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Archive for November 2015

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Think Spot 30th November 2016

God… Church… You…

Does God meet with us and do you recognise and sense His presence or absence in your church when He is not there?

You answer “Of course He is there”.. Isn't He everywhere? So He surely must be there in our church buildings. He is omnipresent.

Permit me to ask you a further question? Who do you really expect to show up on Sundays? Your close friends? Your pastor? deacons, elders, the worship group.? Of course you do. Now listen carefully. Do you expect to meet with God? . Is His presence recognisably known and felt as you meet in worship? Do you expect to sense His presence with you? Do you know what it feels like to sense His presence?

When the sermon begins do you expect God to carry the words into your hearts and minds. Do you find yourself drinking in every word. Do you recognise when He does show up and maybe when it doesn't happen.? Do you know the difference between a sermon that brings you closer to God and one that doesn't and why? 

Do the words and music in your worship really truly glorify God? Ot may be you feel someone hasn't got things quite right and the songs chosen that Sunday are not conducive or helpful to worship. Your heart is heavy and burdened and its not because of sins you are stubbornly holding on to. You feel as if God is many miles away. 

You have been standing for many minutes as the song leader takes you yet again for the 20th time over the same words. You do not feel inspired. Instead words are coming into your minds like “Oh no not again I must sit down”. You sit down but the situation is still not good as you now are saying “when will this end. I want to go home.”

I am afraid this kind of situation is not rare. But why? Where is the sensitivity of the Lord's absence in worship? Have we settled for something far less than recognising when God is surely with us in worship? When we know His presence with us. Moses once said “Lord if your presence does not go with us we will not go up hence.” Yes I know that was an occasion when sin was in the camp and God wanted that sin dealt with before He privileged Israel with that wonderful sense of His presence once more. I think that God's people are settling for far less than the best in many church fellowships.

Sometimes it is a fact the songs do not glorify God but man. A service can become so man centred. Even the sermon can be produced in such a manner that all the people see is the preacher.

I am not talking about conjuring the Lord up in your minds but truly experiencing a sense of His presence which can be beautifully awesome or so close to us when we feel we cannot leave the building.

Is it not true that God can come down in a time of worship and surprise us in a beautiful manner especially when the attention is on His Son, His death, resurrection and sovereignty. When the music is enjoyable. Doesn't The Holy Spirit long for us to worship the Son and doesn't He encourage it?

On one occasion I was in a meeting away from my home fellowship and it was such a meeting as I have been describing, but on this occasion the pastor was sensitive to realising something was wrong in the worship time.

He asked the fellowship if the Lord was letting anyone know what the problem was. We were in a prayerful attitude when I sensed the Lord speaking into my heart and mind “They are worshipping me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me”

Now I was a visitor to that church what was I to do? I was a little fearful to repeat that verse of Scripture but I plucked up courage and moved quietly towards the pastor leading the worship. With many ears listening in the quietness I whispered those words to the pastor. Suddenly the whole meeting was engulfed in tears as those words hit home.

It was a sermon in itself. Hearts were not sensing the presence of God as worshipping hearts were far from Him. Repentance took place that evening and the whole atmosphere changed dramatically and God's presence returned to that meeting and it was a privilege to be there and enjoy God's presence with us.

We need to be tuned in to sensing God's presence not just in church worship as we gather with others but singly on our own in our own homes and out and about. I am no one special but I am learning more of what it does mean to practice and sense the presence of God. I am on the way. My heart thirsts for God. How about you? I believe God is looking for the thirsty.


Joys Prayer


Gracious Lord , our Heavenly Father,

we can have our minds full of all kinds of thoughts when we come to worship with God's people. Events later to be held that day . Perhaps particular People are on our minds, we are meeting up with later that day. Sports meetings and results etc.

May be our minds are even on sins we do not want to let go with. We are simply going through the motions of worship.

Lord forgive us and cleanse us through Jesus precious blood and give us worshipful hearts and the desire to get as close to You as is possible. Give us a stronger thirst for You.

