Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you [Eph 4:32]
We have done nothing to deserve the forgiveness God so freely lavishes upon us. God offers us forgiveness because he is love – it is his very nature to love. And as Jesus demonstrated through his death, love forgives. Jesus modeled forgiveness by laying down his life for you and me. The only way we are able to forgive others is if, like Jesus, we die to our own rights for the sake of the person who has wronged us.
Think about your own life for a moment. Who in your life do you feel has wronged you? It could be a small offence or a life-altering sin committed against you. Perhaps you were abandoned or abused by a parent or someone else you trusted. Or could be you were betrayed by a trusted friend, or someone spread untrue rumours or gossip behind your back. Maybe it was a harsh or cruel word someone spoke against you that has hurt you deeply. Look around you – about every person you see has been there…felt that – our world is filled with hurting people.
God weeps over your hurt. He knows your pain because people wrong him every minute of every day. Still he chooses to forgive because there is no love without forgiveness. We aren’t called to forgive because someone deserves it. We forgive because love requires it. Choose love today – choose to be like your heavenly Father and forgive those who have wronged you. God’s Spirit will give you the strength and courage to do the impossible. A spirit of forgiveness is an essential piece of equipment you will need along the journey to life in all its fullness.
The following inspiring allegorical story by Max Lucado contains a very important lesson for everyone God has called to be a light in the world.
A few nights ago a peculiar thing happened. An electrical storm caused a blackout in our neighborhood. When the lights went out I felt my way through the darkness into the storage closet where we keep the candles for nights like this… I took my match and lit four of them. I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice, “Now, hold it right there.” “Who said that?” “I did.” The voice was near my hand. “Who are you? What are you?” “I’m a candle.” I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. You won’t believe what I saw. Read more
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. [Matt 10:39, NLT]
I am a self-made person. I need only about ten rupees worth of God and Jesus – could I buy ten rupees worth of gospel, please? Not too much – just enough to secure my ticket to heaven, but not so much that I get obsessed or addicted.
I don’t want so much of God that it messes up my present lifestyle and causes me to turn away from the things that are so much a part of me. You know…anger, gossip, greed, resentment, envy and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start bringing God into every area of my life. He will want me to love my enemies, deny myself, serve others and start sharing Jesus with those who don’t know him.
At the end of the day I want to live for myself – not for God or for others. I want easy living, not repentance. Integrity is for losers, respectability is enough for me. I want to have a good reputation, not real transformation. I would like to make friends with some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those who are different, especially if they don’t belong to my community or social class.
I would like as much of God I need to make my family secure and my children well-behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. Ten rupees worth of God and Jesus is more than enough for me – could I have ten rupees worth of gospel, please?
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them [Gen 1:27, NLT]
The fact that we are made in the Image of God marks us out from all other living creatures. It distinguishes us from all other living creatures on the one hand and indicates our family resemblance to our heavenly Father on the other. But what does it mean to be made in the Image of God? Read more
I pray that you “…may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18 NIV)
The idea of “fullness” comes up several times in the books of Ephesians and Colossians. At the start of Colossians, Paul says that all the fullness of God dwelt in Jesus when He walked our planet. Jesus lived an incredible, selfless, pure life. He really lived life to the full, and when He died on the cross and rose again, He won that fullness of life for us. The key to finding fullness of life is in following our Savior: in sacrifice. He gave up his life so that we might find life. In turn, when we sacrifice all that we are for Him, we gain life in abundance. In this exchange, we give Him everything, but it really costs us nothing because of all that we gain.
So what do we gain? Here are just a few things found in Ephesians 1-3 and Colossians 1-2: When we lay down our lives for God, we receive: an inheritance, adoption, every spiritual blessing, redemption and forgiveness of sins… even the power that raised Christ from the dead! Take a look for yourself, you’ll be amazed!
- Holding a new born baby for the first time.
- Seeing the first flower/fruit on your plant
- Your first trip to a sea beach… seeing huge waves crash onto the rocks
- Amazing colours splashed across the sky as the sun sets
- A puppy trying to take its first steps
A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life—life in all its fullness [John 10:10, NCV]
Jesus said in John 10:10 that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but he has come to give us life and “life in all its fullness”. We focus our biblical reflection this year on this theme as we try to understand what it means to experience “life in all its fullness”. Read more
Children are important to God. Children are important to Jesus. Children are important to the Church. It is today’s children who will take the love of Jesus and His Word to the next generation. Every child is ‘Heaven’s Treasure and should be our Delight.’
At our Kingdom Kids class held every Sunday between 9:30 to 11:15 am the children have been learning about The Five Crowns, also known as the Five Heavenly Crowns, this is a concept in theology that pertains to the five crowns that individuals can receive in Heaven after the last judgement. These are the Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), the Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-25), the Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19), the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4), and the Crown of Life. (Revelation 2:10)
The Greek word for “crown” is stephanos which means “a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally.” Used during the ancient Greek games, it referred to a wreath or garland of leaves placed on a victor’s head as a reward for winning an athletic contest. As such, this word is used figuratively in the New Testament of the rewards of heaven God promises those who are faithful.
Apostle Paul best defines for us how these crowns are awarded in
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 …“You know that in a race all the runners run. But only one gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! All those who compete in the games use strict training. They do this so that they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time. But our crown will continue forever.”
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn [Luke 2:7]
The real Christmas was nothing like the Christmas as we know it today. It does not look anything like the manger scenes and illustrated books of our childhood. The original Advent is a disturbing scene of sad and desperate homelessness – more like a scene we might find under a Kolkata fly-over or basti than what we depict under our Christmas tree. The only detail Luke’s Spirit-inspired writing gives us about the actual birth of Jesus is that Mary had to lay him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. We have known this truth in our heads all our lives, but when you pause to consider what it was like…
A young peasant girl, asleep on the ground, bits of straw in her hair, wrapped in dirty cloaks and a blanket. Beside her a small, crude and dirty feeding trough in which lies a sleeping newborn, wrapped in unsanitary, blood-smeared cloths. Mary is not well-dressed or rested – she’s bone weary. No divine, heavenly glow emanates from her or the child. In fact, there is nothing about this child that points to his unique identity as the image of the invisible God, the one and only Son through whom all things were created [Col 1:15; John 1:3,18]. John states the tragedy of the very first Christmas: He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him [John 1:10].
There was no room for them in the inn…the incredible irony – when the Creator of the universe decides to arrive on planet earth, the best lodging place we can offer him is a dirty feeding trough! Let this serve as a reality check for us in the midst of our Christmas celebrations today. Bustling and bursting Bethlehem had no room for the advent of Jesus. In the midst of the Christmas lists, shopping for gifts, baking goodies, decorations and partying…will we make room? Let every heart prepare him room…and heav’n and nature sing!