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[12 Days] Twelfth Day…

Read: Revelation 22:16 (CEV)

Revelation 22:16 I am Jesus! And I am the one who sent my angel to tell all of you these things for the churches. I am David’s Great Descendant, [c] and I am also the bright morning star. 17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”

Everyone who hears this should say, “Come!” If you are thirsty, come! If you want life-giving water, come and take it. It’s free!

Reflect:

Today is officially the end of Christmas for another year. The decorations are coming down (if they have not done already) and we now look towards Lent, Easter and Pentecost. I love this section from the book of revelation. I like the way this translation gives a sense of urgency in Jesus’ words. So, may we hear his words today – , “Come!” If you are thirsty, come! If you want life-giving water, come and take it. It’s free!

Advent and Christmas are about Jesus. The coming of Immanuel. It is about preparing for Jesus’ second coming – may we live each day knowing that we have done all we can to prepare for the return of the King.

The Spirit and the Church say, “Come!”

Respond:

Father, may we know your grace. We want to live doing all we can to prepare for the return of the king. May the living waters of Christ cleanse us, may the Spirit descend upon us, and the blessing of God be with us this day and always. Amen


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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in 12 Days of Christmas, Jesus

 

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[12 Days] Eleventh Day…

Read: John 14:15-21 (CEB)

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. 17 This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you.

18 “I won’t leave you as orphans. I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Reflect:

We reach day eleven and for most of us Christmas is now a distant memory. Replaced with the return of normality, whatever that may look like.

Our passage for today reflects some of the themes of advent and Christmas itself; namely that God is with us.

I love this translations use of the word companion. Many other translations use the phrase Advocate or Helper. But, companion adds a new flavour to the work of the Holy Spirit and ties in well with the truth that Jesus speaks in the remainder of the passage.

We have the risk taking, grace awakening, dream filled, person of the Holy Spirit walking with us every step of the way.

We are no longer orphans.

Respond:

Holy Spirit thank you for your presence with us. Thank you that we are not alone, we have you as our guide. May we get to know you as you lead us in your truth. Reveal Jesus to us, this and every day. For His glory. Amen

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in 12 Days of Christmas, Jesus

 

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[12 Days] Ninth Day…

Read: Luke 15:1-10 (ETR Version)

Luke 15:1 Many tax collectors and sinners came to listen to Jesus. 2 Then the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to complain, “Look, this man welcomes sinners and even eats with them!”

3 Then Jesus told them this story: 4 “Suppose one of you has 100 sheep, but one of them gets lost. What will you do? You will leave the other 99 sheep there in the field and go out and look for the lost sheep. You will continue to search for it until you find it. 5 And when you find it, you will be very happy. You will carry it 6 home, go to your friends and neighbors and say to them, ‘Be happy with me because I found my lost sheep!’ 7 In the same way, I tell you, heaven is a happy place when one sinner decides to change. There is more joy for that one sinner than for 99 good people who don’t need to change.

8 “Suppose a woman has ten silver coins, but she loses one of them. She will take a light and clean the house. She will look carefully for the coin until she finds it. 9 And when she finds it, she will call her friends and neighbors and say to them, ‘Be happy with me because I have found the coin that I lost!’ 10 In the same way, it’s a happy time for the angels of God when one sinner decides to change.”

Reflect:

For many today will be the ‘last day’ before work and work despair may well and truly of hit by now. So, what better time then to focus on the mission of God I hear you say and I’d agree.

The New Year is now up and running and this may be our last time to reflect before the school runs, sandwich making, to-do list, early morning starts and our 99mph days kick back into gear. As you read the Bible passage for today – let your mind wander and wonder, what if the vision behind these stories is true?

What if there was a God who would search for you in the same way as the shepherd and the woman did?

Respond:

Father God, thank you for the overflow of your love. Thank you for your grace that found me. Thank you that you sent Jesus to come and find us. Holy Spirit as this year unfolds may I learn more about your ways and may I live knowing that I am found. In Jesus name. Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2012 in 12 Days of Christmas, Jesus

 

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[12 Days] Holy Innocents…

 

Read: Matthew 2:13-18 (ETR Version) ; 

13 After the wise men left, an angel from the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. The angel said, “Get up! Take the child with his mother and escape to Egypt. Herod wants to kill the child and will soon start looking for him. Stay in Egypt until I tell you to come back.”

 14 So Joseph got ready and left for Egypt with the child and the mother. They left during the night. 15 Joseph stayed in Egypt until Herod died. This gave full meaning to what the Lord said through the prophet: “I called my son to come out of Egypt.” [a]

Herod Kills the Baby Boys in Bethlehem

16 Herod saw that the wise men had fooled him, and he was very angry. So he gave an order to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem and the whole area around Bethlehem. Herod had learned from the wise men the time the baby was born. It was now two years from that time. So he said to kill all the boys who were two years old and younger. 17 This gave full meaning to what God said through the prophet Jeremiah:

 18 “A sound was heard in Ramah—
bitter crying and great sadness.
Rachel cries for her children,
and she cannot be comforted,
because her children are gone.

