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POD - Psalm 84

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Psalm 84

 

 
1-2 What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I've always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!
3-4 Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
How blessed they are to live and sing there!

5-7 And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,

discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain,

and at the last turn-Zion! God in full view!

8-9 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, listen:

O God of Jacob, open your ears-I'm praying!

Look at our shields, glistening in the sun,

our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.

10-12 One day spent in your house,

this beautiful place of worship,
beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I'd rather scrub floors in the house of my God

than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
All sunshine and sovereign is God, generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn't scrimp with his traveling companions.
It's smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

 

 

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Think Spot - 16th October 2017

 

When we are going through a difficult time it is sometimes hard to believe that you are the apple of Gods eye.

God gave me a picture once.  I asked God what I was worth. God tied a tag round my neck with a piece of string, the kind of price tag that they have in old fashioned shops.  The tag read £10, then he removed the tag and replaced it with one that read £100, then he removed that one and replaced it with one that had £1000 on it. He replaced the £1000 price tag with one that read £100,000 and then replaced that one with a million pound price tag. The final price tag simply had ONE LIFE written on it.   I find it mind blowing that God chose to let His Son die a hideously painful death so that I can enjoy a personal relationship with him that I am so valuable that even if I was the only human being that existed, God would have allowed Jesus to die on a cross for me.

Remind yourself of this fact frequently and you will get a glimpse of your father's heart. He loves you to bits and is proud of you no matter what you have done in the past - if you have said sorry and meant it - it is forgotten. The slate is completely clean.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come."

God's love for you is unconditional. God created us with a thirst to be secure, to have self worth and to have a sense of our own significance. That thirst is intended to be quenched by God himself, by His unconditional love for us and unconditional acceptance of our work.

1 John 3:1 says "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God.! And that is what we are!"
Ephesians 2:10 says "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepares for us in advance to do."

Unfortunately many of us try and get our security and sense of self worth from our spouses or parents.  Whilst that can be okay if we have a particularly adoring spouse or an encouraging mum and dad, it goes badly wrong if we have a critical spouse or a parent that withholds praise. Our self esteem really suffers in the case of a verbally critical spouse or parent and is affected just as badly by someone who is slow to give praise.

Galatians 4:7 "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out ‘Abba, Father.' So you are no longer a slave but a son and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir."

Our aim should be to please God and fulfil his purposes for our lives. If it is we will discover a sense of security, value and significance in God and then it will not matter if our boss does not appreciate us or if our spouse criticises us.

We should be aiming to enjoy God, to have a life of worship and to get to know God better each day. God adores us and considers us adorable. He is proud of our achievements but is so much more thrilled with our efforts to get to know Him better.

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Exploring The Bible

36. Old Testament

Obadiah - 840BC

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Obadiah 1:8-10
  • Obadiah 1:21

 

Obadiah preached 840 BC to Edom and Israel. Speaking against Edom, Obadiah preaches that there are no pleas to return, no words of consolation or hope and no deliverance from God’s destruction. Obadiah, meanwhile speaks to Israel about God restoring them to Himself.

Obadiah accuses Edom, who should have been supporting Israel, of being an enemy to them. As a result Edom will be destroyed. Only a small remnant will survive, apparently because they take refuge in Jerusalem.

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Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 118 - 1 John 5:20
What We Should Know



What we should know. John wanted the people of his fellowship to ‘know’ 4 things.

They are:
  • that they have eternal life (16);
  • that those born of God do not continue to sin (18);
  • that they are children of God but all the world marches to a quite different tune - that of the evil one (19);
  • that by knowing Jesus they know the truth in a very special way (20);
  • Then he summarizes it all by saying that they were ‘in’ Jesus.

    Their job was much easier than ours. In those days there were not too many things to know. Even those who could read would not have many things to read. We, on the other hand, are deluged with things to know. The TV and the radio and a million books take care of that. So it is hard for us to really concentrate on things like these and make sure they are really deeply imbedded in our thinking. But we must make the effort to get them there and hold them there.

    We have eternal life - the life of the ages. A whole new worldview opened up with the appearance of Jesus in the lanes and houses of Galilee. The Kingdom has come, with him as its Crown Prince. It is a kingdom that is unlike any other there has ever been. Not only is it a kingdom we can, and should, enjoy now but it is one that will take care of us after we have died out of this earthly life. We will be in heaven, briefly, before we are resurrected, as Jesus was, to partake in the new heaven and the new earth. What it will be like we do not know in any detail but we have his word for it and may rest in that with great confidence.

    He then gives us a sharp reminder that we must not live in sinfulness by his positive statement that we do not continue to sin. What happens if we do he does not say but the prospect would not be good. We do all sin, as he said in his first chapter, but we must not live with a fixed tendency to sin. That is idolatry. Beware.

    He then says that, presumably provided we do not disbar ourselves by idolatry, we are the children of God, members of the family of faith. That you will probably not fully understand until you are overseas, away from home, and have to rely on your brothers and sisters of the faith. Then you will realise what the power of a worldwide family is.

    In knowing your fellows of the faith you will have some slight idea of what it means to be ‘in Jesus’, part of the body of the Messiah.. You will come to understand that much of the world is quite antagonistic to you because of your faith. Some of you who read this will understand that very much better than I, in my comfortable Western country ever can, even although I lived for a few years in a country where Christians are not very welcome.

