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Alisdair writes…

These are unusual, unexpected and unprecedented days in our lifetime. We’ve never been ‘here’ before. We have no road ‘map’ to guide us along such unexpected territory. This could be daunting - scary even, were it not for the fact that the God who invites us to trust in Him is the Lord of history and of all its previous tumultuous times and events.

It was the Psalmist, David who said, "I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121). In a recent podcast, the evangelist, J John, writing to encourage his readers to resolve to be victors rather than victims in these unusual days, puts the challenge we face in this way: ‘Our grandparents were called to war, we are being called to sit on our settee – we can do this!’

As ever, J John introduces more than a touch of humour – but, seriously how might we resolve to be victors rather than victims? In John 15, Jesus describes himself to his disciples as the true vine, and instructs them. ‘Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me’ (v.4).

One of the ways we can remain (or abide, as some version express it) in Jesus is by staying connected to him. We can connect to him through the truth of his Word, the Bible. Let me encourage you to find a way to connect into Jesus through his Word every day. Read it and prayerfully reflect on it – and ask yourself ‘What is God saying to me through this passage?’.

Secondly, ask yourself, ‘What does God want me to do about what he is saying to me in this passage? Is there something God wants me to change in any way – something to stop or something to begin doing? If you have access to the internet, there are lots of ways to do this. You could decide with a friend (or several friends) to read the same passage each day – and then phone/Skype/Zoom/WhatsApp and share what God highlighted for you in the passage. And then, share with each other what you’re going to do about it, before praying that God will give you grace to act on his word to you. This is one of the ways that we can encourage each other to continue to be growing as disciples of Jesus.

In John 15, Jesus makes it clear that he’s wanting, in fact expecting us to produce ‘fruit’. I guess this is always a bit of a challenge for us – but this is particularly so, in these ‘strange’ days. What might ‘good fruit’ look like in our lives, today – as we self-isolate and quarantine ourselves? Maybe, growing and developing in our willingness to trust God in these uncertain times and not allow anxiety to envelop us? Maybe, allowing God through his Word and by his Spirit to keep transforming our character – so that we are becoming more like Jesus (in ways that those we live with notice!). Maybe, in ways appropriate during ‘lock-down’, showing the grace and mercy of Jesus to our neighbours and any others in need?  [A particular challenge here will be in finding out who is in need of help. Maybe your parish council, doctors surgery (via phone) or a churches together group might help you with this].

Let’s all resolve daily, to remain/abide in Jesus. Let’s invite him to keep producing his fruit of transformation in our lives. And may we know the experience of the Psalmist – that in these difficult days, our help does indeed come from the Lord who made and rules over heaven and earth.

Grace and peace to you and yours,

Alisdair Longwill

Regional Minister WEBA

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