THURSDAY 15TH FEBRUARY 2024




PSALM 37 - Part 1 Background to Psalm 37

David wrote Psalm 37 for Jewish settlers who had moved into new land during David’s expansion of the kingdom of Israel.
However, the children of Israel had never completely driven out the Canaanites who were living there before, and as a result, these Canaanites had such an influence on the Israeli people that they sinned in an even worse way than the Canaanites had done.

As a result of this, a righteous man would be tempted to abandon the land God had called him to. David himself did that temporarily when he fled from Saul to the king of the Philistines, and that period was not a good one for either him or his men. (1 Samuel 27)

Can you think of anyone else who had left the land of Israel to try to improve their situation, only to find it got worse?
Naomi, her husband and her two sons come to mind.

So, in the midst of the temptation for the Jewish settlers to leave the land, David writes Psalm 37 to encourage his fellow Israelites to stay put and do good.

Let’s read V.1-6

The psalm starts off with two “do nots” : “Do not fret......or be envious.....”
What does the word “fret” mean?
The Hebrew word for fret here is “charah”, which means to grow warm, blaze up, be angry or be incensed.

Just like when something happens to make us upset and our heart starts pounding and we go all hot. That is part of “charah”.

What does “envious” mean?
Envy means a discontented longing for someone else’s advantages.

So who are we not to fret about? Those who are evil.

And who are we not to be envious of? Those who do wrong.

But as good, born again Christians, surely we would never fret over evil people or be envious of those who did wrong, would we?

Have you ever thought:
“Why do things go right for them and not for me?” “Why don’t they get what they deserve?”

and the classic “It’s not fair!”

“Why did he get promoted when I have far better qualifications?” “How come my work colleagues always get away with only doing half their job and I have to finish off THEIR work?

and so on!
What is David actually telling us here?

The F.B.Meyer Commentary summarizes this, noting that David is “grappling with the problem of the inequality of human life and the apparent failure of God to reward His servants and punish His enemies as they deserve.”

We can ALL relate to that, It is a core part of human nature to look around and compare our lives to those of other people, which is a wide and easy path to both envy and self-righteousness, and it leads us to being anxious, instead of fixing our eyes on God.

What does Psalm 37 tell us to do instead? V.3 TRUST in the Lord and DO GOOD.

Why does TRUST come first?
Because trust makes us feel secure. Doing good is a consequence of trusting.
C.H.Spurgeon said:
““Faith cures fretting.” Sight is cross-eyed and views things only as they seem, hence her envy; faith has clearer optics to behold things as they really are, hence her peace.
“And do good”. True faith is actively obedient. Doing good is a fine remedy for fretting. There is a joy in holy activity which drives away the rust of discontent.””

DWELL in the land and ENJOY safe pasture. What does “dwell” mean?
To live in or at a specified place.
To remain for a time.

What is David’s message here?
STAY WHERE GOD HAS PLACED YOU.

ENJOY safe pasture.
Enjoy has two meanings:
a) take delight or pleasure in and activity or occasion.

eg. I enjoy watching good films. b) possess and benefit from.

Here David is saying that if we stay where God has placed us, (dwell in the land) we can benefit from God’s promise to provide for us and take care of us (enjoy safe pasture).

V.4 TAKE DELIGHT in the Lord.
What does to take delight mean?
To be very happy because of something To be gratified by
To very much enjoy

Synonyms: admire, adore, appreciate, cherish, indulge in, relish, revel in, savour.

These are all very LAVISH terms.
David is telling us to REVEL IN the Lord. What is the result?
He will give you the desires of your heart.

So does this mean that if I consciously enjoy the Lord, He’ll respond by giving me everything I want?

OR

Does it mean that as I intentionally enjoy the Lord – His Word, His fellowship etc. - then He will actually change my desires to the point where my desires are also His desires, and He’ll be pleased to grant them?

V.5 COMMIT your way to the Lord.
How do we do that?
Literally this means “Roll your path upon the Lord”. Our life is like a path that we walk on every day. For the person who feels stuck in a bad situation, like David’s audience was, that person is still on a path, but that path can be heavy or burdensome. That’s why we’re told to roll that path upon the Lord – to commit it to Him – to place it in His hands and no longer carry that burden. As we do this and “trust in Him... He will do this:”

V.6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

What does “vindication” mean?
The action of clearing someone of blame or suspicion.
Proof that someone or something is right, reasonable or justified.

Spurgeon says this: “The Lord will clear the slandered. If we look to His honour, He will see to ours”.

Summary

DON’T:
fret or be envious.

DO:
trust, do good, dwell, enjoy, take delight in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord.




THURSDAY 1st JUNE 2023

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Today we are spending time praying and drawing nearer to God.

 Here is some encouragement from God's Word to guide our time together 


In Romans 10:1, Paul says that he has a longing in his heart. He expresses that longing to God - that the Israelites, his own people will come to know salvation through Jesus, the Messiah


HOW CAN WE PRAY FOR THE UNSAVED ? How can we pray for friends and relatives who do not know Jesus. We long to see them experience what we have experienced in Christ Jesus


2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ( please read )


Firstly in praying for the unsaved ,we are to be prepared for spiritual warfare. Paul reminds us that we have been give spiritual weapons.These spiritual weapons have God's power to destroy strongholds . 

The phrase ‘divine power’  is translated from the the Greek word ‘dunamis’ from which we get the English word ‘dynamite’ 

In our fight for Truth, we have explosive power as our weapons. They have God's miracle - working power that shatters the enemy's strongholds that oppose us


Now a stronghold is literally a place from which to hold on to something or someone. So the unsaved is ‘seeking shelter’ to escape reality. It is also the word for fort, castle or prison.

Basically unbelievers are prisoners ,captives or slaves. Christ came with the mission of freeing captives and this release is now proclaimed through the Church 


In verse 5, we see what these strongholds are. This is crucial information for us as we pray for the unsaved ( or war for the lost ).


Some things we are to call out in prayer ( as we use our divinely empowered weapons ) include :


1- arguments ( speculations ) :- this is  related to their reasoning, wisdom and information learned over time…what they believe. 

So when we pray for the unsaved we are to call this belief / mindset out by name . We are to declare in Jesus’ Name that the stronghold is destroyed.Do this daily as you pray for those in your family / social circles who needs Jesus’ redeeming love.


2- every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God :- every lofty thing - ’elevated structure’ - that keeps your loved one from receiving Jesus. This refers to pride which goes back to the time when Adam and Eve bought the lie from Satan that they too could be like God.

We can tear down this stronghold in prayer so that the unsaved humble themselves and bow their knees to Christ.

 

The weapons we have can break down every proud argument  and every wall that can be built up (to keep the unsaved from Jesus).These weapons ‘can capture rebels and bring them back to God and change them into men whose hearts’ desire is obedience to Christ.’(TLB)


This is a verse that we can use in prayer for unbelievers.


3- another aspect of strongholds : we can take every thought captive so they obey Christ. This word ‘thought’ could also means plans, schemes and plots. Satan would use  thoughts and temptations to control people. So we are to declare boldly in prayer that no weapon of Satan will prosper. We must bind his plans, subdue these thoughts ,and stand against them though prayer


Prayer points you can use daily :


Pray that the unbeliever be shielded from Satan's thoughts and temptations 

Pray that Holy Spirit will hover over your unsaved loved ones and protect them 

Pray for godly people to be placed in their path 

Pray and declare that every stronghold in the life of the unsaved will be torn down by the Spirit’s power and the Word of God

Pray that anything exalting itself against the knowledge of God , specifically pride and rebellion, would be destroyed 


Let us take the divinely dynamic weapons and fight for our unsaved families, friends and others.


 “Lord we ask you send your Holy Spirit to release His power over my unsaved family members. Work in their minds and hearts, send the right, godly  people to them and save them.

For the glory of your Name we pray, amen.”



“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? 

My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. 

He will not allow your foot to be moved; 

He who keeps you will not slumber. 

Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. 

The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. 

The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 

The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in 

From this time forth, and even forevermore.”

Psalms 121:1-8 NKJV

https://bible.com/bible/114/psa.121.2-8.NKJV


“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 

He will not let your foot slip— He who watches over you will not slumber; 

indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 

The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 

the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 

The LORD will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life; 

the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

Psalms 121:1-8 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.121.1-8.NIV



First of all we lift our eyes up, in order so that we can see where our help comes from.

The Psalmist’s gaze didn’t stop at the ‘hills’ or some translations say ‘mountains,’ 

he looked beyond them to the LORD. 

Our gaze should look beyond the hills or mountains to the LORD as well. 

He lifted his eyes to The LORD, The Creator, The Maker of Heaven & Earth.

The LORD is his helper. 

The LORD, The Creator, The Maker of Heaven & Earth is our helper too. 


The LORD helps His people by establishing them in a firm place, 

allowing them to stand & not allowing their foot to be moved. 

The foundation of the LORD’S infinite power & goodness on which you stand, 

cannot be moved. 


This reminds us also of the principles found in Ephesians 6:10-18.

We find our place to stand only by looking to the LORD 

& by trusting in the One Who will not allow our feet to be moved. 

We see that He won’t let our foot slip & that He watches over us.

He doesn’t slumber or sleep.

Or in English we might phrase it in this way, “He doesn’t go to sleep on the job.” 


Then the Psalmist reinforces the statement by saying that 

He Who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. 

By saying something more than once it stresses the importance 

& value of the matter in the LORD’S eyes. 

The theme is that the LORD will watch over His people 

as a watchman watches over a city. 


The role of a watchman is described in more detail in Ezekiel 33:1-11, 

which I would encourage you to read later. 

A watchman would watch over a city for a certain amount of hours 

or what we might describe as taking our turns to be on shift as a lookout. 

We can keep watch in turn, yet none of us are awake 24/7. 

The contrast here is that the LORD is permanently watching over us. 


The Hebrew word here is  ‘Shamar’ which when translated into English means :

‘To watch over’ or ‘to keep & preserve.’ 

This word appears six times in Psalm 121.

How significant it must be! 

We must let the value of this sink deeply into our hearts & minds, 

so that we remember this highly important & precious fact! 


The LORD watches over you. 

The LORD is your shade at your right hand, He protects you from the heat of the day or the heat of the battle be it physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional.

He will keep you from all harm, again He will watch over your life. 

The LORD will watch over your coming & your going, both now & forevermore. 

The LORD’S watchful eyes are always open, looking with love & care upon His people. 


We can take heart, that the LORD is watching over us to protect us, 

to keep us, & to preserve us.

We can take heart, that the LORD is watching over Israel to protect her, 

to keep her, & to preserve her. 



I’d like to share with you some prayer points following 

an update this week from my friend who lives in Israel :- 


Following the 21 day fast, Isaiah 62 prayer initiative led by Mike Bickle 

from the International House of Prayer (IHOP) for all Israel to be saved. 

They are believing for thousands of intercessors to continue 

to pray specifically for Israelis to be saved.

That they would know Jesus is The Messiah. 

You can read Isaiah 62 at home as well, as a guide to continue to pray for Israelis 

to come to know that Jesus is The Messiah. 


In particular, she personally asks for us to pray for two Israelis that 

she’s got to know over the past two years who say they don't believe 

in the existence of God: Nathan & Shahar, father & son. 

She asks for prayer their whole household including grandchildren 

would have an encounter with the Messiah that would leave them 

in no doubt that He exists & that they need to bow the knee to Him. 

They need to be saved! 

She felt led last November to fast & pray for their salvation.


She also told Shahar about what she believed as a Messianic Jew 

& they were meant to have a conversation about it.

So far this hasn't happened, although he initially showed interest. 

Please pray he will suggest this conversation & be prompted to have it.




THURSDAY 25th MAY 2023

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 


Today we are completing this section of three chapters (9,10&11) which Paul has devoted to the the nation of Israel.

                              

                          Review: 

in Chapter 9 ,the emphasis is on how God sovereignly chose ( election ) Israel as His people.


in Chapter 10, Paul focuses on Israel's present rejection. They had plenty of opportunity to heed the gospel of Christ, yet they rejected it for the most part.


in Chapter 11, the focus is on the future restoration of Israel.Paul in his discussions alludes / calls attention to this . This helps us to build our confidence in God's faithfulness ( refer to vv 12, 15, 23-24 )

Now even though the people of Israel heard and rejected the gospel, there is a faithful remnant - these Jews  who believe in the Messiah.

Paul in 11:16-24 uses an analogy to show the relationship between Gentile Christians and Jews who turn to Jesus. God in His  mercy has grafted the Gentiles into the faithful Jewish remnant.


         CHAPTER 11: 25-36 

Paul enlarges on this theme of Israel's restoration and shows us that this will become a reality. They will be restored to a place of blessing  as God's people.


>>Verses 25 -27 : How will ‘all Israel’ ( as a nation ) be saved ? By the partial hardening of Israel and by Gentiles being fully reached with the gospel 

So the hardening or blindness of Israel is not final - it is temporary .It is in God's timing that God will gather all the non- Jewish people that He is calling.When they are grafted into the true Israel of God as His people ( not a political nation ), then God is going to turn to the people of Israel.


V26 - references Isaiah 45:17, Jeremiah 31:34

V27 - references Isaiah 59:20,21 and Hebrews  8:10-12. 

These show that God has a future for the nation of Israel. They will be delivered from guilt and condemnation of sin.They will be restored to a position of blessing and privilege as God's people.


>>Verses 28-32 : 


Vv28 -29 : we see God's faithfulness to His promises in the end.


Why will God fulfil His promises ?

God in love chose Israel and that choice is “irrevocable” .Refer to Romans 9:4-5 to see some of the great privileges and gifts the Jewish people have had.

God will not change His mind about His dealings with Israel.They are still the objects of His love although they are at present enemies of the gospel. But God will have His time for Israel before Jesus returns for one church made up of Jews and non- Jews


Vv 30-32 : we see God's mercy affirming that all Israel will be saved 


How is God's mercy demonstrated ? 

In His mercy God used the disobedience of the Jews to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. The very mercy that God has shown the Gentiles will be extended back to the Jews . So they will be grated back into their olive tree (v23)

V32- God considered that all were disobedient to Him whether Jewish or non- Jewish. So all are in need of His mercy. God desires everyone to experience His mercy and forgiveness.

God's aim in the end is to still bless the peoples of the earth (Genesis 12:3) or to “have mercy on them all.”

The basis for salvation : all need God's mercy that is available through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It cannot be earned 

>>Verses 33-36 :  ( a majestic doxology ! )Paul’s heart explodes with praise and adoration to God as he thinks about God's faithfulness and mercy to undeserving sinners. God will be glorified when all is said and done

How is Paul praising God for the plan of salvation to both Jews and Gentiles ?


V33- Paul is assured of the perfect knowledge of God and the wise ways of God. We will never fully understand how God deals with us Gentiles or even the Jews in particular 


Vv34-35 - Paul quotes from Old Testament passages to show that God's greatness is unfathomable ( cannot be fully understood by our finite minds ). Example : Isaiah 40:13,14.


V36- Paul acknowledges that God is their source.God sustains and rules. All things will serve His ends , bringing immense glory to Him forever 


          Application: 

We do not have all the answers to all the questions or all the solutions to all the problems. We can praise God for the way He works sovereignly, wisely and in His time.


No one should question God's wisdom in the way He has chosen to outwork His purposes 


Have there been times when you tried to give God advice as to what He should do ? How foolish ! He is the Wonderful Counsellor. He knows best. 

 

              Be encouraged today . God has not forgotten you. The best is yet to come !





THURSDAY 18th MAY 2023

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Today in this short Bible Study we are continuing to look at how God has been dealing with Israel 


Recap of Chapter 10 : the main points of this chapter are :

                        - Israel's refusal of God's righteousness ( v1-15 )

                        - Israel's rejection of the Gospel (16-21)

Israel was not submitting to God's righteousness because they were seeking to establish their own righteousness.

We saw a contrast of righteousness as defined by the law (v 5) and the righteousness by faith in Christ (6-15)

God still shows favour to the Gentiles. God has set His love on Israel 

Verses 9-13 show what we should believe to have a real relationship with Jesus 


          ROMANS 11:1-24

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( from chapter 10:16-21) Even though the people of Israel heard and rejected the gospel, God has not entirely rejected them.

Paul begins this chapter by giving several examples to show that despite Israel's rebellion, God continues to reach out to them in love


            >Verses 1-10


Vv1-6 : What is the supporting evidence to show that God has not rejected Israel ?

      *Paul’s  testimony is proof that God saves Jews - v1.Paul traces his lineage back to Abraham and Benjamin. Benjamin was the only son of Jacob to be born in Israel. How Paul was saved is also relevant ( Acts 9 )

      *There is a believing remnant as was in the days of Elijah -vv 2-5a.

      *A remnant exists not according to works but grace -vv 5b-6.God’s plan involves His grace


Vv 7-10 : Only those accepting God's grace can receive salvation.What is the hardening that Paul mentions in v7 ?

 Paul quotes from Old Testament passages to explain and support what he means : 

Isaiah 29:10; Deuteronomy 29:4 ; Psalm 69:22-23


V8- those who refused to accept Jesus as God's Son, saw spiritual truth as foolishness and unattractive. Spiritual dullness / blindness continued from Isaiah’s day to Paul's day


V9-10 David prays prophetically by suggesting that their religious ways would become a trap for them..Their self- righteousness would be a stumbling block and punishment is the result 

God's hardening means, ‘bend their backs forever.’ 

>>>imagine the picture of a bent back carrying a heavy load …hard work !! God's grace is not the basis of their lives. Their own morality is ‘bending their backs’ - God's law is turned into self - reliant labour. 

Being religious makes people self - righteous, not spiritual 


        >Verses 11-24

Results of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus :


Vv11-15 :their sin and rejection of the Messiah opened up the gospel to the Gentile nations.This was God's purpose.

Salvation to the Gentiles is used by God to provoke Israel to jealousy. This was like an incentive for the Jews to repent and  God to win them back to Him

V12: Paul shows confidence here that when the harvest of the Gentiles has been gathered in, then there will be a significant move of God among the Jews, before Christ returns( v15)


Note the progress of the gospel —>majority of Jews reject the gospel —>the gospel goes to the Gentiles, many of whom will be saved —>after that , Israel will be saved ( vv25,26) —>finally Christ returns !


Vv 16-24 : Analogy - Paul likens Israel to an olive tree to show God's heart for the Jews (from His promise to Abraham).


How are Gentile Christians related to the Jews ?

Gentiles share the same root, the same life- giving promises as ‘natural’ branches, the Jews who turn to Christ 

Israel have some original branches broken off

Gentiles are wild olive shoots - grafted into the olive tree (Israel ), contrary to nature. Our nourishment comes from the sap that flows from the roots. (Vv17-18)

Unbelieving branches are cut off so Gentiles could be grafted into the olive tree ( vv19-20)


What are some lessons we ( Gentiles ) can learn from this imagery of the olive tree?


V18,20 - We are not to be proud - the roots support you.

V18 - Don't think you have nothing to do with Israel 

V20 - We are only where we are in Christ by faith and not by our own accomplishments. Be in awe of what God has done.Thank Him that you are included in His plan / blessings 


Vv22-23 We see two different sides of God's nature : the God of grace is also the God of judgment. Continue to trust God's grace


V24- The time will come when more and more Jewish people will be grafted back into the olive tree because they accept Jesus as the Messiah.


There is hope for Jews and Gentiles in Jesus alone. God will keep His promises to the patriarchs as Jewish people begin to believe in Jesus. 


 “The olive tree will flourish again !”

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THURSDAY 11th MAY 2023

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 Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

Today we are continuing in Paul's letter to the church at Rome.

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Brief review : in Chapter 9 the apostle Paul is burdened for his fellow Jews. Many of them have rejected the gospel despite being chosen for God's blessings. 

Paul argues emphatically that Israel has no claim on God because of physical descent or self- righteous works . God deals with Israel and us according to His sovereign choice

Despite their zealous pursuit of God,Israel rejected His path to righteousness through Jesus.

It is ironic that despite their vast knowledge of Scripture, Israel failed to recognise and accept the very Messiah they were seeking . The Gentiles were not seeking righteousness but found it !


ROMANS 10: 1-21 ( Read )


Verses 1-4 

Paul expresses his heart’s desire / longing for his own people ( as 9:1-4). His prayer is that the Jews will come to know the salvation that has been made possible through Jesus their Messiah 


Why is it that many of the Jewish people are not saved ? They have zeal for God but without knowledge . They are serious about God but they don't understand that we can only be put right with God and made acceptable to God through faith in Jesus. 

V4- with the coming of Christ, the religious law that God gave has now been superseded. Everyone who accepts that Jesus is the Way by faith can receive God's gift of righteousness 


>Our prayerful heart’s desire should be similar : praying for those who ‘can be sincere but be sincerely wrong.’ Pray that they will come to know Jesus as Saviour and Lord. God's way is always by simple faith


Verses 5-15 ( Paul quotes Old Testament verses )

Here we see a contrast between righteousness defined by the law and righteousness defined by faith in Christ 

V5 :what is Moses definition of righteousness of the law ?(Leviticus 18:5) A person who lives by the law will do what the law says. This means that if you want to be righteous in God's sight by observing moral standards, you have to keep or ‘do’ every one of them. It's difficult to do !!


