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Archive for October 2015

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 10 - John 1:29-51
Names and guys



So far I have managed to keep each short study to one or two verses, but not this time. I hope you have a Bible handy in which you can read these verses. A many-coloured procession of different people come into contact with Jesus in these verses. And as they do we find the passage is full of a good many names and titles of Jesus. Counting in titles like ‘the Surpasser’ but not the equal names like Rabbi and Teacher I can find 13 of them. Here is the passage:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me. ’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony:“I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. ’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote —Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Have a go yourself. How many names and titles can you find? I put my list at the bottom of the page – don’t look until you have had a go yourself.

They range from the bottom of the pile, which is surely ‘son of Joseph’, son of his step-father, to ‘Son of God’ at the top of the pile. Some have deep Old Testament connections like ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son of Man’, while others are simply derived from what John the Baptist knew first hand.
The really interesting thing is what we see if we compare what is said here with what is said in the other Gospels at the call of the twelve disciples. Without exception the other Gospels are less detailed except they all say that the disciples were called to ‘fish for people’ or, in the older versions, to be ‘fishers of men’.

Why the difference? What does it mean?

The answer has to be that John is solely concerned with Jesus. The rest is incidental. As we shall find as we work through the rest of the Gospel John is completely Jesus centred, or Christo-centric as it is called. Because Jesus was, and is, God He could be all those things at one and the same time. He could meet each one of the men listed here: John, Andrew, Andrew’s companion, Simon Peter, Philip and Nathanael, and meet them at their point of need. That is what John is telling us. And he is going to go on and tell us that Jesus would meet many other people, all at their point of need, no matter how way out that might be. Before long we shall be in chapters 3 and 4 where Jesus meets at their points of need a senior professor in Jerusalem and a slightly dodgy woman in a country village. Rather different people. I wonder how successful any of us would be at being equally effective in conversation with such different people. Not many, I am sure. Certainly not me!
But turned round and looked at from the other direction this is enormously encouraging for us. It does not matter who we are, what our problems may be, what is our point of need, Jesus, because He is the Son of God can speak to us encourage us, forgive us, save us, for this life and the next. Hallelujah and hooray – many times over.

Names and titles: Lamb of God/the Surpasser/the One to be revealed/ the One on whom the Spirit had come/the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit/God’s Chosen One/Rabbi=teacher/ the Messiah=the Christ/Jesus of Nazareth/the son of Joseph/Son of God/king of Israel/the Son of Man.


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Partakers Friday Prayers!

23th October 2015

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!


A prayer of Aquinas

O Almighty and all-knowing God,
Who is without beginning or end!
Who is the giver, preserver, and rewarder of all virtue!

Grant me to stand firm on the solid foundation of faith,
be protected by the invincible shield of hope,
and be adorned by the nuptial garment of charity.

Grant me by justice to obey you,
by prudence to resist the crafts of the Devil,
by temperance to hold to moderation,
by fortitude to bear adversity with patience.

Grant that the goods I have I may share liberally
with those who have not,
and the goods which I do not have I may seek with
humility from those who have.

Grant that I may truly recognise the guilt of the evil I have done,
and bear with equanimity the punishments I have deserved;
that I may never lust after the goods of my neighbour,
but always give thanks to you for all thy good gifts.

Plant in me, O Lord, all thy virtues,
that in divine matters I might be devout,
in human affairs wise,
and in the proper needs of the flesh onerous to no one.

And grant that I may never rush to do things hastily,
nor balk to do things demanding,
so that I neither yearn for things too soon,
nor desert things before they are finished.


I ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.


(Aquinas 1225 – 1274)

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HAVE - Yael

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Heroes and Villains Explored

Yael (Judges 4-5)

There are in the Bible, both heroes and villains - people of great character, from whom we can learning to apply lessons to life in the 21st Century. An example of those who can be seen to be faithful to God (such as King David - a Hero) and unfaithful to God (such as King Saul - a Villain).

It is perhaps a sad fact of church life (and of church history), that very rarely do we hear the stories about the minor women characters of the Bible. So in this series, we will discover together something about the lesser known characters of the Bible as well as the more famous ones. These people from the Bible are like you and I, and we have lessons to learn from them, in order that God is glorified and honoured through our lives.

