The Stack Game

6th December

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the time and died for us sinners.”

Romans 5:6

There is a new app now available on smartphones where the aim of the game is to see how high you can jump over oncoming platforms. The higher you jump, the more points you score. The tricky part is that the platforms come from both left and right and at varied speeds. As soon as you miss-time your jump, the platform knocks you off the tower of platforms you have managed to jump over and you start again from zero. Our lives can sometimes feel like that.

We sometimes feel undefeatable living in the fullness of God’s grace and mercy, when suddenly something knocks you off your feet and you feel like you are back at square one. That killer punch may be an unexpected circumstance, a stumble in our walk with God, a temptation that has popped its ugly head up again, or perhaps something out of your control. Whatever it is, let today’s verse be an encouragement for you. Get back up. We are never too far out of reach from God’s grace. His mercies are new every morning. He is the one that encourages us and picks us back up to keep pressing on. That is why Jesus came. He came so we might live. And He came at just the right time. Not only for when we feel like we are at the top of a huge stack of platforms, but especially, for when we feel knocked down, out for the count and ‘utterly helpless’!

Nothing You Can DO But Accept

 

4th December

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

The Gospel is simple, yet on the same hand, it is the most difficult thing. What do we mean by this? Well, the simple part is, through no endeavour of our own or good works or following a set of rules or any such like thing, we can be saved by simply believing and accepting that by God’s grace, our sins are forgiven through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and our confession and repentance of them. The hard and such difficult thing is accepting this.

As humans our natural instinct is to want to pay for something we have. We don’t go to a restaurant and expect a free meal. We want to pay for it, often out of appreciation. The same is with a piece of art or a service we may have received. Our natural reaction or expectation is that when we receive something, we feel we are obliged to either return the gift, service or item with an equal value: money or such like. Yet salvation is completely different. It is not repayable. There is no value on it. Moreover, the price has already been paid and our debt cleared by Jesus, Himself, the giver of salvation. Our only response to it, is not to try to pay for it by our good works, but simply in thanksgiving and rejoicing, receive salvation and let His salvation change us.

Friends, we can’t boast or take credit for our salvation because of the things we have done. On the contrary, we boast in what Christ has done and give Him the glory. This Christmas season, if you don’t know Jesus yet, receive His free gift of salvation. There are no strings attached, nothing is owed. Just accept, believe and receive His forgiveness and love. That is grace. That is true love. That is why we celebrate His birth.

His Kindness And Love: Part 2

20th November

Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.”

Psalms 63:3-4

The writer of Psalms understood the wonderful height, depth and width of the love of our Heavenly Father. He knew how much he was loved and it showed through his writing. This knowledge ultimately dictated his life and choices. We too have this same choice. Do we let the knowledge that we are loved by God pass away as an interesting and good point of our faith, or do we let His love radically change the way we live and think? Think about it, if you know you are so loved by a God who gave His only Son for your sins, doesn’t that make you not want to sin. If you know you are so loved by a God who forgives unconditionally and blesses unreservedly, doesn’t that make you live a life of gratitude?

We mustn’t let the knowledge that we are radically loved by our Heavenly Father just be words on paper or ‘academic’ love. We must let this knowledge change us completely. Let’s join the Psalmist and praise our God for as long as we live. After all, His love is better than life itself.

What Do You Want From Me?

13th November

Crowds of sick people – blind, lame or paralysed – lay on the porches. One of the men laying there had been sick for almost thirty eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, He asked him, “Would you like to get well?””

John 5:3-6

Sometimes, situations in our lives can be dictated by someone’s opinion. It could be a doctor’s opinion, bringing bad news of a permanent sickness or such like. That opinion can begin to define your day to day life routine. It could be a boss or co-worker who says you will never amount to anything or get that promotion you deserve. You then start to feel useless and under-perform because of the ‘nothing’ label you carry. Furthermore, it could be even closer to home. Perhaps a spouse or family member is constantly putting you down. If that is you. Then read Jesus’ words to the man who had been sick for thirty eight years!! ‘Would you like to get well?’

