Welcome to the Fellowship

All quotations from Scripture are from the New Jerusalem Bible, unless otherwise indicated.

I refer my readers to my fellow blogger, Phyllis Nissila who has written extensively on spiritual survival and the End Times:

https://pnissila.blog

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Watchfulness: spiritual, moral and prophetic

In the ancient world, men were posted on watchtowers and high hills to look out for approaching danger (cf. Hab 2.2). The Israelites also heard the warnings of God’s messengers, the prophets, who kept a watching brief on the conduct of the chosen people. Through the grace of God the prophets also saw into the future. They foresaw God’s mighty acts in salvation history. Isaiah 65.17 speaks of ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, reprised in Revelation 21.1. At that time Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will appear among us for a second time, destroy evil and reign over mankind. In the New Covenant we enjoy the supreme advantage of knowing Jesus through Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit. We cherish His teachings (augmented by the apostles) and his spiritual presence among us and within us. We are citizens of God’s Kingdom, inheritors of a covenant bestowed upon us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, who is our Redeemer and our Saviour. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14.6).

As the scattered Remnant, it is incumbent upon us to serve as bastions of the faith, guardians of a divine inheritance who proclaim the Kingdom in whatever way we can. The summit of our faith is to witness the Second Coming of Christ, the Parousia, to see the beatific vision. We live and pray in the expectation of its imminence. We watch and wait in three ways.

Firstly, through spiritual practices. We read and study the Bible, familiarising ourselves with its riches, including prophecies of the End Times. We treasure God’s word and keep it close to our heart (Mt 6.19-21; Jer 15.16). We pray daily and await the leadings of the Spirit (Mt 6.5-13). Our prayers are in concert with our fellow Christians the world over. We share prayerful communion with God with our brothers and sisters to the four corners of the earth, at any and every hour and in our liturgical worship. Watchfulness extends to the welfare of others through acts of charity and mercy. We watch over family, friends and anyone else who comes within our sphere in need of prayer, compassion and healing. We watch for opportunities to serve God through spiritual sacrifices in the name of Christ (Lk 10.25-37), fulfilling the command to love God and neighbour (Mk 12.28-34).

Secondly, as we persevere in our expectation of Christ’s return, we watch ourselves, guarding against the temptations that assault us daily (Col 3.5-10). We are duly armed against the wiles of the devil, for not only are we anointed in the Spirit to harden our resolve, but through the Spirit we are filled with knowledge and discernment. Our daily prayer and study of God’s word is imbued with the Spirit so that we are fully acquainted with God’s purposes. We can be sure that as our faith increases, the Evil One will redouble his efforts to deflect us from our course (Eph 6.10-17). We must also keep a watch on our tongue lest it wounds others and discredits us (Jas 3.5-12; Ps 141.3), and we should forgive just as we have been forgiven (Mt 18.23-35). All of these practices and virtues are intrinsic to the life of a Christian disciple and masterfully summed up in the Beatitudes (Mt 5.1-12). From the Sermon on the Mount onwards, Christ leads us to conversion of heart and moral rectitude.

Thirdly, we learn to read the signs of the times, but we should be careful not to misinterpret them. We interpret signs and portents in the light of Bible prophecy. The gift of prophecy is granted to only a few but it is given to the Remnant to discern trends and various events around the world as signifi-cant pointers to the End Times. These phenomena may appear to be ‘the beginning of the birthpangs’ (Mt 24.8) yet none of us know the day or the hour of Christ’s coming (Mt 24.36). His coming will be as unexpected as a thief in in the night (Mt 24.32). We are urged to stay awake like prudent servants ready to serve our Master when he returns (Mk 13.35-37). We must remain fully immersed in the Spirit, in the love of Christ, in a state of moral integrity. To this end, it is imperative to avoid occasions of sin, to separate ourselves from people and influences that conspire to corrupt our souls. In the world at large, immorality and Godlessness are set on a downward spiral into widespread degeneration. These are perilous times to practise Christianity and we will be subjected to scorn and persecution (Mt 5.10-12; 10.17-20), but be courageous, for ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God’ (Mt 5.8).

The more humanity degrades itself, the nearer draws the day of Reckoning. The signs and portents will then be irrefutable and the persecution will intensify. So, brothers and sisters in Christ, ‘keep sober and alert, because your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for some-one to devour’ (1 Pet 5.8).

