Lent 2009 (12) – Caring for Jesus

I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me. The righteous then will answer him, “When lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? … … The king will reply, I tell you whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!” Matthew 25:35-40

People’s needs vary tremendously. For some their hunger and thirst is for actual food and drink. For the homeless their great need is for actual warmth and shelter. For other people their hunger and thirst may be for acceptance, affirmation, encouragement, friendship, security and belonging.

Whenever we help a person in need we meet them face to face. One human being with another. Any other way would make the person faceless and nameless. And our care provision has added value and significant because it is Jesus himself who we serve.

Lent 2009 (11) – The way Jesus did it

Jesus, well aware that the Father had entrusted everything to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from the table, laid aside his garments, and taking a towel, tied it round him. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to wipe them with a towel. John 13:3-5

Jesus knew that there was a competitive spirit in the hearts of his disciples. In fact within a few minutes of this feet washing taking place, they were arguing about which of them was the greatest. By washing their feet in this way he gave them an amazing lesson in humility and he also, through his actions, rebuked their selfishness and their pride.

The Father had entrusted his Son with so much and yet he took up a towel and basin! This humility did not come out of poverty and inadequacy but out of riches and supremacy. He was rich but he became poor as he served his disciples in humility and love. This humility and love is now the essence of care in his community, the church.

God @ Work: The Disciple’s Ministry

Proverbs 20:4-27

Qualification:
A work life which pleases God’s design

A vocation (calling) is what we all have:

  • All believers are priests (Heb 7.27; 1 Peter 2.5, 9)
    For many Christians, priests are clergy who are qualified to represent people before God. They are spoken of taking holy orders and being ‘set apart’. They are called “Father” and a key role is to hear confession and offer absolution.

    Nonconformist ‘ministers’ are often seen not that differently. Pastors and ministers are thought and expected to have greater access to God than ordinary Christians. For example, the pastor’s prayer has more direct influence with God; only the minister’s visit genuinely represents pastoral care. Such is the special nature of the pastor that the Dutch have a saying, “A minister walked by”: It refers to a moment of awkward silence.

    This is seen no more clearly at the Lord’s Supper. In the OT priests offered up sacrifice. In the 20th Century, ‘new priests’ stand behind the communion table, breaks bread and hold up the cup. It’s a rare church which permits an ‘unordained’ man, or even more unlikely a woman, to do that. It is not surprising that James Dunn calls, “today’s minister is but the old priesthood writ large”.

    Of course, Jesus not only offers sacrifice but is the sacrifice. Therefore the NT writers are irrevocable, all believers are now priests (1 Pet 2.5). All Christians are priests.

  • All believers are clergy (Act 1.26; Col 1.12)
    The clergy are the often seen as the leadership caste who stand over and against the laity. They seem a third sex, spiritual specialists! Clergy were, until the 4th century, the municipal administrators, secular people in a secular role, there to provide a service for the laos or laity, the people.

    By around the 4th century, the term had been adopted by church leaders as a sacred group. Laity were temporal people. Two kinds of Christiana now existed: Clergy who were contemplative, prayerful and free from earthly things, and the laity who were compromised, worldly and generally married!

    In the NT, the term clergy (kleroa) is used. It is not an unbiblical term! It meant a share or portion. Acts 1.17 speaks of Judas as ‘sharing (kleros) in the ministry’. In Acts 1.26 we read that the ‘lot’ (kleros) fell on Matthias. But the word is especially used to mean the inheritance of the saints (Col 1.12).

    Far from meaning a distinct group, it meant the opposite. It expressed the full inclusion of all Christians in the benefits of the gospel. Were we to use the word clergy as a collective noun, it has to mean “the inheritors”, all Christians!

  • All believers are ministers (Mk, 10.45; 1 Cor 12.5-7; Acts 6.1)
    Most people thinking of the term minister, think of someone who is in the ministry, a ‘minister of religion”. We speak of going into the ministry as an honour and leaving the ministry as a shame. Terms like ‘Reverend’ reflect a super-spirituality. Michael Green in Called to Serve says, “[terms like] Reverend, Venerable, Very Reverend, Most Reverend are a hindrance to ministry. They build a wall with others. They can make a hearer just a little proud, a little pleased, a little further removed.”

    In the New Testament, the term ministry does exist. It translates the word diakonia, and can be also translated as servant or deacon.

    There is a spirit of diakonia (ministry) in Mark 10.45 and the manner of diakonia is seen in 1 Cor 12.5-7. There are many activities associated with diakonia:

    1. Apostolic ministry (diakonia) : Acts 1.17 which Judas shared with the other apostles.
    2. Food distribution: Acts 6.1.
    3. Waiting at table: Acts 6.2
    4. Ministry of the word: Acts 6.1
    5. Mission (diakonia) of Barnabus and Paul: Acts 12.25.
    6. Help or assistance (diakonia) which Paul sent to Macedonia: Acfcs 19.22. Also 2 Tim 1.18, Col 4.7.
    7. Evangelism: Acts 20.24, the task (diakonia) which Paul had been given, for example testifying and evangelism. Also 2 Cor 6.3.
    8. Overall Ministry: Acts 21.19, Paul is reporting what God had done through his ministry (diakonia). Also in 2 Tim 4.11.
    9. Administration: Roms 12.7, 2 Cor 3.5
    10. Service: Rms 13.4, 1 Cor 12.5, Col 1.7
    11. Devotion: Rev 2.19
    12. In 1 Cor 12.7 charismata is translated ministry.

