Month: May 2018

Happy Birthday

Did you watch the wedding? I have to admit that I wasn’t that excited about it all but I did watch it. I also have to admit that I was amazed by the address given by the Bishop Michael Curry. I think it was unlike any message that has been given in any ‘official’ service in the U.K. This was for a number of reasons but mainly the animation and passion. He spoke so passionately about love, and the power of love, not just romantic love, but the love of God and how that love could and should be reflected in our lives. To imagine what the world would be like if we all lived and acted in love.

This week we celebrate Pentecost which is, essentially the birthday of the Church. After Jesus resurrected he spent 40 days with his disciples before ascending to heaven. He gave them instructions that they should wait until God sent the gift that had been promised of the Holy Spirit which would enable them to share the good news all over the world. The disciples did this and on the day of Pentecost a wind came in to the house where they were staying and they were filled with the spirit. This spirit enabled the disciples to have the confidence to leave the house, to speak in languages so that others could understand them. They were able to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection and this is how the Church started.

What does this mean for us? John Stott said

“We do not need to wait for the Holy Spirit to come. He came on the day of Pentecost. He has never left the Church”

When Jesus ascended to heaven he told the disciples to wait for the spirit to come, but there is no longer any need for us to wait. The spirit is here, and can fill us and enable us. The Holy Spirit enables us to do God’s work, it gives us strength and courage, it comforts us. It enables us to show love when it may be the last thing we feel like.

With birthdays we have a tendency to celebrate on the day, or maybe the surrounding days, but we don’t tend to celebrate our existence every day. I think it can be the same with the Holy Spirit. We tend to focus on the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and can have a tendency to focus on the other two members of the trinity – the Father and the Son. Yet what John Stott reminds us and challenges us with our thought for the week is we don’t have to wait for Pentecost to be filled with the Holy Spirit, yes it’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the sending of the Spirit. BUT the Spirit is there, if we choose to be filled by it. Remember those fruits of the spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Imagine a world where everyone was filled by the spirit and showing those fruits! The disciples had been living with Jesus who showed these fruits all the time, how were they meant to live up to that example? Through the Spirit.

Prayer: Father God, in this week when we remember Pentecost we thank you for sending your spirit so that we can share your story, show your love, live your word. Fill us with your spirit we pray. Amen

Challenge: look at the list of the fruits of the spirit again. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Is there one you feel you need more help with?

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Promise

When do you make promises? Do you keep promises that you make? Or have you been known to make a promise to get something that you want? Maybe promising to tidy your room? Why are making and keeping promises important? It’s a short blog this week!

Over the last term we have been considering why the resurrection was important and what it means for us. Our final thing that we are going to consider is the idea of promise. Throughout the Old Testament there are promises given by God through the prophets about the Messiah. Throughout Jesus’ life we see that he is a fulfilment of those promises. The resurrection is that final act to show that he truly was the messiah, the saviour that God had been promising through the prophets for so long.

There are so many promises in the Bible, promises that God makes to us. That we will have eternal life, that there will be peace, that we will be forgiven to name a few. By seeing that God fulfilled the promise of a saviour of the world through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we can have faith that he will fulfil all the other promises that he makes to us. How amazing is that!

Challenge: try to find some of the promises that God makes in the Bible

Prayer: thank you God that you fulfilled your promises of a saviour in the person of Jesus. Help us to trust that we can trust in the other promises you have made. Amen.

Grace

Consequences! Why do we have consequences? If we’re talking in terms of punishments then normally it is so that the person who has done something wrong takes responsibility for their actions, but also so that others see that responsibility is being taken. That’s one thing pupils are very ‘hot’ on at school, whether things are being done fairly, are people being punished. They quite like coming up with suggestions of punishments as well, a lot of the time you have to ask if they really think those punishments are fair. Essentially people want to know that they are getting what they deserved. We like to see people rewarded IF they deserved it. We like to see people punished IF they deserved it. Consequences are also there to hopefully stop people from doing something silly in the first place!

This term we are looking at what the resurrection means to Christians, what is it that Christians receive from Christ rising from the dead. This week our theme is Grace. Romans 6:14 says

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

At the moment I’m listening to the Bible in one year as I walk to work. I’m currently on the book of Judges in the Old Testament meaning that I have listened to Genesis Exodus Deuteronomy Leviticus and Numbers. These books, known as the Pentateuch, are full of complicated names and places and I have a lot of respect for David Suchet for reading them out, but there are also a lot of rules. A lot of things that people had to do to make up things to God. There are whole lists of if you have done this thing, then you must do this. That’s what it means in Romans by being under law, sin is called master because people had to keep a careful watch on what they were doing in case they went against God so that they could do whatever they needed to do to make up.

Paul says, in Romans that we are no longer under the law but under grace. What does that mean? Grace means the undeserving favour of God to those under condemnation. We’re under condemnation because we are human and we do things wrong, we are never going to be perfect, but we don’t have to follow all the laws of the Old Testament anymore because God has shown us his favour. A J Tozer says…

The cross is the lightning rod of Grace that short-circuits God’s wrath to Christ so that only the light of his love remains for believers

If we believe in the cross, and the resurrection, we are no longer faced by the wrath of God but only see his love. This doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want, after all when someone is kind to you, or gives you an amazing gift, do you not want to do the same back to them. We will make mistakes but grace means we are forgiven, and are still in relationship with God without having to do anything to earn it. Therefore, for many, they will try to reflect that light, and try not to make mistakes in the first place.

Prayer: thank you God for your grace, that is completely undeserved, and yet so amazing. Help us to respond to your grace, and reflect your light. Amen

Challenge: can you give a gift to someone who doesn’t deserve it?