Why did most of the Pharisees, even though they knew all about the Messiah as revealed in the Old Testament, reject Jesus? They even saw or heard of many of the miracles that Jesus performed. In John 9 we are told that Jesus healed a blind man “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The Pharisees heard about this and investigated in the healing. They repeatedly summoned the healed man and confronted him face-to-face. The man could only say “I was blind but now I see”. Eventually the man also voiced his faith saying to Jesus, “Lord, I believe”. The Pharisees, however, closed their eyes and ears to the reality of Jesus’ healing powers, and him being the Son of God. Read more about “Belief and unbelief” according to Ari Savuoja’s sermon from 18 October 2020. (BF)
Amazing Blessing from Christ Designed to Enable Faith to Grow
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says (Psalm 68:18): ‘When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.’ (What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:7-15)
In this Bible text Paul quotes Psalm 68:18. The psalmist portrays God, as the winner over the devil, returns to His kingdom followed by His captives. This was a common practice at that time. In those days, the winning king would distribute plunders to his army and followers. Interestingly, Jesus, as the winning King, adopted His captives, the believers, into His family. So, Jesus gives treasures instead of plunder.
Paul emphasised that these treasures (gifts) were given to specific groups of people in the church, such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The main goal of these gifts is to equip the saints, to support ministry, and to build the body of Christ. All the receivers listed above are church leaders who have to provide responsible teaching to support the church to grow in faith. The ultimate goal is to achieve unity of faith and spiritual maturity.
We are surrounded by many false teachings that evolve from time to time. So, the body of Christ must know how to identify them. As part of this responsibility, OIEF organises Bible study every Wednesday evening. Here, we learn God’s words and spend time in prayer.
So, the ABCDEFG, Amazing Blessing from Christ Designed to Enable Faith to Grow, is a formula to remember that God wants our faith to grow by giving the believers blessing (gifts) via the church leaders. How should we respond to this?
- Read your Bible, it is God’s word, a user’s manual to live in this world
- if you are leaders in the church, God demands responsible teachings that bring faith to grow
- if you are not leaders, God demands your eagerness to learn from God’s word.
Do you seek some rest after a week of studies or work? Join us for a 5 km hike in the north of Oulu on Friday, 2 October at 17.00. We’ll meet up in a small group (10 persons) at Bastian’s home, Paloniemenranta 1 B 3. From there we will silently walk towards and into the Ahvenoja forest to enjoy the scenery and each other’s (silent) company bearing in mind current safety measures.
The terrain is not too difficult, but be prepared for a muddy and slippery trail, with tree roots and stones on our way. We shall also balance across two small creeks. After some time we will reach a forest glade. There we will take a break for a devotion and moment of sharing. Otherwise the purpose is to keep quite, calm down from a week’s labour and let go of (almost) all things occupying us.
Interested? Sign up by 30 September to email@example.com, +358 40 6755 195.
After signing up, you’ll get a link to our whatsapp group. (BF)
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In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul refers to himself as a “prisoner for Christ”. Does this sound strange? “Being a prisoner” normally comes with the stigma of “a bad guy”. It also means to suffer from distrust and humiliation.
Usually people would thus not refer to themselves “as a prisoner”. Rather, people typically rely on their power, authority, and relationship. For example, they present themselves as a respected leader, as a beloved husband/wife, etc. But Paul used the expression of “a prisoner fro Christ” to show that he himself has no power and authority, but God does.
Paul asked his fellow people and Christians today “to live a life worthy of the calling they have received” (Ephesians 4:1). Such a life in the footsteps of Jesus is characterised by humilty, gentleness, and patience:
In the Greek culture humility was associated with slaves, so it refers to being completely humble. The greatest example of being completely humble is Jesus Christ, as in Philippians 2:6-8. Humility and pride are at different poles. Being a humble person brings unity with the other, but pride destroys it. So, humility is putting Christ first, others second, and oneself at the last.
Gentleness is sometimes written as meekness. Gentleness is mostly associated with being weak and “without anger or disputing” (1 Timothy 2:8). Jesus describes Himself, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus, however, became quite angry when some people turned the Temple of God into a market to deceive others (Matthew 21:12-17). Gentleness is a mark of the Christian character (1 Timothy 6:11). Gentleness is about compassion and exerting power – but under control.
In Greek patience refers to a long time before getting angry, of not giving way to anger. Patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The greatest example for patience is demonstrated by God, who patiently waits for sinners to repent (Romans 2:4). All believers already experienced God’s patience that brings them to salvation.
By promoting these three attitudes, we bring unity among Christians. God always shows this by example and also “walks the talk” in an exemplary way. Walking in unity is not about walking on the same path. It is about having intertwined minds among believers to live with God. (Hany Ferdinando)
Jesus says: “Let the children come to me.” (Matthew 19:14). Check the Sunday School schedule to see on which Sundays there will be activities for children and young people during OIEF’s worship service.
The Sunday School is usually held in the congregation hall and organised by volunteers with a background and/or interest in education and ministering to children and young people. Our volunteers prepare fun activities and hands-on lessons about faith and following Jesus.
Welcome along! N.B.! For the time being, safety measures apply due to the Covid-19 situation. (BF)
Have you ever taken part in a treasure hunt? You know the game? A treasure hunt! You alone or your team gets clues or written directions, based on which you hunt for a treasure, which is usually hidden somewhere? It’s fun, isn’t it? According to the Bible, we may also think about hunting for treasures, but for treasures in heaven. In fact, Jesus calls his followers to store up treasures in heaven, instead of going after earthly riches only for ourselves (Matthew 6:19-21). On Sunday, 5 July, we gathered at St. Luke’s Chapel and then went outdoors for a heavenly treasure hunt in small groups. We explored and then shared seven ways of storing up heavenly treasures. Before we set out, we started with the first and most important way – Jesus, the only way to heaven, given to us freely as a heavenly gift and treasure. We also learned that putting our earthly treasures in use for God’s kingdom is also a way of storing up treasures in heaven – the main point being that we should become rich towards God, and serve the church and our societies with our God-given resources throughout our life on earth. Feel free to check the seven ways we explored during our heavenly treasure hunt: 1) Overview 2) Handout with Bible verses for further reflection (BF).
Have you ever seen how a foundation is laid? How much care must be applied to prepare it? How it is eventually completed, including blocks of stone and other material, skillfully arranged in relation to each other? And how such a foundation provides a safe structure lasting for more than a lifetime? In his sermon on 21 June 2020, Helmuth Garoeb shared his insights on laying the foundation of a building in his family. We then studied 1 Peter 2:1-12 and came to see that, as Christian believers, our lives rest on Jesus alone. If we believe in Jesus, we can rest on him as the sure foundation and cornerstone of our lives. Beyond that, Helmuth showed us that – according to the Bible – we are precious and regarded as living stones. Moreover, we are joined together and are being built into God’s spiritual house. Helmuth also challenged us to think about our personal and corporate relationship to Christ, to see where and how we are placed or fitting in God’s building. Helmuth encouraged us to be living stones, building our faith on and in Christ, helping each other and inviting others to join this building project. Learn more by reading up the sermon (BF).
We had cancelled face-to-face worship services and gatherings at OIEF during 17 March and 31 May due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All of us had to keep a distance to others, and most stay at home. But many of our activities in relation to others and God could still take place, though in different ways. We shared and posted activities in your (faith) life that had not been cancelled at padlet. See the results as a PDF file. Post updated 28 November. Consult www.oief.fi/covid-19 for up-to-date information, safety measures and recommendations. (BF)