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Archive for April 2015

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Way of Wisdom

with Regina Sanders

Endurance



Hello. Welcome to The Way of Wisdom with Regina Sanders. I am so thankful that you have chosen to listen today. Today I want us to discuss endurance. Often when one thinks of endurance they think of strength training for a race or something similar. Scripture also refers to endurance, and just as it strengthens you for a race, it strengthens you in your walk with Jesus. Let's see what Scripture says.



Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."



Endurance and ambition is a combination of determination and tenacity. It is a balance of patience, persistence, and guts. Endurance is also being reliable and accountable, which establishes security and commitment. Without endurance, any good endeavor or intention has no chance of success.



Endurance means to be alive, to be driven by what counts. It is the readiness to fight for what you believe, to go all the way. Without such commitment any undertaking remains flat and empty. It is an energy which comes from within and stops at nothing to achieve its goals. This, of course, requires that endurance be closely examined to ensure that it is used in a healthy and productive manner.



Ask yourself, "How committed am I to my values? How much would I fight for them? Am I easily swayed? What price am I ready to pay for my beliefs? Is there any truth for which I would be ready to give my life?"



For anything to endure it needs to be loved. A natural or indifferent attitude will reflect in a marginal commitment. If you have difficulty making commitments, examine how much you love and enjoy the object that requires your commitment. Do I love my work? My family? My choices?



For endurance to be effective it needs to be caring and loving. Endurance without love can be counterproductive. Raw endurance can come across as harsh and aggressive, which undermines the cooperation of others. Out of sheer determination one may often become controlling and demanding, driving others away. For endurance to be successful it needs a loving and caring attitude, it requires patience.



Does my endurance cause me to be, or seem to be, inflexible? Does my drive and determination cause me to be controlling? Am I too demanding? Do others (my employees, friends, children) cooperate with me out of the sheer force of my will and drive, or out of love? Is my endurance unloving? In order to get my way would I allow others to get hurt? Do I believe that the end justifies the means? Would I stop at nothing to achieve my goals? When my endurance prevails and I overcome the obstacles in my way, am I still loving? Even when defending myself and others against unhealthy influences, am I driven by love or hate?



Examine the discipline of your endurance. Endurance must be directed toward productive goals and expressed in a constructive manner. Is my endurance and determination focused to help cultivate good habits and break bad ones? Or is it the other way around? Does my endurance come from strength or weakness? Does it come out of deep conviction or out of defensiveness? Am I ever tenacious out of stubbornness and an unwillingness to acknowledge errors? Am I invested in certain decisions and not prepared to review them? Do I use my endurance against itself by being tenacious in my lack of determination?



Healthy endurance, directed to develop good qualities and modifying bad ones, will always be compassionate. The compassion of endurance reflects a most beautiful quality of endurance: an enduring commitment to help another grow. Endurance without compassion is misguided and selfish. Endurance needs to be not just loving to those who deserve love, but also compassionate to the less fortunate. Does my determination compromise my compassion for others? Am I able to rise above my ego and empathize with my competitors? Am I gracious in victory?



Examine the endurance aspect of endurance, its expression and intensity. Everyone has willpower and determination. We have the capacity to endure much more than we can imagine, and to prevail under the most trying of circumstances.



Ask yourself, "Is my behavior erratic? Am I inconsistent and unreliable? Since I have will and determination, why am I so mercurial? Am I afraid of accessing my endurance and committing? Do I fear being trapped by my commitment? If yes, why? Is it a reaction to some past trauma? Instead of cultivating endurance in healthy areas, have I developed a capacity for endurance of unhealthy experiences? Do I endure more pain than pleasure? Do I underestimate my capacity to endure?



Yielding, which is a result of humility, is an essential element of enduring. Standing fast can sometimes be a formula for destruction. The oak, lacking the ability to bend in the hurricane, is uprooted. The reed, which yields to the wind, survives without a problem. Do I know when to yield, out of strength not fear? Why am I often afraid to yield?



