CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE

THURSDAY 23rd SEPTEMBER 2021

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Welcome friends to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 



We are completing  our study of  some of the ‘let us’ verses in Hebrews. 


REVIEW : So we have done the following verses so far :

First week- Hebrews 4: 14-16 and 10:19-22.  Second week - Hebrews 10:23-25 and 4:1 and 11

Third week - Hebrews 6: 1and 12:1-2

( all notes are on  the website : churchlanzarote.com )


The writer is encouraging the believers in the face of adversity and severe religious pressure that they have something far superior than religious rules and rituals in Christ Jesus.Jesus is far superior  than the religious institutions of Moses and the Old Testament.

A central theme of this book of Hebrews is the significance of the new covenant established by the blood of Jesus 



Today we are studying HEBREWS 12:28 and HEBREWS 13:13 and 15 ( READ verses )


Hebrews 12:28 (READ)

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This ‘let us’  invitation is a call to be thankful and worship God 

Why ? Because we are receiving God's unshakable Kingdom. God who has worked in the Old Covenant has a better promise through the New Covenant .Prior to Jesus, everything else had

been shadows of this greater reality. God has always had something better for His people ( Heb 11:10)

And His Kingdom is a present reality and the future hope of believers 

We experience some of it here as we live for Jesus and then we have a glorious future with Jesus


What does this mean ? 

What the future holds for believers cannot be compared with the past 

The future is secure for those who believe in Him and are children of His eternal Kingdom 

Secular kingdoms, empires may fall , become insecure and end  but the promise of the

unshakable Kingdom is a gift from God…it will never fail and the King reigns victoriously forever !

> Remember the writer is encouraging believers who were wanting to return to their old ways and being persecuted too. They are not to be shaken and become insecure in their faith


How are believers to respond knowing this truth about an unshakable Kingdom ?

 V28 b- let us be thankful…. ( READ)


How are we to worship God ? Acceptably with reverence and awe, love ,holiness and devotion (TPT- offer God the purest worship that delights His heart ...) pleasing service to God

Thankfulness - this should be a ‘natural outflow’ from a heart of the true believer, someone who has the privilege of being a child of the King. 

There is nothing greater than our God ( v29 - He is all powerful, nothing greater. This verse is referring to the Old Covenant when Israel came to the mountain (12:21) and was fearful of God's presence. God's power was overwhelming to Israel ! This verse is meant to cause reverence and awe , praise and worship ! as you submit to Him. ) 

The invitation is for us to come expressing gratitude and worship Him..in everything that we say and do .It is a way of life , not an activity. If you really know  God's grace and glory in Christ, you will not fail to worshippers Him in a manner He deserves 


HEBREWS 13:13  (READ)

The invitation/ command here is for us to ‘ go outside the camp’. V12 says Jesus was crucified, Jesus was our sin-sacrifice ,outside the city gate  sacrificing His blood to make the people holy. The call is for us to go outside the “religious ‘walls’ and bear His disgrace”- TPT .


What do you think this means ? Just like Jesus did we are to go outside the camp and be His witnesses even when there might be reproach, pain suffering, persecution. He showed us love as he endured the cross, so we are to show that love by sharing His love to others . The believers are encouraged to stand up for Jesus. We are to identify with Him.

It could also mean ( like for these early Christians ) leaving the religious systems of the past and going directly to Christ as the perfect sacrifice.Nothing man made ( like idols )will satisfy a holy God. So you must go outside like Jesus did to find the acceptable sacrifice that leads to life. 


‘going outside the camp’ - The camp was a place of safety ..For us today that could be our comfort zone ? The call is to move out of  the familiarity and security and be willing to bear reproach with Jesus. For those who rejected Christ then, the believers in Christ would have been deemed unclean for leaving old covenant  practices. To go outside the camp was the place of uncleanness. Jesus was deemed unclean and cursed because of dying on a cross

Yet as this verse says - in going outside the camp the original audience would be leaving everything behind in a sense . But they would gain something far greater  : belong to the true kingdom of God.


What do you think going outside the camp look like for you ?

Being a witness for Jesus in spite of the pain and disgrace involved. It is about embracing Jesus even though people say negative things about Him .We do this in His strength 

Consider for a moment : those missionaries who have left comfort behind to go to distant lands to share Jesus 


V14- Why do this ? There is no lasting city here. We are looking forward to the heavenly city that is to come… “the city of the living God” ( Hebrews 12:22). No paradise or heavenly Jerusalem here,  as good as this is island is ! 


HEBREWS 13:15 ( READ) So what is involved in the life  that seeks to move outside the camp and join Jesus in His suffering ? A life /lips of praise (v15 ) and a life of love (v 16): LIPS AND LIFE 


Why is it called a sacrifice of praise ? Often this will not come easily but we are to reflect the reality of Christ in our lives 

The call in this verse is :  ‘let us  continually offer to God….praise that celebrate His name ! 


‘Through Jesus’: we see here that Jesus’ sacrifice for us -for all sinners- brings to an end all sacrifices EXCEPT for theses two in v15 and v16

Our response to what Jesus did is one of worship and praise 


Application :

How does a continual sacrifice of praise impact the way we relate to others ?

What is one thing you can do differently to shine the Light of Christ through your life ?



Thursday 16th September 2021

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                                           Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer ( These are some notes to guide our study )


INTRODUCTION : This is the third study in the book of Hebrews. 

Specifically this a study on some of the ‘Let Us’ statements or commands in various chapters.


So, the first study or instalment we looked at Hebrews 4:14-16 and 10:19-22


On the second study of these ‘let us-es’ invitations we looked at 10:23-25 and 4:1 and 11.


Today, in the third study, we would like to focus on Hebrews 6:1 & Hebrews 12:1-2.


Brief background information

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The intended audience is the Hebrew (Jewish) Christians. 

They were being persecuted.

Like us they had questions like ‘What if Jesus is not worth it ?’…

‘maybe what we believed before (Judaism) isn't so bad ?’

The writer encourages the Christians to keep serving Jesus, who is superior than other religious rituals they engaged in before becoming followers of Jesus.

Jesus remains the answer to all our questions. 


HEBREWS 6:1-2 (read verses 1-3)

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The writer invites the Jewish believers to leave the elementary teachings about Christ and to move on from these basic teachings to a more mature understanding of God's purposes. 

It is an invitation to to a deeper relationship with Jesus (the Christian life).


It is linked to Chapter 5 by the word ‘Therefore..’ It follows on from the closing verses in 

Chapter 5.


What is the writer saying in 5:11-14 ?(Read).

He is giving a rebuke for their spiritual immaturity. 

So in Chapter 5 (the last few verses), the writer says that these believers were not ready to learn,  that the believers still needed milk.

They are not mature. Mature, true believers are the ones who can take solid food. 

It is so important to have a teachable spirit. 

There is encouragement for true believers to move on from the basics.

There is a warning for the false disciples who still need to be saved. 

(For you can be doing all the ‘churchy’ things and still not be saved : attend Church regularly, listen to messages, engage in good works, give financially…like what true Christians do).


Hebrews chapter 6 verses 1-2 : What are true believers to do ? 

 a) Leave the elementary teachings about Christ

 b) Press on to maturity 

 c) Don't lay foundations again

‘Let us leave’ - let us move on from the basic teachings about Christ to a more mature understanding of God's purposes. 

It's like building upon what you already know. 

Somebody said it is like learning the ABC’s, so you can ‘move on’ to reading picture books and then other literary works like the Bible. 

Basic building blocks are necessary but must be built upon into the structure. 




The foundational truths ( basic truths ) : 


-Repentance  from dead works :- this means a turning away permanently from acts that lead to spiritual death …that does not lead to life.. (Ephesians 2:1-3).


-Faith in God :- mature believers do not need to be reminded to put their faith and trust in God  ( Romans 10:17).


-Instructions about baptisms :- there were many ritual washings practiced by Jews so Christian baptism needed to be carefully distinguished from these rituals.

Also water baptism is being baptised into Christ and baptism in the Holy Spirit is being baptised by Christ. 

Through the laying on of hands, various reasons for doing this :- 

  • Jesus did it  (Luke 4:40), (Mark 10:16)..apostles did it to impart the Spirit (Acts 8:17; 19:1-7)
  • resurrection of the dead, this is what the apostles preached and this is our precious hope (Acts 10:40)
  • eternal judgment, a theme in the apostles’ preaching (Acts 17:30-31) and stressed in Paul’s letters (Romans 2:16)


The simple message the writer seeks to share with the Jewish believers in Christ is this :

 it is time for them to move on from the simple things into the mature understandings of who Jesus is and what He has done for us.

Spiritual progress happens when we continue to grow in maturity (growing in knowledge, experience and conduct).


V3- How do we grow and move on in our journey with Jesus?

Not depending on ourselves. With God’s enablement, by God's grace we move on to deeper truths seeking to understand His purposes. 


HEBREWS 12:1-2 (READ)

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What is the word  ‘Therefore’ there for?


V1- The author encourages his audience with examples of faithful believers.

He is saying the saints or witnesses as in Ch.11 should spur us on. 

They were not ‘super-believers’ but they were faithful even when it was not easy. 

They are our motivation to run the race. 

So he now challenges the believers because of this ‘great cloud of witnesses’ - their legacy of faith and God's grace - to take heart and push forward, move on in their own walk with Jesus.


How do we do this?  What is the command of the writer? 

Verse 1b (read)

‘let us throw off….and let us  run with perseverance…’ 

The MAIN point is to ‘run the race’ of faith in Christ (as a world-class athlete) 

without unnecessary baggage which will slow you down.

                                                                                         

What does this mean? 

Firstly, things that hinder may not necessarily be sinful, like lifestyle or habits. 

Secondly,  sin that entangles us obviously will get in the way of the Christian race seriously hampering our advance into holy living.

Perhaps,  instead of asking ‘is this habit wrong, is it sin??’..

we should ask ‘does this habit help us run or is it in the way? 

So, look at your own life : for example, instead of spending time with God and His Word do you get caught up in social media or things that are not spiritually healthy for you? 

You decide what stays and what goes, so you relationship with Jesus remains healthy. 

Let us persevere in running the race in which God has entered us. 

You are not running alone and you are not competing against anyone else.




V2 - (READ) The follow-on question is ‘what do you have to do to run well?’

The proper way to run the race is by looking TO Jesus. 

So you are looking AWAY from all else/distractions .Undivided attention 

Why? He is our greatest, supreme example of how to live by faith…enduring shame and agony of the cross to the end.

He initiates and sustains us, causing us to grow in faith.


What are we looking at when we look at Jesus?

Look at how He endured the cross, He disregarded shame. 

Jesus aimed always for the eternal joy that lay ahead of Him. 

He is now seated in heaven at God’s right hand.


Concluding comments

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Continue to be people of faith who desire to grow in Christ-likeness. 

Let Jesus remain your focus.

Thursday 2nd September 2021

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer today. 


Introduction : 

We are continuing with the study  in the  ‘LET US-es” verses from this letter to the Hebrews. There are some ‘let us ‘ verses in this  letter which are statements/ commands made by the writer. This is great encouragement from God to us His people. 


For by saying ‘ let us’  it means that God is involved with us, He is helping us , as we seek to  obey these statements or invitations as some others describe them.


Last week we looked at Hebrews 4:14-16, and Hebrews 10:19-22


Today we are studying  : Chapter 10 : verses 23-25,

                                        Chapter 4: verses 1 and 11

                                        

                                       


HEBREWS 10: 23-25 ( READ)

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>Verses 23 

What does it mean to ‘ hold unswervingly to the hope we profess…’?


We are to adhere firmly to the convictions/ beliefs .Some of the  believers/ Jewish converts were facing the temptation to return to their old ways because of persecution. They were having a hard time making that complete break from the rituals of their old religion. The Jews grappled to embrace these new truths. They were being encouraged by the writer as they navigated their life of faith versus an old system of rituals and rules.


It involves being faithful to following Jesus our Saviour since we are saved and look forward to an eternity with our Lord


Have you ever felt tempted to revert to the old ways of the world, the flesh ? Have your faith ever wavered ? 


How are we to hold on to this hope ? Unswervingly ..without wavering .Nothing must distract us from this hope of what lies ahead of us in fulfilment of all He has promised us


Why should we believe this ? Our God whose promises never fail is faithful. We can depend on Him.


>Verse 24

What do you think ‘ consider how we may spur one another on…’ means ?

Consider one another - often we tend to think about ourselves first and foremost (?selfish ) . Rather we must think about the needs of others ; 

consider - take note of and concentrate on deciding what you can do …


How can we ‘ spur one another on towards love and good deeds’ ?

The word ‘spur’ has the meaning of ‘rousing to activity, provoking, stimulate. Often this is used in a negative sense. Here however it has the idea of urging on…the goal for one another being to encourage towards walking in love and blessing one another in practical ways

We can't isolate ourselves ( Galatians 6:10 )


POINT TO PONDER : All this is a measure of God's love, revealed in all Jesus has done for us. We are to live in the good of this unchanging love. It is like a covenant of love with each other and God and we must take care that this is not broken 


God always intended for His people to live in community with each other.


>Verse 25

Both verses 24-25 present us as believers with a challenge :  to look out for one another and to keep encouraging one another in our walk with the Lord

We need the encouragement of being together as one Body. Every believer needs the encouragement/fellowship of others in order to fulfill God's purpose for his life.


From verse 25 : What is the  important reason for meeting together and encouraging one another?

 Because we are awaiting the Day when the Lord will return. The hope we have  in Christ .

So we meet and encourage each other to faithfulness and holy living…especially now when there is so much opposition to  the Christian faith and Christ- like living .


(Re :Verses 24-24) BENEFITS OF GATHERING TOGETHER: faith grows, shared accountability, discipleship, prayer ,worship . We can face spiritual battles together rather than alone


HEBREWS 4: verses 1 and 11( READ )

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Verse 1- 

Let us make sure  that none of you fails to enter into what is promised 

What is promised ? Entering into God's rest. 


Chapters 3 and  4 is linked by the word ‘Therefore’ - this draws a conclusion from 3:19 ( read )

As you  read the preceding verses in Chapter 3 :16-19 , you will see the immediate context.

Chapter 3: Christ is superior and better than Moses


Chapter 4: The writer is showing that the reward or rest for the believer in Christ is greater than what was promised to the ancient Israelites .Remember a generation of Israelites failed to enter into the Promised Land because of unbelief…Lack of faith kept them from entering God's rest then and all God had in store for them


In Christ by faith we enter into His rest .The promise still stands.


What do you think this rest looks like ? 

Heavenly rest in a heavenly city, not just a plot of land somewhere.The promised rest from all our burdens of this life’s wilderness.


TPT -verse1 b ….. ‘ So we must be extremely careful to ensure that we all embrace the fullness of that promise and not fail to experience it’

The writer here shows concern for believers .He fears they will drift from trusting God's Word and fellowship with other believers .

He is desiring that believers receive all Christ has for them…not just in the future. Jesus , our ‘Joshua’ desires that we become more and more like Him 

A true believer shares in Christ’s life and continues to trust Christ 


Verse11-

‘Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest..’

Again , Israel fell from the promised joy of God because of the disobedience and unbelief. The believer can experience similarly. So to keep this from happening and to show that we are more than just mere professing Christians the writer gives this ‘let us ‘ command 


We have a responsibility here. Day by day we are to be diligent and obedient and keep trusting in the promises of God so we enter into His rest .The door is not shut.

So that we rest in Him when the trials are overwhelming.

 

All our effort is now channeled into entering that inheritance that God has given us  so that no one fails because of disobedience 



THURSDAY 26th AUGUST 2021

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Welcome to the meeting . 


Today we want to spend time encountering God in worship, in receiving encouragement from His Word as we focus on our prayer time 


BIBLE STUDY : Words of encouragement from HEBREWS 4::14-16 and then HEBREWS 10: 19-22. ( please turn to the first passage )


In these two passages there are three ‘let us ‘ statements/ commands made by the writer ( uncertain ) of this book of Hebrews .So our focus today will be on the three ‘ let us ‘ verses


 Brief introduction

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The author of this letter is not named. This letter explains the relationship between the Old Covenant and the New established through the blood of Christ on the cross . It was written to a group of Jews to encourage them in their walk with the Saviour and the Lord…to remain faithful to their commitment to Jesus.It teaches that Jesus is far superior to the laws and rituals  that they could not keep. It  also appeals to unsaved Jews to trust Jesus and be saved 


 It teaches about the significance of the atoning work of Jesus Christ and so it is to be appreciated greatly by believers. Jesus has become our great High Priest.. He serves us today as our High Priest.



Firstly HEBREWS 4:14-16 (READ )

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The ‘let us’ statements refer to the faithful followers of Christ…all believers 


1) V14- ‘LET US hold firmly to the faith we profess’


What  does it mean ‘to hold firmly to the faith’?

 To cling in faith to all we know to be true, to seize or to take hold of ( TPT ) ,what we as Christians believe about what God has done in Christ, what God loves and hates .Essentially this is the Good News of Jesus Christ 

This is our common confession and this is what we are to proclaim .And as a result we all can be confident of the future as we embrace the truth, hold fast to what we believe

We might differ on many things BUT this remains, we all agree that this is, our central theme 


We are to persevere in our commitment to Him and live the changed life , the new life in Christ

     

V15- Why do we need to hold on firmly to what we believe ? Or why can we put our faith in Jesus ?

Jesus in His humanity knew how we feel. Yet He did not sin. Jesus knows our weaknesses and wants us to depend on Him as strength. 


We can put our faith in Jesus because He experienced life as we know it. “He walked in our shoes” , all points tempted like we are YEY WITHOUT SIN.


Jesus knows what it is like to be weak, tired and to go through trials and tests. He shows compassion on us

He is able to ‘sympathise with our weaknesses’.. .The One who resisted all temptation lives in You as a believer ! By His precious Holy Spirit, God actively comes to our aid




2) V16 - ‘LET US then (draw near) approach the throne of grace with confidence’


 What are we encouraged to do because we have such a great high priest ?..far superior to other priests ?


We can come close to God's throne of grace with confidence.This is a privilege for each and every believer. 

 

> To  go before the Queen you would have to be invited and then follow a strict protocol 


As children of God, we can come directly into His presence.Every time we come to God in prayer we are approaching His throne of grace where we are welcome 


What do we receive when we draw near - with confidence and without fear - before God ? 

V16b — that we may receive mercy and find grace for help in time of need. Grace and mercy speak of God’s loving-kindness, mercy, and faithfulness. Grace and mercy reflect the reconciling work of God through Christ

We are made acceptable as Jesus Himself,  He is our righteousness .So we can have confidence when we pray…we do not speak from a distance wondering if anyone is listening.


   We can get His help because we are needy people. We depend on Him 



Secondly HEBREWS 10:19-22 ( READ )

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3) V 22-‘LET US draw near to God…’


Why should we draw near ? Look at verses 19-21( read ) Here we see  vital truths.

**Jesus opened up the way for us by His blood . He is the new living Way that gives us access to God who is holy through the finished work on the cross for 

** We have the great Priest over all who belong to God's household. Under the Jewish system no one could approach God but the High Priest. 


So we do not come to God with any merits of our own.We are made holy by His blood and at peace with God. We come to God in Christ- clothed in Him …in His righteousness and holiness 

The pure living water of the Holy Spirit makes us clean


How do we come before God ?

 -with a sincere heart, a true heart without divided loyalties ..no hiding of sin

 -full assurance of faith - without faith we cannot please God : the better we know the more we can trust Him

  • our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience - through the blood of Christ 
  • our bodies washed with pure water. All signs of inward purity. This is the way we come to God confessing sin ,made clean by the blood  so we can draw near.


So as we come before God today, come with a true heart ,not lightly. Come with full assurance of faith. This way He receives us , He hears us ..He will not turn us away. Come on in to His very presence

Come and speak with Him freely without fear for Christ has made this possible !


THURSDAY 19TH AUGUST 2021


 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:1-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.1.1-9.NIV

The Gospel of John was written by John, one of the three disciples who formed the core group of Jesus’ twelve disciples. It was written at a later date than Matthew, Mark, & Luke; towards the end of John’s life around 85-90 AD. He outlived the other disciples & so was able to counteract the wrong teaching that was circulating at the time. He gave clear revelation of the truth that has the power to set people free, both now & for eternity.

Other than God, Himself, we hear about two other main characters in
John 1:1-9, Jesus & John the Baptist.

In John 1:1-5, what truths do we learn?
Jesus is the Word. He existed in the beginning, before time began.
God created through Jesus. As the Word of God, Jesus could not operate independently of His Father, even during His humanity. God’s creative life is contained in the word that Jesus spoke.
Throughout the Gospel of John, there is a stark contrast between Jesus as the Light & the spiritual darkness of the world. Because He is the Light.
Jesus’ words bring light into people’s lives. But most of those who belong to the darkness, including many religious leaders, refused to receive Him.

John 1:6-9
Before Jesus came, God sent another man, called John the Baptist, to His people. God called him to be a witness, to prepare people for the coming of the Light, for He wanted everyone to believe in Jesus. But John the Baptist was not the Light, only the one who would prepare the way for the coming of the Light. That is to say, Jesus Himself was the True Light, able to give spiritual light & understanding to people.
He was coming into the world.
Jesus, as the Light of God is contrasted with the darkness of the world & sin.
God is Light. In Him there is no darkness at all.

What do we learn about John the Baptist & his role? (Verses 6-9)
He was the one who went before Jesus to prepare the way for Him.
He wasn’t the Light, but was to bear witness or testify to the Light.
He was one who pointed others in the right direction.
He would show or teach others that Jesus was the True Light of the World.
While some would think that he was the Messiah because of the words & truth that he spoke he knew that he wasn’t & pointed them to Jesus, the True Messiah.
He wasn’t egocentric, focused on his own way or bigging himself up.
He actually said “He must become greater, I must become less.”
Acknowledging that Jesus had a greater role to fulfil than he himself did.


What can we learn from verses 6-9 about the mission of Jesus?
(What was the purpose of Him coming into the world?)
How does that affect the way in which we should live our lives?

Jesus is the Light of Life & the Light of the World.
As believers in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, we are called to be light in the middle of the darkness of the world.
The Light of God is to shine out from our lives so that our actions cause others to glorify God.
The Light of the Gospel shines into the darkness of the hearts of people to set them free from the darkness of sin, disobedience, & deception.

1 John 1:5-7 reminds us that ‘this is the message, the revelation that we heard from Him & now reveal to you : God is Light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to share in His Light & yet walk in spiritual darkness, we only lie & do not live according to the truth. But if we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we share in His Life together & the Blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin, from everything we have done against His will.’

From the verses outlined above :-
How would you define walking in spiritual darkness?
Walking according to the sinful nature or the flesh, in all the behaviour patterns or thoughts that would entail.

How would you describe walking or sharing in the Light?
By following Jesus & His example of how to think & behave.

What is the result of walking in & having fellowship with the Light?
We share in life together with Jesus & Christian believers, disciples, or followers of Christ as we can be called.
His Blood cleanses us & purifies us from all sin, from any wrong thing that we have thought, said, or done.

‘Yes, you lived in darkness in your old life, but now you are the children of light, living in the One Who is the Light. So live as children who walk in the light of God’s truth....’ ...’The time will come when everything will be exposed by the light, even the things people have tried to hide. By its very nature, light exposes things & there should be nothing in your lives that you would be ashamed of when everything is exposed. Such a time will come which is why we are told : “It is time to wake up if you are asleep spiritually; rise up from a life of dead works & Christ will shine on you with His Light.” ‘
Ephesians 5:8,13-14.

We heard two testimonies earlier in the meeting today.
They both bear witness to Jesus & point us to His faithfulness just like John the Baptist did. 
Jesus is the True Light of the World & it’s our delight, deep joy, privilege & responsibility to continue to bear witness or testify to Him & to share Him with others. Point others to Him.

THURSDAY 12th AUGUST 2021

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Welcome to the Thursday meeting 


Today we again would like to take time to express thanks to God and encourage each other as we spend time hearing from Him. We will also pray for some needs/ requests .


Notes for studying Psalm 146

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Psalms 146-150 are called  ‘Praise Psalms’ ( 146-150  all bear the title “Hallel Psalms” or “Hallelujah Psalms”) .They give us great insight into what our never-ending worship will be like in the heaven.They remind us as believers in Christ to practise praise here in preparation for the glorious future with our Saviour and Lord. This is what we will be doing forever


Psalms 146-150 : It is uncertain as to who wrote these Psalms. They were  probably written around the time of Israel's return from the terrible Babylonian bondage.As they returned from exile, they rebuilt  their Temple and re-established their nation. These Psalms were written to glorify the name of the Lord as they praised Him for His grace upon their lives.


                        READ THE PSALM 146  : verses 1-10 


What are some initial observations you can make from this Psalm ?

It starts and ends with ‘Praise the Lord’

It is a call to worship the Lord.

Praise  to God and trust in God are two themes in this Psalm


VERSES 1-2  : there is challenge for us to praise the Lord

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V1——- Firstly it is call by the psalmist for all to join in praise and then a call  to his own soul ( adding an intimate  dimension) to praise the Lord. The Psalm begins with a command- Praise the Lord ! -V1 It is a command that requires a response 


V2 - we see what this response is .what is the response ?

He is declaring his intention to praise and that this praise will have no boundaries/limits

  ** As long as he has breath filling his lungs,… “I will praise.. ALL MY LIFE”


   Do you find it hard sometimes to praise the Lord ? like when life is harsh ?


***The psalmist makes a commitment that “as long as I live I will praise the Lord”. 


VERSES 3-4 : there is a caution against praising other men

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( although you can give credit to the person who helps you , but God must receive His rightful glory )

 

Why is he saying do not hope in mortal men, people in high positions or influential people ( princes) ? They cannot save or help. You are not to place your trust in them thinking they are some sort of ultimate security— they can disappoint us.


Do not look for help from mere men who lacks the ability to  help  

> The  word save or help can be translated ‘ salvation, deliverance and victory’. So we are talking about eternal help here and this can come only through Jesus. 

Looking at it from this perspective, no praise for man…only the Lord. He redeems us from sins and gives us salvation and deliverance and victory over death and sin.


V4- what happens to man ? All that he was and offered to others pass away too

 Man is a transient being .Even the influential people will die and their influence will die with them…God is eternal and what God gives and does are eternal


VERSES 5-10 : the cause for praise

————————————————-


V5 : How is the man whose help and hope is in the Lord ?

He is blessed.( the God of Jacob and Yahweh are synonymous- refer to the same faithful ,covenant-keeping God)


The psalmist cautions those want to trust man in vv3-4. 

In v5 he is saying those who trust in the Lord God can rejoice, they are joy -filled, they can praise their God for He is their help and hope.

This God has the power to meet needs …unlike the princes and influential people of v3

His priority is to bless us. He is not going to die and therefore His plans for us are to continue.


Why is that so ? In the following verses we see many reasons for adopting this position:


V6 - the greatness of God : 

         How do we see His  awesome  and limitless power ? - throughout creation

       through His faithfulness in keeping His promises.


V7to  9 - the grace of God :

            The psalmist continues to identify reasons the redeemed have for praising God


Can you mention one reason from these verses 7-9 ?


V7—He fights/ helps the oppressed and helpless…..similar to the deliverance He brought to His people when in captivity, so He has delivered every believer from the bondage of  sin and Satan


Feeds the hungry ; not just physically but spiritual hunger- the Father meets the need 

Delivers / frees the prisoners of sin; this is  similar to God freeing His people from their tormentors in captivity.


V8 ——He opens the eyes of the blind…yet another reason to praise God. Jesus did this even in His earthly ministry. And he restores spiritual sight too and brings believers out of Satan's darkness and into His glorious light 

He restores those bent over with shame. Those who are carrying heavy burdens , God lifts the burdens , even the burden of sin. 

And He shows His love to those who honour Him and live in right relationship with Him

           

V9 ——- what are the three ways  the Lord blesses according to v9 ?

the Lord protects the strangers..this who might be discriminated against the Lord cares for and protects 

the Lord supports the fatherless and widow….God cares for those who may be treated badly and suffer ( in His time He will execute justice)

the Lord thwarts the ways of the wicked because He cares for His people .


VERSE 10: God reigns forever. This is unlike the princes of verses 3-4 who are here today and gone tomorrow. God is here today AND here tomorrow too !


‘Praise the Lord’ - again the verb used here is plural.The psalmist once again invites the believers corporately, to join in praising God.


APPLICATION ( points to ponder and help encourage praise and thanksgiving in your life)


> Suggestion : perhaps make your own personal list  of reasons for trusting God using these reasons as a guide.( Fir example God keeps His promises; humans don't so I will trust God instead ) You may just find another reason to praise Him !


>These people  praised  the Lord for His grace in returning them to their homeland from exile. 

We today have so much  for which to praise God. - we are His redeemed people..He brought us out of shame and sin to be His very own .

> when you are overwhelmed by life , remember Who your God is and what He has done.


We can rely on God's unchanging attributes 


The sweet sound of our praise says He alone saves, He alone is worthy of worship, and He alone is God.

