Philippians reading 1

Philippians 1 New International Version

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Introduction to the letter to the Philippians:

Paul’s immediate purpose for writing this letter to the Philippians was to thank them for a gift they had sent him.  He was in prison and the Philippians supported him.  He is concerned for them that God will bring their faith to maturity.

 

Thought: We are in a form of imprisonment ourselves at the moment.  Are we as concerned as Paul was, when he had his own troubles, to care for our fellow Christians?  As Paul did, we have a choice to make about our attitude:  do we give up or go on?  Do we spend our time feeling sorry for ourselves, or do we give our attention to others – our choice?

There are many songs and hymns we can use to encourage ourselves and then others, 

e.g.,” Count your blessings”:  “My Peace I give unto you”:  “New every morning is the love”:  “Father I place into Your hands”:  “All the way my Saviour leads me”

 

Prayer:  Pray that you, like Paul, focus on being a blessing to others today.

Our Advent series begins with a poem

Our Advent series begins with a poem chosen by Heather

Approaching Christmas
Lord, the rush has begun
and we know that it will be yet more hectic
as time draws near and we find ourselves
vulnerable to the stress of Christmas preparations.
 
But in this time and in this place
we can lay on one side all that pressures us
for here there is space
and here there is peace
 
and here is the challenge to change,
making ourselves vulnerable to you
the living God;
 
making ourselves vulnerable to the cry
of a helpless baby who brings life
and joy and hope.
 
Help us today to use our time
to listen to the one who prepares
the way for your coming
into every part of life;
in the name of Christ our Lord.

VERSE AND PRAYER FOR 17th November

Romans 8: 16, 17
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirt that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”

A Wall Street stockbroker, an immigrant from Germany, died unmarried and without any known heirs. His inheritance amounted to a fortune of some five million dollars. A legatee investigator in Germany received notification of this from a colleague in New York and set to work, searching through archives and address lists, contacting registry and parish offices. Eventually he discovered a distant relative, who then only needed to sign the certificate of heirship and agree to the search fee, which assured the investigator a handsome proportion of the legacy according to the work done.

Lots of people would like to become rich suddenly and unexpectedly. But it rarely happens! Yet heirs are still sought for an incalculable inheritance, which all are invited to share and whose value does not decrease with the number of heirs found. It is God’s inheritance for His children, the riches He holds in store for them.
Now who has a right to this inheritance? All who sincerely believe of Jesus Christ, the Son of God become children of God and thus heirs of God. And there is another advantage: no fees become due! On the contrary, Jesus Christ, the Mediator, paid that price by giving His life on the cross so that sinners might become God’s children and heirs.

So let us not complain if an inheritance doesn’t fall into our lap. The riches of the Christian who trusts God’s fatherly hand during his life and will one day share glory with Christ are infinitely greater.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to get my head round what an amazing inheritance we have when we believe in Christ as our Saviour. Thank You for Your generosity in wanting to share everything with us, and thank You Jesus, for being willing to pay the price that enabled us to
receive that inheritance. May we live day by day with our heads held high knowing who we are in You. Amen.

REFLECTION AND PRAYER FOR 10th November



Jeremiah 33:3
“Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things which you have not known.”

2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Last Sunday was Remembrance Sunday when we remembered, with thanksgiving, our brave service men and women, who have given their lives sacrificially so that others might live in freedom. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” In dying on the cross Jesus demonstrated the extent of His love for us. It wasn’t that He had an unloving Father Who sent Him cruelly to the cross. Quite the opposite – the unconditional, unmerited, extravagant love of God the Father for us, His creation, His fallen children, and the love of God the Son, are what compelled Jesus to the cross. There He died in our place, so that our sins are forgiven, and so that God can have His children back. We are forever grateful and remember Jesus’ death, and resurrection, every time we take communion. May we love Him back always out of awe and wonder and gratitude.

Prayer: Lord, as we have the Covid-19 virus pandemic in the forefront of our minds, may we also remember how You show Your faithfulness to us every day in all circumstances that we face. Thank You for Your extravagant love for us. Help us remember. Amen

REFLECTION AND PRAYER FOR 3rd November



On Friday Fiona quoted from the story of the Samaritan woman. “Just another human being who needed to hear Jesus’ message. Race and gender had no relevance to her need to be saved.”

It reminded me of a story from Wycliffe Bible Translators:
Kenyan translators were checking their translation of Luke 9:48 when they hit a problem.
“Then He said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes My Father who sent me. Whoever is least among you is the greatest.'”
The English says ‘child’ – it doesn’t specify gender. In the language the translators were using, the only time you don’t specify gender is when the child is in the womb. Once the child is born, you have to use the word for ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. But which did Jesus bring to His side?

In their society women and girls are regarded as lowly. Women are usually counted with the children and have almost no rights or say in family matters. Wife-beating is common, and boys have more ‘value’ than girls.
If they chose boy-child would they aid the prejudice against women and girls? The women and girls might feel that Jesus, just like their men, doesn’t regard them highly. If they used ‘girl-child’, the men might feel challenged to reconsider; if the King of Kings regards a girl-child so highly, who are they to look down on women?
In the end they chose ‘girl-child’.

