Month: March 2016

Eternal Life

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It’s Holy Week, the week where we remember Jesus’ time in Jerusalem, and the events that led to his Crucifixion and ultimate Resurrection. It’s also the end of our series on God’s promises. Since Christmas we have discovered that God promises us that we are not alone; everyone is welcome; we are reunited with God; God works for good; we do not need to be anxious; God gives us strength; God gives us what we need; God gives us strength in weakness; we are forgiven; and finally this week, the ultimate promise of Eternal Life.

When we think about eternal life we often think about having a life when we die. That is definitely part of the promise, then when our physical bodies die, we will continue to live with God in heaven.

But the promise for this week suggests something more. In the Gospel of John Jesus says:

“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all.”

We do not have to wait until the end, because Jesus is here, right now. A verse often referred to is John 3:16 which says

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

The word used here for eternal life actually means age-long. Our life with God doesn’t start when our physical bodies come to an end. Our life with God starts when we recognise what He did when Jesus died on that cross and rose again. That Jesus went through that for us.

On Thursday when we remember the last supper that Jesus had with his disciples; when Judas betrayed him; and when he was arrested

On Friday when we remember Jesus hung on a cross and dying

On Sunday when we remember Jesus defeating death and rising to new life

Let us also remember, that it is because of these events that we can know that we are not alone; everyone is welcome; we are reunited with God; God works for good; we do not need to be anxious; God gives us strength; God gives us what we need; God gives us strength in weakness; we are forgiven; we have eternal life.

Jesus told us that He died that we might have life, and have life in abundance. This Easter let us remember what happened, so that we might live life abundantly; but most importantly let us live life abundantly.

Prayer: Father God we thank you for the many promises that you give us, and we thank you that you came to earth as a person and died on the cross so that those promises may be fulfilled. May we know that we have life in you, and reflect that life every day. Amen

Challenge: This Holy Week, read through the story of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Remind yourself of the cornerstone of our Christian Faith. AND OF COURSE… have a fantastic Easter

Forgiveness

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I didn’t get any of my wedding cake! I don’t like rich fruit cake, so although that was what our main 3 tier wedding cake was, we had a special chocolate cake made as well! But… The person handing out the chocolate cake never gave me any 😔. I was told it was delicious, but I wouldn’t know because I DIDN’T GET ANY!!!!! As you can tell, 11 years on, I still haven’t quite managed to move on from the situation.

Have you ever held a grudge? I imagine we all have at some point in time, it may have been something silly like NOT GETTING ANY WEDDING CAKE or it may be something much more serious. As we approach Easter we start to discover a couple of the more substantial, life-changing promises that God gives us. Today’s is that God doesn’t hold a grudge, because of God we can be forgiven. The promise is in the first letter of John and says

But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.

On the cross, Jesus was crucified between two criminals. We are not told what their crimes had been, but we can assume it was major. One of the criminals on the cross recognised who Jesus was, and although we don’t hear that he actually verbally asked for forgiveness, I think that through that recognition, in his heart, he recognised what he had done wrong and he said sorry for it. Jesus then said that he would see him in heaven.

As with many things in Christianity this idea can be misunderstood. Some people think that this allows anybody to do anything. But that is not the case. There needs to be a recognition from a person, that they have done something wrong. Normally whenever a child gets told off, their automatic reaction is “I’m Sorry”. But quite often, that is all it is, it is an automatic reaction, not actually said with any meaning or understanding.

Yes God can and will forgive anything, after all there is no sin that is bigger or smaller than any other, but it has to be asked for; you can’t really ask for forgiveness, and therefore be forgiven, if, actually, you don’t really know you’ve done anything wrong.

In the story of Jonah, he is sent to Nineveh to tell the people to turn away from their wicked ways, otherwise God will smite them. The people of Nineveh took those words on board, they declared a period of fasting, and wore sackcloth. Whilst this was happening Jonah went up on to a local hill so he could watch the smiting take place, he was quite looking forward to it – afterall it was what they deserved. But God was true to his word, they had turned away, so he did not smite them. Jonah was not happy.

Because we are forgiven it doesn’t mean that we can just do anything, knowing that we can just say sorry for it after. It means we can try to make amends for what we have done, but it must also mean that we can try not to do those things in the first place.

A sin is ANYTHING that separates us from God. Therefore we are not going to live sin free lives. But we can try to, and we can recognise when we do those things, and we can ask God’s forgiveness, and we will be forgiven.