    Ministry is what all Christians do. Eph 4.12 talks of the responsibilities of some people to prepare saints (Christians) for works of ministry or service (diakonia). All are ministers.

  • All believers are laity, a charismatic community in which God dwells (Duet 7.6; 1 Peter 2.9)
    Laity, lay people, is a negative word. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “people who are not in orders, as opposed to clergy.” Kathleen Bliss in We the People, say “Clergy are; laity are not. Clergy do; laity do not. Nobody wants to be an is not.” John Stott in One People is critical of its use, suggesting that the term implies “amateur, unqualified.”

    Again laity is a biblical idea. But in the NT it means God’s special people (1 Peter 2.9). Out from all people (ethnos) God calls a special people (laos). Stott says “to interpret the church in terms of hierarchical structure is to destroy the NT doctrine of the church”.

  • A calling to Christ (1 Cor 1.9)
  • A calling to community (1 Cor 1.2)
  • A calling to change (1 Thess 4.7-8)
  • A calling to concrete ministry (1 Cor 6.19)

Quantity: A work pace which reflects God’s momentum

  • Energetic (Proverbs 20:13, 26.14 -15)
  • Responsible (Proverbs 20.11)
  • Controlled (Proverbs 12.24)
  • Effective (Proverbs 12.27, 19.24)
  • Motivated (Proverbs 20.27)
  • Rested (Gen 2.2-3, Heb 4.6-11)

•Quality: A work ethic which honours God’s character

  • Insightfulness (v5)
  • Blamelessness (v7)
  • Integrity (vv10, 23)
  • Careful speech (v19)
  • Godly (v27)

Cell Outline
Read: Proverbs 20: 4-27

Which of these verses challenges you in a working situation? How can you apply them in real life? What support can your cell give you on this application.

A person’s words are the lamp of the Lord
and sheds light on one’s inmost being (20.27)

a. In a work situation, what are some of the ways that godless people can destroy another person with their words? (Proverbs 11:9a.)

b. When have you experienced reckless words piercing you (or someone else) like a sword? (Proverbs 12:18a)

c. How will knowledge (and what knowledge) allow you to be a rare jewel (Proverbs 20.15, 11:9b) Does John 8:31-32 and Romans 16:17-19 help in your understanding?

Proverbs 15:1 tells u
s of the contrast between “harsh words” and gentle words” . What are the characteristics a person must posses to speak a “gentle answer” in the midst of a heated situation at work? How well do you do at speaking with such gentleness when facing difficult situations?

At times in our lives we face different challenges – such as physical, emotional, and spiritual difficulty. When in your life would it have been especially helpful to have someone bless you with healing words? Who in your life today might be especially helped if you were to speak some loving words to them?

Going Deeper

Why would God want to put a book full of witty, common-sense maxims about practical everyday concerns in the Bible? Would some of the statements in Job or in the Psalms qualify as “proverbs”? What about statements from the New Testament such as the “golden rule (see Matthew 7:12)

Why might a number of the proverbs be repeated verbatim or nearly so (see Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10; 19:13 and 27:15; 21:9 and 25:24; 6:10,11 and 24:33,34; 14:12 and 16:25) Are they to be considered especially noteworthy?

Witness

Proverbs 16:24 says “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” How can you apply what you have learned in this study to your work situation this week?

How could you use Proverbs like these to talk to non-Christians about God’s wisdom? And how could that lead onto talking about Jesus who is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 2.7)?

Lent 2009 (10) – And singing too

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen”, and the elders fell down and worshipped.
Revelation 5:9-14

The glimpse we have in chapters 4 and 5 is of worship, of numerous persons (variously referred to as creatures, elders and angels) totally absorbed in the worship of God and of “the Lamb”.

Revelation was written to Christians who were experiencing terrible persecution for their faith under the Romans. They are being reminded that despite everything God is there, unchanging in his power and love, and that they belong to him because of what Jesus, the Lamb, has achieved. This glimpse was an encouragement to them to ‘hang in’ and even to join in the worship.

Worship can be a source of strength. It doesn’t necessarily change things, nor take the pain away, but somehow it gives gives the future hope to cope with the present circumstances.

Lent 2009 (9) – Meeting God

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to
become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through
Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

We are like stones being built together into a place of worship. We are where God lives, where he can be met and known. As they meet us, engage with us and share with us they should sense: “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:25).

The church doesn’t just preach good news it is good news. Good news for all who meet us: A living Temple where we meet God.

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