“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
Philippians 1: 9-11
Key Passages: Luke 5: 1-11 & John 21: 1-14 Cast your nets, where?
On Tuesday (18th April) I laid before you that which the Lord has put on my heart for St. Aidan’s; what are the talents He has given us (Matthew 25: 14-30), and where can they be best used to His glory, the blessing of others and the furthering of His Kingdom (Luke 5: 1-11 & Matthew 13: 1-24). I asked you to all pray about this on an individual and Church basis and we committed to corporate prayer every Wednesday into June.
On Wednesday (26th April) we had our first Corporate time of prayer AND the Lord spoke. He gave us many encouragements and an essential and clear message to build and pray upon. We considered the call to ‘cast again our nets’ that we find in Luke 5 and John 21. To better understand the following please read those passages. From them, the Lord gave us a direction for further prayer:
The Lord Jesus is on the shore seeking fellowship around the fire of the Holy Spirit. He calls His disciples to go out into the shallows and onto the seas. In the boats He directs where the nets should be cast. In simple terms we saw the shore as the Church, the Body of Christ, where the Lord is Head and present. The fire of the Holy Spirit burns and He seeks fellowship
This is where the Church meets the World and He calls His disciples to step out into the world and make Him know and to welcome others into His Church. We saw that all members have different roles in this ministry and all are essential to welcome others into God’s Kingdom
Biblically the sea, in varying ways, is sometimes likened to the world (that which is not of the Kingdom). We saw Jesus calling us, those with the right gifts, to go out into the world to share the Gospel where the Lord directs. Other boats (other Churches and the Diocese) are there to help bring those that respond back to the shore, into the Body of Christ. Those in the shallows are essential to help in that welcome.
There is a great deal more to this than that which I have shared here but I hope this gives a simple basis to our future prayer; a direction for corporate and individual prayer to hear and respond to God’s Call.
Wonderful Father please encourage and direct us in our prayers that we might discern your love and direction. In this, that we may grow in knowledge and depth to produce fruits of righteousness in your name and to your glory. Guide us to understand the shore on which we fellowship with you, the shallows in which we witness to the world and the sea in which we cast the Good News of Jesus Christ. All to your glory and in your name. Amen
Questions to Ponder in Prayer
Send me – Jenn Johnson Featuring Chris Quilala
April 25, 2023 - Les Kovacs
My sermon this Sunday certainly struck a chord with many of you, and I thank you for your warm and encouraging words during our fellowship time after the service. One question I was asked was this: To whose “orthodox” opinion I was comparing the “unorthodox” teachings of John and Jesus.
My response is that John and Jesus’ teachings ran counter to the commonly held beliefs of their day. The people, and in particular the religious leaders, felt that as long as they held to the Law as handed down from God to Moses, which would have included various sacrifices for atonement for their sins, or because they were descendants of Abraham, they would be considered righteous in God’s eyes. This would have been the prevailing religious orthodoxy of the times. Therefore, when Jesus, and John before him, taught that no amount of sacrifices made by humans was enough to expunge their sins, but only a heart-and-life changing belief in Jesus, the Son of God, whose sacrifice alone was sufficient to cleanse us of our sins, this would have been seen as highly unorthodox because it went against the accepted teaching of their day.
In our modern western culture, traditional Christian beliefs no longer hold sway as they once did, outside of actual practicing Christians. In secular society, the whole concept of sin is considered passe, as just another restriction on our freedom to do as we please. In secular society, the word “inclusion” has come to mean like-mindedness and excludes anyone with a different viewpoint. In secular society, all worldly spiritual practices and all faiths are promoted as being equally valid, which effectively invalidates them all. In secular society, “self” centered ideologies accept shifting expressions of “self” and reject our identity in Christ because it is believed that everyone’s own truth is unique unto themselves, and therefore there is no absolute truth. This is the prevailing orthodoxy of our day. Therefore, for Christians to teach the absolute truth of our salvation by Jesus Christ is highly unorthodox because it goes against the beliefs of society in our day.
In both these cases, the Gospel of Christ is unorthodox because it runs counter to the prevailing orthodoxy of our respective societies. Within the wider western culture that we live, Bible-preaching Christians are no longer considered to hold the “right opinions” (as derived from the Greek words “orthos” and “doxa”) because we don’t espouse the same secular worldview.
There was a time only a few scant decades ago when Christianity was the dominant influence in our society. People went to church regularly. They declared themselves Christian on their census forms. The Ten Commandants were prominently displayed in public buildings. The Lord’s Prayer was recited in schools every morning. In those days, before the rise of “self” promotion, we were orthodox in the commonly accepted meaning of the word. But those days are gone. Only within the confines of Christianity are we orthodox, as opposed to liberal and progressive, because we believe and preach the undiluted Gospel of Christ once handed down (Luke 1:2). To everyone else, we are unorthodox.
