google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2018 January

Archive for January 2018

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Gems in the book of Revelation

Part 128 - Revelation 2:11

No second death.

 
The ‘gem’ is in the promise that ends the letter following the words ‘to the one who is victorious’. Here is the rest of the letter :

8 To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

The church in Smyrna had its problems and was soon going to get more and greater ones! We don’t know how John knew enough to say this unless it was a prophecy. More serious persecution was coming their way. It wasn’t a rich church, as people normally counted richness, but they were rich in the way they lived their lives, particularly their spiritual lives. Jesus, through John, is promising them that he will be with them whatever may happen to them so they should be high in confidence, in courage and faithfulness. Then he makes a promise to them that is hard to understand: “you will not be hurt at all by the second death”. There are two problems here: what is the second death and why should they be at all concerned about it anyway.

Second death is a phrase that only appears in Revelation at 20:6 and 14, and 21:8. The first of these says that those who share the first resurrection (with Jesus) have nothing to fear from it, the other two are both about ‘the lake of fire’. This seems to be about the place of everlasting torment often mentioned in the New Testament, particularly by Jesus in places like the parable of the sheep and he goats where he says ‘depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire’ (Matthew 25:41) and this is ‘eternal punishment’ (Matthew 25:46). These statements seem very much at odds with the other things Jesus said.

There are places in the world where such language would be deemed right and proper by the followers of other faiths in relation to the ‘infidels’ but for those of us in the Western world it strikes a strange note. It may simply be a different way of expressing things where only analogies can be used but it still seems very strange.

The best way round the problem is probably the word picture drawn by C. S. Lewis in his children’s book The Last Battle (one of his children’s books about Narnia but they are full of deeply spiritual insights!). At the end of the book and the world all the characters, human, animal and mythical, are forced to look into the eyes of Aslan, the lion, who is the image of Christ. ‘When some looked the expression of their faces changed terribly - it was fear and hatred …. And all who looked at Aslan in that way swerved to his left and disappeared into his huge black shadow …. The watching children never saw them again. I don’t know what became of them. But the others looked in at the face of Aslan and loved him though some of them were very frightened at the same time. And all these came in at the door, in on Aslan’s right. …’.
‘I don’t know what became of them’ is a very wise comment we should take for ourselves.

The faithful people of Smyrna did not have to worry about such things for they would not ‘be hurt at all by the second death’. The same goes for all those who are faithful in these days!

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Partakers Friday Prayers

19 February 2018

for the Persecuted Church Worldwide

 

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!

 

Prayers for the Persecuted Church

Sovereign God, we worship you and acknowledge that you know all of those who suffer in your name because they follow you. We remember those who are imprisoned for their faith and ask that they would join with the Apostle Paul to see that even though they remain captive, their chains have furthered the gospel, not frustrated it. May they inspire and embolden their fellow believers to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. Amen

God of all comfort, for those who are tortured both in body and mind, give them the grace to endure and to see their suffering as part of following in Christ’s footsteps. Merciful God, for those asked to pay the ultimate price; who are martyred because of their love for you, may they truly know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Amen

Father God, for those who are widowed and orphaned may they know the comfort that comes from your promised presence even when they walk through the valley. May they be strengthened by your Spirit, enabling them to rejoice with the psalmist as they proclaim that the LORD will not abandon them in death. Amen

Heavenly Father, we ask that you would make us ever mindful of our brothers and sisters around the world who need us to stand with them as they suffer in your name. Teach us what it means to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony; we pray that we would not love our lives so much as to shrink from death.

We ask these things O Father, through the name of Your Son, Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
Amen

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Exploring Islam 12

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Exploring Islam

12. The Jesus of Islam

Part 3 – The Cross

In light of what we have previously outlined regarding the Islamic view of Jesus we are now going to finally consider what happened at the cross. For the Christian the crucifixion of Jesus is fundamental and indeed is ultimately why he came as the Saviour of the world. However, as we have seen previously regarding salvation in Islam no such atoning sacrifice is possible. Whilst the Qur’an does not deny the historical event of the crucifixion, it is does deny that it was the Islamic prophet Jesus who was killed.

