google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2012 January

Archive for January 2012

Think Spot

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30th January 2012

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G’day and welcome to Partakers Thinkspot on Monday, the 3oth of January 2012. Please do feel free to download or listen to the audio mp3 file!

Recently on one of our local health walks in the countryside I was in conversation with a knowledgeable chap who had seen an interesting programme on television about birds and was bursting with interesting facts to tell me of this amazing bird called a swift. He then passed on some interesting facts about them which I want to share with you today. Swifts are amazing birds, and here are some reasons why!  We shall think about them and then learn some valuable truths from their habits.

1. After leaving the nest where they hatched, they'll keep flying non-stop for three years! Isn't that amazing?

2, They even eat, mate (at high speed in what are known as screaming parties) and they even sleep in the air while flying! they can actually 'snooze' with one side of their brain resting while the other is working, and then switch to the other side. Isn't God's creation incredible?

3. Also some of 'our' swifts migrate from Great Britain as far as South Africa for winter. How fantastically strong they are though small. In addition they are the fastest bird at level flight. (up to 70mph). Sometimes they are mistaken for a swallow. Their shape is similar

4. The parent birds gather insect snacks for their chicks, carrying as many as 1,000 at one gulp! How dependant the chicks are upon their parents to care for them.

5. Swifts also choose to live in our houses and churches - they squeeze through tiny gaps to nest inside roofs. God has indeed provided for all his creatures.

I was astounded as I was being told of the incredible abilities of some of these smallest and the youngest of these creatures who fly with amazing strength and skill, do incredible things while flying with accuracy to distant parts and have utmost confidence in their parents to supply all their needs.

In case you didn't take it all in the first time let me repeat these amazing truths. Swifts neither touch the ground or tree or building for the first three years of their lives!. They keep flying eating, mating at high speed and even sleep in the air.

Summing up they can feed from their parents who gather insect snacks for their young carrying as many as 1,000 at one gulp. The young have absolute confidence in their regular meals being supplied to them. Neither do they worry about their living accommodation as to where they live or the size of their home. They slip between very narrow gaps contentedly.

What an example for us who believe in God and want to be active with and for God. Always we want to move forward making every moment count for God with the abilities He has given to us and not giving time to consider where our next meal is coming from, where we shall live or stay overnight etc.

In our Bibles we find Jesus certainly is the best example of this kind of life.(Matthew 8:20;) "The foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head." "I must do the works of Him who sent me, while it is day said Jesus, the night comes when no one can work" Jesus never wasted a moment.

God has promised to meet all our needs as we 'fly' with Him and 'seek' to do his will. One day when Jesus was talking with a Samaritan woman which was surprising enough to his disciples for Jews had no dealings with Samaritans, they said "you must be hungry" he replied that his food was to do the will of the Father who had sent Him and to accomplish His work." (John 4:32)  He went on to say he had food the disciples knew nothing about.

As we look at these examples of God's extraordinary creation we are reminded that God is looking for a faithful people who will be diligent in service for Him. God's people should aim to be single minded in their lives putting God first in all things and desiring His will above their own in every instance. Following in His footsteps.

Jesus followed that maxim every day. He had no home to call his own but spoke of swallows, swifts and other birds having their nests but he had nowhere to lay his head. And although he never 'flew' he certainly was always on the move. He was up extremely early each day to pray for the needs of the day before going early in the morning to the temple to meet and talk with people and it wasn't to discuss the weather! He spoke of heavenly food he lived on when talking to his disciples when they were concerned about him missing a meal.

Like the swift getting through many miles in travel he must have covered a lot of ground in three years accomplishing enough to fill a library of books with his activities and the many transformed lives through his ministry. (Read John 21) The way we live our life is important but......Remember that Jesus has first to become our Saviour and only then our example.

Joy’s Prayer

Dear Lord,

It is with wonder we look at your marvellous universe full of wonderful and so varied creation. From the splendour of mountain grandeur to grassy plains that can stretch for miles and miles to the small and larger animal kingdom as well as beautiful birds that fly across your majestic skies sometimes to be seen by the naked eye full of planets stars and moons.