Prayer: Help us to have regard for those who are often overlooked or despised or abused. May we never find ourselves overlooking or despising or abusing others. May Bible translators around the world be given inspiration in their work to help people to understand what God is saying to them and about them. Amen.

READING AND PRAYER FOR 27th October

As each Sunday morning we are looking at the Ten Commandments, let’s read the passage from Exodus 20 again.

Reading: Exodus 20:1-17

Follow the Maker’s Instructions
It is odd that we never think to question the instructions that come with our microwave or washing machine and yet have problems with God’s instructions on the most important issues in the whole of life. If the handbook on our camera warns us to keep it away from water, we do it, but if the Bible, which comes with much greater authority and a much longer warranty, tells us not to steal or not to tell lies we are reluctant to take it seriously. Jesus even defined those commandments more specifically in the Sermon on the Mount.

My mother never had the patience to read instructions but would throw them away being convinced she didn’t need them. Are we like that with God’s Word, thinking we know better how to run our lives?

Prayer: Help us Lord not to adapt Your Word to suit what we want to do. Keep us aware of the times we are straying from Your pure and perfect way. Forgive us for the times when we ignore what You tell us. We know that we cannot live as You require without Your help.
Amen.

REFLECTION AND PRAYER FOR 20th October



*The Fruit of the Spirit
Reading:* Galatians 5:22 & 23a
“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Dieticians advocate that we should be having five-a-day. The Bible suggests nine-a-day.
I have a friend who decided that nine fruit was too much to expect from any of us at any one time and so concentrated on displaying one fruit a week. Love, the first week; joy, the second week etc. She found even that was hard until she realised that verse 22 starts with “but when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this fruit in us.”

*Prayer*
Help me to be aware of the fruit that I should be showing in my life each week under Your control. May I give control of my life day-by-day to You. Amen

REFLECTION FOR 13th October

True Story
A climber going up a rock face had a rope end flick against her face which caused her to lose her contact lens. She looked for it but couldn’t find it which meant climbing was more dangerous as everything was blurred. Later in the day they met up with some other climbers who said. “Has anyone lost a contact lens?”
“How did you find it?”
“We noticed an ant carrying it and as it was moving it was catching the sun.”
The climber’s father was a cartoonist and drew the ant carrying the contact lens. The caption went like this –
“Dear Lord, why have I got to carry this? I can’t use it, I can’t eat it and it’s so very heavy. But if you’ve got a reason for me to carry this burden I will.”
James 1:12: “Blessed be the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those that love Him.”
Romans 5:3-5: “…. we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because He has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us.”
Prayer: “We offer our lives to You. Help us always to be open to Your Spirit in our thoughts and feelings and actions. Please support us when we are aware of burdens that we are carrying. Amen”
And as we have been thinking about harvest this last weekend, think of a fruit or vegetable that you like or one that either you don’t like or have never tried. Gives thanks for the variety of God’s provision and pray for those who have limited choices.

REFLECTION AND PRAYER FOR 6th October

We all have people that God has given us. No one has been created to be a lone individual (in Scripture, saints are always plural). In God’s Kingdom we are all related (brothers and sisters)) to help, support, love, build up one another. Our adversary Satan, insinuates that I am unimportant; I have no one to build into, God doesn’t need me anyway. In reality what God desires is that everything is returned to Him with increase – people in good shape, all complete, with full stature of maturity in Christ – our crown in the heavenly Kingdom.
There is nothing more valuable on earth than people – God is people-oriented – He was not satisfied with creation until people were created – creation was described as good on the sixth day but very good when people were added. Our God is a God with compassion for our welfare – people are His treasure.

Ephesians 1:18, 19 “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can see something of the future He has called you to share. I want you to realise that God has been made rich because we who are Christ’s have been given to Him! I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe Him.”

Do we put up with, or tolerate people, or do we see them as treasure the Lord wants to shape in the image of Jesus through loving them? Let’s get our values right; see what God is calling us to do; see who God has given us to care for, love, and build into. The world will know we are His disciples when we love one another! Where is your treasure?

Pray for those God has given you to love and care for.

VERSE AND REFLECTION FOR 29th September

John 13: 4-9
Jesus got up from the supper table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His loins, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel He had around Him. When He came to Simon Peter, Peter said to Him, “Master You shouldn’t be washing our feet like this!” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand why I am doing it; some day you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “You shall never wash my feet!” But if I don’t, you can’t be My partner,” Jesus replied. Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and my head as well – not just my feet!”

Ten reasons why I never wash!
-I was forced to wash as a child
-People who wash are hypocrites; they think they are cleaner than everyone else.
-There are so many kinds of soap; I just can’t decide on the best one to use.
-I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped doing it.
-I wash only on special occasions like Christmas and Easter.
-None of my friends wash.
-I’ll start washing when I get older and dirtier.
-I don’t have time to wash.
-The bathroom is never warm enough in winter or cool enough in summer.
-The people who make the soap are only after your money.

Pray for those in your family or amongst your friends and acquaintances who are making excuses and presenting reasons why they don’t want to come to Jesus for His cleansing.