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Archive for the 'WOW Disciple' Category

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Why I am a Christian!

 

The Apostle John, writing in 1 John 5:9-12 - "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."


Why Is It So?


A testimony is an assertion offering firsthand authentication of a fact. For the Christian Disciple, classically it is generally expressed as how they became a Christian Disciple.

But I think it is more than just how, and should expressly include why you are a Christian Disciple. I wonder what is your testimony about how you became a Christian Disciple? When was the last time you thanked our God for your testimony? Have you even thought about your testimony of how you became a Christian Disciple?

I am sure you have all heard kids in the supermarket yelling out "Why?" to their parents. We all have, I am sure, questions we want to know the answer to. Why? The question I am often asked is "You are a Christian. Why is it so?"

My father, was and remained throughout his life a convinced agnostic and in the few conversations we had about religion and Christianity, he could never understand why it was, that I could not just admit that I would never know if God existed or not, far less a God who was personally interested in me. My reply as ever, was that the very question "Why is it so?" needed to be answered, in order for me to be satisfied.

Why I am a Christian?

Now I could say that at the age of 12, we moved to a town on the coast of Australia, and was invited along to a local youth group and several weeks later, gave my life to Christ and became a Christian. Of course that is partly true. I can't even claim to be a Christian because I was raised in a Christian country. Australia was and is probably the second most secular country on this planet. Sure Australia has its moral base grounded in historic Christianity, but for the latter part of its history, Australia has been thoroughly secular and non-religious. Even if I had been raised in a country such as England, with Christian parents, that would also, only be partly true and I could have rejected Christianity as many people do. The reason that I am a Christian is not because I chased God, but rather He chased me. Unknown to me at the time, God was chasing me and following my every path with the urgency of a lover after the beloved, just as described in the Song of Songs 2:2-14.


God had been pursuing me

This piece of poetic Scripture speaks about the love that God has for his people, and the energy He puts in to calling his people to Himself. He is always reaching out, for all to return to His arms. As for me, it wasn't until I was a 12 year old that I heard that I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Before that I didn't know I had to do anything with this Jesus. Jesus was only a curse word for me at the time. That or was just someone or something that the RE teachers bored me with at school.

We are primarily Christians, not because we come to church services or just happened to have been born in a supposedly Christian country. We are primarily Christians, because God first chased and harried us into His arms. We are Christians, if you are one, because God first loved you. And as a tremendous lover, He beckons and calls people all the time to respond to His call, and back to Him. How does He chase us with His love?

God chases each person differently, just as each Christian testimony is different. Take for instance the Apostle Paul in Acts 8 & 9. God chased him through Paul's mind and his religious upbringing and education. Paul had known about God from his childhood. Paul was a righteous Pharisee who saw persecuting these ‘Christians' as his religious duty, so that he may somehow find favour with God. As Paul was gloating over the death of the martyr Stephen, God was pursuing Him, probably raising doubts in Paul's mind as to why Stephen would say at the point of death "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and forgive them for what they do" (Acts 7:54-60). Surely doubts must have been raised in Paul's mind as he approved of this death (Acts 8v1).

Paul was also wrestling with his conscience. Externally he was a righteous man, a Pharisee of Pharisees. Yet when he internally examined himself and his heart, he found himself failing regarding covetousness, which is the last of the Ten Commandments. Then finally, Jesus himself makes a sudden and dramatic appearance before Paul and confronts him directly, "Why are you kicking against me? Why are you rejecting my advances?" (Acts 9) Paul's conversion to Christianity is often described as being sudden. But the only thing sudden about his conversion was this climatic appearance of Jesus.

Just as that was true of Paul, it is true of me, just as it is true of all those who profess to call themselves a Christian Disciple. I am a Christian Disciple not because of anything I have done, but rather because He first chased me, and because He first loved me. Jesus himself said "I came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).

If you are a Christian today, it is not because of anything you have done. It is because of the events at Christmas and Easter that you are a Christian, when God entered this world as a human baby and took all the necessary steps so that all people could have the choice to be His people or not. In my more smug moments I used to congratulate myself for being a Christian. How proud I was that I, was a Christian and that God was a jolly lucky God that I had decided to follow Him. It was during one of my less self-deluded moments, that I examined myself and I found God pricking my conscience and correcting me, and I read the New Testament "For the Son of Man came, not to be served but to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark10:45).

 

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Materialism

1 John 2:15-17, the Apostle John writing: "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world-wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important-has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out-but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. "

I wonder what you think is quite possibly one of the greatest challenges to the Christian Disciple standing alone and being faithful to God in the twenty first century?  I want to propose to you that this threat is the temptation of materialism, or to be materialistic.  This is where following Jesus' command to follow Him, take up the cross for ourselves becomes practical.  This is where loving God and loving others becomes difficult.  Materialism grips both the Church community and also Christian Disciples if it is allowed.  Eschewing and casting off materialism will see Christian Disciples who are radical by the very society, which we are trying to win for Jesus.

