May 25, 2015

Think Spot 25 May 2015

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Think Spot 25 May 2015

What we say, as well as what we don’t say, as Christians is very important. The Bible is very clear on that.

1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.”

James 4:11-12 “Brothers do not slander one another...who are you to judge your neighbour?”

The definition of slander is words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another or an abusive attack on a person's character or good name or to attack the good name and reputation of someone.So next time you go to say anything negative about someone or to criticise their actions, think again, you might be disobeying God and breaking a command.

James 3:3-8 powerfully shows how a small thing such as the tongue is able to cause much damage. He says that the tongue is a world of evil that corrupts the whole person ...and is itself set on fire by hell.

Christians are very good at gossiping but disguising it as prayerful concern. We pass on a juicy bit of information about someone and then ask the person to pray about the situation. As Christians we should not pass on any information about anyone else unless the person concerned has asked us to. It is not our place to do so even if it is for prayer.

However, sometimes it is also what we don’t say that causes problems. We stay silent when in fact we do need to give that word of love, encouragement, rebuke or kindness. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be fabulous sites if used properly. How often to we stay silent when we should say something kind? We get a message from a friend and we don't reply to it.  How often do we say something when we should stay silent instead of slandering, complaining, gossiping or bickering?

Prayer


Now, a prayer to help you into this new week. Father, we thank you for words. We thank you that we can communicate words of life to other people. Help us to use words wisely as we interact, communicate and deal with other people, especially our loved ones and work colleagues. May the Holy Spirit, guide, rebuke and counsel, as we use the amazing gift of words to us, as we seeks to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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May 18, 2015

Think Spot 18 May 2015

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Think Spot 18 May 2015

We have the start of a new week! Its Monday! If you are a Christian, Jesus Christ wants to be number one in the life of all those who choose to follow him! Jesus wants supremacy over everything in our lives, including family, friends, and possessions!! Alas, that’s a cost too high for some! Within the Gospels, there is the story told of Jesus’ encounter with a man, who we shall call, Basil. Basil runs up to Jesus and wants eternal life, wants it now and asks Jesus about how to get it. He has fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus.

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However when Jesus said to Basil that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth and possessions in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, Basil leaves disconsolate and shattered. The life of Basil, this rich young ruler, reflected a life of absorption with his own self-interest and self-importance!

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It was a step too far for Basil. He wanted his riches and also everlasting life, but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains the only person that we know of, who left Jesus’ presence sorrowful, and that due to putting his trust in himself, his riches and wealth alone. Now riches, in and of themselves, are not necessarily wrong! But for Basil, well, he was not willing to make the sacrifice required to follow Jesus. He couldn’t count the cost of following Jesus– it was too high a price for him to pay!

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What have you given up in and as a result of your decision to follow Jesus? Making sacrifices to follow Jesus is all part of following of Jesus. Jesus demands His being number one and supreme over everything else in your life - yourself, family, others and material goods including money and possessions. Those areas of your life which God calls sinful, but you call it your right, your nature, just the way you are. God wants all of you for Himself! You can hand all things over to Him and if you ask the Holy Spirit to help you, it will be done much easier and with less struggle than if you try to do it in your own strength! Go into this new week, determined to be living for God in all facets of life, and then you will be salt and light for God in your community.

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Father, I pray that You would help us to trust in You and that You would help us to love You and others more fully, handing over to you those areas of our life which we are keeping our hands on! I ask this through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside all those who have peace with you. Amen

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May 11, 2015

Think Spot 11 May 2015

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Think Spot - 11th May 2015

G'day! Welcome to Partakers Think Spot at the start of new week on Monday the 5th of May 2015.

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.

And later on in his life, this event occurred!

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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May 4, 2015

Think Spot 4 May 2015

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Think Spot - 4 May 2015

G'day! Welcome to Partakers Think Spot at the start of new week on Monday the 4th of May 2015.

Romans 1:1-5

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-  the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures  regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,  and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name's sake.

Jesus is Unique

The first word I would use for Jesus is that He is unique - totally unique! Never before and never to be repeated again - ever! Jesus Christ is the standout person from all of history! In all of human history, Jesus Christ is incomparable!

Yet in human form, we read that during his earthly ministry he had no physical beauty that would draw people naturally to himself. We read that Jesus' body on the cross was disfigured and tortured beyond that of human likeness. His perfect life, His salvation work on the cross and His subsequent rising from the dead, is what makes Jesus Christ unique - a once and for all lifetime Messiah or Saviour for the entire world!  This great God of creation, stepping into His creation as a human, with the purpose of reconciling the world back to Himself! WOW!! Jesus' uniqueness meaning I can have an active and dynamic relationship with God.

