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Spirit of the Flame - 70 days following the Olympic Torch
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DAY 70!

 

The end has come!

Or is it the beginning?  

ENDING
It is the end of the 70 days of the Olympic Torch Relay; weeks and weeks of the torch touring the nations of the United Kingdom, as well as visiting the Republic of Ireland.  The torch, representing the spirit of the Olympics, covered 8000 miles, and visited a city, town, or village near you.  

As this pondering devotional blog has been following the 70 days of the torch tour, the end has come for me to finish my last rambling thoughts.

The end has come for another week.  Just a Sabbath day left.  A time to put aside all that preoccupies my time and devote more attention to God, my family, and other people.

BEGINNING
But it is the beginning too.  The beginning of the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games.  We had two protesting kids this evening when we turned off the television and settled down for worship at sunset.  For us in Watford, less than 20 miles from the Olympic Stadium, sunset was minutes before the much publicised opening ceremony.  

Instead of focussing on the opening ceremony, we focused on the opening of Sabbath!  For us it was a chance to teach our kids that nothing, not even a £27 million extravaganza watched by 1 billion people worldwide takes the place of our worship of God.  (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2012/jul/27/4-billion-olympic-opening-ceremony)

What my kids did see on TV this evening was the Red Arrows flying in perfect formation.  With so many people watching worldwide, it is easy to see how global events can be seen in an instant around the world.  

We have heard an unusual number of helicopters, including military choppers, flying over our area.  There has been a lot of busy activity in the sky, which has caught the attention of my kids.  

APOCALYPTIC ENDING AND BEGINNING
For evening worship I deliberately chose two stories; one of the three angels bringing their messages (like the Red Arrows), and another of the return of Jesus in the clouds (like the helicopters).  

I asked my kids to look for lessons as they compared these stories with the Olympic Games opening ceremony.  With some discussion, they got it.  And gave it more interest than they had shown in pining to see the ceremony.  

If the Bible is to be believed, we are told that God will give everyone the chance to turn back towards Him.  This is the message of the three angels.  Each message is about worship.  True worship.  Worship of God.

JESUS LEAVING (ENDING) AND RETURNING (BEGINNING)
The Bible also says that Jesus will return just as He left the earth (drifting up into the clouds Acts 1:11 (NLT)  “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”).

And that when He returns, those who have returned to God will live eternally.  1 Thessalonians 5:10 (NLT)
Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.

A MOST IMPORTANT ENDING AND BEGINNING
So the end has come for the Olympic Torch Relay, and with it the beginning of the Olympic Games.  

The end has come for my 70 days of ponderings on the presence of God in our lives.  As for a beginning, well maybe I begin to get my evenings back!

But how about the most important ending and beginning?  Is the most important ending and beginning the end of life on earth as we know it, and the beginning of an eternal life?  While this will be important, and I believe more than 1 billion people will see that, there is a more important ending and beginning.  

The most important ending and beginning you can experience is the end of turning away from God, and the beginning of experiencing the daily presence of God in your life.  It is not easy.  There are always distractions.  Leaving God out of your life seems so easy to do.  It's so easy to say, "God can wait for later."  But you never get round to making the date.

So what is it time you ended?  And what do you need to begin?  

If you are interested in learning about God's love for you, about ending your running away from God and beginning your faith journey, contact me, LIKE us on our Facebook group (BUC Youth Ministries), and keep in touch at our website (www.adventistyouth.org.uk).  If you like I can put you in contact with someone local to you to help you in your faith journey.

And if you want the ending and beginning to start right now, join me in this prayer:

Our Father in Heaven, we sense you exist but we want to know you more.  

Help us to intentionally set aside some time every day just for you.  Even in our day, may we present our struggles and victories to you.  Help us develop a habit of chatting with you.  

May we put aside our life of self, and begin a life of eternal opportunities with you.  

We ask these things because you love us and want us to join with you in your presence.  
AMEN.

-Pr Nathan Stickland

PS  Thank you for joining me in my ponderings about the presence of God.  It has been a joy to share with you, and an amazing experience of focus for me.  

Remember what God said to His people taken as slaves to a foreign land, "If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." - Jeremiah 29:13.  Enjoy seeking God wholeheartedly!

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