Introduction to Acts Series

Introduction to Acts Series

Neil Pattison | 27 September 2020 | Sunday Celebration

Over the next few months we will journey through the book of Acts. Following the last moments of Jesus on earth with His disciples, He appeared to leave behind a group of relatively clueless men and women who must have been thinking ‘What now?’

We like a plan. We like to know what is happening. We do not like to be out of control or in the dark. Father God does not always give the plan but He gives Foundation and principles on which to build our lives – then we can face whatever comes.

Acts chapter 1:1

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,

This ordered and accurate account is penned by an educated, gentile doctor. Written around or after 63 A.D. (the date of the last event recorded), the book is Luke’s sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Entitled “Acts” this book records the “Acts of the Apostles through the work of the Holy Spirit”. The book was addressed to Theophilus, Lover of God, possibly a Roman official or at least of high position and wealth acting as Luke’s patron, responsible for seeing that the writings were copied and distributed. Such a dedication to the publisher was common at that time.

This church grew into the first multi-ethnic, international Jesus community, from which missionaries were sent throughout the world to preach about Jesus, the Jewish Messiah and risen King of all nations. Paul even continued to preach despite imprisonment and wrote important letters to the churches.

Read Acts chapter 1:2-3

Point One. Primary Foundation that disciples were willing to die for – Jesus was their Lord, He had died but was now alive and King of a new Kingdom. 

Picture of cornerstone laid on a solid foundation.

The cornerstone of something is the basic part of it on which its existence, success, or truth depends. The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.

Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, or replica, set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription on the stone indicating the construction dates of the building and the names of architect, builder, and other significant individuals.

Read Acts chapter 1:4-5

Point Two. Second part of foundation is the Word and the Spirit. The Father promises the gift of the Spirit in His word. 

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;

Ezekiel 36:26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you

Joel 2:28,29 “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

We are a church of the word and the Spirit.

Make our gatherings count. Encourage, bless, enjoy, pray for each other, break bread – be continually filled with Holy Spirit.

Read Acts chapter 1:6-8

Point Three. Third part of foundation is not a road map of the future. It is not an intergalactic strategy or blue print outlining how to model church. It is you waiting on Him, receiving His power and being a witness. God is a strategic God – we will see over the coming weeks how strategy was inspired by the Holy Spirit – disciples waiting on Him, hearing His voice and responding.

Question: what will you be a witness of? Who is your Jesus. We need to be able to say ‘I know Him’.

Read Acts chapter 1:9-11

Point Four. Jesus is not physically with us – He has left the earth. BUT He has not left us alone, we have the Holy Spirit. He has not abandoned the world – He has given the gift of His body, the church. We are a gift to the world.

Picture of dandelion clock. White, fluffy seeds waiting to be dispersed.

Acts chapter 1:12

Then they returned to Jerusalem

The disciples returned to Jerusalem and gathered in the Upper Room. Encouraging each other, praying for each other, waiting for the Holy Spirit, waiting to be fluffy white seeds blown out to the nations.

Conclusion

  • Our love for Jesus places Him at the centre of our lives – cornerstone – All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
  • Over the next few months we can enjoy the amazing book of Acts. 
  • Look at the gathered church – irrespective of external pressures the church gathers and prays and breaks bread. Authorities ban you – move underground; church buildings closed down – move into homes; virus restricts interaction – find ways to gather safely.
  • Look at the persecuted church – being witnesses of Jesus comes with a price. What keeps us going under trial? Jesus at the centre.
  • Look at the growing church – from a small group in a home to church on a rubbish dump to mega church in a city. Everything is possible.
  • R rate above 1 leads to multiplication. We are between 1.2 and 1.4.

·      According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, there were only an estimated 600 million Christians worldwide in 1910. This figure has increased enormously in more recent years, with an estimated 2.2 billion Christian followers recorded in 2010. The research center also predicts that Christianity will remain the world’s largest religion for the next four decades if these trends continue, with a projected 2.9 billion people practicing Christianity worldwide by 2050 and exceeding 3 billion thereafter.

