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Archive for June 2012

Thursday Ponderings

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28th June 2012

Love is not self-seeking!

1 Corinthians 13 :5 “Love is not self-seeking.” So often when we get angry with others, it’s because we are looking after number one. If someone cuts in on us in their car and there has been no accident, what are we so upset about? That they have overtaken us, that they are in front of us. The same thing happens when someone gets served before us that shouldn’t have been in a shop, all our indignation rises up. But if we are not self seeking, if we seek the interests of others as much as we seek our own, we would not get angry.

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I remember an illustration from a long time ago, so I will use it today. If a bowl of fruit is passed round and some of the fruit is perfect and some of it is bruised. The first Christian that is passed the bowl of fruit should take a damaged piece so that others may have the perfect fruit.

The opposite of being self seeking is being generous. So be generous with your time, if someone asks you for a lift when you would rather be reading a book, say yes to them. Invite people round for meals. You don’t have to do a fancy meal, most people are coming round for the company anyway. The bible says that God puts single people in families, but He requires you families to ask the single people round. So go on be generous with your food and your time. Invite someone to join you and your family next time you go to the cinema or out for a walk. It is hard being single, spending every weekend on your own. With a little thought and minimum effort you can make a huge difference. If you tythe, God allows you to keep 90% of your money so make sure you remember that it really all belongs to Him, so be generous with it.

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WISE - God of Love

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A God Of Love

We live in a world that is in love with love. Love, according to some people, is what makes the world go around. Valentines day and the endemic materialism associated with it is evidence of that! There are more songs written about all kinds of love than perhaps any other subject!  In the Bible, God’s love is revealed. The Apostle John in 1 John 4 does not simply say that God loves, but rather that God is love. Remember that God is the Holy Trinity, three persons in one. The Trinity is a living, vibrant community of love, and every activity of the Trinity, is an expression of love. God loves because that is His very nature. Throughout the Bible, God’s love is described as an unfailing, everlasting, intimate, sacrificial, unbreakable, conquering, immeasurable and all-knowing. How is God’s love seen? It is seen in two ways.

Firstly, it is shown supremely in that He has given His Son to be the Saviour of the world, so that if a person takes up that opportunity, they can know and enjoy God in a personal relationship. God had only one Son, Jesus Christ, and He sent Him on a rescue mission to seek the lost and to reconcile people to God. This is love in action. The lover dying for the ones He loves.

Secondly, God’s love is shown when Christians love. As a Christian, you are a child of God, so you should want to be like your Heavenly Father, by showing the world your love for others and your transformed character. The Christian Church should be a community of love, for this is how the world sees God

If people see Christians that are not loving and kind, rightly or wrongly, the whole Church is branded as a bunch of fakes and hypocrites. Worse still, God is seen at best as nothing more than a distant uncaring irrelevant figure. The love between Christians is seen as a visible showing of the invisible God. The very character of the church should always be to reflect God in all aspects. The ultimate example of showing people God, is for you as a Christian, to love and be love. People should be seeing God’s love, through your love. For as Jesus said, “All men will know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another” (John 13:35).

His love releases us from the things that so easily entangle our daily walk with Him. The more you hold onto His love, the more you will desire it and the more it will be revealed in your daily life. Your love in action today, reflects God’s love in action on the cross. How will you reflect this God of love today, to the world around you? Go and love - to the glory of God! Maranatha!

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Think Spot

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25th June 2012

G'day and welcome to Partakers ThinkSpot on Monday, 25th of June 2012. Play the audio and see how you are challenged to live your faith out this week!

The most famous verse in the Bible is probably this one. I wonder if you have heard or read it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Isn’t that simply amazing! Love! God is love! Every exhibition of love, even by those who deny His existence, is an example of God’s love. God’s love is also seen in all tenses – past, present and future. Past - God has loved you. Present - God is loving you. Future - God will love you! Amazing! WOW!

Moreover, God's love in the Bible is seen as unfailing, everlasting, intimate, sacrificial, unbreakable, all-conquering, personal, great, immeasurable and all-knowing. This is seen supremely in the Cross of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died for the sins of the world on the cross, it was supreme love overcoming all that is not love. Even when great acts of evil are committed in the world, love is all around. Love continues despite such acts.

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How are we to respond to this love of God?

