Posted on: 20th January 2020
“Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”
Reading the Old Testament account of the children of Israel leaving Egypt and wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, I am fascinated by their actions and attitudes. The book of Leviticus is known to be full of law and full of drastic consequences for their actions.
But why do we need laws? The preacher Andy Stanley describes Law’s as guardrails, protecting us from harm. If you have time this week, have a read of Leviticus 19, or search for some of the most unusual laws that exist. Ask yourself the question, “Why was that law brought in?” Leviticus 19:14 says, “Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling-block in front of the blind, but fear the Lord.” Can you imagine needing a law like that!
In Matthew 7:12, Jesus sums up the law and the prophets by saying, “In everything [including tripping others up when they can’t see], do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
This week, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about the rules and laws that you are striving to follow. If you are like me, I often find it overwhelming. No matter how many things I do right, it is the things I don’t do that I focus on the most. No matter how hard I try, I know I cannot live to the expectations of myself, let alone others.
Let’s follow Jesus’ example. He came to simplify live and give us all the chance to connect with God. When he lived a sinless life and died on the cross, the punishment of sin was taken away. That made it simple for us to live Holy, not because we keep all the laws, but because we accept his forgiveness.
This week, spend some time thinking about how you can simplify your life. Think about what the life and death of Jesus means to you.
Posted on: 13th May 2019
“For if you forgive others their sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
As a parent, I sometimes feel I should know more than I do, especially after having three children and the oldest being fourteen. But I don’t. Here is my top mistake – I ask my children what they think, when actually I know their choice is going to be wrong, or unattainable. For example, “What would you like for tea?” should have been, “Beans on toast or soup?” You know full well that when asked what they wanted, those two options were not top of the list.
Looking back at the children of Israel’s choice in Deuteronomy 30:15, I should have learned how to set a question. “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” Really! Was that an actual choice? What would you choose? Have a look at the rest of the story to find out about the choice they made.
Fast forward to the new testament, the Lord’s prayer. Jesus asks us the question “Will you forgive others?”.
I can think of lots of examples of situations that seem to be unforgiveable. This is especially true when the person who has done the wrong shows no remorse or isn’t feeling sorry for their actions. How can you forgive someone who is not sorry? How could the people of Rwanda forgive their neighbours who killed their loved ones, just because they were form a different ethnic group?
But Jesus’ question about forgiveness didn’t really have a choice. Your forgiveness by God is directly affected by your willingness to forgive others. The consequences of not forgiving are not worth considering, but the blessing of forgiving others and being forgiven by God, makes forgiveness the only option.
My challenge this week is that you will find the ability and courage to deal with any forgiveness you may need in your life. If this is too difficult for you to face alone, find someone you trust and talk about it with them. It may be that you are the one wronged, or you may be the one who needs to say sorry.
Posted on: 4th March 2019
“Bear with each other, forgive each other, as the Lord has forgiven you.”
During this half term we are considering how we can ‘Love like Jesus’. From reading the gospels, I think it is really clear what Jesus was about. Jesus was love. Sometimes this love was an obvious demonstration. In Matthew 4:23, after Jesus had returned from his testing in the wilderness and called the first disciples, he went throughout Galilee and preached, proclaimed good news and healed all who were sick. And people followed him.
This week we are considering how Jesus is forgiveness. The ultimate display of this is his sacrifice on the cross, for the forgiveness of all. In Colossians 3:13 it says we are to “bear with each other, forgive each other, as the Lord has forgiven you.”
It is a sacrifice to forgive. Forgiveness requires us offering something to someone who has wronged us, that they don’t deserve. So why does Jesus call us to forgive? We find the answer in Matthew 6:14.
In his book ‘Everybody always’, Bob Goff describes a person who he meets who is, “pure evil.” Bob gets the opportunity to meet with this man after his arrest for all the vile things he had done. During this encounter, the prisoner asked Bob to forgive him. Bob describes this as one of the hardest decisions he had ever made. This man had hurt someone Bob loved. If you are looking for an inspirational and motivational book to read, I cannot recommend this book highly enough, along with Bob Goff’s first book, ‘Love does’.
This week starts the period of lent. What are you going to sacrifice over the next 40 days? What is the reason behind your sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice was for the forgiveness of sins.
My prayer is that lent is a season of reflection, sacrifice and forgiveness in your life.
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: 22nd May 2017
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Matthew 18 v 35
(The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant)
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he, his wife, his children, and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged, went, and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Have you ever held a grudge? Alternatively, maybe you have had a grudge held against you and more over you have let it affect you and how you communicate with that person? Maybe you have seen a grudge in effect, as someone disagrees with a brilliant idea just because of the person who said it.
Grudges are often held when one person feels like someone else owes them something. Maybe they do owe them something like the story above and yet they keep that thought as a hold over the other person. Yet, the bible tells us to forgive.
Forgiving is giving up your right to hate or hurt the person who hurt you. It is about letting go of the stronghold or grudge over an area of your life, not allowing it to control how you see someone else or how you judge what they do.
This week as we think about forgiveness, remember what this story teaches us, that we are forgiven by our heavenly father, that we should forgive as we hope others will forgive us and that we shouldn’t keep hold of the grudges that control how we see others around us.