·      Globally, Christianity is growing at a 1.27% rate. Currently, there are 2.5 billion Christians in the world. The world’s population, 7.7 billion, is growing at a 1.20% rate. Among Christian groups, Pentecostals (2.26%) and evangelicals (2.19%) are growing faster than others.

Questions for discussion

  1. In what ways does Jesus act as the cornerstone in our life?
  2. How is our love for Jesus demonstrated? What is the evidence in our life?
  3. In what ways are our lives founded on the word and the Spirit?
  4. Read the book of Acts slowly and thoughtfully. Gather in prayer triplets.

Prayer Triplets: September Prayer Points

Prayer Triplets: September Prayer Points

Please pray for the following items this month:

  • Gathered Church – We continue to have the opportunity to gather together as the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25).
  • Covid-19 – The elimination of this disease globally and especially in Maidstone and Kent (2 Kings 20:5).
  • Jubilee Hub Parkwood – Favour, acceptance and approval of the planning permission for Jubilee Parkwood building (Isaiah 43:19, Romans 8:31, Nehemiah 2).
  • Two people – Remember two people in your prayers who need to hear about Christ and accept Him as the Lord of their lives and anyone the Lord lays on your heart to pray for (Romans 10:13-15). 
  • Spiritual growth and commitment to God – Your personal spiritual growth, commitment and understanding of who God is, His love towards you, your walk with Him and a greater passion for the things of God (Colossians 1:9-12). 
  • Jubilee church as a whole and spiritual growth in the body (Ephesians 2:19-22). 
  • Jubilee elders and leaders in the body (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
  • Government and those in authority – To make the right decisions and have the courage to make difficult decisions in favour of God’s people and the country (1 Timothy 2:1-4, Psalm 22:28)
  • Any personal prayer points (individuals in the triplets)

August Articles – 03 Look after your own interests

August Articles – 03 Look after your own interests

Strange things are afoot!

  • Supermarkets are filled with mask-wearers who are not attempting to rob the store.
  • Meeting with another person for the first time is not marked by the shaking of hands; meeting with an old friend is not marked by a hug.
  • Cafés and restaurants have oddly-spaced tables partitioned by Perspex screens.
  • Summer holidays abroad are off the table, unless you are happy with an additional 2 weeks in quarantine on return.
  • Sporting teams play to eerily empty stadiums.
  • The cost of pedigree puppies has sky rocketed – one couple who ordered a Pomeranian online found that the dog on sale was a guinea pig!
  • ‘Hatches, Matches & Dispatches’ are limited to 30 guests.
  • Disrupted education + lack of exams taken = chaos for further education

All this oddness does not inspire me to engage with life: I am not motivated to ‘Do Life’, but rather to ‘Stay Inside’. I am less inclined to ‘Soar like an Eagle’ and more inclined to ‘Headplant like an Ostrich’, burying my head in the sand while trying to forget the troubles of an unwanted and uncomfortable global situation.

I do, however, find it easy to look after my own interests. What can I cope with today? What do I feel like doing today? What can I do this weekend to shut out the nasty reality of an unfamiliar new way of living? What can I treat myself to while my normal consumer pursuits are unavailable – apart from the sweet click of online shopping?

Then I remember that I serve a different master – a Loving King who faced a sickness far worse than Covid19. A faithful friend who tasted death to save my life (Hebrews 2:9). I’m very glad that Jesus didn’t bury His head in the sand when the world was in thick darkness.

In a previous article, I commented that the hallmarks of the virus are identical with those of the destroying deceiver called Satan (steal, kill and destroy) – Covid19 steals and doesn’t give, kills and doesn’t bring life, destroys and doesn’t heal. God’s heart is to gather and bless; Satan wants to scatter and curse.