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Friday 27th November:
Isaiah 66.1-2, 5-10 / Psalm 48.1-3, 10-14 / Revelation 21.9-27
I could not see any temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God, and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it. The nations will come to its light and the kings of the earth will bring it their treasures. – Rev 21.22-24; cf. Is 60.3

Saturday 28th November:
Isaiah 66.18-23 / Psalm 93.1-end / Revelation 22.1-21
The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come!’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free….The one who attests these things says: I am indeed coming soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus. May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen. – Rev 22.17, 20-21; cf. Is 55.1

Daily Prayer readings for Advent 1

The first Sunday in Advent, 29th November
Malachi 3.1-5, 19-24 / Psalm 102.12-20 / Luke 1.5-25


Suddenly the Lord whom you seek will come to his Temple. – Mal 3.1

Anticipating Jesus’ Second Coming

We preach not one coming only of Christ, but also a second coming, far more glorious than the former. For the first coming gave a view of his patience, but the second coming brings with it the crown of a divine kingdom. In the first coming, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger; in his second, he is “wearing the light as a robe” (Ps 104.2). In his first coming, “He endured the cross, disregarding the shame of it” (Heb 12.2); in his second, he comes attended by a host of angels, receiving glory.

We rest not then upon his first coming only, but look also for his second. And as at his first coming we said, “Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord” (Mt 21.9; cf. Ps 118.26), so will we repeat the same at his second coming (see Mt 23.39). The Saviour comes, not to be judged again, but to judge them who judged him. Then, he came because of a divine dispensation, teaching men with persuasion. But this time they will of necessity have him for their King, even though they wish it not.

Concerning these two comings, Malachi says, “Suddenly the Lord whom you seek will come to his Temple” (3.1). This is one coming. And again of the second coming he says, “Yes, the angel of the covenant, for whom you long, is on his way, says the Lord Sabaoth. Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier” (3.1-3).

Thus, our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven and he will come at the end of this world on the last day. For this world will have an end, and this created world will be renewed.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 315? – 386, Bishop of Jerusalem who defeated the Arian heresy.

Monday 30th November:
Hosea 14.2-10 / Psalm 81.1-8
Israel, come back to the Lord your God; your guilt was the cause of your downfall. Provide yourself with words and come back to the Lord. Say to him, ‘Take all guilt away and give us what is good….’ – Hos 14.2-3

Tuesday 1st December:
Amos 9.11-15 / Psalm 67.1-end
The days are coming – declares the Lord – when the ploughman will tread on the heals of the reaper, and the treader of grapes on the heels of the sower of seed, and the mountains will run with new wine and the hills all flow with it. I shall restore the fortunes of my people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them, they will plant vineyards and drink their wine, they will lay out gardens and eat their produce. And I shall plant them in their own soil and they will never be uprooted again from the country which I have given them, declares the Lord, your God. –
Amos 9.13-15

Wednesday 2nd December:
Isaiah 6.1-13 / Psalm 40.1-8
I then heard the voice of the Lord saying: ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I, send me.’ He said: ‘Go, and say to this people, “Listen and listen, but never understand! Look and look, but never perceive!” Make this people’s heart coarse, make their ears dull, shut their eyes tight, or they will use their eyes to see, use their ears to hear, use their heart to understand, and change their ways and be healed.’ –
Is 6.8-10

Thursday 3rd December:
Isaiah 8.5-18 / Psalm 80.1-7
My trust is in the Lord who hides his face from the House of Jacob; I put my hope in him. Look, I and the children whom the Lord has given me shall become signs and portents in Israel on behalf of the Lord Sabaoth who dwells on Mount Zion. –
Is 8.17-18

Friday 4th December:
Isaiah 26.7-21 / Psalm 85.1-9
Go, my people, go to your private room, shut yourselves in. Hide yourselves a little while until the retribution has passed. For see, the Lord emerges from his dwelling to punish the inhabitants of earth for their guilt; and the earth will reveal the blood shed on it and no longer hide its slain. – Is 26.21


Saturday 5th December:
Isaiah 28.1-6, 14-21 / Psalm 75.1-end
That day the Lord Sabaoth will be a crown of splendour and a proud diadem for the remnant of his people, a spirit of fair judgement, and the strength of those who repel the assault on the gate….So the Lord God says this, ‘Now I shall lay a stone in Zion, a granite stone, a precious corner-stone, a firm foundation-stone: no one who relies on this will stumble. And I will make fair judgement the measure, and uprightness the plumb-line.’ – Is 28.5-6, 16-17; cf. Ps 118.22

The prophet’s commissioning:
Isaiah 6

This commentary is taken from Through the Bible, Through the Year by John Stott (Candle Books, 2006).

