google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2017 September

Archive for September 2017

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Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 116 - 1 John 5:4
Comparative powers



John says, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” Oh, really, we may feel like retorting. Many of us will feel that we have no sort of victory much of the time, or even ever. Unfortunately that is the way life often is. We may be overworked, stressed, ill, subject to family problems, or financial problems, unemployed, frightened of dying (no Christian should ever be afraid of death but dying can be an uncomfortable process!), frightened of being killed, bored or whatever. Christians are not invulnerable to those sorts of things. How then can John say that we have a victory because of our faith?
In fact if we look back through this lovely letter he has written we will see that he deals out a great deal of encouragement to the people he is writing to.


In 1 John 2:27, 28 he says, “…the anointing you received from him remains in you, … his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. … so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

Then in 1 John 3:21, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God”.
In 1 John 4:17, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment; In this world we are like Jesus.”

And in 1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

There is plenty there about confidence. Of course, it is not sufficient for the Olympic athlete to be confident as they crouch down ready to run; they need to come first to get the victory. But then the victory we are talking about is of quite a different nature; it is a victory in the sense of overcoming all our worries and anxieties our fears and our failures. How are we to do that?

John cleverly parcels up the answers in this short passage of the first 5 verses of this chapter. He starts with “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.” And finishes with “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” All that he has said in between – well worth reading if you have a Bible handy – is gathered up between those 2 statements about believing Jesus is the Messiah and that he is the Son of God.
 
If we keep those 2 facts well held in our minds, grow from our starting points as the babies of God and allow the Spirit to work in our lives we shall overcome. Nothing is more certain; it is the great Creator and Sustainer God of all the earth who has you in his hand. It probably wont be at all obvious to your neighbours that you are operating at a different level to them – if they are not believers in Jesus – but that will be the true fact of what is happening.

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Partakers Friday Prayers! 

29th September 2017

 

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! 

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A Prayer of Thomas a'Kempis (1380-1471)


Grant me, O Lord,
to know what I ought to know,

To love what I ought to love,
To praise what delights thee most,
To value what is precious in thy sight,
To hate what is offensive to thee.

Do not suffer me to judge
according to the sight of my eyes,

Nor to pass sentence
according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant people;

But to discern with a true judgement
between things visible and spiritual,

And above all,
always to inquire
what is the good pleasure of Your will.

Amen

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

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POD - Psalm 26

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Psalm 26

26:1 Judge me, Yahweh, for I have walked in my integrity.
I have trusted also in Yahweh without wavering.

26:2 Examine me, Yahweh, and prove me.
Try my heart and my mind.

26:3 For your loving kindness is before my eyes.
I have walked in your truth.

26:4 I have not sat with deceitful men,
neither will I go in with hypocrites.

26:5 I hate the assembly of evildoers,
and will not sit with the wicked.

26:6 I will wash my hands in innocence,
so I will go about your altar, Yahweh;

26:7 that I may make the voice of thanksgiving to be heard,
and tell of all your wondrous works.

26:8 Yahweh, I love the habitation of your house,
the place where your glory dwells.

26:9 Don’t gather my soul with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men;

26:10 in whose hands is wickedness,
their right hand is full of bribes.

26:11 But as for me, I will walk in my integrity.
Redeem me, and be merciful to me.

26:12 My foot stands in an even place.
In the congregations I will bless Yahweh.

 

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Think Spot - 25th September 2017

 

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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Exploring The Bible

33. Old Testament

Nahum - 660 BC

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Nahum 1:7-8
  • Nahum 3:5-6

 

Nahum preached against Nineveh in 660 BC. The inhabitants of Nineveh had forgotten about God and how they came to repentance under Jonah.

Nahum announced God’s judgement upon Nineveh, as they had abandoned God and returned to violence, idolatry and arrogance. Nineveh was to be destroyed and never rebuilt!

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Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 115 - 1 John 4:16
God is love.


This is one of the diamonds of John’s gems! Unfortunately, the first thing I must say is to be careful and not think of it as ‘Love is God’. It isn’t! Even though many pop songs etc. would seem to suggest it is. The verses before and after this phrase stand out and we need to read them. We have:

 
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
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. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

How can we summarize what we have there and put it together into one idea. I would suggest that we should go back to the idea which is dominant in the first 3 Gospels but which John used very little. And that is the idea of ‘kingdom’, the kingdom of God. One of the dominant characteristics of that kingdom, if not THE dominant characteristic is ‘love’

We live in a world in which more people than ever before are changing the kingdom, or nation, within which they are going to live. There are huge numbers of displaced people and migrants all over the world. They are causing problems. Many of them want to live in a different country but without changing their culture. But the existing people of the country demand that they should change culture, accepting theirs and fitting in properly. The outcome is conflict.

