Apr 18, 2015

The Big Story - Part 9

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Big Story - Act 5 Scene 1: The Early Church

with Roger Kirby



The story is not finished. We are ourselves part of it. Mark begins his Gospel by calling it the “beginning of the Gospel” perhaps hinting that there was a lot more to come after he had finished writing. If so we are part of the continuation of the Gospel. The first 20 chapters of the book we call the Acts of the Apostles are devoted to 3 main themes: the giving of the Holy Spirit to all the followers of Jesus; the understanding that the Christian Way is open to all: Jews and Gentiles; and the spread of the Good News round all the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. All these are very important for us. The remaining 8 chapters of the book are concerned with various legal arguments surrounding Paul and his work. These were important to Luke writing to encourage his patron, Theophilus, to follow the Way but are far less important for us.

First then: the gift of the Holy Spirit. You are probably familiar with the way in which the Spirit was initially given to the 120 immediate followers and companions of Jesus. In Jerusalem this, and the subsequent occasions when the Spirit was given, was followed immediately by the gift of Baptism, thus closely associating the two events. Only when Philip went to Samaria, an area of people despised by the Jews of Jerusalem, and they were converted and received the gift of the Spirit did the Jewish leaders begin to realize that the gift was going to be given to Gentiles as well as Jews and that therefore they were going to have to be baptized as well. The situation was formalized through the experiences of Peter with Cornelius, not without some vocal opposition.

The problem was that a nearly impenetrable wall had been built around Judaism so as to define it as the only people of God. This wall had 3 elements: circumcision, the food laws and Sabbath keeping. Some, perhaps many, of the believing Jews in Jerusalem wanted to insist that Christian converts had to keep within that wall. But the Holy Spirit was clearly not confined by the wall. We can summarize the situation by inserting the ‘wall’ into what Paul said in Romans 3: “God demonstrated his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. … For we maintain that a person is justified by faith even outside the wall.” Which then becomes very similar to what Paul said in Ephesians 2: “For he himself has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”

In tracing through the way in which people were given the gift of the Holy Spirit we see that the Christian Way is open to all, Jew and non-Jew alike - which is just as well for us as probably most of you who hear or read this will not be Jews!

An important but usually overlooked episode in the life of the early church is the time Paul spent in Arabia that he mentions in Galatians 1. We may reasonably guess that he spent his time there in a Jewish seminary which had a complete set of what we call the Old Testament scrolls and gave himself a PhD course in ‘The significance of Jesus in Old Testament prophecy.’ When he had finished he had worked out a complete theology of the meaning of all that had happened since the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist in Galilee. Unfortunately we never get to read his complete thesis but only the snippets that were appropriate in the letters he wrote reacting to specific situations in the young churches. A naturally dynamic person, energized by his studies, Paul embarked on his amazing life work of spreading the Good News and planting churches throughout what are now Syria, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Rome. What a man! What a gift! What a Holy Spirit!

So what?


None of us have more than a tiny fraction of the intellect and dynamism of Paul but we do all have the same Holy Spirit within us that he had. Our problem, therefore, is to determine which fraction is ours. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12: 4–10 : “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” And as Paul did not say but would have done had he lived today: to another gifts of music to lead worship, to another the gift of letter writing to Christians in danger or difficulty, to another the gift of teaching children to love the Lord, to another the gift of helpful visiting, to another the gift of using modern communications to transmit the Good News and so on. Then he would have said as indeed he did in verse 11: “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

And what about you? What is your particular gift? Think about it; pray about it, use it.


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Apr 17, 2015

Friday Prayers 17 April 2015

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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!

A prayer of Augustine (354-430AD)


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

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Apr 16, 2015

Issues - Troubles

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 Partake - Issues

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 & Endurance - Persistence & 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. Servanthood - Matthew 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?

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Apr 15, 2015

Way of Wisdom - 15 April 2015

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Way of Wisdom

with Regina Sanders

Chesed of Gevurah



In Ephesians 4 we are saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new: "put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. Speak truth to each other for we are members of one another. … Only speak words good for edification so that it will give grace to those who hear."

Chesed is Love. Gevurah is discipline; so today we will discuss the discipline of love. If love (chesed) is the bedrock of human expression, discipline (gevurah) is the channels through which we express love. It gives our life and love direction and focus. Take a laser beam, its potency lies in the focus and concentration of light in one direction rather than fragmented light beams dispersed in all different directions.

