December 22, 2020

At the present time it might appear to you to beout of place for me to quote to you a Bible verse which talks about our experiencing*‘life in all its fullness’. *At this present time we have been and continue to be suffering a great deal of loss, restriction, anxiety and difficulty; a time in which a global pandemic continues to cause us trouble and suffering.

This trouble and suffering has been the dominant tenor and mood for the life of the people duringmost of the year 2020. Is it still possible then, that in despite of the currentcontinual struggle and strain, it remains the case that our lives can be lived ‘to the full’?

In John’s gospel at Chapter 10:verse 10, Jesus begins talking,and reminds us that The Enemy comes (in the night-time and digs away a hole in the side of one’s Judean earthen house) with his aim ‘to steal and kill and destroy’ (NIV).

This year so many things seem to have been, as it were, ‘stolen’ from us: our schools and education in general have been closed down, our sense of welfare and security has become more tenuous, huge numbers of jobs have just disappeared, and many people queue at food banks because they are without money, our health has been at constant risk, and some of us have unhappily lost loved ones who otherwise might have lived on longer.

Jesus pulls no punches about the arduous work of living The Christian Life, and about the thanklessness in staying the right and proper course which He delimits for us. In Luke’s gospel Jesus tells his disciples of their (and our) evangelical task ahead of them:

*they will seize you and persecute you. On account of My name they will deliver you to the synagogues and prisons, and they will bring you before kings and governors. **This will be your opportunity to serve as witnesses** ….** And you will be hated by everyone because of My name. **Y****et not even a hair of your head will perish.**By your patient endurance you will gain your soul***

In addition The Book of Proverbs carries to us this wisdom:

*My son, do not take lightly the discipline of the Lord,
and do not lose heart when He rebukes you.
For the Lord disciplines the one He loves,
and He chastises every son He receives.*

Zechariah hears The Lord say:

*I will bring them through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them.** I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’***

This is whyin the Chapter and verse in John I first mentioned, nonetheless Jesus can say as a gospel truth that::

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’.

We are called toallow ourselves through Him to be givento Him, to He who stands at the door and awaits our knocking.The Lord Jesus then showers openly and without payment His gifts upon us: indomitable hope, indelible comfort, ineffable restoration. Even when, in worldly terms, we feel that everything we possessed is now lost to us, Jesus never abandons us, never.He is present, He is The One Who sends to us The Comforter; The Spirit which indwells in us and which, in the teeth of adversity, brings us nonethelessall joy in life in abundance.

*What does it profit a man to gain the world, yet forfeit his soul? *Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?…

The Lord Jesus has all-power, and is able to transform even the most broken of situations so as to bring out of them light and life to the very darkest times. Recall Jesus’ words telling us that we should be persistent in our prayers:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

In these uncertain days,The Lord Jesusremains our anchor, our stay, our refuge. Even when our cherished hopes and dreams for ourselvesmay have been stripped away, nonetheless, He is there still, and present to bring us restoration, bybringing to us that‘life in all its fullness’.

I pray that we all experience His promised fullness of life; and that The Lord will show you that He is present with you, and me, and so as we enter The New Year His peace shall still your thoughts