Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Monday, January 19, 2015

Daily Devotions for Week 1 of Sermon on the Mount

Week 1 Day 1 Devotions
Read my sermon here

He Lives

“I know that my Redeemer lives,

and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.”

Job 19:25

One need look no further than Job in the Old Testament to see someone around
whom floods rose and against whom winds raged. The Lord himself describes Job as a perfect and upright man who fears God and shuns evil (Job 1:8). Job loses first his children, then his wealth and finally his health. As he sits on a rubbish dump scratching his sores with bits of broken pot he experiences estrangement from his wife, his friends and his God. His wife wants him to dump his religion which she felt should have protected him from such calamity; his friends insist that the reason for his hardship must lie in something he has done and they bring him no comfort; and his God seems distant and uninvolved.

 This experience is not unique to Job- perhaps you can identify with it or know someone who does. How do we get to that place where from the midst of pain and suffering we can make a statement of faith like Job’s: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.”? Do you want to get to such a place, or are you at such a place?

The good news is that every one of us can be in such a place in our faith walk. In fact such a faith can be the norm for us, not the exception and it begins with knowing Jesus the Redeemer as Jesus my Redeemer, a personal and intimate relationship. This relationship is based on and made possible by the fact that this Redeemer, who has become my redeemer, lives. He lives! This is our faith, that the One against whom the floods rose and the winds raged, the One who died is the One who lives; the One who

seemed overcome was in fact the overcomer.

The redeemer Job looked forward to in faith is the Redeemer we look back to in faith and the work He did in Job is the same work He longs to do in us. Believe that God’s promises are true and for you and commit yourself to adjusting your life as God speaks to you through His Son’s Sermon on the Mount.

I know that my redeemer lives
And ever prays for me;
A token of his love he gives,
A pledge of liberty.

(Collection of Hymns Number 373)

Week 1 Day 2 Devotions

There is a House that Cannot Fall

“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:25

These words are spoken by Jesus at the very end of the Sermon on the Mount and are part of a parable, the first time he uses a parable as a means of teaching. If the folk remembered nothing else from the large amount of teaching they have heard (and how much do we remember from each sermon we hear?), they will remember this: there is a house that cannot be destroyed.

Wesley warns “do not think that you shall not see war anymore or that you are out of reach of temptation. It still remains for God to prove the grace He has given: you shall be tried as gold in the fire. You shall be tempted not less than they who know not God; perhaps abundantly more. For Satan will not fail to try to the uttermost those whom he is not able to destroy.”

Somewhere along the line people get the idea that Christians should not suffer as much as non-Christians do and can cause great pain by implying that there is something wrong with our faith when we are going through “undeserved” suffering. Perhaps you have been hurt in this way, or know someone who has. Jesus teaches here that exactly the same suffering comes to the wise and the foolish. The difference is, and this becomes a sure hope we can cling to, in Christ we will not be, we cannot be destroyed, in this life or the next. Our salvation even from death itself is secure.

If you are in the midst of a raging lifestorm, try and remember who your Lord is. If you know someone who is suffering at the moment, consider gentle ways of reminding them who their God is.

How happy are the little flock
Who safe beneath their guardian rock
In all commotion rest!
When wars and tumult’s waves run high,
Unmoved above the storm they lie,
They lodge in Jesu’s breast. (61)

Week 1 Day 3 Devotions

Where are Your Roots?

“Once more a remnant of the house of Judah

will take root below and bear fruit above.”

2 Kings 19:30

These are wonderfully gracious words spoken by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah to the king of Judah during one of that wayward nation’s returns to the Lord. It reminds us of our Lord’s deep desire to bless His people when they turn back towards Him and look to Him.

Commenting on this verse in his “Notes on the Old Testament” John Wesley suggests three things: firstly, such a people will be well and solidly foundationed; secondly, they will be provided for; and thirdly, they will then do good to others. These words are for you and for me as well. Are these three things desires of your heart?

Outside my study window there is an evergreen lemon tree and a little way behind it a very similar looking lime tree. I’m not always sure which is which until I taste the fruit. Folk in my office often comment on the trees and ask for some fruit which I gladly offer but I always feel obliged to tell them that the trees straddle the septic tank and French drain which have serviced the home for the last twenty five years……….and sometimes the request for fruit is subsequently forgotten.

