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Whether it's "natural" disasters or decisions which affect us all, there are things in life we simply cannot avoid. (The American humourist Mark Twain, classified these as being born, dying and paying our taxes).
The prophets - those who spoke on behalf of God - help us to see such circumstances from God's point of view. Where there are problems, what might it mean for us to be part of the solution?
How do we live as Christian exiles in a community where the values and lifestyles are at odds with Christ’s teaching?
A social revolution will only follow a spiritual transformation. Impacting our community will only happen once we commit to God's plans and are prepared to stock it out where we are, living by example.
You can’t help but be struck by the radical uncompromising teaching of Jesus as you read, say, the Sermon on the Mount. He had no time for hypocrisy wherever it came from: he took to task anyone who dare to look down their noses at the less fortunate.
When the early church eventually exploded onto the world scene, it was so totally different from anything else that it was dubbed the ‘The Way’- it was so vigorous, animated and challenging, it really did take the world by surprise.
How can we continue in that tradition of radical dissent today?
We each have a part to play as this is not the preserve of any so called spiritual elites: our example will show how much we love Christ and others.
What do really expect from Christmas? If all goes to plan, it'll be a nice meal, time with friends and an opportunity to wind down or chill for a day or two. The festival over, we'll pick up the threads and all go back to our busy lives as we enter another year.
The Christmas story goes beyond expectation to embrace need. Whatever we may want or expect, God knows what we need - that is why he sent His son into the world. The story brings a massive awakening for us as we see in an ordinary birth, the seeds of an extraordinary spiritual transformation that will follow.
Matthew’s Gospel invites us to consider that there are no restrictions to who receives, responds and is involved in the story. From a family tree with 4 female leads, to a teenage pregnancy and culminating in Gentile gift bringers, the story illustrates the universal intentions of the Gospel. It’s good news for all
Will we still walk the same way after encountering Jesus or will we “return by another way?”
At the heart of this story is the fact of God identifying himself with His people - those who He desires to save.
Alone amongst world religions, this is the distinguishing - and disarming - mark of Christianity: instead of expecting us to change ourselves, to somehow aspire to raise ourselves to become him, God comes down to us in our frailty.
We'd all like to be part of something special but it can often feel as if we're like the child in the playground who is the last to be picked for the sports team.
Christmas tells us that we are part of something special. Mary was chosen but we are invited to join in with what God had planned through her. Turning the world upside down may not be our first choice for a Christmas present but that's the result of God's coming to live in our neighbourhood.
When God shows up, it can be fearful and threatening. Immanuel might not always seem to be soft and fluffy and affirming. Jesus can convince us that God’s love is tough, He calls us through His love to walk with him to confront the world about a new a living Way….The Way of the Lord Jesus Christ
How can we reconcile the idea of servanthood with God's call to some to assume leadership positions?
Discipleship is not blind obedience but guided (directed) growth. When there is no guidance, no oversight and no vision, God's people lose sight of the greater goals of living by God's standards to bring about God's purposes (His Kingdom).
The wonderful thing about prayer is that it never remains unanswered. There may be times when we do not get the answer or response we want or are expecting. Then, God's reply to our enquiry helps us to learn more about ourselves, our circumstances and Him.
Miission Update. Meg Atkinson will be sharing about her work with SASRA
Remembrance stands as an example and a corrective to a nihilistic, fatalistic, self obsessed, selfish world. It points us beyond ourselves to recognise and to be thankful to those who have given so much to and for us. It also calls us to examine our hearts because it begs the question: what might sacrifice look like for you and I?
On a human level, such recollections are essential if we are to understand how we arrived at today and how we might to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes of the past. They tell us of the courage, the sacrifice and the offering of others, extended to us and those like us.
The laws (as a whole) reveal to us the basic morality required by God. What makes the Ten Commandments unique is the character of the God who gave them. Without God, the Commandments lose their distinctiveness
Jesus certainly knew the Law and often referred to it. It is possible to say that Jesus was both a critic of the Law and a supporter of it. What, though, do we make of Jesus' apparent addition to the laws – the new command of John 13:34? Does that contradict what God has already said or is this Grace the natural outworking of our relationship with God?
Passion for God is not the expression of powerful emotions nor is it a last resort when all else has fails and we are really up against it
Passion is the very real and urgent sense that God – and our growing relationship with Him – is so important that we simply have to keep on working at it, involving Him at every turn, following where he is leading. Passion is driven from what’s within but what’s within is only there because God put it there
God’s call to serve does not necessarily come to those who we expect - the articulate, the power brokers, the influential. God uses those who will put aside self to ensure that it is the Kingdom of God that is being built
Are we listening to God more than we listen to ourselves or our culture? How can we ensure that God’s voice can be heard? How ready are we to leave the past behind? (Not total rejection but recognising its worth and building on achievements, failures & lessons)
Living out our real faith in the real world is often risky and scary. If we aren’t willing to take risky steps of faith in our lives and in our prayers, we will never know just how much God loves us to ask Him for help for ourselves and others and we will never experience the power of God at work in our lives.
The challenge is to be people who say “yes” when God asks us to do something and get on and do it - even when we don’t know how that will “pan out”