Qur’an 4:157 – ‘"Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah." And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them.’

This is a fascinating verse which many Muslims are aware of given the prominence of Jesus in discussions with Christians. It is reliant upon the understanding that Allah respects his chosen prophets to such a degree that a humiliating death by crucifixion would not be permitted. Nothing more is said regarding this matter in the Qur’an and it begs the question from a non-Muslim perspective of proof. Outside of this verse there seems to be no other supporting evidence that this was the case. And I guess this is to be expected as the concept itself suggests that all present at the crucifixion and presumably all the subsequent historians were hoodwinked into believing the opposite.

Admittedly, Christianity faces a similar but I think less taxing burden of proof in their defence of a risen Jesus from the tomb on Easter morning. So instead of dying on the cross, the Islamic Jesus was taken up into heaven during this mystical switch and remains there to this day.

Again, this is a unique aspect of Jesus within Islam which no other prophet including Muhammad can claim. Jesus has a further role to play in the grand scheme of history according to Islam. At the end of time before judgement day comes, Jesus will return to the earth still as a physical man and successfully lead all those chosen by Allah into Islam. The Qur’an does not speak much of this aspect leaving Muslims to rely strongly on the traditions contained in the Hadith.

Unlike in Christianity who affirms Jesus’ role in judgement, the Islamic Jesus finally dies before this happens and leaves Allah to judge the world. So this marks the conclusion of the Exploring Islam series. I have enjoyed preparing and writing these podcasts and I hope that you have benefited from them. Remember my original goal was to dispel some of the misunderstandings of Islam which are so prevalent in Western societies and can be the source of much tension with our Muslim neighbours.

Even though there are significant differences between Islam and Christianity I hope I have equally showed that there are similarities even bridges for discussion. I have found the best way to facilitate this is from the attitude of respect and friendship, things which Muslims themselves value highly.

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USA - $7 - http://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Islam-exploring-diversity-Christian/dp/1507774567/

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Spiritualism 01

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1. Spiritualism: Right or Wrong?

By Jim Allis

 

Introduction

Picture a wonderful scene... ”There is a beautiful scene of happiness all around us. There are marvellous buildings of grandeur, blue lagoons, clear lakes of warm water and luscious green grassed meadows. The colours of the birds are of magnificent shades of blue red green and yellow as never seen before. Here there is also a sense of peace as never experienced before and such a peace as you never want it to end. All, yes all is so peaceful here” You might well imagine this to be the introduction to a holiday brochure but it is not. It is the description of the ‘other side’ to which Spiritualists say we go when we leave this present world. The words I have referred to are in fact words supposedly given to a medium by a departed spirit for the comfort of living relatives and friends of their departed loved ones.

Where And How Did It Begin?

Spiritualism began in a tiny home in Hydesville,USA To be more precise, spirit messages began to be received by a family of three girls on 31st March 1848. These young ladies were experimenting when suddenly they said they heard rapping noises from a spirit who claimed to be a murdered peddler. Kate, Margaret and Leah Foxe became very fascinated by it. However in 1880 Margaret Foxe admitted it was fraud and delusion. Some have said she only said this because she was envious of her sister. Leah who became famous in this movement. Since that time of course many fraudulent mediums have jumped on the band wagon faking supernatural noises and apparitions to make money. Some people will do almost anything to gain money as I am sure you my readers would agree. Leah Foxe is supposed to have received this message from the spirit world, ‘Dear Friends, you must proclaim this message to the world. When you do your duty, God will protect you and good spirits will watch over you.’ Within only a short space of time there were over a hundred mediums practicing in New York alone.

