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Posts tagged ‘Issues’

God, Internet Church and you

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God, Internet Church & You

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Due to lockdown or quarantine due to the CoronaVirus / COVID-19 Pandemic, Church has moved to using the Internet for its services to the world.  In this little book we seek to answer why the Church is using the Internet, as well as exploring together ways in which we can respond.

Here are some of the questions we will explore together:

  • What is Digital Space & the Internet?
  • Why should the Church be on the Internet and how?
  • Isn’t Church on the Internet just a modern form of the ancient heresy of gnosticism?
  • Is God able to interact there?
  • For the Christian, what are some of the liabilities and virtues of the Internet?
  • Could an internet based church be part of the historical church?
  • What can a Church service on the Internet look like?
  • How can this technology be used, so that you as a Christian, can use your talents and serve God on the Internet in the 21st century?

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Issues – Government

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 Partake - Issues

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 2:1-3 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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Sermon – God, Internet Church and You

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Sermon – God, the Church and the Internet

(John 17:13-19 & Romans 12:3-13)

13 ‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17v13-19)

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality. (Romans 12v3-13)


Introduction

We are, as I am sure you are aware, in the midst of the COVID19 global pandemic. All gatherings of Christians to gather in Churches has had to cease. How has the Church responded to this. They have gone online and using the internet! But why are they using it when before they largely eschewed it? Let’s look together at the what, why and how Church can also fit in with a biblical world view.Not just accepting it but embracing it fully, taking advantages of all the opportunities it affords as well as being wary of any liabilities or warnings. Let’s go!

Symptomatic of human history has been the development of different technologies. Each generation seems to have had a great leap forward in some way! Think of the wheel, the printing press, the wireless, the combustion engine and the silicon chip!

One of the developments that I am sure that you have noticed is the internet. Everything is on the internet now it seems – increasingly so at a government & banking level! Everybody here has used it – either directly or indirectly. The internet is here. It isn’t going to go away and it will continue to develop and expand.

Likewise, the church is here too. It also isn’t going to go away (at least at a universal level) and it also will develop and expand. So let’s tonight look at what this internet is, why the Church should be using it and lastly how the church can use it for the glory of God. By using it, I do mean more than just a website with the latest information, events and sermons on it!

1. What is the internet?
2 – Can God interact on the Internet?
3. Why should the Church be on the Internet?
3a. Go into the world but don’t be part of it (John 17:13-19)
3b. Go serve, you gifted people! (Romans 12:3-8)
3c. Love in action (Romans 12:9-13)
4. What are some of the benefits?
4a. Reach out to the world!
4b. Assisting Housebound & disabled people
4c. Assisting the Geographically Isolated


Conclusion

Tonight we have looked together very briefly at God, the Church and the Internet. I hope that you have been blessed by our time together. We saw how God can interact on the internet. We saw why we should be using the internet for God’s Glory as well as some suggested ways as to how to do this. We are on a mission. A mission to tell people the Good News of Jesus Christ and to disciple them.

Part of this mission is the use of our Spiritual Gifts, which each of us have. We are to use every opportunity to develop them, use them and enable others in the use of them. For this is God’s will for you and it reflects His love of you to a world that is dying to know Him. We are to use our Spiritual gifts with the aid of our God-given imagination and creativity. Just because you can’t think of a way to do something, doesn’t mean somebody else can’t think of a way! Just because we don’t understand something, does not mean it is wrong! Don’t limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination! What is more, don’t limit others because of your own limited imagination.

Let’s use the internet communities of Facebook etc to uplift, encourage and support each other. I personally get more encouragement from those outside the church, non-Christians, than I do Christians. They are usually always the first to notice if I am absent without telling them or to tell me some good news.

Let’s go! Let’s go and fulfil our mission – on the Internet as well as in our streets and roads. It will mean more than just having an internet website with the latest events and sermons on it, but we can do it! Are you willing? Let’s go!

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Issues – Words

 Partake - Issues

Words

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G’day and welcome to Partake and our series looking at some of the issues facing Christian Disciples in the twenty first century. Last time we looked at Materialism, and today we look at something that has the capability of affecting every person on the planet.

Jesus, our Master, said in Matthew Chapter 12 How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, which gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is blight on the orchard. Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” Jesus took words extremely seriously and so must we for we are a result of our speech and we will be judged for what we say.

Words Alive!

Have you guessed what issue we will be talking about? Yes – that’s right – the issue is about Words! Words matter and for the Christian disciple they are off the utmost importance as the building blocks of communication: whether by thought or through the tongue. One of the greatest sins of the twenty first century, that all Christian Disciples need to be wary of, is the use of words. Communication, which is cynical, sarcastic, murderous and discouraging, surrounds us and we are coerced to join in, when in fact we should be standing alone against it. The twenty first century is the communications century – everything can be communicated around the world at the click of a mouse button. What we say, think and write has the potential to be a sinful action of sinful inaction. Regardless of what other people say or do, we are to speak, think and write without sinning. Let those be responsible before God for their own actions and inactions – you are only responsible for yours!

