google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2011 December

Archive for December 2011

Jesus and You 5

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John meets the Risen Jesus

G' day welcome to Partakers and back to this little series, Jesus and you, looking at some people that met Jesus and how he changed their life and perceptions.

Today we move from the earthly Jesus to the ascended Jesus. Jesus, who meets somebody very special and close to him!

Today our reading is from Revelation 1:12-20!

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Jesus has made an appearance to his close friend and disciple, John! Jesus is now the resurrected and ascended King of Kings and Lord of Lords! In Revelation 2 and 3, this Jesus sends messages to seven groups of people who have taken Him up on that offer of salvation!: the first century churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Here Jesus tells the churches to keep doing, stop doing and be blessed!

But first, lets look at Jesus, Himself!

Jesus description

Jesus holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. Jesus who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again! Jesus, who has the sharp, double-edged sword, is the Son of God and whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. Jesus Christ, who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars! Jesus Christ, who is holy and true and holds the key of David. Jesus Christ, who opens what no one can shut and shuts what no one else can open. Jesus Christ, who is the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.

Keep doing!

To these 7 churches, of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Jesus praises them individually and separately! They are to continue doing such things as working hard for the Gospel, remaining faithful, not tolerating evil, not being seduced by false teachers, for persevering and enduring hardship and not growing weary. Jesus praises them for being faithful through suffering, poverty and persecution for His sake. Jesus praises them for remaining true to Him and for not renouncing their faith! Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, being ever gracious to His followers.

Stop doing

But He also rebukes them and commands that they stop doing certain things! They are to stop listening to various false teachers and prophets, being swayed by their clever and seductive words and actions. He rebukes because they have forgotten that they are to love Jesus above all and they have forsaken him. In his rebuke, Jesus commands that they repent, that is to ask Him for forgiveness and be willing to turn away from the false teachers, false prophets and false way of living.

Be blessed!

To all those who persevere, overcome and are victorious, Jesus will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. To all those who overcome and are victorious, they wont be hurt by the second death. To all those who overcome and are victorious, Jesus will give the victor’s crown! Those who overcome and are victorious, will be given authority over the nations! To those who overcome and are victorious, they will be in the temple of God, never to leave it! Jesus will do the most extraordinary thing, of writing on them the name of God, the city of God and His new name! To those who overcome and are victorious, their name will be in the book of life, and Jesus will acknowledge them before God the Father and his angels. Then finally, for those who overcome and are victorious, they will sit with their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, on His throne, just as He was victorious and sat down with His Father on his throne. That’s you and me if we hold out to the end!

Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

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Friday Prayers

30 December 2011

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Order of Service!

Opening prayer!

Praise time!

Time for your praise

Prayers for healing

Prayers for those going through challenging times

Prayers for churches around the world

Time for your own prayers/petitions!

Closing prayer

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Jesus and You 4

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Adulterous Woman

G' day welcome to Partakers and back to this little series, Jesus and you, looking at some people that met Jesus and how he changed their life and perceptions.

John 8:1-11

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

"Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?"

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?"

"No, Lord," she said.

And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more."

Jesus, as all Rabbis and teachers did, was at the temple teaching and talking with people. It was also part of the role of the rabbi/teachers to ascertain what to do in certain difficult moral and legal situations. As part of this role, the Pharisees dragged in an unknown woman charged with adultery. Likewise with the Samaritan woman, we don't know this woman's name either!

The Pharisees were laying a trap for Jesus. If Jesus said to stone the woman, then the Romans could arrest Jesus, for it was Roman law that any death must be conducted by them and not by others. If Jesus says to release the woman, then the Pharisees would say that Jesus is contravening Scripture and the Law of Moses. So what does Jesus do? He writes in the dirt (John 8v6). We don't know what He wrote, but from the Greek word for write, we understand that He was seemingly writing a report and that when in he says in John 8v7 "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.", He is in fact saying "If any one of you is without this sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

So if any of the Pharisees had not committed adultery, whether in the mind or the actual physical act, then they could have stoned her. As it was, they left one by one, the oldest first (John 8v9). He must have also been indignant at the way the Pharisees who were hypocrites were quick to condemn others, so maybe Jesus was reminding them of Jeremiah 17v13: "O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water."

