Daily Devotions for Holy Apostles Church
May 4th - 20th, 2020
Monday 4th May
Pause: 8Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.’ 11 But he replied, ‘The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’ 12 So they asked him, ‘Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?’ 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’ 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Respond: In this story we see Jesus heal a man who is desperate. In doing so Jesus breaks the Sabbath law. You would assume that the man would be very grateful to Jesus as He had literally changed his life; instead he made sure that the Jewish leaders knew it was Jesus who had made him well. Why would the man do this? Fear perhaps? Or was he so filled with elation he wanted to share his joy? Whatever his motivation was he put Jesus in a very dangerous position. We also know that he didn’t stop sinning as he straight away disobeyed Jesus. Take some time now to think about your life. Have you been so excited you’ve done the wrong thing? What about fear? Have you been so afraid you have caused problems for someone else? Have you disobeyed God? Take your thoughts to God now.
Pray: Pray this prayer for our church family: - Heavenly Father, I pray that as each of us comes to a point in our lives where we dare to ask You to reveal Your will for us, You would put us in a place of acceptance of what You reveal to us. Allow us to let Your love surround us and cast out any fear or doubts. Help us to live in love with You, accept Your will for our lives and give us the proper response to Your revelation. May we trust in the way You want us to go. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Tuesday 5th May
Pause: As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3 ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ 6 After saying this, he spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means ‘Sent’). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 8 His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, ‘Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?’ 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’ But he himself insisted, ‘I am the man.’ 10 ‘How then were your eyes opened?’ they asked. 11 He replied, ‘The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.’ 12 ‘Where is this man?’ they asked him. ‘I don’t know,’ he said.
Respond: Today’s reading begins with the disciples playing ‘the blame game’ surely this man had been born blind because of someone’s sin. I admit to being confused by the idea that a baby could sin in the womb, but obviously the disciples thought it possible. I wonder how the man felt hearing these people who didn’t know him talking about himself and his parents in this awful judgemental way? Jesus responded by healing the man. He demonstrated healing in a physical way. He made a mud paste. This act is something that the people around would be able to connect with as pastes made of mud and plants have been used for centuries for healing. The man’s account of the episode is purely factual, ‘The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.’ How do you respond to difficult situations? Do you play the blame game if things are hard? Or do you respond with a practical love as Jesus did?
Pray: Loving Jesus help me to always respond to things with loving grace and concern as you do. May I be free of the spirit of judgment for others and slow to blame people for my or others misfortunes. Let me find practical ways to help people that are pleasing to you. Amen.
Wednesday 6th May
Pause: 4 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
Respond: Jesus is setting out his connection between us and God here. Jesus is letting us know that He loves us and cares for us. He also lets us know that it’s not just a chosen few who are a part of His flock. It is in fact an invitation to all who want to know him and therefore know God. He sets out his stall as someone who will care for and protect anyone who is prepared to listen to and follow Him. This is our faith at its simplest just listen to and follow Jesus. For our faith to flourish we need to allow him to nurture and care for us as our shepherd so that our faith will become stronger. Our faith is best strengthened through having an open and honest dialog with Him. Let Him know your fears, doubts and problems. He will take these and help you grow. Trusting in Him and opening your heart to Him will bless you in ways you cannot imagine.
Pray: Dear Lord, help me to listen for your voice. I pray that whatever life has in store for me that I will trust you to care and nurture me. I know that you have promised to bring all things about for good. Help me to hold onto this promise and trust you to bring about its fruition. Amen.
Thursday 7th May
Pause: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Respond: As I write this, I am reminded that during the last few days we have lost two members of our church. This passage is often read at funerals as a comfort to the family, and friends of the deceased. But this passage is so much more than a comfort it is a very real promise for us. We are promised a room, not just anywhere but, in God’s own house. Not just a guest room but a room of our very own. WOW! At this difficult time spend some time today thinking about what an amazing promise of hope this is.
Pray: Loving Jesus, fill up my dreams with the hope of Heaven, my mind with the assurance of truth. Give me the vision to trust that there is a room for me in God’s house with you. Lead me to new springs of life to enjoy, until I come home to you Lord. Amen.”
Friday 8th May
Pause: Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
Respond: At the beginning of last year I felt that God had put a tremendous burden on me to lament. This was strange as at the time things were going really well, I had a job I loved (still do), the kids work and outreach were going well. My life, and the general condition of the church, city, and country were all seeming to be swimming along just fine. I however did as God told me and lamented, luckily for me my prayer partner had the same burden so I was not alone in the grief, happily this burden has now been lifted but what a time for this to happen! Just as the whole country is in lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this passage Jesus tells us that we will be sad when others are happy but he commands us to ask for anything in His name and that His Father God will give it to us. Take time now to think about this do you trust this promise? Will you spend the rest of our time in lockdown confidently asking for things in Jesus’ name? Take time to bring your deepest desires and needs to Him today.
