Before I say anything else, “HAPPY EASTER”.
This is one of the most joyful time of the Christian calendar.
But what does it mean to you. For some it is just a time to eat lots of chocolate and Hot Cross buns. As my husband said, as we shopped just after Christmas, “You know Christmas is over the Easter eggs and Hot Cross buns are on sale!” And I have to say he was right. Isn’t it sad that the two most important times of the year for Christians has become an excuse for shops to charge more for traditional gifts, basically shops are making money out of Jesus, they are taking advantage of Him.
As I sat and thought about this I realised that we all take advantage of the Christian festivals. Now I imagine that there are quite a few Christians disputing this fact. But it is us, above all the others, who take advantage of Jesus. Why do I say this? Because on that first Easter when the women went to the tomb and found it empty, all people were saved from eternal damnation so it is His sacrifice that gives us something that we could never earn, eternal life in heaven. This is a fact that is known by all Christians, so we above all others know how we have benefitted. So we who believe in Jesus being the Son of God, who became man yet being wholly God, who then went to the cross where he died and then on the third day rose from the dead, have the advantage of knowing that sacrifice was never for His good but for the good of others.
Or in other words, and this was said in Star Trek where Spock has sacrificed himself to save the ship and all on board, “the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one”. In the saying we are the many and Jesus is the one.
So let me encourage you all to take full advantage of what Jesus did that first Easter. Remember the words in John’s gospel where Jesus tells us all we have to do is believe in Him and what He did for us.
Happy Easter and God Bless
“Modern Day Slavery” may be a modern day term but it describes human behaviour as old as mankind. It refers to people who are trapped, coerced, abused or bullied into such activities as forced labour, gang labour, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, etc. They are often held against their will, or feel unable, for whatever reason, to escape. It is man exploiting man for his own selfish gain, and intimidation or violence is often used or threatened.
And this is not just something happening overseas. It is happening right here in our own country. And today we are all being urged to look out for those who may be trapped, or who feel powerless to do anything to escape, for often, such people are hidden amongst us “in plain sight.” As Christians, the Bible commands us to, “love our neighbours” – and by ‘neighbours’ it means all those around us – “as we love ourselves.”
But the Bible also reveals a much deeper and wide-spread problem of slavery.
In one of the shortest books of the Bible, Paul’s letter to Philemon, Paul writes how he shared the gospel with a man called Onesimus, who becomes a devoted Christian. But then Paul decides to send Onesimus, who turns out to be a runaway slave, back to his master, Philemon. In New Testament times, slavery and servitude was tolerated in different forms, but by his actions Paul is highlighting not only his wisdom in the context of his time, but also his love for both Philemon and Onesimus. In particular, Paul highlights to Philemon, that Onesimus has now been set free from a far greater bondage than enslavement to an earthly master. And that bondage is sin, something we are all enslaved to! And Paul urges Philemon to release him from domestic servitude ‘for the sake of the gospel’ so that Onesimus can help and support the mission that Paul and others are involved in.
As well as domestic servitude, people today can become enslaved to almost anything, not just to known addictions like alcohol or other drugs. Even the freedom we have to pursue whatever we like, things like career, wealth, fame, food, sex, looks, a family, a particular lifestyle, etc, even though some are good things, can easily become things we become enslaved to, and that ultimately consume and control us. The only pursuit that gives us true freedom is the pursuit and service of God.
One of the paradoxes of the Christian faith is that we are freed from the slavery of sin to become slaves to God, which is perfect freedom! In Romans 6 it says “those who sin are slaves to sin,” and since we all sin, therefore we are all slaves! But slavery to a true and perfect Master gives us true and perfect freedom!!
Once Christmas and New Year are over, it seems a long wait now for Spring to come. We are probably coming into the coldest part of the winter, and everything can seem just a bit flat!
We have taken down the decorations, trying to lose the weight we have put on over the festive season, and as we need to bundle up with so many jumpers and scarfs the incentive is sometimes hard to find!
The days are still quite short, and dark and everything can seem dull even the skies! Our lives are like the weather, and the seasons. We have times of really good things happening, and other times which may be difficult, but generally things are for a season. Wise Solomon wrote about this in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes, where he said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”
The seasons make the year interesting, the sense of anticipation of spring, when everything starts coming to life, and flowers and trees are budding; birds are singing. The long, hopefully hot days of summer, and the glorious colours of the autumn. Who knows whether we shall see much snow this winter time, but it is always nice to contemplate logs on the fire, hot soup and cosy jumpers.
Things do always seem better when the sun is shining, and there is a lot of light. In biblical thinking when the sun goes down in the evening that is the end of that day. Whatever happened during the day now is in the past, and the day’s problems become yesterday’s problems, the mistakes become yesterday’s mistakes. When the sun sets, the day is over, a new day has begun although it is still dark.
When Jesus died, it was before the sun went down, and just prior He was placed in a tomb, totally inert and lifeless. To His followers it seemed like the end, but the old was over and a new way was coming. Jesus said He was the Light of the World, and if we believed in Him we would never walk in darkness. As the sun came up on the third day He burst out of the tomb rising as the sun does, for a new day had broken. In John’s Gospel it is written, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men”. Death could not hold him, for He is life, and in Him is eternal life.
As we embrace Jesus into our lives, it is like a light coming on. Everything seems different, life has a purpose, and we see things we have never seen before. We can leave our old lives behind and embrace a new way of living.
May God bless you richly with love, peace and joy
May He always be there for you, and those you care about.
May He bless you with health, provision and comfort
In Jesus’ Name