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Chocolate Christianity

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How not to be a Chocolate Christian

or

How to change Ch-rch to Church!

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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?

(more…)

Partakers – Church Moves Ahead Part 11

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G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs.

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This excerpt is from Chapter 2 – The Ten Primitive Persecutions – The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249

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WOW Disciple Session 1 Teaching

WOW Disciple Module 07 Spiritual Life

Session 1 – Sin

as recorded at Poulner Chapel on 25th August 2012… Teaching section only. Group section is a different video…

1 John 5:17-21 – Sin’s Nature; Sin’s Activity; Dealing with Sin

Easter 2012 – Day 3 – Jesus’ Last Prayer

Wednesday – Jesus’ Last Prayer

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John 17v1-5: Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendour of your Son So the Son in turn may show your bright splendour. You put him in charge of everything human so he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendour, the very splendour I had in your presence before there was a world.

On Monday night we learnt about Jesus’ mission and identity. Then on Tuesday, we learnt about Jesus’ final teaching – teaching his disciples about the Kingdom and his going back to the Fahter via the cross. Now, Jesus quite rightly now turns to prayer. Firstly praying for Himself, then for His twelve disciples and then finally for all disciples of all generations to follow, the church. This prayer is probably the pinnacle of revelation in John’s gospel. Here we see Jesus’ very words, revealing an unparalleled intimacy with His Father. Jean Calvin said in his commentary on this chapter the following After having preached to the disciples about bearing the cross, the Lord exhibited to them those consolations, by relying on which they would be enabled to persevere. Having promised the coming of the Spirit, he raised them to a better hope, and discoursed to them about the splendour and glory of his reign. Now he most properly betakes himself to prayer; for doctrine has no power, if efficacy be not imparted to it from above. He, therefore, holds out an example to teachers, not to employ themselves only in sowing the word, but, by mingling their prayers with it, to implore the assistance of God, that his blessing may render their labour fruitful. In short, this passage of the Lord Jesus Christ might be said to be the seal of the preceding doctrine, both that it might be ratified in itself, and that it might obtain full credit with the disciples.”

This scene, as portrayed by John, shows the importance of prayer and how when doing anything for the glory of God, it must be covered in prayer.

Jesus prays for Himself

Central to this part of His prayer is glorification. That is the glorification of Himself, in order that God the Father who sent Him will be glorified. Glorify is rarely used outside of church circles today. If ever it is, is usually in the context of somebody pretending to be better than they really are. Glorify means, in a biblical context, to have the person’s true nature disclosed. So in effect, Jesus is saying in John 17v1: “May people see me for who I truly am, your Son. And may they also through Me, see Your true nature Father!” Praying as He does, just before He knowingly goes to His death on the cross, shows the importance of the cross. For it is through the cross, that both God the Father, and Jesus will be glorified. Jesus’ death on the cross reveals a God of love, faithfulness and forgiveness. John 17v4 reveals that it was this purpose that He came, in order to complete the work given. Jesus’ entire earthly life has been one to show divine love – to all people of every age and class. All His works and words were completed without even a hint of hypocrisy. His entire life was driven by the desire to see sinful people turn to God for reconciliation and forgiveness.

At the cross and through the cross, this is achieved. Jesus confidently prays that having laid aside His glory by taking on human form, He will return to God’s right hand, having achieved the work of redemption through the cross. The theme of eternal life runs throughout John’s Gospel (John 3v15-16; John 10v28). Eternal life is knowing God personally and intimately, and that is only achieved by faith through Jesus’ death on the cross. It is a free offer and open to all. It is the responsibility of all people to take up the offer. Once the offered is taken up, the responsibility is then to tell others of this offer.

Jesus prays for His Disciples

John 14v6-8: I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; then you gave them to me, and they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you, for the message you gave me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you. They believed that you sent me.

In this part of the prayer, Jesus prays for His disciples. Note how He describes them: they were chosen by God Himself, seen God in Jesus and have received God’s words and obeyed them (John 17v6). John 17v6, 9-10 tells us that the disciples were in the safe possession of both the Father and the Son. John 17v7-8 shows what the disciples know. Despite misunderstanding frequently what Jesus was talking about, the disciples still grasped that Jesus had come from God. Having taught that they will endure persecution and suffering because they are His followers, Jesus prays for their safety. They will be safe, not because of their own cunning, character or conduct. They will be safe because of God’s care and protection (John 17v11-12). As they are God’s possession, He will ensure that they are watched over and protected. This security is also borne from glorifying God and being witnesses for Him (John 17v10). God is glorified whenever His salvation plan is explained and told.