Lord how can you enjoy our worship when Jesus is not at the very centre of our lives. Lord draw near and renew us in our minds and hearts and do that necessary work in us that we need please. Help us to be totally honest with You in our prayers and if we are prayer less forgive and renew us.

In Jesus Name! Amen

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 13 - John 3:3
Again or Above


When we come to the well known encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus we find something strange. The NIV says, “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’” While the NRSV, another very accurate translation in English, says, “Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’” ‘Born again’ or ‘born from above’ – which is it? The rather surprising answer is ‘both!’. The Greek word translated in those two ways can mean either of them with equal force. Both translations give the other interpretation as a footnote but even that is misleading because it seems to indicate that the translation given in the text is primary and the other is secondary, but the word is distinctly ambiguous and can mean either or both. There is no word in English that can carry both meaning like that so the best we can do is probably something like ‘born again from above’.

Both translations go on to say that Nicodemus picked up the ‘again’ possibility and proceeded to comment on that. That would seem to suggest that he thought Jesus meant ‘again’ but he was a clever man and may simply have understood instantly that there are deeper problems with the ‘above’ option and carefully avoided it.

Exactly the same thing is true in our culture. To be ‘born again’ can mean nothing more than to return after a gap to something you used to do and enjoy. So you might be a ‘born again rock-climber’ if you return to that sport after giving it up on getting married and starting a family; but now they are grown up and you don’t feel the same deep responsibility for them so you return to that sometimes dangerous sport. But you cannot play any such tricks on the phrase ‘born from above’.

What did Jesus mean by what he said? Including what did he mean by talking about ‘seeing, or entering, the kingdom of God’?

It is a matter of dimensions. You may be stuck in two dimensions if you think only of being born again. The phrase can mean no more than I have decided to follow Jesus, or I have decided I am a Christian. But if you bring the third dimension into it things are quite different. If you are born from above you have clearly been touched by those who come from ’above’, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In only a few verses down the page we shall read that Jesus said he was talking about heavenly things, and only a verse or two further and he is talking about how he will be ‘lifted up’. He will be lifted up on the Cross, which will take him out of our two-dimensional world into a greater world of three dimensions. And when we are born again from above we are being touched by the glory of the Cross; by its potent effect in carrying away our sin and broken relationship with the Father; by the way in which it released the Holy Spirit to encourage and empower us provided we are one of those who want to enter the ‘kingdom of God’.

That kingdom is not a place in any sort of worldly sense. It is a sphere of influence where the Triune God, God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit rule. You may live in one of the many countries of this world, divided up as they are by the whim of men, the results of history, by many a reason long forgotten by almost everybody. It doesn’t matter how big, how small, how rich or how poor your country may be and how much you have to participate in it for good or ill. You can be a citizen of heaven a member of the kingdom of God. WOW!



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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 12 - John 2:13-25
Revising the Temple


This second story in this second chapter is as remarkable as the first. Here it is:

“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

They replied, “It has taken forty- six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”

It causes even more puzzlement amongst the experts than the first story of this chapter. Clearing the Temple is recorded in all 4 Gospels but in the other 3 it occurs near the end of Jesus’ ministry where here it seems to be at the beginning. Or has John put it here because he wants us to read and hear the rest of his book with this in the background? I think he has. If a squad of Roman soldiers or temple guards allowed something like this to happen for a second time they would be in very serious trouble. The Philippian jailer was thinking of killing himself as the less painful option when He thought Paul and Silas had escaped from his prison. If Jesus had cleared the Temple early on He would have been a marked man every time He went to Jerusalem subsequently. No, again John has chosen a surprising passage for his introduction to the life of Jesus. Why? What did he mean by doing so?

The Temple was the very centre of Jewish life. Everyone who was able to visited it at least once a year as we are told Jesus and his family did for the Feast of Passover (Luke 4). They thought of God being there more than anywhere else. He had led the Israelites through the wilderness at the Exodus in a tent and then a tabernacle. He had been present in the Temple when Solomon dedicated it. Only later, when things went badly wrong in the life of the nation, had He ceased to be there visibly (Ezek 10). There was no visible proof that He was there in Herod’s temple but they still reckoned it was the place to be as often as possible.

