Bible · Christian · Easter · Faith · God · Grace · Jesus

He is Risen indeed!

It is finished‘ (John 19:30 NIV)

 

Most people at the time when Jesus had been scourged, beaten and crucified would have indeed believed that it was finished. Jesus had just died a horrific death, and had then been buried in a borrowed grave.

But in reality, even though the body of Jesus was in a tomb, it was far from finished, but Jesus’ followers and disciples did not understand that.

With hindsight for us now, we know how the story of Jesus’ crucifixion plays out, we know the ending, or even the net chapter, for the ending will not even be the return of Jesus, the ending will be ‘the believers living in heaven and worshipping for eternity’.

But, what we need to know for now, is, Jesus wins!

By his power God raised the Lord [Jesus] from the dead’ (1 Corinthians 6:14 NIV – emphasis / addition mine).

So now, in this present life, we can know for certain that Jesus did die for us;

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

This may be difficult for some people to accept, but Jesus did something that no-one else could, can or ever will be able to do;

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8 NIV).

Jesus Christ died for us, and in addition to that he offers us something of great value, not money, not possessions, not a pension, what Jesus offers is better than the best thing that you have ever got or ever will, a gift of such value that it will overshadow everything you ever had or may have, it is a gift of eternal value;

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

When I was younger, I was always after something for nothing, I knew nothing about Jesus or  the Bible, my parents never mentioned church or Jesus, and my only knowledge of it came from school.

When I was a small boy, my parents used to buy me comics occasionally, and the ones that I wanted were always the ones that had a free gift with them, some small toy that to me, made the comic better, and in my young opinion it made life worth living for that few days that I had it.

Free gifts are always a draw to people, ‘buy one and get one free’ or ‘have a month’s free trial membership’.

Something for nothing, that is what most people want.

God died for you and me, and that is a fact;

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many‘ (Hebrews 9:28 NIV).

Jesus gave his life for all people everywhere, you, me, your friends and family, the people you do not know, the people on small islands that have never even heard about him;

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

Jesus died because of the sin of mankind, and that sin required a sacrifice. The debt of sin we owed yet could not afford to pay, and all of us are guilty of sinning and need to get our debt paid somehow. Paul wrote to Titus and told him what Jesus had done for him and everyone;

Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness‘ (Titus 2:14 NIV).

If we turn to him, and believe what he did, then we can accept the greatest free gift ever, fact.

When we believe and trust Jesus, we can get the free gift of grace and mercy in our lives.

Jesus gives our lives a purpose, because when we become a believer, then we have a mission to perform for Jesus;

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 28:19 – emphasis mine).

Sharing the Good News with others is the mission that we are all called to do, but we are not necessarily to do it alone, and even if no-one else comes with us we are still not alone;

behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20 ESV – emphasis mine).

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

The most important thing for us to remember is that Jesus died for us, and when we trust him with our life, he gives our life a purpose, a reason to live for, and he also gives us an eternal hope that we will live with him forever;

My Father’s house has many rooms, if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?’ (John 14:2 NIV).

Jesus gave his all for us so that we might be able to give our all to Him, and that purpose is to spread his word the ‘Good News‘ to all the people of the world with his ‘Great Commission’;

go and make disciples of all nations‘ (Matthew 28:19 NIV).

Are you prepared to live like Jesus died, to give hope to all? We know that Jesus lives and will return.

I know that my redeemer lives’ (Job 19:25 NIV).

He has risen, He has risen, Jesus is alive‘ (G. Coates, N. & T. Richards)

Changed His status

Who am I? That the Lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I? That the bright and morning star,
Would choose to light the way, of my ever changing heart.

Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done,
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.

I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean, and vapour in the wind.
Still you hear me when I’m calling, Lord, You catch me when I’m falling,
And You’ve told me who I am, I am Yours, I am Yours.

Who am I? That the eyes that see my sin,
Would look on me with love, and watch me rise again.
Who am I? That the voice that calmed the sea,
Would call out through the rain, and calm the storm in me.