Reflect:

Holy Innocents Day.

A day when we break out of the celebrations to remember the brutality of King Herod. It is a day when we remember children and we bless them. It is a day to remember that evil is still prominent in the world, but also a day to remember that one day all tears will cease and the rightful King will rule!

Remember in prayer today the children around the world, those who are in slavery, those who are free, those who need water and food and those who need to know the love of their heavenly Father.

Respond:

Father, thank you for your grace. Thank you that Jesus will one day return and finally say, STOP! To all the evil in the world. One day Father, Son and Spirit will rule the cosmos fully! One day all tears will be no more and the injustices of the world we have their justice. Even So, Come Lord Jesus! Amen.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2011 in 12 Days of Christmas, Jesus

 

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[12 Days] Feast of Stephen…

Read: Acts 6:1-7 (Message Translation)

Acts 1-4 During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—”Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.”

5-6The congregation thought this was a great idea. They went ahead and chose—

Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit,
Philip,
Procorus,
Nicanor,
Timon,
Parmenas,
Nicolas, a convert from Antioch.
Then they presented them to the apostles. Praying, the apostles laid on hands and commissioned them for their task.

7The Word of God prospered. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased dramatically. Not least, a great many priests submitted themselves to the faith.

Reflect:

Today, is the feast of Stephen and on this day it is generally Stephen’s martyrdom that we focus on. But, we’re going to focus in on Stephen’s reputation.

Stephen was well known amongst the new thriving church, he was know for his faith and being full of the Holy Spirit. From this reputation, the apostles knew that he could be trusted with greater responsibility.

What are you well known for?

Respond:

Father of all, thank you for the life and example of Stephen. Thank you for his servant heart and submission to you and your vision. Thank you for those throughout the years who have given their lives to further your gospel. May I be known as a follower of Jesus. May my reputation honour your name. Holy Spirit, make your ways know to me. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2011 in 12 Days of Christmas, Jesus

 

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Collect[ion]

Collection

Greetings y’all,

Hope you are having a great Monday – we at Living Stones have just started a 24/7 Prayer week. So, I thought I’d blog a little bit each day on prayer ideas, reflections from the prayer room and ideas for our own prayer lives. Today the theme is collects.

I have been using these prayers to help deepen my own prayer life and you may like to give it a try.

In the traditional liturgical service the collect is an opening prayer and looks something like this;

Let us pray;

A time of silence to be kept

God of constant mercy,
who sent your Son to save us:
remind us of your goodness,
increase your grace within us,
that our thankfulness may grow,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Taken from the 12th Sunday after Trinity

There are two main areas that I want to look at in this blog post that I hope will aid you in your prayer life. The first is the order the collect happens and then the second is the collect (Bold Text) itself.

1) The Order 

The collect can be broken into four parts – with each part reinforcing community and the importance of praying together in unity. Each part is important in giving the prayer meaning.

a) The Invitation

It seems quiet simple doesn’t it? Let us pray… but it is part of the whole prayer. The collect is about gathering (collecting) the thoughts of the community and praying together as a response to our individual prayers. Therefore the invitation is key, let us (the body of Christ) pray.

b) The Silence

This is the heart of the collect – it is in the silence that we pray, we collect our thoughts around the theme of that particular collect. We meditate on the scriptures the Holy Spirit brings to mind, we stay in the present – knowing we are loved by God. Silence is so important to our prayer lives and I feel we often underestimate it and its importance.

c) The Collect

The collect is then said as a bringing together or summation of the individual prayers prayer. In the traditional liturgy the leader will say the prayer as a way of articulating the silent prayers of the church. But, we are finding it works equally well when said together as a community.

d) The Amen

The community responds with a AMEN – so be it. We have prayed individual and now we agree with this prayer together.

The collect is not so much vein repetition but carefully thought out reflection and response. Which actually builds in time for the work of the Holy Spirit and for us to respond as a community, not hinder it.

2) The Collect 

So, we have looked at the part of the service where the collect would be. Let’s have a look at how they are constructed and this has been incredibly freeing in my own prayer life and I hope it will be in yours.

a) Address

This is simply who we are speaking to, in our example God is address as “God of constant mercy”

b) An attribute, quality of God or something He has doen

This generally is linked in with the theme of the collect, in our example above we read, “who sent your Son to save us: 

c) The petition

What we are asking of God. “remind us of your goodness, increase your grace within us”

d) The reason or expected result

Why we want that prayer to be answered. “that our thankfulness may grow”

e) Conclusion

The Christ centred conclusion, “through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

f) Amen

As it says! So be it!

