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Posts tagged ‘partakers’

Alphy and the Lord’s Prayer!

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What’s It All About, Alphy?

Alphy the WOWChurch Cat has a new book out! Alphy the WOWChurch Cat is on an adventure! In this book, his adventures take Alphy to explore the Lord’s Prayer – perhaps the most misunderstood prayer of all!! What will he find? You will have to read to find out! Come and discover with him!Check the preview video out and the Amazon links…

40 pages. Fully illustrated. UK Price is £4.99 and USA price is $9.99! Every purchase helps me out and I also put a percentage to good causes close to my heart !

Purchase at Amazon UK – Purchase at Amazon USA – Purchase at CreateSpace USA

Let me know what you think!

Alphy!

 

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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?

Issues – Times of Trouble

 Partake - Issues

Times of Trouble

G’day and welcome to Partake Issues! Today we are going to talk about times of trouble. Paul writing in 2 Corinthians 4v16- 18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I wonder if sometimes you feel just like giving up, throwing it all away and just be buried by whatever is burdening you. I guess, almost everyone has felt like that at one time or another. Maybe its because you are undergoing troubles or suffering – physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Whatever it is, as a Christian you are to persevere. We persevere, because we are not alone in our troubles. Also, if we think about it, in the light of eternity, the time of endurance through these troubles, is but the blink of an eye! Wow!

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Persevere!

How are you and I to respond to suffering and other troubles? Naturally, we either treat them too flippantly or far too seriously. The response that God wants His followers to have is to be exercised by it. When we undergo any suffering or trouble, we are to commit it to God, endure it and understand that He is faithful and that it will eventuate in His glory and for our own good (Romans 8v28; 1 Peter 4v18). We are to be joyful when enduring suffering (James 1v2). Now I admit, that that can be pretty hard to do, but we are not left alone. The Holy Spirit indwells us if we are His followers and as one of His names suggests, as the Comforter, He provides comfort during the difficult times. So, just as He perseveres, so are we!

Perseverance in relation to God and His work is the continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in your life as a believer. It is a work of divine grace that is begun in your heart, which is continued and brought to completion.

As a Christian, you will never perish, and nobody or nothing can snatch them out of His hand (John 10v27-29). You have eternal life and you will not be condemned, passed from death to life (John 5v24). God, who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1v6). You are shielded by God’s power (1 Peter 1v15). Nothing can separate you from God/Christ’s love (Romans 8v38-39).

God’s whole purpose for you is to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ. His purpose for you is to make you holy. This is where perseverance for you as a Christian comes in. He may well, as we have seen, use some form of temporal suffering in order to achieve it, but in the light of eternity, it will not be for long!

You are to keep your eyes focussed on Jesus Christ, carry your cross daily and be willing to obey Him. You are to run the race with eyes fixed ahead, forgetting what is past and not looking back at what in the past had entangled us. And yes it is hard to forget, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, it is possible! As a Christian, persevere in your relationship with God. Obey Him and follow Him. Ask questions humbly of Him and expect Him to answer, particularly if you don’t understand something. Persevere in your prayers, your relationships with God and with other people. God will persevere with you, turning you gradually into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. God will not abandon you, but you are free to abandon Him. If you did abandon Him, He would still continue to call you back to Himself. So if He perseveres, so must we! But why do we persevere?

Character

Character results from persevering! As a Christian you are to be transformed and developed, working on improving your service and being transformed in the image of Jesus Christ. That is God’s ultimate purpose for you! But in order to do that, we need to find out what needs to be developed! These characteristics will help you to measure how much the Holy Spirit has been free to develop your character.

1. Persistence & EndurancePersistence & endurance is developing staying power, to hold courageously under fire. In other words – bulldog tenacity. Things like criticism, circumstances, opposition & problems can stop you cold, if you allow them.. The problem is that we sometimes think the Christian life is a sprint race. When in fact it is a marathon, where a second wind of the long hard grind is necessary. What is it that stops you? The size of a person is determined by what it takes to stop him or her. Winners are people who have formed the habit of doing things that failures hate to do. Don’t let anything stop you!

2. Resistance – This is not resistance to ideas but resistance to opposition. Criticism is the occupational hazard for leaders (1 Peter 2v20-24). Discouragement is a cancer of the Spirit. Be resistant to discouragement and hyper-criticism. Let the Holy Spirit encourage you!

