google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2011 September

Archive for September 2011

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Friday Prayers!

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Order of Service!

G'day and welcome to Partakers Friday Prayers on the 30th of September, 2011.

1.   Welcome

2.   General Opening prayer

3.   Time for you to offer praise

4.   Prayers for individuals: Pam, Kerry, Claire, Denise, Peter, Christine, Nicole, Melinda, Bob, Jane, Joy, Ruth, Darren, Doug and Sarah.

5.   Time for your own petitions

6.   Prayers for church services worldwide

7.   Prayers for the world

8.   Benediction

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satan

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satan

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Paul writes in Ephesians 6v10-12: “God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”

I said last time that I was going to probably start discussing more directly about the God we enjoy and in whom we have an abundance of life as Christian disciples. However, it was laid on my heart by God, that it would be prudent to do two more discussions in regards to dealing with sin & temptation.

Paul here says that just as God is strong, He wants us to be strong against sin, the world, our old nature and our ultimate enemy, satan. We have seen enemies in the world. But behind the world and the old nature, is the unseen enemy in the spiritual domain. A bit like the terrorists who try to strike surreptitiously at our cities. Satan is real, and we know this because Jesus spoke about him more than anyone else! Two errors made by the church are to have blind ignorance about satan or giving him far more importance and privilege than he deserves or warrants.

So who is satan and his minions? What does the Bible say about him? Some angels fell, rebelled against God and were put out of heaven (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28). Their leader is satan who has established his kingdom on earth. The role of Satan against the Christian is summed up by his various names’ adversary, devil, accuser, angel of light, the arch-deceiver. He stands hatefully opposed to all God’s work, God’s people and resourcefully promotes defiance among people (Mark 4:15; Job 2:4-5).

When satan sinned, he was expelled from Heaven (Luke 10:18), although apparently he still had some access to God (Job 1:6). A multitude of angels decided to follow him in his fall and subsequently became the demons mentioned often in the Bible (Matthew 12:24; Revelation 12:7). Although Satan’s doom was secured by Jesus’ death on the cross (John 16:11), he will continue to hinder God’s program until he and his demons are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10)

1. Satan’s kingdom - darkness

  • The Prince of this world (John 14:30)
  • Controlling the whole world (1 John 5:19)
  • Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
  • The God of this age. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • Ruler, authority, power of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12)

Other names of Satan

  • The adversary (means Satan). Devil - The accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10); Murderer (John 8:44); Liar - the father of all lies (John 8 44); Tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5); Deceiver (2 Corinthians 4:4); Schemer (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11); Destroys by Death (Heb. 2:14); Destroys by Disease (Luke 13:11, 16); Destroys by Devouring (1 Pet. 5:8)
  • The Wicked One - snatches away the good seed (Matthew 13:19); sows bad seed (Mt. 13:39)
  • Masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)
  • His servants masquerade as angels of righteousness

2. Satan’ s attack on believers.

What Satan does to us?

  • Goes around like a roaring, devouring lion (1 Peter 5:8)
  • Deceives, and leads astray - wrong thinking (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 4:1; James 3:15)
  • Temptation (1 Thessalonians 3:5)
  • Attacks (Ephesians 6:16) & sifts (Job; Luke 22:31) by God’s permission only.
  • Cause doubt, uncertainty, confusion, fear, anxiety and darkness.

3. How to resist the attacks of Satan.

He is defeated

  • Christ came to destroy satan and his works (1 John 3:8)
  • Christ’s death leads to satan’s destruction (Hebrews 2:14)
  • Satan has been disarmed (Colossians 2:15) & condemned (Matthew 25:41)
  • Christ is greater than satan (1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:18)
  • Resist satan and be steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:9). Resist and he will flee, when we submit to God (James 4:7). Don’t give Satan an opportunity/foothold in your life - anger, lust etc. (Ephesians 4:22).

Remember this:

  • Do not blame Satan for your own sin.
  • Don’t believe the lies he tells you in your head! For example if you sin and you hear in your head “You are a failure now. God wont forgive you again.” These are lies!! Lies! Lies! Don’t believe it! That is him trying to undermine and discourage you! Yet we know the truth is that if we confess our sins, that God will forgive us 1 John 1:9
  • Rely on the authority of God’s Word (Mt. 4:1-11)
  • He is a defeated creature! He was defeated when Jesus went to the cross and rose again 3 days later!
  • Being a Christian is the best thing that could ever happen to anyone! Don’t believe anything to the contrary.
  • Remember also what John wrote in 1 John 4: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” You have the victory because the Holy Spirit indwells you as a Christian disciple.
  • Finally, put on full armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). This is what I will discuss next time. But as a preliminary, know this about the armour: it is given and designed by God so it is a key part of Christian discipleship and of living the Christian life. A fantastic book to get about the spiritual battle and our armour is William Gurnall’s seminal work: “The Christian in Complete Armour”. It comes as either one large book or an abridged version in 3 small books.

