21st June 2020
Good morning folks,
Well, that’s another week nearer to ‘freedom’, I hope it hasn’t been too bad for you. But seeing what is going on in the News, we might wonder what kind of world we are going back to.
Society seems to have gone mad in our absence! With riots, killings and everyday people being inadvertently caught up in the demonstrations. Between that and the ever present fear of picking up the dreaded CV19 virus – perhaps staying indoors is the safest place to be at the moment!
Our Lesson for today talks about being safe – safe in the loving arms of God our Father.
But before we hear about that, let us pray ~
we come on this Father’s Day,
reminded that you are the Father of us all. You have been with us from our birth,
guiding, nurturing, and sustaining us.
Father God, we praise you.
You have taught us and brought us to maturity, always concerned for our welfare,
constantly seeking the best for us.
Whenever we have needed you, you have been there, willing to listen and advise, yet giving us freedom to make our own choices and find our own way
You have called us to be your family,
a people united through your Son, Jesus Christ,
and through Him you have revealed your love,
a love that reaches out to us day by day
despite our failure to love you in return.
Father, forgive us.
you are the Creator of the ends of the earth, and yet you call us your children.
Teach us to live as your children —to hear your voice, obey your instruction, and respond to your goodness.
You are greater than we can ever begin to imagine,
and yet you invite us to call you ‘Our Father’.
Indeed, we do call you ‘Our Father’, yet so often fail to live as your children.
We do not trust you as we should,
preferring instead to follow our own inclinations.
We are reluctant to accept your will,
repeatedly thinking that we know best.
We are slow to seek your guidance,
but swift to forget you and wander from your side.
We all too rarely thank you for what we have,
but all too often complain – when we do not receive what we ask for.
Forgive me Father.
Hear me now listening Lord – as I bring to you those things I have said, done or thought which are not in accordance with your way of love, care and respect to others.
…………time for you to think about the things you feel you want/need forgiveness for – and whisper them to God – He hears your prayers…….
I ask for your forgiveness Father – be merciful to us and bless me with your mercy and your grace.
Lord hear our prayers – spoken and silent – public and private – and hear us now as we pray together – the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~
OUR FATHER.. WHO ART IN HEAVEN.. HALLOWED BE THY NAME.. THY KINGDOM COME.. THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN….. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.. AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.. BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL .. FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM.. THE POWER AND THE GLORY FOREVER…. AMEN.
We have 2 readings this morning –
Genesis 1 : 23 – 27 from the Old Testament (O.T.)
and – John 14 : 1 – 9 from the New Testament (N.T.)
In our O.T reading this morning – we hear that wonderful story of the creation – how – through God’s grace – all things were brought into being – including the human race.
And it’s interesting to note that He made us – you and I – whether black or white – of many different races with very different features – yet we are all in His own image. How can that be? Well, you are about to find out….
In our N.T reading – we hear Jesus explaining to the disciples how He and the Father are one.
“You just need to look at me” He was saying – “and you see what our Father in heaven is like”.
Jesus in the likeness of the Father – and as we heard in our O.T. reading – so too – are we….
But let’s find out more – as, together, we read God’s holy word~
Genesis 1 : 23 – 27 from the New Living Translation (NLT)
23 “And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. 25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[a] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[b] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings[c] in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
John 14 : 1 – 9 from New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Comforts His Disciples
V 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jesus the Way to the Father
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[ my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God.
Do you think it’s true that we grow like the people we live with?
Some people even say we grow like our pets !!
My wee dog Rannoch was a bit of a scruff – and was a cheeky monkey – so I don’t know what that says about me !!
And I was always amazed just how many of the children I used to meet in the 3 schools I visited in the Highlands – that had a very close resemblance to one or other of their parents – or as they say in Aberdeenshire – “ a fair swipe” of them both !”
Of course being “like someone” isn’t just about looks – a child can have no apparent similarity to their parents – until they open their mouth – that is, or have some other trait like the way they walk or act – then the close-ness of their relationship becomes much more apparent..
