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

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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

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

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

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

Why did Christ suffer on the cross?

Doctrine: Atonement; God’s Forgiveness (Leviticus 6:6–7)

Barry Bonds at the plate.
Barry Bonds at the plate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On August 7, 2007, baseball slugger Barry Bonds hit career home run number 756, the home run that broke Hank Aaron’s record. However, many questioned whether or not the new record should count because Bonds was alleged to have used steroids. Sports buffs said if his name is listed in the record book, it should be accompanied by an asterisk to indicate that the record is a sort-of record, a tainted record. In 2008 Mark Ecko, the man who bought the ball Bonds hit to set the record, branded the baseball with an asterisk and donated it to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s not unusual for Christians to imagine we have an asterisk by our name. We may be destined for that Hall of Fame called heaven, but aware that our lives our tainted, we’re left with a sour taste in our souls. We’re grateful to enjoy eternal life with God, but we wish there wasn’t that sense of being tainted. The gospel is hard to believe at just this point, but it is nonetheless the great truth. There is no longer a need for sin offerings. The forgiveness we are offered through Christ’s sacrifice doesn’t just make our sin null and void, it also erases the asterisk. God doesn’t see a fixed sinner, but someone righteous and pristine. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us. We are a new creation. The old has passed away—so much so that there is no need for an asterisk—and all things have become new.

Taken from NIV Understand the Faith Study Bible

That’s it! ‘The forgiveness we are offered through Christ’s sacrifice’ For all of us have sinned, we all fall short of God’s glory, we simply are not at all good. Yes we may live good lives and be upstanding citizens, give to the poor and do all sorts of ‘good’ things but unfortunately we are none of us perfect, we are all tainted in some way. Our own sense of righteousness doesn’t mean we are righteous, no, we cheat and lie, we do things we ought not do and don’t do the things we ought to do. It is just as well therefore that God loves us and He demonstrates that love through Jesus Christ. Jesus died on that cross for each and every one of us both now, in the past and in the future. For all those who believe on his name there is salvation, atonement with The Father and forgiveness for our sins. It is an amazing truth. It is such a shame that not everybody will accept it. They remain in their sins and they condemn themselves. My hope is that all will come to the truth which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. My hope is that you dear reader, if you have not already done so, is that you come to accept Jesus as your Saviour for that is who He is.

Shirley Anne

Downward entropy

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...
First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many things you cannot guarantee but you can guarantee one thing….One day you will die. The way some people live you would suppose they are thinking they will live forever…..but obviously they won’t. It is as though they are chasing after the wind without a thought about where they are heading. They are focused on living in the here and now and don’t realise it will all come to a sudden end. What will they have achieved? (Mark 8:36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?). Want something that will last forever? Read on…

Shirley Anne

SALVATION FOREVER (Isaiah 51:4–6)

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the nearness of the righteousness and salvation of God. His arm, or his power, will go forth in judgment, but that same power will be used to deliver and save those who trust in him. Though the prophecy about God’s righteousness drawing near “speedily” (v. 5) refers to the Jews returning from exile in Babylon, the rest of this stanza (vv. 4–6) clearly looks beyond that event.
Just as judgment lies with God alone—he alone sets the standards of justice, righteousness and holiness in the universe according to his good character—so too does salvation lie with him. God alone has the power to truly save, for he saves his people from the very judgment that he will execute in the world.
This text reminds readers that the entire cosmos is in a state of downward entropy; things are getting worse and worse and will continue to do so. Just as humans have been, so God’s creation has also been mired and corrupted by sin. While the earth will pass away, God’s salvation will stand forever. This salvation is accomplished through Jesus and Jesus alone; indeed, salvation was and is his mission on earth. God shows his eternal commitment to save those who trust in him through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Salvation, then, can only be had through Christ. This is why the New Testament echoes the fact that “salvation belongs to our God” (Rev 7:10).
Jesus, we can see the world getting more and more broken as we near the day of your return. Thank you for giving us a hope that shines at the end of this tunnel. May we live in service to that hope. Amen.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Shirley Anne

Have you heard?

If you have then did you accept or reject the Good News? That is exactly what it is, Good News. Always your prerogative of course but there is no real excuse for rejection. I have personally heard testaments from people who shall I say had no regard for anyone else but themselves. Thieves, robbers, slanderers they were but they had a change of heart after they heard about Jesus Christ and what he had done for them. Many folk I have witnessed to have told me that they will think about it and others have simply told me they just don’t believe or that it is all fiction. God however tells us that this is far from the truth and we have no excuses for not believing. I would ask anyone who think otherwise to think again for there is much to gain from coming to a real understanding.

