Archive for the ‘bible’ Category

If I were to ask you if in your family you have any Christmas traditions you uphold each year, what would your answers be?

  • Spending a day Christmas shopping with your friends or family
  • Putting up the Christmas tree
  • Decorating the house
  • Giving gifts to family and friends
  • Spending quality time with family on Christmas Day
  • Eating turkey and generally  over-eating!
  • Attending a carol service

In our house, we have a tradition of starting our Christmas season by sitting down and watching one of our favourite Christmas films. For the last few years it’s been the same film watched, as it has become my husband’s favourite, and that is the film Elf!

I’m sure if we went round the room we’d find we all consider a lot of different films to be our favourites and that shouldn’t surprise us as there are hundreds to choose from with new films being release each year. Never mind all the classic Christmas films which I’m sure we’ve all watched a few times.

When I was considering about what I’d share with you tonight, I got thinking about what Christmas would have been like if that very first Christmas never happened. And this turned my thoughts to my Mum’s favourite Christmas film, the classic, It’s A Wonderful Life.

James Stewart plays George Bailey who along with his uncle, has inherited the Bailey Brothers’ Building and Loan, saving it from takeover by the banker. He builds affordable housing for local residents, again annoying his local business rival. Then a few years later on Christmas Eve, George’s uncle misplaces the $8000 that was due to be paid to the bank for the building and loan, meaning George knows he will probably go to jail. So on that snowy night he heads out in desperation, uncertain what to do, and gets drunk and into a fight. Wishing he had never been born, he  comes to a bridge and considers committing suicide.

But then, instead of committing suicide he finds himself ‘rescuing’ Clarence Oddbody from the water. We discover Clarence is an angel, and so when George tells him he wishes he’d never been born, Clarence grants his wish to see what the world would have looked like if he never been born.

Through the rest of the film we discover that George’s life has had a significant impact on his family, friends and community, and had he never been born, other people’s lives would have been worse.

So what would life be like if Jesus had never been born? What if the first Christmas never happened? No baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger; No shepherds being told by an angel that Christ had been born; No wise men following a star to a stable to give their gifts to baby Jesus.

I found this quote from Frederick Buechner which describes the impact the birth of Jesus has had on this world:

It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.

Have you considered the impact Jesus has had on your life? Would your life have been different is Jesus had not been born?

John 1:1-2 (Living Bible)

Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that he didn’t make. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.

At this time of year it can be so easy to get caught up in our Christmas traditions, and forget why we actually celebrate Christmas. But we need to remember who Christmas is about:

Who is he in yonder stall at whose feet the shepherds fall?

I pray that this year as you celebrate Christmas, you not only continue your Christmas traditions, but you remember the impact Jesus has had on your life, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus:

‘Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!

‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory;

at his feet, we humbly fall,

crown him, crown him Lord of all!

God’s words

Posted: December 1, 2017 in bible, life, music, religion, trust, words
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Job 22:21-25 (The Message)

Give in to God, come to terms with him and everything will turn out just fine. Let him tell you what to do; take his words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and he’ll rebuild your life. Clean house of everything evil. Relax your grip on your money and abandon your gold-plated luxury. God Almighty will be your treasure, more wealth than you can imagine.

It’s all about words again, isn’t it, but this time God’s words. God always has the right words for us to encourage and guide us. If we listen to God and put our trust in Him, we can achieve far more than we could ever imagine.

Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood. ~ William Penn

The project I’m responsible for at work just now, involves designing and developing a new website to provide our customers with a simple, and easy to understand way of communicating with us. This includes ensuring that the information/text the customer will be presented with is written in Plain English. i.e. It is written with the reader in mind, using non-technical terms that are clear and concise in meaning.

To give us the best chance of ensuring that what we are developing is written in way our customers will understand, we’ve held several customer forums, and have completed some online training provided by the Plain English Campaign (www.plainenglish.co.uk). For those who have not heard of the Plain English Campaign, here’s an extract from their website explaining their purpose:

Since 1979, we have been campaigning against gobbledygook, jargon and misleading public information. We have helped many government departments and other official organisations with their documents, reports and publications. We believe that everyone should have access to clear and concise information.

From the customer forums we held, we quickly realised that some of the words/terms we frequently use when we communicate with our customers, are either unclear or meaningless to our customer. This got me thinking about how we as Christians, and Salvationists, communicate God’s message to the people we come into contact with.

