DAY 21: Wednesday 8 April
When I was at school, I wasn’t particularly good at sport, in fact I was pretty useless especially in sports that involved round objects. I was able to kick a football but not always precisely in the right direction and when it came to cricket or tennis, I was hopeless. I recall occasions when the most sporting lads in my class were appointed as captains who would then choose their teams; I was always at the bottom of their choice list with comments like “I suppose we’ll have to have Groves - aargh!” But there was one sport which I did enjoy and was moderately successful in, even representing the County on several occasions - it was cross-country running. Unlike athletic running on flat tracks, cross-country has ups and downs, twists and turns, over hills and through muddy streams. To succeed and reach the end required strategy and persistence – some parts of the route would be really tough going.
Whilst the Apostle Paul speaks of running the race, my experience has been that the race is not a sprint or leisurely jog. It’s a marathon, a challenging cross-country, contending with all sorts of obstacles. Judas was a chosen follower of Jesus and was apparently a trusted disciple because the others voted for him to look after the money – you only appoint someone you trust to look after the cash. Judas was there distributing food at the feeding of the 5000. Judas was in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm on Galilee. Judas witnessed people being healed and watched as Lazarus was raised from the tomb. Yet something happened in the mind of this disciple that caused him to betray his Lord, an act that afterwards he would regret so bitterly that he committed suicide. Perhaps when Judas joined the band of Jesus’ followers he saw this as the means to achieve his own ambition of seeing the Roman occupation forces overthrown, a 1st century equivalent of a protestor or political activist? When Jesus preached peace, love forgiveness and worst of all, loving your enemies, maybe that was the tipping point for Judas?
Ephesians 6:13 - Therefore, take up the full armour of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
The word ‘betray’ signifies there once was trust which has now been broken. Betrayal in marriage, betrayal in families, in politics, in friendships – throughout history where once there were promises, legal undertakings, trust and faith, too often broken by betrayal. We need to protect ourselves to stand firm on our promises and commitments, and we do that with the protection of the ‘armour of God’. This nation is battling at the moment, fighting an invisible enemy, the advice to overcome this pandemic is to ‘Stay at Home’ (stand firm). It’s not a short sprint to the finishing line, it’s a marathon with plenty of ups and downs, places where through the wet and mud we may get messed up, tired and exhausted. In our personal, home, faith and church life, let us stand firm.
- Pat Bowler reports - it's been 3 weeks now and I'm struggling with low energy levels - so it's rest, paracetamol and fluids. I haven't got a temperature or a cough but I have got fatigue and an achy chest. That does sound very similar to what several of you have been experiencing.
- Pat has also forwarded a suggestion of how in the absence of any church services this Easter, we might go outside on Easter morning and sing out loud – Christ the Lord is Risen Today and Thine be the Glory. This is something suggested by the national Churches Together organisation. More on this in the next couple of days.
A thought from Joy Phillips on overcoming fear –
Rest in my love, relax in my care
and know that my presence will always be there.
You are my child and I care for you,
there’s nothing my love and my power cannot do.
Imagine an orchard, a hammock swung between two apple trees and you are resting in peace and tranquillity feeling safe and calm. I always have this thought when I sing this chorus. Joy
Emergency Phone Numbers:-
When you worry call Matthew 6: 19-34
When you are in danger call Psalm 91
When you are lonely and fearful call Psalm 23
When you feel down and out call Romans 8: 31
When you want peace and rest call Matthew 11: 25-30
When the world seems bigger than God call Psalm 90
When you are depressed call Psalm 27
For dealing with fear call Psalm 34: 7
For security call Psalm 121: 3
For assurance call Mark 8: 35
For reassurance call Psalm 145: 18
Note: All lines to Heaven are open 24 hours a day and all calls are free