Endurance is fuelled by inner strength. Humility does not compromise the drive of endurance; on the contrary, it intensifies it, because human endurance can go only so far and endure only so much, whereas endurance that comes from God is limitless.



Do I attribute my success solely to my own strength and determination? Am I convinced that I am all powerful due to my level of endurance? Where do I get the strength at times when everything seems so bleak?



Bonding is an essential quality of endurance. It expresses your unwavering commitment to the person or experience you are bonding with, a commitment so powerful that you will endure all to preserve it. Endurance without bonding will not endure.



Sovereignty is the cornerstone of endurance. Is my endurance dignified? Does it bring out the best in me? When faced with hardships do I believe like a king or queen, walking proudly with my head up, confident in my God given strengths, or do I cower and shrivel up in fear?



When fighting for something you believe in, pause a moment to ensure that it is accomplished in a loving manner. Break one bad habit today. Be patient and listen to someone that usually makes you impatient. Commit yourself to developing a new good habit. When you awake, acknowledge God for giving you a soul with the extraordinary power and versatility to endure despite trying challenges. This will allow you to draw energy and strength for the entire day. To ensure that your new resolution should endure, bond with it immediately. This can be assured by promptly actualizing your resolution in some constructive deed. Fight for a dignified cause.



Let's pray....



Thank you for being with me today on The Way of Wisdom with Regina Sanders. Please join us again next Wednesday with more teachings. Be sure to visit this site each day for teaching from others. God bless you!


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



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Think Spot 27 April 2015

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Think Spot - 27th April 2015

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

Obedient Life

As a Christian you are to be a little Jesus! In your local communities, wherever you happen to live, work, study or be! You are to live a life of obedience, of and to, Jesus Christ! For you are being transformed by the Holy Spirit who lives inside you! You are to be totally and willingly obedient to Him! Obedience, not out of some kind of slavish duty or ritual, but obedience borne from willingly loving God and loving others.

Imagine

People will know you are a follower of Jesus, if you are obedient to Him, practically showing love to all! Imagine the community where you are transformed for Jesus Christ! Imagine your community filled with people seeking to know about our Jesus, because you and other Christians were sacrificing their time and possessions! Imagine the communities you are involved with wanting to give Jesus the glory and honour in every aspect of life!

Transformation

Transformed communities of people devoted to Jesus and experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in bringing people back to God the Father! Loving God and loving each other as He commanded would help do this in your local community!

Be Obedient! Be bold! Be strong! Be courageous! But you need to be lovingly obedient to Jesus Christ in both small and large things. Jesus said in John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them."

You will face pressure to disobey Him, even sometimes from those within your church. But if He has commanded you to do something for Him, you are to obey Him. It is far better to obey God and disappoint people than to obey people and disobey God.

Go into this week, lovingly willing to be obedient to God! Trust in Him and ask Him for the strength to be lovingly obedient to Him. He will help as you ask! It can sometimes be very difficult to be obedient to God, particularly as some people, even other Christians, will try to get you to disobey. Be strong in the Lord! Be bold! Be courageous! Need help? Then ask somebody to pray with you! Then be prepared for opportunities to be lovingly obedient to Jesus – in small and big things!

A prayer to help you this week.
Father, help us to live obediently to you. May the Holy Spirit encourage us as we seek to live worthily of Jesus Christ, in loving obedience to Him. Father, it is in His name we pray and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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The Practice Of The Presence Of God:

The Best Rule Of A Holy Life

(being Conversations and Letters of Brother Lawrence)


G’day! Welcome to Partakers! Today we continue our Sunday series, where we are reading from a book by Brother Lawrence “The Practice of the Presence of God”… This book is available for you to freely download at various websites!


Letters - Letter 3


For a soldier friend whom he encourages to trust in God.

