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Archive for June, 2016

A Simple Way To Pray – Martin Luther – Part 2

A Simple Way To Pray
Martin Luther

Study 2



The Second petition: “Your kingdom come.” Say: “O dear Lord, God and Father, You see how worldly wisdom and reason not only profane Your name and ascribe the honour due to You alone to lies and to the devil, but how they also take the power, might, wealth and glory which You have given them on earth for ruling the world and thus serving You, and use it in their own ambition to oppose Your kingdom. They are many and mighty; they plague and hinder the tiny flock of Your kingdom who are weak, despised, and few. They will not tolerate Your flock on earth and think that by plaguing them they render a great and godly service to You.

Dear Lord, God and Father, convert them and defend us. Convert those who are still to become children and members of Your kingdom so that they with us and we with them may serve thee in Your kingdom in true faith and unfeigned love and that from Your kingdom which has begun, we may enter into Your eternal kingdom. Defend us against those who will not turn away their might and power from the destruction of Your kingdom so that when they are east down from their thrones and humbled, they will have to cease from their efforts. Amen.”


(‘A Simple Way To Pray by Martin Luther’:
Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments, and the Creed – A Letter
to His Barber, Master Peter Beskendorf, Spring 1535. The ebook or PDF
is widely available to download for free online.)

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Issues – Government

 Partake - Issues

Government


G’day and welcome to Partakers Issues! Today we are going to talk about government!

In the UK, when we have a General Election, that is where people vote for their political representatives. After al the votes are counted there will be a government elected! This of course, is not unique to the UK! All people all over the world live under some from of leadership or government.  That government may be democratically elected, a monarchy or even an oppressive dictatorship. 

Whatever kind of government we find ourselves with, we have one!  If there was not a government in place, as hard as it is to imagine, total chaos would reign and people would just do whatever pleases them, regardless of consequences and regardless of other people.  Therefore, regardless of whatever government we live under, what does the Bible say should be our reaction and attitude to the government. 

By government, I mean all levels of government and authority – from local authority to federal government. 

But first of all, lets look at what the Bible has to say about the function of human government, before going on to look at our responsibility to Government and our community.

The Function of Human Government

Paul writing in Romans 13 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.”

Here Paul indicates that there are at least three functions of a human government: protection, punishment and promotion.

  • Protection: From the moment Adam sinned, it was plainly obvious that human civilizations would need some form of restraint and law, in order to protect their citizens – form themselves and others.  We see this clearly in Acts 21, where the Roman soldiers step in to save Paul from being killed by other people in Jerusalem. 
  • Punishment: Paul stipulates that duly appointed government officials and servants are to be considered as servants of God (even if they don’t believe in God!) 
  • Promotion: Human government, as thought by Paul, was to promote the broad-spectrum welfare of all the community and not just select groups, where its laws are in effect.

Christian Response to Human Government

Paul in 1 Timothy 2v1-3 writes: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour,

The Apostle Peter goes further when writing in 1 Peter 2v13-17 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.

From these passages of Scripture we see that it is clearly impossible to be simultaneously a solid Christian and a poor citizen.  As Christians we have responsibilities to our government.

  • Firstly we have a responsibility to recognize and acknowledge that God ordains the Government. We see that from Paul’s writing in Romans 13 and Paul was writing when the Emperor Nero was in power and systematically persecuting and torturing Christians!  We also see this thinking in the passage from 1 Peter. There is no authority except as given by God.  Even to the most sadistic, dictatorial or atheist governments – they have power only because God has allowed them.  So we are to obey our government!  But it is not to be slavish obedience regardless of what laws are decreed! No!   The exception to this is where obedience to the Government would require the Christian to actively or passively disobey God.  For we read in Acts 4v18-20 that the believer is to live in obedience to God rather than man.
  • Secondly, as much as we probably hate to, we are commanded to pay taxes to the government!  For by doing so, the government can set about ensuring, for example, that the weaker and more vulnerable sections of the community are cared for and protected!
  • Thirdly, and quite possibly, most importantly, Christians are to pray for their leaders, governments and those in authority!  Both Peter and Paul command and recommend it!  To pray for them is to love them and it is also a way for God to shine into the lives of people.  One of the things we are to pray for, is that the government governs righteously, honourably, honestly and with integrity.

