Biblical Contentment - Matthew Cuffey

As we head closer to Christmas, where materialism is at its most noticeable, it is worth considering Paul's challenge in Philippians 4:11-12. He had learned that whatever his circumstances, whatever he had, wherever he was, he could be content in Christ. A challenging lesson, but great preparation for those times when things in our lives will not quite go according to plan.

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I AM: The Bread of Life

In the first of our "I AM" meetings, David takes on Christ's declaration as the Bread of Life in John 6. This was spoken by the Lord on the day after over 5,000 had fed from His hand in the mighty miracle. There is surely so much we can learn from that great event.

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Bible Investigation Workshop - Study Tips for Homiletics

As we have grown together in Listooder over many years, it has been our desire to teach Christian young people to love and study the Word of God for themselves. In this special one-off workshop, we share (in a very unique way!) some techniques for getting the most out of your Bible reading.

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Practical Praise - James 2 - Jonathan Rea

Reading from James 2, but examining many other portions of Scripture, Jonathan Rea took a look at reasons why we should want to praise God. For the Christian, we have every reason to Praise Him. Yet so often we restrict our praise only to singing and to Psalms. Is that all there is to praise? Throughout the Bible we are clearly shown that both prayer and singing are vital for our praise, but as we go deeper we can see that praise to God can be demonstrated in so many other ways.

It is, in fact, accurate to say that we can praise God through every part of our lives and every aspect of our being.

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Getting Involved in the Work of God

To conclude our final meeting of the Spring 2017 season, Stephen Moore shared a message from the Word of God to encourage the young people in their service for Him. Reading from 1 Peter 3, Stephen reminded the young people that it is their duty to get involved. He also stated that we, at any age, can be involved in service for Christ wherever and whatever we are dong, but only through His power. And finally, he concluded that we will have our reward. The Lord is a rewarder of those who seek Him and of those who serve Him.

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The Testimony of Victoria Reid

In our final meeting of the 2017 Spring season, Victoria Reid explained how she came to know the Lord. Victoria realised that, despite her privileged upbringing in a Christian home, she herself needed to come to Christ as a sinner and accept, in faith, the price that He paid for her sins. Victoria has attends Listooder Youth Fellowship for several years, and also attends Saintfield Baptist Church where she was recently baptised. She shared how this had given her a moment, not only to obey the command of God, but to publicly declare her faith in Christ.

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Pivots and Hinges of Life

It was an absolute pleasure to welcome back former Listooder leader, James Greer, who brought an interesting subject considering the hinges and pivots of life. Beginning with a classic 'sword-drill', with verses from the Bible all featuring the little word but, James considered some major hinges of Scripture upon which some great Biblical truths hang.

Firstly the FALL, where in God's perfect creation Adam and Eve were given the freedom of the Garden of Eden, 'but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil' (Genesis 2:17) they were not to eat. Satan deceived them, they disobeyed the command of God, and sin entered into the world.

We were then reminded of our FAULTS in the story of Namaan. He was a mighty man, captain of the host of the king, 'but he was a leper' (2 Kings 5:1). Namaan's FLAW is a picture of our own sin, passed down from Adam and by nature separating us from God.

In Isaiah we read of the FRUSTRATION of a life without God, wearied with the burden of sin, 'but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength' (Isaiah 40:31). There is a new FUEL given to those who rely on Christ for salvation.

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered at the hands of men. The one who was perfect, the one who came to save our souls was not received as a king, 'but He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities' (Isaiah 53:5). He came to bring us a FUTURE with God, and through His suffering we can have FAITH in all that He offers to His children.

In being brought, once again, into a close and loving relationship with the God of heaven, through the blood of Jesus Christ, the FEAR of eternal punishment is replaced with a reverance and love for God. No longer need we fear the retribution of God, 'but unto you that fear My name, shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings' (Malachi 4:2). There is healing from sin in a close relationship with Christ.

Born in darkness, as we all were, we had no prospect of healing and therefore no hope, 'but God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ' (Ephesians 2:5). Those of us who have turned to Christ for Salvation, in faith, have been FORGIVEN of our sins, and FILLED with the rightoeusness of God, through Jesus Christ.

Without Christ there is separation, loneliness and eternal despiar, 'but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another' (1 John 1:7). Restoration to the Lord not only brings us close to Him, it also gives us the joy of Christian FELLOWSHIP. As part of the family of God, we can join with our brothers and sisters in Christ, share a close family connection and rejoice with others, anywhere, who know and love our Saviour.