So, being “like someone”, is perhaps more about “being” than “seeing.”
“Being like someone” is more relational than physical ……
When Jesus said “when you see me, you see the Father” – He didn’t mean that He looked liked his father – but rather, He was saying ~ “when you see how I live, I act, my very being – then you see how God is..”
But you know, when Jesus first spoke those words – it would have been an absolute bombshell to those who heard them, “What did He say !?” they would have asked themselves …..
“Did he just say He and God were one in the same person ?? –
Isn’t that Joseph’s son – the carpenter’s boy ? – who does He
think He is !! – talk about getting ideas above your station !!”…
But worse than the misunderstandings and the gossip – was the mind-set of the Jewish people.
“Anyone who looks upon the Lord will die” their holy scriptures say, because that’s what God had said to Moses at the ‘burning bush’ incident – do you remember ? – God said to Moses – “I will be merciful and compassionate – but you cannot see my face – for no-one can see may face and live” (Exodus 33 : 20).
And here was Jesus saying – “when you’re looking at me – you’re looking at God”……
‘Heresy !!’ Some would have shouted – ‘here’s someone saying he’s like God !!’ others would have cried.
But Jesus wasn’t saying – “I look like God” – not in physical terms – but that He was like God – “look at me” – He is saying – “ see how I act towards others –
see how I love and care for everyone and want only the best for them – well that’s how God is .”
That’s what God is like – and that is what Jesus is like too…
He had “a fair swipe” of his Father – if you like…… maybe not in looks – but in His character – His mannerisms and in His qualities.
But what if I were to say to you that you – yes you – have those very same “God-like qualities that Jesus has !??”
You might immediately think no way !
“Iain, you’ve finally lost the plot – I knew it would happen one day!
Me, Holy?? – that’s alright for Jesus – He was – Well – holy” you might say – “but not for me – there’s no way I can be like God or Jesus”….
Aye, but I have faith in you –
And so – I ASK YOU TO THINK AGAIN…
Our Old Testament reading from Genesis tells us that God made mankind – that’s you and me – both male and female – made in His own image….you and I….! (Genesis 1 : 26 – 27).
And so whether we like it or not – whether we accept it or not – you – me – everyone around us – even those people we might not be too keen on – are made in God’s image – we all have – a ‘fair swipe of God the Father’ !!……
For many, that gives the comfort of knowing that God is in everything they say and do.
But others recognize the great responsibility it brings. “If we are like God – then we’d better start behaving like God – living in a ‘Christ-like’ way!!”.
And then we think of all the things we say and do which are far from being “God-like” – or “Christ-like”.
And say to ourselves “oh dear – thank goodness God isn’t like me !!”
And that is true for all of us – if we’re completely honest.
To the early Greeks, God was referred to as ‘the invisible’ – ‘unknowable’ and ‘un-seeable God.’
To the Jews, God was both ‘fierce and distant’ – a million miles away from their everyday comings and goings. To them God was both a stern and judgmental deity.
But then along came Jesus – God in human form – entering the world as a wee baby – just like we did – growing up in a village like all the other children – working as a carpenter with His Father, Joseph.
Here was Jesus – identifying himself with our own human experiences – yet responding to God’s call – healing the sick – helping the poor – loving the little children – eating meals with sinners as well as with saints.
He wasn’t so distant now – not so unseeable – invisible or fierce now !
Here was Jesus at the very heart of the people – in the very heart of the people – living with us – sharing our heartaches and our joys.
Here was God – showing His unconditional love of his people – getting involved in their daily issues – helping – supporting – guiding – befriending the sad and caring for the lost and the lonely.
Showing us – physically – how God feels towards His people,
showing us that as hard as it is to understand – as difficult as it is for us to take in – God is here – God is with us – with you.
God the Father takes part in your life – just as He does in mine.
God – through Jesus – is in the great issues of your life – just as he is in the small, ordinary, ‘everyday’ things that we all experience day by day.
