Sunday 29th March 2020
It’s been an uncertain week again for all of us, and yet in the midst of it all, we have seen God's goodness and faithfulness throughout.
The idea and reality of social distancing and isolation is difficult for us all, especially in the light of how we have been created. In Genesis 2, when God looks at His creation, he looks at the pinnacle of it all, Adam, and says, "it is not good that the man should be alone". We were made for community, for relationship with God and with each other.
In this period of 'online church' God has been reminding me from His word the cost of Him coming near to us. In Philippians Chapter 2 verses 5 to 8, it tells us,
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!
Jesus willingness to leave His glory in heaven to become one of us so that we, through faith, have the right to be called His brothers and sisters, shows us the depths of His love, which in these uncertain times can give us the peace and comfort we truly need.
In my readings this week I have been in John's Gospel. Chapter 1 is an incredible explanation from John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that Jesus (the Word) was there in the beginning and created all things. John is telling us that Jesus is God. Further on, John then tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The eternal, all powerful God took on flesh.
My reading notes for that day said that the Latin word for flesh 'carnis', it's the source for our word incarnation, and also less impressively the origin of chilli con carne (literally chilli with meat).
My mind was blown again as I thought about Jesus being confined to a human body. I had been thinking about how our family and others would cope with being confined for maybe a couple of weeks before reading these verses, and afterwards suddenly it didn't seem such a big deal.
Now this whole situation is undoubtedly very serious and may take a long time to recover from, but as Christians our ultimate hope is not in the here and now but in a God who displayed His love for us by coming along side us in our greatest need.
These unprecedented times give us an opportunity to spend even more time investing in our relationship with God. When we do His word promises us that...
the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4 v 7)
What comfort and assurance that brings us in the middle of life's storms.
For His Glory
Please pray for each other as we miss meeting together. Pray that God would stir up more love for Him and each other as we look forward to meeting again in person.
Thank God for the ways in which we have seen His goodness and faithfulness in the middle of this storm. For the lessons He is teaching us during these strange times.
Please pray for our government. For wisdom and compassion. Also for the key workers who are providing much needed support for those in need.
Please pray that God will continue to teach us more of His great love and provision as we lean not on our own understanding but trusting in Him.
Matthew Chapter 8 verses 28 to 34
Jesus heals two men with demons
When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 ‘What do you want with us, Son of God?’ they shouted. ‘Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?’
30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, ‘If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’
32 He said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
this week's sermon
1. We see Jesus goes to “the other side” to bring people into his kingdom. How has God been at work in your life in order to bring you to Jesus or if you’re not a Christian yet, have there been circumstances where you feel God is drawing you to him ?
2. Jesus walks straight into this chaotic situation where death & fear reign in order to free and bring life. Think about life at the moment, what are these verses showing us about who Jesus is?
3. The people of the town plead with Jesus to leave because their pig business has gone. What is standing in your way of going deeper into a relationship with Jesus?
4. Take time to reflect on the world at the moment and to thank God for the certain hope we have in Jesus. Come to him in prayer.
young people and children's resources
This week's Junior Church topic is the Last Supper. Watch the video below where James explains all about why Jesus and his friends were having a special meal together then download the activities above to think about the story even more.
This week's back room topic was (and is) Sharing our Faith. Below is a video which is part of a series of 10 aimed at helping you think about how to do just that. The other videos in the series will be posted too in the coming weeks.
Before you watch the video, read what some people describe as the most powerful chapter in the Bible...Romans Chapter 8. In many ways it sums up the Gospel, the good news about Jesus. When you read, think about what Jesus has done for you, what a difference the verses tell us that makes and how it is also good news for our friends and family...then watch the video and think about the challenges the guys in it set.