A Burden Lifted

9th October

Then JESUS said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.””

Matthew 11:28-29

Sometimes the heaviness of life’s problems and worries, feel like a weight on our shoulders that pushes us down. We can almost be consumed by the cares of this life. It can feel like the ‘yoke’ Jesus alludes to in Matthew 11: a big heaven wooden contraption, attached to oxen, to help them when ploughing the fields in unison and in a straight line. If you feel like an oxen today, like the weight of your burdens are pulling you down, then there is good news.

Jesus says that He will give us His yoke so we can walk in unison with him. Instead of the yoke being on our shoulders, we can be at rest that Jesus is carrying the weight of our burdens. He encourages us to give our needs and burdens to Him. His yoke is light, because He is doing the carrying. What an incredible image right?! The God who created the heavens and the earth, wants to stand along side you, to battle through life together with you and to lift and hold you when you are weak. And not only that, He wants to take away your burdens so that we can find rest for our souls. Praise God.

Sin’s Power Broken

6th October

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?….. We know that our old sinful were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”

Romans 6:1-2, 6

Just because we have been saved from sin, does it give us the license to do whatever we want to do? Can we use God’s grace as a ‘get out clause’, knowing full well that the action we are doing or thinking about doing is wrong?! The answer is a comprehensive NO! We are forgiven, moreover, God loves and wants to forgive us, yet that shouldn’t be the green light to go ahead and live reckless lifestyles, or use grace as the ‘GET OUT OF JAIL’ card in the monopoly game.

Jesus’ actions on the cross and the grace we have received, was meant to not just forgive but to radically change our lives. His grace changes us!! In addition, not only are we saved to be released from eternal judgement, but we are saved to be released from the power of sin in our lives. We are no longer captives to sin’s enslavement. Rather we can be set free and live in freedom from its power. We are no longer slaves to sin.

We have received grace to save and change us. We are no longer captives or slaves to sin.

The White Flag Of Peace

5th October

God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgement against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son…….But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

John 3:17-18, 1 John 1:9

Sin, the acts, thoughts or words, done, intentionally or unintentionally, separate us from intimacy with God! Sin is bad. Yet tagged along with sin, sin’s ugly sister, trying to be elevated above God’s grace and forgiveness, is a word called condemnation. Both are equally not good, but it is condemnation that leaves us feeling like we will never be close to God again.

Friends, today is the day that we say NO to condemnation. There is liberating news. Paul says in Romans 8:1 that there is ‘NO CONDEMNATION’ for those in Christ Jesus. That is us. That is those who have confessed their sins, believe and accept God’s forgiveness through the atonement of Jesus’ sacrifice and those who believe that Jesus rose victoriously defeating the power of sin and death. Condemnation is a direct opponent to our walk with Jesus. We may sin, but if we confess our sins, as John says, then we are forgiven, completely. Condemnation tries to tell us otherwise. But we need to, in Jesus’ Name, silence that voice.

Don’t confuse condemnation for the Holy Spirit’s prompting and pointing out areas in our lives to repent of. This is God’s way to make us clean and holy. Yet when we confess those things, we are forgiven. Period. Jesus comes towards us waving the white flag of peace, not with the angry red army, charging towards you because you fell. No. Jesus comes in peace, in love and in grace. What a loving, forgiving God. He is faithful. He is just. He restores.

Children Of God

4th October

But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”

John 1:12-13

When Jesus came to the earth, even the people He came to save rejected Him and sent Him to the cross to die. Yet, as John tells us, for those who believe, that’s us, we have been given the right to become God’s children. John tells us however, that this birth is not a human birth, one that results from human passion, plan or accidental. We are spiritually born again, renewed and made new, through the sacrifice of Jesus, not by accident, but by events planned before the beginning of time. Moreover, it was Jesus’ joy to suffer the pain, so you can become His child.

Friends, if you believe and accept the message of Christ and live it out in your life, then you too become a child of God. You can be reborn and have a new start; the old things washed away. The pain and stain of sin washed away and replaced with love, acceptance and forgiveness. You can have an identity as the beloved child of the King of Kings. To God be the glory.

Bless The Children: Let Them Come

3rd October

He said, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.””

