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Archive for April 2018

Think Spot 30 April 2018

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Think Spot - 30th April 2018

 

Luke 2:42-52 - 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. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.

Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. ; Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.When his parents saw him, they were astonished.

His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." "Why were you searching for me?" he asked.

"Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Matthew 13:53-55 - When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" they asked.  "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?

 

Wise

Jesus is the ultimate wise man! As we read the Gospels, we see that when Jesus spoke words, people were amazed! They were astounded that He spoke with wisdom, elegance and yet with authority. They had never heard anyone speak like He did - with both grace and authority.

The same is true today, if we are listening. That is why we read the Bible to find out what He would say to us. That is why we seek to hear Him speak to us and why we speak to Him. That is why preaching is to be seen as an act of worship - by both the preacher and the listener! Jesus' wisdom meaning I can ask Him for advice and seek His imagination to solve problems!

As you go into this week ask Jesus to help you, guide and speak to you through the Bible, regardless of what situation you face! Jesus, Son of God, the ultimate wise man!

Prayer

A prayer to help you into this new week. Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ! We thank you for the Bible! We thank you for godly men and women who preach and teach this wisdom of Jesus to us, explaining and exploring how we can put this wisdom into practise! May the Holy Spirit within each believer, rebuke and counsel, as that believer seeks to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ. Amen!

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Exploring The Bible

58. Old Testament

1 Samuel

 

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:

1 Samuel 13:14
1 Samuel 15:22

The Book of 1 Samuel describes the transition of Israel to a monarchy from the rule of individual judges, appointed by direct choice from the Lord.

It tells the stories of Samuel, the last of the judges, Saul, the first king, and David. Samuel rules reasonably well; Saul, the first king, is a disaster and David shows every sign of being a good leader needed by God's people, Israel.

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Gems in the book of Revelation

Part 141 - Revelation 11:1-18
Persecution is limited

Revelation 11 is yet another one where it is hard to find any very helpful verse. Gems are hard to come by! Yet this is the concluding chapter of the first part of Revelation and will have been designed to encourage the Christians of those days. And that is the problem: what is largely meaningless for us will have been full of meaning for them. We have to remember that this vision was designed to help and encourage the members of the seven churches and they were in a tricky position. It was clear that considerable persecution was likely to affect them very soon. The comments on Smyrna and Pergamum indicate that the problems had already started in those two cities. So we have to try and read this chapter as if we were them. Not easy, it is widely regarded as the most difficult passage to understand in all this difficult book.

There are many references to the Old Testament in these verses, not always from the bits we are likely to know well either. The prophecy of Zechariah provides the main structure for the vision. It is there (Zechariah 2-4) that we find a man measuring Jerusalem, two witnesses: Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel the King, two olive trees and two pipes for the oil lamps. There are also many references in these verses to the writings of other prophets, particularly Ezekiel.

The fundamental question is: who are the two witnesses and why are there two of them. General opinion seems to be that they stand for the Christian church and all its members who are likely to be persecuted in the near future. Why two? Probably to allow reference to the two outstanding prophets: Moses and Elijah. Elijah was taken direct to heaven rather than dying. In spite of the account of his burial in Deuteronomy it was also widely thought that Moses went directly to heaven. Moses was the prophet of words above all else (in spite of what happened in Egypt) and Elijah was the great prophet of action. So they were good models of what the infant churches should be.

Seven years represented an ideal length of time so half that, listed here as 42 months or 1260 days, represented a shortened ideal period, a set short period, not a long one. So for a short and defined period of time the churches would have a significant and successful time of witness in which many would come to faith. Then the beast (Rome, through the emperor) would attack them, persecute them, kill many of them until the whole Christian movement would appear to be dead. Usually when you are dead you are dead but this is the book of Revelation where such logic does not operate! But then they would revive, life would come to them as it did the bones of Ezekiel 37, and they could look forward to golden days of life in heaven and, of course, life on earth.

Here is the gem of this chapter. It looks as though we too in many parts of the world may be facing a period of greater persecution and loss of freedom to witness coming from both secularism and Islam. We too can rely on these things not lasting for ever and eventually there being a great revival when the Spirit wind of God comes back and breathes on the bones of the church to make it once again a mighty force in all the world.

