Reflection: "The Body of Christ"
Have you ever taught a young child how to ride a bicycle?
They usually start with training wheels, or as our grand-daughters call them “stabilisers”.
After a while, when they seem to be confident – usually OVER-confident, you take the training wheels off, but still grasp the handlebar and the seat as you walk around the driveway, or the park, with them.
When they seem to be comfortable with that, you say "I'll just let go for a second."
"No!" they scream!
But, in what seems like no time at all, you notice that they’ve gained more confidence and are ready to fly solo.
"Let go! I can do it" they say.
Then they take off, wobble, shake, laugh and pedal off as if they’ve been doing it all their lives.
Our instinct is to run after them, hold the seat, or the handlebars, or both, to keep them safe.
Instead, we shout, "Keep pedalling! Keep pedalling!"
We're often like these novices, trainees, or beginners.
Maybe we're learning a new skill, taking-up a new practice, starting a new job, enrolling in a new school, moving to a new community, or connecting to a new church.
We feel the awkwardness of growth and the anticipation of change. Perhaps we're not so much beginning, as beginning again: starting over after failure or disappointment, re-engaging with ordinary life after illness or grief sidelined us for a season, or exploring fresh possibilities after being mired in that swampy sameness of life.
We feel the surprise of grace and the joy of renewal.
Beginning, or beginning again, we're like that child learning to ride; and we need for someone to believe in us, to hold on to us until we're ready to go it alone, and to cheer for us even after we're on the way.
We need, in other words, someone who’ll guide, help us and be our mentor.
Another way to say it is that all of us need leaders - people who realise our possibilities and encourage us to claim them, who nurture our potential and help us to realize it, and people who teach and model the joy which comes from being authentically oneself and fully alive.
Who has been that kind of leader for you?
Your Mum or Dad, a Grandparent, perhaps?
Your sports coach, tennis instructor, choir, or band leader?
Maybe your 7th grade social studies teacher, English professor at university, or church Bible study leader?
Was it a boss who took an interest in you, or a church minister who was there for you at a pivotal time in your life?
A real leader can somehow get us to do certain things that, deep down, we think are good and want to be able to do, but usually don't have the courage to do on our own.
It's a mysterious quality, hard to define, but we always know it when we see it, even as kids.
A real leader is somebody who can help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to reach higher.
Ephesians 4 is, in part, about the real leaders which the church needs – people who can encourage followers of Jesus "to do better, harder things" than we are likely to do on our own.
Verses 11-13 tell us about some of the people whom God has given to lead the church.
“Some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers"The text also describes the work God calls those leaders to do: equip the saints for the work of ministry, build up the body of Christ, help people to become like Jesus.
But equipping also involves training.
Leaders offer people experiences which help them turn their gifts into skills, their talents into practices, their passions into actions, and their concerns into disciplines.
Equipping and training are indispensable parts of a church's ministry of Christian education and spiritual formation. But equipping is more than training.
More deeply, equipping is about restoration and healing.
The word equip in our text comes from an interesting family of Greek words which describe, among other things, the setting of broken bones during surgery, fostering healing, and working for rehabilitation. This same family of words makes an appearance in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus calls some Galilean fishermen to be his followers.
When Jesus invited James and John to the adventure of discipleship, they were "in the boat with their father mending their nets." (Matthew 4:21)Mending is from this same family of words, so mending and equipping are related, which means that to equip is to weave back together the frayed edges of life, to repair brokenness rather than to write-off the broken, and to restore rather than discard the shattered.
It is to help people trust that in spite of what life has done to them and with them they can be useful again. This understanding of equipping means that leadership involves a crucial dimension of healing and restoration.
All of us have experiences which tear at us; we all have times when fatigue or failure tempts us to give up on ourselves.
Leaders recognize that, sometimes, what people most need is not to refine their skills or to avail themselves of more training. Instead, what they need are grace and mercy, renewal and confidence.
They need to know that it's always possible to begin, or to begin again.
The disciples looked to Jesus for their training and leadership and asked him how they could possibly perform the same sort of miracles as he performed.
He related it to eating bread, but not the sort of bread that just filled your tummy for a short time.
Jesus told them that he, that is, his body, was the bread of life and that they must believe in him to be spiritually filled enough to be capable of the miracles he required of them.
The body of Christ, in both physical and spiritual terms, was what they required to be able to go it alone.
They had been taught on their training wheels and now it was time for Jesus to let go of the bike seat and for them to launch off under their own power.
