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Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Exam Prayer List


We are in the season (in South Africa) of year end examinations. This past Sunday (28 October) at our Coffee Service I preached on The Gospel and Exams and the service included a wonderful time of ministry in the Holy Spirit to the exam writers who came forward while we sang Whisper His Name. As part of our Stewardship series, part of which looked at Stewardship of People, we at Alberton Methodist Church have committed ourselves to intercede on behalf of these folk, and I ask any intercessors who follow my blog to please find time to pray as the Spirit leads for the folk below. In South Africa the matric exam is the school leaving examination and determines entry into tertiary education institutions such as colleges and universities. The list below the "matric" list is of folk writing other levels of school and tertiary level examinations.
If you would like to add anyone to this list, please forward names to exams@johnwesleyproject.com




Please pray for our Matriculants

Azra, Bianca Swartz, Bianca Schwarze,Brendan Menges, Bronwyn, Carina Gouvia, Cassandra Dunstan,Charlene, Clarissa Hanekom, Daniel Stevens, Danielle Jacobs, Doreen Karuzi, Greg Douglas, Hugo van der Merwe, Jacqueline Weitz, James Menney, Janine, Jared Heyl, Jarryd Irvine, James Menney, Jason Henderson, Jennifer-Lee Fabel, Jocelyn Pentz, Justin Lewis, Keenen Fisher, Kimberly Supra, Kyle Shear, Lebona Moekena, Lee-Anne Du Plessis, Louis de Kok, Matthew McEnroe, Matthew Moriarty, Matthew Shaer, Maxine Doque, Monica, Nikita Philips, Palesa Mashego, Rayno Lategaan, Rochelle De Costa, Rui Simones, Sashlin Govender, Selwyn, Sergio de Freitas, Sevonia Tandree, Shane Baker, Shaun de Beer, Simone Ledtlae, Stacy Bekker, Stephany Truscott, Tamsin Mary Matthew.


And for those writing other exams

Alex Domfe, Alexander, All prisoners writing exams, Alyssa,  Angelique, Andrew Empey, Anina Nel, Anmina, Ayanda Mkwananzi, Abigail Poole,  Bandile Nhlapo, Barry, Bianca Borrill, Binanca, Blaise Bondo, Brandon Acutt, Bronwyn, Buyisile Moyo, Candace Bennett, Candice Streek, Candice Wilsnach, Cassandra Weitsz, Chad Hutzinger, Charne, Chelsea Moses, Cheridene Danster, Christiaan Bezuidenhout,  Christine, Cindy Helena, Cody Moses, Conra Scott, Cornu Campher, Daniella, Danika Kunz, Danita, David, David Fabel, Dylan, Dylan Fisher, Elize, Gert, Isobelle, Itumeleng Matli, Janice Bruiners, Jared Heyl,  Jared Sadie, Jason, Jason Hennings, Jason Parry, Jason Tirant, Javiere, Jaydenen Lourens, Jeanine Edgar, Jessica, Jessica Watson, Jessica Putter, Johanna Watson, John Botes, Johnny, Jonathon Bouwer, Jordan, Joshua, Joyann Day, Julian Prinsloo, Kelly McNamee, Kathleen, Katy Harris, Kelan McElnea, Kerry, Kevin Downs, Kirsten, Kirsten Serrurier, Koena, Kutlu Masetle, Kyla,  Kyle Horn, Kyle MengesLauraine Opia, Laurice Barnes, Leane, Lemond Day, Lgana, Lulu Nhlapo, Mayco Brites, Meake Strydom, Melissa Acutt, Melissa Philips, Michaela, Michelle Pedro, Monica,  Monica Hedder, Nikita, Natasha Dixon, Nicolene van Niekerk, Nerine, Nicole, Nichole, Nicole Germishuizen , Nokukhanya Mathimba,Ntando Nhlapo, Olivia Guerini, Patrick Kasu, Rita Langhein, Riza Estologa, Roger, Rogerio Brites, Rozaan van As, Rudi Botha, Rueben, Ryan Tirant, Sakkie, Savannah Hristov, Sfiso Nhlapo, Shandre, Shelley Wilsnach, Sherilee, Simone Andre, Sky, Sophie Hristov, Stanley, Steffen Schwarze,  Tamara Petersen, Taneal, Tania,, Tatum Chemaly, Thabo Ferguson, Thabo Nhlapo, Thokozani Msimanga, Thoriso Chabedi, Tracey Hendry, Trent Bartrum, Vosloorus comprehensive school, Wendy Barnard, Yastil Sanjith, Kingsley Obeng, Dave Obeng junior. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stewardship 6: Stewardship of the Bible


Stewardship of the Bible 



Text Verse
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and giving instruction for right living.