Thursday 5th August 2021


Welcome to the Thursday meeting friends

Last Sunday Pastor Rachel shared on  the topic “Are You Bridegroom Ready?” .This was the final  message in the Sermon Series on ‘ Kingdom Principles’ 


Reference : The analogy of the Jewish custom of marriage ( from the Sunday sermon )


Today we would like to ‘ dig a bit deeper’ into the topic - ‘ Are You Kingdom Ready ?’

We are looking at two passages that were quoted / referenced in Sunday's sermon 


HOW CAN YOU BE READY ?


 Two Bible passages help us  in understanding how to live ready for Jesus’ return.

The question we need to ask ourselves - in the busyness of our lives, the daily pressures , etc do we forget the bigger picture ?


FIRSTLY: ROMANS 13:11-14 ( READ )

——————————————


This first passage encourages believers to live in the present ,in light of the future return of our Lord and Saviour ,Jesus Christ .

There are some duties ( secular and spiritual) to discharge as citizens of God's Kingdom daily. Paul the apostle exhorts the believers/ saints in Rome to live as people of light  especially since it is more urgent now than ever before


V 11- the phrase ‘and so this’  sums up everything that that Paul has said before: For example Paul  talks  about ( in preceding verses ) loving people , submitting to authority and living in love. Or  as in Ch 12, presenting your bodies to God  as living sacrifices, not conforming to the world and being transformed by the renewing of your mind. 

Paul is saying you are to do all this as you live ready for Jesus’ return. There is an urgency in the language Paul uses.


In the same verse 11 , Paul talks about  ( this phrase )‘ the present time’ 

This refers to ‘ a season of time ‘ and has to do with the return of the Lord Jesus for His people, His bride.


We are to keep our eyes on the changing world around us and understand that the Bridegroom’ s return is imminent. 


V11- what are some words/ phrases  Paul uses to make the point clearer ? 

               *wake up - do you think believers are prone to spiritual drowsiness ( indifferent attitude to Jesus’ return , our Bridegroom, so they live however they like ) ?


*salvation is nearer now - meaning the time of having to give account of yourself to God is nearer now than when you first became a believer. 


So what are we to watch diligently for ?

V 11- be aware of the seasons or times in which we live

          - watch for  inclination to sleep spiritually :- don't live as you please .. seek to please God

Just like physical sleep can put you in a state of inactivity and not being aware of events taking place around you, so too  believers in the church can adopt an inactive state in relation to the things of God. 

          - keep looking out for the Saviour, your Bridegroom…everyday we are one step closer to His return !


V12-13 Paul contrasts darkness and light .’ Night is nearly over , the day is almost here’

  There may be a lot of darkness around, but a new dawn is about to break as Jesus returns.


As a result of this what is Paul encouraging believers to do ?

‘Put aside’ - be free from any activity that belongs to darkness, and ‘put on’ the ‘armour of  light’ or walk in light.


One Bible teacher described this verse(12)  like this: ‘the idea here is of a person rising from sleep, throwing off the bed covers and night clothes and getting dressed for the day.’


It is noteworthy that Paul uses the word ‘armour’ here implying that there is  military activity between darkness and light. The Christian life is one of total commitment and dedication to service …not compromise


 The believer needs to walk as children of light, being light for the world. This is HOW we should live


V13- What does this walk look like ?

 Behaving properly- living an outward life that reflects what we believe in our hearts. “Practice must match profession.”


This is how we SHOULD NOT live >>>: No pretence … note the list  of (six) sins that was no doubt prevalent in Paul’s day :orgies or wild parties and brawling,  habitual and intentional intoxication , no sexual immorality or depravity …debauchery or indulging excessively in sex, drugs ,all kinds of sexual expressions .

Dissension or strife or a selfish mindset without regard to others…involves constant bickering and petty disagreements 

Jealousy - adopting an attitude of ‘me first and others after”.


V14-( READ ) And while we are waiting for the Lord’s return , we are to radiate the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘ put on the Lord Jesus Christ’


What do you think this means ? 

Putting on His character, doing what He would do, He is light so we are to walk in light , obeying God 

Avoid any attempts by our minds to allow the gratification of fleshly, self - indulgent desires. We have the Spirit to help us to be victorious in this area 




SECONDLY: 2 PETER 3 : 11-14 and then 17-18 ( READ from verse 10 )

—————————————————————

The second passage that helps us to understand how to live ready as we wait for Jesus’ return.


Peter the disciple and apostle of Jesus writes this letter to believers maybe in His later years. He is warning them about false teachers, about living a worldly lifestyle and with no expectation of the Lord’s return.

He shares about the future even in verse 10 . 


VERSES 11-12 opens up with the pointed question, the main point  :

What kind of people ought you to be  ? Now that you know that the Lord will return CERTAINLY and the earth will be destroyed, how are you to respond ? Peter  is saying  here you should be thinking about the kind of life you are living.


 He is telling the believers there is a choice to be made . Do you want to live for everything that is certain to be destroyed, OR do you want to live so you will have an inheritance in that new heaven  and earth ?


V11-What is the kind of behaviour expected of believers? It should be holy and God-like as you look forward to God's Day  and hasten His coming.


( The Day of the Lord will herald the time when all that is opposed to God's will is destroyed.Then the new heaven and earth can be established.)

Those who live godly lives hasten, hurry along,  the time of His coming

Holiness and godliness… for only those in Christ will be safe


What does  living holy mean ? Holy behaviour - a pattern of daily life that sets you apart as a believer , conduct that is distinct from the evil world


What does  living godly mean ?Godliness -displaying profound reverence and awe toward our great  God.


So what this implies is that as God judges at the end of the age ,the things that are going to survive are “expressions of holiness and godliness”


V13- God’s promise :the new heaven and a new earth will be a world in which righteousness dwells. It will be characterised by righteousness 


The old world order( Adam and Eve ) was destroyed. Reason ? Sin 

So there is an implied warning here in that those who forsake righteousness will not be included in the new world.


V14- In verse 11 , Peter encourages the saints to live holy and godly . Now he assumes since they are looking forwards to Jesus’ return, they are to do all they can to be spotless, without blemish and at peace ..This peace is a well- being that is derived from a deep relationship with 

God….having the image of God restored - once shattered by sin.


VERSES 17-18 ( READ )


What is Peter's encouraging words to his ‘dear friends’. ? Be diligent in your spiritual growth 

The believers knew the truth but he warns them to be on their guard, on the alert. Knowledge alone is not sufficient for protections for true believers.

There were false teachers who were not preaching truth but their own ideas.


How can believers maintain a stable position and not be led astray ?


by constantly growing spiritually. Stay submitted to Christ and avoid deception . False teachers are not submitted to anyone

Those who submit to Christ will have their personal relationship with Him strengthened and they will see an increase of God's grace in their lives.


What is the result of spiritual growth ? Glory to God ! (v18b)



Response/Application 

——————————


To ponder: 

Think back  over the last seven days. Did you say or do something that was motivated by your awareness of Jesus’ return


Be diligent to watch for His return and live holy and godly lives. So we will meet Jesus without spot and blemish.,wearing pure garments.

Thursday 29th July 2021


Welcome to the Thursday meeting 


Today  our main focus is to pray - to spend time before God in worship, hearing from Him and bringing our needs before Him


(Prayer Meeting )


To encourage our hearts before we go into prayer , I would like to share  a few thoughts on :

PRAYING IN JESUS’NAME

—————————————-


Passage 1- 


JOHN 14:13-14 “And I will do whatever you ask in My  Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father…the  Father is glorified. You may ask me for anything in my name , and I will do it”.


This is an amazing promise ! 

The phrase that is key to this verse is, ‘ in my name’


And when we pray in the name of Jesus’…the Father is glorified through the Son

So how as believers do we pray in Jesus’ name ? …. what does this mean ‘to pray in Jesus’ name’. 


IT IS NOT : a formula to add to the end of prayers in a religious way . It is not a magic phrase to use , thinking that when you use the  phrase religiously ‘in Jesus’ name’ you will have the desired answer


IT IS : Praying in the name of Jesus is to pray as Jesus would pray, to see the situation as He would see it. It is to ask what He would ask ..to keep believing His word- His truth rather than your own thoughts about the situation.It is to pray His will into being so enabling the Son to bring further glory to the Father


Jesus always brought glory to the Father and we are to bring glory to God too. Our aim in prayer as we ask in His name is to see God glorified as we pray in Jesus’ Name


God is our Father too .The same Spirit who lived in Jesus lives in us as true believers.The Holy Spirit ‘s power is given to us  so that in any situation with which we are faced we can learn to pray in His Name.This means we can look at the situation from God's perspective 


HUMAN PERSPECTIVE and GOD’S PERSPECTIVE  : 

Often we tend to look at the needs in our lives , the negative circumstances that we face from the human perspective. When we are thinking about the facts of the situation before us, we can get ‘all caught up in them’. So much so that the need or problem ‘appears’ bigger than our God !

It seems easier to think about the  facts around the need and more difficult to focus on the One , Jesus who can speak faith and His  words , promises 


It takes considerable effort to focus on the great God we serve , to see things from His perspective. 

Sometimes we might think some things are beyond His love or power. Or we know that He is able to meet our need but tend to doubt that He is willing. 


Yet we see Jesus says here  God the Father wants to give us whatever we ask in the name of Jesus. 

So we can come boldly before the throne of grace today . We can pray in the name of Jesus : 

ask for what Jesus would ask ,  dare to ask ..be bold , authoritative  and full of faith…..pray as Jesus prayed and let Him initiate faith  in our hearts.

This is our privilege in Christ Jesus. Like Jesus, we focus on seeing the Father glorified as we ask in the Son’s name.

Romans  8 :26-27 ( READ )

Praise God for His Holy Spirit- we can depend on the Spirit because of our weakness. Our weakness does not matter for the Spirit empowers us.The Holy Spirit prays in us and for us when  we do not know how to pray or how best to pray in a situation.

The Holy Spirit intercedes for us .God knows our longings . And the Holy Spirit will always pray in us and through us according to God's will.


Thursday 22nd July 2021


Welcome to the Thursday meeting


Today we will spend time worshipping, in the Word and in prayer too


Bible Readings : Matthew 16:13-19 and Luke 10:19-20

Study Title : “Kingdom Authority and Power”


Introduction: 

I would like to continue on the general theme of Kingdom Principles. As a follow on from last Sunday's message by Pastor Rachel on “Kingdom Authority  and Power”,I would like to ‘dig deeper’ in furthering our understanding 


(Last week we delved in our understanding of being ‘Citizens of The Kingdom’ )


There are two passages from the Bible , as we look at ‘Kingdom Authority and Power’

Firstly: Mathew 16: verses 13-19.Focus verse is verse 19

Secondly: Luke 10:19-20


MATTHEW 16:13-19 (Read to get the context as  our focus verse is v19)


What are some initial observations?

Jesus here has a heart -to- heart conversation with his (12 ) disciples. He asks them, “Who do people say the Son of Man is ?” “In essence what do the curious say about Me?” ,

Jesus asks.

V14 - we see some responses

Jesus pressed the question a bit harder to His disciples :v15-“But what about you , who do you say I am ?”

Simon Peter’s response : v16 - “ You are the Christ, the Son of the living God .”


In verses 17-19 we have Jesus’ response


What are some initial observations ?

Peter's confession is an expression of faith  that each one of us has to make in believing in Jesus Christ… ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ .This is at the core of discipleship….the identity of Jesus.


It is this expression of faith in Christ ,upon which  the Church is built…the Church meaning not a building or denomination but the whole body of people He was going to redeem through His sacrifice on the cross.

Focus verse : Then verse 19 Jesus speaks some staggering words to Peter ( and the disciples)

Verse 19 -read in NIV . 


What is Jesus saying ? “I give you the key truths that unlock the way into the Kingdom of heaven. So you have the authority to restrict or prevent on earth what is not allowed in heaven. And you have My permission to liberate on earth whatever is liberated in heaven.”


So Jesus gives keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter . Keys represent Jesus’ authority . So Jesus is entrusting keys to Peter…authority to open and close doors or to bind and loose.

 

Even in the Old Testament, ‘keys’ are spoken of in a similar way. In the prophecy of Isaiah :we read in Isaiah 22:21-22, that God promises to remove an evil high priest and replace him with a good, godly and faithful priest name Eliakim

  

God speaks to the wicked high priest ( Shebna) concerning his replacement and the authority that will be given to Eliakim. :

>ISAIAH 22:21-22 ‘I will  clothe him with your robe,  And strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem 

And to the house of Judah. The KEY of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder;  So he shall OPEN. and no one will SHUT;  And  he shall SHUT , and no one shall OPEN.’


Can you think of another scripture verse where ‘keys’ are used to express authority ?


> Another expression of the authority that came from possessing ‘keys’ is found in Revelation 1:17-18. Our Lord Jesus in His resurrected glory and majesty appears in the heavenly vision to the apostle John. 

Jesus says, “Do not be afraid;  I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold , I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” Jesus conquered death and hell through the cross, holding authority over them.


So what is Jesus saying to Peter , and by extension the Church , to all Jesus’ disciples ? 

Jesus is entrusting keys to him. Keys of the kingdom of heaven….the spiritual kingdom over which He reigns.


Some points from this passage / verse 19: 

————————————————————

The authority is delegated to those who confess and believe : Jesus, the Christ , the Son of the living God

V19- Jesus gives the keys and the authority- “I will give you the keys….”

         It is ‘will give’ so the keys were entrusted to disciples/ believers after they received the Holy Spirit ( John 20:21-22)

         So you are to use this authority, not in your own strength and wisdom but by the Spirit’s enabling 

What are believers being authorised to do ? To ‘bind and to loose’


Not whatever WE want , because as citizens of His kingdom we are representing Him on earth . 

When Jesus says “….whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven,” we are seeing how this authority is used in practice.

When the ‘keys’ are used according to His will, there is approval in heaven to accessing what the believer needs.


NOTE : The Greek is difficult to translate into English.

It could be translated ‘and whatever you bind on earth “shall have been” bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth “shall have been” loosed in heaven’. 

So the believer under the guidance of the Spirit and using the authority in the right way to bind/restrict and  loose /liberate is responding to a sovereign decree already made in heaven


What God does not allow in heaven, Jesus is saying the believer can refuse to allow on earth

What God has released or liberated from heaven ,the believer has the power to release or liberate on earth. It has already taken place in heaven , so now on earth


LUKE 10:19-20 (Read)

The context is that Jesus sends out seventy-two other disciples to continue spreading the good news about the Kingdom.

When they returned they said with joy to Jesus  : v17- “ Lord, even the the demons submit to us when we addressed them in  Your Name”. They were so impressed with what they witnessed 

V19- “I have given you authority “ …on snakes and ,scorpions 


Any thoughts as to what Jesus is making reference. ?


Jesus was talking about the power of the devil- demons , evil spirits and all his emissaries. They can be crafty , poisonous and hurtful in nature so they are literally or figuratively compared to serpents and scorpions . 

And what we need to realise or remember is that Jesus gives His disciples authority over these evil forces and the devil.

So again in ourselves we are no match for the enemy . So we are to use the believer’s authority in Christ ..exercise that authority 

The power of  the resurrected Christ in us is greater than the power in the world because we have Jesus  the authority, backing us . We belong to God..citizens of His Kingdom that is infinitely more powerful than the dominion of darkness to which the demons belong


Read 1 John 4:4 -the One who is living in you is far greater than the one who is in the world

V20- Jesus explains to them that their real cause for joy is not that these spirits submit to Jesus’ delegated authority and power. They are to rejoice that they belong to God’s Kingdom- that is why they have authority-, and their names are written in heaven 


Application 

—————

Seek to grow in Christ .Become bolder in His Name 

This means we are submit to His Lordship in our lives 

Keep rejoicing as you represent Him in His power and authority 

   Thursday 15th July 2021


Welcome to the Thursday meeting. 


We will spend time worshipping, in the Word and and in prayer  too


BIBLE PASSAGE : PHILIPPIANS 3 : 17-21

Main Focus : Citizens of The Kingdom


( it is a follow -on  from last Sunday’s sermon by Pastor Rachel )



Today the Bible passage we are looking at is Philippians 3:17-21. 

We would like to ‘ dig a bit deeper’ today in furthering our understanding of what it means to be citizens of God's heavenly Kingdom. 

We can remind ourselves of another Kingdom Principle of living as a heavenly citizen in this world


Background : 

In the preceding verses ( 12-15 ) ,Paul presents some essential truth that every believer needs to embrace. The new life in Christ involves moving forward, not backwards. The new life involves forgetting what lies behind, in the past, and reaching out with longing for what lies ahead.


This is the mistake many believers make of going back over the past instead of forgetting the past.,and focusing on what lies ahead.

V15 - Paul says to the believers if you are mature in the way you view spiritual things, you will have this attitude . A different way of thinking to the world.

There are those who keep raking over the past , show spiritual immaturity, and so  in need of the Lord’s correction…so that they fix their eyes on Jesus. They are to ‘ live up to ‘ obeying the truth they already know so God can reveal more truth to them as they grow spiritually.


Now our focus verses 17-21:

—————————————- 


NOTE :  It is worth remembering that Philippi was a Roman colony located hundreds of miles from Rome. And as Roman citizens they were enamoured with their Roman citizenship. The believers had great privileges, as well as great responsibilities. It could be that they were tempted to emphasise the importance of their earthly citizenship  to the  detriment of the privileges and obligations of their heavenly citizenship 

Paul shows them that their heavenly citizenship is far greater and better so they are to live with this mindset. After all their names are written in heaven’s book ( 4:3b )


And v17: Paul gives an admonition : Paul encourages the saints in Christ, to follow his godly example and learn from those who adopt a similar pattern of living … “take note of those who follow the pattern” like Tim and Epaph in Chapter 2. It is a command …the believers are expected to do so.

 

Do you think it is a proud / boastful statement ? 

In what way were the believers to imitate Paul ? What does this example look like ?


  • to the degree he tried to imitate Christ  ( 1 Cor 11:1)
  • in the way he devoted his life to serving Jesus ( as in Phil 3:7-16 )

By the way he modelled Christ- likeness, others would desire passionately to do similarly ..to demonstrate to others their true citizenship of heaven. “Come on , join me let us follow Jesus together’’. We belong to Him, not this world. 


>So heavenly citizens imitate godly examples 



Verses 17-18 :  (Read and note the word ‘live or walk’)  In the NKJV, the word ‘walk’ is used . In the NIV,  the word ‘live’ is used.

It reveals anyway two distinct ways of life - one right , the other wrong for citizens of the heavenly Kingdom .The word ‘pattern’ means ‘ an impression or mark made by a blow like when you refer to the impress made by a seal. Our behaviour is to leave a mark  ( for good ) on other people's lives.This is the challenge of being a citizen of heaven.


FIRSTLY: How we are not supposed to live ( as we focus on heaven’s values / characteristics)


We are not to live as citizens of this earth ( v18-19 )

Not to live as enemies of the cross of Christ

 

The Philippian church was a great source of joy to Paul- the believers supported Paul and they were actively interested in spreading the gospel. There was external opposition as well as false teaching and opposition from inside the church too.


Paul weeps( the letter is a joyful letter)  as he writes these verses : there are many who profess Christ BUT live as enemies of the cross of Christ . They do not deny that Jesus was crucified , they are simply hating and resisting what the cross means. 


 Why would someone become an enemy of the cross ? It goes against human thinking and earthly values. Pride, achievements merits  are considered ‘loss’ or ‘ rubbish ‘ , nothing  because of the cross. 

It offends these enemies  that they are so sinful that death on a cross becomes necessary to save them. It offends them that salvation is a work of grace and not the merits of their own good works. It shows us how far God had to go in order for you and I to be saved.


Verse 19- three things that describe those who are enemies of the cross :it is like an evaluation of those who oppose the cross 


What are they ?

 1- their destiny is destruction : as an enemy of the cross, this person is lost…a wasted life for they live for their own glory not God’s ,they do not submit to the cross of Christ.


2- their god is their stomach : what kind of god is this ? This is not just the appetite for food ,but also those fleshly, sinful desires that these enemies of the cross would follow rather than submit to God and serve Him. They are given to self-indulgence, serving Christ when it is convenient and they will gain praise from others 

Whatever their fleshly or sinful inclinations , they embrace.This is the god they worship..their own passions , desires and lust


3- their glory is their shame : whatever is shameful , they glorify.Their own wickedness and perverse activities that should bring conviction and shame are being praised, promoted and they take pride in it. They boast about their sin and disobedience….no fear of God. Rather than repent and seek forgiveness, they are  flaunting the sin

Paul sums up this verse(19) : ‘Their mind is on earthly things’. They are obsessed with earthly things, not heavenly realities


And that is how we are NOT supposed to live


POINT TO PONDER :How relevant is the cross to you as a believer ? Ponder for a moment on how central the cross is to your faith in Jesus. No cross , then no Christianity, no discipleship , no Saviour. 


> Heavenly citizens resist ungodliness and embrace the cross


SECONDLY : How we are suppose to live

Verses 20-21 

V20- note the word ‘But’ : “By contrast , we know that we are citizens of God's heavenly Kingdom.” We are a people of hope. It is not merely a future inheritance but a present  reality that we experience . “Citizenship is both our position and the lifestyle that flows from it”

Paul encourages them to look upwards… and so have greater , nobler aims in life  because heaven is where we belong. So we look ahead to the fulfilment of God's purposes


V20-21 

How should the believer live here ? The citizen of heaven’s Kingdom has his mind on heaven’s values. He is not a stranger to heaven 

  • eagerly awaiting the Saviour’s return…being a good witness as you watch and pray  for Jesus’ return.

V21- How will Jesus change our bodies ?  God  is all powerful and sovereign.  By His sovereign  power …the same power that changes the believer’s heart and desires , will transform the believer’s body as well .Then our bodies will be like Jesus’ glorious body ! No more aches and pains and death .


> heavenly citizens eagerly await future glory and transformation 


This is the Kingdom mindset we are to embrace as we live here on earth .                                                    


Application : 

Christians are to live as citizens of heaven, not as citizens of this earth.

Where is your mind focused ? On heaven’s values or earthly things


4:1 stand firm 

Thursday 1st July 2021


Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer

——————————————————-


Bible Passage : LUKE  6::46-49


Please READ the passage before the study 


Luke 6: is a collection of teachings and interactions between Jesus , His followers and the religious leaders. By so doing Jesus shows what His Kingdom is like and teaches some principles of this kingdom. Basically the teachings show us as true followers of Christ we are to think and live differently 

(There is a parallel account in Matthew’s gospel : Matthew 7:21-27)

These verses 46-49 challenge us today. For it is about ‘ doing’ or obeying what Jesus calls us to and not just thinking about it. 


Last week in the preceding few verses we discussed  that our words reveal the heart. Now here Jesus teaches that our actions should match our words


What are some initial observations?

  we are to do what Jesus says - obedience 

This parable gives another picture of someone who obeys and someone who does not obey Jesus’ words

  It is about two men building separate houses, one wise and one foolish

  They build on different foundations and so there are two different results.



V46-  READ . This verse introduces this study with Jesus showing how vital obedience is to our Christian walk

Look at the verse : the question Jesus asks


What is  the  meaning of the word ‘ Lord’ here 

the Greek word kurios is used here and means ‘ supreme in authority, controller and master’

Since Jesus Christ is Lord we are to live in submission to Him. This is an essential principle ( of submitting ) in living the Christian life

Here the person has the right words, but their actions / behaviour do not match up with their words 


This passage helps us to understand the difference between someone who is Christ- like and someone  who is not acting Christ-like  (superficial disciple / hypocrite )


Jesus emphasises that if ‘ I am your Lord  then it is  important that you actually  DO what I have told you and not just THINK it is a good idea to do them’ All the kingdom principles He has taught His followers are to be put into practice”…TO DO THEM ( to obey them ). True disciples obey Jesus’ words.


So our response to Jesus’ teachings will determine the kind of foundation we may have


V47-48 :Then Jesus shares this parable to illustrate  what He is talking about. ( READ )


What are three actions that describe the ‘wise’ man (in v47 )?


Observe what the true follower of Jesus does :

1)comes to Jesus, 2)hears Jesus’ words and 3)obeys them … ‘puts them into practice’


 ‘Comes to Jesus…’ perhaps refer to the person coming after Him daily , taking up your cross daily ( Luke 9:23)


‘Hears Jesus’ - he hears the word of Jesus ( Greek word for sayings -KJV-  is logos ,implying hearing with understanding )


‘Puts them into practice’ - he obeys Jesus’ words. Obedience to God’s Word keeps your life protected in the storm. It keeps you strong in the storms , in the negative circumstances of life.


How does Jesus describe / compare this disciple , this person who obeys God’s Word ? (V48)

Before he builds a house , digs deep and lays the foundation on a rock. Then he builds on this foundation.


This is a lot of hard work ..and discipline. It It is all part of the discipleship process in following Jesus genuinely and in loving obedience 


Some thoughts  to consider :

 Digging deep - not very exciting,( messy, taking out spiritually unhealthy things,)  yet rewarding later as you grow stronger in faith and more like Jesus


Lay the foundation - after you remove all obstacles, then you are ready for the foundation to be laid…if it is a bad habit or something sinful you get rid of it , resent and replace it with something that is healthy spiritually..fill any spaces w Jesus


What does Jesus say about this person who builds on  the rock ? This person who  obeys and ‘digs deep, lays the foundation,  is prepared for the opposition, the challenges in life, etc.

———He can weather life’s storms for his house is built on the rock. It has a strong foundation 

It is based on the deep, intimate relationship with Jesus ..your dependence is on. Him 


So in verses 47-48 Jesus shows the benefit of obedience to Him. It honours God


V49 - READ :  What about the man who builds on sand ?


The person comes to Jesus - recognise their spiritual need, seeks help

The person hears Jesus’ - hears the gospel message . Same as for the ‘wise man’ who hears the word. So this person could also be someone who is well familiar with the Bible…in theory.


The person confesses Jesus as Lord.. but it's all emotional , no substance to it.There is no following Jesus in obedience to His commands.


He does not follow God's words…He is building without a foundation.

Maybe he is thinking like this: ‘ too much hard work to dig a hole and lay a  foundation, lot of time and money.After all you can't see the foundation, you can see the house I built !’ 

Yet the house will not stand in the raging storm .It collapses and is destroyed !


This dishonours God 


Jesus shows here that disobedience could lead to destruction.It is not healthy spiritually 


Summary:


What similarities or differences can you see between these two men in Jesus’ parable ?

    These two builders : they had the same desire to read / study God’s Word.

                                      **the first builder obeys what God says, he builds on a solid foundation so         his future is secure. He follows God on God's terms. His faith is in God It takes  more time


**the second builder builds on earth without a foundation .He follows God on his own terms

His faith is in himself. He wants  quick results, takes short -cuts,

 instant gratification, short - sighted and not considering the future.




Application: Go deeper with God .Build on the firm foundation of faith in Jesus. Don't build on shifting sand of religion, works and self-righteousness 

1 Corinthians 3:10-11

Live in submission to Jesus who is Lord, no double standards 


 

Thursday 24th June 2021


Welcome to the Thursday meeting 


BIBLE STUDY : Luke  6:43-45


First we shall read the verses : (READ ) We are sharing on some Kingdom principles. 


Introduction : Jesus continues to teach His disciples /followers . He shares about what living as a child of His Kingdom looks like. Earlier in the chapter, we see Luke's account of the Beatitudes ( as in Matthew 5),loving your enemies and other teachings that are counter to the culture of the world . Now He makes a call for fruitful lives to His followers


What are some initial observations from this passage ?


  • It's about good trees and bad trees…good fruit and bad fruit
  • A particular tree is known by the fruit it bears

- good man does good things, bad man does bad things ..depending on what is stored up in his heart.

There is a connection between the heart and the mouth. Words reveal what is in one’s heart.


It has been said that who we are really on the inside will at some point be revealed externally by our words. 


Jesus continues to teach His disciples that for true transformation to take place, a change in their hearts is necessary. It all begins in the heart.


Fruit is what our lives produce especially as believers 


So Jesus uses the example, a metaphor,  of good and bad trees which can only produce fruit according to their nature.

This passage helps us to examine our own hearts, to see our sin and not that of others


V43-  (read) This is a fairly obvious statement by Jesus. Nothing complicated here.  Every good farmer knows this. Bad fruit comes from bad trees. Good fruit comes from good trees. To get really good fruit , the farmer works hard, tending the trees or plants , not compromising standards ,so that he can have delicious, quality fruit.


How can your life produce good fruit as a follower of Jesus ? How can you develop good fruit and not rotten fruit  ? 

We are to look at our hearts .We are to take time to nurture our relationship with God through listening to Him and lovingly obeying Him. The only way to bear good fruit is to change the heart.

Christians who are good trees automatically produce good fruit.


Jesus continues in v44:

V44-( read) Here we see that a tree is known by the fruit it produces. Figs and grapes were common fruits in Israel. Jesus goes further , saying people cannot pick figs from thorn bushes, nor can they gather grapes from  briers or bramble bushes !


So if you're trying to change the fruit this must be preceded by the change in the heart. 

 

Question to ponder : have you  struggled  with  some external behaviour , you tried to change it but have so far failed in your efforts ?


For example : some addiction problem or trying to stop having anger outbursts, negative baggage you still carry.It  could be some vice or sinful habit that you might have stopped for a short time, but then you fall back into it.


