Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

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every perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 ESV)

Being a Marvel fan, I tend to watch most of the films or television series. There is a relatively recent one called ‘The Gifted’ (Fox Broadcasting Company – originally aired 02/10/17) where many of the people that are the stars of the show are referred to as ‘Mutants’. D.C. refers to these people as ‘Metahumans’. But whatever they are called, are they really gifted? They may have certain powers, to create fire of bend metal etc, but are these really gifts that a lot of people would want?

John Newton (1725 – 1807) wrote the wonderful Christian hymn about a gift that is freely available to anyone and everyone who may want (or really need it), and all you have to do is claim it. Amazing Grace; and it basically tells us that no matter what we have done, or what we have lost, or how bad we think we are, God is never too far away to help us and rescue us; now that is Amazing Grace.

The greatest gift that has ever been given to anybody, did not consist of large perfectly cut diamonds, or smooth, perfectly coloured emeralds, or even large amounts of gold or silver; the greatest gift ever given, was a life!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NIV – emphasis mine).

Every good gift, every perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 ESV).

When people buy you a gift for your birthday or Christmas, do they spend hours or even days choosing it, walking from shop to shop trying to imagine if you will like the gift? Maybe they do not, unless you have absolutely amazing friends, but still, probably not.

When my daughter was younger, one year she saved some of her money from her birthday, and brought myself and her mother a bar of chocolate each; there was nothing special about the chocolate (apart from it was Galaxy), she did not wrap it in amazingly coloured paper with bows or ribbons, she did write a long elegant letter telling of her love for us, but what was special was the way that she did it. Young as she was, she gave of her own, she did not ask for any help with this, she did not ask for any money, or anything for that matter, and she did it in secret, without telling us.

When God sent his perfect gift to us, Jesus, he knew exactly how bad we were as a race of people, and;

Just at the right time… … Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

God’s timing is perfect, and what he does is perfect, and the reason that the timing is just right, spot-on, perfect, is that he knows everything that we do;

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!’ (Psalm 139:1 ESV).

Yet you know me, LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you’ (Jeremiah 12:3 NIV).

There is nothing that we can do that God does not already know about. I know that may sound extremely worrying to some, but try not to worry too much, because there is also nothing that you can do that will make God love you any less.

God sent Jesus as a gift to the human race, Jesus would come and show us how we should live, and then, ultimately, he would die for our sins.

Ellis J Crum wrote about Jesus coming to die for us, he wrote;

He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay’ (Ellis J Crum – 1977).

So really what we should be saying, or rather shouting out to God, is a massive thank you;

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift’ (2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV).

The gift we get from God, through Jesus, is eternal hope for an eternal life, with Jesus. But the gift we get when we accept Jesus as our Lord, Friend, Redeemer, Teacher, Rescuer, Counsellor, Leader, Saviour, needs to be used.

We receive Grace and Redemption for our past sins, so we should also give others grace and redemption for what they have or may have done against us. In this way, just as Paul reminded Timothy in one of the letters written to him, we will;

fan into flame the gift of God’ (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV).

In his previous letter to Timothy, Paul had reminded Timothy to devote himself to public preaching, teaching, and reading of the scripture (1 Timothy 4:13), and he also reminded him not to do something;

Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you’ (1 Timothy 4:14 NIV).

Now concerning spiritual gifts… … … Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord’ (1 Corinthians 1 & 4-5 ESV).

You can go on-line and do tests to see what gifts you have, as you may not think that you have any, but we all have them, eternal life being the one most people think of, but you may be called to serve God and be a teacher or preacher, you may be called to serve God in a worship group, or with the youth of your church, or as an organiser, or a some-one who meets and greets people at the door, or a cleaner, a chair stacker, a person who hands out Bibles etc. every position is just as important as the person who stands at the front and preaches, but also pulls all the various elements together.

There are many, many ways in which we could each serve God, and you may not even feel ready or able to serve.  Remember that God does not always call those who are fully ready and equipped for whatever challenge is presented, but he will ensure that if he calls you, that you are equipped.