Introduction

It is said that the average Christian home in the West has between 6 and 7 Bibles.
Take a moment to think about whether that is true of your home.
But here’s the sad thing… many Christians have never read the Bible! What does it mean to read a book… it means to start at the beginning and read from page 1 to the page which says: The End.
Over the years I’ve found that many people find this a daunting task… but… 3 pages a day and you’ve read the Bible in a year. 2 pages of the Old Testament and one of the New Testament – the Bible in a year.

This is a good book and the message today as we continue our series on Stewardship is this: read your Bible.
God has given us His word… surely as good stewards we should read it.

“All Scripture is inspired by God”

The word ‘inspired’ takes us right back to Genesis, to the beginning, where God created human beings from dust and then breathed into them, inspired them, and they came to life.
Friends, one of the reasons to read this inspired book as a book is because this inspired writing, inspires us! Reading the Bible as a book, not as a reference book, like an encyclopedia, but as a book, as a story…. Reading it like a book gives God a chance to breathe life into us… and who doesn't need that?

I think one of the things we forget is that the Bible is a story – it has a beginning, middle, and an end. It has a theme, one overriding theme which holds the whole story together, like any good theme does.

What is the theme of the Bible, the central thread holding everything together?
It is: The reign of God on earth.
First, through two people: Adam and Eve; but the story tells us how they didn't want the reign of God… and in their story we see our story, don’t we?

And as we read their story, which is our story, God breathes into our story.
And then we read on and see how things just got worse and worse in the world… Babel… and eventually the flood and a new start… and then God starting again with a couple, Abraham and Sarah, and growing them into a family, and a then a clan, and then a tribe, and then a nation, with Kings and Priests and Prophets  - and through all this story, the theme being the reign of God, but people refusing to embrace the reign of God, and in their story, we find our story and as we read their story, God breathes into our story.

Then we read of another new start, in Jesus, who proclaims the reign of God, the Kingdom of God as being ‘near’. And then we read of another new start, the birth of the Church, and we are reminded of our own birth into the Church and into the Kingdom and the reign of God in our lives or perhaps we are called to consider letting God reign in our lives.
Then as we read letters written to the early Church, God breathes through them and suddenly they are letters to us and we find ourselves in this story, which is His story becoming our story.
And then, we read on and find the end of the earth’s story and the end of the Church’s story and miraculously, what the end of our story will be.
This is a good book, as good stewards we should read it.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful"

Notice next how scripture describes scripture.

Can you see it in our text verse? Scripture is… useful. So… humble.

Useful for what?

1.   For teaching:
The Scriptures (Torah) teach us, informs us, and tell us about the reign of God in… the universe, in the world, in nations, in individuals, in us.
Scripture teaches us our history and even teaches us our future, and it’s a very useful teacher.

2.   For rebuking:
Yes, as we read this book we discover, especially through the Prophets, that the people of the earth, and the people who decide to submit to the reign of God, all these people, including you and me, often need to be rebuked. This is a strong word and it includes an element of discipline, an element of ‘you will submit’ to the reign of God. So in the New Testament it is used by Jesus often – He rebukes the wind and brings it into submission, He rebukes Satan, He rebukes the Pharisees and  teachers of the law, He rebukes disciples when they send children away, He rebukes Peter the Rock saying, “Get behind me Satan”. Godly rebuke is good for us.
As we read Gods story we see that Gods people don’t like Gods rebuke, but we see also, that that never stops Him from rebuking when necessary, just like a good parent.

3.   For correcting:
Where rebuke is pointing out error, correction is showing the right way. The Writings in Scripture (scripture is divided, even by Jesus, into the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings) show us the mind of Christ, they show us Godly wisdom.
Scripture shows us how to conform to Gods will and Gods way.

4.   Giving instruction for right living:
Where correction shows us how to think properly and wisely, instruction for right living shows us how to act properly. We are not just believers of the word, but doers of the word. We are called not only to have the mind of Christ, but to do the actions of Christ.
And the Scriptures are of course very useful for instructing us in the Jesus way. WWJD (remember the bracelet) – the Scriptures tell us and as we read them, God breathes the actions of Jesus into us and as long as we have breath, we do the actions of Jesus in the world around us.

