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Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Temperance Sunday Bible Study

Alcohol & Drugs

Aim of the lesson:  To explore a Christian attitude towards drinking and drug abuse.
Study passages:  Isaiah 28:1-17; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23

Notes:
  • The standpoint of our Church.  The official view of the Methodist Church is quite clear:
    • “In view of the fact that prevention of alcoholism is both cheaper and more effective than its cure, Conference urges our people to promote by word and example the advantage of an alcohol-free way of life and calls upon our people to remain faithful to the principle of total abstinence.”
Our Church has also expressed deep concern about the problems related to harmful drugs, drug abuse and drug addiction.
  • The Bible and wine.  There are two attitudes to wine expressed in the Bible, one positive and the other negative: it has benefits and it is a curse.  On the one hand, it is a symbol of God’s good gifts to people.  Paul urges Timothy not to abstain completely and to take a little wine for medicinal purposes (1 Timothy 5:23.)  Jesus provided wine for a wedding in Cana (John 2:10.)  He referred to it in His teaching to highlight the life and power of the Gospel (Mark 2:22) and as a symbol of the saving power of His blood (Matthew 26:28.)  On the other hand, the sinfulness and danger of drunkenness excess and abuse are strongly condemned (Isaiah 5:22, Proverbs 23:20-21, Ephesians 5:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:7.)  Wine befuddles the mind (Isaiah 28:7), causes anger (Isaiah 5:11) and brings shame (Genesis 9:21.)  Those who hold office or leadership in the Church are specifically warned against this fault (1 Timothy 3:8, Titus 2:3.)
  • The tragic effects of drink in society.  There are few evils which cause greater harm in society than alcohol.  Relationships, characters, careers, businesses, families and marriages have been destroyed by it.  Drink is a significant factor in road accidents, unfaithfulness in marriage, crime, child abuse and health problems.  In the light of these facts, Christians must consider very carefully what kind of example God wants them to set.  Clearly the Christian must either use wine in moderation or abstain completely.  Because it has such tremendous dangers, our Church urges all Christians to adopt an “alcohol-free way of life” as a matter of principle and example, even if they think they can remain “moderate drinkers”.
  • Our example to weaker believers.  The Christian also has a moral duty to abstain from things which might cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble or fall (Romans 14:21; Mark 9:42-43.)  there is no evidence that the “moderate drinker” has by his or her example ever deterred another person from taking his or her first drink.  In fact, the example of a Christian moderate drinker is far more likely to make them think it is acceptable.
  • Drug abuse is a problem of very serious proportions affecting old and young alike.  Drugs have many good uses, but the abuse of drugs must concern us deeply as Christians.  Four main types of drugs are commonly abused:
    • Stimulants (which make the user “feel good”)
    • Tranquillisers (which have a calming effect)
    • Hallucination-producing drugs (which affect the mind in some way – dagga, LSD, etc.)
    • “Main-line” drugs (cocaine, opium, heroine, morphine, etc.)
The chief reasons why people start taking drugs are:
o   For “kicks” and pleasure
o   To prove oneself with the “in-crowd”
o   To escape from reality and problems in life
The danger of experimenting, even with less harmful drugs is that they can too easily lead on to more serious types, heavier doses, dependency and addiction.  This then results in the destruction of the person and often leads to criminal activity.
  • Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19.)  We must respect and care for our bodies because god made them and owns them.  Avoiding harmful things like alcohol, drugs and smoking is one way of taking care of our bodies for God.  Abstinence can be a sign of our trust in God and our hope for the future.

Questions for discussion:
  1. To what extent is alcoholism and drug abuse a problem in Alberton?
  2. What do you think of our Church’s official stand on drinking?
  3. What kind of response are total abstainers likely to get from those who see no harm in drinking?
  4. As Christians, what can we do about the problem of alcoholism and drug abuse in our communities?
This material has been sourced from
the out of print
Faith and Life Lesson Notes
MCSA

Friday, October 25, 2013

Questions based on: Run a Good Race

Read Hebrews Chapter 11 and 12:1-3

Quickly scan Hebrews chapter 11 for names of spiritual heroes. 
Write several of the names down. This list should include names such as David, Moses, Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Ruth, etc... What do these names have in common?

The writer encourages those who want to run the race set before them to prepare in the same way athletes prepare. What are the actions taken by athletes when preparing for their sport? How do some of these apply to running the good race God calls us to run?

What does Paul say about sin in these verses?

What kinds of obstacles get in our way as we seek to run the race and be faithful to God?

What actions does the letter to the Hebrews suggest for us as identified in 12:2&3?


For personal reflection:

The race that God has called me to run at this time of my life is....
The greatest obstacle I face when running the race is.......
My prayer request to help me finish the race is.....