The point :The fruit will not change until the heart changes. Delicious figs are not going to come from thorns. Grapes are are not going to come from briers/ bramble bush

Jesus says the problem is in the heart, a serious heart condition. A change in the heart is needed in overcoming such vices, sins and addictions. 


V45- ( read ) What do you think Jesus is saying here ?


The evil/ corruption or good  inside a person manifests itself in his words and deeds


The word ‘stored up’ in the Greek (thesaurus) refers to  ‘ the place where something is kept’ like a treasure box/ storeroom


So you can ask yourself what am I ‘storing up’ putting away in my heart ?


 The list could include bitter memories, inferior self image, self- talk, complaining. Such things will sooner or later come out in words spoken.

( you may think you are able to hide it … but then there may be a ‘Freudian slip’ and this reveals the condition/ content  of the heart )


V45b - what does it mean that the mouth speaks what the heart is overflowing of ?

  Seth Scott in an article on christianity.com said… “our words demonstrate the orientation of our hearts and maintaining this orientation through the power of the Holy Spirit requires constant vigilance and care….The words reveal whether I am walking by my own strength or walking in the Spirit through (Jesus ,the True) Vine”.


 THINK : As believers we are described as ‘ good trees’. Does it mean that we will always speak good words ?

The Holy Spirit needs to help us to say things that are edifying, gracious and true 

If we are to bear good fruit, there is no point looking at others . We are to closely attend , like a gardener will do with plants, to our hearts.



Application:


Ephesians 4:29 - let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth : ‘don’t let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others ; do this  by speaking words of grace to help them’( TPT)


Less lip service and more lifestyle serving 


Romans 6:22( read) As God’s loving servants, ‘we live in joyous freedom from the power of sin.’ And the fruit of this relationship with God is the fruit of ‘true holiness that ends with eternal life’


Hebrews 13:15 (read) ‘we will offer up to God a steady stream of praise sacrifices.It is the fruit of lips that keep expressing faith in His Name, in all that He is’


Philippians 1:11 ( read) Paul prays that ‘you will be filled completely with the fruits of righteousness that are found in Jesus…bringing great praise and glory to God 


So as we become more Christ-like internally, this will be reflected externally .

Thursday June 17th 2021

Prayer Meeting


Welcome to the Thursday meeting 


We would like to look at two passages from the Bible as we spend time before God today


FIRST BIBLE PASSAGE : Colossians 1:9-12 ( READ )


Here we read of  Paul’s prayer for believers at Colosse It's a prayer of thanksgiving firstly. He has heard of the faith of the believers in Jesus Christ and their love for others 

  • he prays for them continually: offers prayers increasingly since he heard of their progress in the faith
  • he asks God …to fill them with the knowledge of God's will in wisdom and spiritual understanding ( all the understanding that the Spirit gives )
  • that the believers may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing ( v10) : by bearing fruit and growing in knowing God in His fullness 
  • that they might be strengthened with all might : according to God's glorious power, so that they may have great endurance and patience 


Paul prays that they might give joyful thanks  to the Father who made them worthy to receive the glorious inheritance: they are worthy partakers of the saints’ inheritance 

This is the inheritance He has prepared  for all those He has called and set apart to belong to His Kingdom of light

——>> are these aspects of prayer that we can pray for too in our lives ? These are like ‘vertical ‘ praying as they help to maintain our relationship with God :


To know God better with all wisdom and understanding as the Spirit provides.

To please God more : aligning ourselves to His purposes ( bearing fruit, depending on Him, empowered by the Spirit ,and not your own self )

To give thanks to God our Father for who He is and what He has done in Jesus 


Praying like this reflects a longing after God. And we can access His grace and mercy : He gives us things we do not deserve ( grace) and shields us from things we deserve ( mercy )



SECOND BIBLE PASSAGE : 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (READ ) 


Paul encourages Timothy  ( who was left in charge of the Church in Ephesus ) in the church ministry at Ephesus .Despite opposition he urges Timothy to pray . So vital it is to the life of the believer and the life of the church.

It is a call to prayer for all people : Different words are used to describe aspects of prayer which are to be made for all people : This is ‘ horizontal’ praying . It encompasses your relationship with others

-For Kings and all who are in authority (2a)— those in positions of authority 

-That they may lead a quiet life, peace and stability in godliness and holiness 

V3 says this is good and  pleases God our Saviour, as His holy people


( forms of prayers / requests)

      >Petitions or supplications refer to prayer focussed on special needs.There are some needs/ burdens that move us pray …bringing these needs before the throne of grace

      >Prayers are those times set aside to come into His presence, just to spend time before Him without distractions and hurry

     > Intercession : praying on behalf of others. Just like Jesus intercedes between us and God the Father, so we carry out this same ministry on behalf of others. This is particularly regarding those who need the Saviour. We are like ‘ stand in the gap’

     > Giving thanks - as we pray we give thanks to God for all that He has done already and yet to do. And as we pray ,He is hearing us..it pleas God


So here we have all kinds of prayers for all kinds of people. The words show how at different times we have different needs…BUT AT ALL TIMES we need God so we pray


Today be encouraged. Use some of these guidelines in prayer time today and always.

Let's pray for all people…those in leadership in the world , in the church…let's bring requests before Him as we spend time in His presence.

We pray like this because we desire to please God. Amen


——————Now we share requests and pray————-

Bible Study, Thursday 10th June 2021

Kingdom Principles : Sowing & Reaping


A follow on from the last two weeks of Bible Studies, during which we have been studying about the theme of Evangelism. 


The first passage was also considered last week, so we will only briefly discuss this passage. 


“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/1co.3.5-9.niv


How would you describe the ‘planting of the seed’ in verse 6?

When Paul took the Gospel to new areas.


How would you describe the ‘watering of the seed’ in verse 6?

Apollos encouraged new converts with teachings from Scripture.

(An account of this can be found in Acts 18:24-28).


Let’s look at what verse 7 implies.

Paul sows the seed by taking the Gospel to new areas.

Apollos waters the seed by encouraging new converts with teaching from Scripture.

But take note that it is ‘God Who gives the increase.’

A clear distinction that we find highlighted here is that only God causes growth, so all the Glory belongs to Him.

In saying that, it is also important to recognise that both Apollos & Paul faithfully fulfilled the tasks that God had given them to do.


‘Now he who plants & he who waters have one purpose, & each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour,’ 1 Corinthians 3:8

This is the unity that God desires for His people.

The Christian receives his reward based on his faithfulness to Jesus Christ & to the truth of the Gospel, not according to his visible success.


‘For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s building,’ 1 Corinthians 3:9.

Paul, Apollos, & all Christian workers - that includes you & me - are God’s people the Church.

The Church is God’s field, God’s building.

The Gospel goes forth & grows, generating God’s Grace.


“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/2co.9.6-15.niv


What is the key principle outlined in verses 6-7?

‘Remember this spiritual principle : he who sows a little will only reap a little, & he who sows to bless generously will reap generous blessings,’ verse 6.

The concept of sowing & reaping is not only to be applied to financial giving, but also in the way that we give of ourselves to others.

‘But each person has to decide in his own heart what he will give, not reluctantly or because he feels under pressure to give; for God loves those who give willingly & joyfully,’ verse 7.

God not only looks at the gift, but the heart attitude or motive in which it is given. 

Not reluctantly or under compulsion, but cheerfully & willingly.


How extensively does God want to operate in our lives? (Verses 8-11)

‘He is able to cause all His grace to overflow in your lives, so that in all things at all times, you will have all you need & much more besides, so that you will overflow in the way you bless others. As it is written, “He has given generous gifts to the poor & His righteous actions will never be forgotten.”

The Lord supplies seed for the sower so that we can have bread to eat; & He will also supply you with many opportunities to give so that you will reap a great harvest through your righteous deeds. As a result, you will be made rich in every way so that you will have even more to give when the opportunity arises. And many will be thankful to God for what they have received through your generosity.’


A wonderful statement about how extensively God wants His grace to operate in our lives. The more we draw on His riches, the more we will be able to bless others.


“Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.”

Psalms 112:6-9 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/psa.112.6-9.niv


Everything we have to give comes from God. Giving is like sowing seed that will yield a harvest. What is not given or sown, cannot bear fruit!

A promise for every believer : ‘you will be made rich in every way’ - so that the believer can then be generous to others!


What is the service of this present situation as outlined in verses 12-15?

‘So you can see that this present situation will not only serve to meet the needs of God’s people, but will also cause them to overflow with praise & thankfulness to God for His provision. At the same time, you will have demonstrated the reality of your love & so they will praise God for your loving obedience, the outworking of the faith that you claim in the Gospel of Christ. They will thank God for you because of your willingness to share what you have with them & with others.

So they will hold you before God in prayer because of this wonderful grace that He has given you - the grace to give generously, willingly, & joyfully. So thanks be to God for the greatest & most wonderful gift of His grace to us all, His Son Jesus Christ.’


The needs of God’s people will be met &/or provided for (Verse 12).

When others receive as a result of your generosity they will not only be thankful to God for the gift, but also for you (Verses 13-14).

Loving obedience is the practical outworking of Faith (Verse 13).

Nothing we give can remotely compare with what God has given to us (Verse 15).

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/2co.9.15.niv


‘The indescribable gift’ is God’s own Son.

He is the first giver; He selflessly gives Himself to us in the person of His Son, & all true Christian giving is our grateful response to that precious & indescribable gift of Jesus Christ!

Generous giving results in bountiful blessings.



“Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

Psalms 126:4-6 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/psa.126.4-6.niv


What concept of sowing is represented here?

When seeds were sown they were sown in faith not knowing the end result.

It cost the sowers everything they had so they would have due concerns. 

Their faithfulness in sowing the seed was rewarded with rejoicing & an abundant &/or plentiful harvest.


Sowing seeds in sorrow results in reaping &/or rewarding with rejoicing.


So in Summary, what have we learned today about the Kingdom Principle of Sowing & Reaping?


Let’s remember the following quote :-

“We cannot force someone to hear a message they are not ready to receive, but we must never underestimate the power of planting a seed.”


Here in a nutshell is the cause & effect of sowing & reaping :-

It is a promise to God’s people - both then & now - that their faithfulness will result in a joyful harvest.

Sowing can be accompanied by trouble or sorrow as signified in Psalm 126:5-6 by tears & weeping, but the end product of the harvest reaped is one that brings joy.

God looks at the heart attitudes & motives behind our giving.

Those who bless others will also be blessed.

Our giving should be in response to God, Who we can never outgive!


“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/2co.9.15.niv




“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Galatians 6:7-10 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/gal.6.7-10.niv


“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Colossians 4:5-6 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/col.4.5-6.niv


Let’s use these two passages & the ones that we’ve studied together today to lead us as we pray together.


Thank You, Lord God, for giving us good seed that we can sow through our words & actions every day. Amen! 


Bible Study 3rd June 2021


Four Analogies for Evangelism

Adapted from a study by James Rochford

God, Instead of giving us a manual on how to do evangelism, he gives us several pictures of what a good evangelist looks like and how they handle themselves. While practical suggestions are helpful in evangelism, everyone is different in their gifts and talents.

Consider four different analogies that God uses to explain the work of evangelism. God compares a mature evangelist to: (1) farmers, (2) fishermen, (3) soldiers, and (4) and ambassadors. All four pictures are helpful in understanding how to effectively share Christ with others.

What examples have you found about?


(1) Farmers

Jesus compared evangelism to a farmer spreading seeds on the soil 

(Mt. 13:1-23). (Parable of the Sower)

He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” 

(Mt. 9:37). 


“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭9:37-38‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/mat.9.37-38.niv


Likewise, Paul compared evangelism to planting, watering, and growing the seed

 (1 Cor. 3:5-10), Paul & Apollos 

and he compared mature believers to “hard-working farmers”

 (2 Tim. 2:6). 


What is it about farming that is similar to evangelism? There are a number of similarities which are worth considering:

Farmers need to spread a lot of seeds. Good farmers liberally spread their seed on the field, knowing that not all will grow. Similarly, believers should share their faith often, knowing that most of the time, people will not come to Christ. 

It’s hard to know how much we should be sharing our faith, but one test is this: “When was the last time someone rejected your offer to come to Christ or rejected your invitation to a Bible study?” 

If this hasn’t happened recently, you probably aren’t abundantly sowing, and you’re being too conservative.

Farmers need to maintain their fields. Farmers do not merely throw the seed and hope for the best. 

They come back the next morning and water their seeds. 

Similarly, follow up is necessary with new or non-Christians. We need to see them fully grow—not just start to grow.

Farmers need patience. Farmers don’t see results for many months. They need to wait patiently to see their crops grow. 

Similarly, the problem with most believers isn’t with what they’re doing. They simply don’t wait long enough to see what God is doing behind the scenes.

Farmers need perseverance and discipline. Farming is back-breaking work. It consists of blood, sweat, and tears to bring in a good crop. 

Likewise, those experienced with evangelism know that reaching people for Christ is hard work! They know that they need to persevere through many dry seasons

 (2 Tim. 4:2).


(2) Fishermen

Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of men—not hunters of men (Mt. 4:19). Why did he pick this illustration, and not the other?

Good fishermen are patient. Fishermen look for the right spots where the fish are biting. Yet they ultimately need to wait and trust that the fish will eventually bite. This is out of your control (unless, of course, you’re dynamite fishing!). Similarly, good evangelists know that they need to wait for God to do his work in changing people’s hearts and minds.

Good fishermen aren’t forceful. Fishermen cannot force the fish to bite. In the same way, we can’t force people to come to Christ. We can only make our bait attractive. Similarly, in evangelism, we shouldn’t coerce people to come to Christ. Instead, we should persuade them to do so (2 Cor. 5:11). Paul Little notes, “We will discover so many people who are interested in spiritual reality that we won’t have to force ourselves on people who are not interested.”[1]

Good fishermen don’t scare away the fish. Fish can be easily scared away by the fisherman. Once they get a small nibble on the line, fishermen can pull too quickly and lose the fish. Similarly, good evangelists know how to listen and understand the person with whom they’re speaking. Paul Little writes, “The moment we detect a faint glimmer of interest in a non-Christian many of us want to rush right in and rattle off the whole gospel without coming up for air or waiting to sense audience response… The non-Christian needs gentle coaxing when he’s just beginning to show his interest: it’s usually fragile at first. Otherwise, like a bird scared from a close-up perch by too rapid movement toward him, he will withdraw before our overly eager approach.”[2]

Good fishermen stay away from clumsy fishermen. Often, when you’re fishing, you have other fishermen who will scare off the fish around you. (They might enter your water in a motor boat, making lots of noise, drinking beer, and scaring away all of the good fish!) Similarly, in evangelism, we need to be aware of legalistic, hypocritical Christians (or even cultic non-Christians) who will ruin our efforts at evangelism, scaring people away from Christ in the process.

Good fishermen have a favorite place to catch fish. Every fisherman has his own favorite spot—whether a lake or a water hole that he like. Moreover, he strategically picks a place where the fish are biting. If they stop biting, he usually moves on to another spot. Likewise, good evangelists need to be open to where “hungry” people are located and travel to them.

(3) Soldiers[3]

The NT authors use the analogy of military warfare to refer to the Christian’s work of evangelism. Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Mt. 16:18). Paul refers to our spiritual weapons of warfare (2 Cor. 10:3-5), and our spiritual weapons and armor (Eph. 6:10-20). 


“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. And don’t forget to pray for me. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I, jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-20‬ ‭MSG‬‬

https://www.bible.com/97/eph.6.10-20.msg


,He encourages Timothy, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4). There are many reasons for why evangelism is compared to warfare:

Soldiers are in the business of conquest. Soldiers look to take territory from the enemy, invading enemy territory from time to time. Similarly, Christians are on the offensive—not the defensive—in spiritual warfare. Christians should not merely protect existing believers, but rather, continue to take ground from the Enemy, as Jesus commands (Mt. 16:18; 28:18-20).

Soldiers need discipline and training. We wouldn’t want to simply send a civilian into war. They wouldn’t be ready. Similarly, even the youngest Christian can make a tremendous impact for Christ. In fact, young believers are often the best at evangelism. However, they quickly realize how much equipping and training play a role in reaching people for Christ (e.g. learning to pray, having tact, answering questions, etc.).

Soldiers need to endure suffering. In warfare, soldiers need to be tough. They need perseverance and a militant spirit. Similarly, believers who engage in spiritual warfare need to be tough and be ready to experience suffering for Christ (2 Tim. 2:3-4).


“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/2ti.2.3-4.niv


(4) Ambassadors

Paul writes, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). Even though we still live on Earth, our true identity is in heaven. Paul describes believers as “Christ’s ambassadors” on Earth (2 Cor. 5:20). An ambassador is a delegate or a representative from a nation, who speaks authoritatively for their government. Whatever the ambassador says or does reflects directly on their home nation. Why does the NT compare believers to ambassadors?

Ambassadors need to learn the culture in which they find themselves. Ambassadors know the culture, the language, and the environment of their foreign culture. Similarly, believers are to become “all things to all men” (1 Cor. 9:22). We shouldn’t use language that is only familiar to Christians (e.g. “saved” “outreach” etc.).

Ambassadors try to make their country look appealing. Ambassadors try to represent their culture in a winsome and attractive way, knowing that the foreign nation will form their perceptions on the behavior and attitude of the ambassador. Similarly, believers are careful to represent God accurately and show that following Christ is attractive.

Ambassadors find common ground. Ambassadors look for places on which their two cultures agree. Similarly, good evangelists seek to find common ground between worldviews.

Ambassadors speak authoritatively for their culture. When the ambassador speaks, it’s as if their nation is supporting their every word. Similarly, when good evangelists speak, they can trust that God wants to speak through them (1 Pet. 4:11).

 “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/1pe.4.11.niv


Bible Study 27th May 2021
Opening prayer

A John Wesley quote, still relevant to us today


A recent quiet time that highlights living a controlled life, in surrender to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Reflecting what Pastor Chris said on Pentecost Sunday.


Christ’s love constrains us NIV

The love of Christ controls and compels us. AMP

TODAY’S THOUGHT

We would like to think that we are free, that nothing controls us. And yet, it is not a question of whether or not we are controlled. It is what do we let control us? Influences, impulses, beliefs, assumptions, responsibilities, promises, obligations, emotions, addictions, spiritual forces, desires, dreams, aspirations, and a myriad of other things shape our behavior more than we would like to admit. However, we are not helpless. We are not a puppet. James suggests we are “unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” But today, we have a choice. We can come to Christ. We can choose to let His love guide and control us. We can allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and direct us. Today, let Christ’s deep, deep love for you permeate your thinking and actions and say with Paul, “Christ’s love controls me.”  


TODAY’S PRAYER

Dear Christ, fill me with Your love. Let it permeate my very being until I am controlled by it. 

AMEN

We then read through the following passages and shared.

Jesus at the Door, Evangelism made easy.

Matthew 28 v18-20, 


“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:16-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/mat.28.16-20.niv


1 Corinthians 3v5~9, 


“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 


A study I adapted to use on 27th May

Jesus at the Door, Evangelism made easy.

Matthew 28 v18-20, 1 Corinthians 3v5~9, John 6 v44

Concluding testimony from Scott McNamara

Apple Tree Evangelism

I had just begun to step out as a full-time evangelist on staff for a local church, and to say I felt out of my depth is an understatement. As I stood in the center of the town, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, Scott, I want you to imagine that all these people are like apples on a tree. When you share, then I’ll shake! 

I knew instantly what He meant. When you shake an apple tree, only the fruit that is truly ripe will fall. Those that are not yet ready will stay on the tree. 

It is no exaggeration to say everything literally changed in that moment. You see, for the first time in my life I understood what evangelism really is. It is an invitation to partnership, which is why it is not called the Great Mission but the Great Co-Mission.

It is not about how able I am; it is about how available I am willing to make myself, about my willingness to surrender to His leading in order to engage in the level of partnership required to be fruitful.

To be effective in the area of evangelism, it is first imperative that you understand the concept of partnership and exactly what your role is and is not within this partnership. Once I received this revelation, it shifted literally everything for me. It took my eyes off me and caused me to fix them on Him. As Salvation Army General William Booth put it, “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”

After my apple tree revelation, I realized how true Jesus’ words are that only those God draws to Himself can come to Him, so we simply look for those He is already drawing. The Holy Spirit, like the breath of heaven, is breathing a mighty wind, shaking the trees. As He does so, some apples will fall, some will move a little, and some will not move at all. All we have to do is catch the ones that fall, thus removing all pressure from you to perform.

I was not alone in trying to save people. If I would faithfully share, then He would faithfully shake.

We are all priceless apples just waiting to be caught. And because we partner with God, everybody can catch. Yes, even you.


Join me in reading Jesus at the Door: Evangelism Made Easy:
https://www.bible.com/en/reading-plans/21243


Sent from my iPhone


CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE 

Thursday 20th May 2021

Bible Study


The Glory of the LORD


‘Kabod’ as mentioned in the Old Testament means ‘Glory of the LORD’ or ‘Praise be to the LORD’ so it is a way of witnessing His beauty & radiance. His matchless magnificence.

His power that is beyond compare. Repeated about 34 times in the Old Testament, the word ‘Kabod’ signifies something that is weighty or heavy which glorifies the LORD.


‘Shekinah’ means the ‘Glory’ or ‘Radiance of God,’ or ‘God resting in His House’ or ‘Tabernacle amongst His people.’


“Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.””

Exodus 33:12-23 NKJV

https://www.bible.com/114/exo.33.12-23.nkjv


What is said about God’s presence in verse 14?

God’s presence would go with Moses & give him rest.


What was the response of Moses to this answer from God? (Verses 15-17)

“Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.””

Exodus 33:15-17 NKJV

https://www.bible.com/114/exo.33.15-17.nkjv


What was the reply of Moses? (Verse 18)

“Please show me Your Glory.”


In verse 19-23, we see the following things :- 

Moses wanted to see God’s Glory, His Power.

Up to this point he had experienced supernatural, physical manifestations of God’s presence in the miracles in Egypt, the burning bush, the pillar of cloud & fire in the wilderness, the thick smoke-filled cloud on Mount Sinai. He had engaged in intimate conversations with God in the Holy of Holies.


Now Moses wanted more, so much more from God, & their intimate relationship & the increasing faith of Moses through those years gave him the courage to ask. He specifically asked to see God’s Glory. Not just a physical manifestation of God’s presence like smoke & fire. Moses wanted a taste of the Divine.


Moses was asking for ‘Shekinah Glory,’ The ‘Dwelling Glory of God.’ 

A presence that is life-transforming. He wanted the very presence of God to envelop him. To feel down to the marrow of his bones the Glory of God. To gaze upon His grandeur, His goodness, His Holiness, His Divinity.


And as much as God probably wanted to grant Moses what he asked for, He couldn’t. His brilliance, His radiance is too much for human eyes. But our loving God found a way to give Moses a taste of what he asked. He hid Moses in the cleft of a rock, covered his face with His hand, & allowed Moses a glimpse of His Glory. To see the back of His Glory. And although Moses didn’t get everything he asked, we must remember that the goodness of God passes by Moses. God proclaimed His Name & His Sovereignty in the presence of Moses. 


Let’s now consider our second passage :- 


“Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.”

Exodus 34:29-35 NKJV

https://www.bible.com/114/exo.34.29-35.nkjv


What do we see in these verses about Moses, after he spent time in the presence of God?


After the renewal of the covenant & time spent in the presence of the Lord, the face of Moses shone brightly, displaying to all those present the physical results of his close fellowship with the Lord (Exodus 34:29, 35).

Once Moses told the people the message of God, he put a veil over his face, only removing it when he was in the presence of the Lord.


What’s so remarkable is God intended for us to experience His Glory in our midst. So when the time was right, God sent His Glory to earth in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. ‘Immanuel,’ literally meaning : ‘God with us.’


And if that isn’t enough, Moses experienced the dwelling presence of God. But we, as the New Testament children of God, receive the ‘indwelling’ presence of God. The following verses from 1 Corinthians highlight this fact :- 


“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

I Corinthians 3:16 NKJV

https://www.bible.com/114/1co.3.16.nkjv


“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

I Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV

https://www.bible.com/114/1co.6.19-20.nkjv


The Holy Spirit dwells inside us as believers. 


Our third passage, confirms this. Let’s now consider what it says in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 :-


“But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

II Corinthians 3:7-18 NKJV

https://www.bible.com/114/2co.3.7-18.nkjv


What is stated as the ministry of death? (2 Corinthians 3:7,13)

The Glory of God on the face of Moses is not permanent.

In 2 Corinthians 3:7, Paul reminded the Corinthians of the fear of the Israelites & that they couldn’t look at the face of Moses. He further states that the brightness, ‘the ministry of death’ was the glory of the law.

This old glory as reflected in the face of Moses would come to an end

(2 Corinthians 3:7,13). 


“how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.”

II Corinthians 3:8-11 NKJV

https://www.bible.com/114/2co.3.8-11.nkjv


What is meant by the ‘ministry of condemnation’ & ‘the ministry of righteousness’ in verses 8-11?


‘The ministry of condemnation’ referred to the Law & the Old Covenant. 

‘The ministry of righteousness’ is through Jesus & the New Covenant.


Paul pointed out the truth that ‘only through Christ is it (the veil) taken away’ (2 Corinthians 3:14). 

Christ made a New Covenant revealing God’s eternal glory (2 Corinthians 3:11).


The New Covenant of Christ removes the veil over our hearts that separates us from the Lord, giving us hope to shine God’s light into today’s dark world.


‘Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away,’ 2 Corinthians 3:12-16


Why do we have ‘such hope’ & ‘great boldness of speech’?

The Glory of Jesus has been revealed to us. 

Our minds have been opened to the Light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

In Christ, the veil is taken away. 

Only Jesus can take away the veil & open people’s minds & hearts. 

We have great boldness of speech because of Jesus. 



2 Corinthians 3:12-16 in the Bible Knowledge Commentary explains it in this way :-

‘The Light in the life of believers is the knowledge of God’s salvation, a glory issuing from & seen in the face of Christ.’


The Old Covenant was one of passing glory, but we who live under the New Covenant in Christ live in eternal glory as we turn to the Lord. 

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Through Christ, God forgives our sins & we, ‘with unveiled face, beholding the Glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord Who is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).


How are we being transformed? 

By the Holy Spirit changing us, until we reflect & radiate the image of Jesus more & more. 

So we become more like Jesus in our behaviour & character, as we grow & mature in our relationship with Him. 


Prayer : Dear Lord, thank You for loving us so much that through Christ You removed the veil so that we could have communion with You. Give us hearts that seek You completely, so that we may boldly & courageously reflect & radiate Your Light in the communities in which we live & serve.

In the Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!


Thursday 13th May 2021 

Prayer Meeting 

Ascension Day


“And He (Jesus) led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:50-53‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.””

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.””
‭‭Acts‬ ‭1:1-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

 Songs used to Praise Jesus :-
‘Lord, I lift Your Name on High’ 
‘He is Exalted’
‘Majesty’ 
Can we now offer up some Prayers & Praise, regarding Jesus ascending into heaven, providing us with the Holy Spirit, & promising to Return Again. 

“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Our feet have been standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem is built As a city that is compact together, Where the tribes go up, The tribes of the LORD, To the Testimony of Israel, To give thanks to the name of the LORD. For thrones are set there for judgment, The thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, Prosperity within your palaces.” For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, “Peace be within you.” Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭122:1-9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Song praying specifically for 'the Peace of Israel ����'
‘Make me a channel of Your Peace’  

Prayers for Israel ���� following recent rocket �� attacks on them. 
Yesterday, I was in contact with my friend, Katharine Joseph, who lives in Jerusalem to further guide our prayers for Israel. 
She has specifically asked that we pray into the following things :- 
For both Jews & Arabs to love each other. 
For the terror organisation Hamas to be defeated & all its evil plans to be thwarted.
For the Palestinians to be governed by righteous leaders. 


“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.””
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:1-16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Prayers for India ���� & Trinidad ����, regarding the Coronavirus :-
Prayers specifically for Sonya & her family following the death of her mother & brother. (India). 
Prayers specifically for Pastor Krishna in ICU, his family also have Coronavirus & so do two other Pastors all from the Open Bible Churches in Trinidad ����. 
For comfort & peace for Pastor Carmen as she continues to mourn the loss of her husband in Trinidad ����. 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Any specific prayer requests for people associated with CWC, either here in 
Lanzarote ���� or in the UK ����.

I’d like to close this Prayer �� meeting by declaring the words from 
‘The Blessing’ by Cody Carnes & Kari Jobe over each one of us :- 

‘The Lord bless you & keep you
Make His face shine upon you & be gracious to you
The Lord turn His face toward you 
And give you peace. 

May His favour be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family & your children
And their children, & their children. 

May His presence go before you
And behind you, & beside you
All around you, & within you
He is with you, He is with you. 

In the morning, in the evening 
In your coming, & your going
In your weeping, & rejoicing
He is for you, He is for you.’ 
Amen! 

Thursday 6th May 2021


Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer


Focus Passage : LUKE 6: 27-31


Introduction 

——————-


In Luke 6, we see a collection of teachings and interactions between Jesus, His disciples and the religious leaders 

Jesus is teaching those who follow Him and the crowd the need to THINK AND LIVE differently than what was the usual expectation.

