Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
The story is told in Madrid of a father and his teenage son. The rebellious son just could not get on with his Dad so he ran away from home. His father, however, began to search the streets of the city for his son but to no avail. In a last-ditch attempt to find him, he put an advert in the city newspaper. It read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Dad”
The next day at 12 o’clock the front of the newspaper office was swamped as a crowd of 800 Paco’s lined the pavement, seeking forgiveness and love.
Who were the ones that didn’t know? Soldiers – obeying orders; religious leaders – upholding the faith; civil authorities – keeping the peace; the crowd – eager for the latest spectacle, yes, and sympathisers – busy keeping their heads down. And Jesus cried, “Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”
‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ Yes Lord, we were there; we are there. All of us are there and the tragedy is that it takes a crucifixion to make us aware of the fact.
Prayer: Father, forgive us the sins which at the time don’t seem all that terrible; but are sins which play a part in crucifying others. Forgive us our hasty judgements, our hiding behind custom or tradition and our refusals to face upsetting criticisms. Forgive us our unwillingness to be involved in other people’s troubles and the plausible excuses with which we deny responsibility, or assume we have discharged it with a small donation to a worthy cause. And forgive us that we manage to so dull our senses that most times we do not even know what we are doing. Father forgive.
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
(The following is taken from an Australian Neighbourhood Watch scheme)
MY MEAN MOTHER
I had the meanest mother in the world. While other kids had lollies for breakfast, I had to eat cereal, egg and toast. While other kids had cans of drink and crisps for lunch, I had to have a sandwich.
As you can guess, my dinner was different from other kids, too – as well as the food, we had to eat at a table and not in front of the television.
My mother also insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were on a chain gang or something, she had to know who our friends were, where we were going, and she even told us what time we had to be home.
I am ashamed to admit it, but my mother actually had the nerve to break child labour laws. She made us work. We had to wash dishes make our beds, and even learn how to cook. The woman must have stayed awake at nights just thinking up things for us kids to do. She always insisted that we tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
By the time we were teenagers, our whole lives became even more unbearable. No tooting the car horn for girls in our family to come running. She embarrassed us by insisting that the boys came to the door to get us. She raised a bunch of squares.
None of us kids were ever arrested for shoplifting or busted for dope. And who do we have to thank for this? You’re right, our mean mother!
What our country needs is more mothers like mine.
Prayer: Pray for all mothers known to you in the difficult task of raising children in a godly way.
Psalm 55:22. “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you, He will never let the righteous fall.”
I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. Please remember that I do not need your help. If the devil happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFJTD (Something For Jesus To Do) box. It will be addressed in My time, not yours.
Once the matter is placed into the box do not hold onto it or remove it. Holding on or removal will delay the resolution to your problem. If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution.
Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep. Rest my child.
If you need to contact Me, I am only a prayer away.
Never be afraid to try something new.
Remember, amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic.
Prayer: Spend a few minutes putting your problems today into the SFJTD box.
Do you sometimes find God’s Word incomprehensible (e.g. Revelation, Daniel); boring/tedious (e.g. lists of names, counts of people); designed to trip you up doing a reading (e.g. Nehemiah 8:4 where Ezra read the Law of Moses from daybreak to noon, with tongue-tripping names)?
Do you skip over it, struggle with it, give up?
Paul reminds Timothy (in 2 Timothy 3:16) God’s Word is useful – all of it – for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction, training – if we want to be one of the people of God.
God has a place in His heart and in His Book for everyone.
God took the trouble to ensure these people were included in His Book. He gives us assurance that when He says that those who are followers of Jesus have their names written in heaven in the Lamb’s Book of Life, it is so!
1 Cor 1:27 ”…but God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are…. it is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus.”
We may not have an important family name, we may not live in an area with a good reputation, we may not belong to a large local fellowship, but in Jesus we are one of God’s special people.”
The biggest family in God’s Kingdom are the Arenots.
Praise God that you are important in His sight.
Just before Christmas last year Fiona looked at the subject of waiting. We thought about Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Mary and Simeon and Anna. (see Luke 2.) We little knew then that we would all be facing a new experience of waiting due to the virus, a few months later.
