Thought for the Month (February 2012)

As I write this it is still February but there is a hint of spring in the air today. The Mistle Thrushes are singing, the sun has some warmth and my evening dog walk is no longer in the dark. I look forward with hope to better things.

As you read this you will be in Lent and this is a time of looking forward. Lent has a lot to teach us about the natural cycle of events. In short you cannot jump from the celebration of Christmas to the celebration of Easter just like you cannot jump from one summer to the next. You have to go through winter and spring in the natural seasons and in the spiritual realm, you have to go through Lent and Good Friday to reach Easter.

We live in a world that is always looking for quick, easy and cost free answers to the problems we face. Politicians always emphasise the benefits of any policy and underestimate the costs.

The Christian story shows a different picture. The earthly life of Jesus ends in triumph, certainly, as He overcomes death and returns to the right hand of His heavenly Father. During Jesus' time of temptation in the desert, the devil offered an easy route to world dominion without the pain of the Cross (see Luke 4 v5-8). Instead, Jesus chose the way of the Cross in obedience to His Father. The sinful nature of you and I could not be ignored.

The Father's promise to us is not that when we commit our lives to Jesus we will have trouble-free lives. Indeed Jesus did say to those who follow him, 'In this world you will have troubles' (John 16 v33). Why? Because this is a fallen and broken world and we cannot avoid its influence on our lives.

The promise of Jesus is that He is with us in the good times and in the times of trouble, and that with His presence there is nothing we cannot cope with. He promises us peace beyond human understanding (John 14 v27 and Philippians 4 v7) even as we face the trials of life.

The challenge for each of us is to come into His presence, not just on high days and holidays but as part of the normal routines of life, and Lent has been given us to help us develop the disciplines we need. It is an interesting fact of human life that when we establish a routine for 40 days it becomes a habit.

So use Lent to establish some good habits. Use the Prayer Handbook each day, read through two of the Gospels, say Mark and John, reading about one chapter a day; attend Steve Mann's Lent Bible studies, 8 pm on some Tuesdays; or Karen's Bible studies, 10.30 am on Wednesdays in Lent in Hawkenbury, or 7.45 pm on Thursdays for ladies only in Rusthall; visit Tonbridge Christian Bookshop and chose something to study that catches your eye, or simply go deeper into your normal Bible Study notes. We are also finishing our men's Alpha course in the Beacon pub on Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm. There are many things you could do! Do ask if you need more details.

In short go deeper into the heart of God this Lent so that when the next crisis hits, you can rest in God's presence and know that nothing can separate you from the love of God. (Romans 8 v37-39). Remember that our relationship with God is no different to any other relationship - it takes some time and discipline certainly, but the rewards of getting to know God better are tremendous and life changing.

Let's get ready for Easter!

With love, Bob and Karen

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church