John records: “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts He found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market.”

It looks as though He was annoyed by the way the merchants had set up a bazaar inside the outer courts. But there is much more to what He did than that. Mark is most helpful. He says that as Jesus and His disciples were approaching Jerusalem they saw a fig tree and Jesus went up to it to get some figs. A curious thing to do as it was not the right time of the year for it to have fruit on it. Then, even more surprisingly, Jesus curses the tree. They go down into the city, Jesus clears the temple, and they come back to find the tree had withered. What is going on and why?

Mark has put one story, the clearing of the temple, inside another, the death of the fig-tree. He does this sort of thing with stories quite often and clearly relates the two stories, one of them explaining the other. In this case He is saying the temple is done, finished, it is withered, it is dead. And, indeed, just 40 years later it was, pulled down and destroyed by the Romans at the sack of Jerusalem. That had already happened when John wrote this Gospel.

So what was to happen now? Answer, from Jesus: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Which they don’t understand. They say, “It has taken forty- six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”

John knows what the whole event means. He tells us, “the temple He had spoken of was His body. “
The Temple is done, gone, even if it hasn’t fallen down yet. But God is still with them, and with us, in the person of Jesus.
In fact, there is still more to come in the later teaching of the church. 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.’”
That is you, assuming you have set out to follow Jesus, and me. Where is God these days? He is in you and me, and nowhere else in any special sense in the whole wide world. WOW!


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Partakers Friday Prayers!

13th November 2015

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


Order of Prayer Service

Opening Prayer

1 John 1:8-10

Confession

Lord's Prayer

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Prayers for those facing challenging situation

Prayers for those grieving & in despair

Prayers for those imprisoned

Prayers for Churches Worldwide

Prayers for the world

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Time for your own prayers

The Creed

Benediction

Closing Prayer

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


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HAVE - Yehosheba

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Heroes and Villains Explored - Yehosheba

2 Chronicles 22v11-12 But Yehosheba, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king's sons who were slain, and put him and his nurse in the bedroom. So Yehosheba, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest (for she was the sister of Ahaziah), hid him from Athaliah, so that she didn't kill him. He was with them hidden in God's house six years: and Athaliah reigned over the land.

Yehosheba was a princess, the daughter of King Joram and her name means "Yahweh is an oath". She had married Jehoida, who was the high priest. Yehosheba, although she was a king's daughter and a king's sister, married a descendant of Levi, the head of the priest class in Judah. In the Old Testament, the promised coming of God in human form had been seriously threatened repeatedly. It was threatened by the fact that Sarah and Abraham remained childless for a long time; by Jacob's flight; by the attempts on David's life by Saul; and also by Athaliah attempted massacre of the royal baby Joash.

However, as evil as Athaliah was, it cannot be said that she planned that massacre with a deliberate intention of preventing the coming of the promised Messiah from the line of King David. But Satan, however, would most certainly have had this purpose in mind when he prompted Athaliah to do the deed. When Athaliah commanded that the king's sons be slain, she served as a tool in the hand of Satan. Yehosheba saved the life of Joash. By rescuing the life of that little prince she rescued the hope of Israel, and thwarted the plans of Satan.

But, just as we have no reason to believe that Athaliah consciously tried to interfere with the coming of Jesus Christ, who was the long awaited for Messiah; so we also cannot presume that Yehosheba's effort to save Joash was a conscious attempt to make sure the coming of the long awaited for Messiah, Jesus Christ in the future Bethlehem was certain. Athaliah was Satan's tool, and Yehosheba was used by God.

Athaliah's work was destined to fail, because Satan is impotent against God's purposes, and Yehosheba had to succeed because God's plans are invariably realized.

As Jehoidah's wife, Yehosheba lived in the Temple, not in the Palace. The right to search the Temple was outside the area of the king or queen, and for that reason, once she had determined to save the life of the prince, Yehosheba decided to hide him in one of the bedrooms in the Temple, where even the fearsome and wicked Athaliah could not go.



