Dear all Good afternoon and a Very Happy Easter to you all!
I am pleased to introduce yet another community partner who has joined our Branch this month- Simon Pinchbeck who works for Christian Vision for Men who lives in Hertfordshire has joined us! Simon does great work ministering to men in his role in CVM- So Simon welcome it is great to have you on board!
Are you sure???
Jesus Appears to Thomas
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20: 24-27
Are you sure? The question that strikes fear into any one of us who have said that they don’t need to stop and ask directions on a journey or when our oldest daughter assures us that her bed room is tidy to ‘Mummy standards’ and I say ‘Are you sure?’ (which usually leads to five minutes extra tidying!)
Those three words are enough to spread doubt and confusion even amongst the more confident of us!
I remember watching early editions of ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ with Chris Tarrant hosting; where the studio lights would go down and a question would appear along the lines of:
‘What colour is the sun?’ with four possible answers of:
The contestant would confidently say ‘I know this Chris- it is A’. Chris Tarrant would pause, nod and reply-
‘Are you sure?’. At which point you could see the seed of doubt had been placed in the mind of the contestant who would normally then waste a life line or two, dither for a few minutes and then ultimately stick with their original answer…… Which of course was right all along!!!
We see in the old testament a clear example of the seed of doubt being firmly placed in the mind of someone- In Genesis 3 we read:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
The truth is that in each of our lives there are days when we are full of doubt- I as a Christian cannot say that over the last 25 years I haven’t on occasion doubted. I have experienced heart breaking loss of family and friends, have seen family issues end in disaster, have been in such a low place personally that have felt totally alone and questioning if God was actually there for me….. we see above that the seed of doubt planted by the enemy led to huge consequences…!
In the Gospel of John above we see how after the Crucifixion and resurrection Thomas says that he won’t believe until he can see Jesus and examine his wounds…. Well we know what happened next!
In his moments of despair he was doubting what others were saying and was only convinced when Jesus revealed himself.
When I have been in that position of doubt I try and spend more time in the word of God and praying by myself- and I very often think back to when Christ was first revealed to me to the extent that I wanted to make a commitment to him- I think back to that wonderful moment standing in the rain in Watford when I was healed of a rather nasty infection, the feeling of absolute peace and absolute Love that overwhelmed me- when I first saw Jesus for who he truly is- the Son of God who Loves me- who loved me enough to take my place on that cruel cross so that I could have an eternal future!
The truth is that we all have ‘Thomas’ or ‘Eve’ moments when the enemy tries his best to undermine our faith- usually when we are at our weakest or lowest as I have experienced in the last year with Anxiety and Trauma issues. Through is all though I have been able to see that even in small ways God has continued to bless me and help me through dark days- the pain and the troubles didn’t disappear overnight but God gave me the encouragement and strength to go on with him firmly at my side.
I was speaking with some guys from my own church this week and talking about the subject of faith and doubt and how God can even turn the worst situations into Good and we discussed the biblical story of Joseph who was abandoned, sold into slavery, transported from his home land, falsely accused and thrown into prison (A brief explanation I know).
In Genesis 50:20 we read – ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’
The enemies intention is always to undermine, hurt or harm you- But God can and wants to change those intentions around if we let him!
So this Easter time be blessed- if you are with family enjoy or if you are working (like me) stay safe.
If you are currently in the midst of an ‘Are you sure?’ time then I want to encourage you to think back to when Christ was first revealed to you and like Thomas have revelation of Christ’s presence.
So once again Happy Easter and God Bless from the family Evans!
‘Have you got your coat?’
The Armour of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV)
‘Have you got your coat?’- A question asked by parents all over the UK and wider world to I suspect most of their children; and if you are really fortunate sometimes your children will actually answer!
I think I ask my daughter Abigail this question every day before school- and every day there seems to be a different reason as to why she doesn’t need to wear it- ‘I’m not cold’, ‘It isn’t raining’, ‘I don’t like the colour’…… and so on!
The truth is however that some days you just need your coat, or your hat, or your umbrella…. Especially this week when the ‘Beast from the East’ has arrived!
It was at the beginning of this week that Abigail declared to me when I picked her up from school after a netball match that she was ‘hot’ and that she didn’t need her coat on….. as we walked away from the school I think we got about 50 metres before she changed her mind and rapidly applied her coat!
There is a famous quote – “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” (Ranulph Fiennes).
Whilst I don’t all together agree with that quote it does highlight that we sometimes have to think about what we are wearing- for example this week my uniform has been augmented by a walking ‘base layer’ (Long Johns in old money) an extra t-shirt, slightly thicker fleece, my big boots and my ‘big traffic jacket’- (that only comes out in weather like this week!), woolly hat, scarf and gloves!
My uniform choices reflect the fact that it is currently -4 with snow falling as I look out of the window of my office! It would however be foolish of me to wear that amount of uniform in the middle of a heat wave in August as I might overheat a bit….. (you see I am hopeful of a hot summer!)
As a motorcyclist I also recognise the value of protective equipment- the law says I have to wear a motorcycle helmet, but as for the rest of the protective equipment- it is a choice for you how much you wear. We have all seen the person riding in a crash helmet, shorts, t-shirt and flip flops haven’t we?! I again make a choice when I ride my bike to wear motorcycle clothing with armour in various places, motorcycle boots that are designed to protect my feet and lower legs and sturdy motorcycle gloves to protect my hands- it seems to me as a motorcyclist and as a Roads Policing officer to make perfect sense. As Police officers we often are sent into situations where we may be at risk- how many of us have been given a ‘PPE’ (personal protective equipment) warning!?
When we think about our walk as a Christians God provides us with a list of ‘protective clothing’ to wear to help us through the struggles of life-
‘Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’
For us all we have to make a choice to put on the things that the father gives us to help and protect us- we can choose to be truthful or lie, to righteous or sinful, be ready to share the gospel or choose not to, we can be faithful and rely on the Lord to protect and shield us or turn to other things to try and get help and we can take the time to read and meditate on the word of God or we can never open our bible….
We have to be wise and make good and positive choices whilst relying on God’s word…. Just as in the quote above we can also put on inappropriate things and try to rely on them- these things will never wholly satisfy you I promise! They may make you feel good, safe or happy for a short time but ultimately they will let you down- the only things we can truly rely on are the promises of God because those promises give us a future and a certainty based upon the wonderful sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross on our behalf.
So this month as we hopefully move into Spring and you dig out the spring and summer clothes think about putting on the things of God, trust him and listening when God gives you a ‘PPE’ warning or asks ‘Have you got your coat?’.
We ask for your help in remembering to put on your full armour every day, for you give us all that we need to stand firm in this world. Forgive us God for the times we’ve been unprepared, too busy to care, or trying to fight and wrestle in our own strength.
Thank you that we never fight alone, for you are constantly at work on our behalf, shielding, protecting, strengthening, exposing deeds of darkness, bringing to light what needs to be known, covering us from the cruel attacks we face even when we’re unaware.
We love you Lord, we need you today. In the Powerful Name of Jesus.