In conclusion:
Notice why we need teaching, rebuking, correcting and instruction for right living… it is so that we can be properly equipped for every good work.
As we read the story of God's reign we see that salvation has always come to God's people through a faith, a belief that leads to actions, deeds or works.

Noah believed, and he showed his belief/faith by building the ark. Faith leads to actions, it’s how we see whether our faith is saving faith.
Abraham believes… and so acts by setting out on an amazing journey.
Moses believes… and acts.
The prostitute Rachel believes… and acts.
Joshua believes… and acts.
Samson believes… and acts.
David believes… and acts.
Many believers/has faith and acts.
Joseph believes… and acts.
John the Baptist believes… and acts.
Matthew, Peter, Saul believe and act.

You and I, as we read this good book, the story of God's reign, are invited to submit to God's reign, by believing and acting.

This is a good book, a useful book.

As good stewards of the manifold grace of God, we should read it, just like a book.

Amen.





Thursday, October 18, 2012

Study Notes: Stewardship of the Bible


Stewardship of the Bible 
Aim of the lesson:

•    To encourage regular devotional reading of the Bible and give some pointers as to how to do it.

Study passage: Psalm 119:89-112
Notes:

·     The Bible is the soil from which all Christian faith grows. Who is God? Is there a Divine plan for the world? What is God's purpose for us? How should we live today? We cannot know these things ourselves. Only God can reveal them to us. There used to be a gramophone record label "His Master's Voice", and this is a good description of the Bible. In it we hear God's voice making known the Divine nature and will.
·     The purpose of reading the Bible. There are various reasons why we should read it:

-    To develop our relationship with God by coming to understand more of his mind, what things are truly important, how God works etc.
-    To meet with and get to know Jesus Christ, the Living Word (Jn 20:31).
-    To give God an opportunity to speak to us and guide us through the Holy Spirit.
-    To allow ourselves to become saturated with God's word. This will affect our thinking, enabling us to bear fruit for God, and helping us to be obedient to the teaching of Jesus (Jn 15:5-7, 2 Tim 3:16-17).

•    How to read the Bible

-    Be regular and disciplined. The Bible rewards those who "stick with it" Persistence is one of the essentials of all Christian living.
-    Read expectantly, believing that as we read God will meet with us and speak to us.
-    Come in reverence, for we are meeting with the living God.
-    Rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us and enable us to know God's will (Jn 16:13-14). (When we say God "speaks" to us we do not usually mean that we actually hear an audible voice, but rather that the Holy Spirit convicts us inwardly about truth, sin or duty.)
-    Allow sufficient time. Bible study cannot be rushed. We are told to "wait" on the Lord (Ps 27:13-14). Use the time as follows:
-    Read the passage slowly. Don't read too much at a time.
-    Think about it; allow the mind to grasp the meaning.
-    Where appropriate, use your imagination to picture the scene.
-    Ask what God is saying to you through the passage.
-    Ask how can I be obedient? What does God want me to do?
-    Keep a note book and write down special thoughts, commitments to be obedient etc.

·     If you are just setting out on this road and don't know where to start, begin in the New Testament with Luke and move on to Acts, John, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Ephesians. Daily Bible study notes can take you on from there. (See below)

·     Commentaries - Many good commentaries exist and can help us to interpret the meaning of the passage. Ask your minister or your local Christian bookshop to advise you. However, it is more important to actually read the Bible yourself, not just books about the Bible. The Holy Spirit guides us into the truth. Discover things for yourself at first-hand.


·     Daily Bible study notes - These are intended to help with personal daily Bible study. A passage will be given to read, followed by a page or so of devotional comment and explanation. Various series are available: again, your minister or nearest Christian bookshop will advise you.

·     Bible study in a group - We often learn more in a group than as individuals. An essential part of our Bible study is to meet in Christian fellowship, in our class meeting or home fellowship group (Heb 10.25). If you are not already part of such a group, make a serious effort to join one.
Questions for discussion:

1.      Have you ever had an occasion when you have felt that the Bible has really "spoken" to you? Share what happened and how you felt.
2.      What benefits does the Psalmist get from studying God's Word (see the study passage)?
3.      What special things do we notice about a person who has spent many years in faithful study of God's Word?
4.      How can we be more systematic and disciplined about reading the Bible? What problems do we experience?
5.      Why is it important to apply what we learn in our Bible study? 

