Please Explain #4 Communion

The Lords Supper, Communion, Mass, it comes by many different names and depending on who you ask you may get very confused as to what this is all about.

Where does it come from?

This ‘sacrament’ is actually originally from the Old Testament, back in the day when God was taking Israel out of Egypt (Read in the bible Exodus 12). The Pharaoh was refusing to let the Israelites leave until finally God showed His power through plagues which sadly ended in the death of all the firstborn males in Egypt. On this night the Israelites were told to prepare to leave Egypt, they were to make bread without yeast to prepare for their journey and they were commanded to cover the doorposts of their houses with the blood of lambs so that the angel of death would pass by them- the pass-over. It would have been a horrific experience hearing the wailing of the thousands of mothers as they lost their children, and eating the lamb whose blood was covering the entrance to your house, and one would think it was unforgettable; but so that generation after generation of Israelites would never forget this night, they were to celebrate annually a Passover meal. This meal they were to remember God’s power at work for them, and how it is only by blood that sins can be ‘covered’ and ‘death’ will pass by that we may go in freedom to new life. Find it in the bible in Matthew 26; Mark 12; or Luke 22

The Passover and Jesus

What we now know as ‘the Last Supper’ was Jesus celebrating the Passover meal with his disciples before his crucifixion. It was at this meal that Jesus introduced himself as the ‘Passover Lamb’. He gave the Passover new meaning, it was because of His blood which would be shed (not the blood of animals, symbolised by the wine), and his flesh that would be broken (symbolised by the bread) that our sin would be covered (paid for) and we would have death pass over us, giving us freedom from sin and new and eternal life with God. Jesus said to his disciples whenever they do this (eat and drink) to remember Him (and His sacrifice for us).

What we do now

Just as the Jews would celebrate Passover to remember what God had done for them, and to remember that sin had a price to be paid, we too regularly celebrate with grape juice (some churches still use wine) and bread in our services. When we eat the bread and drink the juice we remember the sacrifice that was paid for us and we celebrate that we have Jesus who took our sin on the cross that we may be free.

Some consider this eating bread and drinking wine to be a supernatural event that miraculously the wine turns to blood and the bread turns to Jesus body once we eat it (Transubstantiation). We see it instead simply as a meal of remembrance, honouring and worshipping God for what He has done for us. We take communion acknowledging that it is only by what God has done on the cross that we may travel from slavery in sin to freedom as God’s people.

Who’s Watching You…?

I am a people watcher, and I know I am not the only one. While reality TV shows like Big Brother and the like do not interest me in the least, (and relax, I don’t get binoculars and peep at people through their windows or anything creepy), I get very curious about the way ‘regular’ people act in a normal surrounding; why it is they do what they do.

While observing an awkward date at a café can be amusing, there is also great benefit in watching people long-term, for it is really only then that you can sift through what is a moment of fleeting interest for them and what is a solid conviction they will hold to through thick and thin. It is only in the highs and the lows that you see their true character and motivations shine through as well as the consequences of choices made.

If I were to be watching you, what would I learn? Why is it that you do what you do? Really? Who is watching you, and what will they see both now and in the long term?

A few verses in Chapter 1 of 1 Thessalonians recently made my heart jump. “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith,your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ .”

I read it again this way in the light of 1 Corinthians 13:13… “And these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.”

Faith –> Work

Love –> Labour

Hope –> Endurance

These Christians in Thessalonica were famous for their enduring good works in the face of hardship, but the “why” behind it all, the motivating factors behind their actions were: faith, hope and love in Jesus! How powerless, tedious, and exhausting do work, labour and endurance become when not motivated by these three elements; yet how often do we try to persevere without them leaving us only burnt out, blurred out and wondering where it all went wrong?!

