When the wicked seem to be living large and looking strong

There is an interesting narrative in 1 Samuel 17. The story’s headline is well-known. It is a universal metaphor the world over. It is the story of David and the giant Philistine, Goliath. What is relevant to us is not so much David’s actual victory but how he got to the place of representing Israel in the man-to-man, one-on-one combat that took place.

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A mighty warrior or scrawny youth?

There is an interesting narrative in 1 Samuel 17. The story’s headline is well-known. It is a universal metaphor the world over. It is the story of David and the giant Philistine, Goliath. What is relevant to us is not so much David’s actual victory but how he got to the place of representing Israel in the man-to-man, one-on-one combat that took place.

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An accurate, realistic and balanced view

I don’t know about you, but from time to time I come across people who have ideas about themselves. Such individuals tend to have a view of self that is out of sync with what could be referred to as the reality of reasonable people. They have what can be best described as exaggerated opinions of themselves. At the other extreme, we have people whose view of self is as low as the doormat. More often than not such people end up being exploited, abused, and going through life as perennial victims.

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The story that forms the basis of this brief article relates to the incident in the first chapter of John’s gospel when Jesus was being introduced by Philip to a man called Nathaniel. Philip told him that they had found the man that Moses and the prophets had written about, and His name was Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth. The mention of the word Nazareth prompted an exclamation from Nathaniel. ‘Nazareth?’ he said, ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ Philip’s response was, ‘Come and see for yourself.’

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One of my favourite subjects is history. I love stories. I love to hear about things that happened in the past; how events unfolded; how people lived their lives, what made them tick, how they responded to different situations; all with one aim in mind, to seek to understand how those who have gone on before coped with, and survived; their triumphs as well as their tragedies.

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A story is told in 2nd Kings 5:1-14 of a senior officer in the Syrian army, possibly the rank of a General, by the name of Naaman. A partial reading of his CV would suggest that this was a man who was truly accomplished. He was a brave man, a leader of men, a very powerful individual who was held in high esteem by his king. However his CV was somewhat compromised by the fact that he had one major limitation. He was a leper. The Harley Street doctors of his day could not resolve the problem. Then he heard news of the fact that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal him.

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In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 9: 18-22; Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-46) we read the story of a miracle that was sandwiched between two other miracles. If you think of a bun, this was the meat within the sandwich. It concerns a woman who had been haemorrhaging for over twelve years.

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This is the final is this series of articles in which we look at what Easter is all about. In the first article we learned that Easter is about God’s love. In the second, we said that it is about forgiveness. In this article we will consider the assertion that the Easter message is one of redemption. Again we ask: What is redemption? How is it connected to the Easter story? Why is it necessary? How does it apply to me? What, if anything, do I need to do?

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Forgiveness is at the heart of the Easter message. This is because it is fundamental to the nature and character of God.

These two assertions raise the same questions that were prompted by the first article in this series on what Easter is all about: What do we mean by forgiveness? Why is it necessary? How is it connected to the Easter story? How does it apply to me? What, if anything, do I need to do?

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This article forms part of a series aimed at introducing people to the message of the gospel, which is the Good News of Jesus. It is prompted and motivated by a number of reasons. First, in our post-modern, post-industrial world, the Judeo-Christian narrative which has informed and underpinned our lives for centuries is under severe attack. It is important that the story is told and re-told to a new generation.

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