Vv6-15 : what is righteousness by faith in Christ ? 

*This involves the mouth and the heart (vv6-8). You don't have to look to heaven for signs or the earth. Jesus has already come down from Heaven and made the way possible ! No personal effort is required. ‘The Word of truth is near you….’ ( Deuteronomy 30:12-14)


*It involves confessing Jesus  and believing in His resurrection (vv9-10).Faith is believing with your heart and being prepared to declare openly to others what you believe. Salvation is Jesus plus nothing .God has no ‘plan B’.


*Is offered to all who believe and call on Him( vv11-13). When we do this we will never be disappointed.  ( Isaiah 28:16)


*This is accomplished through preaching ( 14-15 ). The word ‘preach’ ( from the Greek ‘Kerusso) means to ‘herald’ or ‘proclaim’. God calls us all to be heralds of the gospel - the truth about Jesus

( Isaiah 52:7)

 >The remedy for Israel rejecting the gospel is in hearing the Word ( gospel ) heralded and believing on Jesus . This applies to others too. 


Verses 16-21

What are the consequences of Israel's neglect of the gospel ? 

( again Paul references some OT verses)


V18 : Israel is guilty ( Psalm19:4 )

Vv19-20 :the Gentiles are more receptive and are being saved (predicted in Deuteronomy 32:21; Isaiah 65:1).

God did this to provoke jealousy in the Jews.


V21 : God in love still longs to see Israel saved - to see them turn to Him ( Isaiah 65:2;Jeremiah 35:17)


God shows favour to the Gentiles and God still loves Israel


       Response - How can we be more effective in the way we herald / proclaim the gospel ?

                           What a privilege it is to be God's gospel messengers and have beautiful feet !

                      

Let us ask Holy Spirit to enable us to be true representatives of Jesus our soon coming King 

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THURSDAY 4th MAY 2023

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Welcome. 

Today we meet to pray and draw nearer to Jesus our King. As we worship and focus on the King Jesus, we would like to encourage you from God's Word



PSALM 63 :1-5

Life’s journey often takes us through the weary places and the parched wilderness. David pens these words when he was exiled in the wilderness of Judah.


Alone, discouraged and pursued by enemies, he confesses his longing for God. He is looking up to the Lord rather than the negative circumstances with which he is faced. He is not complaining about his situation.


His longing /desire for God is clearly described by the two metaphors of thirst and hunger.( vv1,5). 

He is physically thirsty and hungry. Yet his deepest desire is God's satisfying presence. David calls God, “my God.”(v1).

 He has a relationship with the Lord and craves / desires to love Him more.He knows he can trust God 


His wilderness experience is being changed into a worship experience. He worships God passionately (read vv4-5).


David knows the joy of being refreshed by the presence of the Lord. Interestingly, David focuses not on his troubling circumstances but on the presence and tender mercies of the Lord

V3- “For your tender mercies mean more to me than life itself.”( TPT )


He knows his God will deal with his troubles and enemies. Our God's unfailing love (denotes goodwill ) can be relied upon in times of need.


Focussing on the Lord means refusing to fixate on what's wrong with our lives.


Prayer Point :

We can follow David's example here in the midst of life's negative circumstances and challenges. 


Turn to the Lord.Let us express the desire to seek Him more and more. Let the Living Water -Holy Spirit - and the Bread of Life, Jesus satisfy that thirst and hunger of your soul.

Amen




THURSDAY 20th APRIL 2023

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Here are some notes to guide you in your study of God's Word. Please pray for Holy Spirit to lead you into the truth of His Word


ROMANS 9 :1-33 ( Read )


Paul writes this letter to Christians in Rome. The church consisted  of Gentile believers and a minority of Jews.Paul  presents God's plan of salvation made possible through faith in all that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross and by His resurrection.


In chapter 9 Paul defends the character of God by showing that Israel's past history actually magnifies God's attributes. Specifically four attributes are mentioned : God’s faithfulness (1-13), His righteousness( 14-18), justice (19-29 ) and God’s grace ( 30-33 )


>Verses 1-5 Paul expresses personal concern for his people - fellow Jews

 

Vv1-2 What is Paul yearning or grieving for ? He longs to see the Jews come to salvation. The Jewish nation, with a few exceptions,  rejected the message of Jesus that Paul shared. 


Vv 4-5 What are some privileges Israel experienced in the past  ? God selected  or ‘elected’ them for these blessings : Adoption to sonship; glory - the presence of God among His people , beneficiaries of divine covenant, recipients of the Law of God given at Sinai, and promises. Their forefathers were the patriarchs from whom the Messiah came..

V5-Jesus is the Christ ,God over all. 

 

In spite of these privileges, they did not experience the expected blessings of being saved . 

Their claim to these blessings was based on ancestry and works.. Paul establishes that Israel has no claim on God either because of their physical descent or self-righteousness ( works ). Our acceptance by God is by faith ( justification by faith ) in Christ Jesus


>Verses 6-33

The cause of blessing was God's calling by sovereign choice - God's sovereignty. Salvation begins and ends with God. God's promises have not failed.


Who are true children of God ? ( vv 6-29 )


V6-13 : True children of God are children of promise and not children of the flesh. This is illustrated with Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau. God's choosing was not based upon works( v11)

‘Election’ refers to the sovereign outworking of the power , purposes and plan of God according to His righteous will. 


Question- if you're from a strong Christian heritage, does it guarantee you a home in Heaven when you die ? You must be born again


V14-23 : True children of God have received God's mercy (v14-16).

What does God have the right to do ? ( read v18) None of us deserves mercy

Those God chooses can only be thankful for His work of grace - those who accept God's mercy receive the riches of His glory. Ultimately, it is for His glory 

This is not based on man’s will but God's will and purpose. We see here the sovereign freedom of God in dealing with people


V24-29 : True children of God are of both the Jews and the Gentiles. God’s purpose was to form  His church(see v24) ultimately. Believers are ‘vessels of mercy’ that God is preparing for glory


V 30-33 : Paul moves from discussing God's sovereignty to individual responsibility. These are like friends who cooperate despite many mysteries connected with them. We live in this tension.


What is the basis of God's choice ? Faith. 

There is a paradox in these concluding verses.The Jews sought righteousness and did not find it.The Gentiles were not searching for it but found it ! 


V32 Why is this ? Israel tried to be saved, please God by religious works. Gentiles who never sought to live in ways that please God have been made acceptable to God as a result of their faith

Such grace !


Application :-

*How concerned are you for loved ones who are rejecting Jesus or who has not trusted Jesus as Saviour and Lord ? Do we have a burden like Paul shows here ?


*Are you depending on good works or your Christian heritage to save you ? God offers mercy as you trust in Christ alone for salvation.







THURSDAY 13th APRIL 2023

—————————————-

‘Meeting the Lord’

To help us focus in our prayer time and waiting on God today, here is some encouragement from God's Word


PSALM 40 : It is a prayer for help when troubles abound. The psalmist David praises God for delivering him (vv1-10).He also cries out for God to deliver him again(vv11-17).He knows where his hope is found


READ VERSES 1-10

David waits ,waits and waits patiently for the Lord. He is going through a process of trials, hurt and disappointments. God hears his cry - God comes through for him

 The idea of waiting ( from the Hebrew word )  indicates that is ongoing and holds a sense of eager expectancy and hope. Hoping does not mean we  ignore the reality of problems and trials. We acknowledge these realities while at the same time we acknowledge God's sovereignty 


V 1-5 : David makes declarations about God’s promises - God lifts him out,God places him on a  solid rock and steadies him. God is taking him through the process of getting unstuck from what is holding him captive. As this process takes place, the psalmist declares some promises of God.

Read verse 5


Even the new song of praise (v3) God gives, promises, this comes after God hears his cries for help.The process of pain turns into the promise of a praise like no other.

And we are blessed  as we trust the Lord… “blessing after blessing comes to those who love and trust the Lord.”( The Passion Translation)


We are to remember as we wait on God for him to come through for us that He is not ‘picking on you.’ The truth is He is ‘picking you’ to personally live out one of His promises. That will bring glory to His wonderful Name 


God is working things out .He is not far away. He is with you even when you want to scream out words in your suffering that you wouldn't use around others. 

Even in your more hopeful moments you can do like David and declare praise …‘turn up the praise music.’ The situation may not look good yet you came still declare that God is good.


In addition when prayers are not answered in the way and timing we want, we must still cling to our hope in Jesus 

You may be hurting BUT still hoping . 


>>Praise God for all He has done for you. Desire to do His will with an obedient heart.

Declare His goodness ( verses 9,10) as you passionately seek Him(16)

                       

                                               “How great and glorious is our God!”


_____________________________________



“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, 

was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” 

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. 

Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 

Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. 

Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” 

Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and My God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen Me you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.””

John 20:24-29 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.20.24-29.NIV


Imagine the scene, the other disciples had seen & met with Jesus already, as is mentioned in John 20:19-23. 

However, for whatever reason Thomas wasn’t present with them & doubted that they had seen Jesus because he hadn’t seen Him for himself. 


As an aside, we get two of our phrases in English today 

from the disciple, Thomas, ‘Seeing Is Believing’ & if someone doubts what we tell them we call them ‘A Doubting Thomas.’ 


Thomas wants visual evidence and/or proof that Jesus has indeed risen from the dead. He wants to see the marks of crucifixion in the hands of Jesus 

& to see where the spear pierced His side.

Only then, would he believe. 

Yet, in a lot of ways, we would probably react in exactly the same way if we hadn’t physically been present when Jesus appeared to the other disciples.


Jesus graciously appears a week later to all of the disciples, this time including Thomas.

He again greets them with saying, “Peace be with you!” 

He then shows Thomas His hands & His side & asks him to put his finger in the wounds of His hands & his hand into His side. 

He tells him to : “Stop doubting & believe.” 


Thomas responds with the following words to Jesus : 

“My Lord and My God!”


“Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.””

John 20:29 NIV

https://john.bible/john-20-29


Paul later reminds us in his second letter to the Corinthians :- 

“For we live by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV

https://2corinthians.bible/2-corinthians-5-7


And the writer to the Hebrews reminds us in this way :- 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1 NIV

https://hebrews.bible/hebrews-11-1


So let’s continue to put our faith & hope in Jesus, even though we haven’t seen Him physically in the flesh like the disciples did.

We are blessed, because even though we haven’t seen Him we believe in Him. Amen! 




THURSDAY 30th March 2023

——————————

As we are soon celebrating Easter, today we are looking at an Easter theme.


LUKE 23: 33-49 ( Read ) Focus verses are 34,43 and 46



This passage is about Jesus’ crucifixion. There are three ‘last words / statements’ of Jesus recorded here by Luke :


VERSE 34 - “ Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”


As Jesus hangs on the cross, He says these words as he is executed. Jesus prays and it is interesting what He prays 


For what is Jesus praying for ? that those who cause Him to suffer are forgiven. The Roman soldiers nail Him to the cross. Others mock Him.

*Do you think  the ‘them’ includes you ( as a non- believer) ?


Despised, rejected and dying on the cross Jesus’ thoughts are not on hatred, revenge and self- pity. He prays to the Father. Here we have a glimpse of the Father-heart of God and the love Jesus is demonstrating 

Forgiveness  was indeed on the heart of the Father as he planned for the sacrificial death of Jesus long before time began.

 As Jesus’ blood streamed from His body, the Saviour demonstrates divine forgiveness 


*What  can we learn about forgiveness ? 


The whole point of the cross is forgiveness 

We may feel sometimes that we are not forgiven. We have to trust in Jesus’ complete sacrifice 

We may say, ‘I can't forgive that person’. Unforgiveness  gives the devil control. The power of the cross sets you free as you (intentionally) make the decision to forgive 

Forgiveness restores relationships - like the Father ,through Jesus ,brings us into relationship with Him


VERSE 43 -“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


Luke records the repentance of one of those crucified with Jesus. Could it be that Jesus’ prayer ( as in verse 34 ) prompted this criminal’s request  ?? He recognises that Jesus had done nothing wrong to receive punishment 

Even as Jesus is on the cross , He responds with compassion and saving grace.He does not condemn him for his wrong - doing . The world is quick to judge and condemn.

Even as Jesus dies, he brings hope to a dying, repentant criminal.


*It is never too late to look to the Lamb, Jesus and live 


*Takeaway point - Observe how Christ responds to the repentant criminal .No matter how severe the sin, Jesus says come to Him for  salvation and forgiveness.This means even in the final breaths of life the person who acknowledges Jesus as Saviour,  Jesus grants the promise ‘to enter the gates of Heaven’ that day.


This verse shows the confidence we have in Christ that when we breathe our last in this life, WE WILL BE WITH HIM IN PARADISE !



VERSE 46 - “Father ,into your hands I commit my spirit.”


Jesus hung on  the cross for six hours between the first and last words He spoke ( on the cross)

This is another prayer like in verse 34. 

 

What is Jesus doing ?Note first He says ‘Father’ - there is relationship here. 

He is committing Himself into the Father's hands.He shows dependence on the Father as He remains submitted to the Father's will

This was a bedtime prayer that Jewish mothers taught their children. One  Bible commentator says, ‘Even on the cross, Jesus died like a child…in His Father's arms.’


This means that Jesus died on your behalf. Death was God's just, Holy and righteous punishment for sin.It is the punishment every sinner deserves but Jesus took the punishment and suffered your place.


What is the lesson for us ? We can entrust ourselves - our life, future and destiny into the Father's hands. Having done all you can, you can commit it all to Him knowing that He cares for you. 


In your difficult situation with many dangers and unknowns you may feel powerless. Jesus faced the greatest unknown, death. 


When things seem dark and overwhelming, you can turn to God and commit yourselves into His loving careful ( 1 Peter 4:19 )

Jesus faced death with the confident expectation of entering His Father's presence . He commits His Spirit  to His Father.The Father is in control of events here( vv44-45 )


We too can trust in the All- Powerful One to lead us into a triumphant procession 

 

Question to ponder : How does the finished work of Christ impact and change your life ?





Thursday 23rd March 2023

Welcome to our Bible Study based on Romans 8:31-39



“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? 

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? 

It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. 

Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; 

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, 

neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, 

nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us 

from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:31-39 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/rom.8.31-39.NIV



Here is the conclusion of God’s plan for His people explained in 

Romans ch.8, as well as the summary for chapters 1 to 8.

These nine verses should be firmly fixed in the memory of every believer in Christ.

Paul asserts in verse 31 that God is for us & therefore no one can succeed against us.

God is for us in Christ.

This is a concise summary of the Gospel. 

It is also the basis of the following rhetorical questions which assume 

that God will give us all things (v.32), 

& that no one can successfully 

bring a charge against us (v.33) 

or succeed if he condemns us (v.34).

Nothing can keep us who belong to Christ 

from receiving the benefits of God’s Love for us (vv.35-39). 


Who are God’s elect mentioned in verse 33? 

In Christ, God offers salvation to all as we are familiar with the verses

John 3:16-17 :- 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, 

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.3.16-17.NIV


Those who reject Christ reject God’s offer of salvation & eternal life. 

When we accepted Jesus Christ as our own personal Lord & Saviour 

we became those whom ‘God has chosen’ 

or in the New King James Version ‘God’s elect.’ 


“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? 

It is God who justifies.”

Romans 8:33 NIV

https://romans.bible/romans-8-33


A court of law is in mind here.

No charge can be brought against the Christian 

because God has already pronounced the verdict of “not guilty!”


Who is the One Who condemns? (Verse 34)

Jesus Christ has been appointed to judge & bring condemnation on sin. 

However, as Christians we do not face condemnation 

because of the following three reasons :- 


Christ has died for us  

Christ is alive & seated at the right hand of God 

Christ is interceding for us. 


“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 

Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness 

or danger or sword?”

Romans 8:35 NIV

https://romans.bible/romans-8-35


“As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.””

Romans 8:36 NIV

https://romans.bible/romans-8-36


“Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Psalms 44:22 NIV

https://psalm.bible/psalm-44-22


Romans 8:36 is a direct quote from Psalm 44:22.

This is a reminder to us that it is nothing new for Christians to face tribulations. 

Such trials have always been characteristic of the life of God’s people. 


Why in spite of the ‘tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, 

peril, or sword’ mentioned in Romans 8:35-36, are we to maintain our hope? 

(The answers can be found in the following verses 37-39) 


We are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us, 

that is to say through Jesus Christ. 

We are persuaded that neither death nor life, 

nor angels nor principalities nor powers, not things present nor things to come,

nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, 

shall be able to separate us from the love of God 

which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 


A whole range of problems, trials, disappointments, & suffering 

will come against us as children of God.

In all of this we are to remember that God did not spare His own Son 

but freely gave Him for us, & freely gives us all the other things that we 

need as well. 


With Jesus on our side as our justifier, our intercessor, 

our lover, & our keeper, we are more than conquerors through Him 

Who loved us.

His Blood liberates us.

His Spirit enables us. 


You are victorious if you overcome.

If someone else overcomes for you on your behalf 

then you are more than an overcomer.

That is who you are in Christ.

That is your identity.


No spiritual power, nothing in all creation can separate you from 

God’s love for you in Christ Jesus! 

Nothing can separate us from where He has put us!

Nothing will ever be able to snatch you from out of His hand! 

He wants you to cling onto Him, as He clings onto you! 


‘And they have defeated him 

by the blood of the Lamb 

and by their testimony. 

And they did not love their lives 

so much that they were afraid to die.’ Revelation 12:11 (NLT)


‘Jesus intends for us to overcome because He overcame. 

The blood of Jesus forgives and cleanses us and secures our eternity for us. 


The word of our testimony activates the spiritual realm and adds momentum to the kingdom story God is writing on the earth today. 


The blood saves us. 

Our testimony activates us. 

And when we love Jesus 

more than our very lives, 

when we see our eternity as so precious 

that we’d give our earthly lives 

in whatever way He asks of us, there’s nothing that the enemy can do to us. 


We render Him powerless. 

We become overcomers. 

It’s fear that keeps us under his thumb. 

It’s self-preservation and love of comfort that render us powerless against him. 


But when we truly see that we are more spiritual than physical, more found than lost, more equipped than vulnerable, 

we will dare to follow Jesus wherever He leads us. 


Amazingly, if you ask persecuted Christians how you might pray for them, 

you’ll never hear them say, 

“Pray for an easier life. 

Pray I can move to a safer country.” 

They say, “Pray I will have the courage 

to endure for the cause of Christ.” 


You may not have to die for your faith, 

but Jesus may ask you to stand up 

in a way that costs you. 

And He does ask us to pray regularly 

for our persecuted brothers and sisters.’ 

(Susie Larson) 


Image.png



God says these words to you this morning :- 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 

I will strengthen you and help you; 

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; 

those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 

Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. 

Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand 

and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Isaiah 41:10-13 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/isa.41.10-13.NIV


Amen! 


Closing Prayer 

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, 

from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 

may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 

to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—

that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 

to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/eph.3.15-21.NIV





THURSDAY 16th MARCH 2023

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

—————————————————————

Focus verses today : ROMANS 8:18-30


In Romans 8 so far Paul tells us : 

We are free from condemnation; we have Spirit of God indwelling and empowering us; we are children of God; heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.  These are all glorious truths !


The underlying theme  of this chapter is all about ‘triumphant living.’ It is living that is desirable and possible. Why ?

The Spirit lives in us (vv1-13). We have an honoured position in God's family( vv14-17). 


(Vv18-30) And now in spite of our present suffering, there is a glorious future to look forward to


The kind of suffering Paul is describing here is not only for the sake of following Jesus.He expands it to include suffering that comes with living in this world. 

Paul is addressing the very real problem of suffering and pain. 


V18- what does Paul mean by this statement ? 

Paul is not dismissing/ downplaying the weight of suffering. He is saying that the glory of eternity that awaits us as believers is so amazing that our suffering- as deep and weighty as it is - isn't even worth comparing to the glory that is to come

Paul himself experienced suffering on numerous occasions and of various kinds.Yet he remained obedient to the God


There are three groans in this passage .Each one will be transformed into glory 


>>>Verses 18-22 : the groan of creation


(V 22) What does Paul mean by ‘the whole creation has been groaning?’ The whole of creation is groaning ( as in the pains of childbirth ) as it is waiting for the Lord’s return. It's pain with a purpose.There is a longing for God's children to be revealed , resurrected or fully manifested ( 1 John 3:1-3)


V19- ‘eager expectation’ - Paul  pictures nature as standing on its tip-toes ( suspense) with its head craning forward as the sons of God are revealed 


Since the fall in Genesis 3 (v17-19 ), the world has been subject to decay.There is the hope of liberation from this bondage of decay.  

Creation can only be liberated from the death principle we see at work all around us by being brought into the freedom that God's children enjoy because they know God.


>>>Verses 23-25 : the groan of the Christian 


V23 : Why are we groaning ? We long for the day when there will be no more suffering and pain,  no more death; when we experience the resurrection of our bodies.


(Vv24-25) This is the hope we have because of the salvation we have received.

The believer’s hope is sure and lies in what God will definitely do in the future in fulfilling His promises (not like wishful thinking in everyday speech). 


The challenge : we have to wait patiently for what God has promised us in the future (v25)


>>>Verses 26-30 : the Spirit groans


V26 -27 : Just as hope supports / sustains us in suffering, Paul says the Spirit helps us too.


