Services by Rev'd Chris during church closure

Rev’d John Richardson’s Study Group Material

 

Now to our  second study from Mark.


Perhaps with drink and refreshments available together with Bible, notebook and pen we pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us afresh in  our study of God’s living word today to encourage and refresh us now and always.

By way of the Introductory Prologue for this study we remind ourselves that starting with the story of John The Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus Mark is eager to tell us simply about the life and death of Jesus...who is the Messiah and truly is the Son of God. Jesus teaches and heals with astonishing power and authority. However, His  closest followers don’t really understand Him and the Jewish civic and religious leaders and authorities totally reject Him and seek wherever possible to plot His downfall and death on a regular basis wherever He happens to be at work with individuals, groups or crowds.

Jesus Himself is convinced that He must suffer and die and then rise again after three days to show how life is lived with triumph and glory and in all its fullness ever since these events of 2000 years ago. The impact is as true now as it was then.

The twin peaks of the Gospel are when two totally  different people recognise the real and true identity of Jesus. The first is Simon Peter who declares ‘YOU ARE THE CHRIST! The second is the Roman centurion soldier who is charged with Jesus’ crucifixion and execution by his Roman bosses who states SURELY THIS MAN IS THE SON OF GOD.

And so to the study itself from Mark 1v12-13 and Luke 4v1-13 and Matthew 4v1-11
Please read the passages carefully noting The Spirit led...........

THIS IS ALL ABOUT PREPARATION AND PRAYER.....IN THE WILDERNESS,DESERT AND JERICHO THEN....AND NOW IN LOCKDOWN 90+ DAYS ON TODAY,NOW.

JESUS IS TEMPTED.  MARK 1v12-13 and related passages in Matthew and Luke.

No sooner is Jesus baptised as we saw last time than He is driven by the Spirit into the desert. He wrestles with Satan for 40 days. In Matthew and Luke we learn that Satan attacks Jesus with wrong ideas on how to act as the Son of God in  seeking to change the world. Consider how Jesus replies with quotes from Deuteronomy  6 in the Old Testament to answer Him.  

Again the desert proves to be an important part of biblical truth in important places and in critical times. Consider Noah in the ark with his family and the animals in Genesis or Moses forty years tramping around the Wilderness with the tribes of Israel after leaving Egypt and bondage. Then there is exile in Babylon during the times of the prophets and more recently in modern church history the forty days seasons of Advent to Epiphany or Lent or the Great Forty Days of Easter until the Ascension. It would be proper too to mention the period of a pregnancy for an expectant mother since the beginning of time. These times are periods of training and preparation as we always await the next chapter in service for and with the living God whatever the days or seasons.

SO TODAY SO FAR IN 90+DAYS OF LOCKDOWN WHAT IS GOD PREPARING FOR US AND TRAINING US FOR IN THIS NEXT CHAPTER OF LIFE WHEN IT DAWNS AND EMERGES?
ARE WE READY FOR THE SURPRISES?

It is worth reminding ourselves that Satan is first mentioned in the early chapters of Job in the Old Testament. He is an angel who constantly challenges God and His people. He blames, he accuses, he is a high jacker and scammer who seeks to expose anything fraudulent or negative playing on the minds and consciences of God’s peoples. He is the liar  who argues that the human race has failed and should be destroyed whatever the cost. He is the opinion former behind much lopsided social media and fake news let alone protests!

Mark shows him up for who he is throughout his gospel as he paints the raging battle between Jesus and Satan in many of his recorded eyewitness accounts of everyday life and  people in his pages. In the end through His death and in His resurrection Jesus finally overpowers and conquers demons, death, disease, destruction and disaster.

So far so good...and now for the next step......
Reflect on your personal journey of faith over the years or during this short period of lockdown........
In the here and now ,in the silence, retreat for a few minutes into the wilderness or desert.....what are the challenges now and ahead?
...............is God asking for you to break a habit or make it for Him in the next stage?
...............what impact will this create in the household, Church, community and beyond?
...............what did you hear? see? touch? smell? taste? In these moments if anything?

Now re emerge into the here and now and move on gradually into new territories with lessons learned. Hopefully in these moments you have been refreshed, energised, uplifted and renewed..


As we close we pray for our needs, households and families as well as our circles of friends, colleagues and neighbours in the words of The Lord’s Prayer.......
And as we move onto the Grace we remember our brothers and sisters in Christ in over 150 settings who are engaged in this study with us. Please feel free to pass it one to others in various ways.

We understand that as well as individuals and family groupings engaged in this study that it is being used in zoom groups and one church is using it as part of the Ministry of the Word on Sunday morning. Others have met in their social and family bubbles while some have had a picnic or take away in the garden and studied at the same time. Whatever is right for you is fine and some have taken a few days to complete the study.

As lockdown continues we will pray daily for you at around 7am and 7pm and on Sundays after we have celebrated Holy Communion for you in The Rectory Precincts we move around the eight churches and pray outside for your church congregation and community with all its ongoing,

In the meantime until we meet again may God hold all of you in the palm of His hands.

As ever with best wishes as always,
Sue and John

John S. Richardson