What is materialism?

Every person has in differing quantities: possessions and money.  These things, in and of themselves, are not evil.  It is however our reaction and attitudes toward them that causes us to be seduced in this area.  Materialism is a reliance on possessions, money people or even the church, as our ultimate objects of trust, instead of God.  The Apostle John writing in 1 John 2v16 gives a very accurate picture of materialism: "lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life." That, brother and sisters, is materialism!

A Particular Sin

If there were to be a particular sin that marks our generation, especially in the West, then it would be this sin of materialism and the worship of money, objects and people. Every day hundreds of thousands of people die from lack of food, water, clothing and shelter.  For each of us in the West, these things are taken for granted.  When we feel like a change of house or location, we just move. 

The whole Christian community is one that reflects the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit.  The Church is to be a community where the strongest members support the weakest members.  Where one member of the Christian community suffers and hurts, the whole Christian community suffers and hurts! This applies not only to the local church in a local community context, but also to the universal Church and therefore has a national and international context as well. 

Too often as Christians we are found turning a blind eye to the suffering of others where the bare necessities of life are in sparse existence.  Too often we gather possessions and people, instead of giving up our time and money generously to help the poor and needy of both our local and global communities.  When one member of the universal body of Christ is hurting, the whole body hurts!

So what?

As Christian Disciples living in the world of the twenty first century, where wealth is seen as a sign of success, the cult of celebrity is rife and where family, morals, ethics, community and God have taken a back seat, how should a Christian Disciple respond to materialism? 

A lot of Churches measure their success solely by the number of members in the congregations or by how much money goes into the offering pot each week.  However, not just good things grow.  Islam measures its success on the so-called growth in those who would consider themselves a Muslim.  It is probably the fastest growing religion in Australia.  However, every gardener will tell you that even weeds grow! So counting numbers is not the best way to measure success.

The measure of a successful Christian Disciple can be seen in thee verses from 1 John 2:15-17. The Apostle John writing: "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world-wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important-has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out-but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. "

Also in Matthew 22v37-40: where Jesus is saying: "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

Action Stations!

By doing these two things, we show we trust in God and not in anything or anybody else.  By exhibiting these commands, we cast off materialism and any thought of materialism from our lives. By doing those two things, both as a Church and as individual Christian Disciples, society will see we are neither dangerous nor deluded. 

To Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and their aficionados who think all religion is pure evil, based on delusion and that religion has never done a good thing in history to benefit humanity, it will help show the folly and irrationality of their thinking. If Church communities and Christian Disciples make radical steps such as eschewing materialism, both in being and making Disciples, I think the Church and Christian Disciples would no longer be seen as evil, deluded and irrelevant.  Rather they would be seen as a thriving community of people, resulting in Jesus being glorified and holy transformation sought.  After all, Jesus is to be the master of those who would call themselves a Christian Disciple and the Head of the Church.

As Christian Disciples, and the church as a whole, you and I are to eschew materialism, cast it off and live a life worthy of our God, living in total obedience to Him and reflected in the love we display for both our local and global communities.

For more to think about, please do read for yourself Matthew 22:37-40.  Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them.  Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1 - As a Christian Disciple, in what ways am I being seduced by materialism and the gathering of possessions, people and power?

Q2 - What things can I do, not do or give up in order to aid the weakest members of my community - local, national and global?

Q3 - How can I better use my "passion, prayer and intelligence" this week for the glory and honour of God? 

 

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This is an video excerpt from a recent morning, and it is the teaching session on Sin.



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Partakers WOWDisciple - an interactive seminar designed to ignite your imagination, creativity and passion for God!

This is an video excerpt from a recent morning.

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Partakers WOWDisciple - an interactive seminar designed to ignite your imagination, creativity and passion for God! We would love to bring this to your church or christian group! Play the video excerpt to find out more.

To find out even more, including excerpts of seminars held please click here to visit the WOWDisciple website.

Comment below or email us at info@wowdisciple.com and we will send you details or talk about how we can help you... The image below also gives an idea of the feedback we have received from that day!

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God as Trinity

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God as Trinity

Jesus speaking: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14v15-17

What kind of God offers salvation? A personal God! Now a God who is personal, must be capable of having and sustaining relationships. A God who sustains relationships will also want to be known! We know that God is spirit, yet also a personal and infinite being (John 4v24). He is one in substance or nature and incapable of being divided “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.(Deuteronomy 6v4) yet also as we shall see, three co-equal and eternally existing persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We can say for certain however, that the inter-Trinitarian life of God is a mystery beyond our mortal comprehension, experience and language.

