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Posts Tagged ‘love’

We all probably know the verse from Hebrews 13 v 8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever”. God does not change and the gospel message does not change. God is still in the business of changing lives.

However, society has changed over our lifetimes and is still changing at an ever-increasing rate. The way we communicate the gospel has to change so it is relevant in our time.

Another well-known verse John 3 v16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him, will not perish but have eternal life”.

Notice who the invitation is to …’the world’. That’s you and me and everyone else on this planet. So who should be offered salvation? Everyone.

We find interesting examples of unlikely people welcomed by God in both the Old and New Testament. Here are a few:

Ruth – a Moabite woman (Moab were longstanding enemies of Israel) Ruth 1 v1-4

Rahab – a prostitute living in Jericho – Joshua 2, 6 v22-25

A Roman centurion whose servant was healed by Jesus – Matthew 8 v5-13

A Samaritan woman – John 4 v1-42

Is anyone so bad, lost, lonely, addicted, abused, confused with identity…..that they are outside the love of God and His desire to rescue them from darkness to light? From death to life? NO!

When God saves us, He takes us as we are. However, He sees our potential to be more than we are and He loves us too much to leave us as we are.

Here’s the challenge – As we welcome new Christians into the kingdom, do we make them aware that life changes are expected by God? How much of this do we tell them before they commit? What happens when God expects them to change at a slower pace than we think is appropriate?  What happens when someone who has a substance abuse issue is unable to maintain abstinence?  What happens when a serial philanderer is unable to stop flirting? (We will explore this further in the next blog.)

The changes come with God’s help (and ours) and with LOVE as the motive. We the church, are all on a journey together, not one is perfect. Let’s support one and prayer for one another on the way

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Bible in 50 words

I came across this recently and thought it was pretty good at summing up the Bible. I wonder which words you would choose? Try it out!

God made, Adam bit, Noah arked, Abraham split

Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled, Bush talked, Moses balked

Pharaoh plagued, People walked, Sea divided, Tablets guided

Promise landed, Saul freaked, David peaked, Prophets warned

Jesus born, God walked, Love talked, Anger crucified, Hope died

Love rose, Spirit flamed, Word spread, God remained.

Anon.

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Many people look at how many people come to church and judge the ‘success’ on that. But church is not about numbers – it’s about health. Healthy things grow, unhealthy things wither and die.

How do we measure health? Here is one idea.

A TRIANGLE that has 3 equal sides – UP, IN and OUT.

Matt 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. (UP) Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (OUT) Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. (IN) And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (UP)

UP – relate to God – worship, prayer, reading the Bible, listening, obeying, relying on God John 3 v16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

IN – relate to God’s people in the church – meet, share life, love, support, use gifts & talents, serve, study, eat, laugh together, meet with other churches, joint projects

OUT – relate to the world – reach out, love, talk, serve, be friends, share the good news of Jesus

How many people do you come into contact within a week? Quite a number probably. Who is God calling you to speak to, serve, be a friend to?

HEALTH equals the 3 in balance – The triangle is one with 3 sides – all affect each other

Micah 6:8 The Lord has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you: To act justly (OUT), and to love mercy (IN), and to walk humbly with God (UP)

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I am currently reading ’Explore’ daily bible notes from ‘The Good Book Company’. I’d like to share the opening days describing one way to check on your spiritual health as the new year begins.

They ask the following questions:

  1. Are you in love with Jesus? (Revelation 2 v1-7, 1 Corinthians 13 v4-7)
  2. Are you grateful for the cross? (1 Timothy 1 v15, Mark 15 v1-39)
  3. Are you excited about your eternal life? (Romans 8 v18-25)
  4. Are you committed to God’s people? (John 15 v9-15, Romans 12 v9-16)
  5. Are you pursuing godliness? (2 Peter 1 v1-8)

Another good question is to ask ‘How healthy is my church spiritually?’ Colossians 3 v5-17 has some pointers on how this may work in practice.

Make a point of encouraging each other regularly, sending notes of thanks to build one another up. Stand shoulder to shoulder as you journey together through this new year.

May you thrive in the new adventure God has for you in 2017.

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What’s your Legacy?

I have recently been on an interesting ’journey’.

My 88 year old mother became seriously ill and after a month in hospital, sadly passed away. Visiting her daily over that time, I realised again how fragile life is. From enjoying a family holiday in June, here she was, just a month later, fading fast.

I was reminded of verse 7 in 1 Timothy 3, that we bring nothing into this world and take nothing out of it. It’s all about what we do with the time that we have between those 2 points. It is good to be faced with our own mortality and ask the deep questions. We have this life to decide where we will spend the next. We have only our soul, character and our response to Jesus. No riches, no possessions or property.

What is our legacy? What is left behind? Who have we impacted in our lives? How will we be remembered?

Hopefully we have lived in a way that illustrates God’s love, sharing the good news, encouraging people in faith, passing love and wisdom onto our children and grandchildren, friends, church.

And in the end, I hope that people will say of me, as I said of mum at her funeral, that our lives were richer for having known her.

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As a church, we have just completed a 6 week course called ‘Paraclesis’ by Trevor Partridge and published by CWR. (see www.paraclesis.org.uk) The Greek word means to come alongside and journey together.

The course is designed to lead small groups through a series of bible studies with great personal reflection built in. There are resources for sermons and small group leaders available online as well as a participants guide for everyday use. As the guide only costs £5, our groups were happy to buy a personal copy for study at home. There are useful communication tips to use everyday and also a set of Kindness Cards to nudge the group into actions they may not have thought of yet.

The idea is to intentionally love one another in the church more than we do and this will then spill over into life in the everyday, at home, school, work, college, gym and supermarket.

It also encourages us to look at our lives and see how we have journeyed since birth. Nothing is ever wasted in the Kingdom so all our experiences can be used to come alongside people who are struggling in those areas.

The church needs now more than ever to be a ‘paracletic’ community, to be a hospital for broken people to get well. The church has historically reached out to the broken and provided pastoral care. Think of the Salvation Army, the Samaritans, Relate, Alcoholics Anonymous, the hospice movement, YMCA, chaplaincy services etc etc ALL began with Christians getting involved in the community reaching out to broken people with the love of Christ.

Ephesians 4 v1-3 from the Message

‘I want you to get out there and walk – better yet, run – on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline – not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love’.

 

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I was at a leadership conference recently where some deep, and searching questions were asked. See how you get on with answering them…

What sort of church do you want to lead?

What kind of leader do I want to be?

Do I desire intimacy with Jesus?

Do I cherish worship?

Do I enjoy serving?

Am I still amazed at the gospel?

Do I love what Jesus loves?

Reflect on Ephesians 3:17-19

Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. NLT

Be encouraged!

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