A fresh start

A Fresh Start (Isaiah 53:4–12 see below)

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These words, inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, conclude a poem titled “The New Colossus” composed by Emma Lazarus. With torch in her hand, Lady Liberty stands as a symbol of freedom and a welcoming beacon for emigrants coming to America in search of success, happiness and a fresh start.

Do you feel tired or poor? Do you long for freedom? Do you feel tossed by life’s storms? Most of us experience these conditions at some point. Isaiah describes Someone who understands exactly how we feel. Even his own people rejected this “man of suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Many hated him. Nothing about his mere physical appearance attracted people. In short, most of us wouldn’t have given this person the time of day.

Yet this passage describes the most compelling individual in the history of the world. Somehow we can’t resist him. Perhaps it’s what he offers: himself as one like us—one who knows sorrow and yet who offers peace and relief. He offers himself as the sacrifice for our sins. He is the Messiah. And Isaiah makes it clear that Jesus identifies with all the difficulties we could ever face. He knows what it’s like to be crushed, despised, rejected and in deep emotional pain. He knows the quiet desperation we endure when faced with mounting bills, job loss, marital discord, parenting challenges and all the other stuff of life that—if we’re wise—sends us to our knees.

Take a few moments to reread the passage for today (below) and let the words sink into your consciousness. This Jesus, the very Son of God, came to Earth for the very purpose of becoming one of us, albeit temporarily. So when we kneel before Jesus, we kneel before one who can relate to our struggles and hardships. He kneels alongside us to revitalize our energy, provide relief from our stress, set us free from sin and enable us to endure life’s storms. Then, through his powerful Holy Spirit, he offers us a fresh start.

Taken from NIV Men’s Devotional Bible

Isaiah 53:4-12 (New International Version – UK )

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Remember……..for those who still do not believe…….Isaiah wrote hundreds of years before Christ was born on Earth…………How did he know? It was the inspired word of God. He was a prophet through whom God spoke and still speaks today for those who have an ear……

Shirley Anne

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Wisdom

I’m supposed to be wise?

It takes wisdom to get through life, to overcome life’s difficulties and problems. We often think wisdom is just about these things and getting wisdom takes a lifetime, something we learn with each passing day. Well to a point it is, it does take time to learn wisdom for living and dealing with life’s issues not least of all in our dealings with others. We would like others to think us wise even if we are not. We link stupidity with the lack of wisdom and in a lot of cases it is justified. I say we are stupid if we don’t take heed of having a lack of wisdom. We are stupid if we don’t seek after it but what is wisdom anyway and how do we get it?

Shirley Anne

Four  ways to Get Wisdom (Proverbs 9:10)

Habit: Developing Wisdom

Wisdom is a capacity of the mind that allows us to understand life from God’s perspective. Throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon encourages us to “get wisdom” (Proverbs 4:5). He says those who get wisdom love life (see 19:8); that it’s better to get wisdom than gold (see 16:16); and that those who get wisdom find life and receive favour from the Lord (see 8:32–35).

Yet in Ecclesiastes 7:23–24 Solomon also makes clear that getting wisdom is a challenging process: “ ‘I am determined to be wise’—but this was beyond me. Whatever exists is far off and most profound—who can discover it?”

Fortunately, Scripture provides us instruction in this area. Here are four Biblical instructions for how to get wisdom:

1. Fear God. Solomon says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (see Proverbs 9:10). But how should we fear God? Philipp Melanchthon, a collaborator of Martin Luther, discussed what it means to fear God by contrasting filial fear with servile fear. Filial fear is the type of respect and love a child has for a parent, a fear of offending the one they most adore and trust. In contrast, servile fear is the kind of fear that a prisoner has for his jailer or executioner.*

2. Desire wisdom. The second step to getting wisdom is to desire it with all our heart. As Solomon says, we must “look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure” (Proverbs 2:4).

3. Pray for wisdom. As James tell us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

4. Study God’s Word. The fourth step in getting wisdom is studying and meditating on God’s Word (see Psalm 19:7). We shouldn’t rely merely on our own understanding, though, but lean on the wisdom and insight produced by Christians throughout the church’s history.

PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY: To get wisdom we must fear God, study his Word and prayer-fully desire to understand life from God’s perspective.