The man who had been sick for thirty eight years let his circumstance and others opinion become a normal part of his life because he knew nothing else. His hope was that he could enter the pool of Bethesda and be healed, but because of his situation, he couldn’t reach there in time. Jesus, having compassion on this man, offered the words of life and hope that this man desperately needed to hear. ‘Would you like to get well?’ Today Jesus is saying the same words to us. What do you need from Jesus? What is that situation that is totally out of your control and needs a miracle? Perhaps you also have been carrying around a ‘sickness’ or ‘burden’ for many years. Is so, then Jesus is knocking at your door today, asking the same question to YOU, ‘WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET WELL?!’

Our King

9th November

Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth.”

Psalm 47:1-2

We serve a King who was not voted in, did not have to go through any publicity to make Himself more popular and certainly doesn’t need people’s approval to prove that He is rightfully KING! He is King by default. He created the world. He is King because He won the ultimate battle against sin and death. He is King because He is King. He is the One, as the book of Romans says, that gives the authority to earthly kingdoms; ‘For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.1’ God is even in control of those in authority.

There is no power higher than God. There is no equal nor opposite to God. He is, the psalmist says, ‘the great KING of all the earth.’ Not just of the earth, but the entire universe. There is no corruption in Him, no scandal, no falsehood, no lies, no racism, no sexism, no rudeness and no division. In Him is life, peace, joy, and acceptance; a fountain of grace and mercy that never runs dry. There is unconditional love for those who accept it. He is the greatest leader of all time; from the beginning to the end of time. He is the King that created time. All things were created by His words. The earth and the universe, the sun and the moon, all listen and obey His voice. He is the King of the animals, the birds, the sea, the land and everything that is! He is the King, that is greatly exalted and worshipped throughout the world, in every language and by every culture! He is KING! Come on! Everyone! Clap your hands, shout for joy! This King is our King!

In a time of global and political uncertainty, it would be wise to put your trust in Him and let Him calm your fears. WE can trust Him because He is the great King!!

1Romans 13:1

What Does God’s Kingdom Mean To You

1st November

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.”

Matthew 13:44

Jesus often told parables to highlight important Kingdom truths: an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Today’s story/parable is one that is not so often talked about but highlights such a significant truth about God’s Kingdom. It shows us the value of what it means to have or even find the Kingdom of God; in other words, to find salvation. Yet more than us finding it, is us being chosen and found by God.

What is your reaction to this knowledge? Are you like the man in the story, that upon finding the Kingdom, sold all that he had to get it? So often, just as most good things, when the novelty of finding or receiving that great thing wears off, complacency settles in and we forget what we have in our hands. It is our daily challenge to realise what we truly have. The man in today’s story was so full of joy at what he had found, that he sacrificed everything else in his life to get it. Sometimes, we need to sacrifice things that get in the way of appreciating how precious our salvation is, of how deeply we are loved that God chose us, forgave us, redeemed us and restored us.

Salvation is found in our hearts, and is a precious gem that should never be forgotten or buried again. What is the value of your salvation for you?

Keep Running

31st October

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

HEBREWS 12:1

In 2008, at the Big 10 Indoor Track, Heather Dorniden1 ran a remarkable 600 meter race. From being in 2nd place, she took an unfortunate tumble and dropped into last place creating a sizeable gap between her and the rest of the runners. Yet, the stumble didn’t defeat her. She quickly got back up, turned on the accelerators and not only caught up with the rest of the runners but won the race! Her bravery and endurance stand as a reminder to us, that when life knocks us down, we too can get back up and not only survive but thrive.

The writer of Hebrews also encourages us to take note of those gone ahead of us in life’s race. Heroes of faith like Noah, Abraham, and Moses. They all kept going through life’s hardships, trials and persecutions. Plenty of times they could have given up, but they ‘kept their eyes on the One who is invisible’2, that is God. They ran with endurance the race that God had set before them. We too are called to run our race. When we get knocked down, get back up. When we stumble, shake it off and keep on running. Take inspiration from those who have gone ahead of you and gain strength from the support of Jesus’ Christ. Shake off the obstacles, and things that weigh us down and keep on running. Keep on keeping on!

2Hebrews 10:27