Monday, July 31, 2023

Forgiveness and Restoration

The title of the psalm makes it clear that this psalm was written at the time when Nathan visited David ‘after he had gone in to Bathsheba’. David has sinned by sleeping with another man’s wife and murdering her husband by proxy. He is in desperate need of forgiveness and restoration. This is probably the most classic of all the penitential psalms. In it we are given a clear view of the route we need to go down, after sinning, if we are going to have our relationship with God restored.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Forgiveness - how far does it reach?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

One day Jesus told a story comparing the kingdom of heaven to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants by calling in all his debts.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him 10,000 talents was brought to Him. In those days that was a considerable chunk of money, the equivalent of about £20 million. We’re not sure exactly how he ran up this kind of debt but it’s clear that he would never be able to repay the king.  So since he couldn’t pay the debt, the king ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had, had to be sold to repay the debt.” The king knew he could never recoup all his losses - he just wanted to get back whatever he could.

At this point, the servant did what most of us would have done. He fell on his knees and said, “Be patient with me, and I will pay back everything.” Even though he could never pay it back, he is now desperate. He cannot stand the thought of his family being sold because of the debt he ran up.  The king was moved. The Bible says that he was filled with compassion. And, he does something the man does not even ask for. The king not only releases him, he also forgives the debt. This is at great personal cost to the king. By assuming the debt, he allowed it to go unpaid and thus impoverished his treasury. He wiped the slate clean, erased the books, and cancelled the debt. Now the man owed him nothing.   

This is exactly what forgiveness is all about. To forgive is to cancel the debt. When we’ve wronged someone, and they choose to forgive us, they are in essence saying, “I cancel the debt. The slate has been wiped clean. You do not owe me anything - I release you from ever having to pay me back.” Now it is quite clear that the servant did not deserve this forgiveness; it was purely an act of grace and mercy on the part of the king. 

We are a lot like the man in the story that Jesus told. We stand before a holy God with our sins piled up higher than Mount Everest.  Our sins are like a £20 million debt that we can never repay. And yet, out of compassion for our moral predicament, and motivated by His love and grace, God sent His Son Jesus to pay off our spiritual debts.

We all need Divine forgiveness today.  We need to come face to face with God, own our sin, and then asked Him for release? We need to do it, if we have not already done so - forgiveness is our deepest need and God’s highest achievement. Admitting our sins to a holy God is the way to receive His forgiveness? If we have not done so, now is the right time. The cost of our sins is more than we can pay, but the gift of our God is more than we can imagine. 

Repentance is the key to being forgiven.  In the Bible book of Proverbs we learn that “he that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whosoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy." If we can confess it, we  can be forgiven of it! It does not matter what we have done, if we turn to God and confess our sins, He will forgive us of ALL unrighteousness... that includes anything we have done, that we are willing to bring before Him! So remember today, "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness."

Produced by Messages with Meaning and published by 542day - with permission

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Psalm 130 - There is forgiveness with God

This psalm is one of a group of fifteen which are called the ‘Songs of degrees’. The 19th Century preacher Mr. Spurgeon said that they could also be called ‘The Songs of the Goings Up’ as it is certain that they were sung by Jewish pilgrims as they made their journey up to the temple. In these fifteen psalms selected truths are highlighted. This highlights the issues that God thought were important for his people to attend to if they were to know his presence and his blessing on their arrival.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Do you mean it when you say sorry?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

“Sorry seems to be the hardest word!” It is sometimes a hard word to say, it certainly is a hard word to mean and maybe even harder to accept.

I used to be a headteacher and at times boys would be sent to my office for fighting on the yard. They would come into my office saying sorry before even I spoke. I would often tell them that if they were really sorry it would not happen again, but often they would be sent back a little while later for fighting again. They were not sorry at all. They saw “sorry” only as a word that got them out of trouble. That is the difference between being sorry that you were caught and being repentant of an action. To be truly repentant means that you turn away from it.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

How many times would you forgive someone?

I have no doubt that many of us are carrying some deep wounds that we’ve carried for months, maybe even years. When we think about that person who hurt us, it’s still as fresh as if it happened this morning. The pain is still there, and we’re still filled with resentment. We say, 'Why in the world should I forgive that person who hurt me so much?'  'You have no idea how much they hurt me.'  'Why should I offer kindness to that person?'

