June 10th 2018: Alan Davison

alan davison-june18‘Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Hebrews 12:2)

The word ‘author’ comes from the Greek ‘archegos’ and only appears four times in the scriptures: Acts 3:15, Acts 5:31, Hebrews 2:10 and Hebrews 12:2. The word has been translated in different versions of the Bible and includes prince, captain, leader and founder. It is a word so heavy in meaning that lots of different words can be used to describe it. Today, we will focus on three of these descriptions: author, pioneer and captain.

Jesus is the author of our faith. In literary terms the author is the one who determines the story, how characters are introduced and interact and how the story ends. Before creation, the trinity had already planned how humanity would be redeemed.

In Ephesians 2:8-10 we read that our faith is a gift of God. Jesus is also the finisher of our faith. Our faith is also of Christ, not just the start but the ending. It is ongoing. This is a great encouragement to us to know our faith is of God Himself.

In Hebrews 12:1 we read that those who have gone before us cheer us on as well as Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate encourager. He has ascended, further glorified, and now resides in heaven in His resurrection body. The joy that was set before Jesus is also the joy He sets before us. Christ is watching over us, just as is the great cloud of witnesses. We are to run race by looking to Jesus – He’s not only watching us, but watching us from the finishing post. Distractions for us tend to come from the side or from within. We are to lay aside every weight, every sin. Jesus alone is the one we are to look to along the race of life.

Author can also be translated as pioneer – a pathfinder or a trail blazer, someone who goes first. We see this in 1 Corinthians 15. As our pioneer Jesus has gone first. He has experienced first what we will experience.

Jesus became our captain through being our pioneer and leading our way. Jesus is the perfect model that we are to follow but He also makes it possible for us to follow Him. Jesus had to suffer on our behalf to make our salvation complete and perfect. He left nothing to chance, it doesn’t depend on our works. As He blazed the trail He endured the cross, obtaining salvation for His people. Jesus is to be revered as our prince.

As our pioneer Jesus shows us that death is not the end – it’s the path to glory. True followers of Christ will suffer. We shouldn’t be surprised when it happens. Following in the footsteps of the pioneer, Jesus wants us to be able to face the trials ahead. We panic when something happens that distresses us. Yet God watches over us. At a whistle from God, Satan scurries away. We will all face troubles in our lives. Every day, God watches us, He is always there, looking after His children.

As He continues to lead us, He does so as a captain. We are to be looking unto Jesus as we set out on this race of life. There is also a military connotation. We need God’s guidance in our individual lives but also as a group. Jesus will lead His troops home. Jesus’ wounds were necessary to make the victory for us. We gain entry into heaven because He laid down His life for us. His death resulted in victory – resurrection and salvation for all His people.

Jesus is also a model of obedience – He followed His Father’s will. He has ascended. He is now exalted for what He has done for His people. He has returned to a position of supremacy. His earthly ministry is complete, yet His work goes on. He now sits in glory and knows His earthly work is complete. He planned all that came about before time. He is our captain, leading us forward in our Christian lives, the author of our faith and our salvation.

 

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Painting at Penuel

PaintingPenuel.png

📣 We are excited to announce our new community group, Painting at Penuel, starting Wednesday 13th June. 🎨 A great opportunity to socialise over a cuppa , meet new people, and get creative! 🙂 Beginners welcome as well as those who already have a love of painting.✍️

The background picture on the poster was painted by Mr Graham Collier, who will be leading the sessions and giving encouragement every Wednesday. Suitable for all ages!🎨🎉😊

Every Wednesday in the Chapel Vestry.
2:00– 5:00 p.m.  Drop in or come for the whole session
All materials will be provided for FREE.  A warm welcome awaits! 🌟🎨🎉

June 3rd 2018: Norman Rees

Norman Rees-May18II Corinthians 12: 1-10

Paul is one of the greatest, dearest men of God, yet he probably suffered more than any other Christian. He suffered for the Lord as He lived for Christ. He was very modest, not even referring to himself by name in this passage, but calling himself ‘a man in Christ.’

The Lord has ways of keeping us humble. Paul had a ‘thorn in the flesh’ (verse 7). He prayed to God three times to have it removed. His prayer is very earnest. We are not told what the thorn in the flesh was, but the Lord did not remove it. Instead, Paul was told, “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9). The emphasis is on ‘My.’ We have no grace of ourselves. Without the grace of God we wouldn’t be sitting here today, we wouldn’t have the strength to worship Him.

It’s a lovely day. The grace of God brings the weather, the water of the Spirit, the water of the gospel. It is easy to worship when all is well. However, when we go through trials God is in control. When we are not in trouble and trials, when the sun shines, we are not persecuted, our health is well, our bank balance is good, it is easy to be a Christian.