The Bible does not tell us how Yehosheba happened to get Joash. It seems that the nurse may have helped her. Perhaps this is the best explanation of the circumstances. Yehosheba was the wife of Jehoida, and we have for that reason, to believe that she feared God. She must have learned that Joash's nurse had also kept the faith; and in those difficult times these two women had sought each other's company. This gave Yehosheba an occasion to persuade the nurse to flee to the Temple with the baby. Athaliah, at least, did not detect what had happened, and supposed that the whole of David's family had been killed.

So, when Joash was made king 4 years later, Athaliah expressed her surprise by shouting out ''Treason!!! Treason!!!"

Yehosheba, therefore, ought to be kept in grateful remembrance by the Church. She has an appealing character. She did not desire mundane luxuries. Even though Ahaziah was her brother, and though the life of splendour at a royal court could have been hers, Yehosheba chose a secluded life in the Temple, the House of God. Her calm introspective character had developed in her, courage unequalled by men. It was not Jehoida the priest who tried to save the generations of David from being destroyed. For the sake of fear, he would have permitted the whole royal family to be killed. Of all the men in Jerusalem, who at that time still feared the name of Jehovah, not one dared to assert his position and authority. They would have liked to, but they did not dare - they were too frightened. They lacked bravado and courage.

And yet - while all these men, including the high priest, feared to act or do what was right, Yehosheba did the brave thing. She saw the significance of the situation, and acted accordingly. It was a dangerous thing to do. If Athaliah had heard of it, she would have tried to kill Yehosheba. But Yehosheba made up her mind, was determined, and after that she never hesitated to do what was right, regardless of the circumstances or consequences.

Her courage and readiness seem to have impressed her husband. So much so, that 6 years later, he showed the same kind of brave initiative. He dared to crown Joash king, and to execute the judgement of God upon Athaliah.

Lessons to learn!

The main lesson to learn from the life of Yehosheba is to love what is right, hate evil, and do what God has commanded. At times that will require courage and bravado, just as it did for Yehosheba. In times like that, it is important to remember not to use sin to promote God's work. Remember that you need to stand up for God. Do no not be afraid even though times are hard, for God's ultimate purpose will work out. Pray for Him to strengthen, lead and guide you so that you too can be seen, as Yehosheba was, a brave and courageous person.

In the western world particularly, at this current time, standing up for God and what He has revealed in the Bible is an unpopular thing to do. We are shouted down at every opportunity and considered fools for believing in a living God as revealed in Jesus Christ. What ever situation you find yourself in this week, make a stand for Jesus Christ, whether that is at work, at home, in the supermarket of talking to people online. Show brave initiative; stand up for God regardless of the circumstance or consequence. Yehosheba was a godly person who displayed great courage. Go and do the same - be a Yehosheba for God to all those who come into contact with you.

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9th November 2015



David a man after God's own heart

As he made his way to the battlefield where his brothers were fighting in King Saul's army against the Philistines, David's own walk with the Lord would have been focussed on his mission. His father had requested that he take food to his brothers to sustain them in perilous times when the Philistines, the enemies of Israel were trying to dominate and overcome God's people Israel.

He might have been thinking of how his brothers would receive him. Would they would receive him graciously and kindly? Or would they treat him wrongfully. We are given to think there was not complete harmony between the sons especially as we see their response when David does arrive at the Israel camp. (1 Samuel 17:28)

The wonderful thing that I considered about this account the other day was how David was so in tune with God and so alerted, he was ready for anything the Lord required of him to do that day as possibly with every other day, This day was different to his usual sheep watching days. He had to go to a foreign and dangerous place, the valley of Elah a battleground where Israel, God's own people were in combat with the philistines who had many gods, Was David ready for any warfare he might encounter? Had he stopped to think and pray about it that day? What was to take place that day was obviously unknown to him but not to God.

I would suggest from what we read that David was walking and talking with God as he journeyed. He arrives some would say amazingly at the very precise moment that Goliath is bellowing out his daily challenge for a man from the Israel camp to go out and fight him. He had said if any of you win this sole combat with me your side will be deemed the winners and the opposing side side will be subject to them.

