Everything we need (2 Peter 1)
We are a community of faith. We welcome anyone who wants to explore what faith in Jesus looks like. Faith is basic to who we are; we believe in Jesus who died for our sins and who rose again. Through his resurrection we escape the decay that is in the world.*
Peter tells us to add seven things to our faith. He tells us that God's power has given us everything we need to live a godly life. So it is our job to put our faith into practice. The ultimate goal is love, a life lived as Jesus lived.
Peter says that God has called us by his glory and goodness. He calls us into that glory and goodness too.
Don't forget that you are escaping the decay of the world. Be productive. Be effective. God's power has given us everything we need. There's lots of work to do.
More on Sunday …
* We really do mean that. Christ rose from the dead and so will we.
Ever get angry? We all do.
I feel for Nehemiah. He gave so much to the people of God. He was a great man of faith, prayer courage and skill. He was passionate for God’s people. He had achieved so much. God had achieved so much through him.
Yet here we meet him at the end of his book, angry and disappointed and desperately trying to stop his work from falling apart. I guess we ought to be grateful that the Bible tells it as it is, rather than as we’d like it to be. I admire Nehemiah’s zeal but here I cannot defend his behaviour.
God’s people are meant to be different. It’s easy to let that slip away, or to be different in a wrong sort of way. Nehemiah has clear ideas about how they should be different. He wants worship to be at the heart of the community. Didn’t the people promise not to neglect the house of God? How did it slip away when Nehemiah’s back was turned?
There are dangers in trying to be different and they should not be understated. This last chapter of Nehemiah, the ending we didn’t want, can, I hope, provoke us to think about the distinctiveness of the church. In what ways should we be distinctive? How do we stay distinctive?
More on Sunday …..
Confession (Nehemiah 9 & 10)
A couple of weeks ago we saw the people being moved to tears. They were listening to God's word and they knew how far they had fallen short. But it wasn't the time for confession; it was the time for celebration. Time to stop crying.
But the time has now come for the people to have a serious look at themselves. It is time to admit that the bad state of God's people is down to the behaviour of God's people, both now and in the past.
Sometimes churches need to review where they are. Perhaps these chapters can help us to do this well.
1. Start with praise. 'Stand up and praise the Lord, who is from everlasting to everlasting.' Remember God's sheer greatness.
2. Retell the great story of the Bible. God's covenants with Abraham, David and above all Jesus. Remember God's patience with his people and all he has done to sustain the covenant.
3. Recognise the ways that we have failed to live up to the covenant, both in the past and now.
4. Be real about our current position. There is good news (the wall is rebuilt) but things are still not right. The people are still slaves. (I love 9:32, where the people call on God not to let the hardship seem trivial in his eyes. Whatever state we are in God is watching, and our condition can touch his heart.)
5. Make some commitments, preferably as a group. "We will not neglect the house of God."
All this strikes me as a lot of work and perhaps several church meetings. But it could be very worthwhile.