Blogroll: Sussex Parson
I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 8 posts from the blog 'Sussex Parson.'
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From The Rectory
As I write, it’s one of those especially dark and gloomy winter mornings. From my study I have an excellent view of the drizzle, which seems to have set in for the day. And I’ve got a few bits of boring admin, which I’ve been putting off, which I ought to grind through.
Some Christians in other parts of the world live their lives in a dramatic context of fierce persecution, but for us things are often pretty hum drum. Maybe from time to time we’re conscious of acute temptations where we might feel everything hangs in the balance and we risk throwing it all away. But I guess for most of us most of the time life, and the Christian life, often feels pretty mundane and ordinary.
And let’s face it, it is. It’s in our ordinary day to day contexts of work, family and friends that we are called to live for Jesus. Loving God and our neighbour is often repetitive. I pray and read my Bible without Damascus Road experiences of flashes of light and voices from heaven. Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if it’s doing me much good, and I can’t say I necessarily have a wonderful moving sense of the presence and power of God. Often I just plod on. And there are the routine tasks of changing a nappy, or doing the shopping, the same old commute to work, or pile of dishes or paperwork, or whatever it may be which we have to deal with. The Christian life is a long obedience in the same direction mostly in the ordinary day by day stuff of life. But these things matter to God. They’re the arena of our discipleship. Our love for God is to be worked out in how we treat our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues in the daily interactions of life, how we do our work when no one is watching, and so on.
Yet, if we could see it with the eyes of faith, there is great drama even in this. For spiritually speaking, the Bible tells us that if we are believers in Jesus we have been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. We are united to Christ by faith in the Holy Spirit. We have died and risen with Christ and our life is hidden with Christ in God. We might sometimes feel rather lifeless, but the resurrection power of Christ is at work in us. His Spirit empowers and animates us and wants to make us more like Jesus. God looks at us in Christ and says to us, “You are my child, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” We seek to live for Jesus in the mundane day to day, not as those who have something to earn or prove. We’re not trying to pay back a debt. We’re already more loved than we can possibly imagine. In Jesus we are rich and full. God can do more than all we ask or imagine, and he means to bring us to eternal glory.
And our domestic obedience is part of a great cosmic drama. It’s striking that in his letter to the Ephesian Christians, the Apostle Paul can go from talking about relationships between wives and husbands, parents and children, masters and slaves to spiritual warfare, the battle between good and evil, angels and demons. The village shop, the kitchen sink and the factory floor can be the frontline of something much bigger. Every person we encounter is, after all, an immortal soul, someone uniquely created in the image of God and intended to reveal something of his glory. Will we pray that God would help us to see and treat them as such?
The Apostle Paul tells us that because of the resurrection of Jesus, our labour in the Lord is not in vain. Nothing done for Jesus, motivated by faith, in the power of the Spirit, to the glory of God will be lost. Our faithfulness to Jesus is part of the vision of the Lord’s Prayer that God’s will might be done on earth as it is in heaven and that his kingdom might come. One day Jesus will transform and renew all things in the New Creation. And all those who trust in Jesus will be taken up into that wonderful future.
It might be grey and drizzly, but yet the believer has a mind-blowing song of praise and thanks to sing. The admin is no less boring and necessary, but the call to walk with Jesus and to look to the Heavenly City is an exciting one. May God open our eyes afresh to the extraordinary in the ordinary and give us grace to plod on faithfully with a supernatural joy.
The Revd Marc LloydMarc Lloyd
If you don’t already…
… make it your top priority to get along to your church’s main Sunday service each week unless prevented from doing so by illness or some other genuine necessity. Go prayerfully seeking to meet with Jesus and his people. Pray for the ministers and for others. Go wanting to hear and apply God’s word. And go in the hope of being able to encourage and serve others. Try to arrive a bit early and linger for a cuppa afterwards and especially look out for anyone who seems to be new or on their own.
… try to get to your church’s midweek monthly mid-week prayer meeting if at all possible. Prayer is vital to the health of the church and it ought to be a good time of fellowship too. Likely it will help you to feel much more part of things and get a sense of the vision of the leaders.
… aim to read your Bible and pray most days. Little and often would be good. Maybe start with a gospel or a Psalm. What does the passage tell us about God and his purposes? How might it inform our prayers? Perhaps say and reflect on the Lord’s Prayer. A little outline like the following might help you to PRAY:
Praise and thank God for who he is and all he has done for you
Repent of any known sins of thought, word or deed or things you have failed to do
Ask God to help and bless others
Pray for Yourself, especially for love and God and for others and growth in Christlikeness.
I bet your pastor or a Christian friend would love to help you to read the Bible and pray. Why not ask them?
… if possible, consider giving a mid-week home group / Bible study a try.
… have a Christian book on the go. Try 10ofthose.com or ask a for a recommendation.
In vv4-6, Jesus responds to John’s question about Jesus.