As a leadership we aim to creatively and intentionally assist the church to connect and gather. More than ever, the world needs to see a visible demonstration of God’s community pulling together and being family. We need each Jubilee member to pray and find God’s voice in this crisis. God is a Caring Shepherd who gathers His people and a Loving Father who builds His family. How can we respond to His call of a gathered church when so many restrictions are in place?

As a church we face the next six months or so unable to gather in large numbers. This means that small really is beautiful! For those shielding and being extra careful we still have Zoom and other internet-based means of communication. For those of us not shielding, how can we gather physically in small groups to encourage each other and plan good works to bless the community? In what ways can we connect effectively in triplets (groups of 3) and pray for the lost and for miracles?

Firstly, I believe we need to understand God’s interests. The apostle Peter switched from his recognition of Jesus as the Messiah to focus on his own personal needs that wanted Jesus physically around. Jesus had to remind Peter:

 “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Matthew 16:23 (NASB)

Secondly, I believe we need to catch God’s heart for the gathered church – to the point where we fight in every way possible to meet together in an effective and safe way under the governmental guidance.

Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: ‘You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,’ declares the Lord. ‘Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply.'” Jeremiah 23:2-3 (NASB)

Commenting on the future realistically but not pessimistically, I fear that dark days are ahead for many around us. Although we have seen miraculous provision in the shape of new jobs and breakthroughs even during lockdown, elsewhere we are beginning to see waves of redundancies appear as the government furlough scheme comes to an end. As an economy we will of course bounce back and get through this, but the bounce may be a slow crawl rather than a speedy rebound. People around us are going to need support, an encouraging voice, and a helping hand.

Call to action

  • Bring our interests to Jesus and set our minds on His interests, not our own (have you stopped thinking beyond yourself and your family).
  • Call the virus out for what it is – a tool of Satan with all his hallmarks (resist the destructive impact of the virus in prayer).
  • Don’t passively accept these circumstances lying down – FIGHT for God’s heart and God’s desire for His people to gather together (do not become scattered or isolated).
  • As we return from the holiday season be intentional about meeting as home groups and for prayer.
  • Join a prayer triplet.

It is hard to maintain a positive godly view when circumstances are so beyond our control, so strange, and so far from normal. I encourage us to look up to where Christ is seated in heavenly places, hear His voice, and follow our King into victory.

Neil Pattison

August Articles – 02 Is Church Finished?

August Articles – 02 Is Church Finished?

We have all been turned upside down by the events of the last six months. Straightforward things like haircuts, shopping and grabbing a coffee have become expeditions to a slightly strange world of face masks to protect, floor stickers to distance, and pre-booking to limit numbers.

Hazel and I returned from our sabbatical in March never dreaming that we would be unable to meet physically with our church family possibly for the remainder of the year. Every so often we come across someone in the town who smiles and says, ‘this is the first time I have seen you face to face since December 2019!’ Strange times!

So is church finished? Has the gathered people of Christ had its day? Has a tiny virus managed to shut down the Father’s gift of transformation and life to the world after 2000 years of flourishing success and growth?

Last Monday we met as a Staff Team for our weekly morning meeting. Often we catch up, talk over the previous week, and look at the week ahead. This time was different: this time we put on our armour and went to war! Here are some of our thoughts and prayers…

The rocks cry out

As Christians our lives are forever changed. Jesus has found us and saved us – we cannot stay silent. How can we contemplate meeting together as the people of God and not sing? I would physically burst if I stayed quiet about my Saviour’s love – I have to sing praises and thanks to my Heavenly Father who has saved me.

Luke 19:37-40 ‘As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

Characteristics of the devil

There are some people we are naturally drawn to because of their welcoming smile and their radiance of life. There are others we want to steer away from because of their wrong behaviour and unpleasant speech. 

We know the devil comes to ‘kill, steal and destroy’ and see his handiwork across the world. What are the characteristics of the Covid19 virus? So far, it has killed thousands; stolen loved ones, time, freedoms, and normality; brought destruction to jobs, businesses, and some communities. We must recognise the handiwork of the devil appeal to our Almighty Maker and Lord of the heavens and the earth, and make a stand against the works and tool of Satan. 