Shirley Anne

Jesus appearing to Thomas the Apostle, from th...
Jesus appearing to Thomas the Apostle, from the Maesta by Duccio di Buoninsegna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What About Those Who Have Never Heard About Jesus? (Acts 4:12)

Jesus was clear about the rules for receiving salvation when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). And when speaking about Jesus, the apostle Peter said in this passage, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Further, all people have to answer to God whether or not they have “heard” about him (see Heb 9:27). The Bible states that God has clearly revealed himself in creation (see Ro 1:19–20) and that he has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecc 3:11). This means that people see all around them the evidence of God and sense within themselves the truth that they are meant for more than this world. God is not the problem; humankind is. Because of sin, people reject this knowledge of God and rebel against his will (see Ro 1:21–23). It is only because of God’s grace (see Eph 2:8–9) that he saves people from their own sinful desires (see Ro 1:24–32).
How God works out his plan is mysterious and complicated. We have our ideas of what it means for Jesus to be “the way,” but he is not bound by our understanding. God works to accomplish his goals in ways that we will never see or comprehend. The wideness of God’s mercy and the tenacity of his love is beyond our intellectual capacity.
Jesus is central in the redemption story. But God rewards those who seek him (see Heb 11:6). It is our mission to help those who seek him and make sure that those who have yet to answer God’s call hear and understand the gospel (see Mt 28:19–20; Ac 1:8). God always acts justly; he never acts unfairly or wrongly (see Dt 32:4). We might be surprised at the final roll call of heaven. Fortunately, it is God—not us—who will sort out the details in each person’s case.
Taken from NIV Essentials Study Bible

Shirley Anne

I didn’t mean to…

The Sacrifice of the Old Covenant
The Sacrifice of the Old Covenant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quite often in life we make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes offend someone. Sometimes the ‘mistakes’ are intentional but often they are not and we haven’t realised our error. How can we make amends when we act this way? In the Old Testament we read how the Israelites made restitution for their sins. They sacrificed an animal to shed its blood as an offering, an atonement for their sins (to God). These sacrifices were accepted by God but later He made the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us through Jesus Christ. His blood was shed for us all, paying the price for all of our sins. He became our sacrifice and it is only through him that we can be forgiven. Nobody now has to sacrifice an animal if they place their hope in Christ Jesus. Praise The Lord.

Shirley Anne

Don’t-Mean-It Sins (Leviticus 4:27–35)
Everyone roared with laughter at Maggie’s story about Brad’s klutziness in fixing the car. Brad was mortified.
Thad had been paying bills online and then, without ever really planning to, he found himself deep in pornography. Melanie walked in and found him viewing images he had no business seeing.
Arthur and Gabriela thought they were just getting together with some friends from church, but then they found themselves caught up in an angry coup to get rid of the pastor. Six months later, the church was in shambles, and Arthur and Gabriela were wondering how they let themselves get involved in the mess.
Sometimes we sin without meaning to. We aim for righteousness, honour and wisdom, but we miss by a mile. Leviticus 4:2 introduces a Hebrew word for sin that means “to miss the mark.” George R. Knight, professor of church history at Andrews University Theological Seminary (Berrien Springs, Michigan), explains, “You have missed, not because you are wicked, but because you are stupid, silly, careless, inattentive, perhaps lazy, or more probably because you do not possess the proper aim in life.”
Add to that Hebrew word for sin the word “unintentionally,” and it suggests someone wandering away like a silly sheep or someone who isn’t thinking. We sometimes feel we ought to be given a break if we didn’t really mean to sin. But the Bible doesn’t cut us any slack. Whether we mean it or not, sin damages our relationship with God and with others. Anyone who is married knows that unintentional hurts, such as teasing about someone’s weaknesses or being chronically late or missing a birthday, can do a lot of harm.
Leviticus 4 shows that God takes unintentional sins seriously. Forgiveness is available, but it doesn’t come cheap. No quick, “Oops, sorry. Guess I wasn’t thinking.” Specific instructions were given in Leviticus 4 for how different groups were to deal with these kinds of sins. While the details differed a little from one group to another, the basic corrective steps were the same for each situation: bring an offering, then have it sacrificed to atone for the sin.
Today, we who confess Jesus Christ as Saviour are grateful that we don’t have to go through the laborious and gruesome atonement rituals of the Old Testament. Still, as we read through the requirements in Leviticus, we realize how the sacrificial system illustrates the seriousness of sin. These sin sacrifices did not over-dramatize the sinner’s situation; rather, they under-dramatized it. The blood of animals could never pay for sin, whether unintentional or not. God mercifully accepted such sacrifices until his plan could be carried out to give his one and only Son, Jesus, as the complete sacrifice for sin.
Sin is terrible—even when it’s unintentional. Praise God that Christ’s death provides forgiveness for us and that his indwelling Spirit gives us the strength to aim straight at godliness.
—Lee Eclov
Taken from NIV Couples’ Devotional 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