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Route 55 - Are you on the right route?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

Some months ago, a new bus route was introduced on the west side of Birmingham. 

This new service carries the number 55, and it links the southwest suburb of Longbridge with that of Quinton in the west. The most direct route is 6.8 miles. By car it takes up to 20 minutes and to walk about two hours. The best time by public transport is around an hour. 

The 55 bus is neither direct nor quick. In fact, it is one of the most indirect journeys one could imagine. It starts near the site of the former Austin Motor Company factory. The site comprises various retail units, a Further Education College, houses and apartments. The 55 bus seems to head off in the wrong direction, but another major shopping centre is reached by twists and turns around the houses. Beyond, there are the pleasant roads of Bournville Village, created by Cadbury Brothers, beside their famous chocolate factory.

Welcome home Mr President

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr. was an American politician who served as the 38th Vice President of the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1965 to 1969.  When he died in 1978 hundreds of people from across the world attended his funeral. All were welcome, but one – former President Richard Nixon, who had not long dragged himself and his country through the humiliation and shame of Watergate. As eyes turned away and conversations ran dry around him Nixon could feel the ostracism being ladled out to him.

Then Jimmy Carter, the serving US President, walked into the room. Carter was from a different political party to Nixon and well known for his honesty and integrity. As he moved to his seat President Carter noticed Richard Nixon standing all alone. He immediately changed course, walked over to Richard Nixon, held out his hand, and smiling genuinely and broadly embraced Nixon and said “Welcome home, Mr President! Welcome home!”  


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Key facts about the Bible

This is a short statement explaining the key message of the Bible. 

It starts with the fact that God created us. Subsequent to our creation Adam, the first man, made a choice to disobey God. The result is that we as a human race do not know God personally. This is because we all inherited sin and are children of disobedience. The Biblical statement summarising this fact is found in Romans chapter five - 'by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin'.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Could you forgive this?

All photos used by permission of Unsplash

I have just been preparing a lesson on forgiveness for Year 5 pupils. It is easy to understand what it is, but probably one of the hardest things to actually do!

I was quite young when I first heard about Corrie Ten Boom, she was a lady from the Netherlands who lived with her family in Haarlem not far out of Amsterdam. I was fascinated by history and this story gripped me. For my fortieth birthday we went to the Netherlands and while there visited the jeweller’s shop where the events took place. The shop is a going concern and the house above is a museum telling a great story.

The Ten Boom family were Christians and when Hitler and his forces took control of the Netherlands, they were appalled by the persecution of the Jews. They had a rambling old house and bravely had a hiding place built where they could hide Jews when the Nazis came looking for them. They saved many Jews from being captured. Eventually in 1944 they were betrayed and caught and taken away. Corrie’s father Casper died ten days later in Scheveningen prison and Corrie, with her sister Betsie, was taken to the notorious Ravensbruck Concentration Camp where they were treated worse than cattle and went through beatings and indescribable hardship.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Stages of life and the forgiveness of God

We pass through many stages of life on our journey. Stephen Baker points out that this is normal but we shouldn’t miss out on the forgiveness of God.

Are You Affected by the Weather?

What was the first thing you noticed this morning when you got up? Maybe I should reword that_ I am not thinking about your beautiful spouse or children_ My question really is – did you notice if it was sunny or rainy? Did the weather annoy you or concern you?
In the UK the summer of 2018 was really a bit of a non-event. I am not fully aware of the precise statistics but it seems that summer came and went with little evidence that we had one.
stages of life

Life Passing Us By

Life is like that for a lot of us. Some people feel that it has passed them by. The dreams of yesterday never quite became the reality of today. The wish list remained just that – a wish list. If only. Life need not be like that. I believe that God’s desire for humanity is to lift our gaze from the mundane things of life and to give us hope; but more of that in a moment.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Are you worrying? There’s an 85% chance that it will never happen.

Statistics say that 85% of what we worry about never happens. Paul, an early Bible writer and Apostle, once wrote a series of exhortations aiming to encourage Christians in Philippi. In the closing comments of the letter he encouraged them to ‘rejoice in the Lord alway,’ Philippians 4. 4. This is something we all need to be reminded about from time to time. When things get on top of us we often forget to see the blessings that we have.