You are an amazing God and we do glory in your name and your mighty power and wisdom and your own incredible design of earth and sky.

We praise and delight ourselves in your goodness to us and especially for Jesus our Saviour Lord and Friend.

Thank you Lord for the privilege of living in your world and for all its benefits.

We love and adore You

Amen.

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Glimpses 54

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Glimpses 54 - Roger and Margaret

This is the story of how God took two ordinary people in the last years of their working life, into a situation which was challenging, rewarding and exciting! You can listen to this story below!

For the next 6 months, every Sunday, Roger will be sharing with us some studies he has prepared in the early life of Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in Luke 1-9. We have titled this series "Luke Looks Back" and it will be starting Sunday February 5th 2012. Thank you

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Why I am a Christian

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Why I am a Christian?

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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?

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 (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? He 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 8:1). 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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WISE - Sin

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Sin

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Welcome to Partake WISE.  The word for today is sin.

Sinning!

I wonder if you have ever played tennis and went to hit the ball but missed.  Or you actually hit the ball and it went outside the court!  Or perhaps you are a golfer, and one day you went to putt the ball in the hole, and you missed! The tennis player who hit the ball out of court or the golfer who missed the hole can be both be said to have committed a sin, because they missed!  And that is what a sin, in biblical terms, is:  it is missing the mark that God has set.

Big and Little Sins

And everybody, particularly in the West, including those who would not call themselves Christians, has some idea of sin.  They generally call doing things like telling lies or speeding in the car, “little sins” because everybody does those, they say!  And of course, only a tiny minority of people commit the real big sins, such as murdering other people or robbing banks!  So to most people’s minds, there are degrees of sins, depending on how many people actually do that kind of sin.

Sin actually is...

So what actually is the biblical definition of sin?  Sin is the lack of conformity, , to the Moral Law of God, either in deeds, attitudes, or state. Do you remember Jesus saying the two greatest commands were to love God and love others? Any breakage of those two commandments is sin, whether by a lot or a little. There are two kinds of sin. Firstly there are the sins, which are active disobedience, or the sins of commission. These are where God’s commands are actively broken! Secondly there are the passive kinds, which are sins of omission. These occur when people are not doing, as they ought to do (James 4:17)!

Stop! Confess! Live!

Everybody, including Christian Disciples, sin in one of those two ways!  Of course Christian Disciples have accepted Jesus Christ and have had their sins forgiven.  But Christian Disciples, still sin!  But as a Christian Disciple, you are to take God’s view of sin! You cannot claim to be without sin, because as 1 John 1 says, you would be living in self-delusion and making God out to be a liar! So, when you realise you have sinned, be quick to confess it, so that your relationship with Jesus Christ remains at peak intimacy! For as 1 John 1v9 says, “Jesus is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus wants us to have complete fellowship with him, and by confessing sin; your fellowship with Him is made richer, more intimate and stronger.

Thank you

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POD - Psalm 10

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Psalm 10

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10:1 Why do you stand far off, Yahweh?

Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

10:2 In arrogance, the wicked hunt down the weak.

They are caught in the schemes that they devise.

10:3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s cravings.

He blesses the greedy, and condemns Yahweh.

10:4 The wicked, in the pride of his face,

has no room in his thoughts for God.

10:5 His ways are prosperous at all times.

He is haughty, and your laws are far from his sight.

As for all his adversaries, he sneers at them.

10:6 He says in his heart, “I shall not be shaken.

For generations I shall have no trouble.”

10:7 His mouth is full of cursing, deceit, and oppression.

Under his tongue is mischief and iniquity.

10:8 He lies in wait near the villages.

From ambushes, he murders the innocent.

His eyes are secretly set against the helpless.

10:9 He lurks in secret as a lion in his ambush.

He lies in wait to catch the helpless.

He catches the helpless, when he draws him in his net.

10:10 The helpless are crushed.

They collapse.

