are trying to trap him (they’d love to have on record that he’d denied the authority of scripture). There were differences in opinion amongst the rabbis about the letter of the law regarding divorce, and maybe they wanted to see where Jesus fell in the debate. Some wanted to allow a husband to divorce his wife for anything that displeased him. Others only because of infidelity.
Jesus simply restates the sanctity of marriage, “What God has put together, let no-one separate” (it’s always one of the high points in a marriage service for me, when I am able to proclaim these words over a couple).
Moses had permitted divorce papers to be written up, but Jesus challenges the suggestion that this is a ‘command’ of Moses, rather a concession because of human ‘hard-heartedness’. Jesus restates the life-long intention of the marriage-bond, broken only by infidelity.
This was a tricky issues in Jesus’s day, and it still is.
My prayer remains for all marriages to be strong, happy and fruitful life-long covenants.
But then God is also the one who binds up broken hearts and heals broken lives.

Children – maybe the culture of the day was that ‘children shouldn’t even be seen, never mind heard!’ Certainly the disciples thought that little children shouldn’t pester and be around their rabbi-teacher. Jesus not only welcomes the children, but elevates them as an example to all adults. “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid / hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
The example of a child’s humility, dependence and simple faith is an indication of characteristics of kingdom-inheritors.
We must not forbid, or hinder, the faith of young children. Indeed there are times when we should allow them to lead us, and show us the way.

PSALM
“My steps have held to Your paths; my feet have not slipped.”

My re-created thoughts :

Grant me, Lord,
a true picture of You
Your grace and truth
Your mercy and justice
Your love and discipline

Grant me, Lord,
a child-like faith
trusting, dependent, true

Grant me, Lord,
honesty and integrity
in all my relationships;
that at home, at work, in church, in community
I might walk in Your way.
AMEN.







26 01 2011

DAY TWENTY-SIX : Job 1 v. 1 – 3 v. 26; Matthew 18 v. 10 – 35; Psalm 16 v. 1 – 11

So, from Genesis, to Job for a couple of weeks, before journeying on with Exodus.
Job is a fascinating book. It’s about suffering. It’s about the relationship between God, the angels and Satan. It’s about God’s relationship with humanity. It’s about friendship. Job is a good man who suffers great losses, whose livelihood and almost his own life is destroyed. Will he turn away from God ? Will he remain faithful to God ?

A few stories from this week came to mind when reading today’s passages :

The terrible house fire in Derbyshire on Monday night, when a mother lost all four of her children, all under 10 years old. Whilst she is in hospital recovering, I found myself wondering whether she might not wish she’d perished along with them (cp Job chapter 3). Her grief will be immense, her suffering unimaginable to me. She will be in my prayers a lot.

Last night, before the open youth club at Leyland Methodist Church, a mother arrived in tears and full of anxiety as her son was missing. Her panic was justifiable and evident. Happily he was found within the next half-hour, and it was a story of lost and found, with a good ending.

Tomorrow is Holocaust Memorial day. The whole question of why God allows such evil and suffering to happen is a very deep one. At times, we simply need to stop and pray, reminding ourselves of the depths to which human nature can sink, and praying for God’s intervention, protection, and for His Kingdom to increasingly break in.

JOB – Okay, this is a tricky book. It is about suffering, and we all have our own experiences of suffering, and our own questions. Maybe we will find some comfort merely in the fact that we hear Job and his friends raising the same questions. We must deal with the fact that, in this book, God is presented as at the very least ‘allowing’ Job to be tested, handed over to Satan, who continues to ‘roam the earth, going to and fro in it.’
Job loses everything in a very short time – his oxen, his sheep, his camels, his servants, his sons and daughters. There are still those today, who lose everything very suddenly (earthquakes, floods, fire….). Unimaginable. Yet Job falls to the ground, clearly grief-stricken, and says,
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
When Satan presses on and inflicts great physical suffering on Job, his wife encourages him to curse God. Job replies,
“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”

In these first two chapters, Job is presented as entirely honourable, devout, righteous and having great integrity. God is presented as having complete confidence in Job.

Job’s friends arrive, and at first, there follow seven days of silence. Sometimes the most intimate of friendships allow great lengthy times of sitting in silence together, without any sense of needing to say anything. Simply being…..with, alongside.

Job then pours out his anguish in chapter 3, cursing the day he was born. Great outpouring with which many people will identify.

We will need to read the whole book, to experience the next thirty-nine chapters, to understand all that this book seeks to address. Clearly, to start, Job understands that devotion to God, a righteous life, does not always shelter us from evil (Jesus needed us to pray daily, “Deliver us from evil”), or protect us from human suffering (yesterday’s “Take up your own cross and follow”).    

I am reminded of the great song penned by Matt and Beth Redman, “Blessed be Your name”:

Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out, I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say,
“Blessed be the name of the Lord.”


MATTHEW – Lost Sheep, A Brother Who Sins Against You, Unmerciful Servant

God is presented in the first parable in Matthew 18 as seeking the lost (sheep) and rejoicing over each little one found. We, too, should have a heart and desire for for the lost.

God is presented in the second parable in Matthew 18 as being forgiving, merciful, and expecting that forgiveness and mercy to be passed on to others. Forgiveness is hard – it’s seventy times seven! It could be a seemingly endless battle of mercy over bitterness. The key is our own need for forgiveness and the freedom we experience within God’s mercy towards us, and the desire then to liberate others, enabling the lost to be found.