None of us is completely together, unflawed and whole.
But by the gifts God has given us, his restoring grace and with one another's encouragement, we're on our way.
Let’s have the courage to pedal off in search of the tasks that God has in mind for us during the rest of our lives.
Let us have the confidence that he has equipped us adequately and that he will be there with us, so that we’re not going to fall off our bikes.
Spend some time in prayer with God and ask him what it is that he has in mind for you.
We are all made differently and have different skills and talents.
We all need leaders and maybe that’s one of your gifts which you can provide for others.
Use what God’s given to you and work to build up his kingdom here on earth.
The blessings that you provide for others will be nothing, when compared to the blessings you’ll receive.
So don’t be afraid.
Your training wheels are off and you’re ready to launch out into the world.
God will be with you and bless you in everything that you endeavour.
Reflection: "Abundance for Everyone"
In the third section of his letter to the churches in Turkey, around Ephesus, Paul offers a bit of relief from the heavy theological points that he’s been making up to this stage by praying for all the church communities in the area.
In fact, the first seven words of verse 14:
"I bow my knees before the Father" - make it clear that we’re actually overhearing his prayer.
Essentially there are four matters which Paul prays for on behalf of his readers - that they may have:
· inner spiritual strength
· the indwelling of Christ in their hearts
· the ability to comprehend all the dimensions of spiritual realities and
· knowledge of the love of Christ
The question that leapt to my mind when preparing this message for you was,
"How do I preach about an overheard prayer, and should I even try?"
I remember as a child, tiptoeing past the living room where my parents, faithful in their devotions, were praying. Sometimes I heard them praying for my older brother and sisters, as well as for me.
They probably needed to pray longer and harder for me!
It can be a bit embarrassing to eavesdrop on someone’s prayer - a little like listening in on someone's personal telephone conversation, but prayer on our behalf can be a revelation - about ourselves, and about God.
In hearing my parent's prayers, I learned that the family was a sacred trust, something definitely worth praying for.
The simple fact of their daily prayers let me know they recognized their limits as parents.
There was only just so much that they could do for us, so much from which they couldn't shield us.
Their praying also told me what they believed about God.
They believed they could entrust us to hands stronger than their own, a love wiser than their own.
The prayer before us today, of course, was intended to be overheard.
Generation after generation, the church has handed this text on to us, confident that these petitions include us, and that we, too, need to overhear.
It’s interesting to note that all through these verses, Paul uses the plural second person pronouns (ie. "you", or as the people from southern America say, “Y’all” – a shortening of “you all”).
This way, he makes it clear that it’s the community that’s being lifted to God, not just one person.
If overheard prayer reveals something of ourselves to us, the first revelation to be gleaned is that experiencing fellowship with God is tangled up in being bonded to each other.
Christians are blessed when they are with each other because they can share God’s love with each other.
Well, we hope it’s that way, but Mahatma Ghandi, the great Hindu leader of India, once said
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians - your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
He obviously observed different behaviours when meeting so-called Christians.
Maybe if we followed the principles Paul sets out in our reading, we’d be more acceptable to Ghandi.
Our Christian lives depend on being in community with each other – sharing with each other - in all its messiness.
You may remember the experiments in community living that emerged out of the culture of the 1970s."Community" was part of the rhetoric of that decade.
As existing structures seemed to crumble, some dared to imagine - and try - new ones, including interdependent communities fuelled by utopian visions - many were called communes.In theory, like-minded folk equipped with guitars and good will, would share space, agriculture, income, possessions, and child-rearing responsibilities.
Unsurprisingly, most of these experiments had a short lifespan because such inter-dependence is really hard work.
We know that Christians can be every bit as territorial and opinionated as anyone else.
No wonder the Apostolic Prayer begins with a petition for the presence of the Trinity to move in with us.
God encourages us into communities, but then it takes nothing less than the power of the Trinity to keep us there.
This prayer suggests that progress will be slow – like a crop inching toward fruitfulness, or a building which rises brick-by-brick.
Both are anchored in a love that can do what knowledge alone cannot.
We read about that in verse 19 - the need for knowledge also involves the community.
As individual believers, we have some knowledge of God, however, when we join with others, in the community we call the church, our knowledge of God is increased, and our knowledge of God’s love is compounded.
As we share the little that we have, God produces more than enough for all of us.
We then share the leftovers with those that we meet.
This strength in numbers through community is not just a matter of simple addition, but one of our faith’s enrichment in the fullness of God.
