The Fruitful Life : Fight Factor

‘Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.’ 1 Tim 6:12 NIV

This week we will continue the ‘Living a Fruitful Life’ preaching series. Looking at the ‘Fight Factor’—we read as above the words from Timothy. It is clear that our Christian walk will be filled with challenges, and that is a good thing. This is because it is a good fight, in other words a fight worth having.

What is the cause we are fighting? The cause of God and truth.

Here we see a picture of words that reveals to us spiritual teachings in a manner that we can grasp. That of a soldier, preparing for battle. We are the soldiers of our faith and we are under a good captain, Jesus Christ. We are armed with the full armour of God (Eph 6:10-18). It is a fight of faith that we are called to, to lay hold on eternal life. (Rev 3:11). We may be sure of victory, the crown of glory, life and righteousness.

Here are the (adapted) words written a long time ago and published in 1863. As you read them may you be encouraged to keep up the good fight, don’t give up, and remember our God is with us, who can be against us?

Fight the good fight with all your might.

Christ is your strength and Christ your right.

Lay hold on life, and it shall be

your joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God's good grace;

lift up your eyes, and seek Christ's face.

Life with its way before us lies;

Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

Cast care aside; lean on your guide.

God's boundless mercy will provide.

Trust, and your trusting soul shall prove

Christ is its life, and Christ its love.

Faint not nor fear: God's arms are near.

God changes not, and you are dear.

Only believe, and you shall see

that Christ is all in all to thee (you).

written by Rev. John Samuel Bewley Monsell,

published in Hymns of Love and Praise

for the Church’s Year (1863)

adapted 2020

Prayer: Dear God,

I place my trust and dependence on you, today, Lord. Like the commander of a great army, you are in control, and you will go to any lengths to insure the safety of those under your wing of protection. I believe you want good, not harm for my life. And I am asking that you will replace fear with the confident assurance that you are always here with me, protecting me. Help me I ask to continue to keep fighting for Your truth, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.

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Thoughtful Word on Forgiveness ...

“Forgiveness!—let’s face it, it is never easy –giving or receiving. Dealing with hurts, unfair treatment, confessing we have done wrong and need to seek forgiveness is filled with lots of emotions and consequences.

We as Christians are called to forgive and seek forgiveness many times through Scripture. We are held to standards that are God given and based on His character, not our own.

God is a merciful Father who wants His children to show mercy to others. His Son’s life on earth demonstrated this. As He hung on the cross, He prayed forgiveness for those who crucified Him. (Luke 23:24) God expects us to forgive as Jesus did, regardless of circumstances.

He made us all in His own image and Christ’s death allowed us all to be recipients of incredible mercy that is so hard to comprehend, but that fact is that Jesus died in our place. He took the pain, the anger, the consequences of our sin so we could avoid the condemnation we deserve. Grace at it’s best!

We as new creations in Christ who have the gift of Holy Spirit dwelling in us, gives us the power to let go of the hurts, the unfairness, the wrongs against us and in exchange replace them with God’s own mercy and grace.

When we have fallen short, messed things up, and done things we know to be wrong, we too need to confess and seek forgiveness.

Is there someone we need to forgive today? Do we need to seek forgiveness from anyone? Let us pause, reflect and check in with the Lord, how we are doing on forgiving.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank You for Your forgiveness, grace and mercy that You give us. Thank You for your Son Jesus, who died in our place to make forgiveness possible.

God, would you please bless me with Your power of forgiveness and give me the grace to unconditionally forgive those who have done me wrong.

Please give me the strength to let go of all ill-will, the strength to forgive myself of my own failings and sins, knowing that you have already forgiven me.

Lord I confess that I have made mistakes, reveal to me any times or situations where I need to seek forgiveness. Free me of all anger, bitterness, hate and unforgiveness,

I ask in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.

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Thoughtful Word ... Do you feel at peace?

