Reflection – 30 May 2021

Here’s Tom’s reflection for Sunday 30 May.

If you’d like to join in our online worship follow this Zoom link. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85061262911?pwd=SjFoODcvOVdFZUhTengxRVRkNzJPUT09

Our worship session starts at 11.00 British Summer Time.

Mark

Reflection 30.05.21am

Stewards of the gospel

Good Morning everyone it’s great to be with you and bring this service to you this morning, concluding your theme of stewardship that you’ve been looking at over the last few months.

As we gather together on this zoom service, each window representing a family, scattered across Newark and beyond, let us join together in prayer.

Opening prayer

Living love, beginning and the end, giver of food and drink, clothing and warmth, love and hope: life in all its goodness, we praise and adore you.

Jesus, Wisdom and Word; lover of outcasts, friend of the poor; one of us, yet one with God; crucified and risen: life in the midst of death, we praise and adore you.

Holy Spirit, storm and breath of love; bridge-builder, eye-opener, unseen and unexpected, untameable energy of life, we praise and adore you.

Holy Trinity, forever one, whose nature is community, source of all sharing, in whom we love, and meet, and know our neighbour, life in all its fullness, making all things new, we praise and adore you.

Some verses from Psalm 47 as we begin our worship today

Clap your hands, all you nations;
    shout to God with cries of joy.

For the Lord Most High is awesome,
    the great King over all the earth.

Sing praises to God, sing praises;
    sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
    sing to him a psalm of praise.

Let’s join together in singing our opening hymn of praise by sovereign grace music

All creatures of our God and king


All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou, burning sun with golden beam
Thou, silver moon with softer gleam
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


Let all things their Creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
And praise the Spirit, Three-in-One
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


All the redeemed washed by His blood
Come and rejoice in His great love
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Christ has defeated every sin
Cast all your burdens now on Him
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


He shall return in pow’r to reign
Heaven and earth will join to say
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Then who shall fall on bended knee?
All creatures of our God and King
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Prayers

Let’s continue in worshipping God as we bring before him our prayers of intercession

Holy God, faithful and unchanging: enlarge our minds with the knowledge of truth, and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love, that we may truly worship you.

Ever one, sacred three, holy God, the trinity.

God beyond us lead us forward to pray

God beside us, teach us gently to pray

God within us, still our hearts to pray

Holy God beyond us, you create and sustain all things, but only by the power of self-giving love. We celebrate your creativity, the risk and imagination you demonstrated in making such wild diversity in the world:

Rhinoceros and dragonfly, the mountain range and the spider’s wed,

Earthworm and human brain.

There is mystery and joy at the heart of creation.

Holy God beyond us, we celebrate the mystery and the joy, which is found even in us

Son of God beside us, you never leave us comfortless.

Always you walk with us, neither too far ahead nor a step behind.

And you teach us the love songs of the kingdom.

Bless, we pray those who have not notices that you are there beside them, or who have chosen to ignore you.

Bless those who are dying of loneliness and those who need you so desperately.

In the quiet, we name such people before you, and pray that they will raise their eyes to see you, son of God beside us.

Holy spirit within us, always you are seeking to infiltrate our lives with peace and strength; always you are trying to give us more of yourself. And yet we often feel empty and afraid, and so does the community of nations. Fill, we pray, all those dark, dank places of this world with your warm life:

Where violence terrorizes people

Where hunger stalks the land.

And where there are people we know in whom hope is running low,

Be for them a summer breeze, and a spring of fresh water, Holy Spirit within us.

God beyond us, give us faith.

Christ beside us, give us peace,

Spirit within us, give us life.

Ever one, sacred three, holy God, the trinity.

Lets join together in saying the lord’s prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

First bible reading – Philippians 3:7-14

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.

Reflection 1-

Paul is very clear in his writing to the church in Philippi, where he wrote it from is irrelevant, it could have been from Ephesus prison, it could’ve been from Rome it probably was from Rome, but what matters is that he’s writing to these believers encouraging them in their new found faith in Christ.

But he’s clear to these new believers that everything that he once thought as a gain to himself he now considers a loss for the sake of Christ. The sake for making Christ known which he now was involved in.

