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Dear fellow pray-er,
Prayer Diary for the period Thursday 23rd November 2023 – Wednesday 10th January 2024.
Arthur Campbell Ainger wrote that lovely hymn “God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year” the last two lines of each verse ending “when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.” Lines which are based on our first Old Testament reading for this tranche of readings, Isaiah 11:9. Interestingly I noticed that Habakkuk 2:14 has exactly the same lines. (Something I had never noticed before.) Perhaps the Holy Spirit is wanting us more and more to hang onto those words in these greatly troubled times?
As we go on through Isaiah, I would also draw your attention to verse 7 of chapter 25: “On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations” described by one commentator as “the veil or covering of darkness and ignorance, with which the nations are covered.” Can we but not glimpse aspects of the shroud that covers our nation and its institutions that so hold us back from His purposes? What, also, will the Lord show us about our own particular shrouds? The Psalm set for Friday 1st December is Psalm 139. Perhaps as we approach Christmas this would be a good time to contemplate the last two verses of that Psalm? “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
As we continue with Isaiah we can take comfort when we reach chapter 35 and particularly the last verse “They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.” A song based on these words can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp7HZ1My3II – (a bit boppy for some, but still sung scripture.) We end our time with Isaiah with the account of King Hezekiah’s illness and miraculous recovery. He was the 13th King of Judah since David.
Next the Book of Zephaniah. He was King Hezekiah’s great-great grandson. He grew up during the reign of Manasseh and his son Amon. King Manasseh had gone off the rails but after captivity in Babylon he had returned to the Lord and was brought back to Jerusalem and his kingdom. His son Amon, however, did not follow the Lord and was assassinated, which is when his son Josiah became king at the age of 8. (See also 2 Chronicles 33) With Zephaniah’s royal pedigree I imagine that he would have had access to the royal court and brought his Godly influence to bear on young Josiah. His prophecies covered the period 630-621BC and he lived in Jerusalem. In all of this book I do find encouragement in the words of chapter 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Now we move on to a tale of a man who preferred a Mediterranean cruise to that of following the instructions of God. (Now that rings a bell! Still in this day and age we prefer the ways and pull of the world instead of following His way.) Whilst we don’t read the whole book, the prayer from the belly of the fish is well worth reflecting on as it does describe our experiences when we are brought low by circumstances or situations where there is nowhere to go other than to the Lord. Whilst Jonah was called to prophesy to a gentile nation the Book of Ruth narrates the story of a Moabitess.
Ruth was born and raised in paganism and yet is called to be part of the chosen race and is listed in Matthew’s Gospel as an ancestor of Jesus. If any book in the Bible demonstrates God's matchless grace and illustrates the divine plan of redemption, it is the book of Ruth.
Our final Book is Genesis, which, for me, reminds me that before all that I can see, hear or feel around me there was just a spiritual world into which God called the physical world we know. The spiritual world still exists and that is where the real battle lies!
The New Testament readings continue where we left off last time in Matthew – thinking about the cost of following Jesus. Something that many are aware of in today’s world – standing firm with the words of the Bible as their guide irrespective of what the world may say or arrogantly assert. The parable of the weeds reminds us to beware of those in sheep’s clothing who would seek to pervert The Makers Handbook and lead us astray! We are also reminded of the need to forgive and to keep on forgiving – and Christmas is a time of high tensions and often a good time to keep practising the art of loving forgiveness! Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians is next. The church at Colossae was under attack from false teachers who were denigrating the deity of Jesus; they were teaching that He was not actually God. Though Paul had never been to the church itself, he addressed these issues head-on from prison in Rome. The nature of Jesus Christ as Creator and Redeemer was non-negotiable, so Paul wrote to them that he might bring his wisdom to bear on this difficult and trying situation. It was critical to him that this church know God in His greatness and glory, rather than in the deficient view given them by false teachers. You may care to underline in your Bible verse 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
We end this period with Chapters 20 and 21 of Matthew. The parable of the two sons reminds me of how I wish I could always be consistent and be the son who says yes……….and does go!
And now dear friend, we wish you and all those you love, the Lord’s peace, joy, and the sense of His presence with you this Christmas season and in the year ahead.
With our love, Peter & Sylvia
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