Pentecost 23: Run a Good Race

2 Tim 4:6-8, 16-18

We have been working through Paul’s (who was old) letters to Timothy, who was young.  So there is a sense in which it is quite apt for us to hear these words at an all-age worship service, and especially at a baptism.  Paul feels the he is nearing the end of his ministry; he is certainly closer to the finish line than the young Timothy.  And whether we like it or not, many of us here know, we know that we are “closer to the finishing line” than many of those around us.


And there are many different ways to finish:




Young Luhan, like all of us, faces a life made up in fact of many different races.  At baptism, we celebrate that Lindrique has come to the end of the “race” that was pregnancy......and that ended......YAY......but the race, the marathon of life continues......tonight we will be having our Matric / exam service......which will be asking for strength for this final burst, the matric exams, and other year-end exams......and they’ll finish......but the race / marathon will continue.  So this morning I am going to lift some themes from our readings, points for us to remember, for these parents to teach Luhan, for us to teach our children, points for each of us to remember as we continue to run the race set before us:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.

The drink offering was the last part of the offering – the best wine you could offer......thrown onto the burning offering.  Even at the end of his life, Paul sees himself as giving of his best.

Point 1: Give of your best......always and everywhere.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

This is really 3 points, but the first is a repeat of the last.......What you do......do well.

Point 2: Finish what God called you to start.

And most important, point 3: Keep the faith......why?   Because:


At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.  But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.

Point 4: The race / marathon can be lonely.  The number of hands that would go up if I were to ask who has been deserted / betrayed by those closest to you, the hands would be many.

Point 5: Don’t hold it against them – forgive.
Point 6: The Lord will stay at your side, will be your strength, will deliver you from the lion’s mouth.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Point 7: Just n case you haven’t got the message....Timothy.......you and me – remember: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.


Point 8: Live lives that give glory to God.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pentecost 22: Use Scripture Authoritatively for its Intended Purpose


Today, we look at one of the primary places in Scripture, where Scripture talks about itself.  What does the Bible say about the Bible?  We Christians say many things about the Bible and believe many things of the Bible, but what does the Bible say about itself?

Paul writes to Timothy and he says:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

I think there are 2 important things to lift here:  Firstly, let’s be reading and teaching the Bible to children from their infancy.  Why? ......because they are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Here we have the Bible telling us what it is good for, what it can do......namely it can teach us everything we need to know in order to be saved.  You want to know about that......read the Bible.  Many of you are preparing for year-end exams.  The Bible will not tell you everything you need to know about history, geography, science, biology, etc.  It is not and makes absolutely no claim to be a science book, or a maths book, or a history book.
It claims to be a salvation book and no other book on the planet gives us salvation by faith information......NO other book.

Paul goes on:

All Scripture is God-breathed

We sometimes take that to mean only that God “breathed into”......”inspired”......the writers of the Bible.  But no......all scripture is God-breathed, not was God-breathed/inspired.  This means that our God, by His Spirit, inspires, breathes into the readers of the Word as much as He breathed into/inspired the writers of the Word.


Isn’t that exciting......when we read the Bible, God has an opportunity to inspire us, to breathe life into us.
Please read your Bible.


The Word goes on:

and is useful 

Useful for what?

for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 

Useful (not indispensable) for



Teaching me which way is right.
Rebuking me where I am wrong / off-track.
Correcting me by showing m how to get back on track
and Instructing me about staying on the road of righteousness.

We all need teaching, rebuking, correcting and instructing......we often don’t like to be rebuked or corrected.......but we need to be sometimes.  This book is useful for these things......Please, read your Bible.......Why?......

so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.


Isn’t that interesting? ...... Do all the above......read your Bible......not so that you can get to Heaven.......not so that you can be holy......not so that you can be a better person.......BUT......so that you can be thoroughly equipped for good works.
God wants......no, He demands......good works from his saved people.

He doesn’t save us so that we can go to Heaven, He saves us so that Heaven can come to us and through us to others as we do good works for the least among us.  This is not a new idea......previously, scripture has taught us:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…….we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Why are you saved......to do good works.

This is not and never has been a popular message, so Paul goes on and gives Timothy / you / me a strongly-worded comment:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; 

Preach the Word friends: and as Augustine said, “only use words when necessary”.......preach the word by your lifestyle.......in your homes.......your workplace.......school.......church.......on the streets of Alberton.......preach the saving word of Christ in the way we live / behave / act towards the world around us and

be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 

Earlier, Paul has said that the Bible teaches, rebukes, corrects and encourages us......now he says that Bible readers have authority to correct, rebuke and encourage.



The Bible teaches us to do what the Bible does.......because:

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 

That time has come, hasn’t it?

I think Paul knew it would come in Timothy’s time, so he says to Timothy and to you and to me

But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

“Keep your head” .......there is no room for hotheads in the Kingdom of God.......sometimes things don’t go our way.......”endure hardship” .......the Word of God as He inspires us can sometimes lead to great hardship.......ask Jesus.......ask Paul.......ask Moses.......Jeremiah.......Job.......all these and many more found that the Word of God sometimes gets them into a lot of trouble, but they never stopped believing that:


Let us not either......please.......read your Bible.