Waiting is not popular. We like to be doing something, not sitting and waiting. It is like a desert between where we are and where we would like to be. People are afraid of the future and when we are afraid, we want to get away from where we are.
Luke 2 talks about people who were waiting for something new and good to happen. In the Gospel, those who are waiting are waiting actively. Active waiting means to be present to the moment, in the conviction that something will happen. A waiting person is a patient person. Patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live in the situation to the full belief that something will manifest itself. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. Patient people dare to stay where they are.
Waiting is open-ended. It is hard for us because we are waiting for something definite. Our waiting is filled with wishes. “I wish that the virus would go away; that I could meet with people again; that I could go back to work; that I could go on holiday….” – fill in your own biggest wish.
Because of this, a lot of out waiting is not open-ended. We want the future to go in a very specific direction, and if this does not happen, we are disappointed and even despairing.
The people in Luke 2 were not filled with wishes, but hope. Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled. Hope is always open-ended.
To wait open-endedly is a radical attitude towards life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God have control over our thoughts and fears. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction.
Pray that we will become radical Christians in our attitude toward life in the present situation. Pray for those you know who are finding it hard to trust and to hope.
Reading Romans 13:8-14
verse 14 “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature,”
Our age is fascinated with psychology and mental well-being. There is, however, only one true psychology – the psychology of Jesus. Psychology simply means ‘a study and understanding of the working of the soul.’ Who better to understand the souls than Jesus? The teaching contained in the Beatitudes is the finest prescription for mental, emotional and spiritual health ever given. God has so designed us that the right attitudes produce the right effects in our bodies. It is helpful to keep in mind that they are ‘be attitudes’ and not ‘do attitudes.’ The doing comes out of the being.
Prayer Gracious Father, I see You have made us such a way that the right things are good for us and bad things are bad for us. Amen.
Restructured thinking Romans 12:1-8
verse 2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
One of the most popular approaches by psychologists to helping troubled souls nowadays is what is called ‘cognitive restructuring.’ Wrong thoughts are challenged and then changed to ones that are more helpful. A psychiatrist who carried out research into the positive qualities that make for good mental health, said, “I dreamed of writing a handbook that would be simple, practical and easy to follow; it would tell people how to live – what thoughts and attitudes and philosophies to cultivate and what pitfalls to avoid in seeking good mental health. And quite by accident I discovered that such a work had been completed – the Beatitudes.”
Prayer: “Father, I long not just to live, but to live abundantly. This is what You promise me through Your Son. Help me to learn, listen and obey. Amen”
God takes great delight in you.
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Read this verse slowly.
Ask God to speak to you through it.
Read it again.
Allow yourself to follow a train of thought until you see something in the verse you have never seen before.
Acts 13:38- 39 “Therefore, my brothers (and sisters), I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him every one who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”
Understanding God’s forgiveness
Imagine an airport, passenger standing by the carousel waithing for luggage, everyone hoping to recognise their own.
You need to claim your own luggage. You mustn’t go away with someone else’s.
It would be foolish to collect every suitcase. It woul be even more foolish to stagger along carrying them all and ignoring the trolley provided.
Think of each case filled with individual guilt. You must clain your own guilty baggage. You mustn’t clutter yourself by trying to be responsible for someone else’s wrong; that is false guilt.
Pick up your own suitcase from the carousel, load it immediately on to a trolley that has a huge red cross painted on its side, and Jesus is standing there waiting to push it away.
1 Corinthians 1:18
“For the message of the Cross is foolishness to them that are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18 in the Kamula language of Papua New Guinea:
“The people who are going to the place of fire habitually say that the thing about the crossed tree is a crazy thing. But we people who are going to the sky-high place, when we think about that same crossed tree, we habitually say that it is God’s power.”
Someone in the Navy was bored and reading what books there were. Someone else took delight in revealing the end of books. One day he saw this man reading the New Testament and said, “I know what happens at the end – He dies!” The reader, quick as a flash said – “No, He dies in the middle, but He came alive again.”
Prayer: Praise God that we worship a Risen Saviour.
He’s in the world today;
We know that He is living whatever man may say.
May our testimony be that He walks with us and talks with us along life’s narrow way…..
You ask us how we know He lives, He lives within our hearts.
. (adapted from hymn by A H. Ackley)