When we read, meditate  and study  God's Word we would realise the changes that take place for believers are more than modifying moral behaviour.  It changes our very heart .



Somebody said “it's right living in an upside down world”


In this passage we are looking at Jesus gives commands to do the opposite of what comes naturally for us. 


READ THE PASSAGE: Luke 6:27-31

 

This passage is a small part of one of Jesus’ important sermons . You might know it as the Sermon on the Mount. He is inaugurating His Kingdom and shows what that Kingdom looks like. 


What are your initial observations .. ?


 It's all about relationships with one another because we have relationship with Jesus


We all at some point have experienced being mistreated by another .



Our focus today is on verses 27-28



V27- DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU : Love and Do good 


What are your thoughts on this ? 


>Jesus’ command here is for us to do something that's contrary to our human nature. 


What does human nature says ? ‘Take revenge!’ You may have other select words to use too !


Comment : (from scientific studies ) Hatred has negative impact on physical ,and emotional health 

                    Hate and anger can cause strain on the heart leading to other problems. It can cause     abusive behaviour and even affect your immune system , making you susceptible to certain diseases ( dis - ease )

Emotionally hatred can wear you out, your assessment of things ( judgment) can become less effective and then bad decisions are made. Sometimes there can be outbursts that can be embarrassing…leading to guilt feelings and even depression. Another side effect : not many people will enjoy being around you


Spiritually : if one is angry and possessing intense hatred, this can have a negative impact . 

We live contrary to God's command to love each other when we harbour hatred in our hearts.

Psalm 66:18- if I regard sin in my heart God will not hear me. So God disconnects from you , when you disconnect from others.



What is the answer then to gain freedom from the imprisonment by anger ? 


>Jesus says it is by doing good to those who hate you 

This will confuse , surprise the other person. Your reaction is not what they are expecting Kindness and love change people 



V28- BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU : Bless

 

The words we speak carry great power. Unfortunately we probably find it easier to for us to use speech in a negative way rather than a positive way.


Is it easier to lash out at people who have harmed or hurt us  rather than build them up ?


This does no good…like putting salt to a cut ! It hurts !


On the other hand , can you think of an example in your life when someone said something to you that encouraged you, brought hope to you ?


Proverbs 12:18…. reckless words pierce like a sword, the tongue of the wise brings healing 


>Jesus says one of the best ways to respond to our enemies is by blessing them !



V28- PRAY FOR THOSE WHO MISTREAT YOU: Pray 


When you are mistreated by people , do you find that these people dominate your thoughts ?


So apart from the  harsh treatment- physical ,verbal abuse - meted out you are also mentally abused. You ruminate , go over and over again in your mind what these people have done


What is Jesus’ solution to this problem ( Jesus says we are to do ?)  What is the best thing according to Jesus we can do for these people ?


Pray —— what should we pray for ?

Not praying that  they will get run over by a truck !!!


>praying for  their hearts to be changed as God works in your heart too.

Deal with the cause , not the symptoms of the problems. For example someone upsets, hurts you. If you  yell at them or even ignore them this response deals with the symptoms.


When we pray for them as Jesus commands, we will be praying for God to deal with their hearts and bring change . And you pray for your heart too to change in your responses to these people 


Praying for your enemies helps to keep you from being destroyed by bitterness and anger. And your praying will help your focus to change so you are not controlled by your  feelings


>>Comment : Jesus gives us three principles by which we , His followers, are to express the life of His Kingdom. They are  not just for so called ‘super Christians’ ( if there are any !) .They are for all Jesus’ followers.


So how are we to respond to our enemies ? ( those who oppose us ,ill- treat us or do us harm, or use us for their own ends ?)

  • DO GOOD TO THEM
  • BLESS THEM
  • PRAY FOR THEM 




The parallel account is found in Matthew 5:43-45. In verse 45, we read that this is the right way for God's children ( God  is our heavenly Father) to act 


>>>Think about what is the best thing you can do for the worst person….and go ahead and do it.

Jesus did that for us all on the cross. How you act now  will eventually change the way that you feel.


Jesus calls us to respond in an unprecedented manner. He sets the standard and its higher than what the people were previously used to hearing and doing


In verses 29-30 , Jesus gives a number of examples of how the disciples should react when they are mistreated 

V31 - Jesus gives the spiritual principle by which to live : Treat others precisely the same way you would like them to treat you


These are radical notions : doing what Jesus calls us to do and not just thinking about it. In short this is the gospel.

These were familiar to their day. They emphasise the point Jesus is making.The point is Jesus is teaching His disciples to ‘think and act and love’ like He does 

———————————

A true story ( testimony) : 

‘This happened many years ago in the Canary Islands. What appeared to be a losing situation for a father became a winning testimony. The father lost his 17 year old son many years ago to a murderer. His son was murdered in the Canary Islands


The father spoke to his  pastor in the UK. He asked the pastor for prayer as he was planning to go to the Canary Islands to see the murderer. The father wanted to tell the young man who stabbed and killed his son that “I forgive you and you need the Lord” .The father wanted to lead the man to Christ 

The father wanted to change what was an extremely negative situation - the loss of his precious son - with a positive response of God's love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness.


Initially the authorities were not allowing the father access to see and speak with the murderer

God gave him favour- the authorities allowed him to visit the murderer of his son. This man shared the gospel with the murderer 

This father subsequently went to live in the Canary Islands. As he told his pastor , that there were many there who needed to hear the gospel.


So what was an apparent losing situation turned out to be a winning / victorious opportunity for this father.’

—————————————————————————————


How are we to respond ?

These are Jesus’ words. Obedience to God is always the appropriate response 

And when we obey His commands we show our love to Him in the way we express that love to others…especially the undeserving 


Jesus invites us to change the world around us with this radical way of living and loving.




Bible Study Outline

Thursday 22nd April 2021


The Seven Statements of Jesus

From the Cross ( PART 2 )


Introduction: We have been sharing words of encouragement based on  the statements Jesus made while on the cross. It is noteworthy that Jesus was in incredible agony as He made these statements. These words demonstrate  that Jesus’ was consistent in His life and in His message, determined to remain obedient to the Father's plan


REVIEW:

Last week we talked about four statements Jesus made from the Cross


( Do you remember what are they ?)


1- ‘ Father,  forgive them, for they know not what they do’….Luke 23:34


2-‘You will be with Me in paradise’…..Luke 23:43


3- ‘Woman , behold your Son..Behold your mother’…..John 19:26-27


4- ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’……Matthew 27:46



Today we want to continue with the last three statements Jesus made from the Cross. These statements focus on Jesus , Himself.  

>>First, He thought of others, the believing thief and His mother.Then He focuses on His relationship to the Father. Now Jesus’ focus is on Himself.

  

                         5) John 19:28 (-29.) -- “I am thirsty”


This fifth saying of Jesus is a personal cry of agony and physical pain yet a cry of deep spiritual need. It is about six hours since He has been on the cross. As we see the human frailties of Jesus here, another prophecy is being fulfilled. 


Physically, Jesus is suffering as a human being. 

Spiritually, could it be that Jesus longed to be united with His Father …thirsting for His Father's  holy presence??. Jesus was carrying the weight of our sins….these were placed upon Him.


Psalm 69:21 still needed to be fulfilled - ‘ For my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.’


V29- John the writer makes the point of specifying the hyssop plant. 

What is the significance of this ? 


You may recall that hyssop was used ( like a brush ? ) to sprinkle blood on the doorposts and lintels on the first Passover ( as we see in Exodus 12 v22 ). It was associated with purification and sacrifices in the tabernacle 


This statement reminds us that Jesus ‘died in the flesh’ for us and for our sins. So it reveals:

**Jesus’ humanity,

** His awareness of prophetic scriptures ( v28 ‘……so that scriptures would be fulfilled’)

**Jesus’ determination to remain obedient to the Father's plan .


(Probably the drink offered …did not quench His thirst- just moistened His lips to enable Him to declare the triumphant words…’it is finished’ )


Jesus identifies with our needs here …He understands every aspect of our lives down to the little details too.

What is your greatest thirst ?

>Do you long for God, thirst for Him to have relationship with Him..in holiness and fear…This reminds me of Psalm 42 ...‘as the deer pants for streams of water…’) 



                        6) John 19:30- “It is finished”


 Again this is a first hand account of Jesus’ last words . John was there at the cross. ( this statement was  recorded  only by John )


What did Jesus finish/ accomplish ? the assignment the Father gave Him:  plan of redemption completed 


Jesus faithfully fulfilled His mission to save mankind from sin. He perseveres and so realises the goal.


That day there were at least 25 prophecies about Jesus - messianic prophecies fulfilled. 

His work on earth was finished. He never wavered from the Father's plan to make Him the Lamb of God who takes our sin away… a once and for all sacrifice. 


Jesus took our sins upon Himself and did what we could not do. We have victory over sin and death because Jesus paid our debt in full. 


The Greek word for  ‘ it is finished’ ( tetelestai )means ‘paid in full’. When a debt was  fully paid, this word would be written on a loan document or letter. When people in the first century had paid their debt in full, they would shout out the word ‘tetelestai’. 


So what ‘bill’ has been ‘paid’ ?- the bill , invoice for your sins ,my sins, the sins of the entire world. Jesus paid it in full !


It was a shout of triumph. Jesus is declaring victory. It is a great cry of triumph - His innocent sacrifice means all sin, sickness, and every power and work of the devil, were overcome.


Satan's fate was also finished. Every power and work of the devil were overcome - Jesus destroyed ‘him who had the power of death, that is , the devil’( Hebrews 2:14)


All that the Father sent Jesus to accomplish has been achieved


> Like Jesus, we have a mission, purpose to complete. Let us live lives of purpose  as we lovingly obey God's purpose for our lives

Maintain our focus on Jesus , not ourselves so we continue to persevere even in difficult times.




                    7) Luke 23:46 - “Father , into Your hands I commit My spirit.” And then He died….   

breathed His last

 (  Jesus hung on the cross for six hours between the first and last word He said )


Here is another  prayer of Jesus as in the first statement , “ Father forgive them…” 

 This is a  profound prayer of Jesus. He is committing Himself into the hands of His Father. Of note is the fact that Jesus says ‘Father’ as opposed to ‘God ‘ when He felt forsaken by His Father . They are also words found in Psalm 31:5


He always remained submitted to His Father's will. 


What was the purpose of Jesus dying ? Death was God's just, holy and righteous punishment for sin - the punishment every sinner deserves, but Jesus has suffered on their behalf.



Now in death things will not change -He commits Himself into the greatest hands of all. He knows that three days later God the Father will bring Him back to life. God was in control of the events. God had prepared wonderful things for Jesus. It is only with God we are secure as Jesus shows here


>>Stephen said something similar when he was being stoned to death ( Acts 7: 59 )


Jesus entrusts himself to His Father’s everlasting arms . He gives His  spirit, that part of the human personality to the Father's  safekeeping

This was a bedtime  prayer I am told that Jewish mothers taught their children. One commentator says , “Even on a cross,Jesus died like a child falling asleep in his father’s arms.”



> As we live daily , we can commit ourselves into the hands of our Father too. He is in control. We can trust in Him.


Application :

When things seem dark and overwhelming , we can turn to God , commit ourselves into His loving care. Jesus did all that He needed to do. As He faces death, He places His life into God's hands


Jesus gave his life for us. The least we can do is live our lives for Him


(These seven statements mean there is completeness in the work of redemption)


To ponder : What effect does the finished work of Christ have on your life ?                                                                        


Bible Study Notes /Outline 

                                                                         Thursday 15th April 2021


                                                                  The Seven Statements of Jesus

                                                                        From the Cross ( PART 1)


INTRODUCTION:

Through the work on the Cross, Jesus showed unconditional love for us. In the Gospels there are seven recorded  statements Jesus made while on the cross. These ‘last words’ or  statements are to be cherished by believers. They are remarkable words  with deep meaning. They show His love for us and the consistency in His life and in His message until the end 


IMPORTANCE OF THESE SEVEN LAST WORDS:

They reveal what was most important to our Saviour. Some complete messianic prophecies about Jesus on that day we must never forget.

             

———————————


1) Luke 23:34 - “Father , forgive them , for they know not what they do”

      

This first statement we contemplate upon today shows that Jesus was thinking of others until the end of His life. Luke records the first of our Lord’s final words upon the cross.

Indeed it's a prayer that Jesus prays from the Cross. In the midst of the horrible pain of crucifixion, Jesus prays for ‘them’. It is a mighty prayer.


To whom is Jesus referring? The ‘them’ here is the very people who is causing His suffering . He is praying for these people.The Roman soldiers who nailed Him to the cross, those who were mocking Him - He is interceding for their souls before the Father so that they will not be forsaken. In reality, it for all of us.( Acts 3:15, Romans 3:23 )


Jesus came to earth for the purpose of forgiving sinners - this He does even until the end. He forgave sinners and brought sinners into a relationship with God. He did this by suffering on the cross on behalf of man’s sin


> What can we learn about forgiveness ?   Forgiveness is the whole point of the cross.


-we are confident that our sins can be forgiven completely : sometimes we may not feel forgiven.

We are not to trust our feelings but trust in God's promises- He says when we confess to Him, He promises to forgive 

  • sin and hatred ends on the Cross : when we say ‘I can't forgive that person…’ we are giving the devil room. Unforgiveness gives Satan power to control your life. The power of the Cross sets you free as you make that decision to forgive. ( you have to will it to happen )

 Forgiving is not always easy … look what Jesus had to go through. Is it worth forgiving ? Yes, forgiving brings peace and re- establishes a relationship 


Jesus died forgiving those who sinned against Him


                  


 2) Luke. 23:43- “You will be with Me in Paradise’’


This second saying of Jesus is bringing hope for a dying criminal . Jesus utters these words of hope to this thief. In the previous verses 23: 39-43, we read  of two criminals who hung on either side of Jesus. 

This one - the repentant criminal receives forgiveness - he had a change of heart . This repentant thief believes ; the other rejects Jesus.

This criminal seeks God's mercy and Jesus responds with compassion and assurance. This Is God’s mind, God's love 

Even as He is on the cross , Jesus is ready to to respond with saving grace. What a Saviour!

Jesus did not condemn this criminal - He showed unconditional love to this sinner in spite of his sins, extending grace to him.


> What about us today ? Do we see ourselves like this thief in need of God's mercy ?

How do we see others ? ( e.g) Showing the mercy we have experienced to others, to the  ‘not yet’ believer - knowing that when they turn to God, they too will have an opportunity to become part of God's family and His Kingdom ?


Jesus died bringing the truth of eternal life to a damned soul




3) John 19:26-27 —“Woman, behold your son!" … "Son, behold your mother."

‘From that day John took Mary into his home’

                        

Jesus continues to suffer on the cross. Yet his mind is upon others. He sees His mother standing near the Apostle John and says ‘Woman , behold your son.” He then looks at John and says to him, “ Behold your mother !”


What is Jesus doing here ? 


Firstly this is further evidence of the close relationship between Jesus and John. John was always close to Jesus because he desired this closeness with Jesus. So John was at  the Cross while other disciples were elsewhere . 

When all the other disciples… like Peter, ‘ left Him and fled’ ( Matthew 26:56),John alone came back to the cross.

Secondly because of this relationship Jesus is entrusting His mother into the apostle’s care. A responsibility - that He gave John. Jesus even in such an agonising time has grace to consider His mother’s welfare ( she might now be widowed and destitute and vulnerable). Makes provision for her


> Do you desire to be close to Jesus ? Then draw near to Him and He will draw near to you


Jesus died expressing selfless love. He was never too occupied with His own pain that He lost sight of the needs of others.



4) Matthew 27:46 - “My God, my God , why have you forsaken me ?”


(Also found in Mark 15:34)

This fourth saying is one of the most wonderful, important words of Jesus. Jesus experiences a sense of complete separation from His Father - this is the result of our sinfulness. Sounds surprising .We may not fully understand this statement, except through the eye of faith


By making this statement, Jesus referenced Psalm 22:1 which prophesied about Him

When the sins of the world were put upon Jesus there was a spiritual separation between the Father and the Son. 

Sin distances us from God. This is the only time we have a record of Jesus not addressing God as His Father. He sees God the Father as a judge ( Eloi, Eloi my God… the sovereign God, God the judge). He is being judged in the place of sinners and for sin !


In effect the pain and suffering that we deserve, Jesus was suffering. So Jesus was carrying the judgment of our sin upon that  horrible Roman cross. The Father could not look upon sin , therefore He turned His back temporarily . A  holy exchange - Jesus’ sinless life for your life and mine. Jesus died in darkness that we may live in light. ( 2 Corinthians 5:21)


Jesus died understanding the seriousness of sin. He completely identified with us in our need so that we can now be completely identified with Him in His glory !


Has there been a time when you felt forsaken ? Like when the need is critical , you pray and you think God is not answering? Like when tragedies happen and we cannot explain. Or times when it seems God has allowed evil to triumph over good .


> I encourage you to take the time over the next week to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for you. 

Thank God that He has not forsaken you. 

Thank God that through Jesus we can draw near to God

Thank God that in the same way He forgives so we can forgive others too

Thank God that He has made us His representatives because we have relationship with Him




How can Jesus’ words  here change the way we think and live ? 

Is there one truth you can embrace this coming week and allow the Spirit to bring revelation to your own heart ?

                                                                

Bible Study and Prayer Meeting, Thursday 8th April 2021


Romans 5: verses 1-5 ( READ )

——————————————


In verse 1 we see the phrase … ‘therefore having been justified’


To be justified- acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God 


Justification- to declare righteous, to declare somebody right and then to treat that person based upon the declaration. This is how God sees us : even though we are unrighteousness and wicked, God treats us as though we were righteous and pure as He is Himself.


And for us , this is based upon what God's Son did on the cross.. God declares us right in His sight as we believe in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. It is by grace alone , through faith that this happens. So it is not earned , it is received as a gift 


In brief, Paul has been been spending  much time in the preceding chapters detailing man’s need for salvation. Paul teaches that nothing associated with religion, works, the Law or with rituals can ever save mankind. 

We are totally dependent upon faith to bring us into a right relationship with the Lord. It is not about what we do will be make the difference in the saving of our souls. It is WHO we know - when we know Jesus , we have salvation.


In these 5 verses,Paul tells us why we can as true believers rejoice in our salvation - why we can give thanks for what God has done.. Even when you don't feel to praise Him like when things are not good,  we are being encouraged here to remember what He has done and this gives us reason to praise Him

———>>>


V1 What does this verse say about our position in Christ Jesus ?

    What makes us  blameless, or justified before God ? 


We are justified by faith - we are no more guilty. This is our standing in Christ and is received only by faith. Notice this is in the past tense; it refers to a past event - the cross of Christ 


 According to verse 1(b), what happens to our relationship with God when we are justified ?


We have peace with God through our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a spiritual attribute that originates with our relationship with God.Salvation brings with it peace with God .Sin and rebellion makes us enemies of God. Justification brings an end to this hostility.


V2 What else does faith in our Lord Jesus Christ give us ?


 Faith in Christ gives us access into the grace in which we stand.  Access to God before the cross of Calvary, was limited .Now through Jesus , we have the right to enter into the very presence of God our Father …without fear.


Grace is what God gives freely to those who deserve nothing. It's God's favour and it is by trusting Him ( faith in Him ) that this grace is released into our experience. We have full access to the throne of God now.


 So all the blessings of His grace are made available to us by means of our faith. We stand daily  in the flow of God's free gifts to us , all of its benefits. This causes us to rejoice as to what awaits us. His glory is something we look forward to - now this is our sure and certain hope.


>>Peace with God, Access into God's presence and God's grace - all accomplished through Jesus, nothing we have done. 



This hope -Paul reminds us of this eternal hope for it is easily to become discouraged because of disappointments, difficulties, troubles in this life.


V3 The response of the believer to  tribulations- what should be our response to suffering and hardships ? 

Rejoice in sufferings, trouble, pressure ( NOT for our suffering)( references : James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7)


Verse 3-4


How is it possible to have joy IN suffering, pain, heartache, hurt, tragedy ? 


We all experience the effects of sin and hurt in a fallen world.

 In Revelation, chapter 1 is written to suffering brothers and sisters in the first century. And they are called to patient endurance - a good way to describe life in a world of suffering 


V3- Why should we rejoice in tribulations, sufferings, etc. ?


We learn and grow : affliction teaches us perseverance or  patient endurance

Perseverance is the staying power, the ability to last the distance. God through affliction brings us into another level with Him. It causes us to trust Him more , builds faith and makes us stronger 

He is working out His will in our lives.


> The Christian life is a life of trust in Christ as we keep on following Him


Yet that same endurance produces and builds character. We grow in the midst of pain, upsets, ..we grow to know the comfort of God 


V4- What does godly character produce ? Godly character or Christ- likeness brings hope.

Hope is that confident expectation of good…it relates to the future


Suffering >>Perseverance >> Character >> Hope


>Paul is saying when troubles come as a result of our walk with the Lord, we learn endurance. We become mature and experience more of the Christ- like character. Then we can rest in Him knowing that He is in control.


Paul sees the positive side in everything God allows to happen  to us. For in all things , He is working for our good !

So we have to persevere in faith as we see the outworking of God's purposes for our lives.

And it is this perseverance , this patient endurance that makes us a people of hope- looking to the future positively.



V5 - Why is it that hope does not end in disappointment ?

     Because God's promise to us is certain. Hope relates to the future and what God promises He will do.He never fails to fulfill His promises.


How can we be sure ? Because the promise has been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise ( ref: Ephesians 1:13-14)

God's intention to grant us all the benefits of the cross, including eternal life, is guaranteed by His giving us the Holy Spirit.


The gift of the Holy Spirit is a tangible demonstration of God's love for us. And God has already filled our hearts with His love through the Holy Spirit who lives within each one who is justified and made right by God.

This love of God is constantly being poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit 

Now we can love God and others with His own special love.



Application 

Trials and troubles must never define our existence.It is easy to to focus on difficulties and pain while missing God’s blessings.Yet they do not alter our standing before God. Today we are reminded to maintain a proper perspective 


We have the Holy Spirit to guide us in our new life in Christ 


Bible Study for Thursday 25th March 2021

Numbers 13 – Lessons in faith and unbelief
In our Bible study today we looked at Numbers 13. I brought it to the group, simply because I have enjoyed studying Numbers recently and thought we could take some good lessons from it. I've made some notes on the discussion.
Introduction to the Book
Numbers recounts mainly the wanderings of the children of Israel in the desert. As it opens they have been out of Egypt for just over a year, and have just celebrated the first Passover feast. They are now getting ready to conquer the promised land.
The book gets its name from the numbers in this opening section. Every tribe is counted in a military census so that the number of fighting men may be obtained. It turns out there are 600,000 between the ages of 20 and 40. In the New Covenant there is no age limit like this one!
Chapters 1 to 12 then see further preparations for the entry into Canaan. Most of the text is given to ceremonial considerations. 
Then in chapter 13 Moses sends spies to spy out the land. They stay 40 days, assessing the people and their towns, along with the produce of the land. They bring back a negative report, and this is what we studied today.
In chapter 14 the people refuse to go into the land. The spies tell them it's impossible to conquer the people there; they are too strong and their cities impregnable. In so doing the Israelites condemn themselves to 40 years of aimless wanderings.
Chapters 15 to 25 recount how the Israelites “falter, fumble and fuss through the wilderness”, as one commentator puts it.
The final section of the book starts after that time is up. In chapter 26 another census is taken, marking the beginning of new preparations for entering the promised land. This time they will go in!
Chapter 13 – spying out the land
We focused our study on this turning point chapter of Numbers. I like reading these stories particularly when I feel I am failing. It's encouraging to see how spectularly the Israelites failed too. Sometimes their faith was high, but many times it was almost non-existent, and yet God remained faithful to them.
The New Testament letters to the Corinthians and the Hebrews encourage us to learn from the example of the erring Israelites in their wanderings. So there is another good reason to study this subject.
How can we avoid the same negative attitude towards God's promises?
Somebody pointed out that their negativity was based in fear. As we take heed of God's reassuring commands “Do not fear”, then we can avoid the same error.
We can also focus on the positive things, just as Joshua and Caleb (the only two spies who gave a favourable report) urged the people to do. There are many positives for us to consider. For one thing we can simply look at the positives in our circumstances. For example, we have been very blessed to be here during the Covid crisis. Our little corner of Lanzarote has never been a dangerous place to be from that point of view.
Another member of the group said that we enjoy the benefit of hindsight. We know that everything worked out well in the end; the Israelites did conquer the promised land and make it their own. In a similar way we can focus on the future, being assured that God will work out all things well for us too.
The same person went on to underline the salutory nature of the 40 years of wandering. We can get stuck in unhelpful spritual wanderings ourselves if we stray spiritually. Considering the result of Israel's disobedience keeps us on the right track.
Next we talked about times when we're not sure what the nature is of the promised land God is giving us. Is he giving us that new home? Is he leading us into that new business proposition? In situations like these we concluded that it was best to focus on one step at a time. “One day at a time” (Mat 6:34). As we exercise our faith in the small things, it grows and we can apply it to greater challenges.
At the end of the day though our faith does wax and wane a bit like that of the Israelites. Thanks be to God that he is faithful through it all!


Bible Study for Thursday 11th March 2021

The Parable of the Tax Collector & the Pharisee (Religious Leader), Luke 18:9-14

“Jesus taught this parable to those who were convinced they were morally upright and those who trusted in their own virtue yet looked down on others with disgust:


‭‭““Once there were two men who went into the temple to pray. One was a proud religious leader, the other a despised tax collector.”
‭‭
“The religious leader stood apart from the others and prayed, ‘How I thank you, O God, that I’m not wicked like everyone else. They’re cheaters, swindlers, and crooks—like that tax collector over there. God, you know that I never cheat or commit adultery; I fast from food twice a week and I give you a tenth of all I make.’” 

“The tax collector stood off alone in the corner, away from the Holy Place, and covered his face in his hands, feeling that he was unworthy to even look up to God. Beating his breast, he sobbed with brokenness and tears saying, ‘God, please, in your mercy and because of the blood sacrifice, forgive me, for I am nothing but the most miserable of all sinners!’ “Which one of them left for home that day made right with God? It was the humble tax collector and not the religious leader! For everyone who praises himself will one day be humiliated before all, and everyone who humbles himself will one day be lifted up and honored before all.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:9-14‬ ‭TPT‬‬

This Parable is a very challenging one for us all to consider! 
Whether or not we would like to admit it, I’m sure that we have all behaved much more like the Pharisee (Religious Leader) on many occasions, than that of the Tax Collector. 

To whom does Jesus address this Parable? (Verse 9)
To those who were convinced that they were morally upright.
To those who trusted in their own virtue.
To those who looked down on others in disgust. 

The interesting thing for us to note here is that both the Pharisee & the Tax Collector went into the Temple to Pray (See Verse 10). What we will see in the verses that follow are their different attitudes & the true reflections of their hearts motives on display to God Who sees & knows all things! 

What do we learn about the Pharisee (Religious Leader’s) approach to Prayer? (Verses 11-12)
That he stood apart from the others in the Temple.
He thanked God that he wasn’t wicked like everyone else. 
He proceeded to call other people ‘cheaters, swindlers, & crooks’ & then pointedly remarked ‘like that Tax Collector over there.’ 
That he never cheated or committed adultery. 
That he fasted twice a week (& wanted everyone to know it!)
He wanted everyone to know that he tithed (gave a tenth of his income to God’s work). 
He was full of his own self-importance & self-righteousness. 

How does the approach of the Tax Collector differ from that of the Pharisee (Religious Leader) regarding Prayer? (Verse 13)
He stood off alone (kept his distance) in the corner. 
He was away from the Holy Place (in other words, he didn’t see himself as worthy of approaching it). 
He covered his face with his hands, feeling that he was unworthy to even look up to God.
He beat his breast & sobbed tears of brokenness. 
He asked God to have mercy on him because of the blood sacrifice.
He asked for forgiveness. 
He recognised the true state of who he was, that he was the most miserable of sinners! 

Verse 14 poses the following question :- 
“Which one of them left home that day right with God?”
It was the humble Tax Collector & not the Pharisee (Religious Leader). 
Furthermore, Jesus goes on to say, “For everyone who praises himself will one day be humiliated before all, & everyone who humbled himself will one day be lifted up & honoured before all.” 

My Grandad used to have an old saying : ‘Self-praise is no recommendation!’ 
And this Parable of the Pharisee (Religious Leader) & the Tax Collector seems to reflect this old saying in the same manner of speaking! 

Before we become too arrogant or boastful about our own hearts or Prayer lives, there is a stark reminder for us about our own hearts in Hebrews :- 

“For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, like a two-mouthed sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts. There is not one person who can hide their thoughts from God, for nothing that we do remains a secret, and nothing created is concealed, but everything is exposed and defenseless before his eyes, to whom we must render an account.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:12-13‬ ‭TPT‬‬

From these two verses, we need to remind ourselves that none of us can hide our thoughts from God. 
Nothing that we do remains a secret & nothing created is concealed (hidden from Him). 
Everything is exposed & defenceless before His eyes. 
It is to Him that we must give an account. 

