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Posted in Fighting the Monday Feeling The Explore Team|4:27 PM GMT|November 28th 2014

It’s a great privilege to be called to follow Christ; but it is not an easy calling.

Looking at his disciples, [Jesus] said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Luke 6:20-26

How does Jesus turn our normal view of life upside down?

As a Christian, how have you known:

  • being more poor or hungry than if you didn’t live for Christ?
  • crying for a reason that a non-Christian wouldn’t?
  • being hated, excluded or insulted because you follow Jesus

How can this life possibly be “blessed”?! How can it be happy and contented?! The answer's in verse 23: It’s the reality of heavenly eternity that allows a Christian to look through the tears, to look at their empty bank balance, to look beyond being hated, and say: “I am blessed simply because I know Christ. I may have nothing in this life, but I have everything I need for eternity”.

Of course, the world doesn’t look at life like this—and Jesus has a warning about that.

    Instinctively, many of us just want an “easy life”. What does Jesus have to say about that attitude?
  • Where in your life are you (or are you in danger of) living for worldly, fleeting comfort and reward, instead of the heavenly, eternal ones?

Posted in The Good Book Quiz The Quiz Team|12:00 PM GMT|November 28th 2014

It's almost advent and some unknowing Shepherd's were about to be visited by an Angel almost 2000 years ago. But how well do you know about other shepherds in the Bible? Take our Friday Quiz and find out! Enjoy!

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing." Is from which Psalm?

  • Psalm 132
  • Psalm 12
  • Psalm 23
  • Psalm 42

Which daughter of Laban was a shepherd?

  • Bilhah
  • Elizabeth
  • Rachel
  • Rebekah

In 1 Samuel, which King's chief Shepherd was Doeg the Edomite?

  • Samuel
  • David
  • Saul
  • Moses

Which Old Testament book mentions shepherds the most (usually referring to their judgement)?

  • Exodus
  • Jeremiah
  • Psalms
  • Job

Which minor prophet, whose 9 chapters prophesy concerning the Northern Kingdom of Israel, was a shepherd of Tekoa?

  • Isaiah
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Joel

In Matthew 2, Herod discovers that a shepherd has been prophesied by Micah to come out of which town?

  • Tyre
  • Jerusalem
  • Galilee
  • Bethlehem

In which Gospel does Jesus declare that he is the Good Shepherd who will lay down his life for his sheep?

  • John
  • Mark
  • Matthew
  • Luke
Posted in Interesting Thoughts Martin Ayers (Guest Blogger)|11:23 AM GMT|November 27th 2014

Background: Inspired by David Robertson’s “The Dawkins Letters”, I’m writing a series of short letters to Brian Cox in light of his new series, The Human Universe.

Dear Brian Cox,

I do hope you’re still with me.  I’m writing several letters to try and keep things brief – addressing just a couple of points at a time.  Seeking to persuade people is a funny old thing.  I read with interest your recent admission that, when you went on Newsnight, you used a special underhand trick your friend had told you about – that whenever you wanted to make a point, you waved and thrashed your arms around exasperatedly so that the camera would find you again.  I’ll bear that in mind if I’m every on the telly.  I can’t do it in a letter.  But I hope you’re still with me.  So, on we go…

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Posted in Interesting Thoughts Martin Ayers (Guest Blogger)|4:50 PM GMT|November 26th 2014

Background: Inspired by David Robertson’s “The Dawkins Letters”, I’m writing a series of short letters to Brian Cox in light of his new series, The Human Universe.

Dear Brian Cox,

You’ve certainly seen the world, during your series.  It’s hard not to be envious of the stamps on your passport.  You’re in the Rift Valley, then you’re watching that Soyz capsule land safely in Kazakhstan, then you’re at a shrine in Kyoto, then visiting Hindu boys at training school in Pushkar.  I find myself imagining conversations between you and the finance manager … “No, I’m sorry but there’s really no way I can illustrate this point without going to Easter Island.”  Whoever was in charge of the budget must have been mightily relieved when you planned episode 4 and let it slip that you grew up in Chadderton, and not Sydney or somewhere like that!

Brian, though there was lots that I liked about your documentary, my second letter is going to be quite negative I’m afraid.  It’s because of what you went on to say about the biblical God – or, more generally in your words, “some kind of deity”, in your episode, “Why are we here?”

Read More
Posted in The Good Book Quiz The Quiz Team|12:00 PM GMT|November 26th 2014

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow, and so we're exploring that theme in our midweek quiz. Enjoy!

"and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the _____"

  • chair
  • fish
  • loaves
  • silence

"Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you." For who?

