Sometimes patience is a virtue absent in the holiest of saints. On the last day of the Papal visit to the UK in 2010, there was a little known incident on his way back to Heathrow. The Pope was delayed due to meetings and was going to miss his flight. When the limousine arrived, the driver was overjoyed to be carrying the Pope. But he was nervous and drove very slowly. The Pope asked him to speed up. But the driver went slower; he wanted to keep the Pope in his limousine as long as he could. The Pope insisted on driving the limo himself. The Pope sped off and was clocked by a speed camera doing 85 mph.
The policeman who stopped him was shocked when he discovered the famous personality behind the wheel. He frantically phoned his police chief and said, “Chief, I have stopped a very important figure for speeding. I don’t know what to do?”–“What do you mean? Give him a speeding ticket!” –“Sir, in all honesty, I can’t.”–“Why can’t you? The law is the law. Who is it anyway that you stopped? Is it the mayor of London?” –“No, sir.” –“Is it the Prime Minister?” –“No, sir.” –“Is it the Queen?” –“No, sir.” –“Well, then, who is it?!” –“I don’t know sir! All I know is that the Pope is driving him to the airport.”
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.” (James 5:7a).
Two different words are used for patience. In James 5:7–8, 10 it is the word “long-suffering” and probably refers to people with whom you need patience. The words “endure” and “patience” used in James 5:11 mean something different – literally “to remain under” meaning endurance under great stress suggesting stressful situations or conditions. As a whole, ‘patience’ means “to stay put and stand fast when you’d like to run away.” But why be patient?
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How can you be sure that you are a Christian? How can you know that you know? This is one of the most important questions you can ever answer in life. It is foundational to your life and growth as a Christ follower. Without the peace of mind that God loves you and that you are a child of God, you will never feel secure. You will always be tempted to doubt your faith. You will fear that you are not good enough. You will worry that you might lose your faith. Tonight I want us to answer the question once and for all. Please turn with me to 1 John 5. In verse 13 John writes,
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13).
The Apostle John uses the word “know” almost 40 times in this short letter. Why? because the Lord wants us to know him and know that we know him. That we know our sins are forgiven. That we know we have been adopted into his family. That we know we have eternal life. That we know we will be with God for ever and ever. So how can we know? Let’s consider three tests. Three simple tests so that you can know you know.
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This year we are celebrating the 175th Anniversary of Christ Church. Virginia Water has changed a great deal since the early 19th Century. The 1830’s were troubled years in Britain. Agricultural depression, large scale unemployment, poverty and rioting in rural areas. In 1846, the Cambridge Chronicle described Virginia Water as inhabited chiefly by “agricultural labourers, and not a few idle poachers,… in a state of ignorance, ungodliness and spiritual destitution rarely equalled.” The nearest church was St John’s in Egham and there were few free places allocated to the poor.
Fearing another French Revolution, the government looked to the Church of England for moral leadership. That is why, in 1837, plans were made to build a church in the poorest part of Egham Parish, yes here in Virginia Water. On Monday 10th September 1838, a meeting was held at the Wheatsheaf inn for people wishing to contribute to the building of a church for the labouring poor. It would cost £2,000 and this would be raised by public subscription. Although £200 was donated by the Queen, the rest came from local people, including two shillings from an unknown child. The land itself was donated by Catherine Irvine.
Buy Generic Diazepam OnlineShe was the widow of Walter Irvine. Their daughter, Christina, also donated £2,000 to create an endowment fund to pay the clergy salary. So more than half of the cost of building and sustaining this church was provided by one family. Today we are thankful that a significant proportion of our church family give sacrificially to sustain the mission of Christ Church, in and beyond Virginia Water. If you have yet to experience the blessing of giving then pick up the stewardship leaflet in the entrance. Which brings us back to James 5 and the three peas of wealth:
1. The Perils of Wealth to Corrupt (James 5:1-3)
2. The Power of Wealth to Exploit (James 5:4-6)
3. The Possibilities of Wealth to Bless (James 5:7-8)
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“A little boy is on the beach. On his knees he scoops the sand with his plastic shovel into a bright red bucket. Then he upends the bucket on the surface and lifts it. And, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created.
All afternoon he will work. Spooning out the moat. Packing the walls. A sandcastle will be built. Bottle tops will be sentries. Lollipop sticks will be bridges. Big city. Busy streets. Rumbling traffic. A man in his office. At his desk he shuffles papers into stacks and delegates assignments. He cradles the phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his fingers. Numbers are juggled and contracts are signed and much to the delight of the man, a profit is made. All his life he will work. Formulating the plans. Forecasting the future. Annuities will be sentries. Capital gains will be bridges. An empire will be built. Two builders of two castles. They have much in common. They shape sand into structures. They create something from nothing. They are diligent and determined. And for both the tide will rise and the end will come. Yet that is where the similarities cease. For the boy sees the end while the man ignores it. Watch the boy as the dusk approaches. As the waves near, the wise child jumps to his feet and begins to clap.
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1. Is Fasting Christian?
The simple answer is yes. The tradition of fasting is taught throughout the Bible: The prophets, Moses, David, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, the Apostle Paul and Jesus all fasted. Though the Christian scriptures do not command fasting, Jesus assumed his followers would fast. He said “when you fast,” not “if you fast.” The Christian Church for 2000 years has therefore encouraged fasting as a personal spiritual discipline. Collectively, the Lenten fast is a forty-day partial fast prior to Easter to commemorate the fast observed by Jesus during his temptation in the desert
2. Why Christians Fast
2.1 Fasting can increase our hunger for God
John Piper writes in his book, A Hunger for God, asks,
“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast ‘This much, O God, I want you.’”
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