Did Roman soldiers keep a tally of how many successful crucifixions they’d conducted? Did they add a notch to their mallet handle for each person they nailed to a cross? Did their job become mundane and boring?
Another Easter has come and gone. Has Easter become mundane and boring for us? The same old message year after year. Do we run out of room on our ‘faith shields’ to make another mark? Are our hearts hardened to the wonder of Easter?
This Easter might’ve made a major impact on our understanding of God’s love for us in Jesus the Christ or it might have seemed ho-hum but whichever it was - the ongoing challenge for each of us is to live as Easter people.
The resurrection of Jesus on that Sunday morning so long ago continues to impact our lives eternally. Because Jesus died and rose again we who die will rise again to live with him forever. Sin pays off with death. But God’s free gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
We are Easter people and that changes everything. Easter doesn’t just change our eternal future but changes how we live. Paul says in Romans 6:13
Give yourselves to God, as people who have been raised from death to life. Make every part of your body a slave that pleases God.
Living as Easter people means knowing we have an eternal future but it also means having a divine purpose right now.
We’re dearly loved children of God and remembering the cross certainly confirms that truth. Jesus rose from death and we’ve been raised to life. This is our present reality. Our everyday lives are different because we’re Easter people.
How did Jesus’ disciples know how to live as Easter people? We have very little record of what Jesus taught after his resurrection. That shouldn’t surprise us because he’d taught his disciples all they needed to know before his death and resurrection. They’d learned how to live as his disciples by living with him. His whole life was instructive.
Above all they’d experienced his love. His amazing unconditional love was a feature of his life before the cross, on the cross, and in his post-Easter appearances. The Holy Spirit comes into us fills us with this same divine love so our lives are empowered with love to be Easter people.
Live it and love it!
This is a picture of a stake and its tree. Or is it a tree and its stake? The stake was once a pine tree and even now you can see signs of the way it grew. It was sacrificed to become a support stake for a little gum. This gum tree will never be a giant but it has completely outgrown the stake. The stake is now redundant but it remains there as a reminder that this tree was once little and in need of support. Can you imagine someone coming across this stake and its tree many years ago and noticing the tree was getting taller than the stake? What if that was considered disrespectful and the tree lopped just short of the height of the stake? It might have killed the tree and if it didn’t it certainly would’ve stunted its growth. The past is like a stake which has done its job and has often done it well but the present is where we live and wouldn’t it be sad if the past killed us or held us back and restricted our growth. We celebrate the past and learn from the past but we can’t live in the past. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) but he speaks to us in today’s language. God is the God of the living not of the dead. (Matt 22:32) His truths are timeless but they are also timely. We read and study his word not so we can live like the ancients but so we can discern how we are to live today. I think if the stake could talk it would tell us it is very proud of what its tree has become. Are we doing our forbears proud by who we are and what we’ve become and will become as God’s people in this time?
As we begin 2020 large areas of our land are still in the grip of drought. Fires have been ravaging our land and destroying the homes and livelihood of people and animals. We might like to ask is 2020 going to be a year of destruction and death or a year of goodness and grace?
Some will say that because it’s begun so badly it can only improve but others might say this is just a foretaste of much worse to come. What about us?
What is our vision for the year of the Lord 2020 and can we claim to have 2020 vision to explain the current circumstances?
If we want to throw Bible verses around to prove our prediction or our version of the truth we’ll easily find them. But that’s not what the Bible is for and not a very helpful way to proceed. It’s much more important and helpful to have a holistic view of the Bible and the nature of God and to allow that to inform our thinking.
We know that
· God is love and nothing can separate us from his love.
· Our lives are in God’s hands.
· God will never leave us or forsake us.
· No matter what happens God’s always doing his best for us.
· We live in a broken and sin-filled world.
Therefore if you say 2020 will be a year of destruction and death, I’d say, you could be right. And if you say 2020 will be a year of goodness and grace, I say, you’re absolutely right because we’re children of God. Our hands are prayerful and we’re holding hands with our loving God.
In 2020 - Lord, teach us to pray.
Whatever 2020 brings - Lord, teach us to pray.
At the end of 2020 - Lord, let us look back and thank you for the privilege of prayer.
Prayer is conversation with God and therefore all prayer is by its nature relational. Some prayers are more relational than others and sometimes we’re more aware of the relational aspect than
When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray he gave them an example and model for prayer which we call the Lord’s Prayer.
This amazing prayer is relational from beginning to end
but we can rattle it off rather than relate to our God
Not only is it addressed to our heavenly relative, our Father (Dad) but Jesus taught us to pray ‘our’ Father rather than ‘my’ Father.
As God’s children we’re related to God and to all God’s people. We’re all brothers and sisters. The Lord’s Prayer focusses on both of those relationships.
We pray for God’s name, kingdom, and will. We’re at the same time asking for and committing ourselves to a good relationship with God. We praying to the God of the universe and therefore the prayer has a universal focus.
There’s no ‘I’ in the Lord’s Prayer.
It protects us from selfishness
We pray for the daily needs of the world-wide family even though we might be thinking about what’s in our own pantry.
We pray for good and lasting relationships. Because we often muck them up we ask God to forgive us so we can keep on
We pray we’ll neither lead our neighbour into sin or be led into sin by our neighbour.
Our prayer for God to deliver us from evil applies equally to ourselves and our neighbour. We desire as much good for our
neighbour as we do for ourselves.
Lord, teach us to Pray!