Generosity

You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving

We can be generous in many different ways…

  • With our money / our time / our practical help / our kindness
  • It’s our love and reason for doing it that counts

The greatest generosity is found in Jesus

  • God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life

Note that it does NOT say… Whoever believes about Him…

  • Even the devil believes about Jesus (just as we do about Queen Victoria, Julius Caesar or Washington)
  • We must believe in Him… We have full confidence in who He is, what He has done and what He promises for each of us as we trust and obey Him

So here is Jesus’ generous offer to you and me …

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you… because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

In the Twinkling of an Eye POEM

IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE

When the way is set before you and the path looks clear and straight

When the sunshine streams across the sky to brighten and elate

When all around the sound of bells drifts gently through the air

And in your heart, sweet music stirs a dream that’s light and fair.

When the faces of the people glow and words have feather touch

When you walk like children through the land with one you love so much

When sweetness fans a breeze of fragrance pure and sweet

And kindness scatters blissful peace like petals at your feet.

In the stillness of the moment, as the joy stirs praise within

The freedom of contentment gives you strength the race to win—

Yet fickle is the certainty of promises lightly made

As they slip between your fingers and they melt into the shade.

Then a wave of breathless panic seems to seize you by the throat

As life around you crumbles and fond dreams break loose and float

The glowing sand you thought was firm begins to heave and sway

And swirling waters choke you, as you sink and fade away.

But as your grasp grows feeble and your mind begins to sleep

Another sound and presence comes to separate the deep

A mighty hand sustains you and a mercy lifts you high

Instead of earth, your eyes behold the glory and the sky.

And a voice that’s just a whisper soft speaks to your trembling soul

To tell you that when all seems bleak, His love can make you whole

You cannot understand your plight and questions search your loss

Until the answer echoes back: just look unto the Cross.

And people fail to know your peace and wonder if you’re mad

They look at you and shake their heads and puzzle how you’re glad.

They think the agony and grief unleashed a wicked spell

They do not hear the joyful song or see that all is well.

They do not feel the Master’s touch that cools your fevered brow

Or see His everlasting arms that grant you freedom now

For all the pain that held you fast is turned to sweet release

Instead of grief comes inner calm—and fresh, abiding peace.

The path you thought was clear and straight is hidden from your view

But in its place a confidence that He knows best for you

For as the future calls you on, concealing what it may

You hold the hand of One who turns the night-time into day.

Stand up to claim your heritage and enter in the race

Step forth to gain the prize from One who hung there in your place.

And as your faith is strengthened, you will see the reason why.

He sanctifies your heartache in the twinkling of an eye.

Understanding what Christ has done for us at Calvary and accepting His will for our lives allows God to instantly transform our distress into something holy. He gives us light where darkness once prevailed. In the same way that a mangled piece of metal can be shaped into a lovely work of art, so the sanctification of our heartache creates something “beautiful for Him”. The heartache may remain but we lay it on the altar and receive by faith His perfect peace and assurance that all is well, which gives us the strength to persevere and go forward with renewed confidence.

How can we get to heaven?

If God is completely good (which He is)… Jesus the man was sinless (which he was) … and we are far from perfect (which we are) … how can we enter heaven where nothing bad or impure is allowed?

Heaven has a notice outside: NO ENTRY to sin!

  • In other words, how can we have our sins forgiven and become ‘perfect’ like Jesus, so that we are at one with God?
  • Jesus said we must first believe in God and also believe in Him. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth (Greece)…

For God was in Christ, reconciling [bringing back in harmony] the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them… We speak for Christ when we plead [to people], “Come back to God!”

That’s the first step… to come (back) to God.

  • When we believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be… the Son of God and Saviour of the world, we need to accept that we are sinners and cannot get right with God by our own efforts…
  • Once we accept that we are sinners, we must believe that although we cannot get right with God by ourselves, we can get right with Him through Jesus
  • Jesus died that we might have eternal life… it’s a free gift… you can’t earn it! But you need to accept it and make up your mind to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ
  • When you do so, God’s Holy Spirit takes up residence in your life in a special and wonderful way.
  • You are still a sinner but Jesus’ death on the cross pays for our sins and in God’s sight we are ‘covered’ (protected) by Jesus

And our lives will never be the same again!