Baptism and Confirmation Sunday 2013

The sermon preached from the baptismal pool on Confirmation Sunday was based on Romans 6:3-11, highlighting that going under the water signifies our death and burial with Christ and thus reminding us of our (often little seen) death to sin; our rising from the baptismal waters signifies our resurrection with and in Christ, which shows itself in a life of personal holiness to the glory of God

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pentecost 20: Stir Up the Gift that is in You

The message of these verses can be summed up in this way:
Remember who you are, rekindle the gift in you, don't be afraid. There is no shame in suffering when it comes from trusting and obeying the Lord.
God’s message to you and to me is:
Remember who you are, rekindle the gift in you, don't be afraid. There is no shame in suffering when it comes from trusting and obeying the Lord.

1. Remember who you are:
Notice in these verses that Paul remembers who he is and he reminds Timothy who he, Timothy, is:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.  I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
We are people who are in Christ, just as Paul and Timothy were.
We have the promise of life that is in Jesus
We have grace, mercy and peace from God
We are people who pray
We are people who cry
We are people of faith
We are people who have ancestors (This was quite relevant to Timothy, whom Paul had circumcised as an adult because he had a Jewish mother)
So, remember who you are, and especially who you are in Christ

Paul goes on:
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.

2. Rekindle the gift in you
.................So I ask you to make full use of the gift that God gave you when I placed my hands on you. Use it well......... That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]......Therefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee through the putting on of my hands.....


There is a God-given gift in you…….do you hear that?

The Holy Spirit, the ruach of God that hovered over the waters of creation, has hovered over you, and been placed in YOU....the Gift of God….in YOU

That Gift of God is, so to speak, in your hands

Imagine a teaspoon of coffee placed on top of the hot water in a cup....perhaps add some sugar....even some milk.....BUT DON'T STIR anything.....how would that taste? Would you even try to drink it? If you did drink it, you would probably…..

We must stir up the gift that is in us!

It makes me think of some of Jesus' words (in a different context, but the message is the same)

God is in the habit of spitting out what tastes horrible…..He spat satan out of heaven, He spat Adam and Eve out of the garden, in an amazing way He spat evil out of His Kingdom and out of His people forever on the Cross.
If the gift of God in you and in me is not stirred up, not re-kindled, not aflame, we are not a very pleasant taste in the Lord's or the world's mouth..... and we will find ourselves spat out by both.
Remember who and whose you are and….

 Do you know the gift (the Spiritual Gift, not the God-given talent or ability, but the GIFT of God) that is in you…….and are you stirring it up, constantly rekindling it, keeping it aflame….all to the glory of God and so that His Kingdom may come and His will be done…..
This kind of talk often makes people afraid, so Paul immediately goes on:

3. Don't be afraid
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid/afraid/fearful, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
This is why God commands us 365 times in Scripture to “fear not”…..not because there is nothing to be afraid of, but rather because in the face of fear….we have a power that is much greater than whatever is coming against us, we have a love that truly can overcome anything, anyone or any obstacle, even death, and we have self-discipline/self-control as a fruit of the very Spirit that is within us….which is why Paul started where he did in saying Remember who you are ….and so we’ve come a full circle.
Brothers and sisters, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,….
 Remember who you are, rekindle the gift in you, don't be afraid.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Questions based on "Stir up the gift that is in You"

Notes and Questions based on Stir up the gift that is in You

Notes:

Remember who you are, ……………………………………………………………………...
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
rekindle the gift in you, ……………………………………………………………………...
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
don't be afraid. ……………………………………………………………………...
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
For personal reflection or group discussion:

Who was Timothy (in Christ)?

Who are you (in Christ)?

What is “the gift of God”?

What are Spiritual gifts?

What are your specific areas of gifting?

What is the difference between Spiritual gifts and Talents and Abilities?

How many times does the command “do not be afraid” occur in the Scriptures?

What is God’s gift to us in the face of fear?


What does it mean to you today to “stir up the gift within you”?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pentecost 20: Stir Up the Gift that is in You

2 Tim 1:1-14

Coming this Sunday

.................So I ask you to make full use of the gift that God gave you when I placed my hands on you. Use it well......... That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]......Therefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee through the putting on of my hands.....




The Holy Spirit, the ruach of God that hovered over the waters of creation, has hovered over you, and placed in YOU....the Gift of God




That Gift of God is, so to speak, in your hands

Imagine a teaspoon of coffee placed on top of the hot water in a cup....perhaps add some sugar....even some milk.....BUT DON'T STIR anything.....how would that taste? Would you even try to drink it?


It makes me think of some of Jesus' words (in a different context, but the message is the same)

If the gift of God in you and in me is not stirred up, not re-kindled, not aflame, we are not a very pleasant taste in the Lord's or the world's mouth..... and we will find ourselves spat out of both.


SO,