 People today, more than ever before, want to know what has gone into the food they eat because they believe it can affect them.

What are you “rooted” in? Where do you look for nourishment? What is the source of your strength? Jesus claims that the Sermon on the Mount is a rock solid foundation for your life. Spend some time committing yourself to turning back to His way, feeding off His teaching and looking forward to the possibility of new fruit in your life.

Come, and partake the gospel feast,
Be saved from sin, in Jesus rest
O taste the goodness of your God
And eat his flesh, and drink his blood. (2)

Week 1 Day 4 Devotions

You Have a Helper

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—

where does my help come from?” Psalm 121:1

This is one of the Psalms that was used by pilgrims as they travelled to Jerusalem for the religious festivals. The journey was long and dangerous with thieves and hijackers a constant danger, especially at night. Sentries were placed on surrounding hills at night and the picture we have here is of a pilgrim looking up to the hills before going to bed and meditating on the thought : “Where does my help really come from?”

In a reference to this verse in his sermon The Reformation of Manners, John Wesley suggests the following : “Deeply conscious therefore should every member of this society be of his own foolishness, weakness, helplessness; continually hanging with his whole soul upon Him who alone has wisdom and strength, with an unspeakable conviction that ‘the help which is done upon the earth, God doth it Himself.’ ”

We need help with everything, from keeping our cars going to filling in our income tax returns, from doing our job properly to conducting our personal relationships. We need help in our spiritual life, which can not only be difficult but dangerous! We need help, and in every area sentries (i.e. others) are useful but like the Psalmist we must look beyond them to the real source of strength: the loving, protecting, always awake Lord who made the hills. We all need help and acknowledging this is not weakness, but strength, and looking to God for that strength is the beginning (and the continuance) of faith. Looking to God for strength in small things stands us in good stead for when the big things come.

How good are you at asking for help, particularly in your spiritual pilgrimage? While looking to the Lord for help, how do you feel about asking someone to watch over you and hold you accountable to a ‘Sermon on the Mount lifestyle’? As you look to the Lord for help ask Him who He wants you to help today.

Lo! To the hills I lift mine eye,
Thy promised aid I claim;
Father of mercies, glorify
Thy favourite Jesu’s name! (134)

Week 1 Day 5 Devotions

Blessed in Order to be a Blessing

“Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

2 Corinthians 1:4

In commenting on this verse, Wesley says: “He that has experienced one kind of affliction is able to comfort others in that affliction. He that has experienced all kinds of  affliction is able to comfort them in all.” If you are currently struggling, draw strength from the truth that God’s comfort is given in all trials. As you reflect on the tribulations you have been through, try and remember how God comforted you, and then prayerfully consider whether God wants to use you to bring sympathetic comfort to someone

similarly afflicted. Just as God blesses us in order that we can be a blessing to others, you have been comforted in order to comfort others. In this way we put the storms in our lives, the things we would rather had not happened, to good use.

A fable tells of a little piece of wood that once complained bitterly because its owner kept whittling away at it, cutting it and filling it full of holes. But the one who was cutting it so remorselessly paid no attention to its complaining. He was making a flute out of that piece of ebony, and he was too wise to give up because the wood moaned so piteously. His actions seemed to say, "Little piece of wood, without these holes and all this cutting, you would be an ugly stick forever - just a useless piece of ebony. What I am doing now may make you think that I am destroying you when actually I am changing you into a flute whose sweet music will comfort sorrowing hearts. My cutting you is the making of you, for only thus can you be a blessing to the world."

Allow God to compose sweet music from the notes of your pain, and let him lead you to the person who needs to hear your song.

A Prayer from Susanna Wesley
I thank you O God for the relief and satisfaction of mind that come with the firm
assurance that you govern the world; for the patience and resignation to your
providence that are afforded as I reflect that even the tumultuous and irregular
actions of the sinful are, nevertheless, under your direction, who are wise, good and
omnipotent, and have promised to make all things work together for good to those
who love you. (From Encyclopedia of Prayer and Praise)


David said...

Great we really enjoyed working through the first week. Week 2 devotionals?

David and Sue

Cedric said...

Hi David and Sue, Glad you enjoyed them. They are meant to last 5 days :-) until I publish the next sermon. Week two devotions are based on Week 2 sermon, when we will begin working through the beatitudes. [but, if you search my blog, you'll find them somewhere as I published them a few years ago]