Yael (Judges 4&5)

Judges 5v24 - "Yael shall be blessed above women, the wife of Heber the Kenite; blessed shall she be above women in the tent. The first person we are going to look at is Yael. Yael is mentioned in one place and 5 times in all the Bible. Yet as was just read in Judges 5:31, she was accorded great honour and blessing? Why?

Yael's name, like other Bible names, means more than just a name. It means goat, a graceful goat and the term implies that she was an attractive woman.. In the west, comparing your wife to a goat would be an insult, so most translations apparently use the word hind or deer. So we could quite properly, call Yael the name ‘Yael Doe'.

Yael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. The Kenites were not true Israelites, but were the descendants of Moses' non Jewish wife. Because they were a roaming nomadic people they lived in tents. In the days of Deborah they had camped at the foot of Mount Tabor. In fact, they were situated very near the place where Barak and Deborah had destroyed Jabin's mighty army, including his 900 chariots of iron. Jabin had permitted the Kenites to stay in his country because he hoped they would prove to be his ally against the Israelites whom he hated intensely. But they disappointed Jabin's hopes. Perhaps from the beginning, because they remembered Moses's great deeds, the Kenites had occasionally sided with Israel.

Yael was a friend of Israel. She rejoiced when she heard of Jabin's defeat and would have wept when she heard that Sisera had defeated Israel with his chariots. Yael received the honour that Barak would like to have had. By her hand, as though by a judgement of God, Sisera, the enemy of Israel, was killed. Barak would have had that honour if he had not hesitated on the day Deborah had asked him to attack Jabin. But because he hesitated at that time, Deborah, as a prophetess, told him the word of the Lord in Judges 4v9: She said, "I will surely go with you: nevertheless, the journey that you take shall not be for your honour; for Yahweh will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman."

Sisera showed himself to be made of wiser stuff than his soldiers, or so it seemed at first. The survivor in any kind of work, sport or conflict is the person who can keep cool in a crisis and take rational action. Sisera abandons his chariot, which had made him an easily seen target for Barak, as well as of being no use in the mud when it rained, and so he disappears on foot in the direction of Barak's own town which was perhaps the last direction Barak would look for him.

Near Kedesh, there was land which belonged to the Kenites. Their name likens them to Cain, whose family made all kinds of bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22). More recently they had become friends by marriage with the Israelites, through Moses' marriage to a Kenite. But a nomadic group such as the Kenites survived by the friends and allies they made, and in this case with Jabin. Given their expertise, they would be natural chariot makers and repairers. These chariot experts had in the past been the key to Sisera's success but are now the key to his failure.

Then Sisera meets Yael. When Sisera arrives at her home, he expected to be on friendly territory if these Kenites were true allies of his boss Jabin, he has travelled almost fifty miles. Yael comes out to greet him and offers him a warm and smooth welcome. There is a contrast to be seen here. At the time of Yael, when a woman alone, invites a man into her bedroom, in any other context, it would be the act of the seductress in Proverbs 7. Like Yael, she might well be expected to offer a man refreshing drink and comfort, invite him to lie down and relax, reassure him that everything will be all right, and that she will tell him no-one will know of his visit and then be the death of him.

Yael knows the predicament she was in. As a married woman, though at the moment alone and vulnerable, with all the personal insecurity that that means in a time of ware, and as a Kenite wife, she would have been treated by the people of Israel as a traitor on the losing side. At this point, she behaves just like an independent woman, takes her destiny in her own hands, and acts in a way that brings the victory of Israel to its completion in the death of Israel's enemy commander.

Because she was a woman she easily won the confidence of Sisera. He relaxed, after being so careful on the run to Yael's house, and it cost him his life. Like Barak, Sisera no longer wanted to be involved and was probably fed up of playing the tough macho hero guy. He was physically exhausted, but when he lets himself fall asleep, it is as if he wants to leave everything behind him for a short time. Perhaps he knew that Kenite people were a very caring people to strangers, because in the desert a mutual commitment to hospitality can mean the difference between life and death. He thought he could trust Yael.
But perhaps Yael knew that sometimes this hospitality meant more than just sleep and food, and wanted a role reversal. Sisera made a mistake in telling Yael to lie if anyone asked if he was there. Being a wise woman, she concluded that Sisera was running from the battlefield, which meant that the Jews had won the battle and the Canaanites grip on the land was gone. If she protected Sisera, she would be in trouble with her Jewish relatives.