WE have a GOD who is infinitely gracious, and knows all our wants. I always thought that He would reduce you to extremity. He will come in His own time, and when you least expect it. Hope in Him more than ever: thank Him with me for the favours He does you, particularly for the fortitude and patience which He gives you in your afflictions: it is a plain mark of the care He takes of you; comfort yourself then with Him, and give thanks for all.

I admire also the fortitude and bravery of M. GOD has given him a good disposition, and a good will; but there is in him still a little of the world, and a great deal of youth. I hope the affliction which GOD has sent him will prove a wholesome remedy to him, and make him enter into himself; it is an accident very proper to engage him to put all his trust in Him, who accompanies him everywhere: let him think of Him the oftenest he can, especially in the greatest dangers. A little lifting up the heart suffices; a little remembrance of GOD, one act of inward worship, though upon a march, and sword in hand, are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless very acceptable to GOD; and far from lessening a soldier's courage in occasions of danger, they best serve to fortify it.

Let him then think of GOD the most he can; let him accustom himself, by degrees, to this small but holy exercise; nobody perceives it, and nothing is easier than to repeat often in the day these little internal adorations.

Recommend to him, if you please, that he think of GOD the most he can, in the manner here directed; it is very fit and most necessary for a soldier, who is daily exposed to dangers of life, and often of his salvation. I hope that GOD will assist him and all the family, to whom I present my service, being theirs and yours.


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The Big Story - Part 10

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Big Story - Act 5 Scene 2:

The Church of the Ages - Temple and temples

with Roger Kirby



We traced through the story of the decline of Israel before Jesus appeared in terms of their loss of a place where God dwelt. If we now pick up the story of the great Temple in Jerusalem in the days of Jesus we find some fascinating things. John, in his gospel, tells the story of the cleansing of the Temple at the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry (the other gospel writers put it much later in his ministry which may be because Jesus cleared it twice or John was more interested in the theological meaning of the event than its timing). Mark’s account is even more interesting. He tells the story in the middle of another story, clearly relating the two. The other story is about the fig tree, which as Jesus and his disciples walk into Jerusalem they see is barren which is no surprise because it is the wrong time for figs. Jesus curses it, which seems a very odd thing to do unless it is for some other reason than its lack of fruit. Then the next time they pass it, the day after Jesus cleared the temple, they see it has completely withered away, much to the disciple’s puzzlement. Two interlocked stories like this are a fairly common device in Mark’s Gospel. The story of the fig tree is clearly saying that the Temple is now no use, like the tree with no figs, and will therefore wither away.

The extent to which the people of Jesus’ day centered life on the Temple is amazing. We read that: “Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.” In a mixed family party that was probably 5 days walking each way – a considerable time not to be working and earning. John in his Gospel records Jesus going up to Jerusalem on several occasions. Life in 1st century Israel revolved around the Temple building to an astonishing extent. They clearly thought that God was there, and more accessible there, than anywhere else. It was what some people would call a ‘thin place’, that is a place where it feels much easier to get close to God than most places because heaven and earth have only a thin gap between them (which isn’t really the case but it can feel that way if we are somewhere where we have often met with the Lord).

Put those two things together – what Jesus did to the fig tree and the centrality of the Temple – and we see that he was striking at the very centre of all that they believed in. That is why the main accusation against Jesus at his trial was “this fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days” and that was the basis on which he was condemned. It was when Stephen said, “the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands” that he ran into serious trouble and his death. The whole Jewish system, priests, sacrifices, forgiveness of sins etc. depended on the Temple.

In fact the Temple only lasted less than 40 years after Jesus cursed it before a Roman army destroyed it in AD 70. Various groups of zealots had risen in revolt in such a disorganized way that they fought each other on the steps of the Temple while the besieging Romans watched in amazement. Eventually the Romans broke through into the city and the Temple precincts and there was a horrendous massacre. The prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled quite terribly.

What then was to replace the temple? Paul answers that question in Ephesians 2 when he says, “you are fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” A better temple built of human beings – you and me – has replaced the physical Temple, built of stone. WOW!