Isaiah chapter 6 is well known to many churches as a challenging text for a missionary sermon. But its original application was much more particular; it records the call of Isaiah to be a prophet. The vocabulary of “sending” (“Whom shall I send? Send me”) makes this plain. For the Lord sent the prophets, as later Jesus was to send the apostles, and commissioned them to teach in his name. Similarly the Lord said of the false prophets, “I never sent you” (Jer 23.21; 27.15; cf. Mt 7.21-23).

The essence of Isaiah’s call was his vision of the Lord, exalted and transcendent, seated on his heavenly throne, attended by seraphs crying, “Holy, holy, holy” (v. 3). It was a vision of the King (“my eyes have seen the King” v. 5) and was deliberately granted him in the year 740 BC when King Uzziah celebrated his golden jubilee and died. Inevitably Isaiah would compare and contrast the two kingdoms, and his whole future ministry would be coloured by his conviction that the Lord is King, worthy to be trusted and obeyed.

Next came Isaiah’s confession of sin, his cleansing, and his commissioning. He was also warned that the people would harden their hearts and reject God’s word, so that God’s judgement would fall upon them. Jesus himself quotes these words (Mt 13.14-15) and so did the apostle Paul (Acts 28.25-29).

Yet there was a glimmer of hope. As when a tree is felled a stump is left, so will it be with Israel. “The holy seed will be the stump in the land” (Is 6.13). These words introduce us to one of the distinctives of Isaiah’s message, namely there would be a remnant of faithful disciples, gathered round the prophet himself (see 8.16-18).

Further reading: Jeremiah 1.4-10; Ezekiel 2.1-2; Daniel 10.9-11; Luke 3.2-6

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The purpose of the Fellowship of St. Peter is to promote Christian faith and spirituality. 
The central focus is on the person and work of
Jesus Christ

Christianity in the modern world

As the number of churchgoers dwindle in the western world, traditionalist Christians need to overcome their differences and consider a form of unity that recognises their common purpose.  It’s time for the faithful remnant to act as a creative minority and voice a unified response. In an atmosphere that is increasingly hostile to Christianity, the goal must be to preserve the orthodoxy of the faith in the face of continuing erosion of religious liberty.

The Fellowship extends a hand of friendship to those who have withdrawn from churches which have aligned themselves with secularism and liberal values, thus fatally compromising the integrity of a faith that is essentially counter-cultural.

We must read the signs of the times.  The era is drawing to a close.  It is time to stand up and be counted as the people of God.  Do not be afraid.  The gathering darkness will not enshroud the light of faith nor quench the flame of truth.  These will remain, along with all those whose steadfast faith shields them in the coming storm.

‘And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28.20).

The word of God

The word of God is a powerful force for enlightenment, a necessary counterweight to secular humanism.  The Fellowship seeks to recapture something of the simplicity and vitality of the church in apostolic times, before the purity of the Christian message was corrupted by spurious doctrines.  The emphasis is on spirituality that supports the life and ministry of Christians everywhere, regardless of denomination.

The Bible speaks to the world.  All Christians have something of interest and value to share through their witness.  The aim of the Fellowship is to promote prayer, Bible study and spiritual reflection which will bear fruit in daily lives.  These disciplines can form the basis of a Rule of Life that requires a strategic withdrawal from the mainstream.

Let the word of God fill your hearts and minds, let it guide and inspire you and refresh you like a clear mountain stream.  Be still with God in prayer.  Be an instrument of his loving purposes, a purveyor of peace, and let your peace rest on all those you encounter, especially those in need of compassion and healing.  Heed their cares and bind their wounds.  Live in uprightness and modesty and exercise restraint in your material needs.  Guard your tongue, practise discretion, speak only words of counsel and encouragement, the words of Christ.

Your eyes, hands and impulses should be those of Christ.  Pray always for strength and enlightenment.  Praise and thank God and place into his care your needs and those of others.

Bible.  Prayer.  Witness.  These are the three principles on which the Fellowship is founded.

