THURSDAY 26th MAY 2022

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting today


Today is also Ascension Day. It commemorates Jesus’ Ascension into heaven


(PART1). Brief comment on the Ascension of Jesus : READ LUKE 24:45-53

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We read in Luke 24:50-53 that Jesus blesses the disciples as He was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped Him.

 Can you think of any reason why we should worship Jesus and rejoice because He has retuned to heaven ?


Why should we worship Jesus and rejoice because of His ascension ?

Some reasons include: 

  • Jesus’ earthly ministry is now completed.He did not leave because He was rejected by sinful man.He did not leave in defeat. He left because the work the Father sent the Son to do was accomplished. Jesus’ mission was to save sinners. ( ref: John 16:28)

And it is interesting that Jesus did not take His disciples with Him. They had work to do in His name .They are His earthly representatives ( and so are we ! ) So Jesus’ earthly ministry comes to an end but His followers’ mission begins as they proclaim the good news of Jesus


-another reason to worship and rejoice for Jesus’ ascension is that Jesus commences His heavenly ministry. One aspect is that of Jesus’ intercessory ministry for His people.( ref : Romans 8:34 and Hebrew 7:25). The ascended Lord Jesus Christ is our connection into the presence of God. He is interceding for us.

 Another aspect of Jesus’ heavenly ministry is that He is preparing a place for believers.This should fill us with great joy .It shows the Lord's individual concern for His people ( ref : John 14:1-3)Jesus says “I will be back”.


-Jesus’ ascension resulted in the pouring out of Holy Spirit on His people( ref: John 7: 37-39;  16:7). So this gift ,promised by the Father, of the Holy Spirit could not be fulfilled until the Lord ascended .It is through Holy Spirit, the disciples were empowered to carry on Jesus’ mission. 

 

These are reasons why we can rejoice and worship Jesus because of His ascension. 


(PART 2). The Promise of the Holy Spirit : READ JOHN 14:16-27

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Jesus was addressing disciples who were scared because they were about to be alone. Their world it seems was about to be shattered.Soon Jesus will go to the cross. Jesus promises Holy Spirit. The disciples contemplate what will soon happen to Jesus and are fearful. Jesus promises they will never be alone


For those of us who have trusted in Jesus ( followers of Jesus ) the Holy Spirit is promised.


What will Holy Spirit do in the lives of true believers of Jesus Christ ?

He comes alongside as Counsellor/ advocate individual offering offering protection and counsel.


>Holy Spirit Indwells Us- verses 16-17 .Jesus says the Father will give another advocate ( like a legal  term but much more )to help us in our spiritual walk. He will always be present to defend, give peace , represent us and show us truth 


The word ‘another’ here in the Greek means ‘another of exactly the same kind’. Example - if I have drunk a cup of Tetley’s de -caffeinated tea and I want some more, I will make another…cup of Tetley’s de-caffeinated  tea.. not any other 

So Holy Spirit is another like the same kind as Jesus.

 So Jesus promises the Counsellor/ Helper, the Spirit of truth will be like Him.


Who is the ‘ Spirit of truth’ ? Jesus said , ‘ I am the truth’ , so the ‘ Spirit of truth’ is the Spirit of Jesus Christ .. the Holy Spirit , the Helper.


V17-  Jesus  takes it a step further by saying the Spirit will dwell IN you.Jesus was able to abide with the disciples in His earthly ministry. Now with the coming of the Holy Spirit / Helper , He will live in them. Holy Spirit lives in the life of the believer !

V21-This is intimate relationship with Jesus where Jesus will reveal more of Himself as the believer remains obedient to Him. So Holy Spirit comes to develop the character of Christ in us


 This is a truth we need to remind ourselves and declare especially when we're afraid and feeling alone. 

V23 - Jesus says ,’ if anyone genuinely loves Me, he will put My teaching into practice. 

What will be the result of this loving obedience ? They will make their home with the obedient believer . It is note worthy that what Jesus says here is serious enough to repeat it in the negative for emphasis ( as in v24)


>Holy Spirit Instructs Us - v26 : What will the Advocate, the Counsellor, or Holy Spirit do for the disciples ? Instruct us in the things of God. Teach all they need to know and will remind them of Jesus words. Jesus taught the disciples a great deal but they understood more after the resurrection ( as in Luke 24:45 )

The Counsellor reminds us that we belong to Him. He encourages our walk of faith, to press  forward for more

He teaches us how to reach our full potential for the glory of God

This is what the Spirit will do for believers today. He will help us to relate truths to our present life, our situations and in the challenges of our walk with Jesus


Response - the Holy Spirit guides, leads us into truth and real life. The thing is we must follow and obey if we desire this.

Allow the Spirit to speak peace  from the Prince of Peace into your troubled, anxious hearts.Like the disciples you might be having discouraging times.Jesus leaves His peace with you. 



                                                                                                                      THURSDAY 19th MAY 2022

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Welcome to 

the 

Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

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Today we are studying Psalm 27:1-6


Introduction- 

This is a psalm that David wrote. Many Bible  scholars believe David  wrote this ‘before he was anointed king’. So this was probably written when he was exiled from home and on the run ( hunted down) by King Saul. Clearly, David is in trouble. He is facing some battles  


The psalm is a psalm about David’s confidence and trust in God in the face of his fears and troubles 

Living the Christian life as Jesus intended is all about learning  trust and confidence. And this trust and confidence are not self- centred. It is a God- centred confidence.


What are some initial observations can you make from these verses ?

The imagery of battle is portrayed in this psalm. You see words like ‘enemies’(v2), ‘though war should break out against me’ ( v3) indicative of warfare

Clearly he is in a difficult situation. Yet as war is waged against him, David still has hope - that deep , settled confidence that God will keep His promise


VERSES 1-3 : confidence in the Lord

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Verse 1- David is declaring his personal faith in the Lord .What is the declaration that David makes? Notice the  three - fold use of the word ‘my’. This comes out of the personal relationship David has with God. Our relationship with God is vital , foundational in how we handle  difficult times…in how we live victoriously in Christ Jesus

In his season of trouble, he writes this song of confidence and triumph. He speaks to himself, to his own heart, truth of who God is to him.

> We can make similar declarations too especially when fear consumes us or we are being faced with overwhelming, negative situations 


Why is it that David has nothing to be afraid of ? ‘Because the Lord is his light and salvation..’ He puts his name in there . 

What does it mean that God is ‘my light’ ? It means that God guides and directs my path

What about ‘ my salvation’?

What does it mean ‘Lord is the stronghold of my life’? God becomes an anchor, our strength( KJV) in the turmoil and the stormy waves of life


Here we have three characteristics ( titles) of God : light, salvation and strength/stronghold 


David declares his faith in God.He is saying what he knows even when his feelings don't match what he is expressing 

In this life we have the confidence in God to provide us with light to overcome darkness. 


Verses 2-3 - David is declaring that his current hope rests upon God's past faithfulness.


V2-What happened to his enemies when they came against him ? They stumbled and fell, not David ! 


V3- How does David respond to imminent attacks or actual attacks ? He now extends his faith because of God's past faithfulness.God is his light, salvation and strength . David says he will not fear ; he will be confident that God will save him

***See Malachi 3:6  ‘ For I am the Lord, I do not change …but remain faithful to My covenant with you ; that is why you , O sons of Jacob, have not been destroyed ( AMP )****




VERSES 4-6 : communion with God/ worship of God

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V4 We note that  David puts God's will first in his life by the phrase ‘One thing I have desired of the Lord’. Then David mentions three goals.They arise from a commitment to serve the Lord faithfully. 

1-What is David's first goal or priority ? To spend his entire life  in the house of the Lord .To be where God dwells and His presence is real. This is how his heart beats.

 David enjoys lingering fellowship with God. David's  passion is to be where the Lord is honored and worshipped. 


2-The second goal ?To gaze on the beauty of the Lord.To be close and intimate with Him.To love and  worship the Lord as Jesus said ‘in Spirit and in truth. This is the only kind of worship acceptable to God. ( John 4)

>>Some might be inclined to say ‘ God get me out of this trouble, Lord!” David says ‘I want to gaze upon the Lord, to draw closer to God. 


3- Thirdly , David’s goal is ‘to seek the Lord…’ He wants to call upon Him, to lean on Him and make requests  of God. Another aspect of worship which is the way we are to deal with the battles we face. Worship magnifies God so you begin to appreciate the greatness of almighty God 


V5-6: We see the reason for David's fervent desire to ‘dwell, gaze and seek’ the Lord. The reason he wants to linger in the Lord’s presence, to love the Lord and to lean on Him is seen in verse 5


V5-David can confidently say these words as he trusts God ( read again v5). God will keep him safe. God will hide him when the battles are raging. God will set him on a rock - an unchangeable, powerful and immovable place. It is the Lord’s doing , not yours.


So in times of trouble, when you're sinking in sin and other problems be encouraged to make such declarations too.

Our individual battles might be different to David's. Yet the same Lord is fighting for you. We need to remain in relationship with God and let Him work 


V6-   When we allow God to work David says his head ‘will be lifted up above my enemies around me’.

Now you are measuring your trouble against the true greatness and magnificence of God


RESPONSE :And David's response to that can be our response too :

You can offer shouts of joy.You can sing praises to the Lord. Praise is also warfare so when you least feel like worshipping, that is when you need to worship most. This is the sacrifice of praise to   the Lord. 

Amen 


                                                                                        THURSDAY 12th MAY 2022


A big welcome to all 

to the 

Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

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The verses we are studying are from 2 PETER 1:1-15 ( READ )



Context - Peter writes this letter towards the end of his life ( 65-68AD ). He writes to warn the believers ( Christians in western Asia Minor ) against false teachers/ evil doers who have come into the church.He also warns believers who are living a worldly lifestyle with no expectation of the Lord's return. Peter aims to stimulate Christian growth as he encourages and contends for faithfulness to the true gospel 

This is the same Peter who lived with Jesus during His earthly ministry..So he knew what it means to follow Jesus…what constitutes the true gospel

By persevering in the truth of the gospel, the believers will remain faithful to Jesus and fulfil His purpose for their lives


TODAY’S STUDY:


In this first chapter the apostle Peter tells us what the Christian life is all about .It shows us how to live godly lives in a dark and ungodly age. 

In verses 14-15 we read that Jesus ( ref :John 21 ) has told Peter his earthly life will  soon end. So there is an urgency to deliver this kind of inspired encouragement about the basics of the faith ( so we can have them today to refresh our minds )


Verses 1-2 :

V1- to whom is Peter addressing this letter ? How is he describing believers ?

‘ those who have obtained a faith as precious to ours’, Peter says. Because we believe in all the Lord Jesus has done for us and the inheritance we have with Him, our faith is precious as that of the first apostles ! “Precious”- who is the object of our faith ? Jesus

Our faith rests upon the righteousness that God gives in Jesus


Peter knew the transformation that is produced by the miracle of conversion 

This is how he expresses the ‘greatness’ , the value of the believer’s faith.

Man says you have to ‘attain’ it ,God says ‘obtain’ it


V2- Common greetings. The more we come to KNOW Jesus, grace and peace will be more abundant for us. Only in the knowledge of Christ can you enjoy the ‘fullness’ of God's favour and peace 

But there is more !….


Verses 3-4 :

V3- As a believer, what has God given to us ? Everything we need to live godly and to live for Him This happens because you know God personally- ‘through our knowledge of Him’.This knowledge is more than intellectual. This is an amazing truth to embrace daily as we live for His glory


V4- ‘Great and precious promises’…For example the promise of forgiveness of sin and the gift of Holy Spirit . Because of these promises already received, we have relationship in Christ - the Spirit lives in us and we in Him.We live at one with Jesus now and not one with the world. So more of His character/ nature is formed in us rather than evil desires of the world and old nature


>To ponder :  How would you respond to a Christian who says he doesn't have the power to live a godly life ? It is by the power of God we have new life ! It is by the power of God that we can live godly lives !


Verses 5-7: Now Peter shows us how spiritual growth can take place because God is enabling us . He gives a list of ‘graces’/ Christ - like qualities that we are to develop. Can you name at least one from the list ? goodness/ virtue - moral excellence, self- control or discipline, perseverance- bearing up under trials, love - active goodwill toward those in need


V5- So what are we to do because God's power is at work in us ?  ‘make every effort…add’

Observe that the word ‘add’ has the idea of each grace listed working in harmony with the others to produce a collective effect . Similar to leading a choir or keeping in tune

Observe the word ‘to’/ ‘in’. This means that each grace is to temper or make perfect the preceding grace. For example,”to knowledge add self- control” - the grace of self -control enables you to properly apply the knowledge 

Each grace develops in conjunction with the other. Not selective !                    

> The life of the believer is one of constantly adding further dynamics of God's life and grace. In this way more of Christ is revealed in and through us.


Verses 8-11:

V8- What will result from cultivating these qualities(in us) ? the fruit of holiness will be produced , the fruit that results from having a living , dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ 

 - the word ‘knowledge’( Greek - epignosis) here is more than something intellectual.It has the idea ‘becoming thoroughly acquainted with, to know accurately or well’


V9-11 These verses give three reasons why we need to‘make every effort’ or ‘give all diligence’-be eager or zealous -( as in NKJV )to growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. What happens to someone who is not growing in these qualities/ graces ?


1)-‘Myopia’ and ‘amnesia’ follow. (V9) We are spiritually blind and forget that we were redeemed by the blood of Christ… to serve Him. God expects every believer in Christ to be fruitful ( John 15:16 )


2)- (v10)  when we cultivate these qualities we will not stumble so falling short of salvation. For we know then that God has chosen and called us to obedience and holiness. So we persevere


3)- (v11)we will receive a wonderful welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour by the fruit that results fro these qualities mentioned in v5-7


Verses 12-15 As Peter anticipates his martyrdom, he writes under the inspiration of Holy Spirit. His intention is to remind the believers of truth from God's Word as they live in a hostile world.


V13-Tent - Peter uses a figurative description of our earthly, temporary lives. He encourage others to live in relationship with Christ , live like Jesus as we move towards heaven


Application - 

Allow Holy Spirit to work in our hearts. To refresh and remind us of the blessings / gifts we have in Christ .So we intentionally seek to add these qualities to our Christian experience.

                                                                                  


                                                                                                                          Thursday 5th May 2022

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 


Today, we would like to spend time on the passage we used for the Sunday message. We would like to dig in deeper to see what Isaiah says about the mission of Jesus. Let us read Isaiah 61(all eleven verses)


Context -This book unveils God's judgment but also God's eventual restoration of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The people of Israel had broken God's covenant. Isaiah prophesies that they will be captured and carried away into Babylon .Jerusalem will be destroyed.

But there is still hope. Isaiah prophesies that the ruins of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah will be rebuilt. Isaiah proclaims a message of hope and restoration.


Centuries ( about 700years ) before Jesus’ arrival, Isaiah describes the “Servant”. We know from Luke 4:16-21 that the ‘Servant’ described is Jesus, ultimately . ( Read  Luke 4:16-21 )

God's plan to save the world as prophesied becomes a reality in Jesus. Jesus is the fulfilment of Isaiah's coming anointed one. Jesus is the picture of Isaiah 61:1-2


#>Can you just imagine being in Jesus’ presence when He read some of these words from Isaiah’s prophecy ?

Jesus was beginning to live the life God had purposed for Him to live on earth


1)The purpose of Jesus’ mission: verses 1-3

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What  is the purpose of the One anointed ( chosen )  by the Lord ?v1-2

  

To proclaim good news - ‘Jesus’ is the gospel; the good news to the poor , heals the damage that sin brings


To bind up the brokenhearted - all the wounds of broken , crushed lives He takes care of


To proclaim freedom from their captivity - those  who feel trapped by fear ,shame …your chains are gone !


To release the prisoners from darkness- those in exile and feeling imprisoned and grieving he makes a way out of darkness


To proclaim the Year of the Lord’s favour - every 50 years Israel cancel all debts, return to its original owners all family property that had been sold ,and generally be kind and generous to all

Everything is reset , all savings shared.

This foreshadows the liberation that Christ gives because the cross cancels all our debts.So we are free to leave the past behind and move on with the joy of the Lord


To comfort and provide for all who mourn in Zion :(v3)

 

what are the three things the Servant grants to those who mourn ? 

