Daily Devotion 06 July 2020

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Psalm 19: 7-8, 12-14 ‘Perfection in the Lord’

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;

12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent;  do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Many years ago, I remember being in the gallery, with other young people (it was that long ago!) of a church in Worthing for an ecumenical service, at which Viscount Tonypandy, George Thomas, ex-speaker of the House of Commons, was the preacher. He looked up at us as a group and said that we can strive to do great things in our lives, if we have the faith to do so.

I wonder how often we consider the limits of our abilities with any situation. Sometimes our limits in one area are compensated in another. Many of you will know that I have a stiff left side, but my right side, particularly my right arm, is stronger, and so I have used my strengths accordingly. We all have to strive in life, to achieve goals, using opportunities to look for where we are strong to help ourselves and others. We can get frustrated when we cannot achieve a task.

‘The Deposition’ by Michelangelo,
16th Century marble sculpture,
possibly showing Nicodemus present taking Jesus down from the cross.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, mentioned three times in John’s Gospel. He was struggling with his own limitations of faith and understanding. Once he went to see Jesus at night because of fear of being caught. Nicodemus must have felt the need to see Jesus, and Jesus obviously had a deep effect on the Pharisee. Jesus had the ability to converse with everyone, and told him that: ‘The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ (John 3:8).

Jesus’ words in Chapter 3 must have worked away inside him. Later in the Gospel he stood up for Jesus when a crowd wanted to seize him but Nicodemus said they should hear him first. Finally, Nicodemus appears after the crucifixion to provide the customary embalming spices – his final devotion to Jesus as Lord.  Church tradition has it that Nicodemus later died after weeping over the grave of Stephen, the first martyr for Christ.

Psalm 19 shows us that, in the end, God gives us the strength to do his will, whilst keeping us safe. I invite you to read the verses from the psalm as a prayer, perhaps also, if you wish, in silence and meditation, as you listen to what God is saying to you.

Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Matthew Earl.
Images freely posted on social media.

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