Peace

Peace

Jesus’ farewell discussion, which commences in John 13, consists of discussions of honest questions, which sound like many of the things about which we wonder today. In John14.1-14, Thomas and Phillip ask Jesus great questions, and Jesus attempts to reassure his disciples as he answers these questions.  Even though we call him doubting Thomas, his questioning suggests that he has very well-developed thinking skills.

At The Church of the Good Shepherd today, it is interesting to us that the disciples wondered, since Jesus was leaving, who would be the shepherd who knows the names of his sheep, protects, and provides what is needed? However, Jesus said, “Don’t worry. Trust God and trust me”. Jesus commands that the disciples’ hearts not be troubled, but they should replace being troubled with belief or trust. Therefore, Jesus begins with reassurance. Although they were seeking consolation, both Thomas and Philip continue to be troubled. Do we worry too much today rather than living through faith?

What effect does absolute faith and trust have on who we are and our relationships with other people? A short film clip from “Les Miserables” will start us thinking about how showing kindness, love, faith and trust in a person can completely change that person. “Les Miserables” is the story of Jean Valijean, who at a time of civil unrest in France, was imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. After his release from prison, a bishop shows him kindness, faith and trust that he would become an honest man and live a good life. Jean eventually experienced the peace of a life lived through faith, love and forgiveness.

I hope that you have a week full of blessings,

Debra

Ralph’s Message

In today’s lectionary reading (Luke 13:10-17) Jesus challenges the ways that Pharisees, elders and teachers of the Jewish Law were interpreting their scriptures and conducting their worship.

My encouragement for the congregation this week: We must to let Jesus challenge the way we read scripture, and we have to let Jesus challenge the way we do church. The only way we’ll have a church full of young people like we did last week is to allow young people to shape the service in a way that speaks to them.

I don’t want you to shy away from reading scripture! I want you to read scripture regularly, confidently and well! Here is ONE process for studying a passage of scripture:

  1. PRAY before reading scripture. Pray trusting that God will give you wisdom.
  1. 4-Step process for developing an understanding of scripture: “O.I.C.A.”

O: Observation: who what when where why how

CONTEXT and CONTENT are what you are aiming to understand.

who is writing? who are they writing to? when were they writing? where are they writing?

what was happening at the time? what issues were they addressing? (why are they writing?)

Use as many or as few tools (dictionaries, concordances, translations, but not commentaries yet) as you have to gain understanding of the passage.

I: Interpretation

what does this passage say to you, here, now? God always speaks through scripture – he longs to communicate with you – what is he saying here?

C: Correlation

Do other passages of scripture say similar things? Does this interpretation fit with everything else that I know about God and scripture? Do other members of the Christian community think that this is a reasonable way to understand this passage? You can compare your understanding with those of other Bible Commentaries at this stage if you want to.

A: Application

God gives us scripture to convict us and to encourage us (2 Tim 2:2, Heb 4:12), so that we will be transformed into the people he made us to be, children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). What things must you do or not do as a result of reading this passage?

  1. PRAY for wisdom to understand and for courage to do what must be done.
  1. TELL someone what you have read and what you think God is telling you through that passage.

This reading shows the Pharisees, who have studied the law all their lives, being told that their understanding was flawed. Let’s strive to always trust and follow the living Christ, rather than cling to the understandings and practices that are holding us back.

May your times alone with God and together with fellow believers be abundantly fruitful!

Loving God

Loving God

Today we have a cooperative service with our brothers and sisters from YWAM. The theme is God’s love for all children of God, whether they as young, older, male, female, of different culture or ethnicity, and whatever gifts and abilities they use in service of the Lord. We will consider the Gospel account of the prodigal son, who made a poor choice, but afterwards returned to the Father and was surrounded by his love.

Next, will look at a clip from “Eddie the Eagle” about Michael Edwards, a British plasterer turned ski jumper, who made a name for himself at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. He did this by being brave, couragous, and daring, through his faith in and inspiration from his coach and mentor, although some considered Eddie to be short on talent.

All of us have times in the journey of our lives when we experience difficulties, some of our own making and some in response to how we are treated by another person. How do we respond to these difficulties? How do people who live through faith in Christ respond to roadblocks and immense difficulties that they might encounter in their journey through life? What helps us to cope with challenges?

Today we will hear from some of our brothers and sisters from YWAM about what sustains them during their lives of faith, service and inclusivity. Thanks to all members of our family for sharing with us today.

Yours in Christ,

Debra

Agape Love

Agape Love

The service today is about the Gospel Reading “Jesus Reinstates Peter”. This could also be called, “Agape Love”, which has always been of fundamental importance to humans. Therefore, the lessons taught to Peter by Jesus in this reading touch the lives of all of us today.

Listen to the Word of God, as well as the short play, which help us to understand and appreciate the immense impact on Peter’s life of his betrayal of Jesus.  Jesus responded by showing grace through reinstating Peter, while teaching him some crucial life lessons. As the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said, God’s agape love is the greatest force in the universe.

 

Yours in Christ

Debra

I Am the Light of the World

I Am the Light of the World

 

The words “I am”, showed the intended audience the connection with Old Testament when God spoke to Moses “I am who I am”.  In the Gospel reading for the Service today, we hear the words of Jesus, “I am the light of the world” …” Whoever follows me will have the light of life and life and will never live in darkness” (John 8:12).

Jesus’ answers these questions, which are possibly the three most important questions in life, in John 8:12. The answers will be discussed today, as well as the significance of Jesus’ Claim. Jesus was making the bold claim to be nothing less than God, who had led the Israelites through the desert. The longed for the Messiah had now arrived.

Jesus used comparisons with physical light to engender understanding of spiritual truths; who Jesus was and his nature and work. Light in our physical world sustains life, and life would be impossible without light.

Since God loved the world, Jesus, the light, was sent into the world so that believers can be saved without judgment. Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus declared the truth, although many people reject that light, for they love the darkness, as John 3:19 states.  As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. For those who do believe, Jesus is a light for us to follow, with Him lighting our path so that we can go His way.

This Gospel reading uses the symbolism of light for believing and living through the love of Christ, which is inspirational for believers. He describes the life of a Christian as opposed to unbelief, where the symbolism is of living with darkness, sin and evil.  We are told that people who believe in Jesus Christ and live through an intimate relationship with Christ are reassured of salvation, since God is always with those who have faith.   Today we are going to receive Holy Communion, which must be received through faith for the true spiritual presence of Christ to be experienced.

What about you? What do you believe about Jesus? He is the light of the world and He gives the light of life if you have faith and follow Him. It does not do you any good to claim to believe in Jesus if you refuse to follow Him and walk in His light. Therefore, live by what you read in the Bible, spend time in prayer and become sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ light will shine through you to others.  Are you walking in the light? What needs to change?

Yours in Christ,

Debra