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  1.  

    "The Son of God, who loved me,
    and gave himself for me."
    Galatians 2: 20

    We visit an elderly friend from our church family regularly and more often than not it takes a little while for her to register who we are. Unfortunately she suffers from Alzheimer's disease and is being cared for in a nursing home.

    She is very hard at hearing, so trying to pass on a word of encouragement to her can prove difficult at times but she always appreciates us visiting. When we are there she usually does most of the talking and we sit and listen. She is a great 'story teller' as she recollects what she remembers of the past and mingles what she can remember with something that has happened recently. This can be rather amusing at times :-)

    She has been moved recently to another nursing facility where she will be for the rest of her life. When we caught up with her, there she was freshly bathed, cuddled up under a warm blanket sporting her shoulder length fluffy white hair. She looked a picture of contentment.

    I drew a seat closer to her and prepared to listen to her 'story telling' once again but I found this time she was very sleepy and our visit was going to be very brief. My heart was warmed at her comments as she struggled to stay awake. This day her mind wasn't drifting but was firmly focused on her beloved Lord Jesus and what He means to her. Earlier in her life she had been quite a scholar and knew in-depth meanings to Bible words and phrases I was not so familiar with.

    After a little while and the usual exchange of greetings and asking how everybody there was a small silent moment when she seemed to be reflecting.
     "Did you know", she said to me, "I was telling somebody today about what Jesus did on the cross, and she didn't understand what I meant when I told her that He died on the cross 'in your place'!" "What place?" the woman said to me, "when you said He died in my place, I want to know - what place?"
    "Aah, then I remember," my elderly friend continued, "then I remember that the actual real rendering of this phrase is: He died - 'instead of me'!"

    She savoured the words as she repeated them softly over and over again: "He died - instead of me, instead of me, instead - of - me."

    It was time for me to leave. I brushed back her hair and softly planted a kiss on her forehead and she opened her sleepy eyes and smiled, then drifted off to sleep.

    Reflecting on those precious moments with our friend I couldn't help but feel touched at the simplicity and sweetness of it all. There she is at the twilight of her life, and everything that might have seemed so important sometime earlier has all been brushed aside. A simple statement was all she needed to give her the sweet assurance that all is well with her soul.

    I felt so thankful; for others in the home where she was being cared for were not so content and peaceful. Their minds were troubling them and some were locked in fear with seemingly no means of escape. This could have been the demise or my friend but not so with her; for she was focused on all that really matters at any time of life, let alone at the end of life's journey.

    I wonder what is your focus. What is the most important thing to you. If you are spared and you get to live well into old age like my friend has who is now in her nineties what will you be thinking about. Will you then be ready to leave this life behind? Will you then be ready for eternity? What will be the most important thing to you then?

    Seeing as none of us are promised tomorrow, surely it is all important for you to make sure that all is well with your soul now and being ready for eternity now would govern all the rest of your life. If you are ready to meet with God now, then you are ready to live life to the full. And a full life is one that God has planned, full of depth and joy!

    That simple statement reminds me of a man who lived two thousand years ago. Barabbas was his name. Unfortunately he was a criminal and was on 'death row' as it were. It was the custom for the Romans who were rulers of that day to crucify malefactors and the day for his demise was fast approaching. What must have been going through his mind as the day drew near? He probably didn't sleep the night before the appointed day and not long after the sun arose there came the sound of approaching footsteps. The prison guard was coming to take him to his death!

    But wait, something is different! The dungeon door is flung open and for a moment of time Barabbas is blinded by the morning light. The silhouetted figure of the guard stands before him with a message he doesn't understand: "Barabbas, you're free to go."

    "Why?" Says Barabbas.

    The guard gestures to the prisoner and tells him to: "Come and follow me and I'll show you."

    He follows the guard out from his cell and into the day light. The guard points to three crosses situated outside the city walls where three men have just been impaled. Two of them he can just about recognise as his fellow companions in crime but the man on the centre cross he is not familiar with.

    "See? Someone is dying instead of you, now you are a free man!

    What is must have meant to Barabbas to see that Jesus was dying in his place we will never know but this perfectly demonstrates the essence of the Gospel message. That is we are guilty sinners but Jesus died in our place. I wonder how many reading this can honestly say in all sincerity "I am a guilty sinner but Jesus died for me!"

    To treasure this truth within the depths of your heart will be the all important factor for all the days of your life and for the endless ages yet to come.

    Jesus died 'instead - of - me'!

    See related link - 'Barabbas'

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  2.  