Yael gets together her woman's weapons - gentleness and consideration, cooking, hospitality and courage. She also had a tent peg and hammer at hand, because it was the job of the woman to put up the tent. She probably gave him milk and not water, because warm milk is known to cause people to become sleepy. So when Sisera shortly falls into a deep sleep, she takes the tent peg & hammer and hits it through the head of Sisera as he sleeps. She must have used a lot of violent force in this horrid incident. Yael joins the role of honour of those who have acted for themselves, and either knowingly or unknowingly acted to free Israel. She becomes a deliverer too. Her story is to be remembered for a long time (Judges 5:31).

However, some questions naturally come to us.

1. Did God answer prayers through this bloody and violent act?

We don't know from what the Bible says. Yael is in the Bible (so the prayer for her to be celebrated for a long time is answered) yet her story is not often read (so the prayer isn't answered). It is not merely that the church has tended to prefer men's stories in Scripture, though that is almost certainly a historical fact. It is that the violence of the story should make us feel uncomfortable. It makes us aware of the violence within each of us, which we prefer to avoid.

2. Should we bless or blame Yael for what she did?

She invited Sisera into her tent, treated him kindly, and told him not to be afraid; so she was deceitful. The Kenites were at peace with Jabin, so she violated a national treaty. She gave Sisera the impression that she would guard the door, so she broke a promise. She killed a defenceless man, so she was a murderess. Yet Deborah sang, "Yael shall be blessed above women, the wife of Heber the Kenite; blessed shall she be above women in the tent.' (Judges 5v24)

So how are we to understand this question? To begin with, let us not read into the time of the Judges, the spiritual standards taught by Jesus and the apostles. Also let us keep in mind that the Jews had been under terrible bondage because of Jabin and Sisera; and that it was God's will for the nation to be delivered from its enemies. Both Jabin and Sisera had been mistreating the Jews for years, and if the Canaanite army had won the battle, hundreds of Jewish girls would have been captured, raped and probably killed (Judges 5v30). Yael not only helped to deliver the nation of Israel from bondage, but also she helped protect vulnerable women from vicious enemies. She was a courageous woman, in the middle of a war, and she stopped being neutral and took her stand with the people of God.

3. How is God's purpose realized in the world?

It is achieved; through kings like Jabin who are involved in the fulfilment of God's purpose, without them knowing, in ways they enjoy and in ways they wish they could escape; through the people of God crying out to God in the middle of their suffering (even when the suffering was deserved); through a woman of insight who become a woman of a violent act, using her female wiles to become a traitor and assassin. Yael succeeded because God was with her. She played a part in the purpose of God, and in the introduction of 40 years peace in the land, for the sake of which it might almost seem worthwhile to be a victim.

As we conclude, one question for you to think about and enact upon:

What principles and lessons for living as a Christian, can I learn from God, through the life of Yael?

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POD - Psalm 59

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Psalm 59

For the Chief Musician. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A poem by David, when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.

59:1 Deliver me from my enemies, my God.

Set me on high from those who rise up against me.

59:2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity.

Save me from the bloodthirsty men.

59:3 For, behold, they lie in wait for my soul.

The mighty gather themselves together against me,

 not for my disobedience, nor for my sin, Yahweh.

59:4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.

Rise up, behold, and help me!

59:5 You, Yahweh God of Armies, the God of Israel,

rouse yourself to punish the nations.

Show no mercy to the wicked traitors.

Selah.

59:6 They return at evening, howling like dogs,

and prowl around the city.

59:7 Behold, they spew with their mouth.

Swords are in their lips, “For,” they say, “who hears us?”

59:8 But you, Yahweh, laugh at them.

You scoff at all the nations.

59:9 Oh, my Strength, I watch for you,

for God is my high tower.

59:10 My God will go before me with his loving kindness.

God will let me look at my enemies in triumph.

59:11 Don’t kill them, or my people may forget.

Scatter them by your power, and bring them down, Lord our shield.

59:12 For the sin of their mouth,

and the words of their lips,

let them be caught in their pride,

for the curses and lies which they utter.