Sometimes Christians can slip into an easier road and can start to doubt what God has done. They may slip back into wordly things. We are in the world but not of the world. We need to glorify God. Jesus prayed, in John 17, we could be of use in the world.

Spurgeon urged us not to pray to be out of our troubles. Our citizenship is in heaven but Christ wants to keep us in the world that, even in times of trials, we can be a witness. His grace is sufficient. Jesus will not lose one of His sheep, bought with His precious blood. He has paid too high a price. He gives us eternal life.

When sickness and difficulties comes we ask, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ Paul asks the same questions. Sometimes, trials are sent to test our faith. We don’t know where to turn, everything seems to be against us. Don’t despair. It is easy to despair when we can’t see an answer to a problem. Jesus knows all our ways (Psalm 139). He knows everything. He understands us.

If we stand before God without Jesus standing with us as our Lord and Saviour, our Lord and advocate, we have no hope. God has brought us to this situation. When the devil brings doubt, look to Christ.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
a great High Priest, whose name is Love
who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
my name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heav’n He stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see Him there
who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died,
my sinful soul is counted free,
for God the just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me.

Charitie Lees Bancroft

Problems may come. Paul boasts that he could suffer for Christ. He suffered because he simply preached the gospel of God, being beaten 195 times, imprisoned and much more. Yet he could still rely on God’s grace and strength. When you reach the end of your tether, remember God is at the other end, He will never leave or forsake you.

Jesus wants us to be closer to Him. Nothing that makes you pray more earnestly than if you’re suffering. Pray that you may seek His face and know His grace upon you. You’ll pass through your trials (Isaiah 43). He will give you grace to go through. The devil schemes, he will attack, but God’s strength redeems. The Lord allows Satan to go so far, but Jesus defeated the devil. “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9).

When you’re blessed of God you can seem so full of your own pride. Be full of Christ. We’re sometimes like vessels – full of ourselves. We need to be filled with grace. When we recognise we have nothing of ourselves, it brings us closer to Christ and we walk more closely with the Lord. Seek the Lord and ask Him to show you what He will do. The grace of the God, who made the world, can supply all our needs. If you are struggling, He wants us to recognise we are nothing of ourselves, that His grace is fully sufficient. Don’t worry about the problem, the future. Trust the Lord and you’ll find Him all sufficient. He has ways of sending storms in our life to get rid of what we don’t need. All we will ever need will be given to us by God.

May 27th 2018: Gerald Tait

Gerald Tait January 18The Trinity

Although the word ‘trinity’ is not mentioned in scripture, the Bible is full of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God is in total control of the three.  An illustration of the trinity could be an orange divided equally into three. Each part will have orange slices, pips and juice. God is equal with the Son and is equal with the Spirit. God is in overall control. When the disciples said to Jesus ‘When will you return?’ He replied, ‘Only the Father knows.’

There are three ways into an earthly family: being born into it naturally, marrying into it or being adopted into it. This happens when you become a believer (John 3:16). We come into a family. The New Testament describes coming into church. In John 1 we are born into the family. When we believe we receive the nature of a son. When we are adopted, we receive the position of a son. Paul says we are adopted by God into the church. God said the church is like a bride – one day, we the church will be the bride.

What is God doing now? All around the world thousands are coming to faith in Jesus today. They are being born into the family. God is actively adopting them and bringing them security. When Jesus finished work on earth He returned to heaven. What is He doing now? In John 17 we read the priestly prayer. Jesus is God’s love gift to the world. Christians are the Father’s love gift to Jesus.

What security we have does not depend on us, it depends on God. God will not allow any of those He has given to Jesus to be lost. What is Jesus’ activity in heaven? He has gone there as a high priest, He is actively being our High Priest right now. Jesus reminds God of the sacrifice He made. Jesus is there not only as a priest, as our solicitor, He is our top advocate. When I mess up, Jesus forgives. Part of our nature is still sinful but Jesus pleads for our security. God is in overall control.

God the Holy Spirit. In the Greek the word ‘spirit’ is ‘pneuma.’ We read of the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2. Throughout the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came upon people. They travelled and were good at using stones. Abraham took some rubble and built an altar to worship God and offer sacrifice to God. Jacob set up a stone altar when he wrestled with God. John 1 is a replica of Genesis 1. Jesus gave work to the Holy Spirit to carry on what He had started. The Holy Spirit is our paracelete, the one who comes alongside to help you and keep you safe.

We see the trinity in the grace. Grace in Welsh is ‘cymdeithas’ – the society of the Holy Spirit. Interesting – it’s a building society. The Holy Spirit assists us in the building of God’s church. The Holy Spirit came upon the patriarchs as they built stone altars to worship God. The church is living stones. He takes the rubble of my life and your life and He is dressing the stone and making it fit. How wonderful is that! We are a society of believers, made to fit in that temple. The Holy Spirit is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. Jesus is coming back. We’ve been marked with a seal, a deposit (Ephesians 1). We have confidence, assurance, knowing we have security in the trinity.

