February 2019

3rd February                             5 before Lent ( Candlemas )                   Luke 2 v. 36 – 40

There was also a prophetess named Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, who was well along in years. She had been married for seven years, and then was a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming forward at that moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.  When Jesus’ parents had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.

When He was eight days old, Jesus was taken to the Temple in accordance with Jewish Law.  Two older people of great faith had been waiting patiently and prayerfully for the coming of the promised Messiah.  The second, Anna, had spent most of her adult life there and she deepened her relationship with God through prayer.  She had become spiritually sensitive enough to recognise Jesus for who He was when the little family arrived from Nazareth.  Public worship is very important in the lives of Christians but it is mainly through private prayer that we learn to draw closer to God in a personal relationship.

In this busy world, how can we make sure that we take time to deepen our relationship with God through private prayer?

 

10th February                             4 before Lent                                    Luke 5 v. 1- 11

On one occasion, while Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesareta with the crowd pressing in on Him to hear the word of God, He saw two boats at the edge of the lake. The fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Jesus got into the boat belonging to Simon and asked him to put out a little from shore. And sitting down, He taught the people from the boat. When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we have worked through the night without catching anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to tear. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees. “Go away from me, Lord,” he said, “for I am a sinful man.”  For he and his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were his partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee.  “Do not be afraid,” Jesus said to Simon, “from now on you will catch men.” And when they had brought their boats ashore, they left everything and followed Him.

Jesus showed a great ability to reach out to a variety of people.  We see here how He met four local fishermen.  He first called out to them and then engaged with them by taking an interest in their working lives.  He was able to relate to them in a personal way, sensed their potential and then called them to follow Him as His disciples.  Jesus then reassured them - “Do not be afraid”,  He said  because the life He was calling them too was very different from what they had been used to.  He understood that they might feel inadequate so He tried to build their confidence.

What can we learn from this story about reaching out to people and building relationships with them?

 

17th February                                  3 before Lent                                          Luke 6 v. 17 – 26

Then Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of His disciples was there, along with a great number of people from all over Judea, Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases, and those troubled by unclean spirits were healed. The entire crowd was trying to touch Him, because power was coming from Him and healing them all. Looking up at His disciples, Jesus said:  “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For their fathers treated the prophets in the same way.  But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers treated the false prophets in the same way.

Jesus had chosen His twelve disciples and He took them with Him as He began His Ministry of reaching out to people in need  -  caring for them and showing them what we now call Christian Love.  Those who are in pain, hunger fear and distress cannot learn about God from preaching, but they will learn about Him through His followers who proclaim Him by showing His love in a practical way.

To whom can I show the love of God today/ this week?

         

24th February                                      2 before Lent                               Luke 8 v. 22-25

One day Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us cross to the other side of the lake.” So He got into a boat with them and set out. As they sailed, He fell asleep, and a squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke Him saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters, and they subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” He asked.

Jewish people have a great hatred and fear of the sea.  It represents for them the waters of chaos (Genesis 1 v. 2 ).   The disciples were terrified in the storm, even though Jesus was in the boat with them.   They had not yet learned to trust Him totally.   It was only when Jesus spoke to the storm with authority that they realised He spoke with the voice of God.

When do you find it hard to trust God completely?  Pray that He will reveal His power to you as you learn to trust Him more.

 




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