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With those three little words - it is finished - Jesus invites us to enter into a state of forgiveness. And yet, that is so difficult for us - even when we find the strength to forgive others, we have trouble forgiving ourselves! We are tempted instead to live a life of self-condemnation, remembering the things we did that we ought not to have done, and the things we left undone that we should have paid attention to. We need to constantly remember that it was for these that Jesus died. Through His sacrifice His grace was given to us so that we would not have to live like that.
It is a lesson I did not learn until a near-death experience caused a turnaround in my thinking. Yes, we are undeserving of His love; yet He loves us anyway. Yes, we are imperfect creatures who continue to mess up; yet He loves us anyway. Greater love has never been shown. All we can do is say "thank you" in praise and worship, and try to do our best, empowered by His Holy Spirit, to demonstrate that love in our own lives.Written by Lukas Huisman a supporter of the Canadian Bible Society
The transforming power of forgiveness is evident to all, even if only by its absence in so many relationships. I have lived in a culture where taking revenge is one of the marks of valour and of being a real man. In this culture I have also witnessed how choosing forgiveness over revenge can transform tragedy into triumph and blessing for all involved.
I will never forget the story my friend "S" told of what finally drew him into the embrace of God who revealed himself in Jesus. He had grown up in a culture and religious tradition where revenge and getting even were valued above forgiveness. He despised the Christian faith and began to read the Scriptures in a quest to find the evidence he needed to denounce it.
When he came to this text where Jesus, hanging on the cross about to die asks his heavenly Father to forgive those responsible for his death, his heart was broken. Such a loving and gracious response to terrorism and cruelty was unimaginable and in response, with tears in his eyes he said, "I love this man." What other response could there be to such great love, especially when we recognize ourselves in the cruelty and rejection that caused his death.Hart is the Director of Scripture Translation for the Canadian Bible Society
Stuff was always attributed to Jesus by others that was either not true or had partial truth and the meaning was twisted. (Sound familiar? Who said God doesn't understand what we face.) Christ's accusers twisted some things that he said to alarm the Roman authorities and hopefully have him killed of a capital crime.
But Jesus was (is) a king, but of a different kingdom. It is a kingdom that doesn't work the same way kingdoms on earth work. It is a kingdom where the last are first and the smallest seed becomes the greatest plant in the garden. It is not market driven rather it is driven by justice and fairness. It promotes equal opportunity, (along with equal responsibility). It is a kingdom that views humanity as sacred and treats all people as such. Such a kingdom has and will challenge the status quo, even to the Roman Kingdom of Christ's day.
The truth will always challenge and at times bring offence. Truth, like light, is revealing and that isn't always pretty. The easiest way to deal with truth, and Christ, is to remove him from our kingdom. But the hope of the Kingdom of Heaven, the eternal kingdom, (and sacred humanity) is found in Christ's resurrection! Written by Ted Seres, National Director of the Canadian Bible Society
A kiss - so simple an act, yet it conveys so many messages. Always, those messages are ones of fondness or caring aren't they? A mother kisses away the hurt of a scraped knee, a friend kisses one who has returned after a time away and a kiss from your true love can take your breath away. Yet in today's passage, a kiss brought the ultimate betrayal. Judas used the closeness of his friendship for personal gain, and deep assault to the relationship he had with his Lord. For it only could have been a friend who could get close enough to deliver that kiss of betrayal. If Judas had been a stranger, the betrayal would have meant nothing.
For me, this part of the story in the week leading up to the Cross and Resurrection, I find comfort. I have been deeply wounded by people I trusted, and when I turned in prayer to Jesus, I know from this passage (and Peter’s denial) that He gets it. He understands the pain of being betrayed by one he held so closely to his heart. Jesus, fully God and fully human, felt the sting that only can be delivered by broken intimate relationships. Know this – the One who suffered Death and conquered the grave – knows the pain you feel, and wants to walk with you through it. Will you let him?Written by Diana Loach, the Director of Children’s Ministries at St. Giles Kingsway Presbyterian Church in Etobicoke, Ontario.
What is generally known as “The Lord’s Prayer” was meant to be our prayer, the modal prayer of the people of God. That’s why it begins with “Our Father.” But the prayer of Jesus in John 17 is really the prayer of the Lord Jesus to his Father, God. It can never be our prayer, because it sets forth the unique relationship between Jesus and God.
Thankfully we have the prayer of Jesus on record in the Gospel of John. We can take heart from knowing that Jesus intercedes for us. What strikes me most in this small segment of the prayer of Jesus is how our relationship to him came about: God gave us to Jesus! That theme is repeated variously in the Fourth Gospel. Now comes a crucial question to my mind: How can we see the glory of God in Jesus more clearly? Let me suggest that the glory of the self-giving love of Jesus shines brightly when we acknowledge completely that God has given us to Jesus. No need to qualify or modify that thought. It is so easy to think and say that we were responsible for our relationship to Jesus: “I have chosen to follow Jesus.” The more we raise the standard of self-determination and self-worth, the less we will be able to see the glory of God in Jesus.George Shillington is professor emeritus at Canadian Mennonite University and adjunct professor at the University of Winnipeg.