They fall under his strength.

10:11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten.

He hides his face.

He will never see it.”

10:12 Arise, Yahweh!

God, lift up your hand!

Don’t forget the helpless.

10:13 Why does the wicked person condemn God,

and say in his heart, “God won’t call me into account?”

10:14 But you do see trouble and grief.

You consider it to take it into your hand.

You help the victim and the fatherless.

10:15 Break the arm of the wicked.

As for the evil man, seek out his wickedness until you find none.

10:16 Yahweh is King forever and ever!

The nations will perish out of his land.

10:17 Yahweh, you have heard the desire of the humble.

You will prepare their heart.

You will cause your ear to hear,

10:18 to judge the fatherless and the oppressed,

that man who is of the earth may terrify no more.

As read by Ian Wakeham

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Think Spot

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23rd January 2012

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G’day and welcome to Partakers Thinkspot on Monday, the 23rd of January 2012. To help you into a new week, Jim shares with us about Job (a man of integrity), suffering, compassion and Gladys Ayleward! View the video or listen/download the audio mp3 to see what Jim has to say!

Joy’s Prayer

Lord, we are often complaining when we have nothing like the experiences of Job or others like Gladys Aylward to compare with. Forgive us for our moaning and grumbling. Help us to see as the scriptures say our 'light afflictions are but for a moment ' . When we think of Jesus and His sufferings for us we are put to shame. Thank you we have such a wonderful God as indeed You are to comfort us in our afflictions. “Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all His benefits who forgives our iniquities, heals all of our sicknesses and diseases and whose mercy ,reaches unto the heavens. ...Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, serve the Lord with gladness” Lord help us to do this for Your names sake

Amen

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Strategy to Persevere

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Developing A Strategy

to Persevere

Hebrews10:26-39

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Introduction

As Christians living in Britain in the beginnings of the 21st century, we are relatively removed from the original recipients of this letter. We know that the original readers were around probably before the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. That this group of Hebrew Christians, due to the sufferings and persecution they were enduring, were thinking of abandoning their faith in Jesus as Messiah due to the suffering and persecution they were enduring.

Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world do suffer for the sake of Gospel and are systematically persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. In 21st century Britain, we don't have those kind of physical sufferings and persecutions because of our faith - yet. But as I read history, and read of the persecution of the Church down through the ages, I can see signs of persecution coming even to us in this country. So, just as the writer speaks to this group of Hebrew Christians, so he speaks to you and I.

I, of course, don't know your personal circumstances. I don't know where you are at in your Christian life. You may be persevering joyfully or you maybe struggling with some aspect of life and thinking of giving it all up. You may not even call yourself a Christian, as you are at the stage of investigating what all this Jesus talk is all about. Wherever you are at, whatever stage you are at, there is something in this passage for you.

I know that classically these passages are seen as warnings, but I also see them as active encouragements - in this case, to persevere. Persevere by being obedient. Persevere by remembering who you are and what you have done. Persevere by looking forward to being with Jesus Christ permanently and forever.

Part 1 - Just Stop! - Persevere in obedience (v26-31)

This is the main thrust of the passage, and so for today it is where we will be spending most of the time given, before going on briefly to the other parts of the passage and finally how it all applies to us as we go to work tomorrow and living our lives. Deliberately sinning (verse 26) Deliberately keep on sinning. What does the writer mean? For this group of Christians, this meant to reject the knowledge and message of Jesus as God. Having received the knowledge, it's rejecting this knowledge of Jesus. These people, who were Hebraic Jews, were under persecution. They would have been under pressure to repudiate Jesus Christ as Lord. They were probably under pressure to deny Jesus as the Way to the Father. Perhaps some of them had already done so and left the church. Perhaps others had left, and had come back into the fold. So the writer of this letter urges them to continue to persevere. For if they did not persevere and did not stop sinning, it would be despising, mocking and ridiculing the sacrifice of Jesus, who was God's son, on the cross.

