Prayer is the most important work of the Church

I recently found myself writing an email carrying the simple message that ‘prayer is the most important work of the Church in the earth’. Having pressed send, I began to reflect upon the phrase. Then, having written it, I asked myself, do I believe it? I know I actually spend more time worrying about life’s untidy details than I do in actual prayer. And when it comes to that often-sung phrase of laying down my burdens at the feet of Jesus, I am embarrassed to say I know I often walk away with a rucksack hung upon my back. So what was I actually saying?

In a material world, in which so much of our value system has been built around possessions, ownership and lifestyle choices, it is perhaps unsurprising that something as apparently invisible and non-material as the work of prayer has been lost from the public consciousness.

It is worth recalling that Jesus, following his ascension, now stands and intercedes on our behalf before his Father; this same Jesus whose earthly life was marked by regular times of both personal and public prayer. Paul encourages us to ‘pray without ceasing’ (NRSV) and conveys the thought that prayer is perhaps the primary engine that fuels all kingdom endeavour upon the earth.

Prayer builds the highway along which the will and purpose of God can travel into spaces far distant from the place in which I pray. Prayer is itself a source of great power for good. Prayer might seem an insubstantial and therefore insufficient response to the many, varied, complex issues of our age. Yet prayer has the power to move mountains. Its power can only ever be released in as far as we engage in the activity of ceaseless prayer. I need to have confidence in my conviction that, ‘prayer is the most important work of the Church in the earth’!

(Dr Micha Jazz)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

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Pope Francis – Islamic State Atrocities Are Like Early Church Persecution

Christians who suffer torture and murder by ISIS are like the first century Christians who were “besieged by persecution”, according to the Pope.

Describing violent atrocities carried out by Herod who put James, brother of John to the sword and seized and jailed Peter, Pope Francis said “terrible, inhuman and inexplicable persecution” is unfortunately still present in many parts of the world.

Speaking on the feast of the apostles St Peter and St Paul, he said this persecution even today takes place often “under the eyes and in the silence of all”.

He said the courage of the apostles and the first Christian community in continuing the work of evangelisation without fear of death and martyrdom in a pagan empire was “a strong call to prayer, faith and witness” for believers today.

In his homily the Pope said: “How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful.”

He said Christians were duty-bound to evangelise. “A church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile, like a dead person who thinks they are alive, like a dried up tree that produces no fruit an empty well that offers no water.”

And the strongest weapon for the Christian was prayer. “A Christian who prays is a Christian protected, preserved and supported, but especially not alone,” he said. “Prayer is the encounter with God, with God who never lets us down, with God who is faithful to His word, with God who does not abandon His children.”

The forces of evil such as ISIS will not prevail, he predicted.

“How many forces, throughout history, have tried – and try – to destroy the Church, both from outside and from the inside, but they are all destroyed and the Church remains alive and fertile!” This was because “the Church is not of the Popes, bishops, priests and even of the faithful, it is only Christ. Only those who live in Christ’s Church promote and defend the sanctity of life, the example of Peter and Paul.”

There is no force capable of defeating those with the power of faith, he said.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Paul Ministers to the Gentiles – Romans 15: 14-22

Today’s Word Search created by the Biblical mind of Marlene is based upon Romans 15: 14-22; Paul Ministers to the Gentiles.

To freely download this new word search just go to:-

http://www.christianwordsearches.net/PaulMinisterstotheGentiles.html

Happy Word Searching!

With many pe

 

 

Family Likenesses

A minister stood up before his congregation one Sunday morning with a big grin. “Four days ago,” he said, “I became a grandfather. And I am delighted to tell you that not only is he a very beautiful baby, but – he looks exactly like me!”
Many parents and grandparents have had the same thrill: the new arrival is going to grow up to look like them! The Bible has a lot to say about how God feels when we are born into his kingdom, his family.
Firstly, no human baby is brought into being because he/she decided that it wanted to exist. The baby was dependent on the parents’ decision. And the same is true in the spiritual sphere. If you have any interest or faith at all in God, you may be sure that that in itself is a sign that He is calling to you.
Secondly, when a human baby is born into a loving family, there is great rejoicing. The Bible tells us that there is great rejoicing in heaven every time anyone of us turns to God and asks Jesus to be our Saviour.
Thirdly, a human baby can do nothing to ‘gain’ life. All that baby has to do is to accept life, and begin to live. There is nothing you can do to ‘earn’ your salvation,  you have to go through Jesus, and what He did for you on his death on the cross.
There is a fourth thing about babies. They grow up! They take on the language and behaviour of their family. Paul, writing in Colossians, put it this way: “You used to
walk in the way of sexual immorality, anger, … slander, and filthy language. But now you have put on the new self, which is being renewed in you through the knowing your creator. Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.…”
Sadly, we will never be perfect. All our lives, we will sin. But the Bible has two descriptions of sin. One verb in the Greek refers to occasional actions. As long as we
live, we will commit haphazard sins. But there is another tense of the verb to sin, and it refers to habitual, ongoing actions. If these are still ruling our lives, then we do not have the family likeness, we do not have God’s Spirit within us. We need to go back to new birth: by turning to Jesus Christ.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

 

The Power of Prayer

“TO TRAVEL hopefully is a better thing than to arrive” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson.