Pray: Father God You, have done great things and you will do greater things. Thank you for the grace and favours you have given to me. Amen
Saturday 9th May
Pause: 20 ‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – 23 I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 ‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 ‘Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.’
Respond: Jesus knows that he is about to die a horrible death, but still He prays for His believers. These believers are not the people He has met but the ones who are yet to discover salvation through him from the teachings of the people left behind. This prayer is meant for us! The best response to this is for us to teach others. As we approach ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ let us go into the eleven days with a heart of love and thanks to Jesus for what he has done. Take time to think about the difference Jesus has made in your life. How can you recount this to your five friends to help them to come to know Jesus?
Pray: Jesus I thank you that even as you approached death you still took the time to pray for us. Show me how to pray Thy Kingdom come for my friends, so that they too can share in the joy of salvation through you. Amen.
Christian Aid Week: Psalm 96
Sunday 10th May
1 Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous deeds among all peoples.
Reflect: Christian Aid aim to end poverty and injustice worldwide by focusing on key areas. This involves working in partnership with local organisations, as well as with governments and the private sector.
Our work includes helping people to:
· claim their rights and access services such as healthcare and education
· ensure they are not discriminated against for any reason
· become more resilient to shocks and disasters such as drought,
· climate change and hurricanes
· make the most of opportunities, such as being able to sell their produce for a fair price.
Pray for all the activity and opportunity of Christian Aid Week to run smoothly in communities across the United Kingdom and Ireland and around the world even during lock-down.
May the strength and beauty of your will be at work through Christian Aid Week. Amen.
Monday 11th May
4For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.5For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.6Splendour and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
Reflect: Together with our local partners, we are working quickly to limit the impact of coronavirus in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world.
· We are drawing on our experience from the Ebola crisis and helping communities to prevent and delay infection.
· We are providing essential soap, water and handwashing training.
· We are ensuring urgent health messages get through to help keep people safe.
· We are working through our networks of church partners and faith-based organisations to reach the most vulnerable at this critical time.
Pray: pray for the work of Christian aid as they help people with covid-19 infection among the Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh and the displaced people of Nigeria.
Let there be life and flourishing. Despite the risks and challenges. Amen.
Tuesday 12th May
7Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Reflect: Christian Aid works in many nations
· Our work in Africa includes strengthening peace-building in South Sudan, promoting resilient farming in Kenya and challenging inequality in Sierra Leone.
· In Asia, our programmes include those which promote women's rights in Afghanistan, help rebuild lives after the Philippines typhoon, and ensure people can access the services they need in Bangladesh.
· In Latin America and the Caribbean, we help promote gender justice in Brazil and peace-building in Colombia, and support marginalised communities to earn a living in El Salvador.
· Our work in the Middle East and North Africa includes defending people’s rights in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, protecting women at risk of violence in Iraq and providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in Lebanon.
Pray: Pray for the witness of Christians in all the nations of the world. Why not use the words from the psalm to help you pray. Choose one of the places where Christian aid works and ask God to bless the work of their hands in each place. Pray for God to provide all they need to keep working among the poor.
Wednesday 13th May
Pause: Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.
Reflect: At the end of March Andy Fanstone one of our linked missionaries wrote: Unfortunately, here in Brazil we have had to cancel our missions school that was meant to start at the end of this month and many other activities. We are praying for wisdom and creative strategies on how best to reach the vulnerable around us, whilst complying with social distancing regulations. The spread of the virus in Brazil is only just starting to ramp up and it will be in the coming weeks that we will really see the full effects and the associated problems that we will have to bring Jesus' solutions to.
Pray for Andy and his wife Claudia, children Jessica, Keziah and Noah, to know the presence and protection of God at this time. Andy asks us to pray these words from Romans 8:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Thursday 14th May
Pause: 10 Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns.’
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
Reflect: John Reynolds of INF writes concerning the impact of corona virus in Nepal specifically on Green Pastures Hospital (GPH) another of our link missionaries. As we have seen elsewhere the number of cases is likely to rise and the loss of life is almost inevitable. INF Nepal's G PH has spent the last two weeks (early April) preparing its response. Including starting a fever clinic at the gates of the hospital and readying the Ear Centre to be used as an isolation centre. Some people are still trying to travel back home from working in other countries, and due to the lockdown there are concerns about the ability to access and afford food supplies for those families who can no longer find work to support themselves and their families.
· The fever clinic is being run at the gates of GPH. Recent tests included a group of about 30 street children that were brought in by the police. Patients are being referred onto the main hospital when needed.
· The Ear Centre has been prepared ready to accept COVID cases if the government’s main hospital gets overrun, but with no ICU or ventilator machines on site there are limitations on the severity of cases it is able to cope with.
