Good Friday

Last Sunday one of the youngsters asked ‘Why is it called Good Friday?’ There is nothing good about the arrest, mocking, beating, humiliation, pain and final death of Jesus. It was such a terrible day that the sky turned black and the temple curtain rent in two. It was not ‘good’ for those who wept and mourned and felt all hope had gone. We only call it good because we know there is an Easter Sunday; the disciples didn’t know that.

The actual ‘good’ had to wait until the Sunday, the day of resurrection. Meanwhile ‘low in the grave He lay.’ Today we see Good Friday in the light of Easter Sunday; there was no such joy when these events were actually taking place. We rejoice that Good Friday is not the end of the story, the grave is not the final resting place. Today we weep, Sunday we will rejoice and sing. ‘Up from the grave He arose.’ Robert Lowry

What Kind of Shadow?

When I contemplate my coming week I feel a little anxious; there are three medical appointments, none life-threatening but health problems that need help or sorting. I have an appointment with my bank manager (though we don’t see bank managers these days, just their helpful assistants) My Christian friend needs encouragement to get out of the house and not just stay indoors. All my tact and love will be needed. The thoughts of these days ahead are casting a cloud over the present day and I give a little sigh.

Then I read Psalm 91:1 ‘Whoever dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty’, and I realise that the shadow of my coming week is one of apprehension but that the shadow of the cross is protecting me.

It is God’s promise that I have the opportunity to lessen or even remove worry about my slight problems. I am fortunate to have appointments and doctors and nurses to attend to me, many countries don’t have enough medical staff. By seeing my bank manager I will be able to cope with my finances better. By helping my friend Tanya to have a little outing, her life will be improved and our friendship deepened. I do pray that my coming week is more under the shadow of the cross of Jesus than the cross of apprehension.

True Focus

To hear or see the news on the television is depressing. Around the world, troubles seem to be growing. There are nations fighting nations wanting more power or land. The numbers of refugees and displaced persons are growing. Volcanoes, global warming, tsunamis, drought; the natural world is groaning. Good news is not recorded news.

The health of some of my friends is worrying, some have cancer, some have memory loss. Families I know are disintegrating and some are grieving the death of a loved one. As the hymn-writer says ‘ Death and decay in all around I see.’

But am I looking in the wrong place? While not wanting to forget the troubles of the world, that is not where my focus must be. We have our trials while on this earth but my God is in control. By looking to Him we will be concentrating on the right priorities. ‘Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, think on these things.’ Philippians 4:8

The Master Potter

‘The pot that He was shaping from the clay was marred; so the potter formed it into another pot’ Jeremiah 18:4

I’ve recently been watching on the television a series where amateur potters are in competition to find the best potter. Starting with just a lump of clay they make it into something beautiful. I’ve been fascinated as I’ve watched the clay become a set of delicate cups or a large chandelier. A shapeless lump of clay has been fashioned into something beautiful.

I’ve never worked with clay myself but marvel at the skill of others. While watching I realised I’m the lump of clay, being fashioned by the Master Potter. I started life wonderfully and beautifully made but it is only as I’ve progressed through the years that I’ve been fashioned and transformed. I hope some bits of me have been discarded – anger, jealousy, pride and other features. Some parts have been refined – patience, love, compassion, steadfastness.

I am not yet the finished work but ‘I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

‘Father, Forgive Them.’

The crucifixion and later the resurrection of Jesus are at the very centre of the Christian faith and during this period of Lent are subjects which are very much on our hearts. Such a horrific form of death could have led to Jesus crying out for vengeance on His enemies. Instead He prayed for forgiveness for them. We read in Matthew 26:53 that He had at His command ‘more than twelve legions of angels.’ That’s a large number and He had in His power the whole universe yet His prayer was for forgiveness.

Jesus didn’t just preach ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,’ He lived it and died it. As Peter later said ‘When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but He trusted in Him who judges justly.’ 1 Peter 2:23. Forgiveness makes no sense unless it is preached against the dark background of human sin. We all need to be forgiven and there is forgiveness for all who put their faith in the crucified Saviour.