Have we become passive? Have we retreated to a Covid19 mental bunker of resignation? Or do we take a stand and resist with the armour of God supplied by the resources of heaven? 

A Gathered People

Wherever Jesus went, people gathered. Jesus builds and bonds relationships and community. This current situation has directly attacked our ability to gather as the ekklesia, the ‘called out ones’, the chosen body of Christ. 

It is vital and essential that we are responsible and safe in our behaviour and lifestyle during this time of potential resurgence in the Covid19 virus – our choices can save lives. Those vulnerable and at risk must protect and shield themselves.

However, it is also vital that we find ways in which the body of Christ can gather in Jesus’ name. Matthew 18:20 encourages us, ‘For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.’

Something dynamic occurs when we gather together. We are encouraged, we are reminded of who we are, faith is released, miracles take place, individuals are inspired, fading coals become bright again – all in the presence of Jesus Christ.

We thank God for zoom and connections made possible by the internet, but we have all found there is no substitute for gathering physically together.

Have we become passive? Are we sitting back and allowing circumstances to dictate our lifestyle? Are we willing to fight for our core values and beliefs?

For a few hours the room in which the staff team meeting took place that morning lit up with prayers of warfare and authority – requesting of the head of the church that the people of God should flourish and grow, and resisting the onslaught of the devil using this foul virus. 

As a church leadership we are looking at how we can be church effectively during the next period of time as the virus and its associated restrictions remain in place. The Bible gives a way forward while keeping safe and acting responsibly – gather together in small groups.

Prayer Triplets

During August we are building up to the launch of prayer triplets in September. We will meet weekly for a period of around 8 weeks to pray for specific things. Consider who could be in your triplet? There is such power when we meet in Jesus’ name to pray for others.

I have also written to one of our local Members of Parliament asking for advice on two things: how can we meet as a church safely with singing? And how can we meet safely as small groups in homes with autumn approaching?

We will let you know of the response. Please pray for the church around the world, that we actively pursue Christ and resist the devil; and that we have wisdom how to be church effectively during this time.

The church is NOT finished and Jesus will return to an overcoming and glorious bride.

Neil Pattison

August Articles – 01 Toppling Statues

August Articles – 01 Toppling Statues

I, like so many of us, was very affected with the images coming across the Atlantic of the disturbing acts of violence towards George Floyd, the enormous outflow of lawful protest and expression of public opinion that cries ‘ENOUGH!’ and the uglier side of the resulting riots.

So many of us want to be part of the solution and ‘do’ something– but where do we start?

Throughout history we are familiar with the images of toppling statues that come with a change of regime – Saddam Hussein, Lenin, Ceaucescu… We have recently witnessed the outpouring of people’s anger on the streets of the UK in the pulling down of the statues of various notable people with links with the slave trade or British colonialism.

I fully agree with the challenging of evil actions in our past, but the question I ask myself is ‘where can we focus our energies to bring about a long-lasting change TODAY?’

We cannot change the past. We may review history and learn from our mistakes; we may revise history and insert the stories of overlooked men and women and peoples whose important contributions were left out of the narrative.

I have many heroes and love to read their stories, although I have learned not to expect perfection of even my greatest heroes – because every great man or woman has their dark shadows. We can find questionable decisions or character flaws in all great leaders throughout history: Winston Churchill, King David, Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King, Margaret Thatcher, Peter the Apostle.

The answer to my question of ‘where do we start?’ surely has to land much closer to home – my dark shadows. 

Firstly we need some statue maintenance. We all have in our lives a statue that never should have been raised: the statue of fallen Adam. Fallen Adam represents pride, shame, insecurity, hidden actions, discrimination, violence against others, selfishness – the dark stains of dishonour casting shadows on our lives that we want to forget.

