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Posts tagged ‘suffering’

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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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 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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Easter – Jesus’ Last Teaching

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.


Think Spot


Think Spot – 15th August 2011

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G’day! Welcome to Partakers Think Spot at the start of new week on Monday the 15th of August 2011. Today we have a special guest, Pauline, who is going to share some thoughts with you. Over to you, Pauline!

I believe God allows us to go through hard times for many reasons. One is that it makes us less self dependant and more God dependant; they help us to recognise our need for God. Another is that it gets rid of some of our character traits which are unholy, part of refining us – such as pride, and materialism. A new car pales into insignificance when you lose your health, for instance. Going through difficult times reveals our true values, character traits and beliefs. Hardship shows us what our strengths and weaknesses are. We need to know what our weaknesses are so we can ask God to help us with them. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says “Gods power is made perfect in our weakness.”

Allowing us to suffer and endure hardship, is an act of love on God’s part. It tests, refines and perfects our faith Going thro’ suffering makes our faith stronger, more mature and complete. Persistence through hardship develops our character. Romans 5:3-4 says ‘…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.‘ Endurance through faith and seeking God throughout the hard time, in order that we can walk hand in hand with Him, develops our trust in HIM. We discover hope, love and peace amidst the storm that surrounds us.

Perseverance is produced by dedicated endurance in the midst of adversity. Spiritual transformation requires perseverance just like any other human enterprise.

God promises to be with us in our present experiences on earth and in our uncertain futures. Psalm 46:1 says ‘ God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble’. He promises that we will be with Him for Eternity. He promises to stay by our side to never leave us. He is there for us through the difficult times in our lives .

Psalm 121:3 says ‘He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber’. He never sleeps but is always looking out for us. He turns every situation into good for those of us who love Him. Romans 8:28 says ‘ and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose’. He is omnipotent, who better to have on our side, as our loving shepherd to tend and care for us. Luke 10:19 says ‘I have given you authority to…overcome all the power of the enemy’ Jesus defeated Satan when He died , descended into hell ,then rose again. He is tirelessly working for us, who or what then shall we fear?


And now a prayer to take us into a new week.

Father, thank you that no matter what happens this week, you are with us in our troubles and sufferings. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who empowers us to persevere. Thank you that you know the pain of our suffering, Lord Jesus Christ, because you suffered and died as part of your humanity. Amen!

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Sermon – Freedom to Live

Freedom to Live

Romans 8v18-39

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1. Freedom from pain and suffering.

a. Creation groans (vs. 18-22).

b. The Members of the Kingdom groan (vs. 23-25).

c. The Holy Spirit groans. (vs. (25-30)

2. Freedom from fear of separation.

a. God is for us (v 31).

b. Christ died for us (v 32).

c. God has justified us (v 33).

d. Christ intercedes for us (v34).

e. Christ loves us (vs. 35-39).

So what about you?

If you are a Christian here tonight, the torment and suffering we all endure today, are all part of living in the kingdom of God. As Christians, it is part of our Christian life to suffer for the kingdom, through such things as persecution. It is, as we look to the future, as we see that these things that are temporarily making us suffer, are conforming us to the image of Jesus and to the supreme glory of God, and not for ourselves. In any pain or suffering we endure, we shouldn’t give up, because God has not given up. Get up and go from here knowing that God is holding your hand in these hard times. Keep holding to Him, because He is holding to you with his outstretched arms. We know from the book of Revelation that when that momentous day in history comes about, that our God will take our face in His hands and wipe away our tears of sadness.

And if you happen not to be a Christian here tonight, one thing separates you from God now, and that is your own sin, which God did not create. If you are not yet a Christian and you are not in His kingdom, you are already separated from God. To be in the kingdom of God, you simply have to trust in Jesus, and believe in Him for your future. If that is you, please do not leave here tonight without talking to somebody about how you can take that step.

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5. Twelve Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Sacrifice

Day 5. Partake – Twelve Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Sacrifice

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Please do read Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

In the first Servant Song we saw that the Servant King will provide freedom, self-respect and justice for all. In the second Servant Song it was revealed that the Servant Prophet will bring comfort to people and have compassion on the afflicted. For the third Song we saw that this Servant Disciple will live a perfect life of discipleship, to show that it is attainable and that a life of total obedience to God and trust in God for all things is possible. Then we saw in the last chapter that there will be a big homecoming for the people of Israel and for all nations. During the previous Servant Songs we say glimpses of the suffering this Servant who is both a King and Prophet will endure. Now in this section, this Servant Song we get the full picture of suffering and why He must suffer. This is how people will on the last day be consummated with God and attention is now back on him as 52:13 states “Behold, my servant”. Echoing previous passages of where the Servant is God’s. This is, as somebody once wrote, “the jewel in the crown of Isaiah’s theology, the focal point of his vision.” It is as if we are meant to understand that nothing that has been said before is as important as this passage. Without this passage of Scripture, none of the rest makes sense. Let us discover together why that is so.

