google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2018 December

Archive for December 2018

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Think Spot 31 December 2018

 

Time continues to march ever on - one second at a time! Each of us can make a difference in this world. Are you aware of that? Let's see what we can do in 2019!

One of the most well-known bible verses is when Jesus says “Love your neighbour as yourself.” But did you know he is actually quoting from Leviticus 19:18b "love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord."

What does that mean for us today?

As Christians we are to live right lives - to be holy. That is a fundamental about being a Christian. It means being practical and loving others - not just in words but in action. Not just saying I love you but showing that you do. It means sometimes doing things we don't want to do. Or not doing things we want to do. It means putting others first and ourselves last. It means not showing favouritism – to the rich or the poor, to the beautiful and the not so beautiful.

Loving others as yourself, does not mean loving yourself less. It means loving others more. It means holding the interests of others higher than your own. It means honouring others above yourself.

How are you doing at loving others - all others? Are you loving others generously & selflessly? Or are you saying you love them, but only on your own terms or only in words and not in action. Loving them selfishly by putting your own needs first and others after yourself.

Here is a challenge for you. Go into this new week determined to love others – all others – without favouritism. Each of us has ways in which we feel the love of others. We all have our own needs & wants. Ask somebody else today that what it is that you could do for them that would make them feel that they are loved and valued. You may well be surprised that it is something very simple and you would never have found out what it was unless you had asked.

As we go into this new year of 2019, let's be committed to showing practical love to all we meet - one person at a time. Imagine the difference that could make to the world! WOW!

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 12
Disciples Discipleship

 

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22

What were these people chosen for?

As we read these Gospel accounts, we can clearly see and know that the disciples often got things wrong. Jesus often rebuked them, such as when the storm hit when they were in the boat. He rebuked them for panicking (Mark 4:38) and for fearing and lacking faith (Mark 4:40). This, despite having seen Jesus do the things he had done. In Matthew’s Gospel, the disciples mistake Him for a ‘ghost’ as he walked to them on the water (Matthew 14:22-36) and Jesus rebukes Peter for lacking faith, as Peter looked at the storm (Matthew 14:30) rather than to Jesus Himself.

Another instance is when Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends tried to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross, Jesus’ subsequent rebuke was meant for all the disciples and not just Peter (Mark 8:33). They did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory. Later in his life, by the time Peter had written the letter we know in our Bible as 1 Peter, he most assuredly did know (1Peter 1:6-8, 1 Peter 4:13-5:10). In calling them to Himself, Jesus called them into a common discipleship of which they are to “love one another” (John 15:17).

The reason for this is so that people would know that they were his disciples, by and through their love for one another, (John 13:34, John 15:16) and this would then produce the desired fruit for God’s kingdom and an effective prayer life (John 15:16).

Chosen but demands are made

What demands does Jesus make on those who choose to follow Him? Just as he did for his original disciples, the people we know as the apostles, he makes upon all who choose to follow Him. Including those of us in the twenty first century.

  • Called regardless of background: The disciples were from a broad cross-section of society. Some as we have seen were fishermen, another a tax collector (who were thought of as traitors to Israel.), others were zealots or sons of zealots.
  • Called to a life of repentance: Symbolic of this is Peter who, when first encountered by Jesus in Luke 5:1-11, declared of Jesus "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man."
  • Called to a life of service: When they were sent out in Matthew 10, the disciples were to: tell the Good News’; heal the sick; raise the dead; drive out demons and freely give.
  • Called to a life of obedience: Jesus called for obedience of God (Matthew 7:21, Luke 6:46). This obedience means to follow Him in all areas of life.
  • Take up your cross: In Matthew 16:24, Jesus called his disciples to take up their own cross, just as he was going to be taking up his cross at Calvary. By this he meant that his disciples must be prepared to sacrifice, to suffer and die.

If the demands are made like this, how can a Christian Disciple, a follower of this Jesus, actually do them? We will see the answer to that shortly.

Next week: Jesus reveals His true identity to the the Disciples.

 

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 20 - Hebrews 7:24-27

Meeting our needs

“because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.”

