July 30, 2011

Who is God?

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Who/what is God?

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I have had people say to me, I believe in God’s existance but I don’t need to study the Bible to know Him! But belief in His existence is not enough! Even satan and his demons believe in God’s existence! It is only through the Bible we can study God and His relationship with the universe. All we can know about God is not contained in the Bible, but the Bible contains all we can know about God during our earthly life! That is because God is infinite and beyond our limitations of space and time! Yet the God we as Christian disciples follow and worship, is knowable through the Bible. This means that God is a personal God and not a remote being. That is a key to studying Him! He wants to be known and has given us the Bible in order for us to do so.

How can we know about God?

In the Bible, what we know of God are the fundamental qualities or powers of His being. The Bible elucidates statements about God, by God, through which we try and understand God, using our finite minds. The Bible reveals God to us! God is spirit, yet a personal and infinite being (John 4:24). He is one in substance, nature and being and incapable of division (Deuteronomy 6v4). Yet He is three coequal people, or the Trinity! It is through the Bible we discover what pleases, angers, offends, or gives joy Him!

The words revealed in the Bible describe His attributes! The fact we are able to take hold and understand this about an infinite God is evidence that God desires to be known by humans! So what are some of the attributes of God? There are two different kinds of attributes: natural and moral.

1. Natural Attributes

a. Transcendent - God's self-existence apart from and independent of creation. This reflects God’s majesty and greatness. Romans 11:33; 1Chronicles 29:11; 1Kings 8:27

b. Immanent/Omnipresent - God is wholly present everywhere. God fills the universe in all it's parts without division Psalm 139:7-12; Jerermiah 23:23-24

c. Omnipotent - God has power to do all things that are the object of power. With God all things are possible Luke 1:37. He is El Shaddai or God Almighty. Jerermiah 32:17-18 Nothing is too hard for you.

d. Omniscient - God has perfect knowledge of all things - actual, past, present, future and possible. 1 John 3:20 God knows all things; Psalm 47:5 Infinite understanding.

e. Infinite - God has no limits. He has an internal and a qualitative absence of limitation. Boundless activity - Romans 11:33; 1Timothy1:16; Psalm 147:5

f. Immutable - God is unchangeable. Malachi 3:6 - I AM God and I change not; Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

g. Eternal - God is without beginning or end. He is the alpha and omega. God is outside of time - time is in God, and He is free from the succession of time. God lives in the eternal present - past, present and future, are NOW for God - He is the I AM YAHWEH Exodus 3:14. From everlasting to everlasting you are God. 1 Timothy1:17; Psalm 102:7

h. Spirit God is a free personal Spirit

· God is not material. He is invisible and indestructible. John 4:24; 1Timothy1:17; 1Timothy6:15-16

· God is Life Jn 14:6. Energy & activity!

· God has Personality. Self-consciousness & communicative!

2. Moral Attributes

a. Goodness - absolute perfection. Seeking creations' welfare.

  • Love - God is love 1 John 4:8-10. God communicates and gives of Himself.
  • Grace - God gives us what we do not deserve. God's riches at Christ’s expense Ephesians 2:7; The unmerited goodness of God John 1:16.
  • Mercy - God does not give us what we deserve. The goodness of God to those in distress - tenderness & compassion (Ephesians 2:3-5)
  • Long-suffering - God is slow to anger. God longs to forgive (Exodus 34:6-7)
  • Truth - John 14:6 The revelation source and foundation of all truth is God/Jesus

b. Holiness - moral excellence and perfection of God. Separation from sin. What God is!! Heb 7:26 "Be holy, for I am Holy".

c. Righteousness - Holiness in action. God's actions conform to His Holiness. Justice deals with the ab­sence of righteousness. Sin must be dealt with – (Genesis 18:25 & Psalm 89:14)

Why do we study this God?

