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Archive for July, 2015

Friday Prayers 30 July 2015

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

31st July 2015

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!

Prayers for the Persecuted Church

Sovereign God, we worship you and acknowledge that you know all of those who suffer in your name because they follow you. We remember those who are imprisoned for their faith and ask that they would join with the Apostle Paul to see that even though they remain captive, their chains have furthered the gospel, not frustrated it. May they inspire and embolden their fellow believers to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. Amen

God of all comfort, for those who are tortured both in body and mind, give them the grace to endure and to see their suffering as part of following in Christ’s footsteps. Merciful God, for those asked to pay the ultimate price; who are martyred because of their love for you, may they truly know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Amen

Father God, for those who are widowed and orphaned may they know the comfort that comes from your promised presence even when they walk through the valley. May they be strengthened by your Spirit, enabling them to rejoice with the psalmist as they proclaim that the LORD will not abandon them in death. Amen

Heavenly Father, we ask that you would make us ever mindful of our brothers and sisters around the world who need us to stand with them as they suffer in your name. Teach us what it means to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony; we pray that we would not love our lives so much as to shrink from death.

We ask these things O Father, through the name of Your Son, Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Amen


 

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Issues – Dealing with Doubt

Issues – Dealing With Doubt


Jeremiah in Lamentations 5v20-22 writes “Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.”

Living the Christian Life

When you became a Christian, you started an exciting journey in the Christian life. Success in the Christian life is not an accident, but rather it is a direct result of living in harmony with the basic principles of life set forth in the Bible. The Christian life is not a matter of expecting spiritual maturity to occur overnight. The Bible lays down standards and principles of living which we need to follow with God’s strength, if we are to continue living at peace with God, our fellow men, and ourselves. We need to know what God expects of us and what guidelines He has given us to achieve this quality of life. As we apply the principles and guidelines of Bible to our lives, we are transformed into the likeness of Christ – which is the journey we are on (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3v18).


Jesus said ‘I have come to bring them life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10). This is achieved as we allow Jesus Christ to live this life through us so that we start to think and respond like He does, to the people and circumstances around us. We need to learn how to see circumstances and people from God’s perspective, rather than reacting on the basis of feelings. When we respond to circumstances on the basis of our feelings that is when conflict, stress, tension and depression enter. When we respond to circumstances by looking from God’s perspective, it builds and shows a transformed character as we become more like Jesus.


When Doubt Sets In

However, it is a very rare person indeed who has not suffered some form of doubt, and asking questions similar to that of Jeremiah in the passage of Lamentations I read earlier. By doubt, I do not mean as in doubting God’s very existence, but rather doubting some aspect of the Christian life such as assurance of salvation, any of the other of God’s promises or doubting an attribute of God such as His innate sovereignty or His infinite goodness.

When your doubt arises concerning God’s assured promise of salvation of you; that usually occurs after engaging in wilful sin or having lost a spiritual battle. Doubting God’s sovereignty will usually occur after experiencing a great personal tragedy or of reading about an international disaster. When this occurs, it is important to have faith. Have faith in your knowledge of Scripture, and to trust in its authority as God’s Word. When we sin, not only do we forget who we are as His children, but we also doubt what God has said is true in the Bible. The Christian Disciple leans to believe and trust God regardless of circumstances however divergent the experience is or was.


Origins of Doubt

The originator of a lot of doubt in the life of a Christian Disciple is Satan, just as it was for Adam in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3v1). Remember that Satan roams the earth like a devouring lion in order to stop Christian Disciples trusting in God and their testimony about God’s goodness (1 Peter 5v8).

Another source of doubt is the world we live in, with its own moral codes and perceived wisdom contrary to that of God expressed in the Bible. Whereas the Christian Disciple gains wisdom from God through having the indwelling Holy Spirit and reading the Bible, the world often has wisdom that is contrary. One only has to look at the perceived wisdom of atheistic scientific materialism countering the Christian arguments.

One final source of doubt, is the spiritual immaturity of the Christian Disciple. Doubting prayer works is often down to being double minded (James 1v8). Elsewhere Paul writes that doubt arises because of not knowing the basic doctrines of God (Ephesians 4v14). This source of doubt is only defeated through experience and having a maturing, disciplined life of obedience through prayer, studying the Bible and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform. In doing these things, the relationship between God and a Christian Disciple is nurtured and growing.


