May 27, 2016

Friday Prayers 27 May 2016

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

27th May 2016

A prayer of For the Peoples of the World !

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!

O God,
who has made of one blood all nations
for to dwell on the face of the earth,
and did send Your blessed Son Jesus Christ
to preach peace to them that are afar off,
and to them that are near,
grant that all the peoples of the world
may feel after You and find You.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
in the power of God the Holy Spirit.
Amen



(Based on a prayer Bishop Cotton of Calcutta)

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May 26, 2016

Issues - Standing Alone

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Issues Facing Christians Today

Standing Alone

Jesus speaking and from the Gospel of John 15:18-21 "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.  Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.' Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.  They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me."


As Christian Disciples, those who proclaim that they follow Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we have a new identity.  What are we to do with it?  The Bible is very clear that we are to stay faithful to Jesus Christ, particularly when it is difficult! It means staying faithful to Jesus and His will, regardless of opposition and alternatives. By doing this we are standing alone and being faithful to Him. Satan brings pressure to bear on Christians to reduce their standards and commitment.  Christian Disciples undergo challenges from those that either don't like or understand us.
We are constantly tempted to do wrong things or we are tempted not to do right things.  Either way, we are tempted to sin against our God. So we are to be separate from sin but not separated from a sinful society. This is what Jesus meant when He said we are to be "In the world but not of the world" (John 17:15-19).  The key to standing alone is to have constant identification with Jesus Christ in lifestyle and words.  It is to have a permanent reminder that we serve a faithful God and that Jesus Christ is to be our Master.  When we sin, either actively or passively, it is because we have some form of memory loss about who we are, if we call ourselves a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God.

Hindrances to standing alone

As we live the Christian life, as Christian Disciples we will face hindrances to identifying with Jesus.  Here are three major areas that as Christian Disciples, we all undergo.
Firstly there is an inborn fear of what others will think - fear of being different and being laughed at.
Then there is the fear of losing friends. To have the right friends however, a person must be willing to have enemies. Jesus made friends on the basis of who would accept Him and His message. We may be excluded from the company of those who reject Jesus (Luke 6:26).
Another one is the desire to be like those in the world. In Psalm 73 David envied the success of the godless, until he realized their destiny was disaster; and that he had God and needed nothing else. Always taking what is best is no sacrifice.

How to stand alone

So if they are some of the hindrances, what are some of the keys in battling these hindrances?  As Christian Disciples we have to remember God's way of life is superior.  It is a life filled with abundance according to Jesus in John 10:10!  Then we realise that acting as light & salt in the world, you are co-operating with God and He is being glorified according to Peter in 1 Peter 4:12-14).  Remember; if you give people no reason to ask about the hope and faith you have in Jesus, they probably won't ask!  Jesus said in His final words before His ascension in Matthew 28:18-20, that we are to expect persecution for being his Disciples.  If that's how we identify with our lifestyle how do we identify verbally with Jesus?

How to verbally identify with Christ

Never apologize for what you know and believe to be a superior way of life.  However, that does not mean to be smug and arrogant about it because we are commanded to walk humbly and meekly.  Then just be natural about it.  As a college principle told me a long time ago and I still remember the words "Let your spiritual life be natural and your natural life be spiritual."

One way to do this is to project the idea that you are not your own boss - Jesus is your Lord and let him take both the strain and glory.  Remember that those who reject you also reject Jesus.

Making right decisions in questionable areas

Imagine you are in a situation and you have to make a correct decision in a questionable area.  What do you do?  Why not ask yourself questions and tell yourself statements such as:
  • Does it bring glory to God? (1 Corinthians10:31)
  • Can I thank God for this activity - could Jesus accompany me?
  • Does it build Christian character? (1 Corinthians10:23)
  • Will it cause another Christian to sin/stumble? (1 Corinthians8:9-13)
  • It should not control me habitually (1 Corinthians6.12)
  • If in doubt, throw it out. (Romans14:22-23)
  • Ask other people for advice. It is important what other people think.
  • Abstain from all appearances of evil (1 Thessalonians5:22)
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit to help you! Ask for His help and guidance!


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. For more to do and think about please do read for yourself, John17:15-19.

Q1 - Have I given every area of my life to Christ in order to be faithful to Him?
Q2 - Am I prepared to be holy and obedient to God in all circumstances?
Q3 - Am I willing to sacrifice my desires for God's Will, so that I can clearly be seen identifying myself with Jesus in lifestyle and in words?


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May 25, 2016

Church Leadership 08 - Stephen

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Church Leadership

Session 8:

What can we learn from Stephen – a member of the first team of deacons?

Last time we looked at Timothy as an example of an effective church leader – today I want us to consider Stephen – one of the first cohort of deacons appointed in the early church.

Please do read Acts 6 – and 7.

We see from Acts 6 that there was a complaint (no surprises there, then – after all this was church!). Thankfully, this one led to a positive outcome – would it were so in every case?

Stephen is one of seven chosen as “deacons” – or servants – but they too had to be full of the Holy Spirit. We don’t hear much more about the others (except Philip) – but they probably quietly got on with the job they were assigned to do. And there is a lesson for all of us in that – quietly serving God and His Church without becoming grumpy.

As we read about Stephen – remember his role is as a deacon (a “waiter on tables”) - one word seems to keep coming up – he was a man who was full!

1. Full of the Holy Spirit – Acts 6:3; 6:5; 7:54

This was his lifestyle – and he clearly stood out from among the other disciples – many thousands by this time. He was also noted among the seven as being full of the Holy Spirit. The impact of what was about to happen to him gave him a special anointing (7:54) as is often the case in extreme circumstances.

