As Christians, we all look forward to the Easter Period. It is the time to reflect on the sacrifice of Christ as He demonstrates His love and His works for salvation. It is also the time to reflect on the resurrection of Christ when He rose again three days later.
But what if someone was to ask “What is the greatest event - the death or the resurrection of Christ?” That would be impossible to answer.
The sacrifice of Christ to make atonement for our sins meant death. His role of sin bearer and becoming sin for us meant death. Without the death of Christ we would have no cleansing, no forgiveness of sin. Just as the Hebrew writer puts it in Hebrews 9:22 ‘The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’. So the death of Christ was absolutely crucial for our provision.
Yet the resurrection of Christ gives to us greater joy and assurance. If there was no resurrection of Christ, then there would be no hope. 1 Corinthians 15:17 ‘If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins’.
So the benefits of Christ’s resurrection are forgiveness of past sins, power for present living and hope for future destiny. The fact that Christ rose again guarantees our resurrection which means we will find ourselves at home with Christ in heaven for all eternity. It is for that reason that we call it Easter Joy.
May you all know this Easter Joy of Christ’s resurrection.
Yours in Christ,
I am sure that we all know Psalm 11:10
‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’.
But what is the fear of the Lord? Is it to be afraid of God? No, to be afraid in this sense is slavish fear or apprehension, or fear to do with punishment. The fear of the Lord is the fear of a loving child or a dutiful servant. It is to show respect and reverence for God, that the one who fears Him is gripped by a holy desire to please Him. So why is it the beginning of wisdom?
Well, the answer is, simply, that when a man fears the Lord it implies he has started to know God. It’s a healthy balance of knowing what God is capable of doing and what God is. God is holy, God is pure, God judges, but God is a God of love, gracious, kind and tender. For that reason, a man who fears the Lord will turn from his sin and live a godly life as he aims to always please the Lord.
Let there’s tremendous blessing in fearing the Lord. When a person fears the Lord he is filled with deep assurance. He knows his sins are forgiven. He knows his provision is from the Lord. He knows the truth and he knows eternal life. This produces true joy and satisfaction. Remember how God has promised great reward to those who fear Him, seen in Proverbs 22:4
‘Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honour and life’.
May we as Christians contrive to live in fearing the Lord with godly wisdom.
Yours in Christ,
As usual, the week of prayer has been a great encouragement and blessing. Given how central prayer is to our lives as Christians, it makes sense that prayer is a vital part of building unity in our Church.
I love the way Luke puts it in Acts 4. 24; “They raised their voices together in prayer to God.”
Corporate prayer draws us together. When we pray we are leaving behind our desires and are focusing on God and others. And coming together maintains the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4. 3)
For the early Christian Church, praying together was a priority. It started immediately after Jesus left his disciples at the ascension, where they met in the upper room. What happened after? Pentecost.
Then, we are told in Acts 2 v42 that they devoted themselves to prayer. What happened? The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Just after Peter and John had been threatened not to preach Christ, the early Christians met for prayer. And what happened? The place where they met shook. When Peter was thrown into prison, what was the Church doing? They were meeting for prayer. And what happened? The cell doors were flung open, and the chains fell off Peter and he was guided by an angel out of Jail. Always, when God’s people met for prayer, God blessed them.
That’s a great encouragement for us as Christians, if we want to be blessed, we need to adopt the habit of meeting together for prayer. Of course, it’s only out of God’s graciousness that we are blessed, as Daniel says in Daniel 9 v18: “We do not make request of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” And it’s on that basis that we make this plea to God.
Let’s never forget the importance of the place of prayer. Prayer was central to the early church, and it must be for us now.
Yours, In Christ,
Prayer is a great privilege. It simply means going into the presence of God to enjoy his fellowship.
Corporate prayer is also a privilege; to come together with other Christians to seek God’s face together.
This is a command that God has given us, but sadly many Christians have slipped away from their
responsibility in this area. We see that it was put into practice by the early church; consider the following
verses, Acts 1:14, 2:42, 4:23-31, 12:1-24.
Corporate prayer is important because:
it maintains the harmony and unity of the local church
it demonstrates our complete and total dependence on the Lord for His power
it trains us to be concerned about the ministries and fellowship of the church
it gives us a greater sense of expectation of things that will happen.
Our January week of prayer has been a source of great blessing and encouragement in previous years. This year we will return to the model used in previous years but with the addition of some Zoom meetings
which proved to be a blessing during the 2021 Week of Prayer.
The plan is outlined below as a reminder and for the benefit of those who have joined the church more recently. We will meet together for some additional corporate prayer times and we will also set aside specific times each day - 8 AM and 8 PM - to join together in the spirit of prayer.