Overcoming Doubt

Confess – Confess your doubt as sin to God, and He will listen and cleanse you (1 John 1:9). If doubts persist, try talking to somebody whom you trust and confessed to them of your doubts, and they may well be able to help you (James 5v16).

Salvation – have assurance of salvation. Be assured and let your mind be controlled by the Holy Spirit, so that you are not led astray. Your salvation rests in nothing apart from God’s promises and Jesus’ righteousness! Test yourself as Paul exhorts in 2 Corinthians 13v5.

Righteousness – live a righteous life. Live the truth! When we started as a Christian Disciple, before God we were given the righteousness of Jesus! But that righteousness needs to be lived out in the lives of Christian Disciples. Living right helps overcome any doubts!

Faith – show total trust in God for your life. The faith we have is a defensive weapon against the mistruths the doubts that enter our minds. By maintaining our trust in God’s promises and God’s power, doubts are extinguished.

Bible – read and study God’s Word so as to know, understand and live truth. Our lives are to be controlled by truth as revealed in Bible. When we know truth so well, we can recognize the lies that we are told! The Word of God, the Bible, is there to be studied diligently so that by trusting in the Holy Spirit to lead and reveal it to us, we get to know God and His promises! We are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus according to 2 Peter 3v18 and that is only achieved through studying the Bible! Then when we hear that nagging little voice that says “God didn’t say that”, we can say “Oh yes, He did!!”

Prayer – talk to God. This is how we are energized! Fighting doubt in our own power is useless! Ask Him to help you overcome your doubts, and He will help you! When we talk to God, we strengthen our relationship with Him! When we ask other Christian Disciples to pray for us, the Church unity is strengthened! When we see God answer prayer, our faith is matured and doubts are easily cast aside.

For more to think about please do 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. Read Hebrews 6v1-9. What does this tell me of the link between maturity overcoming doubt?

Q2. Read 2 Corinthians 13v5. What comfort can I gain from knowing I have salvation as a means to overcome doubt?

Q3. Read 1 John 4v1-3. How can “testing the spirits” help me overcome any lingering doubts?


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Wednesday WOW Worship – 29 July 2015

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Worship Wednesday

Order of Service



Opening Prayer



Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,


We praise you and give you glory:


We bless you for calling us to be your holy people.


Amen!

Continuing on, we now have a song.
Today it is

Abigail Miller, singing Lord, I Must Be Yours!

Visit her at: http://www.abigailmiller.com/

(Song originally downloaded at http://www.godlychristianmusic.com)



Bible Talk



The Apostle Paul writing in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The Apostle Peter writing in 1 Peter 5:5-6 “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Those verses probably highlight what those who call themselves the Lord’s people are to be and do! Humility! Looking to others first!

Contrast those values to those of the twenty first century society. A society where the prevalent attitude is: “There are no other people. The order is ‘me, me and more me! I am far more important and higher than anyone else!'” This is individualism, an individualism where the individual’s importance is placed higher than all others! Individualism, which is imbued with self-reliance and personal independence. Even when help and compassion are offered, so often there are strings attached and hoops to be jumped through: “If you do this, we will do this for you.” That’s the view in 21st century Western countries such as the USA, UK and Australia. Sadly, it is not just within society that this exists, but also within the church and amongst Christians.

How opposite is that view, compared to the view of Peter and Paul in the Bible reading! It is as if we are denying the basic rule of compassion and mercy, which dictates that we, as Christians, are to be serving others, because they are also humans created in the image of God, loved by God and so should be loved unconditionally by those who proclaim to be God’s people – the Church. Denying that basic need to others is pure unadulterated selfishness and places others below our own selves.

Individualism within the church, lends itself to hypocritical behaviour and attitudes, which are inconsistent with Scripture and behaviour. Individualism, where you as an individual are placed at the front of the queue, is not loving others and not considering others higher than yourself. It certainly could not be construed as serving other people to always place your own desires above all others. There is an old acronym JOY – Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. So as we live our lives, let us be determined to be counter-cultural, love and serve others, being willing to listen to them and giving them practical support when we can.

Think time


Now a time, where I put before you a couple of questions for you to ponder and think about, before we continue in prayer. Perhaps you could write them down for later.