For more to think about, please do read for yourself Ephesians 6:10-18. Ask yourself the following question and suggestions, 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. Who are our real spiritual enemies?

Q2. What are the gaps in my armour and what can I do to fill those gaps?

Q3. Is there somebody I can talk to if I am feeling weak and discouraged?

Thank you.

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POD - Psalm 11

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Psalm 11

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11:1 In Yahweh, I take refuge.
How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain!”
11:2 For, behold, the wicked bend their bows.
They set their arrows on the strings,
that they may shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
11:3 If the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?
11:4 Yahweh is in his holy temple.
Yahweh is on his throne in heaven.
His eyes observe.
His eyes examine the children of men.
11:5 Yahweh examines the righteous,
but the wicked and him who loves violence his soul hates.
11:6 On the wicked he will rain blazing coals;
fire, sulfur, and scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
11:7 For Yahweh is righteous.
He loves righteousness.
The upright shall see his face.
World English Bible
As read by Sharona

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Friday Prayers!

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Order of Service

G'day and welcome to Partakers Friday Prayers on the 23rd of September, 2011.

Opening Prayer

Father, as we commence, let our hearts and minds be right before you.  We thank for your Son Jesus. It's in His name we offer you these praises, prayers and petitions in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside those who are your children. Amen

Praise time!

Let's have a time for you to offer your own praises to God! If for some reason words are failing you, simple say "Lord God, I lift up thanks and praise to you alone."

Father God, accept these praises as sweet smelling perfume! Amen!

Psalm 100

We are told that it's a great thing to praise our God! So let's now have a Psalm of praise! We have Psalm 100, read to us today by Jenny!

Time of Silence

Now there will be a short time of prayer where you can give to God things that are on your own mind and heart.

If for some reason, words are failing you, then pray this short prayer based on Psalm 40 "O God, Help and deliver me from this pit for I am poor and needy!"

Time of silence

Father, we pray that your love will take over our lives! We also pray that we would follow you faithfully, live lives obediently and give praise to you alone in all circumstances we face together.

Lord in your mercy hear these prayers of your children.  Amen

Prayers for the World

Father, we now lifts this troubled world to you! From your wellspring of mercy hear these petitions!!

May justice and peace come to places where injustice, strife and conflict currently dominate!

Where there is chaos, bring order.

Where there is hatred, may love be sown.

We pray that in areas of need following natural disasters, that aid will get through and infrastructure rebuilt.

Lord in your mercy, hear these prayers of your children! Amen!

For churches and Christians worldwide

We now pray for church services around the world this weekend.

Our Father God, we lift before you all those who are preaching, leading, serving and participating in church services around the world this weekend, we ask that the Holy Spirit would guide their minds and that the worship will be in Spirit and in truth, that the Word as it is faithfully preached.

For those in countries where to meet other Christians is illegal or not condoned by the government, we ask that you continue to strengthen, guide, grow and uplift them. Let them know through Your Spirit, the Spirit that lives within all believers that we are praying for them.

Amen!

Prayers for others

Father, be the strength for all those who are grieving and mourning the loss of loved ones. Father, we pray that those in despair will be helped and where there is darkness there will be light. O Lord God, give strength to the week.

We lift before you, O merciful Father, all those facing challenging situations: such as loneliness, confinement at home, geographical isolation, lack of employment, health issues, and financial pressures.  O Father, please meet their needs in what ever challenging situation is being faced, and we put ourselves in your hands to help meet those needs where we can.

We ask these things, our Father God, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen!

Benediction

And now, as we close: Hebrews 13v20-21

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,  equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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Worship Wednesday

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G'day! Welcome to Partakers Wednesday Worship on the 21st of September 2011.

Song - Only A Boy named David sung by Daniel Martin

Bible Talk

Jesus spent complete nights in prayer seeking strength and wisdom from His Father in Heaven. We dare not go into battle with the enemy in our strength alone. The hymn writer wrote "Put on the gospel armour, each piece put on with prayer."

How do we put the gospel armour on? The armour we need is supplied by our Lord. It is described for us by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18: "Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might that you may stand in the evil day" He then goes on to say "Take unto yourself the whole armour of God. "Leave no unguarded place" are the hymn writer's words. Very apt as we can be so easily forgetful and neglectful. We need to be aware of our weak points where we ma be unguarded. "Give the devil no room."

I find as a great help each morning to spend some time putting the gospel armour on. How? As I get dressed physically taking time to put each piece of my clothing on carefully making myself presentable before the mirror, I also take by faith my spiritual armour piece by piece coming before the mirror or God's Word the Bible, reminding myself of which piece does in order to be strong for the day's battles, whatever they may be.