Who are the disciples’ enemies and why do they need protecting (John 17v11-12, 15)? The first enemy is the world who does not know God and is therefore in rebellion against God. The disciples were told of this prior to this prayer. Satan is also an enemy of the disciple and will do all he can to stop God being glorified in the life of the disciple. How will God keep them safe? Their safety comes only through His mighty name and nature. By remaining loyal to Jesus, obedient to His teachings and telling others about Him, God’s name & nature will therefore protect them.

Jesus also prays that they may be filled with joy (John 17v13) and be dedicated wholly and solely to Him. The disciples now have a mission and purpose to fulfil – to tell others of Jesus. This mission though whilst their responsibility is not theirs alone, but is the continuation of Jesus’ mission to bring people to reconciliation and relationship with God. Part of that mission is to live a holy life in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the real and true pioneer evangelist! Living a holy life means living a life not for themselves but for the glory and obedience of Jesus Christ.

Jesus prays for all Christian Disciples

John 17v24-26: Father, I want those you gave me To be with me, right where I am, So they can see my glory, the splendour you gave me, Having loved me Long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them – Who you are and what you do – And continue to make it known, So that your love for me Might be in them Exactly as I am in them.

Now Jesus prays for all those who, through the work of the disciples, will become His followers. As such, it brings all Christian disciples into intimacy with Jesus and a part of a dynamic relationship with Him.

What does Jesus pray for His church of followers? Jesus prays for unity. That is unity on various levels. Firstly it is unity on the invisible, supernatural level (John 17v21-22). The lives of all Christian disciples are inextricably linked to each other, through the love and obedience of God the Son and God the Father. Christian disciples are united together because Jesus imparts upon them, the glory given to Him by God the Father (John 17v22). This unity is also physical, in so much as through a visible unity, people will come to know Jesus personally and take up the offer of reconciliation with God (John 17v21, 23). This unity is also physically seen, through the telling of the message of reconciliation (John 17v20). That is why different churches must be seen to work together – a visible sign of unity reflecting the invisible unity.

Remember Jesus’ words earlier in John’s Gospel? John 15v12-14: My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

Much later in his life, John must surely have reflected upon this when he writes in 1 John 3v16-24 “By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him? My little children, let’s not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and persuade our hearts before him, because if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have boldness toward God; and whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded. He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.

If the world sees Christian Disciples loving others sacrificially, then unity is seen and it is an effective witness to the reality of reconciliation with God, and a vibrant living relationship with Him. It is also imperative that prayer covers all the work of the church and the Christian – prayer is the foundation and the backbone, just as prayer was the strengthener for Jesus as He faced the cross. Without praying so earnestly that he sweated drops of blood, do you think He could have maintained the cross and its supreme significance for humanity?

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Easter 2012 – Day 2 – Jesus’ Last Teaching

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –> Tuesday – Jesus’ Last Teaching

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Heavenly Father, we thank you for Jesus Christ. We thank you that Jesus the Living Word is revealed in your Written Word, the Bible. Thank you that we have the very words of the Son of God for us to understand, enact and live. We thank you for His teaching ministry and as we come tonight to look at the final teaching before going to the Cross, we would listen with attentive ears and hearts to what you would teach us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

We continue to look at different aspects of Jesus’ final week. According to the plan I revealed last night, we were going to hear about Jesus’ last prayers. However, that will now be tomorrow night. Instead, we are going to look at Jesus’ last teaching before He goes to the cross to die.

“But now I am going back to the Father who sent me, and none of you asks me where I am going. You are very sad from hearing all of this. But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.” (John 16v5-7)

In these last few chapters before He is crucified, Jesus is saying goodbye to His disciples and giving them some final teaching before He departs. Several times He has told them He is going away (John 13v33; John 14v3-4, 19, 28). Today we are going to go quickly through John 15-16 and reflect upon this section of his final teaching sessions before He is arrested, betrayed, condemned and crucified. Of course, everything Jesus did in his earthly ministry was a lesson to be learnt and there are other events such as Peter’s denials and subsequent repentance, where we can also learn lessons. But this chapter is Jesus’ final active session of teaching His disciples. So what does he teach them?

  1. Disciples must bear fruit for the kingdom! (John 15v1-16)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15v1-2)

As usual Jesus uses Old Testament language, for in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is often seen as a vine (Jeremiah 2v21; Psalm 80). However as a vine, Israel had not produced fruit that God had expected as explained in Isaiah 5v1-2 “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.”

