Privileges

We shower daily, while others bathe in dirty rivers occasionally.

We eat three meals a day, plus unneeded snacks, while others starve.

We sleep warm and soundly while others can never rest.

We have closets filled with unworn clothing, while others wear all they have each day.

We have extended families, while others live alone.

We own homes, sometimes more than one, while others are homeless.

We enjoy safety, while others live with death, war, and violence daily.

We work or change jobs, while others beg for minimal survival.

We travel extensively and freely, while others live their whole lives where they were born.

We attend schools and continuing education, while others suffer illiteracy.

We make and protect retirement plans, while others die far too early in poverty.

We have extensive medical systems, while others have no health care and die early.

Unlike millions around the world, we are inordinately blessed, tempted to assume our rights to these gifts, even to fighting for them, and frequently misusing these privileges which are on loan from God. (PETE HAMMOND)

In Matthew 25:31-46, the righteous weren’t even aware they’d been compassionate and that they were serving Jesus, because it was a natural outflow of their faith. They weren’t trying to earn their way to heaven; they were just doing what Christians do. That’s because people saved by God and changed by God start loving what God loves and doing what God does. A big part of that is responding to those in need—not to gain heaven because we have heaven; not to get saved because we are saved. The point of Matthew 25:31-46 is not to scare people into serving the poor, but that serving the poor is a significant part of what it means to love God and love others. (EAGLE BROOK CHURCH)

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

• Who are the least of these in your community?

• How do you serve the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned?

• Is it duty-bound, or is it a natural outflow of your faith?

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Rejoicing In Suffering

It is clear from this that Christians are expected to experience suffering. Those who think that becoming a Christian will remove them from suffering have been seriously misled, for the Scriptures themselves teach that we are to expect suffering.

The Greek word for suffering is translated as “tribulation, something that causes distress.” It can range from minor annoyances that we go through every day, to major disasters that come sweeping down out of the blue and leave us stricken and smitten. These are the sufferings that we might go through, the tribulations.

According to Romans 5, the Christian response to suffering is to rejoice: “Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings.” Here is where many people balk. They say, “I can’t buy that! Do you mean to say that God is telling me that when I am hurting and in pain, I am expected to be glad and rejoice in that? That is not human, not natural!”

How do you get to the place where you can rejoice in suffering? Paul’s answer is, “We rejoice in suffering because we know…” What do we know? Paul says, “Knowing that suffering produces…” Suffering does something, accomplishes something. It is productive. We know it works, and that is what makes us rejoice. Watch a woman in labor. You can’t help but feel deeply hurt with her because she is going through such pain. And yet, there usually is joy in the midst of it because she knows that childbirth produces children. There are many women who will gladly go through childbirth because they want a child. Suffering produces something worthwhile.

Then what does suffering produce? Paul says there are three things that suffering produces: First, suffering produces perseverance. The Greek word literally means “to abide under, to stay under the pressure.” Pressure is something we want to get out from under, but suffering teaches us to stay under, to stick in there and hang with it. The best translation I can think of is the English word steadiness. Suffering produces steadiness.

Second, steadiness produces character. The Greek word for character carries with it the idea of being put to the test and approved. It is the idea of being shown to be reliable. You finally learn that you are not going to be destroyed, that things will work out. People start counting on you. They see strength in you, and you become a more reliable person.

Third, we find that reliability produces something. Reliability produces hope. The hope is that we will share the glory of God, which is God’s character. We have the hope that God is producing the image of Christ in us. This hope is a certainty, not just a possibility. We are being changed. We are becoming more like Jesus. We can see that we are more thoughtful, more compassionate, more loving. We are being mellowed. We are becoming like Christ — stronger, wiser, purer, more patient. He is transforming us into the image of His Son. (RAY STEDMAN)

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Fear And Faith

In Mark 5:21-43, we have one story and two miracles. One miracle is in favour of a socially and religiously prominent official, the other for a ‘nobody’. One of our characters in the miracle story has a name (Jarius) the other is unnamed. One made a request in faith for a healing, while the other, in fear, ‘stole’ a healing in faith. Never have two narratives been married so beautifully to instill faith, and cast out fear.