Words are the central means of communication regardless of our language, nationality or culture. Needless to say that every one of us has either been hurt, or has hurt others, by communicated words. The power of the tongue in communication and speech is awesome. It has the power of life & death and those who love it will eat & bear its fruit. The tongue is a fire, which left unguarded, can corrupt the whole body and set the whole course of life on fire. We need to watch the words we speak and control our speech, or it will control us.

A Right Use!

So what is a right use of the tongue in communicating? We are to use our words to nourish others, encourage and lift them up. For the tongue of the righteous is choice silver. (Prov.10:21). Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet in the soul and healing to the bones. We find that if we give an apt reply we will find joy and discover the goodness and healing a timely word brings! But we are not to speak glibly and hypocritically but with truth, sincerity and love – as a mother speaks to her daughter.

Guard it!

How can we guard its use? By asking the Holy Spirit to watch over our lips and set a guard over our mouth, according to the Psalmist in Psalm 141:3. It is a measure of wisdom to speak words when required and with discernment. Any fool can speak words all the time, but sometimes there is a need for silence, for even then foolish people are thought to be wise. Frequently, we are told by the world to be quick to speak and slow to listen. But as Christian Disciples we are to do the opposite, and stand alone against it! We are to be slow to speak and quick to listen, according to James 1:19.

Jesus’ Words

Jesus’ words encouraged and healed, such as to the woman caught in adultery, when he used discernment and wisdom. He actively encouraged others gently towards paths of right living. He spoke words lovingly to his mother. He even spoke words of kindness whilst He hung from His cross, during his last moments before death! He is to be our guide and Master in the use of speech, thoughts and words. That is not to say he didn’t rebuke with an attitude of love, as he most certainly did on occasion to the Pharisees and other religious leaders.

Matthew 5v21-22 is an example of the seriousness of words. Jesus speaking: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Here Jesus equates calling somebody a fool with the physical act of murder! Murder has its beginning in anger developing into uncontrollable rage! Words, thoughts and attitudes of anger can lead the Christian Disciple to sin even more if they aren’t stopped quickly. Similarly, adultery has its beginning in lustful thoughts! The words we formulate in our minds and those that proceed via our mouths are of utmost importance to God and therefore should be of utmost importance to us! Let the words you communicate and think about, be like those of Jesus – “full of grace”. Do not sin, either in your deeds, in your thinking and all means of communicating.

How are you doing?

How are you doing in your use of words? Are your actions backing up your words? Are the words you use always full of grace, uplifting, encouraging and building! Sure there are times when words are to be used for rebuking in love, but always used under the control of the Holy Spirit. The words you speak reflect your inner attitudes, your inner thoughts and your inner being. The words you speak and communicate reflect who you are. If the words you communicate are derogatory, inflaming and cursory then that reflects your inner thoughts and attitudes. Control your tongue, commands James. A person who controls their tongue can be likened to a ship with a rudder, and able to be steered to safety! An uncontrolled tongue reflects a ship that is heading into dangerous water! Your words and all your communication have the power to bring life and encouragement but also on the contrary, has the power to bring corruption, degradation and death. Let the Holy Spirit who lives inside you if you are a Christian Disciple; help you to use your words for the supreme glory of Jesus Christ, who after all is your Master! By doing that, you will truly be seen to be one of His disciples and be Standing Alone for Him and His majesty! He is to have supremacy over all things in your life, including your words! Make no mistake, one of the issues facing Christians and a possible barrier to standing alone, is the use, abuse and misuse of words.

For more to think about please do read James 3vv1-11. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Are the words I speak, words that heal and encourage, or are they also used to hurt and damage people?

Q2. When I am talking with other people, is it for gossiping, maliciousness or are they for healing, encouraging and uplifting others?

Q3. When was the last time I confessed and asked forgiveness for my sinful use, misuse and abuse of words?

Thank you.

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Issues – Radical Church

 Partake - Issues

Radical Church

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Luke writes of the early church in Acts 2v42-47 “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…” then onto v47 “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

G’day and welcome to Partake Issues! Today we are going to talk about the church and its members being radical: radical within both its local and global contexts and in fulfilling its purposes.

1. The Purpose of the Church –

First of all, the purpose of the church! The church, we know, is described as the body, bride and temple of Jesus Christ. We, the church, are to be as Jesus Christ and fulfilling His purposes! From the Bible, we can see at least 5 purposes of the church.

  • To glorify God (Ephesians 3v10 & 21)
  • To build up spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4v12-13)
  • To equip for service (Ephesians 4v11-13)
  • To reach those outside the church (Matthew 28v10)
  • To promote the spiritual and physical welfare of all people – (Galatians 6v10)

Every church is to at least have those 5 things as its purpose. Your church is to exist, not for those who belong to it but also for those outside its walls! If the church gets the balance wrong at all, then surely it is failing in all of its purposes! One of the key things for churches in the 21st century is in the area of providing welfare, both for its members and those in the local and global community. Too often churches and its members have fallen into the ideological trap of consumer-based materialism. There is a saying that God helps those who help themselves. I want to tell you that that is clearly unbiblical. As a Christian and a church, you are to help those who cannot help themselves. After all that’s what God through Jesus Christ did – helped those who couldn’t help themselves! The church is to provide welfare for all on all levels – physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual. Too often the church only concentrates on one or two of those areas.