By continuing to reject Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit who calls people back to God and who transforms people, is insulted and grieved. By habitually and willfully sinning by rejecting Jesus, people's consciences become dull and insensitive to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. They start to withdraw from meeting with other Christians, as the writer states in verse 25.

Mosaic Sacrifice

But why stop this deliberate habitual rejection of Jesus and what is all this about sacrifice? In the Old Testament under the Law of Moses, there was what was called the atoning sacrifice, performed so as to ask God's forgiveness for the sins of people. But not all sins, for this sacrifice only covered those sins committed by ignorance, coercion or unwillingness. It did not cover sins done deliberately. Those sins were spiteful of God and His laws, and knowing that it was hurting God. Basically it was living a life of selfishness and not bowing in obedience to God. Living a life whereby, "my will is my right, and God can get lost." As I said, there was no sacrifice for those kind of sins, in the Law of Moses.

This Mosaic covenant, or the Law of Moses as the writer refers to it, covered all areas of life through a variety of commandments, judgments and decrees:

  • The commandments were given so the people would know how to correctly relate socially to God (Exodus 20v1-6)
  • The judgments were given in order that the people could relate socially to each other properly (Exodus 21v1 - 24v11)
  • The decrees dictated their religious life, so that God could be approached by humanity on His terms (Exodus 24v12 - 31v18).

This Mosaic covenant looked forward to the promised Messiah to come and make the perfect sacrifice (Galatians 3v17-19). It was never meant as a means towards eternal salvation. It was given so that people could realize the futility and helplessness of their own efforts in regards to salvation, and the need of God's help. Paul writing in Galatians 3v22-24 explains that the Law of Moses was only a protective fence until, through the promised Messiah, humanity "could be made right with God through faith." This Messiah was Jesus Christ and this new covenant is sealed only through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. His sacrifice ensures the truth of this New Covenant. There is no other way for this New Covenant to be sealed except through Jesus' blood. This New Covenant finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant and Law could only point to: the follower of God, living in an obedient life and conforming to God's holy character.

New Covenant

So the Law of Moses pointed forward to the New Covenant. This New Covenant is seen in the Old Testament in places such as Jeremiah 31 and in Ezekiel 36.

Four features of this covenant are:

  • Regeneration - God transforming you;
  • Restoration - God being your God and you being His;
  • God living inside you through the Holy Spirit and leading you;
  • Justification - God forgiving and removing your sins

That is why the writer of this letter tells them to stop deliberately sinning, stop contemplating about sinning by rejecting Jesus and recognize Jesus for who He was - God's Son, the long-awaited for Messiah.. This New Covenant guarantees salvation for all who would accept it, and it shows why Jesus' sacrifice is greater than the sacrifices under the Law of Moses! Jesus' Sacrifice But what of Jesus' sacrifice? Jesus died for all sin, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3v18). That is how God is both just and the Justifier of sinners. That is why Jesus needed to be both fully God and fully human, so as to be the full sacrifice that was required to deal permanently with sin! For while people were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for them, (Romans 5v6-8), willingly giving His life as a ransom (Mark 10v45) and when He died on the cross as a sacrifice, He bore the consequences of all sin - past, present and future. This sacrifice was required in order that Jesus Christ could take away the sins of the world, which includes yours (John 1v29)! He therefore became sin (2 Corinthians 5v21) and it was His blood as the sacrificial lamb without spot or blemish (1Peter 1:18-19) that fulfils God's requirements permanently.

So the writer is saying to these Hebrew Christians, the day of judgment is coming. If you have turned your back on Jesus' sacrifice, then there is no further sacrifice that can pay for your sinfulness and you will be condemned to a life without Him forever. If you have insulted the Holy Spirit who beckons and calls you, then you will be cast out. And as the writer reminds his readers, and us in verse 31 "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." For God is living and not just some mere idol sitting on a shelf. A living God can be disobeyed, as well as being obeyed. A living God sees all, hears all, knows all. A living God is holy and pure and must judge disobedience, or this God would not be God! How are you doing? Are you persevering by obeying God in every aspect of your life? As 21st century Christians, we generally don't like to hear of God as Judge. Its just not the done thing to talk about it. We hear all the time that God is love. And it is true - God is Love. However, God is also a holy and pure God, and cannot abide sin or disobedience. Therefore, sin must be dealt with. He cannot arbitrarily forgive sin. The judgment and penalty of sin, which is death, was poured out on Jesus Christ. Therefore justice has been done, because God is just. By faith in Jesus Christ we are declared righteous as a free gift, and Christian Disciples are therefore justified. Nothing we can do could make us justified before Almighty God.

