I am Christ’s.

[Originally posted by Glenn Murray on 4 December 2015]

FDR part 2 for Fr 04/12/2015.

Following on from my blog and exercise this morning titled: :”Why I am Christ’s” I was able to produce a short list that reminded me of these briefly described reasons: Reasons why I am Christ’s.

Amazement.  Mouth open,  chin on the floor Amazement.  Still.

Learning as a farm boy about all that is life through a child’s eyes.  Seasons,  growing food crops and annimals,  using it for ourselves and selling it for others.  Understanding how the world works as a physical entity.

Regular Sunday School and church attendance where I heard the accounts of the bible and its people.  Then late in primary school a locum minister,  an ex-army chaplain,  who could show us copies of paintings of the crucifixion in its different stages.  Pictures beyond belief that conveyed the scene as it probably occurred . Pictures that visually fitted around the biblical words I knew.

A journey.  From calm to turgid, and back and very challenging.  But accompanied with a great sense of peace and being held in God’s hands.

Nothing stops.  The learning continues.   The journey continues.

God’s people always nearby.  Some sail in and out of my life as God wills. Always for some purpose.   And yet many come along for longer periods,  including my family.  In this current season I find myself at a home-like place working alongside and with my FAC colleagues.

Healing and refining.  I don’t expect to ever tire of seeing my brothers and sisters healed by God.  Some in so terrible a place that no earthly medicine or process will ever produce a cure.  I too am healed in ways I have not expected.  Yet we go on in faith and hope. I learn again the lesson of our God who loves us beyond description.

These are the lasting things; God’s love for me as a sinner before HIm and yet I believe the account of Jesus’ crucifixion and  resurrection for our sins.  From this gift of Jesus to atone for my sinning behaviour comes my faith and hope in everlasting life.

I remain amazed.

Glenn

 

 

 

 

 

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The way we do church

[Originally posted by lachlanedwards2013 on 3 December 2015]

1 Corinthians 14; (Nahum 1)

An incredible amount of energy goes into producing our Sunday services. Looking at last Sunday’s run sheets this was the number of people who directly served at each service:

8am – 24 people

10am – 36 people

KIC – 32 people

6pm – 31 people

Add to this the hours that staff and volunteers have put into preparation including sermon preparation, band practices, video production, notice sheet production, stage set and lighting preparation, cleaning, etc. the total number of hours is significant! (a quick mental calculation puts the number into the hundreds of hours preparation for the four services at our church each Sunday). Each separate part of each service is carefully thought through. The entire service from beginning to end also needs to be cohesive. Our church services are important, and we all put in the hours as a reflection of how important they are to us.

Why?

Because we want to glorify God in the best possible way we can. In doing this we want to have an orderly worship service that is engaging and edifying.

The Corinthian church was struggling with this. It might have been a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. Paul is going to lengths to help them think carefully through how they do church. He starts with centering them on Jesus! Second he corrects their motivation – its all about loving each other when they gather (Follow the way of love – 14:1; Everything must be done so that the church may be built up – 14:26). The problem was that they had placed themselves at the center and what they wanted in a service.

This self centred attitude flowed over into their attitude towards speaking in tongues. (Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves – 14:4). Pauls solution? prophecy (14:4b). This isn’t to be understood as BIG ‘P’ Prophecy – like an OT prophet who heard a voice from God, but rather the prophecy or declaration of scripture expounded and applied to the life of the church. Anyone who reads the bible aloud in a gathering is prophesying because they are speaking God’s words after him.

Orderly and edifying worship is so important that if ever anyone accuses our church of doing something contrary to this, we must listen very carefully. We wont get it right all the time, but collectively we should hold each other accountable.

Under God may we as a church and individuals always be:

  1. Christ Centred
  2. Loving others motivated
  3. Orderly and coherent.

 

 

 

 

Amos 9, 1 Corinthians 13

Amos 9 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

Israel to be destroyed

I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said:

‘Strike the tops of the pillars
    so that the thresholds shake.
Bring them down on the heads of all the people;
    those who are left I will kill with the sword.
Not one will get away,
    none will escape.
Though they dig down to the depths below,
    from there my hand will take them.
Though they climb up to the heavens above,
    from there I will bring them down.
Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
    there I will hunt them down and seize them.
Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea,
    there I will command the serpent to bite them.
Though they are driven into exile by their enemies,
    there I will command the sword to slay them.

‘I will keep my eye on them
    for harm and not for good.’

The Lord, the Lord Almighty –
he touches the earth and it melts,
    and all who live in it mourn;
the whole land rises like the Nile,
    then sinks like the river of Egypt;
he builds his lofty palace[a] in the heavens
    and sets its foundation[b] on the earth;
he calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out over the face of the land –
    the Lord is his name.

‘Are not you Israelites
    the same to me as the Cushites?’[c]
declares the Lord.
‘Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt,
    the Philistines from Caphtor[d]
    and the Arameans from Kir?

‘Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord
    are on the sinful kingdom.
I will destroy it
    from the face of the earth.
Yet I will not totally destroy
    the descendants of Jacob,’
declares the Lord.
‘For I will give the command,
    and I will shake the people of Israel
    among all the nations
as grain is shaken in a sieve,
    and not a pebble will reach the ground.
10 All the sinners among my people
    will die by the sword,
all those who say,
    “Disaster will not overtake or meet us.”

Israel’s restoration

11 ‘In that day

‘I will restore David’s fallen shelter –
    I will repair its broken walls
    and restore its ruins –
    and will rebuild it as it used to be,
12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom
    and all the nations that bear my name,’[e]
declares the Lord, who will do these things.