* R. C. Sproul, “What Does It Mean to Fear God?” Ligonier Ministries, accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-it-mean-fear-god/

Taken from NIV Lifehacks Bible

Shirley Anne

Heaven

All very nice but something is missing. The songs says that heaven is a place on earth and although in the beginning that was true now it is far from that. As soon as sin entered the world heaven was lost. Sin keeps us out of God’s presence and would do so forever unless something could be done about it. The problem is we can’t do anything ourselves but there is One who did. There is One who paid the price on our behalf and has taken away our sin and if we believe on His name and put our whole faith in Him Heaven will be our destiny. He is Jesus Christ. The Saviour of mankind. So if you are looking for heaven on earth you may find glimpses of it around you but the real place is found in Christ Jesus.

Shirley Anne

Things Above (Colossians 3:1–2)

Do you look forward to heaven? Explain.
Give an example of how a person might set their mind on earthly things. Give an example of how a person might set their mind on heavenly things.
Before a person becomes a Christian, it’s natural for them to have an earthly outlook. We can’t really blame someone for pursuing wealth, fame, popularity, fun and everything else this world has to offer. After all, from their perspective, what else is there? Life is short, so grab everything you can while you can.

When a person makes a decision for Christ, though, the perspective changes. We shift our eyes away from this earth and toward heaven. We see things with an eternal view. We shift our priorities to reflect what’s really important. We recognize the things of this world for what they can be: distractions, wastes of time, empty pleasures.

We turn our attention to heaven. We consider the possibilities. If heaven is where God is, and God is the source of all joy and happiness, what does that say about our eternal life there? What kind of place has Jesus prepared for us (see John 14:3)? What will it be like not to have to worry about pain, sickness, sorrow or death? We may not know a lot about heaven, but we know enough to get our curiosity going.

Prayer

Dear God, thank you for giving us an unimaginable future beyond this life. Help us keep our minds focused on heavenly things, not earthly things. Fill us with an excitement for heaven. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day At the Table

Shirley Anne

With all my heart

I’ve a wonderful love
That’s so deep in my heart
Came into my life
Gave me a new start
Through all of my sorrows
My troubles and pain
Whenever I fell
I was lifted again.
The joy of this love
Gives to each one a share
With no special favours
To black, brown or fair.
Take hold of this love
There for each one of us
The love of my Saviour
My sweet Lord Jesus.

Copyright Shirley Anne 31 March 2003

Dear Lord my God, my Heavenly Father I give you praise

You are worthy to receive honour and glory and praise

For You are the I AM, you are the Creator of all things

You created all things through your Son my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

He is my Redeemer my Saviour God

Today the world celebrates your birth, the day you came down from heaven to live amongst us

Immanuel! We cry out Immanuel – God with us

You take away the sins of the people that we may be presented pure and holy before The Father

For all those who believe on your name there is Salvation.

Thank you for the greatest gift we could ever receive

Thank you Jesus for loving me.

Today as in every day my soul rejoices in the knowledge of your love

I pray for those who don’t know you, for those who reject you

Forgive them Father for they know not what they are doing forgive them in Jesus’ name I ask

Give them O God another opportunity today to get to know you.

Thank you Jesus

Amen

 

Shirley Anne

I knew…………

A few weeks ago my doctor called me in to see her. I have to attend surgery every six months for routine blood pressure checks because of the medication (hormones) I have to take each day. On my last visit I was told to make an appointment with the nurse who take blood samples and send them off for analysis. That was done and I then had to see the doctor again for the results. That happened on Friday (10). My readers will know that I am a Christian believer and place my trust in God knowing that He loves me. I don’t like visits to the doctor to be truthful and though I appear at ease by my demeanour I am usually tensed inside. I arrived at the surgery and parked my van but before going in I prayed to The Lord that all would be well with my results and there would be no necessity for any further action. I went into the surgery and waited to be called. I was with the doctor for less than a minute……..there was nothing wrong with my blood pressure nor the resultant blood tests. I praised The Lord. I knew in my heart the results would be normal, He had given me that assurance.

Take Jesus’ hand
I have learnt over the years to have more faith in God and to trust in His love. I know He loves me and will take care of me. He proved His love on the cross. Jesus Christ died for me and that act demonstrated pure love. He paid my debt and set me free from the bondage of sin. All I had to do was believe in Him and accept His gift of life. No ,matter what God's plans are for me I know I can trust Him. I just know...

