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Archive for October, 2015

Gems in the Gospel of John – Part 10

Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 10 – John 1:29-51
Names and guys

So far I have managed to keep each short study to one or two verses, but not this time. I hope you have a Bible handy in which you can read these verses. A many-coloured procession of different people come into contact with Jesus in these verses. And as they do we find the passage is full of a good many names and titles of Jesus. Counting in titles like ‘the Surpasser’ but not the equal names like Rabbi and Teacher I can find 13 of them. Here is the passage:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me. ’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony:“I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. ’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote —Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Have a go yourself. How many names and titles can you find? I put my list at the bottom of the page – don’t look until you have had a go yourself.

They range from the bottom of the pile, which is surely ‘son of Joseph’, son of his step-father, to ‘Son of God’ at the top of the pile. Some have deep Old Testament connections like ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son of Man’, while others are simply derived from what John the Baptist knew first hand.

The really interesting thing is what we see if we compare what is said here with what is said in the other Gospels at the call of the twelve disciples. Without exception the other Gospels are less detailed except they all say that the disciples were called to ‘fish for people’ or, in the older versions, to be ‘fishers of men’.

Why the difference? What does it mean?

The answer has to be that John is solely concerned with Jesus. The rest is incidental. As we shall find as we work through the rest of the Gospel John is completely Jesus centred, or Christo-centric as it is called. Because Jesus was, and is, God He could be all those things at one and the same time. He could meet each one of the men listed here: John, Andrew, Andrew’s companion, Simon Peter, Philip and Nathanael, and meet them at their point of need. That is what John is telling us. And he is going to go on and tell us that Jesus would meet many other people, all at their point of need, no matter how way out that might be. Before long we shall be in chapters 3 and 4 where Jesus meets at their points of need a senior professor in Jerusalem and a slightly dodgy woman in a country village. Rather different people. I wonder how successful any of us would be at being equally effective in conversation with such different people. Not many, I am sure. Certainly not me!

But turned round and looked at from the other direction this is enormously encouraging for us. It does not matter who we are, what our problems may be, what is our point of need, Jesus, because He is the Son of God can speak to us encourage us, forgive us, save us, for this life and the next. Hallelujah and hooray – many times over.

Names and titles: Lamb of God/the Surpasser/the One to be revealed/ the One on whom the Spirit had come/the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit/God’s Chosen One/Rabbi=teacher/ the Messiah=the Christ/Jesus of Nazareth/the son of Joseph/Son of God/king of Israel/the Son of Man.

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Friday Prayers 30 October 2015


Partakers Friday Prayers!

23th October 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!

A prayer of Aquinas

O Almighty and all-knowing God,
Who is without beginning or end!
Who is the giver, preserver, and rewarder of all virtue!

Grant me to stand firm on the solid foundation of faith,
be protected by the invincible shield of hope,
and be adorned by the nuptial garment of charity.

Grant me by justice to obey you,
by prudence to resist the crafts of the Devil,
by temperance to hold to moderation,
by fortitude to bear adversity with patience.

Grant that the goods I have I may share liberally
with those who have not,
and the goods which I do not have I may seek with
humility from those who have.

Grant that I may truly recognise the guilt of the evil I have done,
and bear with equanimity the punishments I have deserved;
that I may never lust after the goods of my neighbour,
but always give thanks to you for all thy good gifts.

Plant in me, O Lord, all thy virtues,
that in divine matters I might be devout,
in human affairs wise,
and in the proper needs of the flesh onerous to no one.

And grant that I may never rush to do things hastily,
nor balk to do things demanding,
so that I neither yearn for things too soon,
nor desert things before they are finished.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

(Aquinas 1225 – 1274)

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Spiritualism 02


2. Spiritualism: Is It All Trickery?

By Jim Allis

Although much that passes for spirit manifestation is proved to be trickery as Houdini found there are real communications with the spirit world. If this were not so there would be no need for warning against trying to do so. The Bible in a number of places warns against such experimentation

The destiny of a king who called up the spirit of the dead (1 Samuel 28;7ff)
We read in the Old Testament about Saul the first king of Israel, a God fearing man, who at one time killed all the witches and sorcerers. However, when he did wrong, God turned His face away from him. When Saul wanted to fight with the Philistines, he sought God’s counsel, but He did not answer Saul.
Instead of soul searching and repenting from his sins in the presence of God, Saul asked a woman (sorcerer) to call the spirit of Samuel (who was a great prophet of God, and was dead at the time). The woman called Samuel’s spirit for the king to counsel. When Samuel’s spirit was called, he said: Why have you called and distressed me? (This false spirit was an evil one that had showed himself as Samuel’s spirit.)