By his divine power, he has given us all the things that we need for life and for true devotion, bringing us to know God himself, who has called us by his own glory and goodness. In making these gifts, he has given us the guarantee of something very great and wonderful to come: through them you will be able to share the divine nature and to escape corruption in a world that is sunk in vice. But to attain this, you will have to do your utmost yourselves, adding goodness to the faith that you have, understanding to your goodness, self-control to your understanding, patience to your self-control, true devotion to your patience, kindness towards your fellow men to your devotion, and, to this kindness, love. If you have a generous supply of these, they will not leave you ineffectual or unproductive: they will bring you to a real knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But without them a man is blind or else short-sighted; he has forgotten how his past sins were washed away. Brothers, you have been called and chosen: work all the harder to justify it. If you do all these things there is no danger that you will ever fall away. In this way you will be granted admittance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.  (2 Peter 1.3-11).

stpeter

Why Peter?

Peter represents Everyman in all his frailty, vulnerability and confusion.  He was headstrong yet inspired, well-meaning but impetuous.  His heart was in the right place but he didn’t always live up to his own rhetoric.  He triumphed over his weaknesses by the grace of God and saw the perfect vision of Christ and what that vision meant for the church and the world.

Peter was a leading figure during Christ’s walk on earth.  He occupied a position of seniority amongst the disciples.  He was there at all the major events during Christ’s ministry and in the final days leading up to the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven.  It was to Peter and his fellow apostles that Jesus entrusted the legacy of truth enshrined in his teachings, the keys of the kingdom.  After Pentecost Peter and his companions went out to the world to proclaim the Gospel.

Acts of the Apostles.  Peter became a leading light in the early days of the church, the apostle to the Jews living in the diaspora.  His authority in the nascent Christian community has to be viewed against the ascendancy of Paul as apostle to the Gentiles, a position that gave Paul equal authority in the direction of missionary work.

In terms of Peter’s primacy of leadership, however, “….one should not look in Peter or in the primitive church for the developed conception of the primacy which appears no earlier than the third century.  The development of power possessed by the church and by Peter into monarchical leadership lies outside of biblical theology.” (John McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible)

The Gospel of Mark.  The church historian Eusebius (d. ca. 339) wrote: “Mark, who became Peter’s interpreter, wrote accurately, though not in order, all that he remembered of the things said and done by the Lord.  For he had neither heard the Lord nor been one of his followers, but afterwards followed Peter, who used to compose his discourses with a view to the needs of his hearers.” (Recommended reading: Meeting God in Mark, by Rowan Williams (SPCK, 2014)).

1 and 2 Peter.  Of the two letters that bear Peter’s name, the first seeks to encourage and strengthen early Christian communities suffering persecution, reminding them of their heritage.  The second has more to do with the dangers of heresy and how Christians can have confidence in the truth of Scripture.  These encouragements and warnings resonate with us living in times of moral decline and religious indifference.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  (1 Peter 1.3-5).

Peter was martyred in Rome during the Neronian persecutions, probably in the year 64.

Jerusalem Cross

There are various interpretations of the symbolism.  The four smaller crosses are thought to denote either the four gospels or the way the Gospel spread to the four corners of the earth.  In terms of God’s revelation and world history, the city of Jerusalem is of huge political, religious and symbolic importance.  The focus is highlighted in the gospels and in the emergence of the first Christian communities described in the Acts of the Apostles.  It was from Jerusalem that the apostles scattered to proclaim Christ

Bible translations used

Scripture quotations marked ‘JB’ are taken from the Jerusalem Bible, copyright 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd., and Doubleday a division of Random House, Inc. In this translation, ‘Yahweh’ is rendered ‘Lord’ by kind permission of the publisher.

Scripture quotations marked ‘NJB’ are taken from the New Jerusalem Bible, copyright 1985 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd., and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. In this translation, ‘Yahweh’ is rendered ‘Lord’ by kind permission of the publisher.

Scripture quotations marked ‘ESV’ are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, published by HarperCollins Publishers, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved

Scripture quotations marked ‘NIV’ are taken from the The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised edition). Copyright, 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK Company. All rights reserved.

The spiritual life

We must keep the Bible open before us.  It is our enlightenment, our source of consolation, our prayer book.  It contains the revelation of God’s purposes in salvation history.  It is the well-spring of all the truth, goodness and wisdom that God wishes to transmit to human beings who he ordained to administer the complexities of the natural world and to carry forward knowledge of salvation history with its outcome in the incarnation of Christ.

