Category Archives: Notices

JESUS IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH: THE CHURCH IS LIKE A BODY

The church is God’s people meeting.  To teach us more, the apostle Paul uses a word picture or metaphor for the church.  The church is like a body – one person, but with different parts.

The church in Corinth was a church with lots of problems.  Paul wrote the famous 1 Corinthians 13 about love not so they could read it at weddings but because they were so unloving.  They needed to learn what love is.  They needed to learn how to love other Christians.  That is what 1 Corinthians chapter 12 is about.

No one who is speaking by the spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12 verse 3)

Paul starts by explaining who is part of church.  (Look at the text above).  It is anyone who knows, trusts and serves Jesus.  It is not about wearing the right clothes, knowing enough stuff in the Bible, or being good enough.  God’s Spirit teaches you to know the truth about Jesus.  That makes you part of Jesus’ church.

Now if the foot should say ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  (verse 15)

Then Paul says the church is like a body.  A body is one person, but has many parts – the church is one group, but with many parts (that is in verses 12-14).  And just as the parts of a body are different – the ear, the nose, the arm and so on – the people in a church family are different.  What does that mean for us?

The eye cannot say to the hand ‘I don’t need you!’ (verse 21)

First, Paul says, don’t count yourself as nothing.  Just because you do not have an impressive or noticeable role in church life, does not mean you are not part of it.  That would be as daft as a foot thinking ‘I’m not as special as the hand, I don’t really belong’.  If everyone was a preacher, the church would have no music.  If everyone was a musician, who would teach Sunday school?
Then Paul says, don’t look down on those with roles less impressive or less noticeable than yours.  That would be as daft as the eye saying to the hand ‘I don’t need you’.  God has made them part of the church.  We must not say to people, ‘we don’t need you, you don’t do enough’.

Paul is not teaching Christians to work out what part of the body I am, what my ‘gift’ is, so I can use it.  He is teaching us to accept others and to be confident that I have a place in the Church family because of Jesus. Be glad for the different people God has put in our church family.  Don’t compare yourself to others.
No matter how impressive you are at speaking, how joyful your singing, how exciting and fun the Sunday school class you lead, how brilliant your musical ability, if you do not love Jesus as Lord and saviour, you are not in the body.

What are some of the roles in the church family?

  • Vicar – his role is to care for the church, praying for it, teaching the word of truth, protecting against lies, training and helping Christians in their service.
  • The wardens – help the vicar lead church life, they are responsible for the care of the buildings, and to protect the vicar from being swamped by admin.
  • The Parish Church Council –make decisions about church life, with the vicar, on behalf of the church family. They make decisions about finance

You could use these questions and answers to teach children what we have been hearing about the church.

  • What is church? It is Christians meeting together
  • Is everyone in the meeting a Christian?   Only people who trust Jesus and love him are in his family.
  • Should people who are not Christians come?   We should welcome other people to our meeting so they can start to be Christians too.
  • Why do Christians meet together? Because we love Jesus and want to obey his command to meet.
  • What happens in church? When we keep on going to church, God the Holy Spirit uses it to change us
  • How does church change us? God the Holy Spirit uses the prayers, the songs, the teaching and other Christians to make us better love God the Father and Jesus his Son.
  • What should we try to do in church? We should try to encourage other Christians
  • How can you encourage other Christians? Come to church, come on time, join in by listening, singing, saying ‘hello’, being friendly
  • Which people can you be friendly to? (Say their names)

JESUS IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH: WHAT IS OUR JOB?

Look at Hebrews 3 verses 12,13 below.

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3)

‘See to it.’  Here is a command, not just a suggestion.  Instead of seeing other turn aside, encourage each other.

There is a process going on here.  Look at it carefully.

  • It starts with a heart that doubts God’s promise, that distrusts his care.
  • That kind of person turns aside from God.

It is said another way in verse 13

  • Sin is deceives – it misleads – it persuades us to think wrongly about God.
  • So we end up hardened against him – unresponsive

The danger is that we drift away from God.  We believe lies about him and so disobey him.  Don’t think that this couldn’t happen to you or even to the ‘really keen’ Christians.  It can.  That is the danger.  The answer is that God gives us each other to help us to hold on to him, to protect us from turning from him.  We need others; others need us.