Mediums or sorcerers absolutely have no access to call the spirits of dead people, any manifestation belongs to evil spirits and their job is deceiving the people and bringing them under the curse of God to get control over them and their offspring.
This wrong doing was the reason God turned His face from Saul, took away his kingship and gave it to David. Saul died in his sin.

Isaiah writing in chapter 8:19-20 couldn’t be any clearer warning us emphatically of the danger to our souls “And when they shall say to you, Seek to the mediums and to wizards who peep and mutter; should not a people seek to their God, than for the living to the dead? To the Law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because no light is in them”.

So the question is “what is the attraction which is hard to resist?”The main attraction, for many, is the professed ability to contact the dead. Many spiritualists are normally acting out of genuine motives and feel they are doing good by helping those who are grieving by putting them in touch with their departed loved ones.
People are often amazed at the supernatural display of information that is channelled through the medium about the departed person whom they have sought to make contact with.

The supposed spirit of the departed, speaking through the medium, will give intricate details of the persons life and have access to details that only dead relative could have possibly known. This is enough for some people to convince them that they really are speaking to a departed loved one. Because people are so desperate to be in the company of the person they miss, many do not question that there may be another reason for the things that they are hearing and experiencing.

The Bible describes a supernatural world that is inhabited by many spirits, which do indeed have contempt for humanity:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12)

The truth is that messages that are meant to come from the dead are actually from deceiving spirits who are familiar with the departed. Indeed, Isaiah 29:4 calls such a spirit a “familiar spirit” (KJV).
These spirits are highly intelligent manipulative beings that have supernatural knowledge of events and people. They are able to impersonate anyone they so desire.

Many grief stricken widows and widowers in their lonely agony have sought comforting help through mediums. They are naturally looking for peace and comfort they are promised by spiritualists they will receive after making contact with their dear dead relatives. They often little realise they are tampering with things forbidden in the Bible.

As previously said they do not make direct contact with their dead relatives but from demons (fallen angels) impersonating the dead relatives they yearn to hear from them to make sure they are safe ‘on the other side’.
However these demons are described in our Bibles as “deceiving spirits’. Did not something similar taker place in the Garden of Eden when Eve was DECEIVED by Satan, the Commander in Chief of evil spirits. From that time to this present day their character doesn’t change. Many are deceived today into believing they actually make contact with their loved ones. It happens in séances and necromancy.

Coming up tomorrow: Part 3 – What Happens In A Séance?

** Disclaimer: The author of this article, Jim Allis, is a guest podcaster and Partake Ministries may or may not agree with his opinions and writings, either in their entirety or part thereof.

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HAVE – Yael


Heroes and Villains Explored

Yael (Judges 4-5)

There are in the Bible, both heroes and villains – people of great character, from whom we can learning to apply lessons to life in the 21st Century. An example of those who can be seen to be faithful to God (such as King David – a Hero) and unfaithful to God (such as King Saul – a Villain).

It is perhaps a sad fact of church life (and of church history), that very rarely do we hear the stories about the minor women characters of the Bible. So in this series, we will discover together something about the lesser known characters of the Bible as well as the more famous ones. These people from the Bible are like you and I, and we have lessons to learn from them, in order that God is glorified and honoured through our lives.

Yael (Judges 4&5)

Judges 5v24 – “Yael shall be blessed above women, the wife of Heber the Kenite; blessed shall she be above women in the tent. The first person we are going to look at is Yael. Yael is mentioned in one place and 5 times in all the Bible. Yet as was just read in Judges 5:31, she was accorded great honour and blessing? Why?

Yael’s name, like other Bible names, means more than just a name. It means goat, a graceful goat and the term implies that she was an attractive woman.. In the west, comparing your wife to a goat would be an insult, so most translations apparently use the word hind or deer. So we could quite properly, call Yael the name ‘Yael Doe’.