As you go into this week may your relationship with God be active and dynamic! Go and thank Jesus Christ for his uniqueness which allows this to occur.

Prayer

Father, we thank you for Jesus Christ your Son! We thank you that because of Him, we can enter into a dynamic and active relationship with you! We ask this prayer and give you praise, through your Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside all those who are following! Amen!

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Apr 27, 2015

Think Spot 27 April 2015

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Think Spot - 27th April 2015

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

Obedient Life

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

Imagine

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

Transformation

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

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

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

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

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


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Apr 20, 2015

Think Spot 20 April 2015

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Think Spot - 20th April 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Apr 13, 2015

Think Spot 13 April 2015

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Think Spot - 13th April 2015

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

Matthew 11:28-30 records these words of Jesus Christ. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Are not those amazing words? Not just anybody could say them. If the person who said them couldn’t actually fulfil that promise, that would be one of the biggest hoaxes in all of history. But Jesus Christ is no hoax and he is able to fulfil those words and live up to the promises he makes. He is totally trustworthy.

We don’t like to ask for help. We are trained as children to be independent and not to rely on anybody else for anything ever. But this is contrary to what Jesus is about. To rely fully on ourselves for all things is to walk by sight and commit the sin of pride. To rely on Jesus and ask Him for help in all things is to walk by faith and with humility. True independence and freedom comes from being dependent on Jesus Christ and not being held back by anything or anyone else, such as family and our own wealth and possessions.

How are you doing at the start of this new week? Maybe you are feeling desolation and regret caused by decisions made sometime in your past. Give them up willingly to Jesus and don't keep trying to take it back like a security blanket!

Are you feeling abandoned and lonely? Let Jesus encompass you in an embrace of compassion and let the Holy Spirit comfort and counsel you..

Or perhaps are you feeling tired, burnt out and burdened?. Let Jesus give you the strength to endure! Give the burden to Jesus and let Him take the weight for you.

Maybe you need to make a major decision and don’t know what to do. Seek the wisdom of Jesus in making that decision. He will help if you ask. That’s all part of Jesus being Jesus.

It may well be that you are being overwhelmingly tempted to sin against God, another person or even yourself? You cant resist for too long if you do it in your own strength, because you will eventually succumb to it. But if you ask God to help you overcome the temptation, He will do it – if you allow Him control and use your own self-control! After all, self-control is one of the evidences of the Holy Spirit working in you!

We all get those feelings of regret, desolation, abandonment, loneliness, despair, burdened and temptation. Feelings are important, because they are part of the human experience and if we didn’t have them, we would be merely mindless androids. But feelings can also be very misleading. As Christians, we have to take it by faith that Jesus is there for us through those times. Because you are lonely, doesn’t mean you are alone. Because you are tempted, doesn’t meant that you have already committed the sin. Take it by faith that Jesus is answering desperate cries for help and is helping you. Take a few seconds now in this short silence to hand over these things to Jesus and ask him to help you.

Or it may just be that you are starting the week and you are feeling great and enjoying your dynamic relationship with God! Then keep going and letting Jesus be your strength, your wisdom and your help. But don’t keep it to yourself – that would be selfish! Go to others you know who are in need, helping them where you can with an encouraging word or helping to supply their need. Be the practical and imaginative answer to their prayers.

Go into this new week, confident that Jesus is able to help you in every situation you face. Ask him to come to you, and He will – just as He has done for countless millions. Thank you.



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Mar 23, 2015

Think Spot 23 March 2015

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Think Spot - 23rd March 2015

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

Last Monday we looked at serving God where ever you are with a clear conscience. How did you get on with doing it?

This week we look at a follow on from that to meekness. What is meekness? Isn’t meekness, merely weakness? That’s what we are told often enough by people outside the church! Yet meekness is not weakness! Meekness is giving up our personal rights to God alone!

A meek person is one who claims no personal rights of their own, and who is willing to yield all possessions and personal rights to God. A meek person sees these things as being loaned by God for His work and glory. Being meek in all situations takes a strong character, for example Moses (Numbers 12:1-3).

Giving up your rights and all you own to God alone, is talked about often in the Bible. Some of the results of giving up your rights to God can be found in: - Psalm 22:26; Psalm 25:9; Psalm 37:8-11; Psalm 149:4 Isaiah 29:19; Matthew 11:28-30. (1.15)

As followers of Jesus you and I need to give up our own rights and possessions to Him because:

  • You and I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)#

  • We are instructed to be meek by Jesus (Luke 9:23)
  • It follows the example. of the New Testament church (Acts 5:32)

When we insist on our own personal rights and those rights are violated, the main consequences are anger and anxiety. They occur when we try to control or change something God never intended us to change or control. When we react and resist, we deny God His right to do what; He wants to do. When we get angry and when we worry, these are signs that there are rights God wants us to yield to Him.