3. ServanthoodMatthew 20v26-28 “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Priority is be given to service. An essential part of developing character, is serving.If Jesus, as King, could be a humble servant, in that He came to earth as a member of His own creation, then you and I can also be identified as humble servants..

4.Consistent Example – Modelling is the greatest unconscious form of learning what we know. As Paul writes in Philippians 3v17 – 4v9 “Follow me as I follow Christ”. Whether you like it or not, people are following you, but are you following Christ closely? Those who are following and watching you, do not do what you tell them to do, but do what you do!

5. Self-mastery – You need to be unencumbered by the things that weigh you down. This is the danger of an affluent society. (Hebrews 12:1-2) “Travel light”. You need to decide what is good and what is evil. The real decision is between that which is good, that which is better and which is better or best. Choose the best!!

6. Virile Private Life – Two things to keep in balance are involvement & isolation. You cannot do enough for others if you are constantly in the company of others. You also need time alone but not as a complete hermit!

7. Confidence – The number one problem in our culture today, is a lack of confidence. Paul said in Philippians 4v13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. For you as Christian Disciple, self-confidence is Christ-confidence – this is not egotism. Say to your self “I can’t lose. I can only make mistakes”. Confidence is spawned by the ability to say no. The New Testament is the doctrine of moderation in all things. You don’t have to do everything you are capable of achieving.

8. Teachability – You are to be teachable because you have an unlimited ceiling of being taught. A key part of your being a Christian Disciple is a willingness to be taught by other people, even if you are in a teaching role!

9. Positive Attitude – A danger in becoming negative, is that a root of bitterness sets up. The greatest therapy is that of thanksgiving & prayer. God says you can do it. Satan says you can’t do it.

10. Your capacity to believe God – What is there in your life that you are trusting in God for that He alone can do? (2 Corinthians 4v7) In your life, Jesus is to have the supremacy and glory over all things!

Whatever you are going through – persevere and develop character. Allow yourself to be transformed daily by God the Holy Spirit into the image of God the Son in obedience to the will of God the Father.

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. After reading 2 Timothy 2v11-13, what motivates me to endure and persevere?

Q2. After reading Philippians 3v17, how can I follow Jesus Christ more closely?

Q3. After reading 2 Corinthians 4:7, what is there in my life that where I show trust in God for that which He alone can do?

Thank you.

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Your Prayers Please

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Your Prayers Please!

I covet your prayers for the coming 2 weeks!

  • Finalise the London trip of March 28-30 and the people I shall meet about WOWDisciple, WOWEnable and WOWEncourage there…
  • Monday 17th: meeting Vincent as to collaborating over some WOW Events down in this area.
  • Tuesday 18th: meeting with Samantha for a WOW Team meetup as well as with Katie; followed by meeting with Clare… She has a severely autistic child and sometimes (understandably) struggles to cope…
  • Wednesday 19th: Prayer meeting on Skype with Deb and how we can integrate her gifts/talents into Partakers…
  • Thursday 20th : WOWChurch…
  • Friday 21st : Meeting with a good friend and accountability partner, Andy.

During this time I have to prepare a sermon for Sunday 23rd: Preaching 6:30pm at Poulner Chapel – Romans 5:1-11 “God’s blessings revealed!” Steven will be sharing his testimony about how he became a Christian including overcoming drug addiction and anti-Christian lifestyles…

Correct thinking leads to correct action – 1 Timothy 1

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Correct thinking leads to correct action!

Sermon I preached, based on 1 Timothy 1, at Durrington Free Church on 21 July 2013…

Developing a Strategy to Cope

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Developing A Strategy to Cope

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How can we, as 21st century Christians, keep from falling away. I would call it the COPE strategy: Consider, Persevere and Encourage.

Keep Considering! (Hebrews 3:1-6)

The first thing we do is to consider Jesus or as the NIV here puts it “fix our thoughts”. Now remember, that these are Hebrew believers. I guess we would call them Messianic Jews today. They believed that Jesus was their Messiah, Saviour and Lord. They were obviously coming under pressure from their Jewish friends and leaders to deny this Jesus and return to the fold. They would have been told how great Moses was. In the previous chapter we read how Jesus is greater than the angels, because He is God, but was made a little lower than the angels when he became a man.