The Lord guides and strengthens us, keeping us firmly rooted in the faith. Throughout all the trials we endure in this troubled world, Christ is with us.  The word of God inspires us in various ways, and through the Holy Spirit we gain knowledge, wisdom and discernment, maturing in the faith as citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Remain within the confines of God’s kingdom.  Stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to salvation.  Do not look with longing towards the sunlit hills at every temptation. Too many have trodden the path to destruction, too many have fallen by the wayside.

The Christian life is about being transformed by Christ, being absorbed by him so that his teachings and his very presence guide our every motivation and action.  Christ’s love is mediated through us in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We follow the leadings of the Spirit in order to renew and deepen our faith.

There is a wonderful symmetry involved in the divine-human relationship.  Christ, the sinless one, is the embodiment of human perfection.  Through his very nature as Son of God he brought mankind nearer to the Father.  Through Christ, God shared in our humanity and he also made it possible for us to share in his divinity.  Christ underwent the ultimate sacrifice to reconcile man to his creator, making it possible for God’s plan of salvation to be brought to completion, inaugurating a New Covenant with mankind.  We need to keep before us the astounding truth of his victory over evil on the Cross, through which mankind gained forgiveness and the freedom to live the gospel life infused with selfless love (cf 1 Corinthians 13.1-13).

Christ established a new reality, that to be justified by faith is a sacred identity.  We are identified as Christians when we accept and appropriate the fullness of Christ.  This requires a heroic response from human beings because it runs counter to human pride, the instinct for autonomy.  The response must be underpinned by contrition and humility and it is brought to perfection by obedience.  Once we take hold of Christ we become his disciples.  Discipleship is a life-long commitment, a transforming friendship with Jesus. (Luke 9.23-26; John 15.14-17).

Christ’s death and resurrection brings to mankind redemption and salvation to eternal life.  Christ has opened the way for us to follow him to the perfect vision, far superior to the limitations and imperfections of our earthly existence.  To consolidate the New Covenant with man, the Father has sent us the power to sustain us on our journey through the snares and pitfalls of this troubled world.  This power is the Holy Spirit (John 14.16, 26).  Christ’s presence is manifested in the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit reminds us of his teachings, works in our conscience when we fail, grants us perception when we read Holy Scripture, inspires us in our prayers and meditations, whispers to us in our silent spaces, strengthens us in times of adversity and provides us with prophetic speech.  The Spirit empowers us in our various ministries and impels us to rise above the banalities and temptations of a world that is hostile to our sacred calling.  (Mark 13.5-13; Romans 12.3-9; 1 Corinthians 12.4-11; Ephesians 4.7-13; James 1.16-18, 3.13-18; 1 Peter 3.13-17, 4.7-19).

The worldwide community of faith

Christians across the world have a common purpose: striving to live the Gospel life in the face of both widespread indifference and open hostility to the teachings of Christ.  The Christian faith is essentially counter-cultural yet many churches are now aligned with secular humanism, thus inflicting upon themselves the fatal wound of apostasy. The enemy is no longer at the gates, he is within the citadel.

For our Spirit-filled life to succeed we are to distance ourselves from the corrupt influences of modern culture (1 John 2.15-17, 5.18-20).  There are to be no half measures, no compromise with evil in any of its forms, no accommodation with other religions.  This detachment is crucially important to safeguard the integrity of the Christian faith.  These are perilous times.  Christianity is under assault from atheistic humanism, the dominant force in social and political culture.  Faced with this threat there is to be no weakening on our part.  We are to profess the faith and demonstrate in our lives the true destiny of humankind, the freedom to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.  There is no higher ideal for man to attain (cf Mark 12.28-34; Romans 13.8-10).

Discipleship

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) appears to portray Christ as the new Moses, but he far exceeds all the prophets and patriarchs of old by his uniquely divine provenance and his destiny as Saviour of the world.  He is not only the promised Messiah, he is also Priest, Prophet and King.  His teachings lead us into the Kingdom of God, into a realm of love, creating a priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2.1-10).  We yearn for the promised homeland above where our labours will be rewarded by eternal peace (2 Peter 3.8-14).

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5.1-12) are a concise presentation of the Christian ethos, describing the blessed virtues essential to life in the Spirit.  They are the supreme ethical and moral guide to Christian life and discipleship, illuminating our path in the human maze.  They set out the Christian way of life, lived in response to Christ through faith.  We strive to uphold values intrinsic to human dignity, stable family life and the maintenance of social order: humility, gentleness, compassion, justice, peace, integrity, courage and witness.  All the blessings of the kingdom are encapsulated in the Beatitudes.