Questions for you. Do you believe that all Christians are called to share their faith, or do you believe only clergy are called to it? Does the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) apply to you? Are you comfortable declaring that you are Christian?
This is based on the sermon I preached on April 16.
1. Read 2 Cor. 1:18-22. How is Jesus God’s ‘Yes’ to your life? How is Jesus God’s ‘Yes’ to the human race?
2. In verse 20, Paul says that “through (Christ) the ‘Amen’ is spoken through us to the glory of God.” When you say ‘Amen’ at the end of a prayer, either your own or someone else’s, what do you mean? Why do we pray to the Father ‘through’ Jesus?
3. In verses 21- 22, Paul says that God “anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” What does Paul mean by ‘what is to come’? Deposit also means guarantee, or down payment. What do you think Paul means by the Spirit as a down payment on what is to come?
4. Jesus is given many titles in the New Testament. As you read though this list, take note of one or two that mean the most to you. After reading them through, explain why those one or two titles of Jesus mean a lot to you. Titles of Jesus: Christ, Messiah, Lord, Son of God, Son of Man, Son of David, Word of God, Saviour, Redeemer, Bread of Life, I Am, Beloved Son, Only Begotten Son, Son of the Living God, Chosen One, Head of the Church, Alpha and Omega, Master, Rabbi, Teacher, King of the Jews, King of Kings, New Adam, Last Adam, High Priest, Prophet, Nazarene, Immanuel, Mediator, Judge, Chief Cornerstone, the Living Stone, Lamb of God, Good Shepherd, True Vine, Rock, Dayspring, Bridegroom, Lion of Judah, The Way the Truth and the Life.
5. Read John 11:17-27. In verse 25, Jesus gives himself another title. He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Does Jesus promise that we will not experience death at all? What do you think will happen to you in the general resurrection? Is the ‘eternal life’ Jesus promises different in any way from ‘going to heaven’ after we die? Is ‘eternal life’ a promise for later, or for now, or what?
6. (Optional submitted question) Q: If Jesus fulfilled so many predictions, prophecies, and promises, why haven’t most Jews believed that Jesus is the Messiah? Are the Jews waiting for someone else? A: Most Jews do not believe that Jesus ushered in the Messianic age of peace right away. He didn’t ‘fulfil the requirements’ of the expected Messiah. He is seen as a divergence from Judaism rather than fulfilling Judaism. Historically, Christian anti-Semitism against Jews has prevented all but a few Jews from becoming Christians. Many Jews still expect the Messiah to come later.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11: 28-30
Yesterday, on Palm Sunday, I encouraged and challenged us to be intentional in our focus upon Passion Week and the message of Easter. The aim being to learn from Jesus that we might know His peace (John 14: 27); peace with God and the peace of God. Also, that in knowing this peace we may live lightly and freely, growing as peacemakers, bringing His truth to the world.
Begin by considering what takes away your peace; what is bringing you disquiet in your heart and mind now? Write these matters down on a piece of paper and put them to the side for the time being.
Next, from Sunday, read Luke 19: 35-42 again and begin to ‘keep company’ with Jesus. Take these three steps:
1. Walk with Jesus – walk alongside Him as he rides the colt into Jerusalem. A courageous act in the face of murderous intent. Hear what is sung, said and done by others. See Jesus cry as the people reject God’s peace. Then:
2. Watch Jesus – and understand how His actions fulfil prophecies (Zech. 9: 9) and stake the claim that He is the King, God’s Messiah. How does this help you know Him, what can you learn from Him? Next:
3. Work with Jesus – in prayer, study and discussion, unpack how what you have learnt can be applied in your life? For example how might you have courage in the face of opposition, what scripture can you stand on? Now, go back to that piece of paper with your worries, concerns and fears. How might what you have learnt be applied to these issues, what might you pray and do that would imitate Jesus and bring in His peace?
Finally my brothers and sisters I ask you to apply the above practice to this whole week. Read and learn from Jesus in John 12-20, come to the services; Walk with Jesus, Watch Jesus and Work with Jesus that you may keep His company, learn to live freely and lightly and thereby grow in His peace. Make time to be alone with Him and apply St. Aidan’s Prayer to your life this week. May God bless and encourage you.
Leave me alone with God as much as may be. As the tide draws the waters close in upon the shore, make me an island, set apart, alone with you, God, holy to you. Then with the turning of the tide prepare me to carry your presence to the busy world beyond, the world that rushes in on me till the waters come again and fold me back to you. St. Aidan’s prayer
At the Cross – Chris Tomlin
Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me - CityAlight
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.