Hope you are staying cosy in the cold temperatures!
Our next zoom Women’s Bible study is on Monday, 22 February at 7:30. Sharon Durant will be leading us in our study on Jacob.
So, we encourage you to get with your study buddy via phone/zoom/ ? if you haven’t already! Your bible study questions and readings were sent to you by Anne via email. It is also on GRACE PLACE.
I found it to be SO helpful and really amazing to consider our human sinful hearts, the wonders and faithfulness of God, and how it all points to Jesus! All through the narrative of Jacob in the Genesis. Such a treasure.
Don’t miss out! Enjoy your time with Jacob! See you on the 22nd! Save the date!!!
Excerpt of Bible Study Questions from Sharon Durant, teaching on Jacob on 22 February
The life of Jacob crosses half of Genesis – he is born in chapter 25 and dies in chapter 49! He is a man well known to us by his deceitful name, Jacob, and God-given name, Israel. This study is going to focus on the earlier parts of his life and if you want to read them through in the weeks leading up to the Monday night zoom study, here are the Bible references for the main episodes of his life:
Jacob is born (Genesis 25:19-26)
The thing with the birth-right (Genesis 25:27-34)
The thing with the blessing (Genesis 27:1-41)
Jacob leaves home to find a wife (Genesis 27:42-28:5)
Jacob has a vision of a stairway to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22)
The thing with Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:1-30)
The thing with the sheep (Genesis 30:25-43)
Jacob leaves Laban (Genesis 31:1-55)
Jacob prepares to meet Esau and prays (Genesis 32:1-21)
Jacob wrestles with God (Genesis 32:22-32)
Jacob and Esau are reunited (Genesis 33:1-20)
The life of Jacob is long with many twists and turns. Sometimes he behaves greedily. Sometimes he lies. Sometimes he prays. Sometimes he is cocky. Sometimes he is afraid. He is clearly not an example to follow, yet he is incredibly important because he is part of the family of God and a great-great-great-etc-grandfather of Jesus.
At his best, Jacob points to Christ.
At his worst, he points to us and our sinful nature.
I have destroyed myself, my nature is defiled, the powers of my soul are degraded; I am vile, miserable, strengthless, but my hope is in thee.
If ever I am saved it will be by goodness undeserved and astonishing, not by mercy alone but by abundant mercy, not by grace but by exceeding riches of grace; And such thou hast revealed, promised, exemplified in thoughts of peace, not of evil.
Thou hast devised means
to rescue me from sin’s perdition, to restore me to happiness, honour, safety. I bless thee for the everlasting covenant, for the appointment of a Mediator.
I rejoice that he failed not, nor was discouraged, but accomplished the work thou gavest him to do; and said on the cross, ‘It is finished.’ I exult in the thought that thy justice is satisfied, thy truth established, thy law magnified, and a foundation is laid for my hope.
I look to a present and personal interest in Christ and say, Surely he hast borne my griefs, carried my sorrows, won my peace, healed my soul. Justified by his blood I am saved by his life,
Glorifying in his cross I bow to his sceptre,
Having his Spirit I possess his mind.
Lord, grant that my religion may not be occasional and partial, but universal, influential, effective, and may I always continue in thy words as well as thy works, so that I reach my end in peace.
From: The Valley of Vision – A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
Before you meet with your study buddy … Read Genesis 18.1–15; 21.1—26.35 for yourself. It’s quite a chunk of Scripture, covering lots of different events and people. You may want to read a chapter a day and write a short summary of what happens in each chapter to help you trace the key points.
As you read and think it over, keep in mind:
Who is God and what do we learn about his character/attributes?
Who are we and what do we recognise about human nature?
How does the gospel message come through, pointing us to Christ?
Praying for you and your study buddy and cheering you on as you take time to do this study together! His Word is living and active!
It’s 2021 and we are in lockdown, but that doesn’t keep us from coming together for friendship and to continue with our study on GENESIS: IN THE BEGINNING, GOD!
This month we are considering Isaac from 18:1, and 21:1-26:35. I would encourage you to read this several times to reacquaint yourselves with the text. The bible study for you and your study buddy will be out asap!
Lots of love and cheering you on as we press on in Christ!
Our Triune God, we know that it was Your enabling grace and power that carried us through 2020. We know that Your ultimate purposes are being fulfilled. Thank you.
As we look ahead to 2021, we know that YOU are greater than whatever we may face, and we are eternally safe as we trust in You. Please continue to fill us with a desire to faithfully follow after You, more than any other thing; any other person.
We thank you for Your Presence which goes with us and that this joyful knowledge is never dependent on circumstances, but Christ in us, our true and lasting strength and hope.
Please give us Your peace to lead us. Please give us Your grace and loving kindness to cover us to overflowing, so that we may extend it to others.
