Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Going on an ADVENTure

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.”
Luke 2:25 NIVUK

I have just started a new 25 day reading plan about preparing for Christmas, as an addition to my regular reading plans and it has got off to a great start... well for me it has.

After the reading and some devotional words, each day has sections that encourage you to spend some time that day doing things based on the reading. These sections are things like 'Exploration, Expression, Experience and so on.

Today, day 1' the Exploration section invited me to consider how my life, or our lives, can reflect the kind of anticipation that we see in Simeon and Anna in our reading from Luke.

They had both experienced and heard from the Father, they both knew what the nation needed and what God had promised and they were waiting for Him and preparing themselves for Him. They were way ahead of the rest of the people who really were 'singing from a different hymn sheet' 

Odd, is it not, that they had all read and been taught the same scriptures and they had all heard the same prophetic warnings, promises and encouragement. 
But then of course we need to layer onto this the agendas of those who did the teaching, the willingness of people to believe without exploring ( or sometimes even thinking) for themselves, the personal and cultural agendas that we are often blind to ourselves but which massage the message to suit our personality and desires and probably other stuff we are unaware of! Nonetheless, God showed, through Simeon and Anna, that none of this stuff need actually prevent the powerful, life changing 'truth that sets us free' from breaking through our self constructed or 'others imposed' barriers and filling us with Holy anticipation. 

Simeon and Anna not only knew what Gods word said, they knew what it meant, they knew what it meant for them, what it meant for the nation and what it meant for the world.

When they saw Jesus, even as a baby, they saw in Him the entire hope of the world - this is the One they had been anticipating and, on seeing Him, they knew that God was among them.

So, how on earth do or should or can we even begin to match anticipation like this?

Firstly, read Gods word and seek not only to know what it says, but to understand what it means. Then, viewing the world through the filter of Gods Word, expect to see Jesus in your circumstances and situations today.... not simply looking forward to tomorrow, but expect and anticipate that you, and through you, others, will come face to face with Jesus, today. Watch out for Him in your everyday - anticipate Him and be excited at the prospect.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Hope in Hard Times

I read this devotional today that contains a lot that is perhaps hard to accept but nonetheless seems to get to the heart of grace and faith......

I suppose there has never been a marriage between two honest, self-examining people that at some time has not reached a seemingly irredeemable low point. There have been moments in my own marriage when the wall between my wife and me seemed too high to hurdle, too thick to break. We found it hard to muster hope. It was not easy to be confident that somehow the barriers blocking our oneness could be removed. . . . Too many unhappy spouses claim promises that God never made as their foundation of hope. They trust that if they do all they can, God will change their spouses into the loving Christians they should be. But a reason to live never consists of a guarantee that “Things will get better” or that “God will save your husband and help him stop drinking.” The hope of the Christian is far deeper than a mere change in someone else. The hope of the Christian is inescapably bound up in the grace of God.

It would be easy to quote a few verses from Hebrews (especially 6:18–19), and speak glowingly about the sure hope in Christ that serves as an anchor for our souls. But if you are plagued by chronic despair that results in a “Why bother” attitude, then prayerfully consider the following.

The Lord has not promised to put your marriage together for you. The hope of the Christian is not that one’s spouse will change or that one’s health will improve or that one’s financial situation will become good. God does not promise or rearrange our worlds to suit our longings. He does promise to permit only those events that will further his purpose in our lives. Our responsibility is to respond to life’s events in a manner that pleases the Lord, not to change our spouses into what we want. Even if we respond biblically, we have no guarantee that our spouses will respond in kind. Though they file for divorce or continue to drink or nag all the more, there is reason for us to persevere in obedience.

Certainly if both partners build on the foundation of hope and strive earnestly to live biblically, even the worst marriage can be turned around. Either way, there is reason to hope. This reason is bound up in the grace of God.

In God’s presence, there is never cause for despair. Our spouses may not do what they should to restore our marriage to happy, fulfilling relationships. But if we remain faithful to God, pouring out our emotions before him, renewing our commitment to seek him, trusting him to guide us in our responses, then he will sustain us through our trials and provide rich fellowship with him. There is reason to go on. There is hope. God’s grace is sufficient.

—Dr. Larry Crabb