At the time of the ascension of Jesus, the disciples were told in Acts 1:11 ‘this same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.’
This was the same Jesus wo had lived among them for three years, the same Jesus who had taught them, performed miracles and opposed the Pharisees. This same Jesus turned the world up side down and whom thy had worshipped and betrayed.
As I pray and study the Bible each morning, this is the same Jesus who was in Galilee and Jerusalem. He is now in heaven and also on earth and is willing to comfort, guide and instruct me. ‘This same Jesus’. What a wonderful thought!
Thomas Edison is reputed to have said ‘Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.’
Is our life as a Christian at all like that. Christ has done the 100% by His sacrifice on the cross. He has done everything necessary; we cannot earn salvation by ourselves. It is all of Him. But we are not to be passive. There are things we can do working with Him. We can be His hands and feet down here on earth. He has given us talents which are to be used in His work. We can learn what is His will for us. God has given us everything but He has graciously given us the privilege of working with Him. After all, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
As I sat looking out of my window I noticed a lady struggling with two dogs on leads. As I live near a playing field my road is popular with dog-walkers off to give their dogs a good run. But this lady was noticeable because her two dogs were pulling in the opposite direction. She didn’t look very strong and was finding it difficult to make any progress.
Do we find this in our churches? Some people can hold very strong views and be convinced that they are right. They may not always show enough grace. People take one side, others agree with the opposition. Splits can begin to show. It is not a matter of being right or wrong; it is a matter of working together for the furtherance of God’s kingdom.
We read in the Bible that matters were not always amicable in the early church. I wonder if we have learned anything today.
We live in a broken world; we are a broken people. The good news is that God uses broken things and broken people. The farmers break the soil to plant the grain and produce the crops; the clouds above our heads need to break to give much-needed rain. Bread is broken to give us nourishment and especially broken bread in our act of communion. Mary’s alabaster jar was of no use until it was broken.
Christ’s body was broken for us and as a broken people God can use us, as our brokenness softens our souls. God in His wisdom will break us and where necessary heal us.
God made us to be in communities and have connections one with the other. In Genesis God says, ‘it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Therefore we got Eve.
The other day my Christian writing group met in person after a gap of two years. It was a complete delight. We had met on zoom during that period, for which we were thankful, but it wasn’t the same. Now that we are on the right side of covid, we need to be vigilant to restore our connections with each other. It will take effort as we are out of the habit, but so worthwhile
In heaven we will be part of that multitude that no man can number, so we’d better it used to it now.
Looking at Psalm 9 there is repeated mention of judgment. Although the psalmist gives much praise to God, he soon turns back to God’s treatment of the wicked. Verse 3 tells us ”my enemies stumble and perish before You,’ verse 5 ‘You have destroyed the wicked,’ and verse 6 ‘endless ruin has overturned the enemy.’ The warnings are numerous and deadly. The psalmist says even the memory of the wicked has perished.
As we look at the world today, we wonder where justice is, but we know that it will come at the right time. Verse 18 tells us ‘the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.’ We only need to remember that it is God’s timing not ours.
Daniel met the requirements of Nebuchadnezzar. He was young without any physical defects, handsome, had an aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed and quick to understand. Although it definitely wasn’t a requirement he was faithful to Yahweh. Problems arose; he was expected to defile himself with the royal food and wine. Along with his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego they went on a vegetarian diet for ten days.
At the end of that time they were healthier and better nourished than the other young men. I confess I am a meat eater but this story does indicate that we should keep our God-given bodies in the best possible shape for service to God.
The birds have built a nest in one of my bushes. As in previous years they have built the nest but not used it. I can’t look too closely in case there are some eggs there which I haven’t spotted. Maybe the birds in my area are very rich own two nests. They think my bush is not suitable and decide on a better location.
We also have two homes, one here on earth and one in heaven. We can’t live in both at the same time. At the present time our nest is down here, although it’s not completely suitable. We can’t yet move on to our superior home in heaven. Nevertheless we can make preparations for the next move. The Holy Spirit can help us as we learn more about God. We will be moving, just not yet.
Much of life is hard; we are walking on slippery places. We can’t cope with life on our own and we are often in danger of falling. We need someone reliable to hang on to. The psalmist tells us, ‘My foot is slipping….. Oh Lord support me.’
I have recently had a spell of giddiness. Without the reluctant use of a stick I would have fallen which is the last thing any of us want to do. Recovery from a fall takes time. Recovery from a spiritual fall is also difficult.. When God stops us from falling He becomes our reliable Rock. Again the psalmist tells us ‘ The Lord has become my Fortress and my God my Rock in whom I take refugee.’.
So often when we turn to the Bible we find comfort and strength for the day ahead. But it is not only a book of guidance and light. God’s word is often ‘sharper than any double-edged sword, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.’ Some Bible passages are uncomfortable to us today. Mass destruction and sex scandals are not welcome reading.
Our church is tackling some of these issues in a series of sermons. I await the next few sermons with interest. Reading of the Bible requires one hand on the Bible and the other in the hand of God.