The body of Christ is not just a group of isolated persons of faith, grasping something of Christ’s love. We should, therefore, all be filled with the grace of God.
Paul’s prayer is for the church to enjoy - to the fullest extent possible - the living power of God - Christ’s love.
The church, as the community of reconciliation, has begun to live in and move toward redemption – as Paul says:
“it is rooted and grounded in love.”
Maybe we need to post a sign outside the church saying:
“WORK IN PROGRESS!”
Because in, and through, the body of the church, the community is being worked on, healed and restored.
Foundational changes ARE underway, people ARE being grounded in God’s love.
Rooted in grace, for all generations, forever and ever.
This part of Paul’s letter to the churches around Ephesus ends on the same note with which it began – in the worship and praise of God.
I urge us to move forward today, knowing that our God loves us and wants us to live in community with each other, bound by the love of Christ, and sharing with all those around us.
And that he also wants them to join us and accept his great gift of love and forgiveness.
We should be counting our little fishes and loaves of bread, given to us by God and, having asked his blessing on them, see how far and wide we can distribute them.
Sounds miraculous - but it is possible, with the help of God.
My favourite verse, Psalm 116:12, says
“What shall I return to the Lord, for all his bounty to me.”
Obviously, he expects us to have an abundance of leftovers that we can use to spread among those who are still waiting to hear of his love for them.
So, let’s get counting and blessing and distributing, because God’s counting on us.
Reflection: "God's Great Plan"
Last week, we started looking at the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote from his prison cell in Rome, to the young church in Ephesus.
In this letter, Paul’s aim is to reassure the new Christians that God has a plan – a plan to bring all things in heaven and earth together under Jesus Christ.
Paul’s letter is one of joyous praise for God's eternal purpose – his great plan that serves as an antidote to counter the pagan mystery religions, which were proliferating around the new Christian churches at the time. Paganism was rife amongst the local people at that time and the new Christian church Paul had established was not popular amongst the pagans, because it spoke out against their multitude of Gods, insisting that there was only one.
In a city of some 250,000 people, there would only have been a small number of Christians, but they were making their voices heard and their message was spreading amongst the population. Maybe you’re wondering, why God permitted Judaism and the pagan mystery religions to exist so long before he revealed the gospel to them?
So, was the gospel simply an afterthought?
God was working out his eternal plan for the redemption of mankind through his son, Jesus.In fact, the leading thought of this letter is:
“The church of Jesus Christ, in which Jew and Gentile are made one, is a creation of the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit, decreed from eternity, and destined for eternity.”
In the first chapter of his letter, which we read last week, Paul reassures his audience that they, as followers of Christ, are included in God’s grand plan.
He uses exquisitely rich language to describe God’s grace and love.
The use of words such as “lavishing”, give us the understanding that this is not just a simple gift from God – this is something really special!
Paul now goes on in chapter 2 to say that the readers have come from “death” to “life” by God’s grace, all made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
By the fact that they were sinners in their old lives, they were considered “dead” in God’s eyes, and it wasn’t possible for them to ever do anything good enough to redeem themselves.
God was angry, but he was not grumpy with them, as we might be grumpy with someone who’s done something to hurt us, but he was just so totally against the sinful ways that they’d been living.
It’s not much of a stretch for us, in the 21st Century, to change the word “they” to “we” in the preceding paragraph, because I’m sure that there are many times in our lives when we’ve done things that haven’t been pleasing to God.
Paul says that the only way these “dead” can be raised up, is by grace - through faith - and that premise still holds true, some 2,000 years later.
It’s not by works, ie. anything we do by ourselves, that we can be saved.
We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus, made to do good, which God has prepared us in advance to do.
Have you ever heard the phrase: “Blessed to be a blessing”?
What that means is, by doing good works in the name of Jesus, ie. blessing others, we can receive God’s blessing.
Whilst that may sound a bit confusing, as I’ve just said that we can’t earn God’s favour by doing good works, we have to understand that it’s the “why” we’re doing things, not the “what” we’re doing, that’s important.
If we’re only doing things to try and make ourselves look good in God’s eyes, then we’ll fail.
God gave us the example of Jesus - someone for us to look to emulate, and we should try to lives
our lives like him.
Because of God’s love for us and his grace and by us being selfless, instead of trying to earn brownie points for ourselves, then we WILL be saved.
Paul then continues his letter by pointing out that we’re all members of the family (or household) of God.
Christ has broken down the walls between us and God and between Jews and Gentiles.
