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Archive for May, 2013

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Friday Prayers 31 May 2013

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

31st May 2013

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations – that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

Today we pray for Joy and Lynn who are in need… Play the video and pray for these 2 ladies of great faith… Please also do leave a comment to show that you have and are praying for them… This will be of great encouragement to Joy, Lynn and their respective families and friends…

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WOW Disciple – Contentment

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Christian Disciple and Contentment…

So Close to My Heart . . .

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Paul writing in the Book of 1 Timothy 6:6-10; 17-19 “A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough. But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after. Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed, with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage-to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.”

A major opponent of contentment is what is labelled the prosperity doctrine. This stipulates that since as Christians we are children of the King, then we should be living like kings in the physical sense. If you are God’s child, then God will bless you so abundantly you will have that earthly mansion, a million pounds in the bank, a good wife or husband and children, if only you follow him. And if you don’t receive these things, then maybe you should be asking for forgiveness, because apparently you are not a child of the King. What a load of rubbish! It is just materialism in another disguise where possessions and material things are their gods and not the living God. Its very source is pride, and not humility, because they proudly proclaim “I am first, and everyone else is last”. I defy anyone who believes this prosperity doctrine to take a trip to the poorer areas of the world and tell that false doctrine to the leaders of the churches who are working faithfully in those areas. I guarantee you would cause more harm than good. That is not to say that God never blesses His children with material possessions, because He does – the Old Testament King Solomon is a prime example of this.

So if the prosperity doctrine is a false teaching, what does a truly biblically balanced view of contentment consist of?

Contentment.

In the Bible passage I read earlier, Paul commands Christian Disciples to be content with godliness. We came into this world with nothing, and we will leave this world with nothing (v6). The bare necessities for contentment of life are food, clothing & shelter (v7). However, we could, with justification say that some other things are also necessary. Cars, books, and computers may with some justification to ourselves as individuals, be a necessity. That is up to our own individual consciences. But what we need to do, when considering purchasing items is, not to ask “Can I afford it?” but rather “Can I justify it, and could the money be better used elsewhere?”

There are many Christian organisations that need money to continue operating. Perhaps, the money I was going to use for the trip overseas, could be of better use elsewhere in the kingdom of God? Further on in 1 Timothy 6, Paul states that we are not to desire riches, lest we fall into the temptation of coveting and wander away from the faith of God (vv9-10), not to love money because it is a source of evil (v10). Everyday Christians pray that God would not lead them into temptation; and he does not, they do that quite easily by themselves. And those that are rich, are not to flaunt it arrogantly and are not to place their hopes in them (v17). Those who are rich, are commanded to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and sharing (v18), building up heavenly treasure instead of earthly rubbish (v19). I should hasten to add, that contentment should also carry with it, the idea of living simply, in sympathy and solidarity with the poor of the world. Every one of us, could to some degree, live that little bit more simply, and donating the money saved to a worthy concerned organisation helping out the poor of the world. Remember we are blessed by God, in order to bless others!

The humble, say “God is first, others are second, and I come last” and puts people before possessions. The Christian Disciple is to place their trust in God alone, and not in their material possessions. It so easy to fall into the trap of saying – “If only I had that new computer; or camera; or car; or an easier job with more money?” It is so easy to say these things, and forgetting to be content with what we have. And it is even easier to forget to say thank-you to God for giving us all our good things. I would hazard to say, that probably the only time we say thank-you to God, is before the food that we eat. We hardly ever thank him, for friends and all the other material blessings He does provide and the pleasure we gain from He gives us. And that is the key to biblical contentment. “Could I really thank my Lord for this particular item I want?”

For more to think about, please do read for yourself 1 Timothy 6. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1 – As a Christian Disciple, in what ways are you not content?

Q2 – What blessings has God bestowed upon me, that I should give Him thanks for?

Q3 – How can I use the money and possessions God has blessed me with, in order that He is glorified and worthy of honour, this week?

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WISE – Giving

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Giving!