Mark 10:14b-15

Children are a huge blessing. Yes of course, they may have their days when they don’t listen, when they misbehave, or even purposefully do the opposite of what their parents tell them to do. BUT don’t children remind us of our walk with Jesus. We too have times when we reject God’s voice and do the opposite to what He asks us to do. Yet just as an Earthly parent shows grace to their children, forgives them and loves them, so our Heavenly Father does too, and even more so. His love, grace, and forgiveness, comes from an unlimited storehouse, full of blessings for us.

In today’s passage, Jesus rebukes and even gets angry with the disciples for stopping the parents bringing their children to Jesus so He could bless them. Jesus tells His disciples that unless we too, receive the Kingdom of God like a child, we miss out on entering it. What does Jesus mean by this? Did He mean we must have childish attitudes when understanding God’s Kingdom? Perhaps not. The Bible does encourage us to seek a deeper understanding of His Kingdom and to move from the ‘milk’ (the basic things of God’s Kingdom), and to search for the ‘meat’ (the deeper things of God)1.

What Jesus is highlighting, is the need for childlike trust and dependence of Jesus alone. As adults we want to try to fix everything, have a solution for everything and have an answer for everything; just like the rich man, in the next portion of Mark chapter 10, who thought he had ‘done’ enough to get into God’s Kingdom by his ‘good deeds and obedience’. Yet Jesus is highlighting here, that unless we become like a child, complete reliance on our Heavenly Father, we will always think that there is something we can do, earn or fix, to get us into Heaven. Friends, beside Jesus, there is nothing we can do to get into Heaven. Salvation, grace and redemption are a gift from our Father, to us His children. Accept it like a child and receive the keys to the Kingdom of God. Simple, yet deep!

11 Corinthians 3:2

The God Of New Beginnings

2nd October

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Isn’t it encouraging to know that in Christ, our old life has gone and a new life has begun! We are born again, new creations, with a new identity and purpose, not for sinful and worldly living but for Christ-like, Godly living. Jesus now, is no longer just a character from the Bible, or ‘theory’, He is our God, our Friend, and our King. We know Christ deeper than just through a humanistic point of view. We have a relationship with Him.

We can take courage that whatever our past, whatever our sins, Christ is ready to give us a new start. He is waiting patiently for us to turn to Him, to be transformed into His likeness. That is why we were created. We can rejoice in the fact, that our old lives have gone, and look forward to living a new life in Christ. This life has a purpose, and through the Spirit’s power in us, we can change the world for Him. We are His ambassadors, beacons and lighthouses, set apart for His good works, for His glory and His honour. What a change from our past lives right?!

Be encouraged. Your new life is here. God has a great plan for your life. Go and live it!

He Threw Down His Coat

29th September

Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. The come, follow Me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions….Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus..”

Mark 10:21b-22, 50

Why did Mark see it fit to include the portion of the story where Bartimaeus threw his coat aside before coming to Jesus? Is it relevant to his healing or to the power of this story? Well, if compared with the earlier story of the rich man, then absolutely. If we look again at the story of the rich man, asking what he should do to get eternal life, Jesus, having compassion on him, noticed an area of his life he was not willing to give up or to give to Jesus; the area of wealth. He was a very rich man, and Jesus saw that the love of wealth was the hinderance of their relationship. Quite simply, his wealth meant more to him than his relationship with Christ. Bartimaeus on the other hand, freely threw aside the only thing he had of value, his coat, when Jesus called him.

We too, have a choice. Do we give up what we hold valuable, and fall at the feet of Jesus, or do we allow it to become a roadblock in our relationship with Jesus? Notice Jesus’ words to the rich man, ‘go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN.’ God never asks us to give up something to make us poor or to suffer unnecessarily. He is our provider, protector and shepherd. Yet He does challenge the things in our lives that take His place. We are promised that if we give up our life for His sake and for the sake of the Good News, we will be saved (Mark 8:35 paraphrased). Whatever we give up on this earth, we will be rewarded with so much more in Heaven, here on this earth and most importantly, an uninterrupted and unhindered life and relationship with Jesus Christ. Will you throw your coat aside or cling on to your wealth?