  • If we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives (and we have the choice as to how much we allow Him to do so) we are gradually changed to become like Jesus (‘Sanctification’)
  • In becoming more like Jesus, we become His representatives / witnesses / living testimonies in the world

The Holy Spirit is not in the business of just improving our existing habits, ideas and priorities… He wants to completely reorder them into the likeness of Jesus. It’s replacing our old lives with the life of Christ. We all need to consider the implications for our lives if we submit to this transformation process!

The question we all need to answer is this one: “Am I prepared to totally submit my life to God?”

We must keep moving forward… Someone once said that in the Christian life, we move forward or backward but never stand still!

But we must move forward in step with the Spirit of God, as He leads and guides us… so prayer, reading the Bible, paying attention to Spirit-filled teaching and taking time to listen for God’s voice are essential

David Livingstone apparently once commented: ‘I will go in any direction… as long as it’s forward!’

The Apostle Paul writesBut one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.

So press on to win the prize!

Being Resolute

  • New Year Resolutions… How many have you broken so far?

According to surveys, the top eight New Year resolutions that we may have already failed to keep are as follows…

  1. Have more exercise
  2. Lose weight
  3. Get better organised … God is a God of order not disorder!
  4. Learn a new skill or hobby …
  5. Live life to the full… Which Jesus offers us!
  6. Save more money / spend less money
  7. Stop smoking
  8. Spend more time with family and friends

BUT WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY about ‘being resolute’? There are 4 instances in the Bible when ‘resolved’ (determined/ resolute) is used:

  1. Jehoshaphat resolved to enquire of the Lord…‘Act in haste, repent at leisure’
  2. Daniel resolved not to defile himself… To remain holy… resisting sin
  3. (God speaking) You have not resolved to honour me…
  4. For I resolved to know nothing…except Jesus Christ & Him crucified

When we think of being resolute (determined), we must consider how Jesus behaved. In Hebrews 12: 2, we read that because of the joy awaiting him, Jesus endured the cross, disregarding [setting aside, ignoring] its shame.

His disciples tried to dissuade Him from going to Jerusalem. The devil tried to tempt Him away … but He resolved to take the Calvary Road, not the easy one.

And we need to follow His example… to be steadfast / determined / undeterred in following the path set out for us by God today, tomorrow, this year and in whatever time we have left on earth.

Children & young people make resolutions…not just new year ones!

  1. To keep my toys/games/room tidy
  2. To make my bed each day
  3. To say please and thank you
  4. To work hard at school/college
  5. To brush my teeth twice a day
  6. To share my sweets and tweets with my friends

These are useful… but even better…

  1. To say thank you to God every day for His love and care
  2. To think about Jesus every day
  3. To pray to God every day
  4. To read some Bible verses every day
  5. To show the love of Jesus to my friends & family every day
  6. To invite my friends to church

I’ve also heard younger children say that they will try to be GOOD!

Some men came to Jesus and began by saying: “Good teacher…” But Jesus interrupted them: “Why do you call me good? Only God is good!”

None of us can claim to be good all the time!

  • ONE WAY STREET…No Entry, yet people ignore it to take a short cut!
  • SINKING SAND … yet some people ignore it and become stuck!

There are things in life God has warned us about… NO ENTRY… SINKING SAND!

  • SMOKING can KILL … yet people still smoke
  • GOSSIP hurts and poisons relationships… yet people still gossip
  • JEALOUSY can lead to violence, yet some people allow it to control their behaviour

Jesus referred to this type of wrong behaviour (thoughts, words & deeds) as SIN

  • Sin is conceived (formed) in our MINDS as THOUGHTS… our thoughts are created through what we see and hear… So be wise!
  • What we think is then expressed through our lips… (By what we SAY) … and then through our actions… (By what we DO!)

Yet the greatest sin is to ignore or reject God’s offer of forgiveness and eternal life after we die through Jesus Christ


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Transformed Lives

The Holy Spirit is not in the business of merely improving our existing habits, ideas and priorities… He wants to completely reorder them into the likeness of Christ. The process is far more profound than ‘improving’ our existing lives… It’s replacing our old lives with the characteristics of Christ. Consider the implications for your life if you submit to this transformation process!


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KINDNESS

THE POWER OF KINDNESS  

Stephen Grellet, a French-born Quaker, who died in 1855, wrote these immortal words:

‘I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again’

These words inspired the song: ‘I may never pass this way again’, the lyrics being:

I’ll give my hand to those who cannot see
The sunshine or the falling rain.

