Unfathomable love

Incomprehensible Love (Ephesians 3:17–18)

What are some things that you know about but don’t really understand?
How much does Jesus love you?
A child asked Jesus how much he loved her. He answered, “This much,” and then he stretched out his arms and died on the cross.

You may have heard this before. It’s a good way to think about how much Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that he left heaven and came to earth for you. He loves you so much that he suffered and died for you. And the Bible says that nothing you can do will separate you from the love of Jesus. In these verses from Ephesians, Paul describes Jesus’ love as being “wide and long and high and deep.” The idea is that it is infinite—you will never come to the end of it. God loved you before he created you. He loves you right this minute. And he will love you for eternity. We cannot possibly understand how much Jesus loves us. We don’t have to. All we have to do is accept it.

Prayer
Dear God, thank you for your love. Please help us to accept it. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day At the Table

This is the love that many refuse to accept because they have no faith to believe. For them it is meaningless, fantasy, fairy-tale nonsense but I say to them…..I once felt exactly the same. Anyone who has a ‘born again’ experience will tell you that it is a life-changing experience and for the better, by far the better. Having the realisation that one, there is a God and He is the Creator of all things, two there is a Saviour which is Jesus Christ and three there is life everlasting in His name may come as a surprise to some but when they experience Gods’ unconditional love and then His forgiveness through their faith in Jesus they become different people and are filled with joy and praise. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Shirley Anne

Advertisements

Think on this

Easter Meditation (Isaiah 52:2–3)

It is nearly Easter, and we will hang crosses on the walls of our homes and churches. How do we think of it when it’s a decoration? With all of our present-day associations with the cross, an object of Christian identification and adoration, it is almost impossible to see the cross for what it actually was. And when we fail to understand the cross, we fail to properly understand what our Lord suffered on our behalf: shame.

Jesus despised the cross. To even speak of the cross in his time was disgusting. It was a punishment reserved for the worst of the nation’s criminals. It was designed to bring about the utmost torture to lawbreakers.

So to say that Jesus “endured the cross, scorning its shame,” is not to say “poor Jesus.” It is to say that Jesus loved us so much and was so submitted to the Father that he not only endured torment, but also public humiliation. And when it was over, he was exalted to the highest place of dignity and honour in the universe. A believer’s prayer Jesus, Lord of glory, you came to earth and took the form of a servant and willingly suffered an unimaginable death on the cross. You died for me, a sinner. You paid the penalty for my sins. Such amazing love is utterly incomprehensible to me. Help me to understand that the path to glory often requires a sojourn through difficulties and challenges, but that you are always with me. I seek to follow you in all my ways. I know that serving you is true freedom. In your name I pray. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day 40 Days to Easter

So what will you be celebrating? Chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies? Both have nothing to do with Easter nice as they may be. I love chocolate but more importantly I love Jesus my Saviour without whom I would perish but with whom I have a life everlasting and reconciliation with God.

Shirley Anne

Promises

CHILDREN OF GOD’S PROMISE (Galatians 4:4–5)

The law was given as a guardian, a steward of the relationship between God and his people until the promise of the coming Messiah was fulfilled. It was established by God to uphold a standard of holiness and make a way for people to temporarily atone for their sins. God determined the time between the giving of the law and the fulfillment of the promise for our benefit. Not a moment of what went on before Jesus came was wasted. The Israelites of the Old Testament lived with expectation, waiting for God to fulfill his promises. Like underage heirs, they were subject to their guardian, the law—and that arrangement made them no better off than slaves. But Jesus came “to redeem those under the law, that [they] might receive adoption to sonship” (v. 5). He was the fulfilled promise that made adoption into God’s eternal family possible. Believers are children of God. And they share in the mind-blowingly abundant inheritance of the Lord himself! There is no more uncertainty: God calls believers his beloved and they walk in the close, deeply affectionate, committed love of their heavenly Father. Jesus, thank you for freeing me from doubt, from slavery and from solitude. Thank you for making my adoption into God’s family possible. Amen.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Dear reader perhaps you would like these promises too? They are yours too when you turn to God through Jesus Christ. It isn’t a hard decision to make though many think it is for all sorts of reasons. It is the easiest and best decision you could ever make in your entire life. Remember that the life you now have will end one day so wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that there is something better to look forward to afterward? There’s only one way to find out and that is to seek God in your present life. Once you depart from this world it will be too late. God is faithful and will keep His promises if you believe and trust in Him. The way is through Jesus Christ, He is the way, the truth and the life and no-one comes to The Father except through Him!