2. What will you say?

Judged accordingly! And in fulfilling those purposes, we will be judged! We are aware, I am sure, that God will judge all people for their sin. That is clear within the Bible. But did you know that there is to be a judgment for all those who profess to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour? It will not be a judgment for sins and wickedness, because for Christian followers, those have already been judged when Jesus Christ died on the cross (Isaiah 53v4-6; 1 Peter 2v24)! Of that you have been declared innocent and accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ, as you have accepted His free offer of forgiveness!

However, you and I will be judged for what we have done with our gifts and talents!. We will all give an account of ourselves to God, if we profess to be Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ (Romans 14v10), and will be judged according to what we have done with what we have been given (2 Corinthians 5v10). The quality of our work will be tested (1 Corinthians 3v11-15), and our motives will be exposed. Exposed as to whether things were done for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 4v4-5) or for our own glory.

As we give account of the opportunities and abilities entrusted to us (Matthew 25v14-30), rewards may be gained or lost (1 Corinthians 3v14-15). Rewards such as the Incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9v25); the Crown of glory (1 Peter 5v4); Crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4v8); Crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2v19) and the Crown of life (James 1v12). Therefore, do all you can for the glory of God the Father, as you submit to the Son Jesus Christ in the power of God the Holy Spirit! Go and help your church fulfil those 5 purposes of its existence: to glorify God, build and equip, to reach out and provide spiritual and physical welfare for all people within its community and beyond. Don’t wait to do it, take every opportunity to do it!

How do we go about this? Let me suggest two ways to be radical: radical care and radical finances!

Radically caring: Too often people in need, are shown care and concern for a little while, but gradually as time goes on, the caring ceases. All sorts of excuses are given, but in reality, there can be no excuse or reason for not caring. Not caring means not loving. Love is to be for all people, regardless of personalities, conflicts, opinions, gender, sexuality, prejudice and bias. Lots of people leave churches and house groups, through the back door, because they don’t get the care they need and desire. Too often, I would say. Too often the church is too interested in its own little world of new buildings, new programmes, new schedules or new members, as important as those things can be!

Rather than churches that look after only the interest of select people within its walls and community, the church is to look after all interests of all, both its members and non-members and within both the local and global community. We are to eschew, cast off, being insular, self-seeking and materialistic. If your own church can’t supply the need required, then it may just be that one of the other churches in your community can provide the need! Local churches, working together, to show that churches can work together – something we are often accused of not doing! By loving and caring for others, we show true fellowship with Jesus Christ. We can be seen to be one church, even though we are separate expressions of the one global church.

Most people who are sick, both short-term and long-term, will appreciate contact or even a visit! There must be someone you know in your church you can do that for! Be caring!

And on a even more radical note, lets look at money!

Lets talk money! For a lot of people there are three subjects never to be raised within church circles: money, sex and politics! We may look at the others in another podcast, but lets look at the Christian and money! Jesus certainly talked a lot about money, even just a cursory look in the Gospels will reveal that! Before I go further, this is aimed at all Christians, not just a select group!

We all desire to mature spiritually (one of the Church purposes remember). Perhaps the greatest indicator of this in the 21st century, concerns financial giving. Giving is to be done whole-heartedly and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9v7). It is not so much how much is given, but how much is left after giving. God looks beyond the amount that is given to the motive behind it. All our money and possessions belong to God anyway, so giving is to be in response to this..

Failure to give back for God’s work, what He has given in the first place, robs God (Malachi 3v8)! The reason it is robbery is because the giving cannot be used to support those who are working for God.

Most churches with one busy pastor could quite easily afford another pastor on the payroll if more people gave money using those biblical principles. Missionaries shouldn’t have to literally beg for funding as some do, particularly when some professing Christians continue to build up massive pension pots to keep themselves in the luxurious manner they are accustomed to when they retire.

The hallmark of the early church is clearly seen in Acts 2. The New Testament church made sure that giving was done and that the poor, the oppressed, the lonely and the widows were taken care of. People gave. When anybody was in need, another member of the church fulfilled that need: physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. That is radical church! It is not to be for just the first century church but also for the 21st century church. It is not communism under another name as I have heard it called. Those who say that are entrapped within the snare of materialistic consumerism and political dogma, looking after their own interests rather than the interests of others. Its biblical welfare as commanded by Jesus Christ and exemplified by His life. Anything outside of that can be regarded as deplorable, revolting and an abomination.

That is also radical! Churches and Christians are to be so radical so that even today, people outside the church can say with amazement: “These people love their God because we see that they love each other and us!” Go! God gave everything so that you may life and life in abundance, so by caring and giving, you will reflect that. Be radical church and encourage others to be likewise.

For more to think about, please do ask your self 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 is my church fulfilling the 5 purposes of Church?

Q2. How can I help my church be more biblically radical?

Q3. When God judge me for what I have done with what He has given me, will I will be accused of having robbed Him?

Thank you.

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