Posted on: 4th November 2019
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
What things hold us back from living life to the full?
What an amazing verse that we read in Galatians 5:1. The whole story of God and his people is one of slavery, bondage, freedom, repeat. Slavery, bondage, freedom, repeat. We read again and again in the old testament of the people, “Doing evil in the eyes of the Lord.” (Judges 2:11, Judges 3:12, 1 Kings 15:26 and many more).
In the new testament we read Paul’s struggle between his desire to follow God’s will and his desire to serve his feelings and flesh (Romans 6-7). Paul talks about us being free from slavery to sin. But he also talks about becoming, “A slave to God.”
I heard a story of a boy who was visiting the circus, who marvelled at the mighty elephants parading around the ring. “Dad”, he said, “Why doesn’t the elephants just pull out the pegs that are holding them and escape? He’s strong enough.” His dad answered, “Once, they were held by unbreakable chains until they learned they couldn’t get free. Then weaker ropes were substituted for the chains, but the elephants had already given up on breaking free. Now, just a thin cord tied loosely to one foot and connected to a small stake in the ground is all it takes to “trap” the elephant into believing he’s still being held tight with chains that no longer exist.”
At this time of year, we consider the brave lives of those who sacrificed their freedom for us to be free. My challenge is that, whatever you have let tie you down from living life to the full, will be released as you consider the gift of freedom you have been given.
The promise in Romans 6:22 is that when you become a slave to God, “The benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” My prayer is that you consider how you could choose to serve God with all he has given you.
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: 10th September 2018
“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’””
At the start of a new school year it is a good time to consider the early account of things going wrong for Adam and Eve. It remind me of a story I once heard at Sunday school that went like this…
A gardener was weeding his garden on a hot summer’s day. A church leader walked passed to hear the gardener ranting to himself, “If I were them, I wouldn’t have done it. If I were them I wouldn’t have done it!” The church leader couldn’t help himself, so he enquired as to what the man was referring to. The gardener was citing the account of Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden, which resulted in the ground being cursed and producing thorn and thistle (Genesis 3 v 17-19).
The church leader listened with interest and at the end invited the gardener to tea. The gardener, never wishing to turn down an invite for food, agreed.
When the gardener arrived, the food was laid out on the table. The spread was lavish and in the centre of the table there was a silver platter, covered with a silver dome. The church leader said that he had to just nip out to prepare something else, but the gardener could begin to eat whatever he chose, apart from the special surprise that lay under on the silver platter.
Question – What would you do in this moment? Would you respect the wish of the host and choose only from the vast array of delicacies that you could see? If you would like to know what happened in the story, please come and ask!
Maybe part of showing respect is sacrificing your desires and submitting to authority. Maybe it is trusting that someone else has a better understanding of a situation than you. Maybe respect comes easier from a humble attitude, like the Apostle Paul mentions in Philippians 2 v 3:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”