    The Christian, as a citizen, is free to be law-abiding, conscious that they are under submission to Almighty God. It also means giving respect to all members of society from the lowest to the highest!  As Christians, we are to submit ourselves to our Government and be living lives worthy of the Gospel of Christ. This may indeed win some for God, win the recognition of their government as well as influencing Government policy and law.  Whatever government you find yourself under, pray for your leaders even if you thoroughly disagree with some or all of their actions.  They are in power, only because our God has allowed them.  They will answer to Him one day for what they have done with the power given to them by God alone.  God is in control, and He is on the ultimate throne and is the definitive power!

Community Responsibility

But just as we have responsibility to our Government, we also have a responsibility for those in our community – both local and global.  We are also to work for social justice and be involved in social action – that’s part of our loving of other people.  The oppression and persecution of people is to be anathema to us as Christians, just as it is to our God!  Where a minority is maltreated and discriminated we should be at the forefront of demanding justice for all!  We are to be promoting civil rights and using all aspects of the law to do so.  We are to be working to ensure the poorest members of our community, both local and global, are cared for and the oppressed freed!

In your country, this could mean peaceful demonstrations and interacting with your political representatives! 

Look at some of the great reformers or social activists of the past: Wilberforce helping to abolish slavery; or Martin Luther King Jr. at the forefront of ending segregation and racism.  May each one of us, on both a local and international scale, play some small part in ending prejudice, suffering, racism, poverty, bigotry, abuse, oppression and other injustices. 

As John Stott once said: “The reason for our acceptance of social responsibility… is simple uncomplicated compassion.  Love has no need to justify itself. It merely expresses itself in service wherever it sees need.”

As Jesus of Nazareth once said: “Love God and love other people.”

Some questions to help your thinking!

  1. In what way can I influence and encourage my government to promote justice, free the oppressed and take care of the poor?
  2. How can I help my government authorities to protect, punish and promote?
  3. When was the last time I actively prayed for those in authority over me, whether Christian or secular?

    Thank you.

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POD – Psalm 7

podintro.gifPsalm 7

(as read by Richard A)

A meditation by David, which he sang to Yahweh,

concerning the words of Cush, the Benjamite.



7:1 Yahweh, my God,

I take refuge in you.

Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,

7:2 lest they tear apart my soul like a lion,

ripping it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

7:3 Yahweh, my God, if I have done this,

if there is iniquity in my hands,

7:4 if I have rewarded evil to him who was at peace with me

(yes, if I have delivered him who without cause was my adversary),

7:5 let the enemy pursue my soul, and overtake it;

yes, let him tread my life down to the earth,

and lay my glory in the dust.

Selah.

7:6 Arise, Yahweh, in your anger.

Lift up yourself against the rage of my adversaries.

Awake for me. You have commanded judgement.

7:7 Let the congregation of the peoples surround you.

Rule over them on high.

7:8 Yahweh administers judgement to the peoples.

Judge me, Yahweh, according to my righteousness,

and to my integrity that is in me.

7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,

but establish the righteous;

their minds and hearts are searched by the righteous God.

7:10 My shield is with God,

who saves the upright in heart.

7:11 God is a righteous judge,

yes, a God who has indignation every day.

7:12 If a man doesn’t relent,

he will sharpen his sword;

he has bent and strung his bow.

7:13 He has also prepared for himself the instruments of death.

He makes ready his flaming arrows.

7:14 Behold, he travails with iniquity.

Yes, he has conceived mischief,

and brought forth falsehood.