So instead of passing judgement on the woman and also by eluding the trap of the Pharisees, Jesus passed judgement on the judges. Jesus having forgiven the woman of her sin, then charges her to leave her life of sin (John 8 v11). This reminds us that with the forgiveness of sin, comes a responsibility to live a life worthy of Jesus and to pursue righteousness.

Jesus showed His compassion and forgiveness on the outcasts of their society. Jesus showed mercy and forgiveness and loved them.

There is no room in Christianity for actions and attitudes that defy Jesus' ever-reaching and all-encompassing forgiveness and love. His Gospel, as he always shows, is for all people everywhere, regardless of gender, race, age, culture or social status.

Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

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Jesus and You 3

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Woman at the Well

G' day welcome to Partakers and back to this little series, Jesus and you, looking at some people that met Jesus and how he changed their life and perceptions. Today we see somebody who accepted Jesus for who he was - a surprise to his disciples!

John 4:1-42)

Jesus, on his way back to Galillee, came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Jacob's well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.  Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Please give me a drink."  He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, "You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?"

Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."

Jesus went via Samaria as it was the shortest route back to Galilee. It was hot. Jesus was thirsty and wanted a drink. His disciples had gone into town to get food. So he asks a Samaritan woman to fetch him some water from the well. That he asked a Samaritan would have been bad enough, but to also talk to a woman!

The woman

We don't know the name of this woman, but by looking at this conversation between Jesus and her, we discover several things about her:

That she was a Samaritan. There was equal animosity between Jews and Samaritans, hence the end of John 4:9: "(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)" This could equally be translated as "for Jews do not ask any favours of the Samaritans". The Samaritans were a mixed race people of both Jewish and Assyrian descent from the time of the division of Israel into two parts and the annexation of the Northern kingdom by Assyria. 2 Kings 17 tells us that Assyria repopulated this area.

She was an outcast, that's why she was fetching water at the hottest part of the day! This was probably due to her sexual immorality having had 5 husbands and currently in a 6th relationship (John 4:18). We also know that she was waiting for the Messiah (John 4:25)

Jesus

What does this tell about Jesus? It reveals his genuine humanity. He was tired, drained, hot, thirsty and hungry - normal human feelings and reactions. It also shows that Jesus contravened tradition in that he spoke to a woman who was a Samaritan and a sinner. Respectable Jewish men never did that sort of thing! By asking for a drink of water; he was putting himself in this woman's debt and showing his humility.

It also reveals his divine nature! He knew the woman's life of sinfulness (John 4:17) and again, when he offered her the water of eternal life (John 4:14) and he was able to spiritually satisfy her(John 4:14)! Jesus, Loved the woman, an outcast from her community, and gave her the most revealing and explicit statement we have in the Gospels as to who He really was (John 4:26).

In showing love for the woman, he transcended cultural barriers. Ordinary Jewish men would never ask a woman, let alone a Samaritan woman, for a drink! Hence the disciples reaction in John 4:27! But Jesus is no ordinary man, his love is for all, whether they be rich, learned, male, female, wanted and unwanted!  This encounter between Jesus and the woman, shows us that Jesus' offer of salvation is for all people, and not just the Jews.

The woman, did however, misunderstand one thing - the living water Jesus offered as she probably thought he meant running water or water from a river! But the living water Jesus offered was spiritual water to cleanse her from sin and give eternal life. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, God is described as "a fountain of living water" (Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13).

When the disciples returned, the woman left her water jar and went back to the town to tell other people about Jesus (John 4:29-30). We read of the many people coming to faith because of the Samaritan woman's story (John 4:39-42) knowing Jesus as the saviour of the world (John 4:42).