The miracle stories sandwiched one into the other, give us an insight into the revolutionary social mind of Jesus which knew no boundaries. Jesus was touched by a haemorrhaging woman and He himself touched a dead girl; two ritually impure strike outs for Jesus as per Jewish law. Yet, He is least ‘afraid’ of external norms and looks for faith, and encourages faith in both seekers.

In the narrative of the haemorrhaging woman, she is declared faithful by Jesus, “your faith has made you well.” In the other case, Jairus is encouraged to retain his faith, even in the face of death, “Do not fear, only believe.” The first is descriptive, the second prescriptive. Mark, in his Gospel constantly brings out the themes of fear and faith, and fear in faith.

Jesus has just returned from driving out a legion of demons from a man in Gentile territory. The response of the people of the village was fear, even though they recognized a miracle in faith. Yet they ask Him to leave their country. The woman in this story has faith yet she fears that her touch would pollute Jesus, rendering Him impure, or perhaps the fear that her faith was not strong enough. Then there is the faltering faith of Jairus, who has just been told that his daughter has passed away and is obviously in fear, prompting Jesus to boost his fearful faith with the words, “do not fear, only believe” (faith).

The woman fears doctors whom she had to deal with for twelve long years, doctors at whose hands she ‘suffered’, and who rendered her penniless with no respite for her condition. Yet it is the fear of more suffering, that drives her to faith in this Rabbi, Jesus.

It is with fear that the woman admits her faith healing. From her, the discharge of blood had been healed, while from Him ‘power’ has been discharged. Jesus may have not known “who,” was the cause of His power being discharged, but the woman certainly knows “what” caused the power to be discharged. With her fear being replaced by faith she went from being a ‘woman’ to becoming a ‘daughter’ and while the daughter was being acclaimed for her faith, another daughter was lost, only to be raised in faith.

Today, where do you need to experience Jesus? Is there something that you are holding back in fear? Whatever it is, Jesus can bring healing to that situation if you will seek Him. Allow your fear to melt into faith. (FR WARNER D’SOUZA)

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What Does It Mean That God Is Sovereign?

The Bible describes God as One who is sovereign. But what does that really mean? As I investigated further, I learned that God makes numerous claims about Himself in the Bible and points to Himself as the ultimate source of all power, authority, and everything that exists. God claims to be the King, not just of this planet, but also of the entire universe.

He is without equal: He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, without limitation in any way. He is outside of time. He is infinite. He had no beginning and He has no end. He is the ruler of everything.

He existed before anything else and He holds all creation together. (Colossians 1:17)

When I think of God’s sovereignty, the phrase I like best is that “God is in control.” And that’s such a comfort. Here’s why. When a loved one lies in a hospital bed, God is in control. When we think of our most difficult times with a child, God is in control. When a close friend is in ICU, God is in control. When the economy — national or personal — is on a slide, God is in control.

God’s sovereignty means that there isn’t anything that will enter your life that God does not either decree or allow. And nothing will ever enter your life that, if you are willing to trust in Him, He cannot work out for your good.

In light of this, how do you typically respond when things are out of your control, when stuff happens you don’t like but can’t do anything about?

When you’re in a jam and you need to ask God for something in prayer — are you aware of whom you’re talking to? The One to whom you pray has power over the entire universe, over every single atom, and yet He is infinitely loving and He cares about you. That’s whom you’re talking to.

That’s also why we worship Him.

God is more powerful, more loving, and more in control than we’ve ever imagined. The more we begin to see God as He longs for us to see Him, the more our prayers will change and our faith will be transformed. We will experience peace like never before. (CHIP INGRAM)

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A Lesson About Storms

Storms do not worry Jesus. He’s right there with us during them, but He’s perfectly calm about them. He isn’t terrified; He isn’t impatient; He isn’t worried. In fact, He’s so calm, He’s asleep. To us, He seems to have failed to attend to His responsibility to protect
us. We wonder why on earth He doesn’t get up and do something. We start to wonder whether He even knows the trouble we’re in. Whether He cares. Whether He even can do anything about it. Whether He’s really all He’s cracked up to be.