(These two short verses in Hebrews also remind us of Psalm 139:1-12, which says the following :- 

“You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.

You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me. This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength. Where could I go from your Spirit? Where could I run and hide from your face? If I go up to heaven, you’re there! If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too! If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there! If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting! Wherever I go, your hand will guide me; your strength will empower me. It’s impossible to disappear from you or to ask the darkness to hide me, for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night. There is no such thing as darkness with you. The night, to you, is as bright as the day; there’s no difference between the two.”

Thankfully, Hebrews 4:14-16 reminds us of the gracious attitude of Jesus towards us & we need in turn to reflect that same gracious attitude towards each other :- 

“So then, we must cling in faith to all we know to be true. For we have a magnificent King-Priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who rose into the heavenly realm for us, and now sympathizes with us in our frailty. He understands humanity, for as a Man, our magnificent King-Priest was tempted in every way just as we are, and conquered sin. So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:14-16‬ ‭TPT‬‬

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:14-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We praise God, that because of the blood-sacrifice of Jesus our great High Priest, the Son of God, our Saviour on the Cross that we can indeed ‘approach God’s Throne of Grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy & find grace to help us in our time of need.’

Let us remember the two following examples, outlined in Scripture, so that we remain humble :- 

“But God still loved us with such great love. He is so rich in compassion and mercy. Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, he united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by his wonderful grace! He raised us up with Christ the exalted One, and we ascended with him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm, for we are now co-seated as one with Christ! Throughout the coming ages we will be the visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness, which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ. For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:4-9‬ ‭TPT‬‬

“Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. Abandon every display of selfishness. Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests. And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation. He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient. He was a perfect example, even in his death—a criminal’s death by crucifixion! Because of that obedience, God exalted him and multiplied his greatness! He has now been given the greatest of all names! The authority of the name of Jesus causes every knee to bow in reverence! Everything and everyone will one day submit to this name—in the heavenly realm, in the earthly realm, and in the demonic realm. And every tongue will proclaim in every language: “Jesus Christ is Lord Yahweh,” bringing glory and honor to God, his Father!”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:3-11‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Let us close with the Prayer that David prayed at the end of Psalm 139:23-24 :- 

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways— the path that brings me back to you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Amen! 

Hymn & songs to consider :- 
Come, every soul by sin oppressed (Only Trust Him)
Only by Grace can we enter
What a Beautiful Name it is 

Bible Study for Thursday 4th March 2021 

The Parable of the Persistent Widow, Luke 18:1-8


“One day Jesus taught the apostles to keep praying and never stop or lose hope. He shared with them this illustration :

““In a certain town there was a judge, a thick-skinned and godless man who had no fear of others’ opinions. And there was a poor widow in that town who kept pleading with the judge, ‘Grant me justice and protect me against my oppressor!’”

““He ignored her pleas for quite some time, but she kept asking. Eventually he said to himself, ‘This widow keeps annoying me, demanding her rights, and I’m tired of listening to her. Even though I’m not a religious man and don’t care about the opinions of others, I’ll just get her off my back by answering her claims for justice and I’ll rule in her favor. Then she’ll leave me alone.’ ” 

The Lord continued, “Did you hear what the ungodly judge said—that he would answer her persistent request? Don’t you know that God, the true judge, will grant justice to all of his chosen ones who cry out to him night and day? He will pour out his Spirit upon them. He will not delay to answer you and give you what you ask for. God will give swift justice to those who don’t give up. So be ever praying, ever expecting, just like the widow was with the judge. Yet when the Son of Man comes back, will he find this kind of persistent faithfulness in his people?””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:1-8‬ ‭TPT‬‬

One dictionary defines the word ‘persevere’ in the following ways :- 

‘To persist in anything undertaken; to maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; to continue steadfastly.’

What is the purpose of this Parable that Jesus taught? (Verse One)

To keep praying. 
To be persistent in prayer. 
To always pray & never give up. 
To never stop or lose hope.
To keep the Faith.

What does the Parable tell us about the Judge? (Verses 2-5)

That he was thick-skinned. 
That he was a godless man. 
That he had no fear, regarding the opinions of others. 
That he ignored the pleas of the widow for some time. 
He eventually gave in to her demands to get her off his back! 

What can we learn from the Parable regarding the Widow? (Verses 2-5)

That she was poor. 
That she kept pleading with the judge. 
That she was seeking justice & protection. 
That due to her persistence, the judge granted her justice & ruled in favour of her request. 

What does Jesus teach us in Verses 6-8? 

That God will grant justice to His chosen ones who cry out to Him night & day.
That He will pour out His Spirit on us. 
That He will not delay to answer us & give us what we ask for. 
God will give swift justice to those who don’t give up. 
To keep praying. 
To be persistent, just like the widow was with the judge.
To be expectant, just like the widow was with the judge. 
That He (Jesus) want us as believers to be persistent & faithful to Him. (Especially, as we wait for Him to Return again). 

““Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭TPT‬‬

What does Jesus teach us in Matthew 7:7-8?

To ask & keep on asking. 
To seek & keep on seeking.
To knock & keep on knocking. 
To be persistent in our asking. 
To be persistent in our seeking. 
To be persistent in our knocking. 
When we ask persistently, in line with God’s will, we will get what we ask for.
When we persistently seek, we will discover what we long for. 
When we persistently knock, we will one day find an open door. 

Summary 

May we be persistent & intentional in our asking.
May we be persistent & intentional in our seeking. 
May we be persistent & intentional in our knocking.
As a result of our persistence, may we receive what we ask for. 
As a result of our persistence, may we discover what we are searching for.
As a result of our persistence, may the right doors be opened that we knock on.
May we always pray & never lose hope or give up.
May we be faithful in our prayer-life & in our relationship with Jesus. 


Bible Study Notes

for 

Thursday 25th February 2021


Hello Everyone. Welcome to the Bible Study. 


We are continuing with the parables Jesus shared as from Luke 15. Today, we are studying 

Luke 15 from verses 11-32. So today we are completing the trilogy of parables.


May the Holy Spirit guide us into truth today as we study these verses. Amen.


PLEASE READ THE VERSES BEFORE CONTINUING : Luke 15 : 11-32


Quick review : Jesus spends time with sinful people and gets into trouble with the Pharisees.These religious leaders grumble that Jesus is associating with sinners. Jesus is showing through theses parables here that God loves sinners and wants them to come to Him. 

To God every person is significant and precious. You are valuable to Him.


We have studied the parables of ‘the lost sheep’ and ‘the lost coin’ so far. 


Now in these verses 11-32 we are studying ‘the lost son’: This is probably the most popular parable for many. 


As you read these verses, what are some initial observations you can make ?


We are being introduced to a young man who is going against the cultural norms of Jesus’ day.


V12- To the original audience/ hearers of this parable, this would have been a shocking request : the young man asking his father to give him his share of the inheritance. 


The verb ‘give’ is a command. So this kind of request was deemed disrespectful towards the father. It was an unthinkable thing to do!  

In effect this son says ‘I am tired of living under your authority and waiting for you to die.’ 

He prefers to do his own thing.


Also by doing such a thing this young man is rendered a social outcast …if ever he returned home.

It was all counter-cultural in Jesus’ day. Yet the father readily gives the son his inheritance when he asks for it.


>> Often God gives us what we want for us to realise later on that that is not what we really want. 


Verses 11-19


From these verses, what do you think about the younger son’s decision to leave home?


How does this young man’s attitude compare with someone who thinks they do not need God?


He is foolish to think he will be better off on his own rather than accept the love of the Father, God.


VV20-24


What is the father's initial reaction on seeing his rebellious son returning home?

Compassion , ‘ran, fell on his neck, and kissed him.’

Whatever length of time this son stayed in the far away country, the son was still recognised by his father. 

>Similarly God’s compassion always moves Him to action. 



How do you see God's love for you here?


The loving gaze of the Father is always on you. God is never pleased with rebellion, but His love and care for you never cease.You may think you don't deserve it…but God is gracious desiring fellowship with us.

Again we see God's acceptance of us  when there is repentance -v21: note the son’s confession: ‘Father I have sinned…..I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’


Look at vv22-24 

What does the father do to show full acceptance of his younger son?


The father never gives this son the chance to ask to be a hired servant. No. With joy, because his son has returned to him the father acts in love ready to welcome him. The father says in v24 ‘for this MY SON  was dead and is alive.’ 

The father freely gives :

He gives this son a robe - this implies honour.

He gives this son a ring - this stands for authority. 

He gives this son sandals - he is not a slave; for children of the family wore shoes, slaves did not.

He has a feast for the lost son!


> PAUSE : What does this tell us about God's love, the FATHER’S LOVE, for us?


What does this tell us about the forgiveness that God gives? 

The Father treats us as if we had never sinned.  

God forgives you and therefore there is no further mention of your unworthiness. 

God restores you into your rightful place in His family. 

Such is the wonder of the Father's love!


God's love for you is so great he wants you to receive the best from him…always.



VV25-32

These verses tell us about the elder brother’s response to his brother returning home. 


How similar is his response to the grumbling of the religious teachers? ( ref: v2)

Remember Jesus is telling this parable too as a response to the grumbling of the self-righteous Pharisees. They are grumbling because Jesus is spending time with sinners.


This older son responds similar to the thinking of the Pharisees. He does not share his father's compassion for the younger ‘repentant’ brother. There is no joy for him upon his brother’s return. He feels no joy over a restored relationship with God. In fact he is angry.

 

(vv29—30) What are some specific things he says to his father ?

  -‘I have served you faithfully, worked hard, but you never had a celebration for me.’

-‘You have given “this son of yours” a banquet although he wasted the inheritance and has sinned.’

-‘I have always obeyed your orders/ commands’(echoes of what Pharisees would say).

     

Effectively, the son says if anyone deserves to have a celebration it is him!

Also this older son is equating himself to being a slave as he says ‘I have been serving you….obeying your orders….’

He is viewing himself in a ‘master/ slave’ relationship rather than a ‘father/son’ relationship. 


>This son’s thinking is that his works are the basis for obtaining his father's favour. He expects God's approval based on what he has done. He does not believe that the father would give to him out of love for him. 


God shows His grace to unworthy people - sinners who trust in God's grace and not in their good works.


What is the father's reply to this older son? 


V31-(a) “My son, you are always with me and everything that is mine is yours…..” 

Again, we see the father’s love this time to a son who is angry.

The father reminds the older son that his ‘son-status’ has not changed. 

>>This is a precious word for all those who are sons or children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Such is the relationship we have with God, the Father.


And we see in v32, the father encourages this son to ‘come and rejoice because the brother who was dead has now come alive; he was lost but now is found’..It is an appropriate time to celebrate.This is something special, so a feast is timely.


Final question : do you think the older son is acting in a hard -hearted manner like the Pharisees?

The Pharisees kept the letter of the Law outwardly, but in their hearts, they longed for sin.



Comments on these three parables:


The parable of the lost sheep shows the true condition of sinners-  the truth is they are lost.


The parable of the lost coin shows the truth that God diligently searches for the lost sinner.


The parable of the lost son shows the truth that God restores those who are lost to fellowship with Him.


And there is great celebration and rejoicing when the sinner leaves the sinful life behind and turns to Jesus !


 >>>>>Application<<<<<


Today, in these parables everyone like the shepherd, the woman and the father are all rejoicing, except the elder brother.

God longs for relationship with us. 

Don't stay outside on the periphery of this relationship. 

Draw closer to God and experience all his abundance for you.


PRAYER 

Father, if we would search our own hearts we would never see what you see. By Your Spirit, search our hearts.Wash us in the blood of Jesus from sin. Create in us clean hearts, renew our hearts and minds today we pray. May we grow in our relationship with You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Songs for reflection:

Father Heart by Fiona CrowMajesty (here I am) by Delirious 


BIBLE STUDY NOTES  

Thursday 18th February 2021


Welcome Friends to the Bible Study 


Today, we are studying two parables taken from Luke 15. I am praying that the Holy Spirit will  

reveal truth to your heart today, will refresh your understanding, bringing about change as you aim to be more like Jesus. Amen


Luke is the author of this gospel. Luke’s emphasis in his gospel account is Jesus’ compassion and concern for the marginalised, needy and desperate.


                       So, let us read from Luke 15:1-10


INTRODUCTION

Firstly, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus shares spiritual truth by using familiar scenarios, objects or things to do so. These are things people know about so when Jesus shares such stories they are able to understand what He says.


So it is a simple story that contains big truths about God's Kingdom. 


VERSES 1-2:


In verses 1and 2 we see that a group of tax collectors and sinners came closer to listen to Jesus.

They want to listen to Jesus.They do not feel judged by Jesus, the Holy One of God. But they are judged by the religious leaders.

On the other hand, these Pharisees and the teachers of the religious law fail to realise that they are lost too needing Jesus’ offer of salvation.They desperately need rescue by Jesus from their self-righteousness.


Observe the reaction of the religious leaders ( The Pharisees and scribes ) : 

>What are they doing? 

They are grumbling /complaining  among themselves. From their point of view, these tax 

collectors and sinners are social and spiritual outcasts and rejects. 


The tax collectors were hated because they served the Romans and were corrupt.

The sinners would have included prostitutes and other social outcasts.


Jesus is accepting them and even eating with them. Jesus is being criticised for hanging out with sinful people. As far as they and the law are concerned, Jesus is becoming ritually unclean by 

associating with these kinds of people.


>What is Jesus’ response ? 

 Jesus defends Himself and uses the opportunity to tell three stories. In effect, Jesus is saying ‘now guys listen here, I am spending time, even eating with these sinful people because of the Father's love for them. He is showing acceptance and recognition of these people even if the 

religious leaders don't.


It is noteworthy that the common people hear in Jesus’ words that they are included in His 

kingdom when they repent.  The religious leaders hear in Jesus’ words a threat to their religious system that excluded social / spiritual outcasts.

Perhaps that's the reason they grumbled at the same words that ordinary folk accepted and so celebrated 


Here in Luke 15, Jesus tells three different parables which may be familiar to many. 

Each parable focuses on something or someone that is lost. 

And this chapter reminds us that God is always looking for us when we are lost spiritually. It does not matter how far away we are ; God never stops searching for us. To put it another way, ‘we are never so hidden that we are completely out of His sight.’  


In this chapter 15, Jesus is showing us who God is and how He feels about lost people. He loves them and when there is repentance God rejoices.


The two parables we are studying today : the lost sheep and the lost coin. 


VERSES  3-7>>>>The lost sheep : 


>Why do you think the sheep is lost ? It strays according to Matthew 18 verse 12. The farther away it travels from the other sheep, the more lost it becomes. It is separated from the others…doing its own thing.


POINT TO PONDER : As a believer, have you ever strayed ,wandered away from God's purposes for your life?  If you have, please consider sharing your story with someone else to encourage their hearts and pray for and with them.


Just like a child wanders of and gets lost in a massive crowd. The parent begins frantically to search for the child. And when the child is found…..what relief !!


In the Bible, anyone who does not know Jesus is described as being lost.


So in this first parable, the sheep strays and is lost. It has no protection in the wilderness. Sooner rather than later other predators would attack and kill it. This lost sheep cannot navigate its way back to the other sheep. It does not know it is lost.

VV.3-4 The shepherd needs to go and search for this sheep.

The shepherd leaves the other ninety-nine and searches until he finds this lost sheep.


>What do you think of the shepherd’s actions here? 

Is it worth going after just one when he still has many sheep ?

>Why would the shepherd go through such effort you may ask, risking his own life because of the dangers in the wilderness and the weather?


As we think about these questions, we get a glimpse of what God does - He searches for that which is precious to Him out of His great love. 


VV.5-6 Observe the care and the joy of the shepherd when he finds this lost sheep. The shepherd ‘puts the sheep on his shoulders’- the shepherd is carrying it on his shoulders …..’the sheep is even closer to the shepherd now.

He raises the sheep and places it on his shoulders, returning home full of joy and delight!



> How does he rejoice? 

V.6 - he calls all his friends, relatives and neighbours together and says :-

  “Rejoice with me for I have found the sheep I had lost…it wandered away but I have found it and brought it home” The shepherd says in effect “Come let us have a party! Come and celebrate with me!”


V.7 - Jesus ends the first story by saying, “I tell you clearly, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents  than over ninety-nine godly men who do not need to repent”


>>The lost sheep is like someone who has wandered far away from God. This person is spiritually lost and in need of Jesus who is the Good Shepherd. 

And when this person turns to God and away from sin there is celebration in heaven. God rejoices over the sinner who accepts Jesus’ offer of salvation and is included in the kingdom of God.


This is a great demonstration of God's heart of love towards people. Jesus shows here that unlike the Pharisees , He would not give up on sinners. 

The religious leaders would like Jesus to behave like them. They would like Jesus not to share the good news about the Kingdom of God to all people regardless of who they are.


 Jesus shares this parable of the lost sheep to show how wrong they are . Jesus knows that even the Pharisees would look for a lost sheep because each sheep was valuable to them.


VERSES 8-10 >>>>The lost coin : 

This second story, Jesus tells has parallels to the first parable of the lost sheep.


The woman in this short story realises there is a problem and begins to deal with it. Like the 

shepherd, she takes the initiative in searching for the lost coin.


>>>Here again Jesus knows that if a Pharisee loses money, they will be looking every where until they find it. So this parable too would be of interest as they listened to Jesus 


>How does she do that? (V8) 

She takes the initiative, searches everywhere in the house with a lamp until she finds the coin. She is showing diligence. She is focussing on finding the coin. Nothing else matters.



> Pause and Reflect : What did the Lord do in rescuing us when we were lost? 


He took the initiative because of His great love and compassion (ref: Ephesians 1:4,5). We are adopted into His family because He searched for us through Jesus’ sacrifice . His focus was on us and ‘God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all…proving His love for us’ ( Romans 8:32).

God pursues us , finds us and places us in safety so ‘no one shall snatch them out of My hand’ (John 10:28).

To Jesus every ‘sinner’ is valuable - so each one is worth searching for even the ‘worst’ of the lot.


VV. 9-10 

What observations can you make with verses 9-10 and the previous verses of 6-7 ?

Another parallel : God rejoices.


NOTE : The grumbling and/or complaining of the Pharisees is in contrast to the joy in heaven and on earth when what is lost is found. God rejoices not on the self-righteous who thinks they do not need to repent : God rejoices over the sinner who repents.

Sinners may be of no value to the Pharisees here, but in God's eyes all sinners become His 

children. This is the Father's heart of love.


MAIN POINTS OF THESES TWO PARABLES :


*We are to be more and more like Jesus and less like the grumbling Pharisees.


*God is seeking those whose sin has taken them far away from His presence (even when we may feel so far away from Him!)


*God loves us, pursues us and desires to bring us into His kingdom so we can live as He intends.


*Jesus comes to change the status quo, goes beyond convention as He introduces people to the Kingdom of God. 


APPLICATION:


-Jesus talked more about the spiritual condition of the heart rather than what we see externally 


-Let us ask God to help us to share His love in the power of the Holy Spirit to those who are lost and going astray…even just that one. So we have reason to rejoice and celebrate!


-In all you say and do, demonstrate the love of Christ - the same love you have experienced from the Father. Make a difference where you are.


PRAYER : Loving Father we thank You so much for loving us. Help us to love as You loved and to be a people who can be truly called your disciples. Thank You that the Holy Spirit enables us to live the Kingdom life that You have given to us. For the glory of Jesus ‘ name I pray, Amen.


Thursday 11th February 2021

Notes for Bible Study

This Morning in our Bible Study We’ll Be Considering the following : Fear or Love? 

Fear

First of all, ‘Fear.’ 
There’s a video that the United Christian Broadcasters made five years ago entitled : - 
‘What is your biggest fear?’
‘Fear of Darkness, Lygophobia
Fear of Spiders, Arachnophobia 
Fear of Needles, Aichmophobia
Scared yet?
Fear of Ninjas, Ninjaphobia
Fear of clowns, Coulrophobia
Fear of your Mother-in-Law, Pentheraphobia
How about now?
Fear of losing your job, illaborophobia 
Fear of poverty, Peenaphobia
Fear of your own reflection, Eisoptrophobia
Yikes! 
You standing on one side, all your fears mounting up on the other side.
What’s Bigger Than Your BIGGEST Fear? GOD! 

Then in the picture GOD crushes all your fears to dust.

The video then quotes the following verse :- 
‘God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, & a powerful mind,’ 2 Timothy 1:7. 
So take a deep breath. Relax. Fear not. God is Bigger!’

It reminds me that there are 365 places in the Bible where it says similar things :- 
‘Fear Not.’ ‘Do not be afraid.’ ‘Do not be anxious.’ ‘Don’t worry.’ And many other expressions can be found in Scripture, because God knows how we think & how as humans we need constant daily reassurance in this area! Otherwise, there wouldn’t need to be phrases such as these repeated regularly throughout the Bible! 

What does Scripture teach us about living in fear or dread? 
Throughout Scripture God encourages His people not to be afraid. 
He is with us & we are to trust in Him & not be afraid of our circumstances.
We are not to be intimidated even by the enemy, for the Lord in Whom we trust is infinitely greater & more powerful than anything that could come against us. 
We are to live by faith, not fear. Fear is often the reaction of the flesh, our human nature. Faith is the work of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us as believers. 
Faith comes from listening to the Lord; fear is the result of listening to the enemy (the devil), our own human reason &/or logic or other doubting &/or negative voices.
In the Bible, when characters encountered God or His angels supernaturally, fear seemed like a natural response at first sight. 
The Lord Himself speaks into these situations to calm their fears & He will do the same for us, too, as Christians today. 

An acronym for ‘fear’ is as follows :- 

False 
Expectations 
Appearing 
Real

Apparently, statistics show that it is reckoned at least nine out of our ten fears may never actually happen. Yet at the time that is of little or no comfort to the one experiencing the ‘fear.’ Not everyone has the same fear or fears. For some, they may be scared of spiders, yet they are fearless when it comes to darkness & vice-versa. 

Let me give you a personal example :- 
I’m not a great fan of wasps & that’s putting it mildly! 
Perhaps this stems from the fact that as a teenager I had been down 
Himley Hall with some other teenagers in our youth group & one guy had decided it was hilarious to provoke a wasps nest. 
The only problem was they didn’t chase after him, they chased after me! 
To this day, I remember them stinging me all along my hairline & how painful the stings were! 

A friend of mine was allergic to bee stings & she went into anaphylactic shock when they stung her. Her throat would swell up & she had difficulty breathing. So she had to carry around with her an Epi-pen to inject herself if she was ever stung by a bee then she wouldn’t be at risk of dying. The Epi-pen injection contained the antidote for the bee sting.
It seems as though as humans our first inclination is to be afraid & then stop & think I ought to pray about this or even ask someone else to come alongside me & stand with me in prayer & declaration. 

In medication, if you have an adverse or bad reaction to a drug there is usually an antidote that can be given. Certain drugs, therefore, cannot be taken together. Or Epi-pen injections are a lifeline to anyone who is allergic to bee stings as they contain the antidote as I previously mentioned. 
If we apply the same principle to our Christian lives : -
What is the antidote to ‘Fear’? 

Love 

1 John 4:18, gives us the answer to this question:- 
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What does this kind of ‘Love’ entail? 
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a sheds some light on this matter :- 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-8‬a NIV‬‬

Patience.
Kindness.
Not envying.
Not boasting.
Not proud.
Does not dishonour others.
Not self-seeking.
Not easily angered.
Keeps no record of wrongs.
Does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
Always protects.
Always trusts.
Always perseveres.
Never fails.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:7-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What can we learn about ‘Love’ from 1 John 4:7-18?

Love in its very essence is the nature of God. 
It is not an emotional love, but is expressed in positive action.
God’s Love (Agape) is a Love that gives without counting the cost & cannot be repaid by us ever. 
It is expressed in the ways He gives His love to us as His people. 
He has demonstrated His unfailing Love for all humankind in sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the Cross for us, & by so doing taking the punishment that we rightfully deserve upon Himself.
God’s Love is expressed in all that He does in relation to us as His people, even when sometimes this involves correction, discipline, & refining. 
His Love is imparted into our hearts as believers by the Holy Spirit. 
We, in turn, are to love God wholeheartedly, to love our neighbours as we love ourselves & to love one another in the same way that Jesus Christ has loved us. 
We who truly love Jesus should obey His commands. 
This love should be outworked in our lives as believers through seeking to be a blessing to others & to serve, encourage, & give to them in practical ways.

Summary

So we should not let Fear rule our lives, but should turn to God & let His Perfect Love cast out that Fear. 
We should learn to Love as Jesus Loved. 
We should obey Jesus’ commands to demonstrate our love for Him. 
We should seek to be a blessing to others & to serve, encourage, & give to them in practical ways. 


Thursday 4th February 2021

Notes for Bible Study

Today in our Bible Study we’ll be considering Joel 2:12-32


““Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ” Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people. The Lord replied to them: “I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. “I will drive the northern horde far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land; its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.” Surely he has done great things! Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed. “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”
‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:12-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.”
‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:12-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What things can we learn from Joel 2:12-14? 

DIRECTIONS OF THE LORD (Verses 12-14)

Through Joel, God commands His people to repent, telling them to turn to Him wholeheartedly & to mourn. He is looking at the hearts & not their externals (what they are wearing or their outward appearances or gestures). He is ‘gracious & merciful, slow to anger & of great kindness.’ Blessing & access is always possible where people are prepared to listen to God’s message to them. 

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ””
‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What is the the significance of of blowing a trumpet? (Verse 15)
To sound an alarm or give a warning. 
The trumpet blast was a call for the people to assemble to hear the voice of God just as it was at the foot of Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:13. 
(There was also The Feast of Trumpets which marked the beginning of the civil calendar in ancient Israel, the Jews eventually came to refer to the holiday as Rosh Hashanah,’ which in Hebrew literally means ‘head of the year’ or New Year’s Day. This day begins in the seventh month of their religious calendar, Tishri, a month in which the solemn Day of Atonement,Yom Kippur & the festive Feast of Booths/Tabernacles were also celebrated, Leviticus 23:23-44. In addition to a day of rest & special food offerings, Numbers 29:1-6, Scripture prescribesa blast of trumpets, Leviticus 23:23-25. While trumpets were blown on other occasions, it seems that at the Feast of Trumpets the instruments were sounded continuously from morning until evening).
(Read Joshua chapter 6 & Revelation 8:6 - 9:21 & 
Revelation 11:15-19 for further details regarding trumpets, 
when you have time). 

What reasons are there for declaring a fast? (Verse 15)
To show & demonstrate a change in their & our heart attitudes & motives.
To hear from God. 
To cry out to God for Him to have mercy. 

DEPTH OF THE LAMENTATION (Verses 15-17)
Such repentance must be marked by real heart sorrow demonstrated by outward action. Thus Israel is to fast, gather together & pray, include the whole of the population, & be led by repentant, weeping priests who are to plead for God’s mercy & for the honour of His Name to be realised among the nations around. The lamentation is to be deep, heartfelt & real. We as a Church here at the Christian Worship Centre, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote have also held a week of prayer & fasting from Monday 4th through to Sunday 10th January 2021 to seek & hear from God. 

“Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people. The Lord replied to them: “I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. “I will drive the northern horde far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land; its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.” Surely he has done great things! Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed. “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”
‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:18-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What is the outcome or result of returning to God? (Verses 18-27)

DELIVERANCE FROM THE LORD (Verses 18-32)

In response to such repentance, God will bless the land & make it fruitful. He will pour down His rain & blessing, restore the years that the locusts have eaten, & meet all the physical need of His people. 
But more than that, their repentance will be met by a pouring out of His Holy Spirit with signs that demonstrate it. There will also be signs in heaven & on earth & “whoever calls on the Name of the LORD shall be saved.” 

This passage has a threefold application :- 
It refers to Israel in their current situation,
It addresses the End Times, & 
It reveals the principle of blessing that God always uses to restore sinners who turn to God through Jesus Christ. 

Have the verses from Joel 2:28-32 already taken place? 
If so, how have they been fulfilled? 
They were partially fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, but are yet to be completely fulfilled. Meanwhile, God’s offer of salvation is open to “whoever calls on the Name of the LORD” in repentance & faith. 

We see the partial fulfilment on the Day of Pentecost when Peter quoted these words from Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:14-21 :- 

“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:14-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What are the signs of the Holy Spirit being poured out in the last days? 
Sons & daughters prophesying. 
Old men dreaming dreams. 
Young men seeing visions. 
Both men & women prophesying.
Signs & wonders in the heaven above & the earth below. 
Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved. 

In Summary :- 
So today, let us remember when we have sinned to return to the Lord & repent of our sins. 
May we continue to be restored & revived. 
May we, too, be people who blow the trumpet & sound the alarm &/or warning.
May we look forward with eager anticipation that even more people will call upon the name of the Lord & be saved! Amen!


Thursday 28th January 2021

Notes for Bible Study


Open Doors of Destiny 

God placed on my heart that He would “open doors of destiny” for us as a Church. 

I was then led to various passages of Scripture which involved open doors or gateways. 

I was reading a book entitled ‘Authority in Prayer : Praying with Power & Purpose’ by Dutch Sheets at the time. 

