ATTENTION AND REMINDER!

Hi sisters!
We have been asked if there is a women’s bible study this coming Monday, 30 April. The answer is that we are not meeting this Monday due to having our retreat last week end and the women’s breakfast earlier in the month.
The bible study questions for our next study will be out next Sunday at the churches for your study buddy time. It is scheduled for 21 May, at 7:30 in the Church Hall. We will be looking at BELONGING TO THE BODY: CHURCH COMMUNITY.
Have a blessed week!

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ATTENTION AND REMINDER!

Hi sisters!

We have been asked if there is a women’s bible study this coming Monday, 30 April.  The answer is that we are not meeting this Monday due to having our retreat last week end and the women’s breakfast earlier in the month.

The bible study questions for our next study will be out next Sunday at the churches for your study buddy time. It is scheduled for 21 May, at 7:30 in the Church Hall. We will be looking at BELONGING TO THE BODY: CHURCH COMMUNITY. 

Have a blessed week!

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COMMUNITY IN CHRIST

 

This last weekend, 34 of our women from our Corsham Baptist Church families came together for a week end retreat about an hour from here at Lox Lane near Shaftsbury. It was a great time away as we feasted on Psalm 23.

It was an emotionally joyful time for me personally as I was able to witness the fruit of God’s amazing grace in these women’s lives. This is a testimony of God’s faithfulness and love for us, and a timely example as I prepare for our next Living Out God’s Grace bible study! On 21 May, we will consider the grace habit of belonging to His body in fellowship within our church community, and why it’s important to our growth IN CHRIST.
God gave this amazing gift of grace to us to be able to physically remove ourselves from life’s distractions, the call of chores and responsibilities, and the demands of people- in order to make space for God and each other. We were given the bandwidth and atmosphere to learn together about our precious God and Saviour through His Word, led by Sharon Durant on Psalm 23. We were able to share our insights, learn from our varied background and ages, and experiences to help us grasp more of Its truth.
Our singing praise and worship songs together to God was a precious time. It softened our hearts and cleared our minds of ‘fog’. By the end of the week-end, I could feel the unity and oneness of spirit we shared during this time.
We prayed together. It was an awesome sight to see God working through the beauty of both laughter and tears, meeting us at the point of our needs, and to slowly help us step out of our comforts zones to embrace this gift of communication with God. Together we bore each others’ burdens, encouraged, comforted, and strengthened one another.

kathy lamb photoWe also played together! The team put together a great evening of fun and games. It gave us a chance to relax and enjoy each other in a bit of a different context. We dressed in fancy dress. I was a lamb! (that explains the photo!)

Through all these areas, God truly made us stronger, closer. It built trust, acceptance. It gave us that sense of community IN CHRIST that we are not alone! Many of us learned it is not so scary after all, to show our underbelly of vulnerabilities. Many experienced that God’s love does indeed cast out fear; that the light of Christ dispels the darkness in our hearts! It reminded us that we need each other to walk this journey IN CHRIST! We need each other to spur each other on to love and good deeds as we grow to be changed to be more like Christ every day.
Thank you to Anne Holmes, Sharon Durant, and the team, who made this weekend happen through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.
Community in Christ- an essential gift of God’s grace given to us for our growth in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

LIVING OUT GOD’S GRACE IN OUR CHURCH COMMUNITY

 

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

 

In our Living Out God’s Grace Bible study series, we have been exploring the grace of the gospel which brings us to faith in Christ and motivates and enables us to live out our salvation.

In the second half of our series we are considering the “means of grace” by which our Triune God gives us as blessings to not only grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus, but to know and enjoy Jesus more and more. We looked at listening to God in His Word and talking to God in prayer. The next study is the grace habit of belonging to His body in fellowship within our church community. Why is this so important as we grow in Christ?

If Corsham Baptist Church and Church on the Green are to be gospel churches, it must not only receive the gospel and pass it on, but also embody it in a community life of mutual love. Nothing but the grace of Christ can accomplish this.
The Christian community is to be a living example of God’s transforming power, because this is what the world outside needs to see. Our witness in an increasingly fragmented society is that in Christ we’re finding a way to make relationships work, and the power to turn theory into practice. This is the HORIZONTAL dimension of the gospel: reconciled to one another. It is not without effort – relationships need working at. The difference Christ makes is that our labour is not in vain.
BUT our witness to the world is that we’re also rightly related to God: the VERTICAL dimension. The life of God should be visible in our gatherings.

Pastor Eddie Larkman: “The danger is always that we’ll become lop-sided, emphasising one aspect of the gospel at the expense of another:
some churches are big on healing human relationships, yet seem to have lost sight of a holy God to whom we need to be reconciled. Other churches are strong on honouring God by their pure doctrine and verbally correct worship, yet seem to lack the life-changing power that produces mature human beings. They leave people narrow and constricted; they crush people beneath the mighty juggernaut of their correct theology.”

The gospel church that God desires is the church that is growing in both dimensions: horizontally and vertically – where human relationships are being healed and people are growing to maturity – where God is loved and honoured, celebrated and obeyed. These things are not in opposition to one another, but are brought into partnership in Christ. The church that reflects these things is the church that truly shows Christ to the world. And that’s what we’re called to be. I believe we are on that trajectory. And Lord willing, sisters, we can be instrumental as God’s girls in this process!Picture1

 

 

GRACE FOR THE UN-PLUCKED THORN

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Living out the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ manifests itself on many different levels and dynamics. We all face mundane, tedious situations where we need His grace- I.E., when picking up someone else’s dirty socks and then actually washing them for said sock person; listening to a person who may be getting on your nerves with repetitive squabble; sorting other people’s stuff and dairies-AGAIN AND AGAIN; when you just want to say to your children, “okay, I give up. You call the shots. I am too weary to be a parent to you in this situation;” when you want to withdraw because someone you love has hurt you; or you want to respond with passive aggressive behaviour toward someone you are angry with. And these are just a few examples of everyday living stuff.