JW miraculously saved from drowning


Sat 22 Oct 1743: I rode from Nottingham to Epworth, and on Monday set out for Grimsby. But at Ferry we were at a full stop; the boatmen telling us we could not pass the Trent. It was as much as our lives were worth to put from shore before the storm abated. We waited an hour. But being afraid it would do much hurt if I should disappoint the congregation at Grimsby, I asked the men if they did not think it possible to get to the other shore. They said they could not tell; but if we would venture our lives, they would venture theirs. So we put off, having six men, two women, and three horses in the boat. Many stood looking after us on the riverside; in the middle of which we were, when in an instant, the side of the boat was under water, and the horses and men rolling one over another. We expected the boat to sink every moment, but I did not doubt of being able to swim ashore. The boatmen were amazed as well as the rest, but they quickly recovered and rowed for life. And soon after our horses leaping overboard lightened the boat, and we all came unhurt to land.
They wondered what was the matter, I did not rise (for I lay along in the bottom of the boat); and I wondered too; till upon examination we found that a large iron crow, which the boatmen sometimes used, was (none knew how) run through the string of my boot, which pinned me down that I could not stir. So that if the boat had sunk, I should have been safe enough from swimming any further.
The same day, and as near as we could judge the same hour, the boat in which my brother was crossing the Severn, at the New Passage, was carried away by the wind, and in the utmost danger of splitting upon the rocks. But the same God, when all human hope was past, delivered them as well as us.
In the evening, the house at Grimsby not being able to contain one fourth of the congregation, I stood in the street and exhorted every prodigal to ‘arise and go to his father’. One or two endeavoured to interrupt; but they were soon stilled by their own companions. The next day, Tuesday 25, one in the town promised us the use of a large room. But he was prevailed upon to retract his promise before the hour of preaching came. I then designed going to the Cross; but the rain prevented; so that we were a little at a loss till we were offered a very convenient place by ‘a woman which was a sinner’. I there declared ‘him’ (about one o’clock) whom ‘God hath exalted, to give repentance and remission of sins’. And God so confirmed the word of his grace that I marvelled any one could withstand him.
However the prodigal held out till the evening, when I enlarged upon her sins and faith, who ‘washed’ our Lord’s ‘feet with tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head’. She was then utterly broken in pieces (as indeed, was well-nigh the whole congregation) and came after me to my lodging, crying out, ‘O sir! “What must I do to be saved?”’ Being now informed of her case, I said, ‘Escape for your life. Return instantly to you husband.’ She said, ‘But how can it be? Which way can I go? He is above an hundred miles off. I have just received a letter from him; and he is at Newcastle upon Tyne.’ I told her, ‘I am going for Newcastle in the morning. You may go with me. William Blow shall take you behind him.’ And so he did. Glory be to the Friend of sinners! He hath plucked one more brand out of the fire.—Thou poor sinner, thou hast received a prophet in the name of a prophet, and thou art found of him that sent him.

Miracles as School house burns down


25 Oct 1757: In my return a man met me near Hanham and told me the school-house in Kingswood was burned down. I felt not one moment’s pain, knowing that God does all things well. When I came thither I received a fuller account. About eight on Monday evening, two or three boys went into the gallery, up two pair of stairs. One of them heard a strange crackling in the room above. Opening the staircase door, he was beat back by smoke, on which he cried out, ‘Fire, murder, fire!’ Mr. Baynes hearing this, ran immediately down and brought up a pail of water. But when he went into the room and saw the blaze, he had not presence of mind to go up to it but threw the water upon the floor. Meantime one of the boys rung the bell; another called John Maddern from the next house, who ran up, as did James Burges quickly after, and found the room all in a flame. The deal partitions took fire immediately, which spread to the roof of the house. Plenty of water was now brought, but they could not come nigh the place where it was wanted, the room being so filled with flame and smoke that none could go into it. At last a long ladder which lay in the garden was reared up against the wall of the house. But it was then observed that one of the sides of it was broke in two, and the other quite rotten. However John How (a young man who lived next door) ran up it with an axe in his hand. But he then found the ladder was so short that as he stood on the top of it he could but just lay one hand over the battlements. How he got over to the leads none can tell, but he did so and quickly broke through the roof, on which a vent being made, the smoke and flame issued out as from a furnace. Those who were at the foot of the stairs with water, being able to go no further, then went through the smoke to the door of the leads and poured it down through the tiling. By this means the fire was quickly quenched, having only consumed a part of the partition, with a box of clothes, and a little damaged the roof and the floor beneath.
It is amazing that so little hurt was done. For the fire, which began in the middle of the long room (none can imagine how, for no person had been there for several hours before) was so violent that it broke every pane of glass but two, in the window both at the east and west end. What was more amazing still was that it did not hurt either the beds (which when James Burges came in seemed all covered with flame) nor the deal partitions on the other side of the room, though it beat against them for a considerable time. What can we say to these things but that God had fixed the bounds which it could not pass?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Murder attempts on Wesley