Gevurah, discipline and measure, concentrates and directs our efforts, our love in the proper directions. Another aspect of gevurah is respect and awe. Healthy love requires respect for the one you love. The underlying intention and motive in discipline is love. Why do we measure our behavior, why do we establish standards and expect people to live up to them - only because of love. Even judgment of the guilty is only to express love. In other words punishment is not vengeance; it is just another way to express love by cleansing anything antithetical to love. Tolerance of people should never be confused with tolerance of their behavior. On the contrary: love for people includes wanting them to be the best they can and therefore helping them be aware of anything less than perfect behavior.

Chesed of gevurah is the love in discipline; awareness of the intrinsic love that feeds discipline and judgment. It is the recognition that your personal discipline and the discipline you expect of others is only an expression of love. And that comes across when disciplining. It is the understanding that we have no right to judge others; we have a right only to love them and that includes wanting them to be their best.

Examine the discipline factor of discipline. Is my discipline disciplined or is it excessive? Do I have enough discipline in my life and in my interactions? Am I organized? Is my time used efficiently? Why do I have problems with discipline and what can I do to enhance it? Do I take time each day for personal accounting of my schedule and accomplishments?

Not just love but compassion has to drive discipline. Love comes from recognizing one's merits and positive qualities (discipline channels and directs those strengths and weeds out the negative). Compassion is unconditional love. It is love just for the sake of love, not considering the other position. Tiferet (compassion) is a result of total selflessness in the eyes of God. You love for no reason; you love because you are a reflection of God.

Effective discipline must be enduring and tenacious. Is my discipline consistent or only when forced? Am I perceived as a weak disciplinarian?

The results of discipline and might without humility are obvious. The greatest catastrophes have occurred as a result of people sitting in arrogant judgment of others. Am I arrogant in the name of justice (what I consider as just)? Do I ever think that I sit on a higher pedestal and bestow judgment on my subjects below? What about my children? A judge has to be the most humble creatures, recognizing that he sits in judgment not by his own merit but only because God gave the right to judge His children.

For discipline to be effective it must be coupled with commitment and bonding. Both in disciplining yourself and others there has to be a sense that the discipline is important for developing a stronger bond. Not that I discipline you, but that we are doing it together for our mutual benefit.

Discipline, like love, must enhance personal dignity. Discipline that breaks a person will backfire. Healthy discipline should bolster self-esteem and help elicit the best in a person; cultivating his sovereignty. And that does not compromise the discipline; on the contrary it fosters and enhances it. Does my discipline cripple the human spirit; does it weaken or strengthen me and others?

In closing, ask yourself, "when I judge and criticize another is it in any way tinged with any of my own contempt and irritation? Is there any hidden satisfaction in his failure? Or is it only out of love for the other?" Before you criticize someone today think twice if it is out of care and love. Make a detailed plan for spending your day and at the end of the day see if you've lived up to it. Ask yourself, "does my discipline have the element of compassion?" Be compassionate to someone you have reproached. List short-term and long-term goals and review and update it each day, and see how consistent you are; if you follow through. Don't judge anyone unless you are doing so selflessly with no personal bias. Demonstrate to your child or student how your bonding with each other is an essential ingredient in discipline and growth. And finally, when disciplining your child, foster his self-respect.



To hear how Regina is helping you today from the Scriptures, please do download the mp3 using the links below or play the audio file! Come on in! Then please do make a comment to Regina using the comments section below...



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Apr 14, 2015

POD - Psalm 113

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Psalm 113

(Read by Sharona)

1 Praise Yah! Praise, you servants of Yahweh,
praise the name of Yahweh.

2 Blessed be the name of Yahweh,
from this time forth and forevermore.

3 From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same,
Yahweh's name is to be praised.

4 Yahweh is high above all nations,
his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like Yahweh, our God,
who has his seat on high,

6 Who stoops down to see
in heaven and in the earth?

7 He raises up the poor out of the dust.
Lifts up the needy from the ash heap;

8 that he may set him with princes,
even with the princes of his people.

9 He settles the barren woman in her home,
as a joyful mother of children.

Praise Yah!

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Apr 13, 2015

Think Spot 13 April 2015

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Think Spot - 13th April 2015

G’day and welcome to Partake! Welcome also to Monday and our Think Spot together!

