From ’Thy Kingdom Come’ Prayer Journal – if you haven’t got one you can also download it here: https://www.methodist.org.uk/media/16916/thy-kingdom-come-prayer-journal.pdf
The ‘Thought for the Day’ until Pentecost is mostly a direct excerpt from the Prayer Journal or based on it.
Thursday May 21st, Ascension Day. A thought from Steve
Reflection on Day 1 of the Prayer Journal on the theme of Ascension.
Friday May 22nd: Praise
1 Corinthians 13: Love is lived out. Love is not just a declaration. It is commitment in action. That God feels love for us is absolutely amazing. It is humbling. God is always patient and kind with us, seeking to shape our lives by love. One thing that God can really challenge us on is whether our Christian lives show something different, which is worth living for. If there’s nothing that looks particularly necessary or attractive about being a Christian, then what’s the point? What if we were loving people, full of God’s goodness, joy and grace? People would notice: they might not call it ‘God’ at the time, but there would be something special about us – our relationship with God. The fruit of that relationship is a loving nature.
Saturday May 23rd: Thanks
1 John 4.9-10, 19: It is so powerful to think that even when we didn’t know or care about God, God loved us. God doesn’t love us because we do things right or dislike us because we do things wrong. The revolution of God’s love for us is that it can’t be earned. God just loves us. It is a pure gift. Just as God loved us before we knew it, so God works for all whether they know it or not. God is working in everyone’s life. Some people see it, some people don’t. God’s love acts for all – but what God wants more than anything is for us to recognise it and welcome it. The calling of Christians is to be those who point out how God is already at work in their lives; it is a calling to be channels, not creators of God’s love.
Sunday May 24th: Sorry
Romans 5.6-8: What’s beautiful about the Christian story is that God loved us before we came to the realisation that we were sinners. Before we turned to accept God’s love, God already loved us. The love of God we see shown in countless Bible stories comes from a broken heart. It is a love for someone that feels like an ache in the pit of the stomach. The kind of love that would do anything, however irrational it may seem to others, to find what is lost. As we shall read in tomorrow’s reflection, it is the love which risks everything for the sake of one who is lost.
Monday May 25th: Offer
Luke 15.1-6; see also Matthew 18.12-14: The loving God pursues us, just as the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the one. From a rational perspective, the shepherd would do better to guard his ninety-nine and forsake the one that he’s lost because that would be more profitable. But God’s love doesn’t seek profit – every individual sheep is worth pursuing. Sometimes we can be exclusive about the people for whom we want to show love and care. In verse 2 we read: ‘the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners, and eats with them.”’ But the Jesus that we claim to follow ate with all sorts of people. The sinners and the tax collectors were people that he came to find. Jesus went to Matthew’s house – Matthew the tax collector – to have dinner with him. Jesus went out of his way to spend time to eat with a group of people whom many in society rejected. In the same way, Jesus left heaven and came down, not only to dine with us, but also to die for us. He has done everything to find us
Tuesday May 26th: Pray
Weekly Worship 3 May 1 John 4.7: What would the world be like if everybody loved each other? Imagine that! Of course love is difficult because our human nature, although capable of great love, is imperfect. Our selfishness keeps getting in the way. I think that the evidence that we actually know God is the fact that we have the ability to love everyone unconditionally. All the commandments are fulfilled in this, that we would love one another. That’s it. God is asking us to love one another in our words and in our deeds. It’s not necessarily easy, let’s be honest! It is only possible with the Father’s love, Christ’s example and the Spirit’s power. And God teaches us to love as we pray. To pray is to love.
Wednesday May 27th: Help
1 John 3.16-18: When St John says, ‘Little children,’ he’s speaking to everyone, all the children of God. He says we shouldn’t just say we love people if we’re not doing anything to show that love – that if we have material possessions and yet we don’t show any pity for our brother or sister, how is that love? Not to say this is the only way to love people, but that’s a very practical way to love others. How generous are we as Christians? How caring are we as Christians? How hospitable are we as Christians, especially when it is not in our self-interest? If we don’t act, it’s almost as if we think we deserve to be in a better position but it’s only by God’s grace that we’re not in the position of the one in need. Jesus himself says: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ (Matthew 25.35-36) Everything that we do to people, we do as if we do it to Christ.
Thursday May 28th: Adore
Romans 8.37-39: We expect there must be something that can separate us from the love of God. But God is saying, ‘I don’t care where you are, what you’re doing, how far away you are: my love for you will not change.’ Sometimes we think that God’s love is dependent on the way we act. But God is saying, ‘Listen, not even the heights of this earth could separate me or stop me from loving you.’ Christianity is first a relationship with God through Jesus, not first a series of activities! The love of God is ultimately expressed in the cross of Christ, which stands for all time as the sign and assurance of God’s unchanging love.
Friday May 29th: Celebrate
Luke 15.20-24: How joyfully God welcomes us back! We can have such skewed ideas of God as an angry dictator or fault-finding headteacher. But actually God’s attitude towards us is compassion and grace. Even when we are far away, God is willing to run and meet us, the way this father did. Look how it says, ‘while he was still far off ’: the father didn’t wait for the son to come all the way to him, but he went and made up the distance. God does that. God doesn’t just wait. God comes out to us in love and stretches out loving arms in welcome. God is moving down the road right now, stretching out loving arms, waiting for your friends to come home.
Saturday May 30th: Silence
1 Kings 19.11-13: Silence has always been a big part of spiritual practice, but many have never tried it! Solitude and silence can help us hear from God, because we can easily lose sensitivity to that still, small voice in all the noise and activity of our lives. In silence, you realise how little you hear that voice at other times. Silence can be hard. Life is busy and finding a space and time for silence can be difficult. You have a thousand thoughts, like ‘what’s for dinner?’! But the beauty of silence is that it’s not God speaking through someone else, such as in a sermon or a Christian book, but God speaking directly to you.
Sunday May 31st: Pentecost
On the day of Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit as Helper and Comforter, and enabled the disciples to proclaim – in different languages – the wonders of God, so that people from all nations could understand. This shows us that the Spirit of God is present for every situation. When we share our faith with our friends, we can ask the Spirit to help us ‘translate’ the good news of God’s love so that they can understand how it affects them in their situation. At Pentecost we remember that the Holy Spirit is living in us. Let’s not get too used to that amazing fact! What a privilege we have. The Spirit awakens us to the love God has for us and helps us to love others.