Sandwiched between is teaching about how we are to help one another in our discipleship by confronting people who are sinning. Life ‘in community’ can be a challenge, and Jesus outlines good practice, and restates His binding and loosing teaching – the God-given capacity to help liberate people from all that takes hold.

“If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there an I with them.”

How these verses encourage us to be praying together in unity, and the importance of recognising that when we gather in Jesus’s name, He is there with us. Powerful motivation to meet and pray.

PSALM – In contrast to what we’ve heard from Job today, the Psalmist praises God for His protection, safe refuge, the good he is experiencing.
“I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken…
 You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures”
But then, the psalms aren’t always sweetness and light are they. They are real, honest. Today, the psalmist gives glory to God for the good things. Hallelujah !!

My re-created thoughts :

When I am weak, Lord, it’s then You are strong

You give me the courage I need to move on
The strength You supply and the power You prove
Help me build up my life on the Rock what won’t move.





25 01 2011

DAY TWENTY-FIVE : Genesis 49 v. 1 – 50 v. 26; Matthew 17 v. 14 – 18 v. 9; Psalm 15 v. 1 – 5

THE BLESSINGS – Jacob knows his sons very well, and nearing the end of his life, he gives each their own specific blessing (a blessing that perceives what will happen in their futures).
Judah gets a very favourable blessing – “The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet.”
Issachar’s blessing made me laugh – “Issachar is a scrawny donkey lying down between two saddlebags.”
And then there’s Joseph – “Joseph is a fruitful vine, near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.” There’s a real sense in blessing Joseph, that Jacob is passing on all the blessings he has received from God.
The phrase that is used of the death of the likes of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, is “he breathed his last and was gathered to his people.” Was this a sense, already, of an eternal dwelling place, or simply a reference to the field which is detailed extensively as the resting place for his body (along with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah and Leah)?

Jacob’s death is marked by a period of mourning throughout Egypt, and what almost sounds like a state funeral, with Pharoah’s officials on board.

The brothers tell one more lie, to ensure Joseph doesn’t take revenge on them, claiming their father had sent word that Joseph should forgive them. More tears from Joseph ! Again Joseph gives God glory in his words :
“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God ? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish… the saving of many lives.”
and he promises to provide for them.

The end of Genesis sees the end of Joseph’s life.
A remarkable book – the origins of all creation and the forming of God’s people who will be marked by faith, not fear.

MATTHEW – Jesus sounds fed up in the first story today, as the disciples are reprimanded for their “little faith” which has prevented them from bringing healing to the boy with seizures. The promise to them, and to us is,
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to the mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Again Jesus reminds them of the events which will take place – his death and resurrection. Hard day for the disciples.

The weird story of Jesus telling Peter to catch a fish from the lake, and it will have a four drachma coin in its mouth to pay the temple tax. How exciting it must have been to be following Jesus – you would just have never known what amazing things would happen next.

THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM“unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” and “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus urges us to see qualities in the life of a little child which might mark out our discipleship, in seeking to be ‘great’ in the kingdom. Qualities such as humility, dependency, trust, hunger to learn, zest for life, innocence, eagerness to try things out (to take risks, and not be shattered by failures / challenges). Some of these qualities adults ‘mature’ out of, but in our walk with God we need to ‘change and become’ again.

RUTHLESSLY ELIMINATE SIN – Jesus again underlines one of the personal goals of discipleship, to become holy / perfect, fearing the consequences of sin more than anything else (beyond holy fear / awe for God). The Wesleyan Methodist movement built in an honest assessment of sin’s grip in our lives by the weekly ‘class meeting’ accountability questions around what sins had been committed, or what temptations were taking hold in people’s lives. There’s a quickening in my spirit, today, to ensure I do not lose sight of this need to be constantly vigilant and honest about the sins which encroach on my life.

PSALM – The picture of God’s holy hill, and those who may walk on it, does sound a little like an answer to the disciples’ question in Matthew about those who are great in the kingdom of heaven.
“Those whose walk is blameless and who do what is right, speaking truth from the heart….”
There could be a basis for discipleship in this psalm, a check-list for an accountability group to look through :
speaking truth from the heart; no slandering; not doing wrong to a neighbour; not casting a slur on anothers character; not allowing ourselves to despise another; honouring God-fearers; keeping our word; not lending for interest; not being bribed or using money in a way that might harm others…..a pretty impressive checklist.

Lord, help me to think, speak and act in a way which pleases You today. I am Your child. May I know Your blessing (more like the blessing of Joseph, than the blessing of Issachar, please), and may I have a mustard-seed sized faith to believe that with You, all things are possible.

My re-created thoughts :
All this talk of holiness, holy living, today, reminds me of the words of a song I wrote a few years ago, for a talk at Summer Fire (Southport Methodist Holiness Convention).

There’s a fire that burns within me
Holy fire from God’s own heart
There’s a flame of pure desire
That He alone to me imparts.

Holy, holy is the Lord of Lords
Be holy as I am holy
Be holy as I am holy
Be holy as I am holy says the Lord.

Still the flame is burning brightly
Blazing strong to purge the soul
Holy fire, inflame my darkness
Make this broken spirit whole.

Holy God, Father of glory
Cleanse my heart and make it true
Hear my cry all the more, Lord
As I give my all to You.