Part 2 - Do Remember! - Persevere by remembering (v32-34)

Then to show his pastoral side, the writer goes on to tell them how to persevere. He tells them to persevere by remembering the day they received the light. By remembering how they have suffered and God delivering them. Remembering the public humility, insult and persecution - and how God was with them in the middle of it. Remembering how they stood with others who were maltreated because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Remembering how their earthly possessions were stolen from them and remembering they have new possessions both now and waiting for them. How are you doing? Are you persevering by remembering back to the days of when you became a Christian - a follower of Jesus Christ? Can you see the evidence of how God has been transforming you under the New Covenant?

Part 3 - Hope Confidently - Persevere for reward (v35-39)

Here the writer refers back to the writings of the prophet Habbakuk. When the going gets tough, God's people hold on in faith and trust that God will deliver them. He is saying that God's people are to live a life of hope and total confidence in Jesus Christ.

  • Why? For a rich reward
  • Why? To please God
  • How is this reward gained? Persevering in a life of faith
  • Who gives this reward? Jesus when He comes again.
  • When? In a very little while

Therefore, verse 39 is an encouragement, not to fall back, but rather to continue pressing forward despite all opposition. Continue to believe and be saved.

How are you doing? Are you continuing to persevere for the reward that is set out for you to claim, own and possess?

So what does all this have to say to us, some 2000 years after the original recipients of this letter read it? It tells us to persevere in obedience. How do we do this? We do this by persevere by remembering. Why do we persevere? We persevere for the reward. And what is perseverance? Perseverance is a balanced relationship. If perseverance was left to us as individuals alone, we would fail. Perseverance is also the domain of God the Holy Spirit who lives inside you as part of God's work of continuous operation in your life as a believer in Jesus Christ. Perseverance is a work of divine grace that is begun in your heart, which is continued and brought to completion one glorious day. That is part of your reward and possession.

But there are other things that are your possessions and rewards. These rewards and possessions cover both the present and the future!

  • 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)
  • The Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2v19)
  • Eternal life never depends on our feeble grip on Christ, but rather on His firm grip on us.

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. Gods purpose is for you to be totally obedient to Him, living a life of holiness. Your happiness is not God's primary motivation, but your personal holiness is. And if you are living a holy life, pleasing to God, then you have joy and happiness as well.

Conclusion - Perseverance of the Christian

You are to keep your eyes focused on Jesus Christ, and be willing to obey God. 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. Jesus Christ is to cover our entire life, permeating and being involved in every aspect. By doing so, this is showing an acceptance of Him, and not a rejection of Him. For when we sin and disobey in anyway at all, it is some form of rejection of Jesus as Lord of our life. The more you sin, the less sensitive you become to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. So when you realise you have sinned, be quick to humbly ask for forgiveness.

So I challenge you with this: if He who was without sin, became sin, for you, then you are to live a life worthy of Him and your status of freedom from sin in Jesus Christ. One day, Jesus is coming again. He will take your face in his hands and in the words of Revelation 21, will wipe the tears from your eyes, embrace you and you will be with Him forever! That's if you would call yourself a Christian here today. But if you would not call yourself a Christian here today, then I would urge you to talk to one of the leaders about Him. Don't leave this building today, without talking to somebody else about Him. There are all sorts of excuses you can make for not accepting Jesus. I hear them all the time. I just need a little bit more evidence. I just need a little bit more of this or a little bit more of that. An example to disprove these kind of excuses is that of Judas Iscariot. He lived with Jesus Christ, ate with Jesus Christ, travelled with Jesus Christ, yet gave it all up for a short-term gain of money. For him, there was never enough evidence, even though he had all those experiences with the earthly Jesus Christ. There is no other way, no other sacrifice you can make, to ensure that you are will be in the presence of Almighty God - except through Jesus Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. He will continue to call you and urge you to accept Him, until one day it will be too late, and your opportunities will have passed.

