Archive for April 2016

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 28 - John6:36-40
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I set out to do this series basically about one verse at a time but here we have a small structure that, being a lover of structures, I must bring to your attention. It is what is called officially a chiasm, but I prefer to call it a reflection for reasons that should become obvious. It is a series of clauses which go ABCB’A’, the second part being a reflection of the first half with some significant changes. Such things are surprisingly common throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. This one goes:

  • Verse 36 A you have seen me and still you do not believe
  • 37 B All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away
  • 38 C For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
  • 39 B’ I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
  • 40 A’ everyone who looks to the Son and believes … I will raise them up at the last day


The 2 outer verses are about seeing and believing – the first negatively, they see and do not believe, the last positively about those who see and do believe. The 2 inner verses are both about what happens to those that the Father has given to Jesus. The central verse explains why Jesus has come down to earth and the consequences, which are that the last 2 verses are both more positive than the first 2.

We cannot see Jesus in any literal sense as they could and the first verse therefore does not make any direct sense to us. But I think we can reasonably change it into the parallel idea of listening and hearing and get the sense that way. You most probably know someone who is very good at listening but doesn’t seem to hear anything much! You talk to them; they give every appearance of agreeing with you; you are sure you have convinced them that what you are saying is right – perhaps some change in the way things are done at work or in church, which they are in a position to make.

But then you discover that absolutely nothing changes. They listened, but they did not hear. So it can be with the way people fail to hear what they are told about Jesus. They read the Bible; they attend church regularly; they enjoy the fellowship; there are all the signs that they are Christians. But nothing really changes in the way they behave; the things they do; the statements they make about faith. They listened but they did not hear, in exactly the same way as the people Jesus was talking to could see him, listen to him, see what he did, but it all made no change in their lives. Be careful. I do hope you are not one of those people who go to a good church to get their regular dose of listening but never really hear anything!

In his second and second last statements Jesus moves on to say that the reason for this is that it is the work of the Father to select those who will truly hear Jesus and follow him. That is both a reason and a promise. If indeed we have set out to follow Jesus we are secure for it was not really our choice but the work of the Father. That does not mean that we do not choose to follow or not. Later on in this chapter we read that many of those who listened to Jesus ‘turned back’. They decided not to follow him. And that is the way it is. From our perspective it is something that we do; from the greater perspective of the Triune God it is something he does. And we shall never be able to make those 2 perspectives meet up and sound the same. Like many of the best things of life: the love of a man and a woman, the things we see beauty in, the joy we can get from many an apparently trivial pursuit; the step of faith is not entirely logical – and none the worse for that.

The second last verse in this structure points out that the true benefit of that is that we are held securely in the Father’s arms and cannot be lost. (Although being frail human beings we always have the potential to walk away ourselves, as most of those listening to Jesus on this occasion seem to have done.) Not only shall we not be driven away in the first place, we are securely in forever, for this life and for the life to come. WOW!

The most important verse is, as usual in these reflective structures, the middle one. All this is possible because Jesus came down to do the will of the Father. We are totally secure in him. Triple WOW!

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Partakers Friday Prayers

29 April 2016


Come and join in praying for the world and yourself, offering praises to God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit!


Order of Service

Opening prayer

Confession

Psalm 65

Prayers for Churches and Christians worldwide

Prayers for others

Silent time (Prayer for your own concerns)

Prayers for the world

Prayer of Benedict of Nursia

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Glimpses 56

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Glimpses 56 -

Donna from Detroit, Michigan

This is the story of Donna, from Detroit sharing about her encounter with Jesus! Come and hear!

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Church Leadership

Session 4:

What does the Old Testament teach us about leadership?”

Part 2


Last time we looked as Moses and Daniel as examples of leaders from the Old Testament – today we’ll consider two more – Nehemiah and Joseph.

I mentioned last time about my management training course in which Nehemiah was the case-study. At the time I was thrilled by the use of the Bible in such a context, but I have to admit having forgotten most of what the teacher said – so I don’t know if I became a better manager as a result. But it did lead me to a deeper study of Nehemiah and his exploits.

We find him in Susa – one of the principal cities of the Babylonian and Persian empires and where we also find Daniel and Esther – as a “cupbearer to the king” (chapter 1:11). He was an exile from Jerusalem and having heard of the state of his home city, he determined to do something about it. We don’t have time to go into the whole story – but you can read it in Nehemiah. We focus on some of the lessons we can learn from him:

  • Although he wanted to get on with things – he prayed and sought God first (1:4 – 11)
  • He planned carefully and got as much help as he could (2: 6 – 9)
  • He assessed the situation before he did anything or told anyone what was in his heart (2: 11 – 16)
  • Then he told the leaders and the people what his plans were and sought their support (2: 17 – 20)
  • He gave the glory to God for the success he expected (2: 20) and for the result (6:16)
  • He mobilised the people at all levels (chapter 3) – and they “worked with all their heart” (4:6).
  • He did not ignore opposition – but dealt with it prayerfully and practically (4: 4 & 5 and 13 – 21)
  • Having done the practical job of rebuilding the wall, he turned, with Ezra, to the spiritual needs of the people (chapters 8 and 9)
  • He dedicated what he had done to the Lord and gave Him the glory (12: 27 – 47)
  • His last recorded words were: “Remember me with favour, O my God” (13:31).