(a) The helmet of salvation. To protect the mind. Here is a point of entry If I do not protect it. How? By the Scriptures. "Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus." I ask for the mind of Christ.

(b) Breastplate of righteousness. This time I remind myself I am clothed in Christ's righteousness to gain me Heaven. This truth prevents me boasting and it keeps me humble. each moment of every day ever grateful to Jesus for His robe of righteousness. I need also to know there needs to be an outworking of that righteousness in my life through the power of The Holy Spirit. To seek to be like Jesus living to honour Him and be a light shining for Jesus.

(c) The belt of truth. I believe I must be held in by God's truth the Bible in all I think say and do. Not what I think but how God says I should react in any given situation during the course of the day. Not legalistically but trusting The Holy Spirit to bring the truth to memory to protect and instruct me.

(d) Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. The Roman footwear had to be strong and able to grip rough terrain. To walk steadily through the day without deviation to left or right not slipping into sinful habits but standing firm as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

(e) Sword of the Spirit and shield of faith in our hands. Having Scripture ready to hand and mind to fight off scurry attacks from satan as he tries to buffet us. Do you remember how Jesus used these weapons in the wilderness when tempted by the devil? "Has God said" He reminded the devil of the word of God. How important for us to memorise God's Word to hide it in our hearts as the psalmist wrote. Read God's Word regularly improving our knowledge day by day. The devil never lets up neither should we.

(f) Putting on all prayer. Living through the day in an atmosphere of prayer with a prayerful spirit. Ready to call upon the lord for any special needs but also ready to praise Him for any blessing that he brings our way. Talk to Him, as you walk with Him. Strengthened and satisfied by Him. We glorify Him by so doing. "Jesus is my Rock and Fortress, in Him I trust for ever.

Prayer with Joy

Dear Heavenly Father,

We know we have failed to put on the Christian armour and some of us have fallen dreadfully. We know it is important to acknowledge this to you. To be honest and admit our faults. We know the devil appears like a roaring lion at times, but sometimes as an angel of light and we fail to see him coming and we fall.

Forgive us Lord and help us to take the advice given and to take time to be holy by spending time with you Lord and to put on the gospel armour and trust you Lord to make us aware of the enemy attacks of satan and to stand up against him in Your strength and power.

David fought against Goliath and won because he knew the battle was the Lord's. He had confidence in your strength and had faith in You.

Paul the apostle said "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Help us to remember to pray that same prayer for our safety and Your glory, Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Benediction

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Think Spot

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Think Spot - 19th September 2011

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G'day! Welcome to Partakers Think Spot at the start of new week on Monday the 19th of September 2011. We have a guest today again! Welcome back Pauline as she shares some insights with you.

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.

Thanks for joining us on Partakers ThinkSpot! See you again real soon!

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Sermon - Rachel

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Rachel's Story

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Genesis 29v14-30

Now that may be to some a long passage, but it helps set up the story of Rachel.  Sounds like a modern day soap opera like Holby City, Eastenders or Coronation Street doesn't it? Rachel had a fairly complicated family structure as we have seen, so lets try to unravel it!

Rachel's sister Rebekah was Jacob's mother. Rebekah trained Jacob to scheme in order to gain his father's blessing and promised him that she would take the results of the deceitful act upon herself. Rachel became Jacob's wife, but only after Laban had tricked him into marrying Leah, the older daughter first. We can wonder if Rachel encouraged Jacob in his trickery, or if she was influenced by him to think first of herself at the expense of others. Whether his mother and/or his wife influenced Jacob, or indeed if he influenced them, both Rebekah and Rachel serve as examples of the outcome of sinful deceit and discontent.

Some personal details about Rachel

So, who was Rachel?

  • Born in Aramea (Syria)
  • Daughter of Laban
  • Second wife of Jacob, her first cousin.
  • Mother of Joseph & Benjamin.
  • Ancestress of three tribes of Israel- Benjamin, Ephraim & Manasseh (Sons of Joseph).
  • Possessed great beauty (Genesis 29:17)
  • Devious (Genesis 31:19, 34-35)
  • Not single-minded in devotion to God.
  • Probably did not put away her idols until shortly before she died.
  • Her sorrow is depicted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah. 31), to signify the sorrow of Israel's people at the exile of Israel to Assyria and Babylon.

Now let us look at some of the main people involved in the life of Rachel: her father, sister, husband and children.

Her Father

Firstly, here is Laban - her dad!  Laban was a crafty sort of character. Over the course of 20 years he switched Jacob's wives, wages and livestock for his own advantage. He was devious and deceitful. It was probably his philosophy that Rachel imitated in her long search for fulfilment, for she too, was always looking to protect or enhance her own position be means of cheating and deceit. Although she resembled her father in this way, Rachel had little respect for him. The only subject about whom she seemed to agree with Leah about was that their father had cheated them. Jacob told his wives that he had noticed that Laban's attitude toward him had changed (Genesis 31:2), and that God had directed him to return to the land of his fathers (Genesis 31:14-16). But Rachel went one further step than her sister. She stole her father's household gods, the inheritance, and Jacob did not know either. When Laban found out, and caught up with Jacob, Jacob angrily insisted that Laban search among his goods, and he promised to put to death anyone found to have taken them (Genesis 31:33-35).

Her Sister

Secondly, lets look at Rachel's sister Leah.  To a certain point, Rachel's relationship with her sister affected her marriage with Jacob since Leah also happened to be married to Jacob (Genesis 30:11). There began a fierce competition between the Leah and Rachel over their rights to Jacob's sexual attention. Rachel insisted that Jacob sleep with her maid Bilhah so that she could build a family through her servant. Two sons were born, Dan & Naphtali (Genesis 30:1-8). When Leah stopped bearing children of her own, she gave her maid Zilpah to Jacob. Two more sons were added. Rachel was far from satisfied her jealousy was not eased.

(Genesis 30:14-16) During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes."

But she said to her, "Wasn't it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son's mandrakes too?"

"Very well," Rachel said, "he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son's mandrakes."

So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. "You must sleep with me," she said. "I have hired you with my son's mandrakes." So he slept with her that night.

We may be surprised to see in this passage Jacob's abdication of his own authority over the household in the face of these fighting sisters!!! We see Leah's readiness to drive a hard but petty bargain when she had the opportunity. But we also see the extent to which Rachel jealously guarded her territorial claim to Jacob against her sister. Rachel was not the older sister, nor the first wife, but she was clearly the more dominant woman. Though she granted her a night with Jacob in exchange for mandrakes, Rachel would have had to answer no the Leah's question, "Wasn't it enough that you took away my husband?" No, she would have to respond! Discontent continued to smoulder within her, as not one thing was ever enough for Rachel.

Her Husband

Thirdly here is her husband, Jacob! When Jacob fled from the wrath of his brother Esau, he obeyed his mother's advice and went to Haran in search of his uncle Laban. First he found Rachel, a shepherdess, and daughter of Laban. Jacob identified himself as her cousin, kissed her, and wept aloud. Rachel was a very beautiful woman, and Jacob was soon falling head over heels in love with her. He offered to work for Laban to earn Rachel as his bride. (Genesis 29:20). On the wedding night, however, the crafty Laban put his daughter Leah into the marriage bed. Jacob was angry, but there was nothing to be done but to fulfil Leah's bridal week and then marry Rachel. (Genesis 29:30).

Later, in the wake of the sisters' competition over children, two maidservants were elevated to wife status as well, but Rachel was always the most loved. We see this in the care with which Jacob protected her by placing her with Joseph at the end of the caravan when he met Esau again after 20 years (Genesis 33:1-3). Years later, Jacob's preference for Rachel's children Joseph and Benjamin was painfully obvious to his other ten sons (Genesis 37:3, 45:18-19). Unfortunately, the only person who failed to recognize this supreme love and to rest in it, was Rachel herself.

God's gifts of love, beauty, or intelligence, can only reach their full potential for His glory when they are acknowledged and received by the individual who has received them. The extent to which these gifts are developed depends largely on the person's attitude and response to them. In the same way, a woman may be loved by a man, but she will only radiate that love the degree that she chooses to receive and rest in it. Rachel was more beautiful and beloved than her sister Leah, yet Leah learned to find peace through focusing on God's care in the midst of her difficult circumstances. Neither God's blessing of physical beauty nor the love of Jacob was enough for Rachel.

Her Children

Now finally: her children. For 13 years Rachel was childless. The social problems for women with no children were terrible. Rachel must have suffered a lot whenever Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah became pregnant, while she remained childless. She took out her frustration on her poor husband Jacob, even though it was not his fault and he would not have it put upon him (Genesis 30:2). God's participation in the miracle of life is evident in these chapters, especially Genesis 29:31; 30:17 when God remembered Leah, and also when Rachel finally becomes pregnant Genesis 30:22-24. Rachel had waited a long time for God to bless her in this way. Perhaps He was waiting to see whether her attitude might improve. It did not. Rachel stubbornly refused to be satisfied with her circumstances. She persisted in looking at the negative side of her situation. When Rachel's maid Bilhah bore Jacob a son in her name, she named him Dan (Genesis 30:6) which means "God has vindicated.". While recognizing God had heard her prayers, she regarded the child as her right to make up for her past suffering, rather than a free gift to her out of His love. When Bilhah's second son was born she named him Naphtali, which means "my struggle". Again she considered the child a sign of victory over her sister in reward for her unhappiness. Even the birth of Rachel's own son Joseph did not satisfy her (Genesis 30:23-24). One son was not enough. Nothing was enough.