He emphasised the key Bible Verses that had been laid on my heart. 


A few days before that, we had received further confirmation about ‘an open door that no one can shut’ from our dear friend Hilarie. 

The day after reading these things in the book that I just mentioned an Evangelist friend of ours, Eric Casto who heads up the Christian organisation ‘Four Smiles, Crosswalk’ had put on Facebook about 2021 being a year of opening doors & planting seeds. For many years now, I have supported the Christian organisation ‘Open Doors’ & had the privilege of attending Birmingham Bible Institute back in the 1990’s with the daughter of the current leader of that organisation. 


So this morning, I would like to encourage your hearts with these wonderful Bible Verses & would ask you to open your hearts & minds & allow the Holy Spirit to bless you & to speak to you through them :- 


“I will place upon his shoulders the key to the treasures of David’s palace. He will open doors that no one can shut, and he will shut doors that no one can open.”

Isaiah 22:22 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Isaiah%2022:22&version=TPT


“Write the following to the messenger of the congregation in Philadelphia,  for these are the solemn words of the Holy One, the true one, who has David’s key,  who opens doors that none can shut and who closes doors that none can open: I know all that you’ve done. Now I have set before you a wide-open door  that none can shut.  For I know that you possess only a little power, yet you’ve kept my word and haven’t denied my name.”

Revelation 3:7-8 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Revelation%203:7-8&version=TPT


“Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking.  If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me. And to the one who conquers  I will give the privilege of sitting with me on my throne, just as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. The one whose heart is open let him listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying now to the churches.”

Revelation 3:20-22 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Revelation%203:20-22&version=TPT


What doors has God specifically opened for you in the past?

How have you been encouraged by this? 

In what ways has your testimony then served as an encouragement to others? 


‘So wake up, you living gateways! Lift up your heads, you ageless doors of destiny! Welcome the King of Glory, for he is about to come through you. You ask, “Who is this Glory-King?” The Lord, armed and ready for battle, the Mighty One, invincible in every way! So wake up, you living gateways, and rejoice! Fling wide, you ageless doors of destiny! Here he comes; the King of Glory is ready to come in. You ask, “Who is this King of Glory?” He is the Lord of Victory, armed and ready for battle, the Mighty One, the invincible commander of heaven’s hosts! Yes, he is the King of Glory!’ (Pause in his presence).

Psalm 24:7-10 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Psalm%2024:7-10&version=TPT


We are to be open doors or vessels through whom the Lord can speak & use mightily. 

In this Psalm, David refers to God as being ‘The King of Glory.’ 

How have you experienced His Glory in your own life? 

In what ways has He proved Himself to be the Victor & Victorious? 

Praise the Lord! He turns victims into victors & victorious people of promise! 


Jesus is known as The King of kings & The Lord of lords in Revelation 19:16.


Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Listen to this eternal truth: The person who sneaks over the wall to enter into the sheep pen, rather than coming through the gate, reveals himself as a thief coming to steal. But the true Shepherd walks right up to the gate, and because the gatekeeper knows who he is, he opens the gate to let him in.  And the sheep recognize the voice of the true Shepherd, for he calls his own by name and leads them out, for they belong to him. And when he has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them and they will follow him, for they are familiar with his voice. But they will run away from strangers and never follow them because they know it’s the voice of a stranger.” Jesus told the Pharisees this parable even though they didn’t understand a word of what he meant. So Jesus went over it again, “I speak to you eternal truth: I am the Gate for the flock. All those who broke in before me are thieves who came to steal,  but the sheep never listened to them. I am the Gateway.  To enter through me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction. A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter,  and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance,  more than you expect — life in its fullness until you overflow!”

John 10:1-10- https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=John%2010:1-10&version=TPT


Don’t believe the lies of the devil. 

Don’t allow him to steal, to kill or to destroy the work that Jesus has done in your life. 

How have you known Jesus working on your behalf? 

In what ways have you experienced His abundance or life in all its fullness that He alone can give? 


“Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.

Matthew 7:7-8 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%207:7-8&version=TPT


The key here is ‘persistence’! 

One way in which we can be more persistent is in the aspect of ‘Prayer.’ 

In the Greek, these verses literally mean :- 

To ask & keep on asking. 

To seek & keep on seeking. 

To knock & keep on knocking. 

Let us step into the ability of Jesus. For He alone by the power of His Holy Spirit can accomplish this level of persistence in our lives!  


Take the Next Step

An Ancient Chinese Proverb goes like this :- 

‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.’ 


Many of you may be familiar with the work of Charlie Mackesy. 

“This is getting harder,” sighed the boy. 

“Then every step you take is a bigger victory.” 


Often God asks us to have faith to look beyond what we can see.

We may only see one step ahead of us, but He knows what each step will entail. He sees & knows the whole staircase, not just the next step. 

So we can trust in Him. We can recall His faithfulness in the past to us. 

So we can take comfort in the fact that He will continue to remain faithful to us in the present & in the future. 


“Jesus, the Anointed One, is always the same—yesterday, today, and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8 TPT

https://www.bible.com/1849/heb.13.8.tpt


Another example of ‘taking the next step’ can be found in the following worship song :- 


‘We want to see Jesus lifted high

A banner that flies across the land

That all men might see the truth & know 

He is the Way to Heaven. 


We want to see

We want to see 

We want to see Jesus lifted high. 


Step by step we’re moving forward 

Little by little we’re taking ground

Every prayer a powerful weapon

Strongholds come tumbling down & down & down & down.’ 

(Doug. Horley). 


Many of you will know ‘Footprints in the Sand’ about there being two sets of footprints when a person walked with God hand-in-hand. 

When there was only one set of footprints it was then that they were being carried by God. And often we have experienced this to be true. I have been reading some of my Dutch Sheets books again & he tells of a similar story but then two sets of footprints appear which look wild or crazy. He described this part of the story as being when he danced with Father God. 

I like that picture! And would imagine that if I was dancing with God it would look quite crazy, as I’m not a good dancer! 


Yet I love to walk. Sometimes when we go for walks it’s easy & I stay focused & all is well. At other times, I don’t always concentrate on where I’m walking which can be a bad thing! For example, recently I stepped in some mud & started to sink & my boots got quite muddy! My walking companion learned a lesson to walk a different route which was very wise. I am shorter than a lot of people. My height is only 4’11.”

At times this can be good, whereas at other times it can be bad. Many of you might know the scene in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ when she steps in a puddle & it comes up to her waist, whereas her boyfriend at the time gets by somewhat unscathed as he is much taller than her. Or the photo of two dogs in the mud of different heights. 

How deep is the mud? It would depend on which dog you are! If you are short like me, then it would cover all of your legs. If you are tall, like the taller dog then it may only reach your ankles! 


David has a T-shirt which has on it these words :- 

‘Exercise your faith, walk daily with Jesus.’ 

Galatians 5:16-26 says it slightly differently, about keeping in step with the Spirit :- 


“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:16-26 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/gal.5.16-26.niv


“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless. As you yield freely and fully to the dynamic life and power of the Holy Spirit, you will abandon the cravings of your self-life. For your self-life craves the things that offend the Holy Spirit and hinder him from living free within you! And the Holy Spirit’s intense cravings hinder your old self-life from dominating you! So then, the two incompatible and conflicting forces within you are your self-life of the flesh and the new creation life of the Spirit. But when you are brought into the full freedom of the Spirit of grace, you will no longer be living under the domination of the law, but soaring above it! The cravings of the self-life are obvious: Sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, pornography, chasing after things instead of God, manipulating others, hatred of those who get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favored, temper tantrums, angry quarrels, only thinking of yourself, being in love with your own opinions, being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions, wild parties, and all other similar behavior. Haven’t I already warned you that those who use their “freedom” for these things will not inherit the kingdom realm of God!


Keep in mind that we who belong to Jesus, the Anointed One, have already experienced crucifixion. For everything connected with our self-life was put to death on the cross and crucified with Messiah. We must live in the Holy Spirit and follow after him. So may we never be arrogant, or look down on another, for each of us is an original. We must forsake all jealousy that diminishes the value of others.”

Galatians 5:16-26 TPT

https://www.bible.com/1849/gal.5.16-26.tpt


“But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency, Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.] Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.”

Galatians 5:16-26 AMPC

https://www.bible.com/8/gal.5.16-26.ampc


“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Galatians 5:16-26 NKJV

https://www.bible.com/114/gal.5.16-26.nkjv


Walking in step with the Spirit leads us to bearing the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives. And this one ‘Fruit’ is made up of nine segments, like an orange.  

Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance/Patience/Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control. Yet we need to keep in step with the Spirit & rely on Him to produce this Fruit that will last in our lives.  


So we pray that God will continue to ‘Open Doors of Destiny’ for us, as we ‘walk in step with the Spirit.’ Daily exercising our faith in Jesus, so He can produce the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Amen! 


Thursday 21st January 2021


NOTES ( OUTLINE ) FOR BIBLE STUDY 


Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer for today .We hope that you are well and safe, resting in His unconditional love He has for us in these uncertain times


Today we are studying PSALM 13 - a psalm of David .PLEASE READ THE PSALM BEFORE THE STUDY 


Aim : The aim is that you will be encouraged to keep trusting in His unfailing love especially during these unprecedented times . 


Historically we know that David had some dark episodes of life, some difficult seasons .Yet even when he experienced these ‘ deep valleys’, he continued to pursue God's truth. Indeed the Christian life is never stagnant, we have good days , bad days…. ups and downs 


So in this Psalm ( as well as Psalm 14 ),we see an example of what it looks like when we feel far from Him. Yet we see how we can hold on to His promises as we press into the truth that our Father is never far. He is near always.


 This is a psalm that begins with pain but ends in praise


Now we don't know exactly what the psalmist was going through. Probably he wrote this when he was being pursued by King Saul. We know that he felt alone and abandoned . He was not able to see that God was still with him in his circumstances . So He is crying out to God


INITIAL OBSERVATIONS :


The psalmist begins to express his feelings to God . He tells God exactly how he feels.

This opens up a whole new way for engaging with God. 


Let's read the verses again : ‘How long Lord ? Will you forget me forever ? 

                                                How long will you hide your face from me ? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and  day after day have sorrow in my heart ?

How long will my enemies triumph over me ?’


The writer of this psalm is asking God for answers. The psalmist is asking for a  response  from God….looking for answers as he does not know for how much longer can these situations continue.

>>>Like our situation with Covid …. ‘how long Lord …’


Verses 1-2 : (his problem / pain )

Observe the repetition of the words ‘ How long’.


 How many times are these two words repeated?


The phrase ‘ how long’ is repeated four times. And each question builds up the tension as he asks a series of real, honest , ‘ from the heart’ questions . He is being real before God 


From a problem that is >>>>inconvenient >>> now David feels God has forgotten him>>>> and then it intensifies to >>>>God is hiding His face . This is how he feels


What are you saying when you ask God such questions ?


We are saying to God in effect ‘I don't like this, I wish things were different, how long before the pandemic disappears (for example)….how long do I have to put up with this ?’


>> It also implies that  by asking ‘how long’ eventually God will respond, God will come to your help ….God will come through for the psalmist here

So these repetitive questions are  more about asking WHEN will God act as opposed to “if” God will act


Can you describe a time when you felt God was silent ? …From your viewpoint,He  had forgotten you and just did not seem to care ?


COMMENT: Often we as human beings can keep our emotions bottled up inside. This is not healthy. Through this psalm, God shows that we can have a safe space in Him where we can be vulnerable before Him and be honest with Him. So it helps build trust in Him because of the  relationship we have with Him. God's silence does not mean He is absent for He is never separated from the circumstances of our lives


What is your experience like of  feeling ignored by God , feeling that God is not present ? Have you cried out ‘ how long , Lord’?



Verses 3-4: ( his prayer )

David is making a request ; asking God for something . He pleads for God's intervention .Instead of turning AWAY from God ,he turns TO God


What is David's request (his prayer)?


        David feels deserted so He prays that  God would look on him and answer according to His will. David is hoping that the Lord will answer him and send some encouragement …that God would be glorified 


V3 - “ light up my eyes…in this pitch-black darkness” . David is unable to see  as God sees. He does well to ask God to help him see rightly. He has insight now to know that he is lacking right perspective - God's perspective. So he asks God to change that. 

The fact that he is talking to God even in the darkness of his situation means God is there.(The truth is God has not forgotten him as in verse 1)


>> It's ironic - David talks to God who,  he feels, is not with him.He starts with God  “where are you , will you forget me , will you hide your face from me …?” Now he prays to Him


 What do you do when you feel abandoned ?

How easy is it for you to pray like David is praying here ? 


So David goes deeper than his emotions/ feelings. He is beginning to trust the dependable One in whom he believes rather that his own unreliable emotions . He is asking God to make him see from His perspective , since in truth, God is with him.


V4 -Notice how David's prayer increases in intensity : if God  does not intervene there are negative (unwelcome)  consequences 


 What will happen if God does not intervene ?


 -David says he will die. 

 -David says his enemy will say ‘I have overcome him’. 

 - David says his adversaries will celebrate when he falls


NOTE : David was not only concerned about his own needs.He is concerned about the glory of God through his life .As God's chosen and anointed king if David failed then God's name would be ridiculed. So God's honour was tied up with David's deliverance. In David's crisis, as God would rescue him David would get relief AND God would be glorified 


 POINT TO PONDER :Often God allows us to come to the end of ourselves so that we trust and depend on Him 


Verses 5-6:( his praise)

  Here, we see a remarkable u- turn in the choice of David's words. There is a dramatic shift in the last two verses introduced by the word ‘But’.This little word ‘But’ indicates a transitioning from fear to faith. 

    “But I” points to an intentional choice David makes to depend on God. 

So he moves away from questioning God to appropriating His promises. God's promises are unchanging as His character and it is on His promises we live / trust


What is David's attitude like now? How does he respond now ?


He remembers and  declares his trust in God's steadfast love. He looks to the Lord. David knows that the unfailing love of God means that God is committed to being faithful to his covenant promises .David’s trust is in God's love


David's focus has changed. He is not focusing on himself and his problems as before. He is focusing on God's covenant love and salvation 

In the first four verses - David effectively says ‘my world is falling apart’. Now he sings praise and worship 

The God who he felt like forgot him, now David is saying that he trusts in God’s unfailing love


In our flesh we become impatient and tend to think that God has forsaken us.

David finds reason to sing whereas before he found reason to sigh. His doubt changes to trust/ faith and his lament turns to rejoicing 


The Christian life is never stagnant . In all the trials ,crises and difficulties ,we must continue to trust God's Character and not our Circumstances



Application :

Is there one thing you can apply personally from this Psalm ?

We are not to trust our feelings, our emotions - these fluctuate ;rather we are to continue trusting in Jesus who never changes 


Rest in the Lord , knowing that He will answer and has loved you with an everlasting love


In your personal challenges or the pandemic challenges, how can you continue to trust God ?

Ask God to “ give light to your eyes”so you can see who He is and all that He has done in Jesus



PRAYER:


 “ Thank You Lord that You are the God of the impossible .And so we want to trust in Your ability and not our  own. Teach us to see difficulties in our lives - the challenges that we face  from Your perspective and not our own 


Help us to continue to focus on You and Your power.


We pray for our personal and corporate situations. We pray for the challenges that we face with Covid -19. 

Help us all to trust You and not be afraid. We believe that You will fulfil Your promises to us , to Your church. Help us to continue to walk by faith and not by sight.


The battle is Yours and You have already won the victory ! You are mighty , powerful, righteous and true and Your purposes will prevail ! Thank You that You are undertaking for us . What a loving and gracious and merciful God ! And it is for the glory of Your name we pray. Amen”


Thursday 17th December 2020

Welcome to Bible Study & Prayer. 

Today, we'll be looking at Zechariah's Song/Prophecy from Luke 1:67-79

Zechariah’s Song/Prophecy 

“His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.””

Luke 1:67-79 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/luk.1.67-79.niv


“His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:”

Luke 1:67 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/luk.1.67.niv

What is the first thing that we find out in verse 67? 

John the Baptist’s Father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit & prophesied. 


Have any of you ever given or been given a word of prophecy? 

Would anyone like to share a testimony relating to this? 


““Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David”

Luke 1:68-69 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/luk.1.68-69.niv

What can you say about the things stated in verses 68 & 69

Verse 68 speaks about a remarkable statement of true prophecy, for this verse speaks of the redeeming work of Jesus that took place on the cross as if it had already taken place, so certain was it that this whole aspect of salvation would be completed according to God’s plan. Because He lives in eternity outside of our timeframe, God sees what shall be & describes it all as if it had already taken place. 

Verses 68-69 refer to David prophesying regarding the details of the cross 1000 years before the event; God could describe the meaning of the cross 700 years before the crucifixion of Jesus. 


“(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—

to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”

Luke 1:70-75 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/luk.1.70-75.niv


What do Verses 70-75 tell us about God’s plans? 

He shows mercy.

He remembers His Holy covenant the oath/promise that He swore to our father Abraham. 

To rescue us from the hand of our enemies.

To enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness & righteousness forever/all our days.


“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.””

Luke 1:76-79 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/luk.1.76-79.niv


What do we discover in verses 76-79 about the role of John the Baptist? 

He will be a prophet of the Most High.

He will go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him.

He will give people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins


What Old Testament prophecies are outlined in these verses? 

“A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Isaiah 40:3 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/isa.40.3.niv

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

Isaiah 9:2 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/isa.9.2.niv

“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.”

Malachi 4:2a NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/mal.4.2a.niv



“as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

Mark 1:2-4 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/mrk.1.2-4.niv


As in the other Gospels, Mark records the ministry of John the Baptist in preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry or as some would say preparing the way for the Lord. He therefore would fulfil two Old Testament prophecies found in Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3. 


““I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.”

Malachi 3:1 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/mal.3.1.niv


“A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Isaiah 40:3 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/isa.40.3.niv


The ministry of John the Baptist changed the spiritual climate of the nation in preparation for the ministry of Jesus. People from Jerusalem, all Judea & beyond walked for many miles over rocky mountain wilderness terrain to hear a strangely dressed man telling them to repent. To turn their backs on their sins. To literally do a U-turn & go in the opposite direction. They would need to do this in order to get their hearts right with God. 

Let us note before that such things do not happen, unless God is at work! 

The name John literally means ‘The Lord is gracious.’ 


“The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.””

Mark 1:5-8 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/mrk.1.5-8.niv


John wore the same clothing as the prophets of old, made out of camel hair, the same as Elijah wore. This is particularly relevant to note as John the Baptist would be the forerunner for the Messiah, Jesus. 

He would also go on before the Lord, in the spirit & power of Elijah. 


When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah he foretold this regarding his future son, John the Baptist :-  

“He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.””

Luke 1:14-17 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/luk.1.14-17.niv


This again is a fulfilment of Old Testament Prophecy as found in 

Malachi 4:5-6 where it says this :- 

““See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.””

Malachi 4:5-6 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/mal.4.5-6.niv


Going back to Mark 1:7, John knew his ministry was to point the way to the coming Messiah, Jesus. 

Mark 1:8 goes on to state that John’s baptism people could get right with God through repentance & the forgiveness of their sins. John baptised with water. 

Through Jesus, the Messiah’s ministry they would also be filled with the life & power of God through the baptism & power of the Holy Spirit. 



Points to Remember:- 

We can be faithful to God just like the example of Zechariah.

God continues to show mercy towards us & forgives us.

That God is faithful in fulfilling His promises to us. 

That God enables us to faithfully serve Him.

That we too can prepare the way of the Lord by pointing others to Jesus, the Light of the World. 

We can share the Gospel of salvation through the forgiveness of sins, just like John the Baptist did. 


Thursday 10th December 2020


Welcome to Bible Study and Prayer 


Today we are looking at Mary’s song also called the Magnificat

A poetic song often referred to as the Magnificat


We find this hymn of praise in LUKE 1:46-55


This song reflects a lot of Old Testament truth. It shows Mary’s knowledge of the scriptures and her trust in a God who keeps His promises . There are a lot of OT references in her prayer here.

  • Mary must have memorised scriptures and now uses them in her song of praise


It is Mary’s Song of Praise which magnifies God and demonstrates her humility 


Are there any initial observations?



V 46 - 49 Mary sings of a personal Saviour


( in these first few verses we see three attributes of God : God my Saviour, the Mighty One and God's name is holy - As the righteous One, He is set apart as the only sovereign authority over people)


How does Mary begin this song of praise?


Verses 46-47: Mary begins this song by declaring her adoration for God. The Greek word that is translated ‘magnify’ means  “to exalt , glorify , speak highly of.”


It's called the ‘Magnificat’- the Latin translation of the first few words which Mary speaks means literally “My soul celebrates the Lord”


There is expression from her soul  , her spirit rejoices. ( present tense)…Some other translations say . ‘ my soul magnifies …and my spirit ‘has rejoiced’ ( past tense) in God my Saviour’ .This implies a relationship with God.She knows ,what He is like, what He has done, who He is to her.


In verse 47- ‘rejoices in God my Saviour’.Mary recognises Jesus as the Saviour.?So she is not sinless- only sinners need a Saviour.


> We are to rejoice in the birth of Christ our Redeemer- He has provided the means of salvation 


Perhaps the first recorded person to call Jesus, Saviour was His mother Mary.She rejoices in God not only as Creator but as Life -Giver and Saviour .

She declares her dependence upon God in Heaven for salvation. Mary,  like us all ,was born in sin and in need of a Saviour .

The term Saviour is a radical term implying that we are helplessly and hopelessly lost unless God in His mighty power intervenes to rescue us

 So she expresses her personal praise to the Lord for His blessings to her life.


> This is a good example that we can all follow as we seek to worship our God


In verses 48-49

What is the reason given here that stirs Mary to praise her Saviour? ‘ FOR He has been mindful’…


 Mary experiences the grace of God…God has been mindful , God has regarded her despite being a ‘ nobody’.God looks upon her with favour and pity She does not deserve favour but the Lord has extended it to her.


V49. ‘great things for me’: 

She is overwhelmed that the Lord would bestow such an honour. She did not earn it - God gave it to her. She has the assurance of the Saviour’s arrival AND ALSO God has chosen her to be the mother of the Christ 

She would be so blessed by the Lord despite what she had to endure.God blesses her obedience and now God was to be glorified and others are going to blessed by her actions 


And of special note here, v49b, Mary declares “Holy is His name”…. So she worships Him


>> When we obey the Lord, God blesses us and others are blessed as a result.And God is glorified 


INTERJECT >>Mary has an encounter with an angel and is told she is carrying the Son of God.( Last week we talked about Joseph's encounter. Today for the ladies , how would you respond? )


What is Mary's response? : She gives praise - her heart is full of praise to the Lord. 

This is a thirteen/fifteen year old receiving the most shocking news of her life. She immediately points praise to the Lord, confesses that she has received such honour because of God's gracious nature

She exalts God demonstrating humility …(like John says in John 3:30: John declares he must decrease and the Son of God must increase)

 

>>This speaks of a heart that is spiritually mature,  in love with the Lord  despite her young age. Also, her mind is saturated with OT Scriptures 


V 50-53 Mary sings of a providential Saviour


The Saviour comes who brings hope and deliverance from the bondage of sin


V50- What happens to those who fear God? 

He extends His mercy

Mary emphasises God's great mercy in this passage( v50,54 ).

 Something that flows totally from His great love and not because of anything we have done to earn it. So as a recipient of God's mercy, you just want to respond with grateful reverence to Him


Mary reminds us that the good news of God's mercy is for everyone…. “from generation to generation”.  His saving grace is not limited to those in Mary's day. His saving power did not end at His death. That grace remains available today! It's perpetual 


The greatest act of mercy God has shown is in sending Jesus to save sinners


> The blessings of God through Jesus Christ are for everybody


V51-53 Mary shows the contrast between the proud and the humble: What is the difference?( let's look closer to these verses)


How does God respond to the obedient and those who fear Him ? - they receive His mercy and provision for their needs.They are exalted. 


 Mary reminds us that God is on the side of the humble, not the proud. He scatters the proud. He opposes the proud but multiplies grace and favour when you are humble ( 1 Peter 5)


What is God's response to the arrogant and haughty?

 - they are cast down and scattered

So the opposite happens to those who trust only in themselves. Those who would scoff at the notion that they needed a Saviour, God judges and scatters.

The proud trust in themselves and in their own plans . God is mighty in His mercy towards the humble


> God scatters these plans so they do not come to fruition ( In the book of Esther , Haman sets out to destroy the people of Israel and magnify himself. The story ends with him losing everything and even getting hung on the gallows he built for his enemy).


Note on v53-

What is God's actions to the hungry and to the rich.?

 God fills the hungry with good things. Those who are desperate to be filled are those  who are spiritually hungry. God fills the hungry with Himself so they are satisfied and He is glorified and they live out His intended plans

Those who are filled with their own self- righteousness are not really spiritually hungry .God is for them a nice accessory to their selfish plans. God will judge those who proudly reject Him


V54-55 Mary sings of the promised Saviour 


In His mercy God never forsakes His people despite their rebellion time and time again


Why would God help His people? 

Because He is merciful and He keeps His promises 

Mary makes reference to God's promise to Abraham from the OT.( Gen 12:1-3,17:19,28:14 )

Mary sings in anticipation of the arrival of the Messiah , the One who would redeem and restore what sin had lost. Jesus would fulfill God's plan of redemption 


V55- Mary shows the understanding by revelation that the Christ Child would fulfill the promises of mercy that God gave to Abraham ( Genesis 22:16-18 )



V 56 Mary spends time with Elizabeth - probably observing from Elizabeth’s pregnancy what to expect in the last stage of pregnancy. Mary gains some knowledge that would prepare herself for having a baby in a stable. 

“God prepares us for what He prepared for us”


COMMENT:

Mary's song is a beautiful reminder of all that God has done for us and has promised to do for those who follow after Him. 


What do you give to the God who has everything? A present of praise, worship and adoration this Christmas 


Application :


Spend time in the Word so it is embedded deep within our hearts. This will help us keep a biblical perspective in the challenges of life and enable us to to have the faith to rejoice at God's call on our lives. Even these familiar passages , let them refresh us and remind us of God's faithfulness 


The Christmas season is about our relationship with the Lord and about learning to celebrate His glory and His goodness 

Mary's anthem of praise celebrates the Lord


> let us be encouraged today to celebrate the Lord using some of Mary's words.

> take time to reflect on God's mercies- who are we that the King of glory would be mindful of us?

> we are a blessed people: God has given us much more than we deserve 

> Christmas should stand as a reminder of the faithfulness of God


Thursday 3rd December 2020

WELCOME ALL 

TO 

BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER 


Today we are beginning a Christmas series for the season of Advent. Today we are looking at 

MATTHEW 1 :18-25


Introduction: 


Matthew , a disciple of Jesus, writes this Gospel between AD 50 and 70. His audience is mainly Jewish Christians and the purpose he writes is to confirm for His Jewish-Christian readers that Jesus is their Messiah.

Theme of this Gospel of Matthew : Matthew presents Jesus as the Jewish Messiah sent by God to fulfill OT prophecy -Jesus is the fulfilment of the Old Testament predictions of the Messiah 

Matthew is writing primarily to the Jews.He  wants them desperately  to believe Jesus was the long -awaited Messiah


As you look at this list of names, Matthew( v1) is proving that not only is Jesus part of history but also that all of Jewish history prepared the way for Jesus’ birth : 

-God promised Abraham that kings would come from him( Genesis 17:1-6)

-God promised Israel's greatest king , David that his throne would be established forever ( 2 Samuel 7: 12-16)

Humanly, Jesus is a descendant of Abraham- God gave promises to Abraham concerning His will From the royal line of King David, the Messiah was to come


Look at the lineage of Jesus. Matthew records Jesus’ human ancestry ( through His male forbears), even though Joseph was not His father physically 

In the genealogy of Jesus, it is remarkable that God's Word lists people who had a checkered past….people with less than a desirable reputations


>>>>>>FIRST: Let us read the passage vv 18-25 ( and pray ) <<<<<<<<


What does the passage say? Any observations?



( First point : Jesus was a real person, with a real family , with real problems in a real world )


VERSES 18-25


V18-19  the awkward situation 

So Mary and Joseph had plans to get married.They were engaged to be married.Then an awkward situation follows. 

What is Joseph’s dilemma? Mary is pregnant and they did not have any physical sexual activity 


In that Jewish culture, the engagement was a prenuptial contract ( ketubah ). This was entered into before witnesses, that gave legal rights over the girl to the bridegroom. This agreement could only be nullified by going through the formal divorce process 


Now since the girl still lived with her family, sexual relations were prohibited until after the second event of the public marriage ceremony.Mary was just a teenager maybe about 13 years for this is the usual age to enter into the engagement period.This is when she gave birth to Jesus.


The awkward situation :

How do you relate with this ? You make plans for the future, set things up just the way you want them to be, then some other event takes place that sees your hopes, dreams,  plans shatter


> we must never lose sight that God is working behind the scenes. Our dreams and hopes  might shatter, so God’s plan prevails 


How do you respond to awkward situations, situations you have never experienced before ( unprecedented)?

Does an awkward situation reveal your commitment to God and to His will?