Why does the Spirit groan ? In times of deep distress, when the suffering is so weighty for us, the Spirit intercedes with groans. 


How does the Spirit intercede ? By groans and in accordance with God's will 

No words can express the depth of what He is working in us according to His will for our lives. What we think is best in the pain may not be what the Spirit has in mind .


Have you ever  felt so weak and overwhelmed that you did not even know how to pray ?

For example as in serious illness, loss of someone/ something…?


The beauty is that as the Spirit groans and intercedes we are reminded that we belong to God. We are God's people.He is with us in the suffering.The Spirit knows your need better than you do

The Spirit’s groaning is for you and will be for your good and glorification 


V28-30 : Truths to declare - v28- IN ALL things, God is working for your good.It does not mean all circumstances are good. God enables us to overcome by the Spirit. IN everything God works for our welfare.


Why ? Look at verses 29-30 ( Past tense !) Because He called you according to His eternal purpose. He knew who would be His. He made you totally acceptable to Him and you are destined for the glory that is already yours in Christ ! The goal is to make you more like Jesus


This is how God sees you - already in Heaven with Him !


These  truths are intended for our encouragement as we walk in loving obedience to Christ.They are to help us to focus on the glorious future in the midst of persecution, diseases, struggles in life and negative circumstances 

 

Application : 

We can persevere in suffering because of the hope we have 

We have hope for a new creation, a resurrected body and hope for God’s help in the present 

————————————



 THURSDAY 9th MARCH 2023

Welcome !


We are continuing our studies in Romans.The beauty of Romans is that it provides the big picture of God's epic story.

The basic reason for Paul writing this letter to Christians in Rome is to provide them with a solid foundation of the gospel. The overarching theme is the gospel and how it revealed the righteousness of God. God's eternal plan for the salvation of sinners is detailed


The first 11 chapters cover what we should believe.The remaining chapters 12-16 provide practical application- how we should behave as Christians


In Chapter 7, Paul has been talking about his own struggles with sin. It is impossible to please God in our own strength as we live the new life in Christ .Paul acknowledges freedom can only come through Jesus. In chapter 8, Paul amplifies on the freedom from sin found in Christ 


ROMANS 8:1-17 ( Read )

Observation - the word ‘ Spirit’ is mentioned many times here.Paul shows the importance of life through Holy Spirit (v2 -‘law of the Spirit’ or ‘the Spirit of Life’)


>Verses 1-4

Why is there no condemnation for believers in Christ Jesus ? 


Note the phrase -‘who are in Christ Jesus.’ We are in union with Jesus

We are free from the power of sin and death.The past is forgiven; we walk away from it and are not defined by our sin

We live in freedom from the condemnation our sin deserves now through the enabling power or principles of God's Spirit 

We are justified because all the demands of the laws God gave are are fulfilled in Christ Jesus

(V3-4) the death of Christ - the sacrifice needed- makes freedom possible 


>Verses 5-8  : Paul describes two mindsets 

How do we know the difference between the flesh and the Spirit ?


*the focus of the person living in the flesh is themselves.Even if he thinks about God, it will be about how he can approach God on his own terms - the mindset of the person who has the Spirit is to please God (v5)

*sinful thinking  leads to death and chaos, does not want to submit to God and so is unacceptable to God(v6 ,7+8)  - Spirit enables us to have minds that are governed by life and peace and so live to please God( v6). “Thy will, not I or my will”


So there is freedom when we place ourselves under the control of Holy Spirit. Spirit enables obedience and the outworking of God's purposes in our lives


>Verses 9-11

What does it mean for the Spirit of God / Christ to live in you ? How is the Spirit life superior?


  *you are under the power and influence of Spirit and not under control of selfish, sinful desires

  *you belong to Jesus..there is relationship 

  *you experience the immense resurrected power of God's Spirit in your life now and forever 


>Verses 12-17 : the application - truths you need to embrace as you live to please God 

How can you apply the truth that Spirit lives in you ?


It is the Spirit who enables you to enjoy real, victorious life, not death. Dependence on Him is the way to deal with lingering sinful desires / temptations to indulge the self- life


You belong to God's family and you are a true child of God. You have your identity in Christ Jesus. You have an intimate relationship with your new Father. You are becoming more like Him.You will share eternally in His glory !

The legalist seeks to obey God in his own strength.He fails to measure up to the righteousness that God demands 

The Spirit- led Christian as he submits to the Lord, experiences the sanctifying work of Holy Spirit and lives victoriously 

    

Question to ponder : Has your life been changed by Holy Spirit ?


-Thank God that you are a true child of God  because you have Holy Spirit  

-Thank God that you are becoming more like Jesus as you allow Holy Spirit to transform you into His likeness




Thursday 2nd  March 2023

———————————

Welcome to our Prayer Meeting ( “Meet the Lord”)

Here are two devotionals to encourage our hearts in prayer today :


James 4:6-10

———————-

V6 : Here are some hope-filled, encouraging words, ‘But He gives more and more grace.’

We have greater grace and an ever-increasing supply of God’s grace 

to live as He desires us to live. 

For every struggle we face, every battle raging within, God pours out grace.


Note : This grace of God is a gift for those who humble themselves before Him.We have all the grace we need to please Him 


As we focus on prayer, James the author of this letter tells us of three actions/instructions :-


V7 : Submit to God. 

Bring yourself under God's authority.

This word ‘submit’ is a military term meaning ‘to bring under control.’ 

We belong to the army of the living God.. the Commander. As we submit to Him we are submitting to His word and will. This causes the enemy to flee as he has no answer to Jesus’ authority 

In wholehearted submission, we are victorious and not defeated. 

Leave selfish pride and come near to our Father, God.


Prayer is about God working in us to line up our will with His.

> How dependent are you on God ?                       

                      

 V8 : Draw (come) near to God.

Seek after God. Pursue intimacy with your loving Father - be devoted to Him.

God is always ready to accept those who truly come to Him. 

So we should deal with any sin that keeps Him at a distance. 

Seek cleansing and a pure heart. 

A heart that is focused on God and not worldly pleasures or selfish ambitions. So He reveals more of Himself to you


> How near are you to God?


VV 9-10 : Humble yourselves in the sight of God. 

This is the key for a closer relationship with Jesus. 

We don't exalt ourselves. 

Allow God to do that as we humble ourselves before Him. 

Exalt Christ and don't boast about yourself.

The way up is down. 

Humility frees us from pride and arrogance. Repentance comes naturally to the humble 

It is a sign of Christ’s life in us.

God our Father will answer us when we come humbly but confidently before Him, embracing His will in our lives                   


Prayer points: 

Ask God by His Holy Spirit to search our hearts.

Are there things we need to turn away from and turn to God?

Let us pray humbly ‘not my will but Yours be done O Lord.’




I’d like to start by asking you three questions 

& you don’t need to answer these out loud! 

They were ones that could have been asked by Jairus & his wife.


“Do you think He can?”

“Do you think He cares?”

“Do you think He’ll come?”


Max Lucado said this in his first session of 

‘In the Footsteps of the Saviour,’ 

entitled, ‘Capernaum : Following Jesus When You Doubt’ :- 


‘Jesus wanted to do more than just raise the dead.

He wanted to show us that He cares & that He can.

But He also wanted us to know that He comes. 

He comes in the form of encouragement.

He comes in the form of help.

He comes in the form of kindness.’ 


Elizabeth Elliot once said these words :- 

‘Faith does not eliminate questions,

but it knows where to take them.’


“Now when Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, 

a great multitude gathered to Him; and He was by the sea. 

And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. 

And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly, saying, 

“My little daughter lies at the point of death. 

Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” 

So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him.”

Mark 5:21-24 NKJV

https://bible.com/bible/114/mrk.5.21-24.NKJV


Two stories are  intertwined in Mark 5:21-43 :- 

The story of Jairus’ daughter found in Mark 5:21-24 & Mark 5:35-43.

The story of the woman with the issue of blood is found in Mark 5:25-34, 

which interrupts the story concerning the daughter of Jairus. 


Jairus’ daughter was 12 years old.

The woman had the issue of blood for 12 years. 


“Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 

and had suffered many things from many physicians. 

She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 

When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd 

and touched His garment. 

For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” 

Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, 

and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 

And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, 

turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” 

But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ””

Mark 5:25-31 NKJV

https://bible.com/bible/114/mrk.5.25-31.NKJV


This lady is what we would say ‘at the end of her tether.’ 

She had exhausted all other options. 

Nothing had worked for her. She was desperate. 

In her society, she was considered unclean & an outcast. 

She has heard a lot about Jesus & comes to seek Him out.

She weaves her way through the crowd & touches the hem of His garment. 

She had done everything that she could do. 

It was now in the hands of Jesus. 

In that moment, Jesus realises that power has been released from Him & He asks,

“Who touched Me?” 


“But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” 

And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 

But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, 

came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 

And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. 

Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.””

Mark 5:31-34 NKJV

https://bible.com/bible/114/mrk.5.31-34.NKJV


Jesus already knew the answer to His question, “Who touched Me?”

He wanted the woman to come forward & acknowledge her healing. 

Jesus restored her health.

He restored her place in society. 

He restored her dignity.

He gave her back her name. 


Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” 

He cared enough to hear her whole story.

This serves as a reminder to us that Jesus cares for the “marginalised,” 

those who society would label as “outcasts.”  


‘The Chosen’ Season 3 episodes 4 & 5 are entitled ‘Clean (1)’ & ‘Clean (2),’

they describe the woman with the issue of blood’s journey in detail. 

I would encourage you to watch them to gain further insight into this story.


Then we return to the other story concerning the daughter of Jairus. 


“While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 

As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, 

He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 

And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, 

and John the brother of James. 

Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, 

and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 

When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? 

The child is not dead, but sleeping.” 

And they ridiculed Him. 

But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 

Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” 

which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 

Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. 

And they were overcome with great amazement. 

But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, 

and said that something should be given her to eat.”

Mark 5:35-43 NKJV

https://bible.com/bible/114/mrk.5.35-43.NKJV


When Jairus & his wife heard that their daughter was dead,

they would have probably doubted Jesus. 

He told them, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”


In such a situation, that is easier said than done! 

 

The answers to the three questions I mentioned earlier :- 


“Do you think He can heal?”

“Jesus can heal!”


“Do you think that He cares?”

“Jesus does care!”


“Do you think that He’ll come?” 

“Jesus will come!”


The twelve year old daughter of Jairus & his wife was literally raised to life again. 


From the two stories this morning there are two prayer points to consider :- 


Let’s take some time this morning to pray for those who society 

would label as ‘outcasts.’ 


Some other people may be desperate for healing. 

Jesus can heal in many ways :  mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

He still heals & does miracles today. 

Let’s make time this morning to pray for those in need of healing 

or for a specific miracle in their lives. 




Bible Study, Thursday 23rd February 

Romans 7:14-25 + Romans 8:1-4

Paul has been spending some time in Romans 6 and 7 reminding us that sin has no authority over us any longer. For those of us who are in Christ Jesus, sin has no authority over our lives, no power over our will and it does not set up a home within our hearts. Jesus is King over our lives now.

Yet in Romans 7:14-25 we read of battles that are taking place in the heart and life of the Apostle Paul. These are the battles that we too have to fight in our Christian life.

The war begins when internal sin meets the Law of God that is written on our hearts as born again believers.

V.14: What does Paul mean when he says the Law is spiritual? Which law is he referring to?

When Paul refers to the “Law” he is referring to the moral law of God. The ceremonial law (sacrifice) was fulfilled in the death of Christ. The civil law was used by the Jews to govern their society in the Promised Land. The book of Romans was written to believers in Rome where Caesar and the Roman Senate were governing the Roman Empire. Therefore the civil law was not applicable to the Jews in Rome in Paul's day. He is referring to the moral law, and he says they already know that it is “spiritual”, that is, the moral law remains useful today for spiritual purposes.

Then he goes on to say in V.14: “but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin”. This is very strong language.

What do you think he means by this?

Paul here is talking about himself as a born again Christian. This struggle with sin does not mean we are lost. Rather, it indicates that the struggle is a confirmation that we are saved. Before we were converted to Christ we were NOT struggling with the sin in our lives. There was only our sinful nature taking us down the broad path of sin. But now that we have a new heart and a new nature we experience this internal conflict. It is one strong indication that we are believers because lost people don't fight this battle because sin REIGNS in their hearts.

Therefore, Battle no.1 is between our sinful nature (the flesh) and our spiritual “new man”.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.

Battle no.2: The battle of good vs. evil. What is Paul describing in vv.15-19?

He is describing his sense of helplessness.
v.15: Paul's problem isn't a lack of desire. He WANTS to do what is right. It isn't a lack of knowledge because he KNOWS what the right thing is. His problem is a lack of power. He lacks power because the law gives no power.
The law says: “Here are the rules and you must keep them” but it gives us no power to do so.

V.17: Is Paul denying his responsibility as a sinner?

No. He recognises that as he sins, he acts AGAINST his nature as a new man in Jesus Christ. A Christian must own up to his sin, yet realise that the IMPULSE to sin does not come from who we really are in Jesus Christ.

Paul here is talking about trying to do good based on his own strength and power. When we try to do good without relying on the Holy Spirit, it is a lost battle. There is a battle between good and evil taking place inside our hearts, minds and souls, and if we try to fight that battle on our own we will not be victorious.

Battle no.3: The law of God vs. the law of sin. V.21: What is the law that Paul finds at work?

We will never know how hard it is to stop sinning until we actually TRY to stop sinning!
C.S.Lewis said: “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good”.

V.22: Which part of Paul delights in God's Law?

The MIND. We as Christians have our MIND (innermost being) that desires to fully obey God, but then our sinful nature (flesh) fights against that.

V.23: Where is the battleground for this conflict situated?

In our MIND. Further on in Romans Paul exhorts us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our MIND. (Romans 12:2)

Paul explains that just when he's about to follow through with obedience, something happens......another law captures him: the law of sin. We've already read in Romans that we are no longer dominated by sin, but it is still alive and at times still holds us captive, even though its power has been greatly diminished. Nevertheless, the struggle with sin means we have God's law written on our hearts and that the Holy Spirit is at work within us to make us like Christ. Otherwise there would be no struggle as we would belong totally to the enemy.

V.24: How does Paul describe himself here?

WRETCHED MAN.

What does wretched mean?

Very miserable or unhappy. Causing misery or distress. Deep affliction.

It is in this state of mind that Paul asks this heartwrenching question: “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

The word translated “rescue” or in other translations “deliver” is a word often used in war. It was often used when one soldier would place his wounded comrade up on his shoulders and carry him to safety. We need to understand that even as Christians we have been severely wounded by sin and are in desperate need of grace. We are alive in Christ, but our bodies are bodies of death. Paul is saying we are alive but locked in a dying corpse.

Who will rescue us and carry us to safety? V.25

Paul has reached his conclusion. He is a wretched man in need of deliverance. This is not from the penalty of sin, which was paid for on the Cross, but deliverance from the POWER of sin, which we can only attain through Jesus Christ.

V.25: How does Paul reconcile being a slave both to God and to sin?

Both the “law of the mind” and the “law of sin” operate in their own sphere. Both seek to influence the soul of the believer every day.
It is painfully obvious that Christians do not have the resources in themselves to live the Christian life. This is at the heart of Christian living. We are totally powerless to live the Christian life by ourselves.

The realisation of this fact prepares us for Chapter 8: God's answer to the powerlessness of the believer to live the Christian life.

Romans 8:1-4: The Christian's Freedom



THURSDAY 16th FEBRUARY 2023

————————————————-

Bible Study and Prayer 


Recap from Romans 6 :

———————————

 Paul presents two options for slavery - 1) slave of sin or 2) slave of obedience to God.

 Because we obeyed from the heart, our lives have been transformed. We have been liberated from sin and can now think of ourselves as slaves of doing what is right because we belong to God (v18)

We have favor (6:14-15); we have freedom(6:16-20); and we have fruit of holiness and eternal life


In Romans 6, Paul tells us how to stop doing bad things. In Romans 7, Paul tells us how ‘not’ to do good things because we are not justified by the law (Warren Wiersbe)


ROMANS 7: 1-13 ( Read )


 VERSES 1-6 

Paul continues the discussion from Romans 6:15.There he  uses the illustration of master / slave to show how Christians need to yield / surrender to God by obedience.


Here, Paul uses a marriage metaphor to illustrate that every believer in Christ has a new relationship to the law because of his/ her union with Jesus ( vv2-3)

He likens the death of a husband, freeing a woman from the commitment to marriage, TO the death and resurrection of Christ which frees us from the power of sinful desires 

     

Vv 4-6: 

**What do you think ‘you died to the law’ means ? It means you have trusted Christ. You died to the law. In Christ, you arose from the dead.Now you are ‘married’ or united to Christ, living a new life .The law has no dominion over you because you died to it.

**What are two benefits of ‘dying to the law’ ? 

We have a new life of grace bearing fruit of holiness to God.

We are liberated from the idea that we have to please God through adherence to rules and regulations. Now we serve God and please Him by walking in the new way, led by Holy Spirit and not by ticking boxes


Our union with Christ produces spiritual fruit. This happens not through rule-keeping but through the work of God's Spirit in our lives ( just as marriage can bring forth children )


  VERSES 7-13

Paul now begins to share his own experience as regards his struggle with wrongdoing. It's an autobiographical section. He discusses the battle that every Christian fights to live in a manner pleasing to God


(Verses 7-11)What are four things the law does ? 


V7 : It reveals sin, the real problem is humanity's sinful nature- it establishes right and wrong and shows whatever falls short of it.


V8 : (firstly note ‘But sin’ meaning the sinful nature’ )- It arouses the impulse to sin- the word ‘opportunity’ implies a military base of operations from which attacks are launched. Imagine, then, our sin nature using God's holy law as a springboard for evil. 

Examples - our sinful nature turns :

 -our desire to be wise financial stewards into greed; 

 -a genuine concern for loved ones’ wellbeing into controlling behaviours rooted in fear;

 -turns acts of kindness into attempts to impress


Vv9-11: the law ruins sinners - it reveals our sinful condition and condemnation before God. Paul thought he was doing just fine with self-righteous living.That was shattered as he realises his utter sinfulness. Yet it is the first essential step to salvation in Jesus

Keeping a list of do’s and don't’ cannot save us. This is like a living death.( refer to Phil 3:7-11) 

V11 Paul comes to realise that a life lived under the demands of the Law was nothing more than a living death


Verses 12-13: the law shows how sinful sin is as Paul answers the question in v7

  • it is holy because it was given by a holy God ,it is right and fair

-it is also good because it reveals to sinners their need for a Saviour 


V13 Paul says that the law was given to reveal truth about sin. Sin is so deceptive. It can take the law and twist it into an instrument of death. Galatians 3:24 says the law was given to point us to Jesus. By  faith in Him we can be eternally saved.


It is only when we realise how evil sin really is that we will oppose it and live victoriously 


Conclusion- The law is not bad.It was never designed to save anyone. It does not lead to salvation ( is not salvific.)

The tension we are to embrace is that God’s laws are good but are not the source of salvation . True freedom is found by embracing the relationship we have with God our Father and valuing this over rules


>>Be  thankful that you are free in Christ Jesus our Saviour and Lord




THURSDAY 9th FEBRUARY 2023

——————————————-

Bible Study and Prayer


We are continuing our short study of Paul's letter to the original recipients : Christians living in Rome

Recap : The primary theme is the basic gospel- God’s plan of salvation and His gift of righteousness to believers. Through His mercy and grace God brings the believer in a right relationship with Him 


Chapter 6 - Paul points out that grace is no excuse to sin.

We have died to sin ( v2).We are made alive to God, raised to a new life because of the union with Christ.

(6: vv11-13 ) Paul reminds the Christians that as they live in light of this truth, this is their first step towards victory over sin

The second step - do not allow sin to reign in you no matter how much your body may sometimes crave for self- indulgence 

The third step in living victoriously - offer yourselves wholeheartedly to God ; surrender control to the Lord Jesus 


We should not continue in sin : dead to sin and free to live as instruments of righteousness for God.What has been put to death can have no power over you


ROMANS 6:15-23 (Read)

Illustration : imagine an old, dilapidated house -this is the “before “ picture.Imagine this same house fully refurbished and decorated..totally transformed - the “after” picture. In a similar way, Paul is talking about transformation every Christ- follower experiences as you move from old sinful ways to living for God


In the “before” picture, Paul says we were slaves to sin.In the “after” picture,Paul says the chains that bound us to sin have been broken. Now we are slaves of God and under grace we have the freedom to serve the Lord and not sin against Him


Paul uses the illustration of slavery to help the Christians understand this important truth he is communicating. It helps us to understand the degree of obedience that should characterise our lives as Christians under grace


V15-16 As Paul responds to the question in verse 15, what  are two options for slavery Paul presents here? Slaves of sin or slaves of obedience to God .The master we obey reveals whose slaves we are. There are two Masters : you either serve sin or Christ 


V17-18 How did the believers become slaves of righteousness ? Obedience from the heart or wholehearted, willing obedience to God's truth obedience to God's Word ( for these Christians it may have been the moral and ethical teachings of Christ given to new converts in the early church)

Paul gives thanks to God as it is by His grace they had obeyed from their hearts and this led to transformation 


V19-23 Paul shares the motivation for being slaves to righteousness or for serving God:

       

            V19 : what does serving as a slave to righteousness produce ? holiness

          

            Vv20-21 : what is the consequence of being a slave to sin ? all sinful acts, attitudes produce death


     V22 : how does living as God's slaves benefit you as a Christ- follower? Firstly it is not     bondage but freedom. Rather it leads to the fruit of  holiness and in the end ,eternal life as your inheritance

           

            V23 : Paul makes this concluding point (v23) in response to the earlier question “shall we continue in sin?”…

                  Death is the fruit of slavery to sin .this is your wage/payment.It is what we ‘earn’ for choosing to live as slaves of sin. 

