In our early years of marriage we only had 1 car. I would usually walk to work and my wife would have the car, but on the occasional days I needed the car, I’d have to drive her to work before I went on with my day. I remember one day I couldn’t find my keys anywhere. I’d looked high and low and had to use my wife’s keys to drop her off at work than came home again to find them. I was getting really frustrated and after some time of looking I paused, prayed and then immediately thought, have I looked under the coffee table? Low and behold, there they were.
The story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert is one of resistance that leads to true contentment. Jesus is tempted to turn stones to bread to satisfy his physical needs (v3), to worship the devil to gain power and authority (v7), to test God’s promises by throwing himself off the top of the temple to see if angels will save him (v9-10).
Take a look at Jesus’ response to each of these temptations (v4, 8, 12). See how at each point Jesus resists these temptations by responding with quotes from scripture. Each time Jesus speaks, he speaks words which remind us to resist the allure of worldly demands for the sake of a strengthened relationship with God –offering us fulness of life, true contentment and unconditional love.
As we begin again our journey through Lent, may we each begin by being reminded to resist the temptations of this world, and to rest in God’s truths.
Follow Up: Take some time this week to read some of your favourite passages of scripture. How do they or have they helped you resist worldly temptations in your life?
Today’s reflection is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.
Happy Easter! We’ve journeyed through Lent, through Holy Week, and now we’re here. We can eat an Easter Egg – if you haven’t already that is and celebrate the story of the resurrection of Jesus.
Have you ever been treated for shock? Perhaps sat with a sugary tea after something that you have witnessed or has happened to you? I remember having to lie down in the woods after breaking my wrist in my teens and going into shock.
Well the story of the Resurrection begins with shock. After a tumultuous week where their leader had been taken from them and crucified, you can perhaps begin to imagine just how emotionally and spiritually vulnerable they were already. Some of the women had journeyed to the tomb that morning and found Jesus body gone, and an angel greeting them.
“Do not be alarmed, you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is not here, he is risen. Go tell the disicples that Jesus goes ahead of you to Galilee and you will see him there.”
(Paraphrase of Mark 16:5-8)
We might think the women would be filled with joy and celebration – Jesus is alive! But we are told, they are seized with amazement and terror – and so ‘they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.’ I think they were in shock. Needing some time to let the news sink in.
Eventually the women do tell the disicples – and the disciples meet the risen Jesus and are filled with joy and wonder!
In very different circumstances, we have had a year that has shocked us and shaken us. But the truth of Easter remains the same. Jesus has risen – and that sends shockwaves around the world until the end of time.
God knew the world was a mess, God could see the mess. And so God sent Jesus, and while some of the reasoning is surrounded in mystery, and quite a lot of debate, somehow, through Jesus’ life, and death and resurrection, the deepest and strongest love that has ever existed is outpoured onto the world, and onto us. Friends – hear me today – share with you this shockwave that comes to the world, and to you – you are loved. You are forgiven. You can find freedom. Yes you.
The Easter shockwave does all that – with hope and with certainty.
But it doesn’t end there. Jesus invites us into a relationship, a partnership, a journey. To be partners in the shockwave of a story that is filled with mystery and wonder. Joy and celebration. Where we are loved, forgiven and free.
And just as we are a diverse human race, that journey looks different for all of us.
Ask anyone who has partnered with Jesus – and they will tell a different story of mystery and wonder and joy. But threaded through them all, is the truth that we are loved, forgiven and free.
Folks, today I invite you into the journey that is the shockwave of Easter.
If you want to know more, and I really hope you do, get in touch with me or your local church to share your story, and discover the threads of love, forgiveness and freedom that Jesus has already woven for you.
You may or may not be like me, in sometimes wondering why we use certain words for things… and this week I was wondering why today is ‘shrove’ Tuesday.
A quick bit of research (Thank God for Google!) has discovered ‘shrove’ is another form of the word ‘shrive’, meaning to be absolved of sins through confession and penance. We talk little about penance these days, because we’ve come to understand more of the faithful, loving character of God, rather than one who wants us to suffer for our missteps and misgivings.
But one thing this meaning may highlight for us is that Shrove Tuesday is a reminder to us reflect to on our own lives and ask God to guide us in how to live our lives differently that we may further grow spiritually.
Lent as a season of the Christian year holds within an important emphasis on self-examination of our life lived with God, and our shared discipleship as communities of faith. That’s why Lent courses are often common place (remember our Lent course is coming up! – please do sign up if you can, we’d love to see you!)