Christ came to fulfil the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5.17-19).  The validity of the Ten Commandments remains (Exodus 20.1-17) and in the Beatitudes Christ describes the spirit in which the Commandments are to be lived out in both church and society.  They exemplify Christian discipleship.  They are echoes of the divine, revealing Christ in his perfection.  They define the inward motivations of integrity and love that characterise discipleship, as well as the blessed rewards of faithful service in Christ’s name.  Our acts of charity and mercy spring from a heart filled with selfless love founded on the teachings of Christ and energised by the Holy Spirit.

The teachings of Christ are uncompromisingly radical.  They are employed to combat philosophies that erode the dignity of man: consumerism (money and possessions bring happiness); relativism (there is no absolute truth); secularism (a world view without God); existentialism (life has no purpose).  In the midst of these evils the Gospel shines like a beacon of truth.  And through it all we persevere in the name of Christ, despite the difficulties we encounter on our journey of faith (1 Peter 4.12-19).  God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us in times of adversity (1 Peter 5.10-11).

Our faith is a wonderful gift to possess and convey to others, and discipleship places on us a sacred responsibility.  It is a joy and a holy privilege to walk with Jesus, to be in his loving presence in a life of Christian service (Luke 10.23-24; John 15.1-17; Ephesians 4.7-16).

Further reading

Steve Chalke & Alan Mann   Different eyes: the art of living beautifully.  Zondervan, 2010.

Rod Dreher   The Benedict option: a strategy for Christians in a post-Christian nation. Sentinel, 2017.

Cameron Lee    Unexpected blessing: living the countercultural reality of the Beatitudes. IVP, 2004.

John Stott    The radical disciple: wholehearted Christian Living.  IVP, 2010.

John Valentine   Follow me: becoming a liberated disciple.  IVP, 2009.

26 thoughts on “

  1. RE: the Nathanael article, I have always associated this story with maybe some evidence of Jesus’ sense of humor.

    Put in Americanese, I can picture Jesus chuckling just a little bit at Nathanael’s “easy” acceptance of Jesus’ deity based on just Jesus’ vision of N. under a tree. I can almost hear Jesus saying, “Really? Nate? You ain’t seen nothin’, yet!”

    If one may be so casual :).

    I hope.

    Cheers,
    Phyllis

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  2. ….which is why I referred the reader to John 2.25….’he never needed evidence about any man; he could tell what a man had in him.’ We wouldn’t expect anything less in the One who was both human and divine. True some of us lesser mortals have a keen perception about human motives, and others go further with some kind of psychic insight, but Jesus’ insight was divinely inspired.

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  3. RE: the review of the Benedict model of fellowship book

    Fellowshipping on the Internet, as it were, seems fitting, though. The remnant gathering in the ether…where the “wind” of the Holy Spirit blows “withersoever He wills,” unrestrained in His creation by brick, mortar, dogma, or denomination…

    Cheers,
    Phyllis

    Like

  4. I like your allusion to John 3.8. Very apt. It’s the only option for the many who are disillusioned with ‘churchianity’, but on the other hand it would be just as easy for the enemy to inflitrate, which they assuredly will.

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  5. Good timing for a Biblical treatment of angels. There are so many angel “worshippers,” you might call them, out there, and little discernment.

    Beautifully written postscript, particularly this:
    “Over-analysis leads to spiritual paralysis, speculation triumphs over objective truth, philosophy replaces divinity. Thus the great truths of the Christian faith are swept away in the floodtide of secular opinion. But when the tide recedes the Word of God remains in the sands of time, in the Rock of Ages.”

    Like

  6. RE: “Creation and re-creation: John 20.19-29”

    From Eliot’s thoughts on time in his poem I am reminded of how God’s will is enacted from His time suspended in eternity to each of our times lived “in motion,” so to speak, on earth.

    I think the gift of time given “in the beginning” is second only to free will in import. For it is within time–however long it takes each of us to respond to God’s “call”–that we come to that place when (and how) we are ready and able to freely choose Him.

    Of all the metaphors in the visible that illustrate the invisible, I think our mortal life, designed to exist in time, from day to month to year to end is the most intimate demonstration of God’s love, His patience, and His pattern of redemption: first comes conception; next, growth and development until finally dawns the awareness beyond self. And then somewhere after that, in our own fullness of time and circumstance, comes the moment of choice when Jesus asks of each, in each our own vernacular: “Who do you say I am?”