7:15 He has dug a hole,

and has fallen into the pit which he made.

7:16 The trouble he causes shall return to his own head.

His violence shall come down on the crown of his own head.

7:17 I will give thanks to Yahweh according to his righteousness,

and will sing praise to the name of Yahweh Most High.

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Think Spot 27 june 2016

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Think Spot – 27th June 2016

Be Authentic

“Such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.” (2 Corinthians 10:11)

For those of us who engage in social media, writing letters or emails to people or as we talk to people on phones are we the same person then as when we are with people face to face? Is your behaviour with people when not physically with them the same as your behaviour when you are physically with them?

That is how the great Apostle Paul was with people – the same in their presence or away from them. That is what he urged his readers, the Corinth church, to be like… God wants the same from us – authenticity and relying on Him to help us be authentic Christians living in what is often an unauthentic world…

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Sermon – Chocolate Christians

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Sermon – How not to be a Chocolate Christian

Have you ever noticed that chocolate melts under pressure & heat? If you haven’t, take a piece of chocolate and hold it between your fingers! It will soon melt! If you are a Christian, you need to be active in your local church so that you don’t melt under pressure and you will remain firm in your faith! Otherwise you will be a chocolate Christian who easily gives up under the stress and pressure of every day life!

At a church local to where you live, you are needed regardless of who you are!

Perhaps this is you?

  • Interested observer but not a committed Christian
  • Not bothered
  • Not good enough
  • Just want to be left alone
  • Don’t know how to be involved
  • Don’t know why being involved is important
  • Too busy


But why should you be involved?

Why? You have talents to be used!!


When Jesus said to His apostles “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14v12), it was through the promised Holy Spirit (John 14v17), and the impartation of Spiritual Gifts that His words were fulfilled.

The reason that the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to Christians is so that the body of Christ is built up (Ephesians 4v12), for the common good of the church (1Corinthians 12v7, 14v12) and “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4v12).

These three reasons signify that God wants Christians to be active in service and not still like stagnant water. That is why we have been given gifts and if these gifts are not used for God’s purposes, then they are utterly useless and meaningless. And the gifts are not just the supposedly spectacular gifts but also the supposedly mundane! Cleaning is as much a spiritual gift as preaching is!

As we are not to neglect our gifts, or let other Christians neglect their gifts, we are to fan the gifts into flame (2 Timothy1v6). Much like blowing on embers and stirring them up will restart the flames of a fire! To do this, as Christians, we are to employ the gifts faithfully and by asking God to continue their development, strengthening and for opportunities to use them! Seek gifts that build up others, commands Paul (1 Corinthians 14v1-12). Ask God faithfully for gifts that give opportunity for service to God and others!

Why? We are dependent on each other


As Christians, we are dependent upon each other, just as one part of the human body has dependence on another part. That is why we serve each other and use the gifts generously given by God. As all Christians have gifts, we have a responsibility to discover and develop them (1 Timothy 4v14)! God has called Christians and equipped them with spiritual gifts, and they are not to be neglected! You are a member of the body of Jesus Christ the church! If you are not being active that means the Church body is affected aversely! Its like a part of your body failing to do as it should!

Why? Improve your serve!


They are opportunities for Christians to serve other people. Some gifts like teaching, helping or leadership quite possibly are enhancements of natural abilities whilst others like faith, healing and miracles are from the Spirit’s empowerment alone.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus intimates that those who follow Him, will be judged according to all that they have been given stewardship of! This includes things such as Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12v1-10), acts of service (Galatians 5v13) and material possessions (2 Corinthians 9v6-8)! These are used to accomplish three other items of Stewardship: mission, message and people.