59:13 Consume them in wrath.

Consume them, and they will be no more.

Let them know that God rules in Jacob, to the ends of the earth.

Selah.

59:14 At evening let them return.

Let them howl like a dog, and go around the city.

59:15 They shall wander up and down for food,

and wait all night if they aren’t satisfied.

59:16 But I will sing of your strength.

Yes, I will sing aloud of your loving kindness in the morning.

For you have been my high tower,

a refuge in the day of my distress.

59:17 To you, my strength, I will sing praises.

For God is my high tower, the God of my mercy.

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26th October 2015


Count Your Blessings

Reading in my Bible this morning following a pattern of reading through the Bible in a year I am not always aware till I open my accompanying Bible notes of what I am about to read.

This morning I needed to read a portion of the Old Testament concerning Israel and Judah and sadly their disobedience towards God after He had blessed them so much. It was a wake up call for all of us who profess to know Christ to “Count every blessing” as the song goes then we will not forget His abundant kindness towards us Whom He loves dearly.

Scripture makes it clear that that the old nature within, does sometimes blind us to God's continuous blessings which abound if we were alert to them. Parking spaces found for us, requests for quick replies for urgent needs answered swiftly, sunny days for that special event, and of course rain which we need desperately at this time in UK.

We may be forgetful of that reassuring touch from the Lord when a friend comes round and says “I just felt you needed someone at this moment.” Psalm 103 reads “Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all his blessings (benefits) towards you. If you continue in that psalm and quietly give it some thought, you will find many times God has richly blessed you as you have waited upon Him and trusted Him.

To make sure you are constantly doing this without having to think about it why not share your blessings with others you meet during the course of the day? I find that is a refreshing way in serving our Lord is giving praise and glory to Him by passing your blessings on.

Try it and see I am sure you will find it to be true and you will receive a measure of joy in your heart as well.
In psalm 23 we read of the believer’s daily walk with the Lord and even though we walk through the vale of death we need fear no evil.

Why? The Lord is with us giving us reassurances He will never leave us. Note the joy in David the psalmist’s voice as he perhaps shout “My cup runs over” Oh the joy there is to be found in knowing Jesus.
Then the climax of the ages as we move towards the day when we see our wonderful Lord face to face. Psalm 23:6; “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever!”

Have a nice day and may you be blessed in all your circumstances and remember “Count your blessings name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done?”

Joy’s Prayer

Dear Loving Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the wonder of knowing You as our Heavenly Father and the One who supplies our every need on every occasion we require help and surprises us with unexpected blessings which delight us.
Forgive us if we ever take You for granted or forget to thank you for your regular daily blessings. Help us to remember just how dependant we are on You. We sometimes find ourselves asking even for the seeming impossible and although we may have to be patient and wait.
You have never let us down.
As the hymn writer reminds us “We are coming to a King, large petitions with you bring we can never ask too much...You have amazing resources Lord and we can never out ask your provision. Thank you for that knowledge and help us to be wise in our asking and swift in our thanksgiving. We love You for loving us so much and making sure our cup is never empty.
In Jesus Name

Amen

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 9 - John 1:40
The Lamb of God





Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 9 - John 1:40
Following The Lamb of God




John 1:40 “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.”
John 1:43 we read “The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’”

One or other of the ‘follow’ words appears more than 70 times in the Gospels, nearly always as ‘follow me’ or ‘follow him’. So following is a very important and significant word about our relationship to Jesus.

There has been a very distinct and valuable turn by many people towards talking in terms of ‘following’ rather than any of the possible alternatives recently. Not so long ago the common term was ‘deciding for Jesus’ and before that it was ‘born-again’. But the first of these is a very imprecise and somewhat wooly term to use while the second has been taken over by all sorts of people just to mean somebody taking up again a sport or an activity that they used to take part in but had not done so for some time.

Instead of those terms many people are talking about those who are converted (yet another old and Biblical term that is no longer much used) as having set out ‘to follow Jesus’ and those who are going to church but have made no profession of faith as those ‘who are not yet following Jesus’.

There is considerable merit in this. ‘Following Jesus’ indicates not only the starting point of making a profession of faith but the setting out on a journey which will last for a long time – in fact the rest of life – and will include a commitment, therefore a life-long commitment, to following Jesus.