May 20th 2018: Owen Jones

Owen Jones-May18.jpg‘He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.’ Ephesians 1:22-23

Here we have an aspect or our union with Christ – organic union – Christ is the head, you and I are the limbs. We read of the mystery of our union with Christ in Ephesians 5. As the Bridegroom, Christ is incomplete without the Bride. John Calvin comments, “This is the highest honour of the church that, unless He is united to us, the Son of God reckons Himself in some measure imperfect. What an encouragement it is for us to hear, that not until He has us as one with Himself is He complete in all His parts, or does He wish to be regarded as whole.” Calvin’s statement is gloriously audacious – but it is right. Jesus is incomplete without us. He is the head in heaven, we’re the limbs on earth. We are joined to Christ now, but it will be seen more evidently on the great, glorious matrimonial day when we meet.

How can we see this organic unison?
1. Christ is head of all things in heaven and on earth
2. Christ is the head and we are the members.
3.  We are joined together in unity and diversity.

1. Christ is head of all things in heaven and on earth.
How is Christ’s headship described? We read in Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul’s prayer that we may bask in confidence in Christ. Are you confident God has called you from darkness to light? Do you know what it us to be born again? I’m not talking about coming to chapel, but coming to Jesus. Are you confident He has called you? Do you know the enlightenment of the eyes of your heart? (Ephesians 1:18). Paul also says in this verse that our inheritance is guaranteed, it can’t be stolen. In verse 19 we read of ‘the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.’ It is like the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Do you know the power of new life in Christ? We should be the most confident people on earth.

In Ephesians 1:20-12 we read that Jesus is seated in glory, power and authority, might and majesty. He has gained the victory. He is far above all, no-one can surpass Him. The holy power of angels, the authority of kings, will never get to where He is and will never rob Him of His divine dignity. God appointed Him. Christ is head, seated in the heavenly realms.

In Ecclesiastes 3 and 4 our Head is described as a means of encouragement. He is your Saviour, your head. Here is Paul’s encouragement to the Church at Ephesus and you and me.

2.Christ is the head and we are the members.
This is the One we are joined to, we are united to. The Church is like a human body. Generally, every human being has one head, two arms, two legs etc. Of course, due to the Fall, there are certain deformities. We need everything we’ve been given. The Psalmist says in Psalm 139, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” We started out as dust of the ground being breathed into a body, created in His image.

 In the head is the brain that controls the movement of the members, which respond and react. When the head is severed from the body, life ceases. Sometimes, the church appears as if it has had a stroke and it sometimes can look ugly and dead. The message from the head is not getting to the members and being obeyed. The local church, in disobedience, can appear as if it’s had a stroke and is immobilised. We are to be obedient people.

The body grows in love. Pauls add to his theme; in chapter 4:15-16 we see how we’ve to grow and what makes us grow in love. The love of God. We can hide behind sentimentality. There are times when we show the love of God when firm words and actions are called for. Generally, a local fellowship thrives on agape.

The body feeds and nourishes on everything the head sends it. All things are held together in one head, to bring all things together (Colossians 2:19). How many individuals are running around like headless chickens, having lost connection with the head? Sin cuts us off from the head. Some churches try to do their own thing but we are here to do it God’s way, Christ’s way. Be listeners, obedient, growing with the love of God.

3.We are joined to Jesus in unity and diversity.
The church is one body in conflict – it’s a contradiction. Men give the church different names as if there are different churches. That’s the visible church as the world sees it. There is only one true ecclesia. Satan seeks to segment, fragment and conquer. The more names there are, the better for Satan.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the body is one made up of many parts – an innumerable multitude (1 Corinthians 12:12-14). Sometimes the body of Christ can give the impression it consists of only one member – being dominated by one member. Paul says the body is not made up of one part. Sometimes, we are not listening to God. In the local church we need all our members and faculties. God arranges the different parts for different uses (1 Corinthians 12:18). God has arranged the parts of the body. Every true believer needs each other. Some may say, ‘I have no need of you’ (1 Corinthians 12:21), but Paul calls the members of the body to its senses. You cannot do without the different Christians, the body won’t be the same without them (1 Corinthians 12:22). The body of Christ consists of members who wouldn’t be accepted anywhere else in the world. Unity and diversity, equality, one in unity. No division (1 Corinthians 12:25-27).

We can thanks God we’re not lookalikes. Instead, look like Him. There is diversity. How boring if we are all the same type, out of the same mould. Sometimes we feel others are not as important or careful as we are, but here in the body we are equal.

The members suffer and have difficulties but there is unity, equality and mutuality. Christ is the head, we are the members. We are one in unity, joined to Christ.