Friday, April 27, 2018

Lord of the Impossible

‘But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” Luke 9:13 (NRSV)

Lord of the Impossible
Seems to me that Jesus’ words to his disciples were quite outrageous. Imagine twelve men being expected to feed over 5,000 people with nothing to draw upon but five loaves of bread and two fish. The disciples must have scoffed at Jesus, thinking He had gone mad!

I wonder if we don’t also respond in the same way when our Heavenly Father asks us to do something that seems to us outrageously impossible. He may ask us to love those who persecute and ridicule us, to give more than we have, to forgive someone who has deeply hurt us or to speak before others about our faith when we are paralysed with fear. What is God’s difficult request that causes you to balk?

Notice, however, that in the remainder of this story Jesus gives clear, orderly instructions as to how this seemingly impossible task is to be carried out. He helps the disciples in their moment of confusion and helplessness. They are not left alone, and neither are we. Jesus the miracle-worker, will work his miracles through us. We are simply the conduit by which God can do great things.

Thankfully, we are not called to work miracles. Instead we are asked to be willing vessels – offering open hearts and open hands to whatever God requires to do through us. How willing are we? Surrender to God knowing that He can do seemingly more than we could possibly imagine according to His power at work in us. Jennifer Woodley

Friday, April 20, 2018

Love and Power

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: "Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love"; and, "You reward everyone according to what they have done." (Psalm 62:11-12 NIV)

Love and Power
We often think of God's love as being separate from his power. Some even believe in God's love but doubt his power. So to answer the question - why does God allow suffering? They would say God is not powerful enough to do anything about it. Meanwhile others believe in God's power but won't let themselves be vulnerable enough to experience God's love. However the Bible teaches that God is both loving and powerful.

The world would have us believe that love is mere physical attraction or being pleasant to people when we'd rather not or overlooking another's shortcomings. But God's love is not so shallow. God takes the initiative to pursue the people he made. He is passionate about reaching them even when they show very little interest in him. He went to enormous lengthens to reconcile them to himself by means of the cross.

We see God's power throughout the Gospels as he healed and freed many. Several attempts were made to kill Jesus (Luke 4:30; John 8:58, 10:31) but in John 18:6 we see with a simple statement "I am he", Jesus' enemies fall to the ground. He had the power to walk away a free man but instead he chose to lay down his life for us. 

While we may not always understand the way God works, when we look at the cross we see both his love and his power. Susan Barnes

Friday, April 13, 2018

Looking Within

Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” Luke 11:39 (NRSV)

Looking Within
The Pharisees had their behaviour mixed up. They were horrified that Jesus did not wash his hands before a meal. However, Jesus was adamant. What was the point in outward displays of cleanliness if inwardly their hearts were full of deceit? Jesus’ warning to the Pharisees was strong, and His words are still a clarion call for us today. Defilement comes from the inside alone.

Outward sacrifices to God may appear pleasing and right, and certainly make us feel good, but inwardly do we still harbor hate, greed and all kinds of wrong? God does not require our outward show of righteousness. What He asks for is a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). Moreover, as Jesus told the Pharisees, goodness that God approves of is to do what is just, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). All the outward displays of service will not make an iota of difference if our heart attitude is wrong.

Are we following the example of our teacher Jesus, who taught us the way to have a clean heart and stand in good stead with our Heavenly Father? Only when our heart is free from sin, will our acts of service that come from a humble and pure heart, be acceptable to God. Let’s align our intentions with David who asked that God would create in him a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within him. Jennifer Woodley

Friday, April 6, 2018

Living Hope Has Risen

God … in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3 NAS)

Living Hope Has Risen
The culmination of God’s master plan of salvation is celebrated at Easter. He fathered His people through the ages, never forsaking His heart’s desire to form a human family to love and share in His heavenly riches. God rescued us from misery and the captivity of our own sin and selfishness through the death and resurrection of His Son. By His great mercy He offered us new birth and delivered us to living hope, Jesus. “… Christ in you, the hope for glory.” (Colossians 1:27) “… of Christ Jesus our hope.” (1 Timothy 1:1)

Hebrews 6:19 offers an analogy for hope: “This hope we have as an anchor for the soul.” An anchor is described as a shaped iron weight lowered by cable or chain to the bottom of water to keep ships from drifting, essentially tying it to a foundation, linking it to a source of stability. While traveling through an unstable world, Jesus is that anchor, the source of stability, the Living Hope that arose on Easter morn.

The new birth introduces us to Living Hope, Jesus. But the key to victorious Christian living is staying connected. Amidst uncertainty and stormy seas, it’s time to drop anchor and connect to the source of hope. It produces peace and serene expectation of good. It looks to the future and away from present circumstance. It propels us forward because of the perseverance and steadfastness that comes with hope.

Living Hope has risen, the message of Easter! Karen Pourbabaee

Dear Jesus … Be my anchor in this turbulent world. Amen.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Blessed Easter 2018

For to this end Christ died and lived 
again, that He might be Lord both 
of the dead and of the living.
~ Romans 14:9 (NAS) ~