How is Joseph described? What does this say about his character 


V19- Joseph is a just man - this means he was blameless under the Law and he walked by faith in the Lord. He possessed noble qualities, willing to bear ridicule ( subjecting to contempt )

And as he deals with this situation, what is in his heart comes to the surface

   

Joseph had three choices: 

  • to publicly humiliate Mary because of what he perceives to be her immorality. This could ruin her reputation. Under the law , this could possibly lead to her death ( Deuteronomy 22: 13-21)
  • to divorce her quietly and just walk away….leaving her to raise the child in shame and poverty
  • THIRD CHOICE, he can marry her and raise the child - this option would rarely have been chosen by a Jewish man

>>>>>>decisions, decisions, decisions<<<<<<<<


>Often when life presents with choices that are less appealing to our human nature, it is good to listen in to the voice of God and seek to do that one thing that He wants you to do in your situation 


What is Joseph’s  response to this hurt/ confusion that he is feeling? One of compassion to Mary- and indicator of the depth of his spiritual walk with God . He tempers justice with mercy


POINT TO PONDER 

In our relationships with one another , we learn today:

We should never let the hurt others inflict upon us cause us to retaliate in an effort to hurt them in return. Like Joseph with Mary , deal with those offenders with compassion.Joseph knew theLaw but practiced grace. In fact Jesus goes farther by saying we are to forgive those who offend us unreservedly ( Matthew 18:21-35, Ephesians 4:32)


V20-21 We see in vv 20-21 an angelic visitation 


As Joseph considers what to do, he hears from an angel.  Lots of questions he is probably asking himself. The Lord speaks to him in a dream through an angel



( Can you recall other times when God guided people through dreams:

In Matthew :Chapter 2:12 wise men warned in a dream not to return to Herod

—————-  ————2:19 Joseph instructed to go to the land of Israel with Mary and the Child 

                                  27:19 Pilate’s wife gets a dream that Jesus is innocent )

                      


What are some vital information the angel gives Joseph to help him make decisions / what would he choose to do ?

There are five important details that are given to Joseph by this angel:

  • It's ok to marry Mary: in fact it's God's will
  • Mary’s pregnancy is supernatural, miraculous, the work of the Holy Spirit : he is seeing more of the bigger picture unfolding . 
  • Your baby will be a boy- a male…….long before ultrasounds! 
  • The name of your baby will be ‘Jesus’ : this is central to why He came
  • Then in connection with His name, He will be the Saviour


V21- Why was Joseph to give the baby the name ‘Jesus’ ?

          Why was this supernatural conception of Jesus so important? The perfect, sinless  Saviour will give His life for sinners 


Like in v23 the names of Jesus give us an understanding of who Jesus is , what He had to do 


>>> When you have a divine encounter this is what happens, it changes your life, its frightening yet it it motivates you to trust Him more



COMMENT : Jesus had both a human nature and divine nature. He had a human mother, Mary, but was ‘ fathered’ by God, the Holy Spirit …the power of the Holy Spirit has conceived a child in her womb


In 1:16 … ‘Joseph the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah’ .Joseph is not mentioned as the father of Jesus. Joseph is a descendant of David- v20.

Jesus is not the physical son of Joseph, he is the legal son and so a descendant of David 




V22-25 Arrival of the promise 

Matthew comments here in v22 - all this took place to fufill what the prophets said , that what God promised would come true

V23,  read : “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son , and they will call him Immanuel” ( God with us )



V24 what did Joseph do when he awoke?

Joseph wakes up and obeys the commands of the angel of the Lord. Joseph is obeying and trusting God for a good outcome as he does not know how  it will work out


What do you think Joseph's immediate obedience indicates about his relationship with God ?

He wants to please God


This is true faith in action when you are hearing the call of God, and willing to obey

V 25 - Matthew records that Mary and Joseph did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to the son , Jesus.

This couple accepted the will of God and God's Word



OTHER RELATED COMMENTS:

>Jesus is the fulfilment of the prophecies in the Old Testament 

>Jesus ends the Law. Jesus is God in human flesh

>All that Joseph is going through - the hurt, anger, confusion- was to bring about the greatest miracle the world has ever known :God becoming flesh

>The divine disruption in Joseph’s  life will make the big difference in the world


                  



               Application:


How should this change you and me ? How is Christmas going to be different because of what we've been reminded of today?


THE BIG IDEA : When Jesus comes, He changes everything. Everything changed for Mary and Joseph. Has everything changed for you?

Let the Spirit search our hearts so whatever is not Christ-like is removed ‘until Christ is fully formed in you’.  This is why Christ lives in believers, to form Christ in them, to transform them into His likeness with ever increasing glory.


Jesus- continue to declare His name for it is the name that brings power, protection and perspective and crushes fear. Jesus wants to save .He is our Saviour and He is always with us



Ask God to show you His will for your life so you live as He intends


Consider the phrase “God with us”- what does that mean for you this season of advent?

AMEN

Thursday 19 November 2020

1 Thess 2 v 1 to 12.


  1. Background.

Paul is writing his first letter to the church in Thessalonica. He had spent a short time there, preaching and planting. Paul had met a lot of opposition, which you can read about in Acts 17 and 18.  The church grew quickly and its good reputation spread rapidly. In chapter 1 the apostle praises the churches own fortitude and example, and encourages them to continue in the same way.

This may well be the first letter Paul wrote to the churches, and is widely dated at 51AD.


  1. Basic subject

What is this passage basically about? (This is always a good question to start with when studying any passage of scripture.)

We concluded that Paul was explaining, summarising and defending the approach of he and his companions to the people of Thessalonica, as they had preached among them.


  1. Defense of preachers and pastors

We noted that ministers of the gospel are particularly prone to attack. As we prayed later we particularly gave thanks for those who have given themselves to this work, and for their protection from a few things that are implied here. One was the subject of money. Leaders get accused of greed sometimes. They can fall into temptation as much as anyone else, so it behoves us to pray for their protection from both temptation and false accusation. 

The greater the ministry it seems, the greater the criticism it attracts. Nevertheless we encouraged one another by sharing some helpful global preaching ministries we'd enjoyed via the internet. People like Joseph Prince from Singapore, Joyce Meyer and others. Often we're not aware of their character so much as the persuasiveness of their message. How then do we discern truth from deception in this realm? The Bible itself provides our standard of truth. It is therefore good and right to be students of its truth as well as follow the teaching of these popular preachers. Having said that, by and large we had found it helpful to inform our understanding of the truth as well as our application of it to our daily lives.

In verse 3 Paul refers to impure motives that move people to preach falsely. Why are people suspicious of gospel preaching? At that time the gospel was a new faith, and therefore under close scrutiny and even fierce resistance from different groups. The opposition Paul met in Macedonia and Achaia (today's Greece) is an example. We noted that opposition to Christanity these days is, by contrast, often on the grounds of rejecting faith that is perceived as being “old hat”.


  1. Attitude of pastors and preachers

The apostle refers to his attitude as that of a mother and then of a father in verses 7 then 11. What experience have you had of that? Some in our study group had been treated harshly by their leaders, but kindly by their peers. Others were able to testify of wonderful pastoral support from both quarters. We gave thanks for all the kindness and care we had received as we prayed afterwards.


We enjoyed a fruitful and stimulating study today, and pray that those of you reading these notes are equally blessed.


Thursday 12th November

Welcome to Bible Study & Prayer

Today we will be studying 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10


VERSES 6-10


So Paul rejoices when he thinks of the Thessalonian believers.

In v5 Paul says the gospel came with the power of the Holy Spirit 

In v6  -Paul makes the comment that they received it with joy - joy is springing up out of severe suffering  and persecution….the source of this joy : the Holy Spirit who produces this fruit of the Spirit.


Another observation is that the gospel message did not terminate in Thessalonica !

>>>V6-8 

As a result of joyfully receiving the powerful word of God, the believers became imitators of Paul,Silas and Timothy , and Jesus. God's word is being put to its intended purposes


The believers imitated Paul and  the Lord..v7- ‘Now you have become an example, ( a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia  ) for all the believers to follow throughout the province of Greece-  the whole of modern- day Greece

>>>Macedonia and Achaia were  two Roman provinces into which Greece was divided


What was the impact of this strong faith demonstrated by these believers?


V8- ( anyone read from another version like TPT ?) the gospel message has sounded out, echoed like thunder far beyond the boundaries.So much so that wherever Paul and his team go, people are telling them about the remarkable, strong  faith. 


The word “rang out” or “echoed” ( from the Greek) could be rendered ‘ reverberated ‘. So it is like Paul saying the believers are relay stations receiving the gospel message but then sends it farther on its way with increased power and scope


The church was noted for its strong faith. 


POINTS TO PONDER :

What sort of reputation would you like to have as a believer or even as a church?

Do people see God's message and kind of life in us?


Of note is the strategic location of Thessalonica - located on the main trading routes for both sea and road. It was a bustling seaport city with important communication and trade links


 The believers maximised every opportunity to spread the word far and wide. What they received , they passed on to others( receivers become transmitters )


V9-10 What three verbs  describe what these believers did when they embraced Christ?

      

        they turned to God from idols.  ( repentance )

        they served the living and true God

        they wait for Jesus’ return eagerly, confidently …when He will come in glory


Three marks or prominent features of true conversion 


POINTS TO PONDER

Just wondered if you received such a letter how would you respond ? 

Would you be encouraged by knowing your faith is real and it is working?



APPLICATION 

 

What is the challenge here for us ?

These believers despite opposition and the lack of modern resources  found ways to ‘ring out the Lord’s message’.

 Let us ask God for courage and wisdom to use available opportunities and resources to share the life- changing message. SPREAD THE WORD


Let us encourage each other to be good examples, role models - LIVE THE CHANGED LIFE



Thursday 5th November 2020


WELCOME TO BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER


Today we are studying Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica 



1 THESSALONIANS 1:1-5


(Please pray before you begin)


INTRODUCTION:


Paul , together with Silas and  Timothy, established the church, a city church in Thessalonica

It is likely that this is the first letter Paul wrote to a church if not one of his earliest letters

 ( written around 50-51AD)

Paul writes to a largely Gentile church. The church consisted of Gentiles and some Jewish believers. Paul had spent some time in Thessalonica previously . While he was there he experienced some opposition from both  the secular and religious authorities 

Only months after leaving Thessalonica, Paul wrote this epistle.


So when Paul heard the news of how the church had grown despite continued opposition, he writes to encourage their hearts. This is the central theme : encouragement by the apostle Paul for the church at Thessalonica .

 He  praises them for their spiritual maturity and perseverance. He also encourages them to further growth in view of Christ’s return

The church is thriving despite persecution and trials.

First thoughts : At the very heart of the Christian faith is the claim that people can be changed.

                        There is a tendency sometimes to think that certain individuals cannot change

               As believers, we know -that individuals can be born again

                                                     - that individuals can be delivered from the kingdom of darkness      and transplanted into the kingdom of light

                                                     - that people dead in Adam can become new creations in Christ 


>> think back to how you became a Christian: who was involved?, a short or long process? Or what different ways God used to get your attention with the gospel message?


It is God who brings about such a change as part of His mission to bring salvation to all

Like the Thessalonians, we are called to be part of His mission 

                                                      

Here is a Christian church in the middle of heathen Thessalonica . Are the believers going to survive or thrive? They are a vulnerable group by human standards

Added to this is the vicious persecution from the Jews that Paul experienced.This is the kind of pressure they are under . To get a better idea, to get background information you can read Acts 17: verses 1-9 



VERSES 1-5


After Paul receives good news about the believers from Timothy whom Paul sent to encourage them, he begins his letter by reassuring them. He greets them/ imparts to them, with grace and peace

God's grace is the basis for and leads to our peace. They are in a position of grace and peace and this is to be their experience 


What do we learn about the church?


V1- the believers are the church in God and in Christ- that is how he wants them to see themselves. Not the church in troublesome and antagonistic Thessalonica.

The church in perfect security in God Himself-  This is their  unbreakable  relationship/position in Christ Jesus. This is how they should see themselves IN God the Father and IN the Lord Jesus Christ 


V2- God is looking after His church and Paul , Silas and Timothy care for them too. They are holding the believers in prayer with thanksgiving continually . Paul remembers those to whom  he witnessed and taught. He recalls their service and is so motivated to pray with thanksgiving 


“ we are always giving thanks for you and praying for you”- there is power in this kind of prayer…continual, joyful prayer for believers who we know are under pressure 

> give thanks for the Christian life of other believers when we pray for them. Why? We want God to work in and on behalf of others


V3- what the believers found in Christ is real. It is not a mere change of religion in a moment of pressure. The reality of this transformation means that they could not just give up this new-found faith

Look at three words here: faith , hope, love: ( words often found in NT together - a triad ). Three Christian virtues- faith, love and hope


How is this triad of faith, love and hope expressed.? What is it that characterises the ( spiritually young converts) new believers?


—‘ a faith that is proved by works’- what they believe, they are living out, faith is being outworked - the new life in Christ .When we share God's word with others this too is expressing our faith 


—‘ a love that is proved by labour’- they are not just saying they love, they are by their actions

 demonstrating the love…their deeds are the outworking of this love


—‘ a hope that is proved by perseverance ‘ -they had not given up! Their confidence is in the risen and reigning Saviour . So whatever the persecution, they are holding on to the certainty of salvation .This hope is enabling them to endure, to persevere in God's purposes. Endurance is inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ


>>>>In verses 4-6 we see important verses about how we are to communicate the truth to others

-preach / share in the power of the Spirit and with faith

-then demonstrate what you share / say, so your lives  become examples to others<<<<<


VV4- 5

So God chose these believers- their lives proved God's electing love .( based on God’s  foreknowledge of faith and therefore believers are secure and privileged )


How was the gospel presented to them ? In what ways did it come to them?


 The gospel had come to them with God's transforming power, according to V5.

—- with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction ( that it is true )


The gospel presented by Paul and others originated from the Father. So it's God's gospel, yet it is Christ’s gospel as a result of His atoning death, power. 


Then through the power of the Spirit, the believers are delivered from spiritual bondage

 Nothing emotional here —Plain , ordinary yet  Spirit - filled words had become dynamite to them. God had spoken, God chose  these believers - in the sense that they were chosen for privilege , opportunity ,and responsibility.These privileges and opportunities have their basis in the relationship of faith with God. Paul and the others knew that these believers were God's choice.


>>>>Latter part of v5- ‘You know how we lived among you for your sake’ - TPT says “Surely you remember how we lived our lives transparently before you to encourage you”….united with their brothers and sisters through the union with Christ. They lived among the believers, their lifestyle was an example to the believers who in turn would be examples too….


>>>Anyone wishes to share briefly if you had a similar  experience ? Was there someone who shared their life with you, their life was transparent  to you, so you saw what living this changed life looks like?


Thursday 15th October 2020


Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer


Today's passage is from John 17:20-26

(PLEASE READ)



Introduction 


This prayer is usually known as the “High Priestly Prayer of Jesus”. These are the last hours before Jesus goes to the cross.The last hours with His disciples before He goes to the cross ends in a prayer meeting

So in those dangerous final hours as opposition closes in on Him and the cross is imminent, He prays. His arrest , trial and crucifixion are imminent 

Jesus ,as He serves as our Great High Priest makes intercession with the Father


He starts the prayer by focussing on his Father and the unity they share. V1-5

He then prays for his disciples, the apostles ,to be sanctified so they can carry out His mission V 6-19


Jesus takes the time to pray for us even on the eve of His death .With the weight of our sins pressing down on Him, He prays for us , believers 

me 


What does Jesus want for His people, the Church ? What is the content of His intercession here?

V20-22 : 

——that they all may be one—- united in faith and love. Jesus prays for our union with other believers (union- a relationship that binds people together in love and purpose)

There are some words repeated here , emphasising the need for true unity . This unity is founded in truth( God's  Word) and NOT lies or deception. Jesus does not want division in His Church  


The key to unity among believers is experiencing the glory of God that Jesus has imparted to us( as one with God through faith in Christ)


He did not say something like ‘Father in heaven make all My disciples the same…’ If this was the case then the chosen disciples would be a different bunch .


For example  some of Jesus’ disciples were Simon the political  Zealot, a tax collector, John the gentle, loving disciple and of course Peter who typically would talk before thinking

A very diverse group, so different !


The world will know that God sent Jesus without doubt by the way we get along with each other. Unity in the Church is a compelling testimony to the world

 


Verse 22- What is the standard for the unity among believers ? What is the pattern that believers are to follow? 

The unity that is reflected  between the Father and Son- the complete harmony and agreement  they have Jesus prays that believers will  have also. This is the basis for unity; our unity reflecting the triune relationship of the Godhead



COMMENT :Much of verses 22 and 23 is a repetition of verses 20 and 21( very important when themes are repeated )

——-notice that Jesus prays for unity among believers in both places. In addition this unity is based upon the unity that exists between the Father and the Son ( so a ‘ vertical and then horizontal’ unity )



This unity enables believers to be the witnesses in the world they are called to be. Unity enables the mission of God. When the world looks in they will be attracted to the gospel because of our unity

It could be that you may not need to expound any theological truth for the unity is so visible , so marked that unbelievers are attracted to the gospel message


> Yet we can disagree without having disunity

>The gospel frees us to disagree with each other with great love and graciousness as Jesus shows




———————-


Some thoughts  on the ‘glory’ 

-as seen in verse 22-‘I have given them the glory You gave Me…’Jesus has given His glorious life to enable the unity among believers 


   -as seen in verse 24:READ V24. Jesus wants all believers to know His glory in heaven

This is the end hope …it is God's heart for us “they shall be His people , God Himself will be among them”  (Revelation 21:3)


 So what is the nature of the glory the Father gave the Son?

Answer: it was the glory of the humility of the incarnation, culminating both in the glorification of the Son at the crucifixion and in the glory of his resurrected and exalted state

The earthly sufferings of our Lord  are part of His glory.Jesus’ purpose in glorifying the Father was through His incarnation, humble earthly life and ministry in addition to His death , resurrection and ascension

>>>>>It is the glory of servant hood and of sacrificial service that our Lord gave to His disciples

Believers ,like His disciples then, suffer for the sake of Christ 

——————————-



          ( Read verses 24-26)Jesus prays for INTIMACY WITH HIM


V24 Jesus desires to be with His people: ‘Father My desire is that all those You have given Me will be with Me where I am going’. It is about being in Heaven- the church’s ultimate destiny - with Him where  you can behold His glory and share in it too…be like Him

 Yet it is also about a real life- giving, ongoing ,honest relationship with God who created us. The relationship is to be close and meaningful…purposeful 


As we grow in the Lord, the glory within begins to grow -so others see the Lord and glorify Him , not us


He wants us to be near Him always because we believe in Him . We believe God sent Jesus .This is the beginning of this unique intimacy


V25- Jesus acknowledges the world opposes the things of God. As believers we accept that the Father has sent Jesus. So the church must be a loving community , reflecting Jesus’ character if unbelievers are  to begin to  believe what we believe and experience .



How does Jesus end the prayer?


V26-Jesus ends the prayer - He prays that the same love the Father has for Him will be in all believers. A deep , eternal love…it cannot be duplicated in the world 



This is the love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, the love that enables believers to live at one with God and with one another .He desires that His people be characterised by a life of love one for the other


Intimacy with the living God is the key to vitality and fruitfulness 


How does God feel about you/ us?

Jesus has revealed truth about God to believers so that the same love God the Father has for Jesus , that same love will be in us. And the life of Jesus will be expressed in the believers’ lives


>>>This love is available to us not because we are lovable.God loves us despite the fact that we are unloveable.His is an unwavering love for us despite our selfishness, pettiness, our sinfulness 


POINT TO PONDER 

We are not made right with God because we are right on all issues

We are made right with God because of Jesus our Saviour so we are secure in our union / relationship with God.

So then any disagreement we may have is discussed with grace , and in love 



 So our unity comes out of an inward spiritual reality( intimacy ) which produces an outward harmony among other believers 

Here we see some spiritual priorities that were on our Lord’ heart as He prayed : like the glory of God, the unity of the church in the presence of a hostile world, sharing truth/ gospel  with a lost world


Application:

Question: Are Christ’s prayers being fulfilled in your life and in His Body, His Church?? 

Are we focussing on these priorities too when we pray?


 Let us open our hearts so He fills us with His life, power and love.Then let His life , power and love flow out to others as His Spirit leads

AMEN



Thursday 8th October 2020

The Faith & Hope of Abraham (2)


Before we move onto our second passage regarding Abraham, let us first consider the definitions of “Faith” found in Hebrews 11:1-3, 6. 


“Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. This testimony of faith is what previous generations were commended for. Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created and beautifully coordinated by the power of God’s words! He spoke and the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen.”

Hebrews 11:1-3 TPT

https://www.bible.com/1849/heb.11.1-3.tpt


“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.”

Hebrews 11:1-2 NKJV

https://www.bible.com/114/heb.11.1-2.nkjv


“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.”

Hebrews 11:1-2 AMP

https://www.bible.com/1588/heb.11.1-2.amp


From these three different translations of Hebrews 11:1-3, how is faith defined? 


‘Faith brings our hopes into reality & becomes the foundation needed to acquire what we long for.’

‘It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.’ 

‘This testimony of faith is what previous generations were commended for.’

 ‘Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created & beautifully co-ordinated by the power of God’s words! He spoke & the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen,’ (Hebrews 11:1-3)The Passion Translation.


‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,’ Hebrews 11:1, New King James Version. 


‘Faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), & the evidence of things not seen (the conviction of their reality - faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses).’ 

‘For by this (kind of) faith the men of old gained (divine) approval,’ Hebrews 11:1-2, Amplified Version. 


“And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God. For we come to God in faith knowing that he is real and that he rewards the faith of those who passionately seek him.”Hebrews 11:6 TPT

https://www.bible.com/1849/heb.11.6.tpt


“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”Hebrews 11:6 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/heb.11.6.niv


“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].”

Hebrews 11:6 AMPC

https://www.bible.com/8/heb.11.6.ampc


“And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God,” can also be translated as “we are powerless to please God.” The Greek word “adynatos” literally means “impotent” or “powerless.” 

“For we come to God in faith knowing that He is real & that He rewards the faith of those who give all their passion & strength into seeking Him.” 

This can also be translated as “anyone who approaches God must believe in Him.” 


It is in the context of these opening verses from Hebrews chapter 11, that we continue to take into account the faith & hope of Abraham.


“Faith motivated Abraham to obey God’s call and leave the familiar to discover the territory he was destined to inherit from God. So he left with only a promise and without even knowing ahead of time where he was going, Abraham stepped out in faith. He lived by faith as an immigrant in his promised land as though it belonged to someone else. He journeyed through the land living in tents with Isaac and Jacob who were persuaded that they were also co-heirs of the same promise. His eyes of faith were set on the city with unshakable foundations, whose architect and builder is God himself. Sarah’s faith embraced God’s miracle power to conceive even though she was barren and was past the age of childbearing, for the authority of her faith rested in the One who made the promise, and she tapped into his faithfulness. In fact, so many children were subsequently fathered by this aged man of faith—one who was as good as dead, that he now has offspring as innumerable as the sand on the seashore and as the stars in the sky!”

Hebrews 11:8-12 TPT

https://www.bible.com/1849/heb.11.8-12.tpt


“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”

Hebrews 11:8-12 NIV

https://www.bible.com/111/heb.11.8-12.niv


“[Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. [Gen. 12:1-8.] For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God. Because of faith also Sarah herself received physical power to conceive a child, even when she was long past the age for it, because she considered [God] Who had given her the promise to be reliable and trustworthy and true to His word. [Gen. 17:19; 18:11-14; 21:2.] So from one man, though he was physically as good as dead, there have sprung descendants whose number is as the stars of heaven and as countless as the innumerable sands on the seashore. [Gen. 15:5, 6; 22:17; 32:12.]”

Hebrews 11:8-12 AMPC

https://www.bible.com/8/heb.11.8-12.ampc



What lessons can we learn from the life & example of Abraham? 

(Hebrews 11:8-12)


Faith motivated him to obey God’s call. 

He left behind all that was familiar to him.

He trusted in the Word of God’s promise.

He believed in God to be faithful. (What He said, that He would do).

He stepped out in faith, even when he didn’t know where that would lead him. 

He lived a simple lifestyle in a tent. 

Even when all hope seemed to be lost, he still placed his hope in God. 

Even though many years passed by, he still believed that God would make a way where there seemed to be no way. 

His faith never wavered in God. 

In the natural, Abraham & Sarah were too old & beyond hope of having a baby, but in the supernatural they were not. 

With God all things are possible.


Characters such as Abraham & Sarah serve as examples for us & are evidence of God blessing people who put their faith & trust in Him. 

Faith is always rewarded when it is placed in God. 

 

Hope is a joyful expectation for a good outcome, & it is a catalyst for breakthroughs in our lives. It is a launching pad for dreams to be fulfilled.

It is important to cultivate this type of hope, especially when we are faced with a choice to either be hopeless or hope-filled whenever we face circumstances or situations that are difficult. 


The world we live in is filled with hopelessness, but we are to rise up as a Church as God’s ambassadors of hope. When we are filled with hope, we can help others find hope in their darkest hour. 


A Few Other Examples of Hope for Our Encouragement :- 


One portion of Scripture I love that speaks of the power of hope is found in 

Job 14:7-9, “For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, & its shoots will not fail. Though it’s roots grow old in the ground & its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will put forth sprigs like a plant.” 


Job compares mankind to a tree which, even if it is cut down will sprout branches again & manifest new life. 


In our back garden, we inherited a banana tree that was shrivelled up & dying. I remember nursing it back to health & nurturing it by taking off the old brown shrivelled up leaves & watering it twice a day. 

Now it is flourishing & thriving. It has twelve big green leaves.


Isn’t that just like us? Often we can find ourselves in situations beyond our own capabilities. Like the banana tree we need the assistance from our Helper, the Holy Spirit plus also the help & care of others to enable us to get back on our feet again. Sometimes our lives might feel like that dried-up plant. In the natural it seems like all hope is lost, but all we need is a little nurture - a little hope. 


‘When hope’s dream seems to drag on & on, the delay can be depressing. But when at last your dreams come true, life’s sweetness will satisfy your soul,’ Proverbs 13:12.


‘For all the promises of God in Him are “Yes,” & in Him “Amen,” to the glory of God through us,’ 2 Corinthians 1:20. 


The 700 Club added the following quote after this Bible verse :- 

‘God has a promise for your problem.’ 


Or to quote Elisabeth Elliot : ‘Faith does not eliminate questions, but knows where to take them.’ 




Sometimes we can learn a lot from the lessons we go through in life by believing & applying the positive instead of the negative :- 


Fertility out of infertility & barrenness.

Something out of nothing. 

Flames out of sparks.

The possible out of the impossible. 

Life out of death.

Love out of hatred & fear. 

Joy out of sorrow. 

Peace out of anxiety. 

Hope out of despair. 

Promise out of uncertainty.

Fulfilment out of doubt. 

Purpose out of pain. 

Long suffering & patience out of impatience. 

Prevailing out of struggling & suffering. 

Prayer out of problems. 

Presence out of pursuit. 

Victory out of battle. 

Triumphs out of trials. 

Testimonies out of tests. 

Freedom & release out of bondage & captivity. 

Holiness & purification out of dross & impurities. 

The letter kills but the Spirit gives life. 


So let’s remember to have faith & hope in God. 

Let us continue to meet & encourage one another. 



Blessing as a Prayer :- 

“Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!”

Romans 15:13 TPT

https://www.bible.com/1849/rom.15.13.tpt


May you always be filled with His Glorious Hope! Amen! 


Thursday 1st October 2020


The Faith & Hope of Abraham (1)

Old Testament Background :- 

We hear about Abram’s calling in Genesis 12:1-3, when God tells Abram to leave his country, that He will bless him by making him into a great nation, & that all peoples on earth will be blessed through him. 
At the age of 75, Abram obeys God & travels towards Negev. 

Then in Genesis 15:1, God again communicates with Abram in a vision. 
In verses 2-3, Abram is concerned that Sarai is childless. 
In verses 4-5, God comforts Abram by showing him the stars & telling him that just as he cannot count the stars because they are so numerous, neither will he be able to count his descendants, for exactly the same reason. 
In verse 6, because Abram believes God’s promise, he is counted as righteous by God. The whole Gospel principle of justification by faith is confirmed here. 

Moving forward to Genesis 17:1-8, Abram is now 99 years old & is promised a worldwide family for generations to come. He will become the father of many nations. God marks this by changing his name from Abram literally meaning, “the father of a great nation” to Abraham literally meaning “the father of many nations.”
In verses 15-16, Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah literally meaning “princess” & she will become not only a mother, but the mother of nations. 

In Genesis 18:9-15, Sarah laughs when she overhears Abraham being told that they will have a son in their old age. 
When asked, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” she lies about the fact that she laughed. 

In Genesis 21:1-8, as God has promised, Sarah gives birth to a son to Abraham when he is 100 years old. 
Ironically, they name him Isaac which literally means “laughter!” 

