In case you have bother discovering hope, keep in mind what God has already carried out
(Photo: Unsplash / Kelly Sikkema)
I have re-read some familiar New Testament passages in the past few weeks and I am apparently not alone, as the recent Christian Today report shows that more and more people are turning to the Bible for comfort and guidance.
YouVersion, the popular Bible reading app, found that Holy Week reading plans were 54 percent more engaging than last year. While 26.4 million days of the Bible plan were completed in Holy Week 2019, that number has increased to an astonishing 40.6 million this year.
Like most of us, of course I have my favorite pieces. For example, I went back to Luke's famous account of these two disaffected disciples, one of whom may have been Jesus' uncle and made his way to a village called Emmaus.
I think we could sum up their feelings in one word: heartbroken. They had had so high hopes for Jesus, but they had been horribly shaken by his brutal execution. All they had left was their precious memories and their faded dreams. But suddenly everything changed. Jesus suddenly appeared. I am tempted to suggest that you met the original "dead man walking"!
I've also gone back in time in the past few weeks. A memory or two is a little embarrassing, like the time I asked God to have Santa bring me some presents, even though it was still mid-July. To be fair, I was only seven years old at the time.
Then there was the devastating afternoon when a nurse turned to my heavily pregnant wife and said, "Yes, there is the second head." That was a shock. The doctor had said nothing about twins. Until then, we all thought that your data was a bit wrong!
"Is that important?" She asked. It certainly did. We both had stopped working and wanted to live in faith (i.e. without guaranteed income) for the next three years while I was preparing for Baptist ministry. That was a complete shock too. I didn't know that Jesus would "show up" at a small prayer meeting and make reading the Bible a personal challenge that would change my life.
Then there was the night I baptized a woman named Jo just to let her sister come to me at the end of the service to tell me that she had been healed of her terrible arthritic pain. That was a complete surprise too, because nobody had prayed for them!
And there was this unforgettable Friday morning when we received a request from some Christian friends in the former Yugoslavia. It was the culmination of the civil war and they told us that they urgently needed ambulances. Within a few hours of the beginning of the prayer, we received an unexpected call from the West Glamorgan Health Authority, telling us that they had four ambulances that they no longer needed. So could we use it?
To be honest, I have to tell you that I just haven't counted the number of times I've seen God meet people's material needs, including my own. I can really say that he has looked after us over the years, often in the most incredible way.
My last walks in the past have been anything but depressing. However, they were also incredibly challenging. I was wondering what "moments of memory" I will create at this critical moment in the history of this world.
The apostle Paul seems to hit the nail on the head when he says, "So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Seize every opportunity in these evil days. Don & # 39 Do not act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord asks of you. "
Challenging, yes. But also exciting, because I've found that you never know what could happen if the risen Jesus traveled with you.
Rob James is a Baptist preacher, writer, church and media advisor to the Evangelical Alliance Wales. He is the author of Little Thoughts About a Big God.