So – with the coming of Jesus – we see a different view of God – a very different view.
Instead of God seeming remote and indifferent – Jesus shows us that He is close, caring and willing to take over your troubles and allow you to live as He first intended – free and with joy –just what every good Father would want for his children.
He wants you to stop worrying – and start living.
He wants you to trust in Him enough to let Him lead you forward – and talk things over with him when difficulties arise.
He wants you to stop looking back – to how things were – but to look forward with hope to what new things are yet to come.
And whether we have a good and close relationship with your earthly father – or if your relationship wasn’t so good – perhaps you don’t know your biological father – whatever your circumstance – you can be assured that you can know your Heavenly Father – and form a good, close and loving relationship with Him who first gave you life and has looked after you ever since.
He is not an ‘absent father’ who never gets in touch or refuses to provide for his children. He is an ‘up close and personal’ Father who takes a real interest in your development – each and every day.
That’s not the God that our early ancestors would recognize – and it’s not a God that those who first heard the message that Jesus proclaimed would recognize either.
But it’s a God that we can know and love – thanks to Jesus – thanks to our Heavenly Father – who is both Father – Son and Holy Spirit………
The one who holds you in the palm of His hand and promises to never let you go.
All you have to do is ask – and you will receive – ask and all these wonderful thing will be yours.
So – what do you make of all this??
Do you think this might be a dream ??… A delusion ?…
Is it all this fiction and fantasy ??
No – this an absolute promise !!
And God makes that promise to you.
God – He is your eternal and heavenly Father……..
How wonderful and amazing is that !?
And all this, in Jesus’ precious name.
And may God bless this preaching of his holy word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.
you know the joy of Fatherhood and also the pain, for you witnessed the life and death of your Son, and you see each day the triumphs and tragedies of us, your children.
Lord God our Father – reach out in love.
In Jesus you experienced the delight of being a Father —as you watched Him grow and mature into adulthood, as you saw Him Baptised in the Jordan, as day by day He responded to your guidance, faithful to the very last —a beloved son with whom you were well pleased.
Lord God our Father, reach out in love.
We pray for our world with all it’s wars and violence.
We pray too for our world at this time of the Covid 19 pandemic – praying for al those who are vulnerable and exposed to serious ill health, or worse.
We pray for all who have contracted the virus – those who have been tested and fear the worse.
Bless them Father, bless us all at this time – bless our families too.
Lord God our Father – reach out in love.
We pray for all those who, on this Father’s Day, feel pain instead of joy— those whose who barely see or know their fathers.
Draw close to them Father – bring them your reconciliation and peace.
Remind them of your care – remind them of your eternal love – remind them nothing in life or death – in the world as it is or as it shall be – nothing in all creation can separate them from the love of our Father God….
Lord God our Father, reach out in love
Hear me know as I remember the those who need a prayer at this time. Whether it be family, friends or someone we know – we ask for your blessing and healing hand upon them
And hear our prayer as we sit for a few silent moments – each with our own thoughts, each with our own prayer for those whom we love and are concerned about – Lord be with us in the peace of our silence………………..
…….take time to think of someone you know who is in need of prayer……. God will hear you………….
Bless them all dear Lord for we bring them before you in the name of the one who loved his father and was loved by him – the one who blesses us – His children –
our dear, precious, Lord Jesus. Amen.
‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’
Nothing Can Separate
From her bedroom window, Rebecca eyed the other children playing in the snow enviously. How she longed to play with them!
“Now, Rebecca,” she remembered her father telling her that morning. “You can’t play in the snow today.”
“Why not, Father?” Rebecca had asked. Every day, the other children gathered at a park just behind Rebecca’s house.
“Just trust me, Rebecca. It’s not what’s best for you today,” her father had replied.
At the time, Rebecca had responded by kissing her father on his cheek and assuring him that she would stay inside and read. But now she was having second thoughts.
It is beautiful outside, she thought to herself. It was true: the sun was shining brilliantly. Why wouldn’t her father let her go play?
