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Remaining thankful…

thankfulness thanks thanksgiving prayer Jesus

Tuesday’s top ten thanks…

1 ) NHS – does an amazing job and has looked after two families close to us over the past weeks, as well as H this morning. Thankful for a health service that is free and accessible.

2 ) Friends – thankful for the many friends we have in our lives.

3 ) New Pupils – some days I just love teaching and especially when I get the opportunity to teach someone new. I still enjoy the first look of a pupil who realises they are actually playing the guitar.

4 ) Technology – this Sunday we were able to FaceTime with my parents in Derby. Great for the boys to keep in touch with their grandparents. I think they enjoyed it too…

5 ) Foodbank – great people doing an amazing work – if you live in Eastbourne please visit here. Alternatively you may like to visit the Trussell Trust who pioneer the work.

6 ) Winter Night Shelter – not only thankful for the work of the Eastbourne branch, but starting to hear great stories from around the country of similar projects that are up and running.

7 ) Life Group – Thankful for the family that we meet with once a week, to celebrate life, pray and learn to follow Jesus.

8 ) Church Leaders – Thankful for those who step up and follow God’s calling. Very grateful for their leading and their encouragement.

9 ) New Music – a few months ago a pupil gave me a iTunes voucher, which I got around to spending the other day. New music from Joe Bonamassa and Kenny Wayne Shepherd have become staples in my work soundtrack

10 ) Communion – this Sunday was our monthly reflection, remembering and responding to the cross. I am always thankful to spend time as a church celebrating the communion meal and all that it represents.

Now over to you, what are you thankful for today?

Grace and Peace,

Steve

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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Jesus, Tuesday Thanks

 

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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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Following the liberator…

Jesus the liberator

Hey all!

Back to our journey through the Gospel of John, been so long I had to remember where we left it!

But, we are still in Chapter 2 and our verses are 13-15. So here they are;

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.

And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your househas eaten Me up.” 

So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. John 2:13-25 NKJV

If you know your Bible stories you may be wondering why this narrative is happening here. Matthew, Mark and Luke have this story towards the end of Jesus’ life. But, it would appear that Jesus cleared the temple more than once. John has Jesus going to and fro Jerusalem several times during his short ministry. If this event did happen more than once than it would as NT Wright has noted explain why people travelled from Jerusalem to the little town of Galilee to check up on Jesus (Mark 3:22 & Mark 7:1). But either way John is clear in why he is including the story.

John clearly states that this event is during the passover – he has already told us in the previous chapter that Jesus is the passover Lamb. John is showing that Jesus is changing the meaning of passover. Moreover, he is fulfilling the true meaning of the passover.

The passover was all about liberation, rescue from the slavery of Egypt, celebrating the God of gods and His faithfulness to His people. This is the first example of John explaining the full meaning of the passover, he will continue this in Chapter 6 and Chapter 12 of his Gospel. Jesus came to set people free. He came to conquer.

Every single act Jesus did was an act of liberation.

When he ate with someone who was an outcast or a ‘sinner’ he set them free. He declared that they were worth something, no longer worthless, but worthy of knowing God. He redeemed.

When he healed, he set people free from their illness or debilitation. He set people free from the stigma of being an outcast, he brought them back into the community. He restored.

When he let himself be crucified, he did it to restore us, to redeem us and rescue us. The greatest liberation!

The act in the temple, was about setting people free. Jesus has come to declare that He is the true temple, the word made flesh. Greed and corruption will eventually be destroyed.

Jesus tells the Jewish leaders, you can destroy me, but I will be back in three days, from then on things will be different.

The God who still loves the world has a plan. To redeem, restore and renew; and it comes through Jesus. As we learn to follow the greatest liberator we take our place in God’s plan. When we choose Jesus we are in the process of being redeemed, restored and renewed. Then God in His sovereignty does the same thing through us as we follow Him!

The gospel of John is about presenting the story of Jesus and then asking us to respond. John hints as to how people should respond. If you see the signs, then trust Him, it may be a little bit to start off with. But, take the risk. Jesus is the liberator and he knows you through and through (John 2:24-25), there is nothing about you, your past, your story that God does not know and He still loves you. (check out the MrsBlunders  tab for some excellent posts on the theme of God’s love)

God is all about resurrection!

Resurrecting the things we thought were dead, restoring broken dreams, replacing what has been lost, redeeming us to a better way of life.