Yael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. The Kenites were not true Israelites, but were the descendants of Moses’ non Jewish wife. Because they were a roaming nomadic people they lived in tents. In the days of Deborah they had camped at the foot of Mount Tabor. In fact, they were situated very near the place where Barak and Deborah had destroyed Jabin’s mighty army, including his 900 chariots of iron. Jabin had permitted the Kenites to stay in his country because he hoped they would prove to be his ally against the Israelites whom he hated intensely. But they disappointed Jabin’s hopes. Perhaps from the beginning, because they remembered Moses’s great deeds, the Kenites had occasionally sided with Israel.

Yael was a friend of Israel. She rejoiced when she heard of Jabin’s defeat and would have wept when she heard that Sisera had defeated Israel with his chariots. Yael received the honour that Barak would like to have had. By her hand, as though by a judgement of God, Sisera, the enemy of Israel, was killed. Barak would have had that honour if he had not hesitated on the day Deborah had asked him to attack Jabin. But because he hesitated at that time, Deborah, as a prophetess, told him the word of the Lord in Judges 4v9: She said, “I will surely go with you: nevertheless, the journey that you take shall not be for your honour; for Yahweh will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”

Sisera showed himself to be made of wiser stuff than his soldiers, or so it seemed at first. The survivor in any kind of work, sport or conflict is the person who can keep cool in a crisis and take rational action. Sisera abandons his chariot, which had made him an easily seen target for Barak, as well as of being no use in the mud when it rained, and so he disappears on foot in the direction of Barak’s own town which was perhaps the last direction Barak would look for him.

Near Kedesh, there was land which belonged to the Kenites. Their name likens them to Cain, whose family made all kinds of bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22). More recently they had become friends by marriage with the Israelites, through Moses’ marriage to a Kenite. But a nomadic group such as the Kenites survived by the friends and allies they made, and in this case with Jabin. Given their expertise, they would be natural chariot makers and repairers. These chariot experts had in the past been the key to Sisera’s success but are now the key to his failure.

Then Sisera meets Yael. When Sisera arrives at her home, he expected to be on friendly territory if these Kenites were true allies of his boss Jabin, he has travelled almost fifty miles. Yael comes out to greet him and offers him a warm and smooth welcome. There is a contrast to be seen here. At the time of Yael, when a woman alone, invites a man into her bedroom, in any other context, it would be the act of the seductress in Proverbs 7. Like Yael, she might well be expected to offer a man refreshing drink and comfort, invite him to lie down and relax, reassure him that everything will be all right, and that she will tell him no-one will know of his visit and then be the death of him.

Yael knows the predicament she was in. As a married woman, though at the moment alone and vulnerable, with all the personal insecurity that that means in a time of ware, and as a Kenite wife, she would have been treated by the people of Israel as a traitor on the losing side. At this point, she behaves just like an independent woman, takes her destiny in her own hands, and acts in a way that brings the victory of Israel to its completion in the death of Israel’s enemy commander.

Because she was a woman she easily won the confidence of Sisera. He relaxed, after being so careful on the run to Yael’s house, and it cost him his life. Like Barak, Sisera no longer wanted to be involved and was probably fed up of playing the tough macho hero guy. He was physically exhausted, but when he lets himself fall asleep, it is as if he wants to leave everything behind him for a short time. Perhaps he knew that Kenite people were a very caring people to strangers, because in the desert a mutual commitment to hospitality can mean the difference between life and death. He thought he could trust Yael.
But perhaps Yael knew that sometimes this hospitality meant more than just sleep and food, and wanted a role reversal. Sisera made a mistake in telling Yael to lie if anyone asked if he was there. Being a wise woman, she concluded that Sisera was running from the battlefield, which meant that the Jews had won the battle and the Canaanites grip on the land was gone. If she protected Sisera, she would be in trouble with her Jewish relatives.

Yael gets together her woman’s weapons – gentleness and consideration, cooking, hospitality and courage. She also had a tent peg and hammer at hand, because it was the job of the woman to put up the tent. She probably gave him milk and not water, because warm milk is known to cause people to become sleepy. So when Sisera shortly falls into a deep sleep, she takes the tent peg & hammer and hits it through the head of Sisera as he sleeps. She must have used a lot of violent force in this horrid incident. Yael joins the role of honour of those who have acted for themselves, and either knowingly or unknowingly acted to free Israel. She becomes a deliverer too. Her story is to be remembered for a long time (Judges 5:31).

