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1)# ’The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.’ 

1 Samuel 16:7 (4-12)

Samuel took one look at Eliab, the eldest, a warrior, and assumed he was God’s choice as king. But first impressions can be misleading. King Saul had impressed people with his physical prowess (1 Sam 9:2) but another hot-headed, jealous soldier was not what was required. To look after his people, God needed a shepherd more than a warrior. 

David’s care of his sheep made him ready to care for God’s people. That which Eliab despised about his brother (1 Sam 17:28) was just what impressed the Lord. The Lord was looking for a servant heart to lead his people, and the same is true today. Serving the Lord is not about rank, title, or standing before men, but about a willingness to serve one another and get our hands dirty in the lives of Christ’s sheep. We may not be noticed or acknowledged by others, but let’s not let that stop us from doing what the Lord has called us to do as his disciples, even today.

2)# ’Where can you get this living water?’ 

John 4:11 (7-15)

As this lady saw it, Jesus didn’t have the means to give her what he was offering. He had offered her ‘living water’; she had pointed out that he had nothing with which to draw water from the well, which led her to ask this obvious question. The problem was that she was looking at things from a human perspective - and this can be our problem too. 

Sometimes, we may prioritise the wrong things in life. We can focus on material things more than we should. Food, clothes, shelter are necessary for living, but these will need to be renewed or replaced, like the water for life that was in the well. But Jesus offers water of life, that will never run dry and will see us through the desert experiences of life. Jesus said that if we ‘seek first his kingdom … all these things (food, clothes, shelter) will be given to you as well.’ This doesn’t guarantee a trouble free life, but living with Christ as Lord will give us a right perspective on the things of this world. So let’s focus on sharing with others the water of life and trust Christ to provide the water for life, just like this lady did (v28ff).

3)# ’My hope is in you all day long’.

Psalm 25:5 (1-7)

The original language used here speaks of being bound together, inter-twined as in a close relationship. The psalmist has just asked the Lord to show him, teach him, lead him. David wants to live in a way that honours the Lord. Often we can be encouraged to be self-sufficient, self-supporting, self-motivating, independent of others. But the mark of a follower of Christ is that we rely on him. Our lives are ‘hidden with Christ in God’. We are fully dependant on him - every breath of the way. 

‘Quiet times’ are good, but let’s be aware of the Lord the rest of the day as well. It’s not a weakness to admit that we need the Holy Spirit to help us live each day. But it is self-delusion to think we have all the answers and can manage on our own. Recent times have revealed how vulnerable we are and how fragile our ‘strength’ is. So let’s be bound to Christ as we put our hope in him again today.

4)# ’The desert road.’ 

Acts 8:26 (26-31)

Philip had been at the centre of a demonstration of God’s power in a Samaritan city. People had been set free from demons and sickness. The whole city had responded to Philip’s preaching. Such had been the impact of Philip’s ministry that Peter and John had been sent to check things out. But now the Lord directs Philip to the desert road. 

You won’t find crowds on the desert road. You won’t make the headlines on the desert road. It’ll be hot and hard on the desert road. But that was where God wanted Philip and that’s where Philip  went. One man’s obedience enabled the gospel of Jesus to spread across a whole continent. 

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have experienced the desert road in one form or another. Isolated physically, hard-pressed mentally, and maybe struggling spiritually, the effects of the desert road may still be with us. Whilst others are back in the happening places, we may feel somewhat left behind and wonder why. Well, like Philip, let’s be ready to meet that someone who God wants us to witness to, who is also on the desert road. 

5)# ’While she was out in the field.’ 

Judges 13:9 (8-14)

Don’t be surprised if the Lord meets with you in unexpected places. Samson’s mother was out in the fields, engaged in the daily chores, when the angel of the Lord met her for the second time. She wasn’t in a sacred place or on her knees in prayer. She was simply getting on with things in the day - and the Lord showed up. A working wife, on her own, having a divine encounter, not just once, but twice. Very unusual, but very God. Many might have doubted her words, but Manoah believed his wife, and as a result they both had a supernatural experience of the Lord. Samson was born and led Israel for twenty years.

We often expect the Lord to appear at certain times and in certain places and then don’t expect to encounter him in our everyday situations. Just like Jesus met his disciples at their places of work, during the week, so the Lord will meet with us at work, in the home, out in the street. It’s not whether the Lord will show up or not - he will. It’s more whether we have our ‘spiritual eyes and ears open’ to recognise him, when he does. Encountering Jesus in the every-day will not just make a difference for you and me, but for those we are with as well. Look out for Jesus today.

