The Bible is very comfortable with the idea that you can talk to God. Depending on the Bible version you look at ‘prayer’ is referenced over six hundred and fifty times!
Christians are called to be godly in giving. That could be giving in attitude, time, energy or money – all are important. Here we will focus specifically on the area of money and the way we generously and responsibly use the resources that God has put in our care.
Let me make four points from 1 Timothy 6 which may help our thinking.
First, Godly giving is not a means to financial gain.
Universal Church Only – a vertical relationship.
From time to time, I will hear a believer say that they don’t have to be a member of particular local church – because they are ‘in Christ’.
Draw Near to God and to Others
Hebrews is helpful for anyone wanting to think about the importance of Church. In Chapter 10 the author writes to Christians who were losing confidence – some were persecuted, some were leaving the faith to avoid suffering, and others were abandoning Christ because they wanted to fit in with the world around them. His advice? – draw near to God and draw near to others!
Sermon on James 2:14-26 ‘James vs Paul’ by Ken Noakes – available to stream or download: http://bit.ly/2cy1cZz.
Read the Bible text: http://bit.ly/2chYc32
In this talk, the question of whether James and Paul are at odds theologically over what it means to be justified by faith alone or by works is raised. The discussion is large and so the sermon deals with it briefly, but suggests this paper (‘Is James at odds with Paul?’) for further reading if so inclined.
Please note: This is an academic paper, so it is long, at times detailed, and uses technical language (including greek). Further, the paper was written several years ago and since then I have changed my position on the late dating of the letter of James (as you would hear in the sermon, I know think it is dated early). Regardless, it I think is still helpful for an inquiring mind.
Friends it has been a while since the last 5pm Update (a good indication that things have been a bit full on!) – in fact there has not been an update since I returned from Study Leave for Easter. Thanks for allowing me time to get away.
Study Leave meant that I could attend a series of Conferences, visit a series of Churches and check-out some theological colleges. Refreshing? – Yes! Challenging? – At times! Educational? – Mostly! Beneficial? – I hope so, but you will need to be the judge of that.
There were so many times that I just felt immensely thankful to God for Trinity City and for 5pm Church and for the leaders we have and for the ministry that we do – and thankful because I could see other examples in the States of similar ministries or conversely I could see examples of things that were not done half as well as how Trinity does it (under God of course).
Here are 5 reflections with 5 corresponding challenges which may be of benefit for us.
The good news about Jesus is often spoken of as the ‘hope’ of the gospel. It’s not a ‘hope-so’ or a ‘hope-ful’. Hope is the promise from God of eternal life gifted to all who place their faith in Jesus Christ.
The Bible speaks of the hope ‘that God has called you to’ (Ephesians 1:18), and the hope ‘laid up for you in heaven’ (Colossians 1:5). This is the ‘assurance of hope until the end’ (Hebrews 6:11).
Imagine a world without the hope of the gospel!
The beginning of the year is often the time when people check out church (‘It is a new year, thought I would give it a go’), join church (‘I have moved and want to make this my church’) or leave church (‘I am making a life change’).
As such, it is reasonable that one consider ‘What should I expect of ‘Church’?’.
In the last update we considered ‘What is Church?’ and suggested that church was a place for believers (whilst still open to not-yet believers) and a place where God’s people gathered as a family in Christ. Expectations of church then are important because they help a person decide whether this church is doing what it should be or not.
There are a couple of ways to arrive at an answer.
Christians do Church. Some more regularly than others!
Why on earth do we commit ourselves to regularly going to Church? To answer that, let’s first think theologically about ‘church’.
What is ‘Church’?
Presumable if we are to be members of church, we need to understand what Church is!
Very simply, Church is an assembly of God’s people.