However, some questions naturally come to us.

1. Did God answer prayers through this bloody and violent act?

We don’t know from what the Bible says. Yael is in the Bible (so the prayer for her to be celebrated for a long time is answered) yet her story is not often read (so the prayer isn’t answered). It is not merely that the church has tended to prefer men’s stories in Scripture, though that is almost certainly a historical fact. It is that the violence of the story should make us feel uncomfortable. It makes us aware of the violence within each of us, which we prefer to avoid.

2. Should we bless or blame Yael for what she did?

She invited Sisera into her tent, treated him kindly, and told him not to be afraid; so she was deceitful. The Kenites were at peace with Jabin, so she violated a national treaty. She gave Sisera the impression that she would guard the door, so she broke a promise. She killed a defenceless man, so she was a murderess. Yet Deborah sang, “Yael shall be blessed above women, the wife of Heber the Kenite; blessed shall she be above women in the tent.’ (Judges 5v24)

So how are we to understand this question? To begin with, let us not read into the time of the Judges, the spiritual standards taught by Jesus and the apostles. Also let us keep in mind that the Jews had been under terrible bondage because of Jabin and Sisera; and that it was God’s will for the nation to be delivered from its enemies. Both Jabin and Sisera had been mistreating the Jews for years, and if the Canaanite army had won the battle, hundreds of Jewish girls would have been captured, raped and probably killed (Judges 5v30). Yael not only helped to deliver the nation of Israel from bondage, but also she helped protect vulnerable women from vicious enemies. She was a courageous woman, in the middle of a war, and she stopped being neutral and took her stand with the people of God.

3. How is God’s purpose realized in the world?

It is achieved; through kings like Jabin who are involved in the fulfilment of God’s purpose, without them knowing, in ways they enjoy and in ways they wish they could escape; through the people of God crying out to God in the middle of their suffering (even when the suffering was deserved); through a woman of insight who become a woman of a violent act, using her female wiles to become a traitor and assassin. Yael succeeded because God was with her. She played a part in the purpose of God, and in the introduction of 40 years peace in the land, for the sake of which it might almost seem worthwhile to be a victim.

As we conclude, one question for you to think about and enact upon:

What principles and lessons for living as a Christian, can I learn from God, through the life of Yael?

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POD – Psalm 59


Psalm 59

For the Chief Musician. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A poem by David, when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.

59:1 Deliver me from my enemies, my God.

Set me on high from those who rise up against me.

59:2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity.

Save me from the bloodthirsty men.

59:3 For, behold, they lie in wait for my soul.

The mighty gather themselves together against me,

 not for my disobedience, nor for my sin, Yahweh.

59:4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.

Rise up, behold, and help me!

59:5 You, Yahweh God of Armies, the God of Israel,

rouse yourself to punish the nations.

Show no mercy to the wicked traitors.


59:6 They return at evening, howling like dogs,

and prowl around the city.

59:7 Behold, they spew with their mouth.

Swords are in their lips, “For,” they say, “who hears us?”

59:8 But you, Yahweh, laugh at them.

You scoff at all the nations.

59:9 Oh, my Strength, I watch for you,

for God is my high tower.

59:10 My God will go before me with his loving kindness.

God will let me look at my enemies in triumph.

59:11 Don’t kill them, or my people may forget.

Scatter them by your power, and bring them down, Lord our shield.

59:12 For the sin of their mouth,

and the words of their lips,

let them be caught in their pride,

for the curses and lies which they utter.

59:13 Consume them in wrath.

Consume them, and they will be no more.

Let them know that God rules in Jacob, to the ends of the earth.


59:14 At evening let them return.

Let them howl like a dog, and go around the city.

59:15 They shall wander up and down for food,

and wait all night if they aren’t satisfied.

59:16 But I will sing of your strength.

Yes, I will sing aloud of your loving kindness in the morning.

For you have been my high tower,

a refuge in the day of my distress.

59:17 To you, my strength, I will sing praises.

For God is my high tower, the God of my mercy.

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