Thought and Prayer For The Day

Late one afternoon the composer Beethoven visited a shoemaker. Standing in the shop, waiting to have his shoes mended, Beethoven heard some music being played on a piano in the back room of the shop. Beethoven smiled, knowing that the music was one of his own compositions. “It’s my daughter who’s playing”, said the shoemaker, “but she can’t play very well because she is blind and has to play from memory.”

“May I play the piano for your daughter? I am a musician myself,” asked Beethoven. “Certainly”, said the shoemaker, not knowing who his customer was. Beethoven slowly rehearsed the music with the girl, and they began to practice other pieces he had written (although the girl was not aware that her teacher was, in fact, the composer).

The time went quickly, and Beethoven didn’t realise that hours had passed. Then he noticed the way that the moonlight had begun to stream its gentle light through the window of the room.

Beethoven returned home. He couldn’t get to sleep, but thought of how the girl was disabled by blindness, struggling to do her best, whilst others took sight and talents for granted. He thought of the great joy that music brought her, and he remembered the room in which they had played the music, and the way in which the moonlight streamed through the open window.

He knew that whilst he could see the moonlight, she could not. Beethoven got out of bed and started to play the piano, expressing his feelings through music.

What he produced is thought by many to be one of the most touching pieces of music. In memory of the girl, he called this new piece “The Moonlight Sonata”.

In March 1802, the music of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” was published.

Let us pray:

Lord, you have watched me grow in my mother’s womb, and I know that you love all that you have made.
Help me to transform my difficulties and disabilities into opportunities for growth.

Shine the light of your Spirit on me that I may grow as the person you are calling me to be.

Inspire me to develop the talents
you have given me for the benefit and the service of those people. you have placed in my life.

May each of us become a blessing for others.

Amen.

Building The City

BUILDING THE CITY

“They put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh”.
Ex 1:11 NIV 

Ever-growing cities are a feature of the contemporary world. Tokyo has thirty-six million people, Cairo has eleven million, and London eight. And people are pouring into them as the process of urbanisation takes place all over the world. People are looking for the work, money and amenities the city has to offer. 

Forced labour was a common feature of life in biblical times and the Israelites were a useful labour force for the Pharaoh. Whether the “store cities” were what we would regard as a city is not clear. No doubt they were for a while slave-camps and the population grew even whilst the work went on apace. And they were just a few kilometres from where Cairo is today. As the Israelites groaned under the heavy labour they could hardly have known that God was preparing his great act of deliverance that would define him for evermore as a God of deliverance and salvation. 

It was to the cities of Asia Minor and Europe that Paul went with the gospel of Christ, choosing to plant Christianity in great places like Ephesus, Corinth, Athens and Rome. It was in the city of Jerusalem that Jesus was crucified and raised from death. It was here too, amidst the great gathering of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came upon them. The seer in the book of Revelation depicts the New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev 21:2 NIV). That is the Christian hope for which all believers long and to which all belong. 

Reaching Out

Reaching Out

“For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” – James 2:2-4

Jesus broke a lot of taboos while He walked this earth. One huge cultural faux pas was when He spoke with the woman at the well. In this single act, Jesus actually broke three taboos:

1. He traveled into Samaritan territory.
2. He spoke to a woman in public.
3. He interacted with a woman who had a “reputation.”

But the fact is, Jesus was always far more concerned with reaching out to those in need than in dodging man-made social taboos.

Let me ask you a question. Are you willing to reach out to those who are different from you, culturally, socially, and morally? Students, are you willing to reach out to that person who’s always left out, maybe a classmate who’s a bit on the fringe? Adults, are you willing to reach out to those folks at the office that are different, maybe the office hell-raiser or the known homosexual, or heaven forbid, the conservative Democrat or liberal Republican? Ladies, will you befriend that neighbor who others shun because of rumors about how she judges others? Are you willing to reach out? Jesus certainly did. He broke one social taboo after another so that He could reach out to people in need.

If you call yourself a Christian, are you willing to be like Jesus? If you’re not, you might want to look at His life – you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll like Him.

God’s Justice

God’s Justice

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” – Romans 12:19

Is there anything more satisfying than to have justice delivered to someone who has wronged you? Look at the injustice thrust upon David. Through a series of betrayals, his vain young son, Absalom, took away the throne that rightfully belonged to David. David protested and cried out to God for justice, but recognized that vengeance is a matter for God.

It wasn’t long before Absalom – who was very proud of his head of flowing hair – had his gorgeous locks caught in a tree as he was riding by. He couldn’t un tangle himself and died right there. God brought about justice in a rather colourful manner, and although he wept for his son, David was restored to the throne.