We are living in a world of endless possibilities.

We are living in the midst of rescue.

We are living in the resurrection!

What have you got to loose?

How will you follow Jesus the liberator today?

Have a think and let me know your thoughts in the comment section or email me if you have any questions,

Grace and peace,

Steve

Prayer

Father, thank you for your grace.

Thank that you are the God of the resurrection.

The God of redemption.

We thank you for your Son, his life, death and resurrection.

We thank you for saving us, for liberating us.

May we live with eternity in view.

We will play our parts in the redeeming, restoring and rescuing of this world.

May we learn to follow the liberator.

Holy Spirit, teach us!

In Jesus’ name

Amen 

 

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Telling our stories…

Greetings,

Our liturgy adventure takes us on to John 1:29 – 34 which is often given the title – John Testifies About Jesus.

So, here it is;

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold,  the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’

I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”  And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  I myself did not know him, but  he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain,this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Now, there is a great deal that could be said about the huge statement of “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” and that will no doubt come in a future post. But, the passage as a whole talks to me about John telling his story. The events he has seen and witnessed, which speaks to me a great deal at the moment.

It seems to me that gone are the days where we declare from a distance – Behold the Lamb of God – it is far more about the every day interactions with friends, neighbours and people we meet.

How will they know about Jesus?

How will they come to know the stories of Jesus and the work he has done in our lives?

Picture the scene…

You are quiet happy wondering through town on a lazy sunny afternoon, perhaps you are with your family when you are approached by a man with a clip board. He starts up a conversation about your afternoon and talks about the weather than he thrusts a ID card in front of you explaining that he is from the Cats In Need and asks if you like cats.

You start by saying, yes but I prefer dogs and actually have a dog, but the second part of your sentence is strangely ignored and your new found friend proceeds to launch into a facts and figures session on how many cats are abandoned or mistreated and how the cuts have meant that the funding for Cats in Need is not the same. You are then told that just £5 a month will save a cat and how you should do this now, because you never know what might happen.

What started as a pleasant conversation about the weather has turned into a monologue about cats.

Now, you may be able to see where I am going with this. If you replace the Cats In Need with Jesus you start to see a picture of what some people are put through if they show any inclination towards Jesus. They are bombarded with Scriptures (or numbers) and told how they must act soon because they never know what might happen.

I believe we need to move away from seeing people as projects that we develop relationships with so we can lead them to Christ and include them in “church”.

Jesus didn’t do this.

He moved into the neighbourhood and stayed.

He met them on their turf.

He listened to people.

He was up to something far bigger and far more beautiful than trying to simply add people to church congregations.

We are called to follow Jesus, moment by moment, minute by minute, hour after hour, day after day. That is the life we are called to live. As we do this we engage with our local communities and as we continue to follow Jesus, we live in the midst of people who do not understand why we live the way we do.  But it will intrigue them!

Life becomes more of how we share our stories and how we share our lives with those we meet/love/know. Which leads on to one of thoughts that has come to me recently, never underestimate the power of a cup of tea! Inviting people in for a cup of tea or just offering them a drink can be a great start to great conversations. Could we be a people who spend time with others because we love them, not that they are a probable for our next course?!

Let us learn to listen to people, really listen! Listen to their stories.

Then learn to tell our stories, the good and the bad, the struggles with faith, with prayer, with tithing! 😉

Let us step out in faith and bless people, pray for them, serve them, drink tea with them etc.

Let us learn to testify about Jesus and what he has done in our lives.

Think about it and as always let me know your thoughts,

Grace and Peace,

Steve

p.s. – For more thoughts on hospitality check out Sharon Robert’s latest blog post Simple Hospitality.

p.p.s – I also have nothing against cats or the man in the picture who looks a happy chap!

Prayer:

Father we thank you for sending you Son to dwell amongst us,

May we never loose sight of your heart for your people.

Let us start to fully grasp the mission of Jesus.

Holy Spirit be in our conversations, our interactions, our passing in the street moments,

That we might learn to hear your voice to catch the bigger vision.

We will be a people who live for Jesus,

Who learn to listen to others,

Who learn to tell their stories, with grace, humour, honesty and love.

Who learn to testify of Jesus and what he has done in our lives.

In Jesus’ name

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Gospel of John, Jesus, Mission

 

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