Discipleship Group – a life of prayer

Image from The Methodist Church’s Our Calling

The fifth and final session of our discipleship group series on a life of prayer will be taking place this Tuesday 1st December at 2.30pm and repeated next Wednesday 9th December 7.30pm, both via zoom.

If you want to take part by yourself rather than as part of a group, you can find the study below. Previous studies are also attached, just in case you missed them.

The theme of this fourth session is “Prayer as care.”

Previous studies:

Reflection – Glimpsing the Kingdom…

Here is another reflection from from Rev David Ray, his last of this group. Thank you for sharing these with us, David.

“Could you please write a definition of the Kingdom of God in one sentence?”

I received this request in an email early last July from a friend who is a Local Preacher on Trial in the Methodist Church. He had sent this question to a group of people because he was writing an assignment on the subject as part of his training.

Well, it was quite a challenge I can tell you! I decided to refer to the Methodist Catechism. However, before I did this I attempted my own definition.

‘God’s reign, through his people, over all things’.

‘The spiritual realm over which God reigns as King and in which Jesus is Redeemer’.

‘The rule of God on earth now – and beyond – forever’.

Then I remembered a definition I read years ago. It’s in ‘The Bible Reader’s Encyclopaedia and Concordance’ by Rev. W. W. Clow.

‘The Kingdom of God is a present possession and a future inheritance’.

I think this is a really helpful definition.

The Methodist Catechism’s definition is:  

‘It (the Kingdom of God) is his (God’s) rightful reign over everything he has made, at present fully recognised only by those who gave accepted it in Jesus Christ. In the end, God’s rule will be acknowledged by all and established undisputed when he judges the whole human race through Jesus Christ’.

I reflected on my friend’s request and my response and came to the conclusion that, despite having lead worship for over 55 years, I had rarely preached on the Kingdom of God.

This reflection is a first step to rectify that! It’s a small step because the subject is huge, but I have promised myself that I will preach on the Kingdom of God more.

So where do we start when thinking about the Kingdom of God? Well, I would like to suggest you read the parables of Jesus about the Kingdom in St Matthew’s Gospel chapter 13.

Let me list them: vs 1-12 and 16-23 ‘The sower’: vs 24-30 and 36-43 ‘The tares’: vs 31-32 ‘The mustard seed’: v 33 ‘The yeast’: v 44 ‘The hidden treasure’: vs 45 and 46 ‘The pearl of great price’: vs 47-49 ‘The drag net’: vs 51-52 conclusion.

Many of the parables remind us that the signs of the kingdom are all around us. Not only is the kingdom coming but, in a very real sense, is here already and experienced in the miracle of changed lives. To know Christ is to be given a foretaste of the promise of all that is yet to come.

God will not rest until his will is done and his kingdom is established on earth as it is in heaven. It may seem a long way off and yet we must never lose that vision of what life can become – nor stop working towards it.

It seems to me that it is all too easy to relegate the kingdom to some far-off place and time. Remember what Jesus said, ‘The time has come, and the kingdom of God is near’ (Mark 1 verse 15).

Throughout the gospels, and not just in his parables, when Jesus speaks about the kingdom he is clearly not talking about a worldly kingdom, but a kingdom that crosses borders and is beyond nationality. He is also referring to the way in which our lives are ruled by God. For Jesus, people entered the kingdom when they gave their allegiance to God and acknowledged him as their king.

What Jesus is concerned about when he talks about the kingdom is the way in which life is lived. Being part of his kingdom means living in a certain way, following unique laws or commandments of the kingdom.

There are no social distinctions – all people can be part of his kingdom of forgiveness and love. It’s up to followers to act as true representatives of God’s country. Quite a challenge!

I close with my favourite words of Jesus about the kingdom – they are from St Luke Gospel chapter 12 verse 32:

‘Do not be afraid little flock, for your father has been pleased to give you the kingdom’.

Prayer

Gracious God, you are at work in our world and in my life, making yourself known and sowing seeds of your kingdom. You stir and transform lives, your light reaches into darkness, offering new beginnings where there is hopelessness.

Help me not to only to look forward to the fulfilment of your kingdom but to recognise all the ways in which it is already present.

Enable me to have a vision of what life can be and give me the faith and dedication to help turn that dream into reality.

May I look for the ways in which you are calling me to play my part in bringing in your kingdom.

Come now, loving God and work within the joy and sorrow of the world that your will may be done and your kingdom come in all its glory. I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God bless you.
David Ray
November 2020

Sunday Worship

This Sunday’s worship is led by local preacher, Frances Williams, 10am at St David’s Craig y Don and 11am St John’s, Llandudno town centre. For those who are unable to attend in person, the service is livestreamed at 10am here. It is also available as a recorded service later in the day (once Youtube have checked it over for any copyright issues.)

