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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Obedience to God

15 February 2017
Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: When we walk with the Lord

Theme: Lord of all

Topic: Obedience to God

Reading: Sirach 15:15-20
15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
   and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. 
16 He has placed before you fire and water;
   stretch out your hand for whichever you choose. 
17 Before each person are life and death,
   and whichever one chooses will be given. 
18 For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
   he is mighty in power and sees everything; 
19 his eyes are on those who fear him,
   and he knows every human action. 
20 He has not commanded anyone to be wicked,
   and he has not given anyone permission to sin. 

Introduction
Obedience to God is one of the qualities of Christians.  To obey the Lord is vital to our relationship with God, and with the people He has put in our lives.  In the Old Testament, obedience is measured by how close one comes to keeping the Law; but according to the New Testament we live under Grace and not the Law.  So how do we know that we are living in obedience to God?  Can we be lawless and yet profess to be Christians?  According to Scripture, shall we continue in sin for grace to abound?  One of the major differences between the Old and New covenants is that whereas in the Old covenant obedience is a requirement, in the New covenant obedience is a by-product of the grace of God in our lives.  We obey God not because we are under the Law, but because of the grace He lavished on us.

Questions/Discussion
1) What is obedience? 
1 Samuel 15:10-26
The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11‘I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.’ Samuel was angry; and he cried out to the Lord all night.12Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, and Samuel was told, ‘Saul went to Carmel, where he set up a monument for himself, and on returning he passed on down to Gilgal.’ 13When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord.’ 14But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and the lowing of cattle that I hear?’ 15Saul said, ‘They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.’ 16Then Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.’ He replied, ‘Speak.’ 17 Samuel said, ‘Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.18And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, “Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.”19Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?’ 20Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21But from the spoil the people took sheep and cattle, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.’ 22And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.’ 24 Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.’ 26Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.’

Matthew 7:21-23
‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” 23Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”

James 1:19-25
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.25But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

2) What are the lessons for us in Matthew 5:21-37 regarding obeying the Lord?  
Matthew 5:21-37
‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire.23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 27 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 ‘It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33 ‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

3) What are some of the challenges to obeying the Lord?  How do we overcome them, and what are the rewards of obeying the Lord? 
Deuteronomy 30:15-20
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Psalm 119:1-8
Refrain: Happy are they who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Happy are they who observe his decrees and seek him with all their hearts! R Who never do any wrong, but always walk in his ways. You laid down your commandments, that we should fully keep them. R Oh, that my ways were made so direct that I might keep your statutes! Then I should not be put to shame, when I regard all your commandments. R I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, when I have learned your righteous judgements. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me. R

1 Corinthians 3:1-9
And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? 4For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human? 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Intercession/Worship

Conclusion
We obey God not because we are under the Law, but because of the grace He lavished on us.

Closing Prayer (Collect for Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany)

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

True Christianity

St Pauls Church Charlottetown PEI 
The Lords Table: Bible study/Prayer meeting 
(Every Wednesday 6-7 pm at the Chapel) 
8 February 2017
Opening Prayer/Worship          Hymn: Abide with me
1 Abide with me: fast falls the eventide; 
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. 
When other helpers fail and comforts flee, 
Help of the helpless, O abide with me. 
2 Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; 
earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away. 
Change and decay in all around I see. 
O Lord who changes not, abide with me. 
3 I need your presence every passing hour. 
What but your grace can foil the tempter's power? 
Who like yourself my guide and strength can be? 
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
4 I fear no foe with you at hand to bless, 
though ills have weight, and tears their bitterness. 
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, your victory? 
I triumph still, if you abide with me. 
5 Hold now your Word before my closing eyes. 
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies. 
Heaven's morning breaks and earth's vain shadows flee; 
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me. 
Theme: Lord of all       Topic: True Christianity 

Reading: Isaiah 58:1-12
Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practised righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgements, they delight to draw near to God. "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
Introduction
Most things in life appear in one of two forms, true or fake.  The same principle applies toChristianity.  Followers of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch because they lived and acted just as Christ would.  To be a Christian is to emulate Christ, in thought, word, and especially action.  We live at a time when Christianity has become a byword.  Our actions do not always reflect the character of Christ, and this is not always intentional or continuous. If we profess to be Christians, we should strive to live and act as Christ would.  This is not easy, and cannot be achieved in our own strength alone, but through the power of Holy Spirit living in us.  To live as a Christian in the present day is like swimming against fast current; it is difficult.  There are several factors that make it challenging to live up to our calling in Christ.  However, if we continuously abide in Jesus Christ, He will abide in us, and help us stay true to His calling on our lives.

Questions/Discussion

1. Describe true Christianity. 
Psalm 112:1-9
REFRAIN Happy are they who have given to the poor. 
Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord and have great delight in his commandments! Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in their house, and their righteousness will last for ever. R 
Light shines in the darkness for the upright; the righteous are merciful and full of compassion. It is good for them to be generous in lending and to manage their affairs with justice. R 
For they will never be shaken; the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance. They will not be afraid of any evil rumours; their heart is right; they put their trust in the Lord. R 
Their heart is established and will not shrink, until they see their desire upon their enemies. They have given freely to the poor, and their righteousness stands fast for ever; they will hold up their head with honour. R 
The wicked will see it and be angry; they will gnash their teeth and pine away; the desires of the wicked will perish. R
Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Acts 11:19-30
19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
27During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

2. What are the lessons for us in Matthew 5:13-20 regarding true Christianity?
Matthew 5:13-20
Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
3. What are some of the challenges to living as a practical Christian?  How do we overcome them?  
Matthew 21:28-32
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

James 1:19-27
19My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 26Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

1 Corinthians 2:1-16
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him" - these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny. "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
Intercession/Worship

Conclusion
If we profess to be Christians, we should strive to live and act as Christ would.

Conclusion Closing Prayer (Collect for Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany)
Merciful Lord, grant to your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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