             What does this mean ? This means  separation from God (living in sin separates us from God .Dying in sin will separate us for eternity)


Eternal life is the consequence/fruit of slavery to God. Note it is a gift of a gracious God - you don't work for it.


>* The good news is that you  are never alone in your struggle with sin

>* Obedience- when sin comes calling for your attention, tell yourself, “I am the righteousness of God, a new creation living in the grace of Jesus Christ and sin no longer has power over me !”






Thursday 2nd February 2023
Prayer Meeting

“Pray and seek for Jerusalem’s peace, for all who love her will prosper! 
O Jerusalem, may there be peace for those who dwell inside your walls 
and prosperity in your every palace. 
I intercede for the sake of my family and friends who dwell there, 
that they may all live in peace. 
For the sake of Your house, Yahweh our God, 
I will seek the welfare and prosperity of Jerusalem.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭122:6-9‬ ‭TPT‬‬

“Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper. 
O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls 
and prosperity in your palaces. 
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “May you have peace.” 
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, 
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭122:6-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬


Psalm 122 is one of the Song of Ascents.
King David wrote it for the people to sing at the time of their going up to the holy feasts at Jerusalem. 
It is the third of four songs & was suitable to be sung when the people had entered the gates & their feet stood within the city. 

It continues to be relevant, we should be encouraged & motivated 
to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. 
Jerusalem literally means ‘city of peace.’ 
In reality we know that it has become more well-known for war & conflict even in our current day. 
We pray for peace 🕊 ‘Shalom’ : the total well-being & wholeness 
that only the Lord our God can provide.

King David prayed for blessings for those who loved & prayed for Jerusalem, 
but the blessing isn’t only for the individual but also for the community who cared for the peace of Jerusalem. 
God requires all His people from every nation & every background 
to be concerned about the peace of one particular city : Jerusalem. 
As we take time to intercede, we pray that a protective shield 🛡 
would cover our brothers & sisters. 

As Christians, we too, should seek the welfare of the people of Jerusalem. 
To all who heed God’s call to love Jerusalem & pray for her peace, 
God gives a special promise : that they shall prosper.
The word translated ‘prosper’ goes beyond the material realm. 
It denotes a deep inner well-being, a freedom from care & anxiety. 
As we align ourselves with God’s plan by praying for the peace of Jerusalem, we also will experience peace ourselves.


To help us in our time of meeting the Lord and praying, here are some devotionals and some prayer points: 

 

    Philippians 1:9-11 

Paul writes to the believers at Philippi with whom he shares a bond because of Jesus. He is in prison in Rome 800 miles away from these believers .Yet he prays for the believers and desires to encourage their hearts 


He prays with the power of God in verses 9-11 for them in this way :


1- “That your love may abound more and more.” This love ( agape ) is active and encompasses the vertical love for God and the horizontal love for others. This is the same relational love that Jesus talks about as He converses with the law expert in Luke 10:27 ( loving the Lord with ALL of your  heart, soul, strength and mind and loving your neighbour as yourself )


Paul prays that this love that comes from God - the Source of love - may abound. It can abound more and more because our hearts are filled by Holy Spirit who lives in us


2- “In knowledge and all depth of insight (discernment).”  Paul prays for spiritual knowledge that flows from knowing Jesus personally. Paul knew the secret of knowing God : the more we know Him in our hearts , the more we love Him; AND the more we love Him, the more we are like Him

Their love is to grow more and more for the right things and in the right way


3- “So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless.”

Paul prays that his fellow believers would choose/ approve of the best rather than the good. He desires the believers to approve of what is superior or excellent ( of eternal value). This leads to walking blamelessly before God. 

As we abound in love we show God's way is the more excellent way


You know, the enemy tries to cloud our vision. Our focus on Christ who is superior removes the clouds. Then we have clarity and can choose God's best


4-“ Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.”   Paul asks God to fill the believers at Philippi with the abundance that comes from knowing and trusting Jesus.This is the fruit that is produced by Christ in union with Him as we remain rooted in Him. Good fruit comes from good roots ( Colossians 2:7a )

The fruit we bear for God's glory comes from living in right relationship with Him


Question to ponder : Are these things we desire for ourselves, for our friends, for our fellowship ? 


The ultimate goal of all that God does in our lives is that He will be praised and glorified. We are to live for God's praise and glory 


Prayer Points : 

> Pray that individually and corporately we will desire to know God and experience God’s love  more and more. …in our hearts. Pray that our love and spiritual knowledge of Christ will keep growing.


> Pray that our lives will produce lasting fruit that comes from abiding in Christ and walking faithfully with Him. Amen! 

                              




Thursday 26th January 2023


Romans 6:5-14

V5 we must die to self so we can live for Christ

V6 we are no longer slaves to sin – so we have power to change by the grace of God

In John 15:9 God loves us and wants to abide with us. v7 if we love him we will obey his commands and abide in him. In obeying and abiding there is fruitfulness and joy v7-8

The Christian who has assurance of sins forgiven. Who abides in Christ and through which has a firm and strong relationship with their heavenly Father can fully rely upon Him and his word to allow the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in their life are able to let go and trust God and wholly embrace Gods plans and purposes.

 We can then become the light of the world by;

Living and walking with the Holy Spirit Gal; 5:16-

  • The 7 priorities of Eph;4:1-16
  • The Christians character v1-2
  • The Christians unity v3-6
  • The Christians salvation v7-8
  • The Christians hope v9-10
  • The Christians leadership v11-12
  • The Christians earthly goals v12-13
  • The Christians security 14-16 

Choosing to live by Gods standards Eph; 4:17-32 

Choosing to live with a Christ like mind set Phil; 2:1-18

Choosing to put off and put on Col; 3:1-17

Choosing to be positive 1Thess; 5:16-18

Choosing to live in harmony 1 Peter 3:8-12 

Acts 10:38 tells us that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. And how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with him.

Is this not how we the Church, the body of Christ should be the light in our community’s. We should be setting the atmosphere not just measuring it. Be a thermostat not a thermometer. 






Thursday 19th January 2023


Romans 6:1-6

Paul is talking about sin and grace. 

What is sin, the word sin in the Greek is hamartia/hamartio, meaning to miss the mark, to be offensive, a tragic flaw.

Christ died on the cross to deal with sin once for all time. We find redemption from sin through Christs atoning death on the cross

In Gethsemane Jesus prays Father if it be they will let this cup pass from me, never the less your will not mine be done. It was not just the horror of the roman crucifixion that he was seeking to pass by him but the cup of sin the sins of all mankind concentrated into that cup. 

Christ the sinless son of God became the sins of all the world. He had to bear our sins on the cross to die in our place. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:22 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. niv

The thing about this verse is how we have, to help with the grammar inserted two words that are not in the original Greek. there is no ‘to be’ in its original text it reads …made him who knew on sin, sin for us….

He made him sin “period” it was not a token act. Christ took our sin and made it his very own.


We all sin even after we have come to Christ a true believer does no set out to sin but we are human and so fail. Jesus taught us to pray …forgive us our sins as we forgive others… he knows we will but his grace enables us to find forgiveness. 

In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says behold I stand at the door and knock if any one hears my voice and opens the door I will come in…

Notice the words …hears my voice… not hear my knock which we would think he would mean. So what is he saying? see in verse 19 …repent and do again the works you did at first.


When we get it wrong like the church in Laodicea, we need to repent the word means to think again, to think differently with remorse. We need to think the way God does and so we are enabled to live a Godly life. Repentance is an on- going process in our lives.


We must also Forgive. Jesus at the end of the Lords prayer in Matt;6:14 says …for if you will not forgive others their sin your heavenly father will not forgive you!


No matter how difficult it is, at some point no matter how hard, we must as Jesus says, forgive.

First we come to think Gods way (repent)

Then we chose to make the decision to forgive

The next step no matter how we may feel we speak out I forgive

This then starts a process that will by Gods grace and power we are able to let go. The word forgive means to cast off.

Corie Tenboom said unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Forgiveness is not letting the other person off or making out it did not matter. 

It’s about setting yourself free.

    

   

 





Thursday 12th January 2023



Seven pillars of the NT church

1 they were Christ centred

 Acts 1:1 all that Jesus began to do and to teach

The centre of everything the early church did was Christ focused – acts 4:33 with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ

Is my faith Christ centred or me focused?

2 they were united

Acts 1 to 7 when Christ is central we become united around him. When we lose sight of Him other things bring division

Unity enables us to deal with difficulties Acts 6:1-7

Phil; 2:3 death to self-centeredness and alive to Christ Phil; 2:3- seek the fruit of the spirit Gal; 5:22


3 They were praise, prayer and worship driven

Acts 1:14; 2:1-2; 3:1; 4:23

How is my prayer, praise and worship life?


4 They answered the questions the people were asking

 Acts 2:12 The people asked what is this? What must I do?

The church has been good at answering questions no one is asking. 

What are the questions people are asking today?


5 They were people focused 

Acts 2:44-47; 4:32 they cared for the needs of people the church was the first to develop social care

How do we show care for those around us?


6 They had empowered living

Acts 3:1-

The holy spirit is more than spiritual gifts. He empowers our inner life and character Gal; 5:22

They were empowered to care for the world around them. (un wanted baby’s were taken and brought up as their own)


7 they were prolific in persecution 

Act 4 :1; 7:1- ; 8:1- after Stephens martyrdom the church was scattered and preached as they went

How do we cope with persecution?

        

    









THURSDAY 29th DECEMBER 2022


Welcome to our Prayer Meeting

Today we are spending time worshipping the Lord and hearing from Him as we look towards 2023

It is our “Meet the Lord” morning !


Here are two devotionals to help us as we seek to draw nearer to Jesus in 2023 :


PSALM 27:4 ( Read )

This is a psalm that declares God's faithfulness as David writes about his confidence and trust in God ( v1- The Lord is… so there is nothing to be afraid of ). He was pursued, attacked, threatened Yet his trust was in God. 


 In the midst of fear and heartbreak, David has this one request : 

Verse 4- David as a worshipper expresses the ‘one thing’ he desires of the Lord. His ultimate desire is to be with God. This is what he craves from God.  


David understands that the relationship he has with God is not about duty. His relationship with God is about delight. 

It is so easy to become so busy or consumed with serving God that we lose sight of the One, Jesus, we are serving

*What David greatly longs for is to dwell in the house of the Lord so he can linger in awe,…to find that place of closeness and intimacy with the Lord. It's in this relationship of  putting Jesus first we find peace, protection and provision (v5)


*His heart's desire is to gaze or behold God's beauty - His splendour, grace - to say “God you are beautiful in Your holiness and majesty…” to worship the Lord. 

And because the Lord’s beauty attracts him, this causes him to respond.


*His response : David wants to seek God in his temple. He longs to be surrounded with God's presence… in close relationship with the Lord. 


This is what our hearts are designed for. We were created for this and therefore this is where we find ultimate fulfillment. It is the main thing


It's in His presence we receive godly wisdom, we learn of God's will and we see life from His perspective. This shows our total dependence on God and not our selves. It shows that we need God more than anything. He is all we need  


What is your goal for the New Year 2023 ? 

What is your one, single desire or request as you look forward to 2023? 

Are there idols of the heart that are trying to compete for attention ?


Prayer point :

May we echo these words of David. May we look to God, not as a means to an end, but as the end. 

May we actively worship Jesus, gaze upon His beauty and splendour and so find fulfillment and see things from His perspective.   

Amen




Galatians 5:16-26

 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

We live in a world of darkness, deception, disillusionment, depression and all the other negative Ds you can think of!  We know that Jesus is not only the reason for the (Christmas) season but the answer to life. John 10:10 abundant life as he promised.

The church is the light of the world and we are the light in the Church as we are the Church. The world is looking and seeking and we need to 

 walk by the spirit v16 

Led by the spirit v18 

Keep in step with the spirit v25 

Then we will produce the fruit of the spirit (see also 2 Peter 1:3-11)

Two key actions we can take to get in step with the spirit is Repentance, (choosing to think Gods way) and Forgiveness

As we start a new year maybe it would be a good opportunity to do some soul searching and pray into two areas of life

Lord are there areas of my life you would want to change? 

Lord are there people I need to forgive?

If you come up with none maybe you’re not being honest with yourself!!! 



  

BIBLE STUDY, Thursday 15th December 

The attributes that have travelled through time.


ISAIAH 9 1-7

  • When Isaiah stood and spoke his world was in darkness. 
  • The Assyrians had invaded and the people were oppressed, bankrupt and fearful. 
  • Matthew 4 tells us The people WHO SAT IN DARKNESS have seen a great light and upon those who sat in the region and SHADOW OF DEATH, light has dawned.
  • Those words are describing the world in which Isaiah addressed the people.
  • A child was the opposite of what they expected

THEY ARE IN DARKNESS              THERE IS COMING A LIGHT


The light is coming in the form of a baby “For unto us a child is born…”

Five words which describe this child. It builds up a picture.

  1. Wonderful……it’s about WHAT HE DOES

His birth was a miracle, miracles all around him, his resurrection…

His life was full of wonder…. The shepherds wondered, Mary wondered, the Kings wondered……  Luke 2 9, Luke 1 29  Matt 2 10

A: Do you have an example of when life was dark and  he did something wonderful for you?

(Find verses which promise you that).


  1. Counsellor  ……it’s about WHAT HE SAYS

He spoke to the storm, His words brought life to the dead, they gave freedom to the oppressed.

The world’s advice is often opposite to what really works. it’s fine for everyone to put themselves first, the victim culture, the offence culture

HE speaks the truth. He is the bottom line for us.

B: Do you have an example of when God spoke clearly to you to show you the way?

(Find verses which promise you that).


  1. Mighty God…….It’s about WHO HE IS


Jesus brought heaven to earth.  He is the Son but he was also mighty God.    Our mighty God walked the earth. 

If you saw the Queens funeral the last act was to remove her crown, her orb and her sceptre. She became one of us.

But HE will never become one of us. He will never lose his kingship.


C: When was the last time you became overawed with the mighty-ness of God?

(Find verses which fill you with awe).


  1. Everlasting Father……it’s about WHERE HE IS


He is eternal. He holds eternity in his hands.  Whatever is happening in this earth there will come a day when you will walk into heaven…..


D: When you arrive in heaven, when you’ve spent time with Jesus, what will you do next?

(Find verses which help you imagine heaven).



  1. Prince of Peace…..it’s about WHAT HE BRINGS

The world says get what you can. Me time. Put youself first. Look after number one, you deserve it…. Attitude of entitlement….

Jesus washed their feet, loved the outcast, had tea with the tax collector, saved a place in heaven for the thief. 


E:  In an atmosphere of war, He brought peace to people’s lives. 

     How has he brought peace to your life in a hard situation?

(Find verses which promise you that).


Conclusion: He is WONDERFUL and because of what he does you have life

He is COUNSELLOR and because of what he says you have life

He is MIGHTY GOD and because of who he is you have life

He is EVERLASTING FATHER and because of where he is you have life

He is PRINCE OF PEACE and because of what he brings you have life


These attributes have time travelled to today and they are for us to share.

They have come so many miles over so many years. 

Don’t waste them. SHARE THEM.        Amen. 



Thursday 8th December 

Bible Study 


Romans 5:12-21 THE EXCELLENCE AND EFFECTIVENESS OF GRACE

Intro


Romans 5:12-21 brings a closing and compelling evidence that all mankind are sinners and fall under God's grace and therefore should seek salvation in Christ.


Who is responsible for bringing sin into the world (Romans 5:12)? See also Genesis chapters 2 and 3.


What sign or evidence is there that everyone has sinned (Romans 5:12)?

Romans 5:12, 16 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned, the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.”


The Bible teaches that we were all born sinners and conceived in sin as David writes “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5) but again, the good news is that “the free gift following many trespasses brought justification” through His blood.


Was there sin before the Old Testament Law was given by Moses around 2000 B.C. (Romans 5:13)?


How do we know this (Romans 5:14)?


Who is Adam said to be a type for (Romans 5:14c)? 


How is the gift of God different than the result of the one man’s sin (Romans 5:16)?


Romans 5:17 “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”


What does it mean that we reign in life?


Through this one man’s trespass or sin (Adam) death came even though God warned Adam that “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17b). Adam did die; not immediately but eventually because the wages of our sins is death (Rom 6:23a). Wages are paid for services rendered and the rendering of the wages we earned was death but the free gift of God allows us to receive eternal life (Rom 6:23b) and it is through, once again, the “free gift of righteousness…through the one man, Jesus Christ.”


Romans 5:18-19 “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”


It only took one sin to lead Adam into condemnation and this condemnation passed unto all men but then the one act of righteousness led “to justification and life for all men.” That one act was displayed at the cross and his life’s blood justified us and by this “one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”


If we know sin is all around us by the presence of death, what then is the mark or sign of God’s grace in a Christian’s life (Romans 5:21)?





2. How many times is the phrase ‘the many’ used in Romans 5:12-21? 

What is the significance of this? Please refer to Isaiah 53:1-12 (especially 10-12).



Bible Study

Thursday 1st December

ROMANS 5:1-5

Romans 5:1-5 NIV

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

The first word in this chapter is “Therefore”. According to the dictionary the word “therefore” means “consequently” or “for that reason”. Question: For what reason?

In the first four chapters of Romans, Paul announced that the gospel is a message about the righteousness of God being given to people because of Jesus Christ. First, Paul described the problem: Everyone deserves to die because we all fall short of what God wants.
Then Paul described the solution: The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a gift, not a result of us keeping laws. In chapter 4, Paul proved this with the example of Abraham, who was declared righteous by God on the basis of faith before the laws were given. Salvation is by grace and faith, not by law or works.

So, what are the benefits of being justified (in God's eyes “just as if I'd never sinned”) by faith?

Peace with God V.1

Why is peace so important?

People will never be at true peace with someone else until they can be at true peace with themselves, and we can never truly be at peace with ourselves until we are at peace with God. God gives us peace with Him when we come to Jesus for salvation. And this is true peace - not just a cessation of hostility or an inner sense of calmness. This is true harmony and actual well-being, more akin to the Hebrew idea of shalom (peace) - wholeness.

Grace in which we now stand V.2

What is grace and what does “in which we now stand” mean?

Grace (charis) is a powerful word in Greek. It refers to a beautiful quality in someone that brings delight to others. Over time, it came also to refer an actual favor or gift that was given to someone without expectation of anything in return. And that's the perfect definition of salvation! What could we possibly give God in return for the gift His Son Jesus?

To stand in grace means we are totally and irrevocably secure in Jesus Christ. It is our legal position before God to which we have gained access by our faith. When Paul says that we stand in grace, he implies that we can remain in this state.

Hope in the glory of God V.2

Paul says we can “boast” in this hope. (Some translations “rejoice”)

Isn't boasting something a Christian shouldn't do?

The concept of boasting is found frequently in both the Old and the New Testaments. The object of boasting determines its nature. If it is God or the commendable qualities of others, then boasting can be described as proper; if it is wrongly applied to oneself, then it is improper. The Hebrew word mahalal is sometimes translated "boast." The basic meaning of the word is "to praise," as in the English word "hallelujah, " which means "praise Yahweh." The Greek word kauchaomai [kaucavomai] ("to vaunt oneself") is used in the New Testament. Like its Hebrew counterpart, it is used in both a good and a bad sense.

Boasting about God is one of humankind's most profitable activities. Jesus told the woman at the well that the Father seeks our worship (John 4:23). Both anthropologists and psychologists tell us that human beings invariably imitate what they worship, so the end result of boasting in God is the sincere aspiration to be like him (2 Corinthians 4:18).

So what does it mean to boast “in the hope of the glory of God”?

When Paul uses the word "hope" in Romans, it's important to understand the term. He's not talking about something that might happen, something like, "I hope I get a present for my birthday." Instead, "hope" in a Biblical context means looking forward with

expectation to something, even though we can't see it, yet. It's a certainty. Therefore we can rejoice knowing we have the absolutely certain hope of participating in the glory of God forever. Paul wrote previously that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). God's glory is Himself and all that is His. Now that we have been justified and our sins forgiven, we will experience God's glory fully and forever. Hallelujah!

We can glory (or rejoice) in our sufferings V.3

This affermation could sound masochistic! Rejoicing in sufferings? Nobody wants to suffer, right? We spend all our time avoiding suffering.

In what way does suffering produce patience, perseverance, character, and hope?

Patience: The quality or virtue of patience is presented as either forbearance or endurance. In the former sense it is a quality of self- restraint or of not giving way to anger, even in the face of provocation; it is attributed to both God and man and is closely related to mercy and compassion.