At that time, the Jews, some of whom were living in Ephesus, considered themselves superior to the gentiles, because they believed that they were God’s “chosen” people.
Under the covenant that Abraham made with God, all male Jews were circumcised on the eighth day, as a symbol of their membership of the house of Israel.
So, many of them considered these gentiles, or the “uncircumcised”, as they called them, to be unworthy of being called God’s people.
It’s interesting to note that the Christian Jews in Ephesus were probably outnumbered by the Gentile Christians, but the Jews seemed to be the ones who had a chip on their shoulder.
Paul, however, introduces a tone of reconciliation into the small churches in the region, saying that because of Christ’s death on the cross and his subsequent resurrection, ALL people were now welcomed by God and it was irrelevant whether they were a Jew or a Gentile.
An interesting sideline is that Paul often describes himself as a Jew’s Jew, but he was also a Roman citizen – so would probably have been considered a gentile, as well.
Maybe that’s why he felt such a strong call to minister to the non-Jews around the region.
I wonder how this issue Paul raises relates to modern day times with Jews and Arabs in Israel and Palestine?
They still don’t seem to be able get along or agree on anything.
Paul teaches that we are the representatives of God’s grace and we can show glimpses of that reconciling grace in our churches.
Look around and you’ll see people of different races, different genders, different political parties.
Yes, we’re all different, but we’re drawn together by the grace of God.
We dream of reconciliation between all peoples, races and religions, but the reality of our world is one of fighting, and a non-acceptance of the position of others.
Just look at countries in the Middle East, where there is massive destruction and bloodshed – and it’s usually not even about religion – they’re actually just fighting over who should have the power!
The dream of Jesus healing everyone who was brought to him, doesn’t seem to be enacted in that region.
Soldiers fight and kill their fellow countrymen, so how can we hope to be reconciled as one people, in God’s world, when ideologies like these are rampant?
God is ready with his grand plan – it’s just up to us sinners to get our act together, so that it can come about.
It’s difficult for us as individuals to see what we can do to change all that.
But Paul was just one man and look at the changes he brought about, with God’s help.We may think that as individuals, we can’t achieve much on our own, however I believe that the church is an ideal vehicle for such a movement, as the bible gives us so many pure thoughts on which to base our beliefs.
If enough of us get together and sing from the same hymn book, so to speak, then we may be able to make ourselves heard – even above all the noise of the world.
Therefore, I encourage you to give some thought as to what you can do to bring the world to a point where everyone hears God’s message about his plan for the world.
It might be as simple as talking to someone you know and you may be able to convince them to get on board and they’ll start talking with everyone they know and, pretty soon, everyone on the planet will hear of God’s great plan.
Who knows where it might go then?
One Kingdom, united by Christ, fed by the Holy Spirit, working in the name of God.
Wouldn’t that be truly magnificent!
Stay safe…………..Pastor Rick
Reflection: Everything in Heaven and on Earth
Ephesus is an ancient city, down the western coast of what is modern-day Turkey.
In Greek and Roman times, it was a major town and trading centre, but is now largely in ruins.
On his 2nd and 3rd missionary journeys around the Mediterranean, Paul’s preaching of the gospel in Ephesus had caused many of the locals to turn from their magical practices and from their worship of Artemis (later known by the Romans as Diana), the goddess whose elaborate temple was constructed in their city.
After Paul left, many of the new Christians began to wonder if the message he’d preached was only meant for the Jewish settlers in their city.
Paul’s encouraging letter was sent to reassure them that the gospel message was for all, not just the Jews.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul uses beautiful and very evocative language when he describes how, through Christ, both Jew and Gentile are blessed by God – emphasising that his love is not just for his “chosen” people, that is the Jews, but for all his people, and that included the gentiles (or non-Jews).
This was quite a radical departure from the understanding that the Israelites had about “their” God and his love. They had always assumed that they were to be the only recipients for his grace and favour.
Now Paul is telling the new Christians in Ephesus, made up of both Jews and gentiles, that, through their acceptance of Jesus as their Lord and saviour, they are all now a part of God’s Kingdom.
I love the language that Paul uses when describing God’s grace and love for us all.
He says that God “lavishes” it upon us.
That is, he not just “provides”, or “gives”, but he “lavishes” it on us. The dictionary defines it as both a verb and an adjective.
As a verb, it might mean something freely given, bestowed, generously given, etc. - like: "the media couldn't lavish enough praise on the actors in a film", or "she has always lavished money on her children."