13 ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord,

‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman
    and the planter by the one treading grapes.
New wine will drip from the mountains
    and flow from all the hills,
14     and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.[f]

‘They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
    They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
    they will make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 I will plant Israel in their own land,
    never again to be uprooted
    from the land I have given them,’

says the Lord your God.

Footnotes:

  1. Amos 9:6The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
  2. Amos 9:6The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  3. Amos 9:7That is, people from the upper Nile region
  4. Amos 9:7That is, Crete
  5. Amos 9:12Hebrew; Septuagint so that the remnant of people / and all the nations that bear my name may seek me
  6. Amos 9:14Or will restore the fortunes of my people Israel

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:1 Or languages
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:3 Some manuscripts body to the flames

The Church is God’s artwork

[Originally posted by gregbell on 1 December 2015]

For the 2nd time in the last month I find myself spending time reading through 1 Corinthians 12. It was the passage that was preached on in our recent combined service and as usual, in preparation for that week and the in selection of songs to be sung, I had been reflecting on the passage then as well.

The combined service was a fantastic celebration of people who volunteer and serve faithfully. For me it broadened my perception of what church is and what church looks like throughout the week – not just in our Sunday services – as we heard stories about the areas people volunteer in.

The church is certainly a special work of art. It is created by God to be a family of very different and unique individuals…individuals who are united as one through our Christ Jesus. Variety. Distinctiveness. Diversity. Each one of us being different…yet put together in the same colour palette so that the artwork of God’s church can be created.

God has placed each person in it with uniqueness of personality, strengths, talents, and gifts. Take a look at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:18-20: “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Many members, one body. Many colours, one work of art. As each of us rests in the hands of our great artist, he will use our unique colours to create His masterpiece…His body, the church.

Amos 7, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Amos 7 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

Locusts, fire and a plumb-line

This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: he was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up. When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, ‘Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!’

So the Lord relented.

‘This will not happen,’ the Lord said.

This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: the Sovereign Lord was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. Then I cried out, ‘Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!’

So the Lord relented.

‘This will not happen either,’ the Sovereign Lord said.

This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb,[a] with a plumb-line[b] in his hand. And the Lord asked me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’

‘A plumb-line,’ I replied.

Then the Lord said, ‘Look, I am setting a plumb-line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

‘The high places of Isaac will be destroyed
    and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined;
    with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.’

Amos and Amaziah

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: ‘Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying:

‘“Jeroboam will die by the sword,
    and Israel will surely go into exile,
    away from their native land.”’

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, ‘Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don’t prophesy any more at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.’

14 Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” 16 Now then, hear the word of the Lord. You say,

‘“Do not prophesy against Israel,
    and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.”

17 ‘Therefore this is what the Lord says:

‘“Your wife will become a prostitute in the city,
    and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.
Your land will be measured and divided up,
    and you yourself will die in a pagan[c] country.
And Israel will surely go into exile,
    away from their native land.”’

Footnotes:

  1. Amos 7:7The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
  2. Amos 7:7The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain; also in verse 8.
  3. Amos 7:17Hebrew an unclean

1 Corinthians 11:17-34 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

Correcting an abuse of the Lord’s Supper

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and ill, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further instructions.

Equal but different

[Originally posted by lachlanedwards2013 on 28 November 2015]

1 Cor 11:2-16; (Amos 6)

Woah. Tough passage in today’s society.

The NIV unhelpfully titles this section in 1 Corinthians “On Covering the Head in Worship”. Head coverings are the cultural application of the theology of authority.

This passage is about being in authority and under authority and being dependent on each other.

The problem with authority in the bible is that people can too quickly jump to discrimination. To do so would miss the point.

I am a man under authority and in authority. In both cases my desire is to serve well. The reality of our position is that we need each other, no matter the authority structure (11:11). But the kicker is that “everything comes from God” (11:12b).

No matter who we are, it is God who has given us to be in authority or under authority. And it is God alone who has offered salvation through his Son Jesus for everyone without consideration of the authority position  held.

In God’s eyes we are equal in the thing that matters most – our sin and our salvation. But we are also different from each other in gifting, abilities, personality, looks and authority. And I say “Amen to that!”

 

A Climbing Song

[Originally posted by Phil G on 5 July 2015]

Psalm 122

This Psalm is the third in a series of 15 songs of ascents, sung by Israelite pilgrims as they ascended to Jerusalem; the highest city, physically and metaphorically in Palestine, to attend a religious festival. The focus of this Psalm is worship. A core feature of our Christian community is to worship God together. The pattern set in ancient Israel continues to this day, in people groups around the globe. It is not an isolated practice, but a widespread, popular activity, below the radar of media attention. This song notes a joyful willingness to worship at the house of the Lord; not a half-hearted, formal, duty-bound observance (v1).

Eugene Peterson’s ‘The Journey” is a reflective meditation on these songs. He notes that the pattern of the tribes going up to Jerusalem provides order, a framework for Israel’s life, as worship provides  framework for our lives too. The praising of our Creator and Saviour is an essential aspect of our relationship with Him – it nurtures, acknowledges, opens our minds and hearts to God’s words and His will- and centres our attention on what is really important, praiseworthy.

The statute (v4), or command to praise the Lord is given out of love, for our benefit – not for slavish rule keeping. It recognizes we may not always feel like praising Him, but to praise Him is more important than how we feel. The bible focuses much more on how we should act rather than on how we should feel.

Through worship we pray for and experience the peace and security  that passes understanding (6-8). A wholeness through God’s salvation, a peace and security that is not dependent on our bank balance, health or situation, but a dependent  trust that everything is alright because God is over us, with us and for us in Jesus Christ. (p42 The Journey)

Praise Him.