Matthew 11:28-30 records these words of Jesus Christ. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Are not those amazing words? Not just anybody could say them. If the person who said them couldn’t actually fulfil that promise, that would be one of the biggest hoaxes in all of history. But Jesus Christ is no hoax and he is able to fulfil those words and live up to the promises he makes. He is totally trustworthy.

We don’t like to ask for help. We are trained as children to be independent and not to rely on anybody else for anything ever. But this is contrary to what Jesus is about. To rely fully on ourselves for all things is to walk by sight and commit the sin of pride. To rely on Jesus and ask Him for help in all things is to walk by faith and with humility. True independence and freedom comes from being dependent on Jesus Christ and not being held back by anything or anyone else, such as family and our own wealth and possessions.

How are you doing at the start of this new week? Maybe you are feeling desolation and regret caused by decisions made sometime in your past. Give them up willingly to Jesus and don't keep trying to take it back like a security blanket!

Are you feeling abandoned and lonely? Let Jesus encompass you in an embrace of compassion and let the Holy Spirit comfort and counsel you..

Or perhaps are you feeling tired, burnt out and burdened?. Let Jesus give you the strength to endure! Give the burden to Jesus and let Him take the weight for you.

Maybe you need to make a major decision and don’t know what to do. Seek the wisdom of Jesus in making that decision. He will help if you ask. That’s all part of Jesus being Jesus.

It may well be that you are being overwhelmingly tempted to sin against God, another person or even yourself? You cant resist for too long if you do it in your own strength, because you will eventually succumb to it. But if you ask God to help you overcome the temptation, He will do it – if you allow Him control and use your own self-control! After all, self-control is one of the evidences of the Holy Spirit working in you!

We all get those feelings of regret, desolation, abandonment, loneliness, despair, burdened and temptation. Feelings are important, because they are part of the human experience and if we didn’t have them, we would be merely mindless androids. But feelings can also be very misleading. As Christians, we have to take it by faith that Jesus is there for us through those times. Because you are lonely, doesn’t mean you are alone. Because you are tempted, doesn’t meant that you have already committed the sin. Take it by faith that Jesus is answering desperate cries for help and is helping you. Take a few seconds now in this short silence to hand over these things to Jesus and ask him to help you.

Or it may just be that you are starting the week and you are feeling great and enjoying your dynamic relationship with God! Then keep going and letting Jesus be your strength, your wisdom and your help. But don’t keep it to yourself – that would be selfish! Go to others you know who are in need, helping them where you can with an encouraging word or helping to supply their need. Be the practical and imaginative answer to their prayers.

Go into this new week, confident that Jesus is able to help you in every situation you face. Ask him to come to you, and He will – just as He has done for countless millions. Thank you.



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Apr 12, 2015

Remember Who You Are

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Colossians 3v1-4

“Remember Who You Are!”

3:1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.

3:2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.

3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

3:4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.

About nine years ago, I slipped into a coma on a Saturday evening.  But that story is a bit of a bore and not really important. After a couple of days in hospital, I woke up and there was a face of a pretty woman peering down at me, smiling and asking "Do you remember who you are?"  My response was "Of course I do!!  But who are you, and what have you done with my wife". And that is the same for us as Christians.  If we are listening, we are constantly being reminded by God the Holy Spirit, of our status before God if we are His children.  The Holy Spirit is always there behind us, reminding us, that we are now His children and not His enemy, and therefore to stop living as if we were His enemy.  In these verses, Paul reminds us of our identity. This morning we are going to look at primarily our new identity and five facts about our Christian identity...

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Doctrine and morality

What we believe, is intrinsically caught up with how we behave.  When at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the last century, the church started questioning the central core of our beliefs about Jesus, that was the beginning of a long slide into moral decay.  If the synods back then had stamped out doctrinal decay, then the synods today would not be discussing the moral decay within the church today and whether something is right or not.  If the 5 facts before us in these 4 verses weren't watered down by the church itself back then, and in some segments now, then perhaps we wouldn't be asking the moral questions that are now being asked of us.