As I sit here writing this text, I know that the ability I have to write, is a gift from my God, a gift I cherish, the ability to say to others through this blog, what God has put on my heart.

Many years ago, when doing a Bible study as a teenager, we were looking at time, and something was said then that has stayed with me;

Yesterday is history;
Tomorrow is a mystery;
Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present

We all have gifts, and some are more important than others, but the most important thing of all to remember is;

the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23 ESV – emphasis mine).

 

Equips the called.jpg

I am broken at Your feet
Like an alabaster jar
Every piece of who I am
Laid before Your majesty

I will bow my life
At Your feet
At Your feet
My lips
So lost for words
Will kiss Your feet
Kiss Your feet

Oh the gravity of You
Draws my soul unto its knees
I will never be the same
I am lost and found in You

Alabaster

Rend Collective

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Father we thank you for giving us such an amazing gift, your Son. We realise that we do not deserve it, but want to live our lives like your Son Jesus did. Lord we want to be better people, and with your help and strength, we can try. Lord help us to be better day by day we pray.

Amen

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Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

I’m coming back to the start – Chris Tomlin

Put on the new self’ (Ephesians 4:24 NIV)

Why should we need to put on a new self? Why should we need to change?

How many times have you thought “Oops, I should not have said that” or “Oops, did that really come out loud?” or “Why did I do that again?

If you are like many people, you have probably said one or more of those statements numerous times. Many people say things without thinking first, they engage their mouth without putting their brain in gear; in other words, they say the first thing that pops into their mind, which is not always a smart idea.

There have been many times in my life, and I would also presume yours, where I have thought “If only I could do that again, it would be different”.

But how many times in our lives have we been in similar situations, where the outcome is still the same, even though we wished to change it?

Many of us, if not all of us, do things in our life that we really should not. We sin!

A lot of people think that saying we ‘sin’ sounds horrible, it makes us sound like we are bad people. Which we are, generally speaking;

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NIV).

I do not write this to shock people or to anger them; it is that I am simply pointing out that we are not perfect. There has only ever been one perfect person, that did not sin;

And being made perfect’ (Hebrews 5:9 ESV).

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth’ (1 Peter 2:22 NIV).

we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin’ (Hebrews 4:15 NIV).

And not only was he perfect, but by coming to the earth, and dying on the cross, he also saved us;

he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him’ (Hebrews 5:9 ESV).

We may be people who have sinned, or rather that statement should really say ‘we are all of course people who have sinned, we are human and fail often’.

But when we go to God, and take him our failures and sins, what does God do with them?

Does God parade your sin around so that everyone can see? Of course the answers is no.

Does God ensure that you pastor and everyone at church knows every dark deed that you do? Of Course he does not?

Does God let people know through visions and dreams, how bad a person you are? Of course he does not do that either.

So we know that we do wrong in the eyes of God and the teaching held within the Bible, we know that we sin. But what do we do when we realise this?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9 ESV).

The Psalmist David also knew what he should do when he sinned against God;

Then I acknowledged my sin to you… … I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”. And you forgave me’ (Psalm 32:5 NIV).

Once when Peter was speaking in Solomon’s Colonnade, he said to those listening to him;

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out’ (Acts 3:19 ESV).

We need to come to God when we realise, or when some-one points out to us that we have sinned, and broken the laws of God.

Open confession is good for the soul’ (Old Scottish proverb – https://mtvchurchofchrist.org/wp/?p=137 – accessed 11/05/19).

But why is confessing our sin important?

It is true that God know everything that we do; he knows when we get up, and he knows what we are going to say (Psalm 139:2 & 4). God knows everything, but that is not the point.

To confess, we come nearer to God. It is humbling to speak out words saying that you know that you are not perfect, and that you have failed in some way; but, ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’ (James 4:8 NIV).

Sometimes, verbalising something helps us as humans heal; sometimes actually saying something can take some of the pain away; and sometimes, saying something, can actually help you to come to understand why it happened.