1- a beautiful headdress instead of ashes. Ashes were used for mourning during wars or at funerals . The headdress is a symbol of trading mourning for glory

2-oil of gladness instead of mourning ( repeated)

3- a garment of praise is given instead of a broken heart; the garment of praise covers the broken-hearted .Songs of sorrow turned into songs of praise to God

The Servant brings joy and gladness to those who are sad and wallowing in depression 

Jesus claims in Luke 4 that He is the One God has chosen, prepared and sent to accomplish this purpose. As the Sovereign Lord, God's purposes can never be thwarted

( still in v3) What is the result of this ? The people are made ‘oaks of righteousness’. Oaks are used as symbols of certainty and confidence. They have deep roots.So, the poor, broken-hearted and bound are called ‘oaks of righteousness’—— people that are sure and confident. Only the Lord can make this happen. The Lord raises up  Israel again after seventy years in captivity 

Only the Lord can make us holy, we cannot earn it. So all glory belongs to Him alone

Why ? To display His splendour, that He may be glorified 



2)The effect of His mission : verses 4-7

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What will be the effect of this mission ? To rebuild and restore … every need is met.Isaiah paints the picture of victory  instead of defeat. The captives are turned into conquerors. These ‘oaks of righteousness’ will be involved in restoring devastated places ( fulfilled when they returned from exile)

Sometimes we feel hopeless, like ancient ruins, feeling ashamed, feeling like we need to fake it to make it. In these times we are to cling to the promises we have in the Restorer. His promises always come to pass


In v5-7 there are a series of changes the people will experience. Can you name any ? 

-While they're wondering how they would rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, God says strangers/ foreigners will help them ( reference to Gentiles ).All God's people are rebuilders empowered by the Spirit 

-The people are now called priests / ministers. They once had shame and dishonour, now they have a double portion of inheritance they now possess.( ref: 1Peter 2:9)

-The Servant promises to take their shame and ruins, and ours too, making something more beautiful and joyous.Beauty instead of shame. This text is not just about the people returning to their land , but salvation to all found only in Jesus Christ



 3)The response to His mission : verses 8-11

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 What is the response to Jesus’ mission ?

>V8-10 God's response : God speaks about what He loves and hates. God keeps His covenant promises. His plan always includes people.He desires to save people from every nation and tribe.


>V10-11 Isaiah’s response: we see he expresses delight , great joy for God's salvation plan.The people rejoices in what the Anointed One has made possible for them a

 Isaiah speaks on behalf of the people..and all those who would believe in the Good News


What has God done to His people? God has dressed Isaiah with salvation.God clothes him with righteousness of God. These are glorious garments 


V11- just as God causes dead seed to sprout up and new plants to grow, God chooses a people to raise to spiritual life both from Israel and other nations.These are the ones who will be clothed in Jesus’ righteousness.  Instead of death we have life in Christ Jesus and can flourish in His blessings 

‘ The Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations’


>>Our response/ Application: 

Just like Jesus , when we follow God's purpose for our lives, it will cost us. Serving God has a cost .The cost is worth it ! 

We need to go to Jesus if we desire deep roots and want to grow strong and firm in Christ 

Look to Jesus.He is the One your heart needs most.


Revelation 21:4 ‘God will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death, no more grief nor crying nor pain, for the old order has passed away.’                                                                                  Prayer Meeting, Thursday 28th April 2022 (Prayer /Seeking God)


“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭63:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The desire of the Psalmist, David, is to seek God. 
He thirsts for Him. He longs for Him. 
God is also our God. 
The key theme of this Psalm is that God is found by those who seek Him.
He satisfies the thirsty. 
His power & glory are discovered when we worship in His sanctuary. 
His love far outweighs anything that we can experience on our own. 
The desire of our hearts needs to be like David’s : to praise & bless God as long as we live.
One of the ways we can outwardly express our love & praise for God is by lifting up our hands in worship. 
For all of life’s richest blessings, our lips sing the praise of our hearts. 
And that’s what we do when we come into His presence & worship Him joyfully through our singing.
This morning, let’s spend some time now simply waiting upon the Lord. 
If anyone has a Bible verse or short passage, a word of knowledge or wisdom, or a picture please feel free to share this with us all. 
Then we can weigh up any words or pictures with what the Bible says & encourage one another as the Body of Christ. 
Let’s draw near to God & Seek His Face. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.””
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:4-5, 7-9, 13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Time of Prayer for needs of people we know 
& for different countries in the world.

Let’s stand & sing together :- 
‘God, I Look to You’ & 
‘Be Thou My Vision’ 

And then, I’ll close the meeting in prayer using one of Paul’s prayers. 

Closing Prayer

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:15-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Bible Study, Thursday 21st April 2022


Good morning, Brothers & Sisters, Friends of CWC Playa Blanca.
Welcome to the Thursday Bible Study in the Name of our precious Lord & Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Today, we will be looking at Luke 24:1-35, as a follow-up from the Easter Sunday’s message on 

the Resurrection of Jesus : 'You Can’t Keep the God-Man Down!’

What does it mean for us in practice today?
Today, we’ll consider what it means in three sections :-
Luke 24:1-8
Luke 24:9-12 &
Luke 24:13-35.

RISEN! REMEMBER?
Luke 24:1-8
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:1-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/luk.24.1-8.NIV

On the first day of the week, the women find that the stone is rolled away & that the tomb is empty. Two angels appear as men in shining clothes to tell them that ‘He is Risen!’ They remind the women of the prophecy that Jesus will be delivered into the hands of sinful men, & be crucified, & on the third day rise again! Only then do they remember His words.

We know that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, as we can look back on the event with hindsight. Unlike the women, who had to rely on what Jesus had said & recall that He would indeed rise from the dead & the grave.

How does remembering that Jesus rose from the dead just like He said He would impact upon your daily life?

Consider for a few minutes what each of these following questions may mean for you personally :-

How does the fact that Jesus rose from the dead make an impact upon your thoughts?
How does the fact that Jesus rose from the dead make an impact upon your words?
How does the fact that Jesus rose from the dead make an impact upon your actions?
How does the fact that Jesus rose from the dead make an impact upon your attitudes?

If you cannot think of any ways that Jesus has impacted your life, ask Him to search your heart & mind right now & by His Holy Spirit He will make a difference from now onwards in the way that you think, speak, act & react. He alone makes the difference!

DOUBTING DISCIPLES
Luke 24:9-12
“When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:9-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/luk.24.9-12.NIV

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary (James’ mother), & others tell all this to the disciples of Jesus. The doubts of the disciples are such that they dismiss what they hear from the women as ‘idle tales.’

What do you make of the disciples’ response to the women? (V.11)
Maybe you think that they were too dismissive or flippant in their response.
Or maybe you would agree with their response!

Note Before : Back then, in the culture of Jesus’ day, women were not deemed to be credible witnesses. Yet, Jesus chose to give them this task of conveying the significant news that He had Risen from the dead.
Jesus raised the profile of women & saw their true/real value & worth.
He elevated & esteemed them.
He didn’t treat them as second-class citizens & neither should we!

What do you make of the reaction of Peter? (V.12)
Peter is more curious & goes to check out the story of the women to see if it is true. He sees the grave-clothes lying by themselves, & marvels at what has happened. He then believes the account of the women, but only because he has seen it with his own eyes.

Before we are too hard or harsh on Peter or the other disciples, let us stop, pause, & reflect on the following question :-

How often do you & I doubt what Jesus has said He will do, because we haven’t seen or heard it for ourselves firsthand?
In what ways do we hear His voice?

God speaks to us through His Word - the Bible,
Through the Living Expression of the Word - Jesus,
Through the Holy Spirit, & through other believers to challenge & encourage us on our daily walk or journey as it were with Him.

How have you been encouraged or challenged in some way this week?

Has this made a difference in how you live & respond or react to other people?

We should test everything against the Word of God & believe what He says is true & valid. We should testify to the work that He is doing in our lives.

How can this be outworked in our everyday lives? :-
Through our thoughts, words, actions & attitudes being changed & conformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Lord & Saviour.

BROKEN BREAD
Luke 24:13-35
“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:13-35‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/luk.24.13-35.NIV

What facts can you initially glean from this passage?
Two disciples, one named Cleopas, the other one’s name we are not told, were walking a seven mile stretch from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
They are very downhearted & discouraged as they believe that their Lord & Master has been defeated by death.
They were discussing things related to Jesus’ death & the events that had led up to it.
Yet they were kept from recognising Jesus.
In this instance, it was the divine intervention of God Who prevented them from instantly knowing it was the Risen Lord Jesus who had joined them on their walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

(Further reading :-
Later on, in Acts 9:1-10, we see that Saul had a vision when he was journeying to Damascus. He recognises the voice of the Lord.
Saul is blinded before his conversion.
The Lord also appeared to Ananias in a vision, regarding Saul,
in Acts 9:10-16.
Note that it was only when Ananias laid his hands on Saul’s head that his sight was restored Acts 9:17-19).

(Further reading :-
Saul when he was converted received the new name, ‘Paul.’
It is Paul who writes in 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 these words :-
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:4-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/2co.4.4-6.NIV

It is only when God opens our minds that we can see & know Him for Who really is. Then we can know Him in our hearts & lives, when He reveals Himself to us).

How does Jesus reveal Himself to the two disciples? (Verses 17-27).
By a pertinent line of questioning Jesus shows these disciples through Scripture things relating to His resurrection.
Jesus sharpens their minds to focus on the truth, the reality that He is alive, & their hearts start to burn fiercely & passionately within them.

What is the ultimate action of Jesus that helps the disciples recognise Him?
(Verses 30-35).

When He breaks bread & give thanks, their eyes are opened,
they recognise Jesus, & then He disappears or departs from their sight. They are thrilled by the fact that Jesus has shared the Scriptures with them. They rapidly go & tell the eleven disciples their good news/report & tell them that Jesus has also appeared to Simon Peter.

In what ways has Jesus recently revealed Himself to you?
How has this affected the way in which you live your life for Him?
Sometimes Jesus may speak into our lives, but we also don’t recognise His voice.

How can we ensure that it is the voice of Jesus that we are hearing?
By comparing it to what is written in the Bible.
By allowing the Holy Spirit to bear witness with our spirit that it is truth.
By seeking the advice of a wise, discerning brother or sister in Christ, who would point you to relevant portions of Scripture.

In Summary :-
So let us remember that Jesus has indeed risen from the dead.
Let us cast all our doubts & anxieties at the foot of the Cross & allow Jesus to continue to be our ‘Living Hope,’ & to fill our hearts & minds with His peace that passes all understanding.
Let us continue to hear & respond to the voice of Jesus.
May we grow more & more into His likeness day-by-day.
May He continue to transform our thoughts, words, actions & attitudes, so that people we meet see Him reflected in & through our lives. Amen.
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy & peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,’ Romans 15:13.

Prayer Focus :-

Praise the Lord for the safe arrival of Pastor Kurt Erickson & the delivery of the Celox (Haemostatic) Gauze to help ‘Stop the Bleeding’ in Ukraine.
We continue to pray for the protection of both Karl Shifflett & Pastor Kurt Erickson in the role that they are playing there.
We also continue to pray for all of those involved in the war in Ukraine, whether Ukrainians or Russians.

Pray for our own community, here in Playa Blanca & in other parts of Lanzarote :-

For Jackie & Colin.
For Carole, who has recently returned from hospital.
For Chrissie.
For Erryl.
For Keith.
For Granny’s Attic.

For others also who we know need healing in other countries :-
For Jean.
For Brian.
For Dennis.

Let’s stand & sing together :-
‘Amazing Grace’ &
‘One Day When Heaven Was Filled With His Praises (Living He Loved Me)’


THURSDAY 7th APRIL 2022

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

——————————————————————

This is the final study in our Study Series on “ A Guide To Christlikeness and Spiritual Growth”


The Bible verses we are studying today are from EPHESIANS 4:17-32


Let us read this Bible passage  and listen to what God is saying to us today


Context : Paul writes to new converts in Ephesus and explains to them how God's grace should change their lives ( and ours) in real and tangible ways. He writes from his house-prison

In earlier chapters ( the first three )Paul talks about all the grace and blessings we as believers have received from God in Christ Jesus.

  Now, he shows how God's grace should change our lives. The central importance of grace in the life of believers is emphasised. It is this grace that enables us to live in Christ and to do what pleases Him. 

The new life of purity must be the preferred way of living instead of the old way of living without Christ


Are there any initial observations from these verses ?

—->> ‘you must no longer live like the unbeliever’,  the difference between the unbeliever and the believer’s way of living, putting off your old self, putting on the new self <<——


The lifestyle of  the Christians and non-Christian is unmistakably different . Tastes, pleasures, desires , standards are poles apart


If you had to write a brief testimony, an easy format would be 1- my life before Jesus ; 2- how I came to know Jesus ; 3- the difference Jesus has made in my life. 


Now what are some of the words you would use to describe your life before Jesus and what happened when you met Christ ? What are some words to describe your life in Christ ? 


VERSES 17-19

 ( suggest read vv15-16 before reading v17 onwards —Paul says the mature grow in faith and reflect more and more of Jesus in their lives ,speaking the truth in love.) God's plan for His people is that they will reach spiritual maturity, move on from where they are and grow up in Christ Jesus !

In these verses we see some words that describe the unbeliever to the Ephesians ( the before Jesus life ) 

What are some words/ phrases Paul uses to  describe the old way of life, those of the world ?         —futile,  hardened hearts ,separated from the life of God, indulging in every kind of impurity, full of greed ( lust for more and more)


 V17- How is Paul ( insisting ) strongly admonishing the believer to live ? Not as unbelievers do (the Gentiles in this context… those outside the Christian community) Note also he is admonishing them in the Lord’s name 

The maturing believer is easily identified because she / he is so different from the world around them. The unbeliever is in darkness. The believer is no longer in darkness.He has a new desire. Life has ceased to be “my will” and being ‘ full of greed’ -v19 . Life has become all about “God's will”.


VERSES 20-24 

What were the believers taught about this new life (v22-24) ‘to put off the old self..deceitful desires, have new attitude of mind, and to put on the new self..’

 

What do you think this means ? 

‘Put off the old self ‘- receiving Jesus’ new life after repentance, a change of heart , separation from the previous worldly life so you live pleasing to God The word ‘corrupt’ speaks of a corpse that lies rotting..dead !

‘Be made new in the attitude of your minds’ - with the change in heart ( new desires ) comes an entirely new mindset so you live differently to the world.

‘Put on the new self’ - What is the new self ? The new life which enables you to become what God wants you to be, emulating the character of our LordJesus Christ : living in ways that are right and holy in His eyes and allowing God's Kingdom rule to be foremost in the believer’s life

> The maturing Christian looks different ,acts different, lives different and thinks differ than he/she did before. It is all about a changed life 


Verses 25-32 

What should believers look like ? In these verses there are practical instructions that reflect Christlike standards we are to embrace in our daily walk. 

Paul contrasts the life of the believer to the unbeliever .He gives a sampling of what a transformed life looks like. 

Here we see five  traits/ behavioural changes of the new man.Paul gets down to nitty-gritty examples of everyday life.  


As you will observe, each positive trait replaces an old or negative habit or  trait: 


** Falsehood vs speaking truthfully- the new self is not afraid to speak truth even when it makes you look bad.The old self thinks nothing of lying.


**Sinful anger vs sinless anger - the old self uses anger to get its way, allows it to linger.This prompts sinful behaviour. The new self is angered by the things that anger God. It is righteous anger… E.g unholiness, sin, injustice. Clothing ourselves with the new nature of Christ and so the devil has no foothold to take advantage of you


** Stealing vs sharing - the old  self continues to steal, takes advantage of others to get ahead. The new self works honestly and hard and shares with those in need 


** Unwholesome talk vs talk that builds others up - the old self seeks to tear others down..can't wait to tell others what ‘that person’ said/did.This includes impure and critical words, boastful comments ,gossiping.  The new self speaks positively about others and goes beyond to encourage and benefit others.

Even when there is correction they are spoken in love 


** Bitterness vs kind, compassionate, and forgiving - being bitter ,negative in our attitudes words or actions grieve the Holy Spirit .This is the old self. The new self is kind, compassionate and forgiving even when others don't deserve it or it does not make sense

Always be ready to forgive in the same way that, through Christ,God has always been willing to forgive you !