But the obvious question is ‘what does following Jesus’ or following anyone actually mean. We use ‘following’ in much the same sense when we talk about following a team in some sport, such as football. (Apologies here to American friends who have the curious idea that a game in which foot is seldom applied to ball is football! I am talking about what you call ‘soccer’ where foot and ball often meet up.) Those who ‘follow’ a team such as Manchester United act in certain fairly well defined ways. They go to meet – well, watch – their team as often as possible; they worship – well, cheer them on – as vigorously as they can; they rejoice visibly and audibly when they do something good, like score a goal; they identify themselves with the team by wearing their colours in a scarf or a shirt; they spend considerable sums of money to support their team and in various ways assert that support to their friends and other people.

We can parallel all those things in what we should do as we ‘follow Jesus’. We should meet with him, at church, in small groups, in our private prayer as often as possible; we should worship Jesus and the Lord God in our singing etc. ; we should identify with Jesus in many subtle ways – the ways we behave, the things we say, perhaps too the words we do not use, where appropriate in the wearing of small emblems indicating our allegiance; we will be prepared to use our resources to support the Lord’s work in many different ways.

Certain words have sneaked into those last paragraphs, almost without me noticing. Words such as: cheering on, vigorously, identify, support, assert, allegiance, use of resources. All those words have a place in our thinking about how we are to follow Jesus.

Not all of them can be found in this passage in John 1, but many of them can. Andrew was quick to identify himself with Jesus, to support him, to give him his allegiance, and to use his resource of time. Philip did exactly the same things in his search for Nathaniel. It seems likely that Philip was a rather ordinary sort of guy with no great leadership qualities yet evident, whereas Nathaniel was probably the village wise man. That did not stop Philip sharing his discovery of Jesus with a man he probably looked up to as very much his superior.

I’m sure I don’t need to labour the lessons for us that are so clear in this passage. Follow Jesus – it is by far the best way to journey through life and arrive at a worthwhile destination.



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Partakers Friday Prayers!

23th October 2015

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

 

A prayer of Aquinas

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.
Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.
Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.


(Aquinas 1225 – 1274)

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19th October 2015

The best Connexion

Recently a relative warned me of a scam where someone pretending to be a BT representative was informing BT Customers that they had outstanding bills to pay and if they did not comply they would have further bills trebling the amount they were supposedly owing.

The conversation proceeded with a demonstration of the so called rep saying he would prove that he was official. He then told the person to put the phone down and try to phone a friend. The person did try and found the phone had gone dead. However not being vulnerable they refused to pay with cheque card details given which the man was requesting and the man rang off. The number he had given was given to the police and discovered to be untraceable. He had wanted to get details of the persons credit card details to gain a great deal of money that way. “Be warned”, the offended person told me.

Yes we have to be careful in this world of wrongdoing where selfishness, greed and dishonesty are prevalent in a broken society as many have turned away from the Lord.

Talking of disconnection's many do not know anything of the wonderful, beautiful and safe connexion that God wants to make with each one of us. We are all switched off and disconnected until God responds to our cry to be connected through realising our switched off connexion (Read Ephesians chapter 2:1; where disconnection is described as either being dead or alive).

The Good News (Gospel) is that God wants to be in the very centre of our lives (the power house) controlling and leading us in a way of peace joy and contentment through the amazing connections in reading the Bible and through the equally amazing connexion through prayer, where we communicate with Him and He with us in a very troubled world.

He is more than willing to connect us to Jesus our Saviour and Lord who

died for us to remove our wrongdoing justly held against us.

His glorious resurrection assures us of eternal life here begun on earth below when we become connected and a marvellous existence with Him in Heaven where we remain connected for evermore. Wow !! Isn't that amazing?

So next time you are disconnected from electricity, gas or phone (when you move house or phone) remind yourself , if you are connected to God that connexion will never change as God's power to keep is eternal. Hallelujah!! ps. The telephone line to heaven is always open and …...... is free!! I would encourage you to try it if you have never tried before .

Joys Prayer

Dear loving Heavenly Father,

Thank you for reminding us today of the wonderful relationship we can have with You and the certainty that the power line will never be broken as we continue to read our Bibles and pray every day. Not out of habit but delighting ourselves in You.