    (And the angels pause, ready to rejoice for each one who answers, like Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”)

    To those who acknowledge Christ the Messiah, He sends the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our hearts “To become renewed (and) transfigured … in (yet) another pattern”: by grace through faith, just as He did for those in that Upper Room, the first meeting place at the dawn of the New Covenant Church purchased by His blood, the door standing open for a little while yet (for all things on this side of eternity must have beginnings, middles, and endings) for whosoever else may pause there, say “yes” to the invitation, and enter.

    Blessings,
    Phyllis

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  7. RE: “Creation and Re-Creation, Part 2″

    Thank you for the lovely walk amid the sights, sounds, and scents of God’s creation that beckon…and inspire.

    I am reminded of several Scriptures that also, like your prose, invite us to look up, literally and figuratively, to the Designer of designers from this incredible world He’s given us:

    “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. 15 Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? 16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?” (Job 37:14-16, NIV);

    How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.” (Psalm 104:24-25);

    “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20).

    Blessings,
    Phyllis

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  8. RE: “The Bible is like a mine containing a precious and unique mineral. In our lifetime we will never exhaust its riches.”

    I wonder, then, while it is often said the holy book is the best-seller of all time it also gets the worst “press,” critics calling it nothing more than myth and mysticism or the product of primitive people with primitive minds?

    I think this is due to primarily one reason: for those on a sincere spiritual quest, the Scriptures quench their thirst, each reading of the same verses revealing more on the length, depth, and breadth of God’s love and His justice (which are intertwined). The verses are meant for personal as well as for corporate guidance, comfort, and encouragement.

    I think for those opposed to such a quest, searching for truth elsewhere, or not yet acquainted with the riches in the Scriptures, they are inclined—or dedicated–to believing the bad press for many reasons.

    One of the reasons I never opened its pages in my youth was because I had grown up in a religious system that deemed only a certain, ordained few had the authority to comprehend and interpret the Bible. But that danger exists in many denominations that subscribe to spiritual hierarchies. There are leadership positions, and giftings of the Holy Spirit, but God’s Spirit sent to teach and guide us is poured out “on all” believers, or Jesus would have been more specific when prophesying of the Holy Spirit that He would send once He returned to the Father (see John 14:16-17).

    The point is, there must be a very good reasons the Bible, among all other religious books, is so controversial.

    I believe it’s because it is so powerful to change hearts and minds, indeed, whole civilizations.

    Blessings,
    Phyllis

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  9. Absolutely right. If there is one thing that evil minds are afraid of it is the Truth. Jesus said that all who do wrong hate the light and avoid it (John 3.20). The Bible satisfies a thirst for the Truth above all the so-called truths espoused by philosophers in every age, and we read it in the light of the Holy Spirit. The worst culprits are the churches who want to inculcate their own doctrines and insist they hold the prerogative to interpret Scripture. Since most of them are teaching heresies it is hardly surprising that many are led into error. The very institutions who should be leading by sound example are actually leading their flocks astray. The Bible has something to say about bad shepherds too (Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 11). The Bible speaks to us today as clearly as it did to the early pioneers of the church, the apostles and their followers who preached the Gospel with clarity. The faith of the New Testament is available to us today in the few uncorrupted modern translations of the Bible. For the seeker I would suggest the following: The New King James Version; The English Standard Version; The New International Version (editions prior to 2011).

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  10. Hi, Colin,

    RE: “Christianity is a heart-faith. A Christian is not bound by a code of laws. The Decalogue is now lived out in an ethic of love in the spirit of the Beatitudes.”

    I am reminded of these two Scriptures: “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life,” (2 Corinthians 3:6, NIV), and “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NASB).

    And to all I say, Amen!

    Cheers,
    Phyllis

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    1. Yes Phyllis – thanks for adding those very apt readings….and I would add: ‘It is the same God that said, “Let there be light shining out of darkness”, who has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 4.6 JB)

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  11. Thank you for the reminder of the organization of the church. Many churches and denominations have gone quite far from the original plan, some, to their peril.

    Of course I love the closing lines on peace.

    In these tumultuous days worldwide it is easy to forget that we are still called to peace.