Why? To follow Jesus


The Christian life is not to be static or inactive – it was never meant to be! The Christian life is to be dynamic! It is to be active. The word servant is key in Scripture. It is used at least 500 times in its various derivatives. When a Christian serves, God’s honour is released. This is done because service shows the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ to those being served and to those watching. That is to be our motive for service. Serving is never to be about what you and I can get out of it. When that is the motive, God is not glorified. God’s glory, honour and supremacy are to be the goal of a Christian’s life. Spiritual growth comes from serving rather than being served. This is because what ever is given in service of God and others, your faith grows and Jesus Christ gives back even more.

Jesus speaking in Matthew 25v15-30 tells of the rewards for faithful service and the penalties for being faithless. Serving others is a sign that you are trusting in and having faith in God. It’s a visible aspect of your invisible faith. Service is the outward expression of your inner beliefs. Serving is an outward expression of your inner faith – an external working out of your inner salvation. Serving God and others is the mark of a spiritually mature (or spiritually maturing) Christian and through service, the greatest servant of all, Jesus Christ, is reflected in our lives. “For Jesus Christ, came to serve and give his very life for others” (Mark 10v45). As Christians we are to be as Jesus Christ (Romans 8v28; Philippians 2v5) and to serve. Yet if we are honest, we sometimes feel incapable, just as Moses did (Exodus 3). When the church is built up, unity will inevitably prevail and be built up.

GO!


So if you find you are currently inactive in your local church, then please go and make yourself available to serve there! Ask your pastor or church leader how you can help out! By doing so, and submitting yourself to the Holy Spirit who indwells you, the lives of other people could be changed for God’s greater glory because of your acts of service and worship.

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Gems in the Gospel of John – Part 36

Gems in the Gospel of John



Part 36 – John 8:23, 28 & 58

I AM… I AM… I AM…



No fewer than three times in this chapter John records that Jesus used the personal name of God, ‘ego eimi’ in Greek. John has them carefully lined up, two in rapid succession, then the third one later at the end of his discussion with the group of leading Jews he has been with for some time. In fact that third one brings the discussion to a rapid end.

Let me imagine something of what the reaction to what he said must have been of one of his hearers? It must have gone something like this: first he said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

Our typical hearer will scarcely have noticed that his reply included the words I AM. As we noticed before the words he used could equally mean ‘It’s me’ or as they are translated in the NIV ‘I am he’. So all that happened was that they said to him, “Who are you?” Good question. It has been asked over and over again ever since. The answer is much the same as it has always been, I am who I have always told you I am but you are listening but not hearing.

So the conversation continues and Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.”

Again there is the phrase ‘I am he’ in the middle of that statement, a little more obviously this time. Whether our typical listener will have thought that an odd thing to say is hard to say. We might imagine him turning to his neighbour and saying something like: “did you hear what he said there? ‘lifted up’ sounds very like what Isaiah said about the servant ‘my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted’. I find that a bit much to take. He is getting well above himself. He thinks he is going to be high – does that mean sitting on a throne? – and being exalted! And then he sneaked in the phrase I AM. I don’t like it – I don’t like him. Things are getting a bit much.”

The conversation goes on for some time, another 30 verses in our Bibles, with the crowd and Jesus getting more and more at cross purposes with each other. The crowd is clearly understanding less and less of what Jesus is telling them or, perhaps, accepting less and less of what he is saying. They say he is demon possessed; he says they belong to their father the devil. They probably argued more forcefully in those days than we are prepared to do these days, but that is strong stuff. Then we are told that Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

That does it. He has quite clearly said that he was around before Abraham and then uses the critical words ‘ego eimi’, I AM, of himself so he is saying both ‘It’s me’ and I have the name of God.

Our imaginary guy is likely to have said at this point something like ‘hand me that stone!’ with the distinct intention of throwing it at Jesus to knock him down and kill him. But such is the power of the personality of Jesus that he is able to disappear in the crowd and slip away.

John has been hammering away at just one point. I used to have a colleague who liked to say good lecturing was ‘tell ‘em what you are going to tell ‘em; tell ‘em; then tell them what you have told ‘em’. John clearly had the same philosophy.