Many years passed. Jacob built up his herds and left Laban (Genesis 31). He was reconciled with his brother Esau (Genesis 32 & 33). He settled in Shechem, where his elder sons killed all the men and plundered the city in revenge for the violation of their sister (Genesis 34). God told Jacob to move his family to Bethel, where he renewed his covenant.

(Genesis 35:16-18). Here Rachel aptly expressed her perception of her whole life and revealed her capacity for self-pity when as she died giving birth, named her baby Ben-Oni "son of her trouble." Her devoted husband over-ruled her choice and gave him the name that means "son of my right hand", Benjamin, suggesting that perhaps not only that he would treasure this son in a special way, but also that Rachel had been like a right hand to him. Rachel was probably a very positive supportive wife for Jacob, but this cannot be proved from what the Bible says. When Rachel died, Jacob honoured her tomb with a pillar, and to this day the site apparently remains an important landmark for Jews in Bethlehem. In her lifetime, however, it seems that all Rachel constructed - was a monument to her own misery.

The Story continues

There we have the pen portraits of Rachel's father Laban, Rachel's sister Leah, Rachel's husband and Rachel's children - with an gleaning idea of her relationship with all of them.

Here it is perhaps helpful to discuss 2 points about culture at that time. First, the household gods represented tokens of inheritance more than just symbols of idolatry. Whoever had them, could lay claim to a man's property after his death. Second, as God later spelled out for the Israelites, it was considered an act of uncleanness to touch a woman during her period of menstruation or anything on which she sat (Leviticus 14:19-23). God intended it as a health precaution, but Rachel used it to hide her theft. As she expected, Laban did not bother searching any further.

Because she had an older sister and several brothers, Rachel must have realized that she had no real claim to her father's property, regardless of who had the idols. Her act was spontaneous, motivated by a desire to retaliate against her family rather than for self gain. The combination of stealing and lying was simply another expression of the dissatisfaction. The household gods were buried after Jacob commanded them to be (Genesis 35).

What alternative did Rachel have? How can people resolve their feelings of resentment in productive, permanent ways? Leah's life demonstrates a determination to face facts, confess her feelings and focus on the Lord as a reliable source of fulfilment in every circumstance. Jacob also learned to accept his difficult situation by finding evidence of God's blessing even in the midst of hardship (Genesis 31:5, 7, 9). But Rachel consistently refused to be comforted by the blessings God had faithfully provided. She chose instead to brood over her father's treachery, her sister's fertility, her husband's conflicting duties and her own failure to have children. Rather than making the best of her current circumstances, she was haunted be the past and her unfulfilled dream of what could have been; and consistently entered into self-pity parties. She insisted on trying to twist the future into what she wanted.

To be lovely and much loved is what so many people want to be and have. Yet it wasn't enough for Rachel: she wanted more.

So why is Rachel in the Bible? Firstly she is mentioned in Jeremiah 31, where she signifies the sorrow of Israel's people at the exile to Assyria and Babylon.  Then there is Matthew 2, where she symbolizes the sorrow of the women of Israel weeping at the loss of the babies during Herod's killing of children in the early years of Jesus. But thirdly and perhaps the most important reason is found in Ruth 4v11, where she is honoured with Leah by later generations as those "who together built up the house of Israel". This would seem to suggest that despite her obvious and many faults, Rachel with Leah, were well respected by the Jews as the "mothers" of Israel. There were 12 tribes of Israel, all sons or grandsons of Jacob, and heard his prophecies concerning them & their future (Genesis 49). The names of the twelve tribes were Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Asher, Dan, Naphtali, Benjamin and the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. Levi, the third son was not included amongst the tribes given land. Moses instead set the Levites apart to be priests (Numbers 3:1-4, 49).

Conclusion

Perhaps there are 3 kinds of people here tonight.

Firstly, if you are a Christian here tonight, how and in what way are you like Rachel?  As you go through your day, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you ways in which you may well be deceitful, vengeful, dwelling on the past bitterly or engaged in constant self-pity.  Are you like Rachel, headed downhill on a course of dissatisfaction that may end in dishonesty and deceit, or in disappointment and despair? Accept God's love. Believe that in every trial He desires us to draw closer to Him, so that we can be energized by Him and realize that He alone and only He is enough.

Ask for forgiveness for dwelling on the past and any inappropriate behaviour where those things were involved.  God is faithful and just and will forgive if you go to Him with a penitent heart.  Then no long dwell on those things, for they are in the past, are forgotten and not to be remembered any more.  So forgetting what is past, go into the future with a new outlook of service to God and others.  That way your life will be a living prayer and a living witness to others about the great God you serve, love and worship.