But, by giving our burdens to God, because that what un-repented sin is, a burden; giving your burdens to him, means that you do not need to carry them anymore;

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened… … Take my yoke upon you and learn from me’ (Matthew 11:28 & 29 NIV).

We are free to carry on out life without the burden of sin weighing us down, free to simply be.

God will not hold a grudge against you for not being perfect, he will forgive you, (Psalm 32:5) some of your human friends might hold a grudge against you, and may never forgive you. God will also not stay angry at the sin you committed, (Isaiah 12:1), some of your friends may have trouble letting what you have done, go. God will not constantly bring up your failures or remind you of them, (Jeremiah 31:34) whereas your human friends might, especially if you have just annoyed or upset them. God will not even mention your sins, he has thrown them away (Psalm 103:12) or tread them under his feet (Micah 7:19), and forgotten them, (Hebrews 8:12) it is as if they never ever existed, (Isaiah 43:25); not so with many of your human friends.

But thankfully, God is not human; he is the creator and the sustainer of the universe, so we should be thankful that we have some-one to go to when we have sinned, some-one that is merciful and forgiving;

Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin’ (Romans 4:8 NIV).

So we can reboot our life whenever we have done something wrong, we do not need to wait for a special moment, or a special day, whenever we need to we can confess our sin to he who created us, and we shall be washed clean with his forgiveness.

I'm coming back to the start

 

Before I spoke a word, you were singing over me;
You have been so, so good to me.
Before I took a breath, you breathed your life in me;
You have been so, so kind to me.

When I was your foe, still your love fought for me;
You have been so, so good to me.
When I felt no worth, you paid it all for me;
You have been so, so good to me.

Oh the over-whelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.
Oh it chases me down, fights till I’m found,
Leaves the ninety-nine.
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still you give your-self away.
Oh the over-whelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

Reckless Love

Cory Ashbury, Caleb Culver, Ran Jackson

 

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Father we thank you for being so reckless as to let your only Son come to this earth, and to die for us. We do so much that is not what you want, help us to constantly come back to the start, to find you, to say sorry, and to reboot our heart, to start afresh, from the beginning, clean and new. Lord we love you, help us to love you more.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

I am!

I am the law… … prepare to be judged’ (Judge Joseph Dredd – Judge Dredd 1995 – https://www.quotes.net/movies/judge_dredd_6061 – accessed 03/05/19)

On television today, you can choose to watch programmes where people make a spectacle about virtually any part of their life, no matter how private or intimate. Jerry Springer and Jeremy Kyle have been allowing members of the public to humiliate themselves and their former friends for years.

Judge Judy has been on television for over 13 years, whilst Judge Rinder has been around and televised since 2014. People seem enthralled by other people’s problems, and how they deal with them.

Back in 1977, Judge Dredd first hit the comic shelves, in a comic called 2000 AD. The population of the time (around 2099) lived in a dystopian future in a place called Mega-City One, and he and his fellow judges had tough jobs, and they were ‘police, jury and executioner all in one. They were the Judges’ (Narrator – Judge Dredd 1995), although the death sentence was not widely used unless capital offences had occurred (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Dredd – accessed 03/05/19).

In today’s society, with many people actively engaging in people watching, it is very easy to judge people without knowing anything about them. We judge people on what we see on their social media profiles, we judge them on random statements that we hear them say, we even judge them on their fashion if we do not like what they are wearing.

Why have we become such judgemental people?

Jesus said;

Do not judge’ (Matthew 7:1 NIV – emphasis mine).

So why do we, what right do we have to do it?

Even if we do not share the judgement with others, we still do it, but why do we do it?

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged’ (Matthew 7:2 NIV – emphasis mine).

We are far from perfect, and it is presumed, that we do not want to be judged harshly when our time on earth ends, yet we find it very difficult at times to stop from judging others, but yet again;

with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ (Matthew 7:2 NIV).

