“I was . . . delighting in mankind.” – Proverbs 8:31
Proverbs speak about the person of wisdom, and many of the phrases used to describe wisdom seem to be as a mirror reflecting to us the person of Jesus to us.
One of the most striking verses is this one, where wisdom – the reflection of Jesus, speaks about delighting in mankind.
How do we imagine that God sees us? Often we think of God looking at us with disapproval, or with a sense of our having failed miserably. We hold before us an image of Jesus crucified as a reminder of our sins.
Let us ponder his delight in us. It was his delight in that drew Jesus to come for us and die for us, not his disapproval. It is pleasure that draws the Holy Spirit to want to be so close to us that he delights to live within us. It is pure delight that sparkles in the Fathers eyes when any of his children choose to be with him.
Take a few moments to be with God now – sit in the presence of Jesus, and catch his delight in you.
“If anyone . . . does not doubt in his heart” – Mark 11:23
No-one likes to be accused of being a ‘doubter’, yet secretly we would probably all confess to it! At the same time, many are longing for more faith, that they might see more of what God wants to do.
The word ‘doubt’ here is interesting. In the Greek, the word carries the sense of judgement. When we doubt something that God says, the implication is that we are making a judgement about God and his word – that it cannot be believed.
Actually this is good news – it is probably easier to change our judgements than it is to try and pump up faith in an abstract way.
What is the particular judgement that we are making? Are we judging that the problem before us is bigger than God? Are we judging that his love for us does not go as far as to help us in this situation? Are we judging that God does help people as he did in the Bible?
Each of these judgements can be examined, challenged and changed, and we can soon find ourselves looking at the things for which we pray through new eyes.
“Show us your unfailing love, O Lord.” – Psalm 85:7
If you think about this could sound like quite a strange prayer. If the love of God for us is unfailing, constant and ever faithful – why does it have to be revealed to us? Would we not constantly be aware of it all the time?
The answer is probably that there is the world of difference between the constant nature of God’s love for us and our willingness to engage with it on a permanent basis.
In reality such is the magnitude of God’s love for us that we could probably not bear it. Could we bear to have before us the reality of the crucifixion and watch the agony of Jesus for long, yet that is the reality of God’s love for us, that he loved us so much that he gave Jesus for us.
Out of his mercy to us, God gives us glimpses of his love. Whenever we sit before him and experience his peace – that is a glimpse of his love. When we experience the presence of Jesus with us, that too is a glimpse of his love.
We can, like the psalmist ask God for glimpses of his love, it is probably the case that he is longing for us to sit before him and find him, just as any parent responds with delight when their child holds out their arms to receive love.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed . . .” – Mark 4:3-4
The parable of the sower is so well known, with it’s analysis of the different types of soil upon which the seeds fall, and what the soil does to the seed. But let’s go back to the beginning, to the wonderful picture of the farmer reaching into his seed bag and taking handfuls of seed and throwing it everywhere. This is not a picture of a man taking care of exactly where he plants each seed for maximum yield – it is a picture of carefree abandoned scattering, and the seed showering everything.
One of the main things we need to capture about this parable is that there is glorious seed in our lives. Upon each one of us, God has scattered seed. Before we start analysing the soil, let us catch the wonder of the seed. This is the seed – he has given us his very presence revealed in Jesus. That is there for all of us, everyone of us can sit in his presence now and enjoy the seed. The rest of the parable is about the seed growing, but right now – enjoy the seed that he has given. He has not left us out or put us on one side – he has given us his presence. Enjoy it.
“The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.” – Luke 19:10
The story of the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus ends with Jesus speaking these words in which he summarises something of his mission to the world – he came to seek and save what was lost.
The word ‘lost’ is interesting. In the Greek, it could also mean that which is destroyed or ruined, and it is in that context that the healing ministry of Jesus can be seen. When he healed the sick, whether in body or in mind, or whether he was touching their social existence or the state of people’s hearts, what he was doing was to reach out to the destroyed and ruined parts of them and bring his salvation.
The joy of this passage as well is that this is something that Jesus is seeking to do. It is not somerging that he does grudgingly or unwillingly, but with joy and purpose as this is something he came to do.
As we take a few moments to sit in his presence, remember that we are in the presence of one who is seeking us, seeking to help us, not wanting us to hide from him those things that are less than perfect, but wanting us to bring them to the one who is longing to touch us.
“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” – Psalm 84:2
In all honesty, is that how feel about God? We probably think that is how we should be thinking of him, but perhaps the reality is slightly different. Maybe for whole chunks of the day we forget all about him, and when we do remember – it is a quick prayer to help us or to bless someone that comes to our attention. How can we increase our devotion to him?
A simple way to start is to sit down, and for five minutes, let our only prayer be to let the word ‘Jesus’ be on our lips as we breathe in and out.
It is good to engage our minds at the same time, hold any other mental image of Jesus that comes to mind. It is probably best not to decide in advance what image we are going to settle on, but to let the Holy Spirit bring whatever he desires to bring to us at that time.
Not only will this allow our devotion to Jesus increase, but during the day we are likely to find our attention turning to him, as we find his name spontaneously upon our lips.
“What do you want me to do for you?” – Mark 10:51
This is a beautiful question that Jesus asks a person in need. What is it that Jesus, out of all the resources that he has, can do to meet this human need? It is never wrong to hear Jesus asking us that question, it is never wrong to bring him into every need that we have.
But that should never be the totality of our communication with Jesus. One of the few stories about Jesus that occurs in all four Gospels is that of Jesus being anointed by a woman. At the heart of this story is someone doing something for Jesus, not as a means of getting something from him, but as a response to him from her heart.
Whenever we call out to Jesus for something today, perhaps before or after we have done that, take a little time to speak quietly his name with affection. Don’t do it so that your prayers will have a better chance of being answered – but as an act of affection for him, a response to what he has done for us, an acknowledgement of the friendship that is so precious to him.