“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”
To “behold” means to give our full attention to someone or something while allowing ourselves to be changed by the encounter.
What are you beholding? What has your attention?
In an age of scrolling, flicking and skimming so much information how do we “behold” Jesus, the Lamb of God? How might we respond to his invitation to “come and see” in his presence?
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after receiving the law of God his face was radiant. It was seeing God’s glorious grace that transformed him. We too are changed when we get a glimpse of God in all his glorious grace. When we see Jesus as He is we are both humbled and restored. The church is never changed by law, by new commands to do things better or differently. We are changed by a vision of Jesus. Today let us gaze upon the beauty of his grace.
As we enter Spring I’m am reminded that our lives have seasons. Spring comes with the promise of new life, but what about the times when we are in the thick of winter? We don’t like to talk about these times. If we do we usually focus on the coming Spring. With such good news in the gospel it is important we don’t deny the truth about our pain. God certainly doesn’t. Psalm 88 is an honest word from God to us. It gives us permission to be real about our lostness, God’s silence, our fear and our loneliness. God is not just the God for the happy; He is the Saviour of the world. Even in the darkest times there is a love that holds us firm.
Mike talks about how even though life can throw us some curve balls, God is with us in the mess.
Barnabas was known as the Son of Encouragement by the first believers. He was so grounded in the grace and provision of God he lived to serve God and love his church. This was a gift of the Spirit and, as Barnabas shows, God’s gifts usually have a very practical expression. Acts 4 tells us Barnabas sold a field and laid the money at the disciples feet. Others may not be great prayers or preachers but they excel in administration, in helping, in hospitality and giving. These Spiritual gifts are all vital to the encouragement of the church. And if they are good for the church then they are good for God’s mission to the world.
Over the last 15 years our church has been connected with the Saiyarak Group in Northern Thailand. About 2000 years ago Jesus met a woman at a well in Samaria. This morning we are going to reflect on what we have learnt from our friendship with Saiyarak and the call of Jesus for us to meet people on the margins and share faith, life and love together.
x+3=4. What is the value of x? There is an unambiguous answer to this question. Similarly, some choices we must make have equally unambiguous answers, such as, May I betray my spouse? May I put down so-and-so in this conversation to get back at them? However, most decisions, including big-ticket items (such as, Is this the right person to marry? What career should I pursue? How should I spend my time in retirement?), do not come with right/wrong answers. How do we serve Christ well in these circumstances - especially when a lot is at stake? This message will build on Simon’s recent teaching on wisdom.
What we believe will determine how we act. If I believe that a chair will not hold my weight I won’t sit on it! What we really believe about God determines how we will live, how we will pray and what we will do in response to our awareness of God’s presence. As a community of believers in Jesus Christ, there will be some in the church who are given the particular spiritual gift of faith to help us. This faith, which impacts the whole community, is a confidence in Jesus’ real working in our world in ways we simply cannot comprehend. It’s a wonderful gift that can lift all our expectations of God’s grace and amaze the church. And really, who wants to live a life without amazement!
We are confronted by all sort of complex challenges in our lives. Many times we simply don’t know the right course of action to take and our emotional responses can make this even more difficult. Oh, how we need the wisdom of God at times like this. James tells us the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. We don’t have that sort of wisdom in us but God does promise that He gives the church this gift of wisdom through the Holy Spirit. In a world of confusion God brings his wisdom to save us.