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

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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

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

You are a person of faith!

Did you know that you’re a person of great faith? (Hebrews 11:1–2)

It’s true—you are, and so is everyone else. Not a day passes without each of us exercising considerable faith. For example, you did it when you showered this morning. You trusted that the soap manufacturer didn’t put some caustic substance in the soap that would burn your skin. When you drove to work, you trusted that the drivers of the oncoming cars wouldn’t suddenly pull in front of you. When you got to work and flipped on the light switch, you believed that the light would come on.

The author of Hebrews tells us that faith is like that. It’s being sure of things you hope for without having them yet; it’s being certain that unseen things are real.

Notice that faith is not just positive thinking. And it’s more than mere intuition. Faith is only as good as its object; it must have a worthy focus or it’s just a blind hunch. When God asks you to trust him, he isn’t asking you to take a blind leap. Faith in God is built on the evidence he has supplied, which includes fulfilled prophecy, eyewitness reports, historical and archaeological confirmations of the Bible’s trustworthiness, God’s divine insight into human nature as seen in the pages of Scripture, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (which confirmed his supernatural credentials) and the changed lives of believers down through history—to name just a few examples.

Since you already live by faith in many areas of your life, depending daily on less reliable things, why not put your full confidence in God, who is reliable and is offering you forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

Taken from NIV The NIV Journey Bible

Well how about it? How long are you going to resist God? How long will you live? Seek God whilst you still have the chance. You have faith in other things which will ultimately pass away now have the faith that God exists for as sure as you might be that He doesn’t……..He does.

Shirley Anne

Hiding something?

For the passage listed below first of all you must believe there is a God and there is a Saviour. Why do we need a Saviour? Well without a saviour we cannot be saved. Saved from what? Our sins, whether we believe we sin or not we will be judged by them. Hiding from our sins or denying we sin doesn’t mean they don’t exist. We first of all sin by denying God’s existence, then we sin by denying His Son who is the Saviour of all mankind. Jesus is his name. God the Father has put everything under his feet. If we believe in The Father and in His Son and repent of our sins and confess our sins putting our hope in Jesus Christ for our salvation we WILL be saved. God says so. Don’t hide from God because you can’t!

Shirley Anne

Hidden No More (Proverbs 28:13)

When was the last time you felt like hiding?
If we know God sees everything, why do we try to hide our sin from him?
Have you ever seen a little kid try to hide just by closing her eyes? She thinks if she can’t see anyone, no one can see her. That kind of thinking is cute when it’s a little kid doing it. When it’s someone who should know better, it’s a different story.
Why do we try to hide sin from God by closing our eyes to it and pretending it doesn’t exist? Why do we hide it from other people and assume God can’t see it either? God sees everything. He knows the sin is there, and he knows it’s keeping us away from him.
At every moment of every day, God stands ready to forgive us—no matter what we’ve done. All we have to do is ask him. Trying to hide our sin is a sure way to make a bad situation worse. Confessing our sin and receiving God’s mercy is a sure way to feel a giant sense of relief.
Prayer
Dear God, thank you for the way you treat us when we bring our sins to you. Please help us remember that no matter what we’ve done, we can always receive forgiveness from you. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day At the Table

Shirley Anne

Special

When you look into the mirror do you see yourself as special or do you see flaws? Have you a desire to become better in some way than you already are? You may consider yourself to be beautiful, handsome, clever, upright, truthful, honest, forgiving, friendly or sadly none of these things. Most of us will agree if we are honest with ourselves that we do have one or two shortcomings though we would rather keep that private. The truth is, the real truth is this, we aren’t as perfect as we would have others believe and we hide it. There isn’t one person on this planet who is perfect and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We are however very special and each one of us is unique…… we are loved just as we are…….

Shirley Anne

Special People (album)
Special People (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God Loves You as You Are (Exodus 34:5–6)

The Lord does not cherish us as we deserve (if that were the case, we would be desolate) but as he must, unable to do otherwise. He is love. Hard as it is for us to believe—because we neither give nor receive love among ourselves in this way—we yet believe, because of the life-death-resurrection of the Carpenter-Messiah, that his Father is more loving, more forgiving, more cherishing than Abraham, Isaac or Jacob could have dreamed.

What this says simply is that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is gracious. His love is gratuitous in a way that defies our imagination.

It is for this reason that we can proclaim with theological certainty in the power of the Word: God loves you as you are and not as you should be! Do you believe this? That God loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity, that he loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain, that he loves you without caution, regret, boundary, limit or breaking point?

Taken from NIV Ragamuffin Bible 

Shirley Anne

 

Faith to believe

The post is mainly aimed at those who doubt, who do not believe in God or Jesus Christ but it equally applies to believers too. Since becoming a Christian believer myself almost thirty years ago after a lifetime of staunchly adhering to atheism it has always been my passion to introduce others to Christ. Some say that to believe one has to have an inclination that way in the first place and for many I guess that could be true but I also think that many would turn to Christ if they really knew more about him. It is true that a desire to know more and to have an inquiring heart really does help and even Scripture tells us this. God says that those who earnestly seek Him WILL find Him. I always say too that the alternative does not bear thinking about! All I can add is to reach out to God and He will respond……..and He already knows what you will do………..

Shirley Anne

Now That's What I Call Faith
Now That’s What I Call Faith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FAITH AND UNBELIEF (Mark 5:24–34)

Faith is different from feelings. Feelings are based on circumstances, and they change like the weather. Faith involves acting, trusting and believing that God is real, at work and working for believers’ good—regardless of what one may happen to feel at the moment. In fact, sometimes faith leads believers in the opposite direction of feelings.