Afterall the promise says it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sin. God knew that we would make mistakes, and that is why he came to earth as Christ and died on the cross. That does not mean that we shouldn’t try to avoid making mistakes in the first place though.

God doesn’t hold a grudge, as with the people of Nineveh, they then moved on in their relationship with God. Therefore, as we have been forgiven, we should also forgive. That doesn’t mean that we have to accept any wrong that is done to us, but we should accept apologies, and we should move on with our relationships. We should not keep holding that one event against that person. I have made a decision whilst writing this blog that I am never going to mention the wedding cake again!!!!! Forgiving others, is a very difficult topic and I imagine that requires a whole blog just for that! But what I want you to take away from this is that if you recognise what you have done wrong, and you acknowledge that and ask God, he WILL forgive you, because Jesus died for that reason. WOW! I know I say this every week, but what an awesome promise!

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that Christ died so that we may be forgiven and reunited with you. We thank you that you forgive us, but we pray that we will not take to mean we have an excuse to do anything but that we will try to live lives that are worthy of you. Amen

Challenge: Spend some time with saying sorry but also thanking him that we can go to him when we do wrong. Think about if there is anyone that you still hold a grudge against – try to let it go.

Strength in Weakness

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“There’s no way I’m going to manage this”

“I won’t finish it anyway”

“I can’t cope anymore”

“I quit”

We have probably all said one or all of these statements at some point in our lives. But that’s fine, the fact is, we are human. We make mistakes, and we struggle. We get fooled in to this false sense that if we are struggling, we are failing. I see it with pupils (and staff) all the time; and it can be really upsetting; and I just want to shout… that is not the case.

As Human’s we are made to be in relationship…

With each other. What might be my weakness may be someone else’s strength. I am very good at trying to do everything myself; this inevitably leads to me getting completely and utterly wiped out. I have had to LEARN, and I mean LEARN, that I need to ask for help. I am not invincible and actually I need to work with other people.

As Human’s we really are stronger when we are working together. Yes, we each have our own giftings which mean we need each other. But also when someone is going through a tough time, we are able to be their help and support at that time. Whether that is to give physical help; giving advice; being an ear to listen; or being there to be ‘normal’ when things in their life are not. We can be the strength for each other when we can’t find it for ourselves.

Jesus asked for help; whether that was asking if anyone had any food so he could feed 5000 people; or whether it was allowing someone else to carry the cross for him, because he did not have the strength to do it.

We need to ask for help when we need it; but more importantly, I think, we need to accept help when it is offered rather than being martyrs.

2. With God. God didn’t need to create human’s, but he chose to, because he wanted to be in relationship with us. How awesome! Our promise this week comes from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians

My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

How FANTASTIC is that promise? God is our strength in our weakness. If I’m honest the main thing I love is that it actually states that I am going to be weak! God doesn’t expect me to be invincible so why do I expect it of myself?

But what is this promise saying? Through God’s grace, he came to earth, he suffered, he rose again, in order for us to be reunited with Him. And because of that he is there for us and he is strong for us, when we can’t do it anymore.

God’s strength is there all the time, but we may not recognise it, But there will be times when all we can do is to shout out to God and ask him for help, and it is then that his strength comes into it’s own and we see it for what it is. Suddenly, what we thought was impossible, because we couldn’t see how we could carry on, is possible because God is being the strength we need. I don’t think it will always be supernatural strength, but sometimes God will provide those around us to be our strength and our support.

My Granny’s favourite poem, which I read at her funeral, was Footprints. If you haven’t read it, please do, and I always remember the part where it talking about during the hardest parts of the life there was only one set of footprints, why did God abandon at that point? God didn’t abandon, that was when God carried.

Once again though, we cannot just expect God to be our strength, we need to recognise that we need help; and we need to come to God. Below is a link to a song which talks about this verse, and the idea that we need to fall at God’s feet – quite a powerful idea.

Challenge: Look out for those who need help and support this week. Look at what you are doing and see if you need to ask others for help. Listen to the song, sit at God’s feet and ask him to be your strength.

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you sent your son, so that we may be able to come and sit at your feet. We pray that we will not try to do things in our own strength but that when we are struggling we will come to you and to seek you. Amen.

This is the link to the song. Your grace is enough, more than I need