The Apostle John in 1 John 3:16 says “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Further on in 1 John 4:15-16, John writes “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

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

Love and serve everyone

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

Go!

Go into this week, being prepared to show your love of Jesus Christ, remaining close to Him and serving other people generously with abundant grace-filled love! By loving and serving others, you become God's arms and legs in a physical world. Give people a smile! If you are happy, let your face show it to others! Help that work colleague! Help that unemployed person to find work. One of the greatest limitations you face in loving and serving other people is a severe lack of imagination! Ask God to expand your imagination to love and serve; as well as asking for the opportunities to do them. Loving and serving are hallmarks of an authentic Christian life. Love continues even amidst chaos and turmoil all around. Go and be part of the continuing of love.

Prayer

Father, we thank you, that you are love! We thank you Jesus, that you demonstrated great love by going to the cross and showing your love for the world by dying on the cross! Holy Spirit enflame our imagination and cause us to desire to show love to others – even others who we think don’t deserve it! As we go into this week, O God, remind us to love you wholeheartedly and to love others sacrificially.

For we ask this, O Father of Love, in the name of the Son of Love, Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit of Love.

Amen.

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WOW Clinic

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Think Spot

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18th June 2012

G'day and welcome to Partakers ThinkSpot on Monday, the 18th of June 2012. Play the audio and see how Jim and Joy are challenging you to live your faith out this week!

Count Your Blessings

Reading in my Bible this morning following a pattern of reading through the Bible in a year I am not always aware till I open my accompanying Bible notes of what I am about to read.

This morning I needed to read a portion of the Old Testament concerning Israel and Judah and sadly their disobedience towards God after He had blessed them so much. It was a wake up call for all of us who profess to know Christ to “Count every blessing” as the song goes then we will not forget His abundant kindness towards us Whom He loves dearly.

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Scripture makes it clear that that the old nature within, does sometimes blind us to God's continuous blessings which abound if we were alert to them. Parking spaces found for us, requests for quick replies for urgent needs answered swiftly, sunny days for that special event, and of course rain which we need desperately at this time in UK.

We may be forgetful of that reassuring touch from the Lord when a friend comes round and says “I just felt you needed someone at this moment.”

Psalm 103 reads “Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all his blessings (benefits) towards you. If you continue in that psalm and quietly give it some thought, you will find many times God has richly blessed you as you have waited upon Him and trusted Him.

To make sure you are constantly doing this without having to think about it why not share your blessings with others you meet during the course of the day? I find that is a refreshing way in serving our Lord is giving praise and glory to Him by passing your blessings on. Try it and see I am sure you will find it to be true and you will receive a measure of joy in your heart as well.

In psalm 23 we read of the believer’s daily walk with the Lord and even though we walk through the vale of death we need fear no evil. Why? The Lord is with us giving us reassurances He will never leave us. Note the joy in David the psalmist’s voice as he perhaps shout “My cup runs over” Oh the joy there is to be found in knowing Jesus.

Then the climax of the ages as we move towards the day when we see our wonderful Lord face to face. Psalm 23:6; “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever!”

Have a nice day and may you be blessed in all your circumstances and remember “Count your blessings name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done?”

Joy’s Prayer

Dear Loving Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the wonder of knowing You as our Heavenly Father and the One who supplies our every need on every occasion we require help and surprises us with unexpected blessings which delight us.

Forgive us if we ever take You for granted or forget to thank you for your regular daily blessings. Help us to remember just how dependant we are on You. We sometimes find ourselves asking even for the seeming impossible and although we may have to be patient and wait You have never let us down.

As the hymn writer reminds us “We are coming to a King, large petitions with you bring we can never ask too much...

You have amazing resources Lord and we can never out ask your provision. Thank you for that knowledge and help us to be wise in our asking and swift in our thanksgiving. We love You for loving us so much and making sure our cup is never empty.

In Jesus Name

Amen

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Luke Looks Back 10

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Luke 7:1–50 & 8:40-56

Faith and faithfulness Part 1

The whole of chapters 7 and 8 make up one section of Luke’s narrative so we will read them together though we will only look at chapter 7 in detail in this study. Not least because of the striking similarities and differences in the people involved between the first and last passages 7:1–17 and 8:40–56.

1. Jesus Restores Health and Life! (Luke7:1–17 and 8:40–56)

Question 1.What is the second passage about? How does it differ from the first passage?