Moses was cool

In this chapter, we read a comparison between Jesus and Moses. Moses to the Jews was like a super-hero. Moses was revered because it was to him that God revealed His will. Moses was the key figure in the establishment of Israel as a nation – God’s chosen people! Moses suffered persecution and rejection from the rest of the family of Israel. He had great zeal for God and was willing to sacrifice everything for God. He had fellowship with God. Yet all this is merely a shadow and a prophetic sign of what was to come in Jesus. Moses, we read in Numbers 12:7, was faithful to God’s house, God’s people. The house of God is the people of God. It was this Moses who was held in such high regard by the Jews, that some might well have been tempted to renounce Jesus and go back to the old ways.

God’s Messiah would need to be greater than Moses, and Jesus is and was this Messiah. Later on in the book of Hebrews, we discover that Jesus is greater than Aaron through whom the law was ministered; but here we see that Jesus is greater than Moses, the lawgiver, the servant of the house of God.

Moses and Aaron represented God’s house in Israel; Moses was the Apostle or Prophet and Aaron was the High Priest. Jesus, an Apostle and Prophet as well as being the High Priest, joined the two together. By Apostle, I mean as a Messenger – that’s what an apostle is – a messenger or representative. As the Apostle of our faith, Jesus was faithful. Jesus was God’s representative for us, making God known to us. Jesus was totally faithful, means to be both trusting and to be capable of being trusted.

Moses was the one to whom the Law was given – the Mosaic covenant under which the Jewish people lived. This covenant with Moses commenced with the stipulation “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” (Exodus 19v5). This covenant was to Israel in order that those who believed God’s promise to Abraham, could know how to live rightly in accordance with how God wanted them to live.

This covenant with Moses covered the three areas of life:

  • The commandments were given so they would know how to relate socially to God (Exodus 20v1-6)
  • The judgments were given in order that they could relate socially to each other (Exodus 21v1 – 24v11)
  • The decrees dictated their religious life so that God could be approached by humanity on His terms (Exodus 24v12 – 31v18).

This covenant that God made with Moses and the ancient nation of Israel was never meant to be as a means for providing salvation. It was given so that they could realize the helplessness and futility of their own efforts and their need of God’s help. It was to serve only as a protective fence until the promised Messiah came; the long waited for Saviour of all humanity, so that the whole world, Jew and Gentile, could be made right with God through faith and faith alone.

In Comes Jesus

And that is where Jesus comes in. As their Messiah and Saviour, Jesus ushered in the New Covenant, which was promised by God through the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

What are the features of this New Covenant or promise?

Four features of this covenant are:

  • Regeneration -God will write His law on the hearts of people.
  • Restoration – God will be their God, and they will be His people.
  • Promised Holy Spirit – God will indwell people and they will be led by Him
  • Justification – Sins will be forgiven and removed eternally

This new covenant is sealed only through the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus on the cross. His blood ensures the truth of this New Covenant. His death pays the penalty for the sins of all people who say yes to God and are ready to run the race and travel the course. This New Covenant finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant could only point to: the follower of God living in a relationship with God conforming to God’s holy character. That is one very specific way of Jesus being superior to Moses! The original readers of this letter being God-fearing Jews would be aware of all this.

They would also be aware that it is sin, which separates humans from God and as a consequence leads to both a spiritual and physical death (Romans 3v23, Romans 6v23, Isaiah 59v2). In the Old Testament, sins were dealt with by blood sacrifices of atonement as coverings for sin (Leviticus 17v11), for without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9v22). A blood sacrifice is God’s way of dealing with sin. These blood sacrifices of the Old Testament signified several things:

  • It provided a covering for sin.
  • It showed the great cost of sin.
  • It was an exchange or substitution.
  • It was only always going to be a temporary measure, as it pointed forward to Jesus’ death and it needed to be done over and over again.

 

So how is Jesus better than Moses? The answer lies in the solution to sin. The ultimate solution to sin lies not in the continual animal sacrifice under the Covenant with Moses, because as the writer later in Hebrews 10v4 stipulates the blood of animals cannot take away sin but was only ever going to be a veneer or a covering. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again!

It is only through the victorious death of Jesus, that sin is permanently taken away (Hebrews 9:v11-15, 26-28), because Jesus is the permanent sacrificial substitute! It is as if the writer is saying give up on Jesus, stop considering Him and you would still be in your sins – that’s the way the original readers would have understood it!