6)# ’Such great faith.’ - put later as similar to June 22nd)

Matthew 8:10 (5-13)

This had been a normal request, but the response to Christ’s offer to go and heal the Centurion’s servant was anything but normal. It ‘astonished’ Jesus. For many of us, the physical presence of Jesus would be so reassuring, yet for this Gentile, the presence of Jesus was not needed. ‘Just say the word, and my servant will be healed.’ Here was a clear demonstration of what faith is all about. Out of reach and out of sight was no barrier for this man’s faith and it was well rewarded. 

Our reliance on our physical senses can be a hindrance to our faith. When we can’t see, or hear, or touch, we often doubt.  Faith in theory is one thing, faith in practice is another. Yet this man’s example stands as an encouragement to us all that faith can go beyond our senses. Whatever our situations, whatever our needs, it’s faith in Christ’s word that makes the difference.

7)# ’But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them.’ 

Joshua 2:4 (1-7)

The Lord chooses unlikely people. It seems that Rahab ran some kind of inn, so a fairly natural place for the spies to stay. But it may also have served as a brothel. Yet her willingness to help in a time of need changed the course of her life as well as that of the Israelites. Rahab is now known for her faith (Heb 11), more than for her business. She was adopted as a Jew and became the mother of Boaz and secured her place in the history of God’s people and his plan of salvation. 

Two things to remember. First, the Lord looks beyond the appearance and reputation and sees the heart of a person, and so should we. But this is not an excuse for people to continue in their ‘old life’. As with Rahab, so with us. Once the Lord touches our hearts, then our lives will change, inside and out.

Second, if the Lord can use Rahab for his glory, then he can use you and me. Don’t let the failures, disappointments of the past hinder your service for the Lord today. Be available and willing and you may be surprised by what God can do through you.

8)# ’Don’t you know me, Philip’ 

John 14:9 (5-10)

Philip had been with Jesus for most of his ministry. He had seen, first hand, the manifestations of divine power through miracles, signs and wonders, yet somehow had missed the reality of who Christ is - God with us. Perhaps Philip had got stuck with seeing Jesus as a man or was still affected by an Old Testament view of God as distant and remote. 

Sunday school images and depictions in films can limit how we ‘see’ Jesus. It can cause us to think of him as more man than God, more human than divine. Our limited reasoning can accept an ‘either / or’, but struggles with a ‘both / and’. But unless we accept Christ as both fully Man and fully God, then we can never truly know him as our Saviour and Lord, as our Friend and our King. It’s a step of faith, but one that leads into a deep and very real relationship with God our Saviour. 

9)# ’Elisha saw him no more.’ 

2 Kings 2:12 (7-14)

This was the moment when faith had to replace sight. It was all well and good to trust in God’s power with Elijah there, but now Elisha was on his own. It’s one thing to witness the power of God through other people, but another thing to have the faith that God’s power is there at work in you. 

The apostle James points out that, ‘Elijah was a man just like us’ which encourages us to know that God can work through people ‘just like us’. Like Thomas, the disciple, we can often depend on our senses to reassure us, but sometimes relying on our senses can hinder our faith in God. There will be times when the Lord removes those people or things we have relied on, to help our faith in him and our experience of him grow. The recent restrictions on church services and midweek activities may have been such a time and for some, it continues to some extent. So let’s take the opportunity to engage afresh with the Lord for ourselves, and discover the God of Elijah is very much with us.

10)# ’These men had been with Jesus.’ 

Acts 4:13 (8-15)

If you spend time with Jesus, people will notice. He will affect your attitudes and your actions. The fruit and power of the Spirit will be manifest in our lives. Peter and John were ‘ordinary men’ yet had been transformed into courageous disciples who stood firm and fearless in the face of opposition from the authorities. The Spirit of Jesus had been given to them and enabled them to answer with confidence and boldness. 

Christ has chosen ordinary people like you and me to be his witnesses. It’s not about what you know or how good you are at speaking. It’s all about our relationship with Jesus and that depends on the time we spend with him. Daily Bible reading and prayer is important, but let’s not limit our time with the Lord to those few minutes a day. Being with Jesus will mean being filled with the Holy Spirit and he will make all the difference to our witness for the Lord.

11)# ’A cheerful heart is good medicine.’ 

