Posted on: 17th December 2018
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
What is the greatest gift you have ever received? When you got it, did it fulfil everything you hoped it would? My son really wanted a step counter last year. I found it at the back of the card drawer last week, unused. Frustratingly, he has asked for a step counter again this year.
As I grew up there was one gift I always wanted – Subbuteo. Last year I managed to fulfil my childhood ambition. I didn’t get it directly, I bought it for my son. Having played it only three times this year I can confirm that it wasn’t the life changing gift I had built it up to be.
Scholars and religious leaders had read the books of the prophets and were waiting in expectation for the Messiah to be born. Thirty years after the birth of Jesus, one of those scholars had questions that he was afraid to ask in the open, so he came to Jesus at night. His name was Nicodemus. I love the conversation he had with Jesus. He approaches Jesus and says “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no-one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus’ response is exceptional and is definitely worth reading over the festive period. In John chapter 3 verse 16, Jesus announces himself as the greatest gift ever. Imagine a gift that begins today and last for eternity.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
In preparation for Christmas celebrations, please consider the words of Jesus. If believing in him can lead to eternal life, as well as life to the full here, isn’t that the greatest gift ever given. If a gift like that was offered to you, how would you respond?
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: 6th November 2017
“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”
Over the next few weeks we are going to be thinking about our identity and where our worth comes from.
If we were to be scanned through a machine that only saw our worth, what would the machine show? Would is show our make up and fancy jewellery? Would it show our designer clothes and latest gadgets? Or would it show our hearts?
When it comes to thinking about our identity it’s worth remembering our heart, our passion, our love. It’s worth remembering where our identity comes from, not the things on the outside but the things within. It’s also worth remembering that it’s no mistake we are made and built the way we are. In James 1 v 18 it says:
“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”
That’s right, God chose us! He saw us before we were in our parents minds and He still wanted us here (Jeremiah 5 v 1). He conquered death for us to be here (John 3 v 16) and He gave you a plan and a purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29 v 11).
Our identity, if we choose it to be, is in Him, the one who saw all our imperfections and still called us perfect.
This week, start to consider your identity, what you would look like if you were scanned through a machine, what worth would be found in you and your identity?
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?