20 Oct 1743: After preaching to a small, attentive congregation, I rode to Wednesbury. At twelve I preached in a ground near the middle of the town to a far larger congregation than was expected, on ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and for ever’. I believe everyone present felt the power of God. And no creature offered to molest us, either going or coming: but ‘the Lord fought for’ us, and we ‘held our peace’.
I was writing at Francis Ward’s in the afternoon when the cry arose that the mob had beset the house. We prayed that God would disperse them. And it was so: one went this way and another that; so that in half an hour not a man was left. I told our brethren, ‘Now is the time for us to go.’ But they pressed me exceedingly to stay. So that I might not offend them, I sat down, though I foresaw what would follow. Before five the mob surrounded the house again, in greater numbers than ever. The cry of one and all was, ‘Bring out the minister; we will have the minister.’ I desired one to take their captain by the hand, and bring him into the house. After a few sentences interchanged between us, the lion was become a lamb. I desired him to go and bring one or two more of the most angry of his companions. He brought in two, who were ready to swallow the ground with rage; but in two minutes they were as calm as he. I then bade them make way, that I might go out among the people. As soon as I was in the midst of them I called for a chair, and standing up asked, ‘What do any of you want with me?’ Some said, ‘We want you to go with us to the justice.’ I replied, ‘That I will with all my heart.’ I then spoke a few words, which God applied; so that they cried out with might and main, ‘The gentleman is an honest gentleman, and we will spill our blood in his defence.’ I asked, ‘Shall we go to the justice tonight or in the morning?’ Most of them cried, ‘Tonight, tonight.’ On which I went before, and two or three hundred followed, the rest returning whence they came.
The night came on before we had walked a mile, together with heavy rain. However on we went to Bentley Hall, two miles from Wednesbury. One or two ran before to tell Mr. Lane they had brought Mr. Wesley before his worship. Mr. Lane replied, ‘What have I to do with Mr. Wesley? Go and carry him back again.’ By this time the main body came up and began knocking at the door. A servant told them Mr. Lane was in bed. His son followed and asked what was the matter. One replied, ‘Why, an’t please you, they sing psalms all day; nay, and make folks rise at five in the morning. And what would your worship advise us to do?’ ‘To go home’, said Mr. Lane, ‘and be quiet.’
Here they were at a full stop, till one advised to go to Justice Persehouse at Walsall. All agreed to this. So we hastened on, and about seven came to his house. But Mr Persehouse likewise sent word that he was in bed. Now they were at a stand again; but at last they all thought it the wisest course to make the best of their way home. About fifty of them undertook to convey me. But we had not gone a hundred yards when the mob of Walsall came, pouring in like a flood, and bore down all before them. The Darlaston mob made what defence they could; but they were weary, as well as outnumbered. So that in a short time, many being knocked down, the rest ran away and left me in their hands.
To attempt speaking was vain, for the noise on every side was like the roaring of the sea. So they dragged me along till we came to the town; where, seeing the door of a large house open, I attempted to go in; but a man catching me by the pair pulled me back into the middle of the mob. They made no more stop till they had carried me through the main street from one end of the town to the other. I continued speaking all the time to those within hearing, feeling no pain or weariness. At the west end of the town, seeing a door half open, I made toward it, and would have gone in. But a gentleman in the shop would not suffer me, saying they would ‘pull the house down to the ground’. However, I stood at the door, and asked, ‘Are you willing to hear me speak?’ Many cried out, ‘No, no! Knock his brains out; down with him; kill him at once.’ Others said, ‘Nay, but we will hear him first.’ I began asking, ‘What evil have I done? Which of you all have I wronged in word or deed?’ And continued speaking for above a quarter of an hour, till my voice suddenly failed. Then the floods began to lift up their voice again, many crying out, ‘Bring him away, bring him away.’
In the meantime my strength and my voice returned, and I broke out aloud into prayer. And now the man who just before headed the mob turned and said, ‘Sir, I will spend my life for you. Follow me, and not one soul here shall touch a hair of your head.’ Two or three of his fellows confirmed his words and got close to me immediately. At the same time the gentleman in the shop cried out, ‘For shame, for shame, let him go.’ An honest butcher, who was a little farther off, said it was a shame they should do thus, and pulled back four or five, one after another, who were running on the most fiercely. The people then, as if it had been by common consent, fell back to the right and left, while those three or four men took me between them and carried me through them all. But on the bridge the mob rallied again. We therefore went on one side, over the mill dam, and thence through the meadows, till, a little before ten, God brought me safe to Wednesbury, having lost only one flap of my waistcoat and a little skin from one of my hands.
I never saw such a chain of providences before; so many convincing proofs that the hand of God is on every person and thing, overruling all as it seemeth him good.
The poor woman of Darlaston who had headed that mob and sworn that none should touch me, when she saw her fellows give way, ran into the thickest of the throng and knocked down three or four men, one after another. But many assaulting her at once, she was soon overpowered, and had probably been killed in a few minutes (three men keeping her down and beating her with all their might), had not a man called to one of them, ‘Hold, Tom, hold!’ ‘Who is there?’ said Tom. ‘What, honest Munchin? Nay then let her go.’ So they held their hand, and let her get up and crawl home as well as she could.