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Every person has in differing quantities time, possessions and money. These things in and of themselves are not evil. The whole Christian community is one that is to reflect the Holy Trinity. The Church is to be a community where the strongest members support the weakest members. This applies not only to the local church, but also to the universal Church and therefore has a national and international context as well. Too often, even as Christian Disciples we are found turning a blind eye to the suffering of others where the bare necessities of life are in sparse existence. Too often we gather possessions and people, instead of giving up our time and money generously to help the poor and needy of both our world and local communities.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of spiritual growth in the Christian Disciple concerns their financial giving. Paul writing to the Corinthians commands that giving be done whole-heartedly and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9v7). For the Christian Disciple, it is not so much how much is given, but how much is left after giving. God looks beyond the amount that is given to the motive behind the giving. All our money and possessions belong to God anyway, so giving is to be in response to this. Giving is to be done out of love for God. Paul offers in 1 Corinthians 16v2 a three-point system for giving: regularly, methodically and proportionately.

Failure to give back to God’s work what He has given the Christian Disciple in the first place, robs God (Malachi 3v8). The reason it robs is because the giving cannot be used to support those who are working for God. As a result of giving, the Christian Disciple will be blessed (Malachi 3v10) and have their needs satisfied (Philippians 4v19).

Remember in the Old Testament, Widows were important to God, because justice is important to God. God is a God of justice and mercy. In the Old Testament, under the Law of Moses, God commanded provision for those who were widows, oppressed or uncared for. The Apostles would have known about God caring for the widows and in Jesus teaching about justice for the poor and the oppressed. We know this because if you remember from Acts 2 and 4, people were selling and sharing possessions and ensuring that people within the Christian community were being looked after and cared for. This included making sure that everyone got fed, particularly those who had no family to care for them. And its not just for those in the church – but all in the community where you live.

The New Testament church made sure that giving was done and that the poor, the oppressed, the lonely and the widows were taken care of. People working fulltime for the Lord were given recompense by others for their efforts. People gave. How is your giving? How does your church give and care for those in need, in your community? The get out clause as it were these days, is that it would not be good stewardship to give to that person or that cause. After all, they say, “Didnt Jesus say in Matthew 7v6 ;Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you'”. Of course when they say that they are totally missing both the point and context of what Jesus actually meant.
God gave everything so that you and I may life and life in abundance. So by giving, you are reflecting that. This Christmas, give generously, just as God gave and gives generously, and gave His Son as a ransom for sin.

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Help!

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Looking for a couple of men to help me out for 30 days, starting on 1 June… You must be a Christian, willing to learn, willing to share and be able to give feedback…

 

Please do leave a comment below if interested and I will get back to you… It may well be hard but will be worth it for you…

Thanks…

Dave

Christian and culture

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The Christian and culture


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Cultures from around this world are individual, unique and diverse. At least 20 are represented here in this room. Have you ever noticed how people from different countries greet each other? Those from Latin America, will kiss each other on the cheeks. Australians will shake each other firmly by the hand, punch each other on the arm, say “G’day” and proceed to jokingly insult each other. English people, however, shake each other by the hand limply, take a step back, start to talk about the weather and look for the nearest queue to join! Americans greet each other with a hug, take a step back, talk to each other and once the other person has left, promptly forget the other person’s name. Yet other people from other nations say hello by bowing or even by sucking mouths! All these are generalisations!

So we see that from many different cultures from over 200 countries on this planet, there are many differences – rich in variety and stark in contrast! And that is why we have come together – gathered from many different traditions and cultures, to both see and show brief cultural insights. If we were to take a more indepth look into a culture that is different from our own, we would see in it, both likes and dislikes and also similarities.

The things that are acceptable to me in a cultural sense, may well shock you, because of your cultural upbringing. Some of what we are as people is because of the culture we were born into and raised within. Take for example, an El Salvadorian wedding, where the husband at the post-service reception places his wife’s left leg on a chair, discreetly lift her dress to the upper thigh and proceeds to pull her garter off with his teeth! This is in front of everybody! He then throws the garter to a gathered group of single men, all eagerly waiting to catch it! Now if you are offended by this, it is probably because of your upbringing in a culture, where at a wedding, which is not the done thing. Somehow I can’t see this happening in a Japanese wedding, in case it was deemed offensive, particularly to the guests! But just because something is different from your own culture, does not necessarily mean that it is wrong. Our cultural heritage and upbringing affects our ethics, lifestyle, family values, and worldview and so on.

