How do we respond when people ask us about Jesus?

Matt5.16

What would be the first thing you would say to a friend if they came to you asking about Jesus? Would you say that Jesus is your best friend? A historical figure? A religious leader? As we become more mission-minded, it is an important question to know how to answer.

In Matthew 5:16 we see that followers of Jesus are called to shine their light before others. At the core, sharing our faith isn’t about giving someone a lesson of spiritual laws or a heavy theological explanation. It’s about introducing people to someone they can know personally, someone who loves them, someone who will change their lives forever.

The challenge for Christians is to communicate the gospel in a way people can understand. We undertake the awesome task of explaining eternal truths in different ways that will connect to our community today. Our impact in sharing Jesus in our schools, home, community or workplace is directly linked to our knowledge of those around us and our ability to engage with them. 

As we make an effort to understand the people God has placed around us, we will find better ways to engage with and respond to the difficulties and negative perceptions that many have against religion and Christianity.

When God wanted to connect with humanity once and for all, He didn’t write a sermon, He came to visit us in person. Our job is to be His witness, pointing our community to know God, to relate to Him, and to have lives changed by the power of His love and forgiveness. God is a person to know, not a theory to understand.

It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is at work in us, He will always supply the right words to use in season.  When we are willing to pause and ask God to guide and prompt us, you never know what opportunities will appear.

When we allow the love of God to grow within us, dying to our old self and receiving new life, it flows out to everyone around us too.  Consider the incredible calling of sharing Jesus with those around us, begin to ask yourself – “What are the reasons I should share?” and you will find the love of Jesus will stir with you and completely overcome our fears and obstacle to sharing.

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Children’s Club – 29th September 2017

We had a lovely time celebrating Harvest 🍓🥕🍂🌻 The children explored, with awe and wonder, the beautifully decorated chapel before singing and praying to God 🤔🙏🎵This was followed by painting cards before apple and blackberry picking 🎨🍏 Looking forward to all the exciting plans we have in the next few weeks, including a family fun afternoon on Saturday 21st October, 2 p.m. at Victoria Hall and our Light Party on Tuesday 31st at 5.00 p.m. 🎉🎈🕯️😃

September 17th 2017: Alan Davison

Alan Davison - sept 17John 7:1-24

Time, as a concept, has always fascinated humanity. We want time, yet we rush around, which doesn’t help. Blaise Pascal, the French religious philosopher, mathematician and physicist, once wrote, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” In the 1800’s the theory of evolution gained credence, claiming that anything was possible in millions and millions of years. Lord Tennyson, a Christian, wrote:

            Here about the beach I wandered,
Nourishing a youth sublime,
 With the fairy tales of science
                                                 And the long result of time.

Time is very important in the Bible. In today’s popular culture there is more of a focus on time. For example, there are many television programmes featuring time travel. We often think, ‘If only we had time again we could change things, fix things.’ What’s to say by changing a mistake we wouldn’t end up making a worse mistake?

Time is a succession of moments. Biblically, time is part of creation, a possession of God. ‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.’ (Psalm 90:2). Here we have a mixture of tenses; time is past but God is present because God has always been. This psalm was written by Moses, who understood God made time.

‘Behold, God is great, and we know Him not; the number of His years is unsearchable.’ (Job 36:26). We cannot measure God’s existence because He exists outside of time.

‘”I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”’ (Revelation 1:8). Here we have God’s own words. God Himself declares He encompasses all of time. These are weighty concepts.

God acts in time. We see this most clearly in the Incarnation. Being God, Jesus knew the importance of time. Certain events had to happen at the ordained time of the Father. ‘Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.’ (John 7:6). Jesus speaks here of the contrast of man’s use of time and his perceived perception of time.

A time to shine. Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in Him, ‘For not even His brothers believed in Him.’ (John 7:5). The Feast of Tabernacles was so important it was mandated that the Jews attend. Jesus’ brothers may have wanted Jesus to attend out of concern that He had lost followers, ‘After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.’ (John 6:66). Perhaps they thought He could gain more followers, potential recruits, at the Feast. However, they may have had a more sinister motive; it was widely known that the Jews sought to kill Jesus. Perhaps His brothers were suggesting He should go, knowing that this would put Him in danger, even resulting in His death. Most Jews in Jesus’ time were looking for salvation from the Romans. Jesus turned down His brothers’ course of action. His time to shine had not yet come.

