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Christmas 2020

The Gospel of Mark - An Introduction


G’day and welcome to Partakers! In the run up to Christians, we are going to go through the Gospel of Mark together, to get a broad view of the life of Jesus during his time here on earth. We are reading it back to front, that is from Chapter 16 through to Chapter 1, in order that we may gain some new insights into Christmas. Thanks for joining us here at Partakers Podcasts! Come back every day to www.partakers.co.uk where there is something uploaded to help you to love Jesus and follow Him. See ya later!

** We are reading from the World English Bible translation, which used to be the American Standard Version. It is in the Public Domain and therefore copyright free. Come inside to hear and see! The World English Bible (WEB) is a Public Domain (no copyright) Modern English translation of the Holy Bible. That means that you may freely copy it in any form, including electronic and print formats. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible first published in 1901, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament.

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Christmas 2020

Today as we start our Christmas season, we are looking at three Psalms which speak about the coming Messiah. This Messiah, we claim is Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. The Psalms are Psalm 2, Psalm 110 and Psalm 22! Come on in, and as you listen to the verses being read, try and pick out the verses speaking about the coming and life of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, God's Son and God incarnate.

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You can now purchase our book commenting on the Psalms! Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

 

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 30: Do good!

v21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

I am sure you are aware that evil is all around us in this world. It is easy for us to become unenthusiastic and downcast in the face of the stress, pain and atrocity of evil. What is our response to be, says Paul? We are to overcome evil with good. We are to overcome evil by living such good lives of love of God and others, that evil is vanquished.

Evil wants to snatch away your inner joy and dependence upon God. We can overcome and conquer evil by submitting all to God - remembering that our love for God must always be stronger than any other love. That is good overcoming evil!

It is why in what we call the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “Deliver us from evil!” We have three enemies – satan, the world and our old nature. All three evils died a death when Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross and rose again to new life three days later. They just refuse to accept it! Light always overcomes darkness, good always overcomes evil.

When we are tempted to sin, we are to resist. That is one way you conquer evil – by refusing to bow to it’s seductive requests. When our enemies do wrong against us, we are to forgive them. Just as God forgives us. That is good conquering evil. That is light overcoming darkness! Remember that God who lives within you, is greater than anything that would tempt you away from Him. Let His light dispel the darkness and evil which threatens to over come you. Resist in the power of the Holy Spirit and overcome evil with good.

Go! Live such a good life, that nobody can accuse you. Go – let your light shine in darkness! Overcome your enemies with love! Overcome evil with good.

Throughout this chapter Paul has chronicle living a life worthy of loving God. The Christian life is to be active and dynamic – reflecting a God who is also active and dynamic in this world! How so? Because He has people like you and I who are living lives worthy of being called His children! WOW!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 29: Love your enemies

v20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”



Paul continues on the theme of loving enemies! Now he recalls an ancient proverb! The meaning of the proverb is that by doing good to those who wish us harm in some way, that person will become discomfited and humiliated for the wrong he has perpetuated. If our enemy doesn’t repent or relent after doing that, then God’s judgement will be upon them.

Do you have people who are against you? How are you treating them? Do you desire to win them over – loving enemies so that they become friends? Isn’t that also a picture of God? God loves us! Once we were enemies of God but He has done all He can do to get us over to be friends with Him. When Jesus was on the cross, He handed all judgement of those who persecuted him, over to God. It is God’s place and right to execute judgement upon people. It is our place to love our enemies and win them over as friends. We can do it by using the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Pray that God will stimulate your imagination to plan how you may do it and use His power to help you!

As Christians we are to love people into the Kingdom of God. Doing kind deeds to all –those who are actively against us, those who ignore us and treat us with contempt as well as those that love us. As Christians, our job is to love. If those that despise us are hungry, we are to feed them so their hunger is gone. If they are thirsty, we are to offer them something to drink, so their thirst is satiated.

Can imagine what your town would be like if you and your church acted like that towards other people? The Church actively loving the town where they are located. For we are to love – love not just in words but also in action. Pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten the minds of the churches as to how you can put love into action. Then you will win enemies over as friends.

Go! Show kindness to those who oppose you and win them over as friends – just as God did for you!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 28: Leave it to God


Romans 12:18 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.

How do we react when somebody hurts us or hurts somebody we love? Our natural reaction is to try and find some way to get even with them. This can be done in various ways. It could be by ignoring them – withdrawing away and not having any communication with them directly. Or it could be the spreading of malicious gossip that is a revenge tactic. When in the church hall after a church service people talking to each other “Did you hear what so and so did to me?” Those are forms of revenge.