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Having said that, the word that the Church historically has come to define the God-head is ‘Trinity’. The actual word “Trinity” does not exist in the Bible! Does that surprise you? The word "Trinity" or "Tri-unity" actually derives from the Latin word "Trinitas," which is defined, as “three are one “or” the property of occurring three at once”. Whilst the word doesn’t appear, the principal behind it, most assuredly does! The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Opponents of this doctrine say that it is actually 3 gods, but that would be to say the Trinity is 1+1+1=3... However the Trinity is best seen as 3 persons in one God, which is 1x1x1=1.


There are principally two main errors when thinking about the Trinity. One is that the three names, Father, Son and Spirit are simply three different designations of the one God. The other is that God the Father is the true God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are somehow inferior, and therefore not strictly God.


Whilst there are no explicit Scripture texts using the word trinity, the concept is explicit throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament "God said, Let us create...” (Genesis 1v26) and "Sovereign Lord, Spirit and Redeemer" (Isaiah 48v16). In the New Testament, at Jesus' baptism the three persons of the Godhead were represented (Matthew 3v13-17); also in the Great commission “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28v19). Elsewhere baptism is to be in ‘the singular name, of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and not ‘the names (plural). God is One “and there is no other but Him” (Mark 12v32); and it is also in the Paul-ine Grace “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13v14). The Lord Jesus also impressed upon the Twelve Apostles the distinction between the Father and Himself, and clearly taught about the Holy Spirit as being distinct yet again.

Indivisible - There is in God, one indivisible essence or substance of which God is made. God is expressed in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In each of these belongs the whole undivided essence of God. The totality of God exists in the Father, also in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Trinity is self-conscious and self-directing. The three members never act in opposition to any other member, but always in union and harmony.

Precession – This endeavours to describe the relationship within the Godhead. The members of the Godhead are co-equal and co-eternal. However, there is an order of succession in their relationship but this does not imply superiority & inferiority. The Son is begotten of the Father (John 3v16) and does the Fathers Will. Both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” (John 15v26).

Relationship – There is a communal honour between the Trinity Persons (John 15v26; 16v13-15; 17v1, 8,18,23). In the work of redemption or salvation, there is a co-ordination in the Triune Godhead (Hebrews 10v7-17; Ephesians 4v4-6; 1 Corinthians 12v4-6). The Father ‘elects’ (Ephesians 1v4); The Son ‘redeems (Ephesians 1v7); and the Holy Spirit ‘seals’ (Ephesians 1v13-14). Between the three Persons, there is an eternal unison in active purpose and yet seemingly external distinctive between the Three members of the Triune Godhead.

This Godhead Trinity, with its inherent qualities of relationship shows that God is indeed love, and the work of salvation is an act of love from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If God was not a Trinity, then how could love possibly be shown, as love requires more than one Person for it to be active? As a Trinitarian being, love is an endemic quality of the Godhead. The Father loves the Son and the Spirit. The Son loves the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit loves the Father and the Son. The God we serve as Christian disciples exhibits love and this God commands us, to love one another so that He will be seen (John 13v34-25). By showing love, we reflect the Trinitarian God, in whose image we are made.


For more to think about please do read Ephesians 1v3-14. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How can the inter-relational aspects seen in the Trinity, be an encouragement to me?

Q2. How does each member of the Trinity individually help me?

Q3. How can I be thankful that I serve a God who is love, and knows love intimately?

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Things To Come

Some of the final words of the Bible are in Revelation 22v7 Jesus speaking “Behold, I am coming soon! To which the Apostle John replies in Revelation 22v20, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

As Christian Disciples living almost 2000 years after Jesus spoke those words, this is our hope – to be with Him who is coming again. He who is the object of our faith, worship and life of discipleship! And not just Christian Disciples talk about the “end of the world as we know it”.

There are a plethora of books written about it from all sorts of people, from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of opinions. But what does the Bible say about the time when Jesus comes again and how are we to respond to this fact? What does the Bible say about the future things to come, seeing as it is the authorative source for the Christian Disciple?

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1. The Second Coming of Jesus

I will come back and take you to be with me (John 14v3). He will come back the same way He went to heaven (Acts 1v11)

When will He come?

  • No-one human knows (Matthew 24v36)
  • It will be unexpected (1 Thessalonians 5v1-3)
  • There will be signs preceding His coming (Matthew 24)
  • When the gospel has been preached in the whole world (Matthew 24v14)

2. Our Response to Eschatological Prophecy

  • Be ready, waiting, watching and working (Matthew 24v42-44).
  • Be alert, self-controlled, sanctified and encouraging of each other (1 Thessalonians 5v6-8, 11)

3. Different Responses to Eschatological Prophecy

The three main schools of prophetic interpretation are Amillenialism, Postmillenialism & Premillenialism. These 3 views depend on whether the prophetic parts of Scripture are to be interpreted literally or figuratively (Spiritually). I wont tell you my opinion as to which I think is the correct interpretation, but let you decide that for your self!

