As we grow up in the faith we realise that there is a battle going on between good and evil. This warfare becomes much more acute because we have sided with ’good’. As members of Jesus Christ we have in fact joined his army. In the 1662 Prayer Book of the Church of England we are described as “The church militant here on earth”.
In no way has this got anything to do with taking up bombs and bullets in order to exterminate or convert the opposition! As St Paul says in another of his letters, “we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power …” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Our weapons are the word of God, love, prayer and acts of kindness.
The Church’s warfare is to bring in the Kingdom of God, and this cannot be done except by living as members of that Kingdom. When Jesus sent out his disciples he sent them out as “lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3).
We must not avoid our responsibility to be engaged in contending for the Faith. We must not shirk standing up for the oppressed. We must not keep quiet when we should speak up. Jesus said, “whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed …” (Luke 9:26). Let us be proud of our Lord and our faith.
Warfare is dangerous and will involve casualties. The contender for Christ can similarly expect to be misunderstood, criticised or even worse. But we fight on in the name of Christ. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to bring us out from behind locked doors where we might hide for fear, and has given us boldness to stand up for good against evil.
Father, forgive me when I want to remain a child, irresponsible and nurtured. Help me to take my place in the battle against evil, whatever the cost. Amen.
1 What helped Joshua in his battle against the Amalekites?
Readings: Romans 11: 1-2a, 29-32; & Matthew 15: 10-20, 21-28
“Not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel”
The true Israel are not the fresh and blood descendants of Abraham but descendants of the faith of Abraham, the followers of the Chosen One, Jesus; a new people who arise from every tribe and nation.
Christians were to be the new chosen ones. Not because they were better or superior in any way, but because God wanted to raise up a people to be an example to a lost world of how to live a life in accordance with God’s law and will.
“O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth” (v.2) RSV
The world loves a lover. God loves lovers. But he also wants to keep them from self-destruction. God is not ashamed of physical love nor of the passions that draw young lovers together. However, there are restraints and guidelines.
The Song of Solomon delights in God’s gift of love and sexual union. Certainly it is also an analogy (and a wonderful one at that) of the union between Christ and his Church. But primarily it rejoices in the gift of young love.
These wild passions can however easily run out of control. Greed and lust can take over. Instant gratification ruins self-control. Our times are so often not God’s times. We need to grow in patience, commitment and thoughts for others outside ourselves.
This is also true spiritually. The Christian or believer can reach a point of ecstatic enthusiasm. He is totally in love with Jesus and loves to sing and praise. He wants to witness to others about his intense joy. Such a person has a great gift, but it has to be tempered with thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
Especially, he needs to be patient with others who are not (apparently) enjoying the same degree of infatuation with Christ. They are not necessarily failing in their love, but may well have gone on to a deeper more constant and devoted love. We cannot all be red-blooded all the time in our spiritual journey. Nevertheless some of us need to rediscover our “first love” (Revelation 2:4).
Thank you Lord Jesus for the first flush of love and enthusiasm that your followers have for you. Help me to rediscover something of that passion. Amen.
1 How can a lover keep his way pure?
2 How were the spiritually hot-blooded Corinthians to keep their
We are very honoured as a church community to receive a Certificate of Appreciation “ from the Food Bank for all the groceries that have been given. This work is invaluable to folk who find that temporally they are in difficulties and need support. The food given in monetary terms added up to a donation of £1600.
Thanks to Derek and Diane for all the work they have done on this project.
“It would seem that the hospital have an excess of hats at present so would be grateful if you could knit small bootees or blankets instead. Patterns for the bootees are in the folder in the hat box (by the bookstall). I will store hats until needed if you prefer to knit these.”
Don’t forget that St Mary Magdalene will get £250 if a member of the congregation wins the Religious Poem Competition Entry for The Religious Poem Competition is free. The winner’s chosen church will receive £350 and ten free books. More details at the back of church.
As young Christians we need instruction. Feelings are not sufficient. Sound teaching will lead to sound living. Without it, we will be blown around by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians. 4:14).
When Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red (Reed) Sea to freedom, he had only begun the process. Their ‘baptism’ through the Sea was followed by a short journey to Mount Sinai. Once they arrived, Moses went up the mountain and there received the Ten Commandments. He eventually came down carrying two tablets of stone and proceeded to teach God’s people how they were, from then on, to behave.
Similarly, the newly baptised Christian or the person who has recently come to faith must be instructed as to what God now expects of them. Furthermore, and perhaps even more importantly, they need to know more clearly and fully what God has done for them and what are his promises.
The book of Proverbs has much practical teaching and wisdom. Our reading this week from chapter 4 is one of many passages that promote the need to be instructed. “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,” (v.1).
Paul described himself as a father to the Corinthians: “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel”
(1 Corinthians. 4:15). Paul cared for his churches and he spent much time writing letters to them and instructing them.
People who are young in the faith must look out for instruction. They need to find a good church where, through preaching, fellowship and home groups, they find help. Or else, they need to search websites, book shops, and other sources to find similar help. But especially, they need to read the Bible for themselves. The book is rich in godly instruction. “Get wisdom, get insight” (v.5).
Thank you Lord for those who teach. Help me to be willing to learn, and give me a teachable heart. Amen.