Elsewhere Paul says, “we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people’” quoting Old Testament passages. Paul is using the plural. It is the people of God together who are the temple but, of course, it has to apply to each one of us individually as we live and walk around. So the ‘thin’ places where people can come close to the Lord now are the presence of the Lord’s people – you and me! Double WOW!



So what?

Can we live up to the challenge that presents? We could never do so by ourselves and of ourselves. This is where the work of the Holy Spirit comes in to the experience of every one of us. Fortunately Jesus made promises to his disciples, and to us through them. Linking together some of the things recorded that he said in John chapters 14 – 16 we get, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. When he comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you and when I send him to you he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”

That has been the challenge to the people of God for nearly 2000 years now. How well they have lived up to that challenge has been a mixed story down through the centuries. Sometimes the whole idea that there is a great resource for those who profess to follow Christ has been all but lost. Sometimes it has been found and used to the great enrichment and growth of the people of God both corporately and individually. We, I think, live in one of the better periods, looked at world-wide.

Are you, am I, a good temple, a thin place, where earth and heaven come close together?



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Partakers Friday Prayers!


We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!



Soul of Christ, be my sanctification
Body of Christ, be my salvation;
Blood of Christ, fill all my veins;
Water from Christ's side, wash out my stains;
Passion of Christ, my comfort be;
O good Jesus, listen to me;
In your wounds I gladly would hide,
Ne'er to be parted from Your side;
Guard me should the foe assail me;
Call me when my life shall fail me;
Bid me come to you above,
With Your saints to sing Your love,
World without end.
Amen.



A prayer based on Poetic text "Anima Christi" by Cardinal Newman


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Way of Wisdom

with Regina Sanders

Compassion's Role In Love



Galatians 5:13-14; "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself..'"

Compassion blends and harmonizes the free outpouring of love with discipline. Compassion possesses this power by introducing the dimension of truth which is neither love or discipline and therefore can integrate the two. Truth is accessed through selflessness: rising above your ego and your predispositions, enables you to realize truth. A clear and objective picture of yours and others needs. The imbalance of love and discipline is a result of a subjective, hence limited perspective; introducing truth, by suspending personal prejudices, allows you to express your feelings in the healthiest manner.

This quality means beauty: it blends the differing colors of love and discipline, and this harmony makes it beautiful. For compassion to be complete it needs the inclusion of the following seven facets: love of compassion, discipline of compassion, compassion of compassion, endurance of compassion, humility of compassion, bonding of compassion, and sovereignty of compassion.

Examine the love aspect of compassion. Ask yourself: Is my compassion tender and loving or does it come across as pity? Is my sympathy condescending and patronizing? Even if my intention is otherwise, do others perceive it as such? Does my compassion overflow with love and warmth; is it expressed with enthusiasm, or is it static and lifeless?

For compassion to be effective and healthy it needs to be disciplined and focused. It requires discretion both to who you express compassion, and in the measure of the compassion itself. It is recognizing when compassion should be expressed and when it should be withheld or limited. Discipline in compassion is knowing that being truly compassionate sometimes requires withhold compassion.

Because compassion is not an expression of the bestower's needs but a response to the recipient's needs. Am I more compassionate with strangers than with close ones? If yes, why? Is the compassion coming from guilt? Does my compassion for others compromise my own needs? Am I helping others at the expense of helping myself? Perhaps the contrary is the case: Does my compassion for my family and close ones overshadow others needs? Is my compassion impulsive and careless? Do I assess the measure of compassion necessary for a given situation? Is it commensurate with the recipient's needs?

Can I possibly be hurting him with my compassion? Does my compassion overwhelm others? Is it respectful? Do I give too much or too little? Do others take advantage of my compassionate nature? When I see a needy person do I impetuously express compassion out of guilt or pity without any discretion? Do I commit the "crime" of compassion by helping him with something harmful (give him money to buy a harmful substance etc.)? Do I apply myself to determine this person's needs and help him in the best way possible?