There are at least 4 reasons!

a) Avoids confusion! As we study God, we come to know truths about Him and are able to discern what are true and false facts about Him! "Truth combats error" Satan distorts scripture to put people off the truth.

b) Truth develops character 2 Peter 1:3-9 - The strongest Christian disciples are those with a good growing knowledge of biblical truth. Since study increases our knowledge of God, it increases the possibilities of love, growth and service of the Christian disciple. We study it to put it into practice! What we believe about God, affects our behaviour! James 1:22 says "We must be doers of the Word not just hearers of this is to be effective."

c) We are commanded to grow in our knowledge of God - 2 Timothy 4:2-4

d) This God is to be worshipped and part of our service and submission to this God, is that worship is given to Him alone (Deuteronomy 5v6-9). As humans we are created in His image, and as Christian disciples we were bought at a price when Jesus died on the cross and we accepted Him as our Lord and saviour. He is due our worship and reverence! It is on worship that I hope to discuss next time!

One of the best books regarding getting to know God is the appropriately titled “Knowing God” by JI Packer - it’s a thoroughly modern and readable classic! For more to think about, please do read for yourself 2 Peter 1:3-9. 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. From my knowledge of God, what do I find comforting?

Q2. From my knowledge of God, what do I find disturbing?

Q3. How has my knowledge of God grown and affected my behaviour since I became a Christian disciple?

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July 29, 2011

Friday Prayers 29072011

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Partakers Friday Prayers

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Order of Service

1. General Opening prayer

2. Time for your own praise

3. Thanks for the life of John Stott

4. Prayers for the world

5. Prayers for church services worldwide

6. Prayers for others

7. Time for prayers for your own concerns

8. Benediction

General Opening Prayer

Father, as we commence, let our hearts and minds be right before you.  We thank for your Son Jesus. It's in His name we offer you these praises, prayers and petitions in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside those who are your children. Amen

Time of Praise

Now there will be a short time where you can offer praise and thanks to God for things that are on your own mind and heart.

If for some reason, words are failing you, then pray this simple praise prayer based on an ancient song

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Christ has risen!

Thanksgiving for John Stott

We now have a time of giving thanks to God for the life and witness of one of His great servants of our time, John Stott, who died on July 27th.

Father we thank you for the work you have done through John Stott. We thank you that he was a role model for church leaders everywhere. We thank you that he though now physically dead, is also more alive then ever before, as he is in your presence. Thank you for his legacy and his witness as a truly humble servant of you. Father, raise up new leaders of this calibre throughout your worldwide church, we pray!  Amen!

Prayers for the World!

Now we pray for this world.

We especially lift to you the country of Norway in the aftermath of the horrendous attacks there last week.  Father, be the strength for those who are grieving, particularly in the memorial services that are being conducted. Father, we pray that those in despair will be helped and where there is darkness there will be light.

May justice and peace come to places where injustice, strife and conflict currently dominate! Where there is chaos, bring order. Where there is hatred, may love be sown.  We pray that in areas of need following natural disasters, that aid will get through and infrastructure rebuilt. Amen!

For churches and Christians worldwide

We now pray for church services around the world this weekend.

Our Father God, we lift before you all those who are preaching, leading, serving and participating in church services around the world this weekend, we ask that the Holy Spirit would guide their minds and that the worship will be in Spirit and in truth, that the Word as it is faithfully preached.

For those in countries where to meet other Christians is illegal or not condoned by the government, we ask that you continue to strengthen, guide, grow and uplift them. Let them know through Your Spirit, the Spirit that lives within all believers that we are praying for them.

Amen!

Prayers for others

We come now to praying for the needs of individuals.

We thank you that, Lynn, is healing well after her recent fall, and we pray that that continues. We also lift her grandson, Zachary, to you after he recently had a bike accident. Help his body to heal and please help the medical staff as he receives regular treatment.

We also lift to you Daniel who is aged, has the onset of dementia and will soon need 24 hours care. This means him losing his home and his independence. We also, Father, pray for his partner, Margaret and ease her distress and give them both comfort.