This is not a new problem. Thousands of years ago, the Israelite nation was not doing what it should. They had turned from God and his laws as given through Moses (Exodus 20:1-17). Joshua, Moses’ aide had risen to the occasion, to become the leader of the nation, and they still grumbled and disobeyed God (Joshua 7:1). Joshua finally died aged one-hundred and ten years old, and was buried, (Judges 2:6) and when his generation all died out, the Israelite nation again turned from God, and;

served Baal and the Ashtoreths’ (Judges 2:13 NIV).

So we are no different from the old Israelite nation. They did not worship God and do as they should have, and we do not do as Jesus taught us.

When writing to the Roman Christians, Paul reminded them;

Who are you to pass judgement… … Why do you pass judgement on your brother (or sister)’ (Romans 14:4 & 10 ESV – emphasis mine).

It is not our job to judge, God will ultimately judge us, and Jesus will stand with us, but we need to have a heart that is in tune with God, and the only way to have that is to live by the words inspired by God, written in the greatest teaching manual available today, the Bible.

We are not qualified to pass judgement on others. When Jesus comes again, things that are now hidden will be brought into the light, and our true hearts revealed (1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV).

Ultimately, some people will always judge us, but Jesus also reminded us;

Forgive and you will be forgiven’ (Luke 6:37 NIV).

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy’ (James 4:12 ESV).

So we have to choose how we want to live. Do we want to live selfish lives where we pass moral and ethical judgements upon people that we hardly know, basing these entirely on what we see and hear, or do we want to live as Jesus taught us that we should, lights to an otherwise dark world?

Be the tip of a spear light, taking the light of the gospel into an otherwise dark world. Take the light of Jesus to people who without you, may never hear the life saving story of love and grace as embodied in Jesus;

Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another’ (Romans 14:13 NIV).

Jesus said;

I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12 NIV).

As Jesus was and is for all who turn to him, so let us be for others; not judging, critical or re-proving, but full of love, patience, kindness and graciousness, as God is to all of us who have turned to him, and accepted him as Lord.

Grace - John 1 v 16

I’m saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I’ll leave myself behind
And follow You

I’ll walk the narrow road
’cause it leads me to You
I’ll fall but grace 
Will pick me up again

I’ve counted up the cost
Oh I’ve counted up the cost
Yes I’ve counted up the cost
And You are worth it

I do not need safety
As much as I need You
You’re dangerous
But Lord You’re beautiful

I’ll chase You through the pain
I’ll carry my cross
’cause real love
Is not afraid to bleed

Jesus 
Take my all
Take my everything

I’ve counted up the cost
And You’re worth everything

The Cost (Homemade Worship by Handmade People #3)

Rend Collective

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Father we thank you for loving us no matter what we have done, and continue to do. Fill our hearts with your love so that there is no space left with which we can think about what other people do. Fill us with love and grace from you which we can the spill out to the people around us, and mhel make us more like your dear Son.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

2nd Chance, 3rd, 4th, 5th etc.

Hope has a name’ (There is a Song, I Know it Well – B. Cruse, E. J. & R. Williams)

The writer of Hebrews reminded the Hebrew Christians and subsequently us, what God had promised and keeps promising;

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

God even told Joshua the same thing through Moses, when Moses had spoken to the Israelite nation, prior to them crossing the Jordan;

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV).

God even re-affirmed this after the death of his servant Moses;

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5 NIV).

Do we really believe this?

Are we content, happy with our lot, as it is?

We should be, for God in his infinite wisdom and love has given us everything that we need!

for I (Paul) have learned to be content whatever the circumstances’ (Philippians 4:11 NIV).

For various reasons, (pigheadedness really), I spent some time away from the church. I knew best, I didn’t need God for help I could get by quite well on my own. I thought, why do I need God, I’m not ill, I don’t need anything, and so I struck out not really knowing what I was doing, blinded by self-righteousness and self-worth, thinking I had it all sown up.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Oops!

When I came back to God, there he was, waiting for me, the prodigal son to return, and he welcomed me back with open arms.

I had not really thought about the fact that he was with me throughout it all (how embarrassing!). But that should have been obvious for the verses above say that we will never be alone.