Remember as Christians, we are to be in harmony with each other and to do all we can to be at peace with each other. We are not to seek revenge on others in any form. We are commanded by Jesus, who is our Lord, to forgive others who have sinned against us. While our inner nature and desire maybe to seek revenge, we are commanded to forgive and restore ourselves to those who have hurt us. If we have bitterness inside us, it eats away at us. It keeps eating away at us until we rid of that bitterness.

Paul here quotes from a book he would have been well familiar with – Deuteronomy 32:35. ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’ Why does Paul do this? Because it is not our place to exact revenge! It is God’s place to avenge! It is God’s place to judge evil and not ours.

Now there may well be times when we need to seek justice against those outside the church in order to seek justice. But this is not to be done out of revenge. As for troubles with those inside the church? We are, you may remember, to do all we can to be at peace with each other and do all we can to be harmonious.

Remember when Jesus was on the cross and people hurled insults at him? Did he retaliate? No – he forgave. That is also what we are to do also. We can do it if we ask for the Holy Spirit to help us.

Go! Be ready to forgive those who have done you wrong!
Go ask for forgiveness if you have done wrong against somebody else.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 27: Be a peace-doer


v18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

As part of bringing honour to God Paul now says that followers of Jesus are to do all they can to live at peace with everyone! It isn’t possible to live entirely at peace with everyone! Why do I say that? Evil and evildoers must be opposed, as must be those who are oppose Jesus – very difficult to be at total peace with everybody, particularly those who oppose the work of Jesus and the work of the Church for God’s glory!

Many people endeavour to oppose Jesus and His Church and want to block the work being done by you and I to bring honour and glory to God. And that is the key – the glory and honour of God. As much as we are cajoled to compromise our faith, we are to resist. We can resist in the power of the Holy Spirit within us – resisting temptation to capitulate to sin.

We are to refuse to inflame quarrels. We are to take the initiative towards positive peacemaking with those who are against us. But sometimes people are either uninterested or unwilling to be at peace with us! How do we overcome those people with good – particularly those who insist we compromise our faith and our morals? Ask the Holy Spirit for help and guidance! He will help in the most surprising of ways!

When peace is broken or unattainable, is that because of the other person or is it because of our own action or inaction? If you have done all you can for peace, then your conscience is therefore clear. You can leave it with God and let Him handle the situation. It is by His grace and His grace alone that the most difficult of tasks can be overcome.

Within the Church itself however, there is always to be peace between the Christians. Part of being at peace with others is encouragement and edification of others and of self. There is to be no quarrelling accusations, prejudice and judgmentalism with the church as we have seen previously in these studies. For sure, people are to be allowed their opinions – otherwise the Church will be operating as a brainwashing Cult and not a Jesus-centred, God-glorifying Church.

Go! Be a peacemaker and as far as you can, be at peace with others – inside the Church and outside it.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 26: Be honourable

v17 Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable.

 

As we saw in our last study, we are not to pay back evil with yet more evil. We are to retaliate against others with love to those who would wish us harm. We are to behave in such a way that we are above and beyond reproach – that is being criticized for our behaviour! That is what Paul means by honourable here. We are to refrain from doing what is evil and wrong but we are also to do what is right.

 

As Christians we are to act in such a way the people will ask the reason why we are so different. They will ask why you do what you do – particularly if you do the things that Paul has been talking about in this chapter! You will be seen to be living a life of honour which reflects your relationship with God. As you do this you show to others that you are a Christian – a child of God – who is in an exciting and dynamic relationship with God. People will ask why are you so different from us – giving you honour! But not only that, even if they are atheist or agnostic, they will be giving honour to God because you are His child.

 

Can you imagine if more people took seriously what Paul is writing here in Romans 12? The world would be turned upside down and a revolution would be in evidence! Not a revolution borne from violence but a revolution of loving God and loving others! That is what the Church is supposed to be like – harmonious communities of Christians proclaiming that they love God and showing that they do that by loving other people. Christians doing things which bring praise and honour to God and people outside the Church remarking how honourable they are! Imagine!

 

Can it be done? Yes! If we as Christians asked the Holy Spirit to help us as He empowers us!


Go! Live your life in such a way, that you are seen as honourable and therefore the God you claim to love is also honoured. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you – He will help if you ask!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 25:

v17 Never pay back evil with more evil.

I wonder if you have ever been hurt by somebody else. I know that I have. I also know that not only have I been the victim, I have also been the one to inflict and hurt others. So how are we to respond to those who would wish us harm? After all, we are commanded to love those people.