Secondly, you may be a Christian but you are the victim of somebody else's deceit and dishonesty - then forgive them before God and as far as it is possible, ask that person for forgiveness.  Bitterness, envy and pride can eat away and cause much misery, sin and depression.

Finally, if it happens that you are not a Christian here tonight, then please do see one of the leaders or myself and we would be glad to tell you how you can be free from a life of dissatisfaction, deceit and dishonesty - both as the victim and perpetrator of such things.  Know that Jesus Christ is above deceit, never dissatisfies and is never dishonest - His word is true and He seeks you, to be in  a relationship with you, where His love is always serving, always humble and always satisfies.  As I said, come and see one of us after if that is you..

Thank you.

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An opportunity to spare a thought and/or prayer for the grieving families, friends and loved ones of Charles Breslin, Phillip Hill, Garry Jenkins and David Powell, the 4 miners found on Friday September 16, 2011 at Gleision Colliery, near Pontardawe.

(More about this can be found on BBC News

Please do leave a comment below containing a kind word or a prayer... I will do my best to forward this link and them to the parish church in Cilybebyll... This maybe an amazing way to encourage that small community...

Thank you...

Youngmi and Dave Roberts

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Partakers Friday Prayers

Come and join in praying for the world and yourself, offering praises to God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit!

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Welcome to Partakers Friday Prayers on Friday, 16th of September, 2011.

Order of Service

Welcome

General Opening prayer

Prayers of praise

Prayers for the world

Prayers for churches worldwide

Prayers for others

We come now to praying for the needs of these individuals. Please do add others in the time of silence following this prayer.

Pam, Kerry, Denise Joy, Ruth, Bronwen, Bruce, Chris and Maggie

O Great God our provider, we ask for a healing touch and wisdom for the medical staff treating them.

Father, be the strength for all those who are grieving and mourning the loss of loved ones. Father, we pray that those in despair will be helped and where there is darkness there will be light. O Lord God, give strength to the week.

Finally, Father, we lift before you, all those facing challenging situations: such as loneliness, confinement at home, geographical isolation, lack of employment, health issues, and financial pressures. O Father, please meet their needs in what ever challenging situation is being faced, and we put ourselves in your hands to help meet those needs where we can.

We ask these things, our Father God, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen!

Benediction

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope and faith through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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Prayer

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Prayer

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Paul writing in Ephesians 6v18 – “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all of God’s holy people.”

Prayer, along with the Bible, are our weapons in spiritual warfare! I wonder when the last time you said “Good morning” to God as you woke up or said “Good night” to God as you fell asleep. Prayer is at the centre in the relationship between God and the Christian disciple. It is the major action of fellowship between God and humans, and of humans communicating with God, both in talking and listening (Genesis 18v33).

Prayer is also a way of “letting God in” to the life of the Christian disciple, and of enjoying the company of God, relating all aspects of life to Him. Calvin, said that part of praying was asking for “what we have learned to be available” in God’s love and of His being the infinitesimal good giver. He goes on to say our “only security” is achieved by calling on the Father for His providence out of His infinite mercy. Martin Luther said that our “protection (by God) lies in prayer”, for the Christian disciple is too weak in their own strength to withstand all that is against them. Prayer is ultimately what humans were made for: conversing with God. This dynamic relationship enables the Christian disciple to engage in prayer that is both “personal and relational.” However, prayer is only the penultimate stage in the relationship with God. Prayer is the forerunner of the day when the Christian disciple will know fully, even as they are fully known (1 Corinthians 13v12). All prayer consists of a desire or longing to know God better, and that is to be our prime motivation: to know God better. That is why it is a spiritual weapon, and it is also the reason satan tries to stop Christian disciples from praying.

The function of prayer according to Augustine was a constant yearning for assistance and strengthening of desire towards the ultimate goal - eternal happiness and worship and knowledge of God. God Himself assists the Christian disciple as they pray: where He corrects and strengthening the yearning. Prayers express desires and thoughts in a contributory way to the journey of the Christian disciple. The Lord’s Prayer and the book Psalms are superb biblical examples of prayer. It is through Scripture that desire to know God and be known by God evolves and develops. That is why prayer and Bible reading go hand in hand.

Prayer emits our words from ourselves to the God we seek to know, as a response to His reaching out to us. A popular method of prayer is the ACTS acronym, whereby prayer is Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Through prayer, God is able to comprehend the Christian disciple regardless of language, grammar or oratory skill as long as the Christian disciple approaches with a correct attitude.

Words however, are not just to be a mental action but also an emotive act, conveying emotions and feeling. Prayer is to convey deep emotions to God, regardless of our language skills. The words spoken in prayer portray our innermost feeling to Him. Because God is personal, He values language and expects His people to talk to Him. If for some reason, the Christian disciple is unable to convey their words in prayer, then Romans 8v26, intimates that the Holy Spirit intercedes. Prayer epitomises the Father-child relationship symbolized in the Christian disciple’s relationship with God. It further symbolizes the freedom and peace in prayer, advocated by Jesus to communicate His deepest desires, as in the Lords Prayer (Matthew 6v9-13) and in John 17.

