Sometimes, as we trudge through the ordinariness of life, we forget just how miraculous everyday life really is. The daily functioning of our intricately designed bodies, the delicate balance of the eco-systems in nature, the forces that keep oceans within their boundaries and simply, God’s daily provisions of grace, bounty, deliverance and faithfulness. It is good to pause a while and be reminded.
In our final look at the book of Joshua this Sunday, Joshua, whom we are told, ‘is now very old’, gathers everyone together to remind them just how miraculous their lives, as God’s chosen people, have been thus far. He gives them a little pep talk, a gee-up, to make them feel more courageous and enthusiastic; a few words of wisdom and a bit of good advice.
It is always profitable to bring to mind the things we should be thankful for and to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in our lives. This is why it is such a blessing to have older generations living amongst us in our families, our communities and especially in our Churches, who can recount tales from the past from which we can learn. The wise and godly advice of one who ‘is now very old’ is invaluable but sadly often overlooked. The world is always focused on the ‘next generation’, respecting your elders is old hat! But not so in God’s book! Joshua was ‘very old’ and Moses was 120! Anna in the New Testament was still a key member of the Church, actively using her gifts, well into her 80’s!
Why not spend some time this week with those in your life who are blessed with years of experience. Share some of their memories and allow their words of wisdom to gee you up!
And come along on Sunday at 11am and be reminded of God’s faithfulness to us all and to our world.
“If you go out without your coat on you’ll catch your death of cold!” Mothers warn their children. “If you carry on with that behaviour you’ll be sent to after school detention!” Teachers warn their rebellious pupils. “If you’re caught speeding again you’ll lose your licence!” Magistrates warn the repeat offenders.
Warnings can be good things: “there’s possible danger ahead, please take care.” Or they can sound a little more threatening: “this is cautionary advice, you’d better watch out!” Either way they are delivered as an advance notice that something bad may happen in the future if you don’t act now to avoid it.
The old English word WARNIAN literally means to take heed - you are expected to take notice and take action! At the warning stage, it is not too late to avert danger, only the fool disregards a warning!
This Sunday we will be looking at one of the Bible’s books of Prophecy, Zephaniah. It was written around 640 - 630 BC when King Josiah ruled over Judah. Now King Josiah was a God-fearing king who tried to follow all of God’s laws but he ruled at a time when the nation was very rebellious and disregarded all the warnings from the prophets. At this stage of the story, King Josiah was quick to act on Zephaniah’s warning and disaster was averted - for the time being!
Over the next 3 weeks we will be unwrapping more of this story so do come along and discover it’s relevance today.
The British justice system allows for convicted offenders to have their sentence mitigated. Their defence solicitor puts forward reasons why the standard punishment set for this particular crime can be reduced. In some cases the offender may have ‘done a deal’ beforehand with the Crown Prosecution – informing or plea-bargaining. Or it may be that the personal circumstances of the offender can serve as mitigation. In rare cases, they may show genuine remorse and a desire to make amends to the victim. At this stage of the case, there is no question that the offender is guilty, but by the intervention of their Advocate, the judgment passed down could be far more lenient than the offender truly deserves.
The Bible contains some passages - often deliberately overlooked by the casual reader - that talk of the judgment of God. Judgment against Israel, judgment against other nations and most worryingly, judgment against all the people on earth! These passages make for uncomfortable reading. The truth is, we are all guilty of offending God and because he is a holy, righteous and just God, he must deliver justice. But this is the good news of the Gospel: we have an advocate who stands before God on our behalf and pleads our case. Not to have our sentence mitigated but to have our record wiped clean! To be declared “Not Guilty!”
How is that possible when the Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”? (Romans 3:23) It is possible because Jesus Christ took our punishment for us at the cross and all we need to do is to repent and believe and we will be saved from the terrifying judgment we truly deserve. This is not plea-bargaining, neither can we ever hope to make amends. This is a free gift from God!
Join us this Sunday as we tackle another of these difficult prophetic passages that speak of judgment and rest assured, that through Jesus, we can have a confident assurance of being saved!
Have you noticed the popularity of TV programmes that repair and restore? Be it old family heirlooms, overgrown gardens or crumbling buildings; we love to see the big reveal at the end when, whatever it is, is restored to its original state. There’s something deeply satisfying about it; seeing something as it was always meant to be - fit for purpose, beautiful and in full working order. The big DIY makeover!
The wonderful news of the Gospel is that restoration is also God’s big plan! The world and everything in it, including us, was made to a perfect blueprint, which we managed to mess up, neglect and abuse. But rather than condemning it all to the eternal rubbish skip, God saw fit to invest in the greatest restoration project ever!
It cost him dearly and he did it himself.
The Christian hope is that one day, not only will we see the big reveal but we will find ourselves to be part of it - renewed, restored, beautiful and operating as we were always meant to!
Join us this Sunday as we celebrate that hope.
Why is there never any good news in the news? Why is it assumed that we will only be interested in the shocking, or the disastrous, or the horrifying? Honestly, if you have a tendency towards a gloomy disposition, then it really is best NOT to tune into the daily news broadcasts!
Perhaps good news just doesn’t sell well, doesn’t stimulate our senses enough, or maybe we are just hard-wired to thrive on the bad stuff?! Haven’t you noticed how only the juicy gossip travels like wild-fire? And often it is only gossip; how reliable are the social media sources after all? Are they just ‘Influencers’? Is it just ‘fake news’?
Surely what we all need is some good news? Something uplifting, something promising, something joyful and hopeful, something to hold onto and also to pass on? And from a reliable and trustworthy source!
Well the good news is, there is some good news! And the source is wholly dependable!
Join us this Sunday as we start a new series looking at the Best News, the Only News, the ‘Gospel’ - literally the ‘Good News’!