For light today Lord I ask
For wisdom to live well
For love to relate well
For peace to be well
For belief to trust well
For hope to persevere well.
Continuing the new life theme in our readings this week...
A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair.[a] Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people[b] in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”
9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin,[c] said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles[d] down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[e] Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,[f] and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.
New Living Translation
6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life[a] because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
New Living Translation
Help me Saviour
I am so slow to learn
So prone to forget
So weak to climb
GIve me grace so there may be
More decision in my character
More vigour in my purposes
More elevation in my life
More fervour in my devotion.
(adapted from Valley of Vision)
From the depths of despair, O Lord,
I call for your help.
2 Hear my cry, O Lord.
Pay attention to my prayer.
3 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
4 But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.
5 I am counting on the Lord;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
6 I long for the Lord
more than sentries long for the dawn,
yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord;
for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
His redemption overflows.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from every kind of sin.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Beautiful words to this one...
My worth is not in what I own
Not in the strength of flesh and bone
But in the costly wounds of love
At the cross
My worth is not in skill or name
In win or lose
In pride or shame
But in the blood of Christ that flowed
At the cross...
We've been spending some time as a community reading and learning from the psalms of ascent (Psalms 120-134) a section within the Old Testament book of psalms.
People think these were probably sung by pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem to the temple for one of the three big Jewish festivals each year. They touch on many issues that parallel our travels through life to our ultimate home with God forever.
Here's one we are thinking about this week on the theme of humility.
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.
1 Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the Lord--
now and always.
We've been encouraging one another by reading through Psalm 119 together - a LONG psalm all showing enthusiasm for God's word/commands/laws etc... basically the writer tells God in many different ways just how much he wants God to shape his life - how that is his delight. Come and shape my life Lord, that is my delight!
It might be long, but it was meant for memorisation originally as it is written following the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each verse of a paragraph follows the same letter, each paragraph moving on to the next letter. And it can be learnt in English too. William Wilberforce (he of abolishing slavery fame) memorised it and walked the 20 minutes home from Parliament, through Hyde Park, reciting it. In 1819 he wrote in his journal: "Walked from Hyde Park Corner repeating the 119th psalm in great comfort."
Here's a bit of it:
33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
rather than a love for money!
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
and give me life through your word.
38 Reassure me of your promise,
made to those who fear you.
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways;
for your regulations are good.
40 I long to obey your commandments!
Renew my life with your goodness.
Today we celebrate the birth of the most amazing man who ever lived. The man who is more than just a mere man. The man who changed the world. The man who changes lives. The man who taught like noone else ever taught. The man who did things noone else ever did. The man who loved. The man who served. The man who forgave. The man who healed. The man who challenged. The man who spoke truth. The man who was truth. The man who is truth. The man who suffered. The man who died. The man who rose again. The man who defeated death. The man who showed us what God is like. The man who was God-in-flesh. The man who gives life. The man who lives in us today.
The man who we follow. Jesus Christ.
Happy Christmas everyone!
Here's a three minute catch up on 1 Corinthians 14 and 15 from the last couple of weeks.
Mike led us in this song - a new version of the old hymn from Psalm 23. LIsten again.
Never failing ruler of my heart
Everlasting lover of my soul
On mountain high
Or in the valley low
The king of love my shepherd is
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice in injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
(1 Corinthians 13 v4-7 NLT)
Give me increase and progress in grace
so that there may be
more decision in my character
more vigour in my purposes
more elevation in my life
more fervour in my devotion
more constancy in my zeal
(from Valley of Vision)
This is a strange chapter in the bible. But basically the issues are the same as in other weeks...
Love for others? Or my right to do what I want? Which is more important? Which is more like Jesus?
In chapter 11 there are two issues. A man and woman issue. And a rich and poor issue. In both situations people were thinking of themselves rather than others and it was causing huge problems.
We should be big-hearted not small-minded! Loving others and wanting to see them know and grow in Jesus often means giving up rights, preferences and what we find comfortable. And that requires effort!
There are traps that kill off big-hearted faith!
Urban Life - followers of Jesus living life and bringing life in an urban setting!
The blog gives a snapshot of our life together as we post things we are learning about; things we believe; songs we love; readings and prayers to strengthen and help us; and general information about what is happening in our community.
So here are updates, reviews, reminders and support for those who are part of our community, and a chance to 'look in' for those who are interested and wondering what we are all about.