  • Amillenial View - Primarily a figurative/spiritual interpretation. This view sees the O.T. promises to Israel are being fulfilled in the church. The Millennium is the reign of Christ in the Church - the new Israel. The Church is already experiencing tribulation.
  • Postmillenial View - Christ will return at the end of the millennium - a golden age of the Church.
  • Premillenial View - Christ will return to set up His kingdom on earth for 1000 years (Revelation 19v1-7). God promises to Israel of restoration, a future king and temple will await fulfilment. God has a separate programme for the Church.

4. Second Coming of Christ

The Premillenial view sees 2 stages in the second coming:

  • His coming in the rapture. This is when Jesus Christ returns to take His people to be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4v16). The dead in Christ are raised and the living are changed (1 Corinthians 15v51-54)
  • His coming to Earth (Revelation - parousia). He will return to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14v4; Acts 1v11). He will come with power and glory (Matthew 24v30) and everyone will see Him.

5. Christ’s return to Earth

  • To judge the antichrist and his followers (Revelation 16v12-16, 19v11-16)
  • To bind Satan (Revelation 20v1-3) during the Millennium. Amillenialists see this as having already been done. However, Satan is still the ruler of this world (John 16v11).
  • To save Israel (Zechariah 14v1-3). Israel will repent, recognizing the One they pierced (Zechariah 12v10-13v1; Romans 11).
  • To judge the nations (Matthew 25v31-46; Joel 3v11-17)

6. Premillenial return of Christ

Christ will come and set up an earthly kingdom for 1000 years (Revelation 20v2-7). Amillenialists see this as speaking figuratively about Christ’s current reign in the Church.

7. History of Premillenialism and Amillenialism

The view of the church for the first 2 centuries was of a literal millennial return of Jesus Christ after the Holy Spirit’s return. Early church fathers such as Papias, Ireneaus and Justin Martyr taught this, and these men were not far removed from the Apostle John. Origen promoted the figurative (spiritual) method of interpretation and Augustine developed an Amillenial view, identifying the Church with the fulfillment of the O.T. promises to Israel and this became official Roman Catholic doctrine. Many scholars returned to the Premillenial (literal) view after the Reformation.

8. Pre-tribulation Return of Christ

Rapture - The tribulation is a time of judgment for unrepentant men (2 Thessalonians 2v9-12). God’s people would be excluded from such judgment (1 Thessalonians 1v9-10; 5v9). The Lord will come suddenly bringing destruction, while people are saying ‘peace and safety’ (1 Thessalonians 5v1-3). These conditions will exist before the Rapture, but not at the end of the tribulation.

Resurrection - The bodily resurrection of the dead, saved and unsaved, is clearly taught in Bible (John 5v28-29; Acts 24v15). Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection (1 Corinthians 15v20-22)

Christian Disciples

  • Like Christ’s glorious body (1 Corinthians 15v49; Philippians 3v21; 1 John 3v2)
  • Not flesh and blood (1 Corinthians 15v50ff)
  • Not partly spiritual (Luke 24v39; 1 Corinthians 15v42, 53)

Unbelievers

  • They will be resurrected (John 5v28-29) and cast into the lake of fire

Timing of the resurrection

  • 1st Resurrection - when Christ comes in the air to take Christian Disciples (1 Corinthians 15v23; 1 Thessalonians 4v16); some place resurrection of O.T. saints at the end of the tribulation.
  • 2nd Resurrection - Resurrection of the unsaved after the Millennium (Revelation 20v5, 11-13)

Judgment - Certainty of judgment - He will judge the whole world with justice (Acts 17v31). Humanity is destined to die once and after that to face judgment. (Hebrews 9v27)

The Judge - God is the judge of all the earth (Hebrews 12v23). The Father has given all judgment to the Son (John 5v22-27)

Judgment of Christian Disciples

  • Christian Disciples will not be judged for sin - this has been judged already (Isaiah 53v4-6; 1 Peter 2v24)
  • Christian Disciples will be judged for their works. We will give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14v10). We will be judged according to our works (2 Corinthians 5v10). The quality of our work will be tested (1 Corinthians 3v11-15). Our motives will be exposed either for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 4v4-5) or for our own glory.
  • We will give account of the opportunities and abilities entrusted to us (Matthew 25v14-30)
  • Rewards may be gained or lost (1 Corinthians 3v14-15)
  • Incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9v25)
  • Crown of glory (1 Peter 5v4)
  • Crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4v8)
  • Crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2v19)
  • Crown of life (James 1v12)

Judgment of unbelievers

  • The Great White Throne of Judgment (Revelation 20v11-15).
  • After the Millennium (Revelation 20v11-15, 21v8).
  • They will be cast into the lake of fire with satan and his angels (Revelation 20v15; Matthew 25v41). This punishment is eternal (Matthew 25v46).