And as for us?

As followers of Jesus Christ we are built together so that the Spirit of God may join us together in love. Both individually and as a group, we are the house of God. Jesus said, “We will come and make our home in you”. We know Jesus has been faithful as a Son over God’s people. We celebrate His faithfulness at Easter, when we acknowledge and rejoice at the sacrifice He made for us. We remember it in the act of Communion, which we will have later. Jesus suffered persecution and rejection from his peers. We know Jesus was godly and full of zeal for God, and was willing to sacrifice everything for God and his people. We are the house of God. And yet, do we not reject Jesus sometimes, or do we keep on considering? Do we give Him and trust in His faithfulness to complete the good work he has started in us?

This NIV translation has “fix your thoughts”. Here is how the New King James Version puts verse 1 “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus”. I personally think that that is a better way of putting it. And not only because it has the word partakers in there!

To “consider” has a much broader meaning than just “fixing your thoughts” as the NIV puts it. It means to seek, to fully understand or comprehend as well as fixing thoughtfully. To consider means to contemplate, to think about, to persevere with, to concentrate on and to fix eyes and thoughts upon. We have to allow Jesus Christ to permeate every aspect of our life, if we are to be partakers of Him. To consider not just how Jesus would do something, but how Jesus would think. What attitude would Jesus take? What would Jesus not do? Just as the Hebrews receiving this letter were told to do, in their race of the life following Jesus, we too are to hold fast to our courage, but only by considering Jesus and trusting in Him relying on the Holy Spirit to help us as we ask Him.

This phrase “to consider” is perhaps the central theme of the book of Hebrews. We are to consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. Jesus was faithful to the purpose of His Coming to be among people. His purpose in coming to earth, as a mere man, was to die for sins and be raised up on the third day so as to be victorious over death and sin. This Jesus perfected our human nature in His life of simplicity, suffering, devotion and obedience. He now lives at the right hand of the Father in heaven, to communicate to us His life and blessedness through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We must therefore consider Jesus in everything we do, every thought we think and in every attitude. This is the aim of the writer to persuade these Hebrew Christians that if they knew Jesus to be the faithful, compassionate Almighty apostle and priest in Heaven, then they would find everything in Him that they needed for life. Moses couldn’t help them, but Jesus could! Moses had died, they could perhaps visit his tomb if they wanted to. But Jesus, well, Jesus’ tomb was empty! Jesus is alive! The life of these Hebrew Christians would be united with their faith, and united with the life of Jesus whom their faith would glorify God. To these Hebrew Christians their salvation was based on Jesus, but to renounce Jesus and go back to following Moses was apostasy. Moses couldn’t offer salvation because the Law was not meant as a means of salvation! But what about you? Are you trusting in this Jesus for salvation or are you even subconsciously relying on your own good works or something else?

That was what these believing Hebrews were to do – consider how vastly superior Jesus is to Moses. We also are to consider how superior Jesus is to all other things that would try to entangle us and allure us away with false promises.

 

Keep Persevering!

 

 

(Hebrews 3v7-12, 15-19)

And then after considering Jesus, these Hebrew Christians were to do something! They were to persevere in believing. The writer now warns these Hebrew believers against the sin of unbelief, which is the hardening of their hearts. The writer quoting from Psalm 95 reminds them of the way Israel rebelled against God in the desert. He warns them not to be like their forefathers, who did not trust fully in the Lord their God. From Psalm 95, he proceeds to remind them of their ancestors’ deeds of unbelief. The privilege of the house of God is in hearing God’s voice. By choosing not to listen to God’s voice, peoples’ hearts grew hard and cold. These words are of course written to believing Christian Hebrews, not unbelieving Jews, and are as appropriate for us today, as it was for them when they received it.

As the people of God today, the Church, we need to be ready to listen to God’s voice. As we see God working in us, our trust and belief in Him grows. If we do not believe in Him to help us, then of course our hearts will harden against him. As we grow and run the race, willingly sacrificing what needs to be sacrificed, we realize the glory and majesty of God, His holiness and perfection, His love and tenderness, and gladly listen to hear what He says to us, and willingly receive what He gives us.