Culture also has a place and a say in our religion. Some cultures insist that you follow a particularly religion out of respect for tradition, whether that is nominal Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism Islam, Zionism, Taoism, Shintoism, Spiritism or any other ‘ism’ which is your cultural norm. Sometimes there are severe pressures and penalties to pay if you want to change your religion, say to Christianity from Islam.

Now I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus, was, is and always will be God! So what does Jesus have to say about culture and cultural differences? Jesus kept all the cultural tradition, as a good Jewish man that did not affect his own personal holiness and offend those to whom he engaged in a cross-cultural exchange. Whether it was a Roman centurion; a Canaanite woman; Samaritans; Greeks or other cultures, Jesus was always sensitive to their particular problems regardless of his cultural traditions, taught to him about not touching or talking to foreigners, women, sick and poor people. He continually broke the traditional cultural religious taboos, by doing these things, and that is one of the reasons that Jewish authorities hated him and plotted to kill him.

That is ok, you might be thinking if you are not a follower of Jesus. You may well be thinking that I am a Christian because I was bought up in a Christian country and it is your cultural tradition to follow this Jesus. But if you are thinking that, then maybe you are also thinking that Jesus is only for Jews and those in the West where Christianity is the normal religion. You may also be thinking that Christianity is not for you because your tradition and culture say that you must follow another religion.

I am a Christian because Jesus was pursuing me! True my upbringing in a country which at least is nominally Christian did pay a small part in my turning to follow Jesus Christ. But by becoming a Christian, I rebelled against my parents and against my culture. The main reason I am a Christian, is because Jesus Christ was chasing me. I have decided to follow him – will you follow him or reject him?

You may well reject Jesus Christ as your Saviour and the Son of God because you don’t know enough about him yet. If that is your reason then read about him in the Bible. Or you may well reject him because you simply don’t want to acknowledge him for who he is. That at least is honest! But please, don’t reject him simply because your culture says to stick to your own cultural or national religion. That is just patronising nonsense. Jesus is for all people of all time, all nations and all cultures. Jesus, as we read in the Bible, crosses all cultural boundaries and welcomes all to his searching and outstretched arms. Don’t let culture be the excuse for not accepting Him as your God and saviour. Jesus is and always will be the Son of God, the saviour for all people of all nations, languages and cultures for all time. In John 12v32, Jesus said that he will draw all people to himself. So, come. Come to Jesus and start to follow him right now!

For those of us who are already followers of Jesus Christ, what does the Bible tell us about culture and following Him.

The Bible tells us to be holy, following Jesus Christ as Lord, and growing in righteousness. It is hard for us, because the Christian life is demanding and yet also exciting! We use all sorts of excuses for sinning; that is doing wrong against God and others.

Sometimes we use the excuse that is part of our individual cultural identity to do that, so ergo, it can’t be wrong! In some cultures, man can have more than one wife; in still others men treat women as a little lower than slaves or dogs. The Aussie culture is well known for its arrogance, insulting and being rude to all and sundry. Other cultures place emphasis on gross materialism & collecting possessions at all costs. Yet other cultures and countries, allow indifference to the suffering of the poor and sick in their community, putting their low position in society down to bad luck, kismet or fate.

Now we know that all these things are wrong because the Bible clearly tells us they are wrong. The Bible says only have one wife, love and respect each other. The Bible says love one another; don’t be rude but be humble and not arrogant. The Bible says take care of the poor and sick in the community. The Bible says don’t accumulate possessions for possessions sake. And yet we can use the cultural barrier excuse to try and justify our sins, time and time again.

When our cultural traditions cross over the lines of sin, drawn out for us in the Bible, then we must at all costs to ourselves, stop doing them! Now I am not saying do away with all our cultural traditions – just those that are clearly unbiblical and hinder our path to personally holiness and personal righteousness. Let us follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be prepared to sacrifice your cultural taboos at all cost to yourself and run the race set for you, whilst keeping your cultural differences.

So, in conclusion, those of you who are not yet followers of Jesus, don’t let your culture and traditions stop you from deciding to follow Jesus and running to those outstretched arms that are waiting for you. If you want to see someone tonight about making that decision, then see anyone of those who have performed.

For those of us who are already followers of Jesus and believe in him for our salvation, let us stop using our cultural traditions as excuses for sinning. Repent of any attitude, behaviour or action that causes you to sin.

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