Perseverance: Perseverance means being persistent despite the difficulties or delays we face. The Bible teaches us to persevere in faith, trusting God to fulfill his promises. When we face difficulties we can trust that God understands our situation and sees our distress.

Character: Character is who we are because of our relationship with Christ. It is something that can be built and learned as we follow Him. Furthermore, genuine Christian character is not just about our personality or our disposition. It is a description of who we are as Christians and what we are called to be in our entirety.

Hope: Hope does not imply uncertainty or lack of assurance. Instead, biblical hope is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.

Therefore we can rejoice not only in hoping for future glory, but we rejoice now, even when things are not going well for us.
We may not rejoice 
because of our sufferings, but we can rejoice in

them. Trials and difficulties help us grow in determination to endure, and in our character, our consistency in doing the right thing even in difficult circumstances. If we stay on the right path, we can be confident that we will get to the goal. Our source of confidence is not in ourselves, but in what Jesus is doing in us.

Love V.5

Love, as always, ties everything together. Here Paul is talking about agape love.
In Greek”agapē”. In the New Testament, this word refers to the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God. In Scripture, this is the highest form of love. In John 3:16, agape is the word used for the love that moved God to send his only son for the world’s redemption. The term necessarily extends to the love of one’s fellow humans, as the reciprocal love between God and humans is made manifest in one’s unselfish love of others.

What does “hope does not put us to shame” mean?
Some versions translate “hope does not disappoint” which renders this verse clearer.
So why does “hope not disappoint”?

God's love (agape) has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. The word “pour” implies abundance – not just a trickle – and this comes through the Holy Spirit – the third person of the Trinity - whom God has given to us.

God did not stop with justification. That would have been enough (more than enough). But He went on to "overfill our cups" by then pouring His love into us by the Holy Spirit who now indwells every believer. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within you, reminding you of the unparalleled benefits of being justified in Jesus.

So, to sum up these verses, we have peace with God (V.1). This peace, as well as access to grace, has come through Jesus Christ (V.2). We can rejoice in our sufferings as they lead us to hope (Vv. 3+4). Moreover, God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (V.5). The Son gives us access to God’s glory and the Spirit pours out God’s love for us.

THURSDAY 24th NOVEMBER 2022


Welcome to our Prayer Meeting today 


Here are some devotional notes and prayer points to guide us in this precious time of prayer :


PSALM 1:1-3 ( READ)


We all long to be blessed - to be content and fulfilled. Yet we don't always experience this. And we then ask the “Why” question. Is it because we live in a fallen world ? Is it that the real enemy ( Satan ) is trying to bring defeat ? Is it because we tend to trip over our own sins and struggles as we strive to do things our way ? All these might be true for us  


Here we see the psalmist reminds us, as believers in Christ, how we can live out this blessed ( content and fulfilled ) life. This is especially relevant as you try to navigate through your circumstances and challenges and the cares of this world


The blessed life is not experienced by keeping company with or taking advice from ‘the wicked, sinners, and scoffers’. These are people who actively pursue evil and wrongdoing. Evil is their way of life. 

We can share God's love and point them to Jesus. As a believer in Christ, we must be careful that we are not tempted down the path of evil doers. We don't follow the standards of the world which is increasingly seeking to leave God out of their lives and mock the holy things of God 


The blessed life - the full, contented and happy life- is experienced in its fullness as we keep company with the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a vast difference between the blessed life we have in Christ Jesus and what the world offers for contentment. The truth is we we have a wonderful relationship with Him. We are to spend time with Him, talking and listening to Him.


In verse 2 the psalmist  says the blessed life is experienced when we DELIGHT in the God’s Word and MEDITATE on it day and night. The Word captures your attention and affection.


When we delight in the Word this means we find pleasure in it. You love it and live it !

We long to have a desire for more and more. It's like the Father giving you His child a refreshing drink every time you read His Word. You crave, are hungry/ thirsty for more because nothing else will satisfy. Your desire for more of Jesus who is the Living Word increases. You want to encounter Him more passionately. You are so close to your Saviour and His life radiates through you to others


And this nourishes, sustains, and produces spiritual fruit in every season. This brings spiritual maturity, stability and success according to God's standards. 


PRAYER POINT - that we will cease striving to experience a blessed life in our own strength 

                         -that Jesus will become our greatest desire, know Him more and to be satisfied/ fulfilled in Him

PRAYING FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

Matthew 5:10-12 NIV

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

What a wonderful prospect for us Christians (ironically speaking of course!)
But Jesus says that we are BLESSED when we are persecuted because of righteousness.

The persons labelled “blessed” by Jesus represent a counterculture exhibiting values not typically welcomed by people of the world at large. All the Beatitudes demonstrate God’s reversal of the world’s values, but perhaps none so markedly as this eighth one. How can being persecuted be “blessed”? Persecution is never pleasant but involves suffering and often severe pain. The key is Jesus’ qualification that the blessed persecution comes “for righteousness’ sake.”

Righteousness means more than just “being a good person.” It refers to a complete orientation of life toward God and His will. This kind of righteousness is highly visible: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16).
To endure persecution for the sake of righteousness requires uncompromising faithfulness to God despite every threat and pressure.

Matthew 24:9 NIV

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”

An even more wonderful prospect for us Christians!

page1image3726800

We will be hated by ALL nations because of our faithfulness to Jesus.
A few years ago this situation was mainly seen in Communist countries, but nowadays it is everywhere – even in the UK, USA and Europe – so-called Christian countries.

Christianity is no longer seen as a way of life to be lived and respected, but more as a threat to all kinds of non-Christian behaviour – whatever that may be.

But we know that in certain parts of the world our brothers and sisters are really suffering for their living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, risking imprisonment, torture and death.
Let us pray for them today, being totally aware that the same thing could happen to us as Christians, even in the not too distant future.

4 ways to pray for the persecuted church. (World help)

1. Pray that the persecuted Christians will feel the comfort and encouragement of the Lord

2. Pray that their persecutors will come to know Christ

3. Pray that in the midst of persecution, the church will be strengthened and continue to grow

4. Pray that these believers will have access to God’s Word

and let's pray for ourselves that should we ever find ourselves in a situation of persecution we may rejoice and be glad, knowing that great is our reward in heaven.

Prayer


Shine Your Light


“Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.”

‭‭John‬ ‭12‬:‭35‬-‭36‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://bible.com/bible/111/jhn.12.35-36.NIV


“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46, NIV).


Light is always stronger than darkness. Because of this, we don’t need to fear or condemn a dark world; rather, we need to go into that world and radiate the hope, grace, mercy, love, justice, and truth of Jesus!

It will take each of us personally rising up and shining our light to defeat the darkness. And the size of your audience isn’t significant compared to the weight of God’s calling on your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to one person or thousands. He just needs you to be available, ready to reveal His light to those around you.



Today we thank you Lord for hope

Jan Struther wrote the following in 1931

which was then turned into a well known hymn.


Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,

whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,

be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,

your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.


Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,

your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,

be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,

your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.


As witnesses we need to be salt and light in our community, My prayer for us is found in Romans 15 v13 (NIV)



“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

‭‭


What is the story behind?


1 My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus' blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus' name.


Refrain:

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand:

all other ground is sinking sand;


Worship and Rejoice (2003)


Edward Mote was a pastor and hymn writer. Born in London on 21 January 1797, his parents managed a pub and often left Edward to his own devices playing in the street. Speaking of these childhood years he once said, "So ignorant was I that I did not know that there was a God." Wikipedia


What does the Bible say about hope?

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23). 

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19, NIV).


As Brian Johnson and Phil Wickham wrote, one of my current favourite hymns.


How great the chasm that lay between us

How high the mountain I could not climb

In desperation, I turned to heaven

And spoke your name into the night

Then through the darkness

Your loving kindness

Tore through the shadows of my soul

The work is finished, the end is written

Jesus Christ, my living hope


Who could imagine so great a mercy?

What heart could fathom such boundless grace?

The God of ages stepped down from glory

To wear my sin and bear my shame

The cross has spoken, I am forgiven

The king of kings calls me His own

Beautiful savior, I'm yours forever

Jesus Christ, my living hope


Hallelujah, praise the one who set me free

Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me

You have broken every chain

There's salvation in your name

Jesus Christ, my living hope


Then came the morning that sealed the promise

Your buried body began to breathe

Out of the silence, the roaring lion

Declared the grave has no claim on me

Jesus, yours is the victory



Let’s pray that God may use us in our community. 

I’ve been reminded of this Bible verse many times over the past 50 years. A young pastor shared it with us.


“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.”

‭‭John‬ ‭1‬:‭6‬-‭8‬ ‭NIV‬‬


 May we be lights here in Playa Blanca. Amen


Thursday 17th November 2022 

Romans 4:13-25 Bible Study: A Picture of Salvation Through Faith amplifies how Abraham's faith saved him and believers from all nations.


What was the promise to Abraham and his descendants (Romans 4:13)?


What does the Law do (Romans 4:15)?

For what reason was salvation (God’s promises) by faith rather than by Law (Romans 4:16)?


How is God, the giver of promises, described in verse 17?


What was the promise given to Abraham, or at least the portion quoted here (Romans 4:18)?


Describe the steps of Abraham’s faith during the crisis time (Romans 4:19-21)?


Step #1 (Romans 4:19)

Step #2 (Romans 4:20) 

Step #3 (Romans 4:21)


To what degree was Abraham sure that God would accomplish what He had promised (Romans 4:21)? (Circle the right answer).

not sure a bit sure fully assured


What was the result of this kind of faith (Romans 4:22)?


For whom was the OT phrase written, “It was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:23-24)?


What do they need to believe (Romans 4:24)? 


What promises of God have you received?

Which ones have you struggled with?


Why was Jesus raised from the dead (resurrected) (Romans 4:25)?


Thursday 10th November 2022 

Romans 4:1-12 Bible Study

Romans background. Who was Paul?

This is his gospel treatise. What is the difference between this and the 4 gospels?

Paul argues from the Old Testament. That is the Bible at the time. 

What are the salient facts about Jesus' life that Paul assumes we know?

Summary of Romans Chapters 1-4: Justification Is Necessary

After Paul gives his opening address, he gets right down to business with the remainder of chapter 1 to show how the Gentiles are in sin and require justification and salvation. Having established that the Gentiles are in sin, Paul in chapter 2 goes on to explain that the Jews also are in condemnation and sin because of their unbelief in the Gospel.


In chapter 3, Paul concludes that no one is righteous, if they are seeking justification on their own terms. He states that all have sinned, both Jews and Gentiles, and that all mankind requires justification because of their sins.


The Jew’s religion (at this point it was no longer the religion of God) had devolved into a system of salvation by works. They believed that in the outward display of keeping to the tenets of the Law of Moses they could merit salvation.


In chapter 4, Paul uses the example of Abraham to show proof that one does not have to be circumcised or be under the Law of Moses to be justified. Abraham’s obedience and faith – before he was under the covenant of circumcision – was accounted unto him for righteousness. God kept His promise to Abraham because of his faith.


This passage provides illustrations of Old Testament characters who were saved by faith thus demonstrating how salvation comes to us in the same way in both Old Testament and New Testament times.


Which forefather of the Jews is mentioned in verse 1?


Read the Genesis 15:6 Old Testament passage quoted in verse 3.


God counted Abraham as not just innocent, but righteous. In what ways is being accounted righteous being better than regarded as just innocent?


When one works, his wage is considered (Romans 4:4):(Circle the right answer.) a) a favor, gift b) what is deserved


The Bible tells us God is no man's debtor. Yet some people say they feel God owes them. What do you say to people like that? Allow God to search your heart. Do you feel God owes you something?


What kind of people does God justify (Romans 4:5)?


What famous Jewish ancestor is mentioned in Romans 4: 6? 


What word did David use to describe the benefit of receiving forgiveness of sin (Romans 4:6-8)?


Was Abraham considered or declared righteous before or after he was circumcised (Romans 4:10)?


What is circumcision a sign of (Romans 4:11)? 


What kind of people does Abraham become the father of because of their faith in Jesus?

Romans 4:11


Romans 4:12 


Bonus question on Romans 4:1-12

What do you answer those who say, “Salvation is too easy. It should cost something.”


THURSDAY 3rd NOVEMBER 2022

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Welcome to the meeting today. 


Two weeks ago we discussed the topic of  Loss and Grief

Today we are studying two passages from the Bible as a basis for the following  topic :  

‘Moving Forwards From Grief to Hope’


AIM - to encourage each other and find strength and embrace the hope we have as believers as we navigate through loss, grief and suffering. Whatever situation you find yourself in, it is worth looking at it through the lens of our ultimate hope in Christ.


Introductory comments :

Loss is inevitable and and nothing prepares you for it. With loss comes grief. Grief is the natural part of the healing process when a loss occurs. So it is a process that cannot be rushed. Yet in engaging in this process, we can move forward in life with hope


>1 Thessalonians 4 :13-18 ( READ )

The apostle Paul is encouraging the new church at Thessalonica as it thrives despite persecution. He writes this letter to encourage new converts in their trials and to give assurance concerning the  future of believers who die before Christ  returns. The Christians there were anxious about their Christian friends who had died - ‘would they miss the blessings of Christ's coming ?’


In this first passage, Paul is giving the Thessalonians ( and us too ) permission to grieve . It's ok to acknowledge the pain we feel in the face of death of a Christian loved one ( or other loss ). 


V13:  How are believers in Christ to grieve when death occurs ? Paul wants the believers to understand that how we grieve when a believer dies is different to an unbeliever. 

>Believers are to grieve with hope . Hope relates to what God says He will do in the future


**Note the phrase ‘sleep in death’ - a common metaphor relating sleep with death. Here it is a fitting illustration as sleep is a state where people are at rest but will eventually wake up. Believers will eventually awake to eternal life through faith in Christ.


Because of Jesus, we don't have to endure grief without the promise of hope. 

According to one Bible teacher, Christian grieving has three parts to it :

1- we look back with thankfulness for all that God has given

2- we look around with sadness because of what God has taken

3- we look forward with hope because of what God has promised ( unlike those non- Christians )


V14-17: What reasons for Christians to have hope are mentioned here that all believers in Christ can embrace ?

Jesus died and rose again 

Loved ones  who have died in Christ will come with Jesus when He comes in power and glory 


V17- What will happen to  believers who are still alive ? They will be caught up together with those who are already with the Saviour in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air/ to be with Him

Paul uses the truths of Christ's return as a means of comfort for those new Christians at Thessalonica 


What a marvellous reunion awaits when Jesus gathers us !

Christ’s return will bring relief from pain, sorrow and grief. 

Christ’s return will bring reunion in a supernatural, miraculous moment


>Revelation 21:1-7( READ )

 John the apostle shares the prophetic visions given by God to him . He receives breath-taking revelation of the new heaven and the new earth in the future ,unveiling God’s ultimate intentions for His people


V3-5 : How do these promises ( “the no mores”) give you hope, comfort and help you to persevere?

V3-God desires a relationship with us to the extent that one day He will make His home with us 

V4- God will bring about the change that will see no more tears, mourning and pain for example. V5- The One seated on the throne will make all things new, including you.


Conclusion - God's Word reminds us of a fundamental key to coping with grief : hope. Believers in Christ passes into eternal life and into God's presence. That hope is the foundation on which  we can encourage each other and ourselves when we struggle with loss, grief and pain in this life.



>>Response  

**1 Thessalonians 4:18 ..Let’s follow Paul's instructions here to encourage each other that Christ will come back for us 


**Tip to acknowledge your sorrow and focus on hope :- spend a few minutes and pray. Tell God how bad your pain is and thank Him for the hope of you have because of Jesus

There is no better remedy for a troubled heart than to remember that Jesus Himself will come and get us


**Live with a posture of expectancy and proper anticipation of Christ's return

THURSDAY 27th OCTOBER 2022

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Welcome to our Prayer Meeting today


Devotional thoughts :


In Mathew chapter 6, Jesus continues His teachings on the ‘Sermon on the Mount.” One of the most popular verses is found is v 33 . Jesus says, But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Jesus directs our focus and attention to what God the Father considers to be the most important goal you can have. 

Jesus’ clear command is that we should not worry about our life, as we read in earlier verses ( v25) Through a series of beautiful examples,Jesus shows how the Father cares graciously about the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. And then Jesus reminds the crowds that they are infinitely more precious to Him than birds and flowers


Jesus is saying don't fret about life and the daily needs. Rather ‘seek My kingdom first’. This kingdom is the rule and reign of God  AND exists where Jesus Christ rules and reigns in the hearts  and lives if His people. 

Gain God's perspective in all situations and see Him provide for every need as our focus is on His Kingdom purposes. So this is about His rule and reign and living in right relationship with God becoming our priorities. 

And when we seek God we are pursuing God relentlessly instead of other less valuable things


Jeremiah 29:11-13 - “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”


Prayer point - Pray that we will allow God to search our hearts even today. Let everything of self be dethroned so that Jesus will be enthroned and we will see how much we need Him as Saviour and Lord

                 Thank Him that as we obey His words, He promises to provide and graciously care for us as individuals, families and corporately as a church. 


“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving 

be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, 

that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 

This is good, and pleases God our Saviour,

Who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

For there is One God and One mediator between God and mankind, 

the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people. 

This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”

1 Timothy 2:1-6 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/1ti.2.1-6.NIV


3  Prayer Points :-


  1. To pray for all citizens.


  1. To pray in particular for the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, the new cabinet, & for the government in the U.K. 


To pray for wisdom & discernment, as they seek to lead & guide the citizens of the U.K. through various crises. 


To also pray for their salvation & for godly counsellors to advise them. 


  1. To pray for King Charles 3rd, for wisdom & discernment on how to rule & reign. 

Pray for godly counsellors to advise him. 


Let us pray for the salvation of The Royal Family. 


Again we pray for The Royal Family, as they grieve the loss of Queen Elizabeth 2nd. 


THURSDAY 20th OCTOBER 2022

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             Welcome. Today we are discussing the topic of Loss & Grief. Our aim is to encourage each other around God’s Word as we face challenges in life


                                                                 LOSS AND GRIEF

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Loss -defined as the act of losing possession of someone/ something important 


*It is inevitable and can be sudden- like being the victim of a crime, or predictable- like in an illness where the doctor says it is going to deteriorate (e.g. loss of physical ability or motor skills)

*It comes in many forms like the loss of a loved one, or a sense of loss you may feel when people die in war or racist attacks 

*With loss comes grief 


Grief - defined as deep sadness, as over a loss; sorrow. It is a feeling( emotional response)of deep mental anguish caused by a significant loss


*It is a natural part of the healing process after a loss. It is the process God uses to bring us into that place of wholeness. It is a good thing 

*The process of grief can't be rushed - you don't “snap out of it and get with it”. 

*It is personal - the way you express or manifest grief may be different to another individual 


For those who have experienced grief, you know how painful it can be. Loss brings pain and pain brings grief


What are some occasions for grief ? (refer to Bible verses)


The death of a loved one - Genesis 37:34-35

The imminent/ likely  death of a loved one - Matthew 17:23

Experiencing pain and suffering - 1Peter 1:6, Psalm 31:9-13

One’s relatives not receiving Christ - Romans 9:2-3

Feeling sorrow for sin - James 4:8-9

                                               

Can you think of any other individuals from the Bible who experienced grief, pain and tears ? Naomi, Job, 


Read Ecclesiastes 3: 1,4 :  It is clear we must allow ourselves the time to mourn and weep when you experience grief for whatever the reason. During the challenges of Covid, you would have heard stories of relatives not being able to grieve as they should because of restrictions. 

This is so important 

>Holding tears and trying to ignore the pain can have serious problems later.   


                                         <READ  JOHN 11: 17-44>


What is the occasion for grief here ? Lazarus who had a close relationship with Jesus is dead.Mary and Martha, his sisters are devastated as their brother has been  snatched from them

They are being comforted by friends. 

Grief is natural and necessary. Everyone grieves differently in losing a loved one


Jesus ( finally !) comes alongside these two sisters in their grief. What is the best thing you can do when someone is grieving ? Come alongside that person


What is the response of Martha and Mary ? We see in verses 21 and 32 the same words : “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” The implication is that the Lord could have stopped this sad event from happening. ( “if only our Lord was here” )


In your time of deep grief, have you said something similar ? For example, ‘I don't think God cares, I don't think God loves me…’


>Verses 22-27 :Jesus’ interaction with Martha.

V25- Jesus states the great statement of truth…the nugget :“I am the resurrection and the life…” He proclaims Himself to be the object of that very hope. ‘Resurrection’ is given a new status.It is no longer an event ,it is a Person that happens to people. This Person, Jesus, wants to intervene in our present devastating circumstances 

Jesus says effectively ,‘wherever I am, I bring life….you have hope built into your sorrow Martha.’


Observe Jesus refers to ‘believing’ in Him in vv25,26 and 40

Do you believe this ?’ That's not Martha’s question only. We need to consider this too

We believe and Jesus does only what He can do. 

V27 - By Martha’s response - ‘I believe….’she shows that her faith is anchored in her Lord who is present with her. Jesus brings Martha into a deeper faith (as they talked ) in her grief.


