May 102020

‘Growing in all our circumstances’

  • 1 Peter 2: 1-10;
  • John 14: 1-14
    Please have a Bible to hand to refer to the scriptures used.

1 Peter 2:1-10 (New Living Translation (NLT))
2 Like new-born babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment,3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. 4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honour. 5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests.[a] Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 6 As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honour, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 7 Yes, you who trust him recognize the honour God has given him.[d] But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” 8 And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,[g] a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

I am often humbled in the way that God lays on my heart what to share when preparing a talk. This week I must confess that I was also amused. God’s timing is so perfect. Why amused? Well on Tuesday May 5th it was the ‘International day of the Midwife’, a day to celebrate midwifery and the work of midwives throughout the world. I have been incredibly blessed over my career as a midwife to witness on a daily basis the miracle & mystery of new-born life. Yes, there is much we do know about the physiology and processes of new birth and yet there are still many mysteries, for example we still can’t say when the precise moment will be when a mother will go into natural labour.

And then there is the ‘perfect balance’. A new-born babies’ stomach is the size of a small marble – that’s tiny! And so is the amount of the first milk a mother produces, the colostrum. But that colostrum is perfectly balanced with the right amount of energy, carbohydrate & fat to meet the babies needs at that time all perfectly balanced to digest– not to mention the natural protection provided by the antibodies in the milk.

So why the biology lesson? Are you in the right place? Well I do hope so because, coming back to what caused my amusement, it would be the reading in 1 Peter (above).
A baby desires the milk it needs to grow physically, and miraculously as the babies needs change through that growth so does the quantity, nature and balance of the mother’s milk – the perfect balance of supply and demand. But establishing that takes some work on the mother’s part.

The desire for milk gives natural nourishment that leads to growth.

This is a physical description which Peter is likening to our spiritual growth. (Read v2)

God’s word is our pure, lifegiving nourishment & as our spiritual appetite increases, we start to mature. I used to think that this verse referred to new Christian’s beginning a new and amazing relationship with our lord and saviour, but isn’t Peter saying that wherever we are in our journey we should be constantly desiring the pure, spiritual word of God? The King James Version translates it as “sincere milk of the word.”

The Living Word of God. Peter’s plea is that we should desire this every day the way babies desire milk. Feel the need for this every day the way babies must have milk to grow into life, else they die. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” Matt 4:4. If we are going to tell the gospel from a heart of love and a life of service—then we must hunger and thirst for the word of God the way babies hunger and thirst for milk.

1 Peter 2:9 says…….
God brought us out of darkness and into his marvellous light by the word of God, the gospel. And now in this marvellous light what are we to do? Why are we here?

Well let’s go back to the foundation of our faith:

‘Christ, the Son of God, died in our place—became our substitute—to pay the price for all our sins, and to accomplish perfect righteousness, and to endure and remove all of God’s wrath, and rise from the dead triumphant over death for our eternal life and joy in his presence—and all of this offered freely through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. That’s the good news. To this day, two thousand years later, it remains the greatest news in the world.’

‘Christ alone our Cornerstone’! And we are his Living Stones v.4.

Not only has it been the IDM this week, but also VE Day – commemorating the end of the second world war in Europe. And here we are still in lockdown facing a battle with something so tiny it can’t be seen with the human eye yet delivering catastrophic damage, pain and loss across the world. When facing challenges of this scale, is there still room & time to grow spiritually? Do we draw near to God or turn in the other direction & go our own way? Should I even be asking these questions?

Just prior to the Normandy landings the nation was called to a National Day of Prayer. There is not time to go into detail, but thousands filled our churches. The result? Miracles happened – eyes of the enemy blinded, weather turned from unfavourable to perfect.

So, what are some of the ingredients to nurturing our spiritual growth? How can our faith grow in times of challenge? Let’s turn to John. A Gospel written that we: and I quote:

“These are written so that you may believe (trust, be assured, treasure the reality) that Jesus is the Christ (the promise-fulfilling Messiah), the Son of God (the presence of God himself — God the Son — among us), and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

In this Gospel is the living God, the Creator of the world, present among us humans, in our world in his Son — the infinitely loved, eternal, image and radiance of his essence — and through faith — through believing and receiving him for all that he is — we are connected to this One and through him to the Father, and so share in eternal, supernatural life, even now.’

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1

Jesus words of comfort, the way to eternal life though unseen is secure for us if we trust God with our future, regardless of our circumstances. He has already prepared the way to eternal life. We can look forward to eternal life because Jesus has promised it to all who believe in Him. Our long-term future is totally secure.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.[c] From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

A tired hunter out in the wilds stumbled into a camp.
“Am I glad to see you,” he said. “I’ve been lost for three days.”
“Don’t get too excited, friend,” the other hunter replied. “I’ve been lost for three weeks.”

Or have you ever been in a car with someone who doesn’t know where they are going and who flatly refuses to ask for any directions or use a helpful device such as a sat nav to show them the way?

Here Jesus says he is the only way to God the Father. Sadly, some consider this to be too exclusive or restricted to have only the one route to God when actually the opposite is true. As Nicky Gumble describes in his Bible Commentary for the year: ‘Jesus is big enough for the whole world to be included in his saving grace, if we choose to accept him. We should be celebrating that there one secure way to eternal life one sure way to God, through his son Jesus.’

Jesus the WAY: Jesus is our path to the Father. He provides clear direction to God.

Jesus the TRUTH: As the Truth he is the reality of ALL God’s promises. He provides certainty in the midst of instability and confusion. Joy in spite of suffering.

Jesus the LIFE: He joins his divine life to ours, both now and eternally. Jesus offers full and complete satisfaction to those who follow him. He is in truth the only living way to the Father. He is the visible, tangible image of an invisible God. He is the complete revelation of what God is like. The search for God, for truth and for reality ends in Jesus in whom we can trust in all circumstances;
“Do not let your hearts be troubled / distressed / agitated – TRUST in God trust also in me!”

As we say in the act of communion: ‘feed on him in your hearts with thanksgiving’ – desiring and longing for the pure milk of His word.

As you read in your own time the words of John 14: Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled:
Let not your heart be troubled, because there’s a place for you in my Father’s house.
Let not your heart be troubled, because Jesus prepared the place for you. He opened the way. He is the way.
Let not your heart be troubled, because Jesus himself is your dwelling place and he will come and take you to himself.
Let not your heart be troubled, because Jesus and the Father are one, so that if have Jesus you have the Father.
Let not your heart be troubled, because Jesus has come in the Holy Spirit. He is with you now, and will be with you always, not as an observer, but a Helper.

Lord by your Spirit
please help us to follow in the way, truth & life of your word.
Help us to grow & become strong,
Healthy children of God,
Loving others deeply form our hearts.

-Anna Dodd