Shirley Anne

A fresh start

A Fresh Start (Isaiah 53:4–12)

“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 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

We are now into the second month of the year. For some it will be their first ‘second month’ and for most it will be just one of many that they have lived through. Yet whoever they are, whoever we are we all know that it could also be the last ‘second month’ of our lives. What then? What have we to look forward to? Oblivion? Re-incarnation? Hell? Heaven? Do we cease to exist beyond the grave? For those of us who believe in God, believe in Jesus Christ and what he accomplished on the cross for ourselves and for all who would believe there is hope. There is the assurance of life eternal. Christ died for us all so that if we believe we have the assurance our sins are forgiven, that we are made holy, that we are made righteous before God and that we are welcomed into His kingdom. If you don’t already know Jesus, if you have no relationship with the Father then make this the year of fresh beginnings, a fresh start. There is no need to wait, just come as you are and call upon God to reveal Himself to you. Let Jesus take your burden of guilt and shame, your misdeeds and unbelief and be transformed by his love. You can know this much right now………God loves YOU. Why not take the time and get to know how much He loves you through Jesus Christ who died for YOU.

Shirley Anne

Going nowhere

So who is in charge? Who directs things in the background? Who motivates your thought processes and keeps you on the wrong path? We may feel that we are in charge of our lives, what we think and what we do but often our choices are limited without us realising. Since the fall of man there has been a struggle to regain what was lost. When God created mankind we were created perfect and had a life everlasting but as soon as we rejected God’s word we lost it all. He through whom we were tempted was given authority over the earth though not necessarily over man. Adam was given free will and he chose wrong though it was Eve who was first deceived. We have that same free will to choose right from wrong, that is God’s way from all that opposes Him and who is it that opposes Him? Satan, the deceiver. He too was created perfect with free will but chose to disobey though we are told he became infatuated with himself raising himself above God thinking he had the power to do so. He didn’t. God however didn’t destroy him but instead allows him temporary freedom to reign in authority here. Satan though has no authority other than that which we ourselves allow over us. He is the father of lies, a tempter and if we succumb to his wiles we lose every time, we are pulled away from the love of God though God still loves us. Following Satan leads us nowhere but to death, in Christ Jesus we have overcome death and it has no power over us. In Jesus there is life everlasting and the promise of redemption and reconciliation with God from whom we were originally separated because of Adam’s sin.

We can either remain in prison or we can change our direction in life and choose the right path, not one we think is right by our own standards but by God’s standards. We need to follow Jesus for he is the only way back to God.

Shirley Anne

Can we hope?

How Can We Hope in a God Who Abandons Us? (Lamentations 3:25)
Jeremiah steadfastly recognized that the Lord had not abandoned his people, despite the pain of their situation. Rather, God’s people had abandoned him. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, is also called the prophet of hope, because he foresaw a day when the Lord would reign in the midst of a restored, renewed and reconciled people—people who had finally returned to him.

Jesus knew this paradox between abandonment and hope. In the midst of his suffering and death on the cross, he cried, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mt 27:46). Yet Jesus also knew that he would be resurrected on the third day, opening the gate of eternal life to all believers. The despair of the cross has now become the gift of life to perishing sinners.

Abandonment, sorrow, struggle and pain—all these are transitory. Wholeness, healing, joy and peace are permanent, for they are part of the very nature of God. That is what sustains the believer through difficult times. Although Jeremiah grieved over Jerusalem’s destruction, he knew God would prevail.