What do we really need? All sorts of things spring to mind but it is unlikely that they are the same things the writer is thinking about. He is concerned almost entirely with our status before God and therefore with our eventual destiny. As that affects us he wants us to have a sense of purpose in life and a sure destination to be going to. These two things are hugely important but many modern cultures ignore them almost completely. Our sense of purpose should come from setting out to follow Jesus and staying faithful to that calling for the rest of our lives. Our destination is to be with him after death - in a way that is not clear but is fully expected throughout scripture. We have a journey to make. It is not the case that setting out to follow Jesus will protect us from all the possible troubles and difficulties of this life. We may still suffer ill health, bereavement, loss of a job, and all the other ills that can affect us but we have a clear and certain path through these things taking us through to our destination.

The basic problem of every human life is sin. From our very first howl as babies when we want fed we have a strong streak of self-interest in all we do. We should be living to glorify the Lord God and his son Jesus but we don’t - we are really more concerned with ourselves most of the time. Jesus has rescued us from the consequences of that level of self absorption. Jesus - holy, blameless and pure - as the writer says. Because he was human he could stand alongside us, represent us and substitute for us. Because he was himself God he could do that for not just one person but for a huge multitude of people - including you and me! Before Jesus died the High Priest had to makes sacrifices every day and particularly on the one day of the year when he went into the innermost part of the temple where, they thought, God dwelt. All that was now unnecessary.

We each have a path to walk through life. Our paths are all different but they are all converging on one spot and one person who accompanies us every step of the way maps them all out for us. Our paths may not be easy. They may not be as easy as we would like. But he is with us and lead us through the difficulties, through the marshy bits, up the steep hills, all the time even as our legs get tired and we want to stop and rest for a while. He knows every way we should walk. He will show up some of our ‘needs’ to be just ‘wants’. All the true needs he will fulfil from his richly abundant grace. We should and must rejoice in our saviour and God.

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Christmas 2018 - 09

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Christmas 2018 - Light of the World

 A prayer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.

But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love.

Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.
Amen

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Christmas 2018 - Light of the World

 8. Mary’s Song

Luke 2:39-56 - 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Introduction

There is much to be said about this time of year we call Christmas. Worldwide there are about 250 babies born every minute. Yet, the birth we celebrate at Christmas, is like the celebration of no other birth of a human in human history. That birth of the man Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, caused the world to change. The birth of Jesus Christ causes more of the world today to pause amidst the busy-ness of life, take a breath amidst the noise of daily life and celebrate in many different ways and fashions - regardless of the person's religious belief or none.

John Calvin - “Now follows a remarkable and interesting song of the holy virgin, which plainly shows how eminent were her attainments in the grace of the Spirit.”

Isn’t that a beautiful thing for him to say about Mary?

Martin Luther - “In order properly to understand this sacred hymn of praise, we need to bear in mind that the most blessed Virgin Mary is speaking out of her own experience, in which she was enlightened and instructed by the Holy Spirit.”

Download the audio using the link below to hear the rest of this PodCast. Thank you…

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Christmas 2018 - 07

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Christmas 2018 - Light of the World 

Nativity Sermon by St. Isaac the Syrian 6th century AD

This Christmas night bestowed peace on the whole world - So let no one threaten;
This is the night of the Most Gentle One - Let no one be cruel;
This is the night of the Humble One - Let no one be proud.
Now is the day of joy - Let us not revenge;
Now is the day of Good Will - Let us not be mean.
In this Day of Peace - Let us not be conquered by anger.

Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;
So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.

Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;
So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.

This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;
Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.

Today the Divine Being took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,
In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of Divinity.

Amen

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Christmas 2018 - 06

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Christmas 2018 - Light of the World

 

We pray and hope that you have a very Merry and Joyful Christmas Day as we remember the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ! Thanks for your support throughout the year! For today, we have a a Christmas Sermon by St. Gregory of Nazianzus from the 4th century.

Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him. Christ on earth, be exalted. Sing to the Lord all the whole earth; and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for Him who is of heaven and then of earth. Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope.

Again, the darkness is past again, Light is made again, Egypt is punished with darkness; and again Israel is enlightened by a pillar. The people who sat in the darkness of ignorance, let them see the great Light full of knowledge. Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. The letter gives way, the Spirit comes to the front. The shadows flee away, the truth comes in on them. Melchizedek is concluded. He who was without Mother becomes without Father (without mother of His former state, without father of His second).