>Verses 32-37 :Jesus’ interaction with Mary 


V32 - Mary’s posture ? Sitting at Jesus’ feet .She has same questions like Martha in v21. She is broken- hearted, but she is worshipping Jesus. ‘I am at your feet Jesus where I belong..it's the place of comfort that I know’ 


> How you face loss, grief / death will be determined by what posture /position you take before Jesus


Jesus’ response : V33- Jesus is seeing their pain…He groans- Greek :literal meaning is the snorting of a horse, Grrrrrrrrr !! . The word denotes a response of anger.Jesus is angry at something 

Why is Jesus angry ? He is angry at death it seems. Death was never in the design of God. It was always life !  He is angry at death caused by sin that brings this kind of deep loss. He acts to resolve this problem of death.

He  acts in compassion. He even quietly weeps/ grieves. Refer to Isaiah 53:3-4


Why does Jesus act decisively ? Because human beings are powerless to do anything about death .He speaks life into our despairing times bringing relief to our unbelief


Response : Psalm 34:18 (READ)- God is near to them who are broken-hearted and saves such with a contrite heart. When you are grieving God is near … “ I am here for you,My nearness and My presence says it all”


Tip : When someone is grieving it is good to come alongside the person and if necessary use few words.Just being there makes a lot of difference.


Today we have shared some Biblical guideposts to encourage you and motivate you to move forward so you can live the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10



THURSDAY 13th OCTOBER 2022

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

Romans 3:21-31

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

It is worth noting upfront that even within the Christian church, there a several interpretations of what Paul is saying here. People disagree on what being ‘justified’ means exactly and there are at least three major views on what the atonement was about. I think it is helpful to become familiar with them all so as to make the most informed interpretive decision. It is also helpful to recognise that a person’s prior overall theological commitments may influence how they interpret these verses.

Almost all positions agree, however, that Paul is saying:

Paul is helping the people in Rome see, therefore, that right relationship with God is something that is equally available and accessible for everyone. It comes on the same basis for everyone. He is also clear, to the surprise of many, that this is actually nothing new. It has always been this way, right from the beginning, though not as clear and recognisable. It in no way contradicts or overthrows anything that has gone before (in the Old Testament). On the contrary, it is the very thing that makes everything before make sense! He will explain that in the next chapter.

THURSDAY 6th OCTOBER 2022

Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

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We are continuing our study on Paul's letter to the Roman Christians 


Review of Romans 2: 


Everybody is in need of salvation whether Jew or Gentile. God righteously judges all people

God does not show favoritism because of wealth, status ,religious ritual, etc.

God's kindness ( mercy ) is intended to lead us to repentance. Believers are to show to others the same mercy God has shown to them

It is not enough to know the truth - we are to live the truth (obedience)

God desires inward change ; not outward signs like circumcision or ritual laws. What matters is the heart being changed by Holy Spirit


>>>>>>>>>>>Now for today's study : Romans 3:1-20 ( READ )<<<<<<<<<<


*Romans  3:1-8

Paul asks a series of questions but he is not waiting for someone else to answer. He answers them as he continues with his argument for the Gospel of God's Son, Jesus Christ


The tough questions Paul addresses boil down to this : Is God faithful and righteous in how He deals with sinners, both Jewish and gentile? Paul answers with a resounding ‘yes’

Vv 1-4 - Paul wants his audience to understand that God is justified in judging those who ‘were entrusted with’ His Word but choose to disregard / disobey Him


Vv 2-6 :  How does Paul address the questions?

Paul gives a reminder to the Romans about God's actions and character ( 2-3)

Paul references/ quotes God’s Word, e,g, Psalm 51:4 ( v4)

Paul applies logical arguments rooted in God's Truth ( v5-6)


As Paul does this, he is seeking to defend God's character and point people to the truth of redemption that Jesus offers through faith


Vv 5-8: Are there any excuses for our sin ? No excuses, not even the abounding grace or glory of God 

>Note on God's grace - the wrong teaching on grace suggests it does not matter if believers sin because God will forgive them anyway. God gives grace to His children to enable them to obey not disobey Him



*Romans 3: 9-20

Paul in theses verses describe powerfully the condition of mankind before a holy God


V9 - What is Paul's conclusion of his argument for the gospel ? We are all sinners.Paul gives the ‘bad news first’. as he lays out the plight of mankind 


Vv10-18 : look at these verses as Paul lays out the plight of mankind with references ,verses from the Old Testament. It  is not good ( bad news ). The ways of man fall short of the glory He wants for His people


Read from other Bible versions vv10-18


What do you think Paul is doing by referencing several OT passages ? He is pointing out that the sinful nature of man has been around for thousand of years. Paul highlights everyone's sin without exemption. The whole world is guilty before God.

                    

       OT references( here we have some harsh words ) :

*V12  from Psalm 14:3   *V13 from Psalm 5:9, 140:3, *V14 from Psalm 10:7

                      

  *V15-17 from Isaiah 59:7-8, *V18 from Psalm 36:1

Nothing about our fallen state holds a spark of hope - souls, minds , hearts , actions are sinful. All we do apart from Christ is tainted by sin. So sin is more than an error that needs correcting.


Vv 19-20: What is the purpose of the Law ? To the Jews, God shows their own Law in which they boasted , condemns them because they can't keep it perfectly

 

( Some thoughts ) God’s Law does not remove sin - it points out our failure to do what God requires . The religious laws points out our inability to please God in our own strength, proving we are sinners  

>It shuts you up - you can always tell when someone is close to becoming a Christian when they are silenced under conviction, and don't argue .Self-righteous people are always saying, for example, ‘ but I do this, I do that.’

> ‘ the whole world is held accountable’ - we have broken His holy Law and this means we are guilty and deserve punishment. We have to stand before God one day ( Heb 9:27). “There is no easy way…death is not going to dissolve all things …forever forgotten”

>It shows us what sin is - like standing in front of a mirror you see something wrong with yourself but the mirror can't fix you. You need a Saviour in Jesus


Closing comment :

Our sinful state is not the end of the story. If sin is the bad news, Jesus is the best news

Apart from Jesus, we all stand before God as guilty 


Response : May the Lord search our hearts as we draw near to Him and thank Him for our salvation


THURSDAY 29th SEPTEMBER 2022

ROMANS 2:17-29


SUMMARY


In this chapter Paul sets out to demonstrate that everybody is need of salvation. Last week we looked at the first half of the chapter where the apostle addressed the class of gentiles who subscribed to a moral code. Far from being justified by taking the moral high ground, they would be condemned by their own code. In the second half of the chapter, starting at verse 17, he turns his attention to the Jews.


Lest the Jews think their having the Law frees them from condemnation, Paul proceeds to demonstrate that they too are in need of salvation. Though they have the Law, their failure to keep it perfectly caused them to dishonor God and blaspheme His Name (17-24). Introducing a thought he will expand upon later in the epistle, he points out that a true Jew is one who is circumcised in his heart, and not just in the flesh (25-29).


OUTLINE (adapted from Jim McGuiggan)


II. THE JEWS' NEED OF SALVATION (17-29)


A. THE JEWS CONDEMNED BY THEIR OWN LAW (17-24)

1. The Jewish self-portrait (17-20)

2. The Jewish inconsistency and dishonor of God (21-24)


B. THE LIMITATION OF CIRCUMCISION (25-29)

1. Voided by transgressing the Law (25-27)

2. The true Jew is one circumcised in the heart, in the Spirit (28-29)


WORDS TO PONDER


judgment - in some places, the idea is "discernment;" in other places 

"condemnation" is the idea - the context must determine


wrath - anger (in God's case, a just displeasure in response to sin)


law - when preceded by the definite article "the" (in the Greek) it 

usually refers to the Law of Moses, otherwise it may refer to the

principle of law in general; there are exceptions, and the

context must determine


by nature - "a mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has

become nature" (THAYER)


conscience - that faculty of thought which makes moral judgments

(either excusing or condemning our actions); developed

through training


FURTHER QUESTIONS WE DISCUSSED


We noted that just as the Jews brought disgrace to their faith when acting hypocritically, we Christians need to be careful not to do the same. The text gives us examples of the laws Jews might typically transgress, when they steal, commit adultery or rob temples. We noted that as Christians we rob God when we fail to give our tithe, a truth expressed in Malachi 3:8. We discussed the meaning of circumcison of the heart, looking at Ephesians 2:11-18 to shed further light on that subject.

We also noted that many people who don't go to church regularly, still regard infant baptism as essential for the salvation of their children, rather like the Jews regarded circumcision. This attitude is more of a superstition than anything.

Finally we thought about Christians who like to take on Jewish customs in their worship. For example one of the Spanish churches on the island extended their celebration of communion to include more elements from the Passover meal. Pastor Santiago, who oversaw the church and had appointed the pastor, was not pleased. It's a dangerous path for Christians to take when we complicate our faith in such ways. We turned to Ephesians 2 again, and noted that trusting in Christ's work on the cross is sufficient for the Gentile, just as it is still necessary for the Jew.


THURSDAY 15th SEPTEMBER 2022

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 


INTRODUCTION: 

Today we are continuing our study on Paul's letter to the church in Rome

Paul writes to the Christians in Rome and presents his fullest explanation of the gospel. The whole  letter shows us what we are to believe and how we are to behave because of what we believe as Christians 


Recap : as we begun Chapter 1 last week, we saw that the gospel Paul talks about is the gospel of  God’s  Son. So the central / distinctive figure of the gospel is Jesus Christ. And all believers in Christ are called to bring Good News of Jesus. We also noted that Christians live by faith because we are in right standing with God, brought into relationship with God through His Son…not through our efforts .This is good news 


In our study today, we are focussing on ROMANS 1:18-32 ( READ PLEASE )


Here we are given some bad news, some hard truth. And if we are to fully appreciate the good news about being brought into a right relationship with God, then we have to understand some bad news about the wrath of God.

In vv 1-17 Paul wants the readers of his letter to understand what the Gospel message is all about. In this section today, Paul also wants the readers to know why this Gospel message is even necessary 

As we continue studying, we will see Paul explaining that righteousness from God is the only thing that can protect us from the coming wrath of God


V18 - What is the wrath of God ? It is His anger against sin.It is not an irrational burst of anger like we humans often exhibit. Rather ‘it is a holy , just revulsion against what is contrary to and opposes his holy nature and will’ ( NIV notes ).The natural and necessary expression of His holiness against sin .-He is infinitely holy and cannot love what is good without hating what is evil and acting against it 

We know God is love and He shows that love toward sinners. He hates sin and will react in anger against sin and judge sin. And  remember that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, God directed all His ‘built up anger against sin past, present and future pouring it into the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ’.


>>Verses 18-23 : REASONS - Why is God pouring out His wrath ?

The picture Paul paints is that all over the world God’s truth is being revealed. But people are holding it back, covering it up…particularly by sin. Refer to v19 - the word ‘because’ or ‘since’ helps us understand why …

 

V20 - What is the primary way God implants this instinctive knowledge of Him ? By His creation

We learn from creation that there’s got to be a God. There are no excuses for failing to believe in God .Man does not want to be accountable to a higher authority. 

The evidence is all around - the visible creation is the work of the One who is invisible !


V21-23 They turned away from God, trusting in their own futile thinking and understanding. They embraced false gods, thinking they are clever. They refuse to to magnify God as God, no gratitude to God. Man thinks he is wise ,closing his eyes to God's truth


What in v23 is being exchanged ? Instead of knowing God's glory and believing the revelation of God's truth, they worship their own intellectual prowess or others they idolise. A downward spiral.


>>Verses 24-32 : RESULTS- What are the results of God's wrath ?

Note the word ‘therefore’ in verse 24.. now we find out what God did because mankind will fully ignored Him.

Note the repetition of the phrase “God gave them over” in verses 24,26,28. God has allowed them to do what they want so they might experience the full destructive consequences of their own sin. They want a life apart from God. And this results in misery, pain , suffering and death


Vv 24-25 God gave the ungodly and the wicked over to immorality.They fulfill the desires of their sinful hearts by indulging in perverse acts of sexual impurity. Man chooses sin over God


What in v25 is being exchanged ? Idolatry always seem to give way to immorality inevitably. Because they have separated themselves from God's love, they desperately try to find love and acceptance in physical expressions.


Vv 26-27 God has allowed the ungodly to indulge in their unnatural lusts…contrary to what the Creator intended by desire and design.


What in v26 is being exchanged ? Paul says natural relations are being exchanged for unnatural relations. God hates such behaviour too yet He does not interfere with people's choice. But He offers us the opportunity to follow Him and come into relationship with Christ Jesus

Christians must be sensitive and gracious to such individuals too.


Vv 28-32 God gave them up to depravity of mind ( corrupt and unprincipled). Look at the list of vices practised generally by those who choose to disregard God. It's based on selfishness 

 No matter how depraved a person is, God holds out the opportunity of a new life through faith and repentance 


> Closing comment - Why do we need to gospel ? We are all under the sentence of God's wrath. Implicit in v32 is the truth that we can have the righteousness of God instead of His wrath. This is His gift to those who trust Him and so can live in Jesus’ true freedom 

THURSDAY 8th SEPTEMBER 2022

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 

Today we begin a study on Romans. 

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Introductory comments : 

This is a letter from the apostle Paul to Christians living in Rome. It was probably written around AD 57 before during Paul's time in Corinth , before he visited Rome. The believers in Rome were predominantly Gentile, but included a minority of Jewish believers too

Paul, in this great letter speaks expansively of what God has done for us and what we should believe ( doctrine- Chapters 1-11) and then speaks of how Christians are to live in practical ways in response to their love for Him ( practical application 12-16 - how we should behave )


The purpose or theme : Paul presents the fullest explanation/ statement of the gospel , that is , God's plan of salvation for all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike in this letter.

Ultimately this letter is a call to live out our faith in obedience to God's commands, dependent on Holy Spirit 


>>>>>>>>READ ROMANS 1:1-17


VERSES 1-7 : Believers are called to bring Good News of Jesus. It's all about Jesus !


Paul identifies himself to avoid confusion as there would have been other men named Paul.Note his credentials : servant, apostle, preacher ,missionary. Paul warmly greets the believers in Rome by professing his passion for the gospel 


V2-4  : What is this gospel ? The Good News is about Jesus. The good news promised long ago through God’s prophets, as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. It is about Jesus who was both fully God and  fully man. The prophecies Paul cherished  were fulfilled by the life, death and resurrection of God's Son,Jesus .Jesus was the long -awaited Messiah or Christ, and this was demonstrated by His resurrection from the dead. So Jesus Christ is Lord !


V5-7 : Why are we called ? To belong to Jesus, to be holy saints - set apart for Himself and His holy purposes. We are loved by God. God imparts grace for this purpose

Paul  was transformed by God's saving grace to call people from the nations to be obedient to God. So too is our call  - to share the gospel message so that through faith others may follow Him too


VERSES 8-17 : Believers are people who live by faith in Jesus


V8-10 : Why is Paul thanking God for the Roman believers ? 

Firstly observe the importance of prayer - Paul knows prayer is vital for a successful and fruitful Christian life

Paul is thankful to God for the faith of the believers in Rome. He hears about their faith. The Truth version, says it this way : ‘I am so thankful because the quality of your faith and trust in Jesus is known everywhere, yes, all over the world.’ Faith, we know,  pleases God 


> How do you respond when you hear about another person becoming a believer in Christ ?


V11-15 : Paul is eager to see them -  to visit them in Rome. What are some reasons for this ?( from v11)

To strengthen their faith and also his own. He wants to impart some spiritual gift to enable them to be strong in their faith and witness. This is based on the principle of sowing and reaping. We reap what we sow. In giving to others ,we receive ourselves too. 

He desires to see a harvest of souls for God’s Kingdom in Rome just as he has seen in other nations. 

This is his passion - to see the sovereign rule and reign of the Kingdom extended. To see people leave sin which is regarded as foolishness and follow or obey the gospel which is the expression of wisdom. (Note phrase in verse 14 ‘both to the wise and foolish’) 


He is keen to preach in Rome to encourage believers in the faith and to challenge those who do not believe in Jesus. 


V16-17 : Why is Paul not ashamed of the gospel ? Paul knew the Person behind the gospel - Jesus.The power to save is only contained in the gospel to anyone who believes in Jesus. 

 

At the time of Paul's letter, AD 57,Rome was at the height of prominence both militarily and politically. Despite the political power struggles, a greater power was at work..Jesus’ power

The gospel Jesus declared showed God's power to rescue humanity from sin and redeem our lives from destruction.

The gospel changes lives ! ( refer to v8 )


V17-What does the gospel power do ? It places the new believer in a right relationship with God, regardless of who they are or what they have done in the past. To be saved is to be brought into a right relationship with God as you trust Him or place your  faith in Jesus Christ .It is a matter of faith from start to finish ( not our efforts )


Response:

-Every day , we encounter people blinded by sin and living apart from Christ. Let's follow Paul’s example and share the Good News of Jesus


- As you live by faith, what is your biggest challenge ? How does the ‘gospel power’ affect how you live out your faith ?


THOUGHT - “While the world may tempt us to live by its standards, the Word of God anchors us to live by faith in Him.” This is is how God intends us to live for Him


'Our pastors called us to a special week of seeking God' 

Testimony of Pastor Chris. Herman

'Now August is over we are looking forward to what God is going to do among us over the coming months. Our pastors have called us to seek God for the coming season this week. They suggested that we fast and spend time drawing close to God. So I resolved to draw close through prayerful meditation.

I meditated in a certain way and prayed

My favourite guided meditation is on Youtube. The guide gets you to lie on the floor (I actually lie on the bed) in a pose that is designed to open yourself to God in submission and receptivity. She starts by declaring the supremacy of Christ using words from Colossians, and then invites the Holy Spirit to come and minister, reminding us that He is taking us all on a continuous journey of healing. We then meditate on Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Then we are encouraged to pray a simple prayer of three words or so. My prayer was, “Draw me closer.” 

The meditation continues for a while longer; but I simply fell asleep. Finally I woke up and left it there, trusting God to anwser my prayer.

That evening we were watching Death in Paradise

That evening we were watching an old episode of Death in Paradise. It's a gentle comedy about a detective who moves to the fictitious island of Saint Marie in the Caribbean. As well as having a murder mystery to solve in each episode there are various subplots. In this particular episode it is Kris Marshall who plays the detective, and he is visited by his overbearing father. The latter feels his son could be doing much better things with his life, and there is a lot of tension between them. The bit that touched me was when the detective declares that his father has never said he is proud of him. He feels like he is a big disappointment to his father. I realized that my father was the same, and that it still hurt me to remember that.

The next morning I googled it

The next morning I was still thinking about the painful memory from my past. I decided to find an answer from the Bible. So I googled, “Is God proud of me?”. This is the answer I got. The Lord is proud of me simply because I’m His child. I belong to Him, and He thinks I’m pretty special. The thought is expressed beautifully in Isaiah 43:4 “Because you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you and nations in place of your life.”

Of course God has given much more than nations in my place. He gave his most precious Son. That is how precious and honoured I am in his sight!

God is proud of me

God is proud of me, not because I've done anything amazing, but just because I am his beloved son. It was good to be reminded of that. 

If you'd like to try the meditation for yourself, you'll find it at:

(4) Guided Christian Meditation: Deep Rest Before Sleep - YouTube'                                               


THURSDAY 1st SEPTEMBER 2022


Welcome to the Thursday meeting. Today our focus is on Prayer. We need to wait before the Lord , worship Him and allow Him by Holy Spirit to renew us as we submit to His leading.


As we spend time today and indeed this week in Prayer, Fasting and Intimacy with God we know that it is not time wasted. Rather it is preparatory work for the new season the Shepherd is bringing us into as His sheep. 

To help us in this regard, I am sharing a devotional from Psalm 27: 4-6


READ  verses 1-6 

This is a psalm that was used in preparation for battle.In verse 3 for example , David refers to an “army” and “war”. As a believer we are in a spiritual battle. The enemy is ‘roaring around like a lion seeking to devour’. The enemy is real and dangerous 

And throughout this Psalm 27,  David makes declarations like in verses 1 and 3( I will not fear ). In the dark valleys of despair he does not shrink from rejoicing in the God of his salvation with an explosion of praise.


He is confident in His God .God is his light in his darkness !.Read verse 3 ( The Passion Translation- TPT )


And then in verses 4-6 we read about the one thing , the one desire that David has in the midst of trouble and battles. Read these verses again ( from TPT )


Verse 4 is so powerful. What is the one thing we desire as we pray and worship our God today. Yes  we have needs, requests , we are standing in the gap for someone else who is in need. Or we want to see others become believers . Nothing is wrong with this. We will pray for these needs, concerns and requests. All of these kinds of needs are temporary for this life 


Yet what is the one thing would you ask God for today? David here is asking just to be with God.He wants to seek God above all else.He wants to dwell in His presence and to gaze upon His beauty. This ‘ beauty’ means ‘not only the glory of God's character but the richness of His goodness and  favour to His people’.

Our hearts are supposed to be focussed on God in His beauty, majesty and glory.


What could be better than being in God's presence ? In His presence you will be overwhelmed at His love and holiness. This has eternal significance 

It is a relationship thing . It is about abiding in Christ and it is preparing us as believers for the future with Jesus


David knows this puts everything else in perspective. When we do similarly- desire God more and more we begin to see life, challenges, trouble from a divine perspective. You see beyond the troubles, the enemy to the victory God has prepared.