We are to become who we are in Christ in godly behaviours and attitudes


Response - the source of conflict is the old man (17-24)

                    the solution to conflict is the new man ( 25-32)

                    the key - solution to conflicts is Holy Spirit ( v30 ) right in the middle of the passage dealing with relationships, Paul says do not  grieve the Spirit. This implies that the motive for having  harmonious relationships is to please God ..not ourselves. So putting on the new self behaviours in our relationships means we want to please Holy Spirit 



THURSDAY 31st MARCH 2022

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

———————————————————

Today we are continuing on the Study Series which is called : 

“A Guide To Christlikeness and Spiritual Growth”


AIM - that all followers of Christ will become more Christ-like in character and attitude, and mature spiritually. 

 

Let us read Galatians 5:13-26 and listen to what God is saying to us today. 


Context - this passage forms part of Paul's letter to a group of churches in (Galatia) Asia Minor.

He writes to counter the claims by false teachers (Judaizers) that the Galatians believers must follow the law and be circumcised to be saved. 

They were trying to change Christianity into a performance-based religion.

The believers were to live in freedom made possible through the cross and the impartation of the Holy Spirit. 

It is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that people are justified. 

It is by faith alone that they are to live out their new life in the freedom of the Spirit.

Paul addresses a key issue - the right relationship that should exist between Jewish and non-Jewish believers 

in Christ as they live in freedom in Christ.



What are some initial observations for you? 

Freedom only in Christ, the proper use of our liberty, the enmity between Spirit vs the flesh ...

like a war, a description of the self-life, a description of the Spirit-led life.

So we are not to abuse the wonderful freedom we have in Christ. 

Freedom from what? 

Freedom from legalism, ... keeping the Law which we can never attain.


VV.13-15

How are we to use our freedom? 

To serve one another as the outworking of your love for one another. 

We are called to the love that is expressed in obedience to Jesus (the law of love).

 

Paul says to the believers ‘you will destroy each other if you use your freedom to fight and snap at one another.’

Certainly this freedom does not to give licence to do whatever you please - to sin BUT to serve God and one another in love. Obedience to the one command “You are to love your neighbour as yourself,” fulfils the whole of the law. 

(See Romans 13:8-10).

This is the opposite of biting and devouring each other. 

Strife and conflict are the results of loving self and giving opportunity to our flesh.


VV.16-18

What is the key to conquering the sinful desires? How can we not gratify the self-life desires? 

V.16 - Focus on walking in the Spirit (a key truth to grow spiritually).


What does it mean to walk by the Spirit? 

This is an active command or an on- going action (present tense) :- 

By placing our lives under His full control. 

Submit to His will and authority in every situation we meet and being obedient to His corrections.

And it is conduct we engage in habitually so we can live in true freedom and victoriously. 


Walking by the Spirit means NOT relying on your own efforts and abilities. 

Selfish desires (of the flesh) are in opposition to the Spirit. 

There is a conflict, a tug-of-war between the Spirit and the ‘flesh’ or our old sinful nature. 

But if you choose to be led by the Spirit you will not live under the bondage of the religious law. 

You will not be gratifying the desires of the old nature.


God's Holy Spirit is stronger than our sinful desires of our old nature. 

As we become more dependent on the Spirit, we will grow in grace as we are conforming into the likeness of Jesus.


As a believer in Christ, the Spirit lives in him. Although the Spirit now has control, 

the self-life (flesh) will keep fighting even to the bitter end to regain its place. 

So the self-life wins a lot of skirmishes, but final victory belongs to the Spirit.


How do we fight ? ‘Don't go back to law-keeping. Live by the Spirit’s control.' (Added Reading: Romans 7:15-25).


VV.19-21 - this list is not exhaustive and describes attitudes not controlled by love.

Paul chooses this list because of the particular problems of the Galatians. 

For us, the list may be different. 

When you listen to the flesh, what are some specific evils that will manifest? 

The self-life can give way to sexual sins (v.19), religious sins (v.20), social sins (vv.20-21), sins of excess (v.21).


V.21(b) What is the consequence of living this kind of life (the self-life)? 

“Will not inherit God’s Kingdom."

Walking in the flesh is the pursuit of self-serving purposes rather than glorifying God.

The Holy Spirit will never lead you into these works of the flesh. 

The Gentile believers were not to return to such activities. 

The Jewish believers were not to think that just because they had been delivered from the law that they were free to indulge their self-life. 

The works of the flesh no longer characterise the believer’s life.


VV.22-26 

What characterises the believer’s life? 

We see a contrast between the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh.

As we walk in the Spirit, there are some qualities and/or virtues that Paul makes clear will be produced by the Spirit. Whenever we think fruit of the Spirit we should be thinking character - Christ-like character. 


The one fruit of the Spirit and its nine flavours :-


Love, joy, peace -  come from our relationship with God. 

As we grow closer to Jesus, these virtues become more evident.


Long-suffering (patience), kindness, goodness - has to do with relationship with others. 

So it is practical. It is about putting up with people, looking out to show Christ’s love whether they deserve it or not.


Faithfulness - as you serve God and others.


Gentleness - being sensitive to others’ feelings, even accepting when they are insensitive to ours.


Self-control - mastering our desires, reactions, words.

There is no law against such things!


V24-26 : How can the believer show more of these Christlike virtues ?

**By remembering that all the passions and fleshly desires were nailed to the cross, crucified with Christ.  

Dead! 

So don't flirt with the dead.

The believer belongs to Christ Who died for him. 

Positionally in Christ, you have turned your back on  the self-life. So show it by the way you live.

Keep in step with the Spirit. 

And as you do this, remember the fruit you bear is not a competition with others or cause for pride.


** By walking in the Spirit. Align yourself with what the Spirit desires ... walking in love, not pride or jealousy. 

Act like what we are, who we are in Christ Jesus.


Response  :  Abide in the Vine - spiritual fruit is the result of abiding in the Vine.



Prayer Meeting, Thursday 24th March 2022

Opening Prayer & then singing the next three songs :-

‘All Praise to our Redeeming Lord’

‘How Lovely on the Mountains (Our God Reigns)’

‘I Hear the Sound of Rustling in the Leaves of the Trees’  


Open time of Praise to God.


  1. Verses to guide our Prayers for Israel (Jerusalem) “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”

Isaiah 62:6-7 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/isa.62.6-7.NIV


Watchmen : those who look for the coming of the Lord victorious over Israel’s enemies. 

When they saw potential danger approaching, they sounded an alarm, either by a shout or by a trumpet blast.

Soldiers could then prepare themselves for battle & defend the city. 


As watchmen, we can still do this today. 

We can alert the Body of Christ, the Church, to the attacks of the enemy, 

by sounding the alarm. 

We do this from a spiritual perspective. 


The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-13 reminds us of this fact :- 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/eph.6.11-13.NIV


Prayer points from my friend who lives close to Jerusalem :- 


For those taking in Ukrainian refugees.

Not all refugees will stay long-term, but it isn’t known how long they will stay there at the moment. Many families are busy donating clothes & opening up their homes. 


Israel is concerned Russia is in Syria. 

Israel is concerned about the outcome of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations.


  1. Verses to guide our Prayers for Ukraine & Russia “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Psalms 46:1-11 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.46.2-11.NIV


Listen to the song :- 



  1. Verses to guide our Prayers for our Local Community & People We Know “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” 

Numbers 6:24-26 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/num.6.25-26.NIV


“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful....”

...”Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”

Colossians 4:2, 12 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/col.4.2-12.NIV


Close by singing : ‘The Blessing’ & 

‘The Millennium Prayer’ as Prayer Declarations. 


WELCOME TO THE BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER MEETING 

FOR 

THURSDAY 24th FEBRUARY 2022

—————————————————————

Study series : “ A Guide To Christlikeness and Spiritual Growth.”

Aim of this series : that all followers of Christ will become more Christlike in character and attitude and mature spiritually. 


Let us read COLOSSIANS 3:5-17 as we see what God is saying to our hearts today.


Context : Paul is laying out some principles that will help us in our Christian growth. 

When he wrote this letter, he was encouraging the believers to keep the faith despite the attacks from false teachers. 

So as they seek to live ‘in Christ Jesus’, old habits/ways need to be replaced with Christ like virtues daily.

These verses (5-17)  answer the question, ‘how then shall we live since we have been raised with Christ and are seated with Him (our position in Christ)?’


***Verses 5-10 :  we read a list of deeds and attitudes of the old life

Note the two verbs/ phrases : ‘put to death’( v5) and  ‘rid yourselves of’( v8).


What do you think these phrases mean? 

They are two images, metaphors that describe how to get rid of sin :-

1: ‘Put to death’ - mortify..(Greek nekroo..like necrosis - make as dead, lifeless, death of most or all cells in an organ due to disease, injury, or failure of the blood supply).

Have nothing to do with such desires and/or hold habits and do not be greedy; 

v5- a greedy person is an idolater. 

>Idolatry is the worship of something created as opposed to the worship of Creator God (anything self puts in place of God e.g work, sports, money, etc.).


2: ‘Rid yourselves of’ - put off, take off like literally taking off one’s clothes, or figuratively to ‘lay aside’  so it is not part of you. Renounce or stow away.

Both phrases convey the idea of some kind action, something you must initiate and carry out but not on your own. 

As a believer  you have the Holy Spirit to enable you.


What are some serious habits/ vices Paul mentions that the believers at Colossae must put to death or get rid of? V5,v8,v9

Evil desires- a desire for something forbidden. 

Greed - inappropriate desire for more of something that is idolatry.  

Anger - (more permanent) that emotion that could cause us to say or do something we regret later.

Then there is righteous anger which is an appropriate response to injustice. 

Rage - when anger flares up, one is loud and even violent (more temporary).

Malice - vicious attitude, ill-will.     

Slander - speech that defames or denigrates, criticises unfairly. 


Such a list or similar shows that the things we think, the words we say and actions we perform matter to a holy God. 

4 reasons why we need to get rid of these vices and/or sins are found in v6, v7, vv9-10, v11.

V7- read : Paul says in your old life you were bound by such things ...

But now you are to have a completely different walk have left that old self behind with all the things you used to do then.

These were old habits and lifestyles that they needed to shed as they foster their relationship with Christ. 

They are no longer part of the believer’s life.


V10- how does Paul describe the new self? 

One that receives renewed or fresh knowledge and/or revelation of God the Creator and that makes you more and more like Him.

The cross dealt with the power of the old nature. 

The Holy Spirit enables you to live in the power of your new nature.


Ponder : what are you doing that enables the renewal process in your heart or what are you doing that hinders that process of renewal ??


***Verses 11-17 : we read Paul's list of attitudes and actions of the new life of believers in Christ. 

He links vv12-17 by saying that in Christ our differences have no meaning. 

We are to be Christ-like to all.

Outcasts, marginalised - nothing is to divide.

In Christ we are one and Jesus becomes everything to you! 


V12 - what does it mean to ‘put on’ (KJV) or ‘clothe yourselves..’? 

A new dress code or it has the sense of new garments that ‘you are sinking yourself into’..

So you are sinking yourself into the character of Christ. 

“Take off the old, so you put on the new”


Why do we have to put on these Christ-like characteristics? V12- we are now God’s chosen, holy and dearly loved people. These virtues & behaviours are an overflow from the believer’s relationship with Christ :-


Compassion- showing heartfelt concern for another's misfortune. 

Kindness - quality of being helpful. 

Humility - a deep sense of one’s littleness.  

Gentleness - not a poor self- image but not feeling the need to impress others or force oneself on others. 

Patience - bearing up under provocation. 


V13- To bear with each other - ..put up with each other when you might be driving each other crazy. Forgive  as the Lord forgave you.Christ forgave us so we can forgive others.


V14-Love - this is like the overcoat for all the other attitudes Paul mentions. 

This is ‘agape’ love :  self-sacrificing, unconditional love that God showed in Christ. 

We are now to wear ‘agape’ garment and this supreme virtue unites all others.

As we put on these virtues together with love, we are remembering it is Christ we are serving and not ourselves.


OUR RESPONSE :  How should we live this new life as members of the body of Christ?

V15- the peace that Christ alone gives must be the deciding factor and/or rule in our hearts 

(when there are conflicts and/or disagreements in relationships). 

Whatever rules our hearts will direct our thought life and how we deal with emotions.

Remember to be thankful always, as this promotes peace. 


v16- Let Christ’s words dwell in you richly. 

Let them find a home in your heart so daily you live it out. 

Your conversation and worship must be Christ-centred. 

Keep singing with gratitude to Him.


V 17- Speak and act like Jesus would, as you clothe yourself with Christ as your new life. 

You are now in a new team bearing Christ’s name. 

You represent Him, not yourself in all you do and say.



THURSDAY 17th FEBRUARY 2022

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

——————————————————————-


We are continuing the study series on growing spiritually and becoming more Christ- like.


It is called “A Guide To Christlikeness and Spiritual Growth”

AIM : that all followers of Christ will become more Christlike in character and attitude and mature spiritually


THE BIBLE VERSES FOR TODAY : from COLOSSIANS 3:1-4 ( read )

Background : Paul the apostle writes these verses as part of his letter to the Christians at Colossae (a small  city in Asia Minor or modern Turkey). 

He encourages them to stand firm in their faith in Christ amidst the attacks that the church received from false teachers. 

As he counteracts these problems he proclaims the Lordship of Jesus Christ.


He is seeking to ground the Colossian Christians firmly on Christ Jesus : who He was and is and what Christ came to do. 

So with this understanding they can remain firm as they deal with their problems. 


These are some challenging verses.

Paul is sharing with them how they should live out the Christian life.

It is a series of practical encouragements that direct the believer on living a life that is so heavenly minded that it is of earthly use too!


What are some initial observations you can make from these verses?


The name ‘Christ’ is mentioned 4 times…making Him central. 

Two commands in verses 1(set your hearts)  and 2 (set your mind).

The believer is dead (to sin) and alive (in Christ).


Verse 1: we have come alive in Christ by God's mercy. 

Who is Paul’s audience ?  

‘Since you were raised with Christ’ - those who have been raised to new life in Christ. (Col 2:12).

In Romans 6:3-5  >> Paul portrays baptism as a burial and resurrection with Christ…

so you have the burial of the old person (‘before Christ’) and the resurrection of the new person (‘after Christ’).

 

What is Paul telling/commanding these Christians to do as they walk in newness of life in Christ? (V1b) ‘set your hearts on things above, ( NKJV) seek the things that are above …..’. 

The word ‘seek’ (in the Greek) has the idea of a continuous action..(seek and keep on seeking), 

an active endeavour or pursuit.

> there is a change in your purpose of life, the way you think and even your future destiny.  


Why are followers of Jesus to do this ? 

( … ‘things that are ABOVE’) 

This is where Christ with whom they have relationship, is seated and reigns in highest authority . You love your Saviour and Lord so you want to follow His ways (Read Ephesians 2:6).


And what we now pursue is beyond what this world offers.  

Seeking things above is to pursue the kingdom of God and His righteousness. 

It is about building His eternal kingdom and not your own temporal kingdom.


Verse 2 : How do we seek things that are above? 

We follow command 2 - ‘ set your minds on things above…’ 

What we desire and focus our attention on usually determines what we do.


The word ‘mind’ speaks of a new attitude, a way of thinking habitually and constantly.

This means our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes are no longer centred on things of this world.

In Christ, there is so much more than this world can give.

The believer has a new mindset where he or she is focusing on heavenly things. 

Being raised with Christ changes EVERYTHING about our perspective. 


> the popular phrase : ‘you are so heavenly minded that you're no earthly use’.

This heavenly mindset makes you of more earthly use. 

As you set your mind on things above, you view things from an eternal perspective. 

For example, the things we look at, read or even people we relate to are to are viewed in light of eternity (Pause and Ponder on how can you be of more earthly use with your new heavenly focus).


Verses 3-4 : What are some reasons for seeking this new perspective?


It is all about your position in Christ : you died and now you are alive, 

your life is hidden with Christ…, because He is your life, you will appear with Him in glory.


1- (v3 a ) you died (in the past) with Christ when He was crucified. 

Death to sin and the worldly influence has occurred. 

When we embrace the truth that we have been crucified with Christ, we can live in spiritual victory and grow deeper in the Lord (Romans 6:11).


