Saturday 25 December 2021

Bless the Lord, O my soul

We should have a conversation with our soul and determine to praise the Lord in spite of our emotions or our circumstances
I pray you are all having a lovely Christmas. When you read this, Christmas day will be over and hopefully you will still have a few more days to relax. I don’t know about you but for me this time between Christmas and New Year is often a time of reflection. I think about next year and how I can do things better. I am not going to call this ‘making new year’s resolutions’ because I am notoriously bad at keeping them for more than a week or two!!  I am just going to call it reflection.

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a bible teaching and the speaker said something that I had never really thought of before. He said that David often gave himself a good talking to. He said that in his psalms, he spoke to his soul and told it to do certain things. So, I looked into this a bit more deeply and found he was, of course, completely correct. 

Psalm 103 begins and ends with David’s command to his own soul to bless the Lord, Verse 1 says "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!"

The commentator Matthew Henry wrote about this verse, “David is here communing with his own heart, and he is no fool that thus talks to himself and excites his own soul to that which is good. Observe how he stirs up himself to the duty of praise.” 

In verse 2 he tells his soul not to forget the good things the Lord does and is. It says: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

In this wonderful psalm David then goes on to list the amazing qualities of God that should always be brought to mind. He recalls that the Lord forgives, he heals, has mercy, redeems, crowns us with steadfast love and much more. David lifts his gaze up from his own circumstances and fixes he eyes upon the Lord’s acts of provision. David is moved. A heart that was struggling to cope is now soaring. An overwhelming gratitude, that he can’t keep in, wells up inside him, and at the end he ends with talking to his soul again. He says in verse 22 "Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

So, I ask myself, do I speak to my soul and tell it to bless the Lord? Am I reminding myself of what God has done for me in Christ Jesus? Or when I don’t feel like praising God, do I let my soul take command and persuade me not to bother?
Next, I want to turn to Psalm 42. There is some discrepancy about who wrote Psalm 42 Some say that David probably wrote these words when he was in exile after the betrayal of his son Absalom. Others disagree. But whoever wrote it, that person was obviously in a desperate situation. The writer says to himself: 5. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. He is asking himself the reason for the despair he feels in his soul. At the end of the psalm, in verse 11 he repeats the same words. He tells himself to put his hope in God with the result that his soul will give praise to God because He can always be counted on to help. He looks at his situation and makes an honest assessment. He doesn’t come to self-centred conclusions, and he doesn’t feel sorry for himself, he doesn’t get deeper into agitation and anguish and have a pity party. No, he asks his soul why he feels like that and then proceeds to change his outlook by talking to his soul for God’s glory. It seems clear that we should have a conversation with our soul and determine to praise the Lord in spite of our emotions or our circumstances. We need to talk to our souls, regardless of how we feel and bring ourselves into line with God and His will. 

Lastly, I turn to Psalm 131, a Psalm of David and only three verses long.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.

In this psalm David says that he does not rush at power and grandeur, or aim at that which is beyond his reach, as many men in his position might do. Instead, he calmed and quieted his soul. He has again spoken to his soul and brought it under control. He has a stillness of soul that is not rooted in circumstances but in the Lord. Our Lord never changes, and we can trust in His unfailing love for us. If we take this truth on board then we can tell our soul to be at rest in His presence and find a deep contentment in the Lord.

I was listening to someone speaking on this psalm the other day and he said that it was necessary to get our soul to be calm and quiet if we want to pray and worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. He said the soul is like a petulant child, constantly pulling on his mother’s skirt to get attention, when she was trying to talk seriously with someone else. That resonates with how I feel sometimes when I try to pray or worship the Lord. My soul has its own agenda. The soul wants its own way and if we want to live in harmony with God, we need to give our souls a good talking to at times. There are many other examples in the bible of people giving orders to their souls, so I am going to give it a try this coming year. If it’s good enough for the man after God’s own heart, it’s good enough for me!!

Author: Thelma Cameron

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Saturday 18 December 2021

Where Jesus is.

Jesus is encouraging us to daily bring ourselves before God and seek His presence
During my readings over the last few days The Holy Spirit highlighted a few words Jesus spoke to his disciples that are both simple and profound.  The sentence is found in John's Gospel chapter 12:26 and in the NLT it reads “Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am and the Father will honour anyone who serves me”.