As an adjective, we might think of sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious - like: "it was a lavish banquet"
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “lavish” my mind goes off into an epicurean dream, where food is spread lavishly with all the things that taste so good.
So, we don’t just get a taste, but a banquet!
And these graces from God are his free gift to us, when we decide to be his followers, his people.
When Paul wrote to the “saints in Ephesus”, as he called the people who made up the fledgling Christian community there, he makes it clear that God was expressing a different world view to the one they currently understood.
The same world view, in fact, that Jesus had proclaimed when he was on earth.
Paul told everyone there that this is God’s world, and that God has a plan to reunite heaven and earth.
You will undoubtedly remember the words of the Lord’s Prayer, where it says “Your kingdom come…….. ON EARTH, as it is in heaven”.
So, we can understand that this kingdom is not only up in heaven, but in the kingdom of God is here on earth, where all souls will be reunited.
Do you remember the Apostle John, in his revelation, the final book in the bible, is talking about the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven to earth, where the old will be swept away and the new will replace it.
In Revelation 21:3& 4 he says:
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation ends, not with people going up to heaven, but with heaven coming down to earth, to be the new Jerusalem.
Even Ezekiel, some six or seven hundred years before Christ was born, had prophesied about a new Jerusalem, where God would dwell.
Paul also proclaimed that in and through Jesus, the Reign of God is already breaking into this world and that when we put our faith in Christ, we begin to experience something of heaven, of God, in ordinary human life.
In Ephesians 1:10 Paul says that God sets out his plan, in Christ,
“a plan for the fullness of time to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
He says that in the Holy Spirit we receive is a down-payment on this promise, a guarantee that we will be reunited with God in a new reunited heaven and earth.
After the death of his 4 year old son, Conor, the great English musician, Eric Clapton, wrote a poignant and heart wrenching song called “Tears in Heaven”.
In this song he asked the question “Would you know my name, if I saw you in heaven? Would it be the same, if I saw you in heaven?”
I wonder what your response would be if I asked you whether you think we’ll meet again, up in heaven?
Most of us probably grew up with the impression that the Christian message tells us that heaven is this wonderful place where God lives, somewhere far above the earth, and that if we live the right way, and put our trust in Christ, we are going there after we die.
In fact, this is not the message of the Bible, and it’s certainly not the message of Jesus.
Instead, it’s the message of intellectuals during the last couple of hundred years.
These are the people who separated God, and heaven, from earth and human beings.
This was intended to give humanity a clear go at running the world however they liked.
It’s the message of “modernity”, which put its trust in science.
In this modern world, God is made increasingly irrelevant - having been relegated to another sphere of doubtful existence.
So, no, I don’t think we’re going up to heaven when we die – God has an even better plan - to bring heaven to earth.
It means that what happens on this earth really matters to God, and WE really matter to God, because we’re a vital part of his plan of bringing heaven to earth.
Yes, God is there for us on the other side of death, as he was for Jesus, and his promise is that we are part of his plan for a new heaven and a new earth.
What an amazing invitation and promise!
So, whilst we may meet again in heaven after we die, it may not be in that mythical place “up there”, but it will be a wonderful place, none-the-less.
And the best news you’ve heard all day, is that we don’t have to do anything to earn this gift – in fact we CAN’T do anything to earn it.
God just makes it available to us.
His blessings are freely given to us and it’s up to us whether or not we decide to accept this great gift.
Over the years, we’ve been reminded that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, so, once we’ve accepted God’s gift and decided to dedicate our lives to him, we have to do something to further God’s Kingdom HERE ON EARTH.
It’s no use waiting until the afterlife to experience the Kingdom of God.
Now is when we should be getting out there and working to build it up.
You may think there’s not much that you can do, but I encourage you to talk it over with God in your prayer time.
Between the two of you, I’m sure that you’ll be able to come up with a plan.
Something you can do right now and also something for the rest of your life here on earth – building the Kingdom.
May God bless you all and keep you in his care – forever and ever.
Reflection: Who Was That Masked Man?
Maybe the title of my reflection this week is a bit flippant, or even obscure to many of you.But for those who remember watching the Lone Ranger on TV in the 1950’s and 60's, after he had mounted his white stallion, Silver, and said the immortal words “Hi-yo, Silver, away”, someone in the crowd would say “Who was that masked man?”
Maybe that’s how it was for the Nazarene locals when Jesus, the great teacher and healer came to town, but they weren’t sure if it was the same man that they had grown up with.