    Cheers and blessings,
    Phyllis

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  12. Thank you Phyllis. Many churches have gone off message in their frantic efforts to get people in through the doors. They end up diluting the Gospel to make it more ‘palatable’ to modern mindsets. This is fatal to a church. Churches which preach a traditional message are thriving, whereas the liberal ones tend to fail.

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  13. Colin,

    I love Psalm 100–one of your readings for today. It reminds me of the fact that “where God is,” as in the praises on our lips, the Devil is likely not.

    Hope all is well over yonder :).

    Cheers and blessings,
    Phyllis

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  14. RE: “Musings on a day in Canturbery Cathedral”

    Thank you for “bringing the reader there” with your elegant prose.

    God reminds us of our inestimable valuable, whether “shining” out there in fame and glory, like the cathedral, or basking alone in the recesses of His Word and His love for us in a humbler place.

    I had a somewhat similar musing to yours yesterday in church. We had guests, a couple who minister in song and prayer to people around the world. They harmonize as one, accomplanied by the husband on his acoustic guitar, singing their own inspired compositions. Beautiful. As a congregation, we prayed for them in their mission.

    But I thought, I hope one day the pastor will turn to the congregation, invite us all to extend our hands in prayer and support toward one another as we sit there, in the pews, this one over here juggling a tight income alone with her babies, that one, hunched over in his wheelchair, the vestiges of age denying him the vigor of former years, and still another in an obvious pose of grief–perhaps lately from the death bed of a loved one? Each, however. “ministering” in a quieter way to the people in his or her own life, maybe just a few, but all beloved equally by our Father, Who also loves and “sends” each of us into the more ordinary ministries of our own days.

    For, as your post highlights, it’s not always in the glory of the cathedral (or the famous ministries for a few) where God would direct our thoughts, prayer, and hearts (or steps) and where He inspires, His effigy wrought not in marble for the ages but in life, light and love for eternity…shining as bright in one as in millions. And that “one” may be all who sings into the life of those in his or her quieter “congregation”.

    I am also reminded of a little inspiration in my own life, yesterday, as I ventured out in a new (writing) path in my calling to encourage. This poem, here, an addendum to a Christmas post is from a few years ago and based on Nabokov’s short story, “Christmas” which touches on God’s life in those “quiet places” within His creation, where He works His life and light–often in very surprising ways–even as He blesses all in crowded churches and in the recesses of cathedrals:

    METAMORPHOSIS (PBN, 12/19)

    (on Nabokov’s “Christmas”)

    Testing air

    for breath and flight,

    man and moth emerge,

    both lately from

    the Crafter’s hand,

    each sheltered while He worked.

    A sinew here

    a heartbeat there,

    in silence crafted He,

    ’til at the last

    His breath He gave

    into eternity.

    A sudden burst,

    a shock to life

    when Crafter stilled His hand,

    but gave His Spir’t

    to lead and guide

    and clear ahead a path.

    And completed

    man and moth,

    of new voice and wing,

    the one to praise,

    the other, soar,

    both new life witnessing.

    “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” -Jesus

    Merry Christmas,
    Phyllis

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    1. *Thank you Phyllis for your gentle and thoughtful response to my article. Your lovely poem rounds it off beautifully. The article shows how easily yet profoundly one can be captivated by the many aspects of a historical place, especially one imbued with so much spiritual energy as a cathedral. The atmospherics of that place act as a powerful stimulant to one’s creative spirit. Inspiration emanates from every angle, shadow, shaft of light and glittering window. Those time-worn marble steps that raise the visitor gradually to the apex of that magnificent building also serve to raise the senses to new heights. God is in that place, in every facet. It is truly God’s house.*

      On Mon, 23 Dec 2019 at 13:02, Fellowship of St. Peter wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for the reminder to keep compassion on the top of the list of what is most needful during the virus crisis. It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos and fear. Compassion for oneself, too, is important, as we each adjust to the new normal, however long it will last.

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  16. Thank you Phyllis. Next week’s post continues the theme with the title ‘Streams of Mercy’, honing in on the centrality of ‘agape’ love in the Christian conscience. The following week the Beatitudes are the theme. And you are right to highlight the importance of caring for ourselves. If we neglect our own needs and sensitivities we will not be in a good position to help others. We all need to be at peace with God and ourselves.

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  17. Colin,

    I am reminded of Matthew Henry in your exposition of The Beatitudes. Thank you for your voice today when so much trouble swirls about us in the world.

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