Sunday 21st June 2020
James Chapter 1
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
This book was written to Jewish believers who were persecuted for their faith and had fled Jerusalem as refugees, looking for new places to live and work; battling homesickness; experiencing poverty, rejection, sadness and difficulties of many kinds. They were figuring out how to live the Christian life in new contexts, under completely new circumstances. Their experience James identifies as being “tested.”
This week we moved the carpet in the creche at church and underneath the carpet were news papers from 1997, The Times and the Guardian (we must have had very discerning church member in those days). It was so noticeable as we looked at the papers, the way life and so many things have changed.
Often, we don’t like change. The Jewish Christians that James was writing to, had to endure these changes and ‘tests’.
After the pandemic has gone our life, and that of Church Fellowship might well be a challenge due to politics and people’s change in life style, so we need to be ready! James gives us a few pointers to being prepared...
Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith produces endurance. “Consider it”, is a decision, a conscious choice about what value to put on an experience.
Our feelings may be negative. The trials unpleasant. A trial shows what we are capable of. Is our faith strong and capable, mature?
Our trials are opportunities. We can look at them as good and beneficial to us, not evil sprung on us by a malicious God. We can “reckon” them on life’s balance sheet to be “all joy.”
‘Staying under’ the trials and behaving in a Godly way through them is very important because it leads to the final goal--- that we are being made, “mature and complete, lacking in nothing”. The problem is that sometimes, we don’t know how to behave or what is the way to ‘let’ or ‘allow’ endurance to have its good result. So often when we are going through a trial our emotions are high and our minds are confused.
If we persevere under the trial, though, not only can we fully expect God to give us wisdom, but we can also look forward to receiving an eternal reward when Jesus comes back, the “crown of life” which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. It's often a hard challenge but perseverance through our trials not only results in our own character being strengthened and perfected, it also serves Jesus, and demonstrates to everyone that we truly love Him and brings glory to God.
Give thanks to God for the hope we have in Jesus. Thank Him for His word that reveals Jesus to us. Pray for a greater desire to read, study and meditate on God's word.
Pray for our world and against the spikes in Covid -19 that are being reported, that they will be halted and will not result in lockdown eases being reversed.
Pray for wisdom and clarity for those working on a vaccine for Covid-19. Pray that people will be able to create, make and distribute this soon.
Thank God for the many children and young people going back to school over these last weeks. Pray for their protection and any anxieties they may be experiencing. Pray also for all the teachers and support staff.
Matthew Chapter 11 verses 1 to 19
After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’
4 Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
‘“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you."
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.
16 ‘To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others:
17 ‘“We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.”
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.” 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.’
this week's sermon
1. It’s OK to come to God and ask big questions, if we don’t how will our views on the big questions of life be shaped, such as Why are we here? What happens when we die? What is good & evil? What is it to be human?
What are the dangers if we don’t think and ask?
2. Jesus points to the Word of God to show who he is. What obstacles are in your life to going deeper into the Bible and spending time with God?
3. We also need to have ears that hear. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to seek and listen to God through his word and prayer.
A helpful book you could read is:
young people and children's resources
Hope you are excited as we go in to week six of our 10 week series looking at the Bible.
Today we start our 5 week look at the New Testament and the question of who is Jesus.
This week we are thinking about the fact that Jesus is God. To download the craft plus a bonus worksheet click here
The Bible Project - Image of God
This week’s video and readings look at the fact the Bible says we are created in the Image of God. We read a few weeks ago that in the beginning God created humans, male and female, in His image. That all of us bear the image of God is an amazing truth the Bible tells us and shows we should act towards all people with love and respect. We also see in the Bible and the world around us that humans are both weak and vulnerable but also able and called to rule the world on God’s behalf. The Coronavirus has shown us just how fragile life is, but the story of Jesus offers hope. Jesus put himself forward as the truly human one, the ultimate image of God, whose sacrificial love saved us and opened up a new future for all creation.
Bible Readings :
15 No one can see God, but Jesus Christ is exactly like him. He ranks higher than everything that has been made. 16 Through his power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, all powers, authorities, lords, and rulers. All things were made through Christ and for Christ. 17 He was there before anything was made, and all things continue because of him. 18 He is the head of the body, which is the church. Everything comes from him. He is the first one who was raised from the dead. So in all things Jesus has first place. 19 God was pleased for all of himself to live in Christ. 20 And through Christ, God has brought all things back to himself again—things on earth and things in heaven. God made peace through the blood of Christ’s death on the cross.
8 But now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk. 9 Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before. 10 You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God. 11 In the new life there is no difference between Greeks and Jews, those who are circumcised and those who are not circumcised, or people who are foreigners, or Scythians. There is no difference between slaves and free people. But Christ is in all believers, and Christ is all that is important.
12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. 14 Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body to have peace. Always be thankful. 16 Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and instruct each other by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.
In these verses, Paul tells us Jesus is “the image of the invisible God,” Jesus is the real king of creation but he loved us so much he died on our behalf. Paul also writes that Jesus’ followers are being made new, like Jesus. This should make us more compassionate, kind, humble, and loving.
If someone asked you what Jesus is like, what would you say?
How do you think Jesus helps us become more like Him?
Both of these passages show us God wants to bring people together through Jesus.
How can we actively participate in bringing people together?