God delivers justice in different ways. Sometimes it’s through routine personal (and peaceful) interaction. Sometimes normal office procedures result in a just solution.

Some actions require the involvement of the police or the courts. And sometimes justice will not be revealed until after our deaths, recognizing that God sees an eternal picture that we cannot comprehend while wrapped up in our temporal, earthly matters.

But do know this: God will bring about justice. Maybe it won’t be as dramatic as the culprit getting his hair stuck in a tree. But in the end, God’s justice will most certainly be done.

How Things Change

HOW THINGS CHANGE

“The Egyptians put slave bosses in charge of the people of Israel and tried to wear them down with hard work”.
Ex 1:11 CEV 

Amazing changes of fortune sometimes happen in history. Three centuries before Christ Greece was the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean, its culture and language permeating many other countries. Today it is experiencing an economic crisis that is causing anxiety all over Europe and ripples spread throughout the world. 

The new king in Egypt treated the Israelites as slaves. They had arrived as privileged guests under the protection of Joseph and the Pharaoh, experiencing prosperity and good fortune. Now they were feared and despised, oppressed and exploited. From happiness and good fortune they had sunk to misery and poverty. But the God who had led them there, miraculously preserving Joseph in the process, was still their God. But they were hard and difficult days and the Israelites must often have wondered whether God had forgotten or abandoned them. 

Nothing stays the same for ever. Good times come – and sometimes go. Glory and power accrue for a while but they can soon disappear. On the other hand the discovery of mineral wealth can transform a poor and insignificant country into a flourishing centre of trade and industry as well as political influence in a decade or two. The Christian gospel however, is not about seeking prosperity. It is about knowing and serving Christ, whatever the economic or political flavour may happen to be. Christians are called to be servants of Christ, in strong or weak countries, in prosperous and poor times, in dark and difficult days as well as in progress and rapid change. 

Whatever fluctuating fortunes may happen in the country where you live, walk with Christ and hold to your faith. 

The Story of Jonah Explained

The story of Jonah and the whale is found in the Old Testament. It is probably best read as a parable – a story with a message.

God spoke to Jonah: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city.”

“No way,” thought Jonah. “It’s not for me to go to the capital city of the Assyrians, our hated enemies.” Jonah boarded a ship that would go in the opposite direction.

Out to sea, a severe storm blew up. Each sailor prayed to his god – they were about to drown. Jonah came forward: “It’s my fault you’re in this trouble; the storm will stop if you throw me overboard.” Reluctantly they did, and a great fish swallowed him whole.

Jonah had three days to think about himself, and then the fish spat him out. Where? On the shore near Nineveh!

God spoke to him a second time: “Jonah, go to Nineveh.” This time he obeyed. He walked into that great city and said: “God’s message is that this city will be destroyed in 40 days’ time because you live in a wicked way.”

What a surprise for Jonah that the people really listened to him. Word even reached the king. They all took the message seriously and turned away from all the wrong they had been doing, and God spared the city.

What was Jonah’s reaction? He was angry with God and said: “That’s why I ran away. I knew you’d be kind and merciful that’s the way you are.” The cold-hearted Jonah sulked; he’d wanted to see the foreigners and their city destroyed. Jonah was only concerned about himself.

He sat outside the city in the burning heat of the sun. He was glad that God had made a plant grow to shade his head, but the next day a worm attacked the plant and it died – and so Jonah no longer had any shade from the fierce heat.

“I could die with anger,” said Jonah. But God said: “You are angry -not at the loss of a single person -but at the loss of a plant that you only cared for because it was doing something for you.

Learn the lesson that I care for and treasure all people without exception. Learn the lesson that, unlike you, I’m not prejudiced against people who are different from you. Learn the lesson that I’m more kind and merciful than you will ever be. Learn from your experience.”

Let’s think about that for a moment…

What Lurks In The Dark?

What Lurks in the Dark?

“For you light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.” – Psalm 18:28

She had been driven crazy by her energetic children and just needed to get away, if even for just a moment. She ran upstairs to her daughter’s bedroom and closed the closet door behind her. And there, in the solitude of the closet she cleansed her mind by letting out a long, loud scream.

She immediately felt better and opened the door to leave. Blocking her exit, with eyes the size of saucers, were her three children. Her four-year-old daughter spoke first: “Mommy, I told you there were monsters in there.”

But the truth is, children and adults fear the dark, the unknown, for the same reason: our fears are intensified when we cannot see what is really before us.

Listen to these words from the Psalmist: “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there, if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Like a loving father, God promises us He’ll always be with us. He’s there to offer us His hand in life’s darkest hours. He’ll carry us through the darkness and lead us where we need to go. He’ll always be with us.