Next, Paul encourages them, in verse 5, to be gentle and mild in their behaviour. This attitude is beautifully expressed in the translation of the word ‘moderation’ as ‘sweet reasonableness’. To emphasis how important it is to live in this way Paul reminds his readers that the ‘Lord is at hand’. This could mean that the Lord is near (in other words they can be confident that He is with them) or that the Lord’s coming is near (Jesus will come again as He promised). Both statements are true and should affect how we live.

Paul then warns about being anxious and not trusting the Lord. It is so easy to forget that the One who upholds the universe, Col.1.17, is the same One who cares for us, 1. Pet. 5. 7. There should not really be any issues that we are not prepared to bring to Him and to leave in His hands. 

The antidote to worry is prayer. We should pray remembering the greatness of God. We should pray asking Him for help and direction with our problems and we should pray with a grateful heart of appreciation for who God is and what He has done.

We should be specific about our problems when we talk to God as He is interested in every issue that we face. These prayers may be one second prayers, like Nehemiah in the Bible, Neh. 2. 4-5, or they might be more detailed accounts of the issues that we face in life.

All of this will be very strange to you if don’t yet know God personally in your life. Why would you talk to someone you don’t know? The Bible makes it clear that sin separates us from God, Isa. 59. 2,  but that if we ‘repent and believe the gospel,’ Mark 1. 15, we can have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Rom 5. 1.

As you pray you will know the peace of God despite not necessarily knowing the answers.

Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened”. Many agree wholeheartedly that we should pray when we are in a state of relative calm but we often feel that we fail bitterly when the pressure is on and we are at our wits end.


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The Old Rugged Cross

A couple of years ago I attended an exciting wedding! To be honest, I did more than attend a wedding; I was invited to play the piano during the ceremony and leading up to the main event.

I arrived at the venue about 45 minutes before the Bride arrived and started playing about 30 minutes in advance. I had a good stock of music on my iPad and in my head. As I relaxed and got settled in, the task became easier, and the music seemed to flow. I love playing music, but playing in front of an audience raises the stakes and produces some tension. 

Monday, July 17, 2023

6 things you cannot live without!


Somehow this coronavirus has changed nearly everything for us - working life, family contacts, church activities, shopping patterns and much more. We are really missing some of these, but we are learning to cope and are adapting remarkably well. When things get back to (more) normal, will we still benefit from the lessons we are learning just now?


We are learning that there are many things we can do without, and that many other things are more important than we thought, things that perhaps we have been taking for granted. For example:


Saturday, July 15, 2023

What are you living for?

Jim Elliot was a boy who loved Jesus. He knew Christ from an early age and was never afraid to speak about Him to his friends. One day a friend of his parents asked him if he was going to be a preacher when he grew up. ‘I don’t know,’ Jim replied. ‘But I would like to tell someone about Jesus, that never heard of Him before!’ And that is just what happened.
When Jim grew up, he and his wife Betty (Elizabeth) were missionaries in Ecuador, where there were several different tribes of Indians living in the jungle. Some of them were being taught by missionaries already whilst others had never heard of Jesus. One of these tribes was a violent and murderous tribe called Aucas who had never had any contact with the outside world. They were great hunters of wild pigs, monkeys, and jaguars with their spears and bows and arrows. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

God can really change your life!


Photos courtesy of Storyblocks

It is reported that there are 7.5 billion people living on planet earth today and sad to say not many of them could say that they have never misappropriated something that belonged to another person i.e. that they have not committed theft.  Possibly, the same could be said about lying but that is another subject.  The eighth commandment is “Thou shalt not steal”, the sixth is “Thou shalt not kill” the seventh “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, so God is precise in giving us an exact code of moral conduct for life.  The definition of theft is to dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.  The word ‘theft’ covers many acts of misappropriation, larceny (theft of personal property), robbery, fraud (identity, benefits, expenses, mortgage, insurance, etc), embezzlement, and burglary.  The writer received six strokes of the cane at senior school for stealing apples from the school orchard, therefore, identifying himself with any other person that has violated the eighth commandment.  Other acts of misdemeanors before my conversion would be too shameful to share.  
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