Hope For The Most Hardened Criminal

19th June

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?” “Who are you, Lord?” And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting.””

Acts 9:3-5

The Apostle Paul, who wrote so much of the beloved New Testament writings, had a horrific past. If you read his words of love and peace, there is no way you would believe that he actually hated “The Way”. In fact, verses 1 and 2 of chapter 9, tell us that every breath Saul breathed, were threatening promises to kill the Lord’s followers. He was there at Stephen’s death, giving his approval. He went from home to home in Jerusalem dragging out believers and throwing them into prison and going around destroying the churches. When he spoke, it was only words of hate. Yet Saul did not realise he was fighting against the Lord Jesus Christ by persecuting His children.

Saul, with the authority of the high priest, was en route to cause further damage by destroying the churches in Damascus and all who followed “The Way”. As he journeyed with some of his followers, a bright light from Heaven shone down, blinded Saul and through the confusion, Saul heard Jesus’ voice saying “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” As the story continues, Jesus showed His grace to Saul, forgave him and fully revealed Himself to the newly named Paul. Paul then went on to be one the founders of our faith in Jesus Christ and His words in the New Testament are a daily encouragement for believers around the world.

Even the most hardened criminals and the most hateful people have a chance to encounter the mighty presence of God. When we look at a world filled with hate and violence, do we see people the way God sees them or do we look at them wanting revenge or justice? Paul, before his encounter with Christ, seemed to be single handedly wiping out the believers by imprisoning them or even killing them off. Yet God had other plans for Paul. God saw in Paul, a zeal and enthusiasm to proclaim His message of love and grace. We should not be too quick to judge our enemies, but rather pray that they too may have a Damascus experience and meet Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Hope For All

27th January

As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man who had been born blind from birth. “Rabbi,” His disciples asked Him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of His own sins or His parents’ sins?”

John 9:1-2

Sadly, if a person was sick from birth, in an Israelite context, that could only have meant one thing; Either the person’s future sin or that person’s parent’s sin. Of course this ‘theory’ was quickly quashed by Jesus, but in reality, society rejected those with disabilities, infirmities, or illnesses. They were classed as unclean, as ‘not fit to be with society’ kind of people. Yet that is not what Jesus saw. He saw through the cultural necessities, the religious laws and the judgemental attitude of the people. Instead Jesus saw a soul that needed Him. He saw a man, burdened by his situation, an outcast of society, rejected by his piers and utterly helpless. Jesus reached down, healed the man and gave him a new life.

Friends, Jesus has not stopped doing this. He lives, and continues to reach those in desperate need of Him. He doesn’t look at the situation you are in, judging you as to whether you deserve Him or not. He is impartial. He reaches down and lifts us out of the dire straits we may find ourselves in. Not just with physical sickness, but spiritually, and mentally too. Once you have met the risen Jesus, you will never be the same again.

God Knows It All

8th December

The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could He be the Messiah? So the people came streaming from the village to see Him.”

John 4:28-30

A few days ago we looked at the most famous passage in the Bible, John 3:16-17. As we mentioned John 3:17, the important continuation of verse 16, really sums up Jesus’ character and God’s intention for mankind. The story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus completely highlights the point that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it.

Jesus, after meeting the woman at the well, confronted the woman about her five previous husbands and her current living situation; living in sin with a man that was not her husband. Yet instead of judging her and condemning her for her sin, Jesus sees the need in heart for love and meets her where she is at. He reaches out an arm of love and breaks cultural barriers to do it. He knew that the woman for thirsty for God. He knew that she was expectant of the Messiah to come, even though she was a Samaritan. But He also knew that she was a broken and needy soul, who needed loving. Jesus did that and because of her testimony, not only was she saved but a whole village.

Friends, Jesus’ reach is not limited. His love will go into the deepest darkest slums to reach out for the lost. He will invade the enemy’s camp to pull us out. There is no place we can go that will escape His loving hands. If you think that you are not worthy or God’s grace then think again. Just read this story and you will know that you are loved no matter who you are, what you have done and where you are! Jesus saves us, heals us, restores us and re-fills us! That is the work of salvation.

The Name Above All Names

5th -6th December

Weekend Edition

You can ask for anything in My Name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask Me for anything in My Name, and I will do it!

John 14:14

Jesus Saves – it’s in His Name. There in no coincidence why there is power in the Name of Jesus. It was a divine name given to Joseph by an angel when Mary fell pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. The angel appeared to Joseph in a dream bringing comfort to him, as his fiancé, Mary, had become pregnant. He knew that the child was not from him, so as an honourable man, he decided to separate with Mary quietly. The angel reassured Joseph that this baby was God’s plan to save the world from their sins and that Mary had fallen pregnant by the power of God. He appropriately pronounced that the baby should be called Jesus – which means ‘the Lord saves’!

Fast forward a few years and we find Peter and John standing on trial before the council, after praying in the Name of Jesus for a crippled man to walk again and being arrested by the religious leaders for their actions. Peter’s defence of his actions continue to stand as a testimony to the greatness of Jesus’ Name throughout the generations…

Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead… There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10 – 12)

Let us also be reminded that that same Name is as powerful and real today as it was when the angel first gave Jesus His Name in Joseph’s dream. Let us boldly call on the Name of Jesus, for it is at His Name every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus saves, He heals, He delivers, He comforts and He rules! Let us boldly proclaim His Name! Jesus Saves!