You will notice in this boastful statement by Goliath that there was one person missing in all this. The Lord God Almighty. God was being left out of Goliath's life. however he was very much in the mind of David as he travelled and also as he arrived. God was everything to him at this time. He is described in the Bible as a man after God's heart. What a lovely description of him at this time.

David was livid as he witnessed this arrogant giant challenging Israel. "How dare he talk about God's people like he did and what disrespect for God "( Check it out in 1 Samuel 17:) So he determines to do something about it. His brothers were angry at what he suggested. They, the older brothers considered the impudence of David. Weren't they the soldiers he was a mere shepherd boy who looked after a few of Dad's sheep. He was a nobody in their eyes. Soon they would be forced to collect back their thoughts hurriedly at what took place next. The whole situation was changed dramatically because someone, a mere boy, took up the challenge of this moment which affected a great many people, two very strong nations.

Do you realise what a change your prayers can make to a complete world if you have God on your side?

David goes to the king and suggests that Saul send him. The king tries to put him off but David is not going to let this one go. Hr tries Saul's armour at Saul's suggestion but staggering in armour twenty sizes too big for him and says "I will use in this battle only weapons I am used to. The King said "well ok may God be with you" One thing for sure Saul would not be found at his side as he walked and ran towards Goliath of Gath. Saul was probably hiding away in a tent somewhere. That was the kind of man he was turning out to be "Its a foregone conclusion isn't it?. He might have said. He is bound to lose but I will allow this to take place."

Well I am not going to go into the whole story, no time now but simply to mention something which I think is very significant. We do not know what giants we will be called to fight against this day or tomorrow but are we alert as David was and ready for anything to further the work of Christ which we his church should be ready to do.

David shocked King Saul, his brothers and perhaps himself but he didn't shock God. God honoured a boy who lived after God's heart who knew that God was all powerful and would win the battle against this boastful godless character, and he did magnificently defeat the giant. He did something to bring glory to God and victory to God's people. He went out against Goliath not in his own strength and name but in God's name and power. We have no power of our own except to try to get in the way of God using us when we refuse to listen and obey Him. But when we submit to Him and look to Him through faith, amazing victories can be won and many advances into Satan's domain.

God is looking for alerted people who love Him, treasure His Word and use prayer affectively. Aggressiveness is allowed in serving God if we rename it, passion for His glory! Using every ounce of our being to trust Him to work in and through us to bring people to the point of knowing it is with God that they have to do. Goliath fought in his own strength and lost. We always win when we fight in God's strength and are not forgetful to give Him the total glory. Paul the apostle wrote "He always causes us to triumph." Praise His wonderful name!!.

Joys Prayer.

How important it is that we start the day with You Lord. We do not know what any day is going to bring forth.Lord, You know everything as you are omniscient. We know we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us but we also know we do have someone whispering in our ears "You cannot do this thing you are too weak ". The devil , the world and our flesh contest against us continually and we are on a battleground of our own but God You are able to break through all this. We hear your voice saying Trust in Me alone. Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will answer you."

Lord help us to develop a 24/7 relationship with You. We know you but want to know You more Lord.

"Lord make me useful for Thee, Send thou thy Spirit to me. Your perfect will in me fulfil, Lord make me useful toThee."

Amen

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 11 - John 2:1-12
Extravagant Grace




Now we are into chapter 2 and we find that it contains two very remarkable and very different stories. The second must wait until next time, but this one is quite extraordinary by itself. Here it is:
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.”

Jesus turned water into wine – and not just a reasonable amount, but about 600 litres or 150 gallons. Was it really such a good idea to produce so much extra booze halfway through the wedding celebrations? One gets a mental picture of many villagers reeling home thoroughly sozzled at the end of the day! Even if we guess, as we reasonably may, that this was a major wedding, that everyone in the village was invited, and so were many people from the surrounding villages (including Jesus, his mother and his disciples) so that there were hundreds of people there, this was still an amazing amount of wine.

