CATHERINE DONOVAN, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S POST
I don’t know if you ever wondered why the Old Testament plot on the life of God’s chosen people Israel reads like “paradise- evil-destruction/captivity- redemption” almost on a continuous loop. There is creation, the flood, then Abraham. Joseph’s family ends up in Egypt, followed by slavery then release from captivity and entry into the Promised Land. You then have the Kings, the divide of the Kingdom, exile (Daniel’s time) then release from captivity. It’s no wonder the hope that Israel had was Jesus would be an earthly king releasing them from the Roman rule.
Yet the message of Jesus is Salvation by grace. This grace is the undeserved love of God. Grace brings salvation and teaches, enables us to say “No to ungodliness” (Titus 2:11). I am reminded of the three parables in Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. In each of these parables, the search for the one who is lost does not stop until they are found. And this is always followed by rejoicing. This is how much our Father God loves us. Just like a child, I am keen to say, “ I know better. . I can do my own thing”. I am keen to rebel. However, when I grasp how much God loves me, that He loves me enough to have died for me; that stops me in my tracks and I am beckoned to obedience because of His love. God’s grace speaks love which we all thirst for. If I trust His love, I am happy to stay home instead of wandering away from his arms.
However, in our fallen world which does not know unconditional love, the reality of the truth that “love” underpins that grace cannot be known. How can I possibly understand a love that I do not know, cannot see or have not experienced? The grace of God brought salvation through the cross and more. Jesus said:
I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit who reveals all things and helps us to understand this unfathomable truth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I can obey God, obey His commandments and love Him who first loved me. God’s gift of salvation has rebirthed us to be God’s offspring. His children. We can confidently say: “ in him we live and move and have our being…We are his offspring.”(Acts 17:28)
PAT FUGGLE, GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
At the beginning of a new year we hear a lot about diets, healthy living & decluttering! Living in a retirement village I am surrounded by older people desperately trying to hold on to their health mainly through exercise! As we downsized over three years ago to an apartment with very little storage, we are experts in decluttering & have to assess constantly whether we actually need certain ‘things’. But do we declutter our minds & spirits?
I was reminded of some wise words which I still remember from a pastoral training session I attended in my 30s!! “There is no such thing as an embittered old man or lady! The bitterness starts in our youth & is exacerbated in our old age. So get sorted now!’
Those words motivated me to seek help from an older woman to repent of resentment in my life. That has helped me to recognise when I start thinking in this way when I’ve been hurt or I feel that I have been treated unfairly but also to recognise it in others.
Titus 2 v.3 says ” teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women …’
I learned a lot from a reverent older woman especially through the ups & downs of family life & am now encouraged that younger women feel that they can ask my advice from my experience of God’s faithfulness.
Do you need to declutter your minds & spirits? Do you feel, as I did, that other people have hurt you & let you down & so you’re harbouring resentment? I discovered that holding onto the resentment was doing far more harm to me than to the person who had hurt me.
The good news is we can lay all our hurts and resentment at the foot of the cross & receive the forgiveness that only Jesus can give. God gives us each other to teach and encourage one another to “declutter” our minds and spirits as we mature in Christ. Only the grace of The Lord Jesus Christ changes us.
We are encouraged in Titus 2:11-14:
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God & Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
So as you declutter your home this New Year, ask God to show you how He can help you declutter your mind and spirit!