We see a contrast in Jesus’ brothers who had time to spare. They were not constrained by time. However, the way we experience time has been ordained by God. Jesus did not go to Jerusalem on a whim but when He was supposed to. He rejected his brothers’ advice. Jesus knew exactly what needed to be done, when it needed to be done and why. As others look at us, how do they see we are living our lives? it needed to be done. How do we value our time? The world says, ‘time is money.’ This is certainly true. We are paid for the time we work and pay others for their time. We talk of ‘spending time.’ This suggests we ourselves think of time as a resource to use as we see fit. ‘Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time. Because the days are evil.’ (Ephesians 5:15-16).

‘Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time’ (Colossians 4:5). To redeem something means to buy it back. The Bible tells us we should be buying time – it’s not our own personal property. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 we read there is a time for everything. We need to ask God for wisdom when a period of rest drifts into wastefulness.

A time to stop. We need to wait on the Lord. ‘After this Jesus went about in Galilee.’ (John 7:1). What did Jesus do as He walked in Galilee? From the other gospels we know Jesus did much, such as feeding the 5000, healing a blind man, being transfigured. However, John speaks of Jesus’ brothers being mean to Him. The Feast of Tabernacles lasted 8 days. This incident takes place midway. For four days Jesus did nothing in Jerusalem. It shows us Jesus was waiting for the Father’s timing. He would have been praying, meditating on Scriptures. There was a growing level of opposition which would have been becoming more and more stressful. People sought to seize Jesus. The Pharisees would ultimately succeed in arresting Jesus – but in God’s time.

If Jesus stopped, we certainly need to stop and evaluate. Do we take time to pray, to read the Scriptures? Do we spend time in prayer, to seek His guidance for the week ahead? If we have time to spare we ought to be putting it to use in a way that is pleasing to our Father, helping others, praying. The activities we do require an act of will.

We too will have a time to shine. Jesus rejected His brothers urging to shine in a way they required. However, Jesus would shine, hanging on a cross, suffering, dying. But in Peter’s sermon we see the Father glorified the Son by raising Him from the dead, ‘The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when He had decided to release Him.’ (Acts 3:13).

Each moment we spend on this earth has been gifted from God. Pray to God He will show us the way to use our time. We live in a fast-paced culture, we need to be serious about shining for Jesus. ‘You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’ (Matthew 5:14-16). We are the light of the world, His followers. Our light should shine before men, it’s reflecting from Jesus Himself, pointing to the ultimate light of the world.

 

Contact The Elderly – 10th September 2017

We have had a blessed afternoon sharing fellowship at our monthly Contact the Elderly UK afternoon tea. It was a wonderful time to sit down and chat with senior citizens in our community, who were also delighted to receive cards made by our Women’s Fellowship. Gareth Edwards spoke of the importance of friendship, reminding us that Jesus sticks closer than a brother. Once again a huge thank you to drivers, hosts and bakers of truly delicious quiches, cakes and sandwiches. Looking forward to next month 

September 10th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian-September 17Hebrews 10: 23-2, Holding Fast Together

There’s a battle waging for the souls of God’s people today. Whilst our God leads His people, He calls them together to encourage each other to look to Him. It’s a team effort. A top priority of the Christian life is learning to battle against unbelief. Now we are Christians it’s a wrong notion to think the battle is over. Have we allowed our unbelief to creep in through the back door? Paul’s closing remarks to Timothy are, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul had fought the good fight all his Christian life. One way he did this was to surround himself with faithful believers.

  • Holding fast together:

Hebrew 10-23
The biggest battle we face is unbelief. When we make a public confession of faith through baptism it should serve as a strong motivation to hold fast when we’re tempted to disbelief, to compromise. Holding fast implies there is some serious danger, serious difficulty. What persecutions are you facing? We are persecuted in different ways. We may yet face our greatest persecutions. We should be ready. We all face the pressure of conformity of the world; it is easier to blend in than to stand. The writer of Hebrews wants us to hold fast, not to let go. Christians have a firm grip on Jesus Christ. We are being kept, not ultimately because of our grip on Christ, but because of His grip on us. Keep on holding on to the one who will never leave or forsake you. Hold fast without wavering.

  • Keep your hope:

Hope points to the absolute certainty, but not yet realised promises of God. He who promised is faithful. We put our trust in Him. Are you trusting the faithful God, trusting Him to complete what He has already done? Hope is essential for the Christian life. It’s like a long rope that keeps us attached to the sovereign God. Hope is grounded on the historical life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. ‘So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.’ (Hebrews 6:18-20).

Throughout the storms of life, the pressures to conform to this world, the anchor that holds us is Jesus, our rock. Let us pray for one another that we will continue to hold fast in faith. An incredible future awaits us. Life is tough, pray that we will be granted a clearer vision of heaven to come, see the beautiful shores that await us.

  • Encourage each other to love.

‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.’ (Hebrew 10: 24-25).

Continually minister to one another. ‘Shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is half the sorrow.’ (Swedish motto). Be involved, like co-workers, team-workers, rejoicing with those who rejoice, mourning with those who mourn. ‘But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.’ (Ecclesiastes 4:10). When a person struggles spiritually that person needs those who will help him out of the ditch. Find help from others. We also need others because of their skills and their gifts. We’re a team, we do not excel each other; we depend on each other. The command here is ‘to consider’ how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds – to encourage others around you to love and good deeds. To consider is to give thought about how it is going to happen. Ask ‘What does the person need to grow to encourage them to look to Christ and to encourage them?’ How do we do this? It’s very important not to neglect to meet together. It’s so discouraging when people allow the world’s priorities to crowd in and neglect meeting together. We should encourage one another. The devil is trying hard to attack God’s people, to remove their confidence in Christ. 

Hebrew 10-23-24
We should be filled with joy because of Jesus’ return. We should meet together to have encouragement, to see a glimpse of heaven. We have three meetings here a week in Penuel which we can attend. We can see the power of Christ. He is keeping His people. Our gatherings are to be encouraging, pointing us to heaven. Are you aware Jesus is coming? These are difficult days but we need to gather together, to press on, looking in hope to Jesus’ return.

 

September 3rd 2017: Norman Rees

Norman Rees-Sept 17II Kings 6:1-7

Elisha was a great man of God. Jesus refers to him in the New Testament. Elisha was used by God, he had a mighty portion of God’s Spirit resting on him. He was a teacher of students. They lived in Gilga, an important place in the Bible. This was where Joshua camped, it was where men were circumcised, where Samuel preached. There was a college in Gilga where Elisha taught the students. They sat at his feet and learnt from Elisha. Elisha loved the Lord. God used him greatly. The students were greatly blessed and grew in number. As they increased, they asked Elisha if they could move and build a bigger place.


They suggested to Elisha that they moved to the Jordan and live there. They would have water (there was a drought in Gilga), and they could expand the work and live for God, then go out themselves as prophets. The young men wanted the counsel of Elisha and asked him if they could go. He said yes, but they wanted him to go with them, ‘Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”’ (II Kings 6:3). They were keen for Elisha to go with them so they could learn more from him. So Elisha moved with them from Gilga, walking 35 miles to the Jordan across rough terrain to serve the Lord.

The students cut down trees to make booths. They used axes. They were poor. One of the students did not have an axe but he wanted to join in, so he borrowed an axe. However, as he hammered away at a tree the iron axe-head flew off into the water and sank. Panic set in. The River Jordan is a fast flowing river, there was no chance of rescuing the axe-head. Yet the young man was conscious that he was responsible and needed to make good, he knew he had to pay back what he had lost. He was distressed he had lost something belonging to someone else. He was poor. God chooses poor people. We should be ready to serve Him.

The young man was part of a team – he didn’t want to let the team down. We need to be careful of the way we act. The man cried out to his Elisha, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.” (II Kings 6:5). He went to Elisha, to the right place, to the man of God. We believe God is sovereign. We may pray in the morning, ‘I’m in your hands Lord, whatever happens today is in your control.’ God is involved in all situations, even when things don’t go our way. God sends these things that can affect our reaction. We have a conscience to admit when we’re wrong. The Lord allows these things to test us. What is important is how we react. The student went to his master, Elisha. We go to a greater Master, Christ. People view our reactions, they should see Christ in us.

Elisha was concerned for the young man. He asked, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float.’ (II Kings 6:6). Elisha did not tell the young man off. When things in our life go wrong, Jesus asks us to tell Him about it. He knows our situation, He knows our thoughts.

Elisha lived close to God and knew the Lord. The student showed him where the axe-head fell. Elisha then threw a stick into the water and the iron axe-head floated to the surface of the water. A miracle was worked by God through Elisha. God made gravity, God can overcome gravity – as He did when Jesus ascended into heaven. God can make the impossible possible. The situation was hopeless to humans but not to God.

We pray for the axe-heads, sinners sunk in sin. Every one of us is born in sin. We pray for people, maybe for many years, who have sunken iron hearts, sunken in sin. What is your axe-head this morning? God is the God of the impossible, the God of grace, the God of Salvation. God will bring an end to the Devil, an end to sin. Christ can save you, He saved me, He can save anyone. Elisha is no longer on the earth, he’s in heaven, but his God is still here on earth.

Whatever give us anxieties, take it to God. God is a God of the impossible. He will deliver. Be sure to glorify Him and praise Him. Praise Him more.