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A Christmas Reflection…

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I wonder how your Christmas was? Did you give gifts to others, even though they may or may not have deserved it? Did you receive gifts, even if you deserved them or not?

This year we had a grace Christmas… We gave gifts to a few people we know… My wife received a couple of gifts from a couple of people at her work place… We received cards from people as gifts and we valued them all as if they were gold because people took time to write them… But apart from that, nothing… But this is being told neither as a complaint or as a plea… This is being told, because many people around the world, including Christians didn’t even get a card from anybody for the celebration of the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ.

It is also a reflection of God’s grace… God gives, gives more and gives even more still… Yet rarely does He receive – particularly the totality of lives who claim to follow Him… His demands are easy to identify if you claim to follow Him… He wants all of your life – not just the parts you want to give Him… Is it difficult to do? Yes! But that is one reason we were given the Holy Spirit – to help us become more like God the Son, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, whose death and resurrection we celebrate at Easter and whose sacrificial death we remember in the Communion or Eucharist…

In this new year of 2014, please do desire to give over to Jesus, who is to be your Lord & Master, those areas of your life you are holding back on?

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主耶稣爱我、主耶稣爱你

God Luvs You

 

主耶稣爱我、主耶稣爱你

For God so loved the world, that He gave is one and only Son, so that who ever
believed in Him would have everlasting life.
”John 3:16.

Today we have Cathie from Hong Kong and London! 主耶稣爱我、主耶稣爱你

 

God loves you. God is beckoning you to love Him in return. He wants you to be in
relationship with Him. Nothing you can do will make Him love you more than He
already does. If you are not in relationship with God already, now is the time!

 

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First eBook released…

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We have released our first eBook “God’s Two Words For You: Straight Talk about Jesus and the Bible!”

 

It is available on Amazon.com (99c) and Amazon.co.uk! (£1.02)

We hope it is of some use to you and that you will provide feedback! Thank you!

 

Jesus the Risen King

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Jesus the Risen King

1 Corinthians 15v1-8: Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, all tell us that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. What do these four Gospels say about the resurrection and Jesus’ rising from the dead?

Let us first look at the sequence of events over the period of time after Jesus death till He ascended. Some of the sequence events have more than one Gospel reporting them, but for brevity, I will only give one reference to Scripture.

The tomb is empty

  • Two Marys watch the burial: Matthew27v61, Mark 15v47, Luke23v54-55,
  • Roman soldiers guard the tomb: Matthew 27v62-66,
  • Women prepare spices then rest: Luke 23v56,
  • An angel rolls the stone away: Matthew 28v2-4
  • Women arrive at dawn with spices: Matthew 28v1, Mark 16v1-4, Luke 24v1-3, John 20v1
  • Angels appear to women: Matthew 28v5-7, Mark 16v5-7, Luke 24v4-8,
  • Women dart back to tell disciples: Matthew 28v8, Mark 16v8, Luke 24v9-11, John 20v2
  • Peter and John investigate the empty tomb: Luke 24v12, John 20v3-9
  • Peter and John go home: Luke 24v12, John 20v10
  • Mary Magdalene weeps by the tomb: John 20v11
  • Mary sees two angels: John 20v12-13

Jesus’ appearances

  • Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: Mark 16v9, John 20v14-17
  • Jesus appears to the other women: Matthew 28v9-10,
  • Women report to the disciples: Mark 16v10-11, John 20v18
  • Guards testify to the priests: Matthew 28v11-15,
  • Jesus meets two people on the Emmaus Road: Mark 16v12-13, Luke 24v13-32,
  • Jesus appears to Simon Peter: 1 Corinthians 15v5, Luke 24v34,
  • 2 report to disciples in Jerusalem: Luke 24v33-35,
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples less Thomas: Luke 24v36-43, John 20v19-24
  • Disciples report to Thomas: John 20v25
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples and Thomas: Mark 16v14, John 20v26-29
  • Jesus appears to seven people: John 21v1-14
  • Jesus questions Peter 3 times: John 21v15-23
  • Jesus appears to 500 people: 1 Corinthians 15v6
  • Jesus appears to James: 1 Corinthians 15v7