Why should she have to miss out on all the fun?
When a snowball exploded just outside her window, Rebecca decided she couldn’t stand it any longer. She simply had to go join the others!
Leaving her book on the table, Rebecca slipped outside. She tried to tell herself she was having a good time, but all the while her heart felt uncomfortable. She kept looking this way and that, fearful least her father see her.
After a few hours, Rebecca finally said her goodbyes and headed back towards the house. But as she walked up the path – she slipped on the ice and fell, bruising her arm and leg. She managed to hobbled up to her bedroom, where she lay for the remainder of the day, in agony.
Her body ached from the bruises she received on her fall. But her heart—ah, that ached worse of all! She felt certain that her father would no longer love her. She had messed up in the past, but surely this time she had gone too far! He would probably never want to speak to her again. How could he still love her?
She sobbed uncontrollably on her pillow. She had always been close to her father.
Who knows how long she would have lain there had not her nanny come out to check on her. Rebecca’s nanny had a way about her of finding out exactly what was wrong and offering solid, wise counsel. Today was no exception.
“Rebecca, dear,” she said firmly, but gently. “You’ve been very wrong. But you must not continue in your wrongness by sitting here. You must go to your father and tell him everything.”
“Oh, but I can’t! I’m not worthy of His love!” Rebecca sobbed.
Her nanny sighed patiently. “You were no more worthy of it yesterday than today. Your father loves you because you’re his child, not because of anything you do or don’t do.
Hasn’t he told you everyday since you were a little girl, ‘I love you’? Do you doubt his word? Do you really think his love is dependent on you?”
Doubt his word—that was an angle Rebecca had never thought of before. Maybe she should go see her father…yes, she must go see him, for if she didn’t, she’d never be able to rest…..
Her father was sitting in his favourite chair. . He looked up when she entered, and a smile radiating with love illuminated his face.
“Ah, you’ve come at last! I’ve been waiting. Come, sit here on my lap.” As he spoke, he opened his arms widely.
Rebecca couldn’t stand it. “Oh, you don’t understand, Father! You can’t love me anymore. I’ve been terribly bad and disobeyed your words.
“I know, Rebecca—more than you think. I watched you go outside. I watched you playing outside. I saw it all.”
“You did?” Rebecca was flabbergasted. “But-but weren’t you at work?”
Her father shook his head. “I took the day off to spend some special time with you. That’s why I told you not to go outside to play. Ever since I saw you fall, I’ve been longing for you to come to me so I could bandage your wounds and help you. Won’t you come now?”
Rebecca could hardly believe her ears. Her father had planned to spend the afternoon with her…and she had missed it. Oh, what foolishness! Yet her father knew it all…and loved her anyway. Could it be? “But, Father, how can you love me now?”
Rebecca’s father smiled a smile she would never forget. “Rebecca, dear, I loved you before you were born. You’re my child and I will always love you.
Although sometimes your actions will result in consequences you could have avoided, but nothing can ever separate you from my love. Now won’t you come and let me help you with those bruises?”
The Bible tells us that .. “nothing, aye nothing can ever separate us from the love of God…” (Romans 8 : 39).
So, what does this simple little story have to teach us?
- God the Father caringly watches over us…
- The Father knows all our faults and failings…
- He never stops loving us…. [Read Romans 8 : 37 – 39]
So here’s a thought ~
With such a caring and compassionate Father loving you – it begs the question – how often do you thank Him for all your Blessings?
He has blessed us with family, friends, a nice home and food on your table, so much more – so much to be grateful for – shouldn’t we take time, more often, to come to Him in prayer and say a simple “Thank you Father…” ?
We should – aye but will we?
Food for thought for us all…
Go in love, joy, hope and peace –
Go and love God and love one another –
And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – be with your families, friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day – and every day.
Take care and may God Bless you
and those you love.
Look out for my Midweek Meditation
Posted Online each Wednesday Morning.