Often living a peaceful life will come down to the choices we make. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations and challenges that are beyond our control, however we still have a choice.That choice is our response...do we choose to look toJesus- choose to set our minds on His Word- choose to trust Him no matter what- choose to believe that He is still in control and never leaves us?

God reminds us in His Word that peace will not naturally just come our way.

He tells us to “seek peace and pursue it” Psalm 34:14 NIV

The peace that God gives us isn’t like anything else. It goes far beyond ‘just relax’ or ‘be happy’ or ‘just don’t stress’ or any other would be self-help hints. All that is temporary – superficial. But the Peace of God is vastly different. It is forever. It gives confidence deep down where we live, it gives life, perspective and the reassurance that we need to keep going. It brings such comfort, joy and freedom. It strengthens us, gives a real sense of purposes and calm amid the noisy, busy and challenging times.

Prayer:

Our Lord God Almighty, thank You that You are my shield, my strength, my portion, deliverer, my shelter, strong tower and my very present help in time of need. I come to you for your perfect Peace that surpasses my understanding. As I draw to You, will You help me to lean in and rest in yourPeaceful Presence? It is my heart’s desire to live a fruitful and peace filledlife that brings You honour and glory. I ask afresh today that you work in my life and protect my heart and mind. Thank you that you sent your One and Only Son to set us free. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

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Thoughtful Word: What are you speaking?

THOUGHTFUL WORD: Ephesians 4:29-“Let nounwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, that it may give grace tothe listeners.”

The call today is to speak words that are good and wholesome. Speak what is helpful and not harmful to the well-being of others. Speak what builds a person up and not tear them down.

We have heard the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." That is not true! Words do hurt!

Words can either build up, encourage, motivate or they can hurt, tear down or leave someone with lasting scars.

As people of God, we need to be very careful about what we allow to come out of our mouth.

As the saints of old would say, "If you do not have anything good to say, keep your mouth shut"!

Words spoken out of our mouth are very important for the simple fact that they speak whatis in our hearts. Let's listen to Luke 6:45 (NKJV) “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

What are you speaking? Words that build up or tear others down?

Let us all examine ourselves by listening to the words that proceed out of our mouth. The wrong words can destroy and the right word can mend.

Prayer:

Loving Father will you help me so that the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart is acceptable in your sight? I thank You for Your Word that is full of loving words and encouragement and I thank You for Your Spirit in me to help me live and speak truth and love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Thoughtful Word - Meditate in the Bible

Joshua 1:8 New King James Version (NKJV)

8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

So what does it mean to meditate in the Bible? Firstly I draw your attention to the little word in– no it’s not a typo. It doesn’t say ‘on’ it says ‘in’ - it’s a hint of how we go about meditating. It’s a dive in approach rather than a half-hearted approach.

Secondly, when we look up the word meditate in the dictionary - one of the synonyms listed to help us understand is, the word ‘ruminate’.

Have you ever had the opportunity to learn how a cow eats? Some would say it is a little gross – but the basic way a cow eats is this….

When the cow first eats, it chews the food just enough to swallow it. The unchewed food travels to the first two stomachs, the rumen and the reticulum, where it is stored until later. ... Later, the cow coughs up bits of the unchewed food called cud and chews it completely this time before swallowing it again.

So why am I telling you this? Well this is a picture of what it means to ruminate, chew over, meditate.

Meditating on the Bible is reading, then thinking over the verse over and over, seeing it from every angle and applying it to your own life.We mentally chew on it, sinking it’s meaning in. Then, we look at the passage again and think of what else it could mean, or how it applies to our lives.

Another way to meditate on God’s Word comes from the Hebrew word for meditation: hagah- which means to quietly speak the words of the text over and over to yourself. This helps us to 1) memorize the verses so we can remember what we read as we continue our daily lives and 2) this can often bring clarity and insight to the meanings we are looking for in God’s word.

What happens when we do this? It enables us to draw closer to God, understand Him, His character, His gifts, His plans, His directions so that we may come closer to successfully live a life worthy to bring praise and honor to the Lord.

