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

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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

Something missing revisited

It is only the title to which I refer. In yesterday’s post I mentioned in a round about way how easy it was to miss something. If you remember I had returned home after a walk but hadn’t noticed the flag wasn’t flying as the rope had severed leaving it on the ground. Is it unusual to miss something even though they are right under our noses so to speak? The saying ‘you only miss something when it is gone’ seems not always to be true because we often take things for granted and don’t expect them to disappear. Quite a few times in the past E has pointed out a problem which I should have noticed myself but didn’t. When all is well we don’t look for problems; nothing is ever going to go wrong is it? Do we ever consider the future and what may happen?

Perhaps most will say ‘yes but not the distant future, we will wait until then to see what will happen’. The thing is that future can be upon us sooner than we think and then it is too late to respond if things go wrong. Living for today is fine but we should plan ahead and this brings me to the real subject of this post, your future in eternity. We live and then we die and that is the end of the matter is what many say. Why worry about something that isn’t going to happen? How do you know that, is it instinct, a gut feeling, you’ve first-hand knowledge or has someone convinced you that there isn’t a future after death? How could you find out about such things? Innocence is definitely not bliss but it will be too late for those who think that way when after dying they discover the truth. Why does your spirit think otherwise? Think about that for a moment. Why do you not accept that you have a future after you have died? Do you think you will return in another body? Why? Where did that idea come from? Discovering the truth after you’ve passed on is like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, it is just too late. What have you to lose by opening your heart to an everlasting life after death as Jesus promises for all who believe in him and in the Father who sent him? I tell you the truth, no-one comes to the Father except through Jesus. Jesus said so himself. Trouble is you have to open your heart and accept him in but you resist for something you think is better will happen. I tell you it won’t so don’t trust in gut feelings, sayings of others, weird religions and faiths, trust only in The Lord Jesus. Think on these things then go find this truth yourself…it is written in Scripture, The Bible and I pray that you will. Don’t miss out on Gods free gift of life because of a stubborn heart or a misguided thought.

Shirley Anne

Do you want saving or not?

I can hear the voices of rejection, the scoffers mumbling to themselves ‘Why do I need to be saved and from what?’ Well that is the whole point, until we realise that we do need saving we reject the idea. To have an open mind and not to turn down an opportunity to understand is paramount. Being a closed door will get you nowhere, stubbornness can be fatal and leave you in the wrong place. Well what is the wrong place or better still what is the right place? For those who have ears to listen and eyes to see, who are ready to learn and understand……..Salvation is a gift…..a free gift…. it is something we all need but cannot simply take….we have to receive it….

Shirley Anne

SAVE ME: YES OR NO? (Psalm 70:1–5)

In Psalm 70, David asked God to deliver him from the oppression and suffering brought about by his enemies. He sought refuge in God, expecting the result to include great glory for the Lord (v. 4).

Jesus voiced a prayer in the Gospel of John that includes some similarity to David’s prayer (Jn 12:27–28). Labouring under the weight of the task before him, Jesus considered the depth of what he was about to suffer on the cross. He contemplated a request for God to deliver him, but quickly changed direction—affirming that what he was about to endure was the very reason why he came to earth.

In David’s words, God is glorified by delivering him from the hands of his enemies. In Jesus’ words, God the Father is glorified not by sparing the Son but through the Son’s death. If Jesus had avoided the cross, there would be no way for people to have access to God. Through the willing sacrifice of Jesus, God makes possible the deliverance of all people who place their faith in Jesus for salvation.

Prayer…..

Jesus, I know you could have called down angels to rescue you from the cross, but you didn’t, because you love me. Thank you for loving me with a love I can never deserve or repay. Amen.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Shirley Anne

What a benefit!

‘Made in the image of God’. That is how human beings are described in The Holy Bible. However, that is a stumbling block to many for they would say that if it is so then God must be as bad as we are! They are wrong. God could easily have made us bad as He could have made us good. Why then did He make us good and are we in fact ‘good’? The first man was perfect and without sin just as God intended but God gave him a free will, he was tempted and fell into sin. That meant separation from his Creator for God cannot look upon sin. From that day to this mankind was doomed unless the break could be healed. By our sins we are separated from God forever. God however shows us just how much He loves us. Imagine you have a child whom you love dearly and would do anything for. Imagine (and every child is like this) the child is naughty and disobedient and you are at your wit’s end wondering what to do. You still love the child but you have to discipline it and show the error in its ways, showing them right from wrong and hoping they will choose right. In the same way God shows us the right way but not all of us will respond. The little child cannot make amends just as we cannot make amends before God for our sinful ways. God provides a way that we can be right with Him. He provided a sacrifice which if we accept will heal the rift between us. He gave Jesus who takes away the punishment we deserve and places it upon himself. If we believe this then we become right with God…………forever!

Shirley Anne 

How Does Jesus’ Gift of Salvation Benefit Believers? (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10)

When humans sin, they create a barrier between themselves and God. The price for sin is death (see Romans 6:23); however, 1 Thessalonians 5:9–10 indicates that by his grace God provided a substitute for us: Jesus, who “died for us” to pay the penalty for our sin.

To better understand the salvation Jesus provides, we must view it in the broader context of the story of the Bible. Genesis details the creation and rebellion of the human species. Humankind’s rejection of God and God’s response is the theme of the remaining narrative of the Bible—it colours every page. Old Testament prophecies point to a time when the world as we know it will end and judgment will take place. However, these prophecies also point to the coming Messiah who will redeem the lives of those who trust in him.

Salvation is not only a future reality but also a present one. Jesus rewarded the faith of the bleeding woman and of the blind man and literally saved them from their afflictions, as the Greek word translated “healed” actually means “saved” (see Mark 5:34; 10:52). Faith has a reward dimension in this life, sometimes in tangible benefits like physical healing and sometimes in intangibles such as comfort, peace, security and freedom.

Salvation also has a spiritual quality that benefits believers—both now and in eternity. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:9–10 that believers will live with Christ in this world (when we are “awake”) and in the next (when we are “asleep”). Because of Jesus’ salvation, believers can be confident about both the present and the future.

Taken from The Case for Christ Study Bible

Shirley Anne

It is finished

 

Cross

IT IS FINISHED (John 19:30)

“It is finished”—a simple sentence, made of only three simple words, but the significance of this sentence has eternal consequences for billions of people. When Jesus declared, “It is finished,” he indicated that his work of salvation was finished; that he had paid the full price for our sins. The cross is about so much more than a man enduring pain and suffering; it is about so much more than a man being abandoned by his friends and family. The cross is about Jesus, the eternal Son of God, being forsaken by his Father. Jesus, who had forever been one with the Father, was willing to come to earth and identify with sinners like us. He was even willing to become our sin (2Cor 5:21), so that on the cross he could die in our place. On the cross, the hellish punishment that we deserved was placed on him; he willingly endured God’s wrath in order to set us free.

The prophet Isaiah says of him, “You who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes people stagger” (Isa 51:17)—this is what Jesus did on the cross for everyone who believes in him. Our sins have been paid for, and the work of redemption is, gloriously, “finished”!

Jesus, I shudder to think that you became my sin. It’s unimaginable what you must have endured to finish this fight for us. Thank you, Saviour. Amen.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Yes my friend Jesus did that for YOU. Maybe you don’t believe in Jesus, maybe you don’t believe in God but I ask you this….just what do you believe? Are you simply a by-product of The Universe? Were you thrown together by chance? Are you a believer in evolution? None of these things will save you from the wrath of God. Be sure of one thing, you are destined to die and you will face judgement, we all will. You will be judged on what you have done in your life both good and bad and you will accordingly come up short. Only those whose sins are already paid for in full will escape God’s wrath. The ONLY way that your sins can be paid for is through Jesus Christ. If you believe in your heart that God sent him and that he died that you might go free, if you place your trust in him and ask him to be your Saviour then you will be saved. Don’t take your chances elsewhere for there isn’t an ‘elsewhere’.

Shirley Anne

Cross no more

A few days ago I wrote about my being cross with my trainer, my Elliptical Cross Trainer that is. For some reason my buttocks and upper leg muscles decided they didn’t like being exercised on the machine though I had used it several times previously since I bought it months ago. Today and yesterday too I did a couple of work-outs on the trainer and all has been well, no aches or moaning muscles! We all get cross at times and for all sorts of reasons but it passes eventually. How would it be if we remained cross say for people who hurt us or with those who blatantly refuse to obey the law for instance? We all should know right from wrong and we should all behave ourselves in each and every situation but often we fail. Some turn it into a lifestyle and resist all pressure to conform, they are a law unto themselves. The tragedy is we are all like this to some extent, we all fail to comply at times. God calls it sin. When we don’t love one another, when we fail to live as God intended we are sinning and that keeps us separated from God. It would keep us separated from Him forever unless those sins could be dealt with. We however cannot wipe away our sins, they cover us like mud and we are stained. God decided in His wisdom to make it possible to be reconciled with Him but it meant He had to make us clean again before that could happen. An atoning sacrifice was necessary, someone had to step forward on our behalf and pay the penalty so that we could be freed from sin. That someone is Jesus Christ. God has sacrificed His own Son for us because of His love for us. Jesus, part of the Godhead came to live among us and live as we do but he was without sin. He died on a cross for us and paid the penalty for us to set us free. All we have to do is accept this free gift of life by placing our faith in him and believing on the One who sent him. Without this free gift we are helpless and doomed, headed for eternal damnation. Who would be daft enough to refuse? Maybe you and if that is the case I urge you to reconsider. It costs nothing, it is a free gift, you cannot do anything yourself for as God says there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Jesus. This is the most important decision you will ever make. Make the right one.

Shirley Anne

The spirit within you

Dear reader, do you believe in an ‘afterlife’, a place you, that is your spirit, will go when you die? Maybe you believe in re-incarnation but ask yourself how is that possible? Yes, you do have a spirit but from where does it come and how can it enter into another being not yet born in the flesh? The spirit in you was created, it didn’t just ‘pop’ into existence, it isn’t a by-product of the flesh. If it were, then there is no hope for any of us. The spirit within us was created and given a temporary home in which to live by God. God then waits to see if we, that is our spirit, will acknowledge Him. He waits to see if we will respond to His love by accepting His Son Jesus as our Saviour. You see God isn’t in the business of creating beings who automatically love Him, no, He gives His creation the choice, He gives them free will. So where will the spirit who is in you go when you die?

Shirley Anne 

What Is Heaven Like? (Revelation 21:1–2)

Right now, heaven is the literal but unseen realm in which God reigns in unimaginable glory. Moses, Daniel, Ezekiel, Paul and John were all offered glimpses of this holy place, and we know that Christians who have died are with the Lord in paradise (see Lk 23:43). They are in heaven, awaiting the second coming of Christ.
When Jesus Christ returns for his bride, the church, a new era of “heaven” will begin—what might be called “life after life after death” (N. T. Wright). Revelation 21:1—22:5 captures the most complete description of this “new heaven” and “new earth” (Rev 21:1). John saw “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev 21:2). When Jesus promised in John 14:2 that he was going to “prepare a place” for his disciples, this Holy City is the place he was referring to.
This eternal home will truly be “heaven on earth,” for God will re-create his world as a great and beautiful city with streets, protecting walls, a life-giving river and the tree of life—all lit by the glory of God in his inexpressible beauty. The triune God himself will live in that city with his people. All sorrow will be gone. God’s children will worship him forever, accompanied by the angels. Believers will worship God with the great songs of heaven (see Rev 7:10; 15:2–4; 19:1–3), by exploring God’s new creation and through the fellowship of the saints. Believers will reign with Christ and be responsible for governing various parts of God’s kingdom. It will be a bliss that never ends!
Taken from NIV Essentials Study Bible

Shirley Anne