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FALLING….BUT NOT FALLEN

September 29th, 2016
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By Barry Hatfield

I took a fall recently.

It’s something that we of the ‘older generation’ are prone to do.

Just a quick slip on wet grass in our sloping backyard … and a micro-second later I was on the ground with shoulder and wrist on my right side taking the impact. It could have been much worse. The pain, stiffness and joint immobility came later that day as swelling cut in. Cold packs and bed-rest speeded recovery.

But … (there always seems to be a ‘but’), the real discomfort began to creep in immediately and it concerned how I had been seeing myself as a ‘senior’ – up until then. And it wasn’t all that pleasant.

I had taken a fall.

I had ‘known’ that older folk appeared to topple over more than the virile, stronger, younger generation surrounding us, but suddenly I was up there with those of the ‘fallen’, it seemed.

I discovered I was vulnerable. And I didn’t like it. It wasn’t funny. It was a little disconcerting. Was this the start of something inevitable, irreversible for someone of my age?

Sadly, the answer is yes – to a degree.

Since that day, I’ve been having mild bouts of ‘vulnerability-itus’. I’m finding that where once, in earlier days, I boldly stepped, I now foresee a pathway seemingly mined with booby traps specially crafted for my particular age group.

Yet this is nothing new. Our physical bodies don’t carry a lifetime warranty, despite our attempts at regular care and maintenance and careful driving. It’s just that we tend not to want to think about the limitations on our chassis until we’re confronted with an incident on the highway of life.

I clearly remember when I was a teenager, my 80 year-old grand-mother slipping on a linoleum floor and landing on her shoulder (much as I did). The injury was not serious, but the mental-emotional-physiological shock triggered deeply locked-away memories of childhood that she continually verbalised to the gathered family that evening. As a youngster I found it confronting. And all because of a fall.

Yes, our old bodies are vulnerable to trauma — and not necessarily of our own doing. If we were left to fend for ourselves we could find the going very rough indeed. Thankfully, we’re not alone, whether we safely ride the storm of life without the need of a lifeboat; or find ourselves in rough water without a life-jacket and heading for jagged rocks.

With all this falling business that older people often suffer (along with many other issues of life) God seems to have set an ‘Early Warning System that, if we’re alert enough, we can sense what could be ahead – and so take measures to skirt around potential road-blocks to a more productive walk in our later years.

Feeling vulnerable (but not frightened) is one such warning. The present world glorifies senseless risk-taking; the results of which we see in our daily news. In contrast, members of Christ’s church value their body and the longer they live the more they rely on His Grace to sustain and nurture what they’ve been given to use for Him.

Knowing we’re vulnerable (that word again) to the physical impositions of this aging life spreads a reality blanket over us when minor and major incidents surface unexpectedly – even a slip on the grass!

God’s awareness of this ‘vulnerability’ is a comfort. He wants his aged people to live productively within the bounds of their physicality so that their spiritual journey may bring Him all the glory.

As aged, we will probably ‘fall’ at some time in our human frailness and physical weakness and suffer the painful effects for a season. Despite this though, we’re given a solid promise in 2 Peter 1:10 for what is vastly more important than the increasing effects of aging on our physical bodies. Here it is:

‘Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall….

Now that’s re-assuring. But he isn’t finished. Rather than promising a support mechanism to prevent us toppling over in our later years, we’re given far more than any assistance package man could ever offer the weary, infirm, damaged, wounded, aged and injured of this life.

‘…and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’

We may have falls in this life, but we’re certainly not of … the fallen.

Over 60's

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin September

September 29th, 2016
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Atonement and Salvation 1

September 29th, 2016
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I would like to start a series on atonement and salvation.

As you you read John5 reflect on the context of the discussion.

It is the Sabbath. This is to celebrate the end of God’s work of creation. The Jews rested emulating God after the 6 days of creation. They built very elaborate rules about this rest.

This rest is stated in the 10 commandments in Exodus 20.

But what can be overlooked is how it is restated before they entered the promised land.

Deuteronomy 5:15

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

This pictured God continuing to work in their rescue from slavery.