Who Am I

Mark Hall (Casting Crowns)

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Father, we thank you that you sent your Son to die for us. We realise that we do not deserve the free gifts of grace and mercy that you give us day by day, but we recognise that we desperately need them. Lord without Jesus we know that there is no hope. Help us to cling to the vine, and help us to look to you for everything. Help us to be open to your guidance and teaching. Help us we pray.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · God · Grace · Jesus

“I am the greatest” (Muhammad Ali)

I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was

(Muhammad Ali – Tokyo – July 1 1976)

Muhammad Ali (previously Cassius Marcellus Clay) was well known for making bold statements, and before most fights he would say something outrageous about the upcoming fight, and that was generally how the fight would go.

It is widely considered that Muhammad Ali was the greatest heavy-weight boxer of all time (https://www.liveabout.com/muhammad-ali-career-record-424215 – accessed 01/02/2020).

He certainly was in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and right up to his retirement in 1981 after losing to Trevor Berbick (https://www.liveabout.com/muhammad-ali-career-record-424215 – accessed 01/02/2020).

People all over try to be the best that they can be, they work long hours, train hard, save large amounts of money, they buy what their friends have, all in an attempt to be considered equal with others.

My greatest friend does none of these things, he does not even have a computer or tablet, he does not even own a phone; he is not on Instagram or Twitter or even Facebook.

My greatest friend’s name is Jesus!

Jesus is the Creator of the universe; the healer of the sick, and the teacher to countless Christians, and the truest friend I have.

Jesus came to this earth to save us;

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son’ (John 3:16 ESV).

God loves us, you and me, even though we may have done some really bad stuff, sinned and hurt him by what we may have said and done, he love us so much, that he sent Jesus to die for us, to save us;

While we were sinners Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8 NIV).

He did that whilst many people would not even acknowledge him, let alone believe and follow him;

You see, at just the right time… … Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

How great is that?

People are not born great, but we are born with great potential within, we just have to tap into that, and with help we may also achieve some measure of greatness.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them’ (read by Malvolio – Twelfth Night – Act II scene V – written by William Shakespeare).

Do you know anyone in your life, or your circle of friends or people that you work with, that would give you something valuable from their property, without wanting it back or something in exchange? So how likely would they be to give to someone that they did not know?

Yet Jesus did just this, he gave to the countless people that would not look to him for help. He gave it all for people that did not know him or accept him as Saviour.

Jesus paid the price for our salvation, he opened wide his arms and said “This is how much I love you

How great is that?

God loves us so much that Jesus came to pay the price that we could not pay, Jesus came to be a perfect sacrificial lamb for our sinful world, not because we deserved it, because we did and do not, but he came to redeem the world and give us the second chance that we need, to show us what we need, and finally to be the hope that we need.

How Great Thou Art

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

How Great Thou Art

Stuart Keene Hine

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Lord thank you for giving it all when you sent Jesus to save us. Lord you gave us the second chance that we do not deserve, but so desperately need, the chance to start again, the chance to start with a clean slate, a slate wiped clean with the beautiful precious blood of the sacrificial lamb, your Son. Let our live show your Son Jesus to people that may have never encountered him. Lord please go with us and help us.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Love is all you need. (The Beatles – 1967)

The greatest of these is love’ (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

Recently, people have been commenting upon the fact the my wife and I have now been married now for just over one year, and today I was blessed to be invited to a friends’ wedding, and the wedding took place at the same church where my wife and I had our marriage blessed, and was done by the same pastor.

Many weddings that I have been to, including my own and even the wedding today, have had some verses or even the chapter from 1 Corinthians 13, read within the service.

Although there are many verses within the Bible that speak about love, 1 Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the ‘love chapter’.

This is not saying that when Paul wrote these beautiful words, that he had a complete handle on the topic of love, that he was a love guru, or that he was someone that people could go to if they wanted marriage guidance. Paul was simply reminding the Corinthian church all about love and how we should be if we have the love of God within us.