Later, I remember being in a Bible study group one night when that fact hit me, that God had never left, and I saw Jesus, as clear as anyone else present, sitting in a arm-chair opposite me, and he simply looked up and across at me and said;

But I never left, I was always here”.

That sentence floored me!

I looked back at my life, and realised that through the entire section of my life, when I thought that things had been going wrong and there were blockages in the way causing me grief and aggravation, that they had been sent by God to ‘give me an out’, a way back to him and his loving care.

How could I have been so blind!

I thought of the great king David, and how he had sinned, yet God still forgave him.

Save me, O God! O God you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you’ (Psalm 69:1 & 5 ESV).

As the Psalmist David wrote, so we should know that God knows us, intimately. There is nothing that we can plan, do, or think, that God will not know! (Psalm 139).

God loves us so much, that he sent Jesus to die for us (John 3:16) so no matter what we do, he will always be prepared to take us back, just like the prodigal son, (Luke 15).

You’ve never gone too far that God can’t redeem you, restore you, forgive you, and give you a second chance’ (Lysa TerKeurst).

We’re given second chances every day of our life. We don’t usually take them, but they’re there for the taking’ (Andrew Greeley).

An infamous slave trader was once known to have said;

My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour’ (John Newton – https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1701-1800/john-newton-discovered-amazing-grace-11630253.html – accessed 27/04/19).

It is true, we have all sinned and fall short of where we can be in God, (Romans 3:23). We live in a broken world. God made the world, but then we broke it. But there is hope, Jesus will come back, and when he does, it will all be fixed.

We love and serve a God of second chances (and in my case 3rd, 4th, 5th etc. thankfully).

Don’t think there are no second chances. Life always offers you a SECOND CHANCE… It’s called TOMORROW’ (Nicholas Sparks).

We should remember that we are not alone, we have family and friends, we may also have church family and church friends, but we also have an awesome heavenly Father that wants the best for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and will always be with us;

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5 NIV).

We should remember that we are all human and so prone to making errors, but by having faith, we can have Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him, and the grace offered to us is, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, yet it is given freely to us by God, when Jesus, Jesus Every Sinners Ultimate Sacrifice, died for us.

We need to remember that we are saved, saved by that ‘Amazing Grace’ that John Newton wrote about, the same grace that he accepted, the same grace that if freely available to us all.

Every second a seeker can start over, for his life’s mistakes are initial drafts and not the final version’ (Sri Chinmoy).

Every moment of your life is a second chance’ (Rick Price – https://www.happypublishing.com/blog/second-chances-quotes/ – accessed 27/04/19).

We have hope because God will always offer second chances to those that seek him and turn from their sin. He will forgive us and accept us back and hold nothing against us (Micah 7:19).

God is our Rock!

IMG_0133

 

When my heart is overwhelmed
I will look to You alone
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock
You will stand when others fall
You are faithful through it all
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock

In the blessing, in the pain
through it all You’ve never failed me

You are the strength of my heart
You are the strength of my heart
I can rely on You, I can rely on You
You are the joy of my life
You are my song in the night
There is no one as true
Jesus I trust in You

When I’ve struggled to believe
You have not let go of me
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock
Carried through the darkest storms
You have held me in Your arms
God my rock God my rock God my rock

God My Rock

Paul Baloche / Brenton Brown

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Father we thank you for being our rock in times of trouble. We also want to take this time to thank you for being our rock in the good times too. Lord it is so easy to forget you in the good times, and only call on you when things are rough and do not seem to go our way. Help us to fully trust you, and live completely in the hope of the resurrected Jesus.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Easter · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Risen, Risen Indeed!

By this gospel you are saved’ (1 Corinthians 15:2 NIV – emphasis mine)

Are we not blessed people?

Should we not be on our knees constantly thanking God for sending Jesus?

We really are blessed people, those of us that love and follow Jesus;

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son’ (John 3:16 NIV – emphasis mine).

Wow, what an honour, and an honour that people did not, and also we, do not deserve;

While we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:8 ESV).

The ungodly, the sinners, the liars, the thieves, the murderers, those who covet, all of us;

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NIV – emphasis mine).

And exactly when did this occur?

at just the right time’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

The time that was ordained by God; the time that was set to rescue humanity from the depths it had sunk to. A time;

while we were still weak’ (Romans 5:6 ESV).

A time when we could do nothing for ourselves; it was that time that Jesus died for you and me!

Died in our place!

Died so that we may be free!

We did not deserve that, but Jesus did that for us in pure love.

When we see children, sometimes they will tell people they love them, and when they are asked how much, the will sometimes throw wide their arms and say “this much”. Jesus did the same for us. In love, he said this is how much I love you; then he stretched out his arms to be ailed to a cross, and died in our place.

But the best part of this is, he did not stay dead;

he was raised on the third day’ (1 Corinthians 15:4 NIV).

God raised him from the dead, and he is now alive, and has been ever since that first Easter morning.

It must be admitted straightaway that it is extremely difficult to believe that an ordinary person could die and rise again from the dead. But Jesus Christ was certainly no ordinary person’ (Your verdict on the Empty Tomb – p 52 – Val Grieve).

neither Jews nor Greeks nor Romans thought the bodily resurrection of an individual was possible’ (Encounters with Jesus – p 90 – Timothy Keller).

But, Paul confirms that Jesus was actually raised;

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead’ (1 Corinthians 15:20 ESV).

The fact that Jesus has been raised in not a story; it is a historical fact. Josephus, a Jewish writer from a distinguished family (AD 37-100 approx) stated in one of his texts;

He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life’ (The Testimonium Flavianum – www.jonathanmorrow.org/what-did-the-jewish-historian-josephus-really-say-about-jesus/ – accessed 21/04/19).

If his disciples were making the story up, why would they say that the first people to see the empty tomb were women;

The women who had come with him… … saw the tomb and how his body was laid… At early dawn, they went down to the tomb… … but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus’ (Luke 23:55 & 24:1 & 3 ESV).

A testimonial from a woman in Roman times would not have been heard, yet alone believed, so why would they put that fact in if it was not true?

But Christ really did rise from the dead, and because of that fact, the early church exploded onto the scene.

Jesus was not selective, he did not think himself better than anyone else, and so did not only reveal himself to a select few, but to crowds. His appearances seem random and diverse, firstly to Mary at the empty tomb, then Peter, then all the Apostles, then a massive crowd of 500 people, followed by his brother, James, and then to Paul (Luke 16:9, 1 Corinthians 14:5-8).

Yet even Paul, who initially had been a persecutor of the church, and even stood by as some of Jesus’ followers were killed (Acts 8:1), had a life changing experience and started following Jesus (Acts 9:1-19).

Even after the resurrection, life as a follower of Jesus was not all happy days spent preaching and telling people about the ‘risen Christ’. Christians were persecuted and killed in awful ways, but they did not recant their beliefs.

If the fact of the whole story was not a fact, surely, one of the first few martyrs would have changed their minds about being put to death, yet none did, and out of the first apostles, only John died a natural death. If Jesus had not risen, people would not have let themselves be martyred, liars make bad martyrs!

If Jesus really has risen from the dead, then everything has changed!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life”’ (John 11:25 NIV).

Because of the resurrection, we all have hope, and hope has a name, Jesus!

Changed His status

There is a song, I know it well,
a melody that’s never failed.
On mountains high, in valleys low,
my soul will rest, my confidence in you alone.

There is a light, salvation’s flame;
Christ undefeated, trampled the grave.
See now the cross, be lifted high;
the light has come, the light has won, behold the Christ.

There’ll be a day, my hope complete;
now home in glory, your face I’ll see.
My pain no more, my fear will cease;
I bow my life, I fix my eyes, on Christ my King.

Hope has a name, his name is Jesus;
my Saviours cross has set this sinner free.
Hope has a name, His name is Jesus;
Oh, Christ be praised, I have victory.
Oh, Christ be praised, I have victory.

