HCC Community - Thoughts and readings September 2020
As we cannot meet together as church at this time we have provided a place where we can share our thoughts and readings, as we normally do in our Sunday morning meetings.
On 30th September John wrote a Bible insight on Philippians 1:1 entitled 'In Christ': 'I am very wealthy. I have two places of residence – one, a small bungalow in Halesworth and the second - ‘in Christ.’ It’s my second residence that makes me wealthy because, as Paul writes in this same letter, ‘my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’ (4:19). Time and again when writing to those early Christian churches, Paul points out that they have an earthly location, but they are also ‘in Christ.’ What does that simple phrase mean?' Click here to read John's latest Bible insight and here to listen to his talk on 27th September 'How to live in Christ'.
Phil has shared his thoughts on the book of James and the relationship between faith and action: 'As my Christian walk has developed over the years I’ve found the book of James to be a very interesting one, as its core meaning has taken on a very different form as I’ve matured. I’ve noticed that my old view of the key take-outs from James remains prevalent for many people and the deeper meaning remains hidden. The old view isn’t actually wrong but, for the full picture James paints to be seen and applied, you need to see the deeper meaning too. It got me thinking about the reasons for this and I thought I’d put a few of those thoughts down.' Click here to read Phil's article.
The following thoughts were shared during Zoom church on Sunday 20th September: The focus of the sharing was on ensuring that God is bigger than all our fears and troubles, and anything that we may be dealing with at the moment. We can then welcome trials as our friends (James 1:2) and stand firm, even in the most difficult times, in the knowledge that 'God is sufficient for the task'. The following verses from scripture were shared: 'Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages."He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.' (John 12:1-11) 'A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.' (Proverbs 11:25)
On Sunday 13th September the following Bible verses were shared: 'Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.' (Psalm 139:23) 'Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals.Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralysed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.' (John 5:1-8) 'Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.' (Psalm 23:6)
On Saturday 12th September Andy wrote a helpful article entitled 'Our problems should not surprise us': 'Our difficulties should not surprise us, but often they do. They may come in obvious behavioural forms such as lashing out, avoidance, self-harm etc. For all our overt behaviours there are still deeper implicit difficulties that we may have that drive the overt behaviours. Things such as depression, anxiety, guilt, feeling unsubstantial and a general lack of self-worth. These feelings come up from the depths of our being, or as we often talk of, our introvert.' Click here to read Andy's article.
On Friday 11th September Merle wrote her latest reflection entitled 'I must!': 'It’s almost six months since the government instigated lockdown. Lockdown has introduced us to a new vocabulary and a ‘new normal’ - words such as ‘furlough’, ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolation’ and ‘face coverings’, along with incessant handwashing and cultivating fresh air pursuits to compensate for the lack of indoor facilities.' Click here to read Merle's reflection.
On Tuesday 8th September Merle shared the following Bible reading, entitled 'Intercession' which follows on from Jenny's contribution: 'Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants.' (Romans 8:26-27 New Century Version)
On Sunday 6th September Jenny shared the following during Zoom church: '“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26) Just lately I have been feeling that my prayer time has become very dry and, if I’m honest, at times depleted. I might start praying and then distracting thoughts pop into my head or a physical distraction occurs such as the phone ringing or my husband or one of the children calling for me. I’ve often settled myself into bed with good intentions of bringing the day to the Lord in prayer but then ended up falling asleep before I’ve got through the first sentence. I’ve berated myself about this even to the point where I questioned how strong my faith must be if I can’t even get my prayer time right! Today the App on my phone gave me the verse above from Romans as my ‘verse of the day.’ Along with it came a video clip of Pete Greig from 24-7 Prayer who talked about how the Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what or how to pray. He talked about how when his son was a young lad he handed him a piece of paper with shapes and scribble on it and said; “Read it daddy.” Pete Greig said how he looked at the piece of paper with horror as it was just a lot of nonsense and made no sense at all. But his son was looking at him expectantly. Pete said how he looked at his son’s eager face and he thought about the things that went on in his son’s head and about the kind of day he had had and he read his son’s note out loud to him. When he had finished his son nodded his head and replied, “Well done daddy.” Pete goes on to say that the Lord knows the things that go on in our heads, He knows the kind of day we have had and the Sprit intercedes for us. We don’t have to worry about getting everything right, about finding the right words or even knowing the right things to be praying for. The Lord knows us inside out, He knows our intentions and He understands our scribbles. The Spirit deciphers our scribbles and prays on our behalf. What a comfort that is!'
The following thoughts were shared during Zoom church on Sunday 6th September, which tied in with John's talk 'Don't give way to fear': On Sunday morning the theme which ran throughout the sharing was the need to take care of our souls, to be aware of things around which affect us and practical measures we can take to be objective and to stop ourselves crumbling on the inside under pressure - to be 'self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency'. The following verses of scripture and readings were shared:
'Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.' Psalm 37:1-7
'A river touches places of which its source knows nothing, and Jesus says if we have received of His fullness, however small the visible measure of our lives, out of us will flow the rivers that will bless to the uttermost parts of the earth. We have nothing to do with the outflow — “This is the work of God that ye believe….” God rarely allows a soul to see how great a blessing he is.' Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, September 6th.
'The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.' Psalm 23:1-4
'Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].' Philippians 4:11-13 (Amplified Bible)
'The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.' Psalm 37:23-24
John has written a Bible Insight on the same theme as this Sunday's talk, entitled 'No fear' (page 68). 'Insights from the Bible', a compilation of the Bible Insights that John has written over the past 5 years, is available in print. Click here for payment details and to order your copy.
On 3rd September Richard wrote about 'Beauty from ashes': 'A famous Scottish Landscape artist and his party were staying for a week in a highland hotel where the proud manager and staff eagerly awaited them. On their arrival it fell to a new young girl waitress to serve them coffee in the lounge. As she nervously approached their table she tripped sending the trays contents flying through the air ...' Click here to read the rest of the story.