    In summary then, his 4 messages are:
    We have eternal life
    Continuing in sin is not possible for us
    We are in the family of the Messiah
    That all our thinking is to be centred on Jesus

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

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!

Almighty, eternal and merciful God,
whose Word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path,
open and illuminate our minds,
that I may purely and perfectly understand Your Word
and that my life may be conformed
to what I have rightly understood,
that in nothing I may be displeasing to Your majesty,
through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Amen

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Exploring Islam 02

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Exploring Islam

Origins of Islam

Today we shall unpack more of what Islam means to those who follow the faith, and how it relates to Christianity in similarity and difference. Our first step however will be to briefly appreciate its origins!

Society Muhammad was born into

The founder of Islam was the prophet Muhammad born in the city of Mecca (now in Saudi Arabia) around 570AD. The family he was born into was of some importance in the city however his father had died before he was born and soon after when he was six years old so did his mother. The conditions in Arabia and for the Arab people before Muhammad was a complex network of nomadic tribes who lived and moved around the desert regions. Loyalties were clear cut and rules for living were easy to understand as your duty and honour were simply bound to your clan.

But it wasn’t long before these tribes began to congregate and towns and then a few cities were forged. Suddenly with a close community filled with a mixture of clans the established framework and social order was threatened. Orphans and the poor were increasingly ignored and as resources and power became sought after commodities the moral fabric of what was a simple nomadic life became vulnerable. It is important to realise that this is the social setting which Muhammad was born into and the problems which he witnessed. The religious situation of the Arab people leading up to Muhammad was a cauldron of idol worship, spirit worship, and sun, moon and star worship. There was a community of Jews living in Mecca at the time, and nearby countries like Ethiopia were almost entirely Christian. In fact the Ka’aba, which is the large cubic structure in Mecca today and forms the focus of the Hajj pilgrimage, was already old by the time of the Islamic prophet. It was used to house hundreds of idols, but later in Muhammad’s life when he returned from Medina to Mecca he claimed the structure for Islam.

The beginnings and growth of Islam

Around 610AD Muhammad received the first of what was to be seven visions of revelation from Allah delivered through the messenger Angel Gabriel and would form the Qur’an after his death. The first one was famously in a desert cave which he commonly used as a retreat. From here on Muhammad began proclaiming his message from Allah to the Arab people. It was one which called them to abandon their idol worship and commit to monotheism. But it wasn’t limited to being only a religious message but also a political and social structure which would alleviate the injustices Muhammad perceived and one which would please Allah. He found he had only some followers of this new faith and eventually in 622AD in fearing for his life he fled to the nearby city of Medina who welcomed him with open arms. Very quickly he established a political leadership in Medina, his followers grew, but the opposition in Mecca remained.

After eight years of petty killings between the two cities, this is where jihad has its roots, Muhammad with his men went to Mecca desiring a peaceful pilgrimage, but instead the officials surrendered in fear of their safety and the city became Islamic. During 632AD Muhammad died whilst living in Medina and had left in his wake a large political empire as well as a new religion. However, he had failed to declare a successor. He was the final prophet, the seal of the prophets, and so another one was not sought, but instead a political leader. There was much struggle within the Islamic believers in Medina and despite a successor being appointed a division was formed which was to remain under the surface and come out later through much blood shed in the creation of Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. The Islamic empire expanded exponentially over subsequent years and it is important to remember that this all began with the twenty year prophetic service of one man Muhammad.

The growth was achieved primarily through plundering neighbouring towns and cities and when control was achieved the Islamic faith was a prerequisite for the indigenous people to stay. The only exception at the start were for Jews and Christians who were tolerated as second rate citizens, but later on even this faded. However, more peaceful conversions were happening at the same time through Muslims sharing their faith whilst working the trade routes across the continent and into Asia. What Muhammad had achieved was a first for the Arab people, a sense of unity and loyalty to more than just their individual clan. Now it was to the one god Allah and his prophet, and this provided the opportunity for growth and prosperity.

Islam before Muhammad

What we have just discussed paints a very quick picture of the beginnings of Islam as we currently would know it. However, from a Muslim’s perspective we must appreciate that Islam existed before Muhammad. Islam when translated simply means one who voluntarily submits to Allah, which is simply the Arabic word for God. Muhammad was the last prophet, the one sent to the Arabs. Previous prophets from Allah went to the Jews in the form of Abraham, Moses, David and many more. For the Greek people Jesus was Allah’s prophet.

All of these familiar names were in fact Muslims as declared in the Qur’an and their revelations to their respective peoples were of a similar type to that of the Qur’an. Moses brought the Torah, David the Psalms, and Jesus the Gospel. However, the respective peoples corrupted these books and didn’t live as Allah would have wanted; hence the current versions of these holy books are not considered by Muslims as original. This explains how a Muslim views a Christian. They have corrupted the sacred revelation given by Jesus to include things like the Trinity and divinity of him, and so are in need of repentance.

For a Muslim Christianity was born out of this dishonest process and did not exist before or because of the prophet Jesus. Next time we shall consider in more detail the nature, design, and layout of the Qur’an and Hadith, Muhammad’s great religious legacy.

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