Then in vv7-15, we’ll find that Jesus asks the crowd some questions about John.
And then finally in vv16-19, Jesus questions the crowd’s responses both to John and to Jesus.
The options so far seem to be the following, or I guess just possibly some combination of the following:
Did they go just to admire the scenery of reeds blowing in the breeze? (R. T. France mentions this option)
Or something (someone) unstable, slight, inconsistent, easily moved, someone who adapted themselves to the prevailing opinions of the day or to the political weather? (France / Leon Morris)
Or perhaps the word "reed", the wind and the watery / wilderness context is meant to echo Israel’s experience in the wilderness and the wind blowing back the Sea of Reeds so that Israel could come out of Egypt. In this case, Jesus would be asking, is John a new Moses? (Jesus might then ask, is John the Davidic king? see v8) (This suggestion is in Peter Leithart. France thinks this less plausible but cites Davies and Allison 2:247 as supporting it.)
Or a Galilean reed blown in the wind is a symbol of King Herod Antipas' emblem, as used on his coins. It is this Herod who has John the Baptist in prison, of course, and this would fit with the mention of king's houses in v8. (This is N. T. Wright's view. Again, France thinks this is a less plausible but cites G. Theissen, Gospels, 25-42 for it).
Of course there are many miracles in the Bible. But Jesus is the one who gives the blind new sight. Apart from the ministry of Jesus, the only person to be cured of blindness in the Bible is Saul of Tarsus who recovers from a temporary blindness when scales fall from his eyes (Acts 9:17-18). He has come to see who Jesus is. Jesus came that people might see.
(See Leon Morris, Pillar Commentary on Matthew 11:5 p276)
"Those who would interpret it simply as a prophecy of the kingdom of Christ, seem to put a construction upon the words which does violence to them; and then we must always beware of giving the Jews occasion of making an outcry, as if it were our purpose, sophistically, to apply to Christ those things which do not directly refer to him. But as David, who was anointed king by the commandment of God, knew that the terms upon which he and his posterity possessed the kingdom were, that the power and dominion should at length come to Christ; and as he farther knew that the temporal well-being of the people was, for the time, comprehended in this kingdom, as held by him and his posterity, and that from it, which was only a type or shadow, there should at length proceed something far superior — that is, spiritual and everlasting felicity; knowing, as he did, all this, he justly made the perpetual duration of this kingdom the object of his most intense solicitude, and prayed with the deepest earnestness in its behalf, — reiterating his prayer in his last moments, with the view of distinctly testifying, that of all his cares this was the greatest. What is here spoken of everlasting dominion cannot be limited to one man, or to a few, nor even to twenty ages; but there is pointed out the succession which had its end and its complete accomplishment in Christ."Marc Lloyd
From The Rectory
Just in case you are in want of a New Year’s resolution, how about this?
If you don’t already do so, why not take a few moments each day to STOP and pray.
It’s an amazing privilege for Christian believers that Almighty God, our loving heavenly Father, delights to hear us when we pray in faith. Given our needs and God’s power, it’s madness that we so often neglect to talk to him.
Saying the Lord’s Prayer daily and reflecting on it might be a great place to start. The Psalms and the Bible’s other prayers might be a help to us.
There are many ways to skin a cat, but let me suggest one approach to things about which to pray that could get you going. It’s a very easy to remember structure: STOP.
Are there ways you know you’ve blown it today? Things of which your conscious accuses you? Maybe things you’ve done or said or thought? Or good things you’ve failed to do? God stands ready to forgive because Jesus died for sinners like me and you. He offers us restored relationship and a fresh start. A mini daily spiritual check up might help us to make real progress this year in being more like Jesus. Pray for God’s help with these things in the day ahead and tomorrow.
(2) Thank you
Gratitude is such a secret to contentment. There may be great struggles and difficulties and you may not have all that you desire, but what could you give thanks for? Whatever your circumstances, praise God that he made you and loves you. Thank him for the blessings you have in Jesus your Saviour, for who he is, for what he’s done for you.
Who do you know who is in need or who has asked for your prayers? Maybe you want to keep a note of a few people to pray for. And here’s an opportunity to broaden out your vision too, maybe to pray for our nation and government or persecuted Christians on the other side of the world. You might use the church notice sheet or prayer diary, or The Sussex Gospel Partnership prayer diary to help you. Or newsletters from Mission Partners. I’m told many people find the Prayer Mate App very useful: www.prayermate.net. Operation Worldis another useful resource to help us pray for the nations.
Jesus told us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” so we should be unashamed about bringing our needs to Our Father. Pray about whatever bothers you, both for your physical and spiritual needs. Ask for help too know, love and follow Jesus and to share his love with others.
I’ll be praying that you may you know God’s blessing in 2020. Your prayers too could make all the difference. STOP and pray. Why not take a few moments to do so now?
Happy New Year!
The Revd Marc LloydMarc Lloyd