A text version of Frances’ service is also provided below for those who like a written version and for people to take out to those who cannot access the livestreamed version via the internet.

All other churches in the circuit, except Old Colwyn, are now also open.

Prayers for healing and wholeness

Richard Butler is leading the service in St John’s today at 1.45pm. For those wanting to take part from home. the liturgy and Richard’s reflection are provided here.

‘My grace is sufficient for you,
For my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9)

In the ministry of Christ healing was a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom, bringing renewal and wholeness of life to those who turned to God in their need.  Jesus commissioned his disciples to proclaim the kingdom and heal the sick (Luke 9:2).  The Church believes that the healing power of Christ is exercised through medical and related professions, through faith and prayer, and the care of the Christian community. 

God desires wholeness for all people. We bring to God our frailty and brokenness  –  felt not only in physical illness, but in guilt, anxiety, and all the burdens which weigh us down.  We also bring our concerns for others and for the world. We come to God who knows our needs before we ask, and whose love revealed in Jesus Christ is stronger than suffering and death.

To start, take some time to bring yourself into an awareness of the presence of God. If it helps, imagine yourself sitting in your church alone, resting in the prayerful atmosphere.

Jesus said:  ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Matt 11:28-30

Jesus said:  ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’ John 10:10

In Jesus Christ, we hear the Good News
that God is like a mother hen
who shelters her chicks
under her wings.
We believe that God is love.

In Jesus, we see a God
who wept for the people of the world,
and weeps for our mourning.

In Jesus, we see a God
who reaches out with healing hands,
who sees our pain and makes us whole.

O God, you died for us and conquered death for us,
but sometimes we find it hard to believe in your love.

We see your creativity in all the earth,
but fear to ask for our own healing.
Forgive us and bring us to faith.

Hear Christ’s word for us:
If we have faith as small as a mustard seed,
God’s power is released in us.
Our healing is a gracious gift. Amen.

Acts 5:12-16 and Acts 9:36-41

In these two readings there is clear evidence that the work started by Jesus carried on after he had left us.

Through his Spirit working with his disciples to carry on the important work; many sick people were healed, the people it says brought out their sick and laid them on the colonnade; the place the disciples had to pass each day on their way to worship. Even Peter’s shadow passing over the sick seems to make them well!

Even the shadow of Peter made people well, we are told; today with so much going on in our country; in our world, we all live in the power of the shadow of the Holy Spirit, God’s incredible caring all powerful Spirit, it is there for us all, Jesus left it for us to share in; trust that Spirit in prayer to help you when you need it most.

The second reading in which Peter heals, he brings Tabitha back to life, a lady who at that time helped many people, providing clothing for them, at a time when you couldn’t go into a shop and buy it, (unlike today, with shops and on line).

The way Peter is called ; two men sent to fetch him to Tabitha’s  bedside; even though her body had been washed ready for burial, as was custom in those days. The widows who did the washing I’m sure telling those who sent for Peter that it was too late, she was dead.

Peter arrives , he puts all those wailing outside of Tabitha’s room, what again was the  custom in those days for respect of those who had passed away.

Peter does not say Tabitha get up; he knows the power of healing will come not from him, but from the risen Jesus. He kneels down and prays; something Jesus did praying to his Father before healing took place. He then turns to Tabitha and says get up; giving her his hand, then leading her out to show those outside that she wasn’t dead, but alive!

Peter healed through the power of Jesus working in his life. Prayer is the healing power in both of the readings. It is prayer that helps so many people in so many ways, it brings comfort , it bring hope, and it often does heal people in so many different ways, life without hope is not a good way to live your life; often when people are sick hope is needed in the recovery from illness.

A gentleman I used to visit had his major surgery cancelled several times, his son in law helped him to get the operation he needed, he was informed it really was to late to operate, but it went ahead, refusing further treatment, instead trusting his faith and help from his family; gave him many extra years he was told he didn’t have.  Many prayed for him, having great faith helped him when he needed it most.

Knowing people cared enough to pray for him made him feel people cared, and I’m sure helped him, in many different ways of healing; some through God given medical treatments; some through surgery; some through prayer, all help to heal. Peter showed in his healing work; believe through faith that healing will work through our prayers, it is never wasted, and often people who know they are being prayed for, know that people care enough to want them to be healed.

As I have said the Spirit Jesus left us with is still working in our world today; and will go on working. A prayer left in the chapel in Y.G. said I’ve tried everything I know, please God help my daughter! Peter said it is not me that heals but the power of Jesus Christ in action, its never to late to pray, it give hope, comfort and healing.

