There will be no Thought for the week in August 

 

Thought for the week 25/07/22  

sitting comfortably 

“Are we sitting comfortably?”

“Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.” Genesis 11:32
 
At first glance we do not appear to have much in common with Terah. Terah lived a long time ago. Terah lived in a land far, far away. And just how many candles did Terah have on that final birthday cake?!
 
Terah may have lived for a very long time an even longer time ago but there’s more of Terah in us than we might at first think. You see Terah got stuck in Haran.
 
In his second letter to the church in Corinth (known as 2 Corinthians) the Apostle Paul encouraged Jesus’ followers to live by faith. This is what Paul wrote: “For we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
 
It’s time for a bit of honesty here. Hands up how many of us actually keep to this? We might be able to do it for a little bit of the day after a particularly rousing talk or conference. We might even manage to do it for a whole day or even a week of mission activities. But trying it for a trial period isn’t what Paul had in mind.
 
Paul suggested that we live 24/7 by faith.
 
What might that look like in terms of our finance? Our homes? Our conversations? Our dreams? Our ambitions?
 
I’d like to suggest that living by sight rather than faith is what many of us choose. Because Harran is a lot more comfortable than Canaan.
 
In Genesis 11 we are introduced to Terah the 70-year-old father of Abram. We’re told that later in life Terah took his family, including Abram and Sarai, and set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan.
 
Terah got up and stepped out in faith. Terah was living by faith not by sight. Think of taking your family and everything you have and setting out for a new place where you’ve never been before.
 
We like the idea of living by faith. But just like Terah we can get stuck. You see there was a bit of a problem with going to Canaan – it was already occupied. Think of the awkward conversations that occur when you get on a train and your reserved seat is already occupied.
 
What do you do? What will the person who is already there do?
 
No doubt the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites (they really are in the Bible – check them out!) and Jebusites would have something to say when Terah and family rocked up.
 
As Terah thought about his step of faith the problems it would involve must have seemed immense. Stepping out in faith is one thing – to live by faith another thing altogether.
 
So, when Terah came to Harran they settled there.
 
We don’t know much about Harran. Perhaps it was a comfortable town with good cafes and restaurants. Perhaps it was clean with a nice oasis and parks. Maybe it had a lively night life. We simply do not know what appeal Haran held for Terah. All we do know is that Harran is not Canaan.
 
You may desire to live a long life. You may long for a comfortable life. But if our desire is not really to live by faith, we can miss out on so much.
 
What might have happened to Terah if he hadn’t stayed in Harran? Might it have been Terah, rather than Abram, who received the blessing and promises God was ready to give? Sometimes to get all that God has in store for us we’ve got to keep going.
 
Today are you sitting comfortably in Harran or travelling to Canaan?

Keith Wilson, 25/07/2022

Thought for the week 18/07/22 

Time 

“Kanban: At the Right Time”

‘You see, at just the right time…” Romans 5:6
 
None of us like things to be too late. It’s frustrating if someone we are due to meet is running late. It’s annoying when a train or bus fails to turn up at the right time. Things arriving too early can also be a problem. If our hot meal is served before we are ready, it can turn cold. Not a problem if we’re having salad but hardly ideal if it’s a lovely roast dinner covered in now solidifying gravy.
 
In an ideal world everything would be at the right time. Neither late nor early.
 
Shortly after World War Two engineers were trying to rapidly increase industrial production. In Japan an engineer called Taiichi Ohno came up with a clever system. (I do wonder about the confusion he must have faced throughout his life with the surname ‘Ohno’!) Mr Ohno created ‘Kanban.’
 
Kanban?
 
This is a system of cards that makes sure manufacturers have all they need at just the right time. A request is made and written on a card. In this way parts and various pieces that need to be assembled are requested and arrive just-in-time. Too late and the assembly line must shut down. This is costly. Too early and Mr Ohno’s employers have paid for items that they don’t yet need. Also, costly.
 
In an ideal world everything would be at the right time. Neither too late nor too early.
 
When it comes to our faith it’s interesting to read that work Jesus came to do occurred at ‘just the right time’ (Romans 5:6)
 
What was the right time?
 
Paul writes: ‘You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly...’ (Romans 5:6)
 
It’s not nice to think of someone as being ‘ungodly.’ Yet that’s the position we find ourselves in if we do not know and accept Jesus as our Lord.
 
Jesus came into the world to pay the price for our sins at just the right time.
 
Recognising that we are ungodly sinners is not nice. We have failed God. We have sinned. And God knows all about the mess we are in. And God still loves us.
 
It’s not easy to recognise that we’re in a mess. It’s even harder to accept help.
 
Who needs help?
 
You do. I do. The downside of life is that ultimately, we are powerless. The upside is that, thanks to Jesus, we are offered to transforming power of forgiveness.
 
At just the right time.
 
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
 
This is good news for us. And it’s good news for a hurting, broken world.
 
If you’ve got a piece or card or paper take a moment today to think of someone you know who is hurting or struggling today. Could you write their name down and request that God intervenes in their life at just the right time?

Keith Wilson, 18/07/2022

Thought for the week 11/07/22

fear

“Nervously Praying for Boldness”

So do not fear, for I am with you.” Isaiah 41: 10
 
Life is full of scary things. Our fear often causes us to be silent. I wonder if we can nervously pray for boldness? In thinking about boldness, I wonder if you’ve ever felt scared – really scared.
 
A few years ago, I was really scared during a visit to Chessington. Although I was approximately 40 years older than the intended audience, I still volunteered to accompany one of our two children into the Reptile House. As the doors shut and the darkness covered us, I suddenly remembered an important detail – I don’t really like snakes, Iguanas or even tortoises. I wasn’t a celebrity, but I wanted out of here!! All we had to do was follow the trail. As our eyes adjusted to the gloom it became apparent, we were not alone. Behind glass tanks were the reptiles. Like most creatures in a zoo, they looked bored and sleepy. Praise God!! As we stepped back a cast member stepped out. So unexpected was the appearance of ‘Duckula’ that I let out an ear-splitting scream. I was terrified!!
 
There may be other occasions when we do not want to be scared.
 
In the middle of the night. When the Doctor approaches us. When our child leaves home. As a bill or bank statement pops into the inbox.
 
Life is filled with so much scary stuff.
 
Again, and again the Bible invites us to not be frightened. To tell someone to simply not be frightened is of course bad advice. We can’t just switch off feelings like that. Instead the Bible will often propose an alternative. Alongside the injunction to not be frightened we might be encouraged to think about other stuff instead.
 
In 1 Peter 3 we read: “Do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” (1 Peter 3:14-15)
 
When we feel scared or frightened or just plain terrified, we have a choice. We can focus on the situation that is causing us angst and fear. Or we can focus instead of the character and nature of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
 
What’s the worst that could possibly happen?
 
In the Reptile house the possibilities for bad things happening seemed endless. However, logic dictates that most customers will not meet a grizzly end. In life too the possibilities for bad stuff happening seem endless. Yet logic dictates that even in life most of us will not meet a dreadful end.
Or at least, we don’t have to.
 
1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
 
When we focus on Jesus, and what he has done for us, we are pulled closer to God.
 
Or as Isaiah puts it: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” (Isaiah 42:10)
 
Let’s nervously pray for boldness this week and to know that God is indeed with us.

Keith Wilson, 11/07/2022