For more to think about please do. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read 1 Thessalonians 5v6-11. How am I living out these Scripture in my life as a Christian Disciple?

Q2. Read 2 Corinthians 5v10. If I were to give an account of my work today, what would occur?

Q3. Read Matthew 25v31-46. As a Christian Disciple, how does this affect my urgency to tell others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

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Develop Creativity

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Develops Creativity

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"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1v1 & 27

Our God is a creative God! His creativity is all around us! Further to this, as humans we are created in His image, and as a result, we are creative! Everybody has some form of significant creative potential. If you don't think you do, perhaps it is because you haven't found your creative niche yet! The natural creativity of children is amazing! However, quite frequently significant persons bury creativity under layers of conditioning and negativity. Some of the greatest culprits are teachers, parents and peers, but there is hope because the conditioning process can be reversed. It is a process with a high cost factor, because creativity is essentially a life style. It has to pervade every area of your experience. None more so than in your area of service as a Christian Disciple!

Examples of Biblical creativity

Jesus used creativity in his teaching! He took every day people and objects, creating lessons out of them. Think of some of your favourite parables and see the creativity behind them! As for the Psalms, they are filled with creative language in order to praise God, seeking penance before God and expressing a desire to know God better! Similarly some of the symbolic language of the Bible is very creative. Take for example the genealogy of Matthew 1. To us it may well be tedious and insignificant, but to its initial audience of a small group of Jewish believers, it includes enormous significance and creative symbolism! The way Matthew constructed the genealogy highlights many things, one of which was his highlighting of Abraham, David and of course, Jesus! We know to the Jewish mind, numbers were not just mathematically significant but also held great symbolism! The number seven represents perfection. Each of the 3 stages in the genealogy of Matthew 1 contains 14 stages making a total of 42 times perfection! So what Matthew was saying that Jesus was a great deal more than perfect! Now if you were not a first century Jew, you would not at first see creative symbolism!

Why the importance of creativity?

  • Creativity perpetuates the learning process. As long as you live you should be learning, and remember that Christian Discipleship is essentially a call to perpetual learning.
  • Creativity is essential to meet the growing demands of a changing society. Package thinkers are out of business for an impact tomorrow. If we do not prepare those that we lead to change, they will not be a change element in our next generation.
  • Creativity is important to both affect & infect your communication with a characteristic freshness & vitality. We are commanded to communicate the truth. A communicative individual is always a creative individual.
  • Creativity develops your leadership style.
  • Creativity will overhaul your lifestyle. Most Christian Disciples seem to only exist and not live! If a person is living in the past or in the future, they cannot be enjoying the present.

What are the principles of creativity?

  • Creativity is largely a matter of effort. The mind is like a muscle and grows with use.
  • Quantity is essential to quality in the creative process. Scientific evidence suggests that it is only a maximum of 6% of ideas that are good. You have to get more ideas to get some winning ideas.
  • Results of which are good, bad or indifferent are welcome. Don't pass judgment at the outset of the creativity process; you have go to withhold it.
  • Incubation generates illumination. Put your ideas on the back burner. Put time between thinking of ideas. Then don't be surprised when a moment of inspiration of how to complete it arrives!
  • Group effort stimulates creativity if you learn how to listen.

How to activate creativity?

  • Experience provides fuel for ideation, which is the formation of ideas.
  • Problem solving. Get your drive going in the right direction.
  • Involvement in hobbies & fine arts. Photographic sites like www.Flickr.com are great places to see creativity in process and get tips on how to improve! There are oodles of websites out there for almost every conceivable hobby!
  • Reading. Creativity thrives on reading the only problem is passivity. Read it until you can tell somebody else. We tend to read the stuff with which we agree which only serves to reinforce our own prejudices and presuppositions. Read things that you know you won't necessarily agree with, and expand your reading and thinking!
  • Writing. Keep a journal, a blog or a website! It's easier than you may well think! Write down questions, examples and your meditations.
  • Spend time with creative people. Think with those you are leading. You think your ideas are so good because you have never tested them against someone diametrically opposed to yours.
  • Creativity can be used in the church. Just take for example worship services. Is worship just singing songs? Or can other means be used in order to worship, such as responsive prayers and bible readings? What about dancing as part of creative worship? What about creative outreach or evangelism? Try something new! By being creative, the church can be culturally relevant whilst still remaining biblically faithful to God.

For more to think about please do read Genesis 1 and ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Knowing I am in the image of a creative God, how am I developing my own creativity for His service?

Q2. How can creativity be used during Church worship services?

Q3. Remembering some of the parables Jesus taught, what sort of things did He use creatively and how can I in some way emulate His creativity in my ministry?