Even as believers, however, we need to be wise. Many false prophets are in the world, teachings things about God that are not found in the Bible. Yet God has given us a divine understanding to discern what is of Him and what is FALSE, revealed in the keeping of the commandments of God. Those who do not strive to follow the teachings of Christ are liars, deceiving both themselves and others, 'but whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected'. The love of God is made perfect and complete in the lives of those who truly believe.

This falseness comes as a warning to those who live as though they are redeemed, yet have never come to Christ for salvation. They are deceiving themselves, living as those who have hope, while remaining in the darkness and rebellion of their own sin. But for those who have humbly called unto God for forgiveness, He has given them forgivness, new fuel and the joy of true fellowship, both with Himself and all of His children.

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Prayer and Fasting (Matthew 6)

We were joined by David Shields, who covered the Biblical principles of Prayer and Fasting and presented their relevance to Christian lives today. David began by considering these as two of the many 'holy habits' that Christians should be regular engaging in.

Reading from 1 Timothy chapter 4, David highlighted the trend of many churches who attempt to appeal to the world's logic and the world's standard for living. This is in stark contrast to the words which Paul uses here to encourage Timothy. He encourages the young man to be set apart from the world, to put aside its expectations and strive to live fully for Christ.

This is no simple task. It takes time, effort and discipline. Just as those who train for a sport or learn a new instrument, we must make our walk with Christ a dedicated, habitual process that draws us closer to Him.

Prayer should be a habit. In Matthew chapter 6, the Lord gave us a wonderful pattern for prayer. Beginning 'Our Father' we are reminded of the privileged position that we have, to come and speak openly to the Creator of all things, as a son or daughter would speak to their own father. But we are also shown that prayer is not primarily about us, but about Him - 'thy will be done'. God's way is perfect, and a desire for His will is a desire for Him to do with us, and to us, what He feels need to be done. Sadly, we often have our own ideas on what God should do, and so miss out on the joy of seeing His will done in our lives and in the world around us.

Of course, we also have needs. The prayer of Matthew 6 acknowledges that. 'Give us this day...' - we ask God to provide our daily needs and daily guidance. Even in this, we ought to praise Him for the knowledge and power to sustain us and direct us. 'Forgive us our sins...' - we must accept our worthlessness before Him, knowing that we don't deserve to be heard, yet He hears us. Knowing that we don't deserved to be helped, yet He helps us. We don't deserve to be forgiven, yet, praise God, He forgives us our sins. 'Lead us not into temptation' - we ask Him to protect us, knowing that we cannot fulfil this request on our own.

Fasting is also implied here as an expectation on believers, rather than a command that needs to be made. Christ Himself fasted, as did the apostles and the early church as a whole. Praise, prayer and study are common in churches of our land, but where is the fasting? Is it because it is the only one of the so-called 'holy habits' that causes physical discomfort? Is it simply and sadly that we do not see such 'suffering' as a price that we are willing to pay for a closer walk God?

So how would we benefit from fasting? For one thing it would be a humbling experience, bringing a realisation of our own weakness before God. It would certainly test us, uncovering whether we have allowed food and other daily requirements to become a hinderance to our worship of the Lord. And it would remind us, as Scripture does, that man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

As with most things, there is a right way and a wrong way to carry out this habit. We are not be as the Pharisees were, who went about with long faces so that everyone knew they were fasting. No, fasting, like prayer, is a deeply personal thing. It must be discret, between yourself and your heavenly Father, for God's glory and not for our own. Fasting will bring us closer to the Lord. He wants us to seek Him, and Him alone.

It is something we should not take lightly. On the day of judgement, many of the nation of Israel will be judged for their worshp of the golden calf and other idols, made by the hands of man. Our generation will be held to account for their worship of celebrities, television and mobile phones. What is it that is keeping us from being wholly given over to the service of God? Maybe that is the thing we should consider fasting from as we seek to draw nearer to Him.

Neglect not the gift that is in thee... meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (1 Timothy 4:14-15).

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Grace Ministries - Mission to the Philippines

In 2016, Listooder were involved in the successful #BibleBox campaign, collecting almost 300 well used and well loved Bibles to be sent out to the Philippines for the work of God there. Tonight, we were delighted to welcome Gareth McDowell, to whom we sent those Bibles, to give us a report on the movement of God in this land.