Paul here commands that we don’t pay back evil for evil. That will just perpetuates a circle of evil in our life and prove to be a distraction from living a life that is honouring to God – living a life of worship and devotion to Him.

What does this mean in practise? We know we are to love our enemies. Jesus taught it and Paul also. We are to do good to everyone, including those who are against us. We are to actively bless our enemies and repay that way! WOW! That goes against our culture, which usually dictates either at best to ignore or at worst to retaliate!

Our natural reaction, if we are honest, is to retaliate against others. Either with evil against the perpetrator or by simply just ignoring them. But that is not what Paul suggests! We are to desire to win them over for the glory of God! WOW! Let us as members of His Church retaliate that way. We are to show mercy and forgiveness to those who would harm and hurt us in anyway - – physically, spiritually, emotionally or mentally. After all, God has done that to us through Jesus Christ despite all we have done against Him! If He can do it, so can we!

Remember, as Christians we have the Holy Spirit living within us! How easily we forget to ask Him to help us do things what humanly speaking seems impossible – including repaying evil with good. People maybe able to harm our bodies but they can never harm us spiritually. Sometimes those within the Church, including the Church we regularly attend, seek to harm us in some way. Let us win them over too – for the sake and glory of God! We also need to seek forgiveness of those we have done wrong as well as forgiving those who have wronged us? Again, this is possible when done using the power of the Holy Spirit.

Go! Do good to all, bless them, forgive them if necessary – including those who would seek you harm.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 24: Humility of mind and spirit

v16 - Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Here are two of the main reasons that churches lack harmony – pride and know-it-alls!! Do you think that may describe somebody that you know? Or even yourself?

There is to be no place in the Gospel, and therefore the Church itself, for pride and conceit. There is to be no favouritism within the life of the Church. Love does not show favouritism or partiality but love treats all people equally. The best person for the job, is the best person for the job – not the one shown favouritism. That isn’t to say we can’t have some people as friends and others not! But we are not to make differences between people based on things such as bank balances, social status, education, birthplace etc. Let not the educated look down upon the uneducated. Let not the financially rich not look down on the poor & homeless. Let males not look down upon females or females look down on males.

Structure within Churches is important or there would be chaos. Remember a Church is to be harmonious – and those of higher importance in Church structures are to associate & work with those of the least importance in Church structures. Why?

Because of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, being the Son of God, made Himself nothing in order to become a human being. Jesus, the Lord of the Church, was willing to do everything possible, so that you and I may be able to become children of God. Jesus Christ, and therefore God Himself, treats equally all sections of society, and so must those who claim to follow Him.

And we all know somebody who is a know-it-all – they have an answer to every question and like to let everybody know that they do! Now it is good to be wise in the ways of God but let not that lead to pride! Such a person is hard to teach – hard even to God. Wisdom comes from studying God’s word, being willing to be changed by the Spirit who lives within all believers without distinction. The so-called uneducated are usually more willing to be wise from this method than the educated.

Go! Be practical in your love of God to all people without partiality or distinction. And don’t think you know it all – coz you don’t!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 23: Be Harmonious

v16 Live in harmony with each other.

I can hear you saying to yourself “Yeah right, Paul! Get a life, mate! Me? Live in harmony with that person over there? No way!”

Yet to live in harmony with each other is to be our goal says Paul. If we were loving God and loving others as we ought, in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within ALL believers in the church community – then believers should be able live in harmony with each other!

As we have seen earlier, any group of believers in one location has spiritual gifts! No gift is more important than the other, yet I know from experience, that some Spiritual Gifts are lifted up more than others! The local church with its people is akin to a human body. Can a foot say it is more important than the brain? No! The brain controls the foot! Can the brain say it is more important then the heart? No! The heart pumps the blood which keeps the brain alive! Can the heart say it is more important than the foot? No! Because without exercise, the heart grows weak! That is what it is like in the church – local, national and worldwide!

To live in harmony is to live in agreement with each other! We are united with other Christians whether want to be or not! We all have the one Spirit living within us. There was only one Cross, therefore there can only be one Kingdom and church. There is only one God, therefore there could only be one people and one church known by its unity. Jesus Christ is the one Great Shepherd and there is only one flock, when referring to Himself and his followers the church (John 10:16).

Unity however does not mean uniformity. With the proviso that core beliefs are maintained, there appears to be room for some digression regarding secondary beliefs (Paul alludes to that in Romans 14:1–15:13). Individual churches have different local needs to be faced, and have therefore dissimilar requirements. Tomorrow we will see one of the main reasons churches don’t have harmony! But for now, go! Do all you can to be harmonious with others and show Church unity to the world!

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