come and see

John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.“Come and see,” answered Philip.


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Healing at the Pool – John 5: 1-8

Recently we looked at Jesus’ healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethsaida. Instead of reading the story from the Bible ourselves, we used this clip from the the Visual Bible:

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For our craft we made “rock pools” using blue plastic plates (I found some with a wavy pattern on them) and small stones and rocks glued on the edges. Only problem we found was that the glue took a while to set, so the stones were not securely attached when the children were taking the plates home – caution was advised.

 

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The Message:

Let me ask you a question? Do you want a chocolate? Wow that was a quick answer. Let’s look again at what the man answered when Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well? 
(Here we showed the clip again from 0.54 to 1.13)

He had been sick for 38 years, not minutes, not days, not weeks…. 38 years. And he was there waiting to get into the bubbling pool to be healed, and had been beaten to it every single time. You would think if someone asked if he wanted to be well, it would a very quick yes, but it wasn’t. Instead he answered why he CAN’T get well. When Jesus asked this man the question he had wanted for 38 years to come true, he hadn’t listened to Jesus speaking to him. Instead he was focused on himself and not present in that moment. He said what he would have told himself time and time again so it became an automatic response.

What if Jesus was right here, right now standing in front of you and asks “do you want to be well?” “Do you want to be all God intended you to be when He made you?”

Do you hear Jesus or what you have been saying to yourself time and time again?

“But you don’t understand I have a lot on at the moment”

“But I don’t deserve it, someone else always gets your blessing, not me”

“But I like being taken care of”

“But I know this life, I don’t know what that kind of life that would be like- too scary for me to give you control”

‘But……..”

Jesus heard not his words but his heart, and gave him the answer to being well. And this man didn’t even know it was Jesus, the well-known healer, the Son of God.

Jesus told him “Rise, take up your bed and walk” He did and was healed. How many times had he struggled to do just this – and instead of listening to his excuses – this time he listened, believed, trusted and obeyed Jesus and he got the miracle of healing he had wanted.
(show clip from 1.13- to 2.08)

Once again we see that the miracle is the unexpected. How did God bring down the city walls of Jericho? Have Joshua’s army march around them. How did Jesus heal a lame man? Tell him to get up. Joshua wanted to take the city of Jericho and trusted and obeyed what God told him to do.  The lame man wanted to be well and trusted and obeyed what Jesus told him to do. And I believe it is in our trust and obedience that miracles happen.

Vanessa

 

The Prayers:

Lord, the noise of our own self-importance fills this world, deafening us to your words, blinding us to the possibilities you lay before us, and closing our minds to the miracles you want to work in our lives.

We take at face value the accepted knowledge of the world, failing to open ourselves to your infinite grace and healing gifts.

At a time when conflicts are increasing, when world neighbours turn against each other, when a decision taken in one country causes terror and grief in another, open our ears to hear your voice.

Where the world speaks words of hate and war
Let your words of peace and reconciliation be heard

Where the world speaks words of sorrow and despair
Let your words of comfort and hope be heard

Where the world speaks words of sickness and mourning
Let your words of healing and strength be heard

Where the world speaks words of selfishness and self-reliance
Let your words of love for one another be heard

Where the world speaks … let us instead listen to you, Lord,
and hear your words of grace and forgiveness in our lives every day.

Amen

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Why we don’t go on Retreats

We don’t do Retreats. Just not our thing.

In a couple of weeks three of us are going away overnight to Te Waiora House –a Christian Retreat Centre in Hororata.

But we’re not going on Retreat.

We will spend time – individually and collectively – in prayer, immersing ourselves in God’s presence, and seeking His will for us.
But we’re not going on Retreat.

We will have some time working on an outline of the services over the next few months, and planning and fine-tuning the children’s Christmas Service (because that’s not too far away!)
But we’re not going on Retreat.

We hope that this time will refresh us, and renew us to continue the work God has called us for in our community.
But we’re not going on Retreat.

Let me explain: the first time we went away on such a weekend, we set a date, then conferred with our husbands to ensure that there were no clashes and that they were happy for us to go away then. Vanessa told her husband “this is the weekend we are planning to go away on Retreat – is that okay with you?” And he said “No”!
He said “you should never Retreat, or look backwards. You should always look to the future and go forwards.”

So we don’t go on a Retreat – we go on an Advance. And we are so looking forward to the future God has planned for us!


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Mansions

The service at the beginning of this month was inspired by the following quote from C S Lewis:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.”

Readings we used were from Jeremiah 29:11 ““For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And Ephesians 3:20 “With God’s power working in us, God can do much much more than anything we can ask or imagine.”