With Jesus describing Himself as the true Vine, the implication is clear that the nation of Israel was but an imperfect precursor to His perfect self. With Jesus as the vine, all believers are the branches, and all believers draw spiritual nourishment from Him. As part of this nourishment, sometimes pruning is required (John 15v2). Cleansing is also required in order that fruit be borne from the Christian Disciple. This cleansing is through regular confession of sin and partaking of Holy Communion as explained in the foot-washing scene of John 13. To prove to others they are His followers and His disciples, Jesus tells them they are to continue loving Him and also to sacrificially love others joyfully (John 15v12-14). By doing these things, which is now their mission statement, they will bear much good fruit for God’s greater glory (John 15v8). The same is true of us today, if we are Christian Disciples.

  1. Disciples will suffer for the kingdom (John 15v18-27)

Having spoken of love and bearing fruit, Jesus now declares a warning and the context into which He is sending them. We learn from this passage that opposition to Jesus’ message is unavoidable. The first opposition is that of the old nature attacking the new nature. Christian Disciples, Jesus said, were called out from the world (John 15v19). Christian Disciples upon conversion belong to a different place and are heading for a different place . Secondly, opposition is to be expected simply because of who Jesus is (John 15v21). Christian Disciples share in the life of Jesus and the way the world treats Jesus is the way the world treats all His disciples (John 15v20-21). Thirdly, opposition comes through revealing evil. Jesus, as the Light of the World, exposed evil and sin through His words (John 15v22) and works (John 15v24). At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus commanded all those who follow Him, to also be “lights of the world” (Matthew 5v14-16). This is done by consistently ensuring that our works and words match our lifestyle and that no hypocrisy will be found. Opposition brings persecution, and regularly throughout history, Christian believers have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus. In our own time, perhaps the most persecuted century of all. Being a Christian is not an easy decision, but it is worth it. It is also endurable because of three things: God still remains Lord God despite all; .we share in Jesus’ own sufferings and therefore have fellowship with Him (Philippians 3v10) and by being persecuted, it shows we belong to Him (John 15v19).

The main reason all opposition can be endured is because the Christian Disciple is not alone. God the Holy Spirit witnesses with the Christian Disciple (John 15v26). Not as a supplementary person filling a perfunctory role, but rather as the pioneer going out to testify about Jesus ahead (John 15v26) of the Christian Disciple (John 15v27).

  1. Disciples will have resources in the Kingdom (John 16)

a. The first resource that Christian Disciples have is, as we have already seen, the Holy Spirit. After all, He is the real evangelist. In conjunction with Him, the Christian Disciple has three resources to use: proclaiming, counselling and discipling.

Proclaiming (John 16v1-7): this is the proclaiming and elucidating work about Jesus that the Spirit performs. The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection (John 16v14). If Jesus did not go back to glory, and the Holy Spirit was not sent, then the pioneering work of the Holy Spirit would be missing from evangelism and mission. Not only does the Holy Spirit direct people to Jesus, but take them to Him.

Counselling (John 16v8-11): As well as proclaiming about Jesus, the Holy Spirit speaks to people’s hearts personally – one to one. This signifies the intimacy between the holy God and the believer. The Holy Spirit, convinces people hearing of God’s Word of three things: their own sin (John 16v8); their separation from a holy & righteous God (John 16v10) and also in regards to the judgement of Satan and all who follow him (John 16v11). In these three things, a person is led to the Cross of Christ, in order to confess their sin and their need of Jesus Christ and the salvation only He can and is able to provide.

Discipling (John 16v12-16): Once bought to faith, the Holy Spirit performs several tasks for the Twelve Disciples: He will guide them into all truth and develop what is coming in the future (John 16v13). The New Testament is the product of this work and that through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For the Christian Disciple today, the Holy Spirit helps them to apply the Bible to their life in order that Jesus Christ be glorified (John 16v14).

b. The second resource available to the Christian Disciple is Jesus Himself! Jesus presence, provision and position.

Presence (John 16v16-33):Yes, His very presence! The twelve disciples will experience sorrow and loss when Jesus is crucified and dead. But after the resurrection, their sorrow will turn to great joy – similar to the exceeding joy after the pains of childbirth! Christian Disciples today also have Jesus’ presence with them, particularly when engaged in doing the work of an evangelist!

Provision: Not only His presence, but also His provision! Through answered prayer, joy abounds (John 16v24)! Prayer is going to be of prime importance for the twelve disciples as it is a way to ensure unabated joy – joy even amidst suffering and trouble!

Position: Finally, not only His presence, His provision but also look at His position! Jesus has overcome the world (John 16v33) and nothing can prevail against Him! If you are with Jesus, nothing will prevail against Him and He will protect you, provide for you and be with you in all you do, as you submit yourself to Him. Whether in the bad times or the good times, Jesus will be with you – but you need to ask Him to be with you and rely on Him fully. If you are going through bad times now, and don’t know this Jesus yet, then ask Him to be with you – what have you got to lose?

Thank you.

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