All of which raises one huge question: why did John, who structured his Gospel so carefully, choose this story as the first to tell us about? OK, I know that he says this was the first one Jesus did. He says, “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” But that still does not answer the point. John did not have to start with this episode. Matthew, Mark and Luke didn’t start there. They all started with his temptation in the wilderness and then his teaching and healing ministry round the villages. The obvious conclusion we must draw is that John saw something very special in what happened in Cana and wants to make it a starting point for his whole Gospel. What was it?

I think he wanted to emphasize the generosity of Jesus. Nothing else he did was so unnecessarily generous. Nothing, that is, of the obvious things he was doing. But what about the gifts of new life, and of the Holy Spirit that he was going to give so liberally to everyone he met. You couldn’t see those, but you could see the wine. You could even drink it and it would cheer you up. Those great jars of wine stood for the extravagant generosity of Jesus, his extravagant grace to all he would meet in the rest of the story of the Gospel.

There is one other extravagant moment in the continuing story that we should perhaps link this one up with and that is the feeding of the vast crowd of people, 5000 men, plus women and children, by the Sea of Galilee. Remember that there were 12 baskets of pieces of bread left over when they had all finished. Extravagant bread, extravagant wine. Do they remind you of anything? Yes, of course: that so simple meal that Jesus told us to remember him by. In all probability you get only a small piece of bread or a thin wafer, and a small sip of wine, or perhaps not even that if you belong to the wrong church. Small bread, small wine, but from the same person who was so extravagantly generous on these two occasions. Remember that next time you take part in a communion service, breaking of bread, Eucharist or Mass.


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Partakers Friday Prayers!

6th November 2015

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


Order of Prayer Service

Opening Prayer

1 John 1:8-10

Confession

Lord's Prayer

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Prayers for those facing challenging situation

Prayers for those grieving & in despair

Prayers for those imprisoned

Prayers for Churches Worldwide

Prayers for the world

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Time for your own prayers

The Creed

Benediction

Closing Prayer

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HAVE - Athaliah

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Heroes and Villains Explored

Athaliah

The person we are going to look at in this study, is Athaliah. You can read about her in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22-23. The judges have long gone, and the nation of Israel had become a monarchy under Saul, David and Solomon. Yet soon after Solomon died, the nation splits into north and south - Israel and Judah.

An Evil Scheming Woman

As we have just read, Athaliah was, by all accounts, a terrible woman. The tribes in the kingdom of Israel, tried to lure the kingdom of Judah's tribes into a trap, and prepared it for the Babylonian exile. Athaliah was to cause Judah's moral life to decay. Athaliah was the daughter of that horrible couple Ahab and Jezebel. She somehow inherited all the evil of her wicked parents. Jezebel had brought poison from Sidon and injected it into the life of Israel.

Now Athaliah was to give some of that same poison into the life of Jerusalem.

Nothing permits us to think that Judah ever tried to be a good influence upon Israel. But we have good reasons to know that a king of the House of David, so far from choosing to ally himself with God's prophet in the crucial conflict between Ahab and Elijah, chose instead to ally himself with Ahab. He permitted Joram, the crown prince, to marry Jezebel's daughter Athaliah.

Had Jerusalem not already departed from the service of God, the coming of Athaliah and the Baal priests would have caused a holy and violent reaction in Jerusalem.

But no such reaction came, and the opposite happened. Athaliah became the ruler of Israel the moment she became Queen. Her every gesture was obeyed immediately.

In order to carry out her plans she exercised her reckless power at will. The Temple of Jehovah was virtually closed. Beautiful Baal temples were built everywhere in Jerusalem at her command. Mattan served as the high priest of Baal.

Such innovations changed the life of Jerusalem. Worldliness soon prevailed and the last remnant of the fear of the Lord seemed to leave the walls of Jerusalem. So intriguing and persistent was this woman's designs, that she intentionally sought to give her motives to her son. She hoped that he and his family after him would continue to Baal-ize Jerusalem. Thus she planned that Baal worship would become firmly established in Israel. Had she succeeded in her plans, Jerusalem could not have hoped to escape that curse.