2- (v3b) ‘hidden in Christ’ - this is a (in the present) key truth where as the new ‘you,’ you live in Christ and He lives in you. 

**Our position in Christ is secure as He is seated above at the right hand of God. 

So when people see you they should see only Christ…a life that is Jesus-like.

** Unbelievers may not understand this heavenly reality. 

Sometimes we may not live this Christ-like life as we should.  

In the future it will all be revealed. 


3- (v4) Christ is your life (in the future) … so we do things that reflect His character in us as partakers in His divine nature.

He is your source, the basis for everything we think and act. 

This will be fully realised when Jesus comes again. 

This is our sure and certain hope.


Application:

Points to ponder : what are you pursuing? 

Earthly goals that may distract your attention from Christ or heavenly things that keep you 

Christ-focused?

God's grace and the power of the Spirit enable us to live more and more like Jesus. 



THURSDAY 10th FEBRUARY 2022

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting


Today we are starting a new study series on growing spiritually and becoming more Christ-like. 


We are calling it : ‘A Guide To Christlikeness and Spiritual Growth.’

The aim is for all of us as followers of Christ to become more Christlike in character and mature spiritually 


The passage selected today: ROMANS 12:1-2 (read from verses 33-36 of Chapter 11)


The apostle Paul starts a new section in this book of Romans 12. 

Note the word ‘Therefore’ at the beginning of v1, chapter 12. 

He writes to a largely Gentile audience (a minority of Jews) at the church in Rome. 

Paul now links what he has said before to these opening verses of chapter 12.

In previous chapters, he taught about what God has done for us.

Now he teaches about what God expects from us.


Vv 33-36 of chapter 11: he praises God for the wise ways he works in leading people to salvation. God wants everyone (Gentiles and Jews) to experience His mercy and forgiveness.

 V34- says ‘who can claim to understand everything about the way the Lord thinks?’

We as followers of Christ are redeemed only because of God's pure grace and mercy.


V1- So as a result of His mercy, what should be our response?

‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…..’( read v1). 

The body refers to the whole man - mind and flesh - offered to God because you now belong to Him.


>>Ice - breaker  : The hen and the pig were having a conversation with each other on a farm. 

They were discussing the problem of human hunger around the world.

They decided they would do something about it.

 The hen said to the pig , “All right, this is what we’ll do. Because people are hungry, this is what I propose : every morning, we provide a ham and egg breakfast to hungry people.”

The pig looked at the hen, and said, “For you that only requires your involvement; for me it requires total commitment.”

The two verses talks about a pig kind of commitment, total commitment; not a hen kind of commitment - a little bit here and a little bit there! (just sort of involved).


Verse 1- what is it we are to do? 

Let us look at some key phrases and/or words here :-


“Offer your bodies”  - this is what God wants from you : You. 

It is a  personal  sacrifice and when you make it, you are in effect giving up something.

If you give him your time or money that's all that is offered. 

When you offer or present your body, all other things come along. (ref:Romans 6:13). 

This is a challenge!  


“as a living sacrifice” - this is practical and costly. 

You do not die like in the OT times when animal sacrifices were made. 

The animal sacrifice was to die. Our sacrifice is to live! 

We live and we keep living for Jesus, the new life the Spirit has birthed in us. 

Every moment of our lives we remain in total surrender to God, following His lead and desires so that He is glorified and honoured.


How does Paul describe this kind of sacrifice? 

Holy and pleasing to God. It is true worship to God. 

So this is about our total being - heart ,mind and will - engaged in worship and lovingly obeying God. It is not about engaging in religious or ritual activity. This kind of sacrifice shows His power, glory through us. It says to those who don't believe yet, God makes the difference. 


Now since we are to live like this, you cannot also live according to the standards of the world around you ( look at v2)


Verse 2a  what is it we are commanded not to do?  

‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world….’

The world is trying to shape us into its pattern, (mould), trying to pressure us to act and dress like everybody else. Shun the worldly pattern.

The word ‘conform’ : means to fashion, or to shape.

We as followers of Jesus are to maintain separation from the world. We are to live holy lives, 

set apart and be different. Not acting and thinking like the world.


God wants to change our mindset : we are to think differently. 

Look at v2b - ‘but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…’

A change that begins to occur inwardly in the mind.


The word ‘transformed’ - what does it mean?

It is from this word you have the English word “metamorphosis.” 

It has to do with change into another form in keeping with inner reality. 

It describes the transformation a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly.

As the caterpillar enters the cocoon and later emerges, the part of the insect that resides on the inside is allowed to be manifested on the outside.


Similarly, this is the kind of change that God wants to effect in the believer.  

This transformation is a process (the same Greek word is used for Jesus’ transfiguration in 

Matthew 17). 

It brings us under control of Holy Spirit - our feelings, intellects, thoughts and will. The new man on the inside is being allowed to live on the outside. 


V2 c - What happens when we are transformed and our minds are renewed?

When we have a completely different mindset, we are prepared to pursue God's will for our lives.

When our thinking lines up with God's Word, His will is put into action.

His will for your life pleases Him because it is good and perfect.


New thoughts come from having a new perspective.

We don't have to stay stuck in patterns of negative actions and reactions. 

We were destined to experience change even in the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29).

We gain new perspectives from God's Word. 

This should bring new ways of thinking and this then changes the way we act and react.


A person who desires to live for God, to be holy and pleasing to God has a renewed mind.


Application: The attitude of a transformed life resists worldly values, etc, and embraces the moulding process by the Spirit’s power. 

Changing the way we think, changes the way we act and react.

This way we adopt Christ-like attitudes as we live for Him.


Amen.

THURSDAY 3rd FEBRUARY 2022


Welcome to the meeting. Our focus today is on Prayer. 


To help us engage with God, wait upon Him and pray for the ministry of the church and other needs, we are looking at some verses from Isaiah 6.


ISAIAH 6:1-8

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Introduction 

Isaiah is given an awesome vision at a time when there were uncertainties and despair. 

The future of the kingdom of Judah (southern half of Israel) is uncertain. 

The Assyrian empire is gaining strength and Judah’s independence is under threat of an attack. 

Spiritually things are declining: the people of God are going through all the religious motions but their hearts are not really not there. 

They want to do their own thing. 

They seem to have lost divine perspective 


The king has died. Who is King Uzziah  ? 

He is the King of Judah..king #10. He became king at the age of 16. 

He reigned for 50-52 years. He had a great reign.

Unlike some other kings, he honoured God throughout most of his reign as king. 

He did what was right in the sight of the Lord (2 Chronicles 26).

In his later years, he became disobedient. 

It is evident that King Uzziah’s death disturbs Isaiah (first few words of v1..).

Maybe his attention was focused on this king rather than the indispensable King of Heaven. “What would happen to the people now?” you can almost hear him asking.


In the midst of all the negative, anxiety - provoking scenarios unfolding for Isaiah,

the prophet Isaiah sees this vision as he prays and worships in the Temple. 

It’s a time for Isaiah to re-focus on the majestic Lord…God in His glory. 

And this changes Isaiah’s life as He encounters the living God.


VV. 1-4 : What does Isaiah see ?

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Firstly, Isaiah sees the Lord high and exalted, seated on a throne -v1. 

Yes the king Uzziah is dead, yet there is hope. 

God is alive. 

God is still in charge.

God is still on the throne. 

For God's people, this is where true security is found.


Like Isaiah, we are to get our eyes on the Lord. 

Don't allow insecurities and uncertainties to block your view of God’s indescribable glory and majesty. 

He sees God's position- sovereign and in charge. 

Let us never forget that God is in control (not us).


VV.2-3 : Then Isaiah sees angelic/heavenly beings - seraphim. 

What are they doing ? 

They are proclaiming the holy nature of God. 

They are magnifying, honouring, the holiness of God. 

The One Who deserves the praise and worship.


V3- READ … “Holy, holy, holy is  the Lord…..” the heavenly beings declare the main character of God - His holiness. 

The Lord Almighty , the true commander-in - chief (vv.3&5) is in control and the Lord’s got this. 




V4- Isaiah experiences God's presence as the ‘house is filled with smoke’( smoke/ cloud of glory : a symbol of the presence of God).

The ‘train of His robe filled the temple’(v1).

This makes God the central focus in the Temple. 

Isaiah is reminded, rather powerfully, that even in his grief and the uncertain times God remains present with him.


>This is great encouragement for us as we gather to pray and worship God. 

Times are uncertain, but God is certainly present helping us to embrace the divine perspective in our circumstances. 


 VV. 5-7 What is Isaiah’s response to God's holy  presence?

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 Read v5 : He realizes the problems with his own heart. 

As we move closer to God and see Him in His holiness, this should cause us to look at our own hearts : The shortcomings, the pride, the idols in our hearts…

Isaiah did not say ‘woe is my neighbor’. 

He cries out ‘Woe (is) to me ! I am ruined…Is a sinful man..I have unclean lips ….’ 

A dirty mouth comes from a dirty heart. 

He sees the holy God and is confronting his own spiritual condition before God. 

He is humbling himself as he confesses and prays.

>Isaiah saw God for who He is and so he is able to see who he really is in God's light.

The closer he gets to God, the worse he looks because of his sin. 

Then after the cleansing the better we look because God's glory is radiating from us !


VV. 6-7 Isaiah senses his need for cleansing as he has seen the ‘King ,the Lord Almighty.’

God provides the means for his cleansing. 

For us, the precious blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

After the cleansing, we can stand in His presence and see things from His perspective.


V8- What does Isaiah say as soon as he gets his heart clean ?

———————————————————————————-

He hears the voice of God and makes himself available to obey God. 

He commits to seeing the will and purposes of God outworked in and through his life. 

“Here am I …I will be the one .Send me,” Isaiah says.


APPLICATION : God turned a negative circumstance into a positive outcome for Isaiah.

Isaiah focused on God's glory.

He willingly submitted to God's perspective and God's will. 

Today if you're getting distracted by circumstances, it's time to refocus on God's glory.



THURSDAY 27th JANUARY 2022


Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer meeting

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Over  the last two weeks we have been as a church engaging in Prayer, Fasting and drawing closer to Jesus. We have been making space to hear God's voice and to intentionally seek to lovingly obey what He is saying to us, both corporately and individually.

It has been an encouraging and spiritually enriching time as we encounter our Lord in fresh ways as we begin 2022.


This time of waiting on the Lord reminds us of our dependence on Him. Often we tend to want to do things in our own strength, ‘trying to go ahead of God’ although we know that He is in control.There are great benefits to waiting on our God, trusting and fully relying on Him.


Today we would like to study a few verses from Isaiah. Our focal passage is Isaiah 40:28-31

( please read ). 


Background : Isaiah 40 was written as a message of hope to the people of God who were in exile. They were in uncharted  territory broken, despairing and perhaps felt as if God had forgotten them.They were a discouraged people, growing weary and in need of hope.They needed comfort and as we see in this chapter God gives it to them. 


The exiles had questions as we we see in verse 27 (read). 

Despair ! They had this wrong perception and so complain bitterly that ‘the Lord does not care’.Perhaps thinking God is tired of caring for them.

Really they were trying to bring God down to their level.


How do you respond when your circumstances are negative and painful? 

Do you question God in the storms of life?

What is your perception of God like when you're experiencing a setback of some kind? 

God even asks His people (Jacob) ‘why are you complaining, Jacob ?’


Here Isaiah reminds the people that instead of questioning God during those negative experiences, it is more timely to remember who God is.


What are some initial observations about God ?

These are favourite verses of many.

They speaks to us about Who God is and about what He does for His people. 

The goodness of God is emphasised in these verses. 

In preceding verses 12-26 the majesty and greatness of God are described. 


VV. 28-29 : Isaiah reminds them as to Who God is. 

What is the correct perception of God that he gives to them? 


The two questions - ‘Do you not know?’ and ‘Have you not heard?’ - imply familiarity with these truths. They already knew these truths. In their difficulties and negative circumstances they 

were not relating these known truths to their situations. So they were arriving at a wrong perception of Who God is. ‘The Lord is the everlasting God….’v28


> A lesson for us : we are to learn to relate God's truth to every situation we face in life.


Still on v28- what are three truths that the Jews needed to relearn or remember?

   -God is eternal : not confined to time and working out His purposes His way not ours.

He never changes - working in ways just as He has done before.

  - God is Creator : He made everything, nothing is beyond His control. 

  - God never grows weary :we often need to rest; God never grows tired as He upholds the whole of Creation.

  - God's wisdom : this is infinite, it cannot be measured.

God knows what He is doing, even when we tend to think otherwise. 


V29 -What does God give to the weary and weak?

Strength to the faint and weary, increases power to those who have no might. 

This would enable us to keep obeying His will even in the most negative circumstances that we face. His grace becomes sufficient ( 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ).

V30: What does this verse say about youthful strength? 

This verse shows that even the strongest among us is still no match for the challenges of life. Depending on God is crucial. 


V31- what does hoping and/or waiting mean here? 

To trust God confidently as we spend time in His presence listening to Him and holding on His promises.

It means to trust Him still even when the promises are not yet fulfilled, even when situations are still tense and anxious and uncertain. 


The result of waiting on the Lord? 

Four things you can expect when you commit to waiting on God : -

renewed strength to persevere in doing His will despite the circumstances. 

rise up on wings as eagles in God's time. Soar to new spiritual heights!

run the spiritual race and not be weary, as you look to Jesus.

walk and not get tired.


God’s strength and power are found in waiting on Him.

Like an eagle - who lives on the rock, rely on the Rock, Jesus.

                      - the believer is confident in the storms of life. 

The eagle uses the ‘fury of the winds’ as its chariot, spreading its wings to soar. 

So the believer is confident in God to help him to soar to heights even in the storm.


Examples to ponder 

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Abraham & Sarah - waited on God, had a child in later years of life.

Moses - led God's people out of slavery, aged 80. 


Application

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In times of difficulty and trials, look to God with whom you have a relationship.

Seek to have the right perception of God in every circumstance of your life.

A commitment to waiting will bring glory to God and spiritual blessings to you.


PRAYER : Thank You Father that You are Eternal.You care for us as an eagle cares for its young.

Continue to teach us Lord to trust and wait on You even when this might seem harder to do. 

Your grace is sufficient for us.As we wait and trust in You and not in ourselves, we will soar on wings to higher heights with You just like the eagle. 

We praise You, the Everlasting God and the One Who is in control of all things!  

For the glory of Your Name, Amen.



THURSDAY 20th JANUARY 2022

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer ——————————————————

We are continuing our time in Prayer, Fasting and drawing closer to Jesus.
During these two weeks, we are setting aside time intentionally to seek the Lord.
It is about making space for God to work in our hearts, listening to His voice and then intentionally and lovingly obeying what He says to you.
To help us focus and to encourage each other during these challenging times, here is a devotional study.

Background:

The passage is from Deuteronomy 32:10-14 ( please read ) ————————————————————————

Moses spoke these words as part of his song , commonly called ‘The Song of Moses’.
He recited them to the Israelites. This was like his farewell speech to them just before they were about to enter the promised land of Canaan (under Joshua’s leadership).
He reminds the people of Israel of all the great things God had done for them.
For forty years they wandered in futility in the wilderness because of their disobedience, unbelief and complaining attitude.
So to help God's people remember His goodness, loving-kindness, and faithfulness,
despite their sin, Moses taught this song.

V10- we see God's care in action : Moses recounts the Lord ‘ found’, ‘shielded’,and ‘guarded’ Israel.God looks for them and finds them in their lost state . God pursues them. These words paint a beautiful picture of God's gracious goodness to His people. In a desolate land God provided for them

God even regards them as ‘the apple of His eye.’
What do you think this means?
The people are cherished above all others.
God is close to them, intimate and showing great love (like the pupil of the eye).

What are some things you can bring to mind that testify to the Lord's loving care for you? God’s heart is toward His people and our hearts should be focused on relating to Him.

How does the Lord takes care of His precious, special, chosen people?
V11-12: ‘like an eagle that stirs up its nest.’
Here is another picture (read v11). The Lord is compared to an eagle here in how He cares for us. The eagle shows great care and attention for its young.
At the same time, the eagle teaches the young lessons for life.
The eagle keenly looks out for the young, even when it is in search of food.
It looks out for anything that might present danger to the young.

