Thoughtful Word: Courage
As Christmas time approaches we reflect and remember the events leading up to Jesus’ birth. When we think of Mary being spoken to by an angel she was ‘greatly troubled’ (Luke 1:29) and rightly so! Not only is a spiritual being in her presence, the message is totally unexpected and would be a shock to say the least. But the message for Mary was one offering peace and affirmation with the task that was before her. ‘Do not be afraid. You have found favour with God’.
Our hearts can stir with the stories of courageous people in the Bible, and we can admire them for their actions. Courage is needed when the task is big and some tasks, like Mary’s, were immense! But that is all well and good for those in the Bible, right? That was just a few special people that God chose to be courageous, to step out in His strength, in faith, and do what He appointed. Yes, God did appoint people to be courageous in the Bible, but guess what—He calls us today too! Courage has always been and always will be a necessary quality among the people of God. Standing for righteousness in a society that accommodates itself to evil takes courage. Spreading the true Gospel of Jesus Christ in a culture that wants to say any religion will do, takes courage. Allegiance to Jesus Christ in a world that is often against Christ, takes courage. Ignoring the negative nagging thoughts of doom that plague your mind, takes courage.
However, whatever the task that is before us Jesus says to us, His followers— “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32) Such words from Jesus and the Angel that spoke to Mary are comforting—As God’s followers, we are loved, favoured, blessed with His many gifts and the biggest treasure of all, eternal accommodation in the Kingdom of God. We can take courage and stand up and be the people we are called to be! Let’s do it, do it together and do it courageously.
O Lord, I know there are issues to face, temptations to withstand, and enemies to meet. Give me a courageous heart, that I may be firm in my obedience. For Jesus' sake, Amen
On Wednesday (27th) it will be 1 month until Christmas! Adults will be thinking ‘oh no, I’m not ready’. But kids! They get expectancy better than anyone else. Everyday they will be counting down the days, they can’t wait to find out what will be under the tree!
Do you know what the Bible calls joy-filled expectancy? Faith! We are expecting God to do something good...even though it might seem impossible. Guess what we lose the older we get? Yep, you guessed it...Joy-filled expectancy. We lose the sense that the future will be merry and bright. We don’t live with hope and joy, we live with fear and doubt. This Christmas let’s change that, let’s get back that joy and hope.
I’m sure you are waiting on something, not something under a tree...but for something you would trade everything the world sells for. Maybe you’re waiting for someone to change, or to find out if you’ll have a job in the New Year, or on a doctor’s report, or waiting to see if your marriage will make it. This Christmas, try something different. Look at whatever you’re facing, not with fear and worry but with hopeful expectancy. Ps 5:3 ‘In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.’ David, the author whose prayer is basically “God here is what’s going on and I’m just giving it to you because I can’t do anything about it and I can’t wait to see what you are going to do!”
Why don’t we live like that? Why don’t we live with hopeful expectancy when we are faced with difficult situations?
Maybe it is because we aren’t convinced God really does love us. If we really believed God loved us what would we be so worried about? Or if we know God loves us, do we live like He does. Living expectantly says God the choice is yours and I believe it’s a good one. I know you love me and you’ll take care of me.
As you prepare for Christmas may it be filled with Hope & Joy!
Jesus—Light of the World
John 8:12 ‘“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”
Here is another “I AM” statement from Jesus. This is Jesus saying it just like it is. It is a matter of fact. What does He mean when He says He is the Light? Again Jesus uses everyday things to explain eternal matters. Light was a powerful metaphor in Hebrew thinking, Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield;”
Light for a Jewish person was the ultimate ideal, a representation of salvation, knowledge and goodness. For Jesus to claim to be the ‘light of the world’ was no small thing. The Greek John 8:12 indicates Jesus’ claim to be ’the’ light not just ’a’ light. He is the single, solitary source of ’light’. Ok, so what does all this mean for us today? We don’t have to be a scientist to know that if it is dark, we automatically reach to turn on the light, for the simple reason—we just can’t see without the light. If one ‘Googled’ light you would read that “Light carries the energy required to sustain life on earth (photosynthesis). Light carries required information using which we can perceive things.”
What a great picture of Jesus!
He is the Sustain-er of our eternal life. He is the source for which we can perceive the things of God. He is the light that shines on us that exposes our need for Him. All the mess and damage (sin) becomes blatantly obvious. We simply need to acknowledge that we need Him, the One, the True, the Only, the Saviour, the Light of the world. Have you acknowledged your need for Him yet?
Thoughtful Word: The truth about Jesus Christ
(excerpts taken from olivetree.com/blog/the truth about Jesus Christ)
When you think about Jesus, do you think of a man gently petting a sheep? Do you think of a warrior on a white horse with a fire in his eyes? The truth about Jesus Christ is that He is all this and more.
For many people, Jesus is a figure from the past—someone to be admired as a great teacher, even a prophet. For others, He is someone to call upon in a crisis.
If we look at the Gospels, however a totally different picture emerges. Here is no ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild,’ but a person so dynamic and so inspiring that hard-bitten fishermen, tough tax collectors, Roman soldiers, and a man with one of the greatest intellects of his day—the apostle Paul—were all prepared to put their reputations and lives on the line in order to follow Him.
Why? It was the fact that they concluded, as Peter memorably did, that Jesus was ‘the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ (Matt 16:16) How did they reach this conclusion?