Now I don’t really know who is watching me and to what extent. I don’t know for how long I’ll be an impact or how many people I am going to impact in this world, but I want to be the kind of person who is written about in Proverbs 31, (check out the podcast, ‘Ya mum’ for more on that). I want to live a life and leave a legacy that gives glory to God and inspires confidence in those who are watching and those that I leave behind. For this to be accomplished I believe I need to take to heart what is written in these few verses, and keep my focus on Jesus and the priority of faith, hope and love.

Pray with me as we begin the week in this new light:

Please God, restore my faith, hope, and love in You. May these gifts from You produce, inspire and prompt me to do things which will give You glory, and me great joy. Please give me an awareness of things which will steal my hope, cloud my faith and compromise my love, that I may bring these things to You and guard my heart with all diligence. Thank you God for the things You will accomplish through me for others to see and Praise You. Amen.

Those Hard Days…

It would be nice to think that once you became a Christian, submitting your life to God, then every day would be rosy and grand, wouldn’t that sound amazing telling your friends- “become a Christian and you will never have a bad day again!” …sounds great but despite many attempts to live without hardship and twist the bible into saying what it simply does not say, we all find eventually what Jesus notes in Matthew 5:45 ”the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.” We live in a sin broken world and there will be events, and there will be days, that just bring you to your knees weeping… but wait, take heart.

While God does not promise the easy breezy road when you walk with Him (in fact it is the path that looks most difficult on the surface), God’s way is far and beyond the blessed way. Firstly Jesus reminds us that the man who builds His life on hearing and doing what God says is like building on a rock (Matt 7:24). When the rain and storm come, when the difficult moments come to press us on every side, we are still left standing because our foundation in God is firm and stronger than anything that would try overcome us (2 Cor 4:8-10). Secondly, our suffering is not in vain. When we suffer in Jesus name, for doing the right thing, we are blessed, and it ultimately glorifies God (1 Peter 3:17). Unfortunately however, many times suffering is not only in vain, but could have been avoided by simply following Gods plan; as every sin carries with it consequences. I read somewhere recently, indeed we can chose our actions, but we do not get the priveledge of deciding the consequences. I have decided that if I am bound to go through hardship either way, I chose to make it a harship that is worth something, and results in great things (Romans 5:3). Lastly (although I am sure there are many more things), we have a God who is with us, and who Himself endured the worst suffering known, even in our deepest grief and despair, God is revealing Himself to us as powerful, loving, all knowing, all perfect ”counsellor” who gives hope for the future (Hebrews 4:15; Psalm 119:50). 

While we cannot live without the hard days, we can do as it says in John 16:33 and take courage in who God is and the relationship of love He wants to have with us. ”In the world you will face troubles of many kinds (persecution). But take courage; I have conquered the world.” And “may the peace of God which surpasses understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Where’s your head at?

 

Over the last few weeks my mind has been a little out of control- having thoughts, and travelling down thought patterns I have come to regret. Initially of course I simply allowed a thought to linger for longer than it should have, but before long, without discipline of thought I quickly became an emotional wreck, filled with fear and sorrow playing out dramatic scenes in my head of things that could possibly come to pass. Our thought lives have a great impact on our emotions, health, decisions and relationships and so it is no wonder that books such as Joyce Meyers “battlefield of the mind” and Dr Caroline Leaf’s “Who switched off my Brain” are so popular. Now I know I have said a lot before regarding the state of our minds, but as the bible addresses our thought lives so constantly and it is of such importance in our lives, I’m probably going to be saying it a whole lot more. Do you have a certain thought pattern/ attitude you need to address in your mind today?

I thank God that He has saved me not only from my sin but has given great instruction of how to live victoriously over sin that once entangled me so much. Here are just two of the things God has reminded me of in this last falter which may help you also gain victory in this important area of life

1. Taking your thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ is not only healthy but possible (2 Corinthians 10:5). 2 Timothy 1:7 speaks of the Spirit of God giving us power, love and a sound mind. When the Spirit of God invades our lives we have the power in Him to overcome an ‘unsound mind.’ This same Spirit of God gives us “self-control” to no longer indulge in the thought processes we one had, and He will teach us to love what is good and right (Galatians 5:22, Titus 2:11-12). In Dr Caroline Leaf’s book she explores the physicality of thoughts- each one takes a physical place in our minds and our brains are moulded and shaped by what we chose to dwell on and meditate on- when our thoughts come into consciousness we can chose to either think about it or make it obedient to Christ.