The nest of an eagle is called an eyrie.
The eagle builds this with sharp twigs, but lines it with soft grass, moss and feathers.
As the little eaglet grows bigger, the parent eagle ‘stirs up its nest.’
This makes the sharp twigs uncomfortable for the growing young eaglet.
This is not meant to be cruel, although it is increasingly uncomfortable for the young to stay in the nest.
Why do you think the parent eagle does this?

As the eaglet grows bigger it cannot stay in the comfort of the nest.
It must leave the nest and begin to soar.
The parent eagle teaches the young how to fly, carrying it on its outstretched wings.
At the right time, the parent eagle may allow the young to ‘free-fall.’
And as it does this the eagle will quickly swoop down to catch the young safely in her feathers. Soon the young grows and learns how to fly on its own as it follows the parent eagle.

>>What a lovely picture of what God our Father does to us!

What a relationship God has with us!
God lovingly cares for us, teaches us, disciplines us causing us to grow graciously and spiritually. Even in the uncomfortable situations, ‘the stirring up the nest moments and seasons in life,’
He is demonstrating unconditional love to us. He ‘carries’ us. No foreign god involved..only God. He leads us as we submit to Him into the holy ways of truth.
These di
fficult and trying times are meant to strengthen our faith.
They help us to understand more about His ways, His purposes, and His will for our lives.
We are made to leave the familiar and comfortable and soar for more of God's life than we can ever imagine.
When the nest is stirred, there is a greater spiritual hunger and thirst. Self-righteousness and self-serving purposes are replaced with godly desire.

VV. 13-14 : Observe the blessings and provision God makes available. Even some ‘out of the ordinary’ things like ‘honey out of the rock.’
Even the most barren places would become rich and fruitful.
The Lord is assuring His people that He will continue to provide for them. It is in great love for them that God will continue to bless them.

It is an on-going action despite our disobedience and wanting to do our own thing at times. God is love! He will never abandon His people ..’the apple of His eye.’

Response :
- Draw near to God, He promises to draw near to you.
- Intentionally commit to moving from the comfort zone to the conforming zone so your life becomes more fruitful for His glory.

Prayer : Thank You, Lord, that you desire us to grow spiritually in Christ Jesus. May Holy Spirit enable all of us to grow more and more like Jesus. Amen!



THURSDAY 13th JANUARY 2022

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Welcome to the meeting today. 


As we journey through two weeks of Prayer, Fasting and drawing closer to Jesus I would like  share some thoughts to encourage all our hearts. Our focus in this meeting today is worship and prayer


ISAIAH  30 :15-18 (Read)

Here we have the prophet Isaiah decrying and expressing disapproval.He begins this woe message ( v1) …for the people are making plans that are not in line with God's plans.Isaiah calls them stubborn, rebellious children as a result.. ‘adding sin to sin…’

God promises to deliver them from the Assyrians. The Assyrian army is becoming a threat, ready to attack God's people . 

They need to keep trusting God. Instead they turn to Egypt to join forces ,an alliance, without seeking God's direction.This action is in direct rebellion against God. They are not consulting the Spirit . The plan that they thought would bring comfort to them brings shame and disgrace. Out of unbelief they do their own thing failing to understand that depending on anyone but God brings shame..it is no help really. v7- God describes Egypt as a ‘Do -Nothing’


>>The problem : The people are not interested in what God has to say. They do not want to submit to Him and the truth of God's Word. ( Read v10) “Don't tell us what God has to say.Tell us what we want to hear..not what is right..prophesy only pleasant things”..not about the Holy One of Israel .It seems they want to serve their own purposes rather than please God who is holy . They are refusing to change.

As a result God proclaims judgment.God says to them their sin will crush them. 


The thing to note here is that the prophet is not talking to the Assyrians, Egyptians or pagans. God speaks to His own people, referring to them as rebellious/ self -willed. Maybe they just did not see themselves in the way Isaiah describes them ( in verses 1-17)


>>The answer : Yet God offers salvation to them.What they really need. Look at what God offers as an alternative to their plan. V15-READ : ‘in repentance and rest is your salvation..’ 

>repentance/returning - stop rebelling against God. Choose to turn around. Stop trying to solve problems with your own thinking. Don’t get wrapped up in your own plans.God’s ways are higher than ours.  Stay put, wait..and don't run off to Egypt 


>rest - stop worrying about external threats from Assyria.. ‘come to Me and find rest, trust Me with this season of your life.’ It is IN the Lord we find salvation.

“Rest”, “quietness”, “trust” —- God wants our strength to be in trusting Him..in all areas of our lives. No striving and struggling for an outcome. This shows we believe ,trust Him with all unanswered questions - we are looking to Him. Be still before the “Great I Am”. Choose to spend  time before Him in His presence

                     BUT….

Vv 16-17 God's people do not want His help . They have fast horses that would take them to safety. God responds ( funny response! ) ‘ok ,you say you have fast horses…then I will send your pursuers/ enemies on even faster horses’ ! Even Egypt does not see the need to go into battle to defend these people.

V18- Despite all this, the Lord waits to be gracious and merciful  to His people. After numerous excuses why they don't need to trust God, we see the Lord offers grace and mercy to a rebellious people as they repent and seek forgiveness 

God waits to pour His mercy and wisdom on them. His plan for His people is always gracious and good


The call today is to humble ourselves, repent and put our confidence in God only. The call is to rest and let faith arise in the Lord alone. Allow God to search your heart ,change your heart to embrace His way, plans and His will. 

Seek to be a God -pleaser and not a self- server.

Thank God that His plan for you is rest and strength even in these times of many Covid -related concerns Thank God that when we cry out to Him ( v19 ), He is ready to respond. V21- He will show us: ‘ This is the way , walk in it’..and when we do He will bless abundantly our obedience.

 






THURSDAY 16th DECEMBER 2021

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

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Today we are continuing our journey through the Advent season. This is the final short study on some Advent themes. 

It is something of a devotional as we draw closer to Christmas Day and share some thoughts around another aspect of Advent


The Bible passage : LUKE 1:67-79 ( READ ) is also known as Zechariah’s song ( Benedictus) is more like a prophecy and he sung this after the birth of his son.

(Focus) Key verses are 68-75 .They focus on Jesus, our Saviour


Introduction : Zechariah, a priest , was the father of John the Baptist. When he was told by the angel Gabriel that his wife Elizabeth will have a son and he is to call him John, Zechariah did not believe the angel’s words. As as a result he was told by the angel that he will not be able to speak until John was born. And when John was born and Zechariah wrote his name ‘His name is John’( v63-64) immediately Zechariah was able to speak again


In verses 76-79 he praises God for his own son because John will be the prophet who prepares the way for the Messiah, Jesus.


In the key verses we are looking at today vv 68-75, Zechariah praises God and prophesies about the salvation that is to come through Jesus. For hundreds of years God's people had been waiting for the Saviour


Now for Zechariah  could it be that for those long months of silence and being unable to speak..this song was  being formed in His heart ? If you were not able to talk for a year , what would you say when you finally could speak? …..‘Praise God !’?


What are some initial observations ? is there any word or verse that grabs you ?

Praise is in the soul of Zechariah as he prophesies by the power of the Holy Spirit ( v67)

And he praises God FIRST for the Saviour ..not for his son John( he prophesies about his son in later verses)


V68 - why is Zechariah praising God ? The Saviour has come ,the salvation plan is implemented.

The first words out of his mouth are praise to God for what He has done and will do …to redeem and deliver from bondage of sin, to save a lost world. God is visiting His people ready to provide the solution for their salvation .

>These words speak of the redeeming work of Jesus that took place on the cross as if it had already taken place. A remarkable statement of true prophecy. God lives in eternity..He sees what shall be and can describe it as if it had already taken place.


This unique plan could have only been brought about by our God , the true and living God.

GOD - the Author of Salvation 


What has God done ? V69-70

What does this mean ? ‘the horn of salvation’ refers to glory and the power of God's grace to save. It indicates strength and power and the Messiah is strong to save and rule. 

In a time of darkness, God brings light and hope in the Redeemer. The prophets of OT spoke about this Messiah as promised to the forefathers . Zechariah ,here in v70,  alludes/ calls attention  to OT scriptures.They probably longed to see Jesus, the Saviour, but it was all to happen in God's timing.


V71 - ‘salvation from our enemies’ - 


Who are the enemies that we should be saved from ?

 *Satan hates and accuses us because we belong to God. 

*The world hates us too because Jesus said the world hated Him first.

*Self- life or the flesh hates who we are in Christ. We have a new nature striving to be increasingly like Jesus. Yet the old ,dead nature - the flesh tries to drag us back into the old way of living. The old nature hates the new identity we have in Christ Jesus

 

Jesus came to deliver us from these enemies and from sin.Our greatest need is for salvation, not for more things or to satisfy our temporal tastes .Our greatest need is to know we have peace with God, we have a relationship with Him for all eternity.This comes about through His salvation plan

 

Verses 72-75 : Why does God decides to save from the enemies ? 


* v 72-73 to show mercy and to remember His covenant .. to keep His promises. God is doing what He promised to do.And we today can rejoice that the fulfilment of these promises ,by God's mercy, has been poured out upon followers of Jesus Christ 


* v 74-75 to rescue us …to enable us to serve Him in holiness


Now as Zechariah continues with his song , he is demonstrating why was the Messiah raised up. 

Just like a musical piece, there are repetitions, and refrains, etc. He is making references to the OT scriptures once again as he says that the purpose of the Messiah’s coming was to save us from the enemies. This means not only saving from oppression and bondage , but also deliverance from sin


Now that we have been saved from the enemies, we are to serve Him whatever the costs.

We are to serve Him out of joy, love and gratitude for who He is and what He has done.


In these verses there are descriptions of the Lord  ? Can you name one divine attribute or characteristic?


Redeemer (v68) ,mighty Saviour (v69),Promise- keeper (v70), Rescuer (v71+74), merciful Promise- Keeper( v72-73)…


Application:

Let us thank Him for who He is 

During this Advent season and as we go into 2022, let us worship Him who enables us to serve Him in holiness and righteousness and without being afraid. He brings us into His divine purpose as we submit and worship Him


BIBLE STUDY 09/12/2021

1 John 3:1-10 1 John 1:8-10 1 John 1:5-7

Why did Jesus come to earth?

1 John 3:8b - “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work”.

What are the works of the devil? SIN

According to 1 John 3:4 what is sin? LAWLESSNESS

What is lawlessness?
Living as though your own ideas are superior to God's.

John Piper wrote:
“Sin is lawlessness and lawlessness is rebellion against the right of God to rule over us. The work of Satan (*) is to tempt us to reject the authority of God and become like God ourselves. Satan works to nurture and cultivate the pride that puts its own desires above the law of God. This is lawlessness, this is the essence of sin, and this is what the Son of God came to destroy in you and me.”

(*) Satan in Greek means accuser or adversary. The word is derived from a verb meaning primarily “to obstruct, to oppose”.

So HOW did Jesus destroy the devil's work?
In 2 ways that go hand in hand:
a) His appearing (by coming from heaven and being born in the form of a man.)
b) By giving us new birth: v.9 “No one who is born of God will continue to sin”.

Why are both of these necessary and not just one?

It's not enough for Jesus to come and die and rise again. PEOPLE MUST BE BORN OF GOD

otherwise the works of the devil in individual lives are not

destroyed. Sin goes on reigning.

So what is necessary for us to be born of God? 1 John 1:8-10 We must confess our sins
1 John 1:5-7 We must walk in the light

What does it mean to be born of God?
1 John 3:4-6
Our desires change – we want to please God and not ourselves.

1 John 3:9 says that God's seed is in us and that is why we cannot sin.
What does saying we “cannot” sin actually mean?
The Greek verb to “commit sin” or to “sin” here implies continuous action. So this can be better translated as: “No one born of God is 'CONTENT TO KEEP SINNING', for God's seed is in him, and he cannot be 'CONTENT TO KEEP ON SINNING' because he is born of God.”

When a father begets a child, the father's seed abides in the child. Something of the father is in the child and it makes him like his father. God's character is the very opposite of sin therefore the child of God will be like the Father – he will not be able to sin.

John is not teaching sinless perfection. We know this from 1 John 1:9.
A person who walks in the light (1 John 1:5-7) confesses sin. That means he sees sin the way God does and agrees with God. He hates sin, he is sorry for sin, he turns and flees from known sin. Coming into the light of God is what happens when you are born again. The new birth is the sovereign work of God in which He turns the light on in our hearts so that we see things the way He does. We see God as awesome in holiness, sin as horrible in ugliness and Christ as a beautiful Saviour. We bow before God in worship, we confess and turn from sin and we embrace Christ as our hope. And while we walk in that frame of mind (in the light), the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.The works of the devil are destroyed in our life, and Christmas is fulfilled.

So during this Advent period let's be grateful that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil – our sin and lawlessness and rebellion – by dying for our sin so that we might be born again.


Christian Worship Centre

Thursday 2nd December 2021

Welcome to the Bible Study & Prayer Meeting 



Our Hope at Christmas & Beyond 

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isaiah 7:14 NIV

https://isaiah.bible/isaiah-7-14


What sign did the Lord give us that is written in Isaiah 7:14? 

What does the word ‘Immanuel’ mean & can anyone give an example, through sharing a brief testimony of how this has been relevant in their own life? 


Panoramic Prophecy 

God’s Prophecy is often like looking at a range of mountains or a series of clouds, some of which are close & easily visible to human eyes others of which are distant. In Isaiah 7:1-14, there are specific prophecies which God gives to Ahaz as a sign culminating in verse 14, which we are looking at this morning. 


This Prophecy that we have just read was recorded by the Prophet Isaiah, concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. He will be born of a virgin, & that is a sign of God sending His Son. He will be called ‘Immanuel’ meaning God with us.


We see this Prophecy fulfilled in Matthew 1:21-23 :- 


“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”

Matthew 1:21-23 NIV

https://matthew.bible/matthew-1-22


"I am Immanuel—God with you. And I am big enough to take care of you!... There’s nothing wrong with trying to figure out how to solve a problem. Just don’t forget to talk to Me about it. When your mind starts spinning, cranking out one possible answer after another, you can end up confused and exhausted. I can protect you from that. I can show you the next step to take. Remember: I will be with you always. Choose to trust Me—every minute of each day. I am your Savior, and I am big enough to take care of you!" —Jesus Today for Kids by Sarah Young, p. 252

#Immanuel #JesusTodayKids


“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/isa.9.6-7.NIV


And ‘He will be called,’ 

Reflect on the depth & majesty of the names given to the Messiah. 

What are the titles given to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6-7? 

Considering one of those titles, would someone like to give a short example of what that means for them personally?


Isaiah Chapter 9 Verse 7 reminds us that the birth of Jesus was not an accident, it was via a specific lineage that could be traced back to David, King of Israel as we can see in the genealogy mentioned in 

Matthew chapter one. 


We can identify some links also from the following Old Testament Scriptures:- 

“He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went. He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went. David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.” 2 Samuel 8:6, 14-15 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/2sa.8.6-15.NIV


Nothing can thwart God’s plan & purposes. 

Isaiah 9:7 reiterates this fact, ‘The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this,’ meaning that God’s commitment to His Word & to His people cannot fail, for our God is a Covenant-Keeping God. 

This applies both on a universal & personal level. 

Let’s take some time now to reflect on the promises & blessings that are ours in Christ. Let’s take some time to praise & worship our God. 


Godly Government

In a time of rebellion & darkness, Isaiah prophesies about the great light that God will bring along with His liberty & peace. The reason is the coming of the God the Son in the form of a child to be born. 

He will have an Eternal Reign, fulfilling perfectly the covenant that He made to David. 

He is the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, & the Prince of Peace. 

God’s answer to the arrogance of the world is a Child, His own Son.

He will be what the human kings of Judah weren’t able to be. 

Because He is the Mighty God, He can be an Everlasting Father to His people.

As the Prince of Peace, He can bring lasting peace.

He is the Wonderful Counsellor, so He can give counsel which is truly wonderful. 


“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.”

Isaiah 11:1-5 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/isa.11.1-5.NIV


Mighty Messiah

Although cut down, the stem of Jesse will arise from the stump of the remnant that remains. 

Jesse was the father of David. 

From that stem or line, the Branch will come. 

He will be the Messiah, Who will be completely at one with the Holy Spirit & will demonstrate that it is so in His personal attributes & ability as God the Son to rule with justice, righteousness, equity, & faithfulness. 