IMG_0599IMG_0598For a game we used a sets of cards which, when put together properly, showed a picture of a house, giving one set each to small groups of 3 or 4 people. The twist here is that we didn’t give them a guide picture, but left them to put it together as well as they could manage, using this to reinforce the theme that what is being built in us is more than we can ask or imagine. The cards we used are an old set that I have had in my household for many years, but it would be easy enough to make your own version by printing off pictures of houses and cutting them into squares.

Vanessa started her message by reading the quote from C S Lewis, and then continued:
“Imagine yourself as a living house.”
In the Bible our body is talked about as a temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of God and that God’s Spirit lives within you?”

That’s right we have our very own builder, the Holy Spirit, living in us 24/7, every hour of every day. When we become Christians, we accept and realise there are parts of us that are not right with God – as C S Lewis put it “the leaky roof and drains.”  My building jobs: the works in progress or the things on the to-do list will be different to yours. What God is hammering out with me at the moment, will be different to you. That’s because I am special …… and so are you. The important thing is to accept and embrace that we are a building site that gets a bit messy, uncertain, and certainly painful. And also please remember that we are the building, a living house, a temple – NOT the project manager or the architect.

Life is challenging – that’s life. Christians don’t have it easy. Change can be hard.  Letting go of things we are familiar and comfortable with, even if these things hurt us, can be scary. The only thing I know stronger than fear is faith. Have faith in God. He loves you and His plans for you are for good. And to quote C S Lewis again: “I would rather be what God chose to make than the most glorious creature that I could think of. For to have been thought about, born in God’s thought and then made by God is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”

But wait – there’s more. Our God is an amazing overflowing God. “I came so you could have life in all its abundance.” (John 10:10) “Jesus told the men to cast their net on the other side of the boat and it overflowed.” (John 21:1-14).

And so in closing let’s once again hear and dwell on these words from Ephesians 3:20  “With God’s power working in us, God can do much much more than anything we can ask or imagine.”
The Amplified Bible version says “God is able to do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare, ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams.”


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God – Here and Now (Malachi 3:6)

I heard a term the other day “Change fatigue.” It is the inability to cope with constant change which goes against the common saying “the only constant in life is change.” Change fatigue is becoming more prevalent in Christchurch as we continue to live post-quake. An example is the constant changes to roading with detours and road blocks that seem to last forever, or appear and disappear overnight. I have tried to be clever and beat the system by taking the long way round to avoid roadworks only to encounter bigger ones, and then find out the one I avoided had been finished. Changes in where we live as we have repairs, or feel our lives are on hold as we wait for outcomes so that any change can then eventually happen. There is such a blanket of uncertainty over so much of our lives, more so now than ever before.

Personally I have changed a lot in my 44 years. Of course I have, I am no longer a new born baby, toddler or teenager. I am a middle-aged woman with some grey hair and even more wrinkles. I am a wife and mother. I have had many experiences that have formed me to be who I am today – some good, some bad, some menial and some profound.  And the process is not complete, I will continue to change over the next year, the next 10 years – right up to the day I die.

And God – has He aged? Has He changed?  “I am the Lord, and I do not change”(Malachi 3:6)

When my father died, I couldn’t find God. I prayed, but the God I knew wasn’t there….. why would God leave me in my time of raw grief? Or had I changed?  And here is something I read at that time called “Footsteps”:

FOOTSTEPS…..
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.

“Lord, You said that once I decided to follow you, You’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My son, My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

I had never been in this place before… I just needed to learn to be carried. Our relationship changed and as a result is now different.

These changes are given to us so that we can grow spiritual.
So we learn to have the confidence and courage to lay our burdens with God so He can give us rest -and that does mean putting them down and not going back to pick them up.
So that as our patience is tested, we learn how to wait in God’s timing.
So by loving the difficult people in our lives, loving the unpleasant parts of ourselves we can experience more of God’s love for ourselves and those around us.

The challenge you are having now (because I know we are all facing something – that’s life) is about us changing to be more like God, more like Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the one who shows us what needs to be done, and gives us the strength and peace to do it.

Sometimes we learn these lessons quickly, sometimes it takes a bit longer, sometimes we think we passed it, only to find out we have a whole other level to master. And yes, that is life – it changes constantly.

In the midst of change and uncertainly, we can trust in God who never changes. Situations in our lives often change, but God’s promise never changes. Our feelings and emotions can change, sometimes quickly, but God never changes.

The only constant in life is God, and He is here and now. In this present moment, and every present moment. In the calm and the storm, in the noise and the quiet, in the crowd and in your solitude. He is here, he is now. He is in our present moment and our future. Your choice is if you want to be with Him.

Vanessa