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Dear fellow pray-er,
Prayer Diary for the period Thursday 11th January– Wednesday 28th February 2024.
A Happy New Year to you and all those you love.
We continue on from where we left off with Genesis chapter 3 – The Fall of Man – O dear! I wonder how many speculate on what the difference would be now if that fateful bite of a fruit had not been taken? And yet we know the good news that Jesus brought has made all things right! We go on to read of the first murder and then the flood – with the weather we have had recently we might catch sight of a few ark’s under construction? However, we can be cheered up when we spot a rainbow in the sky and remember God’s covenant with us all. We continue, to read of the consequences of pride when men began to construct a tower that reaches to the heavens. And then God starts to take a hand in the affairs of man when he speaks to Abram. We read of Abram’s journey to Canaan, then Egypt as a result of a famine, and then back again: his meeting with Melchizedek, king of Salem (generally regarded as Jerusalem) after Abram had won a great battle against the king of Kedorlaomer; and his rescue of Lot, his nephew. This is where tithing is first mentioned in the Bible. We also come across God’s covenant with Abram “Do not be afraid, Abram” an exhortation echoed many times by Jesus to those around him. Do not fear! Then Abram’s child by Sarai’s maid, Hagar, Ishmael. We continue with God renaming Abram and Sarai to be Abraham and Sarah, of the promise of a child for Abraham and his wife Sarah in their old age, Abraham’s plea for the people of Sodom, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt! And then the birth of Isaac, the promised son followed by the testing by God of Abraham as to who was most important. God or Isaac!
We then go on with Isaac and his marriage to Rebekah, their two boys, Esau and Jacob, the selling of a birth-right for a bowl of stew and Jacob conniving with Rebekah, his mother, to get his fathers blessing. Jacob then flees and goes to his mothers’ brother to find a wife for himself. When resting at night whilst on his journey, he has a dream of angels ascending and descending a stairway to heaven with the Lord at the top telling him he would give him the land on which he lay and that he would watch over him and give him descendants a numerous as the dust of the earth. Jacob then becomes caught up in the wiles of his mother’s brother and ends up marrying two of his daughters! Then the wealth that he accumulated over a twenty-year period is detailed, and the 12 sons and daughter Dinah, together with Jacobs departure from Laban, his wrestling with God, being renamed Israel and his limp.
We then move on to the second youngest son Joseph. His dreams, coat, and then departure as a slave to Egypt and all that followed to the point where he is second only to Pharoah in authority in the land of Egypt. We then read of him selling grain to his brothers without them realising who he is! R T Kendall wrote a book about him entitled ‘God Meant it For Good’ which traces the stages of Joseph's life as he matures from a young and impetuous man to one who is prepared to leave his own vindication with God. It presents a case study in total forgiveness, exemplified by Joseph's reconciliation with his brothers, and applies it to Christian living today. I found it a really good, challenging read and would highly recommend it. (https://www.eden.co.uk/christian-books/understanding-the-faith/general-theological-issues/god-meant-it-for-good-4x7/) We take up the rest of the story of Joseph next time.
The New Testament readings continue with the last 7 chapters of Matthew. I do like the response of Jesus when he is asked about paying taxes to Caesar. There are also the dire warnings from Jesus about the end times and how we must be prepared – something that it is so easy to lose sight of. Are our lamps full of the oil of the Spirit? Are we sheep or goats? Do we reach out to others with love or walk on by? We do need to keep on asking Him to guide us. Then the plot against him, the Last Supper, arrest, trial, mocking, crucifixion and death – all of this for each one of us – for you – for me.
And then – RESURRECTION! And the Great Commission - do we take it seriously?
It seems to me apt that we then immediately go on to 2 Timothy 4 and Paul writing “I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season.” We need to keep on gossiping the Gospel to those around us! After all we get an extra day this year to do it! Turn the page and we arrive at Paul’s letter to Titus. The book of Titus reminds us that our beliefs about God impact every decision we make and, how we should live our lives. Paul makes clear that a church that teaches and preaches sound doctrine will see results in the lives of its people. Not only will people be saved from their sins, but God’s grace will also motivate them to live out that saving faith with renewed and purified lives. And then Philemon. I do love the way Paul opens this letter with his thanks and encouragement for Philemon. We would encourage others if our emails to them contained more of this type of greeting. It is Paul’s shortest New Testament letter. Although he should have been apprehensive about his own well-being (he was writing from prison), Paul is concerned about Onesimus, a runaway slave. Paul’s humble, gentle, and loving demeanour in his letter to Philemon should also remind us to behave likewise in our own relationships. Now to Galatians, the fourth of Paul’s letters. In it he remonstrates against those who advocate salvation through the law and urges the church to lean on the true gospel of grace in Jesus. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5.1) We too need to remember those words when we consider the ways in which we have become enslaved to the latest technology and thinking of the world!
We now turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews. It has been described as a complex homily (or sermon) which ends like a letter. I would draw to your attention to 2:1 “We must pay more careful attention, therefore to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” With all that is going on in the world today I encourage you to keep your eyes upon Jesus!
Our blessings to you and all those you love this leap year!
Peter & Sylvia