I’ll sing my song to cheer the weary along:
For I may never pass this way again!

I’ll share my faith with every troubled heart,
So I shall not have lived in vain.

I’ll give my hand, I’ll sing my song,
I’ll share my faith, because I know
That the time is now to fulfil each vow:
For I may never pass this way again!

A Really Happy Christmas

A REALLY HAPPY CHRISTMAS  

Here is a story, so wonderfully true

About the Lord Jesus, who loves me and you

He once lived in heaven but came to the earth

And Christmas is when we remember his birth

A baby so gentle, on top of the hay

And Mary his mother was happy that day

Lord Jesus was tired and lay fast asleep

Along came the shepherds who wanted to peep

The angels were singing their carols on high

The sound could be heard from the earth to the sky

And praises were ringing from mountain to sea

That Jesus was born, so that we can be free

The Wise Men came later and knew in their mind

That here was the king they expected to find

They left all their treasure, went home in disguise

To tell all their friends of the lovely surprise

So angels and shepherds and men from the east

Found Jesus who came for the smallest and least

And he is so pleased when we make him our friend

To love us and keep us from now ‘til the end

D Hayes


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What does Jesus mean to you? POEM

As you prepare for Christmas, what thoughts are in your mind?

The coming of the Saviour or the presents you can’t find!

Do you think of baby Jesus as you deck the halls with holly?

Or are your thoughts preoccupied with the food that’s in the trolley!

Will you be moved this Christmas by the sound of Carol Singing?

Or are you more in tune with the sound of shop tills ringing!

On that family occasion when you choose a Christmas tree

Do you think of how that baby came to die for you and me?

Christmas could mean so much more if you’re prepared to see

The fact that Jesus’ coming was to open eternity

So as you celebrate this Christmas why not resolve to start anew?

And change your life perspective of what His birth should mean for you.

Source unknown (considerably modified by DH)


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Night before Jesus came POEM

Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house

Not a creature was praying, not even a mouse!

The Bible gathered dust on the shelf without care

In the hope that the Saviour would never come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed

Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.

And Mum in her nightie with baby on lap

Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the sky there arose such a clatter

I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?

But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here!

With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray

I knew in a moment that this must be THE DAY!

The light of his face made me cover my head

It was Jesus returning just like He had said.

And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth

I cried when I saw Him, in spite of myself.

In the large Book of Life which He held in His hand

Was written the name of every saved Man.

He spoke not a word, as He searched for my name

When He said: “It’s not here” my head hung in dark shame.

The people whose names had been written with love

He gathered to take to His Father above.

With those who were ready, He rose without sound

While all of the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees—but it was too late

I had waited too long and sealed my own fate.

I stood and I cried, as they rose out of sight—

I should have been ready before this long night.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear

The coming of Jesus is drawing quite near.

There’s only one life and when comes the last call—

We’ll find that the Bible was true after all!

Anonymous (Amended by D Hayes)


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Real meaning of Christmas sketch

The Real Meaning of Christmas (original by “Rod”: www.rodchristiansketches.co.uk) slightly modified

Interviewer:  Christmas is a special time for all the family. Could you sum up what Christmas means for you – in just three words?

(Thoughtfully…)

Child: Lots of presents.

Mum: Lots of shopping.

Dad:  Lots of expense!

Child: The Christmas pantomime.

Mum: The family party.

Dad:   Pulling a cracker! (Mischievously)

Child: Parties at school.

Mum: Eating too much.

Dad:  Drinking too much.

Child: Waking at 5.

Mum: Squabbles at 6.

Dad:  Bedlam at 7!

Child: Chocolates for breakfast

Mum: Turkey for dinner.

Dad:  Turkey for weeks!

Child: The family together.                         

Mum: 15 for dinner.

Dad:  Washing up dishes!

Child: Wallace and Grommit.

Mum: The Queen’s speech.

Dad:  Sleeping it off.

Interviewer:  Haven’t you missed something out?

Child: I don’t think so.

Mum: We’ve mentioned most things.

Dad:  We’ve been pretty thorough.

Interviewer:  If I say it is Christ-mas, does that ring any bells?

Child: Sleigh bells ringing?

Mum: Church choirs singing?

Dad:  The penny’s dropping…

Child: (with sudden realisation) Birthday of Jesus!

Mum: (with sudden realisation) God with us!

Dad:  Saviour is come!                  

[ALL] That’s the real meaning of Christmas!


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