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Archive for September, 2020

Jesus and You 3

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Woman at the Well

G’ day welcome to Partakers and back to this little series, Jesus and you, looking at some people that met Jesus and how he changed their life and perceptions. Today we see somebody who accepted Jesus for who he was – a surprise to his disciples! John 4:1-42) Jesus, on his way back to Galillee, came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.  Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”  He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” Jesus went via Samaria as it was the shortest route back to Galilee. It was hot. Jesus was thirsty and wanted a drink. His disciples had gone into town to get food. So he asks a Samaritan woman to fetch him some water from the well. That he asked a Samaritan would have been bad enough, but to also talk to a woman!

The woman

We don’t know the name of this woman, but by looking at this conversation between Jesus and her, we discover several things about her: That she was a Samaritan. There was equal animosity between Jews and Samaritans, hence the end of John 4:9: “(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” This could equally be translated as “for Jews do not ask any favours of the Samaritans”. The Samaritans were a mixed race people of both Jewish and Assyrian descent from the time of the division of Israel into two parts and the annexation of the Northern kingdom by Assyria. 2 Kings 17 tells us that Assyria repopulated this area. She was an outcast, that’s why she was fetching water at the hottest part of the day! This was probably due to her sexual immorality having had 5 husbands and currently in a 6th relationship (John 4:18). We also know that she was waiting for the Messiah (John 4:25)

Jesus

What does this tell about Jesus? It reveals his genuine humanity. He was tired, drained, hot, thirsty and hungry – normal human feelings and reactions. It also shows that Jesus contravened tradition in that he spoke to a woman who was a Samaritan and a sinner. Respectable Jewish men never did that sort of thing! By asking for a drink of water; he was putting himself in this woman’s debt and showing his humility. It also reveals his divine nature! He knew the woman’s life of sinfulness (John 4:17) and again, when he offered her the water of eternal life (John 4:14) and he was able to spiritually satisfy her(John 4:14)! Jesus, Loved the woman, an outcast from her community, and gave her the most revealing and explicit statement we have in the Gospels as to who He really was (John 4:26).

In showing love for the woman, he transcended cultural barriers. Ordinary Jewish men would never ask a woman, let alone a Samaritan woman, for a drink! Hence the disciples reaction in John 4:27! But Jesus is no ordinary man, his love is for all, whether they be rich, learned, male, female, wanted and unwanted!  This encounter between Jesus and the woman, shows us that Jesus’ offer of salvation is for all people, and not just the Jews. The woman, did however, misunderstand one thing – the living water Jesus offered as she probably thought he meant running water or water from a river! But the living water Jesus offered was spiritual water to cleanse her from sin and give eternal life.

Elsewhere in the Old Testament, God is described as “a fountain of living water” (Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13). When the disciples returned, the woman left her water jar and went back to the town to tell other people about Jesus (John 4:29-30). We read of the many people coming to faith because of the Samaritan woman’s story (John 4:39-42) knowing Jesus as the saviour of the world (John 4:42).

As Jesus’ ministry continues, we know that He spoke to people regardless of their social status, education, nationality or gender. Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

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Jesus and You 2

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2. The Jewish  teacher

 

John 3:1-17 (New Living Translation) There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

This man, Nicodemus, wants to know more about Jesus and investigate him personally, instead of following the majority of the other Jewish leaders. Who was this man, we know as Nicodemus? He was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the Jewish ruling council. Nicodemus was a leading teacher and learned scholar. From other sources we know he may well have been from a family of wealthy landowners. We do know that later he protested against Jesus’ condemnation without a trial (John 7:50-52) and that he took gifts to anoint Jesus’ body (John 19:39-40) Nicodemus was probably one of the many people looking for a kingdom of God based around a political Messiah; hence admitting that due to his miraculous signs, Jesus must have been from God. These people wanted a Messiah who was a political leader – somebody who would lead Israel to be a shining light for the whole world to come to Jerusalem and worship the one true living God.

However, Jesus corrects Nicodemus and says that it is not through a new Israel, a political kingdom that God’s kingdom will be seen, but by being “born again”. Three times in this conversation, Jesus repeats about being “born again”. What does “born again” mean? The phrase “born again” is not a physical rebirth and nor is it merely a turning over a new leaf. It also is not baptism because Jesus has not instituted baptism yet! However, “born again” is the new covenant, which Nicodemus should have known about it (Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36), and that it is being born with water and spirit – cleansed of sin and indwelt with the Holy Spirit! It is being born from above, which is looking to the one who has come down from heaven. For the phrase “born again” can also be translated “born from above”. To be born again, means to be looking to Jesus and trusting in him in all situations, just as the ancient Israelites were saved by looking at the bronze snake (Numbers 21v8)

Finally, for now, to be born again, is on an individual basis, rather than collective basis, just as physical birth is. Nobody knows the date and time of their own birth unless they are told by somebody! Jesus seemed astonished that the teacher didn’t already know that! Nicodemus, we know, was a highly educated and learned teacher! Nicodemus, left with more to think about regarding this Jesus. Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

 

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Jesus and You 1

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1. Rich Young Ruler

 

Mark 10:17-22: As Jesus started on his way; a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good-except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.'” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

This story is in the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Luke describes him as a wealthy ruler (Luke 18v18-27). Matthew describes him as a young man (Matthew 19v16-26). In Mark’s account, he is simply a man (Mark 10v17-22). Put altogether that makes him a rich young ruler. He runs up to Jesus and falls on his knees before him. He wants eternal life, wants it now and so asks Jesus about it. When he calls Jesus a good teacher, Jesus responds “No one is good-except God alone.”

Now Jesus could have been correcting the young man, but more likely Jesus was asking: “Do you know what you are saying and how close to the truth about me you are?” This young man had fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus (Mark 10v19). However when Jesus said to the young ruler that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, the man left disconsolate.

That was a step too far for the rich young ruler. He wanted his riches and also eternal life but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains the only man who left Jesus’ presence sorrowful, and that due to putting his trust in his riches and wealth alone. Now riches are not necessarily wrong but they do make trusting fully in God very difficult (Mark 10v23).

I ask, who do you say this Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

 

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Friday Prayers 25 September 2020 – Persecuted Church

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Partakers Friday Prayers

25 September 2020

For the Persecuted  Church Worldwide

 

We are praying  together today for the Persecuted Church worldwide. 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.

Amen

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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Walking with Jesus 09

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Walking with Jesus

09 Starting To Walk With Jesus


Today we finish this brief series by looking at how to become a follower of this Jesus! We look at how you can start walking with Jesus. There is no great mystery to it and it is very simple. A simplicity which confounds the wise!Come on in!

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 New Living Translation (NLT)

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