Easter

A CRIPPLE IN THE CASTLE

(March 25, 2018) Ben Godwin reminds us of Easter realities as he shares a king’s goodness toward a troubled young man…

The news spread rapidly. Israel had suffered a devastating defeat. King Saul and his son, Jonathan, had been slain in battle by the Philistines.

It was common in ancient regime changes to execute all the royal family to eliminate any heirs to the throne and a nurse acted quickly.

Terrified, she scooped up a five-year-old prince to whisk him to safety. But in her haste she stumbled,  dropping the boy… and unfortunately both his legs were broken. Consequently, Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was lame the rest of his life.

Mephibosheth is a fitting type of the human race – he was of a royal line but crippled by a fall. 

Years later, during his reign as king, David wondered, ‘Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ (2 Samuel 9:1 NKJV). He was told Mephibosheth was living like a pauper in an obscure town called Lodebar.

Lodebar means ‘without pasture or barren place.’ That describes our spiritual condition before we met our heavenly king! Life without God is a barren wilderness. Nothing can satisfy the hole in our soul that only he can fill.

David, a type of Christ, gave this maimed man four things which God has also given to us: (more…)

SHAPED BY UNITY IN 2018

(January 25, 2018) Tim Edwards shares some challenging post Christmas/pre-Easter/pre-Pentecost reflections…

To many Christmas 2017 is long gone! It’s almost the 30th of January 2018 already! We’re rushing towards another 30thEaster’s Good Friday… the 30th of March! In fact I’ve seen some Easter eggs and hot-cross buns in supermarkets already!

As we move ahead in 2018 our church is continuing to work our way through the Cover to Cover Bible with daily scripture readings. But – although we’re definitely moving forward – I feel led of God to share some thoughts that came to me last December that are so relevant for moving forward in 2018.

For example, I recall we found ourselves in what appeared to be the somewhat strange predicament of pre-Christmas preparations while studying scriptures traditionally associated with Easter!

Strong link between Easter and Christmas
The more I read, thought and prayed, the more I realised that the link between Christmas and Easter is so strong, so real, tangible and necessary.

Easter, the suffering and death and resurrection of Christ, couldn’t have happened without Christmas (the birth of Christ) and by the same token Christmas is simply not complete without Easter – they are two components of the same story; both vitally important and eternally joined.

Jesus himself drew the link between the two events in the middle of his trial at the hands of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate: he referred back to the first Christmas and said, ‘The reason I was born and came into this world is to testify to the truth’ (John 18:37).

As he stood there approaching the designated time of his death, Jesus reminded the listening crowd of his birth, thereby joining the dots and bridging the gap for them by explaining what it was all about – that he came to testify to the truth, truth that would bring humanity into relationship with a loving God. (more…)

THE TEST OF TRUTH

(April 8, 2017) Stuart Reynolds brings Easter challenge …

Last month as I listened to BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show my interest was piqued by one of Chris Evans’ guests – Israeli historian Dr Yuval Noah Harari, talking about his book, Sapiens.

Harari contends that Homo sapiens (‘the only extant human species’) rule the world as the dominant species because of our unique ability to believe in things which exists only in the imagination: nations, money, human rights, and, of course, religion. Evans concluded the interview by asking Harari what is the most important piece of advice he could give for the future well-being of the human race.

His response? That our paramount need is to do our best to differentiate between what is fiction and reality:  ‘Humans find it very difficult to know what is real and what is just a fictional story in their own minds, and this causes a lot of disasters, wars and problems… The best test to know whether an entity is real or fictional is the test of suffering. A nation cannot suffer, it cannot feel pain, it cannot feel fear, it has no consciousness. Even if it loses a war, the soldier suffers, the civilians suffer, but the nation cannot suffer. Similarly, a corporation cannot suffer, the pound sterling, when it loses its value, it doesn’t suffer. All these things, they’re fictions…’

I immediately said to my wife, Helen, ‘He has just defeated his own argument!’ If it be so – ‘the best test to know whether an entity is real or fictional is the test of suffering,’ then the greatest undisputed statement of truth in the whole universe, never mind in human history, must the person of God in his only Son Jesus Christ, of whom the Bible says is ‘The Suffering Servant.’ (more…)

WHICH JESUS DO YOU WANT?

(April 8, 2017) Chris Pick, Special to ASSIST News Service shares an Easter reflection…

Let’s go back in our hearts to that Black Friday nearly two thousand years ago. The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate presented before the crowd two men: One man named Barabbas and the other Jesus. Pilate declared: ‘It is your custom that I free one prisoner to you at Passover! Which do you choose?

‘Give us Barabbas!’ the angry mob cried.

Why did the crowd choose this man over the Messiah? What did they expect?

