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JG – Why did Jesus have to die? TM – JESUS DIED BECAUSE he was killed by people who thought that he was a risk to their livelihood, status, and power. The Roman governor (Pontius Pilate) understood that Jesus’ accusers were jealous of him (Mark 15:10). Jesus had spent his life doing good, teaching, and healing people; showing them how to live in a way that pleases God. It is said of him, and of him alone, that he “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Yet he was crucified. So, the death of Jesus shows us what sin is like at its starkest and darkest. As the apostle Peter said accusingly: “Him … you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:23). Yet here is the remarkable thing. The full quotation reads: “Him, being delivered by the determined

This Man I Knew

This Man I Knew

THERE WAS A MAN I once knew. He was born towards the end of the 19th Century to a poor family in Manchester. He and his fellow urchins wandered the streets barefoot, and they were always hungry. They lived in back-to-back terraces not far from the main route into the city markets, so they would lurk on the off chance that something edible might fall off the wagons as they jolted around corners. Well, actually they became very good at knocking off the occasional turnip or cabbage and skipping away to where they could be eaten in safety. I think they must have invented the phrase “it fell off the back of a wagon”. Life was hard and he could have given up, but he made the most of the small amount of education he had, and managed to get an apprenticeship in a local garage. There he worked alongside

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

The Gospel of John records a number of sayings of Jesus which begin “I am…” In this series we think about some of the profound things he said about himself. IN JOHN chapter 10 Jesus presents a detailed parable in which he is represented by a shepherd, and his disciples are his sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger,

Rahab

Rahab

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke give lists of the ancestors of Jesus Christ. Only five women are mentioned. These were all very special individuals. In this series we’re looking at them in turn—this month we consider Rahab. THE ACCOUNT of Rahab is a really lovely story of faith and works. This is, she not only had faith in God, she put that faith into action. The story is recorded in Joshua chapters 2 and 6. Into Jericho The Israelites were poised to enter the Promised Land, after their escape from Egypt and their journey through the wilderness. Joshua their leader sent two men over the River Jordan to spy out Jericho, which would be their first city to conquer. The spies entered Rahab’s house, built on the city walls, as it probably had an entrance close to the city gate. Many cities in Bible days had very wide walls,

Jonah

Jonah

ISRAEL’S ENEMY at this time was the great Assyrian power in the north-east, whose capital was Nineveh. Jonah’s Mission When God told the prophet Jonah to go and warn the Ninevites of coming judgement, he tried to escape by boarding a ship to flee to the far west (1:3). However, a storm at sea prevented his escape. Thrown into the deep, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish which God had prepared. After three days the fish cast him out on to the shore (2:10). Jonah was again instructed to go and warn the people of Nineveh (3:2). The people of that great city repented when they heard the message from the ‘risen’ prophet. So God too ‘repented’ (that is, He altered His intention to punish Nineveh—3:10). The prophet’s human reaction was to be displeased: he was angry that the people of Nineveh (Israel’s enemy) were to be spared (4:11).

Contentment

Contentment

FROM HIS pauper’s birth in a stable in Bethlehem, to his criminal’s death on the cross outside Jerusalem, Jesus lived his life in poverty. He once said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). His was a voluntary poverty. It’s very clear that someone with his gifts could have made themselves very comfortable, but instead he chose the life of a wandering teacher. In the Gospel records we get hints of how he and his band of disciples lived in the three years of their ministry: they travelled systematically through the land of Judea (Luke 4:43), accepting offers of hospitality when they were made (Luke 19:5), and there was a network of women who made it their business to see they were looked after (Luke 8:3). Jesus and his followers had a communal purse

Fear and Boldness

Fear and Boldness

THERE ARE MANY profound and practical lessons we can learn from meditating upon the first pages of the Bible —the beginning of the book of Genesis. The origin of temptation, the shame and fear which follows sin, and how to deal with these problems are themes from the lives of Adam and Eve which are all brought out in the New Testament in the first letter of John. By increasing our understanding of these themes, we can learn much about what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus. The First Temptation Adam and Eve were the first people. Their creation is described in Genesis 1 and 2. They were created ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31), but they were both capable (like all of us) of experiencing lust and temptation. They were given a test: the serpent challenged Eve to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. “So when

Amos

Amos

AMOS PROPHESIED around 800 bc. The nation of Israel was relatively prosperous, luxury and idolatry had turned the people away from their God. As a consequence they were threatened by invasions from the Assyrians and Babylonians in the north. Judgements on the Nations Amos predicted God’s judgements on the neighbouring nations of Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon and Moab. But he also foretold God’s judgements on His own people—first on the kingdom of Israel, then on Judah. We can expect an echo of these events in the last days, when the Middle East is again invaded from the north (as foretold for example in Ezekiel 35–39). Various symbols are employed: Locusts (7:1–3): these symbolised the coming invasions by Assyria and Babylon (the picture is similar in Joel 1 & 2). Fire (7:4–6): indicated that the judgements would be severe—for the cleansing of Israel. Plumbline (7:7–9): Israel was not upright before

Your e-mails

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LP: God often refers to Himself as ‘Us’, for example Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’” and Genesis 3:22: “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil…’” The word for God which is used in the original Hebrew Bible is elohim, which is a plural word. Surely this reflects the plurality of the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—the Trinity? Ed: God does often refer to Himself in the plural. In the two verses quoted above, it seems He is speaking to the angels. We look like them (Hebrews 13:2). We know they were there at the creation of the world (Job 38:7). They are God’s servants who do His work (Psalm 103:20), and so their words and actions are those of God Himself. Sometimes angels are referred to as

Which God do you Mean?

Which God do you Mean?

IF SOMEONE ASKED you if you believe in God, you may say “yes”. But if they asked you “which god?”, what would you say? We live in a world where it is popular to downplay the distinction between different religions: to adopt the comfortable notion that all faiths lead to God in different ways. It’s an appealing and comforting idea, but it is not true—at least not as far as the Bible is concerned. In Psalms 145 and 146 we have an excellent summary of who God is, or in other words the name He goes by. Here is an excerpt: Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry.