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  • Luke Hamblett

Hey! Welcome to this weeks blog. Today we are going to be starting a new series called 'The Reset' which is intended to help us be intentional about everything that we do. I've been really focussing on this concept lately and I want to share some ideas with you that I feel will positively impact your life.

How easy is it to lose focus? I know personally that I can lose focus almost instantly when a distraction pops up, whether that's a notification on my mobile phone, a knock at the door or even a thought popping into my head. So, what is it that we should be focussing on?


We all have a different purpose in life, sometimes in church culture, people refer to it as a 'calling'. But, we all have a collective purpose too and there are a number of commandments in the Bible that we are all accountable to upholding. I find this verse in Matthew particularly useful when considering this:


Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.


It's important that in everything we do, we seek first God's will and the building of his kingdom. Much like we looked at in last weeks blog, the word used for 'seek' here, zhtew (dzay-teh'-o) is both in the present tense and active voice, meaning it's a commandment for both the people that Jesus was addressing and us now. No matter what your calling is, seeking God's kingdom first is essential - this isn't just another priority that we should add to our list, but an essential component of living that we should embed into everything we do. Seeking the kingdom of God will never conflict with your calling. Sometimes we become so focussed on the 'doing' that we neglect to ensure that we are doing the right thing.


“What this verse demands is, therefore, a commitment to find and to do the will of God, to ally oneself totally with his purpose. And this commitment must come first.” (France)


To put this verse into a simple paraphrase (taking into account the context of the prior verses) - Seek God's kingdom first and He will take care of your needs. The verses prior to this speak of God's love and how much he cares for the creatures of the earth and provides for them, and how much more that he cares for us. Keep your focus and you will remain on the right path.


How do we know what God wants us to do? The answer to this question is much more simple than we often think, we ask Him. Prayer, word and worship. I've spoken about this before, but immersion in the presence of God and a dedication to fully involving Him in our lives leads to a deeper relationship with Him. The more time you spend with God, through the things mentioned above, the more you will understand His will. Another key part of this is through fellowship, when we come together to seek the Lord then we are able to discern his will through Him speaking through others. We recently had a leaders meeting and while we were praying together God gave me the verse Ezekiel 37:4, I read the verse to the other leaders and another leader spoke up and said that God had given them the song 'Rattle' by Elevation worship, this was a confirmation of the verse that God had given me being right for this time. Others went on to share and we could see a clear thread through all of our experiences with God.


The final thing that I want to talk about this week is the concept of a 'mission statement'. One of the things that I've tried to imbed into my life is the concept of minimalism, trying to make every action I take intentional and purposeful, trying to make every item I own intention and purposeful and trying to take value out in each moment of my life. It's really helped me to declutter my possessions but also to make decisions, improve my productivity and help me focus on what's most important in my life. I was listening to a podcast discussing applying this approach to wellbeing and the guest speaker was a Christian man who said that he has written his own mission statement for his life, with assistance and input from those around him and when he makes decisions he often refers back to his mission statement and if whatever he is doing/choosing doesn't fit into the remit of fulfilling that missions statement then he doesn't do it.


I found this to be a massively useful tool in my life, I've written my own mission statement to help me make decisions myself. One of the key things in doing this is that it should be formed by scripture. The Bible has everything we need to fulfil God's works and we don't need to create anything new, so our mission statements should always point back to scripture. Another key to this is checking your mission statement out with those around you, sometimes we can get it wrong and chase after things that are not meant to us, so it's important to allow others to help you to discern God's will in your life.


The final thing that I want to say on this is that our purpose can change, God uses people in amazing and unexpected ways. The Bible is a great testament to this. So don't be afraid to change your mission statement, it's not something that has to be set in stone and it may change depending on the season you are in.


I hope this weeks blog has been useful to you and I pray that we can all refocus on God's will in each of our lives.


I'd love to hear or discuss with you what you feel God's will for your life is and what your mission statement looks like! Feel free to comment below or you can message us via Facebook, the WiX app or via our contact us page here on the website. Have a blessed week!


  • Luke Hamblett

Thanks for joining us for this weeks blog, we are going to finish our series looking at the Beatitudes after having a small break to focus on our Easter mini-series. If you haven’t joined us before then feel free to go back and work your way through the previous blogs as the Beatitudes build upon one another and the context of the previous blogs will be useful to understand this blog.

Matthew 5:10-12 (NIV)

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


The first word that I want to focus on here is 'persecuted'. Persecution is something that I don't truly understand, I think that our western culture has given me a position of privilege that has shielded me from ever really feeling a true sense of persecution. However, Jesus tells us here that we will be persecuted if we do the things he has outlined in the previous Beatitudes and if we live in the way that He teaches us to. I think that at some point in our lives each and every one of us can highlight a point in which we have been faced with a level of prejudice based on a characteristic, whether that is stigma attached to class, race or faith, we can all resonate with that feeling of being judged for who we are and what we believe. Just take a minute to acknowledge what that feeling was like and imagine it being a persistent response from people around you. Does that thought make you feel uncomfortable? It definitely makes me feel that way! The word that is used here is 'diwkw' (dee-o'-ko), which has origins rooted in the idea of 'a prolonged form of suffering' or 'to pursue, literally or figuratively'. It's important that we recognise what true persecution looks like, Jesus was faced with persecution and ridicule from the religious folk throughout his entire life and many of the disciples died as a result of persecution. I'm not going to go massively into persecution as it could be a blog all on it's own but if you want to find out more about the persecuted church in today's society then check out: https://www.opendoorsuk.org they are a great organisation that support millions of Christians across the world who are facing persecution for their commitment to God. It is a massive eye opener to how easy we have it sometimes!