Evidences for the resurrection

These facts remain for the resurrection:

  • The changed attitude of the disciples after seeing the risen Jesus. They changed from defeated, cowardly people to victorious, brave people.
  • Nobody who could have produced the dead body of Jesus, did so. Their silence is as significant as the preaching of the Apostles.
  • The multiple appearances of Jesus to various numbers of individuals and groups of people at various times of the day and in differing circumstances.
  • The survival and inordinate growth and impact of the early church. If there was no bodily resurrection of Jesus’ would people really have risked persecution and death for a knowing lie?

Dealing with Doubters

  • Lets say Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Surely the authorities would have produced his dead body in order to quench the new movement! But they didn’t.
  • Secondly, would the disciples have really risked death for telling and maintaining a lie about the risen Jesus? They were beaten, confused and defeated men until they saw Jesus truly did rise from the dead. After seeing Him, they were transformed and victorious people.
  • Thirdly, somebody stole the body. Hardly likely, and if that did occur, for what reason? How would they have got past the Roman Guard and moved the stone a great distance from the tomb?
  • Fourthly, Jesus didn’t die but merely fainted and recovered consciousness in the tomb. Even the sceptics disagree with this theory, one of whom said “It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life”.
  • Fifthly, they all went to the wrong tomb. Whilst one person may have gone to a wrong tomb, not everyone would have done.
  • Lastly, Jesus didn’t die on the cross but somebody was substituted for him. This is certainly untenable, given the rigidity and strict record keeping of Roman rule and with the eyes of the Jewish hierarchy watching.

Significance of the Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1v22; Acts 4v33, Acts 17v18). But what significance is there in Jesus’ resurrection?

  • The resurrection proved and vindicated all Jesus’ teaching and claims as the suffering Servant and attested to His being fully God and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53v10-12; Acts 2v36; Acts 3v13-15; Romans 1v4).
  • Declared God’s approval of Jesus obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises, resulting in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ, which was the prime motive for evangelism in the early church (Acts 2v32, Romans 4v24-25)
  • Jesus’ resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in Him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15v12-58, Romans 8v10, 2 Corinthians 4v14; 1 Peter 1v3 & 21)
  • As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow Him (Romans 5v10; Hebrews 6v20, 1 Peter 1v21).

Jesus still meets people today

As Jesus is still living, He meets with people at the present time. How does He do this?

  • Jesus walks with us, whereever we go and in particular in the darkest periods of our life. Just as he did with the two people on the road to Emmaus, he walks with those who proclaim to follow Him (Mark 16v12-13, Luke 24v13-32)
  • Jesus speaks whenever the Bible is faithfully preached and read from, just as He opened the eyes of those on the Emmaus road when He explained the Scriptures (Luke 24v27).
  • Jesus meets us in the Communion, with the bread and wine, which symbolise His flesh and blood.

For more to think about please do read John 20 & 21. 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. How does my faith journey compare to that of Thomas’?

Q2. What can I learn from Peter and the responses he gave?

Q3. How do I still encounter the risen Lord in my daily walk with Him?

 

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Jesus Last Prayer

84. Partake – Jesus’ Last Prayer

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.

After His last teaching on His last night, Jesus now turns to prayer. Firstly praying for Himself, then for His twelve disciples and then finally for all disciples that will 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.

The Lord’s 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 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. 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. 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? 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 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 is on various levels. Firstly it is unity on the invisible, supernatural level (John 17v21-22). The life 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 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).

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. 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.

For more to think about please do read John 17. 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. How am I as a Christian Disciple glorifying God and being His representative?

Q2. What are the hindrances that I face regarding evangelism and telling others about Jesus?

Q3. What can I, as a Christian disciple, do to maintain a witness of unity with other Christian Disciples?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partakes(at) googlemail.com. Thank you.

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