Disillusioned cynicism

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Job 21:1-16 (NIVUK): “Then Job replied: ‘Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me. Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.

Is my complaint directed to a human being? Why should I not be impatient? Look at me and be appalled; clap your hand over your mouth. When I think about this, I am terrified; trembling seizes my body.

Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not on them. Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry. They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about.

They sing to the music of tambourine and lyre; they make merry to the sound of the pipe. They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.

Yet they say to God, “Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?”

But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.”

In today’s reading, Job is perplexed about the apparent prosperity of the wicked; yet, he recognises that this prosperity is not due to their own hands. In Matthew 5:45, we read: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” The rewards we will get are safely stored for us, in heaven; the wicked will suffer eternal loss on the day of judgment, we should never lose sight of this final outcome.

Selwyn starts by saying: “Yesterday we saw how many observers of human nature have noticed that troubles tend to come together – but no one can really tell why.” The further on, he asks this question: “What are some of the answers that men and women give to this particular problem?”

He then outlines one method of dealing with the issue of personal problems is to try to anticipate them – they have an expectation that the good things of life will be snatched away from them, at some point in time. Selwyn calls this attitude – disillusioned cynicism – an attitude that attempts to get some consolation from the observation that happiness does not appear to be lasting.

Selwyn’s final comment, is: “This is not a solution to the problem but a device to get around it. Jesus, however, is not a device for getting around problems, but a dynamic to deal with them.”

I think, if we just concentrate on today, and hand over all our fears about the future to Jesus, we insulate ourselves from the attitude of disillusioned cynicism. In Matthew 6:34, we hear Jesus say: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” By looking at the here and now, we will spend less time worrying about the bad things that may happen in the future.

In Matthew 6:8-13, we read this famous prayer: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” It is a prayer which focuses on our needs for this day, and we lay – in His hands – our fears about the future.

Your thoughts?

‘Why me?’

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Job 1:13-22 (NIVUK): “One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the eldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the eldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

Today, Selwyn looks at another area of life in which we become aware that no one can adequately take Jesus’ place, and that is the need to deal with personal struggles and storms. He goes on to say: “Many have commented on the uncanny way that difficulties and problems have of coming together.”

There is a common saying in my part of the world that trouble comes in threes, and then I noticed that in the reading we have before us today, there words, ‘While he was still speaking,’ are found three times – and on each occasion Job receives devastating news. I wonder if Job is the basis for this common saying?

Further on, Selwyn asks, ‘Who can help us in such an hour?’ When we cry out ‘Why me?’ During those times when waves of trouble keep crashing down on us. He replies: “I know of no one who can compare with Jesus. At these times we can discover God as the all-sufficient one, aware of our circumstances and present to sustain and strengthen us. As Lamentations 3:22 reminds us, ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.’

The Book of Job is a very useful book, in that it gives us some understanding of suffering and restoration, and that’s an important point to remember – God restored Job. “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

Another important lesson that we find, when we read about Job, is that he never blamed God for the disasters that occurred, ‘Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.‘ Do you sometimes struggle with the idea that God is all-powerful and in full control of His creation and yet bad things do happen? We all need to trust in God’s perfect goodness and at times we may need to strengthen our trust by taking our concerns to Jesus, in prayer.

Your thoughts?

 

 

Full of certainties

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Corinthians 1:1-11 (NIVUK): “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother: To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.

But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Today’s study is a rather difficult one because Selwyn shares with us the emotional earthquakes that he experienced with the death of both his sons, who died unexpectedly within ten months of each other. I could not even guess the depth of grief a parent experiences when they bury one of their children, and how much greater grief would you suffer when you experience the loss of all your children?

Consequently, his introductory words to today’s study carry even greater strength, based on his experience of severe grief: “There is absolutely no one to equal Jesus when it comes to bringing comfort, resolution and the strength to carry on – to a person who has been bereaved.”

We can all agree with Selwyn when he says: “It is simply wonderful how, in the midst of our deepest grief, God is able to come by with His Holy Spirit” and comfort us in all our troubles.

Our Lord is truly amazing!

Your thoughts?

Supplements – not solutions

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Isaiah 26:1-11 (NIVUK): “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust. Feet trample it down – the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor.

The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.

But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.

Lord, your hand is lifted high, but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame; let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.”

To be honest I did not get a lot out of today’s study. I like the reading for today, because I find Isaiah to be such an amazing Old Testament text, and it contains a lot of excellent material.

