Reflection – 21 June 2020

Here is Martin Frost’s reflection for Sunday 21 June.

If you would like to join our online service, which starts at 11.00 WET/BST then send an email for joining instructions to newarkcongregational@virginmedia.com

Mark Taylor

Call to Worship  – Psalm 128

Blessed is every who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. When you eat the labour of our hands you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.

Prayer

Father thank you for all the things you bless us with, the things we perhaps take for granted and the people who we have grown to realise matter to us as we have been kept apart. Father we thank you that this morning we have the chance to gather together, either through technology or in spirit and ask that your presence may bless this time. Open out hearts to receive your grace and to be a fertile bed for your Word. Amen

Hymn For I’m Building a people of power

For I’m Building A People Of Power
And I’m Making A People Of Praise
That Will Move Through This Land By My Spirit
And Will Glorify My Precious Name

Build Your Church, Lord
Make Us Strong, Lord
Join Our Hearts, Lord, Through Your Son
Make Us One, Lord
In Your Body
In The Kingdom Of Your Son

For I’m Building A People Of Power
And I’m Making A People Of Praise
That Will Move Through This Land By My Spirit
And Will Glorify My Precious Name

Build Your Church, Lord
Make Us Strong, Lord
Join Our Hearts, Lord, Through Your Son
Make Us One, Lord
In Your Body
In The Kingdom Of Your Son [2]

Reading Daniel 1

The Young Men at Nebuchadnezzar’s Court

In the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia attacked Jerusalem and surrounded the city. The Lord let him capture King Jehoiakim and seize some of the Temple treasures. He took some prisoners back with him to the temple of his gods in Babylon, and put the captured treasures in the temple storerooms.

The king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief official, to select from among the Israelite exiles some young men of the royal family and of the noble families. They had to be handsome, intelligent, well-trained, quick to learn, and free from physical defects, so that they would be qualified to serve in the royal court. Ashpenaz was to teach them to read and write the Babylonian language. The king also gave orders that every day they were to be given the same food and wine as the members of the royal court. After three years of this training they were to appear before the king. Among those chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all of whom were from the tribe of Judah. The chief official gave them new names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Daniel made up his mind not to let himself become ritually unclean by eating the food and drinking the wine of the royal court, so he asked Ashpenaz to help him, and God made Ashpenaz sympathetic to Daniel. Ashpenaz, however, was afraid of the king, so he said to Daniel, “The king has decided what you are to eat and drink, and if you don’t look as fit as the other young men, he may kill me.”

So Daniel went to the guard whom Ashpenaz had placed in charge of him and his three friends. “Test us for ten days,” he said. “Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare us with the young men who are eating the food of the royal court, and base your decision on how we look.”

He agreed to let them try it for ten days. When the time was up, they looked healthier and stronger than all those who had been eating the royal food. So from then on the guard let them continue to eat vegetables instead of what the king provided.

God gave the four young men knowledge and skill in literature and philosophy. In addition, he gave Daniel skill in interpreting visions and dreams.

At the end of the three years set by the king, Ashpenaz took all the young men to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them all, and Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah impressed him more than any of the others. So they became members of the king’s court. No matter what question the king asked or what problem he raised, these four knew ten times more than any fortuneteller or magician in his whole kingdom. Daniel remained at the royal court until Cyrus, the emperor of Persia, conquered Babylonia.

Prayers and Lord’s Prayer

Message

Many churches have moved away from the New Testament model of everyone having a role and the idea of the Church being the body with many parts all serving; to a place where they expect the single person at the front leading, doing everything and people simply attending to be recharged on a Sunday, receiving something and then going home. As LRCC moves forward, I’d like to be part of a focus on a New Testament model, when we all look to how we can take a more direct part in its future. Also how we can take down some of the divisions in our lives where we see some parts as our ‘churchy’ bits and others as different. I’d like to focus on a few people in the Bible and how God uses them in different ways.

Moses (Exodus 17:8-13)

Aaron’s Walking Stick

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “If the king demands that you prove yourselves by performing a miracle, tell Aaron to take his walking stick and throw it down in front of the king, and it will turn into a snake.” So Moses and Aaron went to the king and did as the Lord had commanded. Aaron threw his walking stick down in front of the king and his officers, and it turned into a snake. Then the king called for his wise men and magicians, and by their magic they did the same thing. They threw down their walking sticks, and the sticks turned into snakes. But Aaron’s stick swallowed theirs. The king, however, remained stubborn and, just as the Lord had said, the king would not listen to Moses and Aaron.

Sometimes God will use the skills we have from our job to be able to serve him.