A calendar is provided with specific prayer points for each time of prayer. We will begin the week at 10 AM
on Sunday 30th of January, for an extended morning service which will include a time of corporate prayer
and a refreshment break. On each weekday I am asking you to pause at 8 AM and 8 PM, wherever you
happen to be, and spend time in prayer, in the knowledge that others are doing so at the same time. You
may be driving to work, dealing with household chores, shopping or walking the dog - it doesn’t matter!
Turn off the radio in the car, switch off the TV and take a few moments to pray – aloud or in the quietness
of your heart. At 8am pray alone or with others in your household. At 8pm repeat this or join the Zoom
Meeting Room which will be available for a short corporate prayer time from 8-8.15pm on Monday,
Wednesday and Friday. (Zoom Meeting No 606 268 4749 Passcode 345345 )
On Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 PM, and on Saturday at 10 AM, the church will be open for those that
can meet together to pray together. These gatherings will last for around 60 to 90 minutes, and if you are
unable to get there at the beginning do please slip in whenever you can, and leave when you must. Please
make every effort to be there for some or all of the time, remembering that it was when “They were all
together in one place,” (Acts 2v1) that Pentecost came. This was the beginning of accelerated growth and
blessing, and so we may be sure that prayer kickstarts blessing!
Thank you for your support of these ventures. Let’s go forward with confidence that our faithful God will
bless us as we commit this prayer week to Him.
Yours in Christ,
Five counsels for praying in company:
1. Make it regular
Make regular prayer with company part of your weekly routine. Our weekly gathering as a church
for prayer is on Tuesday at 7:30pm. Plan to be there. In addition to this, have a planned time and
place to meet with fellow believers to pray – this might be with your family, with a small group of
fellow believers at your workplace or with some Christian friends.
2. Start with Scripture
Christian prayer at its truest comes in response to God’s self-revelation to us. It is fitting to begin
sessions od corporate prayer by reading a Bible passage as a kind of ‘call to prayer’. We inhale the
Scriptures and exhale in prayer.
3. Limit share time
It can be easy to let the sharing of requests cannibalise the actual praying together! When meeting
with others to pray keep introductions short, read a passage and go straight into prayer.
4. Be brief and focused.
Long, rambling prayers are not helpful in the corporate prayer setting – keep these for when you’re
on a long, lonely drive, or walking the dog or engaging in some mundane household task! Keep your
prayers in prayer meetings short and focused – even one sentence praises or thanksgiving prayers
are helpful and encouraging to others. If you are afraid of becoming tongue-tied write down the
things you want to pray for, jot down some headings to keep yourself on track, or rehearse and
memorise the prayer you will say aloud.
5. Pray without show and with regard for others
This is linked to the previous point – keeping your prayer short and focused allows others to
participate. Don’t hog the prayer time with long prayers covering several different topics –
remember others will want to pray too. Several short sharp contributions are much better than one
very long prayer which will challenge the attention and focus of others.
Dear friends, When I was young, making New Year resolutions was always a given for just about everyone I knew. They said that it was a good time to look to the New Year, kicking the bad habits of the past and starting new habits. Often these habits related to health - like more exercise or less eating.
The Bible talks about the importance of keeping check on one’s spiritual health, where we need to kick bad habits and start good ones. Let me suggest some of them:
First, the habit of starting the day building your relationship with Christ. The tools God has given us for building our relationship with the Lord are prayer and Bible reading. Bible reading is God talking to us, prayer is talking to the Lord.
I know prayer is very challenging. Concentration, time making and living busy lives are battles we have to overcome. Let me suggest some practical ideas. Go out for a walk and speak aloud to the Lord. Write down your requests, things that are bothering you, even your sins (of course don’t let anyone else see them!)
Bible reading is God speaking to you and you build that relationship as you hear the voice of God through the Holy Spirit and let Him guide, comfort, teach, rebuke, counsel and convict.
When this happens, our relationship will deepen and we will grow.
Secondly, see the importance of Church life and keep in the habit of worship, corporate prayer, activities and fellowship. Again, these are tools that God has given us for growth. Remember the Hebrew writer was concerned that some Christians had given up on the habit of meeting together Hebrews 10v25.
A third resolution is simply put away any undesirable habit, sin or addiction you have. Too many of us start here with our resolutions. We try to treat the symptom without addressing the root cause. The only way that this can be done is by the power of Christ’s blood. That’s why we ask for Christ’s blood to wash us by confession and repentance and then we pray for grace and strength to overcome all sin.
The fourth and final habit. Always have it in your heart to tell others about Christ and the gospel. I believe this is not only biblical and good for the unconverted to hear, but its good to keep ourselves alert and always be prepared to give an answer of hope 1Pet 3v15. As we contrive our walk with the Lord, pray that we may continue to dedicate ourselves to live more for the glory of the Master.
Happy New Year,