We need to raise a new statue in our lives. 1 Corinthians 15:47 tells us we need a new statue – a second Adam. The first (fallen) Adam is earthy, the second Adam (Jesus) is from heaven. Rather than pouring out my hate and anger on the uncomfortable reading of the lives of others, surely I should be attending to my own statue. Let me topple the statue of fallen Adam in my life. Let me examine my attitudes, my selfishness and the uncomfortable reading of my own history, raising instead a new statue of the Risen Jesus: a statue of grace and forgiveness, of second chances, of understanding, of love, compassion and redemption.

Please, let us not waste energy on rewriting history that cannot be changed. Instead can learn from the past of others, change my present and rewrite the future for our children, so that they do not have to replay the same sad story of mankind?

Secondly we need to choose our battles and our battle language carefully. Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to look after our hearts, ‘Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.’ The heart is a symbol of our emotions and our ‘inner us’. It can refer to our will, our mind, our consciousness, and understanding. Just because we feel the pressure to adopt a certain slogan, or strongly pushed to agree with a certain movement, or display a certain picture or logo, doesn’t mean it is right for us to. What does that movement represent and what is its motivation? Is there a part we can support but other parts we cannot? 

If we are not to remain silent then what do we say? It is sad to see how good messages from good people have been twisted or misrepresented or misunderstood, often when anger and bitterness reigns rather than grace and forgiveness. 

We have all witnessed the trolling of others who say the wrong thing or express an opinion not in line with the current popular message. The venom we see unleashed, especially on social media, adds to the hurt and division rather than addressing the real issue of our hearts. 

We must be careful to whom we speak out, and what platforms we choose to add our voice – guard our hearts so that others do not trample on it or bully us unnecessarily. John 2:24,25 tells us that Jesus, when He was lauded and popular with the people for doing miracles, ‘was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.’ If Jesus guarded His heart so should we.

Let us topple the proud and selfish statues in our lives. We must not keep silent. Speak up when we hear others express racist, discriminatory views, and fight for our children in school if they experience cultures of discrimination and bullying. Choose our battles carefully and express ourselves wisely. Guard our hearts and make sure we express our feelings and agenda, not someone else’s. Be true to ourselves and the values Jesus has placed in our hearts.

Neil Pattison

Judgement Day

Judgement Day

Neil Pattison | 26 July 2020 | Sunday Celebration

There is something inbuilt within us that gives us awareness of light and dark, good and evil.

We are made in God’s image. As humans, we all possess: a need for worship; a need to love and be loved; a sense of conscience and morality; a need for identity and purpose; a desire for marriage and family; a need for work-life balance; a love of creativity, beauty and art; a need for healthy rhythms in our mental, social, physical, spiritual and emotional lives.

When we do something wrong, we feel guilty or bad. Our conscience can be a pain, but it is actually a blessing – it reminds us there will be a consequence to our actions, a Day of Judgement.

Romans 1:18-23 (TLB): “But God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of His existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.

Yes, they knew about Him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship Him or even thank Him for all His daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what He wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. And then, instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they took wood and stone and made idols for themselves, carving them to look like mere birds and animals and snakes and puny men.”

Two questions came up:
1. How can a loving God judge people and send them to everlasting hell?
2. What about people who have not heard about the Gospel and Jesus?

Let me turn this on its head. Let’s picture ourselves on judgement day, standing before God, and we are asked to account for every action and motive.
Romans 1:18 says that one factor leading to judgement is “pushing the truth away”. Can any of us honestly say at times we do not push the truth away and instead do what we know we should not? How many times have we chosen actions that are not the best for us, or the best for others?

Understand the nature of God

The Bible tells us that God is pure love. He is perfect and pure and cannot look on anything that is impure or wrong. If we are going to have a judge, we need one that is perfect and pure and loving and who doesn’t make mistakes.
We were created to love and be loved, not be selfish and hurt others. Selfishness and wrong are the opposite of God’s plan for us and it saddens and angers Father God.