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Friday Prayers

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Friday Prayers

20 January 2012

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Order of Service!

Opening prayer

Praise time

Prayers for those grieving and lonely

Prayers for justice and peace

Prayers for those facing challenging situations

Prayers for churches and Christians worldwide

Prayers for healing

Time of silence for your own prayers

Benediction

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Thursday Bible Quiz

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Thursday Bible Quiz

19 January, 2012

5 questions!

1 minute!

Are you ready?

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WISE - Meek

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Meek

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In Matthew Chapter 5 verse 5, Jesus said "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are-no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought."

It must be said right from the beginning that meekness is NOT weakness. It takes a strong character to deliberately set aside their rights. For example Moses was the meekest man in all the earth (Number 12:1-3) and Moses was not a weak-willed character! Meekness is accepting God's dealings with us as good, without dispute or resistance. Meekness is effectively trusting God to be God! The meek person is somebody who claims no rights of their own, and who is willing to yield all possessions and personal rights to God. The meek person sees possessions as being loaned to them by God for His work & glory. We see this in Jesus' example (Philippians 2v5-6) and also in the early church (Acts 5v12).

But why should Christians give up their rights? You do so because you belong to God, through your own volition. As a Christian, "You are not your own, you were bought at a price" writes Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Contradictory to this, is the way of the world, which insists that every person has rights and that they have a right to use their rights!

What do you gain by handing over your own rights to God? Amongst other things you gain inner satisfaction and peace (Ps. 22:26; 37:8-11) and an increased joy in the Lord (Is. 29:19)

What steps can you follow which may help you be meek?

1. Firstly identify the areas, which tend to get you angry or worried. Allow your heart to be a workshop of the Holy Spirit and prayerfully think through each area and yield each one of them to Him, with no strings attached. These areas may include things like lifestyle; marriage; friendships; reputation; possessions; health; money or time. When these are yielded to God, God is then responsible for these areas of our lives and we can live on the basis of "Everything works for the good of those who love Him..." Romans 8:28-29

2. Expect God to test His rights. As each right is yielded, God will probably allow situations to occur which will deny you these rights. These are opportunities to see if the right was really yielded. It may be necessary once again to yield that right to Jesus Christ.

3. Finally, acknowledge you are God's possession and His responsibility (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and thank God in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18)

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Think Spot

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16th January 2012

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John Bunyan

Amazingly expanding ministry

Last Monday we looked at John the Apostle on the Island of Patmos and how although hindered in his preaching God allowed him to be placed there by his enemies for another purpose, to receive the Revelation from God of the end times which would be recorded permanently in Scriptures for the world to see for all time.

His ministry was amazingly extended through prohibition. So today I want to remind you of another great Christian who was put in prison for preaching the gospel in the open air and overnight behind bars received a revelation by way of a dream which he transferred to a book which has become a best seller next to the Bible worldwide. His name is well known, John Bunyan formerly a tinker by trade from Bedford and the author of Pilgrims Progress.

Pilgrims Progress is a fantastic book to accompany the Bible on your bookshelf at home. With amazing dexterity John paints word picture after picture of the Christian life from the seeker to the finder, to the sharer of his faith to the persecuted for his faith.