· The GPH medical team, who are conducting training and orientation to staff on PPE use, medical treatment of COVID patients, hygiene and general education about the pandemic.
· INF/N as it explores ways by which it can support people with disability, especially in this lockdown period. There is a staff representative with a disability in INF’s COVID-19 Response Team.
· Production of PPE, which continues in all three hospitals together with training on their use for all hospital staff.
· GPH’s local income has fallen considerably as a result of the lock down. As this is now a substantial portion of the whole, this is very concerning. There are some reserves, but these are not unlimited and there will be significant challenges elsewhere as many staff are unable to work from home.
Friday 15th May
Pause: 11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. 12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Reflect: One of Christian Aid’s aims is to tackle the effects of climate change for all. They write: We hold a vision of a better world, free from poverty and climate change. Where everyone has enough to eat, and can live without fear of their home being destroyed. But right now, millions of the world’s poorest people are feeling the worst impacts of climate change, and experts predict more floods, drought and extreme weather patterns to come. For those living in poverty, this means more hunger, conflict and insecurity, and a more uncertain future for us all.
For the earth to be glad as the Psalmist writes.
Why not give thanks to God for the way nature is reappearing in our city during this lock down, that we can hear the birds sing again.
Lord, we pray that we will find joy in being agents of your justice.
Trusting in the promise of your love and mercy, may we find the courage to make the difficult choices required to create a more just and compassionate world. Amen
Saturday 16th May
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Christian Aid, Iris Ministries and INF are just three of many organisations and charities seeking to bring the love of God to people around the world through both loving service and proclamation of the Gospel. What other organisations do you know of? Perhaps you can find out more about them online or from their newsletters. Why not write down some interesting facts to share with your phone buddy or friends this week.
Remember before God any mission organisation you know of. Pray for them at this time that they will have all they need. Pray for God to move powerfully through them as they boldly proclaim the Good News.
Sunday 17th May (Looking out)
Pause: You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are.’ C.S. Lewis
‘Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.’
Response: We can keep praying despite out ‘lock down’ situation; for God to open a door into our conversations with family, friends and colleagues; those who don’t know Jesus.
Prayer: Make this a daily prayer, a daily spiritual discipline. Watch for the opportunities.
Dear God, I thank you for …… (name at least 5 people)
Open their hearts,
Open my mouth,
Open heaven and reveal yourself to them by the power of your Holy Spirit.
I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Also, thank you God for the vital support the local food bank gives to the poor and needy in our community. Amen.
Monday 18th May (Looking out)
Pause: Witnessing is taking a good look at the Lord Jesus and telling others what you’ve seen.
Read Mark 5:18-19
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’
Notice Jesus’s words to a man he had healed. Why do you think Jesus gave these directives?
Response: How would you express what the Lord has done for you and how he had mercy on you recently? Take 5 or 10 minutes pondering this.
Prayer: Dear Father, this week when I think of the Lord Jesus, let me be a courageous disciple and tell others what he has done for me. In Jesus name. Amen.
Dear God I also ask that you would continue to uphold the charity ‘Saffires.’ That in this time many would come to know you. Amen.
Tuesday 19th May (Looking out)
Pause: What might hinder me from witnessing to others?
Read 1 Peter 3:15.
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Response: We mustn’t be surprised when someone asks us about our relationship with Jesus. We could use this precious time to think about our story (personal testimony). Why not have a go and write it out?
Your life before Jesus
How you met Jesus
Your life since Jesus
Prayer: I thank you God for forgiving me and loving me. For suffering on a cross and rising to glory. I thank you that I am a new creation. I thank you that I am an Ambassador for Christ and my story can change lives. Please give me opportunities to share my testimony. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Dear Lord, I thank you for the charity ‘Baby basics’ and all those who volunteer to provide women with all they need in motherhood. I ask that you would give them the resources they need, so they can continue to flourish. I pray that those who receive, will know the heart of Christ. Amen.
Wednesday 20th May (Looking out)
Pause: Do you often think you aren’t an evangelist? Don’t worry, you are not alone! Some do carry the office of an evangelist, to enable and equip others in proclaiming the Gospel. Though all disciples are called to make disciples. Even a local believer can gossip the gospel over the fence, over a cuppa, down the phone, writing a letter (like Paul!), through social media, walking about.
Read Colossians 4:5-6
5 Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Respond: Who is having a hard time right now? A family member, friend, neighbour, colleague? Tell them Jesus loves them and that Jesus is their hope.
Prayer: Dear loving Lord. Let my conversations be always full of grace and seasoned with salt. Let the message of the Gospel bring hope to those I talk too. Let my faith be unshakeable in these times. For I am built upon the rock of Jesus. Amen.