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The second passage is about healing of a woman and the bringing back to life of a man’s daughter. Remember: the first was about the healing of a man and the bringing back to life of a woman’s son. Luke has obviously put these particular stories at the beginning and end of this section very deliberately. He has carefully constructed the whole section. The important question is why has he done this–apart from the fact that this was the way that they wrote things in the Roman world of those days? When we look at the two chapters together we will see that he has built them so that the stories of the second part reflect the first part. The first part has two healings, 7:1–17; an account of the doubts of John the Baptist. 7:18–35 and then tells us about contrasting attitudes to Jesus, 7:36–50. The second part reverses that order telling us about contrasting attitudes to Jesus, 8:19–33, 38, 39; then the doubts and rejection by the Gerasenes, 8:34–37 and finally the two healings we have already looked at in 8:40–56. In the middle is a parable about the man who sowed some seed, getting different reactions from the different types of soil.

We can think of this as a reflection because the second half is the mirror image of the first half. There are many of these reflections in the Bible. One very obvious example is in Amos 5: 4b–6a, although unlike most of the Biblical reflections that one does not have an important middle. In most of them the middle is important to explain why the second half is different from the first. In our example here in Luke the middle, the parable, is clearly very important, though it does not alter the second part significantly.

Luke wants us to see that the whole section is about faith and faithfulness. One Greek word has both meanings whereas we split the two apart in English. By ‘faith’ we mean mainly mental agreement with the teachings of a religion–‘faith’ goes on in our heads. By ‘faithfulness’ we mean living in a way that follows the teachings of that religion–‘faithfulness’ goes on mainly in our actions. We will look at that more in the next study.

2. Jesus and the Centurion (Luke7:1–17)

Not for the last time Luke has a story about a centurion. He wants Theophilus (and us) to understand that Christian faith was acceptable to these significant people in the Roman world.

Question 2.We are told many good things about the centurion (7:2–5). We are told nothing about the widow of Nain. What can we learn from that?

There will have been plenty of people around with a vague faith in God who kept the religious laws, but this Gentile Centurion recognized that God was at work in Jesus and was prepared to act accordingly by trusting Jesus. Are we prepared to turn a vague faith into action when God works? Just possibly Luke knew the centurion because he joined the early church, but the widow of Nain did not, so he did not know her.

3. Doubts of John the Baptist (Luke 7:18–35)

Question 3. John expected the Messiah to act like his idea of what a Messiah would do. Jesus quotes Isaiah 35: 5,6 and 61: 1,2 to tell him he is wrong. In what ways was John wrong? What did they expect the Messiah to do? What was Jesus doing that was unexpected?

John evidently shared the general expectation of what the Messiah would do. John will have understood himself to be the messenger of Malachi 3: 1 –3; 4: 1–3 and therefore that all that those verses suggested would happen. Particularly if you live in a hostile society it is important, and encouraging, to remember how hostile the society in which Jesus and the early church lived and worked was.

4. Jesus and Debts! (Luke 7:36-50)

Question 4.What does Jesus mean when he talks about debts (7:39–43)? Do we have big or small debts to be cancelled? (We probably think we have only small debts to pay (v 41,42) but big or small counts the same!) Do we show as much love as we should for Jesus who cancelled our debts?

Jesus was talking about the way in which those who followed him and were members of the people of God needed to remember that they were in debt to God. We, living later, know that we rely on Jesus dying for us to cancel the things in our lives, which stop us, being accepted by God. Since ‘all have sinned’ it does not matter whether our sins are big or small they still stop us being accepted by the Lord. Only in Christ can we have acceptance by God.

5. Jesus, the Pharisee and the woman! (Luke 7:36-50)

Question 5. The Pharisee in the final episode of this chapter (v 36–50) is clearly much more concerned with things and ideas. The woman is only concerned with people. What can we learn from these two stories?

It is important to remember that some people are very concerned with people but some (a smaller number), find their interest is taken more by ideas and things than people. Both sorts of people are necessary in a healthy church and a healthy society.

Conclusion

Question 6. In what ways has this chapter stressed faithfulness?

Nearly all this chapter (and the next) is about people acting out their faith as a result of what they saw Jesus do. They were in a very positive way following him, not just thinking about him. That is faithfulness. The message to us must be that we have to follow Jesus, not just go to church on Sunday.

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