Taken from NIV Quest Study Bible

It is so very true that God has not abandoned His creation of which we all are a part. It is mankind who has abandoned their Creator. It is we who only want to believe in a God who supplies us with our every wish and when we don’t get it disown Him! God isn’t in the business of producing automatons who only love Him because they have no choice. That wouldn’t be real love now would it? God has given us a choice, from the very beginning we had this choice and we chose to disobey. From that day to this we have been a rebellious people. God however still loves us each and every one and is waiting for us to turn back to Him. We can do this and be accepted into His Kingdom by and through Jesus Christ and that is the only way. Even those who have never heard of Jesus will be accepted if they have known there is a Creator God and by their lives have honoured Him. God hasn’t promised us our every secular wish and owes us nothing but He is ready to give us everything we need in this life and the promise of an everlasting life thereafter.

Shirley Anne

Believing

With Christmas just around the corner many people will be getting ready for the day and making preparations for parties, visitors and visiting too. Making sure there is plenty of food and drink in stock and ensuring gifts and presents are wrapped. Decorations and the Christmas tree will already be out and on show and everyone will be excited as the day approaches. I used to do all those things until a few years ago when I began to see through it all and the sham it was. That’s not to say it’s the same for everyone as it isn’t. What is more important is focusing on the reason for the celebrations and why we have Christmas in the first place. Christmas is for remembering the birth of a saviour, The Saviour and only Saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ. Sadly Jesus is left out of the celebrations by many people which kind of defeats the object of having them in the first place. God knew His Son would be rejected by many but He gives everyone the opportunity to accept His wonderful gift. If we accept Jesus as our Saviour God sees us in a different light………..

Shirley Anne

How does God see people—the masses of humanity? (Luke 19:1–9)

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)

When we become believers things change for us..

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?
How would life change if we started to see people as God sees them? How would the world change if you and I truly believed the only way for people to enter heaven is through Christ?
We value all human life.
We see and treat all people the way God sees and treats them.
We are compelled to tell all people about Jesus.

Taken from NIV Believe

Yes, I believe, I accepted Jesus as my Saviour thirty years ago. Will you do the same?

Shirley Anne

Best policy

Are your sins counted against you? When you come face to face with God will He see your sinful nature, will your sins condemn you? Going through life without a care in the world for your bad behaviour, your misdeeds to others will only lead to death. Wouldn’t it be great if our sins could not be seen and we could be pure before our Creator? By accepting Jesus into our hearts we can have our sins wiped away for he paid the price for them on the cross.

Shirley Anne

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Best Policy (Psalm 130:1–8)

Have you ever noticed the boldness of David and of other composers of psalms? They courageously questioned God (see Psalm 89:46) and went so far as to boldly outline for him what in their view he needed to do (see Psalm 123:3). As people well versed in Israel’s history, the songwriters, we might expect, would have kept silent when it came to questioning God’s ways.

However, the psalmists “got away” with what they said because they expressed their feelings with honesty. They knew their own weaknesses and limitations and understood God’s strength and power and majesty. They knew who they were and where they were. But they also knew God.

Here, the songwriter acknowledges his own state as being in “the depths.” Whether this refers to a physical, emotional or spiritual place doesn’t matter. He’s honest enough to recognize his desperate situation and to cry out to God for help. Simply acknowledging our need is the first step down the pathway of redemption.

But what does the songwriter need? He realizes that if God were to keep a record of sin, the psalmist would certainly be lost. With his rhetorical question “Who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3), he anticipates the words of the New Testament: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In almost the same breath as his admission of sinfulness, the songwriter honestly expresses who God is. With God “there is forgiveness . . . unfailing love . . . full redemption” (Psalm 130:4,7). Finally, the songwriter acknowledges God’s promise that “he himself will redeem Israel from all their sins” (Psalm 130:8).

Perhaps the apostle Paul had the words of Psalm 130 in mind hundreds of years later when he wrote to the church at Colosse, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [ Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things” (Colossians 1:19–20).

Because of Christ we can be honest with ourselves: God comes to where we are to redeem who we are because of who he is.