Help us to do this especially when things begin to go wrong when illness, or a sudden loss or change takes place that can alarm or cause us to be tempted to panic.

Please enable us to remain calm and to persevere knowing that whatever happens we are connected to You and that Your power is always there for us to tap into because of your wonderful love, grace and passion towards us.

You love us so much so help us to love you in return by trusting and believing that You can make everything work for good on our behalf as we bring everything to you in prayer.

“Oh what peace we often forfeit oh what needless pain we bare because we don't bring everything to You in prayer.

Lord we love you, keep us strong when trials come and keep us ever looking upwards to You and believing and trusting You in all our comings and goings.

In Jesus Name

Amen


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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 8 - John 1:29-31
The Lamb of God



John 1:29–31, “ The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’”

John, John the Baptist that is, must have used an expression that would be meaningful to those who heard him but we cannot be sure what that meaning was. Nowhere in the Old Testament is a lamb said to be ‘of God’. That John said a striking, important and memorable thing we cannot doubt – but what did he mean.

There seem to be 4 main possibilities. In Biblical order, but not necessarily order of importance, these are that he was thinking of:

  1. the near sacrifice Abraham made of his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. When Isaac asked, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham replied, God himself will provide the lamb.”
  2. the lambs that were sacrificed on the night of the Passover at the exodus from Egypt. The Lord told Moses, “it is the Lord’s Passover” and Paul uses the same expression in 1 Corinthians 5:7 when he said, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
  3. the lambs that are frequently mentioned as sacrificial offerings in passages such as Exodus 29:38, 41 where we read, “This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old …a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the Lord.”
  4. Isaiah 53, which clearly lies behind so much of what happened in the life of Jesus. It says, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”


Which of these, or other possibilities, John had in mind as he called Jesus the Lamb of God – or all of them – we cannot tell. Rather amazingly these 4 possibilities point us to 4 distinctly different concepts. They are in order: obedience to the call of the Lord, determination to set out on a difficult journey, the forgiveness of sin and the complete provision made for us on the Cross.

They are not in sensible or logical order. What is that logical order? Stop for a moment and think it through for yourself before reading on. (This sentence is a simple place filler to ensure you don’t see what my answer is too quickly!)
I think: the last one must come first, Jesus is in all and through all that happens; then we have forgiveness of sins, the promise of new life as we embark on the journey of faith and finally we must learn to be obedient in all that happens.
What is really striking is what happened when he said the same thing the next day in the hearing of two of his (John’s) disciples. It is recorded that, “When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means ‘Teacher’), ‘where are you staying?’ ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’”

Is it possible to do a really good job of explaining something you don’t fully understand yourself? The answer has to be yes – when you are driven by the Holy Spirit of God. Because that is what happened to John the Baptist. He must have done a wonderful job explaining the Old Testament passages promising a Messiah, even although we know he was not himself fully convinced about Jesus at this time (Matthew 11: 2,3).

We too will never have complete knowledge, nor will we ever be sure that we are completely obedient, but like John we can have the key that unlocks all the best things in life: here is the Lamb of God – follow Him.



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Partakers Friday Prayers!

16th October 2015

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!


A prayer of Anselm

Lord, because you have made me,

I owe you the whole of my love;

because you have redeemed me,

I owe you the whole of myself;

because you have promised so much,

I owe you my whole being.

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Moreover, I owe you as much more love

than myself as you are greater than I,

for whom you gave yourself and to whom you promised yourself.

I pray you, Lord,

make me taste by love what I taste by knowledge;

let me know by love what I know by understanding.

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I owe you more than my whole self,

but I have no more,

and by myself I cannot render the whole of it to you.

Draw me to you, Lord, in the fullness of your love.

I am wholly yours by creation;

make me all yours, too, in love.

(Anselm 1033-1109)

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Worship Wednesday

October 14, 2015


Order of Service

Song - Oh for a thousand tongues - Peter Schrock

Jesus - Part 1 - My Jesus

Poem - I fell in love with Jesus

Jesus Part 2 - Why I am a christian

Song - I have decided - K

Jesus Part 3 - Jesus calls you by name

Song - Come unto me - Julie McMinn

Open prayers

Doxology - Jeff Wooldridge

My Jesus

Almost everybody has an opinion of the man Jesus Christ! Countless millions worship him today and down through history! People sometimes ask me "Who is my Jesus?" So, let me answer that briefly - "Who is my Jesus?"