It was said a long time ago that the ‘blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church’ and that has proved to be true many times over. It has seldom, or never, been so obvious as what has happened to the Chinese church over the last 70 years. Most onlookers reckoned the communist take over in the 1950s would be the death of the church but when the oppression finally eased in the 1980s it was discovered that the tiny church of the 1950s had grown many times over and was amongst the strongest and most vibrant churches of any country in the world.

How we react to all this will depend very largely on which country we live in. Many of us are fortunate enough to live where these things seem only remotely possible. For a few of us it may well reflect the future for the church in your country, not a prospect to be welcomed, even if the outcome will eventually be good. We are but human and can only reflect the situation we are in and are likely to be in for years ahead.

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Friday Prayers

27 April 2018

Order of Service!

 

Opening prayer

Praise time

Prayers for those grieving and lonely

Prayers for justice and peace

Prayers for those facing challenging situations

Prayers for churches and Christians worldwide

Prayers for healing

Time of silence for your own prayers

Benediction

 

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G'day and welcome to Partakers! We are 10 years old! Happy Birthday Partakers! Today we hear a testimony of how Partakers began! We started when I was in a doctor's surgery and collapsed.

Come on in, listen to what happened next, how we began. By listening, you are sharing in the work that God has been doing through us! Happy birthday, Partakers!

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WOW Word 18 - Goal

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The Goal Of Being A Christian

Our WOW Word today is Goal! As in the goal of being a disciple of Jesus Christ!

I wonder what you think the goal of being a Disciple of Jesus Christ is to be. Is it just a means to get to heaven? Maybe it is praying a lot? Perhaps it is reading and memorizing the whole Bible? Doing lots of evangelism or doing lots of work for the church? As admirable as those things are, they are not what is to be the goal for those who claim to be Disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

The ultimate goal for any Christian Disciple is to be found in these verses from 1 John 2:3-6 -

“We know that we have come to know Jesus if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

 

According to the Apostle John, the goal of being a Christian Disciple is to walk and live as Jesus did and to follow the commands of Jesus. That doesn’t mean walking around in sandals, wearing white clothes and traversing the terrain where Jesus Himself walked. The Apostle John means that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to be radical, holy and living lives worthy of that of Jesus.

 

How can we be radical and holy?

 

Jean Calvin said that “Denying oneself and relying on God for all things is the goal of the Christian life.” This can only be attained by total submission to the Holy Spirit and a life of constantly “dealing with God” in all matters. That is how Christian Disciples are to be radical, holy and endeavouring to reach the goal of being Jesus to others! This is done by a constant renewing of the mind (Ephesians 4:23) and having a heart willing to be transformed. It is by loving others in such a way, that the end of a Disciple’s generosity is only when the resources have expired.

A Christian Disciple is to live and walk as Jesus did. There is no better way for a Disciple to fulfil this goal, than by imitating Jesus and obeying his command from Luke 9:23 to “…take up their cross daily and follow me.” This is seen as a higher challenge for the mind! Dietrich Bonhoeffer commented that “Discipleship of Jesus Christ, leads to death for all who follow Christ; either as a physical death or in being ostracized from the wider community.”

For the first century Christians, just as in some parts of today’s world, persecution and martyrdom were, and are, reality. A biblical example is that of Stephen recorded for us in Acts 7. Yet it also means enduring suffering, for this is how a Christian Disciple maintains a “communion with Christ”. For it is through suffering, that we share with the crucified Jesus. The bitterness of our cross is made sweeter, the more we dwell on the sufferings of Jesus and our enabled fellowship with Him.

As Christian Disciples, we are linked together in a Christian community through rebirth, and our relationship exists only through our relationship with Christ. There is no such thing as an individual member of the radical Christian community. Members are to be interdependent upon one another, bound by a corporate and inclusive personality. The church community is to be dynamic by nature, and individualism is not coherent with New Testament teaching. Remember these words, the world will know we are God’s possession and people, if we exhibit and demonstrate love toward one another.

How about that for being radical and holy? That is the goal for the Christian Disciple. We as Christians have a goal to be radical and holy. We are to be obedient to Jesus in loving God and loving others - including those who are our enemies. How can we do and be that? If we try that in our own strength we will fail. It is only through the power, strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit who lives within you, that you can do this! How is that for a WOW Word?

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