Like the disciples, we believe He’s there. In the disciples’ case, they could actually see Him lying there asleep. We don’t have that luxury. We believe He’s there, but most of the time He seems just as asleep as He was during the storm that day on the Sea of Galilee. The psalmist had the same lament in Psalm 44:23-24: “Awake, Lord! Why do You sleep? Rouse Yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do You hide Your face and forget our misery and oppression?”

The not-so-obvious lesson is that Jesus was just as much in control, and the disciples were just as safe in His hands, while He was asleep as while He was awake. Most of the time, life seems like a relentless voyage from one storm to the next. At least it does for me, and I expect it’s the same for you. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that during storms I’m usually a scared rabbit just like Jesus’ disciples were.

But I’m also learning that I can take heart in knowing that Jesus isn’t scared, and He isn’t depressed. He might be asleep, or He might not be, but either way, like the song says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” Even if He doesn’t wake up and quiet the storm, I’m safe with Him. And if He does wake up and quiet the storm, He’s probably going to say: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

And I can live with that.

Reflection:

 Does it sometimes seem that God is ignoring you when you need Him most?
 Has a trial you’ve gone through made you stronger spiritually?
 Do you feel that Jesus should keep you from going through trials?
 When was your faith most tested?
 Why does God let us suffer trials if He loves us? (J. MICHAEL FEAZELL)

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No Saturday Service on 01 June 2019

Please note there will be
NO SATURDAY SERVICE
on 1st June 2019
We invite you to our
Family Camp!

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The Proper Use Of Words

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29)

How do we express our perception of people? Probably by what we say to them. Studies have shown that, in the average home, for every positive statement, a child receives ten negative statements. The school environment is only slightly better; students hear seven negative statements form their teachers for every one positive statement. No wonder so many children are growing up feeling that they are losers. Parents and teachers are conveying that perception every day in how they talk to their children.

These studies go on to point out that it takes four positive statements to negate the effect of one negative statement. You probably verify that finding every time you wear a new suit or dress. A number of your friends may say, “Oh, what a good-looking outfit.” But it only takes one comment like “It’s really not you” to send you scurrying back to the store for a refund. We affect others significantly by what we say about them, and what we say is significantly determined by how we perceive them.

If we could memorize just one verse from the New Testament, put it into practice and never violate it, I believe we would resolve half to three-fourths of the problems in our homes and churches. The verse is Ephesians 4:29. Isn’t it amazing that you and I have the power to give grace to others through the proper use of our words? If we said nothing to put others down, and only built up others as Ephesians 4:29 commands, we would be part of God’s construction crew in the church instead of members of Satan’s wrecking crew.

Prayer: Father, I know my tongue is capable of blessing or cursing others. Guard my words so I may edify others through what I say. In Jesus’ name. Amen
(DAILY IN CHRIST by NEIL & JOANNE ANDERSON)

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The Blessing Of Brokenness

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. (Psalms 51:16-17)

When you have sinned, you feel bad – sometimes terrible. You speak out confession, hoping never to do it again. Perhaps you even cry out for mercy. You wonder if you’ve done enough to make things right. What is God looking for?

Brokenness. David acknowledged that he could offer sacrifice after sacrifice, but that’s not what God really desires. There is a contriteness of spirit, a brokenness that really pleases God.

Where does this brokenness come from? First, it comes from a right perspective of your sin. When you recognize that you have offended God first and foremost, a deep sobering enters into your spirit. When you feel bad about your sin, is it because you were caught, ashamed or embarrassed? Are you annoyed with the consequences? This will not bring brokenness into your spirit.

When you recognize that you have offended the most loving, most beautiful, and most powerful One in the universe, your stubbornness begins to break. Now begin to cry out to God for a revelation of how your sin affects His heart. He grieves over anything that would separate you from Him.

David caught the heart of God. He desperately wanted to be clean before his Maker. He wasn’t content to apologize. He wanted more… a softened spirit, one that felt God’s heart. That was true humility. He wanted nothing to do with paying penance for his sins. Only a broken spirit would be sufficient.

Run from trite apologies. Jesus paid for your sins. Don’t try to do that. But you can run toward brokenness. Ask God for His perspective on your sin. Call out for revelation on the grieving heart of God. Brokenness will come. (CLIFF WRENER)

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