1. What are we to do with this Jesus if we claim to be his followers and in relationship with him?

These five things are fact.  They are not hypothesis.  They are not theory. They are not merely symbolic.  They are existent facts about us.  We are not marked as Christians because we go to Church regularly, though its a good idea if we do.  We are not marked as Christians because we were baptized, though I hope that we are.  We are not marked outwardly as Christians because we go to a Bible College, though its a good place to be, and none better than Moorlands.  We are marked as Christians, not because of any outwardly visible mark, but here Paul tells us what marks us out as Christians.

a. We died with Christ (3a). Paul expounds this fully in his letter to the Romans.  Jesus not only died for us, but we died with Him.  Christ not only died for sin, but died unto sin to break its power.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit we are in Christ.  We died with Christ.  We can conquer our old sinful nature if we want to.  Our new identity is Christ and we have died with Him.  You have died with Christ.

b. We are raised with Christ (1a). Just as we died with Christ, we are also raised with Christ.  It is a fact that we are raised with Him and we rule with him, seated at the right hand of the Father.  Our new identity is Christ and we have been raised with Him.  You have been raised with Christ.

c. We live with Christ (4a). As Christian people, Jesus is our life and our eternal life, is Jesus.   We are dead to sin, yet alive to Christ.  Our new identity is Christ and we live with Him.  You live with Christ.

d. We are hidden with Christ (3b). For those of you who like a good mystery, here is one for you.  We are hidden with Him!!  We no longer belong to this world, but we belong to Christ.  We are hidden with him in heaven.  That is not to say we are to neglect our earthly duties and responsibilities, but that our motives and strengths come from heaven.  Our new identity is Christ and it is hidden with Him.  You are hidden with Christ.

e. We will be glorified with Christ (4b). When Christ comes again, we will see Him face to face.  When Christ comes again, He will take us home.  We shall enter eternal glory.  So, we will not be hidden with Christ perpetually because when Christ is revealed in glory, we too shall be revealed in glory.  We already have some of this glory, but one day the full extent of this glorification will be revealed. Our new identity is Christ, and we will be glorified with Him when He comes to take us home...  You will be glorified with Christ when He comes again in glory to take you home.

These five events... These five facts cover all three tenses in time - past, present and future...  In the past, we died and were raised with Christ.  In the present, we live with Christ and we are hidden with Him.  In the future, when He comes again, we will be glorified with Him.

And because we share in Jesus' death, resurrection and future glorification, we are to stop sinning.  We are to stop thinking about ways in which to sin.  This is what Paul says in verse 2.  Our feet are to be in this world, but our minds are to be with Jesus, focusing on ways in which to serve Him, day in and day out.  Look at the list of things we are to put to death in verses 5-10.  That list is not conclusive. Don't sin is the message, and yet we continue to do so...

I long for perfection.  I yearn it.  Even when as a child, being dragged up irreligiously, I longed to be perfect. Yet, every time I succumb to temptation, and therefore disobey God, and sin, I forget who I am.  I forget my new identity.  I forget that I am a child of the Living God.  I forget that I have died with Christ.  I forget that I have been raised with Him.  I forget that I live in Him.  I forget that I am hidden in Him.  I forget that one day He is coming again and that I, Dave Roberts, will be glorified with Him.  When we sin, it is as if I am telling the Holy Spirit to rack off and leave me alone... Instead we should be telling our three enemies to rack off... Tell old hairy legs Satan to depart from you.  Tell the world to get lost.  Tell your old nature, that it is dead and you have a new nature to which you seek to serve.

By keeping our minds and hearts set upon Him, talk to yourself.  Talking to yourself is actually a sign of maturity.  Tell yourself these five things to help you in your Christian life.  You have died with Christ.  You have been raised with Christ.  You live with Christ.  You are hidden in Christ.  You will be glorified with Christ.  Paul elsewhere in his other letters, says "Have you forgotten who you are?"  Immerse yourself in the Bible.

Steinbeck - "obsolescent religion." Travels with Charley.

Only use, if there is a great deal of time... Who is this Jesus we worship.  Was he just a man?  Was he just a god?  Or was he both? Lets look together and find out.

2. Jesus - fully human.

That Jesus was a man is not really disputed.  Scripture says that  he was born of a woman  which in itself tells us that prenatally he was nurtured and formed in the womb as any other male baby was and is.  His genealogical line is given.   He grew into manhood as any young Jewish boy did.  With his humanity, he exhibited normal human emotions such as love, weeping, sadness, anger and anguish.  Jesus ate and drank. He had a body and a soul.  He undertook the baptism of John, just as others had done.  Jesus grew tired, he slept  & perspired.  Religiously, he worshipped as a Jew.  Jesus died, just as all mortal people do.  He was human in every way that we are - physically, mentally and emotionally.  The only exception is that he was sinless.  His humanity is beyond question, though unlike us, he was sinless.

