Reflection – Rev Ken Connor

Scripture requires attentiveness.
‘Ezra had devoted himself to study…’ (Ezra 7:10)

In the verses that precede v10. We are reminded that Ezra was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses and that the king had granted him everything he asked, for the ‘hand of the LORD his God was on him.’ Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord. His desire had been to study the divine law—its principles, institutions, privileges, and requirements; and now from love and zeal, he devoted himself, as the business of his life, to the work of instructing, reforming, and enlightening others. For Ezra, the main purpose of his life was the study and the teaching of God’s work. John 15:5 reminds us that in order to be fruitful, we must abide in Him: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” Abiding in Christ, requires our attentiveness, and is enriched by our attention to Scripture.

The challenge for us is how do we, like Ezra, prepare our own hearts to seek Gods word and to learn, to be inspired by it. Does the business of our lives distract us from being attentive to God’s word? Is the word of God the driving force that it should be in our lives? Perhaps, we need to make some adjustments.

Loving God, keep my mind focused on you, prepare my heart that I would be receptive to your teaching, and learn to rest and abide in you. Amen.

Reflection – Rev Ken Connor

Scripture is the source of all.
‘…for gaining wisdom and instruction…The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.’ (Proverbs 1:1-7)

Just as Jesus being the ‘good shepherd’ (John 10:11) enriches the reading of Psalm 23 for the Christian, so Jesus being one ‘greater than Solomon’ (Matthew 12:42) enriches our reading of the book of Proverbs. The call to live wisely in God’s world is as significant today as it was in the Old Testament times, but for Christians it focuses on the person and the work of Jesus, who embodies wisdom in himself. The way of life that flows from the fear of the Lord is found in our following of Jesus, the one who makes it possible to walk in the path of wisdom in our everyday life.

To our ears the word ‘fear’ can suggest a sense of cringing terror or dread, but that is probably not intended here – though there is a level of ‘fear and trembling’ that is appropriate when faced with the presence of God. The English word ‘awe’ and ‘reverence’ perhaps come closest to what is implied in most uses of the word. If wisdom literature is concerned with living wisely in God’s world, then the fear of the Lord is the first principle of such a life, where being wise finds its foundation in a relationship with, and a deep reverence of, the covenant of the Lord God, rather than being wise in one’s own eyes (Proverbs 3:7).

This then shapes the decisions we make in everyday life and directs our prayers as we seek to grow in wisdom through God’s word. As we read and digest the words of wisdom in Scripture, we find a source for wisdom and instruction that helps us to live well for the glory of God.

Gracious God, as we journey through Lent, let your word be a lamp onto our feet to guide us, and to lead us to wisdom through your word. Amen.

Reflection from Rev Ken Connor

Lent is a time to grow.
‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

In this opening verse of Ecclesiastes 3, we have an introduction to a series of verses in which we see time viewed from a human perspective as an orderly concept.
So many verses in scripture come back to the foundational truth that God knows best and wants us to trust Him in all things, and at all times. So, there is an appointed time – or “season” – for everything. And there is a time for every activity or event – or as the KJV says, “purpose” – under the sun. Everything that happens on earth has an appointed time.
This verse is a simple, yet timely reminder, that we are to live by faith. It was King Solomon who made this observation that God had established specific times and predetermined seasons, which influence the affairs of our own individual lives and affects everything that takes place, down through the annals of history.
Lent is one of these seasons, a period of time, an opportunity to take the time out, to read, reflect, to be still, to pray and to prepare for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter.
A time for growth in our relationship with God. May this time and season be a fruitful one for you.

Thank You, Father, that You know the end from the beginning and that everything under heaven is within Your authority. Thank You, that You are in control of all that is happening in my own individual life and the wider world in general. May I trust You through all the circumstances of life and as I seek Your face in prayer and praise, may I learn more and more to pray, “Thy will be done in my life and throughout the world.”
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Reflection from Rev Ken Connor

What is Lent?
‘Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow
to anger and abounding in love.’ (Joel 2:13)

Lent is the six-week period leading up to Easter. It is one of the most important times of year for many Christians around the world, held at a similar level of importance to Advent – the build up to Christmas. While Advent is a celebration and a time of great anticipation, Lent is more frequently seen as a time of solemn observance and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter. From its start on Ash Wednesday until its conclusion on Easter Sunday, Lent has been a traditional time for fasting or giving something up. Just as we carefully prepare for events in our personal lives, such as a wedding, or birthday; Lent invites us to carefully prepare our hearts and minds ready for remembering Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

The prophet Joel’s appeal to Judah was for the people to repent of their sins. Joel says to the people, “So, rend your heart,” and “return to the Lord your God.” Repentance is a change in your direction: a turning away from your sin, and a turning towards the Lord. Repentance must occur in the heart, for we read in Joel 2:12 that God says, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Repentance, to be complete and genuine, must come from a whole heart: a heart of reverence for God, love for God; a heart influenced by the cross of Christ. Repentance
is not to be just a ritual. For ‘returning to the Lord’ is a personal decision to leave sin behind and come to God. It is a decision of the heart, one productive of good fruit. It may be accompanied by some open expression, but the essence of the matter lies in that it comes from the heart. So, this Lent, will you return to God with your whole heart, a heart filled with repentance and overflowing with love.

Heavenly Father be with me as I journey through this season of Lent, as I take time to prepare my hearts to celebrate the fulfilment of your promises on Easter Sunday. Amen