Our girls have ben asking for about a fortnight for pancakes, they have been counting down the days in anticipation. I wonder if we approach Lent with that same anticipation? Are we excited to reflect ourselves on how God may be speaking to us, challenging us and encouraging us?
However your shrove today, I pray that as we enter Lent 2021 you will know yourself shriven – covered in God’s grace and absolution, and feel the strength of God’s Spirit as you continue your journey of faith.
“I need a hero! I’m holding out for a hero to the end of the night!”[i]
Are you looking for a hero?
Yes? No? Not sure? I think, truthfully a lot of us are, though we may not always realise it, or coin it in that way.
Society loves a hero. Someone who will save us, a figurehead to give hope. Film and TV is full of hero’s we love – from Marvel to Harry Potter to Poldark to Doctor Who, We love a hero, and especially love a hero that appears an underdog, that rises up to save the day against the odds.
Even in the real world, away from sci-fi and fiction, we like to look for a hero. We’ve spent a significant part of 2020 putting a ‘protective shield around the NHS’, trying to maximise it’s potential to save life. But of course we have to also cope with the painful reality that life one earth cannot always be saved.
I wonder if sometimes we expect our politicians to be hero’s too. Decisions have to be made, based on the best knowledge they have to had, but there will always be alternative choices that could have been – and hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a curse.
I’m not wanting to defend all political choices here, but to remind us that we need be aware of our human propensity to create hero’s. Aware of who and where we place our hope. Remembering that we live in this world – not the world of sci-fi and fiction.
The letter to the Colossians is written to a group of Christians who are facing pressure. Pressure to put their trust, hope and faith in new ideas, alternative hero’s and unrealistic portrayals of salvation.
But here in Colossians we are reminded that there is someone who really did come to this world to save.
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.
Colossians 2:6-9, New Living Translation
If you know you’re looking for a hero – enjoy your sci-fi and fiction – I do – but look to Jesus. If you’re not sure if you’re looking for a hero – still look to Jesus. If you said you weren’t – still look to Jesus.
Jesus Christ was an underdog, and hung out with human beings like you and me. People with doubts and questions and uncertainties. People who were anxious and broken and unsure. People living with guilt and shame. People looking for truth, and disillusioned by the way of the world.
Jesus comes not to irradicate that. But to live in it. To experience it. To live with us. Jesus came to earth, living and walking in our shoes. Jesus understands what it is to be human.
These words from Colossians tell us Jesus wasn’t simply human, Jesus was the fullness of God in human form. Jesus is human, and Jesus is God.
I believe Jesus is our Saviour – who came to save the world, you and me, because of God’s love for the world, for you and me. And to point us to a way of living that is filled with hope and truth.
But – Jesus isn’t a hero who comes to save us because we’re helpless. He’s not that sort of hero. He’s the hero who knows who we are, knows our potential, and so wants us to grow and be built up. Need a hero? Let your roots grow in Jesus.
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Alternatively you can access our Terms and Conditions through our website by finding the link somewhere on our homepage – usually in pretty small grey font, but it depends if you’re viewing our website on computer, tablet of mobile device.
Ok, so it’s not always that hard to find them, but they’re not always easy to make sense of are them. Terms and Conditions are often long, full of legal jargon, and it’s not unusual that I’m still not sure what they really mean after I’ve read them. In fact, I confess I sometimes just tick the box to say I’ve read them and move on.
Terms and Conditions are part of 21st Century life, every social media account, every purchase we make, every contract we sign comes with some sort of conditions. Rules, guidelines, commitments, legal requirements – from the provider, but also from me the receiver.
I’ve heard lots of times people saying things like ‘God doesn’t love me, I’m not good enough’. Every time it fills me with sadness because somehow the world thinks God has a long list of complicated, undecipherable terms and conditions that mean no one can ever live up to them.
But it’s just not true, this misconception.
In the Bible there’s a letter that Paul writes where he talks about this sense of being cut off from God. I’m putting into my own words here – you can look it up for yourself if you want, it’s Colossians 1:21-22.
once you were cut off from God because of your evil deeds, but now you are reconciled because of Jesus, made holy and blameless and no longer cut off.
In the gospel of John we read Jesus saying:
“anyone who comes to me I will never drive away”
A relationship with God doesn’t need to start with terms and conditions of us being perfect or thinking we’re good enough. There are no legal requirements.
Relationship with God starts with accepting the wonderful, amazing fact that God loves us for who we are and will drive no one away.
If you haven’t already, start a relationship with God today – he’s ready and waiting to hear from you, and accept you with open, loving arms.