We bring before you now, Father, Ray. He is currently going through chemotherapy and we pray also that he may have comfort and ask that you will help the medical staff in this treatment.

We bring Jan before you, who is recovering from a relationship break-up. Ease her heart and mind, and may the Holy Spirit give her comfort and counsel. May she find rest in you.

We lift to you all those desiring partners and families, particularly BT. Help them in their loneliness and give counsel on how to handle the current situation.

Finally, Father, we lift before you, all those facing challenging situations: such as confinement at home, geographical isolation, lack of employment, health issues, and financial pressures.  O Father, please meet their needs in what ever challenging situation is being faced, and we put ourselves in your hands to help meet those needs where we can.

We ask these things, our Father God, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Your own petitions

Now there will be a short time of prayer where you can give to God things that are on your own mind and heart.

If for some reason, words are failing you, then pray this short prayer based on Psalm 40 "O God, Help and deliver me from this pit for I am poor and needy!"

Father, we pray that your love will take over our lives! We also pray that we would follow you faithfully, live lives obediently and give praise to you alone in all circumstances we face together.

Lord in your mercy, hear these prayers of your children.  Amen

Benediction

And now, as we close, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for joining us on Partakers Friday Prayers. If you would like to post a prayer request in the comments below, either named or anonymous, we will pray for you.

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July 28, 2011

WISE - Give

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Giving!

Every person has in differing quantities time, possessions and money. These things in and of themselves are not evil. The whole Christian community is one that is to reflect the Holy Trinity. The Church is to be a community where the strongest members support the weakest members. This applies not only to the local church, but also to the universal Church and therefore has a national and international context as well. Too often, even as Christian Disciples 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 world and local communities.

Financial giving is important and necessary - its a sign of your commitment to Jesus Christ.. Paul writing to the Corinthians commands that giving be done whole-heartedly and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9v7). For the Christian Disciple, it is not so much how much is given, but how much is left after giving. God looks beyond the amount that is given to the motive behind the giving. All our money and possessions belong to God anyway, so giving is to be in response to this. Giving is to be done out of love for God. Paul offers in 1 Corinthians 16v2 a three-point system for giving: regularly, methodically and proportionately.

Failure to give back to God's work what He has given the Christian Disciple in the first place, robs God (Malachi 3v8). The reason it robs is because the giving cannot be used to support those who are working for God. As a result of giving, the Christian Disciple will be blessed (Malachi 3v10) and have their needs satisfied (Philippians 4v19).

Remember in the Old Testament, Widows were important to God, because justice is important to God. God is a God of justice and mercy. In the Old Testament, under the Law of Moses, God commanded provision for those who were widows, oppressed or uncared for. The Apostles would have known about God caring for the widows and in Jesus teaching about justice for the poor and the oppressed. We know this because if you remember from Acts 2 and 4, people were selling and sharing possessions and ensuring that people within the Christian community were being looked after and cared for. This included making sure that everyone got fed, particularly those who had no family to care for them. And its not just for those in the church - but all in the community where you live.

The New Testament church made sure that giving was done and that the poor, the oppressed, the lonely and the widows were taken care of. People working fulltime for the Lord were given recompense by others for their efforts.   People gave. Paul in Romans 12v6-8 places giving as a spiritual gift? I wonder how many people have asked for that gift? Perhaps its the least asked for gift, after all its not one of the supposedly spectacular ones!

How is your giving? How does your church give and care for those in need, in your community? The get out clause as it were these days, is that it would not be good stewardship to give to that person or that cause. After all, they say, “Didnt Jesus say in Matthew 7v6 ;Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you'". Of course when they say that they are totally missing both the point and context of what Jesus actually meant. God gave everything so that you and I may life and life in abundance. So by giving, you are reflecting that. This very day, start giving generously, just as God gave and gives generously, and gave His Son as a ransom for sin.

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