Examine the compassion of compassion. The expression of compassion and its intensity. True compassion is limitless. It is not an extension of your needs and defined by your limited perspective. Compassion for another is achieved by having a selfless attitude, rising above yourself and placing yourself in the other person's situation and experience. Am I prepared and able to do that? If not, why? Do I express and actualize the compassion and empathy in my heart? What blocks me from expressing it? Am I locked in any way? Is my compassion compassionate or self-serving?

Test yourself by seeing if you express compassion even when you don't feel guilty. Does my compassion come from a sense of duty or is it frivolous? On the other hand: Is my compassion alive; does it resound with vitality, or is it expressed only out of obligation? Is my compassion only a result of being a creature of habit who feels badly when another suffers, or do I actually apply myself to examine and refine my compassion, observing it's limitations and forms of expression? How do I express compassion? Is my compassion beautiful? Is it well rounded? Does it contain the other six elements of compassion, without which my full compassion remains unrealized.

Is my compassion enduring and consistent? Is it reliable or whimsical? Does it prevail among other forces in my life? Do I have the capacity to be compassionate even when I'm busy with other activities or only when it's comfortable for me? Am I ready to stand up and fight for another?

Compassion must include humility for it not to be condescending and pretentious. Honor is recognizing that my ability to be compassionate and giving does not make me better than the recipient; it is the acknowledgement and appreciation that by creating one who needs compassion God gave me the gift of being able to bestow compassion. Thus there is no place for haughtiness in compassion. Do I feel superior because I am compassionate? Do I look down at those that need my compassion? Am I humble and thankful to God for giving me the ability to have compassion for others?

For compassion to be fully realized, it needs bonding. It requires creating a channel between giver and receiver. A mutuality that extends beyond the moment of need. A bond that continues to live on. That is the most gratifying result of true compassion. Do you bond with the one you have compassion for, or do you remain apart? Does your interaction achieve anything beyond a single act of sympathy?

Examine the dignity of your compassion. For compassion to be complete it must recognize and appreciate individual sovereignty. It should boost self-esteem and cultivate human dignity. Both your own dignity and the dignity of the one benefiting from your compassion. Is my compassion expressed in a dignified manner? Do I manifest and emphasize majesty in my compassion? Does it elicit dignity in others? Do I recognize the fact that when I experience compassion as dignified it will reflect reciprocally in the one who receives compassion?

When helping someone extend yourself in the fullest way; offer a smile or a loving gesture. Express your compassion in a focused and constructive manner by addressing someone's specific needs. Express your compassion in a new way that goes beyond your previous limitations: express it towards someone to whom you have been callous. In the middle of the busy day take a moment and call someone that needs a compassionate word. Defend someone who is in need of sympathy even if it's not a popular position. Express compassion in an anonymous fashion, not taking any personal credit. Ensure that something eternal is built as a result of your compassion. Rather than just giving them charity help them help themselves in a fashion that strengthens their dignity.



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



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POD - Psalm 114

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Psalm 114

(Read by Heather)

114:1 When Israel went forth out of Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of foreign language;

114:2 Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

114:3 The sea saw it, and fled.
The Jordan was driven back.

114:4 The mountains skipped like rams,
the little hills like lambs.

114:5 What was it, you sea, that you fled?
You Jordan, that you turned back?

114:6 You mountains, that you skipped like rams;
you little hills, like lambs?

114:7 Tremble, you earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,

114:8 who turned the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of waters.

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Think Spot 20 April 2015

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Think Spot - 20th April 2015

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

God's love in the Bible is seen as unfailing, everlasting, intimate, sacrificial, unbreakable, all-conquering, personal, great, immeasurable and all-knowing. This is seen supremely in the Cross of Jesus Christ, when He died for the sins of the world. Supreme love overcoming all that is not love. Even when great acts of evil are committed in the world, such as the slaughter of innocents this past week in parts of the world where terrorism and genocide are rife, love is all around. Love continues despite such acts. How are Christians to respond to this love of God?