What about those deep, deep hurts or pain or circumstances that may never be sorted in this lifetime?

We each have a story. Some of you are trying to overcome habitual sin that has a stronghold in your life. Some of you are trying to forgive someone who has devastated you. Some of you are trying to share the gospel with someone who remains indifferent. Some of you are trying to endure chronic physical pain. Some of you are trying to survive the crushing circumstances of life. Some of you are trying to crawl out of the pit of damaged emotions or past “stuff” that is impacting on your life today in a negative way. Or you are trying to comfort or encourage someone who has lost a loved one from disease, an accident, estrangement.

Paul tells us that there was a time in his life when he repeatedly cried out to God to take his pain away. And God’s reply surprised him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

BUT the weakness or pain is still there. Some things that make us groan never go away.

thornWhat was God’s purpose in giving Paul this thorn? To keep him from being conceited (2 Cor 12:7) – our sufferings often do that. The great enemy in Paul’s life was not stonings, beatings, shipwrecks – or anything to do with his circumstances – but PRIDE. This “thorn in the flesh” wasn’t punishment, it was prevention, and frankly, salvation. It was God’s way of rescuing Paul from himself.

Which is always one of the things God is doing through our un-plucked thorns.

The Lord makes us conscious of our weakness – it comes to us in many forms: physical, intellectual, temperamental; emotional; circumstantial …
So we cry out to Him in prayer: “I can’t handle this – take it from me.” Sometimes He does – but sometimes He replies to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” There will always be “grace to help us in our time of need.”

grace is sufficientAnd this was the lesson Paul learned. He doesn’t merely give grudging acceptance to what he can’t change, but yielded to God for Christ’s sake. And in so doing has proved the power of God’s overflowing grace. Now he has stopped praying for the removal of the thorn, not because it has stopped hurting, but because the power of God is seen most fully when it works through a weak and broken instrument. Paul has learned that the thorn didn’t, after all, prevent him from making Christ’s cross-shaped love known to a broken world. The thorn actually kept him on course, because of God’s grace.

So what does this mean for you and me? Let’s learn from Paul. The truth revealed at the cross is not that we’re mighty but that we’re needy; not that we’re strong and self-sufficient, but that we need rescuing. And God’s rescue comes through the weakness of the cross. So our weakness, and God’s power working through our weaknesses, perfectly displays the cross.

The grace that God gives for our un-plucked thorns is about shaping our character as well as making us fruitful in other ways. Our Father God can minister just fine through your weakness; my weakness- to cry out to Him for grace which makes us useful and brings Him glory.

GOD’S THRONE OF GRACE

 

LESLEY NEW PHOTO

Lesley Grindrod, contributor of today’s blog post

There’s a glorious verse in Hebrews that encourages us to “…. approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) I love the term ‘throne of grace.’ A throne is the place from which a sovereign rules – the unique seat and symbol of royal authority. The Bible says the throne upon which the King of Kings sits to receive our praise and worship, to hear our prayers of petition, intercession and even our complaints – the greatest throne that ever has been or ever will be – is a throne formed and filled entirely with grace!
In his book “The Power of Prayer” Charles Spurgeon says “It is a throne set up on purpose for the dispensation of grace ….from which every utterance is grace….the decrees proclaimed from it are purposes of grace … He who sits upon the throne is Grace itself.”
Yes, it’s true that one day our King will pronounce His judgement upon the living and the dead from a throne of justice, but right now – today –unfathomable mercy and amazing grace are motivating His every response to the prayers we bring Him.
Our enemy, the devil, hates it when we approach God’s throne of grace. How many of you are like me? I decide to pray … and suddenly, I remember all those ‘important jobs’ that need to be done ‘right now.’ The phone rings … someone knocks at the door …. a SQ_MercyGrace_750x750child or partner calls our name …. the list is endless! And am I the only one whose mind starts to wander within seconds of starting to pray? Yes, he will do anything to keep us away from the throne of grace, because he knows if he can distract us from praying he can prevent or delay the grace-filled responses Father so wants to give us. And not only does he seek to distract us from prayer, but he goes on to heap condemnation and guilt on our heads for failing to pray ‘properly.’
I’m so glad the Bible says “There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus.” (Rom 8:1 TPT) Once we recognise the enemy’s attempts to keep us from prayer we can stand our ground, using the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God to defeat him.
Is my mind wandering as I’m trying to pray? The Bible says: “We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience …” (2 Cor 10:5 TPT) There are jobs that must be done? Well then, I’ll pray as I work. Prayer isn’t a religious exercise that can only be done while kneeling with ‘hands together and eyes closed.’ Prayer is a life-style. Prayer is constant two-way conversation with my Heavenly Father – spirit to Spirit.
Do I need His mercy? Do I need His grace? Is someone I know or a situation I’m aware of, in need of these things? Praise God, His mercy and grace are available, in abundance, for those who determine to ignore the enemy and exercise their right as His children to confidently approach His throne in prayer today.