Proverbs 17:22 (17-24)

How desperate we are for cheerful hearts! Record numbers of antidepressants are being prescribed, exacerbated by the pandemic, as people struggle to cope with the pressures of everyday life. Therapies of all sorts are needed to help psychological disorders and mental health issues are a major concern, particularly amongst young people. For many, a cheerful heart would be very good medicine.

A cheerful heart benefits the whole person and will impact the lives of other people. A cheerful heart doesn’t ignore the difficulties faced, but finds a way to overcome them. A cheerful heart lifts the countenance and renews our mind. Why? Because a truly cheerful heart is sourced in the Lord Jesus as we cast our cares and anxieties on him (1 Pet 5:7). Knowing his forgiveness each day will bring his peace into our lives and cheer our hearts. Spiritual medicine that brings well-being to our minds as well as our bodies. So let’s trust the Lord to see us through today, and leave our worries and cares with him.

12)# ’Carefully watched.’ 

Luke 14:1 (1-6)

We do not know how Jesus came to be in the house of a prominent Pharisee, but he was. We don’t know how the sick man came to be in the same house, but he was. We do know that Jesus was being ‘carefully watched’, but it didn’t stop him from doing what was right. In response, those who were ‘watching’, who were critical of Jesus, were silenced. They had nothing to say. 

For those of us who profess Christ as Saviour and Lord, we will be ‘carefully watched’ by others around us. They will be watching our actions, listening to our words, to see if our living matches our claim to follow Jesus. We may be surprised to find ourselves in certain situations amongst all sorts of people, but let’s not allow their ‘attention’ to change the way we speak or act. Whether we’re under the scrutiny of work colleagues, friends or family, let’s follow the example of Jesus and always do and say what is right.

13)# ’With you is the fountain of life.’  - similar to no 11?

Psalm 36:9 (5-10)

The psalmist has been focussing on some of the attributes of the Lord. His love, faithfulness, righteousness, justice, security and generosity. All these are summed up in this phrase - ‘for with you is the fountain of life’. The word ‘fountain’ speaks of the source, deep down and gushing up. Jesus spoke of giving ‘life in all its fulness’ a ‘spring of water welling up to eternal life’ and ‘streams of living water’ available for all who trust in him. All this can become a reality for us by the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

There have been many ‘moves’ of the Holy Spirit in different places at different times and many have travelled to those places seeking a blessing. The danger can be that we associate certain places or people with being the source of the outpouring. But the psalmist makes it clear that this ‘fountain of life’ is not with a particular movement or a specific location, but with the Lord God himself. So wherever we are today and whatever our circumstances, let’s drink from this fountain and know the fulness of the Spirit of God within us.

14)# ’Who am I that I should go?’ 

Exodus 3:11 (7-14)

Moses had learned humility through his wilderness years. Now he was ready to serve the Lord. His impulsive action of forty years earlier had been with the right intention, but in his own arrogance. God’s preparation of Moses was very different from that of the world because God’s ways of working are so very different. No longer the prince of Egypt, Moses was now the servant of the Lord and ready for God’s power to be manifest through him. 

It may be that we feel as if we have been forgotten or overlooked. But not by the Lord. It may be that our plans have been disrupted by Covid-19. But God is bigger than any virus and any delay can be for our good as we trust the Lord. Whatever our situation or position, we must humble ourselves before the Lord if he is ever to use us for his glory. But, unlike Moses, let’s not try and use circumstances as an excuse to avoid service. 

15)# ’And it was night.’ 

John 13:30 (21-30)

The act of betrayal by Judas was done at night. But it was not just the darkness of the deed that was reflected in the closure of the day. What lay ahead for Christ was a deep darkness as Father God forsook his Son hanging on the cross for our sin. Yet out of the darkness of Christ’s death came the glorious light of his resurrection. 

We will all pass through ‘night times’ when the darkness may seem overwhelming. But that’s not the end. Don’t give in to despair. The light of Christ is greater than the darkness around us. As the Good Shepherd, he is walking with us and will sustain us and restore us (Ps 23). Our hope and trust is in the One who overcame the darkness and as a result of his victory over sin and death, there is the promise, for all who trust in him, of sharing in the light of his resurrection one day.

16)# ‘She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.’