In our busy world, we tend to think of the words 'Sit here' as punitive. An overactive kindergartener is instructed to 'Sit here' by his teacher while the other children engage in some activity. A baseball player whose slugging average is not up to scratch is told by his manager to 'Sit here' while another player takes his place in the starting rotation. But Jesus’ instruction to his disciples is not a form of punishment; in fact, it is a form of privilege.
Jesus is within hours of being nailed to a cross, and he knows it. His friends, on the other hand, are still largely bewildered by the whole ordeal. Even his closest friends take a nap while he prays with such intensity that he sweats drops of blood. No, this is no punishment for these men: it is a privilege to 'Sit here', to pray for Jesus while Jesus prays.
This season calls forth the opportunity for us to 'Sit here', to contemplate anew what the Lord did for us on the cross, and to appreciate just how difficult this was for the man Jesus of Nazareth. Who of us, after all, could knowingly die for others? And under any even remotely similar circumstance, who of us would not want our friends to be near us, praying? 'Sit here.' Will you, even for a few moments, this season?
Written by Jeff Loach the former District Director of Central Ontario for the Canadian Bible Society and now the Pastor at St. Paul's Presbyterian in Nobleton
We teach our children a little rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Yet I wonder why, because we know too well the power of words. Language has the power to tear down, or to build up, with effect that lasts for generations.
During the Second World War we witnessed language used to drive Christian nations to unspeakable horrors. Words have always been more powerful than sticks or stones, prisons or bombs.
However we have also witnessed language used to rally a nation to rise above it’s racial prejudice and realize a dream that all people are created equal.
Language endures. We know a body can be broken over a cross, but we also know that words such as “forgive us, as we forgive others”, have lasted for millennia; Language such as “Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you” will change the world, when we listen to the language of God incarnate in Jesus Christ.Ralph is on the board of Eastern Ontario for the Canadian Bible Society. He also serves as a member of the Board of Governors.
Greed - it’s a potent word. It seems to have been thrown around a lot in recent years as the media and society blamed the greed and dishonesty of those on Wall Street for the financial crisis. And no doubt there’s truth behind the accusation. But no matter how guilty ‘they’ are, what about how our own greed affects our relationship with the Lord?
God often uses money, whether an excess or lack thereof, to test our faithfulness to Him and put us in situations where we have to make a decision on who to trust. The Bible says, ‘People who want to be rich fall into all sorts of temptations and traps. They are caught by foolish and harmful desires that drag them down and destroy them. The love of money causes all kinds of troubles.’ (1 Tim 6:9-10) Do we believe this? Just wanting
to be rich will drive a wedge between your relationship with God. And, yes, it is possible to be poor and greedy!
We are all servants in this life, and amazingly God gives us a choice of masters - Himself or money (among other forms of spiritual slavery). We must all examine our hearts and motives and make this choice. In love, God will accept your decision and you will have to accept the consequences. Praise God that He has offered his eternal redemption and blessing even in this life to those who choose Him!Rob is the Office Manager in Eastern Ontario for the Canadian Bible Society
It's amazing how Jesus has to remind His disciples to have faith in Him. Don't we all worry and struggle with our faith at times? But once again Christ reminds us to have faith in Him and God. Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you cannot see." When we worry, we aren't fully trusting in God's grace to work in us or our circumstances. As I think of my walk of faith in God, it surely has been challenging yet that´s the journey of faith isn´t it?
In Simon Guillebaud´s book “For What it´s Worth” he talks about how faith requires perseverance on our part. He shares this story in his book:
A widow was telling her story to a reporter about how she had managed to raise a huge family which included six of her own and another twelve adopted children. Not only did they grow up into fine young men and women, but she had retained her own sanity and spirit through several tiring decades. Answering his questions as to the secret of ther success, she replied, “I managed so well because I´m in a partnership!” The reporter was confused by her answer, and asked, “I don´t understand. Please explain what you mean.” The woman replied, “ Many years ago I said, ´Lord, I´ll do the work and you do the worrying.´And I haven´t had an anxious care since.”
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance mush finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything!” (James 1:2-4)
Just know that when you journey with Christ, He doesn´t promise that life with be easy once you become a Christian but that through your trials that is where your faith is tested. Joni Erickson Tada, wheelchair-bound for many years since her diving accident as a teenager, wrote “when life is rosy, we may slide by with knowing about Jesus, with imitating him and quoting him and speaking of him. But only in suffering will we know Jesus.”
Do you really have faith on the Almighty God and Creator of the Universe, the Beginning and the End?
"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you." (1 Peter 5:7)Amie Wiebe is the Southern BC Director of Ministry Advancement for the Canadian Bible Society