If we tell people that we love God, the gossip about them, or are deliberately nasty about them or to them, or lie and cheat, then as Paul said;

I am only a resounding cymbal’ (1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV)

We need to do what we do, because we love God, we need to do it for the right reason, and we need to do it because we love God, and want to love more like God.

If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:2 ESV).

Companies have always looked for the slogan that will sell their product more than the competitor. Back in 1994 a company employed a London based advertising company to help them to sell their product.

The company was HHCL, and they had various ideas, but the main slogan chosen was devised by two people. The phrase was devised by Dave Shelton and Liz Whinston, and was originally designed to ‘de-mistify’ the Ronseal products.

Many people will be able to remember their slogan immediately.

The phrase was;

‘Does exactly what is says on the tin’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronseal – accessed 11/08/19).

As Christians, ‘our tin’ is the word of God, given to man and collected together to form The Bible;

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful’ (2 Timothy 3:16 GNB).

But still, as Christians, do we do exactly what it says in our tin.

I know that at various times I have been guilty of not being an accurate Christian, I have not acted according to the word of God, I have not acted towards other people with the love shown by God, to us and everyone, and that I should show.

We know that God loves us;

For God so love 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).

God loves us and shows us a massive amount of grace if forgiving us our sins, when we turn to him in faith, when we say that we love him, and say that we trust him, and finally, ask for forgiveness of our sins. I sometimes find it hard to love like that.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace’ (Romans 6:14 NIV).

And more than that, when Jesus died for us, we were still sinning;

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 – emphasis mine).

So God knew that when he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die for us, that we were sinners, not deserving of the grace that he was about to make available to us all, to you and to me. We did not deserve another chance, but God in his infinite mercy said, let them try again, and;

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

Right at the beginning, God was bringing out the nation of Israel from Egypt, and a life of captivity and slavery; whilst in the wilderness, they had been given some commandments by God, through Moses;

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV).

And Jesus also commanded about love, he said;

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (John 13:34 NIV – emphasis mine).

Jesus continued to say that they should love as he had loved, an un-ending, non-judgemental, pure kind of love; he basically told them to “do what it says on the tin”, love like I have loved he said;

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (John 13:35 NIV – emphasis mine).

Ronseal said, so if you want to paint wood and need it to dry quickly, then buy Ronseals’ quick drying paint, because it does exactly what it says on the tin.

So if we want other people to know Jesus, we have to do as he said, ‘be [You are] the salt of the earth’ (Matthew 5:13 NIV – emphasis mine), the flavour that will entice others to want to know more about Jesus; we have to show others the way by shining for him, because Jesus told us, ‘You are the light of the world’ (Mathew 5:14 NIV). By living our life according to God’s will, we will be doing exactly what the Bible says.

Come on, let us all do exactly what it says on the tin!

Light shines in Darknes - John - 1

 

Though I may speak with bravest fire,
And have the gifts to all inspire,
And have not love, my words are vain,
As sounding brass, and hopeless gain.

Though I may give all I possess,
And striving so my love profess,
But not be given by love within,
The profit soon turns strangely thin.

Come Spirit, come, our hearts control,
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed;
By this we worship, and are freed.

The Gift of Love (1972)

Hal H. Hopson (1933 – )

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Lord we thank you for the love that you show to each and every one of us, we know that we do not deserve that love, and that we are constantly failing to be worthy of it. Help us to be better people, worthy of the tag of ‘Christian’. Help us to show others your love by the way that we live, and help us to love those people that are hardest to love, help us to love them the most.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Free! Available always! To anyone!


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

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Poor in Spirit – or POOR?

Blessed are the poor in spirit’ (Matthew 5:3 NIV)

In what appears to be Jesus’ inaugural address to the disciples (Matthew 5:1-2), we hear him say that in our lives, we should feel ‘blessed’ (Matthew 5:3).