It is full of the adventurers of a man who begins his journey leaving his home and family with a heavy load on his back representing sin and his deep longing to be rid of it. In his hands he has the Book. He comes to Evangelist who points to the house of the Interpreter (The Holy Spirit) who shows him the way to the Cross where there is a bottomless pit in front of it where when Pilgrim looks to the cross, his heavy load disappears down the hole gone for ever. Then the journey really begins with all kinds of people to be met on the road to death and glory. Some are planted by God and some by Satan. Now his name is changed from pilgrim to Christian for he is transformed. This book is still a best seller today and multitudes have been helped by this incredible dream translated to paper so we can read it and benefit from it. His ministry also was amazingly extended by prohibition.

The point I am making again this week is that if you are a Christian and your path to Christian service has been hindered or you are pushed aside for another to take your place or because of your age don't think your ministry is finished.

Again, If Satan isn't opposing your ministry then you probably are not where you are meant to be. Sometimes what appears to be a blocking of your path or something evil happening in your life may well turn out to be an amazing step forward for you into another more meaningful and fruitful ministry. Remember God is sovereign over all. We should never forget that. Satan has power, but God is way over the top of Satan and even uses Satan's actions to eventually further His own glory. He alone is Almighty.

Keep your eyes fixed upon The Lord. He will never, no never be thwarted by our enemies.

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John Stott

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John RW Stott

Pioneer Outreach Worker

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I have reposted this on Friday 13th January, as it was on this day a Memorial and Thanksgiving service was held at St Paul's Cathedral, London...

Introduction

G'day and welcome to Partake!  Tonight I want to give a reflection somebody who is indeed a servant of the Lord and took great delight in all of Scripture.  That person, is John RW Stott.

By necessity, this is just a very brief introduction of the life of Reverend John Stott, and I concentrate mainly on his role as an evangelist. John Stott holds that he is more "an activist than a thinker", which is certainly evident in his ministry as a pioneer outreach worker.  From the evidence of his life, we can see that has indeed fulfilled this thought.

Life and ministry summary.

John Stott was born 27 April 1921. to Sir Arnold and Emily Stott.  John Stott became a Christian as a schoolboy at a youth camp led by Eric Nash.  Nash discipled the young Stott post-conversion with letters over a five-year period, encouraging and rebuking.  This was good groundwork for the future ministry of Stott.  Graduating from Cambridge University, Stott was ordained in 1945.  Initially as assistant curate at All Souls, Stott served as Rector from 1950 to 1975.  His role since has been as Rector Emeritus.

At All Souls, Stott instituted home groups, workplace ministry, student outreach, prayer meetings, lay evangelism, Guest Services and new believers follow-up. Catherwood comments that Stott's expository preaching was a "new phenomenon" in the Anglican church. Michael Green calls him "the nations most gifted evangelist at the time."  He was the evangelicals' prime mover within the Anglican communion, showing that someone could be both evangelical and Anglican.  He has conducted over 50 missions to universities in Britain and abroad.  Stott is also the author of over 40 books.

Pioneering Outreach Worker

The impact Stott has had on Christianity in Britain and abroad, can not be underestimated.  Despite facing calls to leave what some evangelicals called an apostate church, Stott refused by saying that it was better to fight the evangelical cause from within the Anglican church.  He has spurned the opportunities for "promotion" to archbishop.  He has eschewed the offers of luminary evangelical theological colleges of Moore and Wycliffe Hall.  His reasons for not accepting these varied, however it was more due to his humble nature.  Stott appears never to seek honour for himself, but rather to deflect it upon Christ.

Stott's Outreach Theology.

Stott's maxim is "Balanced Biblical Christianity" or BBC for short.  Through this, social action is interminably linked with evangelistic outreach.  Fred Catherwood cites Stott's observation regarding Luke 16:19-31, that the rich man was punished for "being scandalously indifferent to the poor around him".   While the majority of evangelicals tried to categorize evangelism and social action differently, Stott did not.  Stott's evangelism formula is evangelism equals gospel plus social action, which is evident in Acts 6.