From the beginning to the end I found the same presence of mind as if I had been sitting in my own study. But I took no thought for one moment before another; only once it came into my mind that if they should throw me into the river it would spoil the papers that were in my pocket. For myself, I did not doubt but I should swim across, having but a thin coat and a light pair of boots.
The circumstances that follow I thought were particularly remarkable: (1) That many endeavoured to throw me down while we were going downhill on a slippery path to the town; as well judging, that if I was once on the ground, I should hardly rise any more. But I made no stumble at all, nor the least slip till I was entirely out of their hands. (2) That although many strove to lay hold on my collar or clothes, to pull me down, they could not fasten at all; only one got fast hold of the flap of my waistcoat, which was soon left in his hand. The other flap, in the pocket of which was a bank-note, was born but half off. (3) That a lusty man just behind struck at me several times with a large oaken stick; with which if he had struck me once on the back part of my head, it would have saved him all farther trouble. But every time the blow was turned aside, I know not how; for I could not move to the right hand or left. (4) That another came rushing through the press, and raising his arm to strike, on a sudden let it drop, and only stroked my head, saying, ‘What soft hair he has!’ (5) That I stopped exactly at the mayor’s door, as if I had known it (which the mob doubtless thought I did), and found him standing in the shop, which gave the first check to the madness of the people. (6) That the very first men whose hearts were turned were the heroes of the town, the captains of the rabble on all occasions, one of them having been a prize-fighter at the bear-garden. (7) That from first to last I heard none give a reviling word or call me by any opprobrious name whatever. But the cry of one and all was, ‘The preacher! The preacher! The parson! The minister!’ (8) That no creature, at least within my hearing, laid anything to my charge, either true or false; having in the hurry quite forgot to provide themselves with an accusation of any kind. And, lastly, that they were as utterly at a loss what they should do with me; none proposing any determinate thing, only, ‘Away with him; kill him at once!’
By how gentle degrees does God prepare us for his will! Two years ago a piece of a brick grazed my shoulders. It was a year after that the stone struck me between the eyes. Last month I received one blow, and this evening, two: one before we came into the town, and one after we were gone out. But both were as nothing, for though one man struck me on the breast with all his might, and the other on the mouth with such a force that the blood gushed out immediately, I felt no more pain from either of the blows than if they had touched me with a straw.
It ought not to be forgotten that when the rest of the society made all haste to escape for their lives, four only would not stir, William Sitch, Edward Slater, John Griffiths, and Joan Parks; these kept with me, resolving to live or die together. And none of them received one blow but William Sitch, who held me by the arm, from one end of the town to the other. He was then dragged away and knocked down; but he soon rose and got to me again. I afterwards asked him what he expected when the mob came upon us. He said, ‘To die for him who had died for us’; and he felt no hurry or fear, but calmly waited till God should require his soul of him.
I asked J. Parks if she was not afraid when they tore her away from me. She said, ‘No, no more than I am now. I could trust God for you as well as for myself. From the beginning I had a full persuasion that God would deliver you. I knew not how; but I left that to him, and was as sure as if it were already done.’ I asked if the report was true that she had fought for me. She said, ‘No; I knew God would fight for his children.’ And shall these souls perish at the last?
When I came back to Francis Ward’s I found many of our brethren waiting upon God. Many also whom I had never seen before came to rejoice with us. And the next morning, as I rode through the town in my way to Nottingham, everyone I met expressed such a cordial affection that I could scarce believe what I saw and heard.
I cannot close this head without inserting as great a curiosity in its kind, as I believe was ever yet seen in England; which had its birth within a very few days of this remarkable occurrence at Walsall:
Staffordshire
To all high-constables, petty-constables, and other of his Majesty’s peace-officers, within the said county, and particularly to the constable of Tipton (near Walsall):
Whereas we, his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, for the said county of Stafford, have received information that several disorderly persons, styling themselves Methodist preachers, go about raising routs and riots, to the great damage of his Majesty’s leige people, and against the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King:
These are in his Majesty’s name to command you and every one of you, within your respective districts, to make diligent search after the said Methodist preachers, and to bring him or them before some of us his said Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, to be examined concerning their unlawful doings.
Given under our hands and seals, this 12th day of October, 1743.
J. Lane
W. Persehouse.
N.B. The very justices to whose houses I was carried, and who severally refused to see me!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stewardship 5: Stewardship of our Bodies