Proverbs 31:20 (10,17-23)

One of the qualities of a wife of noble character is hospitality. Open arms speak of a welcome and of sharing. Extended hands speak of giving help and support. Yet this description is more than just about good deeds. It’s about attitude. Concern for others can often come after we have cared for ourselves, but the attitude expressed in these verses is others first; family, servants and stranger alike. All that the wife does is for the benefit of others.

Jesus promised that all our needs (not wants) will be met as we rely on him - and then he went further. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." A generous heart will be seen in generous actions and both will reflect the generous God that we serve. Let’s have open arms and out-stretched hands towards all who we meet today. Our heavenly Father will make sure we have all we need.

17)# ’You were washed…sanctified…justified.’ 

1 Corinthians 6:11 (9-12)

Paul is speaking bluntly to the Church in Corinth making it clear that some of their ongoing behaviour is unacceptable as disciples of Christ. It seems that they haven’t fully appreciated the connection between their new nature and a change in their behaviour. He lists the acts and attitudes of the sinful nature, then emphasises the change that has occurred with these words. Literally ‘You are washed…are sanctified…are justified’. It’s a present reality so they can now live differently.

Satan will try to deceive us into thinking that our salvation is very fragile and more dependant on us than it really is. He focuses on our failings, and tempts us in areas of weakness. He plays on our feelings. But here are the facts. Because of what Christ has done, our position has changed and we are now in Christ, washed, sanctified and justified by the Holy Spirit. So let’s declare it with confidence and let it affect the way we live, today, tomorrow and until Jesus comes again.

18)# ’We are going up to Jerusalem.’ 

Luke 18:31 (29-34)

Jesus knew exactly what lay in store for him in Jerusalem. The sorrow, the rejection, the insults, the spitting, the beatings, the death. Yet he went on up because he could see beyond Jerusalem. ‘On the third day he will rise again’. It was only by going up to the old Jerusalem, that a New Jerusalem could become a reality. 

As disciples of Christ, we will all face our own ‘Jerusalem’. Times when we face difficulties; times when things are against us. Times when doubts seem to press in on all sides; times when we feel alone. But Christ has gone before us and has ‘overcome the world’ (Jn 16:33). With his help we too can be overcomers and not be overwhelmed by our circumstances. Whatever we face today, let’s press on with Jesus and experience the victory he has won on our behalf.

19)# ’God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.’ 

Genesis 21:19 (14-21)

Times of affliction can help us see things differently. Hagar and her boy were lost in the desert. They were homeless and aimless and as far as Hagar could see, life was not worth living. There are many today who share Hagar’s despair. She could only see a wasteland, but the Lord helped her to see his provision. This wasn’t a mirage. She got water for herself and her son and life for a whole nation was the result. 

Quite often, the Lord allows hard times to help us ‘come to our senses’ and consider what really matters in life. When the things of this life that we rely on or have our hopes in are taken away, it can be the catalyst for us to turn to the Lord and seek his help. Hagar’s despair and destitution were removed as she turned her attention to God. The same can be true for us. As the Lord provided security for Hagar and her son, so he will provide that assurance we need as we trust in him. Let God open our eyes to what he can do in and through us, if we will only let him.

20)# ’Be on your guard.’ 

Mark 13:23 (13-23)

These words of warning from Jesus come at the end of his teaching to the disciples about future world events. We are not told to be fearful, but we are told to be on our guard. Ongoing changes in UK laws are making living according to Biblical teaching more challenging. Inducements to compromise our commitment to Jesus are very real, with just as real consequences for standing firm. 

Jesus makes it clear that such changes will take place and the persecution of the Church will spread through all nations. We can stand with those who seek to hold back these changes through prayer and action, but we must also be alert to what is happening so that we are not caught out. Changes in laws will be introduced under the guise of equality, health and security, that dictate how we live and may seem reasonable. But our lives belong to Christ and we must be alert to anything that challenges our living with Jesus as Lord and in obedience to his word. It won’t be easy, but as Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33).

21)#  ’What are you doing here, Elijah?’ 

1 Kings 19:9 (5-11)

Being in in a godly place, might not be God’s place for us to be. Following the victory on Mount Carmel, Elijah had run for his life when Jezebel threatened to kill him. Now he sought refuge in a cave on ‘the mountain of God’. But this was not the place God wanted Elijah to be, as we will see tomorrow. Elijah felt sorry for himself and listed the faults and failings of other people. 