Local Outreach

We only need to see the changes he made at All Souls, to observe his biblical convictions regarding outreach.  Stott exemplifies innovative evangelism, unafraid of new methods, whilst sticking to the biblical Gospel.  Green attributes this to an openness to the Spirit's working.  Guest services of this type were almost unknown before the 1950s, according to Green.  Today it is almost de rigueur for churches to have regular Guest Services and for new Christians to be followed up and discipled.  When Stott started them, it was a new concept.  The service focused on a single point - to present Christ to those who don't know him.  The church members were actively encouraged to bring non-believers to these services, and hence lay evangelism was in action with training provided. Until Stott came along, evangelism was seen as the job for the ministers, pastors and professional Christians.  Stott sees Christ as the master of Christians and hence, Christians should obey what Christ has said.  Ergo, Matthew 28:18-20 was for all Christians and not just ministers.  It is this motivation of lay people that helps see the Great Commission being fulfilled.

As for the nurture of young Christians, Stott believed new Christians should also have some form of training in Christian belief.  Hence the birth of ‘Nursery Class', where new believers were given three months training in their new faith.  Invariably, these new believers were also taught in evangelism and helped with the Guest Services.

Global Outreach

Stott founded the Langham Trust, which arranges for solid theological training of Third World church leaders. London Institute for Contemporary Christianity seeks to help people to relate Christ to the contemporary world.  Another Stott founded organization, Evangelical Literature Trust, distributes books based on solid theology to church leaders in needy countries, financed mostly to on his books royalties.  These groups marry Stott's activist mentality with concern for Christianity and social action evangelism.

Twenty First Century

For church leaders today, there is much to emulate in Stott. Stott has an accountability group to help him make ministry decisions.  Leaders should be prepared to talk to others about their biblical beliefs, with people from all theological persuasions.  Stott has shown that if we desire the Father's will, have Christ as our centre, the Holy Spirit guiding our steps, the Bible to hand, combined with an attitude of love, then we can argue our evangelical position against any other theological position.     Whatever our ministry is, we can continue to give the church fresh impetus in evangelism.  Twenty-first century Christians should be prepared to use innovative outreach, without Gospel compromise.

Whereas Stott could rightly assume that most of his congregation had some bible knowledge from Sunday School, today that is not an assumption we can make.  With the fall in Church attendances, society now is much more oblivious to the character of Jesus.  With the advent of multiculturalism came a pantheon of religions now in Britain.  These two things combined have seen the  ‘Jesus consciousness' of Britain fall since Stott's day.  It is a challenge to us to raise this ‘Jesus conscience'.  To do this will require Spirit-led innovation and willing leaders.

However...

However a warning to be heeded.  In Why I Am A Christian, Stott writes regarding CS Lewis' conversion, categorically claiming this to be Lewis' Christian conversion.  However, if we follow that reference, it actually refers to Lewis' Theistic conversion. Lewis' denies it was a conversion to Christ. Lewis states his actual Christian conversion was some time later.  If a non-believer was to have read Stott's book and follow the reference, that non-Christian may actually think a belief in God is enough to be a Christian, and then stop reading the book.  We know this is not what Stott subscribes to.   Therefore as leaders, we need to constantly review what we write and say, so that nobody can be led into error through us.

He has also recently courted controversy by saying he is agnostic towards a literal view of hell and eternal suffering and leans more towards a view of annihilationism where the soul is destroyed.  For this he was heavily criticized by Christian leaders the world over and supported by others.

Conclusion

John Stott's life exemplifies radical outreach and innovation, blended with a desire to serve Jesus Christ as Lord.  He is truly one of the twentieth centuries master servants of Jesus Christ.  To the staff and many members of the congregation of All Souls Langham Place down through the years, he is simply known as "Uncle John".  He is unique in the Anglican church in that he has always been associated with the one church throughout his life and ministry.

In 2006, When on his way to preach at All Souls, John Stott fell and broke his hip.  This saw him announce his retirement from ministry at the age of 86 and he now has moved from his Central London flat to a retirement village for Anglican Clergy in the south of England.  Time Magazine in 2005, named him as one of the 100 most influential people of the Twentieth Century.  As we have seen here briefly, he was certainly one of them, and it is all to the glory of God that He raised up his servant, Uncle John.

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