Q1. In what areas of my life do I usually put myself before other people and sin against them?

Q2. What impact could I make on my church and local community if I was more willing to serve and practically love others, rather than be served and supported by them?

Prayer Time!



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POD – Psalm 108

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Psalm 108


1-2 I’m ready, God, so ready,

ready from head to toe.

Ready to sing,

ready to raise a God-song:

“Wake, soul! Wake, lute!

Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!”


3-6
I’m thanking you, God, out in the streets,

singing your praises in town and country.

The deeper your love, the higher it goes;

every cloud’s a flag to your faithfulness.

Soar high in the skies, O God!

Cover the whole earth with your glory!

And for the sake of the one you love so much,

reach down and help me-answer me!

7-9 That’s when God spoke in holy splendor:
 “Brimming over with joy,

I make a present of Shechem,

I hand out Succoth Valley as a gift.

Gilead’s in my pocket,

to say nothing of Manasseh.

Ephraim’s my hard hat,

Judah my hammer.

Moab’s a scrub bucket-

I mop the floor with Moab,

Spit on Edom,

rain fireworks all over Philistia.”

10-11 Who will take me to the thick of the fight?

Who’ll show me the road to Edom?

You aren’t giving up on us, are you, God?

refusing to go out with our troops?


12-13
Give us help for the hard task;

human help is worthless.

In God we’ll do our very best;

he’ll flatten the opposition for good.

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40 Days of Color

40 Days of Color

The latest Partakers Publication – 40 Days of Color…

A devotional life is important for Christians. A time each day spent learning more about God and developing their relationship with Him. Most of the ways for the doing that are word-based. However an increasing number of people learn and engage more easily with the use of images. This is where this book can help you if that is you.
Coloring-in for adults is a fun, relaxing way to engage your innate creativity with your devotional life. Whether just starting a daily devotional life or you want a different way to refresh your daily time with God. Consider it Messy Church for your devotions!

Come inside with Alphy the WOWChurch Cat to see how these daily coloring-in devotionals can stimulate your imagination and develop your relationship with God! It is great for adults but also fabulous for family devotions, spending quality time having fun in this simple way while thinking about God.

Over the 40 Days of Color, we cover Jesus’ I AM statements, the Lord’s Prayer, the Spiritual Armor and the Fruit of the Spirit.

You can buy on Amazon.co.uk (£5) –  Amazon.com ($10) or at davegroberts.com

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God, the Church and the Internet

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God, the Church and the Internet

  • Can God interact on the internet?
  • Who?
  • What?
  • Why?
  • How!
  • John 17:13-19
  • Romans 12:3-8


Preached at Poulner Baptist Chapel, 1st February 2015…

Symptomatic of human history has been the development of different technologies. Each generation seems to have had a great leap forward in some way! Think of the wheel, the printing press, the wireless, the combustion engine and the silicon chip! One of the developments that I am sure that you have noticed is the internet. Everything is on the internet now it seems – increasingly so at a government & banking level! Everybody here has used it – either directly or indirectly. The internet is here. It isn’t going to go away and it will continue to develop and expand.


Likewise, the church is here too. It also isn’t going to go away (at least at a universal level) and it also will develop and expand. So let’s tonight look at what this internet is, why the Church should be using it and lastly how the church can use it for the glory of God. By using it, I do mean more than just a website with the latest information, events and sermons on it!


Before we continue, however, I must warn you, that alas, I have to talk about what I do – much as I don’t like to talk about myself! That is probably the best place to start as we can then quickly move on! In the last 7 years I have had about 4 million individual folk from around the world visit my website to read. There have been close to a million listeners of the audio and video. During 2014 I probably had communication with about a million people, either directly or indirectly. The world is my parish. If I can do it, anybody can! And those numbers are small compared to some folk!


To hear more please do use the link below to download the mp3 to hear. Thank you

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The Normal Christian Journey of Faith – Part 11

The normal (Christian) journey of faith


Chapter 11:Journeying through the wilderness

Unless you are very fortunate you will discover that you have to travel through times of spiritual wilderness or desert. These are the times when your spiritual life seems to go dead on you, nothing goes right, you seem to be as far away from the Lord as it is possible to get, you just want to give it all up. It can happen to the best of us! Why should you be any different? But when that happens what can you do to get out of the hole you seem to be in.