This week’s reading from Mark 6 actually gives us 2 stories, the first regarding the rejection of Jesus in his hometown and the second regarding the commissioning of the disciples to go out into the world, proclaiming repentance, casting out demons and healing the sick.
By this time, the disciples had been with Jesus for about 3 years and, as he approached Jerusalem for the last time, he was preparing them to be his ambassadors, spreading the word far and wide, once he was no longer with them.
Jesus had built quite a reputation as a teacher and healer and the crowds loved him.He could command audiences of over 5,000 men, not to mention the women and children.
But it was a different story when he came back to his hometown of Nazareth.
Instead of being “Jesus the great teacher”, he was “Jesus, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Jude, Simon and some unnamed sisters”.
That’s actually very interesting, because there’s no mention of Joseph, his earthly father.
The same story in Matthew, mentions that Jesus is a carpenter’s son and Luke mentions Joseph by name, but Mark either doesn’t want to, or doesn’t think it is important.
A bit strange in such a patriarchal society, as Israel was in those days.But on with our story.
The people in the synagogue that sabbath saw Jesus for what they remembered him to be, not what he now was.
They had trouble making the transition from Jesus the carpenter, to Jesus the great teacher.
And we’re told that Jesus was amazed at their unbelief, but it seems that didn’t slow him down.
Jesus had built up quite a reputation during his travels around Galilee, so you’d assume that his friends and family in Nazareth would have heard about him and his deeds and should surely have been proud to associate themselves with such a great Rabbi.
Leaving Nazareth behind, Jesus travelled through the villages teaching and he commissioned his 12 closest disciples to go out, two by two, to do likewise.
He even gave them authority over evil spirits and the ability to cast out demons, thus curing the sick.
Maybe the disciples would have felt a bit surprised and confused when Jesus commissioned them to “go out two by two, with the authority over unclean spirits”.
He even ordered them to take nothing but a staff and a pair of sandals.
He wouldn’t even let them have a change of clothes!
When I think of how much gear Lynne & I load into the back of our 4wd when we go outback, I obviously don’t have as much faith in God’s provision as the disciples did.
Jesus warned the disciples that they wouldn’t always be welcomed with open arms.
In fact, he reminded them (as we’ve just discussed in story 1) about how he had been rejected by his own townsfolk and that they should just move on, in the face of such opposition. It’s interesting to note the subtlety of where Jesus told the disciples to do their ministry.
They weren’t told to go into the town squares, or even synagogues, to pass on their message, but into the houses of those they met.
Thus, they were reliant on hospitality and did not need to carry their own food or bedding.
But they were not to stay more than 2 days, or they may be accused of being “false prophets”, who were more interested in getting free food and board, than of spreading the Gospel.
But we know that we are not alone in anything we do in the Lord’s name.We’re comforted by the Holy Spirit, whom God placed on earth after the ascension of Jesus back to Heaven, and that presence is here to guide and comfort us when things start to get a little rough.
There are many wise sayings about taking the first step, doing things in little bites, etc. and I always remember my mother reciting an old Chinese saying from Lao-tzu, a Chinese philosopher (who lived from 604 BC - 531 BC).
He said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
We need to have faith that, on our journey, doing God’s work, he will be with us as we take each step and spread the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus came to earth to pay the price for our sins.If we give our lives to following him, we’ll be led to the Kingdom that our Father God has prepared for us all.
Just as he did 2,000 years ago, Jesus calls us all, and he may be calling you, personally, to do what is outlined in the second story in Mark chapter 6, where the disciples are sent out to minister.
I’m guessing that most of you would be thinking to yourself “There’s no way that I could do anything like that.”
Well, I’m a firm believer that God doesn’t ask us to do anything that he hasn’t equipped us for.
The problem is usually that we haven’t realised just what great gifts he’s given us and so we haven’t applied them to any tasks in the Kingdom yet.
Are you prepared to take the first step?
I’ll leave you to ponder what part you may be able to play in God’s kingdom.
Talk to God regularly in prayer and hopefully your role will be made clear to you.
May God bless you all and keep you safe during this stay-at-home period.
Perhaps you can think of someone you should get in touch with, to see how well they’re travelling.
A call from a friend might be just the tonic they need in these troubling times.
“Our God surrounds us and supports us.
The Spirit’s voice is spoken in unexpected ways, so, take time to listen each day.
Jesus’ call is to all of us who follow the Way.
Let us then step forward, surrounded in love, spoken to with grace while following a call that can bring peace and unity to our local community and radiate to the world.”