Shirley Anne

Divine justice

Divine Justice (Psalm 7:6)

The idea that those who reject God will experience torment for eternity is offensive to many people. It seems like awfully vicious behavior from one who is known as a loving God.

Dr. D. A. Carson, prominent professor and scholar, says, “In the first place, the Bible says that there are different degrees of punishment, so I’m not sure that it’s the same level of intensity for all people.

“In the second place, if God took his hands off this fallen world so that there were no restraint on human wickedness, we would make hell. Thus if you allow a whole lot of sinners to live somewhere in a confined place where they’re not doing damage to anyone but themselves, what do you get but hell? There’s a sense in which they’re doing it to themselves, and it’s what they want because they still don’t repent. One of the things the Bible does insist is that in the end not only will justice be done, but justice will be seen to be done, so that every mouth will be stopped.”

In other words, at the time of judgment there is nobody in the world who will walk away from that experience saying that God had treated them unfairly. Everyone will recognize the fundamental justice in the way God judges them and the world.

“Justice is not always done in this world; we see that every day,” Carson says. “But on the last day it will be done for all to see. And no one will be able to complain by saying, ‘This isn’t fair.’ ”

—Adapted from interview with Dr. D. A. Carson

Taken from The Case for Christ Study Bible

So, there is no escape for believer and unbeliever alike. However, the believer has Christ Jesus as their intercessor, one who stands in the gap between them and God. He has paid the price for the sins for which they deserve punishment. They have placed their trust in him, believed in him and in the One who sent him. They will still be judged but as God’s children, members of His family. How will God judge you?

Shirley Anne

The I AM

I AM THE Lord (Exodus 6:1–8)
The patriarchs had known God Almighty, but they had never heard the unique name of God. God revealed himself to Moses with intimate clarity, connecting his personal name with the wonders that he had done for the people up to this point in their story. He is the one who called Abraham, initiated a covenant with him and inaugurated a great nation through a child promised to him and his then-barren wife (Gen 12; 15). He is the God who used what man intended for evil to promote Joseph to second-in-command in Egypt (Gen 50:20). He is the one who led his people to seek refuge in the land of Egypt to escape a dire famine. And he is the one who promised to deliver the people from slavery through Moses’ leadership. The people were urged to avoid worry—the God who promised to act on their behalf is the God who had always come through on the behalf of his people.
This personal revelation is distinct to Christians. The God of the Bible is not some disengaged deity, unconcerned with the plight of his people. Rather, he is the God who is both omnipotent and sovereignly in charge of all things and the God who is intimately concerned and engaged with the affairs of his children.
This personal care is best demonstrated in the way Jesus humbled himself, leaving the right hand of the Father and taking the place of a servant on the cross (Phil 2:5–11). Paul wrote that God was intent on redeeming his people, so Jesus laid aside equality with God and humbled himself to take on human flesh. While, in the age to come, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, the early ministry of Jesus demonstrated how far God would stoop to show his personal love for his children. Jesus is the perfect Son of God, yet one who loved his enemies and called them his friends (Rom 5:10). He is the radiance of the glory of God, yet willing to love those who show even a childlike faith (Luke 18:16). God is the King of the universe, yet one who allows frail humans to approach him as their father (Rom 8:15). He is Yahweh, the Lord God Almighty.
Jesus, thank you for tearing down the curtain that separated me from my Father. Thank you for making it possible for me to have a personal, intimate relationship with the almighty God of the universe. Amen.
Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Remember then what Christmas is all about

Shirley Anne

Never ending story

No not the movie…..life! Do you ever feel you are on a treadmill going nowhere? Yes you do things, you have a routine, you change your routine as often as you feel but nothing really changes does it? Recently retired and when working having purpose really meant nothing either, it simply meant I had something to occupy my time. I still have things to occupy my time, it is simply a different routine. We set goals in life or just live for the moment or maybe we do both but in the end everything we do eventually leads us to the next for we are never satisfied. It is like food for our souls, it is our thoughts which spurs us on, they are what keep us moving forward and ever seeking something that in fact we seldom find if we are truthful. Life can be very satisfying and rewarding but none of it really lasts. We aim to satisfy our physical needs first and foremost and neglect our spiritual needs though the two are inseparable, at least whilst we live. We are driven by what we think but we can change what we think. If we are comfortable with the changes we continue in them or we can make an attempt to do so but in the end if we are not happy we revert. No matter what we do in life, what choices we make along the way can we really say that we’ve been happy one hundred percent of the time? Our thoughts might tell us otherwise and in reality we know we are never fully happy, never fully satisfied with our lot. So our lives are a never-ending struggle with ourselves and our situations. Some resign themselves to never achieving their hopes and dreams and others think they’ve hit the jackpot when they think they have. It is all an illusion, a passing fancy and we have to make the most of it until we die. How often have you heard the expression ‘Life is for living’? Did it have an effect on your choices thereafter? We can but do nothing else but live out our lives as best we can and be happy and contented. In this world there is nothing else.