The Lord’s Prayer - What does Jesus say about prayer? In the first part of the prayer termed “The Lord’s Prayer”, the words spoken give supplication to God that He always be revered as holy, His kingdom rule will come quickly and that His will be accomplished. The second part comprises words of petition, for the past, present and future. By words, “we are known by God.” This prayer is a model for real prayer because it is both God-centred and intelligent. Prayers reveal the Christian disciple’s submission to, and acknowledgment of, God as Master; a God who both knows and cares for His creation.

Does God answer all prayers? First of all the answer we expect, may not be the answer we get! So often we pray, expecting one result and getting another and then think that God hasn’t answered our prayer! Sometimes the answer He gives is yes. At other times it may be no or not yet. When we realise that God works outside of our restrictions of time and space, we learn to trust His judgement and wisdom. We acknowledge that He is the Master and we his servants. Sometimes when we pray, we like to think we are the Masters and He is our servant! Prayers that aren’t answered are due to unconfessed sin (Psalm 66v18); selfishness (James 4v3); doubt (James 1v5-7); disobedience (Proverbs 28v9) or pride (Luke 18v11-14).

A great book to read on prayer is The Message of Prayer by Tim Chester. For more to think about please do read for yourself Ephesians 1 & 6. 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.

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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. What lessons can I take from this prayer and use to improve my prayer life?

 

Q2. From this chapter, what is my incentive for prayer?

 

Q3. What stops me from spending time praying and causes me to struggle in prayer?

 

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God’s Purposes & Will

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“God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfil his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ — everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” (Ephesians 1v9-11).

These verses tell us about the counsel of God’s Will (Ephesians 1v11). God’s Will is inextricably linked with the future and Things to Come. The future has us naturally wonder what are God God’s Purposes and Will? What are His decrees and how is Jesus interacting with us now?

1. God's Purposes

What is the reason for creation? (Ephesians 1v3-11; Revelation 4v11). The glory of God - that God will be praised.

  • God's purposes and plans are in eternity (Psalm 33v11)
  • God's purposes originate in God's wisdom and holiness.
  • God is free to do anything in accordance with His character. He cannot do anything contrary to His character.

2. God's Will

  • Directive Will - Things God determines to come to pass. (Isaiah 14v24)
  • Permissive Will - Things God allows or permits to occur.

Sin and rebellion (not directive will). God is big enough to grant and cope with the free will He as given humanity.

Sin - God permits sin, but is not the author of sin. God made man with a free will, allowing for the possibility of sin. Although sin and corruption entered the world with great human loss, and the resulting death on the Cross: God thought freedom of will was worth giving to us. It is to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1)

Salvation - Election - God chooses individuals to fulfil His purposes (Romans 9). God chooses those who are/will be saved (John 15v16). These are the chosen ones or the elect. However, it is not His will that any should perish (2 Peter 3v9), it is His will all men should be saved (1 Timothy2v3-4).

We need to accept both these statements as equally and absolutely true. When we use words about God with a time element such as 'chose', 'elect', we need to use these in God's infinite time framework (timelessness), not in our human finite time framework.

3. Preservation - Doctrine of Continuance

God maintains the existence of all He has made. God has created but not left the universe while He watches from a distance (Islam/Muslim). This thinking is erroneous because it stipulates that God rules only by natural laws and simply observes its progress. However, the Bible tells us that God is actively involved in sustaining creation. For without His involvement, the universe would cease to exist. He does this in two ways.

Continuous Creation - God maintains the universe by continual creation.

Concurrence - God co-operates with all subordinate powers. Men retain their natural powers and exercise them but without God's concurrence, no force or person can continue to exist or act. (Colossians 1v17; Acts 17v28; Hebrews 1v2-3)

4. Particular Names Of God reflect His Purposes and Will

  • Jehovah Jireh - (Genesis 22v14) - The Lord will provide
  • Jehovah Tsidkenu - (Jeremiah 33v16) - The Lord our righteousness
  • Jehovah Nissi - (Exodus 17) - The Lord is our banner / leader
  • Jehovah Shalom - (Judges 6v24) - The Lord is our peace
  • Jehovah Rapha - (Exodus 15) - The Lord is our healer
  • Jehovah Rohi (Psalm 23) - The Lord is our Shepherd

5. Sovereignty of God or His decrees.

The sovereignty of God dictates that God is in control at all times and nothing can occur outside of His control and will. God is not impersonal and He is involved with all creation. God loves His creation and cares for it. He has created all humans with the power to make decisions by them self. God wont deny our humanity when He deals with us. He speaks to our minds though the Bible and seeks us to respond to him with love and affection.