Jesus needed to be fully human for various reasons.

a. so that his death could sacrificially atone for us.

b. so that he can empathize and pray for us.

c. Jesus exhibited true and perfect humanity.

d. due to his perfect humanity, Jesus is to be our example to follow.

e. true human nature is good.

f. Jesus shows that while God is transcendent, He is not so far removed from us that He can't interact with his creation.

3. Jesus' deity

Jesus' deity and the Incarnation are central and basic teaching of historic Christianity as it is central to God's eternal plan of salvation.  God's salvation plan for humans involved triumphant victory over sin, death and the grave.  However no person could be found that was eligible or capable to do this.  Because of this, God stepped into human history, so that this victory could be achieved.  This God-man would be fully human, so as to live every facet of humanity, including suffering and death.  This God-man would also need to remain fully God, so as to defeat sin, death and the grave.  Jesus, being sinless (Heb.4:15), was this God-man, consisting as he was of two complete natures: the God nature and the human nature.

Anselm the church father observed that God had formed Adam without mother and father and had formed Eve without mother and father but from a man.  So he could certainly form Jesus, without the usual sexual reproduction process, from a woman.

Recapitulation

  • Remember who you are.
  • Remember your identity.
  • Remember you have died with Christ,
  • Remember you have been raised with Christ.
  • Remember you have new life in Christ - NOW!!.
  • Remember you are hidden with Christ - NOW!!.
  • Remember you will be glorified with Christ when He comes again.

Conclusion

Therefore let us conclude.  We are to focus our minds on Him for heavenly reasons.  We are to let heaven fill our thoughts. In another translation, verse 2 reads "habitually set your mind on things above".

Jesus was fully-god and fully-man.  It is this Jesus we claim to follow.  Be assured of your identity. Remember who you are.  Stop sinning and remember who you are - a child of the living God.  Cast off all that hinders your Christian growth.  Live for Him and make a difference in a world that is dying without knowledge of Him.  Most of all, as a motivation to aspire to live a perfect life in honour of Him  - remember who you are, and I don t mean just your name!!  Remember....

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Apr 11, 2015

Sermon - Living for Jesus

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Sermon - 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:11-12

Living in the face of alienation.

1 Peter 1:1-2 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

1 Peter 2:11-12 - Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.


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Sermon Outline

The verses we have today, 1 Peter 1:1-2 and 1 Peter 2:11-12 may seem an odd combination but they both start respect natural halves of the letter. 1 Peter 1:1-2 is obviously the beginning of the letter and the first section. 1 Peter 2:11-12, structurally speaking, is the beginning of the second section.

Our title for today is “Living in the face of alienation and its cure”.


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Apr 10, 2015

Friday Prayers 10 April 2015

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~Partakers Friday Prayers!

10th April 2015


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 Almighty and all-knowing God,
without beginning or end,
who is the giver, preserver,
and rewarder of all virtue…
~~~~~
Grant me to stand firm
on the solid foundation of faith,
be protected by the invincible shield of hope,
and be adorned by the nuptial garment of charity.
~~~~~
Grant me by justice to obey you,
by prudence to resist the crafts of the Devil,
by temperance to hold to moderation,
by fortitude to bear adversity with patience.
~~~~~
Grant that the goods I have
I may share liberally with those who have not,
and the goods which I do not have
I may seek with humility from those who have.
~~~~~
Grant that I may truly recognise the guilt of the evil I have done,
and bear with equanimity the punishments I have deserved;
that I may never lust after the goods of my neighbour,
but always give thanks to you for all thy good gifts.
~~~~~
Plant in me, O Lord, all thy virtues,
that in divine matters I might be devout,
in human affairs wise,
and in the proper needs of the flesh
onerous to no one.
~~~~~
And grant that I may never rush to do things hastily,
nor balk to do things demanding,
so that I neither yearn for things too soon,
nor desert things before they are finished.

Amen


A prayer of Thomas Aquinas

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Apr 9, 2015

Thursday Testimony - Why I am a Christian

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Why I am a Christian!