We live in difficult times; we have to belief God is there with us, helping us in so many ways, he works in ways we cannot understand sometimes, but through it all his love is there always for us to share. Healing; helping ; caring; but always there. Stop for a few moments and close your eyes, be quiet and share in a time of prayer, share in his great peace and comfort, free to all.

We continue in prayer…

O God, we cry to you in our anger
that people hurt each other.
Be with us and heal us, O God.

We feel the fear and pain experienced by
an innocent and trusting child.
Be with us and heal us, O God.

We carry with us the things
that have been done to us which hurt and destroy.
They stand before us and weigh us down.
They stop us living with joy and hope.
Be with us and heal us, O God.

We watch on, as around the world
War and conflict abound.
And we feel helpless to prevent or resolve.
Be with us and heal us, O God.

Lift us up on the wings of your Spirit.
For you are stronger
than all the forces that stand against us.
Set us free with your peace and your power.

Set us free,
heal our wounds,
O God who never leaves us nor forsakes us. Amen.

We say together the prayer that Jesus gave us:                                                

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be your name
your kingdom come,
your will be done 
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial 
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, 
now and for ever.  Amen 

Together, let us bring to the Lord those for whom we have been asked to pray….

Peg T
Margaret B
David & Carolyn S
David B
Eva D
Cynthia and Peter J

Spend some time in prayer for those God places on your heart. Include yourself.

May the Lord of love,
who is more powerful
than all those who would harm us,
give us healing for all that is past and peace for all that is to come.
May he surround us with comfort and warmth
and fill us with life that is stronger than death.
Amen.

Lift your face to the light.
You are beautiful in the sight of God.
The seal of the Spirit is upon you.

Walk freely
and open your heart to life,
for Christ walks with you
into a new day.

Go in peace.
And may God keep you safe:
God the Father hold you firmly,
God in Christ take you by the hand,
and God the Spirit guide and protect you.

May the Lord go with us and grant us the joy of Jesus Christ.  Amen

Some material included in this service is copyright © 2000 Dorothy McRae-McMahon

Wednesday Meditation

Today’s meditation is shared with us by Paula Hammond of St David’s, Craig y Don. Thanks, Paula!

Decisions – Photo by Jo Leonhardt on Unsplash

Over the last few months we have all had to make many decisions. We are all shaped by our decisions and the decisions of others. Some have life-or death consequences, while others are less important. Decisions come in all shapes and sizes. Every day we face decisions about what to eat, whether to exercise, how to use our time.

Over the years these regular decisions generally become habits and we don’t think much about them. If we have guided these small decisions well from the start, we don’t really have to worry about them.

When we haven’t made good choices, however, even these small decisions can blossom into serious bad habits or an unhealthy lifestyle.

We also fairly regularly run into larger decisions that may have even bigger immediate or Long-term consequences. What we will study? Where we will live? Who will we marry? What church will we go to?

Then there are the moral choices we are faced with like will we allow ourselves to be pulled in by gossip & scaremongering. Will we turn a blind eye to someone in need of help?

Whatever type of decision we face there are biblical principles that can help us make better decisions. For example, when we recognise a bad habit or face a moral choice we can apply God’s command to always choose His way.

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

There are steps that can help with these decisions, and also with so many other decisions that don’t have an easy, right-or-wrong answer.

So, where does the Christian decision-making process start?

1. Direction from God. As Christians, our overall direction in life is determined by our commitment to God, and we must remember to ask Him to direct our lives.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

How does God direct us? Through the wisdom He gives us in the Bible and through wise biblical counsel from His servants. All of our decisions are to be in harmony with God’s laws and His plan.

We should pray for God’s guidance and study the Bible to see what it says about the decision we are facing. Many helpful principles are presented in the book of Proverbs, for example; it’s a book designed to teach us prudence and understanding and the wisdom to make good decisions (Proverbs 1:1-4). It all starts with understanding how much greater God is than we are.

As we study the Bible, we should act on what we learn. We should discard any choices that we discover would compromise with God’s laws.

Sometimes it is a simple matter to know what decision to make—simply because only one choice would allow us to obey God. But most of our decisions are not that clear-cut. Sometimes there are several good choices, and sometimes none of the choices are morally wrong.

 The following can help us make wise decisions in these cases.

2. Define the problem or opportunity. When our problem seems fuzzy, it can be very difficult to come up with a solid solution. Sometimes it can be helpful to look at the problem from many angles in order to clearly define it.

What caused the problem to erupt at this time and in this way? Who is affected by it? If other people are involved in causing the problem, why? What do they get out of it?