When you pray, do you have your Bible open? When you read your Bible, do you do so prayerfully and considerately? Bible reading and prayer go together! Unbelief stops a person from holding fellowship with God. Our God is alive, not a dead idol on the shelf or in the bank. This church of Hebrew believers, for all their Christian profession and religious exercises, were in danger of falling away from God, due to their not believing totally in Him. God would not abandon them, but they would abandon God!

We need to take care, in case we also fall into unbelief. Unbelief and falling away act upon and react to each other. If we have any unbelief in our hearts tonight, then let us ask God to give us a heart that believes in Him so that we may not fall away from Him. And what is one of the main ways we can stop from falling away or letting others fall away into unbelief?

 

Keep encouraging!

 

 

Hebrews 3v12-14

So we keep on considering Jesus. We persevere in our believing in Him. Now thirdly, to show we are considering Jesus and are persevering in our believing Him, we are to encourage and be encouraged! In verse 12, we read, “See to it, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God”. This means, that we are not only to take care of our own hearts, but as verse 13 goes on to say, we are to encourage and ensure no one is in danger of falling away. We who are believers, have to make sure that each one of us is staying on the path that leads to life, that is, the race towards Jesus.

This group of Hebrew Christians were to help and encourage each other! And so are we! For us, maybe it is by phoning somebody you haven’t seen in a while or to phone somebody you get a random thought about! If we see a brother or sister that we know is starting to fall out of the race, we need to do all we can to stop them falling away. We need to encourage them, to continue considering Jesus and believing in Him. We all know of people who are new believers, full of joy and zeal for God, that end up falling back into unbelief, unable to hold fast to the end. To some degree, it is because the Church body has failed to encourage them to continue on in the race. It is our duty, and our daily responsibility to encourage people on in the race or the journey.

However, to encourage is not just these easy things. To encourage can also mean to rebuke, to correct in love. I look back at my tutor, during my first stint of Bible College back in the 1980s. His name was Ed. Ed the head we called him. We had weekly tutorials then. Every week he would get me to read a chapter of Knowing God by JI Packer and a chapter of Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Then during our tutorial I would have to try and explain what I learnt from both those chapters. It was a slog at times I tell you. Sometimes I would get a clip round the ear for being stubborn or just being plain thick! But it gave me a good grounding for my Christian thinking and life of discipleship to Jesus.

Or I think back to my dear friend Rose, a kind and dear elderly lady from the church I used to attend back in the 80s. She would have us young adults back to her house overlooking the ocean for coffee after church on a Sunday evening. She would always be showing love, caring and encouraging to all people – ready to lift them when they were down and eager to cheer from the sidelines. She was also a tough cookie at times and if we got out of line, she would say so in no uncertain terms! Not so much an arm around the shoulder then but a good swift kick! Both methods of encouragement when required!

When we see somebody sinning or contemplating Therefore in considering Jesus, believe in Him and encourage others to do the same. That is the purpose of encouragement mentioned here. Let all of us give ourselves to the service of Jesus to watch over other people: let all the fresh grace and deeper knowledge of Jesus we see, be for the service of those around us. Where will you and I be spiritually next year, in 10 years’ time, in 25 years’ time? Will you be able to honestly say to yourself at that time, I have grown spiritually and haven’t fallen away?

If you would call yourself a Christian, and you are unsure where you are, then do this. Look back and remember what Jesus has done for you. Consider Him as you look back to your first profession of faith in Him. Consider that just as He died, you died in the waters of baptism. Consider that just as He rose to physical life, you rose from the waters of baptism and will also rise again when you physically die. Consider that just as Jesus will be glorified, so too will you be glorified before the Father – if you hold out until the end. Be assured of who you are – you are a child of the living God – hold out to the end. He has a firm grip on you, so maintain your grip on Him! Remember who you are!

The way to cope with the rigours of 21st century life as a Christian believer, is to keep considering, keep persevering and keep encouraging.

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A prayer of Augustine…

Partakers Friday Prayers!

10th January 2014

 

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations – that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

 

Let us pray earnestly this prayer together to our great God!

Look upon us, O Lord,

and let all the darkness of our souls

vanish before the beams of Your brightness.

~

Fill us with holy love,

and open to us the treasures of Your wisdom.

~

All our desire is known by You,

therefore perfect what You have begun,

and what the Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer.

~

We seek Your face,

turn Your face toward us

and show us Your glory.

~

Then shall our longing be satisfied,

and our peace shall be perfect.

Amen

Augustine (354-430AD)

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