Jesus followers have no choice. They are to change their culture to that of the kingdom of God. The dominant feature of it is ‘love’. They are to receive the love of God because they are born of God; they have received all the benefits of the death of the Son of God through his atoning sacrifice on the cross. That love must be reflected out from their lives. If it isn’t they are not truly born of God and have not received those benefits: the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit. That reflection means that we love one another. We will also have confidence for the moment when we have to approach the throne of judgement. Fear will not be a factor on that day and should not be now.

Our task now is not to be careful not to break a long list of rules. It is to live as true citizens of the Kingdom, rejoicing in our relationship to its Lord and Ruler and in our relationships to every other member of that Kingdom. What a prospect! What a challenge! What a joy!

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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!

Lord Jesus Christ,
You are the gentle moon and joyful stars,
and watch over the darkest night.
You are the source of all peace,
reconciling the whole universe to the Father.
You are the source of all rest,
calming troubled hearts,
and bringing sleep to weary bodies.
You are the sweetness that
fills our mind with quiet joy,
and can turn the worst nightmares
into dreams of heaven.

Amen

(A prayer of Erasmus from the 16th century)

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Think Spot - 18th September, 2017

 

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 4:15-16

"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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Exploring The Bible

32. Old Testament

Habakkuk - 697BC

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Habakkuk 2:4; Habakkuk 3:17-19

 

Habakkuk preached repentance to Judah in 697 BC, but they refused to change. His message was that God’s people should live by faith alone. Habakkuk did not always understand God’s ways, but concluded by praising God’s wisdom anyway.

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Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 114 - 1 John 4:4
Comparative powers



This is a delightful part verse, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”, but extraordinary difficult to see the truth of it in our world! Of course, theoretically, it must be true. It was the Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit which created this world we live in. They have not relinquished control of it so it must be greater than any created thing or being. But does it really seem to be true in the real world as one national leader after another organises things so that tens, and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people are killed in order that they can stay in power. Surely they are all driven on by the same evil power rampant in our world. It is good to assert that the power of the Lord is in all things greater than that of any other, but is it true.

We have a real problem in understanding the reality of this assertion. It is true because we have not really thought through what ‘greater’ means. Our knowledge of God must be basically founded on Jesus. The accounts we have of his ministry are by far the most information we have about God. He did nothing that his Father would not have done. He said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” And we can be sure that relationship was reciprocal: what we see the Son doing we know the Father could also do. If the Son mirrors the Father in what he does, then the Father mirrors the Son.

Jesus very clearly redefined many things, amongst them greatness, all the things that it is great to do. Perhaps most famously he told off James and John when they asked to have the privileged positions next to him in the kingdom they thought he was going to set up. He said; “you know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 41 – 45).

Also famously he took a towel and washed their feet. His explanation of his action was, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13: 12b – 17).

If we put these sayings of Jesus alongside what John says we realise that in the world of the kingdom of God man,y things are indeed greater than they are in the outside world. The Spirit that is in us is the chief conveyor of that greatness. Our problem and difficulty is to live up to the possible potential of what has been given to us.

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Friday Prayers~

15 September 2017

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Opening Prayer:

Father, as we commence,

let our hearts and minds be right and still before you.

May your everlasting mercy, grace and love be shown

in hearing these petitions!

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Prayer of Praise:

Praise to God the Father sing,

praise to God the Son, our king,

praise to God the Spirit be

now and through eternity.

Amen!

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Time for you to give praise to God

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Time for petitions and requests to God

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Closing Prayer:

O Father!

May it be that your love takes over our lives

That we follow you faithfully,

Giving you alone praise in all circumstances we face together.

We ask all these things, O Father,

through the majestic name of Your Son, Jesus Christ

and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside us!

Amen!

 

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POD - Psalm 87

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Psalm 87

 

A Psalm by the sons of Korah; a Song.

His foundation is in the holy mountains.
Yahweh loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken about you, city of God.

Selah.

I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me.

Behold, Philistia, Tyre, and also Ethiopia:
“This one was born there.”
Yes, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one was born in her”;
the Most High himself will establish her.
Yahweh will count, when he writes up the peoples,
“This one was born there.”

Selah.

Those who sing as well as those who dance say,“All my springs are in you.”

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