#751. The Half Term Diaries – Reflections on Freedom Part 1 (15/2/23)
Today, we have a devotional reflection from Lucy Oyelade.
“Time to shake a leg, there’s a whole day of serving me ahead.”
“Woohoo! Show me the way, I’ll follow. Make me be open to you today, and let me do your will.”
Wouldn’t it be great if our days started like that? I pray that yours do, whilst knowing that mine do not. I hit snooze, do some bleary-eyed, getting the house organised dance. And it’s not a leisurely waltz, it’s a relentless jig. All syncopation and complication. Fine in its own time, but jarring in the first half hour of consciousness. I make a cup of tea which never gets drunk, the epitome of the parenting cliché. There is an endless list that needs ticking off. Then, the little voice in my head starts. I should have got up when the alarm went off the first time. Ten minutes would have made all the difference. I should have made time for stretches before the kids were up. I’m supposed to have a show-room house with a place for everything and everything in its place, so that nothing is ever lost. By the time I’ve thought about God, I’ve done a hundred different things without considering Him except in a fleeting, transient manner. I know you can relate. We’ve all had this kind of morning.
But luckily, God doesn’t always wait for you to open dialogue with Him. I often find myself humming tunes from my childhood without really realising. Today’s was Seek ye first the kingdom of God, based on Matthew 6:33 (that’s your earworm for the day. You’re welcome!):
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
In the previous few verses, Jesus has told us that the birds don’t worry about where food is coming from, and flowers do not worry about what to wear – God provides for them all, and He will provide for us too. He loves us. He doesn’t want us to go without these necessities, and He doesn’t want us to worry about not having them. What I hadn’t quite appreciated was that straight after, it reads:
“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I have often read these two verses in isolation. Now that I think about it, they are often quoted in isolation! But the key is reading them together. It’s like a mathematical formula, where one half of the equation is dependent on the other half for it to all balance and bring new meaning to each part.
Seek His kingdom and righteousness = He provides = You do not have to worry
The conundrum of what tomorrow might hold has already been solved by faith in our Saviour, and the safe and certain knowledge that God our Father, who loves us regardless of how our mornings start, and however our work day goes, will provide everything we need.
The equation can also be rearranged into a different order. It works with a different starting point.
He provides = You do not have to worry = Seek His kingdom and righteousness
Once we have experience of God providing for us and the worry is gone, it’s easier to have the trust that He will continue to do so. And once you have experienced it, that faith should naturally lead to seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness more. You feel fired up for God! You need to ride the wave of gratitude towards Him and press into Him more, because all too soon, life will take over and the feeling will start to dull. Like that bike you got for your seventh birthday – you were outrageously grateful to your benefactor that day. Now, several decades later, the feeling has dissipated somewhat. Keep the feeling alive by seeking Him!
You do not have to worry = Seek His kingdom and righteousness = He provides
All roads lead back to God’s provision, and His desire to free us from the stresses and strains of life. Actively seek this freedom, by actively seeking God. What does that mean? Stay tuned for part two. (Will be published 22/2/23))
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week?
3. RECAP OF SUNDAY’S MESSAGE - PLEASE SHARE IN YOUR GROUP
ANGER AT GOD’S GOODNESS
Please read Jonah 3:10-4:4
MAIN IDEA: GOD’S GOODNESS TO OTHERS CAN CAUSE US TO BECOME BITTER
JONAH WAS ANGRY
We see this strange response from Jonah; he is angry when God has mercy upon Nineveh! Jonah is angry that they have responded to his preaching and that God had relented from judging them because of their belief and repentance.
WHY IS JONAH ANGRY?
Jonah is angry because he doesn’t believe that the Ninevites deserve God’s mercy. He’s angry with God because he believes that God should judge this wicked city. He’s angry because he may feel embarrassed that his word of judgment has not now come true. He’s angry because he’s a part of God’s chosen people and - wrongly - come to believe that others (gentiles) don’t warrant God’s mercy, he’s become racist!
WE CAN BECOME ANGRY
Jonah is in all of us. When God does or doesn’t do things as we believe He should, we can become angry with Him. Jonah is like the older brother in the parable of The Prodigal Son who is angry that his father celebrated the return of his sinful brother; likewise, we can become angry and judgemental when wicked people receive complete justification in Christ. We can become proud and disdainful if we are not careful to remember that, like Jonah, we have also run away from God in many ways!
LEARN TO APPLY GOD’S GRACE
We learn from Jonah that understanding Godʼs grace—and being changed by
it—always requires a long journey with successive stages. It cannot happen
in a single cathartic or catastrophic experience (like being swallowed by a
fish!). If we really want to reach others with the good news of Jesus, then we need to love those we want to reach. And to do that we really need to examine where our
true heart lies every day!
Why was Jonah angry?
When are you tempted to get angry with God and how do you deal with this?
How do you seek to remember the gospel each day so as to remain merciful and humble?
How have you Served, Invested and Invited in your communities this week? (Let’s share about this again next week)
How have you got on with making a list and praying for your non-believing friends each day? (Let’s share about this again next week)
Let’s now pray for specific people that God has put on your heart and in your life.
Let’s pray for each other that the Spirit would fill us with His resurrection power so as to be compassionate and courageous this week.
Let’s pray for Funky Monkeys this week.