As Jesus' ministry continues, we know that He spoke to people regardless of their social status, education, nationality or gender.

Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

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Jesus and You 2

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2. The Jewish  teacher

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G'day! Welcome to Partakers and to our little series, Jesus and you, looking at some people that met Jesus and how he changed their life and perceptions.

Today our reading is from John 3v1-17 (New Living Translation)

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. "Rabbi," he said, "we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you."

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."

"What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"

Jesus replied, "I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."

"How are these things possible?" Nicodemus asked.

Jesus replied, "You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don't understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won't believe our testimony. But if you don't believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

This man, Nicodemus, wants to know more about Jesus and investigate him personally, instead of following the majority of the other Jewish leaders.

Who was this man, we know as Nicodemus?

He was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the Jewish ruling council. Nicodemus was a leading teacher and learned scholar. From other sources we know he may well have been from a family of wealthy landowners. We do know that later he protested against Jesus' condemnation without a trial (John 7:50-52) and that he took gifts to anoint Jesus' body (John 19:39-40)

Nicodemus was probably one of the many people looking for a kingdom of God based around a political Messiah; hence admitting that due to his miraculous signs, Jesus must have been from God. These people wanted a Messiah who was a political leader - somebody who would lead Israel to be a shining light for the whole world to come to Jerusalem and worship the one true living God. However, Jesus corrects Nicodemus and says that it is not through a new Israel, a political kingdom that God's kingdom will be seen, but by being "born again".

Three times in this conversation, Jesus repeats about being "born again". What does "born again" mean?

The phrase "born again" is not a physical rebirth and nor is it merely a turning over a new leaf. It also is not baptism because Jesus has not instituted baptism yet! However, "born again" is the new covenant, which Nicodemus should have known about it (Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36), and that it is being born with water and spirit - cleansed of sin and indwelt with the Holy Spirit! It is being born from above, which is looking to the one who has come down from heaven. For the phrase "born again" can also be translated "born from above". To be born again, means to be looking to Jesus and trusting in him in all situations, just as the ancient Israelites were saved by looking at the bronze snake (Numbers 21v8) Finally, for now, to be born again, is on an individual basis, rather than collective basis, just as physical birth is. Nobody knows the date and time of their own birth unless they are told by somebody!

Jesus seemed astonished that the teacher didn't already know that! Nicodemus, we know, was a highly educated and learned teacher! Nicodemus, left with more to think about regarding this Jesus.

Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

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Jesus and You 1

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1. Rich Young Ruler

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We have seen this month of December, what the prophets of old had to say about the coming Messiah, that the man Jesus claimed to be this Messiah figure and a close look at the Nativity of His birth. However, what of Jesus' life and his interaction with others? For the next week, we will look at some people that met Jesus and how he changed their life and perceptions.

Reading from Mark 10:17-22: As Jesus started on his way; a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good-except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.'"

"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

This story is in the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Luke describes him as a wealthy ruler (Luke 18v18-27). Matthew describes him as a young man (Matthew 19v16-26). In Mark's account, he is simply a man (Mark 10v17-22). Put altogether that makes him a rich young ruler. He runs up to Jesus and falls on his knees before him. He wants eternal life, wants it now and so asks Jesus about it. When he calls Jesus a good teacher, Jesus responds "No one is good-except God alone."

Now Jesus could have been correcting the young man, but more likely Jesus was asking: "Do you know what you are saying and how close to the truth about me you are?" This young man had fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus (Mark 10v19). However when Jesus said to the young ruler that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, the man left disconsolate.

That was a step too far for the rich young ruler. He wanted his riches and also eternal life but Jesus said he couldn't have both. He remains the only man who left Jesus' presence sorrowful, and that due to putting his trust in his riches and wealth alone. Now riches are not necessarily wrong but they do make trusting fully in God very difficult (Mark 10v23).

I ask, who do you say this Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

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