Daily Devotional reflections

As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.

Saturday 18th July 2020


Recently I was subject to an internet scam. I ordered a piece of fitness equipment valued at about £30.00 and what arrived resembled a couple of children’s drinks bottles, valued at about a £1.00. Fortunately, I did not pay in cash and now involved in the time combusting process of trying to get a refund from a company located in China. At first they offered a 50% refund, but then offered to refund the whole amount subject to the items being returned, at my expense! Whether I see my money back remains to be seen. But next time, I will stick to a retailer that I recognise!

Of course none of us like to be scammed. It is a deeply annoying experience. And how many of us have heard of old folk giving work to cold callers and being charged excessive rates?


Acts 9: 1-9

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.


Over the past few days we have been considering the conversion of St Paul. There are many aspects to the dramatic story. His apparent rapid reorientation from the faith and traditions of his fathers (ancient Judaism) to Christianity. Coupled to this Paul would now be viewed as an outcast by his friends and family, plus somebody who had betrayed his faith. Given the important influence that Paul had within the early church, it has caused some to question the legitimacy of his experience.

There are many who seek to provide a rational explanation for Paul’s experience. His apparent conversion did have physical symptoms, including loss of normal bodily posture and his subsequent blindness. Possible causes of these symptoms include sun stroke, seizure, epilepsy, mood disorder, convulsions or cortical blindness. None of these explanations are without problems. You simply have to study the remainder of Paul’s life to see there is a clear consistency with his experience on the Damascus Road and his resulting transformation into an apostle of Jesus Christ.
In contrast the traditional view that Paul’s conversion was an authentic event, leads to a number of theological conclusions. These include evidence of divine grace, which in the words of one writer: ‘no fall so deep that grace cannot descend to it and no height so lofty that grace cannot lift the sinner to it.’ The experience also forced Paul to ‘rethink from the ground up everything he had ever believed in, and who God really was.’ In his later writings, Paul also saw the difference between righteousness based on human effort or the Old Testament Law and righteousness based on the death of Jesus Christ. His conversion could also be interpreted as his commissioning to become an apostle to the gentiles.
So what do you think?
Is the story of Saul/Paul’s conversion one which is authentic and reveals truth about God’s nature and activity?
Or is it a scam? Did people misinterpret his illness and create a narrative around him?


You call us to be people of faith,
yet we are often people with doubts.
We doubt that love can grow again in relationships
where anger and bitterness reign supreme.
You know the strength of love and the power of prayer:
help us to be faithful lovers.
We doubt that peace can come in the Middle East, in Syria, in Palestine;
where hatred and racism reign supreme.
You know that peace is growing there:
help us to be faithful peacemakers.
We doubt that the hungry can be fed in Africa,
where despair and hopelessness reign supreme.
You know that there is enough food in the world;
help us to be generous and faithful.
You specialize in impossibilities;
you walked on water,
you heal the nations
you forgive sins
you set the captive free,
you set us free from our captivities.

Today we pray for people here who are filled with doubts,
who wonder whether you exist and whether you are listening to our prayers,
who wonder what this whole community is about.
We pray for people who doubt the purpose of life,
who wonder whether to end it all,
who face feelings of meaningless and despair.
Even when we have that sinking feeling,
give us the wisdom to turn to you.
Lord we want to believe, help our unbelief!
Give us faith, small as a mustard seed,
so that we can be your faithful people,
believing in your power to save,
believing in your power to reign supreme,
believing that we can share this good news
with everyone we meet. Amen
Blessed are we when we let go of possessions
for the kingdom of God unfolds in open places.
Woe to us when we gather into barns
for soon this life will be over.
Blessed are we who know the ache of hunger
for the empty places in body and soul are the fertile soil for new growth.
Woe to us who fill our lives to capacity
for we fail to recognize what is missing.
Blessed are we who know sorrow
for the ache of love lost is witness to the seed planted.
Woe to us who have yet to know the pain of grief
for the fullness of love is woven with sorrow.
Blessed are we who know scorn
for the rejection of humans keeps us mindful of that beyond.
Woe to us who depend on the approval of others
for to dance with Spirit appears foolish.
Blessed are we who live in the harmony of life in the Spirit,
For we will recognize abundance.

Hear the good news:
“Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave...
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.”
Through his obedience
we are therefore freed from whatever sin enslaves us.
Thanks be to God!

In our prayers today, let us remember…
The people who are wrestling with doubts and struggling to believe.
The people we love, especially those going through difficult times.
The people we do not know, whose suffering is silent and unknown.
The people and nations being ravaged by Covid 19
Ourselves – for a closer walk with Jesus

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever.


I bless you with joy
May you find moments of laughter and bliss
In the midst of suffering and distress
May you cherish those times and may they sustain you
I bless you with the fruits of humility
May your humble and sacrificial actions
Be instrumental in preserving your community
And loving your neighbours
I bless you with peace
In the face of financial hardship and uncertainty
May you know the faithful presence of the God who provides
Go in peace.
Wash your hands.
Love your neighbours.
You are not alone.