Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Out of the ashes

Photo taken at Mt Mee National Park

If you look closely at this photo you will see blackened pieces of branch and a residue of ash at the base of the tree. There had been a controlled burn-off in the area.  The tree's upper limbs and branches were completely denuded of foliage and bare, apparently dead. Yet as we can see, already there is new life sprouting- the reddish-green leaves you can see in the photo are actually shoots of the same tree sprouting from the underground base and root system. The flourishing little shoots are heading into the sunshine.
Australia is a hot, dry country and we live with fire hazards. Many of our native plants are created with mechanisms which utilise fire for growth. Some require the heat of a fire to open their seed capsules. The nutrients from ash enrich the soil and provide the right conditions for new life.
Whenever I see a tree stump sprouting, or buds emerging on a dormant, wintered branch or as in this case, new life proceeding out of trial, it never ceases to thrill me, as a powerful symbol of renewal. For God has promised us in His word that He does restore and renew what is so often broken and damaged and seemingly lost. Not only that, but in a life committed to Him, nothing that we have suffered or experienced is of no consequence but instead is used to grow us and the lives that we are in contact with.
God can take a hopeless life and give back hope. He can mend a relationship that seems irresolvable. And He can take a life of sin or hurt or disappointment and turn it into a life of love and purpose. All we have to do is ask Him.

Isaiah 61: 1-3

" The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor."

Joel 2:23-25

Be glad, people of Zion,
    rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains
    because he is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers,
    both autumn and spring rains, as before.
 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
    the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
    the great locust and the young locust,
    the other locusts and the locust swarm

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

" Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Humanity Broke the Heart of God

Whipped and beaten
bloody and broken
half dead, they tied You
to those timbers
pierced Your limbs
and lifted You into
the searing noonday heat

Lord of all
humbled and scorned

So we come to the cross
Each one
Mocking You
Deserting You
Denying You

or choosing
To stay
Watching and waiting
Suffering and hoping
Loving and believing

Following You to the cross Lord
we know it is finished
the curtain is torn
and the earth trembles
We wait in thankfulness
speaking, as You taught us
to God be forever the power and the glory.

©Jo Collett 18/04/2014  Good Friday

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The most important reason that Jesus died on the cross

"Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify You." John 17:1

Jesus prayed these words in the upper room with His disciples. They were the opening words of His prayer with them before He went out to be arrested, tried and crucified. They epitomise His love and obedience to His Father, love and obedience which led Him to the cross.

When we think of all that was accomplished on the cross, and there are many facets to the purpose of the cross, we often think of it in terms of what Christ did for us.

Yet in Christ's prayer, His first desire is that He should glorify His Father.

The Trinity speaks to us of that most perfect relationship of love and unity, that of our Father God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, a triune relationship existing before creation came into being and which will last for time eternal.

Christ honoured His Father and did His Father's will, glorifying Him. In doing so He also glorified Himself.

Christ's was the truest, most noble sacrifice ever made because it was the most unjust. He who was perfect love and without sin bore the penalty of sin.

Of course Christ's sacrifice was for us too. He demonstrated God's love for us, that He died for our salvation, to bring us back to a place of reconciliation with God.

On the cross, Christ set the example for our lives. We have an amazing gift, bought with a price.

In Christ, we die to our selves. We live for Him. In everything we do, all that we are, we seek to honour and bring glory to our Father and our Lord.

Dear Heavenly Father God,
I come to You with a thankful and full heart, acknowledging all You have done through Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You Lord Jesus that in all things You honoured and obeyed your Father. Thank You for the love that was poured out on the cross. 
Father, help us to be more and more like Jesus, aware of Your will and obedient to You, serving You in this earthly life in love, and helping those who do not yet know You to come into relationship with Christ. May our lives bring forth fruit for Your kingdom and bring glory to your name Father, we pray,
In the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


Corrie Ten Boom, in her book "The Hiding Place" tells the story of her life in Haarlem, the Netherlands and her incarceration in Ravensbruck concentration camp during World War II. One of the experiences she chronicles is a relationship with a young man which she expected would lead to marriage. However, the man chose to marry another. From her account in the book it seems that Corrie knew, following the end of this relationship, that she would remain single throughout her life.

If Corrie had married and had a family if she would have no doubt experienced a very different life to the one she lived as an evangelist and prolific writer. Her testimony of faith in extremely difficult circumstances has touched many hearts and lives worldwide.

We live in a world which encourages people to "have it all." We are set almost impossibly unrealistic standards of achievement in a multitude of areas- career, health and fitness, family life, social connections, travel and displaying a showcase home with all its accoutrements.In the western world many people are stressed and depressed, unable to cope with all the conflicting demands made upon them.

Some churches, too, sadly, have bought into the gospel of having it all. Some sermons sound more like a psychology lesson than a call to repentence and holiness.

Because the truth is, you can't have it all. If you think you know anyone who does, you are probably mistaken. We all have to prioritise where we are going to place our time, money and effort. The choices we make regarding these things will determine the destiny of our own lives and those of others around us.

One thing I am absolutely sure of is that God honours the sacrifices that are made for His sake. Have a look at Jackie Pullinger's Youtube clip entitled "Go"

People like Jackie epitomise what the gospel message is all about- losing your life to find it elsewhere. Yet wherever we are, the message is the same. There is a cost of being a Christian if you think of Christianity in the world's terms. Far beyond giving up certain foods for the period of Lent, Christians may have to give much more.

The world says " Get rich, amass as much for yourself as you can " - Jesus says share with those in need and with the body of Christ.
The world says invest your time in yourself and your personal goals. Jesus says invest your time in kingdom goals.
The world says seek social standing and status. Jesus says serve others with humility.
The world says its okay to chop and change relationships if they don't work out. Jesus says marriage is for better or worse, for life.
For Jesus' sake we may have to turn our backs on riches, prestige and relationships that are not in accordance with His will.

Jesus lived a short life on earth and died a horrible and painful death for our sakes. He never experienced an earthly marriage or children or home ownership. He was rejected and alienated and misunderstood and mocked and scorned. His was the supreme sacrifice- the only sinless person, tried and convicted and wrongfully killed, to honour and obey His Father and make a way for sinful humanity to be able to be in right relationship with God again, through His atoning blood.

Yet God does not see His children forsaken and provides so much over and above what we need. Far more importantly, our relationship with Him is richness beyond measure, beyond any earthly success or acquisition or relationship.