My Jesus Christ, is the man who splits history BC & AD! The man who we claim is the messiah and saviour as spoken about by the prophets of old and written about by those who met Him...

My Jesus Christ, the man who healed the sick, fought for justice, did many great deeds, filled with compassion, driven on by joy and in constant conversation with God the Father.

My Jesus Christ, is the man who claimed to be God and was God! Jesus who emptied Himself, made Himself nothing, so as to take on human form. Jesus Christ, fully human and yet fully God.

My Jesus Christ, is the most amazing man who ever lived, born of a woman, in a humble stable. Jesus Christ, the man born to die that he may come back alive and give all people a chance to live forever.

My Jesus Christ, is the man who died on a grubby Roman cross, pierced, battered, bruised and scarred. Jesus Christ, the God-man who died physically. Jesus Christ, buried within and sealed into a cold empty tomb.

My Jesus Christ, is the man who conquered death, came back alive as witnessed by uncountable others. Jesus Christ who defeated the sting of sin, so that humanity may choose to live forever!

My Jesus Christ, whose very death and resurrection we celebrate at Easter, who ascended to the right hand of God the Father. This Jesus Christ, who with the Father, sent the Holy Spirit to transform into His own image, all who choose to follow Him.

My Jesus Christ, who covers His followers in His own robe of righteousness so that they would be acceptable to God the Father.

Jesus Christ, coming again soon in glory to judge humanity and claim those who follow Him. Jesus Christ who calls to you and I "Come and follow!"

Why I am a christian

If that's my Jesus Christ, why am I a Christian and identify myself as such?

The Apostle John, writing in 1 John 5:9-12 - "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

The reason that I am a Christian is not because I chased God, but rather He chased me

I am a Christian Disciple not because of anything I have done, but rather because He first chased me, and because He first loved me. Jesus himself said "I came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19v10). God was chasing me and following my every path with the urgency of a lover after the beloved, just as described in the Song of Songs 2v2-14.

If you are a Christian today, it is not because of anything you have done. It is because of the events at Christmas and Easter that you are a Christian, when God entered this world as a human baby and took all the necessary steps so that all people could have the choice to be His people or not. In my more smug moments I used to congratulate myself for being a Christian. How proud I was that I, was a Christian and that God was a jolly lucky God that I had decided to follow Him. It was during one of my less self-deluded moments, that I examined myself and I found God pricking my conscience and correcting me, and I read the New Testament "For the Son of Man came, not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark10v45).

Jesus calls you

This Jesus, my Jesus, also calls you!

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," he said. hen Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. hen those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." Matthew 14:22-33

If you would not call yourself a Christian today, and this Jesus appeals to you, this Jesus who speaks with authority, and you want to become a Christian there are three simple steps to follow. Firstly, admit that you have done wrong against God and His ways. Secondly, believe and trust in Jesus. Call on Him, receive, trust, obey and worship Him, recognizing Him for who He is and what He has done. Lastly, confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Once sin has been confessed, and Jesus is believed in and trusted as Saviour, then you are a Christian. Now you are ready as Peter writes in the Bible, "to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). Welcome to the family of God. God has chosen you; Jesus has paid for you and has put His mark within you through His Spirit (Ephesians 1:1-13).


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12th October 2015

You may well have heard the song 'Love Changes Everything' made famous by Michael Ball several years ago. One of the lines reads Life will never be the same again.

Certainly when a young man meets a girl and like turns to love and from once a week the scene changes and they cannot see enough of each other. In fact t they do not want to be out of each others company and marriage takes place and they become One. Life will never be the same for them ever again.

Likewise when a person realises who Jesus Christ is and what Jesus Christ has done for them they see that in God not only do have they a Saviour but see that a vital part of their life has been missing and God has a plan for their life. Having dealt with their sin problem through atonement and now He wants them to love and serve Him. Again think of the line of that hymn. Life will never be the same.