 Paul Tripp, a helpful Christian author, wrote this:

“Physically blind people are always aware of their problem and spend much of their lives learning to live it.  But the Bible says that we can be ‘blind’ to our sin and yet think that we ‘see’ quite well.  I need you in order to really see myself.  Otherwise I will listen to my own arguments, believe my own lies.”

Sin leads us to believe things are true about God and us that in fact are not true.  And so sin makes us spiritually blind: we don’t see ourselves properly.  We end up believing one thing about ourselves when another thing is true.

Though we are often blind to our own sin, we may see other’s sins clearly – we can be better at seeing others are wrong than seeing it in ourselves.  That can be very irritating!  But it can be very helpful.  Because you can help me by pointing out how my life is drifting from God.

How are we going to get that help?  Again Paul Tripp helpfully wrote:

“Doing this for others is not about being a private detective, forcing someone to obey.  Instead, we need to invite others to intrude.”

This is a good way of looking at this isn’t it?  Rather than snooping around and trying to catch others doing wrong, we start by asking someone to do this for us.  We say: “I need your help to keep going as a Christian.  I need your prayers.  I need you to ask me if I am praying.  I need you to remind me that our Heavenly Father loves us, even when I have mucked up and been angry in the office yet again.”

What are the practical issues?

  • This is for everyone. We must not just leave it to one or two.
  • It is for everyone, but it is not with everyone. You cannot know everyone well enough to care for them like this.  It is a good pattern for us to have these more personal conversations with just one or two other Christians.
  • For many of us, this is a very scary prospect. We are nervous of talking to others about our lives and matters concerning God.  We have been hurt by others.  It takes time to build trust.  But we need to start taking steps in a forward direction.

What are the steps?

  • Recognise that we are at risk, risk of being deceived and turning from God – so pray to God for others, to keep them from turning from him.
  • Be more involved – come to church regularly so you get to know other Christians, join a growth group. Don’t get in the habit of not meeting.
  • To do this well, will take more than the brief time we spend together on Sundays. It would be good to text, call or (best of all) meet during the week.
  • Start talking more about Jesus and about living his way with your close friends.
  • Invite someone to ‘intrude in your life’ – to protect you from slipping.

24 Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10)

Good Friday Video

A short film imaging world news reacting to the death of Jesus.

What if Jesus was born today? Such a big event would have been covered by all the media in the world. Today people live through their electronic devices. They can watch live what’s happening on the other side of the world, and they can comment saying what they think. This video imagines  what it might have been like if Jesus had been crucified in our days. We can see how people react and how the news and events might have spread on social media and on the internet.

Bible Readings in dates till April 2018

Date (2018) Passage
7th January, John 13 vv1-30
14th January, John 13 vv31-35
21st January, John 13 vv36- 14v14
28th January, John 14 vv15-31
4th February, John 15 vv1-18
11th February, John 15 vv19-25
18th February, John 16 vv1-15
25th February, John 16 vv8-33
4th March,
11th March, John 17 vv1-26
18th March,
25th March, John 18 vv1-27
29th March, John 18 vv28-19v16
30th March, John 19 vv17-42
1st April, John 20 vv1-31

No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54 verse 17)

This is God’s word. This is God’s promise. So when a brother is killed by thieves with a weapon – what does it mean? Does it mean the man was not a brother after all? Or does it mean that God’s promise has failed?
God makes many promises in the Bible.

• Some he has already kept. He promised Abraham a son. Abraham’s wife gave birth to a son.
• Some promises He is keeping now. He promised Abraham to bless people of all nations. Today, people of all nations are being blessed through Jesus.
• Some promises God will keep in the future. He promises a future with no more death or mourning or crying or pain. We live in hope for that future.

How can we tell which kind a promise is? How can we tell if it is a promise for us now? Other parts of the Bible tell us. We read God’s promise of a son to Abraham in Genesis 17. We read the promise kept in Genesis 21. We read the promise of blessing to all nations in Genesis 12. Galatians 3 tells us that the promise is coming true for all who trust Jesus. The Bible interprets the Bible. That is why we need to read our Bibles and be taught by teachers who are careful to read it well.
Which kind of promise is Isaiah 54:17? Already kept, being kept now or to be kept in the future?