The apostle John writes in 1 John 4v15-16 - "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."

Our motivation as Christians is to love and to be love. This is a love, which is sacrificial and self-less. It is tough love which is of service to other people. Loving and serving others, are the primary ways of showing you love God! It is easiest to love your friends. But Jesus commanded that his followers also love their enemies (Matthew 5:43-45)! Now that is very radical and can be difficult! We see constantly in the media and elsewhere, that regards our enemies, we are to be confrontational or at best to just ignore them!

How is it possible to love our enemies? It is only with the help of God and His abundant grace towards us! We depend on the Holy Spirit who lives inside all Christians to empower and guide! To only love those who love you is what is expected by people everywhere as normal behaviour. But as a Christian, you are to do more! You are to be seen to love more than other people. You don’t have to like others as friends, but you do have to love them as fellow human beings!

Go into this week, being prepared to show your love of Jesus Christ, remaining close to Him and serving other people generously with abundant grace-filled love! By loving and serving others, you become God’s arms and legs in a physical world. One of the greatest limitations you face in loving and serving other people is a severe lack of imagination!

So as you go into this week, ask God to expand your imagination to love and serve; as well as asking for the opportunities to do them. Loving and serving are hallmarks of an authentic Christian life. Love continues even amidst chaos and turmoil all around. Go and be part of the continuing of love.



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The Practice Of The Presence Of God:

The Best Rule Of A Holy Life

(being Conversations and Letters of Brother Lawrence)


G’day! Welcome to Partakers! Today we continue our Sunday series, where we are reading from a book by Brother Lawrence “The Practice of the Presence of God”… This book is available for you to freely download at various websites!


Letters - Letter 2


Difference between himself and others. Faith alone consistently and persistently. Deprecates this state being considered a delusion.



Not finding my manner of life in books, although I have no difficulty about it, yet, for greater security, I shall be glad to know your thoughts concerning it.

In a conversation some days since with a person of piety, he told me the spiritual life was a life of grace, which begins with servile fear, which is increased by hope of eternal life, and which is consummated by pure love; that each of these states had its different stages, by which one arrives at last at that blessed consummation. I have not followed all these methods. On the contrary, from I know not what instincts, I found they discouraged me. This was the reason why, at my entrance into religion, I took a resolution to give myself up to GOD, as the best satisfaction I could make for my sins; and, for the love of Him, to renounce all besides.


For the first years, I commonly employed myself during the time set apart for devotion, with the thoughts of death, judgment, hell, heaven, and my sins. Thus I continued some years applying my mind carefully the rest of the day, and even in the midst of my business, to the presence of GOD, whom I considered always as with me, often as in me. At length I came insensibly to do the same thing during my set time of prayer, which caused in me great delight and consolation. This practice produced in me so high an esteem for GOD, that faith alone was capable to satisfy me in that point.

[I suppose he means that all distinct notions he could form of GOD were unsatisfactory, because he perceived them to be unworthy of GOD, and therefore his mind was not to be satisfied but by the views of faith, which apprehends GOD as infinite and incomprehensible, as He is in Himself, and not as He can be conceived by human ideas.]


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The Big Story - Part 9

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Big Story - Act 5 Scene 1: The Early Church

with Roger Kirby



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

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

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

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

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

So what?


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

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


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Partakers Friday Prayers!


We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

A prayer of Augustine (354-430AD)


Look upon us, O Lord,

and let all the darkness of our souls

vanish before the beams of Your brightness.

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Fill us with holy love,

and open to us the treasures of Your wisdom.

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All our desire is known by You,

therefore perfect what You have begun,

and what the Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer.

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We seek Your face,

turn Your face toward us

and show us Your glory.

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Then shall our longing be satisfied,

and our peace shall be perfect.

Amen

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Way of Wisdom

with Regina Sanders

Chesed of Gevurah



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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