There is a song, I know it well (Hope as a Name)

B. Cruse, E. John, R. Williams

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Father we thank you for raising your Son to sit at your right hand and show us the way. He showed us the way to live, and how to be the light for others. Help us to show others that we meet, the way to your Son Jesus. May we be the light that they need in this dark world.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

New for Old !

Put on the new self’ (Ephesians 4:24 NIV)

Isn’t science and technology great?

We have come so far in such a short time.

In 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, (thanks to a coin toss) the younger of two brothers by about four years, Orville Wright flew the first ‘heavier than air machine’ to achieve manned, controlled, sustained flight (https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/wright-brothers/online/ – accessed 06/04/19).

On 12 April 1961, the Russian government, as part of the ‘space race’, sent a cosmonaut called Yuri Gagarin into space as part of their Vostock programme (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_spaceflight – accessed 06/04/19).

In only fifty-eight years, the world had gone crazy, it went from the maiden flight of a plane called ‘The Flyer’, (https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/wright-brothers/online/fly/1903/triumph.cfm – accessed 06/04/19) that had no walls, no windows or seats; a plane that did not even look like something that could, should or even would fly; a plane where the entire flight lasted only twelve seconds, (https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/wright-brothers/online/fly/1903/triumph.cfm – accessed 06/04/19) to flying into the cold, dark, vast nothingness of space.

It could have seemed amazing to some, that the world had been conquered. In less than sixty years, people could fly all over the world, and even into space.

I remember as a boy, reading and watching programmes like ‘Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson – published 14/11/1883) and even today, they still hold an interest to me.

Long John Silver was a man who had lost a leg, and hobbled around with the use of a crutch; the bottom of his leg had disappeared, been cut off due to some accident we presume, and all that he had as a replacement, was a wooden peg, a ‘peg-leg’. A peg-leg was a simple ugly replacement for a limb that had been lost, and it probably did not really suffice.

Prosthetic limbs, in various forms, have been around for many years (https://share.upmc.com/2015/03/timeline-prosthetic-limbs-years/ – accessed 06/04/19). Over time they have improved, originally they would have been made from wood and leather, but more recently, rubber, carbon-fibre, and even now, micro-processor controlled limbs. It really does seem that we can have virtually any part of our body replace, if we have enough money and/or are prepared to wait.

So, what does this have to do with me you might be asking?

Everything!

In our life, we need Jesus.

apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NIV).

We need Jesus in our lives, Augustine said;

if there is a God who created you, then the deepest chamber of your soul simply cannot be filled up by anything else’ (The Reason For God – Timothy Keller p.172).

This means, that only he can satisfy our deepest desires.

But he will, and he does.

He promises to renew us;

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV – emphasis mine).

So if we turn to Christ, he will renew us.

We will not necessarily suddenly have perfect vision, or no aches or pains in our joints, (wouldn’t that be lovely?) but our heart, our spiritual centre will be reset. God will ‘reboot’ our heart, just like you do with a computer when you want everything to be as it was when you got it.

God will give us a new heart;

I will give them a new heart to know me’ (Jeremiah 24:7 NIV).

I will give them a new undivided heart’ (Ezekiel 11:19 NIV).

I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh’ (Ezekiel 36:24 ESV).

So we see above, in those three verses, that God is willing and able to renew our heart, to freshen our heart, to reboot it so that it will be in line with his teaching.

And not only that, but we know that he will teach us what we need to know (Psalm 32:8) and that he will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:8 & Hebrews 13:5) and we know that he will give to us generously if we ask in line with his will (James 1:5).

God loves us so much that Jesus came to make a way for us to come back to God (John 3:16). He wants the best for us, he has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11) and he will never stop loving us or giving to us;

I will never stop doing good to them’ ( Jeremiah 32:40 NIV).

Isn’t it time you renewed you heart?

