CANDLE OF HOPE

Romans 15:13

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13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today is the first Sunday in advent ‘The Candle of Hope’

Isn’t it strange how at the lead up to Christmas you start to see adverts for donations to several charities whilst at the other end of the spectrum you see a house decorated like the one above.

Though having said that there used to be a person who lived in a nearby village to me decorated his house at Christmas to raise money for a ward in the local hospital.

Remembrance Day

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Today is Remembrance Day when the whole country paused in silence and thought for two minutes to give thanks to those who gave their lives not just in World war 1 and in World war 2 as well. Also the wars that went on after that. We will remember them!

Peace in our time, O Lord,
To all the peoples – peace!
Peace surely based upon Thy will
And built in righteousness.
Thy power alone can break
The fetters that enchain
The sorely stricken soul of life
And make it live again.

Too long mistrust and fear
Have held our souls in thrall;
Sweep through the earth, keen Breath of Heav’n
And sound a nobler call!
Come, as Thou didst of old,
In love so great that men
Shall cast aside all other gods
And turn to Thee again.

Peace in our time, O Lord,
To all the peoples – peace!
Peace that shall build a glad new world,
And make for life’s increase.
O living Christ, Who still
Dost all our burdens share,
Come now and dwell within the hearts
Of all men everywhere.

I Vow To Thee, My Country

In light of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral yesterday I thought I would look at the story behind this hymn Although the hymn is commonly used at Remembrance to remember those who fought and died in both wars for the country, the Queen did at her coronation make a vow to serve the Country.

The origin of the hymn’s text is a poem by diplomat Cecil Spring Rice, written early in the 20th century, entitled Urbs Dei (“The City of God”) or The Two Fatherlands. The poem described how a Christian owes his loyalties to both his homeland and the heavenly kingdom.

The Story Behind I Vow to Thee, My Country

In 1908, Spring Rice was posted to the British Embassy in Stockholm. In 1912, he was appointed as Ambassador to the United States of America, where he influenced the administration of Woodrow Wilson to abandon neutrality and join Britain in the war against Germany. After the United States entered the war, he was recalled to Britain. Shortly before his departure from the US in January 1918, he re-wrote and renamed Urbs Dei as “I Vow to Thee, My Country” significantly altering the first verse to concentrate on the themes of love and sacrifice rather than “the noise of battle” and “the thunder of her guns”, creating a more sombre tone in view of the dreadful loss of life suffered in the Great War. The first verse in both versions invokes Britain; the second verse, the Kingdom of Heaven.

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love.
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best.
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know.
We may not count her armies; we may not see her King.
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering.
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

Always There

You’re Always There for Me

When the world comes crashing in
And chaos rules my mind,
I turn my heart to you, Lord,
And pure, sweet peace I find.

You lift me out of trouble
You comfort me in pain;
You nourish, heal and cleanse me,
Like cool, refreshing rain.

In times of joy and bliss,
When things are going right,
You lift me even higher,
And fill me with delight.
You listen to my prayers;
You hear my every plea;
I’m safe because I know
You’re always there for me.
Joanna Fuchs

As the sky breaks into a beautiful sunrise, may God open the windows of heaven to shower you with his blessings.

I pray that happiness be at your door. May it knock early, stay late and leave the gift of God’s peace, love, joy, and good health behind.

Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car. ~ G.K. Chesterton.

True Shelter

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Joshua 20:1-9

In March 2014 a tribal conflict broke out in my hometown area, forcing my father’s household, along with other refugees, to take cover in the region’s capital city. Throughout history, people who have felt unsafe in their homelands have traveled to other places searching for safety and something better.

As I visited and talked with people from my hometown, I thought of the cities of refuge in Joshua 20:1-9. These were cities designated as places of safety for those fleeing from “relatives seeking revenge” in the case of an accidental killing (v. 3 nlt). They offered peace and protection.

People today still seek places of refuge, although for a variety of reasons. But as needed as these sanctuaries are, supplying shelter and food, they cannot completely meet the needs of refugees and fugitives. That rest is found only in God. Those who walk with God find true shelter and the safest protection in Him. When ancient Israel was sent into exile, the Lord said, “I have been a sanctuary [safe haven] for them in the countries where they have gone” (Ezek. 11:16).

With the psalmist, we can say confidently to the Lord, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (32:7).

Peace and Hope

Romans 5 New International Version

Peace and Hope

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Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

1 Hope for the world’s despair:
we feel the nations’ pain;
can anything repair
this broken earth again?
For this we pray:
in every place
a spark of grace
to light the way.

2 Wisdom for all who bear
the future in their hand,
entrusted with the care
of this and every land.
When comes the hour,
O Lord, we pray,
inspire the way
we spend our power.

3 Honour for all who’ve paid
war’s painful, bitter price,
when duty called they made
the greatest sacrifice.
Their memory
will never cease
to cry for peace
and harmony.

4 Ease for the troubled mind
in endless conflict caught,
each soul that cannot find
the peace beyond all thought.
May they be blessed
with healing balm
for inner calm
and perfect rest.

5 Love for the human heart:
when hate grows from our fears
and inwardly we start
to turn our ploughs to spears.
Help us to sow  
love’s precious seed
in word and deed,
that peace may grow.

As the situation between Russia and the Ukraine worsens let us once again offer up our prayers for The Ukraine.

Discipline

Proverbs 29 New International Version – UK

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29 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
    will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
    when the wicked rule, the people groan.

A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
    but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

By justice a king gives a country stability,
    but those who are greedy for[a] bribes tear it down.

Those who flatter their neighbours
    are spreading nets for their feet.

Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
    but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
    but the wicked have no such concern.

Mockers stir up a city,
    but the wise turn away anger.

If a wise person goes to court with a fool,
    the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.

10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity
    and seek to kill the upright.

11 Fools give full vent to their rage,
    but the wise bring calm in the end.

12 If a ruler listens to lies,
    all his officials become wicked.

13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
    the Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.

14 If a king judges the poor with fairness,
    his throne will be established for ever.

15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
    but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.

16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
    but the righteous will see their downfall.

17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
    they will bring you the delights you desire.

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
    though they understand, they will not respond.

20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

21 A servant pampered from youth
    will turn out to be insolent.

22 An angry person stirs up conflict,
    and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.

23 Pride brings a person low,
    but the lowly in spirit gain honour.

24 The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies;
    they are put under oath and dare not testify.

25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,
    but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.

27 The righteous detest the dishonest;
    the wicked detest the upright.

Righteousness and Peace

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Isaiah 32 New International Version 

The Women of Jerusalem

You women who are so complacent,
    rise up and listen to me;
you daughters who feel secure,
    hear what I have to say!
10 In little more than a year
    you who feel secure will tremble;
the grape harvest will fail,
    and the harvest of fruit will not come.
11 Tremble, you complacent women;
    shudder, you daughters who feel secure!
Strip off your fine clothes
    and wrap yourselves in rags.
12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields,
    for the fruitful vines
13 and for the land of my people,
    a land overgrown with thorns and briers—
yes, mourn for all houses of merriment
    and for this city of revelry.
14 The fortress will be abandoned,
    the noisy city deserted;
citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever,
    the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,
15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
    and the desert becomes a fertile field,
    and the fertile field seems like a forest.
16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
    his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.
19 Though hail flattens the forest
    and the city is levelled completely,
20 how blessed you will be,
    sowing your seed by every stream,
    and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

Redemption through Christ

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Ephesians 1 New International Version 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to son-ship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.