Pause for Thought

Pause for Thought: 7th July  Trinity 3: Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20

After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place He was about to visit.  And He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.  Carry no purse or bag or sandals. Do not greet anyone along the road. Whatever house you enter, begin by saying, ‘Peace to this house.’  If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.  Stay at the same house, eating and drinking whatever you are offered. ………….. The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” So He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus is sending out seventy two of his disciples in his name, giving them very specific instructions as to how they were to behave, staying in one house, not moving around, and only staying where they were welcome.  This must have been a real challenge for his followers as they had never done anything like this before.  Yet they rose to that challenge, returning with news of the success of their mission.

We all have challenges in our lives at various times, some more easy to meet than others.  Yet we are never asked by God to undertake anything which will in fact overwhelm us – provided we listen to and follow his encouraging words as we accept the task he sets before us. Sometimes it does seem far too hard and we shy away from commitment – but Jesus is there beside us if we ask for his help.  Is there something you feel you are being challenged to do? – or not do ?  Ask God to show you the way to move forward, and trust in his ability to help you through.

 

Sunday 14th July:  Trinity 4  Luke 10: 25-37

One day an expert in the law stood up to test Him. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus said. “Do this and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus took up this question and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down the same road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So too, when a Levite came to that spot and saw him, he passed by on the other side. But when a Samaritan on a journey came upon him, he looked at him and had compassion. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he said, ‘and on my return I will repay you for any additional expense.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” “The one who showed him mercy,” replied the expert in the law. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

This well-known story of the Good Samaritan really needs to make us think carefully.  How easy it is to give up time and money to help a friend when they ask, probably knowing that they would do the same for us if we ever need it.  But these travellers on the road had business to attend to; the victim who needed help was unknown to them, and if they stopped to look after him their own commitments would be jeopardised.  Yet this is exactly what we are called to do by God – to help those we meet whenever they need it, not just when it is convenient for us.  It is a big ask – yet that is just what Jesus did when he lived on earth.  He didn’t just help people when it fitted into his plans – he was there for them when they needed it.

Do we respond to cries of help immediately, or is it easier to think of excuses why we should not respond?  Can we alter our way of thinking so that we try to help straight away, even if we later have to call for extra support?  Saying ‘Yes’ to God is challenging and exciting – but even our ‘little’ can add up and make a real difference in the world and to the people we meet.

 

Sunday 21st July: Trinity 5: Matthew 5 1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.

These ‘Beatitudes’ – well know sayings of Jesus – are his way of encouraging his disciples, and us, to do what we know is right and not to give up when we meet problems and opposition.  It takes courage and determination to stick to what we know we are called to do when it results in set-backs, difficulties and disappointments, yet Jesus is saying God does know what is happening, and eventually we will receive his blessing – his reward – for doing our best to follow him.

Is there something you are tempted to give up on because of the problems it is causing? A tricky relationship? A demanding and less than satisfying job?  A new idea which suddenly seems to be blocked?  Persevere, with God’s help, and may you know God’s blessing and peace as a result.

 

Sunday July 28th: Trinity 6: Luke 11  1-13

One day in a place where Jesus had just finished praying, one of His disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus told them, “When you pray, say:

‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose one of you goes to his friend at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine has come to me on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And the one inside answers, ‘Do not bother me. My door is already shut and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up to provide for him because of his friendship, yet because of the man’s persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I tell you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

We are all human, and when we want something we want it now, on our terms.  Jesus taught that God does indeed answer prayer – he wants the very best for his loved children, of which you and I are one – and he loves to answer our requests.  But often we are not ready to receive what we are asking for, and Jesus is telling us to go on asking.  In time God will show you how he has given you the very best thing for the situation in which you are in.

Are you waiting for an answer from God right now?  Are you asking fervently for something which is really important to you and your loved ones?  God does hear us, and he wants us to go on praying whilst he works with us and our request.  Grasp his promises and have faith that he is indeed working for us and with us at all times.

 




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