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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27

Sweet smelling to God

 By Jon Kempster

There's something about the smell of freshly baked bread… Know what I mean? The aroma fills you with an urge to chew on a crusty hunk of baguette! And how about the smell of real coffee brewing? Some say it's even better than the experience of drinking it! And what about the fine fragrance of bacon cooking? Wow! When I walk to work in the morning I pass a restaurant where the bacon is sizzling and the smell, well, it nearly stops me from getting to work! What a tremendously pleasing smell it is…

I was put in mind of all this recently when I was reading Revelation 5:8: '… the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.' It looks to me from this that the prayers you and I have offered to God - whenever we've asked God to intervene in a situation, whenever we've prayed for some need - have not only been remembered, but have been gathered up to become part of the worship of heaven, as a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord God and Christ the Lamb on the throne.

This must mean that our prayers are not futile, ineffective or insignificant. We often hold these wrong beliefs because of times when we feel our prayers have not been answered in the ways we thought they should have been. This then leads us to think either that we've failed in some way or that God is absent, silent or uninterested in us. But look… Our prayers are so valuable to God they are placed in golden bowls! And if he thinks that much of our prayers, how much more must he think of us? Our mistake is to value only answers to prayer that fit with our own limited earthbound hopes, rather than allowing for God to respond in ways we don't understand for his own mighty and eternal reasons. So, let's seek to have the mind of Christ as we pray… And let's take these words of Revelation as an encouragement to persevere in prayer. In fact, let's seek to 'pray without ceasing' so the golden bowls in heaven burn with even more pleasing incense to the glory of the Lord.

Posted by Jon Kempster at 2:11 PM

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22

All the fun of the Ministry Fair

 By Tony Villiers

From time to time it’s good to look again at fundamental questions. There’s a great David Devenish book which both asks and answers just such a question: What on earth is the church for?

From what Jesus said to his disciples we know that the church exists for mission - and mission exists in order to bring glory to God. We know that Jesus came into the world to establish the kingdom of God - and to become a subject of this kingdom is to become a worshipper (which involves much more than singing worship songs!) and a servant. What then is the kind of worshipful service we are called to humbly live out in order to bring glory to God?

Everything we do must have mission at its core - all the ways in which we serve are, amongst other things, meant to reflect mission in one way or another. The way we define the local church is like this: It is a grace-motivated, Spirit-filled community of people from all walks of life, living in a particular area, who share a common faith in Christ. These disciples are committed to one another and to their leaders who serve and care for them. But the nature of this church community has mission at its core and working through all its activities and ministries. We must all understand that it’s our responsibility to reach others with the gospel.

Last Sunday our special Ministry Fair was designed to encourage church members to consider their own unique contribution to our church’s life in the light of the missional purpose of the church. Whether we welcome newcomers at the door, set up the PA, are involved in children’s work, play in the worship band, give debt advice for Money Matters or do any other activity, we are involved in serving the advancement of the kingdom of God in Milton Keynes and beyond. Considering our service in these terms will help rid us of the limited vision expressed in such comments as ‘Oh, I only make the tea and coffee’. The Ministry Fair saw lots of people signing up to find out more about becoming involved in different ministries. The fair may be over, but the opportunity to sign up is not... If you’re a regular attendee at Grace Church and you’d like to know more about becoming involved in a certain area of service please talk to an elder. But let’s remember that whatever we do in the church - make the tea, put out chairs, lead worship, preach - we do for the glory of God.

Posted by Tony Villiers at 7:15 AM