Those gains he used to live in were not according to God’s standards, he lived a life as a murderer killing Christians and persecuting them for their faith, and yet on a road to Damascus perhaps on another mission to kill more Christians, God got a hold of Paul and his life was turned upside down, in fact he was blind for a while until a believer who himself was astonished to find that Paul had been converted came to him and Pauls sight was restored.

In fact Paul was probably more than just a murderer but we can’t really allude to anything because all we know is that he persecuted Christians, but he goes on to say I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I’ve lost all things, Paul considers them garbage, that I may gain Christ.

Paul lost everything, he lost his status as a pharisee, he was probably a very prominent committed one at best, but that status which he had had been swept away because he lost everything for the sake of Christ, the task he was given on that road to Damascus was to go and make him known because what he was doing was not just persecuting Christians but he was persecuting God. And he lost everything and gained Christ, he considers everything a loss because of the greatest thing in his life and that is to know Christ Jesus his Lord. Everything he once did is now garbage to him, because his life is controlled by a different master his life is consumed by the desire to serve Jesus, to take the gospel with him wherever he goes.

Paul goes on to say that he wants to be found in Christ, he isn’t standing in the old law anymore that requires circumcision, he doesn’t stand in his own righteousness that comes from the law, which Christ came to fulfil, but he now stands in the righteousness that comes from God, which is on the basis of faith in Christ. He goes on to say that he wants to know Christ, participating in his suffering, becoming like him in his death, knowing the power of his resurrection and attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Jesus’ suffering was not in vain. There was a well-planned purpose, and God knew that purpose couldn’t be fulfilled any other way. The purpose was to bring redemption to the world. The only thing that would atone for peoples’ sin was for God himself to come to earth and offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice for all of sin – past, present, and future. When we share in Christ’s sufferings, we are sharing in its purpose to give people hope that there is redemption through Jesus Christ. In this passage, Paul tells us that knowing Christ in His suffering is worth the pain He experienced because it allowed Him to experience Jesus’ power – “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.” In our suffering, we see the magnitude of Jesus. There is supernatural power to overcome our pain, a power that can only come from our Saviour.

And in all of this one day, he will rise with all those others who’ve put their faith and trust in Jesus on the day he returns when they will rise from the dead and we will all meet him in the air, heaven, together.

Reflection 2

Paul is challenging us here at this point in the text as he does indeed challenge himself to keep moving forward in the Christian walk of faith or race.

When Paul said he was “forgetting those things which are behind,” he referred to not looking back at past relationships, memories, failures, temptations, or anything that might distract from a single-minded focus on “the upward call of God in Christ.” To inspire his audience, Paul drew on the image of an athlete running a race with uncompromising determination to reach the finish line and win the prize. The New Living Translation renders the passage like this: “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”


The word forgetting in Philippians 3:13 means “dismissing from the mind or paying no attention to.” To “forget” in this way is to stop dwelling on something. To win the race, a runner must dismiss every distraction from his mind. He must not rehash every early misstep or dwell on the mistakes along his course.

“Forgetting what is behind” is Paul’s way of saying, “Don’t look back! Stop dwelling on the past. Don’t let anything behind you interfere with your present progress or future efforts.” Personal growth as a believer was a constant priority in Paul’s life. He strained with every fiber of his being to keep moving forward to win the prize for which God had called him.

In 1 Corinthians 9:25, Paul compared an athlete’s crown to the believer’s eternal prize: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” Paul kept his eyes trained on the finish line because his whole goal and purpose in life was gaining Christ.

When it comes to forward motion, our bodies tend to move automatically toward the place where our eyes are directed. A runner who keeps turning back to see what is behind him will lose his race. Understanding this phenomenon, Paul urged believers to stop looking back at the past and stay focused on the future goal. Paul himself was determined to “forget” or “dismiss from his mind” the former way of life when he violently persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it . He quit dwelling on the hindrances and hurdles of persecution, imprisonment, and abandonment in his past. Instead, he stretched toward what was ahead of him. He looked forward to heaven, the resurrection of his body, and meeting his Saviour face-to-face.


How do things which are behind us hinder our progress in spiritual growth?

Holding onto emotions like bitterness and unforgiveness can slow us down and even keep us locked in the past. Rehearsing conflicts and rehashing hurtful episodes will only open old wounds. Peter urged us to be done with these things: “So get rid of all evil behaviour. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like new-born babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment”. Guilt and despair over past sins may also keep us chained to the past. But God does not hold our past sins against us, and neither should we.