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satan

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satan

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Paul writes in Ephesians 6v10-12: “God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”

I said last time that I was going to probably start discussing more directly about the God we enjoy and in whom we have an abundance of life as Christian disciples. However, it was laid on my heart by God, that it would be prudent to do two more discussions in regards to dealing with sin & temptation.

Paul here says that just as God is strong, He wants us to be strong against sin, the world, our old nature and our ultimate enemy, satan. We have seen enemies in the world. But behind the world and the old nature, is the unseen enemy in the spiritual domain. A bit like the terrorists who try to strike surreptitiously at our cities. Satan is real, and we know this because Jesus spoke about him more than anyone else! Two errors made by the church are to have blind ignorance about satan or giving him far more importance and privilege than he deserves or warrants.

So who is satan and his minions? What does the Bible say about him? Some angels fell, rebelled against God and were put out of heaven (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28). Their leader is satan who has established his kingdom on earth. The role of Satan against the Christian is summed up by his various names’ adversary, devil, accuser, angel of light, the arch-deceiver. He stands hatefully opposed to all God’s work, God’s people and resourcefully promotes defiance among people (Mark 4:15; Job 2:4-5).

When satan sinned, he was expelled from Heaven (Luke 10:18), although apparently he still had some access to God (Job 1:6). A multitude of angels decided to follow him in his fall and subsequently became the demons mentioned often in the Bible (Matthew 12:24; Revelation 12:7). Although Satan’s doom was secured by Jesus’ death on the cross (John 16:11), he will continue to hinder God’s program until he and his demons are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10)

1. Satan’s kingdom - darkness

  • The Prince of this world (John 14:30)
  • Controlling the whole world (1 John 5:19)
  • Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
  • The God of this age. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • Ruler, authority, power of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12)

Other names of Satan

  • The adversary (means Satan). Devil - The accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10); Murderer (John 8:44); Liar - the father of all lies (John 8 44); Tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5); Deceiver (2 Corinthians 4:4); Schemer (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11); Destroys by Death (Heb. 2:14); Destroys by Disease (Luke 13:11, 16); Destroys by Devouring (1 Pet. 5:8)
  • The Wicked One - snatches away the good seed (Matthew 13:19); sows bad seed (Mt. 13:39)
  • Masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)
  • His servants masquerade as angels of righteousness

2. Satan’ s attack on believers.

What Satan does to us?

  • Goes around like a roaring, devouring lion (1 Peter 5:8)
  • Deceives, and leads astray - wrong thinking (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 4:1; James 3:15)
  • Temptation (1 Thessalonians 3:5)
  • Attacks (Ephesians 6:16) & sifts (Job; Luke 22:31) by God’s permission only.
  • Cause doubt, uncertainty, confusion, fear, anxiety and darkness.

3. How to resist the attacks of Satan.

He is defeated

  • Christ came to destroy satan and his works (1 John 3:8)
  • Christ’s death leads to satan’s destruction (Hebrews 2:14)
  • Satan has been disarmed (Colossians 2:15) & condemned (Matthew 25:41)
  • Christ is greater than satan (1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:18)
  • Resist satan and be steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:9). Resist and he will flee, when we submit to God (James 4:7). Don’t give Satan an opportunity/foothold in your life - anger, lust etc. (Ephesians 4:22).

Remember this:

  • Do not blame Satan for your own sin.
  • Don’t believe the lies he tells you in your head! For example if you sin and you hear in your head “You are a failure now. God wont forgive you again.” These are lies!! Lies! Lies! Don’t believe it! That is him trying to undermine and discourage you! Yet we know the truth is that if we confess our sins, that God will forgive us 1 John 1:9
  • Rely on the authority of God’s Word (Mt. 4:1-11)
  • He is a defeated creature! He was defeated when Jesus went to the cross and rose again 3 days later!
  • Being a Christian is the best thing that could ever happen to anyone! Don’t believe anything to the contrary.
  • Remember also what John wrote in 1 John 4: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” You have the victory because the Holy Spirit indwells you as a Christian disciple.
  • Finally, put on full armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). This is what I will discuss next time. But as a preliminary, know this about the armour: it is given and designed by God so it is a key part of Christian discipleship and of living the Christian life. A fantastic book to get about the spiritual battle and our armour is William Gurnall’s seminal work: “The Christian in Complete Armour”. It comes as either one large book or an abridged version in 3 small books.

For more to think about, please do read for yourself Ephesians 6:10-18. Ask yourself the following question and suggestions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Who are our real spiritual enemies?

Q2. What are the gaps in my armour and what can I do to fill those gaps?

Q3. Is there somebody I can talk to if I am feeling weak and discouraged?

Thank you.

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Prayer

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Prayer

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Paul writing in Ephesians 6v18 – “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all of God’s holy people.”