His Promises are True

‘Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance for what we do not see.’ Hebrews 11:1

‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ I’d been told the display of snowdrops would be the best I’d ever seen. Was it worth the long drive to see something which could turn out to be disappointing? This particular friend had exaggerated in the past; I could end up looking at just a few flowers gathered round the bark of a single tree.

How often do we say about our spiritual life ‘Seeing is believing,’ while actually the opposite is true. It is our not-seeing that is believing. We have not seen the wonders that await us in heaven but we believe we shall see them because God has promised them to us. Heaven is a place that our limited minds can’t grasp but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Why? Because God has promised us that heaven is a place beyond our wildest dreams and He has a home for those who believe in His sacrifice. How can we trust what God has told us? He has never broken His promises to us.

We must now live by faith . We do not see the future or what it will be like, but we know we have a Saviour who will one day reveal it all.

Jairus’s daughter.

” When I was a child we lived on the shores of Lake Galilee and my father, Jairus, was one of the synagogue leaders. I was only twelve years old but can remember some of the events quite well, while others are hazy. I had been playing out in the fields when I developed the most terrible headache. I went to lie down on my bed and then I don’t remember anything else for a while but my parents later told me what had happened.

My father knew that Jesus, the great healer, was in the area, so he sent for Him to come and heal me. Although my father was an important man, Jesus made him wait as He was busy healing others. In the meantime, the delay was so great that I died. But when Jesus arrived He came into my room with some of His disciples and spoke to me although I was dead. ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up.’ Then like the miracle it was, I woke up just as if I’d been asleep, and Jesus was looking at me with such love in His eyes. I remember that bit so well.

As my grandchildren now gather round my knee, I tell the story once again. I never tire of telling it and they never tire of hearing it. “

Another Day

‘Forth in Thy name, Oh Lord, I go, my daily labours to renew. Thee, only Thee resolved to know in all I speak or think or do.’

As I woke this morning these words by Charles Welsey were going through my head. Then my daily Bible reading gave me the word ‘This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.’ Psalm 118:24. I’ve learned that if God puts a thought or word into my mind twice, then it is important.

I ask myself am I really glad, do I rejoice in it? A new day is a new beginning. It is a time when the mistakes of yesterday can be forgiven and forgotten. Each new day is an opportunity for witnessing for our Lord and showing hope to others. It is a chance to hear the birds sing again and see the new seasons emerging. We don’t know what each day will hold but our God knows and He will see it right.

Our True Worth

When I think of some of the members that make up the congregation of my church I realise that they could be described as saints but they are not necessarily the ones who have positions of importance. I think of Justin who is always helping when there is anything to be moved or lifted. Then there is Hilda who makes cakes for every occasion. Pamela is the one who always phones anyone who is sick or in trouble. During the pandemic she was a life-line to so many.

It reminds me of the story of David being chosen as king of Israel. He was the youngest son and only a shepherd and although being described in 1 Samuel 16 as glowing with health, having a fine appearance and handsome features, he obviously wasn’t as striking as his brothers

When we think of how much is spent in this country on cosmetic products, cosmetic surgery and other procedures to defy aging, we realise that society looks on the outward appearance. In Samuel we read ‘ The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart .

Three Widows

We read in the book of Ruth about Naomi who lost her husband Elimelech and then her two sons Mahlion and Chilion in the space of about ten years. She was left destitute in a foreign country and as this was a patriarchal society. With no means of support life for Naomi was at rock-bottom. Each death was a further blow to her equilibrium; how could she carry on?

But we only need to read through the book to know that with God’s guidance she did come out the other side of the tragedies and lived long enough to become a grandmother and then an honoured member of the community with a link through King David to the Messiah.

I am thinking of a couple in my church who have had blow upon blow to their lives. Each Sunday we gasp as yet another misfortune is revealed. What is God doing? Again there are hardly any words to say, just constant prayer for them. They will come through, they will again know God’s bounty in their lives. As the old hymn says, ‘God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year.’