The disciples who worked with Him for 3 years would have seen and heard extraordinary claims He made for Himself. These would have been arrogant if they hadn’t been true. They would have heard His teaching, so authoritative that even the Jewish temple guards had to say ‘no one ever spoke the way this man does’ (John 7:46).
The Gospels gives us firsthand testimony about Jesus as evidence of His claims. And as no two witnesses will see something in exactly the same way, the supposed differences in the Gospels only serve to authenticate their veracity.
Jesus is not just a figure from the past.
He is alive today, still changing the lives of men, women, and children all over the world. He is not someone we can set aside—He demands our allegiance and our worship. In return He gives us a life in all it’s fullness– life that will last into eternity. Do you know Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God?
Thoughtful Word: Practical Tips for Prayer….continued from last week
· Don’t put a limit on your requests: Be willing to pray for big things. We serve a big God and His is able to do “more abundantly than all that we ask or think: (Eph 6:20) We need to come boldly before Him and ask.
· Pray the Bible: The Word of God is so important. Ask God to show you in His Word how to pray for people and things in your life.
· Look for answers: God answers prayer. Look for these answers and document them. It becomes a testimony of His grace and goodness as we acknowledge answered prayers. Isn’t it a comfort and joy to know that the God, creator of the universe is listening and responding?!
· Be consistent in your prayer life: Don’t let things derail your plans to spend time with God. Things will come up and it will be easy to put this time off. Don’t. As humans we need food, drink and sleep to survive. As Christians, we need prayer in the same way. Just do it.
· Be persistent: Don’t be afraid to pray the same prayers over and over again. In fact, the Bible says that persistence is important. Check out 1 Chron 16:11; Luke 18:1-8 as just two examples. We are to keep asking as asking focuses us on God.
· Document prayers and their answers: it can take discipline and whilst it’s not a requirement, it can be a tremendous blessing. Consider keeping a prayer journal. It can help with our focus, it’s a spot to keep the lists, as mentioned last week, and it helps us recognize the grace and power of God. Journaling can enrich your prayer life and drawer you closer to God.
Practical Tips for Prayer….
· Decide on a consistent time and place: Whilst we don’t need to be in a particular location, sometimes anywhere and any time can turn into nowhere and never. A scheduled time might be just what we need to ensure we are intentionally praying in our busy lives.
· Pray at any time and any place: having just read we should be consistent, it is also good to remember that we are called to pray without ceasing. So we don’t need to limit praying to just our committed time and place.
· Start and end with praise: How often do we come before God with our list of requests as our first item? God’s desire is for us to relate with Him worshipfully. When we offer our praise to Him for who He is, our hearts become orientated towards Him.
· Let God speak to you through His Word first: Wait, what? Aren’t we talking about praying? Yes, praying is when we talk to God. It’s one way-God doesn’t pray back to us. He does desire to speak to us, and the primary way He does that is through His Word, the Bible.
· Focus on spiritual needs before physical needs: We can still pray for jobs, health, provision etc, but first, we should pray for our spiritual health. Is there something we need to confess & repent of? Do we need help with our thoughts, actions, etc?
· Use a list as a Prayer Tool: it is easy for our minds to wander or go blank. Having a list helps us focus, we don’t need to limit our prayers to the list nor does the list need to be too descriptive, but it can be used as a prompt.
Please reflect on these words as Andy led around communion at our 6pm service.
The cross has the final word
Sorrow may come in the darkest night
But the cross has the final word
There's nothing stronger, nothing higher
There's nothing greater than the name of Jesus
All the honor, all the power
All the glory to the name of Jesus
Last week Leighton raised some interesting questions for us to ponder and reflect on. Here is someone’s thoughts on why they go to church….
“In a culture that minimizes commitment and maximizes self-indulgence, I have learned the precious gift of church attendance or, more specifically, the church gathered. I do not see church attendance as a burden or legalistic commitment. I view it as a joy—a place where I can give and serve, a place where I can focus more on others than myself. I could name many but here are ten reasons I attend church:
¨ I attend church to serve others
¨ I attend church to encourage others
¨ I attend church to encourage my pastor
¨ I attend church to state my priorities
¨ I attend church to participate in worship
¨ I attend church even if it doesn’t meet all my needs
¨ I attend church with frequency, not on occasion.
¨ I attend church to set an example for my family.
¨ I attend church because the Bible tells me to do so.
¨ I attend church because I love my church
I love to attend church. I attend church for these reasons and many more. I thank God for my church.”
Do you attend church regularly? What are your reasons? Let us pause and thank God for His church here at Marion Church of Christ.
At our Sunday 10am service, we were delighted to be able to witness Noah go through the waters of Baptism.
Water Baptism is an act of obedience to the commands of Christ. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28-19.20
Baptism declares that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. It is a public confession of your faith in, and commitment to, Jesus Christ. It is the next step after salvation through repentance and faith and is an important foundation for the Christian life.
Baptism is a symbol of Christ’s burial and resurrection. Our entrance into the water during baptism identifies us with Christ’s death on the cross, His burial in the tomb, and His resurrection from the dead. It shows that you love, trust and have put your hope in Christ.
“Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.” Colossians 2:12-14 MSG
If you have any questions or are interested in exploring your faith or baptism further, please either put a note on your Care Card or contact the Church Office during the week, so we can arrange for you to meet with a Pastor.