Jesus was preparing His disciples for what to do after He had died and He was no longer with them, and explaining that those who loved their lives in this world would lose it, but those who do not put value on their lives by this world`s standards will keep it for all eternity. Because their values and perspective are different. Jesus was saying clearly you my servants must be `where I am!`

This got me thinking, how often am I where Jesus is? In this statement Jesus didn’t mean His servants needed to be physically where He was, as He was just about to be crucified, raised and ascend to Heaven. No, He meant spiritually `where He is`. We have heard a number of times recently how we are to not rely upon or own thoughts and wisdom but seek the Lord for His understanding in reverence and respect (fear). This is so true, in other words we need to be `where Jesus is`; aligned with Him, on the same wavelength, walking in step whatever you want to call it, and the Lord has continually been showing me that this comes from seeking His presence. Psalm 42:5 says in the NASB translation `Why are you in despair my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him. For the help of His presence.` Jesus is encouraging us to daily bring ourselves before God and seek His presence, for that is where we will be `where Jesus is` and be able to receive His guidance, comfort, instruction, strength, direction etc. for whatever we need, or for whatever He is asking us to do. He knows that we find it just too easy to go running off in the wrong direction by ourselves.
I was struck by this while listening to some Christmas songs recently. I can only imagine the questions, doubts and fears that must have run through Mary`s mind while the Angel was telling her what was about to happen to her, what would her life be now, how would she cope, how could this actually happen to her to conceive a baby as a virgin. Would she lose Joseph, all her friends, family and would she become an outcast. But Mary didn’t allow herself to focus only on these things , in the midst of all the questions, fear and confusion she chose to `be where God was` to align herself with His plan and honour His will and replied `I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.' Luke 1:38 NLT. This thought was prompted by a song I was listening to by Steven Curtis Chapman (it’s the song at the end of the blog) which highlights Mary`s thoughts at the prospect facing her and how she submits to the presence of the Lord and how she receives strength from His presence and His perspective. 

`Oh what a precious promise Oh what a gift of love

The angel tells a virgin that she’s going to have a son

And though it’s a precious promise, she wonders how can this be

What will the people say, and what if Joseph can`t believe.

And her questions and her fears are met with an overwhelming joy

That God has chosen her!

Oh what a precious promise, Mary waits as heaven comes to Earth`

It makes me question how much of the plan and purpose of God in my life do I miss because I don’t choose to see God’s perspective for what is happening to me. I only see the problems, the difficulties, the inconvenience, the negatives. I sometimes only see the giants to be overcome and not the milk and honey of the promises of God. I think that is why the Lord is so insistent that at the moment that we make sure we get His wisdom, His understanding of whatever is happening to us. And the only way is to “be where Jesus is” to wait in His presence, to seek His understanding and perspective, and to ask the Holy Spirit to expand our tiny thinking so we can in some small way know the mind of Christ.  

The second part of the sentence Jesus speaks is so reassuring, `And the Father will honour anyone who serves me`. It is wonderful to know that Jesus wants us to be `where He is` so the Father can reward us with His presence, strengthen us with His presence, honour us not with great accolades, riches or status, but with the amazing knowledge that we are serving the Lord in the way He wants us to.

I often wonder what would have happened if Mary had only concentrated on all the negatives and had spent too much time trying to work it all out and look for the `reason` behind it all, rather than just align herself with God's will, lay down all the questions, fear, doubt and go on trust and dependency…  Or was it that she was already used to dwelling in the presence of the Lord in her daily living, so that when faced with the enormity of the task, she could simply answer `I am the Lord’s servant` Was that why she was chosen? 

Lord, today help me to always `be where you are` so I can dwell in the strength of your presence and be in the right place to be obedient to whatever you ask me to do, because my Spirit is aligned with yours. Amen.

Author: Jan Pearson

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Saturday 11 December 2021


LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing
We’ve just returned from a weekend in Wales visiting our welsh family. I have an amazing aunty, who well into her eighties, is still running a substantial hill farm with sheep and cattle.

We had a beautiful clear sunny day on Sunday. Aunty Mag was giving me a comprehensive tour of the farm. She roared up and down the hills on her powerful quad with me clutching onto the rear carrier. I was the gate boy, hopping off to open and close gates, then back to clinging onto my perch. It had been years since I had been around the farm, there was now more land, more stock, more machinery, more buildings and all well looked after. I was so pleased for her and her family, they have worked hard for many years. In fact, she has been a widow for 45 years, but that has not stopped her continuing the farm improvement and expansion. 