It is in this context that we will now consider two New Testament passages regarding Abraham, This week 

1. Romans 4:13-21 & next week 2. Hebrews 11:8-12


Firstly, let’s look at Romans 4:13-21


“God promised Abraham and his descendants that they would have an heir who would reign over the world. This royal promise was not fulfilled because Abraham kept all the law, but through the righteousness that was transferred by faith. For if keeping the law earns the inheritance, then faith is robbed of its power and the promise becomes useless. For the law provokes punishment, and where no law exists there cannot be a violation of the law.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:13-15‬ ‭TPT‬‬

“It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:13-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“For the promise to Abraham or his posterity, that he should inherit the world, did not come through [observing the commands of] the Law but through the righteousness of faith. [Gen. 17:4-6; 22:16-18.] If it is the adherents of the Law who are to be the heirs, then faith is made futile and empty of all meaning and the promise [of God] is made void (is annulled and has no power). For the Law results in [divine] wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression [of it either].”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:13-15‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

To whom did God initially make the promise? (Verse 13)
Abraham & his descendants. 

How was this royal promise fulfilled? (Verse 14) 
Through the righteousness that was transferred to Abraham by God through faith. 

“The promise depends on faith so that it can be experienced as a grace-gift, and now it extends to all the descendants of Abraham. This promise is not only meant for those who obey the law, but also to those who enter into the faith of Abraham, the father of us all. That’s what the Scripture means when it says: “I have made you the father of many nations.” He is our example and father, for in God’s presence he believed that God can raise the dead and call into being things that don’t even exist yet.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:16-17‬ ‭TPT‬‬

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:16-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Therefore, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace (unmerited favor), to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants–not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is [thus] the father of us all. As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed. [Gen. 17:5.]”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:16-17‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

What is the promise dependent on? (Verse 16)
Faith. 

How can this faith be experienced? (Verse 16) 
As a grace-gift from God (The Passion Translation) or by grace (New International Version) or given as an act of grace (unmerited favour) (Amplified Classic Version). 

To whom is the promise now made available? (Verses 16-17) 
The promise is made available to all who exercise the same faith in God’s Word & promise that Abraham did, not just to those of Jewish descent who stuck rigidly to the letter of the law. 

“He never stopped believing God’s promise, for he was made strong in his faith to father a child. And because he was mighty in faith and convinced that God had all the power needed to fulfill his promises, Abraham glorified God! Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfill it. He took God at his word, and as a result he became the father of many nations. God’s declaration over him came to pass: “Your descendants will be so many that they will be impossible to count!” In spite of being nearly one hundred years old when the promise of having a son was made, his faith was so strong that it could not be undermined by the fact that he and Sarah were incapable of conceiving a child.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:18-21‬ ‭TPT‬‬

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:18-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“[For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, So [numberless] shall your descendants be. [Gen. 15:5.] He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah's [deadened] womb. [Gen. 17:17; 18:11.] No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:18-21‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Abraham had been given a promise by God that He would cause him to have an heir from his own body. Many years had come & gone & still there was no child as a result of Abraham & Sarah’s natural relationship. Abraham was still standing in faith, believing what God had said would come to pass. As he stood, against the odds, the would have been trying to attack him with thoughts of doubt, & the spirit of disbelief tried to press him to disobey God. Yet Abraham would have none of it. He continued to be steadfast. He kept praising & giving glory to God. The Bible states that as he did so, he grew strong in faith. Abraham, after sizing up his situation, (he didn’t ignore the facts), considered the utter impotence of his own body & the barrenness of Sarah’s dead womb. Although all human reason for hope was gone, he hoped in faith. 
In other words, Abraham was very positive about a very negative situation! 

Hebrews 6:19 tells us that hope is the anchor of the soul. 
Hope is the force that keeps us steady in a time of testing or trial. 
So I would encourage you today : don’t ever stop hoping! 
Put yourself in God’s miracle-working realm!
Expect a miracle in your life! 
Expect good things! 

You see, when God tells us something or asks us to do something, the faith to believe it or to do it comes with the word from God. It’s being faithful & obedient to what God has promised & to look beyond what you can see or what you feel in the natural. 
You & I can be aware of our circumstances & yet, purposely, keep our mind on something that will build us up & edify our faith. That is why Abraham stayed busy giving praise & glory to God. We glorify God when we continue to do what is right even in adverse circumstances. 

How was God’s promise outworked in the lives of Abraham & Sarah? 
(Verses 18-21) 

They were granted the desires of their hearts. 
What was impossible in the natural, became possible in the supernatural. 
Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac, & the promise of an heir was fulfilled. 

In Summary :- 

Abraham lived with an incredible relationship with God.
He was totally immersed in faith. 
He did everything with God in mind. 
Look at what Paul writes, “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping - Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise.” 
More than that, Paul writes that Abraham was “fully convinced that God is able to do what He promises.” 
Just like you & I, Abraham had choices to make every day.
And he chose to trust God. 
He decided to put his faith & hope in Yahweh. 
What about us?
Who are we going to trust?
Who will we hope in?
Who will we be counting on to do what He has promised?
Today, I pray that we will choose to trust God in all that we do. 
And that we put our faith & trust in Him. 

Prayer :- 

Father God, thank You for Your Power & Majesty. 
Thank You for Your Love for us. 
Today, we choose to put all our hope, trust, & faith in You. 
In Jesus’ Name. Amen! 

Thursday 24th September 2020


Welcome 

to 

BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER




INTRODUCTION 


Today we are looking at PSALM 85 (please READ)


The inscription reads , “To the Chief Musician , A Psalm of the sons of Korah”

Korah was a Levite - Some of his  sons were warriors, others were gatekeepers and some contributed to victory in battle by praising the Lord like around the time of King Jehoshaphat 


So it is a psalm or song that was presented to the chief musician or music leader


Apart from King David, other authors of the Psalms include Moses, the Asaphite temple singers and the Korahite priests


The author is not known nor the background :

Bible scholars believe that it was written just after God's people ( Israel) returned from captivity in Babylon after seventy years.Their exile was God's punishment for their sins


Now they have been restored to their land, but their hearts are still not where they need to be

When they returned to Jerusalem,  they found the city and the temple in ruins…so they cried out for  God's mercy as we will see in v4-7

Israel still did not take God seriously and her enemies tormented her


They have returned to their land but they have not returned to the Lord their God in their hearts

God has blessed them by restoring them to their land yet spiritually they need a revival, a refreshing 


What has the Lord done? 

 The psalmist remembers the past. He looks back recalling the Lord’s mercies - they REMEMBER BLESSINGS - God's blessings 


(Verses 1-3)

He begins to praise God as he draws strength and encouragement :



V 1- God has shown favour : magnified His favour - this means He is pleased with, to take pleasure in, to be accepted or acceptable.The Lord is showing His acceptance and affection toward His people

The sons of Korah refer to the land as ‘Your land’…they tie their interest with the Lord’s interest ,a reflection of the covenant relationship ..echoes of the promise to Abraham 



       Q—what else has God done ?


V2- God has forgiven the iniquity of His people : forgiven -in the Hebrew it means to bear a burden or it also means to take away something——this is what God does : He bears the burden of Israel's guilt, takes it away

God covers all their sins as He shows forgiveness 

 the Hebrew ‘ kasah’ can be used for clothing a person to conceal his / her nakedness.The psalmist is saying that the spiritual nakedness because of sin  has been covered by God


       So sin has left them empty.God is filling up the spiritual emptiness 

       God can fill the void and empty places…as only He can


   > ‘He has covered all their sins. SELAH’. By the use of this word ‘selah’,it indicates that as this song was sung, music would be suspended at this point. This pause would effectively allow the hearer to consider and meditate on what they have just heard


V3- ‘ You set aside all your wrath’…… ‘and turned from the fierceness of Your anger’(v3)

              This fierceness suggests a sore displeasure- a fierce anger , burning anger..

The MESSAGE version puts it like this :’You cooled Your hot, righteous anger’.The burning of

God's anger has ceased

Now God has no cause to be angry with Israel's sin. It is as if they had never sinned


Q - as you reflect on the greatness of God in your life , what is one thing God has done that encourages your faith?



(Verses 4-7) 

The Psalmist now begins to look at his world, looks within his own heart. He cries out to God for he does not like what he sees: THEY REQUEST BLESSINGS


What is the psalmist praying? 


V4- ‘Restore us( KJV- “Turn us”) again- put away your displeasure ‘ …and bring us back to loving You, God our Saviour .They are seeking renewal, restoration 

God's anger was provoked because of Israel's unfaithfulness to her covenant relationship/ responsibilities 

‘Will You be angry with us forever ? >>> will You stay mad at us forever? remain angry throughout  future generations? Is there any hope that God will forgive them? Any relief ?…this suffering seems like forever


>>>>V4-5 the psalmist prays here :  God, You have turned aside Your wrath , now turn us ,change our hearts , remove those things that ignited Your anger in the first place



>>>>V6- the psalmist is asking God for a  revival, to bring life again. Give us a fresh start ,O God.Return us to Your purposes as You renew us

 Why? 

 So that His people can rejoice in Him again…the people  can rejoice because once again they have experienced God's grace


Initially ,they got into trouble because they had turned away from the Lord.Their lives have become empty.They realised only the true and living God can bring  fulfilment  in their lives, can truly bless them…not idols.


This is good because only God who shows favour, forgives and sets aside His wrath because of His mercy can bring revival.. God remembers His people and responds to His people graciously 


V 7- He is asking God to show His mercy and grant salvation . He is crying out to God for mercy , salvation and revival. He needs God's help. This is an acknowledgment that we have sinned and deserve the wrath of God. His unfailing love- loving kindness is shown and so we benefit from His grace 


>>>POINT TO PONDER: Without God's help , we will often fail to do the right thing . So we must cry out to the Lord for the help we need.


(Verses 8-13)They RECEIVE BLESSINGS 


Q- what is the Lord saying to His people?


V8 starts with ‘I will listen to what God the Lord will speak…For He will speak peace’, He promises peace. Listening involves waiting for God to work

The psalmist has prayed and now he is expecting God to answer- so he is listening. Confidence in the Lord to answer is evident


BUT… ( end of v8) ‘do not turn back to folly’…the sons of Korah warns

             God had been angry because the folly to which they had fallen was idolatry 


    Caution: peace and prosperity can sometimes dull our sense of the need for God and the salvation He offers


   FOLLY means foolishness - following the desires and devices of their own heart rather than watching for and doing the will of their God


V 9-RATHER  as they fear ( awe inspiring reverence, not a fearful terror)  God, His salvation would be near and God's glory would dwell in the land. Deliverance for those who fear God. 


Q- What is the aim of this salvation? God's glory will live in the land, with His people.

>>>How wonderful for a nation to have God's glory live in their land

As you bow before God , His glory hovers over you and by extension their land


God's glory—His presence , His appearance that reveals God's majesty to humans



Can you name some blessings as mentioned in these last 6 verses?

        ( relevant to your life )

>>>>>>>In verses 8-13 the blessings expected ..each verse:  peace from God, salvation to those who fear God, mercy  and truth, righteousness , what is good, increase/ harvest or prosperity , and they would follow in His footsteps, in a righteous  way of life<<<<<<<



(Verses 10-13)

V10-11 The psalmist contemplates God’s wonders, on Who He is and what He has done.He  sees God's blessings as His glory dwells in the land:



From v10, what are the four virtues mentioned?


V10- It can also read ( from the Hebrew) as ‘ Mercy and truth meet together.Righteousness and peace have kissed each other’


Four major characteristics of God are joined in pairs….like four people meeting together and embracing each other …in one accord , of one mind—-unity. Some wonderful imagery of what Jesus has done!

           Mercy- loving kindness, faithfulness , love

           Truth- that which is real or dependable…opposite of false

          Righteousness - life lived according to God's will

Peace-(shalom)not only a greeting, but comes out of a trust in God to prosper you, a       prosperity that comes out of thankful spirit. 

It involves the kind of security that comes from 

the faith that God loves you and will provide 

God is with Israel and blessing His people….this is the picture 




NOTE:: The word ‘righteousness’ is repeated three times in v10, 11 and13

What does it suggest ? 

     ——-living right before God , having  a right relationship with Him ….this leads to His blessings 


>>>>This can be found in Jesus. We see a picture of this as Jesus went to the cross: 

The fact is - we deserve the wrath of God… 

Mercy - truth met mercy we so desperately need …at the cross of Jesus…for mercy and truth are both in Jesus

So too God's righteousness draws close to kiss us with peace everlasting…at the cross of Jesus

Righteousness ( right standing with God),and peace are the gifts the believer receives by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ 


…v11 ‘ righteousness shall look down from heaven’- the justice of God , the righteous One looks down from heaven  and  sees us clothed with Christ's righteousness 


God is pleased as His people become faithful to Him as He restores them.Harmony between God and His people. Jesus prayed for unity.


He took the punishment for all our sins…so- v12 we can live in the good of what He has done:

( echoes of Genesis 1- everything God made was very good’)

Even the land will yield its harvest….fruitfulness, abundance !


He is looking toward a sure hope for the future 


V12-the psalmist believes that God's people will enjoy blessings yet again.God provides what is good because of their  obedience. God is the source of genuine prosperity for His people 


V13-  God is leading the way, He is making a path for  living a righteous life

If we would follow the Lord and start living right we would be blessed and used much more than we want to be blessed and used


Application : 

Seek renewal, revival ; ask God to revive you so you serve Him joyfully and not out of duty

Allow God to do in you only what He can do , so listen to what He is saying to you



Song - God of Revival ( by Brian and Jenn Johnson )




Thursday 10th September 2020


Today we are  continuing with the theme of Prayer.

The passage we will be looking at is :-

2 CHRONICLES 20:1-19


Introduction: 

Second Chronicles was written sometime after exiles began returning from Babylon. The author is uncertain 

(some Bible experts think Ezra is the main writer)


In this chapter, King Jehoshaphat is ruling.He is one of the good, God -fearing  kings like his father Asa. (‘After this’…..) He  has just made some reforms in the hope that the nation will return to serving the true God and not idols.

He learns of an impending attack now. 

This was a significant threat with the people of Moab, Ammon and others forming a coalition to attack.

V2 ‘a vast army, a great multitude is coming against you,’ some men told King Jehoshaphat. Definitely a crisis looms. 

V3 -4 : the king is initially alarmed but soon demonstrates confidence in his God. He gathers the nation to seek God together. He does not mobilise his army - nor does he react angrily to God. Something like this he could have said: ‘this is not fair , God. I am obeying You and now there is  more trouble for me!’

This is the ‘natural’ response  for many typically 


The king here feared the LORD- he is  more in awe of the power and majesty of God than the destructive force of the enemies 


Q : what would be your reaction to a crisis, when a problem hits ? Would it be trying in yourself to get a resolution or turning to the One you know you can depend on ?


V4 - The people gathers together to SEEK the Lord- pray and fast. The king resolves to enquire of the Lord , not depend on his military power. The king calls a prayer meeting 


Q : Meaning of ‘seek’ : has the basic sense of worship but also to discover God's will


So while they want to see an answer to this crisis, they are finding out God's will as they seek Him


Jehoshaphat’s Prayer


The king's response is an example that we can follow when we encounter problems 

We see here that God is not their last resort - the first action they take is to pray 


VERSES 5-12


Acknowledgment that God is in control (even in the problems you face)


V6

 recognition of God's  attributes- ‘You are the God  of our fathers’, speaks of a special relationship ,recognition of the power of God over heaven and all “kingdoms of the nations”….including the ones that are trying to wipe them out.

“You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against You”


V7      

Jehoshaphat recalls God's great work in the past for His people : so if God took care of His people ,did mighty things then, He can do mighty things now in their time of need…in their crisis .

He reminds God of His covenant to hear the prayers of His people ( nearly a direct reference from the dedication of Solomon’s temple: 2 Chronicles 6:28-30)


Q : who or what do you focus on when encountering a problem?


It is easy to focus on the problem rather than on God who is able to solve the problem 

The king here does differently - he has a massive problem but he also knows that his great  God could deal with this matter….after all He is the Ruler of all the earth!


Like Jehoshaphat we are to focus on the greatness of God which leads us to trust Him


V8-9

Jehoshaphat reminds God of His promises:


the promise to give the land to Abraham -God drove out the inhabitants of the land ,gave it to His people as a permanent possession…… to the descendants of Abraham as an inheritance.

The people have settled down and built a temple to honour the Lord their God.

They can come before God's presence. They can cry out to Him for His help  so that He will hear and deliver them when they are distressed, when they face disaster or famine, etc.


Our prayers are to be based on the promises of God.We can also sense a kind of ‘ focussed faith’ as the king prays- “Didn't you say this God?”… he is believing that God is able to do what He promises


Q : How often do we use/ claim  God's promises when we pray?

          We have to claim the promises- His promises are like cheques waiting for us to cash them       in . God's promises are for His people 


Q: Can you give one example of a Bible promise?

When troubles overwhelm- we say ‘Greater is He that is in you, than he who is in the world’


V10-11

Jehoshaphat shows that he has knowledge and understanding of God's  Word and His promises 

He prays in accordance with God's Word .

Earlier on we mentioned some of  God's attributes-v6, actions -v7. 


The king reminds God that Israel had obeyed God by not wiping out these very people who are now invading the land !

The land that God assigned to them, ‘ now the Ammonites,Moabites and men from Mount Seir are coming…..to drive us out of the allotted land’.These enemies have decided to form a coalition to attack the people 


King Jehoshaphat uses the words of God, the scriptures to pray in the dire situation they are facing. The truth of God's Word will bring deliverance


They need God's help…they are in dire straits 


V12

Acknowledge that you need help ( that the problem is beyond your control)


“You are our God, won’t you judge / punish them? (TLB- says won't you ‘stop them’)

We have no way to protect ourselves against this mighty army.We don't know what to do, but we are looking to You.”

 ….we won't stand a chance when this army attacks, 

      we don't know what to do,

      We are looking for your help, LORD…

The king Jehoshaphat admits that he does not have the answer. This is humbling before God. 


Q: What do you think  the phrase ‘our eyes are upon you’ indicates?


Their only answer is ‘trust in God’- focus on Him…It’s like they are saying : ‘Lord if help is going to come, it must come from You. So we look to to You-we believe it will come from you’

That His power and His goodness would protect the people.We are looking to You for help. He is expecting God to answer


He is taking his eyes off the problem and looking to God


Q :How does the king's response here(V12) resembles your response ? admitting your need for help ….is this something that makes you humble before God?


  POINT TO PONDER- God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. By thinking we are strong ,we are not depending on God. We are implying that God is not strong to take care of our problems. When we admit that we are needy, God receives the glory

God's Answer to Jehoshaphat’s prayer


VERSES 13-17

Then after praying, “ all the men of Judah were standing before the LORD along with their infants, wives  and children”


>>>>A good practice : you pray and cry out to God , claiming His promises- then you wait to hear from Him. He speaks! 


Here God tells them how their problems would be resolved


Q: How did God speak to King Jehoshaphat and the assembly?


V14- From this gathering of people, the Spirit of the LORD came upon , yet another ‘J’ name, Jahaziel. This is the typical Old Testament way that God spoke . He sent a prophet to tell someone what God needed them to hear


READ VERSES 14-17

Here we see that answers to prayer come as God speaks into the situation 


Q: What is the first thing ( v15- )God tells the people as He speaks into their situation?

      (Through the prophet) “ Don't be afraid, or dismayed at this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. It’s God's battle. 


He communicates his care for them, do not worry, He will deliver them

 God comforts them- in their crisis they are hoping God is hearing them

        The Lord is fighting for you


V16- God gives further instructions : “Go down against them tomorrow”

         God discloses the plans of the enemies with the people


V17-“You will not have to fight this battle…take up your positions; stand firm(still)  and see the incredible rescue operation( the victory)  God will perform for you…don't be afraid, don't fear or be discouraged! Go out there to face them ,for the Lord is with you !” Just stand there and watch the Lord save you! You are not alone, with God we will prevail !

      

Q : is this too easy to do?   ——“are we really to follow these  instructions?” 


this is the ‘faith in action’ part where we align ourselves with God's will and obey Him. We  partner with God  as we step out in faith and obedience to the Lord’s commands


Q : how did they respond to God's answer?


In verses 18-19 They began to praise God

They fell down in worship before the Lord

They praised the Lord with a very loud voice

The worship team led the army as they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord , for His love endures forever”( v21,b)

They are praising God, a faith praise, before they see the victory.

Faith pleases God and provokes Him into action 


As you read on (as homework), you will see that the people sing and worship God, the Lord

This  brings confusion to their enemies (fighting among themselves) and so a spectacular victory unfolds for King Jehoshaphat 


Application questions to consider:


What does the battle look like for you …the coronavirus , health , relationship issue?

Where does prayer fit in with your particular situation?

When God speaks to your heart by His Spirit, what do you do? Are you ready to obey?


Amen.

Song : 'God, I look to You' by Jenn Johnson



 

Thursday 3rd September 2020,

Ephesians 3:14-21

REQUESTS & REMINDERS

1.REQUESTS

“Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the perfect Father of every father and child in heaven and on the earth. And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:14-19‬ ‭TPT‬‬

https://www.bible.com/1849/eph.3.14-19.tpt


“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:14-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Who is it that Paul prays to? (Verses 14-16).

It is the Father Paul prays to, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ & the whole family of Christian believers whom He has redeemed. We have such great expectations that we can come before God as our Father who has given every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Paul prays, in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, that as believers we will be strengthened by the Spirit inwardly, & know Christ’s indwelling in our hearts. He asks for stability in our Christian life & an understanding, with all Christians, of the immensity of the love, fullness & will of God.

It is important to note how essential it is for God to do a heart work in us. Everything must flow out of hearts filled with love for God & others, & from understanding the immensity of His love. The glorious riches are the heavenly blessings given to every believer. The power of the Holy Spirit is one of those blessings, as promised by Jesus. The power of the Spirit & His love is released through believers’ faith. This love is so immense that it is impossible to understand. We can only express this love in our lives because God has expressed such love for us. John emphasises this in his first letter in chapter four verse nineteen, where he says, ‘We love because He first loved us.’ To be filled with this love is to be filled with God Himself.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:16-19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What are the great themes or requests mentioned in Paul’s prayer? (Verses 16-19)

Strengthened by The Spirit’s indwelling 

The Spirit’s power comes to us not so much in fits & starts, but by Christ taking up residence in our hearts. And, though Christ’s Spirit already indwells every believer, Paul prays for His powerful presence to become increasingly real as we exercise faith in Him. 

Know Christ’s surpassing love 

Already we are floundering! How can we know infinite love?! Whether we think of the depths of His love that reached us, the breadth of His love stretching our to all His people, or whatever dimension we choose to explore - the more we see, the more we realise it’s is beyond our human comprehension. 

Filled with God’s fullness

To be holy, to be perfect, as He is holy & perfect. To be filled to overflowing with the same perfect characteristics that fill God Himself! Not to become as God, since we are finite & He is infinite, but to be so filled with God’s likeness that we have no room for anything else. 


2.REMINDERS 

“Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭TPT‬‬

https://www.bible.com/1849/eph.3.20-21.tpt


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What are the ‘Reminders’ Paul sets out before us? 

(Verses 20-21).


Paul reminds us that God is able to answer our prayers ‘exceedingly abundantly’ above our expectations. God acts with the power of the resurrection & of the Holy Spirit, whose power is experienced in each of us as Christians & is limitless. Paul wants God to be glorified forever in the Church. 

Through the power God has placed in believers, He is able to do works that are beyond anything they would ask for, or imagine that He could do through them. He desires to see such power released in His children, so that His glory will be seen in the Church.

David & I both felt strongly about praying for people again this week & I was drawn to this prayer of Paul’s, as the foundation on which to base our prayers. So let’s use this time wisely, to pray for one another. 

Another thing that we believe is becoming more evident in these times in which we are now living is the similarity to that of the Early Church. Therefore, we believe it to be of the utmost importance to consider the following passage of Scripture:- 

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:42-47‬ ‭NIV‬‬

With that in mind, we felt strongly about sharing in Holy Communion this morning. 
I’ll now hand over to David to lead us in this part of our meeting. 




Thursday 20th August 2020

 

Welcome to the Bible Study on Paul's letter to the Philippians 

 

Today we are coming to the end of this precious letter as we consider Philippians  4 ,verses 10-23

 

Last week we saw

> Paul addressing the issue of relationships - whatever the rights and wrongs were,Paul s concern was to get the quarrel sorted out

He tells the believers that they are to rejoice IN the Lord ALWAYS. And if the Lord is the object of our attention and love , we will soon get on with one another..being Christ -like to one another 

 

>Paul showing that God's peace is the replacement for worry - the realty of knowing the God of peace is in command.The ROUTE to this peace is prayer.( WORRY >>>>PRAYER>>>>PEACE )

 

>Paul saying to believers that we are not only responsible for what we do and say , but what we fill our minds with also. Paul prompts us to compare our thought -habits with V8

 

The believers knew how to live , they just needed to do it.  Not just knowing, but doing

 

Theses verses are like a Thank You note.Here we see the occasion which prompts the writing of this letter. The preacher Paul expresses thanks to these precious and dear believers who have supported him and continues to do so

 

VERSES 10-23

Paul is greatly encouraged with the gift he received from the believers.

Perhaps when he received this love gift from Epaphroditus, Paul was thrilled. 

( I can imagine Epaph knocking on Paul's prison door with this love gift from the church)

 

 

 

Read V 10-14 : 

 

Paul  rejoices greatly in the Lord: 

 

V 10-What is it that causes Paul to rejoice?

 

Certainly Paul is not ungrateful for their sacrificial givingbut he had learned the same attitude as Timothy as in Philippians 2:21 ( as he recommended Timothy to the Philippians)not looking after his own interests but the things that are most important to the Lord Jesus Christ 

 

His own comfort was not important to Him.

Knowing the love and concern of the believers- they now had opportunity to demonstrate this.

Yet Paul's joy is focused on THE LORD and not his own circumstances!

 

V 11 So Paul is in lockdown, shut away in prison yet content

Content regardless of the circumstances to which I find myself

 

“ the secret of being content” -the importance of being content, of overcoming all things .v11-12:  Greek meaning? From the word autarkes’ …has the idea of a positive, inward self- sufficiency which comes through the indwelling power of Christ : entirely God -produced. 

 

So he is satisfied in Christ; his joy did not depend on relief from his physical discomfort 

>>Only in Christ we are  fully satisfied and whole

 

Can we all say that we can identify with Paul's words here? Have we learned contentment?

 

We can so easily pick up attitudes of the world - attitudes that fluctuate with good weather, financial status, TV programmes

Or when the train, plane or bus is cancelled are we still content or do we begin to complain, .react like unbelievers?

 

V13- I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”….Paul had discovered that he is able to do everything through trusting IN the One who always gives him strength

As we grow in Christ, we understand the nature of God more so truth is revealed, secrets are revealed

So even when we feel capable, we are still allowing His strength in our lives

The secret to his contentment is full dependence on Christ.not on himself

He can prevail , he is able because of the strengthening power of Christ

 

So Pauls eyes are on Christ.not on what possessions he needs, not on his reputation. He is setting his mind on lovely and pure things , things that are praiseworthy as in v8 . so he is learning contentment 

 

Is this, v13,  a declaration we can make in the circumstances / struggles that we face?

 

You can be content - because Christs grace strengthens you to rejoice in the Lord always

 

There is no cannot” in Christ .Faith in Jesus makes the seemingly impossible possible for the believer

 

V 14- Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

 

 

Read v 15-19

Their gift to Paul was a source of blessing for themselves 

 

V15-16 Paul gives a brief history of their giving- he reminds them 

            that they only helped him when he departed from Macedonia - they shared in the cost involved

               that they sent, again and again the support he needed when he was in Thessalonica 

 

              The believers were sowing into the ministry financially . They were of a  kind , supportive and generous spirit (Proverbs 11:25)

 

(Reference to Acts 16 with Lydia ,the dealer in purple cloth)

 

 

V 17 b, 18

 

Paul is not asking for more money.He is prays that because they have been so generous MORE WILL BE GIVEN TO THEM:

        “ but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” 

 

          (NKJV version) - but I seek the  gift that abounds/ overflows to your account

 

V 17- What is Paul expecting for the Philippians because of their gift?

         Why is Paul really pleased with this gift?

 

So Paul is content , but thrilled over what the gift would do FOR THE GIVER!

The fruit of their generosity , Paul is hoping that this will bring an abundant reward to them

-  that more will be credited to their heavenly account!

 

Their sowing will bring great benefits- abounds- this word speaks of increase, growth and abundance

 

V 18-He is also thrilled over what pleasure the gift had brought THE LORD

 

Paul confirms receipt of the gift. How does Paul describe/ view this gift he has received ?

Your gifts are a sweet offering, an acceptable sacrifice that pleases God

TPT - as a sweet sacrifice, perfumed with the fragrance of your faithfulness, which is so pleasing to God!

 

When you give whether via PayPal , debit card or similar or even via church offering..this is worship to God- part of the way we engage with God

 

So this is what fills Paul up and  makes him overflow with joy!

 

If that is not enough, Paul continues in his letter:

V19- a favourite verse about God's provision.maybe you have this on your fridge or wall at home

 

 “ And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches IN Christ Jesus” What a promise!  No limits to God's riches

This happens as we draw on the glorious riches God has given us through our unity with Christ Jesus.