So, there is a brief overview of Collects.

They are important in our times of corporate prayer as I have said already. But, I am also finding great use in jotting down my own collect style prayers as part of my prayer time. They help shape our focus, they help remind us of who God is, they help us think what we are actually asking for and why we want it. As a result my times of prayer have become more refined, more fruitful as my mind wanders less.

They also lead to more content-filled prayers – we think a little, speak less but with more purpose and wait on God more. I for one am all for that.

I am also finding that they are helping in the constant prayer as well. As I am staying mindful of Jesus, praying for the people I meet or in the same coffee shop as me, my prayers are fed from my collected thoughts on that subject. I am praying God’s blessing on them knowing that we serve and follow a God who is rich in mercy and is for us not against us.

My encouragement to you would be to give it a go, write a collect and maybe even share it with your community this week. You know what is going on in your community – try to put that into a prayer that collects your thoughts and bring it as a corporate offering.

Grace and peace,

Steve

Here are two of mine, see what you think;

Heavenly Father, Seer of all, our protector and our shield. Grant that we will walk rooted and built up in Christ, that we may our lives with thanksgiving in our hearts. In the name of Jesus our risen saviour.

Amen

Faithful Father, Full of grace and mercy. We ask that your peace would rule in our hearts that we may be faithful in our witness of you, through Christ our Lord and Saviour

Amen

Some more examples of the Collect can be found here.

 

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Rise and shine…

Hello again,

It’s been a while, we have been very busy with EODS, children and other bits and bobs. But, we hope to get back to blogging on a regular basis from today!

We as a community (Living Stones) have been dwelling on this short passage from the Gospel of Matthew;

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16 ESV

We have been looking at what it is to let our lights shine before others and how good works fit in. We are still very clear that our relationship with Jesus is based entirely on His grace and nothing we can do either adds or takes away from His grace. Paul stresses in Ephesians this very point;

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing;  it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

Paul is quiet clear that it is grace (the gift of God) not a result of works. He once believed that he needed to keep the law in order to be right with God. But, the revelation of meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road changed his whole thinking.

This Jesus is the one who had died (according to the law) an accursed death on the cross. In Paul’s mind, Jesus had been condemned by the law (Deut 21:22-24 cf. Gal 3:13) and cursed by God. But, now God has glorified this accursed man! The law which condemned Jesus, was itself condemned by God.

Saul’s very life was falling apart.

We start to understand why Paul was in Damascus for three days trying to get his head around what all this meant.

In a nutshell it meant; faith in God’s grace.

The works we do therefore are out of grace, not out of anything else. We work for God from the position of grace, our works do not add anything to our salvation but, they are how we show our faith in action. We put our faith in God’s grace when we live for Him alone. We are called to be God’s representatives in our local places.

Another way to look at the word represent is to say RE – PRESENT. A representative is someone who re-presents the will of another.

We are to re-present Jesus to all that we meet. We show them His will – grace, mercy, love and compassion.

We are to show everyone we meet Jesus again,

through our actions,

through our deeds,

through our words,

our prayers,

our choices,

everything we do is to bear witness to re-present Christ to the world in which we live.

Paul also says in his letter to the Ephesians that we are to,

make the most of every opportunity for the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16 ESV

Paul is talking in this chapter 5 about walking with Christ, in love, faith and wisdom. We are to do the same.

Making sure that in every opportunity we get that we learn to re-present Jesus to a fallen world.

Paul goes on in Ephesians 6 to point out that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers. Therefore, if it has got flesh and blood it is not our enemy.

So, we make the most of every opportunity to re-present Jesus to all.

Where there is despair – we bring hope

Where there is hatred – we bring love

Where there is bitterness – we bring forgiveness

Where there is mourning – we mourn with them

Where there is joy – we celebrate

Where there is illness – we speak healing

Where there is brokenness – we hold them, like Jesus would

We are to bear witness to what God has done in our lives and to declare that JESUS is LORD.

So let us rise and shine and show God’s glory to all that we meet!

Have a think and let me know your thoughts,

Look out for a another post on Friday with a few practical tips on how we can go about re-presenting Jesus.

Grace and Peace,

Steve

 

Prayer:

Almighty God, Father of all,

We thank you for the gift of your son,

your grace towards us,

We ask that we may re-present Christ to all we meet – this and every day.

May we learn to tell our stories, 

May we learn to share our lives,

May we learn to be a community of Grace,

May we re-present Jesus faithfully to all whom we meet today,

In Jesus name and in the power of the Holy Spirit,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Mission

 

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