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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Following Jesus Christ

25 January 2017

Cancelled tonight, due to the forecast

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: Stand up, stand up for Jesus

Theme: Lord of all

Topic: Following Jesus Christ

Reading: Isaiah 9:1-4
But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.

All believers in Jesus Christ are referred to as followers of Christ.  To follow Christ means to not live according to selfish desires or motives, but to think, speak and act, as Christ would want us to.  Following Christ can be challenging especially due to selfish demands of our flesh and all manner of satanic attacks. In our strength, we cannot wholly follow Christ; but through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are made strong to withstand the wiles of the enemy.  It is erroneous to think that Christians are immune to trials and temptation; we are only made perfect through the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us.  It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to wholly follow the Lord.

1) What does it mean to follow Christ? 
Matthew 16:24-27
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? 27 ‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.

Romans 10:5-13
Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that ‘the person who does these things will live by them.’ 6But the righteousness that comes from faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ down) 7‘or “Who will descend into the abyss?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).8But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Philippians 3:7-14
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

2) What are the lessons for us in Matthew 4:12-23 regarding following Jesus?  
Matthew 4:12-23
Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 ‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’ 17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him.21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

3) Discuss some of the challenges to following Christ.  How do we overcome them? 
Psalm 27:1, 5-9
Refrain: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid? R One thing have I asked of the Lord; one thing I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; To behold the fair beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. R For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe in his shelter; he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling and set me high upon a rock. Even now he lifts up my head above my enemies round about me. R Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation with sounds of great gladness; I will sing and make music to the Lord. R Hearken to my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me. You speak in my heart and say, "Seek my face." Your face, Lord, will I seek. R Hide not your face from me, nor turn away your servant in displeasure. You have been my helper; cast me not away; do not forsake me, O God of my salvation. R

Luke 9:57-62
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ 58And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 59To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ 60But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ 61Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ 62Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’

1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.12What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ 13Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,15so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. 18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.


To follow Christ means to not live according to selfish desires or motives, but to think, speak and act, as Christ would want us to.

The Collect (Third Sunday after the Epiphany)
Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us in your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Prayer Over the Gifts
Let us pray,
Loving God, before the world began you called us. Make holy all we offer you this day, and strengthen us in that calling. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer 3
The Lord be with you.
        And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
        We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
        It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Blessed are you, gracious God, creator of heaven and earth; you have revealed your eternal plan of salvation, and have shown your Son Jesus Christ to be the light of all peoples. Therefore with angels and archangels we raise our voices in joyful praise to proclaim the glory of your name.

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

We give thanks to you, Lord our God, for the goodness and love you have made known to us in creation; in calling Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus your Son.

For in these last days you sent him to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary, to be the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, a death he freely accepted, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: this is my body which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Therefore, Father, according to his command,
we remember his death,
we proclaim his resurrection,
we await his coming in glory;
and we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, Lord of all; presenting to you, from your creation, this bread and this wine.

We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts, that they may be the sacrament of the body of Christ and his blood of the new covenant. Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we, made acceptable in him, may be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

In the fullness of time, reconcile all things in Christ, and make them new, and bring us to that city of light where you dwell with all your sons and daughters; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the Church, and the author of our salvation;

by whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory are yours, almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer
And now, as our Saviour Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Breaking of the Bread
We break the bread of life,
and that life is the light of the world.
God here among us,
light in the midst of us,
bring us to light and life.

The Communion
The gifts of God for the People of God.
Thanks be to God.

Prayer after Communion
Let us pray,
Gracious God, our hands have taken holy things; our lives have been nourished by the body of your Son. May we who have eaten at this holy table be strengthened for service in your world. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

The doxology
Glory to God,
whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Go forth in the name of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sanctified in Jesus Christ

18 January 2017

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!

Theme: Lord of all

Topic: Sanctified in Jesus Christ

Reading: Isaiah 49:1-7
Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. 2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. 3 And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ 4 But I said, ‘I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.’ 5 And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— 6 he says, ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’ 7 Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, ‘Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’ 

Sanctification simply means to be made holy.  It is a process and suggests participation of two entities: the One who makes holy and the ones being made holy.  God is holy and He alone makes us holy.  Holiness is an integral attribute of God, and He wants us to be Holy.  However, we cannot be holy in our own strength.  According to Scripture, our righteous acts are like filthy rags.  This does not mean that we should not do good deeds, but that our good deeds by themselves cannot make us holy; only God can.  The other important aspect of sanctification is that it is only in Christ that we are sanctified.  Jesus took the punishment of our sins upon Him, making it is possible for all who believe and follow Him to be made holy by God.  As we are made holy, if we succumb to sin, we should seek forgiveness from the Lord; He is just and will forgive us our sins.  Remember, sanctification is a journey not a destination; it is a process not an event.  It starts the moment we decide to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

1) What is sanctification? 
Isaiah 64:4-12
4 From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. 5 You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. 8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity for ever. Now consider, we are all your people. 10 Your holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and beautiful house, where our ancestors praised you, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins. 12 After all this, will you restrain yourself, O Lord? Will you keep silent, and punish us so severely? 

1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Peter 1:13-23
Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. 14Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. 15Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ 17 If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. 18You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. 21Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. 22 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. 23You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

2) What are the lessons for us in John 1:29-42 regarding being sanctified in Jesus Christ?
John 1:29-42
The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ 32And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’ 35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ 39He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).

3) Discuss some of the challenges to being sanctified in Jesus Christ.  How do we overcome them? 
Psalm 40:1-12
Refrain: Behold, I come to do your will, O God.
I waited patiently upon the Lord; he stooped to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure. R He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many shall see, and stand in awe, and put their trust in the Lord. R Happy are they who trust in the Lord! they do not resort to evil spirits or turn to false gods. Great things are they that you have done, O Lord my God! how great your wonders and your plans for us! there is none who can be compared with you. Oh, that I could make them known and tell them! but they are more than I can count. R In sacrifice and offering you take no pleasure (you have given me ears to hear you); Burnt-offering and sin-offering you have not required, and so I said, "Behold, I come. R In the roll of the book it is written concerning me: 'I love to do your will, O my God; your law is deep in my heart.'" I proclaimed righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I did not restrain my lips; and that, O Lord, you know. R Your righteousness have I not hidden in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your deliverance; I have not concealed your love and faithfulness from the great congregation. You are the Lord; do not withhold your compassion from me; let your love and your faithfulness keep me safe for ever. R

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing,18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.  25 Beloved, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. 27I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

1 John 1:8-10, 2:1-6
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
2:1-6 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. 4Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him’, but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; 5but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him:6whoever says, ‘I abide in him’, ought to walk just as he walked.


Jesus took the punishment of our sins upon Him, making it is possible for all who believe and follow Him to be made holy by God the Father.

Closing Prayer (Collect for Second Sunday after the Epiphany)

Almighty God, your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ is the light of the world. May your people, illumined by your word and sacraments, shine with the radiance of his glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.