 Stewardship of Our Bodies 


At the Global Leadership Summit yesterday we were addressed by former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and she spoke of the "universality of freedom" and I couldn't help but think of the verses I knew I would be reading today: As for you, my friends, you were called to be free. ......But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control youThe Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives.  She reminded us of the huge responsibility which comes with our freedom. 

In the context of Stewardship of our Bodies, we have tremendous freedom to use our various body parts as we please AND an enormous responsibility as Christians to use them in a God-glorifying manner. As a text verse I have chosen Romans 12:1 
So then, my friends, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him.

The Jewish people who first received this letter knew all about sacrifices. They were used to going to the Temple in Jerusalem (even from as far away as Rome) and making sacrifices.Taking the best bull or the best calf, or a perfect lamb and offering it at the Temple to be killed and burnt, becoming an offering that goes up to God.

Now Paul says: Offer yourself as a living sacrifice. Instead of finding a perfect bull, lamb ,dove… Offer yourself, your body… to God as you seek to live (and if necessary to die) for Him.

I think the call in this verse is to be willing to be living, crucified, Christs in the world, in Alberton.
To be a people who are prepared to be broken for the people around us… to be a people who are prepared to pour ourselves out… for the people around us.

People who look at our bodies and say: “This body is God's, it belongs to God, it is the house that God has given for my soul, my spirit, to live in.”

In this series we have looked at the fact that everything is God's: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof
We have seen that we should see ourselves as stewards rather than owners.
We are to see ourselves as stewards, not owners of creation.
Stewards not owners of our talents, abilities and gifts.
Stewards not owners of other people, especially of the poor.
Stewards not owners of ‘our’ time.
Today, our focus is our bodies: stewards not owners of our bodies.

How does God want me to use my tongue, heart, hand, feet, eyes, ears, my sexual organs?
Jesus sees the human body as so important that He put it on Himself in order to reveal himself and His Father to us.

He sees the body and it’s parts as so important that He says ‘If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eyes cause you to sin gouge them out
Our bodies are essentially what causes us to sin. The sin of our bodies pollutes and corrupts our spirits which live in them and lead to the need for a persecuted, crucified Christ.

As we learn to be better stewards of our bodies, we will grow in personal holiness, that holiness with out which no one will see the Lord. What we are looking at today is all stuff we’ve heard before but lets’ hear it in the context of being good stewards of our bodies.

Lets begin with TONGUE:

Jas 1:26 ‘Do any of you think your are religious? If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself.” In a few words here, true religion is directly linked to the tongue.