Since that time Spiritualism has grown into an international organisation throughout the whole World. Various groups under the one main heading but each have peculiar differences. However with Spiritualism there is one common ground on which they all stand. They all proclaim with one accord that ‘one can communicate with the dead.’ Spiritualism was mainly a middle- and upper-class movement, and especially popular with women. U.S. spiritualists would meet in private homes for séances, at lecture halls for trance lectures, at state or national conventions, and at summer camps attended by thousands.

The movement was extremely individualistic, with each person relying on her own experiences and reading to discern the nature of the afterlife. Organisation was therefore slow to appear, and when it did it was resisted by mediums and trance lecturers. Most members were content to attend Christian churches, and particularly Universalist churches harboured many Spiritualists..) During the 1920s, professional magician Harry Houdini undertook a well-publicised campaign to expose fraudulent mediums. He was adamant that "Up to the present time everything that I have investigated has been the result of deluded brains."

Despite widespread fraud, the appeal of Spiritualism was strong. Prominent in the ranks of its adherents were those grieving the death of a loved one. Many attend to this very day who are grieving the loss of a loved one and can’t bear the separation and so seek out a spiritualist medium who can bring them into contact again with the deceased. One well known case is that of Mary Todd Lincoln who, grieving the loss of her son, organized séances in the White House which were attended by her husband, President Abraham Lincoln. The surge of interest in Spiritualism during and after the American Civil War and World War I was a direct response to the massive casualties. Coming up tomorrow, our second study, entitled "Is it all Trickery?"

** Disclaimer: The author of this article, Jim Allis, is a guest podcaster and Partake Ministries may or may not agree with his opinions and writings, either in their entirety or part thereof.

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POD - Psalm 112

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Psalm 112

 

Hallelujah! Blessed man, blessed woman, who fear God,

Who cherish and relish his commandments,

Their children robust on the earth,

And the homes of the upright—how blessed!

Their houses brim with wealth

And a generosity that never runs dry.

Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people—

God's grace and mercy and justice!

The good person is generous and lends lavishly;

No shuffling or stumbling around for this one,

But a sterling and solid and lasting reputation.

Unfazed by rumor and gossip,

Heart ready, trusting in God,

Spirit firm, unperturbed,

Ever blessed, relaxed among enemies,

They lavish gifts on the poor—

A generosity that goes on, and on, and on.

An honored life! A beautiful life!

Someone wicked takes one look and rages,

Blusters away but ends up speechless.

There's nothing to the dreams of the wicked.

Nothing.

 

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Think Spot 15 January 2018

 

We start this new week with a challenge! Each of us can make a difference in this world. Are you aware of that? Let's see what we can do together!

One of the most well-known bible verses is when Jesus says “Love your neighbour as yourself.” But did you know he is actually quoting from Leviticus 19:18b "love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord." What does that mean for us today?


As Christians we are to live right lives - to be holy. That is a fundamental about being a Christian. It means being practical and loving others - not just in words but in action. Not just saying I love you but showing that you do. It means sometimes doing things we don't want to do. Or not doing things we want to do. It means putting others first and ourselves last. It means not showing favouritism – to the rich or the poor, to the beautiful and the not so beautiful.


Loving others as yourself, does not mean loving yourself less. It means loving others more. It means holding the interests of others higher than your own. It means honouring others above yourself.


How are you doing at loving others - all others? Are you loving others generously & selflessly? Or are you saying you love them, but only on your own terms or only in words and not in action. Loving them selfishly by putting your own needs first and others after yourself.


Here is a challenge for you. Go into this new week determined to love others – all others – without favouritism. Each of us has ways in which we feel the love of others. We all have our own needs & wants. Ask somebody else today that what it is that you could do for them that would make them feel that they are loved and valued. You may well be surprised that it is something very simple and you would never have found out what it was unless you had asked.


As we continue into this new year of 2018, let's be committed to showing practical love to all we meet - one person at a time. Imagine the difference that could make to the world! WOW!

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