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Archive for February, 2017

Think Spot 13 February 2017

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Think Spot 13 February 2016

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9

 

All over the world, people share a common desire for peace! But what is peace? The peace the world wants varies from the peace the Christian knows. The world sees peace as the absence of conflict and people being generally ‘nice’ to one another. Peace in the Christian context goes further, saying peace is perfect harmony with God, other people, circumstances and self. Therefore perfect peace will not come until Jesus Christ comes again, and takes Christians to be with Him.

That doesn’t give us as Christians a mandate to sit around not doing what we can for peace, because we are commanded to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), our God is a God of peace (1 Thessalonians 5:23), and the Kingdom of God is about peace in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Peace is to be our business!

In a world full of conflicts, such as conflicts between nations, conflicts between neighbours, conflicts even within families and conflicts within and between churches, Christians are to be peacemakers!With that in mind, here are some thoughts on what the Bible has to say on peace, to help you this week be a peacemaker:

1. Peace with God

  • Justified by faith (Romans 5:1-2)
  • Christ is our peace between God and man and between men (Ephesians 2:13-18)

2. Peace with others

  • Live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:17-20)
  • Do everything possible which leads to peace and mutual encouragement (Romans 14:13-19)
  • Be a peacemaker – a sign of real wisdom producing a harvest of righteousness (Matthew 5:9, James 3:17-18)

3. Peace within/circumstances

  • Peace is a gift of God (John 14:27, 2 Thessalonians3:16)
  • Worldly peace requires manipulation of circumstances, God’s peace comes regardless of circumstances
  • We have peace in troubled times – an untroubled, unfearful heart and mind (John 16:33)

Go in peace this Monday, into this week, knowing that the God of peace lives inside you if you are one of His children! Yesterday churches around the world celebrated the feast of Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus. If you desire peace with God, with others and in all circumstances, ask this Holy Spirit who lives inside you to help you! If you would not consider yourself as one of His children, ask Him to help you become one!

Father, I pray that this week we will do all we can to be peacemakers and make a difference in world in conflict. I ask this through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside all those who have peace with you. Amen

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Exploring the Bible – 06. New Testment – Jude

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Exploring The Bible

6. New Testament

Jude (AD68-70)

 

G’day and welcome to our series, “Exploring the Bible” This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Jude 3-4

 

Jude, another brother of Jesus and James, writes warning against apostasy. He urges his readers to recognize the problem and fight for the faith. He uses graphic illustrations from the Old Testament.

Jude is careful to emphasise the positive things they should do as well as instructing them to condemn the errors of some. He closes with a statement of confidence and of praise to God.

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Gems in the Gospel of John – Part 87

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 87 – John 20:17
The ultimate Purpose
 

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” (John 20:17)

Mary eventually recognised Jesus. Her initial failure to do so is in line with what happened when other people met the risen Jesus. Luke reports that the couple who met him on the road to Emmaus also failed to recognise him, at first. It seems that he was at one and the same time both recognisably the same Jesus and distinctly different.


This ties in with what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: 42 – 44, “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (I find this very encouraging. Perhaps we will be raised not with the bodies in which we die which may be old and bent and wizened but with something a bit more like the way we were in our prime!)

Matthew says that the women, presumably Mary as here, clasped his feet as they fell to the ground in adoring worship. But Jesus, although he might be touched as happened with some others, did not want to be held. That would have suggested a too permanent relationship when he was due to ascend back to his Father. And his ascension was a vital part of the journey he was on. He had left his heavenly home, descended to earth to be a man as well as God, completed his work in his death on the Cross, announced ‘it is finished’ and was now on his way back to the right hand (the place of honour) next to his Father. There it would be as the writer to the Hebrews says in his 8: 1, 9: 24 – 25, “We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary … now to appear for us in God’s presence. … to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
Or, as Paul said in Romans 8: 35 – 39, “Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This is the ultimate purpose for which Christ came and died – that he might make continual intercession for us in the judicial throne room of heaven and we should have total confidence in him. Nothing must hinder that, not even the heartfelt worship of Mary, the most faithful disciple of them all. Let us rejoice and be glad on what has been done and is being done for us – even now.

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Friday Prayers 10 February 2017

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Friday Prayers

 

 CS Lewis…

Today on Partakers we are praying a prayer based on the poem “Love is as hard as nails” by CS Lewis. Come on in, download the mp3 and pray with us!

Love ‘s as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green.

Love’s as fierce as fire,
Love is fire:
All sorts – internal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride,
Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied,
And that empyreal flame
Whence all loves came.

Love’s as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song hung in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering ‘Dare! Dare!
To sap, to blood,
Telling ‘Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best.’

Love’s as hard as nails,
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing he had done,
Seeing (with all that is)
Our cross, and his.

Amen

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Thursday Story – Richard

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Thursday Story

Richard meeting Jesus

A story of Richard

We continue apace into the twentieth century and hear the story of salvation and healing coming to the life of Richard.

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Issues – Community

Way of the Cross

Community

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.

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.

Individualism

Contrast those values to those of the twenty first century society, where morality can be summed up in this kind of attitude: “The more you care for others, the more they will care for you.” So look after the interests of others and you will also be looked after. In other words everyone is on level parity and there is total equality within society. In some of the more narcissistic and cynical parts of society, there is no other, the order is “me, me and more me and I am far more important and higher than anyone else”. Individualism is where the individual’s importance is placed higher than all others and 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. And sadly, it is not just within society that this exists, but also within the church and amongst Christians.It is as if we are denying the basic rule of compassion and mercy, which dictates that we 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.