2. An Empty mind is the devils playground. There is a great danger of having too much time to do nothing- when our minds are not filled with thoughts that are “good, pure, lovely etc. (Philippians 4:8)” they are going to have to be filled with something else. The beautiful thing about Easter is that we have some time allocated to dwell on the incredible blessing that is the gospel (good news) of Christ, so this week, more than ever take up that advantage. Throughout the bible we are reminded to meditate on the law of God, and His goodness, on His grace, to live with prayers of thanksgiving (after all, if you are saved by the Grace of God you have plenty to be thankful for), and this will not only draw you closer to God, but it will prevent you from opportunities that will come for the devil to tempt you (Josh 1:8; Col 4:2).

So this Easter, whether it is using self-control not to eat 1000 kg of chocolate eggs, overcoming an addiction, stopping yourself from being ‘talked into’ a sin, or simply drawing closer to this beautiful saviour Jesus Christ, be aware of what is on your mind, and be grateful for we are truly blessed to have such a wonderful God.

Living Temple January Prayer & Fast

We are quickly approaching 2012, and while we do not know what will be waiting for us when we walk through those doors, we do know how we will be going into it… faith-filled, with expectation of a great move of God! At Living Temple we are going to approach 2012 focussed on God, drawing on Him and His strength and power, for we are the people of God and we are dedicating this year to Him. At Living Temple we are beginning 2012 with a month of Prayer and Fasting and we invite you to join us in what is bound to be a breakthrough time.

I cannot claim to be a wonderful prayer warrior or an expert on fasting (it’s a big ‘growth area’ in my life), but I feel compelled that as a church we need to set aside this time to really seek God and mature in our faith together. Our New Year’s Day Service 4pm at Elanora we will be discussing this month of Prayer and Fasting, the how to, the why, and specifics for Living Temple and invite you to join us as we do so.

So in the lead up to New Years…

  1. Ask yourself what spiritual purpose do you have for prayer/ fasting in January? Fasting in particular is a spiritual discipline, (although many do it for physical benefits), and as such it is a time to seek God (not to lose that extra Christmas pudding weight you ate). We will have a corporate prayer calendar available, but you may also want to seek personal growth in an area or simply ‘feast’ on God using a particular book (such as the bible or a guide like “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren). I suggest you discuss it with your life group life support partner/ accountability partner so they may also be praying for you.
  2. If you have medical issues and wish to fast food, talk it through with your doctor beforehand. You may need to fast something other than food, or do a partial fast, but we recommend you seek professional guidance as you do so. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, think about something other than food to fast, as it is very unwise to fast food in this time.
  3.  If you wish to join us this January in our Prayer and Fast, and you have not fasted before (and have time to read before New Years) I recommend highly “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster.
  4. For those of you who are planning on fasting food, (either a full or partial fast) for any number of days, and do not have time to read up about it before the service, I recommend you eat lighter meals the days beforehand and drink plenty of water. (Remember, the toxins you put into your body before a fast are going to be making an exit during the fast, and it will not be comfortable).
  5. We will be having a corporate prayer time each Sunday from 3:30pm (before the service) in January and we invite you to join us, they are sure to be great times of encountering God.
  6. Last but not least, keep your spiritual guard up as we go into this powerful time. Simply put, the devil hates what we will be doing here, and although what He is doing is not our focus, we must not forget that the territory we are about to storm into is ground he does not want to lose. Remember, God is more powerful, you have the Holy Spirit, angels and the church backing you up, if you need help don’t do it alone.

I’m very much looking forward to hearing all about what God is doing and saying to you through January. May God bless you, and Happy New Years!

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