God is also just. How do you spoil a child? Withdraw nurture and boundaries. As parents we show loving care and compassion, we also teach a loving justice – there is a consequence to our actions. A disobedient child makes a parent angry. Our wrong behaviour rightly causes God’s anger.

In a court of law, the defendant needs a defence. Back to our picture – we are stood in front of God and we have in front of us all the times we pushed truth away. What is our defence? A system of justice must deliver judgement and sentence. Wrong cannot be swept under the carpet. Sin has to be paid for.

It is also easy to think ‘it’s not my problem – there are people worse than me. We can easily judge others and think we should be excused. But all our lives are polluted and we have a big problem.

Romans 2:1-4: “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

A ray of light in our darkness

Hebrews 9:27-28 (NLT): “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him.”

God in His love has provided a way out.

How do we benefit from this amazing offer?

  1. Hold our hands up and admit our guilt. Point your finger at others – 3 fingers back at you? No, thousands of daggers pointing back at our guilt!
  2. Agree with God, the perfect Judge, that our sentence should be hell. That is how much our “pushing away the truth” has offended and angered God.
  3. Ask for forgiveness and believe Jesus has paid for our sin. He is our defence. When you stand before God on judgement day, you don’t need any excuses or justification; you point to Jesus!
  4. Realise that without Jesus fighting our corner, every person on this planet is in peril. There has to be justice, there has to be payment – this problem will not just go away. What are someone’s chances of judgement and innocence? Motivation needs to be love for others, not guilt.

This Summer, pray for family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. Two things we are planning:

  1. Alpha Course in September. Who does God want you to invite?
  2. We are looking at prayer over August leading up to launch of prayer triplets in September. Start thinking/praying now.

Let’s finish off with communion. It is the celebration of Jesus paying our penalty – bread as His body, juice/wine as His blood shed as payment for us.

He is our defence. Our guilt is gone!

For the video and/or audio recording of the morning, click here.

Soldier – Athlete – Farmer

Soldier – Athlete – Farmer

Neil Pattison | 12 July 2020 | Sunday Celebration

2 Timothy 2:1-6: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.”

Soldier: A person who fights in an army (not a strip of bread or toast, used for dipping into a soft-boiled egg)
Athlete: They engage in a contest, compete for a prize
Farmer: Tiller of the ground, vinedresser

  • Not a time to shrink back. Discern the times.
  • Thank Jesus for those faithful men and women who take responsibility in the church – Pod, Habitation, Mosaic, different groups, home group leaders, cluster leaders, eldership.
  • Ekklesia – a body of citizens assembled to discuss the affairs of state. Believers gathered together to discuss the King’s affairs.
  • We are restricted in size of gathering all at once, but our effect is increased in gathering in small numbers. DO NOT GIVE UP MEETING TOGETHER.
  • Prayer – pray for family and friends and colleagues NOW IS THE TIME OF SALVATION. Soldier – disentangle yourself from the affairs of the world.
  • Set your house in order – not a time for slacking and playing golf [metaphorically] and allowing old habits to return. Athlete – prepare yourself and compete! Address habits, thought life, destructive patterns, pornography.
  • Mission – ask the Lord: “Who forms the part of His harvest field that I can reach?” Farmer – work hard, be diligent, pass on to others what the Lord has shown you, freely give to others what the Lord has given to you.
  • We as a leadership are looking at how to rework corporate prayer. The Power Hour of Prayer will move to only once a month and we will launch “prayer triplets” with specific themes for a specific period of weeks.

We are not out of the woods yet. Continue to be responsible. God is doing amazing things. New salvations, healing, new jobs.

  • Parkwood project – drawings for submission to planning – then pray.
  • Thorny Theology – tackling sensational subjects from the word of God forming a library of discussions to provide an access point into the key issues.
  • Still a need for someone to head up the community side of Jubilee – more opportunities. We want to give of our best. What is God saying to you?
  • Enjoy the summer – holiday season for many. God has plans for many people over the coming months – He doesn’t want to wait until September to bless others!
  • Hub open in a limited way. Let us know before you visit.
  • Let us know if there are areas we have not considered as a leadership – no one should be left out or left behind.