Another prophecy about Jesus Christ, He came from the line of Jesse. He was anointed by the Spirit at the beginning of His Ministry, & these few verses are significant because of their description of the nature of that Spirit. 


What character traits do we see in this passage, Isaiah 11:1-5, concerning the Spirit?


Jesus became our wisdom from God. 

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV

https://1corinthians.bible/1-corinthians-1-30


Jesus brought true understanding of the will of God, often correcting the misinterpretations of the Jewish leaders regrading the Law that had been given through Moses. We saw earlier in Isaiah 9:6-7 that Jesus came as the Wonderful Counsellor, & in the New Testament Jesus promised that, after hIs return to Heaven God would send another Counsellor like Him in the Holy Spirit. 


Jesus says this in John 14:16-17 :- 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

John 14:16-17 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.14.16-17.NIV


And again in John 14:26 :- 

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

John 14:26 NIV

https://john.bible/john-14-26


Jesus demonstrated the power of the Spirit of God & revealed hIs Father to all who believed in Him. And He delighted in the fear of the Lord. This was evidenced in the way that He submitted to the will of His Father. He spoke only what His Father told Him to say & did what He saw His Father doing. In everything He sought to glorify His Father. His ultimate act of loving obedience was to go to the Cross. 


From the stump of Jesse, a new shoot will spring forth. From his roots will grow a Branch that will be exceedingly fruitful. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him. 

The Spirit of Wisdom & of Understanding the ways of God.

He is the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, the Spirit of Power. 

He is the Spirit Who reveals the Lord, making Him known. 

The Spirit Who enables people to live in the fear of the Lord. 

This Branch will delight to live in the fear of the Lord Himself, wanting to please Him. 


He will not judge things by their outward appearance, nor decide what He should do by listening to others. 

When He judges, He will do so with righteousness. He will speak with justice on behalf on the poor on the earth. His words will be like a rod striking the earth. 

His breath will be enough to condemn the wicked to death. 

He will be seen to be righteous & faithful in all He does. 



““But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.””

Micah 5:2 NIV

https://micah.bible/micah-5-2


“He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.”

Micah 5:4 NIV

https://micah.bible/micah-5-4


What knowledge or insight do the verses Micah 5:2 & Micah 5:4 give us? 


Bethlehem’s Messiah

This Prophecy concerning the Messiah again arises like light in a dark place. 

The Everlasting Ruler, the Lord Jesus Christ, will come out of a small, what we might call an insignificant or obscure place not worthy even of a mention. 

He will come out of Bethlehem, Ephrathah (where King David, Israel’s Second most revered ruler was born). 

According to His timetable, He will stand & feed His people, & His greatness will be seen throughout the whole earth. 

True & lasting peace will come with Him. 

This prophecy covers the time when Jesus was born in Bethlehem to the end of days. 

As is often the case with Prophecy it is fulfilled in two stages. 

The First occurred when Jesus came the First time to earth as a baby.

The Second will happen when Jesus comes again at His Second Coming which remains an event in the future, & as believers in Jesus Christ we know that He is our Blessed Hope & assurance that we can cling onto especially in difficult times. 


Or as the writer to the Hebrews says :- 

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Hebrews 6:19a NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.6.19a.NIV

We sang about this hope earlier in the worship song : -

‘The Voice of Hope’ By Lara Martin.  


God’s Grace


“while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Titus 2:13-14 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/tit.2.13-14.NIV


What nuggets of truth can we glean from these two verses? 


We are waiting for the blessed hope. 

That is to say, the appearing of our great God & Saviour, Jesus Christ. 

God’s Grace has caused His salvation to be offered to all people. 

The evidence or the proof of acceptance of God’s offer is outworked through living a holy & godly lifestyle. 

Looking for the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, a deep appreciation & gratitude of His redeeming and/or saving us through His death on the Cross should result in us living pure & zealous lives which mark us out as a people as being different from those who are not Christians.

We are His very own people. We should be eager to do what is good.


Let’s declare these truths about Jesus being our Hope through singing :- 

‘Glory, let there be Peace’ & 

‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing’ 


Closing Prayer

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 1:9-14 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/col.1.9-14.NIV


Thursday 25th November 2021

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer meeting 

——————————————————————


We are continuing on the theme of ‘Aspects of True Worship’. Last week we studied some Bible verses regarding ‘Reasons for Worship’, ‘Hindrances to Worship’ and ‘Acceptable Attitudes in Worship’.


Brief review : 

——————

In True Worship - we  wholeheartedly express praise, honour and glory to God, Who is worthy…we are giving God ‘what He is worth’ or worthy to receive. This devotion is not only expressed in the way we speak but in our lifestyle as we live to glorify Him.

So worship is centred on the Lord….not on ourselves or our feelings 


>We worship because God commands it. We as His people are to be a worshipping people. It is our response to His love, His holy presence, and to God's deeds and great deliverances.


>Some hindrances to worship identified : these include our relationships : Firstly with God and then with others . ‘Love what we hear from God's Word but we don't live it out’…’ going through the motions without real heart involvement.


>We also looked at some attitudes that are acceptable: these include presenting our bodies in living sacrifice…doing what is holy and pleasing. This is based on obedience as we saw from Micah 6:6-8… ‘to do justice , to love kindness and to walk humbly before God 


Today the two aspects we would like to study are : 1) Elements of Worship, 2) Results of Worship 


  1. Some elements of true worship:  

What do you think are some elements of worship ? ( what are some essentials/ characteristics of true worship ).For example praise and thankfulness 


  • worship with awe - ECCLESIASTES 5:1-7( read) This passage deals with some of the right ways to approach God. The wisdom teacher Solomon charges us to think about what you are saying and doing as we come into God's presence.The word ‘listen’ ( in Hebrew) really means ‘ listen and obey’. You are encountering God. Are we prepared to hear what He has to say ..the Lord of heaven (v2) ? Are your thoughts focussed on Him ? 

Are you here but thinking about other things…the noise in your mind that seems to distract you from adoring your God 

>>Worshipping with awe means : approaching God with the reverence, wonder and fear ( not a phobia) recognising that there is nothing you can do to put you in right standing with a holy God. It is dependent on Christ. The gist : So hear God and fear God ..stand in awe of Him


*worship is about thankfulness/ thanksgiving- REVELATION 11:15-17( read)


What are the twenty-four elders doing ?

 whoever these 24 elders are…whether they represent God's redeemed people or exalted ,angelic beings, they are worshipping, giving thanks and serving God.We see the majesty and dominion/ power of God emphasised. Any other observations ?


What is their posture or position in worship ? ‘Fell on their faces’ in reverence and awe


What is the reason for their thankfulness ? It is no small matter. V15- God’s Kingdom is finally being realised as Christ’s  reign continues forever. All enemies totally defeated. Christ reigns supremely and sovereignly.  Heaven proclaims God's victory.



2) Some results of true worship:

So in true worship we give God what is due to Him wholeheartedly. What do you think are some results of true worship ? How does it benefit believers? 


  • there is blessing for God's people -DEUTERONOMY 11:13-15 ( read )

Moses’ messages throughout Deuteronomy have a theme of obedience or keeping the law. What is the result of loving the Lord and serving / worshipping Him ( in devoted worship) ? Vv14-15 ( read again) ‘blessings’ and provision


How does this happen ? V13 says ‘if you faithfully obey’…God expects His people to be faithful to Him. And blessings often follow obedience. Yet this must not be our motivation for obeying.  God's commands are to be lovingly pursued .. ‘love the Lord your God…’

Last week we commented that obedience itself is an act of worship to our faithful God 


*there is deliverance (another result of worship)- ACTS 16:25-26 (read verses 22-34)

What was the response to their imprisonment ? V25 : they chose to worship 

In their adversity ,even for the gospel’s sake, Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God. Such faith releases the supernatural power of God ..it raises them above their situation as their focus is on the Lord

The word ‘praying’ here ( in Greek) is associated with corporate worship. The singing was continual even in such dire circumstances . Worship makes a bleak situation an opportunity for God to move in His power and majesty….causing sinners to repent and be saved too !

The prison-the place of pain becomes the place of praise, of ministry and deliverance


*there is a deeper sense of the lordship of Jesus Christ- REVELATION 1:10-18 ( read )

The apostle John receives this vision by the Spirit. V13-16 describes Jesus Christ. What are some descriptions mentioned ?

Jesus is no ordinary man…His face shone like the sun at its brightest ! ( this is the first time John is seeing Jesus in about ,over 60 years) .He is seeing Jesus, the Lord of Glory, as He has never seen Him before.

V17- How does John respond to his encounter with Jesus ? With respect, awe , wonder and worship in His presence. In the presence of the Lord,John sees himself as God sees him..his complete unworthiness 

We see a clear indication of Jesus’ deity : the One who always gives peace reassures John, “Don't be afraid …”. Jesus ministers peace  and mercy to John as he worships the One Who is worthy

V18- reminds us, like John, of Who Jesus is and What He does ( read )..Jesus - the eternally Reigning , Resurrected and Redeeming One..the One Who Releases us from death


>From Revelation, we get a glimpse of what worship in heaven is like. Our worship here on earth joins in with the continual true worship of God that takes place in heaven. The focus : the One seated on the throne, together with God's Lamb who is in the midst of the throne 


Application 

—————-

In your time of need keep worshipping , keep your focus on Jesus ( like Paul and Silas )and see God break through for you

Seek to encounter God in His glory, majesty and holiness and so become more like Jesus



Thursday 18th November 2021

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

———————————————————————

ASPECTS OF TRUE WORSHIP 


For the next two weeks, we are studying ‘Aspects of True Worship’.This week we will look at three aspects namely : 

Reasons for Worship, Hindrances to Worship, and Acceptable Attitudes in Worship 


Introductory questions : 

———————————

What do you think true worship is ?  Devotion and honour rendered to God and if this was rendered to a created being it would be idolatry. True worship involves the worshipper’s heart, 

soul and mind. It is not just engaging in formalities.


>>Worship :expressing to God the praise , honour and glory of which He is worthy, not only with our lips but in our lives. And when we as believers worship we are joining with the host of heaven in proclaiming the greatness of our God.


Why do you think the we as human beings should worship God? The supreme reason we exist is to worship God for His love ,greatness and saving deeds.


We shall look at some Bible verses to help us understand more about True Worship 


1)SOME  REASONS FOR  WORSHIP

————————————————- 

*It is God's command - it is a divine command 

PSALM 148:11-13>> what do these verses say ? Everything on earth is created to praise the Lord.The sound God hears in heaven is a carefully-crafted symphony of praise. 


 REVELATION 14:7 ..God's redeemed are singing His praise…even a new song of praise. What is the angel proclaiming? These words declare what should be the effect of the gospel on all individuals . To fear God, to worship Him with awe


*God’s people are to be a worshipping people - 

ISAIAH 43:21 - as God's people, what are we made to do ?( declare praise for what only He can do and give Him the glory He rightly deserves)


REVELATION 1:5-6 ( the One who loves us, frees us and has made us into a people of praise is worthy of glory)


*Worship is the response of God's people - to His love: 2 CHRONICLES 7:3, 

           to His holy presence: 1CHRONICLES 16:29,

           and to God's deeds and great deliverance :  GENESIS 8:20 ( Noah worships after the flood ) DANIEL 3:28 ( even the King Nebuchadnezzar praises the true God after God rescues the three men from the blazing furnace 


In response to God who is our firm foundation, and Who spoke the earth into existence we cannot help but fully acknowledge His majesty and might


2) SOME HINDRANCES TO WORSHIP 

—————————————————-

What do you think can limit the ability to worship God ? True worship goes beyond mere form or ritual. A wrong relationship to God or to others can hinder genuine worship.


*Some verses in relation to God : 


EZEKIEL 33:31  - the people of God came to the prophet’s house to hear him preach God’s words, ‘ as they usually do’. What do they do after hearing God's words ? Their hearts are not consistent with what they say. They are loving what they hear - God's words but not living it .

 2 TIMOTHY 3:5 ( read verses 1-5 ) Paul warns Timothy . What is his warning ?


MARK 7:6-7 ( mere formality ‘going through the motions’ without any genuine heart involvement )Jesus values the heart relationship we are  to have with Him…as we engage in true worship 


*Some verses in relation to others :

 ISAIAH 1:11-17-  What is God doing here ? God confronts His people about their sin and rebellious ways.They were violent, greedy, underhanded towards others. They go through all the right  motions and rituals but they are empty inside and full of hypocrisy . This hindered their worship…relationships with God and others needed to be addressed .God hates the worship of those who mistreat or exploit others

 

MATTHEW 5:23-24 - we stand before God  in worship, forgiven and accepted, can we say that we are offering this same forgiveness and mercy to others too ? God wants us to be right with each other, if we are going to be right Him



3) SOME ACCEPTABLE ATTITUDES IN WORSHIP 

——————————————————————-

A pure motive is essential for worship to be acceptable. It is not the mechanical repetition of rituals but must come from the heart….wholehearted and reverent. 


  • ROMANS 12:1-  what does Paul  see here as true worship ? Paul urges believers in view of all God has given to us in Christ to give their bodies in living sacrifice…To do what is holy and pleasing. This is worship to Him ..it is the kind He delights in. 


  • MICAH 6:6-8 ; -  Micah shows that sacrifices are no good without obedience. Worship is based or grounded in godly living ..living obediently and that obedience itself is an act of worship 

What is the Lord wanting from His people  ? 

V8 (read ) ..what does this mean ? being fair and helping those who are weak, showing compassion and mercy and love from the heart,( to others ) and being humble before God. It was not about sacrifices .It was about heart.

It is about loving a loving God and having that love spill out onto others as a result 


The worshipper’s attitude must be one of whole heartedness, total devotion to our Lord : LUKE 10:27



Application:

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What does God hear  from you ? Is it noise ..complaints and grumblings or an orchestra of praise..a sweet, sound in His ear  ?

Jesus alone has the power to cleanse our hearts , to renew our thoughts. If our hearts are pure, our thoughts and actions will be. Then we can engage in true worship from the heart.

Thursday 11th November 2021 

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WELCOME TO THE BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER MEETING

REVIEW

We are currently studying the theme of ‘Spiritual Warfare’. Last time we noted that there are three areas where spiritual battles are fought.

Can you recall the first two areas ? 1)- The battle within or the enemy within or the flesh , 2)The battle with the world( the outer enemy )

We are subjected to the persuasions of the flesh. And this causes conflict between the flesh/self as it seeks to compete for dominance over the new Christ-like nature

We are subjected to the influences of the world. This refers to man -centred way of life, ungodly standards and values operating through society, that are contrary to God's ways.

The third area or bitter enemy is the spiritual battle with the devil :

The stubborn adversary- the devil

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The devil , Satan seeks to hold us captive. He is the commander of a large host of demons who are opposed to God.Therefore, theses demons are dedicated to seeking to defeat those who have accepted the Lord's salvation. Satan will do all he can to hinder our Christian lives.

How can we deal with the devil ?

Resist him ( James 4:7), Put on the full armour provided for spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:14-18)

What are some other names that describe the devil ? The deceiver, liar, accuser , evil one, god of this world

We will study some verses that help us to understand the enemy and His schemes :

2 CORINTHIANS 4:4-6

V4- Paul gives a description to Satan here. What is it ? ‘the god of this world’- because of his influence over individuals and people. Those who follow him have in effect made him their god.Some even declare that they are his children

Can you give any examples of how the devil blinds individuals. Examples of how he blinds people : some Hollywood films, video games that show virtual violence, the drug culture, what we watch and read , even the company we keep

So Paul uses light as a metaphor for the ‘Good News of the glory of Christ’.Satan is committed to keeping people from seeing the light of Christ’s glory, because he is the prince of darkness too.

What has the devil done to such individuals? Those who do not believe he has blinded their minds and understanding so they are incapable of receiving the glorious light of Christ

- so when you think about unbelievers you know or even those in other parts of the world, you can see what the devil is doing ... blinding their minds .

V5- How does God open eyes and open hearts ? through the proclamation of the gospel...NOT ourselves. It is by telling others about Jesus

V5 - Paul says we preach Jesus Christ as Lord...as we share the gospel we want to reveal Jesus to you. This must be our central focus. Even when we engage in social welfare activities like feeding the hungry ,etc, the aim must still be to be light for Jesus .This dispels darkness.