Lord God we thank you for this night, a chance to worship you and reflect on your goodness with our sisters that we long to be with in person but are glad to be gathered with in this way. As we have just sing, we thank you that our Saviour reigns.
Thank you for carrying us faithfully through this strange year and for the chance to end this year with our eyes fixed on you and your glorious plan of salvation in Jesus. Things may feel stripped back this year but they are no more stripped back than your simple birth in a stable. May we use this quieter, barer Christmas to focus on what really matters – you.
Thank you Jesus for emptying yourself, laying aside your divine privileges and entering our world as a human to die our death on the cross. This really is joy to the world. You are the perfect expression of God’s faithfulness and love to us.
So wherever we are this Christmas; whoever we spend it with – or don’t get to spend it with – help us to remember how loved we are by you. We cannot doubt your love for a moment because you sent physical evidence of it into our world in Jesus. And therefore we can trust the wonderful truth that we are reconciled with you and we will be with you forever when we hail you are our King.
May our hearts make room for you this Christmas. More room than ever before. Because the glorious truth is that you are for life, not just for Christmas. You are our Saviour for always.
What wonderful readings and carols we have heard and sung tonight about the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, the Lord of heaven, born as a human being. We have heard about the activity that surrounded the first Christmas, the events that happened. We often get swept up with the activity of Christmas and so I would like to just share some thoughts with you to help us think about the meaning of Christmas and realign our focus to the amazing love and grace that God has showed to us.
Let’s Pray…..Heavenly Father, would you help us in our understanding of your word tonight. Would you help us to see and hear clearly and to come to know you a little more, in Jesus name, Amen.
If you have a bible handy, you might want to follow the reading. I’m going to read from 1John 1:1-4 (Look towards the end of NT nestled between 1&2 Peter and Jude.)
1 John 1:1-4 The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our joy complete.
Well, you might be thinking that isn’t very Christmassy, what’s happened to all the angels and Shepherds and the baby Jesus? What I’ve just shared with you tells us what the activity of Christmas means, it tells us of God’s plan of salvation which is the real meaning of Christmas.
1 John 1 starts with the words…. ‘That which was from the beginning’…..now where have we read that recently? Yes, for those of you who have been following our bible studies you will recognise those words from Genesis chapter 1. For those of you who know your bible well, you will know that those words ‘in the beginning’ also appear in the gospel of John ch 1
So, Jesus was already there in the beginning! He didn’t suddenly appear at Christmas. He has been with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit for all eternity. John gives testimony and validates the historic event of the birth of Jesus when he says ‘we saw Him with our eyes and touched Him with our hands’.
God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the same eternal God in human flesh. The only way that we can come to God or know God is through Jesus Christ. Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”(John 14:6)
Salvation by grace.
John talks about Jesus as the ‘Word’. He says the Word of Life was with the father from the beginning, and in v2 ‘The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us’. He isn’t saying Jesus has life or gives life, but that HE IS LIFE. Jesus is eternal life. Jesus is salvation and he offers it to me and to you, to those who accept and believe in Him. V3 then goes on to tell us that when we have received Eternal Life, in turn, that will lead us to a deepening and true fellowship with God and other believers.
The other day I was in the car half listening to the radio. They were chatting about the most talked about subject of the year Covid 19, how it’s been a depressing and difficult year etc and now Christmas was coming and how we must ‘save Christmas’ I thought to myself, Oh wow, they’ve got that the wrong way round. We can’t save Christmas, Christmas saved us! Christmas is the celebration of the incarnate God, sending Jesus to earth to save us, to rescue us from his wrath and judgement. That was his plan from the beginning.
Dear sisters, the chief reason we were created was to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, or to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever. Or to put it another way, the reason we were created was for the greatest glory of God in the greatest happiness of His people. And, if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, your whole reason for being is to have a relationship with your Lord, The King of the Universe, the Creator of all things, your brother, friend, prophet and priest. To be in fellowship with Him. It is with God that your happiness is to be found this Christmas and beyond, in season and out-of-season, in good times and bad, when COVID is raging and when COVID is tamed. In life, in death – Jesus is our hope, our reason for being. That’s why we celebrate Christmas. God incarnate coming to earth, to carry out His eternal rescue mission for those who are perishing apart from Him. We celebrate Christmas because He came to save us.
For those who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, or for those who want to love Him more, why don’t you pray along with me now?
Heavenly Father, your word tells us that you have been there from the beginning, and your eternal plan was always to come to earth, to be born of the virgin Mary, to forgive our sins and to rescue us. Oh Lord, help us to recognise that Christmas time is to help us reflect on your life-saving message. That the God of all Glory and sovereign power, humbled Himself to come to earth and died on the cross so that our sins might be forgiven, and that we might be with you forever. Glory to God in the highest. Amen.
As we enter into the ‘activity’ of Christmas this year, can I leave you with something to ponder on…..will you save Christmas this year of will Chistmas save you?