John Lanchbury | Joshua 2:1-21
Of all the people who could be counted as Bible heroes, Rahab was one of the least likely: a prostitute living in a city that was about to be invaded and destroyed by the huge Israelite army camped across the River Jordan. She probably didn't know much about the God of Israel, yet she hid the two men who had come to spy out the land and extracted from them a promise that she and her family would be saved. She made a life-changing decision, says John, one that challenges our view of who can and cannot become part of the people of God.
Discussion questions can be downloaded here.
Before the spies lay down for the night, [Rahab] went up on the roof and said to them, ‘I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you... please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them - and that you will save us from death.’
Judy Ward | Isaiah 6
Overwhelmed by the holiness of God, Isaiah's eyes are opened to see the need around him and he responds, "Send me!". Judy, who leads the South Birmingham Christians Against Poverty (CAP) debt advice centre, encourages us to see the scarcely noticeable need all around us - the signs that people are lonely, suffering hardship or in debt - and to respond in the same way.
Here's a song that sums up Judy's message: You're the God of this city.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple... ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’ ... Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’
Graham Romp | Genesis 12:1-8, Genesis 22:1-18
Several decades have passed between the events recorded in these two readings, including a change of name and many failures and wrong turnings. Through it all, Abraham's faith has grown, yet now he faces the ultimate challenge: is he prepared to give up everything he has lived for and trust God completely? Graham continues our Lessons for life series by looking at what we can learn from Abraham's relationship with God.
The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.'
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him... 'Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will show you.' ... But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven... 'Do not lay a hand on the boy,' he said. 'Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.'
Peter Frere | Genesis 6:5-22, Genesis 8:18-9:17
This is a story in vivid colour - the array of animals floating in the ark, the covenant symbolised by the rainbow - yet at heart it depicts human failure, judgement and the grace of God as a flawed humanity is given a new start. Peter explains what this means for our present situation, and what we can learn from the character of Noah.
The book mentioned by Peter near the start of the talk is The Lost World of the Flood, by John Walton and others.
God said to Noah, "... I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark - you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you."
Chris Chalmers | Genesis 1
This week we start a new series Lessons for Life, looking at what we can learn from some of the big characters in the Bible. We begin at the very beginning: first with an account of creation (possibly not a version you've heard before), then Chris explains how, after a good start, things started to go wrong. No spoiler intended, but 4 minutes into the talk we suggest you look into a mirror! If you possibly can, watch the video and song which followed the talk here. God's love inspires our response: truly a lesson for life.
Then God says, Let's make people. Like us, but human, with flesh and blood. Give them the job of caretakers of the vegetation... God looks at everything he's made and says, Fantastic! I love it! - From The Word on the Street