Prayer:

Lord, quiet my heart and still my soul as I wait on you during these moments. I want to focus on You, Lord, and to shut out all the distractions of the world. I ask for your wisdom to apply these truths to my life morning, noon, and night—literally all through the day. I treasure your Word and want to chew on the truths you reveal to me. As I pull apart each piece and reflect on every principle and word of instruction, I’m asking you to guide me and teach me what you want me to know.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Thoughtful Word 5 April 2020

It is Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday the last Sunday before Easter. Most of us know the story where Jesus rode in on a donkey, directly fulfilling the prophecy in the old testament.

It is referred to as Palm Sunday as the Bible tells us that the people cut palm branches and waved them in the air, laid them out on the ground before Jesus. Palms were recognised as representing goodness, well-being and victory. Palm carvings were often used to decorate important buildings for these very reasons.

Jesus came as goodness Himself, pure and without blemish. He came to have victory over sin and death and so that we may have life. An abundant life with meaning and purpose.

It was also customary that during a time of peace, a king would ride on a donkey, while a king would come sitting on a white horse after victory in a battle. Jesus came as a King, but not to judge the people, He came to demonstrate God’s grace.

Jesus shows us so many aspects of God and of living a God filled life, throughout His ministry but particularly in this period that marks the beginning of a Holy week. We know that this week continues and is a journey of many difficulties, brokenness, betrayal and cruelty right up to death. However we praise God as Jesus was obedient, even to death on a cross. This allows us to have the many gifts we treasure today, not the least of which is our salvation.

Will you join us in praying that today, this Palm Sunday, people will take the time to evaluate and recognise Jesus, who He is and the journey He obediently took for each one of us, so that we can be saved?

Father we pray for our community, that they would come to Christ as the only way, truth and life. We pray that you would change their heart from one of stone to one that is alive and responsive to you. May you open their hearts to believe the Gospel. We pray that you would put your Spirit within them, that they may know the great joy of salvation. We pray this so that they may know the freedom from sin, from repentance and receive your Holy grace. In Jesus precious name, we pray. Amen

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Thoughtful Word - 15 March 2020

6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Most of us would know the story of David & Goliath. (1 Samuel 17)David was a young fellow, small in stature and was going to face the giant. This giant that the armour of grown men shook in fear and trembling. How scary it must have been for David. If we think about it—David didn’t do a course, have special military training, in fact there wasn’t anything really that extraordinary about David….at least nothing we could see.

What made David special and successful of bringing down that huge soldier, Goliath, was God’s presence.

David put his hope in God and fanned that small glimmer of faith and allowed God to enable him.

God invites us today to allow Him in to our lives and gift us with His power, His love and self-discipline. All we have to do is say yes!

There is a but...as that ‘yes’ needs to be everyday. We need to actively ‘feed the flame’ each and everyday. That is, allow God’s gift of His Holy Spirit to ignite our passion, our enthusiasm, our joy and our faith and live it out boldly. Without fear, but bravely in God’s strength because we have His power!

Prayer: Father, thank you for your generous gift of salvation in Jesus. Please help us to live out our gratitude to you, without fear. Amen

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Thoughtful Word ... Addressing the Failure Factor

Sometimes its real, sometimes it is imagined, but the feeling of failure is acute. Disappointment in one’s self is heart breaking and soul damaging. Can even be paralysing. But, one needs to remember failure is not fatal, nor is it defining. Here are some helpful Scriptures to give perspective and encourage ….

It happens to us all—Proverbs 24:16a ‘The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.’

The Lord holds your hand—Psalm 37:34-24 ‘The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.’

The answer is Jesus—Romans 7:24 ’Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God, the answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.’

You are forgiven—1 John 1:9 ‘But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.’

The Lord is your strength—Psalm 73:26 ‘My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever’

There is fresh mercy—Lamentations 3:2-23 ‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.’

Forget the past—Philippians 3:13-14 ‘No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.’

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