How do you yield rights and possessions over to God?

Firstly, identify them! Check where in your life anger and or anxiety exist. Then ask the Holy Spirit to work on your heart, prayerfully considering each area, yielding all to Jesus. When you do that, God becomes responsible for those areas.

Secondly, expect God to test His rights. Having handed them to God, He may allow situations to occur which will deny you these rights, to see if that right was really given to Him. It may be necessary to once again yield that right to Jesus. As you respond to each test, meekness develops.

Go into this week, knowing that God is at work in you! You are to be His servants and you are not your own! You were bought at a price by God! Through the meekness of Jesus Christ’ work on the cross.

Father I pray that as we give our personal rights to you, that you give us strength to overcome with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us as your children. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ! Amen!



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Mar 16, 2015

Think Spot 16 March 2015

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Think Spot - 16th March 2015

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

C. Bronte once said “Life appears to me to be too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrong.

Many people nurse a guilty conscience owing to holding onto animosity or wrongs done to them or having done wrong things to others. As a consequence, their life is filled with turmoil and bitterness. You may well be like that – I don’t know!

What I do know is that your conscience is the faculty which is sensitive to right and wrong, and judges your actions and attitudes. Everybody has a conscience and all are sensitive to spiritual truths, whether they are immediately aware of it or not.

According to the Bible, a clear conscience is essential for inner peace and joy, confidence in prayer, good health, effective service, .right relation-ships, effective witnessing, making right decisions, and victory in spiritual battle. A clear conscience is the inner joy and peace of spirit which results from having all personal wrongs made right with those whom a person had offended - either God or someone else.

However- many Christians carry around guilty consciences due mainly to unconfessed sins, affecting relationships with God, other people and themselves. If left unchecked, a conscience which is guilty, slowly grows 'dead', cold and silent. That is until such time that the guilt has been assuaged and put right.

If at the moment you are burdened by a guilty conscience, ask the Holy Spirit to show you clearly what is affecting your conscience. Then decide, at any cost, to clear it up in the power of the same Spirit. He will help you! Pray to the Father and ask forgiveness, (1 John 1:9), and fully accept His love and forgiveness. If there is anyone else involved, then you will also need to ask for their forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-24). Ask the Father to help you go, and the Spirit will help you, because one of the hardest things in the world to say is: “I was wrong! Please forgive me."

Your conscience can be cleansed because of what Jesus did on the cross! Hebrews 9:14 says “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Go into this week, ready to serve the living God, being confident that the Holy Spirit living within you, empowers you, is transforming you and desires that your conscience be clear. He will help you overcome if you ask!

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Mar 9, 2015

Think Spot 9 March 2015

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Think Spot - 9 March 2015

Counting the cost of following Jesus today...


Luke 9:23-26 Jesus speaking “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

What is our response to this to be? This is not a popular message in churches today, particularly in the West, as we don't like to scare people away! But the message from Jesus is clear - there is a cost to following Him. As followers of Jesus Christ we are commanded to count the cost of following Him. That is how we carry our own cross for the sake of Jesus Christ. Jesus wants to be number one in the life of all those who choose to follow him! Jesus wants supremacy over everything in our lives, including family, friends, and possessions!

What have you given up in and as a result of your decision to follow Jesus? Making sacrifices to follow Jesus is all part of the WOW factor of Jesus. Jesus demands that He is number one and supreme over everything else in your life - yourself, family, others and material goods including money and possessions.

How is this done? This is done by consistently ensuring that your works and words match your lifestyle and that no hypocrisy can be found, or indeed will be found. It means standing up for God in the face of adversity. It means loving others even though they hate you. Just a couple of examples. In the UK, we aren’t systematically persecuted. We are marginalized, ridiculed and ignored but some of our Christian family around the world daily face death simply because they chose to follow Jesus. They are carrying their cross for Jesus!

What about us today? For example if we as Christians were known by our self-sacrificial love of all others, then Jesus whom we claim to love, follow, worship, and adore would be seen. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote "When Jesus Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. ... Discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Jesus Christ, nor is it hero worship, but intimacy with Christ." (The Cost of Discipleship). Bonhoeffer knew that as a Christian, a person has to take up their own cross in following Jesus and count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Finally, let’s look at 1 John 3:16 “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 others.” Jesus told us to take up our own cross if we are to follow Him as His Disciple. How is that possible? If we try to do that in our own strength and wisdom, we will fail. If we do that using the power and strength of the Holy Spirit within you, then you will succeed at following Jesus’ command. Are you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ willing to take up your cross? What a difference that would make to the community where you live!



Have a WOW week!

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