Jesus does not only say the word once or twice, but nine times in all, and each time he says the word, he does so with yet another different reason for us to feel blessed about our lives.

But in the Biblical context, what exactly does it mean to be blessed, and what does it mean to be poor in spirit, and should we strive to be poor in spirit?

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association explains that to be poor in spirit does not necessarily mean to be ‘poor’, or to live a meagre life, but it means that we must, ‘be humble in our spirits. If you put the word “humble” in place of the word “poor,” you will understand what He meant’ (https://billygraham.org.uk/answer/what-does-it-mean-to-be-poor-in-spirit-as-jesus-said-we-ought-to-be/ – accessed 18/01/19).

What it means, is that we should not be self-seeking, but be, and live, a humble life.

Blessed, is a literal translation from the Greek ‘makarios’ ( μακάριος), and it means to be happy. Strong’s number for the word is ‘g3107’ and the definition for the word says;

a prolonged form of the poetical μακάρ makar (meaning the same); supremely blest; by extension, fortunate, well off; – blessed happy (x-ier).

So another translation of the verse could be;

Oh the happiness of those who have a humble spirit, the kingdom of heaven will belong to them‘.

Being ‘poor in spirit’ could also refer to being humble (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), but it could also refer to the understanding that we as a broken people, desperately need God in our lives, that without him, we cannot live the way that God wants us to, without any help we are unable to perform what scripture says we should be doing; that without Jesus, we simply cannot do anything (John 15:5), that we really need his strength in us, and we know;

He strengthens those who are weak’ (Isaiah 40:29 GNB), which is good news for me, as I regularly fail in many various ways, and some that are really spectacular failures.

They who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength’ (Isaiah 40:31 ESV).

So if we wait for God to show us, and rely on him, then our strength will be restored so that we can try again, to live as he wants us to, so we can really be blessed, life is all about second chances.

In 1964, Ken Dodd released a song, called Happiness.

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess’ (Bill Anderson – Columbia records).

Happiness is a real gift, and it is also important to life, it makes it all worthwhile. We need to be and be able to feel, happy, and Jesus came to give us that. By dying on the cross in our place!

We can now be happy that Jesus came to give us a second chance for eternal redemption, and if necessary, a second-second chance etc.

We can be happy that we now have an eternal hope that will end with us living with Jesus, for he has already gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2).

We can be happy that we did not deserve any of this, yet he still freely gives it, for, ‘Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

Jesus died for the people that we used to be!

But that is the important thing to remember, he died for ‘the person we used-to-be’. We are now different, we are now in relationship with Jesus, and we are now new;

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

So are we blessed?

Do we feel blessed?

‘Makarios’, happy, blessed!

Could this also be a translation of the verse?

How happy are those people who understand their dire need for the One-True-God, and that the need for God to be in their life, and those who know that they need the love and guidance that only he can give them, and the strength to ‘carry on‘, that comes only from him, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 5:3 ESV).

HOW BLESSED ARE YOU?

HOW BLESSED YOU ARE!

 

poor-in-spirit

 

There is no limit to Your power
There is no stopping what You plan
You give us faith to move the mountains
And hope to dream again
We see the fires of revival
The darkness giving way to light
The glory of Your grace advancing
Let it burn up the night
Let it burn up the night

Let the walls come down in Jesus’ name
Let the lost be found in Jesus’ name
Let the church arise
to shine Your light to the world
Shine Your light

Your house forever undivided
All Your sons and daughters one
At the cross we are united
Our hope is in the blood
Our hope is in Your blood

Salvation’s tide is rising
As all Your people seek Your face
Your life a river flowing
To wash our sin and shame away

Salvation’s Tide

M. Maher, J. Ingram, B. Younker, K. Stanfil

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Father we thank you for second chances, and for second-second chances. We know that we do not deserve what you so freely offer to us, but we know that we really, really need it in our lives. Our lives were empty before you came in and changed us, help us to really live out our blessed life and shine for you.

Amen