In today’s study, Selwyn continues to discuss the subject of bereavement and the various ways in which people attempt to find comfort. He looks at the role of art, nature and literature as supplements to relieve the pain of grief experienced during bereavement. While these supplements may help, they can never be a satisfactory substitute for the grace of our Lord Jesus.

I agree with his final statement: “Time heals, they say, but none as wonderfully as Jesus.”

As most would know, the period of bereavement may last many months after the death of a very close loved one; the day to day pain may subside but there will be certain times when the full force of grief will surface; times, such as birthdays and Christmas.

Consequently, it might be a wise idea to prepare for such events by taking them to God in prayer prior to the time and inviting God’s Spirit into your heart to prepare yourself for the stormy period ahead. Jesus will carry you through these dark times, because He loves you.

Your thoughts?

Is drink the answer?

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Matthew 11:25-30 (NIVUK): “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’”

Selwyn starts today’s study, as follows: “At present we are asking ourselves is there anyone we can rely on other than Jesus in the hour of bereavement?”

He then looks at one approach some people use to find comfort – they try to subdue their emotions in alcohol. He writes: “In the first place it is only temporarily effective and secondly often brings further complications and problems. There is always the morning after, and the poignant memories return to haunt the mind – again and again. … Lasting comfort comes only through the loving compassion of Jesus.”

Earlier in the study, Selwyn mentions that even the most composed person will require consolation during the ‘hour’ of bereavement. We will all need the loving embrace of Jesus during times of severe grief, and our God will act in many different ways to provide support and comfort. From my experience, our Lord will often work through the people around us to provide the loving comfort required to support us during these dark times  – family, friends and members of our Church communities.

As we have read in today’s text from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus through His perfect love, will provide us with rest from the heavy burden of grief.

Your thoughts?

What a Comforter!

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Isaiah 12:1-6 (NIVUK): “In that day you will say: ‘I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defence; he has become my salvation.’ With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.’”

In today’s study, Selwyn writes about the truth that Jesus is the resolution to the pain of bereavement. He is able to provide us with trustworthy advice because he had lost his wife and his only two sons during his lifetime.

He earlier wrote these words about bereavement: “Make up your mind that grief is bound to come to you, and when it comes, be prepared and willing to feel it – really feel it. Don’t dodge it, side step it or repress it. Let it sweep over you. Remember, when you are prepared to face a feeling and not run away from it, to really feel it, then you are in charge of it, and it is not in charge of you.”

During these times of bereavement, Selwyn had found “the sweet comfort of Jesus assuaging the pain and softening the hurt. … There is no one to equal Jesus in the hour of bereavement.”

An important point is that during any time of severe hardship or grief, our feelings are brought before our Lord in persistent prayer, and to remember to allow our church community to pray for us as well.

In James 5:13-14, we read: Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you ill? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” In a sense, undergoing bereavement is a form of distress, and we should go to the mature Christians in our church for prayer, during times of distress. Many churches have care groups, comprised of prayerful people, who express their love for Jesus through prayer for others.

Your thoughts?

No wailing wall

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

John 14:15-27 (NIVUK): “’If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.’

‘All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'”

Another great set of verses chosen by Selwyn for today’s reading; I like the last verse.

Selwyn continues his discussion on the fear of death. He starts by saying: “While there is a ‘Wailing Wall’ in the Jewish religion, there is no wailing wall in the Christian faith. Since Jesus has faced and dealt with death there is no need for us to fear.”

Further on, he refers to the time Jesus went to the tomb of his friend Lazarus, and talks about when Martha went to Jesus for help, he writes “Our Lord knew exactly what to say to her: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25) He was the answer then and He is the answer now. There is just no one other than Jesus to whom we can go when it comes to subduing our fear of death.”

As I approach my own death from cancer, I can honestly say that I am not afraid of what happens after I die; verses, such as the key verse for today; “Because I live, you also will live,” are a great comfort to me.

I must admit that there are times when I am anxious about the suffering that may occur prior to death, but as I reflect on my walk with our Lord over the past twenty-four years there has never been a time when He has not been walking close to me during times of hardship, I don’t see this changing over the coming months.

This anxiety is another reason why I like this verse: “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Likewise, the verse, which Selwyn mentions in his conclusion also provides support for my spirit: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

Your thoughts?