Prayer, along with the Bible, are our weapons in spiritual warfare! I wonder when the last time you said “Good morning” to God as you woke up or said “Good night” to God as you fell asleep. Prayer is at the centre in the relationship between God and the Christian disciple. It is the major action of fellowship between God and humans, and of humans communicating with God, both in talking and listening (Genesis 18v33).

Prayer is also a way of “letting God in” to the life of the Christian disciple, and of enjoying the company of God, relating all aspects of life to Him. Calvin, said that part of praying was asking for “what we have learned to be available” in God’s love and of His being the infinitesimal good giver. He goes on to say our “only security” is achieved by calling on the Father for His providence out of His infinite mercy. Martin Luther said that our “protection (by God) lies in prayer”, for the Christian disciple is too weak in their own strength to withstand all that is against them. Prayer is ultimately what humans were made for: conversing with God. This dynamic relationship enables the Christian disciple to engage in prayer that is both “personal and relational.” However, prayer is only the penultimate stage in the relationship with God. Prayer is the forerunner of the day when the Christian disciple will know fully, even as they are fully known (1 Corinthians 13v12). All prayer consists of a desire or longing to know God better, and that is to be our prime motivation: to know God better. That is why it is a spiritual weapon, and it is also the reason satan tries to stop Christian disciples from praying.

The function of prayer according to Augustine was a constant yearning for assistance and strengthening of desire towards the ultimate goal - eternal happiness and worship and knowledge of God. God Himself assists the Christian disciple as they pray: where He corrects and strengthening the yearning. Prayers express desires and thoughts in a contributory way to the journey of the Christian disciple. The Lord’s Prayer and the book Psalms are superb biblical examples of prayer. It is through Scripture that desire to know God and be known by God evolves and develops. That is why prayer and Bible reading go hand in hand.

Prayer emits our words from ourselves to the God we seek to know, as a response to His reaching out to us. A popular method of prayer is the ACTS acronym, whereby prayer is Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Through prayer, God is able to comprehend the Christian disciple regardless of language, grammar or oratory skill as long as the Christian disciple approaches with a correct attitude.

Words however, are not just to be a mental action but also an emotive act, conveying emotions and feeling. Prayer is to convey deep emotions to God, regardless of our language skills. The words spoken in prayer portray our innermost feeling to Him. Because God is personal, He values language and expects His people to talk to Him. If for some reason, the Christian disciple is unable to convey their words in prayer, then Romans 8v26, intimates that the Holy Spirit intercedes. Prayer epitomises the Father-child relationship symbolized in the Christian disciple’s relationship with God. It further symbolizes the freedom and peace in prayer, advocated by Jesus to communicate His deepest desires, as in the Lords Prayer (Matthew 6v9-13) and in John 17.

The Lord’s Prayer - What does Jesus say about prayer? In the first part of the prayer termed “The Lord’s Prayer”, the words spoken give supplication to God that He always be revered as holy, His kingdom rule will come quickly and that His will be accomplished. The second part comprises words of petition, for the past, present and future. By words, “we are known by God.” This prayer is a model for real prayer because it is both God-centred and intelligent. Prayers reveal the Christian disciple’s submission to, and acknowledgment of, God as Master; a God who both knows and cares for His creation.

Does God answer all prayers? First of all the answer we expect, may not be the answer we get! So often we pray, expecting one result and getting another and then think that God hasn’t answered our prayer! Sometimes the answer He gives is yes. At other times it may be no or not yet. When we realise that God works outside of our restrictions of time and space, we learn to trust His judgement and wisdom. We acknowledge that He is the Master and we his servants. Sometimes when we pray, we like to think we are the Masters and He is our servant! Prayers that aren’t answered are due to unconfessed sin (Psalm 66v18); selfishness (James 4v3); doubt (James 1v5-7); disobedience (Proverbs 28v9) or pride (Luke 18v11-14).

A great book to read on prayer is The Message of Prayer by Tim Chester. For more to think about please do read for yourself Ephesians 1 & 6. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

discussion_new.jpg

 

For more to think about please do ask your self the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

 

Q1. What lessons can I take from this prayer and use to improve my prayer life?

 

Q2. From this chapter, what is my incentive for prayer?

 

Q3. What stops me from spending time praying and causes me to struggle in prayer?

 

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God’s Purposes & Will

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“God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfil his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ — everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” (Ephesians 1v9-11).

These verses tell us about the counsel of God’s Will (Ephesians 1v11). God’s Will is inextricably linked with the future and Things to Come. The future has us naturally wonder what are God God’s Purposes and Will? What are His decrees and how is Jesus interacting with us now?

1. God's Purposes

What is the reason for creation? (Ephesians 1v3-11; Revelation 4v11). The glory of God - that God will be praised.

  • God's purposes and plans are in eternity (Psalm 33v11)
  • God's purposes originate in God's wisdom and holiness.
  • God is free to do anything in accordance with His character. He cannot do anything contrary to His character.

