Self Isolating and social distancing have become the new buzz words as COVID19 grips the world and mercilessly destroys life as we know it. It is no respecter of nations or persons and many thousands have succumbed to its deadly grip. Today, as churches met via the internet and believers worshipped in their homes, our thoughts went out to families who have lost loved ones; to those who are struggling with the disease; to those who are on the frontlines, and to all those involved in keeping us fed and protected. We lit candles in our windows at 7pm to remember you all and pray for you and for God’s love and mercy to embrace our nation.
“But above all those things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
Now don’t we need that in every corner of the world today. The love the Bible is talking about is the Agape love, the unconditional, forgiving, tender, merciful, humble, patient kind of love. When we look at the world today and see what’s going on, especially in countries where there is still war, oppressive rule, poverty, power struggles, Governments in disunity, lawlessness in society, greed, social issues – this love is in short supply.
When we look at the life of Jesus, He was drawn to the poor, the unloved, the prostitutes, the sick, as well as the ‘tax collectors’ and wealthy. When the Pharisees brought a woman to Him, who had been caught in the act of adultery, and were ready to stone her, Jesus simply said, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one they left until only the woman remained. Jesus then says to her, ‘ does no one condemn you?……….neither do I, go and sin no more.’ Jesus himelf said that he did not come to condemn the world but to set people free. This He did on the cross at Calvary. When God looks at us He sees what we could become. Imagine reversing all the negatives that are operating in the world today with God’s Agape love – there would be less poverty, oppression, greed, lawlessness etc, because people’s attitudes would change, they would be thinking about how they could make a difference to someone elses life.
“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16]
Let us put on love, like a garment, and allow God’s love to work through us – that is the bond of perfection!
If you were to die today where would you spend eternity – in Heaven or in Hell?
On March 2nd 2018, I watched the funeral of the Reverand Billy Graham as it was live streamed from Charlottesville. From the tributes about his life I was struck by the humility of this world known evangelist whose audience numbered people from the highest of positions as well as ordinary folk. His message was the same to both:
“Repent and turn to Jesus.”
The good news of Jesus Christ dying for our sins so that we could have eternal life was his primary message. From the age of 15 to 99 he lived for Jesus. He preached against racism, communism and injustice. He lived his life to bring the lost and hurting to Christ. “You can find everything you have been searching for in Christ.”
Before his death he wrote,
“Some day you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will have just changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
Adam and Eve had to change their address when they disobeyed God and listened instead to satan’s voice. They had to leave the presence of God and live outside the protective enclosure of the Garden of Eden.
Whose voice are you listening to? the one that says, “there is no God,”
“You have plenty of time to make up your mind!”
“Heaven and hell do not exist.”
“Jesus is not God.”
“Still debating the Creation versus evolution theory.”
“When I die, That’s it.”
Please consider this quesion – What if you are wrong?
When things go wrong why not blame God! After all, Adam did when he was confronted by God about the fruit from the forbidden tree.
“The woman You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree,and I ate it.”
In other words – if You had not given the woman to be with me, I would not have eaten of the fruit! How feeble an excuse was that? At least Eve’s answer was more accurate,”The serpent deceived me and I ate.” God had warned them of the consequences!
At this point in the journey we know that because of their disobedience they forfeited paradise. The equality the woman shared in Eden was lost, as was something in the relationship with Adam. Who knows, Adam may have felt resentment towards Eve all of his life, unless of course, he had a revelation from God that he had a choice in Eden- he could have stopped Eve or even refused to take a bite of the forbidden fruit.
Most of us, some time in our lives, have blamed circumstances on someone else, or made excuses for temptations we found hard to resist. We now live in such a liberal society that anything goes. The framework of God’s moral code, His values, integrity have disintegrated over the years, and this reflects in the people who are in positions of power, authority, leadership as well as those we rub shoulders with on a daily basis, i.e. – even ourselves!
It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out why Our World is crumbling. We have taken God out of the equation. The very purpose we were created for, to have a relationship with Him, to involve Him in everything we do; instead we have rejected Him. But there has always been a remnant that have stayed faithful to God – and there is a remnant now who lift God’s name on high and are faithful to His Word- and that gives me hope!
