Posted on: 26th March 2018
What do you think of when you think of Easter? Eggs? Holidays? Jesus? The Cross?
For some it is these four things: Forgiven. Family. Freedom. Future.
Well it’s simple really, each time we read the Bible we have new revelation of who God is, what he has done and why. When we read the Bible bearing in mind we know the Easter story and Jesus, we can’t miss these four things.
Firstly, at Easter time, we remember that Jesus’ agonising death on the cross means that He paid the price for our sinfulness and selfishness. Easter reminds us that we can be FORGIVEN by God – ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1 v 9).
And through this loving, sacrificial act, we can become adopted into God’s FAMILY – ‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of His household.’ (Ephesians 2 v 19). God is our Father, Jesus our ever-present older-brother, the Holy Spirit our constant helper, and the Church is our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Then, the fact that Jesus defeated death through His resurrection, reminds us that nothing is impossible for God and we can experience FREEDOM from our struggles and suffering. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5 v 1).
In this resurrection is our hope for the FUTURE, that we will one day be with God forever in His perfect new heaven and earth – “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21 v 4-6 NIV)
Be encouraged this Easter that when Jesus died on the cross and the plan to rescue eternity was set into motion, God had YOU in mind.
Posted on: 19th Feb 2018
“Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?””
Sometimes we can look like we have it all together on the outside but inside we are a complete mess and feel totally out of control. Many circumstances and expectations of others can lead us to feel and act like this on a daily basis.
Expectations of others can lead us to feeling overwhelmed and control us to quickly grasp onto any way of keeping our ‘all together’ outside appearance. However, that is when life can spiral out of our control, when others’ expectations and in turn our own expectations, can consume us.
How we respond to these circumstances or influences around us can either make us, or break us. We cannot control what tries to influence us but we can control how we respond.
In the Gospels, we read of Peter, one of Jesus disciples, controlled by his jealousy of his fellow disciple John. Peter constantly compared himself to John and all the things John was getting to do until one day Jesus was speaking life into Peter, calling him out to be the leader he was meant to be and he looked around at John and then asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Can you imagine? Jesus, the Son of God who was crucified, died, and then come back from the dead has just given you responsibility, a title, a role for the future you look around and compare yourself to those around you! How often do we do that, always wanting to have one better than the people around us do or at least comparable to those around us, something to brag about.
“What about him?” How many times do we ask, “What about them?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must, just follow me.”
Jesus gently reminds Peter, it does not matter what the others have. This is the unique role God has called Peter to do, he just needs to focus on Jesus and it will all remain in control.
This week, consider whom are you comparing yourself to? Do you let the expectations of others control your life? What can you focus on that means you are not controlled by your surrounding influences?
Posted on: 4th December 2017
“Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labour bears a son, and the rest of his brothers rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.”
Did you know that Christmas is coming? – Of course, what a silly question, we can’t miss it!
Twinkling Lights, advent calendars, shopping mayhem! Maybe this weekend you have decorated your tree? Maybe you have bought a wreath for your door? Many things happen at this time of year that remind us it’s nearly Christmas.
But, are you ready for CHRISTmas?
Christmas isn’t just about the lights, the chocolates, the trees. Christmas all began because of a baby, a baby we know as Jesus Christ and Christ is right at the centre of Christmas – it’s called CHRISTmas. At the end of the Old Testament in Micah, the news of a promised ruler from Bethlehem is spoken, they call him His Majesty. And there are many names for Christ, many that we will consider over this Christmas time. But the one we will come back to again and again is Christ and the ADVENTure we can have in getting to know more about who He is.