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

For the video and/or audio recording of the morning, click here.

Feedback from Alpha Spring 2020

Feedback from Alpha Spring 2020

An article by Ben Doggett | 9th July 2020

The Alpha Course is an incredible tool for helping people explore the deep questions of life. As a church we have run Alpha previously but we have recently finished our first one online.

I was recently listening to an interview with Nicky Gumball who is the Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, the church who designed the Alpha Course. Nicky said that since lockdown, HTB are now starting two new Alpha courses every single week! The church may not be able to meet together at the moment, but there has been an explosion of interest in the Christian faith.

Alpha is a very relational course. It runs for around 10 weeks and during that time you get to know the other people on the course fairly well. Initially I was nervous to see if the course would suffer from not having the face to face element. Upon reflection, I am pleasantly surprised at how relational it still was. As the weeks went by, we developed a real connection together and I was genuinely sad when the course came to an end and I knew I wouldn’t be spending the next Tuesday night with that group of people again!

Most importantly, the online element was not able to block God from having His perfect way.

In the early weeks, those on the course asked superb questions as they sought the truth of the Gospel. And then, as the weeks went by, we began to see people recommit their lives to Jesus or surrender to Him for the very first time! Zoom also again proved to be a boundary that the Holy Spirit had no problem crossing and so we prayed and watched in awe as the Holy Spirit touched lives despite us being many miles apart. 

To bring clarity to what is important in our complex and often busy lives, there is nothing like the beauty of seeing someone encounter the love and acceptance of Jesus. There is no joy quite like that which comes from seeing a child beloved of God, discover a Father who has been waiting with open arms.

If you have questions about life and Christianity, or know someone who would benefit from this course, there is another opportunity to sign on for a course starting Wednesday 15th July. It will run for 10 weeks on Wednesday evenings between 8-9:30pm.

For more information or to register, please contact Jubilee office at office@jubilee.co.

Rutland Woods | Work Party Results

Rutland Woods | Work Party Results

A message from Tim Biddlecombe | 6th July 2020

A huge thank you to everyone who helped at the Woods on Saturday, and to Gwyneth for the amazing fridge cake and blueberry muffins. If you weren’t there, you really missed out!

As well as some general tidying up, we now have created 3 separate areas; two around the lake, and one at the top end of the wood. Each has its own fire pit and seating. The walkways between these areas have been cleared and widened.
The largest of the sites near the parachute canopy is a great place for camping, and the others for meeting with home group, family or friends for a camp fire.

When I volunteered to help manage the woods, I was surprised that Neil described it as a ministry, but soon came to realise that it really is. For some of the young people from King’s Reach, it may be their only place of safety, peace and contact with Christians. For others it is a place of reflection and connecting with God, or a time of fun and fellowship with friends, Home Groups and families in a unique and special environment.

So please make use of the woods. You can reserve your time there through the office at office@jubilee.co.

Left uncared for the undergrowth would soon cover the paths and choke the beautiful flowers; the lake would become virtually invisible and the open spaces smothered in brambles. So our next work party is on Saturday August the 8th.

Contact Tim at tim.biddlecombe@jubilee.co or the Jubilee Office if you are interested in being involved.

The newly cleared camping and picnic area close to the lake
Campfire site at the other end of the lake.
AC Talk | Are these the last days?

AC Talk | Are these the last days?

A message from John Scholtz | June 2020

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it was still an epidemic and known as the novel Corona virus, I received several links from various folk.

The first was from a UK pastor to his flock informing them with absolute authority and supposed scientific backing, that without any doubt whatsoever, this virus was caused by 5G. The theories continued to grow, and conspiracies have raged on social media blaming everything and everyone you can imagine. If it was not the influenza vaccine being the cause, then it was an international conspiracy of the Illuminate or Bill Gates. Bill had predicted a pandemic back in 2015, so he’d obviously planned this. We are warned by propagators of this conspiracy, never to take another vaccine ever. This is a very irresponsible statement in my view, given the horrific plagues of the past with huge morbidity and loss of life, prevented now by vaccines, but always lurking in the background.