Have you got it very firmly into your head JESUS was GOD. If not read it all again, and again …





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A Simple Way To Pray – Martin Luther – Part 01

A Simple Way To Pray
Martin Luther

Part 1 – Introduction

G’day! Welcome to Partakers. Today we start a new series, recording a small book by one of the greats of Church History. It is ‘A Simple Way To Pray by Martin Luther’: Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments, and the Creed – A Letter to His Barber, Master Peter Beskendorf, Spring 1535. The ebook or PDF is widely available to download for free online.


Study 1



I will tell you as best I can what I do personally when I pray. May our dear Lord grant to you and to everybody to do it better than I! Amen.




First, when I feel that I have become cool and joyless in prayer because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and the devil always impede and obstruct prayer), I take my little psalter, hurry to my room, or, if it be the day and hour for it, to the church where a congregation is assembled and, as time permits, I say quietly to myself and word-for-word the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and, if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do. It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.



It may well be that you may have some tasks which are as good or better than prayer, especially in an emergency. There is a saying ascribed to St. Jerome that everything a believer does is prayer and a proverb, “He who works faithfully prays twice.” This can be said because a believer fears and honors God in his work and remembers the Commandment not to wrong anyone, or to try to steal, defraud, or cheat. Such thoughts and such faith undoubtedly transform his work into prayer and a sacrifice of praise.



On the other hand it is also true that the work of an unbeliever is outright cursing and so he who works faithlessly curses twice. While he does his work his thoughts are occupied with a neglect of God and violation of his law, how to take advantage of his neighbor, how to steal from him and defraud him.



What else can such thoughts be but out and out curses against God and man, which makes one’s work and effort a double curse by which a man curses himself. In the end they are beggars and bunglers. It is of such continual prayer that Christ says in Luke 11, “Pray without ceasing,” because one must unceasingly guard against sin and wrong-doing, something one cannot do unless one fears God and keeps his Commandment in mind, as Psalm 1 says, “Blessed is he who meditates upon his law day and night.”



Yet we must be careful not to break the habit of true prayer and imagine other works to be necessary which, after all, are nothing of the kind. Thus at the end we become lax and lazy, cool and listless toward prayer. The devil who besets us is not lazy or careless, and our flesh is too ready and eager to sin and is disinclined to the spirit of prayer. When your heart has been warmed by such recitation to yourself and is intent upon the matter, kneel or stand with your hands folded and your eyes toward heaven and speak or think as briefly as you can:



O Heavenly Father, dear God, I am a poor unworthy sinner. I do not deserve to raise my eyes or hands toward thee or to pray. But because thou hast commanded us all to pray and hast promised to hear us and through thy dear Son Jesus Christ hast taught us both how and what to pray, I come to thee in obedience to thy word, trusting in thy gracious promise. I pray in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ together with all thy saints and Christians on earth as he has taught us: Our Father who art, etc., through the whole prayer, word for word.

Then repeat one part or as much as you wish, perhaps the first petition: “Hallowed be thy name,” and say: “Yes, Lord God, dear Father, hallowed be thy name, both in us and throughout the whole world. Destroy and root out the abominations, idolatry, and heresy of the Turk, the pope, and all false teachers and fanatics who wrongly use thy name and in scandalous ways take it in vain and horribly blaspheme it. They insistently boast that they teach thy word and the laws of the church, though they really use the devil’s deceit and trickery in thy name to wretchedly seduce many poor souls throughout the world, even killing and shedding much innocent blood, and in such persecution they believe that they render thee a divine service.



Dear Lord God, convert and restrain. Convert those who are still to be converted that they with us and we with them may hallow and praise thy name, both with true and pure doctrine and with a good and holy life. Restrain those who are unwilling to be converted so that they be forced to cease from misusing, defiling, and dishonouring thy holy name and from misleading the poor people. Amen.


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