Thought for the Month (January 2013)

The God of surprises

One of the questions we began to explore in our services before Christmas is how open are we to surprises? Now of course some of us like surprises more than others but none of us would like a world that is totally predictable, which is just as well because God has not given us a world that is totally predictable.

It is certainly true that God has revealed many things to us and there are important promises in the Bible which we can rely on. One of the most famous is 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that those who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.' (John 3 v16) Such a promise is not open to surprises, all of us can rely on it. If we make a genuine step of faith in Jesus who lived amongst us, died on a Cross and rose again on Easter Day then salvation is ours, including forgiveness and life beyond the grave. We are all individuals and the way God deals with us may vary but the facts remain the same. When we commit to Jesus, salvation is ours.

What God promises He delivers, which is good news for everyone and it means that Christians can rest secure in their faith in Jesus.

But Christmas has reminded us that God has not revealed His whole hand. There is much we do understand but there is also much we do not understand. The Jewish people, including the religious leaders, understood a lot about God's plans. They knew God would send a Messiah who would be a king who would lead his people, but they did not know how this would happen or when, and indeed they were totally surprised, not to say shocked, when God finally acted in Jesus.

The shepherds were amazed that God would inform them of Jesus's birth because they had no status in Jewish society. The wise men were amazed to find the Kings of the Jews in a humble manger. Mary was overwhelmed at the thought of becoming the mother of Jesus. The whole Christmas story is full of shock and surprise.

But what about today? Now that we have the Bible does God have no more surprises for us? I have quoted before a lady in our previous church who one day asked God a question, 'Is this all in my life' and, by implication, do you have anything else for me?' God did have more for her and Karen and I were greatly blessed by what God did through this lady.

And one of the keys to being open to surprises is seeking God in every part of our lives. Are there parts of our lives where God is effectively excluded? Do we involve Him in our family relationships, particularly when they are difficult?. God exists in relationship, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He longs to bring healing to our relationships. If you want to be amazed this year, invite Him into your relationships and be amazed at what God can do.

If you are suffering from illness, physical, emotional or spiritual, then bring the issues before your heavenly Father, because healing is part of the package of salvation. Doctors and nurses have an important role of course, but start with God, bring your illness before Him, call the elders to pray for you and be amazed at what God can do.

If you are feeling imprisoned by the events of life, whether it be housing, employment or health problems or simply a lack of money, remember Jesus came to free the prisoners. You would be amazed at what God can do.

Am I speaking as an academic?. No, I am speaking as one who has experienced the God of surprises and I long to see more of you experience Him too. Make 2013 the year when you meet the God of surprises and you can do this in a number of ways. You can tell Him the issues you face, on your knees in prayer, and simply ask Him to help. You can read your Bible and claim the promises you read. You can speak to your minister or elder and ask him/her to help you. There is, of course, risk in this venture. The God of surprises may lead to some surprises in your life, but as someone once put it, the word 'faith' is spelt 'risk' and has no meaning unless we take some risks in our lives.

Exercise your faith in Jesus in 2013 and be delighted at what God can do. The alternative is not to act in faith and then sadly your faith will die.

We wish you a very happy new year when your lives are touched by God.

With love,
Bob and Karen


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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church