Taken from NIV Men’s Devotional Bible

Shirley Anne

Redeemed

When we do wrong things to others we expect to be forgiven if in our hearts we know we shouldn’t have done them. This is usually referred to as our conscience. If we say we don’t have a conscience we fool only ourselves and have no respect even for ourselves. We might consider ourselves to be less evil if our conscience ‘pricks’ us though in reality every evil deed is just as bad as the next and we are no less evil than the most wicked amongst us. As God tells us ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). We may try to be ‘good’ but we will always fail at some point. We are helpless before God but are we? Is there no way out? The good news is yes there is!

Shirley Anne

Redemption (Isaiah 43:1)

To “redeem” means literally “to buy back.” Redemption is one of the key accomplishments of God’s Son, Jesus. As this passage states, God’s people were created and formed by God’s own divine activity, and God himself through Jesus’ sacrificial ministry would buy them back.

But the word “redeemed” itself begs the question: From what are God’s people being bought back? The answer is that we all have willingly sold ourselves in slavery to sin; death is the cost of our disobedience. We are, both by nature and by our consistently sinful choices, rebels against God’s kingdom. The consequence for that rebellion against the righteousness and holiness of God is death, and this price must be paid.

But God, in his mercy, has paid that price himself. He truly has redeemed those who trust in him, having paid the price for our sinful pride and rebellion. God has now the right not only as our Creator, but also as our Redeemer, to say that believers are his and to expect them to live lives that reflect gratitude for his gracious redemption.

Jesus, I know that my future contained nothing but death and darkness, until I heard you call my name and responded. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for giving me another chance. Amen.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Shirley Anne

Oh yes you have!

Ever done something wrong and regretted it? Perhaps you’ve done something wrong and yet not regretted it! When you feel guilty you know you’ve done something wrong but why do you feel the guilt? Is it shame? If nobody saw you then what’s the problem? Yet you still think it was wrong. Perhaps you think you’ve let yourself down by doing something against your nature. You still feel that guilt. ‘But I’ve never done anything wrong, well really wrong, well perhaps once or twice’….Oh yes you have, we all have done things we know were wrong. Maybe we forgive ourselves or make excuses but what do we do if we know we’ve offended someone? What if we offend God? Oh yes we do, we all fall short of His standards, we are all guilty of that. We know if we do wrong and get caught there is a price to pay but what do we receive when we offend God? One day we will all have to face God and explain ourselves, yet God lays His cards on the table before we get to that stage. He offers a solution, a way out and there is no small print at the bottom of the page! You may look for it but you’ll never see it because it just isn’t there. God’s offer is freely given for those who accept it. The offer is salvation through Christ Jesus………. 

Shirley Anne

Where’s the Fine Print? (Isaiah 55:1–7)

You’ve seen the offers in the mail: “No money down and no payments for the first six months!” “Huge savings—up to 75% off!” “Lose 20 pounds in seven days!” “Apply now and start earning points today.” “Your money back, guaranteed!” And don’t forget how many times you’ve read the word free: “Free financing!” “Free cash back bonus!” “Buy one and get a second absolutely free!”

As you skeptically sort through these “limited offers” and “special savings,” you don’t even open most of the envelopes. Others might get a quick glance before you tear them in half and drop them in the “circular file.” And the ones you do open you instinctively scour for the fine print. Why? You know that an offer that sounds too good to be true probably is.

If you were to receive Isaiah 55 in the mail, you might easily dismiss it too as junk mail, as too good to be true! In the opening lines God promises free food and drink. What’s the catch? you wonder. Then God pledges to “freely pardon” those who turn away from evil and turn toward him (verse 7). Of course, that offer seems totally far-fetched, completely unbelievable. Cynically, you ask yourself, “Free pardon” . . . free for how long before the hidden charges kick in?

Yet though you search for the fine print in this offer, you won’t find any. God offers forgiveness as a gift. The price was enormous—God himself paid it through the blood of his Son, Jesus. Yes, God offers pardon to us free of charge. You can’t pay even if you want to. In fact, if you try to earn this offer from God, you can’t have it!

Not only does God offer his forgiveness free of charge, his pardon sets us free! When we accept his gift we experience peace, new life and a restored relationship with God.

When God freely offers pardon and mercy and life and love and blessing, he really means it. Don’t even bother searching for the fine print.

Taken from NIV Men’s Devotional Bible

Shirley Anne