The Apostle John, writing in 1 John 5:9-12 - "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

Why Is It So?


A testimony is an assertion offering firsthand authentication of a fact. For the Christian Disciple, classically it is generally expressed as how they became a Christian Disciple.

But I think it is more than just how, and should expressly include why you are a Christian Disciple. I wonder what is your testimony about how you became a Christian Disciple? When was the last time you thanked our God for your testimony? Have you even thought about your testimony of how you became a Christian Disciple?

I am sure you have all heard kids in the supermarket yelling out "Why?" to their parents. We all have, I am sure, questions we want to know the answer to. Why? The question I am often asked is "You are a Christian. Why is it so?"

My father, was and remained throughout his life a convinced agnostic and in the few conversations we had about religion and Christianity, he could never understand why it was, that I could not just admit that I would never know if God existed or not, far less a God who was personally interested in me. My reply as ever, was that the very question "Why is it so?" needed to be answered, in order for me to be satisfied.

Why I am a Christian?

Now I could say that at the age of 12, we moved to a town on the coast of Australia, and was invited along to a local youth group and several weeks later, gave my life to Christ and became a Christian. Of course that is partly true. I can't even claim to be a Christian because I was raised in a Christian country. Australia was and is probably the second most secular country on this planet. Sure Australia has its moral base grounded in historic Christianity, but for the latter part of its history, Australia has been thoroughly secular and non-religious. Even if I had been raised in a country such as England, with Christian parents, that would also, only be partly true and I could have rejected Christianity as many people do. The reason that I am a Christian is not because I chased God, but rather He chased me. Unknown to me at the time, God was chasing me and following my every path with the urgency of a lover after the beloved, just as described in the Song of Songs 2:2-14.

God had been pursuing me

This piece of poetic Scripture speaks about the love that God has for his people, and the energy He puts in to calling his people to Himself. He is always reaching out, for all to return to His arms. As for me, it wasn't until I was a 12 year old that I heard that I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Before that I didn't know I had to do anything with this Jesus. Jesus was only a curse word for me at the time. That or was just someone or something that the RE teachers bored me with at school.



We are primarily Christians, not because we come to church services or just happened to have been born in a supposedly Christian country. We are primarily Christians, because God first chased and harried us into His arms. We are Christians, if you are one, because God first loved you. And as a tremendous lover, He beckons and calls people all the time to respond to His call, and back to Him. How does He chase us with His love?

God chases each person differently, just as each Christian testimony is different.

Take for instance the Apostle Paul in Acts 8 & 9. God chased him through Paul's mind and his religious upbringing and education. Paul had known about God from his childhood. Paul was a righteous Pharisee who saw persecuting these ‘Christians' as his religious duty, so that he may somehow find favour with God. As Paul was gloating over the death of the martyr Stephen, God was pursuing Him, probably raising doubts in Paul's mind as to why Stephen would say at the point of death "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and forgive them for what they do" (Acts 7:54-60). Surely doubts must have been raised in Paul's mind as he approved of this death (Acts 8v1).

Paul was also wrestling with his conscience. Externally he was a righteous man, a Pharisee of Pharisees. Yet when he internally examined himself and his heart, he found himself failing regarding covetousness, which is the last of the Ten Commandments. Then finally, Jesus himself makes a sudden and dramatic appearance before Paul and confronts him directly, "Why are you kicking against me? Why are you rejecting my advances?" (Acts 9) Paul's conversion to Christianity is often described as being sudden. But the only thing sudden about his conversion was this climatic appearance of Jesus.



Just as that was true of Paul, it is true of me, just as it is true of all those who profess to call themselves a Christian Disciple. I am a Christian Disciple not because of anything I have done, but rather because He first chased me, and because He first loved me. Jesus himself said "I came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).



If you are a Christian today, it is not because of anything you have done. It is because of the events at Christmas and Easter that you are a Christian, when God entered this world as a human baby and took all the necessary steps so that all people could have the choice to be His people or not. In my more smug moments I used to congratulate myself for being a Christian. How proud I was that I, was a Christian and that God was a jolly lucky God that I had decided to follow Him. It was during one of my less self-deluded moments, that I examined myself and I found God pricking my conscience and correcting me, and I read the New Testament "For the Son of Man came, not to be served but to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark10:45).



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