2. God's Will

  • Directive Will - Things God determines to come to pass. (Isaiah 14v24)
  • Permissive Will - Things God allows or permits to occur.

Sin and rebellion (not directive will). God is big enough to grant and cope with the free will He as given humanity.

Sin - God permits sin, but is not the author of sin. God made man with a free will, allowing for the possibility of sin. Although sin and corruption entered the world with great human loss, and the resulting death on the Cross: God thought freedom of will was worth giving to us. It is to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1)

Salvation - Election - God chooses individuals to fulfil His purposes (Romans 9). God chooses those who are/will be saved (John 15v16). These are the chosen ones or the elect. However, it is not His will that any should perish (2 Peter 3v9), it is His will all men should be saved (1 Timothy2v3-4).

We need to accept both these statements as equally and absolutely true. When we use words about God with a time element such as 'chose', 'elect', we need to use these in God's infinite time framework (timelessness), not in our human finite time framework.

3. Preservation - Doctrine of Continuance

God maintains the existence of all He has made. God has created but not left the universe while He watches from a distance (Islam/Muslim). This thinking is erroneous because it stipulates that God rules only by natural laws and simply observes its progress. However, the Bible tells us that God is actively involved in sustaining creation. For without His involvement, the universe would cease to exist. He does this in two ways.

Continuous Creation - God maintains the universe by continual creation.

Concurrence - God co-operates with all subordinate powers. Men retain their natural powers and exercise them but without God's concurrence, no force or person can continue to exist or act. (Colossians 1v17; Acts 17v28; Hebrews 1v2-3)

4. Particular Names Of God reflect His Purposes and Will

  • Jehovah Jireh - (Genesis 22v14) - The Lord will provide
  • Jehovah Tsidkenu - (Jeremiah 33v16) - The Lord our righteousness
  • Jehovah Nissi - (Exodus 17) - The Lord is our banner / leader
  • Jehovah Shalom - (Judges 6v24) - The Lord is our peace
  • Jehovah Rapha - (Exodus 15) - The Lord is our healer
  • Jehovah Rohi (Psalm 23) - The Lord is our Shepherd

5. Sovereignty of God or His decrees.

The sovereignty of God dictates that God is in control at all times and nothing can occur outside of His control and will. God is not impersonal and He is involved with all creation. God loves His creation and cares for it. He has created all humans with the power to make decisions by them self. God wont deny our humanity when He deals with us. He speaks to our minds though the Bible and seeks us to respond to him with love and affection.

  • Sovereign decree: When God says “Eternal life is available for all. You may choose to accept or reject it. Those that accept it, I will call my children.” Our reaction as Christian Disciples should be to trust and obey.
  • Conditional decree: When God says “I am willing to give you my opinion and help when you ask.” Our reaction as Christian Disciples should be read the Bible, to pray and talk with God.
  • Natural decree: When God has created a lemon tree, that lemon tree won’t produce potatoes.” Our reaction as Christian Disciples should be to plan ahead knowing the way the natural laws work..

6. How does Jesus interact with Christian Disciples?

Jesus interacts with us by faith in four ways: caring, praying, coming and helping.

Jesus cares and is concerned for us - We all go through storms and troubles. When we find ourselves in these situations, we have four assurances about Jesus as Christian Disciples.

  • By faith - He is praying for us - Jesus Christ is making intercessions for Christian Disciples (Romans 8:34). He knew the disciples troubles (Mark 6:48), just as He knows our troubles now. He feels our cares and knows what we are going through (Hebrews 4:14-16).

  • By faith - He will come to us - Ever felt like God is far away? Well you aren’t alone! King David often felt God was far away and unconcerned. However he also knew God would ultimately rescue him. Paul, the great Apostle, also felt “burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life” 2 Cor 1:8

Jesus always comes to us through difficult times, although He may not come in the time we think He should come, because He knows when we need Him most.

  • By faith - He will help us to grow - Take the example of when the disciples were in the storm and Jesus came to them walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). The purpose of this incident was that Jesus would be leaving them soon, so they had to learn to trust in Him when He wasn’t physically present. Perhaps this is what he was thinking of when he later wrote in his letter “for the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers” (1 Peter 3v12). This all helped Peter to grow in the knowledge of the Lord

  • By faith, He will see us through - Jesus said “Come” and Peter went with Him and walked to the ship. The other disciples must have encouraged by this. Seeing Jesus’ power they worshipped him. Whatever troubles we are undergoing are temporary, and Jesus, for His praise and glory, will see us through.

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For more to think about please do ask your self the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

 

Q1. Read Colossians 1v15-20. How can I deepen my relationship with Jesus knowing these things about Him?

 

Q2. Read Acts 17v24-28. How is God reaching the nations through me?

 

Q3. How does knowing about God’s Purposes and Will affect my life as a Christian Disciple?

 

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