Isn't it sad that God often has to use shock tactics to get through to us. How many have been brought to that crisis point through a tragedy or some kind of conflict in their life where they have to face up to their need of God. They discover they are now insufficient of themselves. They see that life is not a bowl of cherries (another song title I think) That Life if to be lived with a capital L must have Someone bigger than themselves at the helm. Someone who knows the pathway through. Someone who knows and is indeed the Way, Truth and Life, even Jesus

Recently in the UK we have had an incident in our national game of football where a man suddenly drops to the ground during a match, an important cup tie and those around him suddenly are made aware of a man dying. A young man with a whole life ahead of him in his early twenties not breathing, a cardiac arrest.

Medics and doctors rush on to the pitch, players stand around absolutely shocked and the game of football which had been so very important up to that 41st minute now completely forgotten for here is a matter of life and death.

A Specialist heart Surgeon in the large crowd of spectators rushes down onto the pitch and begins to give directions to the medics and decide which hospital to take the player to. (The fact that he supports the other team has no significance now for here is a much more important matter to be dealt with, A matter of life and death. ) The crowd whoever they supported doesn't matter any more are silenced also shocked what is about to happen? Will he make it to the hospital in time to give special treatment to bring him back ot life? They want the man to live..

We are told later that the young fiancée of the dying man is a believer in God and has said "We must not worry God is in control here."

On the pitch they were thumped the man's chest but could not bring him back to life. He is hurried to a waiting ambulance and soon he is heading for that special hospital. There a team of specialist doctors are already alerted and waiting to get the man's heart working again. Players from both teams are now coming to the hospital. They are so concerned for this young man. Future games are postponed. Life will never be the same for any of those who had taken part in this cup tie nor the same for the spectators either. Those moments will not want to be experienced again. They were very frightening. On national news the whole country were alerted and went to prayer and other countries also. Now people die every day but this was a drama on national view through television and many tears flowed and many many prayers were prayed. But it had to take a tragedy to strike, a crisis to bring people to view a glimpse of eternity. Supposing it were them would they be ready to face God? They had seen it can happen so suddenly. They had seen it can happen to the most unlikely person, a young athletic man., They could see it could happen at any moment!! Death in the midst of life.

My friends do you see Someone has made provision for you to be ready at such a similar time when God says "Now is the hour" Would we be ready?

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have the gift of eternal life" John 3:16

Talking to two members of a cult a few days ago I asked the question "Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?" They looked shocked as I had cut right into their planned speech for the day. A speech to be copied from their leaders. Do you see why we should love Jesus? I enquired further. They were struggling when I said He is The Lord Jesus Christ. He is God. He came in the flesh to suffer bleed and die for you. That is why you should love Him.

Come back to that Football Stadium in London. Picture the scene again. This time see the invisible angels standing by in support. See the Lord Himself drawing near. Feel the atmosphere as you look into the crowds faces. There is fear and other mixed emotions. Tears are unashamedly shed. If they could look into their own hearts at that moment would there have been faith there to be seen, a confidence that if anything similar happened to them, would they feel safe and comforted in the knowledge they were going to a beautiful secure place in heaven?

Love changes everything as you look much closer at Jesus Christ and see what great things He has done for you. Don't let a tragedy have to strike suddenly for you to make the wise decision to receive Christ the Saviour into your hearts. Now is the day of Salvation do not lets yours catch you unaware. Time may not be on your side . Make your decision now. Get right with God and be sure of your allotted place in eternity labelled for you at present. May God draw you to Himself

Joys Prayer

Dear Loving Heavenly Father

We have been made aware that life can change so suddenly. We can fall in love suddenly, but we can be suddenly in a crisis which is not so pleasant as someone suffers and is about to die. It could be a close family member or a work colleague or a church friend or a neighbour. In the midst of life there is death. Lord make us fully conscious of the way paved for us so that we have no need to fear the consequences after death.

Lord Jesus Christ You loved us enough to die for each one of us that we may be saved from our sins and receive a home in heaven and the gift of eternal life and joy. If we are unsure or blinded by other things of no consequence help us Lord to see the straight path ending in glory. We can waste so much time chasing our tails so help us to deliberately seek after You Lord and to follow You unwaveringly and relentlessly keeping our minds and hearts focussed on Jesus our Saviour Lord and King. Help us to be shining lights for You in a dark world and a place where materialism has a stronghold. Help us to proclaim Him Who is altogether lovely and full of mercy 'and grace.

In Jesus Name

Amen

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