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Jesus Is Building His Church: How God Trains Us Through Church

A fishy tale

One morning, two young fish were swimming along together. An older fish swam the other way. “Morning boys, how’s the water today?” he asked.  It was not until 30 minutes later that one of the youngsters turned to the other and say “what is water?”

The point of this strange story is that we are surrounded by ways of living but we don’t see them. More seriously, we are being trained into wrong ways of living but we don’t notice it. Paul tells us we can be trained or influenced or conformed by the world

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:1,2

The world is the things around us that influence us to think God can’t be trusted and his ways are not good for us. That happens through adverts, songs, internet, films and in the way people around us party, use their money and train their children.  An example is the world’s pattern for shopping.

THE PATTERN OF THE WORLD: AN EXAMPLE

The adverts tell us there is something missing in our lives. They tell us the answer to that gap is to buy something. Perhaps you have been influenced by this to buy things that you could afford?

We may go with others to the shops for a ‘trip out’. But shopping is not something that helps us grow together. Look at a group at the shops – when another person joins the group, everyone eyes up their fashion sense – they observe the shoes and handbags and mobile phone.

Shopping the world’s way teaches us to overvalue things (we enjoy them for making us special in the eyes of others, rather than just using the things).

The world tells us that buying things will make us feel better. But the product’s benefit quickly wears off. When we next feel low, we have learned that a shopping trip will cheer us up. So off we go and buy more.

Shopping the world’s way also teaches us to undervalue things (we throw them away to quickly because we think we need an ‘up-grade’).

When we go to the shops or shop on-line, we might be like the young fish in the story: We may not appreciate how we are being conformed or trained to fit in with the pattern of this world.

This view of shopping is just one of many ways the world influences us.  The good news is that God uses church to give us a true outlook.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

GOD USES CHURCH TO TRAIN US

If you are a Christian, God has already given you a renewed mind – a new way of looking at life. But we need to be trained or conformed to fit with that. Church is one way God does that.

The things we do in a church meeting follow a particular order;

  1. We meet one another, welcoming one another as people who need help just like we need God’s
  2. We start our meeting with God’s word, remembering who he
  3. We admit our sin to God and remember his kindness in
  4. We sing, using songs that will help us hear God’s truth, that will train us to fit the right emotions with that truth and that we can sing together, as one church
  5. We hear of church family events and ask God to be at Our prayers are not ‘me’ and ‘I’ but ‘we’ and ‘us’ – we are learning to be a family.
  6. We hear God’s word read and We trust the Holy Spirit will turn the words of the teacher into the voice of God that his children hear.
  7. We finish our time with words of scripture, spoken by all of us, to each other, encouraging each other to live as Christians in all of life, not just on a
  8. We continue to meet over coffee, trying to speak helpfully to each other.

 

  • Think again about Make a list before you shop so you don’t buy things you don’t need. Teach your children to spot the false lies in adverts. What ways is the world most effective in influencing you?

 

  • Think again about Don’t come expecting to be entertained, come to join in. Don’t act like a customer, expecting to get a good service, come to join in. Don’t expect it to be easy and soothing, training can be hard work, ask an athlete.
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Notices

Jesus is Building His Church: Why do we sing?

JESUS IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH: WHY DO WE SING WHEN WE MEET?
Sometimes when children visit our church building, they are surprised that there are instruments in the building. What are they for? They ask. Singing is not something people in other religious groups do. If you think about it, apart from church, when do we sing? Perhaps you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to family or a workmate. Perhaps you sing along to the radio, the brave people might sing to karaoke. So why do we sing in church?
What is church singing for?
Singing is a way for God to rule over our church family. We sing ideas that are from God’s word.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts (Colossians 3 verse 16)

Singing is a way that we show ‘yes, I believe these things.’  But singing is more than agreeing God’s word is true…
Singing is a way God teaches the church family to connect our feelings and our commitments or priorities with God’s Word. A special aspect of singing is the musical aspect. Music can remind us of special feelings or it can help bring on those feelings in us. Good church songs will help us put the right emotions to the words.

But singing is more than a way to agree with the truth of God’s word and to feel right about it…
Singing is one way of showing we agree with each other and of making the church family united. Church singing is normally something we do together. When I speak, you listen, when you speak, I listen, but when we sing, we speak together. By singing songs together, we stop church from being a performance by just a few people. Singing together is one way of showing we are one.
Christian singing is for telling the truth, for showing or learning the right feelings and for being a united church family.

So what makes a good church song?
Many of us have a favourite hymn or chorus, but if our songs are for truth, for feeling and for unity, we need to make sure our songs help those things.

Christian singing is
• for telling the truth,
• for showing or learning the right feelings
• for being a united church family.

Truth: Christian songs do not have to be sentences of the Bible copied into a song. A good song can be a poem that teaches us the word of God. Some songs are not true. Some songs make false claims about God’s promises or about ourselves (along the lines of “All I ever think about is you Lord”). We should not sing them.