  • Israel
  • The Pharisees
  • The Corinthians
  • The Galatians

How many books of the Bible are there which don't contain any letters in the word "Thanksgiving"?

  • 7
  • 0
  • 3
  • 18

"I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks." In which book does this appear?

  • Acts
  • Nehemiah
  • Numbers
  • Revelation

Which epic Psalm contains, "At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws."

  • 1
  • 119
  • 23
  • 34

Who prayed "God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers"

  • The Samaritan
  • The tax collector
  • The fisherman
  • The Pharisee

In the NIV, which book contains the word 'thanksgiving' the most?

  • Nehemiah
  • Leviticus
  • 1 Timothy
  • Psalms
Posted in Useful Resources Dex Fletcher|11:31 AM GMT|November 26th 2014

What 3 words would you use to describe Christmas?

Christmas in Three Words is a great little booklet by Vaughan Roberts to give away to friends...

Posted in Useful Resources Dean Faulkner|9:19 AM GMT|November 25th 2014

When we hear the word 'idol' we tend to think of football players or pop stars. We may even remember that some people's religion meant worshipping idols: little or large statues that represented a god.

But what has this to do with us today?

Julian Hardyman is increasingly convinced that idolatry - putting anything else in the place that is rightfully God's - explains us and our problems.

Get his ebook HERE for just £4.49 using the code idols1114 until midday on Thursday.

Posted in Interesting Thoughts Martin Ayers (Guest Blogger)|2:50 PM GMT|November 24th 2014

Background: Inspired by David Robertson’s “The Dawkins Letters”, I’m writing a series of short letters to Brian Cox in light of his new series, The Human Universe.

Dear Brian Cox,

Congratulations on your TV series, “The Human Universe”. It has been extremely well thought out, and marvellously well produced. For years I’ve enjoyed BBC documentaries that make science accessible, and in many respects your programme has achieved that aim. You’ve come a long way since you were playing the keyboard for D:REAM. Then again, as you sang yourselves, things could only get better.

But Brian, before you simply add this to your pile of fanmail, I’m actually writing because – as a Christian – I have some deep concerns about The Human Universe. I can’t possibly raise all of them, as there were lots of little asides throughout the series that I felt unfairly dismissed belief in the God of the Bible, or inaccurately presented your own beliefs and contentions as though they are facts rather than theories. But I think instead that it’s both necessary and helpful just to take up a few issues that you raised and discussed, in the hope that they cause you – and others who I hope will read these letters – to think again. To be honest, I am very concerned about all of this. I’m concerned that you yourself seem to have picked up false ideas about the Christian faith, and dismissed it for wrong reasons. But I’m also concerned about the influence that you yourself – and your documentaries – have upon your viewers. So, without further ado, let me dive in.

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Posted in Fighting the Monday Feeling The Explore Team|9:57 AM GMT|November 24th 2014

Here's a challenge from God's word to start your week with—and a brilliant promise to hold onto:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. - Galatians 6:9-10

  • What does Paul tell Christians to do?
  • What's the great motivation of doing this?
  • Based on your own experience, how do we “reap” from such a lifestyle?

The final sentence is sweeping and comprehensive in its simplicity. First, it shows that the Christian life is not all about meetings or even conversions; it is about doing good to the person before me, giving him or her what is best for them.

Second, the word “doing” reminds us that we are actively to give those around us whatever love discerns is best for them; love in deed as well as in word. This starts with our family—our fellow adopted brothers and sisters in God's church. But it's not to be limited to them.

  • What would it look like deliberately to “do good” to all those you meet this week? Pray for stamina not to grow weary in doing good.

Based on an extract taken from Explore Daily Bible Reading Notes.

Posted in Interesting Thoughts The Explore Team|3:31 PM GMT|November 21st 2014

Today we take a look at the climax of Paul’s speech in Antioch from Acts 13, to meditate on two amazing blessings we can have through Christ:

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.”

Acts 13:38-39

So what are the two things that Paul says we can now have through Jesus?

  1. “Forgiveness of sins” - Spend some time considering the sins you know about in your life–make a mental or actual list. Now dwell on the fact that they are all forgiven through Jesus. Completely forgiven.
  2. “Freedom” — being set free from sin, released from the power and control of sin. Consider how unable we are to obey God on our own; think about our continual return to sin; remember the way our hearts produce evil. Now dwell on the fact that through Jesus we are freed from sin. We will continue to fight against it, but its controlling power has gone.

These wonderful blessings are both ‘through Jesus’ and they are given to whoever believes.

Based on an extract taken from Explore Daily Bible Reading Notes.

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