2. Full of wisdom – Acts 6:3
He knew the promise of God recorded for us in James 1:5 – and sought the Lord for the wisdom he needed to do what he was doing. As we see from Acts 7, he understood his roots and how that was important for the God’s people and was able to set his message in context. We need to have the wisdom required to make the message of the gospel relevant today – and that means understanding our origins and the truths of the Old Testament as well as the New.
We live in an era of instant accessibility to information. We also live in an era of complexity. Whilst it may be tempting to rely on education, the internet, intelligence or experience, we need God’s wisdom. Different from information, different from knowledge, wisdom is God’s and accessed through humble prayer and openness to his ways.

3. Full of faith – Acts 6:5
Without faith we cannot please God - Jesus is the Author and Finisher (or perfecter) of faith (Hebrews 12:1ff.). It is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is about turning belief into action – faith is a “doing” word. He was full of faith!

4. Full of God’s grace – Acts 6:8
Grace is a Divine attribute – often linked with compassion (e.g. Exodus 34:6 and Numbers 6:25). Jesus was described as being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Paul began most of his letters with the salutation “Grace and peace from God the Father”.
In Stephen’s case it was probably describing a compassionate kind, thoughtful man – one who was showing evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). He would have also understood the impact of God’s grace in his own life – he knew forgiveness and cleansing and the freedom in Christ which is ours through grace.

5. Full of God’s power – Acts 6:8
“Power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely” But not in the case of one who recognises that the source of his power is God and who uses that power under His authority.. Through this power Stephen did great wonders and miraculous sings among the people (6:8) – and he was only a deacon – a “waiter on tables”!

6. Full of courage – 7:51 ff.
He was not afraid to tell the spiritual leaders of the nation “where it was at”. The nations need such a prophetic voice today! His immense courage was evidence of his faith (Hebrews 11: 32 – 40) – and he received the highest reward possible – being welcomed into the presence of God. We may not need to face what Stephen did, but let us be courageous in sharing our faith wherever we find ourselves.
As I thought about Stephen’s “fullness”, my mind went to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians as recorded in his letter to them (Ephesians 1:15 22):
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills everything in every way.”


As we come to end of this session, it is worth recapping on what we’ve looked at so far.
  • We saw that Jesus is the Head of the Church – so He is in charge.
  • We have looked at some of the expressions used in the New Testament for leaders in churches.
  • We have considered four leaders from the Old Testament – Moses, Daniel, Joseph and Nehemiah – and two from the New Testament – Timothy and Stephen.
  • We have considered the ‘code of conduct’ for both elders and deacons as set out in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus.

In our final four sessions I want to seek to answer the following questions:

  • "How do I know I am called to leadership?” or: “Why would I want to be a leader?”
  • “What are the marks of a good leader?” or: “Is (s)he a leader worth following?
  • What happens when it all goes wrong?
  • What can God do with a leadership team that is totally committed to Him?


A prayer: “Thank you, Jesus, for the example of Stephen. Fill me again with Your Spirit so that I can be what You want me to be. Amen”

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May 24, 2016

POD - Psalm 139

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Psalm 139

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.

3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.

5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

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7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night-

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

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13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!

18 I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

~

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked! Get out of my life, you murderers!

20 They blaspheme you; your enemies misuse your name.

21 O Lord, shouldn't I hate those who hate you? Shouldn't I despise those who oppose you?

22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

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May 23, 2016

Think Spot 23 May 2016

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Think Spot - 23rd May 2016

One of the key verses in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippian church is
 "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)

Indeed, as we read the life of Paul and his ministry and witness for Jesus Christ, those words could be said to be Paul's motto or maxim for his life of service to God. The Apostle Paul's view of God and of Jesus Christ was not too small. Over 50 times in this letter to the Philippians, Paul states the name of Jesus or of Christ and that doesn't include the pronouns such as he, his and him. Paul was besotted with God. Paul was besotted with Jesus Christ.

Are you, if you are a Christian, besotted with Jesus - the God you claim to follow? Go into this week, knowing that God loves you and safely knowing that He cares deeply for you. Put your cares and concerns in His hands and let Him lavish his care upon you.

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May 22, 2016

Sermon - Aspects of Covenantal Love

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Aspects of Covenantal Love

(Song of Solomon 8:5-7)


Schedule

Introduction

1. Dependency (Song of Solomon 8v5a)

2. Data (Song of Solomon 8v5b)

3. Desire (Song of Solomon 8v6)

4. Devotion (Song of Solomon 8v7)

How can we respond?

Introduction

There are 3 main ways to interpret this book. Firstly as a story about the joys of biblical love between a man and woman. That bit even I can see. Some would say that it was erotic, but as a white Australian male, I just don't see it! Secondly, the earliest commentators and readers saw it as an allegory about God's love for His people Israel, particularly with their coming Messiah in mind. The third way shows that this Song of Songs speaks not only on a physical level about the importance of human love and intimacy between a man and a woman, but also the intimacy that exists, blossoms and grows between a person and Jesus Christ.
Martin Luther called it the "noblest of all songs". Tonight we look at what could be considered the key verses of this book. The couple have now entered a covenantal relationship - a relationship committed to one another.
 
Song of Solomon 8:5-7.

These three verses are the key verses of the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs as other people call it. As the couple, the Lover and the Beloved, have now entered into a Covenant of love, we are, tonight, going to look at 4 Dimensions of Covenantal Love. A Covenant is a contract - a promise. Throughout Old Testament history, God had made covenants with people - people such as Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses. The original readers and commentators would have known that and understood that. Download the sermon mp3 to hear the rest of this sermon...

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