The religious journey has something of this “feel” about it. It is not that spiritual goals are unimportant, of course, but the great blessing is really to know that you are travelling in the right direction.If this is true for individual pilgrimages, it applies to corporate situations too.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish,” it says in the book of Proverbs. Where there is no sense of direction in events, the same is true.

How desperately we all try to see the right direction for the greater peace of what used to be Yugoslavia, but confusion and contumacy reign.

In Ireland over the years of the Troubles, direction has been lost in sectarian feuds and traditional but unquestioned religious hostility.

There was a sense of puzzlement throughout the nation on that Wednesday when interest rates went up and down in rapid but perplexing succession. Had we lost our economic sense of direction? When we lose our way in both personal and corporate situations, we can experience a lostness and a meaninglessness that is devastating.

There was a time when Mary Magdalene found herself looking in the wrong direction. Her weeping eyes were focused on the tomb and her missing Lord. Then she turned round and, looking in the other direction, she found herself face to face with the living Lord. This was a turning-point indeed for Mary.

One of the “eternal verities” is the belief that God’s grace and power can completely change the direction of lives.

“I met a man,” said the late and great Dr John White, referring to his encounter with Jesus. That was the secret of his robust conviction. The vocabulary of faith includes words such as renewal, regeneration, redemption and reconciliation. They testify to the fact that, through grace, everything can change – aims, attitudes, reactions, relationships, even indeed our whole philosophy of life.

No wonder St Paul says to the Thessalonians: “Pray without ceasing,” or Tennyson to us all, “More things are wrought by prayer. than this world dreams of.”

Rev Denis Duncan

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Do You Know How The Apostles Died?

Bartholomew –

also known as Nathaniel was a missionary to Asia, He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.

Andrew –

he was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led towards the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words “I have long desired and expected this happy hour, The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it”. He continued to preach to his tormentors for two day’s until he expired.

Thomas –

was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.

Jude –

was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.

Matthias –

the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in AD57.

 Paul –

endured a lengthy imprisonment which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.

 James the Just –

Leader of the church in Jerusalem was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall his enemies beat James to death with a fuller’s club.

(This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the temptation)

James the Great –

son of Zebedee. He was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was      ultimately  beheaded  at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial.

 

Perhaps this is a reminder to us that our sufferings here in the 21st Century are indeed minor compared to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the Apostles during their times for the sake of their Faith.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Pope Francis on the Holy Spirit

A Christian earns his ability to speak with authority from the Holy Spirit, not from a theology degree, Pope Francis said during his daily Mass at the Vatican’s Saint Martha Residence Sept. 2.

Reflecting on the Gospel reading for the day, the Pope noted how those who heard Jesus were amazed by his teaching because his word “had authority.”

Jesus was not a “commonplace preacher,” the Holy Father said, because his “authority” came from a “special anointing of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus is the “Son of God, anointed and sent out” to “bring salvation, to bring freedom.” Pope Francis added that there were those who were “scandalized” by his style of preaching.

“We, too, can ask ourselves: what is our identity as Christians?”

Turning to the first reading off the day, the Pope cited Saint Paul, saying that we do not speak of these things “with words evoked by human wisdom.”

Saint Paul did not preach because he took a course at a pontifical university, such as the Lateran or the Gregorian, Pope Francis said. The source of his preaching was “the Holy Spirit,” not human wisdom.

A person might have five theology degrees, the Holy Father said, but not have the Spirit of God. “Perhaps you will be a great theologian, but you are not a Christian, because you do not have the Spirit of God! That which gives authority, that which gives you your identity and the Holy Spirit, the anointing of the Holy Spirit.”

“Paul preached with the anointing of the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said, “expressing spiritual things of the Spirit, in spiritual terms. Man, left to his own devises, cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit of God. Man alone cannot understand this!”

The Pope observed that we often encounter people who are simple – for instance, old ladies who, perhaps, never finished primary school – yet have a greater knowledge of theology than others because they have the Spirit of Christ, as Saint Paul did.

“If we Christians do not understand the things of the Spirit well,” he said, “if we do not give or offer a witness, then we lack identity.” Those who do not have this identity see the things of the Spirit as “foolishness,” and lack the “capacity to understand them.”

In contrast, one who is moved by the spirit “judges everything: he is free,” and no one can judge him.

“Now, we have the thought of Christ, and that is the Spirit of Christ. This is the Christian identity.” One who has this identity does not have the “spirit of the world,” its way of thinking, or of placing judgment.

While the preachers and doctors of the law spoke in theological terms, the Pope said, the people did not care for them because they did not speak “to the heart; they did not give freedom.” They were not united by the Holy Spirit, and therefore could not help others “find their own identity.”

“The authority of Jesus – and the authority of the Christian – comes from this ability to understand the things of the Spirit, to speak the language of the Spirit. It comes from this anointing of the Holy Spirit.”

The Pope concluded  by calling on the Lord to grant us the Christian identity: “Bestow on us Your Spirit. Bestow on us your way of thinking, of hearing, of  speaking: that is, Lord, bestow on us the anointing of the Holy Spirit.”

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey