Not guilty?

Not Guilty (Leviticus 5:14–19)

Isn’t it painful to harm others intentionally? Premeditated evils can be set right by our finite sense of justice, even if guilt then rests on our own heads. But imagine the fear and frustration of being held accountable for hundreds of violations that you committed without knowing it. Nothing you ever did would be good enough; you would carry around the guilt of wrongs you never intended to commit. Talk about paranoia.

Yet in Old Testament times, you would certainly have been guilty of such unwitting sins, and they would have required blood sacrifice. The Law of God was clear: No one could be good enough, not even those who sinned without awareness, unintentionally. Few of us think of sin in these terms today, but God remains the same. His standard of perfection cannot be attained, even by the best of us on our best days. The sacrifices of the Old Testament foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice: Jesus Christ. When Jesus offered himself on the cross, he paid the debt of sin in full. He declared his followers “not guilty.” The law was fulfilled. We no longer need the sacrifice of a ram to cleanse us from the sins we knowingly commit or the sins we unintentionally commit. No other blood sacrifice will ever be required. Women today are often burdened by guilt. We are inundated with “shoulds” and “oughts.” We feel guilty if we work; guilty if we don’t; guilty for not spending enough time with our husband, kids and friends; and guilty for not taking time for God and ourselves. We have a hard time knowing when we’re really guilty and when we suffer from false guilt. But Jesus’ declaration from the cross that we are not guilty covers all of our sins—even the unintentional ones. Instead of blood sacrifice, we can make offerings of gratitude: repentance, praise and service. We all both unintentionally and intentionally wrong God and others. But Jesus Christ bought our forgiveness on the cross. Offer him the sacrifice of confession, and you’ll be covered for overlooking the things you should have done and the things you ought not to have. Then pour out the sacrifice of praise. Present the sacrifice of service, helping others in God’s name, for “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Despair has no place here; our advocate perfectly kept even the hidden laws. Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible

Shirley Anne

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Think on this

Easter Meditation (Isaiah 52:2–3)

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

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

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

Taken from Once a Day 40 Days to Easter

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

Shirley Anne

Promises

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

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

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

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

Shirley Anne

He calls your name

Did you know that God is waiting for you? He is waiting for you to respond to His call but you don’t listen, you don’t believe so you ignore. Maybe you are too proud to accept His offer or maybe you don’t know what that offer is. You don’t believe there is a God, it is a silly idea yet you don’t consider it might be true. I know someone who is so stubborn she avoids any possible conversation that might lead to the subject of God. She wouldn’t enter a church building to admire the architecture because of its connection to Christianity and religion. I wonder what she would do if she heard God calling her name. Maybe you are the same, perhaps you are frightened of the possibility too. What would you do if you heard God calling out your name? It could happen but God usually moves in other ways and by The Holy Spirit. He may ‘speak’ directly into your heart and suddenly you realise something you didn’t realise before……..He loves you, He always has loved you and will always love you……….and He waits for you to respond.

Jesus Comforting

You don’t even have to wait for His call, you can reach out to Him now!

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.

Shirley Anne

Who is greater?

Cross

I AM (Exodus 3:14)

God provided his people with a name that denotes his uncaused, independent and eternal character. Moses, faced with the unenviable task of asking Pharaoh for the freedom of the Israelites, asked God for his name. He knew that the Israelites would ask for the name of the one who gave Moses these instructions. God told Moses to call him, “I AM.” He is and will always be. He owes nothing and no one for his existence. Rather, he is the supreme, uncreated, sovereign and sole God of the universe. All things owe their being to him.
Jesus used this same name to declare his identity during his earthly ministry. While the people argued about the relationship of Jesus to the promises God made to Abraham, Jesus defied their understanding by declaring that he is not merely one in a long line of those whom God uses. Rather, he is the “I am” (Jn 8:58). The immense nature of this claim caused many to attempt to stone Jesus because they knew the implications of this term. By using this term Jesus announced himself to be God, committing the ultimate sin of blasphemy in the minds of his Jewish audience. They simply could not comprehend that this carpenter from Nazareth could be the very Son of God, in human form, to whom all people owe their allegiance and worship.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Whom do you think Jesus IS? Soon many will be ‘celebrating’ what Jesus accomplished on the cross for all humanity, ONCE AND FOR ALL TIME. He was God in the flesh when He was with us. His name is Emmanuel which means God with us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice enabling us to approach Him forgiven of our sins by His grace through our faith in Him. He is The I AM and there is no other.

Is it time for you to come to Him and receive His gift of life?

Shirley Anne

A fresh start

A Fresh Start (Isaiah 53:4–12)

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These words, inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, conclude a poem titled “The New Colossus” composed by Emma Lazarus. With torch in her hand, Lady Liberty stands as a symbol of freedom and a welcoming beacon for emigrants coming to America in search of success, happiness and a fresh start.

Do you feel tired or poor? Do you long for freedom? Do you feel tossed by life’s storms? Most of us experience these conditions at some point. Isaiah describes Someone who understands exactly how we feel. Even his own people rejected this “man of suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Many hated him. Nothing about his mere physical appearance attracted people. In short, most of us wouldn’t have given this person the time of day.

Yet this passage describes the most compelling individual in the history of the world. Somehow we can’t resist him. Perhaps it’s what he offers: himself as one like us—one who knows sorrow and yet who offers peace and relief. He offers himself as the sacrifice for our sins. He is the Messiah. And Isaiah makes it clear that Jesus identifies with all the difficulties we could ever face. He knows what it’s like to be crushed, despised, rejected and in deep emotional pain. He knows the quiet desperation we endure when faced with mounting bills, job loss, marital discord, parenting challenges and all the other stuff of life that—if we’re wise—sends us to our knees.

Take a few moments to reread the passage for today and let the words sink into your consciousness. This Jesus, the very Son of God, came to Earth for the very purpose of becoming one of us, albeit temporarily. So when we kneel before Jesus, we kneel before one who can relate to our struggles and hardships. He kneels alongside us to revitalize our energy, provide relief from our stress, set us free from sin and enable us to endure life’s storms. Then, through his powerful Holy Spirit, he offers us a fresh start.

Taken from NIV Men’s Devotional Bible

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

Shirley Anne

Going nowhere

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

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

Shirley Anne

Can we hope?

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

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

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

Taken from NIV Quest Study Bible

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

Shirley Anne

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