After God delivered Israel from the oppression of slavery, the people looked back longingly to Egypt, but it got them nowhere. “Forgetting those things which are behind” means throwing aside “every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up” and running “with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith”.

The Christian life is lived with our eyes facing forward on Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate priority that makes our lives worth living. Our highest goal is to know Him better, as Paul said: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10).

Song – All I once held dear (Knowing you Jesus)

All I once held dear, built my life upon, All this world reveres and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss,

Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing You, Jesus Knowing You
There is no greater thing You’re my all, You’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love You, Lord

Now my heart’s desire is to know You more
To be found in You and known as Yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh, to know the power of Your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like You in Your death, my Lord
So with You to live and never die

2nd Bible reading – Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

Reflection 3

Matthew 28:19–20 contains what has come to be called the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus gave this command to the apostles shortly before He ascended into heaven, and it essentially outlines what Jesus expected the apostles and those who followed them to do in His absence.

It is interesting that, in the original Greek, the only direct command in Matthew 28:19–20 is “make disciples.” The Great Commission instructs us to make disciples while we are going throughout the world. The instructions to “go,” “baptize,” and “teach” are indirect commands. How are we to make disciples? By baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus commanded. “Make disciples” is the primary command of the Great Commission. “Going,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are the means by which we fulfil the command to “make disciples.”

A disciple is someone who receives instruction from another person; a Christian disciple is a baptized follower of Christ, one who believes the teaching of Christ. A disciple of Christ imitates Jesus’ example, clings to His sacrifice, believes in His resurrection, possesses the Holy Spirit, and lives to do His work. The command in the Great Commission to “make disciples” means to teach or train people to follow and obey Christ.

Many understand Acts 1:8 as part of the Great Commission as well: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The Great Commission is enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to be Christ’s witnesses, fulfilling the Great Commission in our cities (Jerusalem), in our states and countries (Judea and Samaria), and anywhere else God sends us (to the ends of the earth).

Throughout the book of Acts, we see how the apostles began to fulfill the Great Commission, as outlined in Acts 1:8. First, Jerusalem is evangelized (Acts 1 — 7); then the Spirit expands the church through Judea and Samaria (Acts 8 — 12); finally, the gospel reaches into “the ends of the earth” (Acts 13 — 28). Today, we continue to act as ambassadors for Christ, and “we plead on Christ’s behalf: ‘Be reconciled to God’”

Think of it this way, Jesus is standing in Newark town centre with a group of his followers in present day, with Covid-restrictions, and he tells you to Go. First Newark is evangelized, then Balderton and all those outlining villages, then Nottinghamshire, the neighbouring counties, the UK, and the whole world, one person at a time. Imagine if each of you got talking to someone about Jesus, sharing his love, by being who you are, if there are 20 People on this zoom then another 20 Would expand the kingdom at Newark congregational by 40.

We have received a precious gift: “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people”. Jesus’ words in the Great Commission reveal the heart of God, who desires “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”. The Great Commission compels us to share the good news until everyone has heard.

We close our service by singing the hymn

Facing a task unfinished (We go to all the world)


Facing a task unfinished, That drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished, Rebukes our slothful ease
We, who rejoice to know Thee, Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee, To go and make Thee known

Where other lords beside Thee, Hold their unhindered sway
Where forces that defied Thee, Defy Thee still today
With none to heed their crying, For life, and love, and light
Unnumbered souls are dying, And pass into the night

[Refrain]
We go to all the world
With kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save
But Jesus Christ, the Lord


We bear the torch that flaming, Fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming, That Jesus died and rose
Ours is the same commission, The same glad message ours
Fired by the same ambition, To Thee we yield our powers

O Father who sustained them, O Spirit who inspired
Saviour, whose love constrained them, To toil with zeal untired
From cowardice defend us, From lethargy awake!
Forth on Thine errands send us, To labour for Thy sake

Blessing and The Grace

Holy, holy, holy, let angels cry holy,

Who see and know you face to face.

Blessed are you, Maker of all from nothing

Blessed are you, Saviour of all from sin

Blessed are you, Spirit of all, in all and through all.

Blessed are you, God alone, yet God in community

Bless, O God, your Church on earth, with the harmony and diversity of heaven, that we may be one, as you are one.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,

be with us all evermore.

Amen.

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