Read verses 5-6 


David remains  confident and so we must be too. Read verses 13-14. An interesting note here is that David commands to “wait” in v14  …wait for the Lord….

It is so easy fir us to run straight into battle, not fully prepared.

Waiting on God makes us strong for battle. When we wait as we are today in our time of prayer,we acknowledge that we cannot fight and win on our own. We need the Lord who is our Shepherd 


So let us spend time waiting in prayer and worship . His plans are good and they are worth waiting for . Amen



SHEEP AND GOATS

Reading: Matthew 25:31-40

This portion of Scripture is not a parable. It is the account of what will happen when Jesus comes back “in all His glory and all the angels with him”and when “he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him and Jesus will separate the people one from another”, just like a shepherd would have done, separating the sheep from the goats. We are told in v.33 that “He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”.

In v.34 the shepherd has now become King, and conveys the Father's blessing to those who have helped him through 6 works of mercy: food, drink, hospitality, clothing, nursing care and visitation.
The word mercy can have two meanings: forgiveness shown towards someone, or giving relief to another from suffering, which is the case in this account.

Jesus didn't invent the idea of service to the needy. In the Torah landowners had to leave the edges of their fields unharvested so that widows and orphans might obtain food by gleaning (Leviticus 19:9-10)
Employees had to pay workers daily because workers depended on daily wages for daily bread (Deuteronomio 24:15)

Also the prophets Amos and Isaiah spoke about not oppressing the poor and needy (Amos 4:1) and that to please God, fasting needed to include distributing bread to the hungry, bringing the poor home for dinner and clothing the naked (Isaiah 58:7)

Thus Jesus the King invites these merciful people to receive their inheritance prepared for them since the creation of the world. (v.34)

These 6 deeds of mercy spoken about in verses 35 and 36 are not exhaustive. Where other needs exist, mercies tailored to a specific need are just as valuable.

– akindwordoralisteningearcanhelpapersonindespair
– assistancewithaflattyrecanredeemthedayforastrandedmotorist.

Let's notice the very basic nature of these 6 mercies: food, drink, hospitality, clothing, nursing care and visitation.
Each one of us has the potential to provide these kinds of mercies.
We don't have to be wealthy to buy a sandwich and something to drink for a hungry person.

We don't have to be a nurse to help a sick person, nor do we have to be ordained to visit a prisoner in jail.
Earlier, in Matthew 19:21, Jesus told a rich young man to sell all that he had and give the money to the poor, but here there are no such all-embracing principles. The kinds of mercies Jesus rewards here are within the reach of every person. They do not require great sacrifice on the part of the mercy-giver, but they do alleviate great pain for the mercy-receiver.

In v.37 we read that the mercy-givers were astonished. When the King tells

them that they have extended these mercies to Him they cannot imagine when. While extending mercies to “the least of these brothers and sisters” of the King, they had no idea they would be rewarded for their kindness. There was no calculation in their generosity They gave because they were moved by human need – not by the potential for reward.

So as Christians and as a church, what is the relevance of this passage to us?

We need to have compassion and be moved by human need so as to help WHEN we can, HOW we can, and by using WHAT we have at our disposition. Each one of us is different, so let us not compare ourselves to others when we do our acts of mercy. God has an individual plan for every one of us, so let us be obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as we come into contact with different people every day.
Let us also have compassion for our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world who are persecuted and tortured because they refuse to deny Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. There are many organisations whose goal is to alleviate the suffering of these persecuted members of our family, so please let us not ignore their needs.

What is God calling you to do or say today?

May we be faithful to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, in these seemingly small acts of mercy, so that one day we will hear him say to us “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master's happiness.” Matthew 25:21 (NIV)



THURSDAY 28th JULY 2022

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 


The passage we are studying is Hebrews 12:4-13 ( READ )


Introduction - This letter was written to Jewish Christians. The theme of Hebrews is the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as revealer and mediator of God's grace. The author, unknown, teaches how believers can relate to Jesus -who is greater than all the prophets and angels - and continue His ministry today. It explains what it means to be a people of faith, and how to put that faith into action 

It is very likely the Jewish audience living in the first century were suffering persecution.More than likely they questioned their new-found faith in Jesus in the midst of these difficulties. Some might have slowly drifted from the Lord, and become dull to God’s word. The writer encourages the people to continue following Jesus and not give up.


For us today, what might God be saying to us as we try to navigate through disappointments in life, pain, suffering and negative circumstances. In these verses we see another perspective of enduring hardship -whatever that may look like, for the true child of God. 


There is a lot of good ,wholesome advice here that can really change our attitude and life  altogether if we consider carefully what is being said in these verses. 


>>>>>Jesus said in Mark 4:24, “Consider carefully what you hear.”<<<<<<<<<


What are some general observations from this passage ?

 The theme of ‘discipline from God’ is emphasised . The word ‘discipline’ is mentioned about ten times in eight verses !)

God is our Father; we as believers are His children. 

Discipline is not pleasant ; there is purpose in it


Definition : Discipline involves measures taken to ensure conformity to the accepted standard. Throughout this passage ‘discipline’ can be translated correction, instruction and training 


VERSES 4-6:

What does the author mean by the phrase ‘you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood’ ?  The believers faced persecution and hardship struggling with sinful people. So as they sought to  live godly lives, the Christians have not had to resist the temptation to deny Christ by dying for Him 

In v3 the author encourages these Jewish Christians to consider or think of Jesus who put up with continual opposition from sinful people. 

‘Consider’ in the original language means to add up or calculate.  So you add up the shame , suffering, hostility plus the mocking ,His shed blood plus enduring the wrath of God on the cross,etc …that Jesus experienced for you . Life on earth for Jesus was not easy.He needed to trust in His Father at all times and still he remained obedient 


Vv 5-6  Responses to disciple and hardship : Often in times of suffering and negative circumstances, we tend to forget or ignore God's words.

 Also, we tend to ‘make light’ of the Lord's correction rather than think there is some reason why God is allowing this interruption in your life. 

Another way we tend to respond, understandably is by ‘losing heart’. We harbour negative thoughts, complain ,feel sorry for ourselves and think it's not fair !


So the author reminds them of encouraging words that God spoke. These are King Solomon’s words ( from the Old Testament) with which they would have been familiar. Verses 5-6 are from Proverbs 3:11-12


  1. How does God address the Christians ? As His sons and daughters . Wow ! A sign of a personal relationship.

b) Why should we welcome the Lord's discipline ? Because God disciplines those He loves and punishes when necessary everyone who He has accepted as His son ( refer to TPT or other versions )

The Lord’s discipline is always exercised in love, encouraging us to succeed by trusting in Him, instead of failing because we trust in ourselves.



VERSES 7-9: How should we view hardship ?


> Endurance is the ability to bear prolonged hardship..the determination to keep moving forward at a steady, unyieldingly pace.


 Discipline from the Father to the child, training us to be more like Jesus. Difficulties test our faith yet enables us grow spiritually mature. We become champions as God realigns your will to His, dependent on Him.

So it is not punitive .Jesus already took away God ‘s wrath and punishment. It affirms that you are His legitimate child ; beloved children of God 


VERSES 10-11 

Why does God discipline His true sons and daughters ? For their eternal good ,to share in His holiness so conforming to His character .He is changing behaviours, actions ,thoughts and motives as we submit to the Father's discipline. This way we live to please Him as He prepares us for eternity 


As believer we are not above the painful realities of life. There is purpose in the pain. So although it is easier to ask ‘Why this pain , God?’, it is better to ask ‘What are you teaching me, God?’


V11- what are the positive results of  enduring God the Father's discipline ? Think about it as you are preparing, training for a race. And God is like a coach taking you through the routines, practices, correcting your techniques so that you are in top shape for the race.


>>>Discipline : enables you to live righteous lives that please God and you are at peace with Him. This is the fruit of the harvest that without discipline ( training by God  )would not be produced.


>>>Closing Comments: Vv 12-13  -Be encouraged when you feel weak and want to give up because the way ahead seems difficult .God wants to make level paths for you to walk on.This means that you walk steadily with Him as those healed and set free from whatever hinders your walk of faith.

God has your own best interest at heart


Response - how does knowing that God’s discipline comes from a heart of love change your perspective ?



THURSDAY 21st JULY 2022

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Welcome to our Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 


These are some notes that we hope will prayerfully help your study of God's Word today.


Today we are completing a review of Romans 8. ( Read all verses ) . For many it is described as ‘the greatest chapter in the Bible’. The focus of this chapter is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer to enable you to live the Christ- like life


> There are a few isolated verses we would like to highlight and ‘dig deeper into’ so as to encourage our hearts

 

VERSES 1-2 ( READ)  : Who has received no condemnation through the Spirit ? The believer has a status of ‘no condemnation’. In the Greek, the word ‘condemnation’ ( katakrima ) carries a strong meaning.It means punishment following condemnation- penalty : ‘death sentence, eternal death’. As a believer you don't have the ‘death sentence hanging over your head. You have been set free from the controlling power of sin and death. Now the Spirit has set you free in Christ to live unashamed of past mistakes and not be defined by the past


What does it mean to be ‘in Christ Jesus’ ? You have union and communion with Christ and you are in a vital, personal relationship with Christ. This means that everything that is true of Christ is now true of you as regards all that He has provided ( Ephesians 2:6)


>How can we apply these verses to our lives today ?

 

We are free to live the Christian life because we have gained God's acceptance.Christ succeed where we failed in meeting God's demands as expressed in the law God gave. ‘Christ success has become our success’. So we don't have to perform or try to please God through religious routines. It's a done deal !


*When we feel condemned maybe because of guilt and shame - we can declare this truth out loud because we are defined not by our past (sin), but by our position in Christ Jesus


* we don't have to fight battles in this life alone.The controlling power( law of the Spirit )of Holy Spirit who gives life, enables us to obey God and overcome 


VERSES 15-16 ( READ ) : How has the Spirit benefitted the believer ( rights and privileges of this new family )? We have become children of God, the Father. The ‘Spirit of full acceptance’ enfolds you into the family of God( TPT )

So God did not stop by dealing with our sin and failure on Jesus’ cross. He adopted us . 


What does it mean to be adopted ? ‘to place as a son’ . In the context of Roman law ( as Paul writes to believers in Rome as a Roman citizen), adoption was the legal action of taking a child in your family with the purpose of treating that adopted child as their own. So the adopted child has same rights and privileges as a natural child.

But this is where it's different. The adopted child loses all of the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the old family. Their old life would have been considered non- existent ( wiped out) and all debts that they might have had in their old family were cancelled. .

And also they gained the rights of their new father’s estate…equal to the other sons and daughters and co- heirs. Society regarded the adopted person as a new person with a new life and family. 

The picture of adoption is a beautiful picture of what God does for the true Christian.This is what Jesus has done for any one who is in Christ by His grace


How can you  call Him ( or cry ) ? “Abba, Father.” The word ‘ call’ or ‘cry’ in the Greek is krazo, meaning to cry out loudly or scream urgently ,similar to a raven’s piercing cry (‘caw’). This is the Spirit we have received- not the spirit of fear (v15)- but the Spirit by which we can ‘ krazo’, cry out ‘Abba Father’…expressing a close relationship to God….a term of tender endearment and dependence 

And  ‘Abba’ is more than just what the word ‘ Daddy’ might convey. It conveys intimacy and obedience and implies submitting 

‘Father’ (in Greek ) means one who imparts life and passes on to the child ( believer) more and more likeness of the ( Heavenly )Father 

This Spirit causes us to run toward God, not run away, just like a little child hurting himself and then screams out urgently and runs towards his mother 


>Question to consider : Do you ever feel that you are not God's child…that He has not adopted you? Then this makes you think you still belong to your old family, the old way of life, of sin ,failure, condemnation and shame

Be reminded that God has adopted you( look at the tense )…this truth can't change…it’s a forever deal !


VERSE 28 ( READ ): This is a great promise . Note the words ‘all things’ - not only things we like , but things we don't understand, : How can things like death, illness and disease or even a global pandemic work together for our good ?

The point Paul makes here is that nothing is beyond the overruling and overriding scope of God's providential care. He is the all-knowing and all-powerful God who is in control.This verse has to be understood in light of eternity and not the temporal.


For whose welfare is God working everything? For whom is this promise ? The believer.Those who love Him , and those who are called according to His  designed purpose .God is working in all things, bit by bit,  to make you more like Jesus ( v29)


>Point To Ponder : God sees the big,whole  picture. Are you ok with knowing ( as Paul says ‘we know’…..) that He knows ?


Closing comments : 

We are liberated by the Spirit from condemnation 

We are true children of God the Father 

We can be sure the omnipotent God works all things so they become helpful and healing to us



THURSDAY 14th JULY 2022

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Welcome ! Here are some Bible notes to help guide your prayerful study of God's Word


Today we are studying verses from DANIEL 3 (Please read the whole chapter)


Introduction : this is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace.The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar has conquered the people of God ( Jews) . Many of them are taken back to Babylon including Daniel and his  three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

These guys are all determined to stay true to the living God as they live in a foreign land and work for King Nebuchadnezzar. This was not easy for them.


>>Initial observations from this passage : the king Nebuchadnezzar builds a huge image( probably a replica of the statue he had seen in his dream as described in chapter 2)

Everybody was commanded to bow and worship the image 

Three men make a bold stand for God with consequences 

A miracle takes place in the fiery furnace

God is glorified by the actions of these three Jews


Verse 1- What does Nebuchadnezzar the king make ? Note the size :He decided to erect  aa huge golden statue/ image/ idol with dimensions of  ninety (90)feet high and nine(9) feet wide. 


 Verses 4-6 : What did the king require his subjects to do at dedication of the image ? To fall down and worship the image of gold . 

What would be the consequence/ punishment for disobedience, for not bowing down and worshipping the image ? At once, they will be thrown into a blazing furnace.


The king is threatening these three men in front of all the people. Most are following the king's command .Also he is challenging God 


Verses 12-18 : How did  Shadrach , Meshach and Abednego respond to the king’s command ?

     

They  are not worshipping the golden image. Their faith is in the true God who commanded ‘You shall have no other gods before me..you shall not bow down to them nor worship them’ ( ref: Exodus 20:3,5)

Vv16-18 : they told the king they are not going to defend themselves before him, be worried about  this matter. They are faith - focussed desiring the will of God 

 **Read verses 17-18  -“if we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand….But even if he does not,… we are not serving your god's or worshipping images of gold you have set up”


How could they make such a strong declaration? They feared the One who can kill body and soul more than the one who can kill the body ( Matthew 10:28)

Their answer to the king shows their faith and commitment to the true and living God. Imagine the disgrace of the king as these three Jews defy the king’s command.

They possessed confidence in the power of God - “the God we serve is able…”

They trusted in God's purpose - “But even if he does not …” They know God’s will is best..even if this means suffering in the fire.


>When we live for God, our faith will be tested, challenged .Consider those who are persecuted physically for their belief in Jesus.Or in some countries where certain laws are becoming difficult to adhere to because it goes against the holy standards of the Bible


Verses 19-23 : How does the king react to this response of these three Jews ? Furious - ‘how dare you disobey me !’Binds them and throws all three of  them into a blazing furnace that is now ‘seven times hotter than usual’.


Verses 24-25 : What causes King Nebuchadnezzar to be amazed  ? He sees a fourth man walking with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fire. They are all unharmed. The fourth being/ man looks like ‘a son of the gods’.

Who is this fourth person ? The identity is not clearly known. Perhaps it is an angelic being sent by God (v28) . Something we need to remember is that Jesus walks INTO the fire to save us OUT of the fire. ‘The hotter the fire, the brighter Jesus shines!’

 

>What is clearly known, obvious is that a miracle is taking place - God delivers these three men (vv26-27), protects them and the king is a witness to this miraculous event. 

These three men were not alone IN the fire…the Lord is with them just as He is with us when we suffer in His name. Their faith is being tested and even when they are forsaken by others they are enjoying communion with the Lord. 


Verses 28-30 

How does the king describe God ? The king uses the phrase ‘the God of Shadrach ,Meshach and Abednego’ twice ( vv28,29 ).Also ‘no other god can save in this way’. So he may not believe just yet in the ‘One who lives  forever’ ( Ch.4)  but seeds are being planted in his heart by this event


V30 :What is the consequence of this event ?Promotion is in order for these three guys. 



POINT TO PONDER  : how do you respond when you are suffering like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego ? God blesses us in the furnace in a way that we would never experience if we had not experience the fires.

If these guys had compromised their faith consider how different the outcome would have been 


CLOSING COMMENTS: 

Whatever the fire looks like for you, know that the enemy will use fire to destroy. Yet the very thing 

the enemy tries to wield for destruction,God can work for your deliverance


The fire that is meant to break us becomes the fire that displays God's glory 


Consider Jesus : the wooden cross meant for pain and destruction became the very thing Christ used to shine deliverance 


>So, be encouraged stay faithful in service to your Lord and Saviour…..Amen


                                                                                  THURSDAY 7th JULY 2022

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 Welcome Friends !

>As you would have known by now, all meetings in the church are suspended until further notice due to Covid concerns 


Here are some notes that you can prayerfully use in your  study of God's Word today. We trust that you will be encouraged in your faith, and that you will draw closer to God in your heart relationship with Him


                            >>We are studying Daniel 6. Please read the entire chapter <<

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Introduction : This is a familiar passage and deals with Daniel in the lions’ den. More importantly it is about his consistent faith in the face of trials. Here Daniel  is approximately 80 years old. Darius the king recognises his exceptional ability to lead, his wisdom, integrity and faithfulness . The king promotes him leader ( Prime Minister) over the ‘entire kingdom’. This triggers jealousy among the other rulers and they now conspire  to destroy him. 


What are some initial observations about the events in this chapter ?

Daniel has many enemies because of his faith

Daniel has unprecedented favour with the king

The essential need for prayer at all times

Observe how the perpetrators are behaving selfishly; Daniel conducts himself selflessly 



>Verses  4-9: 

What is the decree that these conspirators want King Darius to enforce ?

V7. - ‘ that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to King Darius shall be thrown into the lions’ den’

Daniel's faith is put to the test


NOTE : In a world of spiritual hostility, the temptation is to compromise our faith. In Daniel's case, his consistent faith somehow sees him survive and thrive in a hostile environment 


>Verses 10-11 : What is Daniel’s response to the King’s decree ? Gratitude- filled prayers. Daniel chooses to remain consistent in his faith in the living God. ‘Three times a day he prayed, giving thanks to his God…as he had done previously’. He does not hide or deny his circumstances. He is turning to God in the midst of his circumstances and false accusations. 

He begins to fight his fear by giving thanks to the living God. It is here in the ‘upstairs room’ where his battles are fought and won as he regularly prays.


How did Daniel's response affect his plotters/ enemies ?

**V11-These men saw how Daniel responds : they saw him praying and asking God for help. This is a bold statement of a consistent faith of a believer who desires to please God in the face of opposition. He is keeping his focus, only desiring to please God.


> Daniel did not pray ‘God this is not fair!’, ‘God this is too much!’,or even ‘God smite my enemies and wipe them out !’…or any similar kind of prayer


**V14-20 : What is the impact of Daniel's faith on the king ? V14- King Darius is distressed..he wants to rescue Daniel.The King believes (as in v16) that the living God could get Daniel through this trial. Darius describes Daniel as ‘servant of the living God.’. The King shows some reverence and respect to the Lord. 

Is it possible that King Darius is influenced by Daniel's unwavering faith ?( read v20 )


POINT TO PONDER -Would your response be similar or different to Daniel’s in the face of trials ?

Daniel is able to give thanks and trust God in such uncontrollable circumstances. For him, thankfulness was a healthy habit he had embraced in his life. It shows what is in the centre of his heart. 


Verses 18-23 show some interesting differences between Daniel's response and the king’s reaction . What are these ?

Daniel was more at rest in the the den than Darius was in his palace. Darius is stressed, unable to sleep or eat.. the angel of God is with Daniel, shutting the lions’ mouths (v22). Someone said perhaps Daniel used one of the lions as a pillow in the den !


Daniel experiences a ‘defiant peace’ — a supernatural calmness which contradicts his distressing circumstances 


>Verses 23-28 : What are the miraculous results from Daniel's consistent faith ?


Daniel survives the ordeal without harm..’because he had trusted in his God’


Daniel's enemies- those who perpetrated this crime against Daniel, were themselves and their families cast into the den becoming lunch for the lions


Daniel's faithfulness to the Lord brings honour to the Lord’s name. Darius proclaims praise / testifies to the eternal King who accomplished what the earthly king could not. Darius points all people to the superior dominion of Daniel’s God


Daniel prospers, enjoys success


CLOSING COMMENTS-

Trials are never meant to destroy us , only to grow us spiritually 

 

Whatever the trial ,God is for you just as He allowed these tests in Daniel's life


Faith in the living God gives peace ( Isaiah 26:3 ) in the most terrifying situations as God accomplishes His will in your life.Faith guarantees the victory for God's people 

                                                                                                                             THURSDAY 30th JUNE 2022

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Welcome and here are some notes to guide our study for today


Introduction- we are continuing in Romans 8 as Paul writes to the original recipients who were Christians living in Rome. He teaches them about triumphant living.There are some freedoms that Paul shares in this chapter:

V1-4 :Freedom from judgment and therefore no condemnation ( the Law cannot condemn us )

V5-17: Freedom from defeat by the flesh as you are led by the Spirit and live for God’s glory 

V18-30 : Freedom from discouragement ( no frustration) as Paul addresses the real problem of suffering and pain in light of Jesus’ return


>Today we are  studying Romans 8 : 31-39 ( READ ).The freedom we can declare from these verses is - Freedom from fear. Because we are secure in the love of Christ we have no fear of the past, present and even the future. 