Relationship

The basic aspect of love is that it involves relationship, so therefore there must be more than one person involved. God is love, and is a trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If God were not Trinity then God could not also be love. The church community is meant to be a radical community of service and love, which is a reflection of the Trinitarian God. Being part of a radical community of service and love would mean the Church going back to basics. The Church needs individuals to be living radical lifestyles of devotion to Jesus Christ, engaging with the culture, counting the cost of discipleship and reflecting true humanity. But being an individual in community involves much more than merely being an individual in isolation. Christians are to be involved within communities, and not as isolationists. So what does a radical Christian community of individuals look like?

Creative Community

Firstly, the church needs to be a community that is seen to be radical by the surrounding society. At Pentecost, the church began when the Holy Spirit filled the Disciples (Acts 2v4). This momentous occasion started the Discipleship process of how Christians were to live as God’s people. The hallmarks of this community were commitment and transformation. This community was radical. It was where people’s lives were being changed as the Holy Spirit filled them. Instead of being a withdrawn people filled with fear of retribution from the Roman government and Jewish leaders, they became a people filled with boldness and joy. The New Testament church grew by being a radical community imbued with radical individuals engaging with others. The very existence of the church today is proof that Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead, for if He did not, those who were His disciples would have disbanded and gone back to their old lifestyle and the Holy Spirit would not have come.

Creatively Radical

If we want the church of today to grow then we need to be building a strong community of faith. A community, which involves joining together isolated and solitary individuals and where people are imbued with love, valued and are showing care to each other, in particular the frail, elderly and young, with what the theologian Jürgen Moltmann calls a “creative passion for the impossible.” An inherent human need is the need to belong, and by fulfilling relational needs, the radical Church community will become relevant to the people within it. It will then also become relevant to those who are on the outside and looking in. For example, by using virtual reality, digital space and social networks, the housebound and geographically isolated peoples can also be included and cared for.This involves improving present societal conditions, rather than remaining a conservative community, which merely repairs the status quo.
In doing this, today’s church will be emulating characteristics of the early church (Acts 2v44-45). As individuals Christians were added to the church, discipline helped ensure that the community was being seen as a holy community. We see in the early church as recorded in the Book of Acts, that to be excommunicated from the community for gross sin, was a severe punishment. However church discipline is not primarily about punishment, but rather a formative and corrective service as part of Discipleship. Church community discipline is foundational to the making of Christian Disciples, because it concerns the community’s spiritual health, and strengthens the bonds with the local community.

Committed Community

The church must be a community of committed individual Christians, willing to radically follow God in lifestyle and behaviour. Being holy for the Christian means radically exhibiting love for God and others. It is by being seen as different from the surrounding society, that the church community will grow. Often when prayers are said, it is within the perception of the individual pray-er of what the answer to that prayer will be! It is as if the answer is there, we are just waiting for God to confirm our presupposition.
When, in fact, prayer is to be where God is answering the prayers in His own way and timing – often unexpectantly! By the church community and Christian individuals thinking and acting creatively, many more people would be seeing God in action. Instead of independence, one of the prime hallmarks of being a follower of Jesus Christ is the need to be dependent on others as well as being dependable. This is imbued within the story of Jesus Christ washing His disciples feet.

Transformed Community

The Church community is to be actively engaged in radically helping people to be transformed and not merely happy. Transformation is a powerful witness to the power of God and shows the relevancy of God and His people. The best way to show this transformation is for the Church leadership to set the example, and show a way forward. Good leadership has good accountability to each other and to the whole Church community.

If the church leaders are displaying a transparent life of creatively loving God and others, then the individual Christians within those churches will also seek to be transparently loving God and other people. The media love to report when a Church and/or Church leader has done something inherently wrongFinally, Jesus recommends that those who follow Him be wise like serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10v16b). This means that we are to be skilful and shrewd in making decisions that are characterised by intelligence, patience and shrewdness. Additionally, we are to be gentle and harmless, like doves. This would make our church leaders and us accountable to live a life of integrity worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1v27). This is a life, which is seen to be as holy and blameless.

In order to do this, we need to depend on the Holy Spirit for strength and caring for others is a vital necessity for you and I. By relying on the Holy Spirit who indwells us, we are therefore perpetually connected to Jesus Christ, who is after all, the Head of the church community who are His bride.The antidote to individualism is the continual creation of radical communities of transformed individual Christians, willing to be totally devoted to God, and each other and being sustained by the Holy Spirit who indwells, empowers, comforts, transforms, sustains and guides! By being radical communities thinking and acting creatively, we will be reflecting a creative Trinitarian God, and the Church will fulfil her bridal mandate of faithfully serving Jesus Christ, in submission to God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus in Matthew 5:43-45 gloriously explains how to do this: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” And then to verse 48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

Now that is the key to radically transformed communities and the antidote to individualism!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. What in my life could I change, so that the focus is away from myself and onto helping others?Q2. How can my church and I reflect the Trinitarian God by being creatively loving, transforming and serving?Q3. How can I help my church be more relevant in the community where it is located?

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POD – Psalm 139

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Psalm 139

 

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

 

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.

5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

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7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the deepest hell, you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night-

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

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13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!

18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

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19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked! Get out of my life, you murderers!

20 They blaspheme you; your enemies misuse your name.

21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you? Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?

22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

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