Self-pity does not help us to serve the Lord. It makes us seek sympathy instead of service. When witnessing for Jesus provokes opposition, we may retreat into our ‘cave’ of the church fellowship or home group. This may be nice for us, but let’s not become too comfortable. There’s work to be done ‘out there’. We need to step out of the ‘cave’ and join with others who have not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). Then we can discover the strength of the Lord to help us witness for him in the world where he has placed us.

22)# ’Go back the way you came’ 

1 Kings 19:15 (12-18)

This isn’t what Elijah wanted to hear and it’s not what we generally want to hear. Having run away, Elijah was being told to go back. He’d fled to the safety of Mount Horeb, but the Lord still had work for him to do back on the front line, tying up loose ends and commissioning those who would take the work on. 

Going back doesn’t have to be a waste of time. Retracing our steps can help us to get a different perspective on things or situations, and see that God has been in control all the time. Going back can give us opportunity to sort things out and restore broken relationships. Going back allows us to encourage those who are just starting out in their walk with the Lord. It’s always better to go back to where the Lord wants us to be, rather soldiering on in the wrong direction or opting out all together. Now’s a good time to make sure there is nothing in our lives that we need to sort out before we move on.

23)# ’Where are you staying?’ 

John 1:38 (29-39)

Four words that underline God’s incarnation.

‘Where’ denotes a place. God incarnate came to a real world and lived for a while amongst us in flesh and blood. Having done so, he is now able to sympathise with our weaknesses and help us as we struggle in the real world. 

‘Are you’ speaks of the present and personal. Jesus was there physically in the there and then so that these disciples could relate to him and he to them. Christ has been raised from the dead by the power of God, and through the Holy Spirit we too can know him for ourselves - today. ‘You know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.’ (Jn 14:17) 

‘Staying’ - not passing through or passing by. For 33 years, Christ lived and breathed alongside those he had created. Now, by his Holy Spirit he lives within us and will never leave us nor forsake us, however difficult things may get. Christ’s invitation to ‘come and you will see’ is given to us all. Being with Jesus is the best place to be and stay. ‘I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matt 28:20)

24)# ’Take your son.’ 

Genesis 22:2 (1-12)

In the Hebrew these words are given as a command - ‘take! now!’ It demands a response not a discussion, and immediately, without discussion, Abraham obeys. 

How often we consider God’s commands as open for debate. We re-interpret them in the light of changes in our society. We modify them to fit our lifestyle. We apply human reasoning to see if it makes sense. Yet God’s ways and thoughts are higher (infinitely) than our ways or thoughts. 

Obedience is not an excuse for irresponsibility, but it is an opportunity for us to discover the value of living God’s way. It wasn’t just Abraham’s faith that was tested. It also showed that God can be trusted and was a shadow of what God himself did in Christ, to redeem us. As disciples of Christ, all we have and are belongs to the Lord. Let’s take this opportunity to reaffirm that commitment and lay our lives on the altar of service for the God who redeemed us.

25)# ’Except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.’ 

1 Kings 15:5 (1-5)

This phrase highlights a very bleak period in David’s life and the effect it had on the lives and deaths of others. Yet one lustful glance and the actions that followed, did not rule out David’s part in God’s plan. His repentance and forgiveness were real and the Lord was able to use him mightily just as he had done with Moses a murderer, Abraham a liar, and Jacob a deceiver. 

This is not to excuse these actions, but it does encourage each of us to know that however low we might fall, and whatever wrong we might have done, if we truly repent then Christ can restore us into a right relationship with himself and a useful, if different, role in his kingdom. Let’s not let our failings from the past keep us sidelined or feeling useless. Instead, let’s trust in the mercy and forgiveness of Christ and find that place he has for us as part of his Body, the Church.

26)# ’Ask the Lord to send out workers.’ 

Matthew 9:38 (36-38)

This is not an excuse to step back, but a clarification of the process. Unless we are sent by the Lord, then our work will be in vain. The harvest is about saving souls, not about winning votes. Any workers in the Kingdom of God must be under the direction of the Lord, ready to obey his call to serve -  whenever, wherever and whatever. 

It’s the Lord who knows the needs; it’s the Lord who gives the gifts; it’s the Lord who arranges the parts of the body just where he wants them to be. That’s why we are to ask him to send out workers, including ourselves. As the disciples discovered, when the Lord sends us out, he will provide and sustain us, empower and enable us, so that his work gets done. Our part is to be ready to go, when we are sent. Let’s be ready again today.

27)# ’As goods increase, so do those who consume them.’