The Servant Exalted

The beginning is an adoration of the Servant, as is the song’s finale. Sandwiched between them is the description of suffering. This servant acts and speaks with wisdom. How could He be faithful and obedient to God, if He were not wise? Not just any wisdom, but Godly wisdom which flusters and confounds mere human wisdom. This Servant will be raised up! Here Isaiah uses ecstatic language used of God Himself. And what attracts people to this Servant? Certainly not his looks, charisma or appearance for He had no outer beauty that would attract anybody. Verse 14 indicates the level of suffering the Servant will endure. Many are flabbergasted by it! Verse 15 shows the cleansing, the sprinkling indicating a sacrifice. Sprinkling needed to be done with water, oil or blood in order that people could enter into the presence of God. This cleansing, is not for Israel alone, but for all nations and people. He who was considered unclean by many humans (52:14), will be the one to cleanse many other humans from across the world. Then all accusations, and slander against the Servant will cease.

The Servant Despised

The passage now looks at the Servant through the eyes of the nation of Israel, for it is through their words and actions that others will come to know and understand about the Servant. Even though Israel is disobedient and rebellious, there are still some who fear the Lord (50:10). When those people see the full picture of what the Servant has done, then they will go naturally to tell others about it. Whereas before they would simply be witnesses about God, now they would be witnesses about the saving power of God through the Servant’s suffering, death and glorification. What of this Servant?

He had grown up like any other boy, just as a plant grows from a root in soil. As time goes on, nothing about Him is special and any promise He showed was decidedly unimpressive. The Servant will be persecuted, despised, rejected, insulted and hideous. So hideously malformed that people could not look at Him. These people considered him an implement of God’s deserved torment. That was what the witnesses were thinking.

While God ultimately crushed the Servant, it was not because the Servant deserved it. But rather the witnesses realize that they were the ones who deserved punishment and not the Servant. Just as the animals when offered as sacrifices were substitution offerings in Israel’s worship, so too was this Servant a substitutionary sacrifice. A sacrifice that through His body being pierced and his being crushed for sin, the Servant has provided a way for others to be comforted and pardoned. That way being at a cost. A cost of the Servant’s own life.

The Servant Suffers Silently

Now a solitary witness speaks out. If this is Isaiah, he was cleansed by God back in chapter 6. but what of his countrymen? How will they be cleansed and how as stray sheep will they be gathered back into relationship with God? The Servant is led to His death, just as a lamb is led to be butchered. This Servant goes quietly and obediently to certain death, through oppression and judgment. His death as an innocent Servant, and buried in the grave with the wicked and guilty. Silent.

The Servant Suprises

Now in verse 10 we have the surprise! Death is not the end of this Servant! Yes God had bruised Him and caused the Servant to suffer. But, the Servant was an offering for sin! That way the Servant will offer righteousness to all the nation. The Servant’s mission will be accomplished! God will raise this Servant from the dead and the Servant will be exalted! His sacrifice will surpass any and all previous sacrifices and be the only and final sacrifice needed! Through His death, the Servant will be able to judge righteously and enable those who follow Him to live righteously. Righteously in the sense that His knowledge and wisdom will cause many people to live new lives that are pleasing to God. A righteousness that only comes from people being in relationship with God, instead of being enemies of God.

How is Jesus this Servant?

In Acts 8:26-40, the Ethiopian asked the question of Philip “who does the prophet speak about?” Philip replied that it was about Jesus.

Jesus Christ who grew up as Luke said “increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.” (Luke 2:52). This Jesus who people called the son of a Nazarene carpenter and who people said “Can anything good come from Nazareh?” This Jesus who did not have anything attractive about him, but the way in which He spoke, the wisdom He imparted and the life that He lived. Jesus Christ who was betrayed by one of his closest friends. This Jesus, who was the Lamb of God, who died on a Roman Cross, after a trial where he was falsely accused, tortured and oppressed. This Jesus, who was rejected by even those closest to Him when He died. This Jesus who cried out “My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me? This Jesus who even though without sin, was buried in a grave for the wicked.

This Jesus who rose victoriously from the dead 3 days later, in order to conquer death, sin and the devil. This Jesus, who ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, in the beauty of exaltation and glorification. This Jesus, who alone is the only way that people can one day enter into God’s presence when all of history is consummated. This Jesus, the suffering Servant who was a Servant King, Servant Prophet and Servant Disciple. This Jesus, who is the Lord and Saviour of the universe. This Jesus who as fully God and fully human simultaneously, is the only one who could be the full sacrifice demanded of God for the everlasting payment for sin. The Jesus who will judge with righteousness and wisdom, give all people a choice to make – be His disciple and be in a dynamic relationship with God, or go your own way and be astray from God forever.

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