General observations- many rhetoric questions, truths being proclaimed that we can embrace.. “like God loves me, believers are victorious people”..


Verses 31 : what things is Paul referring to by the phrase ‘these things ? E.g…provision of the Holy Spirit, salvation of God that makes us His children, hope of a glorious future, etc.

>‘What then shall we say in response’…. Paul is thinking believers need to say something in response to what God has revealed through him. Paul’s conclusion is the second question:

> ‘ (if) SINCE God is for us ..’  Since we are part of God's divine will, how can any opposition prevent His purposes for us ? 


It is very likely these words ( “if God is for us , who is against us ?”) were often repeated as Roman believers watched the gates open in the Coliseum as lions ran to tear their bodies apart - words that would be a triumphant testimony to God's faithfulness and their future glory. 

God is for us in the sense of vv28-30. God defines ‘what is good’ for us in alignment with His purposes even in eternity past.


Verse 32 : How do believers know that God is for them ? The proof - ‘He did not spare His own Son…’God did the greater thing… delivering His Son to death when we were His enemies . Now He is  freely giving believers all things graciously because we are in union with Him. 

He will certainly provide all we need to sustain us here on earth as we move closer to glory ( this is easier or lesser in contrast to God giving His Son which was harder or greater action of love )

‘All things’ - not about material possessions ( Ref : Luke 12:15). This has to do with what we NEED to live the Christian life and complete our salvation, making us ultimately like Christ - glorified (  see 8:v 30 ). This is God's plan for the believers in Christ.



Verses 33-34 : Why is it that no accusation or charge can stand against the believer  ? V33 says, ‘God justifies..’God is the Judge and He has already acquitted you.He took Our sins away and declared us righteous before God. God is not listening to these accusations so as believers we must not listen to them either 


V34 -  Can anyone point a finger at the redeemed sinner and condemn them ? No one can ! 

What are three reasons why no one can condemn the believer ?

1-Jesus paid the price for the sin debt…so no one can judge you

2- Jesus vacated the tomb, rose from the dead and lives ! - this gives hope for a glorious future 

3-Jesus is now seated in glory speaking on our behalf before the Father in Heaven. So when the devil, the world or the flesh try to accuse us before God , Jesus stands in our defence .The Father always dismisses the case because Jesus has already paid for our crimes.

     God is not going to condemn the believer 


Verses 35-39 : Paul asks some final rhetorical questions. He shows that trials and sufferings do not separate us from Christ. We might feel this way but that is not truth. These afflictions cannot separate us from Christ’s love. Look at the list of attacks - hardship, pressure, persecution for being a believer, lack of food and clothing, danger of even death. 

 Rom 8 v36, is really the verse from Psalm  44:22 - it shows us that suffering has always been a part of God's people.The  truth is suffering actually brings the believer closer toward our ultimate goal. It identifies us with Christ 


V37 - Suffering becomes the means for greater triumph. How does Paul describe the believer who is experiencing trials and suffering ? More than conquerors IN all these things. The tense used here suggests that Christians ‘keep on winning a glorious victory’ despite what trials we experience .So we are more than victorious through Jesus’ demonstration of His love for us on the cross. 

Jesus has done the fighting for us; His victory becomes our victory. 


 Verses 38-39 : Of what is Paul confident or convinced ?nothing and no circumstances can separate us from God or His love for us.This is the love that has been clearly expressed in Christ Jesus our Lord



Response - God loves you. God is for you . These truths can help us live triumphantly always ,even in trials and in times of temptation.

Declare them over your life.                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                      THURSDAY 23rd JUNE 2022

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Welcome 

Here are the notes for the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting for today

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                      We are continuing our short study on Romans 8.  Many describe it as the greatest chapter in the Bible. I would encourage you to set aside time to read the whole chapter. And to read the verses loudly as your own personal declaration.

                      

                           Today we are sharing from Romans 8:18-30 ( READ )


Introduction - This chapter is the ‘ Christian’s “Declaration of Freedom” for in it Paul declares spiritual freedoms we enjoy because of our union with Jesus Christ’. ( Warren Wiersbe). 


*As we saw last week, there is freedom from judgment so now there is no condemnation ( vv1-4) *There is also freedom from defeat as children of God( vv5-17) as you live in the Spirit and overcome the flesh


These are all wonderful truths regarding the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. On the other hand we  live in this fallen world with hardship and pain - this is a reality we face even as a Christian. Praise God we have the Holy Spirit who enables and helps us to live holy lives before God and not give up. The truth is the Spirit of God is able to give us hope during the troubled times of our lives. Christianity is always about hope, never despair.


*We shall see now as we study these verses ( vv18-30), Paul addresses the very real problem of suffering and pain.In these verses, freedom from discouragement ( no frustration) is emphasised. Paul shows us that we have three hopes that we can embrace in the face of trials and struggles. 


VERSES 18-30 

What are some general observations about these verses  ?Paul ‘considers’, meaning he ponders biblically about suffering so we grow through it rather than become devastated by trials.

  -comparison between present suffering and future glory. Paul reminds us of a fundamental truth that we are not home yet 

Have you ever wondered why so many bad things happen in the world ? —-the world does not work the way it was intended because it is a broken world. Because of man’s sin God cursed creation as we learn from Genesis as He judged Adam and Eve ( ref 3:17,18)

-There is groaning taking place : creation, people groan, and even the Spirit groans. Groaning - expressing deep grief and sorrow over the pain of our circumstances. And each of these groanings is going to be transformed into glory

- God is working for our good


Verses 18-21 : Hope of a new creation

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Why does creation groan ? Paul is personifying ( attributing human characteristic of groaning here ) creation groaning as it anxiously awaits the culmination of salvation for God's people.This is going to trigger the release from corruption to which all creation has been subject since the Adam and Eve fell into sin. 

>>Something to note here too is that even though creation is in pain, has fallen, it still bears witness to the majesty and glory of the Creator ( ref :Psalm 19) Consider the beauty of the landscape here in Lanzarote, a sight marred by sin. Now try to imagine how glorious that will be when the curse is forever removed ! Note v22- the woman experiencing pains of childbirth ( comment )


V19,21- What is creation hoping for ? waiting to be liberated from bondage, the death principle we see at work all around us; to be delivered from the curse, from the ravages of the curse of sin : *the word ‘expectation’ here gives the image of a ‘person standing on their  tiptoes in order to see something.


Verses 22-25: Hope for the resurrection of the body ——————————————————————-    

V23- why are Christians groaning ? They long to be remade in the image of the Lord Jesus and be free from this mortal, sinful body.  ‘Firstfruits of the Spirit’  refer to the indwelling ministry of the Spirit in the believer’s life  giving you a taste of future glory. Since the day you got saved the Spirit of God has been at work, so you see sin as God sees it. Your desire is holy living and hoping to experience the resurrection of our bodies.


** Vv24-25 -Hope : this is not what you ‘wish or want’; it is an ‘assurance based on conviction’. So     your salvation came by faith in the finished work. Now you rest in God's promises that the Lord will take you to Heaven and you will be made like Him. Patiently we wait for this help by the Spirit.


Verses 26-30:  Hope for God's help in the present

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Who is the believer's helper ? The Helper, Holy Spirit. 

Vv26-27 : How does the Helper ,the Comforter help believers? The Comforter groans with us, grieves with us in our trials and pain, over weakness and our sins. his groaning will result in our glory

 -God does not turn away from us in our weakness. ( the verse 26 does not say the Spirit helps us in our perfection or when we are completely peace- filled)

  • the indwelling Spirit knows our pains and takes them to the Father.God will always answer the Spirit affirmatively as the Spirit prays in accordance to God's will.

-when we don't know how to ask God to do something about a situation it is at this time Holy Spirit helps by putting our prayer into a form which the Father , who searches the heart, understands


>>Vv28-30 We don't need to be discouraged. Trust the truth of God's Word.He is at work for our good whatever the circumstances.We can live victoriously as we remind ourselves who we are - loved, called and made acceptable by God. Ultimately we will be made like Jesus Christ 


Response:

As believers we are always looking  forward expectantly- with hope for the best is yet to come 

These groanings of Creation, the Christian and the Comforter are painful . But they are pain with a purpose..just like the pain of childbirth. Those birth/ labour  pains fade away with the joy of the new born.

We must have a similar perspective in our present suffering because of our future hope. We share the glory of God !                                                                                                                                  THURSDAY 16th JUNE 2022

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Welcome to the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting 


Today we are studying verses from Romans 8:1-11( READ )

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Context : These verses introduce the theme of how the believer’s life is transformed by the Spirit of God. In previous weeks, we read what happened to the followers of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost . The transformation that took place in the lives of the believers because of the coming of the Holy Spirit

 Paul writes to the church in Rome ( predominantly Gentile but includes a minority of Jews ).In previous chapters of this letter, Paul is reminding the original recipients  - Christians living in Rome- that we are all sinners,  under God's wrath.Religious works and our goodness cannot save us.

 Paul states the great truth that salvation comes by God's grace alone.

So the life of sin -trying to keep the Law, doing religious work all fall short of being made righteous before God.

Paul now in chapter 8 turns his attention to the new life the Spirit brings. Note the word ‘therefore’ ,marking a major shift in Paul's letter. He links what he has stated previously to the description of the new Spirit life

>The truth is when the Spirit of God comes into a life, that life is changed forever !


Verses 1-4

 What is the result of being in Christ ?

*No condemnation . What a  wonderful truth ! Condemnation is what happens when a judge finds a person guilty of the crimes with which they have been charged and  are sentenced to death.

*We are no longer lost sinners living under condemnation and heading for an eternity in Hell 

*We live according to the Spirit - it's a new way of being, of life IN Christ . It is like being tuned in to the things of God and His Spirit ( ref: Mark 8:33 - Peter’s rebuke by the Lord for having his mind set on the flesh)


V3- Why was the law weak/ ineffective , and what is God's remedy / answer for this ? 

In itself the law was not weak. It could not remove sin, only point us to sin( it is a moral / ethical guide). But sinful human flesh( selfishness) because of its own weakness could not live up to the law’s righteous requirements 


God's remedy / answer ? To send Jesus, His Son to be the perfect sacrifice. So Christ is our righteousness. All demands of the law were fulfilled in Christ. He prevailed where the law failed.  We are declared righteous ‘in Christ’; walking, led and filled by God's Spirit (v4). So the Holy Spirit is our great enabler. God's work in our lives is never accomplished by human effort but by divine ( Spirit’s )enablement.


Verses 5-8

What are the two mindsets describe here  ?

A mind of the flesh that leads to death. A mind of the Spirit that leads to life and peace. Two different  sets  of loyalties , moving in two different directions 

In Vv5-6 the phrase ‘to set your mind on’ in the Greek actually means ‘to be on the side of’. God wants us to take the Spirit’s side against the flesh. This means allowing our lives to be controlled by the Holy Spirit - His desires and interests. Those who truly want to please God by being led by the Spirit make Him their focus, and share in God's life


In Vv 7-8, what are some words/ phrases Paul uses to describe the mind governed by the flesh ? *Hostile to God , against His will. This is the unsaved person, living in the flesh 

*Sinful thinking/ attitudes show that there is no submission to God and His purposes. Being controlled by your selfish desires, not His, means you cannot please God ( v8) and so is under the sentence of death.


Verses 9-11: Paul explains why those who walk according to the Spirit can ( fulfill the requirements of the Law, and  ) please God.

V9- Who lives in every true believer ? The Spirit of God. When we received Jesus as our Saviour, we changed realms of existence. We are placed into a new life in the Spirit. It is in this position from which we can serve the Lord and live to please Him enabled by the Spirit. This believer lives for the Spirit,,, even though we are might struggle with temptation and sin. Spirit dwells in true Christians.


Vv10-11 What is the result of this truth that the Spirit of God dwells in you ? There is a change, a new desire to honour God by the life we live.Your spirit  is alive by the Holy Spirit so in your heart you want to do what is right  before God, although you may still carve self- indulgence . You have  become vastly different because  you are seeking the godly things you used to shun.The Holy Spirit reproduces the life of Christ in the life of the believer…the resurrected life(v11). This demonstrates the immense power of God's Spirit in you


                                   Response :

                                   ——————

 The  root of sin is selfishness….The mind is focussed on “I will” and not “Thy will”. Seek renewal of mind

The Holy Spirit is God's provision for holy living. Can you see the evidence of a new, changed life by His grace ?


                                                                                      THURSDAY 9th JUNE 2022

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We are continuing on the theme of the Holy Spirit from Sunday ( Pentecost Sunday ). We are studying a familiar passage from the gospel of John:


John 16:7-15 ( READ )


Context - Jesus is spending time with His disciples before He demonstrates the great act of  love the Father has for us. Soon Jesus will go to the cross in loving obedience to the Father's plan

And he is telling the disciples that is is for their good that he must leave them and eventually return to the Father ( re : Jesus’ ascension)


Have you ever heard the phrase before ?- ‘this is for your own good’. It could range from some kind of punishment for disobedience to being denied something you so desperately want.( perhaps like parents and kids or even like God and us,His children)


For three years Jesus’ disciples shared in His ministry of reconciling the world back to Himself.Now he was about to leave them. 

In these verses , Jesus reveals the ‘work’ of the Holy Spirit. It is indeed one of the clearest revelations of the Holy Spirit given by our Lord Jesus Christ  


>Verse 7 : Why is it good for the disciples that Jesus goes away ? The Advocate will come to them 

The word ‘good’ has the idea of ‘combining in a way that brings a gain (especially when events are  taking place that result in benefit)’. So Jesus had to do all he did ( i.e. His death , burial , resurrection and ascension)  before the Holy Spirit could come to glorify all that Jesus did


>Verses 8-11:  What are three aspects of the work which the Holy Spirit will do?

                    * convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment 


1) Holy Spirit convicts of sin in such a way that He drives sinners to Jesus - the only One who can forgive and save us. So there is a conviction of sin leading to the realisation that you need saving and therefore you need Jesus, the Saviour 

Before the convicting work of the Spirit, we might tend to think, ‘my sin is no big deal’. The Holy Spirit works in the minds of the unbeliever by revealing truth about their sin before a holy God. Then godly sorrow always points us to God. This is indicative of the Spirit working in you..you have to do something about the sin


2) Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness. What is righteousness ? - being right with God. So Holy Spirit reveals Jesus as the perfect standard of God’s righteousness to the world.God’s righteousness refers to His perfect, holy nature. So when the world looks at you as a believer ( or even us as a church ) it ought to see a different standard of godly behaviour…just like that of Jesus. The believer is declared righteous in Christ. So you don't need religious rituals and works to make you righteous before God. You just need to respond to His grace  you have received in Christ. And as the world looks at our lives they can see what Holy Spirit is doing because of our changed lives 


3) Holy Spirit convicts of judgment. The heart of man is convicted about the reality of judgment and condemnation that is to come. Satan, the prince of this world, blinds the minds of those who are without Christ. He was judged at the Cross, and all those who reject Jesus will be judged with the devil. Satan still tries to lead people away from God. Yet the Holy Spirit convinces people  of the truth that judgement will come from  rejecting Jesus.  So God’s wrath is coming for those not in Christ. Those in Christ have ran to Jesus for protection.

All that remains to do now is the “executing of this sentence on Satan. This will occur when Jesus returns”. ( Warren Wiersbie)


These three aspects show the wider ministry of Holy Spirit. He will expose sin, expose false righteousness, and reveal the fact that judgment is coming for all those are not in Christ.The activity of God's Spirit helps people see their need of God 


>Verses 12-15 : There are additional roles of the Holy Spirit particularly in relation to His Church

What are some activities the Spirit of truth will do ? 


V12-13 : Guide into truth : give the disciples understanding which they did not now possess ( v12)


The word ‘guide’ suggests that this is a process. The Spirit is the teacher who completely reveals the truth of Jesus and how we are to live as believers in Christ ..how we are to grow in godliness .His ministry is truth- centred.

He works in complete unity with the Father and Son. So the Spirit does not speak of His own initiative.He speaks in line with what God has said. He will prepare us for what lies ahead, in the future. 


Also the ministry of the Spirit is personal to ‘you’. He is dwelling in you and knows what you're feeling. He wants to minister His comfort, joy and love…depending on your need.


V14-15  : He will glorify Jesus : the role of the Spirit is to point believers to Jesus. So that we might believe what Jesus says and lovingly obey what He commands by faith. 

How can the Holy Spirit be glorified in your life ?


The work of the Holy Spirit is immensely vital to living the Christian life.He convicts sinners and brings them to salvation in Christ. Then He guides and nourishes these believers with the inspired Word. This brings spiritual growth and a  closer , intimate relationship with Jesus.


Response :

How will you let the Holy Spirit guide you over the next few days ?

> keep reading and meditating God's  Word 

> Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal more of Christ to your soul

                                                                                                                                  Thursday 2nd June 2022

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PRAYER MEETING 


Welcome to a short devotional as we focus on praying today


COLOSSIANS 4 :2-4 ( READ) 

Paul writes this letter while in prison to the believers at Colosse . It is easy to  think that being in prison, he would struggle to pray or just pray for himself to be released from prison for example


Often we know how to pray in good times. When we are faced with struggles, suffering and negative circumstances, we might find praying more difficult to do

Verses 3-4 : we see that Paul was more focussed on God's glory and purposes over his personal ( negative ) experience 


Paul is showing these believers how they should pray and what they should pray. In this letter, he teaches the believers that Christ is enough, sufficient for them. 


This is why we can pray as Paul exhorts here :


V2: Firstly, Paul  encourages the Christians to be devoted to payer.

 Other versions say ‘continue steadfastly’,and ‘be persistent’ in prayer. ‘Keep at it’. What does this look like ? Paul shows us that this is connected to the all -sufficiency of Christ, AND NOT SELF. Our dependence is on Him. We need Jesus by the Spirit to enable our spiritual walk .Just like Paul in chains, we are to maintain a disciplined prayer life despite the difficulties. This is essential to every believer.

So in devotion to prayer, the believer is to make sure that we are prioritising prayer in our daily ‘ to do’ list. We must pray not just when a crisis looms but steadfastly and persistently and faithfully.


V2 :Secondly,Paul says to the believers be watchful in prayer.

 ‘Be vigilant in prayer’, ‘spiritual alert and focussed’ as in some other versions of the Bible. When we are in this kind of communion with Our Father, God we will be looking at the intent of our hearts before Him. We will be desiring His purposes to be outworked . We will not be giving room to the enemy's strategies and temptations too. Just like a watchman we are to remain awake and alert to what is going on around us and praying His will into these things. Watchfulness stands on faith - that God is listening and eager to respond to His people 


V2 :Thirdly, Paul emphasises thanksgiving as a vital part of prayer. 

Someone said, “We should thank God just as diligently in our prayers as we make requests of Him”. A heart that is content is thankful rather than complaining 

Our hearts should abound in thankfulness as we meet with the Lord ! The truth is thankfulness is God's will in all circumstances ( 1 Thessalonians 5:18)Give thanks for His grace poured out on you revealing saving truth to you.

We see Jesus modelled this aspect of thankfulness.For example, before the healing of Lazarus, He thanked God ( John 11). Jesus gave thanks before He was crucified ( Luke 22:18-20).It is noteworthy that His thankfulness was before the answers to the prayers. And His prayers always focused on God's purpose and glory.


V3-4 : Paul requests prayer that opportunities will be provided for the proclamation of the message of Christ.Paul’s request has purpose

 He is in physical chains but still wants to proclaim clearly the spiritually chain- breaking message of the Kingdom in the way that he should. This he sees as his responsibility given by God.

He asks for prayer for him and his co-workers


Praying like how Paul encourages can help shift our focus from concerns, worries ,anxieties towards a faithful ,caring God and towards our  God who is in control .

So in you spiritual walk be encouraged. Pray with devotion and faithfulness, pray with spiritual alertness, with thankfulness and pray with Kingdom purposes in mind. 

We are to intentionally set our minds on God's purposes and not our own. When we choose His purposes , we we see that the power of prayer is not just in the content of the prayer. It also changes the life of the person praying 

                                 ————————————————————————————


                                Some prayer points to pray into :


-God is calling us into greater intimacy with Him.Where there are idols of the heart, unhealthy habits, these must be gotten rid of, so we can embrace His desires, plans and purposes


-the ministry of the church - that doors will remain open to proclaim the gospel clearly resulting in a harvest of souls

                                          -godly wisdom for the Team as we decide on the way forward since the      building is up for sale

                                       - continued dependence on the Spirit to lead and direct us  

-Norman & Hilary -


-Update on Marcel 


-Are there other concerns / requests ?                                        

                                  

                                                                                 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?

——————————————————————————

 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 

—————————

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

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


Application

—————-

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 appreciati