Mat 12: 36 You can be sure that on the Judgment Day you will have to give account of every useless word you have ever spoken”  These are the very words of Jesus!

Psa 39:1 “I said, I will be careful about what I do and will not let my tongue make me sin;”

Is God speaking to you, to me, about stewardship of the tongue which He has asked us to look after on His behalf?

The HEART:
In Scripture, the physical heart is seen as the body part which controls desire and motive.

Jer 17:9 Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful; it is too sick to be healed.
Do you feel that way about your heart and, unlike Jeremiah, believe that only Jesus can bring the healing it requires?

Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
A good steward of the of the human heart will encourage God to do this often.

And Jesus then promises in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

HANDS:
Proverbs 12:14 “From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things and the work of their hands bring them reward 
Proverbs 12:24 Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor. 
Acts 20:34-35 “You yourselves know that I have worked with these hands of mine to provide everything that my companions and I have needed. I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way we must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, There is more happiness in giving than in receiving. 
1 Thessalonians 4:11 “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you

These verses all speak to the Christian work ethic. We are called to labour and not to expect handouts; BUT, and this is an important but,

Proverbs 31:20 “She stretches our her hand to the poor; she reaches forth her hands to the needy.” 
Deuteronomy 15:10-11 “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Yes, we are called to work and not to expect handouts, but at the same time these hands are called to hand out and reach out to the (truly) poor who will always be in the land. The poor are one of Gods gifts to you and to me, but I will explain that a little later.

FEET:

Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,  “Your God reigns
!”
GO… GO… a good steward of God's feet will go and proclaim the mighty deeds of the God who owns the feet that go.

Psalm 119:101 “I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.”
Don’t go down evil ways.

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
God promises to guide the good steward's feet.

Romans 10:15 “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Paul remembering that it is via feet that the gospel is spread.

Ephesians 6:15 “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 
Part of the armour of God is the putting on to our feet the readiness to go out and proclaim the gospel of peace.


EYES:

Matthew 6:22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart— the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.”

Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart

Be a good steward of the eyes God has lent to you.


EARS:

How should we use our ears in such a way that they bring glory to God?

Proverbs 21:13 “If you refuse to listen to the cry of the poor, your own cry for help will not be heard.
I said earlier that the poor are  Gods gift to us, here you see why. Our reaction to their calls determines God's reaction to our calls.

2 Timothy 4:3”The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and will collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give their attention to legends.
Many say we are living in these times, where people will go only to the place where they hear the kind of message they want to hear.

Romans 10:17 “So then, faith come from hearing the message and the message come through preaching Christ.”
It is through hearing the preaching of the crucified Christ and our becoming crucified Christs, living sacrifices, that faith comes to the world around us.

John 5:24 “I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me will have eternal life.”

The ear is so important in the grand scheme of things. Let’s be good stewards of our ears.

Some final stewardship advice regarding the ears:
Jas 1:19 “Remember this my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak"


SEXUAL EXPRESSION:
What does it mean to be a good steward of our sexuality? 
1 Cor 6:13 “The body is not to be used for sexual immorality, but to serve the Lord; and the Lord provides for the body.”

1 Cor 6:18 “Avoid immorality. Any other sin a man commits does not affect his body; but the man who is guilty of sexual immorality sins against his own body.
There’s the negative part regarding our sexuality, sexual immorality is out. But please remember this; sexual morality is in.

1 Cor 7:1-9 “Now, to deal with the matters you wrote about. A man does well not to marry. But because there is so much immorality, every man should have his own wife, and very woman should have her own husband. A man should fulfill his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. A wife is not the master of her own body, but her husband is; in the same way a husband is not the master of his own body, but his wife is. Do not deny yourselves to each other, unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations. In this way you will be kept from giving in to Satan's temptation because of your lack of self-control. I tell you this not as an order, but simply as permission. Actually I would prefer that all of you were as I am; but each one has a special gift from God, one person this gift, another one that gift. Now, to the unmarried and to the widows I say that it would be better for you to continue to live alone as I do. But if you cannot restrain your desires, go ahead and marry, it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Paul is saying here: HAVE SEX. As good stewards of our bodies, we should have good, moral sex. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But remember this, moral sex only takes place within the confines of Christian marriage.

Conclusion:

We are called to be good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Our bodies are part of the manifold grace which God has entrusted to us.
“So then my friends, because of Gods great mercy to us I appeal to you: offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to him”