In Isaiah 54:11-17, God is speaking to the Old Testament people about the future for Jerusalem. It is described in beautiful, lavish terms. This is the situation when God’s people will enjoy safety and peace and no weapon will prevail against them. God repeats this promise about Jerusalem when he talks of the new creation at the end of Revelation 21. It is still in the future for us. In this life, we are not safe from weapons. In Acts, we read that Stephen is killed by stoning (chapter 7) and James executed with a sword (chapter 12). God’s promise about safety from weapons will only be kept in the new creation, with the New Jerusalem.

What do we do when God makes promises?
Promises ask us to trust the person making the promise and act on our trust. If you say you will meet me at church at 10 a.m., I show that I trust you by turning up at 10 a.m. If I say I trust you but just sit at home saying to myself, they said they would be there, do I really trust you? It is the same with God’s promises. God promises to forgive those who confess they are sinners. I show I trust him if I confess I am a sinner and ask for forgiveness. If I say I trust him but just say to myself, ‘he forgives’ but never confess and never ask forgiveness, do I really trust him?

God has not promised protection from physical enemies in this life. We should take sensible precautions, we lock our doors at night, as far as possible, we seek to live at peace with all people, but he does not promise we will always be safe.
But God has promised protection from spiritual enemies, from Satan. ‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you’ (James 4:7). This is a promise of God. But how do we resist? How do show we trust God’s way of protection? The Bible explains the Bible: ‘Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes’ (Ephesians 6:10). How do show we trust God? By using God’s defences. The devil’s language is lies. We stay safe by hearing and speaking the truth from God. The devil accuses. We stay safe by trusting that Jesus has dealt with our guilt. The devil sows discord and division. We stay safe by welcoming other sinners who are forgiven like us.

Response to terror attacks

Media comments on the terror attacks in Manchester and London have expressed right grief but also confusion and error.  How does the Bible help us to think about these things?

 

The media has said these are terrible actions.  The Bible agrees.  These attacks are shocking because unsuspecting people have been suddenly killed.  As those who love others, we are very sad.

 

The media has said that the terrorists are especially bad people.  The Bible teaches that the root of these actions is sin.  Sin is the attitude in all humans that we know better than the Living God and that we can decide the best way to live.  Sin separates us from God and lies behind the actions that hurt each other (Romans 1 verses 18-32).  These terrorists are like the rest of us in this regard.

 

The media has said seeking revenge is wrong because it will make us like the terrorists.  The Bible says seeking revenge is wrong because God has put governments in charge to keep order and punish wrong (Romans 13).  The Bible also tells us to trust God to punish on his judgement day (Romans 12 verse 19).  Like the terrorists, we will face judgement day too.  We can only be ready by trusting in Jesus.

The media have said the security services have let us down – they did not stop suspicious people who later did such harm.  The Bible says we wrongly trust in what we do and what we make to keep us safe (e.g. Isaiah 30 verses 1-5).  But no government, no policeman, no secret services can protect us against all danger.  We are glad for the work of government and police but when we realise again how vulnerable we are, we should remember again to trust the God and Father of Jesus.

 

The media has said that Islam is basically like Christianity.  Comparing the Bible and the Koran shows this is false.  At the most important point of our belief the Koran says we are wrong.   The Bible says that Jesus died on a cross for sin (1 Peter 3:18); the Koran says that he did not die and the Jews lied when they said they killed him (Koran 4:157).

 

The media tells us what matters is if a Muslim is peaceful or violent.  The Bible says that what matters is whether or not you know Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  The Koran says Jesus was a prophet (Koran 19:30) but ‘no more than’ that (Koran 5:75).  It denies that he died for our sins.  The Bible tells us Jesus is the only way to life with God (John 14 verse 6; Acts 4:12).  We should seek to be good neighbours and fellow-workers with Muslims we know, being friendly, learning their names, talking with them.  Most of all, we should pray that they would come to know the Prince of Peace, Jesus.  Do you know a Muslim?

Please pray for them now.