New.png

 

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart

I’ll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what you have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much you deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is yours
Every single breath

I’ll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what you have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry, lord, for the thing I’ve made it
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus (repeat)

The Heart of Worship

Matt Redman

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Father we thank you for renewing our hearts when we come to you. You know how much we need you to change our hearts from stone to flesh. Lord help us to really show others your heart, your light and your love, that they will truly see a renewed us, that they will see you in us.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Speak well of – honour

Honour your father and mother’ (Deuteronomy 5:16 ESV)

How do we treat our parents?

Do we love our parents, and do we do what they want us to do, even when we do not want to do something, even though they will only ever want the best for us?

I can remember when I was a youngster, being really angry with my parents at times; either they had forbidden me from doing something that I wanted to do, or from going somewhere, or told me off for doing something. I also remember that one time after my father had told me not to do something, and I could not understand the reasoning behind the decision and the refusal, so in true child like thinking, knowing, or rather childishly thinking that I knew better than my father, I still went where I had been forbidden. It did not turn out well, at all.

So when we look at our lives, have we really done as the Bible told us to? Have we honoured our parents?

Do we continue to honour our parents even now, in the way that we live and the way we remember them and the way we talk about them?

But what does the word ‘honour’ (sometimes written as ‘honor’) actually mean?

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines honour as;

a: Good name or public esteem: reputation

b: a showing of usually merited respect: recognotion

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/honor – accessed 30/03/19).

The ancient Hebrew word for honour is written –  – which is pronounced ka-vad.

Strong’s Hebrew reference for the word is H3513 and it means; 

to be great in weight, wealth or importance’ (http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/dictionary/4000.html – accessed 31/03/19).

What we should all do is;

Honour your father and mother, as the LORD your God commanded you’ (Deuteronomy 5:16 ESV).

So we are told to honour our parents, and if we take the analogy further, we should also honour our heavenly Father.

God loves us so much that he sent his only Son to die for us (John 3:16), and he has great compassion for us;

with great compassion I [God] will gather you’ (Isaiah 54:7 ESV – emphasis mine).

The best way we can honour our heavenly Father is by doing what he wants us to do, and the best way that we can do that is by having a relationship with him, in just the same way that we have a relationship with our earthly parents.

We talk to our earthly parents regularly, we ask them how they are, we visit them to chat, and we can go to them if we have problems or things to discuss. That is a proper relationship.

God wants the same.

He wants the best for us;

For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

God has plans for our life, and if we are in relationship with him, we can regularly ask him for guidance, ask him to show us what it is that he wants us to do?

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us’ (Psalm 40:5 NIV).

When we look to God for guidance, we know that he will always be there for us. The writer of Hebrews reminded the Hebrew Christians;

Never will I leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

These are the exact words that God also spoke to Moses;

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will never leave you’ (Deuteronomy 31:7 ESV).

If we honour God, he will teach us what we need (Psalm 32:8). We need to honour what God wants from us, we need to honour the fact that Jesus came and died for us.

So really, we should honour our Father, our father and our mother.

Do we?

Honour thy parents

You didn’t ask for this
Nobody ever would
Caught in the middle of this dysfunction
It’s your sad reality
It’s your messed up family tree
And all your left with all these questions

Are you gonna be like your father was and his father was?
Do you have to carry what they’ve handed down?

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

I have a dream for you
It’s better than where you’ve been
It’s bigger than your imagination
You’re gonna find real love
And you’re gonna hold your kids
You’ll change the course of generations

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

‘Cause you’re my child
You’re my chosen
You are loved
You are loved

And I will restore
All that was broken
You are loved
You are loved

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now
Yes you are
You are

Oh, this will be your legacy
This will be your destiny
Yesterday did not define you
Oh, this will be your legacy
This will be your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now

Family Tree

J. Houser, J. C. Houser, M. West, M. J. West

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Father we thank you everything that you do and have done for us. We thank you that we can have a relationship with you, and that you will never leave us, that you will teach us what we need to know, and that you have a plan for our lives. Help us to fully rely on you, and talk to you always so that we can fully honour you in all ways.

Amen