The woman in this passage had been suffering for a long time. As her disorder involved blood, she was perpetually “unclean” (according to Jewish law), and as a result had likely been ostracized by her community. When she heard about the healing power of Jesus, she boldly braved the large crowd and reached out to him in faith. His response: “Daughter, your faith has healed you” (Mk 5:34).

God invites people to faithfully trust him for all of life (Pr 3:5–6). The way of Jesus is the way of trust. All throughout his life on earth, Jesus demonstrated absolute faith in his Father and challenged his followers to exercise the same kind of faith.

For many reasons, people are prone to doubt. Modern western culture is fraught with skepticism. The contemporary search for truth says, “Understand in order to believe.” And against this thinking, Jesus has always maintained, “Believe in order to understand.” In the struggle with doubt and unbelief, Jesus encourages people, “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mk 5:36). The way of Jesus is the way of trusting God every day, for this life and the next.

Prayer
Jesus, please don’t let me get distracted by feelings, which can be so fickle. I want to believe in you, trust in you and surrender to you, even when I don’t feel like it. Amen.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Shirley Anne

Wheat or weed?

Matthew 13:24–30 The parable of the weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared.

27 ‘The owner’s servants came to him and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?”

28 ‘“An enemy did this,” he replied.

‘The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?”

29 ‘“No,” he answered, “because while you are pulling up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”’

English: Footpath along the wheat field The pu...
Footpath along the wheat field The public footpath is a bit of a battle against crop and weeds as it proceeds north from this point by the A30 towards Gospel Ash Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this short story, Jesus tells why God allows evil to continue in the world. According to Jesus, if God uprooted all the evil people (the weeds) now, others (the wheat) might be uprooted along with them.
For now, God’s allowing evil doesn’t mean he condones it. Rather, God is waiting for people to turn to him and accept his leadership in their lives. After all, if tonight at midnight God wiped out all the people who hadn’t yet trusted in him, where would you be in the morning?
Verse 30 gives us an image of the final separation that God will initiate at the end of time. On that day, God wants to gather you, as one of his people, into his heaven. Won’t you accept that gracious offer?

Taken from NIV The NIV Journey Bible

Shirley Anne

Fact or fiction?

Many people when asked about The Bible say it is fiction, a compilation of fairy tales and shouldn’t be believed. Others believe part of it is true but still cannot see its message. Many of these people probably have never read it or studied it in-depth. The problem is this, verses, selected texts, chapters and individual books cannot be properly studied in isolation because a distorted message may result. People will point fingers and quote verses to those witnessing to them in an effort to belittle them and maybe to give themselves an excuse not to believe. Even those who witness are sinners just the same, it isn’t about scoring points, it is about realising our sins and repenting of them. It is about trusting in Christ Jesus who paid the penalty for them and accepting him as Saviour. The Bible is His Story……try reading it through and perhaps, if your heart is open, you will gain the understanding….

Shirley Anne

A bible from 1859.
A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How Do We Know the Bible Is True? (Hebrews 4:12)

According to the Bible, all Scripture is God breathed (2 Tim 3:16). Peter confirmed this when he said that those who wrote the Bible were not speaking on their own but spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21). Many parts of Scripture are directly attributed to God through use of phrases like ‘This is what the Lord says’ (e.g., Ex 4:22). Finally, Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament and affirmed it as being God’s Word.
Prophecies that were later fulfilled are corroboration of the accuracy of the Bible’s claim to be God’s Word. For example, the vision recorded in Daniel 7 correctly predicted the rise of the Medo¬Persian Empire, the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great, and the Roman Empire.
Archaeological discoveries are also important evidence of the Bible’s accuracy. For example, for many years King David was believed by some to be a fictional character. But recently a composition from a king of Syria referring to the “house of David” was discovered at Tel Dan. This writing provides tangible evidence that ancient rulers indeed recognized the dynasty of David in Judah.
Another reason for confidence in the Bible’s authenticity is its internal consistency. The Bible is actually a compilation of 66 books written over a period of 2,000 years by more than 40 different authors, and yet there is a unified message and a striking theological coherence—something that clearly speaks of God’s guidance throughout the process of writing, transmitting and assembling the Biblical texts.
It is important to remember that the original Biblical documents no longer exist. We are dependent on copies, and copyists can make mistakes. However, scholars have carefully tracked the accuracy of ancient manuscripts from different centuries, and their consistency gives us good reason to be confident in the Bibles we read today. Furthermore, rigorous standards were applied to determine the canon—both by the Jews, who determined the collection of books that make up the Old Testament Scriptures, and by the early church, which decided the books to be included in the New Testament.

Taken from NIV Quest Study Bible

Shirley Anne

Still cold

Today as I write it is Good Friday. I am reminded as always each day that Jesus died and suffered on a cross for me. This day celebrates that event. It is both a sad and a happy day, sad because what Jesus did was necessary for us all, happy because if we believe we too will be raised up to everlasting life. However, that isn’t the subject of this post. Many folk will be taking a break from their usual routine either going on a short holiday or relaxing at home. Two of my neighbours have taken short breaks away from home but for E and myself staying at home is fine though if we did take a break away from home it would most likely be out of the country. Personally I can’t see why going to a different country just to relax is necessary unless it is for the benefit of guaranteed warm sunshine. I have to say that dull and cold weather can be depressing if it stays that way too long. At the moment we are experiencing a dip in temperature after a short spell of warm and sunny weather. That is the nature of this land, it can be unpredictable sometimes. This morning I took a walk northwards on the edge of town and then turned toward the seafront. I was glad I had taken gloves with me and in fact at this time of year they will remain in the bag I carry until I know they will not be needed. It was quite a cold morning though that was more due to the south-easterly wind than the temperature which hovered around seven degrees. I was happy to return to the comfort and warmth of home later. In the meantime I did enjoy the walk, I always do.

Shirley Anne