Ecclesiastes 5:11 (10-12)

The honesty of the author is refreshing and blunt. We are living in a consumable society and more of us are consuming more as more is demanded. Most of us want the newest, latest, smartest products on offer, even when the ‘old’ ones still work. ‘And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them,’ whilst lining the pockets of the rich? Recycling and waste management is a major social concern. So how should we, as Christians, respond? 

The renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2) means a change in our thinking. Whilst we have an excess, many millions do not have even the basics. ‘Living more simply so that others may simply live’ is even more valid today and the Church of Jesus is called to apply it to our lives. Getting by on less means having more to give away and Christ’s promise, in Luke 6:38, should encourage us to try - ‘For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’ Kingdom living is about caring for others above ourselves and as inflation bites, we have opportunity to show that our heavenly Father really does provide so that we can give generously to others.

28)# ’Peter followed him at a distance.’ 

Mark 14:54 (45-54)

This says it all. Peter had said that he would stand by Christ, even to the point of death. Yet now, when put to the test, he distances himself from Jesus, even denying knowing him. 

It’s easy to criticise Peter, but so easy to do the same. At church or amongst Christian friends we speak and act one way, but when at work or amongst other friends we might distance ourselves from Christ and may behave in a way that even denies him as our Lord of our lives. 

If we are to be Christ’s disciples, then that means being closely associated with him all the time, not just when it suits us. For Peter there was repentance followed by restoration and he became fearless in the face of opposition. When we distance ourselves from Jesus, we also can know forgiveness and restoration as we repent. Then with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can remain true to Christ in both word and action.

29)# ’So they took her answer back to the King.’ 

2 Kings 22:20 (15-20)

It was not an easy answer to take back to anyone, let alone the King. The prophetess Huldah had spoken words of judgement from the Lord. Five men had been given a job to do and they remained faithful to the task, even though it was a tough message to deliver. 

God’s judgement is still evident today. Sometimes it’s a word of rebuke or correction, other times it may need more. Sometimes it’s for an individual or specific group. Other times it’s for a nation, as in this case. In the book of Revelation, the Lord wrote to his Church in seven locations, drawing their attention to areas that needed sorting out with a warning of consequences if they didn’t. Later on in Revelation, the Lord brings judgement on all the world. Sooner or later the Lord will deal with all wrongdoing.

As the Church, we’re called to be salt and light to the world. Paul wrote to Timothy, ’correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction.’ So if the Lord calls us to help keep his Church in order, let’s not shy away. But equally, whoever we are, whatever position we might hold, we’re not above the correction and discipline of the Lord, as King Josiah discovered. Humility is required in all of us.

30)# ’The Lord sets prisoners free.’ 

Psalm 146:7 (5-10)

This is one of many wonderful declarations about what the Lord does. Prisoners have their freedom taken away, kept behind locked doors and away from the outside world. But there are other forms of imprisonment that do not have bars or doors. Over the last few years we’ve all experienced having our freedom curtailed. Many of us have struggled, physically and mentally with the imposition of lockdowns. Now, whilst most restrictions have been lifted, the effects are still being felt by many throughout the world. 

But there is yet another ‘captivity’ that affects us all on a deeper level. The Bible speaks of us being slaves to sin (Rom 6), struggling with sin (Heb 12:4), captives to sin (Acts 8:23). However pleasant sin seems at the time, its imprisonment has a deadly end, physical and spiritual. But the Lord sets prisoners free - hallelujah! And whatever grip the old sinful nature might have upon us, it can be broken by the power of the new nature of the Holy Spirit within us. Choose to live according to the new nature and we can live in the freedom we have in Christ (Rom 8).

31)# ’When they were alone.’ 

Mark 4:34 (30-34)

There were times when Jesus took his disciples away from the crowds to have time alone with them. These were times when ‘he explained everything’ and revealed the deeper things of God. 

Spending time alone with the Lord can be difficult for many of us, especially with the pressures of everyday life. But it’s something we all need to do if we are to develop a deeper relationship with him. Being alone with the Lord doesn’t have to be sitting still, doing nothing, in a quiet place. It can often happen when doing something that takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the day and allows our attention to be on Jesus. A walk or run, a bike ride, some gardening or other activity can enable time alone with the Lord. It’s when we are alone with him that our relationship will develop and we will learn to hear his voice guiding and directing us. ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ (Is 30:21). So let’s find time to be alone with the Lord today.


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