V6 Who gives light to our hearts as believers ? God ...big ‘G’. God said “Let light shine out of darkness” . God said this at creation...bringing natural light out of darkness.

This one true God has given us light that comes from Him , as revealed through the person of Jesus ( God’s glory ).

God who sovereignly orchestrated creation is the same God who makes us a new creation in Christ ( read Colossians 1:13-14)

>> What we see here is a spiritual battle between darkness and light. You have capital ‘G’ God is shining light so people will see who Jesus is.On the other hand, little ‘g’ god, the adversary is trying to blind minds, keep them away from the good news.

And we who are sharing good news and preaching Christ are like in the middle of this battle... engaging in warfare for the souls of others. So we must not lose heart ....keep proclaiming the gospel in the face of growing darkness and wickedness

The encouragement for us - keep sharing and preaching Christ wherever you are, in whatever way you can, wisely. This way people are hearing and seeing the glory, beauty and love and grace of the one true God

Pray that God would open eyes, open hearts supernaturally to see the Saviour as you share

JOB 1:8-11 ( read )

Here we have a curious conversation involving the Lord and Satan. They are talking about Job who walks blamelessly and uprightly. Job fears God and seeks to live a godly life( shuns evil) . God is pleased with Job’s character. You would think that he is an unlikely candidate for trouble

Satan is not . So he begins to accuse Job before God charging or insinuating that Job’s righteousness in which God delights is self-serving. Conflict is happening in the spiritual realm. Warfare ,spiritually speaking is taking place

One of Satan's favourite activities is to go before God and accuse the believers. This is what He does as he actively roams about trying to deceive and attack. But because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross ,Satan is nothing but a defeated foe !

So what can we learn from the warfare that Job faced ?

When you live close to the Lord in obedience and in His will, you become a candidate for pain and suffering.

The enemy seeks our destruction.Like Job we have the One with us Who strengthens, keeps and sees us through any battle in which we are engaging

V8- ‘ have you considered my servant Job?’ God speaks honourably of Job.

V9 -12 When Satan is asked about Job , Satan reveals his true identity. He lives up to his name The word ‘Satan’ means ‘the adversary, one who stands in opposition to another.’

( let us look at these verses)

Satan tells the Lord that the only reason Job serves Him is because God has paid him off. He says that if God were to remove His hand from Job’s life , Job would turn his back on the Lord > What an accusation from an accuser...the accuser !

And he continues to accuse the people of God before the throne of God .He likes to dig up the past life....the failures and sin and bring them as accusations to God

REVELATION 12:10 ( read ) even in the face of accusations Day and night , we as believers have an Advocate .The enemy exposes our sin, weaknesses and our wickedness before God ( often he does not have to make anything up )but Jesus pleads our case in Heaven ( 1John 2:1).Jesus stands up in our defence declaring us justified. Jesus has already suffered punishment every sinner deserves when He died on the cross.

The case the devil brings against us is dismissed because of what Jesus has done

The cross has established victory making the accuser and deceiver defeated.

And as we see in Revelation 12:11 ,as we preach Christ crucified and testify to His triumph over the devil and death, even when our lives are endangered in the process, so God's victorious purposes are established.


Thursday 4th November 2021

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting



INTRODUCTION:

Today we are continuing our studies on the general theme of ‘Spiritual Warfare’.Last week we began studying the enemies that believers in Christ face in spiritual warfare.We are called to be good soldiers in our spiritual conflicts. It does not mean you are less than a believer.


We noted that there are three main areas where battles are fought spiritually :

( Do you remember what theses are ? ) 1)-the battle within, 2)- the battle with the world, and 3)- the spiritual battle. Another way of saying this is that the spiritual enemies we face are the flesh , the world and the devil

So we would like to delve or ‘dig deeper’ into these three areas  of warfare over the next two weeks.


1:The Battle with The Flesh( Self )- the inner enemy

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 … interestingly the word ‘flesh’ without the ‘h’ 

spelt backwards is ‘self’

 

To what do you think this refers ? 


We have an enemy called ‘the 

flesh’.It is internal and it refers to our sinful nature that dwells in my body. Our human nature has the tendency to sin…we are born with a heart that is inclined to sin. We are subjected to the persuasions of ‘the flesh’ from within ( the twisted fallen nature )


By being born again, the new nature is controlled by Holy Spirit ; the old nature is characterised by sinful desires… ‘remnants of our fallen nature’. There will be conflict, a battle — as the self, sinful nature competes for supremacy over the new nature. For example, the new man knows we should be peacemakers ,but the old man thrives on controversy. 


Yet we still live in the broken  world with broken  people and sometimes we still sin. Before we became believers, sin had control over us. Now as believers in Christ we have the ability to choose every time sin comes calling . 


How do we deal with this inner enemy called the ‘flesh’ ? Here are some verses to study:


ROMANS 6:12-14 (read)

What are some observations you can make from these verses ? In verses 12 and 13, the words ‘do not ‘ are repeated. These are commands for believers. An unbeliever will find commands to ‘stop sinning’ futile. To someone whom Christ has freed from sin , these are meaningful and helpful as you are to live a holy life 


What is your responsibility as a believer ? 

To ensure sin does not reign( v12) , offer your bodies to God as instruments of righteousness and not wickedness ,and not to sin(v13),don't let sin master  or have dominion over you ( v14).This is the battle of the flesh  which we can overcome and live in victory 

This is active responsibility to stop the reign of sin. It wants the throne of your heart. 


Being dead to sin as a Christian is not a feeling.It is a spiritual truth that you need to believe and act on. Often this is in opposition to your feelings and lusts of the sin nature


The word ‘instruments’ can also be translated as ‘weapons’. So what is the picture emerging here? It is one of where in the struggle we face against sin is really combat against an enemy that seeks to destroy you

The reassuring truth is that these commands can be obeyed because in Christ, the power of sin has been broken. The platform from which we fight is the cross - what Jesus accomplished there. 


There is victory over sin for we are under grace ,not law.(v14).

What do you think this means  ?.. “not under the law but under grace”. This means that law-keeping does not remove sin ..it is futile , it does not save. Grace brings us into a holy relationship with God, powerfully saving us.

 True believers live under the lordship of Christ, not the lordship of sin. Jesus reigns now .



GALATIANS 5:16-18, 24-25( read)

 V16-18 : This is a key spiritual truth - focus on walking in the Spirit. Another passage where you see the warfare that is going in your life. There is a tug-of -war between the Spirit and the ‘flesh’( the old sinful nature) as Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh.

It is a lifelong struggle but final victory belongs to the Spirit.God's Holy Spirit is stronger than our sinful desires ! 

What does it mean to live/ walk  by the Spirit ? Aligning ourselves to Spirit’s lead  - surrendering to His control so you are obeying Jesus’ words. This way you will not satisfy the selfish desires that are in opposition to the Spirit 


V24-25 (read )  : you have crucified the lusts / desires of the flesh. Jesus died for your sin, so you died to your sin. It was nailed to the cross. In effect you ave said, you will have nothing more to do with it. So we are to live like that !.


‘Keep in step with the Spirit.This is like dancing with someone who can't.Dancing requires alignment so you follow the lead … not lagging behind. The Spirit gives us victory.


Are there any other verses you would like to share in relation to this battle with the flesh.


2: The Battle with The World-(the outer enemy)

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The ‘ world’ here refer to man- centred way of life which ignores God, and operates by selfish principles and live by ungodly standards. It is not people or the created world like the mountains and oceans, etc. It  refers to values that seek to dominate the society, operating through unbelievers and which are contrary to God's ways 


1JOHN 2:15-17 (read)

What are some initial observations you can make ?

Love for God means that the believer has no love for worldliness.The battle : Love of the world vs 

Love of the Father… the tug of the world vs love for God.


V15 : here is  a command in 15a—  ‘do not love…..’

 What do you think ‘to be worldly’ means ? Thinking and acting out of selfishness, greed, pride


V16 :The apostle John continues to explain v15( use of the word ‘for’),showing how love for the things the world offers  does not come from the Father. 


What does worldliness look like ?

What are the three aspects of ‘everything that the world offers’ ?


The three aspects of ‘all that the world offers’ are :

 >Lust of the flesh - refers to a strong desire or impulse. Flesh refers to our fallen,sinful nature. So it's about any strong desire of our fallen nature including sexual sins but also activity that comes out of a self-seeking, godless nature (with which we are born)

E.g.- appetite for food becomes so excessive … it can become sinful 


>Lust of the eyes- through our eyes , the world appeals to us to find superficial satisfaction. So we want what we don't have but which others may have…. “a covetous itching to own what we see”… we don't need this particular thing but we want it.


  >Pride of life -this aspect has to do with sinful pride over what you do have ( the first two are about what you don't have ) You have this desire to be better than others so that you can glory in yourself and achievements 


These are daily temptations to battle from this powerful “outer” enemy . And as John points out here, if you're adopting these three aspects as your way of life, love for the Father is not being maintained. As God's children we must fight these things , resist continually.Live by eternal values and not fleshly entitlements the world offers.

V17- the world and all the desires it inspires are passing away. And if you love God , you will obey Him and live victoriously forever


The believer’s attitude : So don't ‘follow the crowd’…refuse to be guided by the world’s standards ,embrace the standards of The Word .


What does Jesus has to say about this enemy of the world ?


JOHN 15 :18-21 (read for encouragement to keep serving Him )

Jesus teaches His disciples that being hated by the world is a hallmark of the Christian life.Jesus says ‘remember they hated Me first’

Our values are different to the world as Jesus’ disciples.

V19- Jesus says to believers ,“The truth is that you do not belong to the world,but I have chosen to take you out of worldliness to belong to My Kingdom.That is why the world hates you and is opposed to you..”

V 21- Why will the world treat us with hatred ? They do not know God the Father..they reject God who is holy and hates sin.The world loves sin


So we have studied two of the three bitter enemies of the believer in Christ Jesus : the flesh, and the world. Next week we will study the last of the three , namely the devil . 



Thursday 28th October 2021


WELCOME TO THE BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER MEETING 

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Today we would like to continue on the general theme of Spiritual Warfare .For the last twe have been studying the Armour of God.


Today we shall spend time looking at some specific Bible verses. Then we can spend time praying, even making  relevant declarations using scripture verses. Prayer,  as we were reminded last week, makes the Armour of God effective in the believer’s life. The armour goes on in prayer. It is in the place of prayer God's power is released in us and through us


Definition: Spiritual warfare - this is a battle that we as believers are in spiritually speaking. Our spiritual battles and warfare are real even though we cannot see our attacker. Warfare is a way of life for every believer in Christ


Enemies in spiritual warfare:

Three main areas of where the battles are fought are :  the battle within, the battle with the world and thirdly the spiritual  battle. This means Christians are at war with the flesh, the world and the devil


  1. The battle within- this battle is probably the most exhausting of the three areas where battles are fought. It can be very overwhelming, difficult to get a grasp on what is going on within our own hearts and minds . Our flesh fights for what we don't have.We either want something that belongs to another, or we want something outside of God's boundaries. Two verses are MATTHEW 26:41,GALATIANS 5:16-17 can you describe/comment on the battle flesh versus spirit ? The battle is waged because we have have the power to overcome sin’s grasps by the blood of Christ. Before becoming a Christian (dead in trespasses) ,there is no spiritual battle because we are dead spiritually. We also still liven these bodies flesh that have a sinful nature. So now as a believer the battle rages on BUT victory is assured because we are in Christ !
  2. The battle with the world - Two verses: JOHN 17:14-15. Jesus gives a clear message through His prayer about the seriousness of our lives in this ‘world’. V14- what does it say about believers and the world ? V15- what is Jesus’ request to the Father for believers? 

  JAMES 4:1-4 what does this passage say about our relationship with the world ? Friendship with the world places us in direct opposition to God


So there will be conflict, spiritual warfare because the world hates Jesus’ followers. Yet we are to be light in darkness …Jesus’ witnesses- carriers of His presence



3) The Spiritual battle -  Two verses: EPHESIANS 6:12, 2 KINGS 6:11-17 : What words describe the spiritual realm that we cannot see physically ? In 2 Kings here, the Lord opens the spiritual eyes of Elisha’s servant to see the host of God’s army…his spiritual eyes were opened to see into the spiritual warfare around him. So there is the invisible ,spiritual realm around us.Yet the Lord is with us.


>There are forces set against us to prevent us from receiving all the blessings of God as we seek to serve and follow Him. So we must fight spiritually whether it is in the spiritual realm, worldly realm or against fleshly desires.

Remember we fight in God's strength and His Spirit lives within us 


Some Bible  verses to use in prayer and declarations: 

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1JOHN 4:4  ‘You dear children are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world’. 

Thank God that you belong to Him.You have overcome the false spirits and declare that God , the Spirit of Truth is  far greater than any other Spirit. Declare the truth that your God is able to overcome the influence of anything false or counterfeit 

2 CORINTHIANS 10:3-5 ‘ For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does..The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’

Declare that you have the ability to exercise authority over what is not right in God's eyes.Every negative/ rebellious thought sown by the devil is dismissed. And we accept thoughts that glorify Jesus and lead us to obey Him.


2 THESSALONIANS 3:3.. ‘But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one’. In the face of opposition, declare this great and precious promise


JOHN 10:10 ‘ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’.

Give thanks that Jesus exposes the devil's true nature. Declare that you have authority over the enemy and his  works because you have as a believer God's fullness of life


ISAIAH 54:17(AMP )  ‘No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; And every tongue that rises against you in judgement you will condemn.This —-peace , righteousness, security and triumph over opposition —  is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. And this is their vindication from Me,’ says the Lord. Declare that anyone seeking to do evil against believers will fail.Thank God that victory is assured 


JAMES 4:7 (AMP)‘ So submit to (the authority of) God. Resist the devil , we stand firm against him, and he will flee from you’.Thank God that as you submit humbly to Him ,you can come against the enemy in His Name and authority. When you are submitted to the Lord, the enemy is actually opposing the Lord and so he flees..he has no answer to Jesus


1PETER 5:9 (AMP)‘Resist Him ,standing firm in your faith…’Praise God that your firm (rooted and established) faith gives you the power to resist the devil (we have similar reminders in Ephesians 6 and James 4)

Praise God we have the full armour of God which gives us the power to stand firm in our faith


2 CORINTHIANS 2:14 ‘But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the  knowledge of him’.


Give thanks that God does not lead His children into failure and defeat.

Declare that He ALWAYS leads us into victory over whatever comes against us. 

Thank God for making this victory procession possible because we are in Christ. 

Christ’s death and resurrection seals our victory over sin and death.


Thursday 21st October 2021

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

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This week we are continuing our study on the Armour of God . The familiar passage is from 

Ephesians 6 and verses 10-20. 


BRIEF RECAP -  Last week we studied verses 10-15. We learned and reminded each other that we are to put on the full armour of God. As believers in Jesus Christ we have an enemy, the devil and we are facing a spiritual battle against the devil. As Paul the writer encourages the Christians at Ephesus, he uses imagery of the Roman military.They were familiar with this and the uniform the soldiers wore for battle.

Last week we looked at the first three items of the soldier’s uniform : ( do you remember them?) belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness and the shoes of gospel.


VERSES 16-20( read the whole passage again - vv10-20)

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> V16 - the Shield of faith - what does this do ? ( 16 b ) it covers any angle of attack so it is a flexible piece of equipment. For the soldiers then , this shield was made out of water - saturated leather so the flaming arrows would simply go out upon impact. 


This is what faith does - it covers all angles of spiritual attack, enabling you to overcome anything the devil throws at you .In other versions ( e.g. AMP and NKJV ) this verse begins with the phrase “above all”.Faith must be used to be any good .Without faith we cannot serve God, nor can we please Him….so we are living dependent or trusting in the Lord.

   What are ‘fiery darts or flaming arrows’ ? These are attacks that can come from anywhere at any time and in any situation. For example you may be going along ok and then the devil hits with a ‘fiery dart’ in your mind. Or you may be tempted to anger, unkind words ,encountering a difficult person or being bitter. It catches us off guard. Satan’s lethal darts of temptation to sin, of pain, of trouble, of dashed hopes, …these can only be extinguished by putting trust in Christ 

So we use the shield of faith - calling out to God …like an ‘arrow prayer’ from your heart to God's

Faith enables the believer to overcome the enemy 


> V17a- Helmet of Salvation  - physically this is for head and brain protection. Spiritually salvation provides the helmet that protects our minds from the devil's attacks. What Jesus did for us, saving us by His grace is something we must always be grateful to God.  We must declare that Christ has saved us ! We must never forget this. 