Think about about two major things:

How Jesus argues from this idea of salvation work.

The Sabbath pictured God rescuing people from bondage.

This is this something that both the Father and Son share and have never ceased to do.

John5:1-18

1 Later, Jesus went to Jerusalem for another Jewish festival. 2 In the city near the sheep gate was a pool with five porches, and its name in Hebrew was Bethzatha.
3-4 Many sick, blind, lame, and crippled people were lying close to the pool.
5 Beside the pool was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw the man and realized that he had been crippled for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be healed?”
7 The man answered, “Lord, I don’t have anyone to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up. I try to get in, but someone else always gets there first.”
8 Jesus told him, “Pick up your mat and walk!” 9 Right then the man was healed. He picked up his mat and started walking around. The day on which this happened was a Sabbath.
10 When the Jewish leaders saw the man carrying his mat, they said to him, “This is the Sabbath! No one is allowed to carry a mat on the Sabbath.”
11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me to pick up my mat and walk.”
12 They asked him, “Who is this man that told you to pick up your mat and walk?” 13 But he did not know who Jesus was, and Jesus had left because of the crowd.
14 Later, Jesus met the man in the temple and told him, “You are now well. But don’t sin anymore or something worse might happen to you.” 15 The man left and told the leaders that Jesus was the one who had healed him. 16 They started making a lot of trouble for Jesus because he did things like this on the Sabbath.
17 But Jesus said, “My Father has never stopped working, and that is why I keep on working.” 18 Now the leaders wanted to kill Jesus for two reasons. First, he had broken the law of the Sabbath. But even worse, he had said that God was his Father, which made him equal with God.

The festival could either be Tabernacles or Passover. Again they would be rehearsing the great things God had done in saving his people.

Michael Morrison: Salvation is more than a verdict

Understanding where we started, and where we will end up, can help us understand a little more about what salvation is. Some people think that salvation is just a matter of going to heaven when you die. But when it comes to salvation, there’s a lot more to it than just a change in location.
And some people think that salvation is just a matter of getting a favorable verdict on the day of judgment. There’s going to be a day of judgment, they warn, and everybody is guilty of sin and deserves to be thrown into hell. But if you believe in Jesus, that guilty verdict will be changed to “innocent.”
Well, it is true that there will be a day of judgment, and that everyone is guilty of sin, and that Jesus allows us to escape the verdict we deserve, and he allows us to enter a heavenly paradise.
But that is all in the future, isn’t it?
But doesn’t salvation have anything to do with life right now? Yes, it does. There’s more to salvation than just a change in our future verdict.

Changing locations and verdict may give us a fresh start but it doesn’t change who we are. God wants us to really be his children in a way that is like Jesus’ own Sonship.

John5:19

 Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

But we have a sin problem. It distorts us. We are meant to bear God’s image : to love God with all our hearts and minds and our neighbour as ourself. We fall so short of that.

Somehow God has to rescue us firstly from the results of sin: the condemnation and secondly the hold sin has over our behaviour. We are to be responsive to our Father’s will.

Salvation must be total to be effective. We have to be remade – become new. Otherwise we just given a fresh start to do all over again what we did before.

It has to be so complete that all of God has to be involved all of the time. It is a work –a very difficult work. Not something we achieve.
One of the most encouraging scriptures to read is

John5:17

In his defence Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’

Here we have Jesus rescuing an invalid of 38 years. This pictures salvation –being rescued from what held us prisoner, set free to obey God. Notice the warning about not sinning.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought. God’s work today is our salvation.

The physical world is sustained but its is effectively completed to be a separate entity with all the wisdom God gave it to function.

Science keeps discovering the wonders of this completed creation.It is not static. It can change and surprise us with its dynamism

Genesis 2:1-2

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

But he didn’t retire, walk away, no longer involved. His greatest and most difficult work was still to be done.

The Father initiated the plan, the Son of God carried out key steps in the plan, and the Holy Spirit also has an ongoing role in the change that we all need.

But we shouldn’t think that these are past tense roles or separated roles. This is an all of life of continual shared purpose. God – as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is 100% working for our salvation full time.

That’s how big salvation is.

Read more…

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