Feelings: God’s goodness to us is a reason for great joy. Our songs should help us feel that. That is not the only feeling songs should show. Other songs will help us show sadness or feel sad about our sin or about our suffering.
Songs are for the whole church family to sing. Some songs are true, helping right emotions, but the tune is too hard for us to sing. We should not try to sing them. So a good song is one that we can

sing together – some songs are amazing when a great performer sings them, but if we tried, it would fall flat.

What does this mean for our singing on a Sunday?

The musicians and song leaders serve the church by helping us to sing. The role of the song leader is to help us to sing, and they will know if they have fulfilled that ministry when they can hardly be heard because of the singing by the church family – so join in!
Singing is not just a way for us to express our feelings. God can use it to teach us the right feelings. So don’t wait until you feel like singing –so join in!
The most beautiful instrument in any church meeting is the sound of the congregation singing. You may not be the best singer. It doesn’t matter. God wants you to stand with other Christians and sing with them – so join in!

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Notices Teaching

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)
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Notices

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)

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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.

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News

Is Jerusalem the capital of Israel?

In the last days,  the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.     (Isaiah 2 verse 2, N.I.V. translation)

Last week, the President of the USA, Donal Trump, recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Many Christians in America think this is God’s plan. Their view has influenced American foreign policy and international relations. Many believe that it is a religious duty to help the state of Israel to fulfil God’s promise – that includes establishing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. On the other side, from the Muslim view, it seems like Christians have attacked them to support Jerusalem. It seems that seeking God’s promise may even bring conflict and war. Is this a step towards God keeping his promise? Should we rejoice?

What should we think? It is no good laughing off these views as fanaticism – when you laugh at people they often just dig their heels in. There is a better answer than laughing it off. That is to read the Bible carefully.

As followers of Christ, we want to read the Old Testament the way he read it. His teaching should be our guide. Jesus and his apostles who wrote the New Testament show that God often keeps his promises in an unexpected way. What does that mean for the promises about Jerusalem?

Isaiah’s language is picture language. In Isaiah’s time, people believed that mountains were the place that you meet with your God. That was where heaven and earth meets – it is a good place for altars and temples. God showed Isaiah that amongst all the mountains, all the different religions, one mountain will stand supreme – all other mountains will be insignificant. It will be unique – there are not many ways to God, there is only ONE mountain. That means it is exclusive – this way and no other. But it is also inclusive – it is for everyone who will come. Isaiah says in the next verses, all nations will learn to go that way.

To expect that the city of Jerusalem will somehow end up higher than any other point on earth is not what Isaiah was promising. That is misunderstanding. He was not teaching international relations but about the way to life with God.

Jesus said that he is the answer to the promise. When a woman asked him which is the mountain to worship God on, Jesus said, “Now I am here, God wants those who worship in truth, in the Spirit I will. give” (read his exact words in John 4:21- 24). He did not say, “Isaiah was right, you have to go to the Mountain of Jerusalem”. (Nor did he say, “All mountains lead to God, there are many ways to truth”), It is not by going to Jerusalem that we find God, but by going to Jesus. Jesus is the exclusive way to God. He said, “No-one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6). But Jesus is inclusive, whoever – whatever nationality – whoever believes in the Son, has life with God (John 3:36). In a surprising way, God keeps his promise through Jesus.

So Isaiah’s message is not an excuse for war or political claims. How tragic that it is used for that. When we read it like that, we miss the real message – the promise of God to make a way for all nations to know him. Let’s pray for Christians who influence political policy in America and elsewhere, to understand this real message.

As Christians, we must take care to follow Christ’s way of understanding the Old Testament promises – not ignoring the Old Testament; but seeing how the Father keeps his promises, through the work of Jesus, in surprising ways

www.dagenhamparishchurch.org                                                       Joel.dagenham@gmail.com

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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.

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Lunchtime Church

Work in the city?  or Central London?  Please see the link at the bottom of this page that points to the Gospel At Work website.  Share lunch and a short Christian message with other Christians and interested friends. Fellowship in the Gospel is a vital expression of Christian Love – Faith – Service.

Express yourself  as a Christian at work!

 

http://www.gospelatwork.org.uk/

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Sunday Sermon

Owing to operating conditions the sermon on Sunday did not get recorded. Sorry for any inconvenience. We hope normal service will return at the weekend.

Joel

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Building news

Great news – we have funding!

Dagenham Parish Church are very pleased to announce that we have been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an initial grant on the repair work to the church tower.

HLF logo

 

 

As well as addressing urgent repair works and carrying out essential conservation work to the church building, we will also be running an activity programme around our heritage so more people can engage with the church and its history.

Church history

Development funding of £47,500 has also been awarded to help us progress plans to apply for the full grant at the end of this year. We hope to then begin the capital works in Spring/Summer 2017.

We will be sharing more about our activity programme and gathering people’s opinions and support for the project.

If you’d like to know more, please speak to Steve.