On the whole Scripture is not a lot of use here. The reason is not far to seek. The people we read about in Scripture, or who wrote it themselves, tend to be those all action, all vigorous type that are not always quite like us. Paul is not much help. He said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Great – if you have got that far on the Way of faith, but not all of us have; or if you are that sort of strong personality – but not all of us are! To be sure, just occasionally Paul says something that might suggest he did struggle sometimes, things like “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.” Do you agree that he does not sound all together happy when he says things like that?

If all the big guys of Scripture are not much use to us in the desert, then who is?

We might expect it to be the Psalms perhaps. Yet few of the Psalms relate to the wilderness experience that is wholly within us rather than caused by a breakdown between us and other people.
Only Psalm 107:4,5

“Some wandered in desert wastelands,

finding no way to a city where they could settle.

They were hungry and thirsty,

and their lives ebbed away”

This could be taken as referring to the sort of problem we would call a desert. And the proffered solution is people in verse 7, “He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.” This, and all the other psalms probably reflects the much more social society of those days. We, in spite of all our communication technology, often feel much more isolated. Loneliness is a very modern disease in many societies. If we are the lonely one we have great difficulty doing anything about it. If we can identify someone else who is lonely we can do a great deal about it by befriending them.

Aside then from the Psalms and a few small comments here and there, the answer seems to come in only 2 places: Jeremiah and the Israelite journey through the desert. Jeremiah struggled a great deal with the tasks the Lord had set before him to do. And we can draw lessons from the experience of the Israelites as they journeyed through a real desert.

First, Jeremiah. He was only a village lad, who lived in a time of great political upheaval for his nation. He never did want to be a prophet. When it became clear to him that the Lord wanted him to be a prophet he said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to him, “Do not say, ‘I am too young. ’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.” Going around the country telling the leaders, including the king, things the Lord wanted them to hear but they did not want to hear was not an easy job, and a distinctly dangerous one. In fact he ended up down a well and was only rescued because one man was brave enough to ask the king to organize his rescue.

So it is not altogether surprising that he says:

Cursed be the day I was born!

May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!

Cursed be the man who brought my father the news,

who made him very glad, saying,

“A child is born to you—a son!”

May that man be like the towns

the Lord overthrew without pity.

May he hear wailing in the morning,

a battle cry at noon.

For he did not kill me in the womb,

with my mother as my grave,

her womb enlarged forever.

Why did I ever come out of the womb

to see trouble and sorrow

and to end my days in shame?

This brings one difficult and important message to us. We are not the Lord’s people for our own enjoyment and improvement but because he is the Lord! Our whole culture – at least the one I live in – tells us everything we do should be for our own benefit. And it isn’t the only one to do so. The American Declaration of Independence talks about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Fortunately I know many Americans who have not really taken that pursuit of happiness to heart but have made the service of other people, and the Lord, their primary objectives in life rather than those self-centered ideas.

When we turn to the story of the Israelites travelling through the desert we find less worthy motives for being down. They had no sooner escaped the Egyptian army at the Red Sea than they started complaining when things did not go exactly the way they wanted them to. So we read, “Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’” Perhaps that complaint was excusable; it was about water, never more necessary than when you are in a desert.
But then it wasn’t long before “In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord ’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” That sounds very like there had been a lack of foresight in preparing enough food for the journey. And so the story goes on with them grumbling, complaining, and blaming poor old Moses for every little problem they encountered. Not clever!

So What?

Wilderness times will come to us at some time, as they came to Jesus. Some of them will not be our fault as they were not for Jeremiah. But some of them will be our fault as they very largely were for the people of Israel. Either way they will be for the same reason: we too need to be tested and hardened by some of our experiences. Of Jesus the writer to the Hebrews said “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” And “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2: 10, 18).

So it is that Peter says, “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 
Which isn’t exactly about a wilderness experience but I am sure you will see why I quote it here.

In the wonderful passage of Isaiah 43, we read:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”

That is not a promise that we shall avoid the rivers, or the fire, but a promise to be with us in those times of supreme difficulty. That promise is for us too. We shall have our difficulties but the Lord will be with us through them.

Thank you, Lord for all the good things you give me, but I do not follow you because of those good things but because you are Lord!

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