Gareth began by sharing some of his early experiences sitting under Gospel teaching and learning of the free offer of salvation. Gareth was saved young, but was reluctant to get involved in the meetings in which he had been attending. Yet despite his reluctance, and despite challenges with his speech, God made it clear to Gareth that he was to be involved in missionary work - specifically the mission field of the Philippines.

Serving there with his wife and family since 1999, Gareth arranges for food, clothing and other essential supplies to be sent from Northern Ireland to the Philippines as a form of disaster relief from frequent flooding and other natural threats. He then works with local pastors to distribute the supplies to the people in need. He also recieves Bibles, tracts, Gospel literature and gift packs that can be used by the church leaders for outreach to the local communities of the cities of Tarlac and Manila.

In ecouraging the local Christians, and providing them with this material, they equip them with the ability to share the Gospel in a minstry of love and compassion for the needs of the people. They hold children's meetings, house meetings, ladies' meetings and Sunday services. At a recent youth camp, which Gareth had the pleasure of being involved in, 30 young people came to put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is a challenging work. The Lord is greatly blessing it, and giving Gareth and his family many tokens of encouragement. Their love for the souls of those around them is mighty, and a challenge to each one of us. The need is great, and Gareth would be very grateful of both your prayerful and financial support as they continue to serve the Lord in South-East Asia.

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Men and Women of Faith: ABRAHAM

Continuing on from our group Bible Study on the subject of Abraham, we were joined by Brian McCoubrey who also considered aspects of the life of 'Friend of God', who features so heavily in that wonderful chapter of faith, Hebrews 11.

It was in this chapter that Brian began, commencing at verse 8. As he considered also some of the other characters of faith, Brian pointed out that other individuals who appeared here do not feature too heavily in other parts of Scripture. What a wonderful reminder that God takes note of faithful actions of His children, no matter how small they may seem to us at the time.

The first thing that Brian considered about Abraham was that he was a saved man. In Matthew 11, Christ Himself speaks of the multitudes of people that will sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven. Abraham's faith in God was a saving faith, and as we read in Genesis 15, "Abraham believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness".

As well as having a saving faith, Abraham also had a faith to follow. God called Abraham out of Ur, a place of idolatry and faithlessness, and asked him to move out for a land that would be shown to him. Even today, God asks us to turn our back on the sinful things of this world, and step out in faith to accomplish the great plan that God has for our lives. That is a challenge to every believer. Are we prepared to step out, in faith, and claim the promises of God? I will shew thee... I will make of thee... I will bless thee... I will bless them... Abraham received promises from God, tokens of grace and guidance that he could grab hold of when the challenges of the journey came upon him.

In dealing with these challenges, Abraham was not always perfect in the way he handled them. His appearance, however, in Hebrews 11, gives us the wonderful thought that failure is not final. What an encouragement, when we find ourselves constantly stumbling and falling in our walk with God, that even the 'Friend of God' had times of great failure in his relationship with His Heavenly Father. When the challenge of famine came upon Abraham his reaction was to find himself among the company of the ungodly, and in Egypt he made the unwise decision that could have brought danger and great shame upon him and his family. Spending too much time in the company of those who don't love the Lord will affect our decisions, our judgement and our wisdom. Abraham's fear of man caused him to falter in his walk with God. Likewise we must understand who it is that we serve, and strive to live a life that pleases God, rather than men. Failure is not final. God is faithful to forgive us our sins, if we just confess them to Him. He will forgive us and restore us.

As the promises of God began to be fulfilled in Abraham's life, God had a test for him to go through. God often tests us in our lives, not to try and bring us down, but to bring us through, stronger, bolder and closer to Him. This is why God tested Abraham when he asked him to take the son which was promised, which Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years to come to pass, and sacrifice him upon the mountains of Moriah. This was the moment we understand Abraham's reaction to his future that was promised. Rather than argue, he obeyed. Rather than delay, he rose up. Rather than question, he believed. Abraham's faith in God was so strong that in Hebrews 11:19 that he believed even that God could raise his son from the dead again. God had never yet demonstrated His power over death yet, in faith, Abraham believed in that power.

Abraham never did have to sacrifice his son, but his faith is a great lesson to us. Does God have a troubled path for you to follow, a path that you do not understand? Trust in God. Believe that He has a great purpose for your life. Believe that even in the deepest darkness, God can take your hand and lead you through to the fulfilment of the promised future.

Abraham believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness - Genesis 15:6

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