Story of My Life (album)
Story of My Life (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Ecclesiastes 1

Everything is meaningless

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem:

‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’
    says the Teacher.
‘Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.’

What do people gain from all their labours
    at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains for ever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    ‘Look! This is something new’?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

It is a never-ending story……..until we die

Shirley Anne

The future……………your future!

 

What is going to happen in the future? (1 Corinthians 15:51–58)
What happens when we die? The New Testament indicates that people experience an “intermediate state,” which refers to a person’s existence between their time of death and the promised resurrection of their new body. Their earthly body goes into the grave; their spirit lives on in one of two places—in God’s presence where they enjoy a time of peace until they receive their resurrected bodies or in a place of torment where they await final judgment. Jesus talked about this vividly in the story about a rich man and Lazarus (not the Lazarus Jesus raised from the dead). Jesus depicted the place of blessedness for the righteous as Abraham’s side and the place of torment for the wicked as Hades. (See Luke 16:19-31.)
The grand promise of God and the ultimate hope for all Christians is the resurrection. Just as Christ was raised from the dead and received an imperishable body, so will all those who believe in Christ. Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, details this major truth.(See 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.)
The event that will trigger this promised resurrection is the Second coming of Christ. Often the Bible refers to the return of Christ as the “day of the Lord.” Paul explains that on the great day of Christ’s return God will resurrect those who have died and then all believers will be brought together and will be with the Lord Jesus forever.
After Jesus returns and we are resurrected into our imperishable bodies, there will be a final judgment by God of every nation. John saw and recorded a vision from God about what will happen at this time of judgment. John wrote down the final movement in God’s grand story—the restoration of what was lost in the beginning. What we read in the opening creation story of Genesis we see again in Revelation—a re-creation—but on a grander scale to accommodate all the people over the centuries who have embraced Christ and received eternal life. (See Revelation 20:11-22:21.)

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (John 14:1–2)

I believe (Christians) there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus will return to judge all people and to establish his eternal kingdom.
What difference does this make in the way I live?
I ask you to prayerfully take a moment to do an inventory of your relationships. How many non-Christians are currently in your circle of influence? And of these non-Christians in your cir­cle, how many are you actively sharing God’s love with?
Taken from NIV Believe

For my non-believing readers: Although you may not believe in God it doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. For many years I resisted the possibility that there was a God and no matter what people told me I just refused to take it seriously. What did I want with a God? How was it possible for God to be omnipotent and omnipresent? Thinking as a human being who was proud and unyielding and could only see things my way kept me from my Creator. All this time He waited patiently until one day……….I reached out to Him and was welcomed with open arms.

Shirley Anne

Who are you?

Enjoy the song (sorry about the odd expletives in the lyrics) then read the message below…..

 

Who am I? (John 1:12)

The beautiful thing about God’s kingdom is that all those who welcome Jesus as their Lord are given the opportunity to accept a new identity through him. This is illustrated poignantly through the story of a crooked tax collector named Zacchaeus. Tax collectors were among the most despised people in Israel because they chose to work for Rome and were making themselves rich by gouging their fellow Jews. But Zaccheaus shows that even the lost can be adopted and made new.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:1-9)
KEY VERSE

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
KEY IDEA

I believe I am significant because of my position as a child of God.
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?

Because of our new identity in Christ, we are free from condemnation. (Romans 8:1)
Because of our new identity in Christ, our worth comes from our position in Christ, not our performance. (Matthew 11:28)
Because of our new identity in Christ, we live to express who we are in Christ, not to prove who we are.
Because of our new identity in Christ, we can focus on building others up, not tearing them down.

Taken from NIV Believe

Shirley Anne