    Having made several attempts to write this latest blog for a number of weeks I got there at last :-) The nature of the distractions that have occurred since my last entry have certainly filled up my time, and I can't believe how quickly the time has passed. I trust that the following thoughts will be of a blessing to you especially if at this time you are one of those people who may be feeling unloved and forgotten.

    ~~~~~

    Having moved from our temporary accommodation and settled in to our new home we have over the months passed tidied our garden and fashioned it to accommodate a winding slab pathway leading to a small shed at the far end.

    A few little dug out gardens around the edge are now home to cuttings and small bushes which will one day be moved to their more permanent home. Intense dry weather is making the growing of a lawn rather difficult and it needs watering each evening just to keep it going until we get some substantial amount of rain.

    There is more construction or renovating work being undertaken to the houses that surround us, so we are in effect living right in the middle of a building sight for a while.

    My husband made a make shift bird feeding table to try and attract the little birds back that have been chased away by all the heavy machinery. Although they do visit our garden, we are still waiting for these little creatures to visit the table. However we do get visitors to our bird table in the form of herring gulls which are usually more native to the sea and coastal areas. These birds have taken to coming inland and there are a few pairs of them nesting on the rooftops of the neighbouring houses. Because the weather has been both hostile to man and beast, these poor birds are rather desperate for sustenance and refreshment and have resorted to eating the tiny seeds that we were leaving for the little birds. Because of this we have had to purchase a birdfeeder to keep the gulls from eating the seeds and frightening the little birds away. They are welcome to drink from the many sources of water there is to be found in our garden but they will have to go further afield to find food.

    It is a bit of a battle at the moment and as yet we haven't seen much in the way of small birds but we wait with patience for the day when the dear little visitors will frequent our garden more often.

    More Info_Brood of Sparrows

    "I love sparrows, they're my type of birds!" said my husband to me one day a little while ago as we watched them having dust baths in the dry earth in our dug out gardens. I knew what he meant; for sparrows are not showy birds, in fact they are rather plain, but they don't appear to be at all bothered about that. Most people wouldn't give them a second look, and they don't seem to be bothered about that either, and yet there they are all around us and our Heavenly Father knows about them all. He knows every intricate detail of their little lives and His care for them is rather humbling.

    Why is that? It is simply because the Lord Jesus Himself told us that He who cares for the sparrows cares for us also. Let your heart enjoy the following words.

    "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
    and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
    But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
    Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
    Matthew 10: 29-31.

    Perhaps there are times in our lives when we passing through a trial of one sort or another which leaves us feeling as if we are all alone. "What is God doing?" We might be thinking. "Doesn't He know that this is almost unbearable?" "Why is He allowing this and doesn't take it away?" A million thoughts run through our confused minds and we convince ourselves that nobody cares, not even God!

    Dear suffering soul, God does care for you with the tenderness of a shepherd's care and He who knows and cares about the intricate details of the little sparrows knows and cares all about yours. He never allows a trial to come your way without a purpose. Although we will not necessarily know what that purpose is straight away, there is always something priceless about Himself that we can learn and treasure all our lives. These are treasures we can take with us through our lives, share with others, and take with us when we pass from this life into His presence.

    To speak personally, I would never have learned that "my God would supply all our need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus", had we not have gone through a financial crisis at some point in our lives, (see Philippians 4: 19.) I would never have appreciated that God was "the God of comfort" had we not gone through some extreme circumstances, (see 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4.)

    Remember, this is the God who knows your name - Isaiah 43: 1

    He knows your situation and your thoughts - Psalm 139: 2

    And He knows your needs - Matthew 6: 8 - the greatest of which is your need for His full and free pardon from sin - Romans 5: 8

    So if ever you are feeling as if you are insignificant, or alone, just think of those darling little sparrows and remember the Lord's care for them. He knows what is best for all of us for time and for eternity, so never doubt His love. He proved His love for people like you and me at Calvary: "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5: 8. The same One who died for sinners on the cross now lives in the power of an endless life.

    You can trust Him implicitly with your life as well as with your soul. Why not do that today?

    ~~~~~

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  3.  

    "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world."
    1 John 4: 14

    Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands is rather famous worldwide for many things; from our rather pretty dairy cows to Jersey Royal potatoes, from our beautiful scenery, which is an attraction to our visitors, to the new "Man of Steel", born here in our beautiful Island.

    There has been a lot of excitement over the release of this new film and everyone has been kept in suspense for a number of months. There have been teaser trailers to attract interest in the release of this new Superman movie and images of the new hero almost everywhere I see from the press, TV and social media.

    And now, at last the movie had its worldwide premier in the USA on the 11th June, and then the next day had its European premier in London on the 12th June and we were privileged to have our own premier here in Jersey as well! Some of the main cast were here for this special occasion like Amy Adams, Russell Crow, and of course the man himself, our very own Henry Cavill.

