22/03/2020:

01/03/2020: COVENANT SUNDAY

01/03/2020

THEME: COVENANT SUNDAY – “PRODUCE MUCH FRUIT”

CALL TO WORSHIP:  Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heaven!
Praise him for his mighty works;
    praise his unequalled greatness!
Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn;
    praise him with the lyre and harp!
Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;
    praise him with strings and flutes!
Praise him with a clash of cymbals;
   praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! 

   Praise the Lord!

A reading from the Law: –    Exodus 24:3-11

Then Moses went down to the people and repeated all the instructions and regulations the Lord had given him. All the people answered with one voice, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.”

Then Moses carefully wrote down all the Lord’s instructions. Early the next morning Moses got up and built an altar at the foot of the mountain. He also set up twelve pillars, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent some of the young Israelite men to present burnt offerings and to sacrifice bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. Moses drained half the blood from these animals into basins. The other half he splattered against the altar.

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again, they all responded, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded. We will obey.”

Then Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the Lord has made with you in giving you these instructions.”

Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel climbed up the mountain. 10 There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. 11 And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence!

 

For the wisdom that guides us

we praise you, O God.

A reading from the Prophets: – Jeremiah 31:31-34

31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbours, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

 

For the word that inspires us

we praise you, O God.

A reading from the Epistles: – Romans 12:1-2

A Living Sacrifice to God

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 

For the truth that enlightens us

we praise you, O God.

A reading from the Gospels: – John 15.1-17

Jesus, the True Vine

1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

This is the Gospel of Christ.

 

Praise to Christ our Lord.

QUESTIONS:

 

  1. The parable of the vine and vine grower can be understood more clearly when reading it as a way to explain “dependency and connectedness”; each of us dependent on and connected to the Father, and his dependence on us and connectedness with us! The vine needs the vine grower as much as the vine grower needs the vine! How does this interpretation perhaps challenge you in your relationship with the Lord, and in your relationships with others? ____________________________________________________________________________
  2. How do you bear fruit for the Kingdom? ____________________________________________________________________________
  3. The Covenant Prayer is a call to personal commitment and sacrificial participation in the generous work of the Lord. What part of the prayer stands out for you? Is God challenging you in some way?

 

I am no longer my own but yours.

Your will, not mine, be done in all things,

Wherever you may place me,

In all that I do and in all that I may endure.

When there is work for me and when there is none.

When I am troubled and when I am at peace.

Your will be done when I am valued and when I am Disregarded.

When I find fulfilment and when it is lacking.

When I have all things, and when I have nothing.

I willingly offer all I have and am to serve you,

As and where you choose.

Glorious and blessèd God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

You are mine and I am yours.

May it be so for ever.

Let this covenant now made on earth be fulfilled in heaven. Amen.

 

Text verse for the week:

 

John 15:8: “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”

 

Have a blessed week,

Rev. Tim

 

 

16/02/2020: GENEROSITY

THEME:         “Generosity is an act of Worship”

 

Call to Worship:        Psalm 119:1-8

 

1 Our Lord, you bless everyone who lives right and obeys your Law.
You bless all of those who follow your commands from deep in their hearts
and who never do wrong or turn from you.
You have ordered us always to obey your teachings;
5 I don’t ever want to stray from your laws.
Thinking about your commands will keep me from doing some foolish thing.
I will do right and praise you by learning to respect your perfect laws.
I will obey all of them! Don’t turn your back on me.

 

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

 

Reading:     Exodus 13:1-3, 11-16

 

1 The Lord said to Moses, “Dedicate to me the first-born son of every family and the first-born males of your flocks and herds. These belong to me.”

 

The Festival of Thin Bread

3-4 Moses said to the people: Remember this day in the month of Abib. It is the day when the Lord’s mighty power rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. Do not eat anything made with yeast.

11 The Lord will give you the land of the Canaanites, just as he promised you and your ancestors. 12 From then on, you must give him every first-born son from your families and every first-born male from your animals, because these belong to him. 13 You can save the life of a first-born donkey by sacrificing a lamb; if you don’t, you must break the donkey’s neck. You must save every first-born son.