Posted on: 19th June 2017
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
Luke 17 v 6
(Story of a Mustard Seed)
Have you ever gone to watch a football game and not really believed your team can win? Alternatively, have you ever started out doing something (maybe late homework or a mountain of housework) and looked at the amount to think, “I’m never going to get this done?” Maybe you have questioned why you cannot believe more, why you have not been better at believing or why you cannot see things happening the way that would be ideal. The apostles quizzed Jesus regularly or they challenged him. On this occasion, they wanted more faith.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
This week we are talking about trust; the firm belief in what we know to be reliable. The bible verses above share that the capability of our faith is not equal to the size of our faith; it flips what we know as logic to for our minds. From a young age, we are taught that as we learn more knowledge the better we will do in life, but the size of our faith does not necessarily equal the actions that can take place because of it.
So why faith the size of a mustard seed? When a mustard seed is planted, it is one of the smallest seeds, yet when it grows and flourishes; it will be one of the largest trees around. This journey from the smallest to the biggest is how Jesus explains our trust and our faith. See trust starts with a step, just one. The tiniest of steps to say I believe, I trust.
So what are you trusting in this week? What are you trusting for? As we may waiver and wobble from time to time let’s remember that even the faith and trust of a mustard seed has the potential to move the largest mulberry tree from the land to the sea.
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.
Posted on: 15th May 2017
“For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.”
Luke 12 v 23
(Tradition vs Honest Faith)
This week we are looking at the story that Jesus tells to the Pharisees in Luke 12 as they challenge his disciples for their practice of eating without doing a wash ritual first. Let’s remember though why Jesus told stories and parables. One reason was to explain what the kingdom of heaven was like and another was to explain the law of the old scriptures to people who didn’t understand it or who were using it wrongly. This story was told for the second reason, to help people understand what the bible said about rituals and traditions.
So Jesus was out with his friends, his disciples and they had just started eating as Jesus was talking to the crowd that was gathering around. The Pharisees were quick to point out that they hadn’t washed their hands before they began to eat, so one raised their voice, “Why don’t your disciples do the traditions and rituals of our elders? Why don’t they wash their hands?” (Mark 7 v 1-5 abbreviated).
Jesus responded to them by calling them hypocrites (sometimes he just said it as it was). But what the Pharisees hadn’t realised that the disciples had been serving the people through their ministry, they had been with Jesus for a few days (or maybe more) working hard and were ready to sit down and eat. The Pharisees were letting the traditions get in the way of their honest faith. No, we shouldn’t forget that some traditions that we may do today are reminders of our faith and help strengthen our faith when we do them. However, we must be careful to not fall into a trap of doing it for traditions sake or just for going through the motions but through our focus on God and in faith.
But what do we do when it comes to our honesty? Do we let our traditions, timetables, to-do lists get in the way of our honesty towards other people? Would we say we would look after someone but when given the responsibility to do so would be prioritise our own traditions?
This story illustrates a challenge to us all as to how we live out our faith. Do with live it with all honesty and integrity or do we hope our traditions keep us in the ‘good books’ of God?
Posted on: 8th May 2017
“For life is more than food and your body more than clothing.”
(The Parable of the Rich Fool)
What do you want to achieve in your life? How will you measure the success you have? How will you know if you have made it?
More frequently, we are seeing the measure of success to be something like how much money we have made; how many followers we have on social media; or what possessions we own. That however does not really match up with God’s idea of success. See God is not opposed to us gaining possessions nor does he dislike our achievements in both the big and the small. But God does want us to know that this life in which we live in now can only offer us so much. In fact, a better way to look at it is to remember is how much is the worth of our possession or our achievement in light of eternity.
If we hold tight to the things we think are valuable now, we are going to waste our time on the wrong things.
The story of the Rich Fool reminds us of our contentment in what we have from God; it reminds us of the worth of temporary items or achievements.
The story Jesus shared was about a farmer who had an amazing harvest one year, all the crops were too big to fit into his barn. Instead of sharing the rest of his crops that overflowed his barn with his friends and siblings, the farmer built a new barn that was bigger than the original one. But God challenged him and asked him if he was to die tonight what would happen to his crops? (Luke 12 v 13-20 abbreviated)
The labour and effort that this man had put into his barn was wasted, he had enough when he had filled his barn but he was greedy and he wanted more. The man was rich in his earthly possessions but he wasn’t rich in the eyes of God as his greed had overcome him.
So this week the challenge is this, what are you storing up? What are you aiming for? Is there one thing that you could spend less time on or give up completely to give that time to God?
Posted on: 31st March 2017
“For God so loved the World that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Over the past term we have looked at the accounts and stories of the Old Testament, we have seen different characteristics of God and noticed how the Israelites and the surrounding people responded to certain circumstances and situations depending on their faith. However, we have seen through all the accounts these two themes:
- The Israelites faithfulness
- God love
Maybe we should take a pause there and just reflect on these two themes, firstly the faithfulness of the Israelites. The Israelites were called somethings in their time and yes, they had their downfalls but one thing remained throughout their story, their faithfulness. No matter the human leader, their priests, their situation, they always returned to looking to God. It wasn’t like it was just one group of people over 100 years either, we are talking about generation after generation seeking God in all they do.
The bible in 1 John 4 v 19 says: We love because God first loved us. The Israelites faithfulness was purely from a place of response to God’s love for them, from the miracles they had seen happen with their predecessors. Even Adam and Eve knew God’s love surrounded them; they were made in love, perfect love, they were made in God’s image (Genesis 1 v 27).
The bible tells us that God is Love (1 John 4 v 8). So, if we are made in image, surely we are also made in love? The bible also tells us thatperfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4 v 18). It tells us that we are more than conquers through Him who loves us (Romans 8 v 37). But most of all, the bible continuously directs us back to one point, that love has won.
God’s love won over death and still has the victory.
This year on Thursday April 12th we will remember the night that Jesus had supper, what we now call communion with his friends, and then he went out to the Garden of Gethsemane with his friends to pray. There, he was betrayed by one of his friends who handed him over to the officials, he was carried away. On the Friday morning, what we now know as Good Friday, Jesus was held in front of romans who handed him over to the Jews. The Romans found no ground to convict him of any crime or even punish him but the Jews jeered that his was claiming to be God and to crucify him. That is what the officials did; they freed a criminal and let Jesus go to the cross. On that day, Jesus was crucified, posed between two criminals, but that’s not where the story ends. See as Jesus breathed his last breath, there was a cry from heaven, the sky turned black and the curtain in the temple was torn (this is where they separated God into a small area in the temple). Some say the ground shook; some say it was a mighty storm, whatever it was the story was not over yet. Next week in our Easter service we will be both morning the dead of Jesus on the cross but celebrating the fact that through God’s love He defeated death. Now that is real love!
God is Love, and His love is very different from human love. God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship.
For God so loved the World that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3 v 16).
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)
What do you think of when you think of a hero? Maybe a loved one? Someone you look up to? Most of the people we would call our heroes would have a story that sets them apart from the rest. They might have done something remarkable, incredible or outstanding something that you wouldn’t have thought ordinary or they may have shown longevity, commitment and fought through situations we thought were impossible to overcome. Whatever we think of a hero, of our hero they are special to us.
The bible talks of many heroes that were faithful to God. In the Exodus we hear of Moses, in 1 Samuel we read of David, we read of Ezra and Jeremiah throughout the Old Testament as well as many more. Even when we come to the New Testament we read of several, in fact hundreds of heroes who inspired and paved the way. More who empower and remained faithful to God even after the crucifixion.
For Christian’s there is one name that stands out in the bible above them all and that is Jesus. John 3 v 17 says: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Throughout all the stories of the heroes in the bible you can see Jesus at work, in all sixty-six books in the bible you can see Him work through people and in people we now read about.
Many theologians have used different phrases but from in Genesis where Jesus is the Creator & promised Redeemer, to Revelation where He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, He is woven through out like a scarlet thread on an intricately woven tapestry. For Christian’s He is the greatest hero.
This week when we come to read and learn about Saint Wilfrid or hear stories of our heroes and those that we know to be Saint’s, have a think, who do you know Jesus as? From what I read could He be my hero too?