Posted on: 2nd December 2019
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
What do you look forward to the most at Christmas? I love talking to people about their traditions and habits. For some, they begin the season on November the 1st, the day after Halloween. The end of the celebration brings a 54-day anticipation of celebrating the ‘Light of the World’. For others, 25th November marks a month to go and is a legitimate mark for beginning to prepare. But the 1st December and the opening of the first advent calendar surely is the latest someone would choose to begin the anticipation.
In the gospel of Matthew, the writer begins by giving the build up to Jesus. He marks the significance of his birth to Mary, recording the genealogy from Abraham and from King David. This was a significant marker for those who were expecting the Messiah, because it fulfilled many of the prophecies that in the books of the prophets.
Three characters drew my attention this week as I read the ancestral list. Please take time this week to read Matthew 1, and let me know who stands out for you. For me, it was the mention of the female characters, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Uriah’s wife. I encourage you to have a look at the stories of these characters. For me, their stories speak of good coming from bad and God’s redemption of taking something broken and turning it in to something beautiful.
Whatever your tradition in the build up to Christmas, can I encourage you to consider the message of salvation and forgiveness that comes because Jesus came. He is the reason for the season.
Posted on: 1st October 2018
“For the wages of sin is death…”
Last week in our theme we asked the question, ‘Is respect earned or deserved?’ We considered that when we work for something then the reward is earned, but when something is given for something we do as part of our character or as a result of an action, then we say it is deserved.
The writer in Romans makes it clear to the readers that there is something that is earned by us all because of sin – death. This seems a harsh, bleak prospect, but please read on, as the rest of the verse offers hope and salvation to all!
Looking at characters in the Bible, I found someone described as, ‘A man after God’s own heart’ (1 Sam 13:14). The character is David the shepherd boy, who went on to become King David. But David’s life is riddled with incidences of how he ‘fell short of the glory of God’, like Paul described in Romans 3:23. Paul says that all have sinned, including me and you.
David’s sins were many. That’s not me judging him but that is his own admittance in the Psalms. In 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan is responsible for telling him that he shouldn’t have sent a commander to the front line in his army, to guarantee he dies, so that he could take his wife for himself. Nathan does this in a parable. He describes a rich man who had many sheep and a poor man who had just one sheep, that he loved and cared for like a child. When the rich man had a visitor he decided that he would rather sacrifice the poor man’s sheep than his own. Is that ok? David was outraged by this story, until he realised he was the rich man and Bathsheba was the sheep. 2 Samuel 12:13 says that Nathan admitted his sin. 2 Samuel 12:14 says that ‘The Lord has taken away your sin.’
I take hope from David’s story. Yes, the wages of sin are death, but admitting our sin (repentance) and receiving forgiveness (salvation) results in us receiving God’s gift…
“… but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Posted on: 9th July 2018
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”
For those of you who are involved in social media, you will know what a ‘Profile Pic’ is. From my experience the profile pic is the best representation a person can give, something that represents the image they wish to portray. For some it is of a great sporting achievement. For others it is of a time with family or friends. Very few profile pictures capture the nitty-gritty, day to day you.
When we read that we are ‘created in the image of God’, let us consider two responses. The first response is denial. If the imperfect me that I see in the mirror is a representation of God’s image then God cannot be God. The apostle Paul realised this too in Romans 6 when he wrote:
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Paul came to the conclusion that there is part of him that wants to live a life that is the image of God, but there is part of him that is at war with that desire. Have you ever struggled like Paul with a decision or action that you want to do that you have not done?
King David too came to the realisation that he was not a great representation of the image of God. This is what he wrote in Psalms 139:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
The second response to imperfections is meditation. King David spent time with God, searching his heart, thoughts and actions. When was the last time you took a moment to search yourself? Maybe today is your moment.
However you respond this week, be cheered by Paul’s conclusion to the dilemma he described above:
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Through Jesus we begin to reflect the image of God.
Posted on: 12th March 2018
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Wow Factor – Awe and Wonder Helps You Connect With Your Spirit
What’s around us can inspire us, enlighten us and empower us. Yet thanks to technology, the media and a greater awareness of the world, we find our first-time, overwhelming experiences of the world to be fewer and fewer.
In the Old Testament, we read of a king called King David. King David started his life as a shepherd boy and a musician and we mainly know him as the young boy who killed Goliath long before becoming king. Over the course of his years, David wrote much of the book in the bible called the Psalms. Each Psalm illustrates a different point in David’s life where he connects with God through his spirit. This verse stands out at the beginning of chapter 19: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19 v 1)
Can you imagine what it is David is thinking about as he proclaims this bold statement? Most theologians believe this chapter was inserted towards the end of David’s life where he reflected on the events over his time on earth.
David knew of God’s awe and wonder and what a magnificent position he must have been in to see each moment throughout his life. When we look outwards and look upwards, we can do the same and connect with our spirit.
This week, consider; why do we sometimes miss moments of awe and wonder? What can we do to realign ourselves so we can see the awe and wonder God has placed in the world?