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

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Think on these things

On what do you focus, what is the main aim in your life? Do you hunger after wealth, possessions, never-ending holidays, big cars and fancy clothes and a nice house to live in? If all those things were taken from you, should you have any of them, what would be your first thought? Would anger fill your heart, would you seek to replace them immediately because you cannot live without them? Would you simply accept they’ve gone and move on with your life, maybe changing direction this time? There is more to life than all these things and whilst there is nothing wrong in possessing any of them they shouldn’t be the main focus of your existence. There is a better way, a better thing for you to focus on, your life and its worth. You are worth many times more than anything you own for you are loved by God. God doesn’t offer you any of these things, there are no promises of material wealth. True wealth isn’t measured by your possessions, true wealth is in knowing God and believing in Christ Jesus your Saviour…God says….

Shirley Anne

Meditation (Luke 24:1–8)

All of Christianity is summed up in one verifiable historical event. And this changes everything. Jesus of Nazareth, a maverick Jewish rabbi and prophet, who claimed to be the Messiah about whom Scripture foretold, was arrested, condemned in an illegal trial and crucified. A soldier’s spear to his side and the blood and water that flowed from the wound confirmed that his lungs had collapsed. He was dead. Days after his body had been prepared and placed in a sealed tomb, some women went back to the tomb and found the Roman seal broken, the stone rolled away from the entrance and his body (along with the guards whose lives depended on their keeping watch over it) gone. Soon after that day, more than 500 people claimed to have seen him alive. Others claimed to have seen him ascend into heaven. Most of these witnesses were still alive at the time of the writing of the four Gospels. If the words of this “Good News” were not true, one of those witnesses would have surely refuted them.

Those who committed to follow Jesus early on gained no visible benefit from following him, no wealth or power or possession. Rather, many were themselves beaten, stoned, tortured and crucified. Yet Christianity has persisted on through history to today. And because we know that this account of Jesus’ death and resurrection is factual, we can also know that his promises are sure. The One who died as a criminal to take our sin away from us is alive now, preparing a place for us. And one day, we will be made alive again with him.

Prayer
Loving Lord, you have called us to be born again to a living hope that comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You are preparing an inheritance for me that will never be corrupted and never fade away. And yet I confess that I often put my hope in other things. Deliver me from the futility of misplaced hopes. Teach me the wisdom of seeking you and finding security in your unchanging character. Only your promises will stand forever. It is folly to trust in people, possessions or position because all of these ultimately disappoint. Instead, I place my hope in you. I pray that I will grow in knowing, loving and trusting you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day 40 Days to Easter

Shirley Anne

Love


How well do we know love? When we think about love our thoughts turn to those closest to us, our wives, husbands, children and then the rest of our families, friends, acquaintances and sometimes those we work with. I suspect though that the less connected and those we don’t give much thought are not loved in the same way. That I also suppose is natural and expected but God doesn’t love us in that way, He loves us all no matter who we are for we are His creation. How many of us really know that or indeed accept it or even accept God Himself?
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
That is the measure of real love.

Shirley Anne

Love (1 John 4:8)

To know God is to know love, and to continually experience this love is to have renewed motivations, even for work. As we grasp the depth of God’s love for us, we begin to see every part of our lives being sustained and directed by that love. Over time this perspective affects every part of our lives. And because we spend so much of our lives engaged in it, one of our greatest needs is to have God’s love transform the way we work.

When we begin to experience God and his love, our whole being—heart, mind, soul and strength—is engaged, and this experience cannot help but change the way we approach work. It affects our motivations, our relationships and the very work that we do. We see ourselves working for God out of gratitude for what he has done for us, and our diligence at work reflects that gratitude.

As we consider the transformative power of God’s love, the question we must always ask ourselves is this: “Have we come to know the true living God, or are we more occupied with a projection of God informed by our own intellect, desires or experiences?” Only when we encounter this loving God are we truly changed at the very core of our being.

Connecting

God speaks into our lives, and his voice communicates a profound love that changes us in ways both big and small. His love is not an abstract sentiment, but is specific. He didn’t love humanity in some obscure way. No, he sent his Son to live as a Jewish man, die on a Roman cross and rise again so that we could be saved and know him.

