20th January 2024
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken.
My salvation and my honour depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
‘Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love’;
and, ‘You reward everyone
according to what they have done.’
I have chosen only the Psalm from the four lectionary readings this week, but all four are important. We have Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; and Mark 1:14-20. These are all about response – the way we behave in light of what God has done.
It’s interesting to note that, in ancient Hebrew, there was no word for ‘obey’; they just said ‘listen’. If one listened to God’s voice, that was the same as being obedient to Him. This is why we read so often in Scripture phrases like, ‘Be ever hearing but never understanding’ (Isaiah 6:9), or, ‘I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy’ (Psalm 116:1).
We all have a calling on our lives to respond to God’s love. When Yeshua died on the cross, it wasn’t for a generic faceless mob of ‘everyone’ – it was for us, for you; it was personal. He responded readily and extravagantly to our need; we respond readily and extravagantly to His love. It’s worth noting, however, that God does not expect us to respond. Of course, He waits for us with longing expectancy, but it’s important that we get away from the image of a stern authority figure tapping their foot and checking their watch; I like to picture a dear friend who has organised a surprise party, gleefully standing in wait with a fistful of confetti.
Our response to God can sometimes be something that is lasting on the worldwide stage, like Helen Kim who founded the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, or something which makes a huge impact in our local area like our Ministers and church leaders, or something which makes a lasting impact in one person’s life, like the woman who was driving home from church one Sunday five years ago when she witnessed my car crash and immediately pulled over and offered us all prayer. I never learnt her name, but she spoke with God’s love and I’ll never forget her.
A lot of the time, we devalue the little things we do when we see others doing bigger, more glamourous things. Do you remember the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5? He went to the prophet Elisha to be healed of leprosy and Elisha told him to dunk himself seven times in the river Jordan. ‘But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy…’ Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’ So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan… and his flesh was restored…’ (2 Kings 5:11, 13-14)
What little thing did you do this week that caused God to throw that fistful of confetti that I mentioned? Did you help someone carry something? Did you listen to someone’s problems? Did you give something to someone who was lacking? Did you pray to God on someone’s behalf? He saw you do it. He treasures these things, keeps lists of them with hearts doodled in the margins. When you say ‘in Jesus’ name’, He’s sweeping you up in His arms.
Thank You so much that You delight to bless us.
Thank You that You’re waiting for us to respond to You with breathless delight.
We recommit ourselves to You today,
And we acknowledge that every good deed and act of love performed by us
is a perfect gift from You, demonstrating Your love for us, to us, and through us.
We love because You first loved us – Hallelujah!
We praise and pray in the beautiful name of Yeshua Messiah.
Madeleine Reed – Helen Kim Memorial Scholar