Promise of Peace

When the people did evil in the eyes of the Lord, He flooded the land leaving only Noah and his family and the selected animals.  Many would have heard of the call to build the ark but they did not believe and gave negative responses. To those who have faith in Him, He put forth a promise of peace.  He set a rainbow as a sign of remembrance to His people that He will not flood the earth again.  When we look at the rainbow, let us think of God’s mercy upon us.  Some of the colours are:  RED – for sin, GOLD/YELLOW – for faith, GREEN – for eternal life, BLUE – for heavenly things, and PURPLE – for royalty. The Lord Jesus Christ will bring peace to the world following all the storms and violence of the present age (Isaiah 32:17, 18; Psalms 72:6, 7).As I believe no one wants to lose this promise, let us give a quick, positive response to God’s call.

A man was called in youth but he said, “I am young, too young to do the work; when I grow up, I will do it.”  He was called in middle age and he responded negatively saying, “I am very busy at home and at my company, so I’ve no time.  When I am retired, I will accept.”  Finally, he was called in old age and again responded negatively saying, “My eyes cannot see properly and I’m unable to walk long distances, so I can’t do the work,” and he died in his sins.  Brothers and Sisters, let us avoid this by not putting faith in faith, but faith in God. Many Christians when facing trials agonize to attain mountain-size faith.  But Jesus taught that faith the size of a mustard seed is sufficient, if planted in the soil of God’s greatness.

A sinful heart is like a crooked fence – all the paint in the world will not straighten it. Finally, let us come to God and stay with Him always that we may be sons and daughters of His promised peace.

An Exhortation:   The Body of Christ

                                                 Sis. Jean Field (Kendle, U.K)

                                              Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

When we sit down to take the bread and wine in memory of our Saviour, Jesus, what should we be thinking about?  Perhaps we imagine the scene of the crucifixion, feeling grief and horror that such a terrible torture and death was necessary for our salvation.  This is right; we must never forget it; but the accounts of his death in the New Testament do not say very much about the sufferings of Jesus.  It is easy to imagine how a newspaper today would give a detailed and heartrending description of such pain and suffering, but the gospel writers obviously did not think that was the most important aspect.  So what should we be thinking about?

In the chapter we read Paul instructed “Everyone must test himself before eating from the bread and drinking from the cup” (v.28).  What should we test ourselves about, and how could we eat or drink “unworthily”? (v.27)  According to v.29 it is if a person “does not discern the body”, so we need to find what that expression means.

The word “discern” in the Greek is a strong one, which means to understand fully or judge completely or differentiate; it is translated “exercise their judgement” in 14:29.  So what is the meaning of the “‘body” of the Lord? Writing to the Romans Paul explains: ‘just as in a single human body there are many limbs and organs, all with different functions, so we who are united with Christ though many, form one body, and belong to one another as its limbs and organs” (12:4-5).

To the Ephesians he wrote about “the church which is his body” (1:22-23) and taught that all brothers and sisters have various abilities “for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity inherent in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God” (4:12-16), and ‘we are living parts’ of his body. (5:30). The same idea is given importance in the letter to the Colossians:  Christ, the Messiah, is “the head of the body, the church” (1:18) and “Christ’s body (is) the church’” (v.24).

So there can be no doubt that the body of Christ consists of all brothers and sisters, the worldwide Ecclesia,  Jesus himself being the head.  How then can we understand fully or exercise our judgement about the church?

Paul continues the same figure in 1 Corinthians 12, where he shows that, although we are so different and have such a glorious diversity of talents and abilities, being one body we need each other, and each part is important.  No part can say to another “I do not need you”, nor any part say, “I am not part of the body”.  This shows that the important thing is our attitude to each other and to the ecclesia.  We must not think that any brother or sister is not necessary, or has no right to belong to the church; neither should anyone think themselves unworthy to be a member, or that they do not need the other members.  It is all too easy to fall into such a way of thinking, especially when there is a clash of personalities.  As we have already read, “divisions are bound to arise among you”, but each member has his or her role, and we all belong to Christ.

The first problem Paul had to deal with in Corinth was their tendency to be divided into factions, and he begged them to “avoid divisions; let there be complete unity of mind and thought” (1:10).  He desired them to live in such a way that ‘there might be no division in the body, but that all its parts might feel the same concern for one another.  If one part suffers, all suffer together; if one flourishes, all rejoice together” (12:25).  As we all know only too well, this is extremely difficult, but we must aim at the high standard.

The Philippians had some kind of problem between two sisters, and Paul gave them some practical advice on how to achieve unity: “…fill my cup of happiness by thinking and feeling alike, with the same love for one another, and a common attitude of mind.  Leave no room for selfish ambition and vanity, but humbly reckon others better (more important) than yourselves.  Look to each other’s interests and not merely your own” (Phil.2:1-4).

To the Galatians Paul emphasiz ed our equality of race, sex and social status in the sight of God: ‘There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus” (Gal.3:28).

In John 17 we have the amazing privilege of listening to the Lord Jesus praying.  He prayed for his disciples, mentioning us!  “It is not for these alone that I pray, but for those who through their words put their faith in me.  May they all be one; as you, Father are in me, and I in you, so also may they be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me”.  If our Lord prayed that for us, can we allow any difference of opinion or conflict of personality to divide us?

There will inevitably be different ideas about many things, and people who cause problems, but we have to think of these as God testing us ‘until we all attain to the unity inherent in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God – to mature manhood, measured by nothing less than the full stature of Christ” (Ephes.4:13).

So as we take the bread, whether alone or in company, let us remember that it symbolizes not only the literal body of Christ, but the whole brotherhood.  If in our hearts we exclude any member, we do not “discern the body”.

“When we bless the cup of blessing, is it not a means of sharing in the blood of Christ?  When we break the bread, is it not a means of sharing in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, though many, are one body; for it is one loaf of which we all partake”. (1 Cor.10:16-17).

 (All quotations from the R.E.B.)

Bro. Joseph Zishechi (Mhangura, Zimbabwe)

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