Pause for Thought

Sunday 7th November:  3 before Advent: Mark 1 14-20

…………  As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  And at once they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat, mending their nets.  Immediately Jesus called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.

This amazing description of the calling of the first disciples reminds us of the immense courage it must have taken for these men to have abandoned their jobs, their way of life, their whole security.  Yet they did so promptly and seemingly without question.  Over the years God has called his people to do things in his name, some of them obvious, some of them small, some of them life-changing – and his challenges continue.

 

Are we ready to listen to and be prompted by God to follow where he wants us to go?  Can we set aside our own priorities to put him first in our lives?  What a challenge this can be – yet it will never be more than we can handle, with God’s help.

 

Sunday 14th November: 2 before Advent: Mark 13 1-8

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, look at the magnificent stones and buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” Jesus replied. “Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”While Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to be fulfilled?” Jesus began by telling them, “See to it that no one deceives you. Many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. These things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, as well as famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

These must have been quite frightening words from Jesus – the foretold destruction of the things important in their lives which must have shaken their feeling of security.  We too in the last eighteen months have faced previously unimagined disasters and challenges throughout the whole world. – the high level of infections and death; the loss of people’s freedom to come and go as they wanted;  the strain on resources struggling to cope.  At times it must have seemed overwhelming.  But God is still here with his people; “Underneath are the everlasting arms” – and his love and power  and encouragement are there for each of us whatever happens in our lives..

 

Are you facing difficulties and problems at the moment which frighten and worry you?  God is holding out his hand to surround you and help you – you only need to accept to receive his strength and love.

 

Sunday 21st November:  Christ the King  John 18  33-37

Pilate went back into the Praetorium, summoned Jesus, and asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?. “Are you saying this on your own,” Jesus asked, “or did others tell you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is not of this realm.” “Then you are a king!” Pilate said.

Jesus didn’t answer the question directly, neither confirming or denying that he was ‘King of the Jews’.  But he did say his kingdom wasn’t part of this world.  He is so much bigger than being king of one race or tribe or country.  Jesus is indeed King – King of the hearts of his people throughout the world and throughout the ages.  He is a timeless king who wants to be part of our everyday lives, to help us follow his way and live to the full his plan for us.

Are you ready to be part of God’s kingdom? – with no boundaries in time or space, with no limits or restrictions?  May God be our ruler as we take him into our hearts and look to him for guidance in our lives.

 

Sunday 28th November:  Advent 1: John 3  1-17

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.  He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.  “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and you do not understand these things?  Truly, truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, and yet you people do not accept our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man.  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

This is the first Sunday in Advent, a time when we look forward to remembering Jesus’ birth at Christmas.  We think about what this means – for us, for our families, for the world.  We remember the huge sacrifice it involved, as Jesus gave his life for each of us – and it gives us a time to look at how we live and be grateful for all God’s gifts to us.

We have been given so much – now is a chance to appreciate and acknowledge God’s wonderful gift. This week can we look around us as we go about our lives, and each day find something to say thank you for? 

 




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