Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In Or Out Of Focus?

What is the picture of your spiritual life at this moment?


Out of focus?

Faulty in any way?
Why not let God's Spirit guide you and help you bring into focus anything that needs adjusting in your life so that the picture others see in you are worthy of one who follows Him!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Come, Holy Spirit, As At The Beginning!

Up to Heaven (Prayer to set the scene)
Come, Holy Spirit, as at the beginning,
You came to those who were waiting and yearning,
Kneeling in pray'r for your mighty empow'ring,
Promised to all who believe.
(Chick Yuill)

Down to Earth (To get thoughts going)
Those of us who own a camera and enjoy taking photos will most likely have had those moments when we realized that in our excitement and carelessness we forgot there was no film in the camera. Other photos have perhaps had heads or limbs missing or have simply been out-of-focus.
However good, funny or annoying the result, in order to keep our memories we have put the film through a chemical process - we have taken it to be developed.

Looking Sideways (Complimentary Bible readings - Acts 2:1-4)
In the same way that a film or computer disc store treasured memories, the disciples of Jesus would have stored in their memories so many pictures of events that took place as they followed him during those three years or so.
Where do we start as Jesus gave ...
Sight to the blind - John 9:1-7
Food to the hungry - Matthew 14:13-21
Comfort to the sad - John 19:25-27
Life to the dead! - John 11:38-44

Just as the film had to be placed in a chemical solution in a developing tank, to make the image visible, so God sent the Holy Spirit as a developer, who brought to the disciples' remembrance all the things that Jesus had said and done.
From that day, which we celebrate as Whitsun or Pentecost, their experiences would not stay undeveloped, or faded in time, but would become powerful tools in their lives. Acts 1:8

Looking Forwards (Challenge for today)
God's Holy Spirit helps us today, we can be powerful witnesses too, especially as He cannot be destroyed, does not fade away and is a gift from God for everyone. Acts 1:4

Homework (Oh Yes!)
What is the picture of your spiritual life at this moment?...
Might the picture be blurred?
Out of focus?
Faulty in any way?

Rounding Off (Prayer or thought to keep in mind today)
For God poured out his love into our hearts
By means of the Holy Spirit
God's gift to us...the Holy Spirit
John Larsson)

Today's Quote
Jesus said: I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

From Marta's Vintage © 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Light of the World - William Holman Hunt

British Art
W. H. Hunt (1827-1910)

Along with Millais, Hunt was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphalite art movement. Showing Christ in an English setting meant that this painting (1853) became perhaps the most famous painting, and certainly one of the most potent icons of the 19th century.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Keep Shining!

Up to Heaven (Prayer to set the scene)
Fill me, radiance divine,
Scatter all my unbelief,
More ans more Thyself display,
Shining to the perfect day.
(Charles Wesley)

Down to Earth (To get thoughts going)
When you bring a new born baby home, life never seems to be the same again! When asked about the pros and cons of having children, a young mum made these two lists:
  • Tiredness and sleepless nights
  • Toys take over the house
  • Lack of money
  • Lack of your own time
  • You can feel very low and loose patience
  • Children make you laugh
  • They give you many blessings
  • As a mum you meet a lot of people
  • It keeps you fit
  • Children bring families together
Looking Sideways (Complimentary Bible Readings)
By the time John the Baptist was born so many unusual things had happened that people in the neighbourhood began to wonder what kind of a child this one was going to be! (Luke 1:57-66) His father, Zechariah, then goes on to reveal that one of his son's tasks would be to... shine on those living in darkness (verse 79)

Years later, John the Baptist would set off travelling round sharing the hope that was coming soon in the person of Jesus, his cousin. History was about to repeat itself, and people would be asking of Jesus... Who is this? (Matthew 8:27 and 21:19)

So John the Baptist may have been the lantern pointing to Christ, but it was Jesus who would declare himself as the Light of the World (John 8:12-30) In Johns gospel 'light' tends to mean the revelation of God's love into lives darkened by sin.

Looking Forwards (Challenge for today)
There are many heart-warming stories of Christians who have managed to keep their faith alive even when Bibles have been taken away from them, along with all other freedom of worship. How have they done it? Is it because we are dealing with a light that cannot be extinguished that we can overcome darkness with light?

Homework (Oh Yes!)
God needs strong Christians who will shine on those living in darkness!

Rounding Off (Prayer or thought to keep in mind this week)
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us,
set us free by the truth you now bring us

(Graham Kendrick)

From Marta's Vintage © 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

You Are the Light!

A friend of mine was travelling through the Lincolnshire countryside and realized he could not see the cathedral lit up in the distance. He was later told that the cathedral's lights are kept off during Lent. We learn something new every day!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm not a Preacher!

Up to Heaven (Prayer to set the scene)
As the deer pants for the water,
so my soul longs after You.
You alone are my heart's desire,
and I long to worship You.
(Martin Nystrom)

Down to earth (To get thoughts going)
On a dark stormy night when the waves rolled like mountains and not a star could be seen, a large passenger boat cautiously edged towards Cleveland harbour. The pilot knew that, in the inky darkness, he could only find the harbour channel by keeping two lower shore lights in line with the main beacon. "Are you sure this is Cleveland ?" asked the captain, seeing only one light from the lighthouse "Quite sure, sir," replied the pilot. "Where are the lower lights?" he asked. "Gone out, sir" was the reply. "Can we make the harbour?" "We must or we perish, sir!" With a strong hand and a brave heart, the old pilot turned the wheel. But alas! In the darkness he missed the channel, the boat crashed on the rocks, and the story says many lives were lost.

Looking Sideways (Complimentary Bible Reading - Matthew 5:13-16)
In this verses Jesus is suggesting that, as his followers, we need to be like seasoning, which we know gives flavour to recipes like coriander in lamb curry or nutmeg in rice pudding. When chefs say that seasoning brings out the best flavour in food, somehow fish and chips comes to mind, with salt and vinegar, of course! Sometimes people don't like seasoning, not at first.

When we are 'the salt of the earth' (verse 13) we are of value to God. So as we mix with other people we have an opportunity of bringing out the best in them by introducing them to Christ. Maybe not to start with...they may not like the salt and its effect!

Jesus also said, 'you are the light of the world' (verse 14) We may never know why the lower lights in the story above went out, but it was to prove disastrous. City lights at night can be seen for miles, but how we soon miss them as we enter the countryside.

Looking Forwards (Challenge for today)

How can we preach a sermon so loud in our lives that others could not ignore it? There are many salt cellars to choose from in the shops: wooden, plastic, glass, stainless steel or wood, all in a variety of colours and sizes. But why not take a leaf from the gritters in winter months who spread the salt widely and take the salt out of the shaker and Grit It! or as with the bright motorway maintenance lights which cover a vast area take the light from under the bowl and Shine It!

Homework (Oh Yes!)
Even though we want to glow for God, think in what ways we would hide our light and lose our saltiness: staying quiet when we should speak? going along with the majority? denying the light (Peter denies knowing Jesus in Matthew 26:69-75), letting things dim our light? (Matthew 19:21-22 tells of the rich young man's experience), or maybe we think we are shining!.. yet ignoring the needs of others (Matthew 12:9-14)

Rounding off ( Something to keep in mind this week)

Let the lower lights be burning,
Send a gleam across the wave;
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman,
You may rescue, you may save.
(Philip Paul Bliss)

Today's Quote

St. Francis of Assisi said: Preach the Gospel at all Times, and when necessary use words.

From Marta's Vintage © 2008

Thursday, April 3, 2008