Regaining focus – Easter Week bible readings

Standard

Life is plain busy and it is hard to focus and concentrate on important things. Many of us are well meaning and really do want to spend time with God but the hustle and bustle of everyday life gets in the way. With so many people and things shouting for our attention it is easy for our focus to be blurred.

One of the ways I find helpful to regain focus after a really busy (aka headless chicken) phase is to use a daily bible reading. I know sometimes I have called it fast food for Christians and more  in depth study is obviously much more beneficial – but sometimes fast food is better than no food!

I’ve written these little devotions and reading for our church but wanted to share them with you too. Eight days reading is not too overwhelming for anyone and I hope and pray that it will help folk regain their focus and fix their eyes upon Jesus this Easter.

Easter notes 2014

 

 

My Sin-Tooth

Standard

Image

I made the discovery on Monday and since then it has been dancing in the back of my mind. Yummy, sticky, marshmallow chocolate coated eggs are back on sale at Woolworths!!!! Those strips of four sumptuous mallows are a big downfall of mine – they display them in baskets in the queue as you wait to buy your groceries. They even sell them 3 strips for 2 sometimes. For someone like me with a big sweet tooth they are hard to resist and hard to stop eating.

But this year I’m cutting the sugar so I’m trying hard to resist them temptation. Not that a little sugar is bad, my problem is that I cannot stop at a little! So I have been wondering what to do. Do I change my shopping habits and ditch Wollies until after Easter? How strong is my resolve, how big a temptation are these eggs of loveliness?

Not everybody has a sweet tooth – but we all are born with a sin-tooth, a leaning towards sin. For different people temptation and sin will look different but the question is the same – how will you deal with it? Do you give in, blow it -feel great for a moment and then soon after feel rotten? There are three options open to us all:

  1. Give in and give up – may feel good for a while but feels rotten in the long term
  2. Flee – get out of there

1Timothy 6:11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

3. Stand firm and resist

1 Corinthians 10:13 
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

You know your sin-tooth better than anyone – you know if you will be able to stand firm without giving in or if you should just flee and get out of there. The trick is not to mess around and play with fire. Too many times I have ended up with sticky marshmallow fingers because I thought I could have just one chocolate marshmallow. This year I plan to resist and stand firm – but if that gets to tough them I’m afraid Mr Woolworths I’ll see you after Easter.

How do you deal with temptation and your sin-tooth?

Lord, help me to honour you with every area of my life, even my sweet tooth.

Imitations and Chocolate Jesus

Standard

We had a bit of fun in the office last week. My boss, Pastor John, was due back from long leave so we built a Pastor John 2.0v for some photo ops. Version 2 was a great listener, but after a while you got the feeling he had just zoned out on you. Also his advice wasn’t great. You see an imitation is never as good as the real thing.

You may have heard a song by Tom Waits called Chocolate Jesus – part of the lyrics goes like this:

When the weather gets rough

And it’s whiskey in the shade

 It’s best to wrap your savior

Up in cellophane

He flows like the big muddy

But that’s ok

Pour him over ice cream

 For a nice parfait

It is a cheeky song, but it has some truth to it. Sometimes we make our own version of God – perhaps because we want to feel him close, or perhaps because we like our ears to be tickled. But if we don’t take the fullness of Him as seen in the Bible we end up with a chocolate Jesus – useless in bad weather. We cannot use the Bible as a pick’n’mix – we have to accept the responsibilities as well as the blessings.

Romans 8:17-18 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

We have to weather the tough times so that we can see the glory times. So as we approach Easter with all the chocolate bunnies and eggs I ask myself have I settled for a chocolate Jesus rather than the real thing.

The Last Beating.

Standard

I’m tired of things going wrong. It feels like when things start to go right something else comes and knocks the winds out of my sail. I’m pretty sure you all know that feeling of disappointment, feeling beat up by life. Sometimes it can be people, other times it is just one of those things. People let us down, plans don’t work out and dreams don’t always come true. Over these past few months of ups and downs I have found myself wondering is God able and if he is why is he not willing?

Yesterday in church Pastor Neil preached a great sermon on ‘Where is Jesus now?’ One of the things he said really struck me. He said that Jesus has taken his last beating. Jesus is not a baby in a crib, a beaten man on his way to execution, no, now he is a ruling King, ready to come back to the final battle.

Revelation 19:11-16 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

What a picture of Jesus that contracts the images we have of Jesus meek and mild. He is the victory, he is the might warrior and one day he will come for me. While life today may be a roller coaster of up and downs it will not always be like this. Yes sometimes life sucks (a favourite theological term of mine) but it won’t always. Yes Easter gives us a picture that Jesus knows what it is to suffer and suffered for us, but at Easter he took his last beating.

What is my picture of Jesus? If I really believe that he is victorious then perhaps I will have renewed strength for the roller coaster ride.