Zeph Daily 14 – God is Good

Hello and good morning to you. It’s Julia doing Zeph@10 today.

Here is the design of an encouraging hoodie my sister used to have. Fun fact: fish do actually have teeth! I looked it up. Some even lose baby teeth and get new ones through. Anyway, I mainly wanted to look at the words under the fish.

smiling fish

“God is good.” It is a simple phrase, which can almost be taken for granted because we’re told it so early on, so it’s often easy to forget its importance. Fortunately, now and then (often when we remember to look) we get a reminder.

The other day, I was getting annoyed at a friend’s post on Facebook whose views I disagreed with. As I was getting wound up, I remembered Jesus’s words about loving your “enemies” and praying for those who hurt you (Matthew 5.14). In this passage, Jesus talks about not just loving your friends, but loving those we find hard to love- after all God doesn’t discriminate about who he loves, as he “sends rain to those who do right and those who do wrong” (verse 45).

So I prayed for the friend, thinking that while I strongly disagree with his views, I absolutely hope for God’s love and light in his life. As the tension I felt eased a little, I realised again that God’s way of doing life, with its radical and sometimes counter-intuitive responses, had broken through the negativity with goodness. God is good.

The task at the moment is to look around our hurting world and figure out where we can find God’s goodness.

God’s goodness does not stop with God. It is reflected back in anything he is involved in. The Bible tells us that people are made in God’s image- having something of God’s character within us is the foundation of who we are. In this way, we are wired to care for each other, show kindness and connect.

I have found that when you choose to show kindness to someone, that act/thought/intention somehow lifts you up and gives you life as well. When what we choose is aligned with God’s goodness, we resonate with the heart of God- we as people are in tune with God’s love.

There is a lot of sadness and hardship in the world at the moment. They say that when you watch bad things happening on the news, you should look for the helpers- there will always be people trying to make things better. When I’ve watched the news recently, alongside the bad things, there have been so so many reports about the things people have been doing to help each other. SO many helpers! People want to use their gifts and their time to find ways to connect, and to help each other, simply out of the kindness of their hearts. God is good.

However big the hardships are, the helpers don’t give up. The helpers don’t mean that the sadness isn’t there, and it wouldn’t work to pretend it isn’t. But amongst the sadness, goodness is so worthwhile. Here is a quote from Doctor Who, in the episode where they met Vincent Van Gogh, which I think sums it up beautifully:

van gogh

The idea that God thinks goodness is important, that our kindness matters, is a beautiful thing. It also does us good to remember that when we choose to care for others, we don’t have to do it alone- God is with us.

Let’s pray and thank God for his goodness, and all the goodness he gives to us.

Let’s thank God for all the good people are doing to help each other.

Let’s thank God for all the good people are doing to help each other.

Amen! Well done to us on a productive morning. Go make a brew as a reward.

 

Zeph Daily 9

Autumn ZephDaily

Morning! It’s Julia at Zeph@10 today. Hello to you.

Question: what is your favourite season? I have a theory that people tend to like the season their birthday is in best – maybe subconsciously they associate it with something good. Mine is autumn.

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Traditionally my least favourite season is spring, because I feel like it’s pretty wet but without the cosiness of winter. However, in recent years I’ve realised that’s a pretty miserable way of looking at it (especially last year when we seemed to skip spring, and I found I missed it and felt disorientated for half the year!). There’s loads of things I realise I love about spring, like evening light, the scent of the air and flowers. Really I think each season has its hardships and its blessings.

I wanted to look at Ecclesiastes 3.1-14 this morning, where the author talks about there being a season for everything in life. Have a read if you like!

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There’s a few things I take from this passage. We’re currently in a very strange season- just a season, so it won’t last forever, but it is different and disorientating all the same. It brings with it various levels of hardship depending on the person and the situation.

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In saying that everything has a season, the author encourages us to accept our current situation first, acknowledging it for what it is. Even though we might naturally have “a desire to know the future” (verse 11), the task we face is the here and now, without having to know the whole picture, and that’s enough for the time being.

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The book of Ecclesiastes, where this passage comes from, is impressively, splendidly, miserable. Everything is useless and/or bad in some way. For a disillusioned reader it is either cathartic or going to make things MUCH worse – there is a time to read Ecclesiastes and a time to absolutely NOT do that.

This passage, in the midst of misery, is the author finding meaning in the idea that God is in control. I also found that the author seemed to keep returning to the same idea: the best thing is for people to eat, drink, and be happy in their work, which are gifts from God. Whatever your opinions on eating, drinking and working might be, my interpretation of this is that enjoying the small, “trivial” things matters.

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In other words, whatever season we are in, within that time God can give us the gift of peace, even through the smallest means. Most evenings in my house recently, we tend to go a small walk. If I’m honest I can rarely be bothered to go before we’ve set off, but once we’re out I’m always grateful we did. Peace can be a moment, watching the sunset reflect off the still waters of the canal. It can be spending time with people who mean a lot to us. It can be getting stuck into a long forgotten hobby – the author later says it is good when people don’t have time to worry because God keeps them busy with what they love to do.

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These moments of peace are important. And when we find ways to share this peace with other people, it becomes strength. Ecclesiastes 4.12 says a rope that is woven of 3 strands is hard to break.

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Let’s pray that God will be with us during this season. We pray for God’s help for those who this will be a particularly hard season for.

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Let’s pray for God to help us have peace within this season. We pray for glimpses of God today.

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And finally, let’s pray for God to give us enough strength to give light to others in any way we can.

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Amen! Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday!

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Yvonne’s up on Zeph@10 tomorrow – see you there!

 

Zeph Daily 4

March 24 2020

Welcome to Zeph at Ten. It’s Julia today, with a small helper. Please allow me to introduce
you to Fluffy Cat – here face planting the back of a chair. He might look as though he is in
deep despair, but worry not! Him choosing to sit in the same room as you, in your line of
sight, striking a needlessly dramatic pose is his way of showing affection. If you were to
stroke him, he would chirrup happily before tucking his face firmly back in, like a fuzzy little weirdo.
Anyway, morning!

Fluffy Cat

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Now that you understand the wonderful and ridiculous Fluffy Cat a little better, I wanted
to think about what it is to be understood, to be known. The Bible tells us time and time
again how God understands us and knows us. There are so many stories of Jesus meeting
people and befriending them exactly as they are, where they are at, no matter the situation.
One example is the story of Zacchaeus- tax collector no one liked who Jesus invited himself round for tea with. Feel free to post any other example of stories you may know showing this here…

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I love stories that show God meeting people in the midst of complicated situations. It’s
good to know that wherever we’re at, whatever we’re feeling – stressed, worried,
overwhelmed, irritated, angry – God isn’t waiting for us to sort ourselves out before
meeting us. He’s already here. Psalm 23 says “even though I walk through the dark valley, you are with me”.

Psalm 23 4

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God will meet us wherever we are, even in the darkest of times. But that doesn’t mean
he will leave us there. Psalm 23 goes on to say “your rod and your staff comfort me”-
shepherds tools protecting their flock and guiding them forward. We’ve thought about how God understands each one of us. This suggests he also knows what we need, and what will comfort us and bring us hope.

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Let’s pray this morning for pieces of God’s light, and his hope this morning – for ourselves, for people we love, for people we don’t know who need it. What has made you smile recently? Do post below! (further pictures of notable cat poses encouraged)

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May we remember that whatever life has in store for us today, God walks with us
through it. Here’s a song to finish. Amen.

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