One was a sinner – one was sinless but chose to become sin
It is quite possible that Pilate presented before the crowd two men named Jesus. Some scholars believed Barabbas’ real name was ‘Jesus Barabbas.’ The Greek scholar and early Christian theologian Origen found many early manuscripts of Matthew 27:16-17 which referred to Barabbas as ‘Jesus Barabbas.’ And the name ‘Jesus’ was a common name in first-century Galilee.

So, if Barabbas’ first name was Jesus, then the question could be rephrased, ‘Which Jesus do you choose?’ It’s a question that can still be asked today as we are presented with so many different ‘Jesus’ figures globally. To some, he is a great teacher. To some, a prophet. To some, he is God’s son. To some, a mere man. And sadly to some, just a myth. (more…)

LIVING IN FAITH

(April 6, 2017) Tim Edwards brings another timely kingdom word…

When we hear from God to move ahead in something new and we obey, we take a step forward and we become more conscious of our personal growth and development in the Lord.

And guess what?

At that exact time we can be assured that many of us will start to face trials and tests in our lives. Why? Because it is often at times of growth in our lives that we find ourselves being stretched!

Anyone in that category right now?
As we stretch and grow – which is ultimately fantastic by the way – and as we are tested and find ourselves in new and strange situations we need to know what is holding us together; what is sitting in our foundations. We need to look more closely at what is happening in our heads and hearts and ask ourselves what we believe and what exactly we hold to be true. (more…)

WHEN THE SPIRIT SPOKE…

(April 6, 2017) Missionary statesman George Forbes shares from experience on a successful mission’s strategy…

Some years ago, when I was working closely with missionaries in many countries I was led by the Holy Spirit to the record in the book of the Acts of the Apostles found in the 13th chapter.

It helped me greatly as I worked with many missionaries whom God had called.  It is the account of the time when Saul, for a time, was one of the prophets and teachers in the church in Antioch.  Before the important event that took place there, Barnabas and Saul had worked together in the will of God. They served the churches in various places, helping and encouraging them as they moved about in ministry.  (more…)

THE QUESTION THE LATEST SUPER-DUPER COMPUTER COULDN’T ANSWER

(April 6, 2017) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share Easter thoughts:

So many times we hear people raving about our amazing world of computerisation – and the vastness of the information one can find so quickly on Google. Such as the oft-quoted ‘Got a question? Ask the computer – Google knows everything!’

And countless times this is true. Google is regarded as the biggest dictionary in the world!

But, having heard such a proclamation yet again recently and with Easter only a few weeks away, our thoughts went back to the heart of an article/story we ran a few years back.

And so this blog is all about a certain question – one that even the latest, greatest super-duper computer couldn’t answer and broke up into pieces trying! The question? A single three letter one – Why? (more…)

MARTYRS BY PROXY?

(March 8, 2017) Stuart Reynolds brings another timely challenge …

A pig and a hen were walking down the road when they saw a poster advertising the forthcoming Harvest Supper. It reported that bacon and eggs would be served. The hen said to the pig, ‘How nice it is that we can help the church.’

The pig replied to the hen, ‘It’s all very well for you – you’ll be making a contribution, but I’ll be making a sacrifice!’

It was Alexander MacLaren who wrote: ‘Martyrs by proxy, who have such strong convictions that they think it somebody else’s duty to run the risk for them, are by no means unknown.’

A location considered
We rightly pray much for the ‘Persecuted Church’ – often feeling small and inadequate alongside them because of what they are living out and proving in the midst of oppression and we’re not. (more…)

NO MORE EXCUSES

Maureen McQuillan(December 17, 2016) Maureen McQuillan looks beyond this joyous season …

No doubt all of us at one time or another has dreamed about whom we could become or about things we’d love to do for God. But then thoughts about circumstances, lack of education, experience or something else made us dismiss the idea altogether. Or we made all sorts of excuses or found ‘reasons’ why it just couldn’t happen.

And when we go down that track, we miss out on so much because we don’t go on to consider the possibilities in God. It seems that we don’t understand that Christians, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can discover abilities beyond our own natural skills.

A great truth to discover is that God’s Spirit can lift us above and beyond any excuse! (more…)

ENGAGING THE WORLD (Mar 8, 2016)

Erica GraceErica Grace, author and ex-missionary to South America, cuts to the chase!

A couple came to see my husband Chris and me to discuss a ‘disturbing’ trend in their church.

They said they were extremely worried their pastor had the wrong priorities: He was constantly raising money for missions and making donations to missions’ projects and such.

We kept waiting for the ‘problem’ to appear but the more they spoke the wider we smiled. Why? Well, to us it sounded that this couple’s church was a great one – so what was the problem? (more…)