Here is Aunty Margaret at a high point on the farm:-

At that stunning viewpoint, I thanked our heavenly Father for all that He had given to them. In the words of Psalm 16:6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. But I thanked Him that He was my inheritance. What I could see and hear around me was wild and wonderful; and what a privilege to be able to pass this on as an inheritance to ones’ children and grandchildren. However, even considering all this, the Lord has become my chosen portion. Perhaps the words of Graham Kendrick’s song capture my thoughts best:

Knowing you Jesus, knowing you. 
There is no greater thing. 
You’re my all, you’re the best. 
You’re my joy, my righteousness. 
And I love you Lord.

So let’s read through more of that prophetic Psalm 16 (:5-11 NLT) penned by King David about 3000 years ago:

LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
You guard all that is mine.
The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful inheritance!
I will bless the LORD who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.

I want to continue in a future blog to see how Peter (the apostle) used this prophetic psalm on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2.

Let’s finish with Peter’s exhortation: “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Author: Richard Windridge

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Saturday 4 December 2021


The day that God made Jesus the ‘Cornerstone’ was certainly a day for rejoicing
Christ alone, Cornerstone

Weak made strong

in the Saviour’s love,

Through the storm, He is Lord

Lord of all!

You may recognise this as the chorus of a well-known song called ‘Cornerstone’. This song has been a blessing to my husband and to me over the years, not least at the time when he was undergoing treatment for a serious illness. Recently I listened to a sermon on Psalm 118, in which the preacher commented that this Psalm is largely regarded as a Messianic prophecy of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. 

From verse 22-24 it says: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

This name ‘Cornerstone’ applied to Jesus does seem to be very significant as it is mentioned in Matthew, Mark and Luke, who all tell the parable of ‘The Wicked Tenants’. This is about a farmer who rents his vineyard to tenants. At harvest time, he sent servants on separate occasions to get some of his fruit and they wounded them or killed them. He then sent his son and they killed him too. 

This parable is an allegory of the ministry of Jesus. The vineyard is an Old Testament picture of God’s chosen people of Israel. The story of how the tenants refuse to give the owner some of the harvest even when the owner sends his own son is a picture of how the Jewish leaders treated God’s son, how they threw him out of the vineyard and even killed him. In each of the three gospel accounts Jesus ends the story with the quotation from Psalm 118 ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’ He is therefore applying this to himself.

It is not only mentioned in the gospels but in various other places too. I will just give two more examples.

In Ephesians 2:19-22 Paul says: So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
And in Acts 4:11-12 Peter says, when he and John are brought before the Sanhedrin: This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

So, we know that Jesus is the cornerstone but what is a cornerstone? The cornerstone was the principal stone in any building. It was usually, the most solid, and the most carefully chiselled of any of the stones. The strength, the integrity and unity of the whole building depended on the cornerstone. If the cornerstone was not exactly right, the entire building would be out of line and likely to collapse. 

And who are the builders that rejected Him. At the time of Jesus, it was mainly the Jewish leaders, who wanted to carry on building their own religion the old way. Jesus was not conforming to their way of doing things and they didn’t like it. They argued He did miracles by the power of Beelzebub. They began to plot His death early on in His ministry. But it wasn't just the builders of leaders who rejected Jesus. 

Many of the people of Israel did as well. At the trial of Jesus, it was far too easy for ‘the builders’ to whip the entire crowd into demanding that Pilate crucify Jesus. Of course, Israel is not the only nation that has rejected Christ since then. There are political and religious leaders and ordinary people in all nations of the earth that have rejected and are still rejecting the moral and spiritual authority of Jesus Christ. 

So let me take you back to Psalm 118:23-24, where it says after talking about the cornerstone: This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Yes, The Lord has done this! He has made the rejected stone the cornerstone. It was part of His plan from the beginning, which He fulfilled through the actions of the builders, who rejected Him and who put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to His right hand where He is King of kings and Lord of Lords. We often sing or say the words ‘This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it’ and this of course is entirely appropriate for any day, but the day that God made Jesus the ‘Cornerstone’ was certainly a day for rejoicing. 

So, in conclusion, as Christians we are to be part of what Christ is building and He is to be our Cornerstone. To those builders who reject the Cornerstone of salvation, He will be, as it says in 1 Peter 2:8: ‘A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ Salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name by which we can be saved.

In 1 Peter 2:5 it says: ‘you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’

Christ is the cornerstone of every part of our lives. Christ is the cornerstone of the church. He is our very rock and our salvation. In Him the building holds together, without Him it falls apart. No stone can be part of the church unless it is in alignment with Him. As we often quote in our fellowship, from Psalm 127:1: ‘Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labour in vain.’

Author: Thelma Cameron

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