In the Israelite culture Moses’ rod was his sign of authority; as a shepherd to guide his flock (cf Ps 23:4), became his sign of authority with the people of Israel (Ex. 4:20) and used by God to part the sea and in prayer during battle against the enemy (Ex. 17:9); Numbers 20:11 he drew water from a rock for his flock.

Some of us have skills, to do with our job such as teaching or with money or administration. God can use these skills to help the Church – and I mean the people not the building – to be blessed.

Rahab (Joshua 2:1-15)

Joshua Sends Spies into Jericho

Then Joshua sent two spies from the camp at Acacia with orders to go and secretly explore the land of Canaan, especially the city of Jericho. When they came to the city, they went to spend the night in the house of a prostitute named Rahab. The king of Jericho heard that some Israelites had come that night to spy out the country, so he sent word to Rahab: “The men in your house have come to spy out the whole country! Bring them out!”

“Some men did come to my house,” she answered, “but I don’t know where they were from. They left at sundown before the city gate was closed. I didn’t find out where they were going, but if you start after them quickly, you can catch them.” (Now Rahab had taken the two spies up on the roof and hidden them under some stalks of flax that she had put there.) The king’s men left the city, and then the gate was shut. They went looking for the Israelite spies as far as the place where the road crosses the Jordan.

Before the spies settled down for the night, Rahab went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land. Everyone in the country is terrified of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea in front of you when you were leaving Egypt. We have also heard how you killed Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan. We were afraid as soon as we heard about it; we have all lost our courage because of you. The Lord your God is God in heaven above and here on earth. Now swear by him that you will treat my family as kindly as I have treated you, and give me some sign that I can trust you. Promise me that you will save my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families! Don’t let us be killed!”

The men said to her, “May God take our lives if we don’t do as we say! If you do not tell anyone what we have been doing, we promise you that when the Lord gives us this land, we will treat you well.”

Rahab lived in a house built into the city wall, so she let the men down from the window by a rope.

Sometimes God will use people who are not Church and the contacts we have because of our work/life or leisure may be used by God in his purposes.

Depending on which scholar you refer to, depends on how good a press she gets. For a start she is often referred to as a prostitute but in other literature she is understood as an innkeeper. It was common for inns to also have women available and she may have run a brothel. Being an innkeeper explains why Joshua’s orders were being followed and why going there for information might be a good plan.

Rahab had been shown that God had handed over the land to them and had heard of what God had done to other enemies. God used her work for his purposes and spared her during the attack. As an additional bit of information, Jesus was one of her descendants.

As the Church we need to be willing to reach out to others who perhaps aren’t Christian because God has blessed them with skills and they may be better equipped to help us.

Daniel (Daniel 1) (See above)

Sometimes God will put you in a position, to use it to serve God. Daniel’s job meant that he was tested, would he stay faithful to what God had said and expected from him. Daniel 1 explains how Nebuchadnezzar wanted to assimilate Daniel into their ways. This testing was, as if often the cause, training for what God wanted. Daniel set himself to be faithful to God, (1:8) He wasn’t rude or aggressive and because of this he gained respect and understanding. Because of Daniel’s position he was able to help his people like no other. Because of his faithfulness he excelled in many areas and was a witness to God.

Sometimes we are very fortunate that our jobs and lives puts us in a place where we can influence those in authority.  The issue is whether we bend to please them or stand strong to the values God has given us to be salt and yeast.

Lydia (Acts 16:14-15)

One of those who heard us was Lydia from Thyatira, who was a dealer in purple cloth. She was a woman who worshiped God, and the Lord opened her mind to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and the people of her house had been baptized, she invited us, “Come and stay in my house if you have decided that I am a true believer in the Lord.” And she persuaded us to go.

Sometimes God will simply bless us with a job and rather than being used through that it is used as a means of supporting Christians on their mission. Lydia is an example of this. She was in a very privileged position and was able to support the work of Paul, look after him after he came out of prison. She was a Christian and the Church in Philippi probably met at her house. Because of her job she was in a position to be able to bless the Church financially and with resources.

There are less obvious ways in which we can be used by God to support the Church community. Offering to host an event, financially supporting something the Church is doing even if we can’t physically help. Giving prayer support for something or someone.

Hymn Christ has no body but yours.

Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes with which He sees
Yours are the feet with which He walks
Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world
Yours are the hands

[Interlude]

[Verse]
Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes with which He sees
Yours are the feet with which He walks
Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world
Yours are the hands

[Interlude]

[Verse]
Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes with which He sees
Yours are the feet with which He walks
Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world
Yours are the hands

Blessing

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and forever more. Amen

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