I wonder how God felt when He had to turf Adam and Eve out of Eden. There was no Plan B; Mankind had messed up. Not only had they disobeyed God’s warnings, they had forfeited the earth and its dominion to Satan. God could have washed His hands of them and told them to make their own way. ( just as Pilate did when the crowd shouted for Jesus to be crucified, he wanted nothing to do with it. ) But God didn’t because He loved them. Instead He put a rescue plan into action. He slaughtered an animal to make clothes for the man and woman. This was the very first sacrifice we read about, blood was shed for the benefit of mankind – a foretaste of what would happen to Jesus, thousands of years later. Jesus, known as the Lamb of God, would shed His blood for the benefit of mankind. This tells me something about God. God is a God of His word, He is a holy God, He does not lower His standards. God already knew before the creation of man that this would happen. He also knew that an animal’s blood could not redeem mankind, it had to be human blood, and so Jesus (God as man) came to earth and shed His blood on Calvary. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God and His rescue plan.
People often question why did God allow Jesus to suffer and die on the cross? If you meditate on the triune mystery of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – being three expressions of God, you will realise that God died on the cross as Jesus.
As I meditate on this profound mystery and look at the state of the world, I again ponder on ‘what must God be feeling now?’ Is His rescue plan on target? And, when will Jesus be returning?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Gethsemane – Tears of Love
Prior to creating man, God created the animal kingdom,marine life, birds and insects, but He saw that Adam needed a soul mate from his own species.
Genesis 2:18. Then the Lord said “it is not good for the man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
v21: So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. v22: And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. v23: And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. v24: For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. v25: And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
God then puts Adam and Eve into this beautiful garden, which had everything they needed, and they would walk with God in “the cool of the day.” However, they were warned not to eat of the fruit of this one particular tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then one day they were under this tree and Satan, disguised as a serpent deceived Eve who took a bite out of the fruit then gave it to Adam, who also took a bite. I ask the questions: Why were they under the tree in the first place? Why did Adam not stop Eve from taking a bite? This one act of disobedience turned their lives upside down, they had to leave paradise and struggle in a new and harsh environment. Was it worth it?
Temptations come to all of us in one form or another. Satan will whisper in our ear. “surely one more drink will not hurt you?” “Surely another chocolate biscuit won’t matter?” “Surely spending time with my friend’s husband or boyfriend will not lead to anything?” “Surely you will not die if you eat of this tree?”
When God tells us not to do something there is a reason for it. Though Adam and Eve were thrown out of Eden, God did not abandon them!
A journey has to have a beginning and an end. To get to know God I am re-visiting Genesis, the first book in the Bible. The very first words are, “In the beginning, God.” It does not say, “Once upon a time, God.” The Creation story is not a fairy tale, but a living account of our origins. As I read about each day of Creation I realise God is a God of vision, order, a planner, creative. He has a plan, He creates the structure, then goes back and fills in the details. By the sixth day, when He forms man, the earth and sea are resplendent with His creation. Then on the 6th day:
Genesis 1:26 – 27.
v:26 And God said “Let us make man in Our Image, according to Our likeness, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
v:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him;male and female He created them.
There are so many things in these verses that give me clues about God. One thing particularly, that strikes me, is that man and woman together represent the image of God. Each has qualities that can be found in God. For so long women have been treated as second class citizens. In many countries they still are. But to God, man and woman are equal.
Lots more to explore!!
This year I’m going to focus on God’s love – and how His love can be poured out on others, through me. I want to be a vessel of His love.
The first couple of days into 2018 has not changed the political dramas facing us from around the world. In fact new ones emerge continually. Wars haven’t suddenly stopped. Poverty and misery, persecution, oppression, sickness, unemployment, welfare shortages etc…still exist. The destruction of marine life and wildlife from man made plastics and the needless destruction of thousands of animals by trophy hunters and ivory poachers, and the millions of dogs and cats inhumanely slaughtered (skinned alive and boiled alive) paints a picture of the world today. Have we sunk so low as to allow this to happen? Then, if that was not enough, we have cyber warfare – hackers, spammers, phishers, malware operatives creating so much damage and stress to people’s lives – robbing people and organisations indiscriminately. They have no conscience!! So what’s the solution?
We are the solution? George Hoffman, now deceased, used to be a director of Tear Fund, a Christian relief agency – he used to say, ” One person cannot change the world, but you can change the world for one person.” We can change the atmosphere in our workplaces, in our homes, in our communities. There are certain things we have no control over but we do have a God we can turn to.
” For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting (eternal) life.” (John 3:16)