Now let’s think about Joseph – his story fills most of the last part of Genesis. We don’t have time today to go into the details of his life and I assume most of you will know the major elements of his story. So, some summarised lessons from the one who began as an arrogant “Daddy’s boy”, became a slave, spent time in jail but eventually became Prime Minister of Egypt:

  • Even as an arrogant teenager, God was speaking to Him through the dreams he was having. Sometimes if God plants a dream or vision in our spirits, it is better to keep it to ourselves until it begins to come to fruition.
  • The brothers’ action was inexcusable – but it was all part of God’s plan. Sometimes things happen to us – or are done to us by others – that are part of God’s purposes for us, but we can’t recognise that until years later.
  • The Lord was with Joseph – and his employer prospered (Genesis 39:5). Does our employer (or those we serve) prosper because of our faithfulness to God, our integrity etc?
  • He resisted a very real temptation – he ran from it – a real lesson for us. Even when falsely accused – he refused to justify himself (but he was a slave and had no “voice” – remember we said in session 2 that we are Christ’s bond slaves).
  • Twice we are told that the Lord was with Joseph in the prison (39: 21 & 23) – and even the prison “prospered” because Joseph was there. We don’t know how long he was in prison – but we must not let today’s circumstances rob us of what we know of God and His word – He will bring to pass His purposes even if we haven’t got a clue how or when.
  • Even in the prison – falsely accused and reckoning he might never get out – he was concerned for others– “Why are your faces sad today?” We must not let our own difficulties stop us from caring for others and showing them the love of God.
  • Joseph acknowledges that it is God who gives the answers (41:16). We are not here to make a name for ourselves – but to bring glory to God.
  • Joseph didn’t just interpret the dream – he offered a solution to the problem.
  • Pharaoh saw that the Spirit of God was in Joseph (41:37). Do those around us – those we work with, our employer, those we serve etc see God in us?
  • God has his people in high office (41:41 – 44) – don’t be afraid of that if God calls you to it – do the job well and give God the glory
  • The brothers bow before Joseph – and that dream is fulfilled – it took at least 20 years. God will do what He says He will do. Joseph puts his brothers to the test to see if they had learned anything over those years – sometimes we take a very long time to learn the ways of God.


Joseph got to his leadership position by a long and difficult route – but God was with him throughout and he acted with wisdom, justice and integrity. And even though others (in this case those very close to him) would seek to thwart God’s plans for him, Joseph was confident in his God and said to his brothers: “You meant to harm me – but God intended it for good” (50:20).

A prayer: “Thank You, Lord, that no matter our circumstances You have promised to be with us. And thank You that You do keep Your promises and are fulfilling Your purposes for us.”

Next time we will look at the characteristics of church leaders as set out in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus.



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POD - Psalm 19

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Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

 

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they reveal knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words;

no sound is heard from them.


4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens

and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is deprived of its warmth.


7 The law of the Lord is perfect,

refreshing the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,

making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the Lord are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.


9 The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring for ever.

The decrees of the Lord are firm,

and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious thangold,

than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,

than honey from the honeycomb.

11 By them your servant is warned;

in keeping them there is greatreward.

12 But who can discern their ownerrors?

Forgive my hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant also fromwilful sins;

may they not rule over me.

Then I will be blameless,

innocent of great transgression.


14 May these words of my mouthand this meditation of my heart

be pleasing in your sight,

Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

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Think Spot 25 April 2016

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Think Spot - 25 April 2016

As Christians we are commanded to love God and to show that by loving other people - all other people including those who are our enemies. I am sure that you have people that you love, and to whom you say that you love and care for. Good!

But please don't assume you know how to show your love and care for them. Ask them how you can show your love and care for them in practise... We are also to love the whole person and to take care of the whole person. We are to care for their whole well-being: their spiritual, physical, emotional, social and mental well-being.

Quite often, we neglect one of those areas. The whole person matters to God. He cares for the whole person. Therefore so must we. How will you refine your love of other people now that you are aware?

Go and love. Love others - all others - an every facet of the other person - spiritual, physical, emotional, social and mental well-being...


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