14 In the future your children will ask what this ceremony means. Explain it to them by saying, “The Lord used his mighty power to rescue us from slavery in Egypt. 15 The king stubbornly refused to set us free, so the Lord killed the first-born male of every animal and the first-born son of every Egyptian family. This is why we sacrifice to the Lord every first-born male of every animal and save every first-born son.”

16 This ceremony will serve the same purpose as a sign on your hand or on your forehead to tell how the Lord’s mighty power rescued us from Egypt.

 

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

 

 

NT READING:          2 Corinthians 9:1-15

 

The Money for God’s People

1 I don’t need to write you about the money you plan to give for God’s people. I know how eager you are to give. And I have proudly told the Lord’s followers in Macedonia that you people in Achaia have been ready for a whole year. Now your desire to give has made them want to give. That’s why I am sending Titus and the two others to you. I want you to be ready, just as I promised. This will prove that we were not wrong to brag about you.

Some followers from Macedonia may come with me, and I want them to find that you have the money ready. If you don’t, I would be embarrassed for trusting you to do this. But you would be embarrassed even more. So I have decided to ask Titus and the others to spend some time with you before I arrive. This way they can arrange to collect the money you have promised. Then you will have the chance to give because you want to, and not because you feel forced to.

Remember this saying,

“A few seeds make a small harvest, but a lot of seeds make a big harvest.”

Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give. God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others. The Scriptures say,

“God freely gives his gifts to the poor, and always does right.”

10 God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. 11 You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift.

12 What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God’s people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. 13 The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honour and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God’s people and with everyone else. 14 Now they are praying for you and want to see you, because God used you to bless them so very much. 15 Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words!

 

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

 

RECAP:

 

  • Micah 6:8: A key verse for 2020: “to do justice, to love kindness [mercy], to walk humbly with God”

 

  • John 4:23: Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spiritand in Truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

 

  • Psalm 112:9: “the righteous [the ones who act for justice] have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honour.”

 

Study Questions – 2 Cor. 9:

 

What is the key challenge given by Paul in each of the following verses?

 

6]  _________________________________________________________________

7]  _________________________________________________________________

8]  _________________________________________________________________

9]  _________________________________________________________________

10] ________________________________________________________________

11-14] _____________________________________________________________

15]  ________________________________________________________________

 

God bless for the week ahead,

Rev. Tim

 

 

09/02/2020: Build your House upon the Rock

09/02/2020:  BUILD YOUR HOUSE UPON THE ROCK

 

CALL TO WORSHIP:          PSALM 126

 

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

 

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

READING:     Micah 6:6-8

 

What Does the Lord Require?

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

 

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

Questions to be answered:

What does (vs 8) “do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God” mean to you, in your life and personal context? How can you, practically speaking, live-out this God expected practice? In other words -what does “doing justice” mean? What does “loving kindness” mean? What will it mean for you to walk “humbly with God”?

 

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READING:     Acts 5:35-39

35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice,

 

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

 

Questions to be answered: How do you discern God’s Will from the plans of people? How do you implement God’s Will in your life, and not simply enforce your own will – as if it were God’s Will – all the while pretending that you are about His work?

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READING:     Luke 6:46-49

 

Build Your House on the Rock

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

 

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

Questions to be answered:

What will you need to do, what will you need to develop and what will you need to change to get this building work on the rock of Jesus done, in your life?

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PRAYER THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK:

 

“Jesus is always going to be the focus of everything I do. I am going to always challenge our leadership and our fellowship groups; our Bible study meetings; our mission projects and organisations; our youth, our young adults and children’s ministries; our ministry and care groups our data and worship teams and choirs – and the church family here – to live and act in a way that shows Jesus at the centre of everything! I am not going to accept anything less from myself nor from anyone else at STMC.

 

Let the rain of God’s Spirit fall on us, and this place – as we build on the rock of Jesus this year – in Jesus name!

 

Amen.”

 

 

God bless for the week ahead.

Rev. Tim