Pause for Thought

Sunday 6th February:  4 before Lent:  Luke 5 1-11

On one occasion, while Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret 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 hard all 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 often told people to do unexpected things, even taking them well out of their comfort zone.  Here we have Simon, an experienced fisherman, being told to lower his nets – again – when he had been fishing all night with no catch.  He must have felt reluctant and even perhaps slightly peeved to be told to repeat an unfulfilled action, but he did – and the result was quite spectacular.  So it is when God takes a hand in our lives – he can achieve un-imagined results, through us, if we obey his promptings.

Are we ready to answer God’s call to do things which, to us, may seem ridiculous, time wasting, unproductive?  In his hands, the amazing can happen.  May we be ready to respond.

 

Sunday 13th February: 3rd Sunday before Lent:  Luke 6 20-27

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 filled. 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. But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you

The ‘Beatitudes’ as these are known, were taught to his disciples when Jesus was giving them examples of how they should live.  At first sight they may seem contradictory, but on closer inspection they contain wise truths which have guided people throughout the ages to a deeper understanding of God’s standards and way of living.

These are challenging for us – but we are not expected to meet the high demands on our own as God is there beside us to give us the power and strength we need.  Is there something facing you today which seems impossible? – Ask God for help – and wait for his response.

 

Sunday 20th February: 2nd Sunday before Lent:   Luke 8  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 windstorm 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.

Being a Christian does not mean that the ‘delete’ button is pressed on challenges and difficulties in our lives.  There is no magic formula to enable us to escape the sad and demanding things which may happen to us on our journey of faith.  We, like everyone else, are facing life as it is – we are human, with human frailty living in a world with similar people.  But God doesn’t expect us to go it alone. 

We have the faith and knowledge that He is with us in the good times – and in the bad.  So much of what we face in life Jesus faced in his time – God’s own son experienced what we are going through – and worse.  God’s love surrounds us at all times, and he is with us in the most difficult and challenging times – whether you acknowledge it or not.  We need to allow him be part of our lives in joys – and challenges – he really can help.

 

Sunday 27th February: Sunday before Lent: Luke 9 28-36

…… Jesus took with Him Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray.  And as He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became radiantly white.  Suddenly two men, Moses and Elijah, began talking with Jesus.  They appeared in glory and spoke about His departure, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Meanwhile Peter and his companions were overcome by sleep, but when they awoke, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with Him.  As Moses and Elijah were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) While Peter was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  And a voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to Him!” After the voice had spoken, only Jesus was present with them. The disciples kept this to themselves, and in those days they did not tell anyone what they had seen.

Occasionally we are fortunate to have what we call ‘mountain-top’ experiences – when life suddenly, briefly, becomes dazzlingly special, beyond understanding.  The instant reaction is to want this to continue, so we stay in this rarefied bubble of ecstasy and joy. But life goes on – and we know that in this real world we have to return to everyday living.

But we can take the memory of that experience with us to help us.  We can thank God for letting us be part of this special moment – before taking up the reins of mundane life again.  May we seize these moments with gratitude and joy, using them to give us stamina and courage to face God’s challenges once more.

 

 




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