This year the teaching series is focusing on Jesus the Messiah. He is, of course, the focus of our faith. In coming to earth and laying aside his majesty, he achieved what could be achieved no other way: reconciliation between us and God; between the creation and the creator; between heaven and earth. He is the bridge (or to use the Biblical word, Media-tor) between the Father and Humanity. He is the one who came to make a way where there was no way so that all of creation could come back into Divine order – back under the authority of the King of Kings. The more we understand the person and mis-sion of Jesus, the greater is our sense of thankfulness and worship, and the bigger the need to tell others so that they too can come into this same relationship with the creator and sustainer of all things.
The world is generally oblivious of its need of God. Obsessed with the material reali-ties of life, and putting all thoughts of eternity to one side, people go about their daily lives not realising what they are missing out on, and also the peril they are in. It may be a trite thing to say but Jesus really is the answer (now what is the question?). This month, remember you have the answer to the world’s problems and in you is the hope of eternity.
Spring brings with it the promise of new life. That which was dead in the ground suddenly bursts fourth in fragrance and colour and warms the hearts of all those who look on. This is nature’s way of mirroring the Resurrection and the empty tomb. But it is also a reminder to us of the promise that is given to us of new life which begins with us coming to faith and will be complete in our resurrection. And yet there is something for each one of us to do now in terms of activating that promise within us now. Paul says, ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:13-14). Paul is not passive in terms of activating the power of the resurrection in his life. He takes deliberately action to lay aside his past and to ‘strain’ towards the goal. God has not called us to be apathetic Christians. We are called to take hold of our destiny and press on to-wards the goal that God has given to each of us. This Spring, lay aside all of the encumbrances of the past – all that weighs you down and stops your progress in the faith – and be determined to ‘take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold’ of you. God Bless. Richard.
As the Christmas Carols fade in our ears and the tinsel begins to look tired around the tree, our thoughts turn to the year ahead. This can provoke a number of different reactions. For some there may be a sense of anticipation as they consider some good things they know will lie ahead. For others there may be a sense of ‘same old, same old’ as they move from December to January. For still others there may be fear and dread; perhaps there are financial of family challenges to be encountered or a difficult job that they feel trapped in.
For all of us the passing of one year into another marks another opportunity to make a difference. God has placed us on this earth to embody Jesus to those we meet. For some that may be the only way they will ever encounter him. For others we may represent the echoes of a distant memory of faith that once they followed but which has
become crowded out or forgotten in the busyness of life. You and I can make a difference in the lives of those we meet, if we are willing. This New Year,don’t make resolutions, but choose to live as a child of the King. Who knows how many will be impacted by that choice.
God has put a passion in my heart. That passion is to see His kingdom come and His will done on earth as it is in heaven. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by this passion as I see the slide towards existential immorality in the society around us. The task of bringing in the kingdom seems to great, particularly when confronted with the level of prejudice we encounter from the World concerning God, the Church and faith. But Jesus never said it would be easy; quite the opposite (see Mark 10:30).
So how can we achieve this task? Firstly, we need to pray – pray for breakthrough; pray for opportunities to share the good news; pray for God to lead us to those he is touching; pray for boldness and courage. Secondly, we need to stand. Paul said in Ephesians 6:13, when we have done everything else we need to stand. That means standing firm in our faith and remaining true to our calling in spite of all that comes against us. Thirdly, we need to remain connected. God places us in a body in order that we might have family around us who will stand with us, support us, pray for us and encourage us. Finally, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit. God gives us His Spirit to empower us for the task he has given us to do. Let us draw on the Spirit’s power day by day in order to get the job done.
Last week I was unwell. Of itself this is not perhaps unusual but, for the first time in 15 years I took time out from work and went to bed. This also meant missing out on the Groundlevel leaders conference which is one of those times of the year to receive rather than give.
However, I actually believe that taking time to rest was just as important as going to the conference. You see, God has been talking to me this year about building in sabbath rest into my lifestyle. This is for recovery, recuperation and for personal renewal. I have started to do that and am already benefiting from it. However, I had not really allowed my body time to recover from the India trip and so it decided that it would take some time out without my agreement.
I believe it is crucial for all of us to build a rhythm of work and Sabbath rest into our lifestyle. This is important for us as people and for our well-being. It is also the way in which we were designed to function. It is God’s gift to us. To neglect this principle will almost inevitably result in sickness, in low productivity and, potentially, in a shortened life. We need to pace ourselves because, after all, we have eternity to live! As the song says, ‘we have all the time in the world’
In November someone ran into our car on a roundabout in Beverley. Our expectation was that this would be a fairly simple case and that we would not lose out. Unfortunately, the other party had a friend of hers in a car behind her.
Together they colluded and misrepresented the events to the insurance company. They presented her friend as an ‘associate’, since both of them were heading to the swimming club with their children, and thus she was an independent witness. The result was that the other driver won the case, even though she had caused the accident, and, short of going to court, there is nothing we can do about it.
This leaves one with a sense of injustice. As Christians, we have forgiven them and blessed them as we know that to do otherwise would only do damage to ourselves, but there is still a sense of having been wronged which we need to get over.
In a fallen world, there is much injustice. Our minor case is nothing compared to what some have to face on a daily basis – I think of the poor and the outcasts of the world who are often the victims of circumstances and are powerless to do anything about it. I also think of the Christians of this world who are suffering persecution and death on a daily basis for the sake of the gospel. In this country, it takes a Muslim peer (baroness Warsi) to take a stand on their behalf! Given all the privileges and freedom I have in comparison with such Christians, I have nothing to complain about really.
I would encourage you, when you feel a sense of injustice because someone has treated you badly, or has victimised you in some way, to forgive them, bless them and then think about those who are suffering more than you. It puts everything in perspective and is an opportunity to pray for others. God will bring all injustice to light ultimately. In the meantime, his grace and his love is there for the victims of injustice and you and I can be the means of them receiving that.