The Americans have blamed the Chinese, and the Chinese the Americans and no amount of scientific evidence from experts working in the field seems to sway the opinions of those looking for someone to blame.

Some Christians have taken it to another level and declared the establishment of the New World Order or God’s judgment on the world,
because of His anger over a particular sin. Still others have declared it to be the start of the Tribulation or The End Time. It’s a sign, they say, of the Lord’s coming.

As believers, what should our response be?

I don’t think turning to examples of God’s judgment on Israel in the Old Testament is helpful or applicable. It’s not as simple as “bad things happen to bad people” as we well know. Remember Job.

No, our response I believe, needs to be based firmly on Jesus, because “now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law…” (Romans 3:21).

People asked Jesus for a sign. He saw it as a sign of their unbelief.

The signs Jesus gave us, were largely about the new creation: water into wine, healings, food for the hungry, sight for the blind and life for the dead.

We should not be living in the “then” of the Old Testament but look for the “now” of Jesus. He was not looking backward to sins which might bring about judgment but forward to the new thing the “now” thing that was happening: The Kingdom of God!

In John 9 the disciples asked Jesus about the blind man (just as is being asked today of the COVID-19 pandemic) “Rabbi, who sinned, this
man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Then He heals him.

Should we not also be looking forward to see what Jesus will do?

He points us to a new world in which He will be the one true sign. “And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” (Matthew
24:6)

Conspiracy theories have always been around, but Jesus says stay calm and
trust in Me. Pray like this, He says: “Thy Kingdom come on earth as in heaven.” Of course, we must repent, and we should also lament for the world, but we’re already living in the last days “God has spoken through His
Son.” (Hebrew1:2)

Jesus warned that people would ‘look here!’ or ‘look there!’ but His death and resurrection, the single, ultimate sign of the arrival of God’s Kingdom, remain the call and pointer to penitence. They were the sign.
Claims to tell from world events when “the second coming” will occur are claims to know more than Jesus Himself. The resurrection is the beginning of God’s new creation, His saving rule on earth.

I’m grateful to Tom Wright for some insights from his recent book “God and the Pandemic.” He says: “The cross is where all the world’s sufferings and horrors have been heaped up and dealt with. The resurrection is the launch of God’s new creation, of His sovereign saving rule on earth – starting with the physical body of Jesus Himself. Those events are now the summons to repent and the clue to what God is doing in the world. Trying to jump from an earthquake, a tsunami, a pandemic or anything else to a conclusion
about ‘what God is saying here” without going through the gospel story is to make the basic theological mistake of trying to deduce something about God while going behind Jesus’ back.”

In Mark 12:1-12 the owner of the vineyard, having had his messengers rejected by the tenants, makes his last and final move by sending his son and they kill him too. After that there can be no more messengers, no more warning signs.

From now on the summons to repentance comes through Jesus, God’s ultimate plan (see Eph 1:10).

There’s no point in asking why this happened. We live in a fallen world.
Let’s rather ask: “What can we, as the church, do?”
It was their love and care for others not clever interpretations that turned the world upside down in the early days of the church. Only in Christ and the coming Kingdom will we find our peace, as we look forward in these difficult and challenging times.

There are 1,7 million unknown viruses in wildlife of which 700,000 have the potential to infect humans, the BBC reports. All known
Corona viruses come from wild animals and it is likely that pandemics will become more frequent the scientists say. This is just one of those.
This fits with what I learned in Medical School 45 years ago, that influenza viruses mutate in the vast bird populations of China, constantly creating new strains, to which we have to become immune. It’s part of the fallen world.

But don’t despair, let’s look forward with great hope: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” Revelation 21:1 (ESV).