The second thing that I want to zoom in on is the 'reward' that we receive for our faith, 'for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'. As awful as persecution is, it's only temporary. We can find a solace and steadfast joy in the fact that our mortal lives are not the end, we have an eternal life in heaven. The word rejoice, in Greek 'cairw' (khah'-ee-ro), is used here. The root of this word means for be 'cheerful', be 'glad' and to be 'calmly happy' - this surmises a sense of contentment that comes when we are actively living and understanding the previous Beatitudes. Here's the bit that excites me the most, the Greek's wrote in tenses just like we do, but they also wrote using specific types of voice. This word is written in is the present tense and it is written with an active voice, meaning that it is not only for then but it's for now too. This sense of rejoicing is constant, when we begin to understand that we will receive the kingdom of God then we can free ourselves from the shackles of persecution and rejoice in the fact that we have an eternal life with God.


I pray for those who live in persecution and I thank God for the privilege that we have been afforded to worship freely. God, help us to rejoice in each moment and live a life that reflects the eternal inheritance that you have so graciously given to us.


Amen







  • Luke Hamblett

Welcome to the final part of our Easter mini-series where we will be looking at the events of Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday, and the life changing effects they had on the world.

Matthew 28 (NIV)

Jesus Has Risen

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.


One of the first things that I wondered was, why didn't anyone go to Jesus before this point? The answer is actually right in front of us in the first part of this verse, the Sabbath. The disciples and Jesus' other followers were very devout in the observation of the Sabbath which meant that there was a delay in the preparation of the body of Jesus.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.


A great natural event marked a great spiritual event. Interestingly, Matthew is the only disciple that records the 'great' or 'violent' earthquake. The word used here is 'megaj' (meg'-as) which in Greek can be translated as 'exceedingly great', 'loud' and 'mighty'. This highlights the power and magnitude of this earthquake. We also see the presence of an angel outlined here, one of God's messengers, this again highlights the spiritual magnitude of what is happening. The presence of angels throughout the Bible often mark moments of great importance.


This quote from Clarke highlights the reaction of the guards at the tomb and helps us understand why they responded in the way that they did:


“The resurrection of Christ is a subject of terror to the servants of sin, and a subject of consolation to the sons of God; because it is a proof of the resurrection of both, the one to shame and everlasting contempt-the other to eternal glory and joy.”

(Clarke)

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”


One of the key points to focus in on here is the difference between the kind of return from death that the likes of Lazarus had and the resurrection of Jesus. All of the people that previously returned from death by way of a miracle returned to their earthly bodies. Jesus in resurrection returned to life in a new form, he was made fully new again and he is still fully new now as he reigns in heaven. Jesus wasn't the first person to be brought back from the dead, but He was the first one to be resurrected.


The stone wasn't rolled away so that Jesus could escape the tomb, the stone was rolled away so that the people could see for themselves that Jesus was no longer there and had been resurrected. The angel's invitation to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to come and see for themselves was important as they were the same people that had watched Jesus' body get placed in the tomb.


“The invitation to see the place where he lay is appropriately addressed to the same people who had watched the body being deposited – so there is no possibility of a mistake.” (France)


The final part of this section of these verses is the angel sending the two Marys to tell the disciples, this quote from Spurgeon really highlights the humility of Christ and His openness to all people as at this world changing moment He chose two woman (who would of been considered lesser for being female and would also of been ridiculed for publicly supporting Jesus) to deliver this amazing message:


“Not first to them who were the heads of the Church, as it were, but first of all to lowly women, did the Lord appear; and the apostles themselves had to go to school to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to learn that great truth, ‘The Lord is risen indeed.’”

(Spurgeon)

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”


The two Marys do exactly as they are commanded and in their obedience they meet the resurrected Christ himself. At this moment they called to His feet and worship Him. What a response. In our obedience He will meet us, but a great lesson here is not to get caught up in fulfilling your task and miss the intimate relationship with Christ that is right in front of you.


I'm going to cut this weeks blog there! Now if you know the Easter story then you know there is more. I want to challenge you today to delve into your Bible yourself and explore the events that followed this amazing extract of scripture.


I pray that this Easter we might fall at the feet of our resurrected Jesus and worship him in awe and wonder.


Amen.

EBENZER BAPTIST CHURCH, ST.ANDREWS ST, NETHERTON DUDLEY, DY2 0QB

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