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Day 191


Pray (ACts)


Read - 2 Corinthians 4v7-12


Message - Scott Woodburn

One of my greatest treasures is a "pink vogue" tea set that belonged to my mother. It might seem strange for a grown man to possess such a thing. I've never used it for tea parties, I know it isn't complete and each cup would only hold a mouthful of tea but to me it is precious because it reminds me of my mum and home. It sits today in a cupboard high above the reach of little hands because it simply would not survive the rigours of everyday family life.


As we continue our journey through 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds us that we are as fragile as those precious items kept behind lock and key. The Apostle describes the human condition as being like "jars of clay" (v7) or in other words, to be human is to be weak and easily broken. Jars of clay were common in the ancient world. They were cheaply made and replaced as they would often crack or smash into hundreds of pieces. As humans we are frail, beset on all sides by sin, disease, weakness and finally death. Yet in these jars of clay we have a treasure.


Paul has already spoken of this treasure at the beginning of the chapter. It is the truth of the Gospel, that Christ died for sinners. Our eyes have been unveiled and the light of Christ has shone in our lives. It is this way to show that the "all-surpassing power" belongs to God (v7b). Salvation doesn't come because we are big and tough and strong. Not a bit. We humans, troubled and weak as we are, have been saved by the power of God. The glory belongs to Him.


We are weak and hard pressed on all sides but we will never be crushed (v8a). We will often be perplexed at how life unfolds and the trouble that follows but we will never despair (v8b). The Christian will on occasion know persecution but equally God will never abandon His people (v9a) and even if our enemies take our very life, the Christian will not be destroyed (v9b). Paul could speak from experience. Just as the Lord was under constant threat, so too Paul carried in his body the death of Christ (v10a & v11a). He was able to say "From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." (Galatians 6v17)


Paul was a battle scarred soldier of Christ who knew daily trouble and threat of death. But such suffering was for Christ's sake and would mean life for those who would hear the Gospel preached from Paul's lips (v10b & v11b). Death may have been at work in Paul but with confidence he could say life was at work in the Corinthians (v12). 


Paul's hope also belongs to us. Christians still die everyday because of their faithfulness to Christ and while we in the west haven't experienced such persecution for a very long time we are beset on all sides by various kinds of trials. We are jars of clay stalked by death but have received life through the Gospel of Christ. Hear this...one day we will be raised imperishable. One day the jar of clay will shatter but on the last day this mortal body will put on immortality. It is our great hope that the dead will be raised to life everlasting. No more sin. No more cancer. No more weakness. No more death. What a day! Come quickly Lord Jesus!


Pray (acTS)


Sing


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Q83 Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous? Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.




Day 190


Pray (ACts)


Read - John 13:31-35, 1 Cor 13:4-6


Message - Alan Burke 


If you mention the word ‘love’ to many they think of romantic love, or if you spoke of the love we have for each other in the church to those outside it they would see love as simply niceness. What does it mean though for believers to love one another, what does it mean to do what Jesus commanded us to do, to love one another, just as I have loved you and how by this people will know that we are his disciples if you have love for one another (Jn 13:31-35). Well we need to look to Jesus and how he loved. On Monday we thought about how Jesus washed his disciples feet (Jn 13), how he showed his love in how he served them, doing what they were unwilling to do, how he showed them by his example of what loved looked like, how love that would humble itself before others, that would be willing to do what others would not, love that was willing to wash the feet of the one who would betray him.


But Jesus also made a whip out of chords, came to the temple and drove out the sheep, cattle, scattered the coins and the money changers and over turned the tables, forcing them out of God’s house of prayer (Jn 2:15). Were his actions unloving, were they lacking in love when he did this? No they were not. If he had tolerated their behaviour that was sinful and wrong that would not have been love. I’m not suggesting we go make a whip out of chords and clear the meeting house out on Sunday, but when we tolerating behaviour that is sinful and wrong that is not love, as a church we are to love, love one another, where are we to look as the example of love, we are to look to Jesus. Love is not weakness, it is not politeness, love doesn’t call sin good, but it is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor 13:4-6).


A doctor who tells his patient that he has cancer is not lacking in love, the minister who tells us that we are sinners is not lacking in love, and for all of us, the test of our love for one another is how we respond when we are ill treated, whether we show kindness or we lack kindness, our freedom from jealously or envy, our sincere graciousness towards people, our endurance when people are difficult, our humility or lack there off, our attitude to our self, our ability to control anger, our freedom from a critical spirit, our willingness to suffer for the sake of good relationships, our determination to persist in friendships no matter what happens, that is love. When we truly love one another, where we display it, where we are characterised by great love, we will be a place that people want to be part of, they will see that the gospel is real in how it is lived and how it is spoken off and it will be attractive to many. And He who showed that love in his life and death, has given us the power to live in that way also, for we are members of a new community, the Holy Spirit is working within us if we walk in the light, if we keep his commands and we are able to reflect the light of God. We are being conformed into the likeness of Christ our saviour by the work of the Spirit within us and God empowers us to fight our flesh and keep in step with the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:16-26).


Do you love?


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Question 82

Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?