If your decision is an opportunity, what exactly do you get by choosing it? What do you lose if you don’t choose it?

3. Dig out the relevant information. We have already discussed looking for the related passages in the Bible. We also need to search out the pertinent facts about the specific problem or opportunity.

Many search tools are available in our information age, and it can be helpful to explore everything from the library to the Internet. Look for reputable sources with relevant expertise. Be sure to put all the information you gather through the filters of fact checking and biblical truth.

The Bible advises, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

 Different people will likely have different information and different perspectives that can give you a broader understanding of the situation.

With all the facts in hand, you can begin brainstorming various options that could solve the problem or best deal with the opportunity.

 4. Determine the alternatives. With all the facts in hand, you can begin brainstorming various options that could solve the problem or best deal with the opportunity.

Combining and concentrating on all the information gained from the previous steps should give us several possible choices.

Depending on the situation, it can be valuable to explore some outside-the-box solutions.

This is especially true when none of the obvious options seem that good.

Throwing around creative ideas and trying to see possible connections to seemingly unrelated fields can help you generate additional options.

Some of us might be tempted to cut short this stage in the interest of reaching closure as soon as possible.

This can be a problem if we don’t have enough options to pick a good one.

Others might be tempted to continue in this stage for too long, out of fear that the perfect solution will be missed. This, too, can be a problem if we put off a decision too long and perhaps miss the deadline.

At some point, we have to decide we have enough options and move on to step  

5. Deliberate. Weigh the options. Make lists of pros and cons for each one. Weed out the worst ideas and carefully examine the best ones.

This is a principle that Jesus Christ advised His followers to apply: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it” (Luke 14:28).

Whether deciding to commit our lives to God in baptism or to remodel our kitchen, we need to count the cost and weigh the options.

Wise King Solomon also pointed out the importance of looking ahead to foresee the possible results of our decisions: “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).

This process of deliberating, counting costs and foreseeing future dangers and opportunities should prepare us for the next step.

6. Decide. With all the research and preparation, this part should be easier. Another prayer for guidance and additional consultation with advisers can give us the confidence to make a wise choice.

7. Do. Take action. Don’t dillydally, but implement your decision decisively.

If we have followed these steps carefully and put the decision into practice diligently, we will likely be happy with the results.

God gives this encouragement to those who seek His will and follow His way: “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

When we make a decision to follow God’s way and His law, we don’t have to look back.

But with a physical decision that isn’t a matter of right and wrong, We need to reassess the choice when necessary and adjust course. Doing so can be a good decision too.

Dear heavenly Father, you number our hairs and determine our days; you hang the stars and feed the sparrows; you open doors no one can shut and shut doors no one can open. Surely, we can trust you when the time comes for making big decisions, or for that matter, any decisions. We will trust you for generous wisdom, straight paths and peaceful hearts, all for your glory.

How we praise you for being the decision-making-God.
It’s not our decisions, but yours that make all the difference.
We will plan, but we trust you to order our steps.
We will pray, but ask you to fix our prayers en route to heaven.
We will seek counsel, but count on you to overrule faulty or incomplete input from our most trusted friends and mentors.
We will search the Scriptures, but not looking for proof texts but for you, Father. All we want and need is you.

Free us from the paralysis of analysis—wanting make the right decision, more than we want to be righteous people; wanting to be known as wise people, more than we want to know you.
Free us from the idolatry of assuming there’s only one “perfect” choice in any given situation.
Free us from making decisions primary for our comfort and other’s approval, or fear their disapproval.
Free us to know that good choices don’t always lead to the easiest outcomes, especially at first.
Free us from second and twenty-second guessing our decisions.

Father, no matter if it’s wisdom about buying or selling, vocation or vacation, this place or that place, this person or that person, we know that in ALL things, your will is our sanctification—our becoming more and more like Jesus.

Give us this passion; make it our delight. So, Father, make us more and more like Jesus, even as we trust you for the opening and closing of doors that are in front of us.

 All for your glory. Amen

Kids’ club by post

Contributed by FreeBibleimages

Hello everyone. Here is the latest kids’ club by post, this time on the parable of the lost coin. This is one of my favourites – on several occasions I have had church congregations searching through the pews for my “lost” wedding ring – a real enacted parable!

Contributed by FreeBibleimages
Contributed by FreeBibleimages

Are the pictures great?! You can find loads of free and copyright free Bible story images here.

Awesome wonder

Janet Creed’s sister, Deacon Denise, sent her these wonderful photos of sunrise on the east coast. Apparently there was frost on the sea until the sun came up…

As Janet says, they get the wonderful sunrises, we get the wonderful sunsets.