Do we use words that others won’t understand?

Do we use abbreviations or jargon that those unfamiliar with the Salvation Army will not know or understand?

I think most of us, if we’re honest, would answer ‘Yes’ to both those questions. But we’re not alone, even Jesus found at times he had to simplify his language so that the disciples understood what he was trying to tell them!

In John 16:25-29, we read:

“I’ve used figures of speech in telling you these things. Soon I’ll drop the figures and tell you about the Father in plain language. Then you can make your requests directly to him in relation to this life I’ve revealed to you. I won’t continue making requests of the Father on your behalf. I won’t need to. Because you’ve gone out on a limb, committed yourselves to love and trust in me, believing I came directly from the Father, the Father loves you directly. First, I left the Father and arrived in the world; now I leave the world and travel to the Father.”

His disciples said, “Finally! You’re giving it to us straight, in plain talk—no more figures of speech. Now we know that you know everything—it all comes together in you. You won’t have to put up with our questions anymore. We’re convinced you came from God.”

There are many people all around us: in our church; in our communities; our school; places of employment etc, who all need Christ. So just as Jesus had to speak plainly so the disciples understood and believed He was the Son of God, maybe we too need to review how we communicate God’s message to others, so they will believe in God.

There are people living in the world out there…
They need you, they need me, they need Christ;
There are children crying and no one to care…
They need you, they need me, they need Christ.
And they’ll go on hurting in the world out there,
And they’ll go on dying, drowning in despair,
And they’ll go on crying, that’s unless we care:
They need you, they need me, they need Christ.

If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. ~ Matthew 5:46-48 (The Message)

God expects us to love everyone, even those who we may think are unloveable. We won’t get a reward if we love everyone, nor should we expect one, as if we love everyone, we are simply doing God’s will.

So no matter how difficult if may be to love everyone you come into contact with, ask God to help you see the good in each of them.

Our bodies are made up of many parts. None of these parts have the same use. There are many people who belong to Christ. And yet, we are one body which is Christ’s. We are all different but we depend on each other.

Romans 12:4-5 NLV

That’s a well-known, and much repeated passage of scripture, and there’s a good reason for that – sometimes we forget, that we are all equally important and worthy of God’s love, and therefore He needs us to work together for Him.

If we don’t work together as one for God, how can we expect others to believe Christ can change their lives for the better!

Who do you stand up for? Yourself, your beliefs, your friends and family?

I hope you stand up for yourself, but I also hope you stand up for your friends and family, your beliefs, and also those you don’t know, but who are being mistreated.

Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others. ~ Nicky Gumbel

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~ Deuteronomy 31:7 (NIV)

Ever closed your eyes and tried to find your way round your own house without bumping into anything or hurting yourself?

If not, give it a go just now…no cheating, so keep your eyes shut!

 

So now you’ve tried keeping your eyes shut – How did you get on? I suspect you did as badly as I did, and bumped into countless things, and hopefully didn’t hurt yourself too much!

How did it feel? I bet you were nervous, anxious, scared, alone, isolated…

This must be how it feels to go through difficult times when you don’t believe and trust God. I however believe and trust in God, so no matter how dark life may be, my faith is firmly in God to get me through those days.

Jesus was always willing to help others no matter who they were or where they were. If you see someone in need, how willing are you to stop and help?

I suspect you’re probably thinking about what you’d do if you were walking along a street and came across someone in need of help. However what about those who are sitting right beside you just now, have you taken a minute to consider whether they are in need?

I don’t necessarily mean are they in need of food or shelter – but are they in need of support…someone to talk to…someone to give them a hug…

It can often be those closest to us that are most in need. But it can also be those closest to us that we are least likely to notice that something is wrong.

However, when we do look after the physical or emotional needs of others, we can consider it valuable work.

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me ~ Matthew 25:40

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles ~ Psalm 34:6 (NIV)

No matter who we are, or what we’ve done, God loves us.

No matter who we are, or what we’ve done, God forgives us.

No matter who we are, or what we’ve done, God saves us.

Nicky Gumbel recently shared this photo on social media:

I think in all the running around we do these days, going from one task to another, we can easily forget we’re here for a reason – God placed you just where you are to make an impact.

Matthew 5:16 ~ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.