  • Sovereign decree: When God says “Eternal life is available for all. You may choose to accept or reject it. Those that accept it, I will call my children.” Our reaction as Christian Disciples should be to trust and obey.
  • Conditional decree: When God says “I am willing to give you my opinion and help when you ask.” Our reaction as Christian Disciples should be read the Bible, to pray and talk with God.
  • Natural decree: When God has created a lemon tree, that lemon tree won’t produce potatoes.” Our reaction as Christian Disciples should be to plan ahead knowing the way the natural laws work..

6. How does Jesus interact with Christian Disciples?

Jesus interacts with us by faith in four ways: caring, praying, coming and helping.

Jesus cares and is concerned for us - We all go through storms and troubles. When we find ourselves in these situations, we have four assurances about Jesus as Christian Disciples.

  • By faith - He is praying for us - Jesus Christ is making intercessions for Christian Disciples (Romans 8:34). He knew the disciples troubles (Mark 6:48), just as He knows our troubles now. He feels our cares and knows what we are going through (Hebrews 4:14-16).

  • By faith - He will come to us - Ever felt like God is far away? Well you aren’t alone! King David often felt God was far away and unconcerned. However he also knew God would ultimately rescue him. Paul, the great Apostle, also felt “burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life” 2 Cor 1:8

Jesus always comes to us through difficult times, although He may not come in the time we think He should come, because He knows when we need Him most.

  • By faith - He will help us to grow - Take the example of when the disciples were in the storm and Jesus came to them walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). The purpose of this incident was that Jesus would be leaving them soon, so they had to learn to trust in Him when He wasn’t physically present. Perhaps this is what he was thinking of when he later wrote in his letter “for the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers” (1 Peter 3v12). This all helped Peter to grow in the knowledge of the Lord

  • By faith, He will see us through - Jesus said “Come” and Peter went with Him and walked to the ship. The other disciples must have encouraged by this. Seeing Jesus’ power they worshipped him. Whatever troubles we are undergoing are temporary, and Jesus, for His praise and glory, will see us through.

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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. Read Colossians 1v15-20. How can I deepen my relationship with Jesus knowing these things about Him?

 

Q2. Read Acts 17v24-28. How is God reaching the nations through me?

 

Q3. How does knowing about God’s Purposes and Will affect my life as a Christian Disciple?

 

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Worship Wednesday

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Order of Service

Welcome!

Opening prayer

Bible Reading: Psalm 3

Bible Reading: Mark 4:35-41

Bible Talk: God's Love for you reflected!

Our bible spot today is by Jim Allis and he is sharing some insights about worry and fear.

Maybe today you are worried about some matter and wake up at night concerned about why God is allowing this or that in your life. Questions come flooding into your mind Why Lord? Why? What are you doing with me? Are you really there? Friend, listen at these reassuring thought based on God's precious holy Word. We are instructed to read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy.

So then will Jesus keep me safe?

When we look into the gospel narratives of Jesus with his disciples He is always there when they need Him most. On the sea of Galilee they are scared of the fierce waves and what do they see? Jesus Himself actually walking on the very waves that threatened to break up their ship and drown them. Do you remember His words? Only two but so, so important. "Fear Not"

We need constantly to remind ourselves that Jesus is the Co- Creator of those waves. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can happen to those disciples He loves except He allows it for a purpose. They were safe and we too are safe by His presence within "in the storm" Because "we are kept by the mighty power of God through faith..............." 'Kept' is a military term used here in this verse meaning 'garrisoned' Garrisoned around and fully protected. Think of a castle made secure by way of a Moat and Keep.

Remember also that the disciples were quaking in fear behind locked doors following the resurrection of Jesus. Again He is there for them when they need Him most. His words on this occasion are also reassuring "My peace I give to you" We cannot see Jesus but He can certainly see us. Isn't that reassuring?

Of course our faith is small maybe as a mustard seed but big enough to remember other words from Scripture " Wonderful words of instruction and certainty, "Cast your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:17) He can move mountains.

He will never leave us alone in any situation however dreadful it may be. Remember also He is never further than a prayer away.

So it shouldn't be surprising to learn that the devil will do everything to stop us praying for reinforcements from heaven. His plan is to remove our peace and stop the power of God coming into play.

I believe it is so true what the hymn writer wrote "The devil trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees"

Finally remember that when we pray we can only be heard and have prayers answered in the name of Jesus. It is because we are joined to Jesus that our prayers are heard and answered. What an incentive to pray!

Jesus knew the power of prayer and spent whole nights in prayer seeking strength and wisdom for the day ahead of Him with all its challenges. He met and won victory after victory through prayer. We are encouraged to do likewise in His name.

Prayer

Song: Marjie Reece “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills”

Benediction

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