No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, (Eccles. 7:20, 1 John 1:8,10, Gal. 5:17) but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed. (Gen. 6:5, Gen. 8:21, Rom. 3:9–21, James 3:2–13)




Day 189


Pray (ACts)


Read - 2 Corinthians 4v1-6


Message - Scott Woodburn

Life is rarely easy for anyone. Admittedly there are some who never seem to catch a break, but most people at some stage will know trouble, disquiet, sleepless nights and heart rending sadness. The temptation in such moments is to give up. "Why do I bother?" we ask. "What's the point?" we cry. Whilst we are often tempted to raise our Biblical heroes to pedestals believing them to be superhuman, the evidence we have in the Scriptures paints a different picture. Just because Paul was an Apostle didn't mean that he never struggled (2 Corinthians 11v24-28).


Yet he was, like us, a recipient of God's mercy (v1a). A man who had been made a minister of the new covenant (v1b) and therefore he didn't lose heart (v1c). Paul understood that this present age was and is temporary and it doesn't compare to the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus. This hopeful heart filtered its way into Paul's ministry. He didn't seek to convince people with"secret and shameful ways" (v2a), nor did he seek to deceive (v2b) and he certainly did not take God's Word and distort it (v2c). Paul's approach to the Corinthians was marked by integrity. He opened the Scriptures and set forth what they taught plainly (v2d). Indeed if the Corinthians examined their conscience they would know that what Paul is now saying is true (v2e).


Often we are like magpies and are attracted to the latest bright shiny fad in the church. One day, the church to be at, is down the road, the next it is two towns over. One day, there is no preacher as good as the one in Seattle, the next it is that one in Florida. But Paul reminds us here that there is much to be said for a simple ministry that doesn't make the headlines or attract the crowds. Paul never preached Paul (v5a) but Christ as Lord (v5b). He became a servant of the Corinthians for the sake of Christ (v5c).


Paul was once an enemy of Christ but God brought him out of darkness and into the glorious light of Christ (v6). He had been miraculously converted and now by the grace of God, Paul preached Christ and Him crucified. As we have discussed, Paul's conversion didn't keep him from trouble and if the history books are to be believed Paul was beheaded outside the city walls of Rome. Yet during his life he was a servant of Christ and exercised that ministry faithfully, plainly and humbly.


Life is rarely easy for anyone but today we keep going. There are many to whom the Gospel message is "veiled" (v3). They don't get it, don't want it, don't see the need. Satan who is "the god of this age" has blinded their minds (v4) so that they do not see Christ. But we are not blind. We have not been left in darkness. Christ has removed the veil from our eyes and today we see "the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." So brothers and sisters press on! Find a church close to your home where the Bible is preached faithfully and attend it. Do not lose heart even if it seems the hordes of hell stand at your door. As Boris speaks, as Covid continues and as October comes, our Saviour remains. "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1v5)


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Q81 What is forbidden in the tenth commandment? The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.



Day 188


Pray (ACts)


Read - 1 John 2:7-8


Message - Alan Burke 


Here, as John begins this new section, speaking to his ‘Dear friends’ literally his beloved (7), it is clear he cares for his people, deeply cares, he is concerned for their salvation. They are his brothers and sisters in the Lord and as he obeys the word, God’s love is made complete in him and is shown in his care for those whom he writes. He writes not with a new command but an old one, what is John talking about, not a new command rather it is an old one, it is one that they have heard since the beginning, this old command is the message you have heard. 


Look at the context, look with what comes before in verse five and what comes after in verse ten. In verse five, But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. In verse ten we read ‘whoever loves his brother lives in the light’


What is the command that is not new, that is an old one? It is the command to love. 


Jesus spoke of a new commandment, a command to love one another but to them it is not new, years have past, they have heard this teaching. 


We need to go back to John chapter 13, where the love and humility of Jesus was so vividly portrayed to his disciples whom he was with. They were gunning among themselves, bickering over who was the greatest, and Jesus took of his outer clothes, and washed their feet, he did what they were unwilling to do, he showed them and example by his actions of what love looked like, love that would humble itself before others, that would be willing to do what others would not, love that was willing to wash the feet of the one who would betray him. It’s hard for us to imagine and understand the significance of what Jesus did, it wouldn’t have been lost on those who were there or those who heard it, what Jesus had done was a powerful demonstration of the commandment that he had given his disciples to love ones enemies (Matt 5:44), a love that displayed itself in self giving. 


After washing their feet, after he had put on his outer garments, while they were all together in the upper room, a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another (Jn 13:31-35).


The command that is not new, but an old one, that which they had heard from the beginning was to love one another as Jesus had loved. This is how believers are to live, we are to love. 


We are to love one another lets be real about it, it can be hard to love one another, it can be hard to love someone who has hurt us, whom we have history with, but Jesus only requires from us what he has already manifested in his own person and life. For Jesus in his sacrificial life and death provide the example of love. We are to love each other as Christ loved (Jn 15:12). The truth of how ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (Jn 15:13). It was Jesus who gave the command to love, but it was Jesus who lived out love for his own, (Jn 13:1). We see it manifested most vividly on the cross, it is the act by which we are gathered together. 


We are to love, just as this love, sacrificial love, giving love, was seen in Jesus so vividly it should be seen in us. What genuine Christianity looks like according to John is seen in the love that we have for one another. 



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Question 80

What is required in the tenth commandment?

The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, (Heb. 13:5, 1 Tim. 6:6) with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour, and all that is his. (Job 31:29, Rom. 12:15, 1 Tim. 1:5, 1 Cor. 13:4–7)


Service 27 September