One of the most powerful expressions of God’s love in us is in the words we say to our coworkers. Most of us have opportunities to give feedback. Yet, sometimes we shy away from giving positive feedback, in fear of appearing weak or sappy, or we give it in such a way that tears people down. When the love of God is at work in us to transform the way we see others and the importance of our work, even seemingly insignificant feedback can create the kind of change that brings life and health to an individual as well as an organization.

Taken from NIV Faith & Work Bible

Shirley Anne

I am The Lord

Do you know God? Do you realise how much He loves you? Don’t you remember the price He paid in order that you and He could be reconciled? Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for all those who will turn to him in repentance. Are you one who is still unsure that God even exists? I myself understand that completely for I too could not and would not believe and for many years rejected the whole idea. One day around thirty years ago I picked up the family Bible (many had one but never read it!) and began reading it through. By the time I had reached the last page of Revelations I realised I needed to discover more and wanted eagerly to do so. I had begun my journey by reaching out to God. In February 1989 I became a Christian at the age of 43. My Bible has since been read many times and each time God reveals something new to me. Do I regret becoming a Christian? Absolutely not! It was the best thing I ever did or will ever do for I know that God loves me and that Jesus paid the price for my sins, the price I should be paying and would be paying for them had he not saved me. Yes, God loves me and He loves you, whoever you are, just as much.

Shirley Anne

English: Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deu...
Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy 6:1-15, illustration from a Bible card published 1907 by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 (Ge 12; 15). He is the God who used what man intended for evil to promote Joseph to second-in-command in Egypt (Ge 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 sovereign 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 (Php 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 (Ro 5:10). He is the radiance of the glory of God, yet willing to love those who show even a childlike faith (Lk 18:16). God is the King of the universe, yet one who allows frail humans to approach him as their father (Ro 8:15). He is Yahweh, the Lord God Almighty.
Prayer: 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

Shirley Anne

Staying the course

Love in Thoughts
Love in Thoughts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My thoughts are fixed, my mind is set, I walk along the path with you.
My eyes are open, yet I cannot see, I feel your presence
Standing there right next to me.
I call your name, no answer comes, well nothing I can hear
I wait impatiently for you to whisper something sweet into my ear.
Why Lord do you not speak? Why Lord do you not say to me you care?
What can I do when all my thoughts are fixed on you?
I should know better, yes I know I should
For you don’t answer me in ways I thought you would.
But you are always there……….

Shirley Anne 23 Feb 2017

Sometimes I get the feeling or rather forget my Lord is with me throughout the days. When everything seems to be going wrong, when nothing seems to be going right, I forget Lord that you are standing by my side throughout it all. You see my weaknesses, my strengths, my heart’s wishes and the way I deal with them. You notice everything and so I have to be careful in my ways that I don’t offend you. Many times I fail Lord, you know it. You know all my faults and indiscretions yet still you love me and are ready to forgive. What a wonderful God you are. You love me so much that you gave your only begotten Son who paid the penalty for all my sins, my wrongdoing, the penalty I should be paying. You set me free and all you want is for me to love you back. I try my best Lord but know I fall short. By your mercy, grace and love I am saved. Thank you Lord. I stay the course because of our mutual love. My heart is fixed upon you……

Shirley Anne

 

I am who I am

English: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. Česky...
English: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. Česky: Jákob zápasící s andělem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Republished from http://www.ucb.co.uk/word-for-today.html

There is also a link to their site above under ‘A word for today’

TODAY’S WORD FOR TODAY

Walking in Your God-Given

Identity

‘…What is your name?’

Genesis 32:27

Job 1-4, Lk 1:1-25, Ps 105:23-36 , Ecc 7:5-8

There are many folk who could claim they know who they are, who know no matter what others might say about them that they are not what others say. Sadly not all will know that freedom and they remain hidden and closeted for fear of exposing who they really are. For a Christian believer knowing they are special in God’s eyes is important. The realization of God’s true love and acceptance is of greater value than any earthly acknowledgement. We walk in His love in the identity He gave us.

Shirley Anne