Posts Tagged ‘John’

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!

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.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve felt out of place? It can find it awkward and difficult to know what to do and say to try to fit it.

Have you ever been in a situation where not only did you feel out of place, but you weren’t accepted at all? That can be very difficult and upsetting to cope with.

It may be hard to believe, but Jesus experienced that. He wasn’t accepted by ‘his own people’! But what we must remember is that those that did accept Jesus are saved. In the same way, if we accept Jesus, we too can be saved.

Even in his own land and among his own people, the Jews, he was not accepted. Only a few would welcome and receive him. But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them. All those who believe this are reborn!—not a physical rebirth resulting from human passion or plan—but from the will of God. ~ John 1:12-13 The Living Bible

We should all love one another – How many times have you been told that?

When someone lets you to do something, how likely are you to do it? If someone demands that you do something, how likely are you to do it then?

In John 15:17 Jesus said

I demand that you love each other, for you get enough hate from the world! (The living bible)

So Jesus didn’t just ask us to love one another, he actually demanded that we love one another, so it must be critical that we love one another.

Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” ~ John 8:12 (The Message)

Even when it seems all hope is lost we will have light in our life, if Christ is part of our life.

That’s why even in the darkest days, we can still find our way, because Jesus has promised to provide all the light we need to live in.

Recharging #7

Posted: May 5, 2017 in bible, blogging, faith, hope, life, love, quotes, religion, words
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Do you ever feel spiritually drained?

Have you ever feel that the “spirit” has just been exhausted in your life?

We all feel this way from time to time; but an energetic Christian knows the cure!

It’s time to recharge your spiritual batteries today, before they run our completely!

You can do this by recapturing your:

  • faith in Christ

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. ~ Romans 10:17 (NIV)

  • love of Christ

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.hope in Christ ~ John 14:23 (NIV)

  • hope in Christ

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. ~ Romans 15:4 (NIV)

 

Yesterday in Recycling #1, I asked you to consider giving your unwanted items to a local organisation/charity that can make use of your unwanted items rather than just sending them to landfill.

I used a different translation of the John 6:12 yesterday, but we get the same message if we read those words in the NIV translation:

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

Jesus instructed the disciples not to waste anything – In this scenario he was talking about food, but does the same apply to all things?

Not only must we not waste physical items such as food and furniture, neither should we waste our knowledge of God by keeping it to ourselves!

There are many people around us who are in need of God, so get out there and recycle your learning of God by telling the world about Him.

 

Last week as I was driving along some of my local streets and was aware that there were a number of unwanted items piled up outside quite a few of the houses. At first I was wondering what was going on, but soon remembered that it in my area it was ‘uplift day’. i.e. the day that our local council collect items we no longer want, and take them to the tip for us.

My main thought was why are people “throwing out” items that appeared to be in pretty good condition, when they could be reused by someone else – Items included several sofas, a couple of tables and chairs, and a wardrobe.

One thing we’ve always done when replacing/renewing items in our home is to recycle items which are in reasonable condition – There is a local community church which helps rehouse refugees, so we know all items we give them will get put to good use. Places like our local church, are always delighted to take items that are in reasonable condition as they are inundated with requests for help, so are always in need of items.

I wonder why these people near me hadn’t considered giving their items away to help people in need, but instead were happy to pay the local council to take away their items to dump in a landfill site.

Just think how many more people could be rehoused and given items for their home if we all gave our unwanted items to organisations who help refugees and homeless people!

Did you know that the bible tells us to recycle?

And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” (John 6:12)

So next time you have unwanted items in your home, please consider contacting a local organisation who can make sure your items are given to people who need them.

 

 

John 16:33

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Peace seems a long way off as all we hear about in the news is fighting and conflicts all over the world. God has promised to be with us always because in giving His Son for us, He has overcome the world.

The world needs God, and God needs us to be His voice in this dark world. So let’s keep praying for our world, that conflicts will cease and all people will live in peace and harmony with one another, because I believe God can overcome the evil in this world.

 

In John 8:12 we read:

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life

Are you walking in darkness, or have you found Jesus?

Don’t let the darkness of life engulf you, reach out and grab God’s hand today.

Here’s one of my favourite SA band pieces, The Light of the World, which includes the beautiful hymn tune Aurelia which we associate in this piece with the following song:

O Jesus, Thou art standing, outside the fast closed door,
In lowly patience waiting to pass the threshold o’er:
Shame on us, Christian brothers, His Name and sign who bear,
O shame, thrice shame upon us, to keep Him standing there!

O Jesus, Thou art knocking; and lo, that hand is scarred,
And thorns Thy brow encircle, and tears Thy face have marred:
O love that passeth knowledge, so patiently to wait!
O sin that hath no equal, so fast to bar the gate!

O Jesus, Thou art pleading in accents meek and low,
“I died for you, My children, and will you treat Me so?”
O Lord, with shame and sorrow we open now the door;
Dear Saviour, enter, enter, and leave us nevermore.