The laws of nature are upset; the world above must be filled. Christ commands it, let us not set ourselves against Him. O clap your hands together all you people, because unto us a Child is born, and a Son given unto us, whose government is upon His shoulder (for with the cross it is raised up), and His name is called The Angel of the Great Counsel of the Father.

Let John cry, prepare the way of the Lord; I too will cry the power of this Day. He who is not carnal is Incarnate; the Son of God becomes the Son of Man, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Let the Jews be offended, let the Greeks deride; let heretics talk until their tongues ache. Then shall they believe, when they see Him ascending into heaven; and if not then, yet when they see Him coming out of heaven and sitting as Judge.

This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating today, the Coming of God to Man, that we might go forth, or rather (for this is the more proper expression) that we might go back to God - that putting off of the old man, we might put on the new; and that as we died in Adam, so we might live in Christ, being born with Christ and crucified with Him and buried with Him and rising with Him. For I must undergo the beautiful conversion, and as the painful succeeded the more blissful, so must the more blissful come out of the painful.

For where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; and if a taste condemned us, how much more does the passion of Christ justify us? Therefore let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own, but as belonging to Him who is ours, or rather as our master's; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation. Amen

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Christmas 2018 - 05

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Christmas 2018 - Light of the World

 Nativity Prayer of St. Augustine (AD 354-440)

Let the just rejoice,
for their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
For their saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
For their Redeemer is born.

Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free people rejoice,
For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.
Amen

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Christmas 2018 - 04

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Christmas 2018 - Light of the World

 

Nativity Prayer from the Orthodox Liturgy Feast of the Nativity

Your nativity, O Christ our God,
has shed the light of knowledge upon the world.

Through it,
those who had been star-worshipers
learned through a star to worship you,
O Son of Justice,
and to recognize in You the one who rises
and who comes from on high.

O Lord, glory to you!

Amen

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Christmas 2018 - 03

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Christmas 2018 - Light of the World

 

Christ, Redeemer of All - 6th Century Hymn

Jesus, the Father's only Son,
whose death for all redemption won,
before the worlds, of God most high,
begotten all ineffably.

The Father's Light and Splendour
You their endless Hope to You that bow:
accept the prayers and praise today
that through the world Thy servants pay.

Salvation's author, call to mind
how, taking the form of humankind,
born of a Virgin undefiled,
You in man's flesh became a Child.

Thus testifies the present day
Through every year in long array,
that Thou, salvation's source alone
proceeds from the Father's Throne.

Whence sky, and stars, and sea's abyss,
and earth, and all that therein is,
shall still, with laud and carol meet,
the Author of thine Advent greet.

And we who, by Thy precious Blood
from sin redeemed, are marked for God,
on this, the day that saw Thy Birth,
sing the new song of ransomed earth.

All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee;
whom with the Father we adore,
and Holy Ghost forevermore.
Amen.

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Christmas 2018 - 02

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Christmas 2018 - Light of the World

 

Nativity Prayer of Ephraim the Syrian from the 4th century...

The feast day of your birth resembles You, Lord
Because it brings joy to all humanity.
Old people and infants alike enjoy your day.

Your day is celebrated from generation to generation.
Kings and emperors may pass away,
And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse.

But your festival will be remembered until the end of time.
Your day is a means and a pledge of peace.

At Your birth heaven and earth were reconciled,
Since you came from heaven to earth on that day
You forgave our sins and wiped away our guilt.

You gave us so many gifts on the day of your birth:
A treasure chest of spiritual medicines for the sick;
Spiritual light for the blind;
The cup of salvation for the thirsty;
The bread of life for the hungry.

In the winter when trees are bare,
You give us the most succulent spiritual fruit.

In the frost when the earth is barren,
You bring new hope to our souls.

In December when seeds are hidden in the soil,
The staff of life springs forth from the virgin womb

A hymn / prayer of Ephraim the Syrian (AD 306-373)

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Christmas 2018 - 01

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Christmas 2018 - Light of the World 

A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson

Loving Father,
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake.
Amen.

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