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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Water of life

22 March 2017

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: Spirit Divine, Attend Our Prayers

Theme: Walk with God

Topic: Water of life

Reading: Exodus 17:1-7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ 3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 4So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ 5The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

Introduction
Just as we experience thirst (a strong need and desire to drink water), we also do experience spiritual thirst.  Spiritual thirst can be described as a strong need and desire for the Holy Spirit.  Although a lot of people may not know it, or may even reject the notion, everyone experiences spiritual thirst.  This is because God made us such that nothing can truly fill and satisfy us than the Holy Spirit.  To be filled with the Spirit is to accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour, believe that His death paid the full price for our sins, and allow our thoughts, words and action be guided by His examples and guidance.  Simply put, to be filled with the Spirit is to allow the Holy Spirit to reign in our heart, mind and body.  Holy Spirit is the Water of life, and our spiritual thirst is quenched only when we drink of Him.

Questions/Discussion
1) What is spiritual thirst?  
Psalm 42:1-11
1 As a deer longs for flowing streams,
   so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
   for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
   the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food
   day and night,
while people say to me continually,
   ‘Where is your God?’ 
4 These things I remember,
   as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
   and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
   a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
   and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
   my help 
6and my God. 
My soul is cast down within me;
   therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
   from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
   at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
   have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
   and at night his song is with me,
   a prayer to the God of my life. 
9 I say to God, my rock,
   ‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
   because the enemy oppresses me?’
10 As with a deadly wound in my body,
   my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
   ‘Where is your God?’ 
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
   and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
   my help and my God.

Isaiah 55:6-13
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found,
   call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake their way,
   and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
   and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
   giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
   it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
   and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 
12 For you shall go out in joy,
   and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
   shall burst into song,
   and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
   instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
   for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. 

Amos 5:14-15
14 Seek good and not evil,
   that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
   just as you have said.
15 Hate evil and love good,
   and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
   will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. 

2) What are the lessons for us in John 4:5-42 regarding spiritual thirst and how to quench it?
John 4:5-42
5So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. 8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ 11The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ 13Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ 15The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ 17The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ 19The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ 21Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ 25The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’26Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ 27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ 28Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ 30They left the city and were on their way to him. 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ 32But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ 33So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ 34Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.”38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’ 39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’

3) How should we respond to our spiritual thirstiness?
Matthew 11:28-30
‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

Romans 5:1-11
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.9Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.11But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Revelation 21:6-7
Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 7Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Intercession/Worship

Conclusion
Holy Spirit is the Water of life, and our spiritual thirst is quenched only when we drink of Him.


Closing Prayer (Collect for Third Sunday in Lent)

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ gives the water of eternal life, may we always thirst for you, the spring of life and source of goodness; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Blessed in the Lord

15 March 2017

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: Are You Washed in the Blood?

Theme: Walk with God

Topic: Blessed in the Lord

Reading: Genesis 12:1-4A
Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. 

Introduction
God loves to bless His people, and in so many different ways that to count them will be futile.  In several cultures and countries, specific days are set aside as ‘thanksgiving day’; but ought to be thankful to God everyday of our lives.  Not that if we do not thank the Lord everyday for His numerous blessings upon us that we become cursed or lose His blessings.  Rather, attitude of gratitude is very beneficial to us, as it helps us remember that our help comes from the Lord.  Of all God’s blessings upon us, one of the most crucial is the gift of being born of the Spirit.  This simply means allowing the Holy Spirit to take control of our thoughts, words and actions.  We cannot truly claim to be Christians if the Holy Spirit is not in control of our lives.  Everyone needs the Holy Spirit, both newly converted and ‘veteran’ Christians.  It is impossible to walk with the Lord without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Questions/Discussion
1) What does it mean to be blessed in the Lord?  Give examples. 
Psalm 1:1-6
1 Happy are those
   who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
   or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
   planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
   and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
4 The wicked are not so,
   but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
   nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
   but the way of the wicked will perish.

Ephesians 1:3-14
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

3 John 1:1-8
The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. 2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 3I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely, how you walk in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you; 6they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on in a manner worthy of God; 7for they began their journey for the sake of Christ, accepting no support from non-believers. 8Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth.

2) What are the lessons for us in John 3:1-17 regarding being blessed in the Lord?  
John 3:1-17
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ 3Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ 4Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ 5Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” 8The windblows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ 9Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’10Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11 ‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

3) What are some of the challenges to being blessed in the Lord?  How do we overcome them?
2 Chronicles 7:11-22
Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 17As for you, if you walk before me, as your father David walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, 18then I will establish your royal throne, as I made covenant with your father David saying, “You shall never lack a successor to rule over Israel.” 19 ‘But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20then I will pluck you up from the land that I have given you; and this house, which I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21And regarding this house, now exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished, and say, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this house?” 22Then they will say, “Because they abandoned the Lord the God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods, and worshipped them and served them; therefore he has brought all this calamity upon them.” 

Psalm 121:1-8
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
   from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
   who made heaven and earth. 
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
   he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep. 
5 The Lord is your keeper;
   the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
   nor the moon by night. 
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
   he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
   your going out and your coming in
   from this time on and for evermore.

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ 4Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. 13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. 16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Intercession/Worship

Conclusion
Of all God’s blessings upon us, one of the most crucial is the gift of being born of the Spirit.

Closing Prayer (Collect for Second Sunday in Lent)

Almighty God, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross, give us faith to perceive his glory, that being strengthened by his grace we may be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.