But the Lord called Jehu. He destroyed Ahab's generation in Israel and put Athaliah's son, Ahaziah, to death. That catastrophe however, did not stop Athaliah from her evil plans. As the situation was, another of Joram's sons, one not trained by her, would succeed to the throne. This was a circumstance which indeed temporarily paused Athaliah's evil plans. But she soon made short work of that by commanding that all Joram's sons be killed. Had that command been fulfilled, David's generation would have terminated. Athaliah knew that as a queen she could marry a foreign prince. Thus she would make the worship of Baal an eternal thing for Israel.

The Lord Knows Best

The Lord knows better however, and He stopped her progress. By a miracle, the little Joash was rescued from the massacre. Later, the high priest Jehoida seized the courage to publicly crown him king. When Athaliah on that occasion, profaned the temple, he had the captains seize her, drag her out and kill her. Therefore her plans were destroyed. The Messiah was born from Jesse's generation, from David's family line. David's house was not destroyed.
But that does not make Athaliah a less evil person. Her evil passion and arrogance induced her to deliberately poison a people with the worship of false gods. She was so wicked that when anything threatened to stop the progress of her wicked plans, she did not hesitate to destroy it, including God's plan in the royal line. Athaliah, not a person to follow in any way.

Lessons to Learn

One of the main lessons we can learn from Athaliah, is that her style of leadership is a god-less style of leadership. She made all the decisions based on her own wicked judgement and the counsel of those equally wicked. She abused power for the sake of power, Athaliah made decisions based on hatred, idolatry and vengeance.
When you make decisions, what do you base them on? Do you make a decision based on praying to God our Father and asking Him for guidance? Do you read His written Word, the Bible, to see what guidance you can glean from there? Is there any form of hatred in your life? By hatred, that includes thinking wrongly and badly of others. Is there any form of idolatry in your life? By idolatry, that includes anything or anyone that displaces Jesus Christ from the centre of your life?

As for your ambitions, have you submitted them to God and to your Christian friends for counsel and guidance? In all those things - hatred, idolatry and pride, Athaliah exceeded and paid the ultimate penalty. Not even she, however, could stop God's plan of salvation - Jesus Christ, from the line of King David. This Jesus, for those who follow Him, where ever you may work or live, is to be our role model. This Jesus who, existing in the form of God, didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2v6). Leadership and life based on servanthood & submission to God and others, modelled on that greatest of servants, Jesus Christ. Go and do likewise.

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2nd November 2015

G'day and welcome to Partakers ThinkSpot! Play the audio and see how you are challenged to live your faith out this week!

The most famous verse in the Bible is probably this one. I wonder if you have heard or read it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Isn’t that simply amazing! Love! God is love! Every exhibition of love, even by those who deny His existence, is an example of God’s love. God’s love is also seen in all tenses – past, present and future. Past - God has loved you. Present - God is loving you. Future - God will love you! Amazing! WOW!


Moreover, 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 Jesus died for the sins of the world on the cross, it was supreme love overcoming all that is not love. Even when great acts of evil are committed in the world, love is all around. Love continues despite such acts.

How are we to respond to this love of God?

The Apostle John in 1 John 3:16 says “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Further on in 1 John 4:15-16, John writes “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, sacrificially, 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!

Love and serve everyone

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, if you are one, 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!

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. Give people a smile! If you are happy, let your face show it to others! Help that work colleague! Help that unemployed person to find work. One of the greatest limitations you face in loving and serving other people is a severe lack of imagination! 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.

Prayer

Father, we thank you, that you are love! We thank you Jesus, that you demonstrated great love by going to the cross and showing your love for the world by dying on the cross! Holy Spirit enflame our imagination and cause us to desire to show love to others – even others who we think don’t deserve it! As we go into this week, O God, remind us to love you wholeheartedly and to love others sacrificially.

For we ask this, O Father of Love, in the name of the Son of Love, Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit of Love.

Amen.


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