The message bible translation of Zechariah 3 v 10 is “At that time, everyone will get along with one another, with friendly visits across the fence; friendly visits on one another’s porches.” What a lovely picture of peacefulness.
We all long, I am sure, for a day when peace reigns in our neighbourhoods and cities. When people can rub along together despite “fences ” -the differences that separate them. The Bible talks here of just such a day when this can happen. I want that in my neighbourhood and I am sure you do too.
A day when knife crime and violence is not the words we see and read about in our newspapers and TV but instead there is genuine friendship and love for one another. Love your neighbour as yourself is one of the commandments in the bible and Jesus emphasised it in His teaching. As we come into this season of Lent what is it that we can do for our neighbours as a friendly gesture that will show God’s love for them through us.
What could it be? A friendly greeting, a smile, a bunch of flowers, a catch up with a cup of tea, an invitation for a meal? Showing friendship to those who are alone and lonely. I am sure that God will show us and open up the door of opportunity to us in this season of Lent.
We were taking communion on Sunday and I was reminded of God’s banqueting table and that His banner over us there is love. The words are from the Song of Solomon but we also sing a worship song about God bringing us to His banqueting table. It is only through that act of selfless love when Christ died on the cross that we have the ability to come to that banqueting table and to the place prepared for us there. Christ issued the invitation and I accepted. Christ’s banner of love is over me and all around me when I am there. I have a place at the banqueting table and so I have access to the full provision of God. I am dressed appropriately for the banquet with the garments of salvation and the robes of righteousness because I have accepted Christ as my saviour, so there is no chance that I will be refused entry, but how often I can neglect to go there and take hold of and enjoy all that Christ has obtained for me at the Cross. Thankfully, the invitation from God is always open to come at any time – 24/7. There is always a welcome and my place will never be filled by anyone else so there is always a guarantee that I will have a place at the banqueting table. God can do exceedingly above all that I ask or imagine there because he is a God of abundance. The banquet is a picture of abundance and plenty for everyone. The best food and drink are laid on at the banquet for the guests. Let’s not neglect to ask God for the things that we need and to trust Him to provide for us and sustain us. It might be physical or spiritual sustenance that we need and we can be sure that whatever it is, He will be faithful to meet our needs. Allow Him to fill us there with His love there so that we can be changed and overflow that love to others. There was a time a few years ago when we were away on retreat and the leader encouraged us all to take up the invitation to come to God’s banqueting table. He pulled up a physical chair and invited us to take our seat at the table. We did so and as we did that physical act we saw and imagined ourselves seated at the table feasting on all the provision of God that Christ had obtained for us. It had a profound effect on me. I encourage you to take up your place at God’s banqueting table today. Don’t leave it empty.
In church today we were singing a song about God’s love for us, how overwhelming and awesome it is. I felt God say that some people need a fresh understanding of His love. We expect it to be a feel good, warm feeling all the time but God’s love also disciplines us and corrects us when we need it.
The bible says that we know we are his children because he disciplines us. God’s love expressed itself in the purest way when Christ died on the Cross and it requires us to bring death to our flesh. It can even require some things in our lives to be cut off, wither and die. God’s love will discipline and corrects us when we need it. Hebrews 12 v 3-11 tells us this.
When this happens and we are going through a time of discipline it is painful, uncomfortable, frustrating and doesn’t feel good. We can be confused, discouraged and start to think all sorts of wrong things and can lose our way. Don’t be discouraged and don’t try to short cut the process otherwise Paul tells us we will miss the fruit of righteousness that this process will produce in us.
God wants to encourage you today. If you are in a difficult season then you may be experiencing God’s love being expressed in this way. Ask God to reveal to you what is happening in your life. If you are going through a period of discipline or pruning then hold on firm to the truth. Reject any lie that says if God loved you then you wouldn’t be feeling like this or going through this. God is love and He loves you. Submit to Him and let Him bring His good work in you to fruition so that you can grow and mature in your faith. Hold on fast to the truth which is the Word of God and don’t be swayed by feelings or what is happening around you. Ask other christians to support you in prayer during this time. Strengthen yourself in God and in His Word.