    I listened with interest to the comments of those presenting the afternoon show on our local radio. It was being presented live from London at Lester Square where the European film premier of 'Man of Steel' was to take place. All sorts of people were participating from officials to spectators who had waited for hours to catch a glimpse of the stars as they made their way to the cinema where the film was going to be shown for the first time on British soil.

    I am sure there are many people who have high hopes for this film. Among them of course will be the film's producers and financers who will be looking for a substantial return for this ambitious project. But among those I heard being interviewed were one or two who I believe may be aiming a little too high in their hopes! "This film," they say, "has come at just the right time; for a depression has come upon us in this country and globally, and the "Man of Steel" comes with 'hope', and hope is something we all are in need of right now."

    There is a clip in the film where Lois Lane asks Kal-El what the 'S' stands for on the front of his outfit. He answers: "It's not an 'S'! In my world it means hope." And she replies: "Well here it's an 'S' - How about 'Superman!" (As she sais the word 'Superman' a kind of static sound interferes and obscures the clarity of what she was saying. Almost as if to emphasise the awesomeness of such a name!) I think that perhaps some people have forgotten that this is only a film and Superman or Man of Steel is only a fictitious character. Although I have no doubt that the film is going to be somewhat of a hit, it must not be anything more than that.

    I couldn't help but think of a Man I know very well who is God's answer to the needs of humanity. The beloved Son of God came into this scene of time and was born to a virgin maid in a little insignificant little town called Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Very few people understood who he really was and those who should have known better should have welcomed Him with open arms, but instead, they instigated a hate campaign against Him, which eventually saw Him nailed to a Roman cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem where He was left to die. Thank God we have the Bible to tell us that: 'He was  delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God ..." See Acts 2: 23.

    Or else we might despair because of the weight of gross injustice hurled against Him. 

    He was a Man with a mission, and that mission was to do the will of His Father. His Father's will was to one day take Him to the cross where He would die as a substitute for us who deserve to be separated from God forever because of our sin.

    Jesus our Lord and Saviour - Yes, with a capital "S", is our God of hope, and those of us who trust in Him fully know His joy and peace in our lives. See Romans 15: 13. This is a blessed reality because our Saviour is alive today having risen from among the dead three days after He was crucified.

    The world that is always looking for a super hero, sadly missed the only One who had the answer to poverty, famine, nature and the elements, sickness, and even death! Perhaps they were looking for someone far superior than what He appeared to be. He didn't stand out from the crowd as far as His appearance was concerned, in fact the Bible tells us He was: "as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." Isaiah 53: 2. Though no one would have given Him a second look as it were, there was something by far superior about Him than all the notable heroes down through the annals of history. However, when the question was presented by Pilate to the crowd: "What will ye that I do with Christ?" The crowd cried out with one accord: "Crucify Him, crucify Him - we do not want 'this' to reign over us." Well, I guess they got what they asked for when they chose a known criminal instead of the One who could solve all the problems of daily living.

    And so folks are still looking for someone to look up to; someone to give them hope. Kings and Queens have come and gone without successfully meeting the needs of their subjects. Politicians are voted in and soon after prove to fail at providing the answers to the great needs of our day. Now it seems that some are looking to this film and the character it portrays, to lift them out of the doldrums and give a bit of hope. It won't be too long before they will come back to the real world after living a fantasy for a while and discover that they are all still wanting.

    Those of us who are God's people have the unspeakable joy, privilege and responsibility of representing Jesus Christ to a world of people who are looking for hope. The wonderful news is that God's Man, the ever living Man, the unchangeable Man is still available to all those who call upon Him in all sincerity. One future day He will put the world to rights but today it is possible to be in the full enjoyment of what Jesus, the beloved Son of the living God can do in the lives of individuals who are prepared to acknowledge their sin, truly repent of it, and fully trust in the only Saviour God has provided to free them of their sin along with all its consequences.

    Sadly, as in the days when Christ was here on earth folks would have sooner looked somewhere else for hope because they are not prepared to accept who He really was. In the film, Kal-El states something rather interesting and I think it is worth quoting: "My father believed if the world found out who I really was, they would reject me. He was convinced that the world was not ready - what do you think?"

    Perhaps the character of Superman has been rejected in this latest film, which I may get to see one day, but one thing we do know in reality is that the world was not ready to receive Christ when He came 2000 years ago! However, the question remains to be answered: "What do you think?" Will you trust Him? Will you receive Him? Will you allow Him to bring into your life the hope you have been longing for all of your days? If you do so, you will never be disappointed!

    "For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."
    Psalm 107: 9

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