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works thy hand hath made…thy power throughout the universe displayed, then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee, how great thou art!

Reflection – Kingship

Rev David Ray shares another reflection with us. Thank you, David.

The Wednesday evening fellowship was one of the highlights of my week when I was in Wakefield. Leading this fellowship was part of my role as Free-Church Chaplain at Wakefield Prison. It was a highlight partly because of the singing by the fifteen or so inmates who regularly attended the group. One of the songs I remember the men enjoying most was ‘Majesty, worship his majesty’. They sung this with such conviction – it always sent a tingle down my spine and moved me spiritually. Another of their favourites was, ‘Jesus, we enthrone you’. Both of these songs speak of Jesus as king, a designation that I have always valued. Let me quote the words of those songs:

Majesty, worship his majesty;
unto Jesus be glory, honour, and praise.
Majesty, kingdom authority,
flows from his throne unto his own, his anthem raise.
So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus,
magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus, the King.
Majesty, worship his majesty,
Jesus, who died, now glorified, King of all kings.

Jesus, we enthrone you,
we proclaim you our king.
Standing here in the midst of us
we raise you up with our praise,
and as we worship build a throne,
and as we worship build a throne
and as we worship build the throne,
come, Lord Jesus, and take your place

A few years later, when I was in Portsmouth, I led the opening devotions at a Local Preachers’ Meeting on the theme of the kingship of Jesus. At the end of these devotions one of the preachers said something like this, “it’s obvious, David, that the idea of Jesus the king speaks to you in a helpful way, but I’m just the opposite, it leaves me cold”. Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather! ‘Leaves me cold’ was a bit strong I thought. Anyway, his response to my devotions started a heated discussion in the meeting that went on for over half-an-hour. The chair of the meeting was sensitive enough to allow this to happen and it is a debate I will long remember. At the end of the conversation the members present were divided in their thinking about Jesus the king.

During the summer lockdown I widened my reading to include some historical novels. I was fascinated by them and they opened my eyes to the barbaric way some of the kings of England treated their subjects. How different from my ideas about the kingship of Jesus.

It may be that thoughts of earthly kings and kingdoms have coloured the way some Christians think of the Jesus as king. For me, the difference between the kingship of Jesus and earthly kings is what enriches my thinking and understanding of the nature and personality of Jesus.

What do you think? Are you helped by the idea of the kingship of Jesus? Maybe you’ve never really given it a great deal of thought. I hope this reflection will enable you to consider what you think.

Why is now a good time to do this? Because this coming Sunday (22nd November) is the Sunday before Advent, a day when the Christian Church traditionally turns the spotlights on the idea of Christ the King.

Readings: Luke 2:33-43, John 18:31-37, Philippians 2:5-11 and Colossians 1:15-20.

Reflect: What do these passages say about Jesus the King?

Consider: How is Jesus the same/different from earthly kings? Are you helped by the idea of Jesus the King? Why? Why not?

Another song about the kingship of Jesus is by Graham Kendrick. This is the first verse and chorus:

From heaven you came helpless babe,
entered our world, your glory veiled,
not to be served, but to serve,
and give your life that we might live.

This is our God, the Servant King
he calls us now to follow him,
to bring our lives as a daily offering
of worship to the Servant King.

Consider: Have you enthroned Jesus in your life? Do you worship him daily as you follow his example of service?

Prayers
Jesus Christ, my King and Saviour, I humbly worship you.
You refused the riches and power of this world. You were content to fast in the desert and feast with commoners. I humbly worship you.
Your royal sceptre is a shepherd’s crook and your crown is made of thorns. I humbly worship you.
Your kingdom is beyond time and space. I humbly worship you.
Help me to enthrone you as my King and Saviour. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, you were brought low, yet you have been lifted up. You were the servant of all, yet you are above and beyond all. You were despised and rejected, yet your name is exalted above all names. You were fully human and yet you are divine. You were taken into heaven and yet you are always with me. I bow before you and confess you as King and Lord in my life, to the glory of God the Father. Amen

God bless you.

David Ray                                                                                                            November 2020

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Sunday Worship

This Sunday’s worship is led by local preacher, Derek Hall, 10am at St David’s Craig y Don and 11am St John’s, Llandudno town centre. For those who are unable to attend in person, the service is livestreamed at 10am here. It is also available as a recorded service later in the day (once Youtube have checked it over for any copyright issues.)

A text version of Derek’s service is also provided below for those who like a written version and for people to take out to those who cannot access the livestreamed version via the internet.

All other churches in the circuit, except Old Colwyn, are now also open. I hope you are able to join in worship this Sunday somewhere somehow!