The helmet speaks of our security in Christ Jesus and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus. This way we can hold our heads up in confidence and face the battle 


The enemy may try to take away the blessings we have in Christ. So believing the reality of our salvation enables believers to reject the lies, deceptions and negative accusations of the accuser.

Knowing that we are children of God helps us to survive any attack. You can counter all the devil's lies and efforts to deceive you in your thinking .We can  boldly declare “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”


          >V17b- Sword of the Spirit - this is God's Word ( the blade of the Spirit ) This is the piece of equipment that is offensive to the devil.The truth is the answer to all the devil's lies and deception It is readily available for use. It strikes a decisive blow to the enemy - he has no answer to the  truth of word of God ( Hebrews 4:12-13) . You take the fight or battle to the enemy with the right sword- God’s Word. By the power of the Spirit,God’s Word cannot be resisted. So continue to learn more of God's Word..let it become active in your life .Hold  fast to the truth of what He says


Paul has explained the armour of God and now adds this command :

>V18a- ‘Pray in the Spirit’ -  a life controlled by / dependent on Spirit and communicating with the commander -in-chief directly. This is the greatest offensive weapon we have - the ability to call on the Lord our God in the actual battle 

NOTE  : ‘Praying in the Spirit’ - Pray in the name of Jesus, according to God's will and nature, allowing His word to shape our prayers. Pray as the Spirit leads so you are cooperating with God so He fills your prayer with His life and power, whatever the request may be.


Why do you think Paul encourages prayer ? PRAYER MAKES THE ARMOUR EFFECTIVE IN YOUR LIFE. The armour goes on with prayer.You share your fears with God.You hear what He says. Good communication ( praying ) is critical in spiritual warfare. This gives us a distinct advantage over the devil and his schemes.You know you have the Spirit to help particularly when you do not know what /how to pray in a particular situation 

It is the life , strength and safeguard of the whole spiritual armour. (“No prayer, no victory”)


> Vv 18b-20 : When is a good time to pray ? ‘Always’… ‘on all occasions’


How can we pray ? Pray for specific requests, for the saints. God's Church is to move forward as a mighty army….not isolated, not just surviving but thriving and conquering as the gospel is proclaimed . Persevere in prayer !( “keep on praying “).

 Paul even requests prayer for himself to declare truth boldly ( this is part of the battle!) As a preacher he is depending on God for the right words and then he needs boldness and courage to communicate and declare the message.


IN SUMMARY : Putting on God's armour means living : 

     

Truthfully - Belt of truth ; Righteously - Breastplate of righteousness 

Peacefully - Gospel boots ; Dependently - Shield of faith ( trust )

Confidently - Helmet of salvation ; Biblically - Sword ( God’s Word ) and Prayerfully 

    

CLOSING REMINDERS/ COMMENTS AS YOU ENGAGE IN BATTLE :


Memorise verses from the Bible and let the life- giving power of them enter your soul

Arm yourself with the Word of God..it is all we need.

Prayer unleashes the power of God in the believer's or soldier’s life


God leads us into victory 


You want to be victorious so you must be equipped 

Put on the full armour of God : it is devil -proof

Know your enemy ( your enemy is not people )


Cling on to God's promises and God's character. ( what He says and who He is )

Thursday 14th October 2021

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting

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For the next two weeks we will be studying Ephesians 6:10-20. This is all about the Armor of God.


These are words Paul included in his letter to the Christians of Ephesus. Paul had spent about two years ( 55-57 AD ) in Ephesus.He knew the church well and played a formative part in its growth and development .He writes this letter from his confinement in Rome awaiting trial


Paul is giving imagery here that reminds the Ephesians of the Roman military and the kind of armour they wore. They would have known that every part of the Roman armour had a specific purpose .The armour was designed to protect the individual soldier and the army generally.


And as believers in Christ Jesus ,we are to equip ourselves for spiritual battle just like a soldier  would. The enemy is real. He attacks us when we least expect it. And he will try to use his number 1 tool of discouragement to see if you will drop your weapons as you give up in despair 


READ THE PASSAGE- verses 10-20


Today: VERSES 10-15 ( next week vv16-20) What are some initial observations you can make ?


V10-11 Paul use the word ‘ finally ‘ as he challenges believers to open their eyes to the spiritual warfare in which they are engaged 

V10  ‘be strong in the Lord’ - What do you think this means for the believer ?

   We are not standing in our own strength, trying on our own to muster up strength. Our strength is activated from Holy Spirit empowering us. The verse is actually saying ‘be strengthened ‘ in the 

Lord as you put on God's armour. This means we are abiding in Him..our power comes from being IN Christ…not in our own abilities .God has provided His might and power ( force or strength and dominion )


V11- How can we stand against all the devil's disruptive tactics or schemes ?

 ‘Put on the FULL armour of God’. By being fully equipped, not just parts of the armour. This is vital to our victorious walk with Jesus the Christ.We are clothed with God's gifts and resources to be able to stand against the devil's disruptive tactics 


This verse identifies our enemy and his strategies, schemes or tricks.

‘Put on’ here means that when you get dress for battle you do not take off the uniform. So the armour of God is to be kept on at all times

This enables you to ‘stand’ - this is a military term meaning to hold a critical position during a time of enemy attack. The image here is of “a soldier refusing to yield or give in even one inch of ground to an attacking foe”


V12 - Really, against whom are we in battle ?  - who are we fighting against ?


NOT against people but against the negative spiritual forces that influence and control them.

Real evil powers , a whole range of ( look at the list ) This is an important truth. Our battle as believers is not against people . The  battle is against the negative spirits that control  unbelievers 

or have been able to influence believers


Often it feels like our battles are against people. 

>>> when someone has hurt you deeply, it seems that your struggle/ battle is with that person.You might even say ‘That person is the source of all my problems’. BUT our battle is not against people 

 

Can you give an example of one way in which the devil and his demons try to distract us, tempt us or even ‘steal ,kill and destroy’ ?

EXAMPLES - attacks from an unsuspected quarter, worries that seem to consume us, bitterness toward others, excuses made for lack of spiritual growth, critical comments about other believers 




V13- What are we to do as believers when we are facing the battle or struggle ?

Repeated from v11 - ‘ Put on the full armour…’It implies a responsibility on the believer’s part.The believer has to appropriate what God has given him/her.The believer is to make use of the weapons God has made available to him/her

So we are able to stand firm and remain standing ( note ‘stand’ in vv 11,13,14)


VV14-15 How are we to stand ? What does the armour look like ?

Paul is painting a picture of the Christian in complete armour, ready for battle.He lists the items of the soldier’s uniform in the order the soldier would put on the uniform .And each piece describes a spiritual trait the believer needs to survive the attacks of the devil


What do you think (1) the belt of truth is? (2) breastplate of righteousness is ? and (3) your feet fitted or strapped with the gospel of peace is ?


>Belt of truth - before battle the soldier would gather his loose- fitting tunic and hold it in place with a heavy leather belt enabling quick movement. The believer wears the belt of truth from God's Word which combats error and lies of the enemy.Truth also refers to your service to God out of sincerity and not hypocrisy.Truth is lived out daily and we are real 


>Breastplate of righteousness- something like an ancient bulletproof vest, it covers vital organs of the chest especially the heart and lungs.God declares us righteous in Christ. So in the choices we make, we are to pursue righteousness knowing we are right with God. Not reacting in the flesh but seeking to live pure lives that glorify God. It is all about the power in living a holy life , with no room for sin and the devil


> (feet fitted with) shoes of the gospel of peace - you must have good, suitable shoes for different jobs. A soldier must have appropriate shoes so he does not slip when fighting. Roman soldiers wore sandals with spikes driven through the soles that gave traction on any surface. 

So the believer should be ready to share the good news that bring peace with God. They walk the walk ,enjoying peace and favour with God. We stand in the truth that God fights for us, that all is well with our souls, and His peace makes us ‘stand’ against the enemy’s tactics 


CONCLUDING COMMENTS: 

Spiritual warfare is real , and we have a real enemy


If we go in God's strength and His equipment, these evil powers can be defeated 


To experience victory in the spiritual battles we face ,we need His kind of power 


We are on our own no match for the enemy.Jesus is ! In Christ we can stand fully equipped against the enemy 


NEXT WEEK : we will study verses 16-20


THURSDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER 2021 

Welcome to the Bible Study & Prayer Meeting

Background Information to the Letter to the Colossians 

While Paul was in prison in Rome, awaiting his upcoming trial before Caesar, one of the letters that he wrote was to the gathering of believers in Colossae. 
Paul had never met them, but they knew who he was & respected his leadership. Paul had worked with a man named Epaphras when he was in Ephesus. 
Epaphras was originally from Colossae, about 100 miles to the east. 
Paul sent him to bring the Good News about Jesus to this city & to two other nearby cities, Laodicea & Hierapolis. 
Epaphras was later arrested & brought to Rome as a prisoner himself. 
Paul learned from him what was happening in those cities. 

The Colossians were mostly Gentiles, but like the Galatians they were pressured to follow the Jewish laws & were adding extra rules & false teachings to the faith. 
Some were priding themselves as having visions & getting secret spiritual knowledge. So Paul wrote them a letter to say basically, 
“When you’ve got Jesus the Messiah, you’ve got it all!”
Or as some have said, “Jesus : Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else!”

Paul highlights the fact that everything in heaven and on earth were created by the Son, Jesus, & were reconciled to God by the death of Jesus the Son on the Cross. Christ possesses the fullness of God’s being. 
Since the Colossians have been brought into the new kingdom of light, they can live their faith to the fullest. 
Or as a recent Pepsi advert put it : “live life to the Max.!”
They are to put on the new self, awaiting the time when the Messiah will openly appear, revealing His Glory.

This sets the stage & the context for our Bible Study this morning. 
Colossians 1:15-20 is often referred to as an early Christian Hymn based on the Supremacy of Christ. It is used here by Paul to counteract the false teaching at Colossae. It is divided into two parts : The Supremacy of Christ in creation & 
The Supremacy of Christ in Redemption. 

The Supremacy of the Son of God

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the Cross.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:15-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/col.1.15-20.NIV

What Titles Does Jesus Have in Colossians 1:15-20? 

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://colossians.bible/colossians-1-15

The Son is the image of the invisible God, 

The Firstborn over all Creation (Verse 15)

Christ is called the image of the invisible God. 
This indicates two truths : that God is invisible & that 
Christ, Who is the Son of God & became the God-man, reflects & reveals Him. 
Jesus Christ is ‘the Firstborn over all creation.’ 
In Middle Eastern culture, being the firstborn meant Jesus enjoyed certain privileges and an inheritance. Just as the firstborn son had certain privileges & rights in the Biblical world, so also Christ has certain rights in relation to all creation - priority, pre-eminence, & sovereignty. 
Even today, we still pass on rights and blessings to our children, like citizenship, money, or possessions, for example. 
True to His inheritance, Jesus is King. 

In Hebrews 1:2-3a the writer to the Hebrews adds further insight to this, ‘but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world. 
He is the radiance of the Glory of God & the exact imprint of His nature, 
& He upholds the universe by the word of His power.’

Jesus is our Creator & Sustainer (Verses 16-17)

‘For by Him all things were created, in heaven & on earth, visible & invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through Him & for Him. And He is before all things, & in Him all things hold together.’ 

As Creator, Jesus also received Lordship over His creation. 
Because Jesus created all things & exists above & before all things, He stands as Lord. In fact, seven times in the six verses Colossians 1:15-20, 
Paul states that Jesus rules over ‘all creation’, ‘all things’ or ‘everything,’ therefore stressing that Christ is supreme over all. 
He is before all things & in Him all things hold together. 

Even now Jesus sustains all life & all creation. 
Without Him, there would be disorder in nature, & chaos throughout the universe. 
“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭8:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://1corinthians.bible/1-corinthians-8-6

Just like it says in the children’s song I grew up singing in Church,
‘He’s got the whole world in His hands.’ 

As we consider our incredible creation, let’s remember the integral part that Jesus has in it. He rules creation as its Firstborn, Creator, Lord, & Sustainer. 

Paul emphasises the deity of Christ with this truth : He is the One Who holds all things together, the Head of the Church, & the first person to rise from the dead never to die again.

The Supremacy of Christ 

The key theme to Paul’s letter to the Colossians is the supremacy of Christ. One of the clearest pictures of this is in the “Christ Hymn” found in Colossians 1:15-20. Jesus reigns supreme over all creation. Paul, makes it clear that Jesus is 
all-sufficient for our spiritual life & should reign supreme at its centre.
Jesus is the Head of the Church because the Church is the extension of Himself; it is His body of believers. He is also the beginning, the firstborn of the dead : Jesus was the first to conquer death by God’s power, never to die again. 

“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/rom.6.9-10.NIV

“John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭1:4-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/rev.1.4-6.NIV


Jesus is the Head of the Body, the Church

He is the beginning & the Firstborn from among the dead

Jesus is our Reconciler

(Verses 18-20)

“And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:18-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/col.1.18-20.NIV

Using the metaphor of a body, Paul teaches that our lives as Christians must be rooted in Christ, for He is the Head. He is the One Who empowers us & renews us. 
We have our entire existence in Him! Since it is through Christ we live as Christians, 
a “rules-orientated” lifestyle dictated by humans will not lead to spiritual growth. 
Christ was the first to rise from the dead with a resurrection body.
For Paul, fullness meant the totality of God with all His powers & attributes.
All the fullness of the deity dwells in Christ, & not only has He reconciled sinners to Himself; but ultimately He will reconcile the whole of creation to Himself. 
Our reconciliation brings us peace with God through the Blood that Jesus shed for us on the Cross of Calvary. 
His death has eternal significance for our lives. 
The evidence of reconciliation is ongoing holy living for Him & being grounded steadfastly in Him. 
But that doesn’t mean that Christ by His death has saved all people. 
Scripture speaks of an eternal hell & makes clear that only believers in Christ are saved. 
When Adam & Eve sinned, not only was the harmony between God & human beings destroyed, but also disorder came into creation. 

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:19-22‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/rom.8.19-22.NIV

So when Christ died on the Cross, He made peace possible between God & people, & He restores I; principle the harmony in the physical world. Although, the full realisation of this will come only when Christ returns. 

When life makes us feel discouraged, marginalised, & insignificant, the Cross declares that our lives matter to God & reminds us that Jesus loves us enough to die for us. He wants us to live in hope & peace with Him forever. 

Without Jesus, we had no hope. We were alienated, separated, & lost, 
‘but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,’ 
Romans 5:8. 
God offered Himself as the final sacrifice for sin, making a way to restore a relationship with us. 

It cost Jesus everything to redeem us :
‘He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin & live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed,’ 1 Peter 2:24.

Praise God we are healed by hIs wounds, brought near to Him through His shed Blood on the Cross & given peace through His sacrifice. 
So great a cost, so great a Saviour! 
Or as the old hymn ‘Man of Sorrows’ phrases it : ‘Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’ 

Jesus did what we could never do, to enable us to live a life that we could never live except in His strength. 

He truly deserves first place in everything! 


Closing Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank You for bearing our sins & our punishment when You went to the Cross for us. Thank You that, through Your Blood, we can know & experience peace with God. You are worthy of all our praise, honour, & glory. Forgive us for allowing anything other than a You be the first in our lives. Let us live our lives for Your glory, filled with Your Spirit, Seeking You First today & every day. 
In the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen. It shall be so! 


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)

———————————

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

—————————————-

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)

————————————————


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)

————————

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

——————————

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

Let Jesus remain your focus.

Thursday 2nd September 2021

_________________________________


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)

——————————-

>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 )

——————————————

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

————————————————

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

——————————- 


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 )

——————————————

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

——————————————————————————-


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

———————————————————————————

( 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 )

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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

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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
https://bible.com/114/luk.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
https://www.bible.com/114/act.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
https://www.bible.com/114/psa.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
https://www.bible.com/114/psa.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
https://www.bible.com/114/php.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 ?