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Archive for September 2012

Luke Looks Back 16

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Study 16 - Luke 11:14 – 12:12

Controversies

As they moved towards Jerusalem antagonism to all that Jesus represented grew. There is no clear pattern in this passage. Problem piled on problem; attack followed attack.

Question 1: According to the experts those of us who live in the Western world live in a Christianised, but now post-Christian society and therefore in a situation much less clearly defined than it was in New Testament days. Then they knew who the enemy was. We can be much less sure. Apathy, rather than antagonism is our main enemy. Do you agree? If so, give examples of where this can be seen.

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Our world is clearly Christianized by its historical background. But there is a steady movement to a more secularized society in most of the Western world, showing in slightly different ways in different countries. In the UK this shows in strong arguments in the media that ‘religion’ is to have no role at all in politics or civic life. The adviser to one former Prime Minister announced that ‘we do not do God’. What is called ‘multiculturalism’ is appealed to to prevent any idea that Christianity has a special role in society in spite of it having been dominant for more than 1000 years.

It is important for you, as it is for us, to think through how the culture of the society in which we live interacts with our Christian faith.

Read Luke 11: 14 – 28.

Jesus clearly divides the world he lived in into two warring parts: the Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God (11: 18, 20). (By using a word about war I do not mean that there is any place for physically aggressive fighting in our faith. Defence may be another matter.)

Question 2: Can we divide our world the same way? What are the implications of doing so?

We need to be very careful here. It is all too easy to think where we are is the Kingdom of God and what opposes us is the kingdom of Satan. It may be but it may be just our arrogantly self-centred view of the world. Yet Satan is an all too real force in the world; indeed it is easy to argue that he has been more active than usual in the last 100 years in all the wars, massacres and famines that have plagued the human race.. We ignore him at our peril.

Question 3: When Jesus talks in terms of warfare (Luke 11: 21 – 23) he distinguishes between those who are with him and those who are against him. Where is the front line today between those he describes as ‘with me’ and those ‘against me’?

The answer to this one will vary according to where you live. As a general statement perhaps it is best to say that those, and only those, who are prepared to say “Jesus is Lord” are those who are with us.

Question 4: Luke 11:24–26 suggests that turning over a new leaf is counter- productive. Can you illustrate this from your own experience by citing the case of someone who tried to turn over a new leaf without a spiritual dimension to it and slipped back into their old ways, or worse?

Question 5: In what way does 11: 28 take 10: 39 forward another stage?

Mary was commended for listening. This verse says we must not only hear the word of God – we must do it. And, remember, Jesus means by ‘doing’ action in the world, in loving other people and acting in their support, not just sitting in church and attending worship or praying regularly. There are plenty of other religions in the world which are all about doing the right religious things; none others which are so focussed on our behaviour towards other people.

We read Luke 11:29–36. The emphasis in Luke 11:16 and Luke 11:29–32 is on the absence of any sign except the presence of Jesus. But at least they looked for a sign. If our generation does not do so, the likely judgement on them (or should that be ‘us’) sounds as though it will be grim.

We read Luke 11:37–54. If you belong to an ordinary small Protestant church, as we do, our religiosity may appear to an outsider very vague and unfocussed compared with that of most overtly religious people (high Church of England, RC, Muslim, Mormons, Hindu etc.). We have no liturgy, no splendid ceremonies and ceremonial wear, no prescribed level of contribution, no required standards of behaviour. So we escape the accusations of Jesus in 11: 39 – 52. Yet we are not blameless!

Question 6: For each of the 7 Woes (counting 39 – 41 as the first) think of how they might be reworded to attack our weaknesses (mostly the exact opposite of theirs).

Would the Lord say ‘woe’ to us? I don’t need to tell you what I think the answer to that question would be!

Finally we read Luke 12: 1 – 12. These verses are about is about a demand for a total commitment that is quite frightening. We can (do?) often slide sideways from these statements in a smoke screen of words.

Question 7: Which statement in these verses, Luke 12: 1 – 12,

  • do you find most difficult?
  • do you most encouraging?

Of course the answer to that one is up to you. For me the most difficult is the idea that those who do not follow Jesus will be thrown into hell; and the most encouraging is the fact that God knows all about all the sparrows that squabble in our back garden thinking they are singing when they are making the most awful noise. There is great hope for you and me in that statement.

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Friday Prayers

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

28th September 2012!

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray and praise together!

  • Opening prayers
  • Confession
  • Praise
  • Petitions
  • Doxology (as sung by Jeff Wooldridge)

Amen!

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Testimony - Adele

Christian testimony

The story of Adele, telling her story of how God rescued her from joining the Jehovah Witnesses cult. Thanks be to God!

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Thank you

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Think Spot

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Think Spot 24th September 2012

They looked unto Him (The Lord) and they were radiant!” Psalm 34:5

A few years ago I was attending a leaders conference in London and the fellowship was fantastic and so enjoyable. So much so that after the conference was over , some of us returning to the main station near the conference centre said to each other as we parted “Lets covenant to keep in touch with each other” You see we had experienced 'koinonia' fellowship which is much deeper and richer than having a simple chat and a cup of coffee after church. It is a far stronger bond between the two who are in conversation. In just four days coming from many different parts of England we had found an exciting common link between us that we didn’t want to let go . And we kept our word over several years.

On returning to my home that very same day following the Conference, we had expected visitors who had arrived earlier in the day. When I entered the room they were sitting chatting to each other but in an instant when they caught sight of me they said “Where have you been? Your face is radiant.!!” I was slightly embarrassed but said quickly and half jokingly “I have been with the angels.” That wasn’t too far from the truth if you think about it. I had been locked in heavenly company and conversation for four days and enjoyed together long hours of chatting about the Saviour we love and adore. “They looked unto Him and were radiant.” Time passes swiftly when you are enjoying yourself with friends and God that type of koinonia fellowship.

Very recently Joy my wife and I went into our local coffee shop to our daily spot where we share Jesus when one lady whom we had spoken with many times suddenly looked at me and said You are beaming again,I want what you have got.!!” She saw something about me that was different to anything she had experienced in her own life before and she wanted it.

Friends, people outside the church say to us “Show us God and we will believe in Him” Of course God is not going to come down and show Himself in a physical form just to prove His existence is He?. Actually He did once when Jesus Christ His Son lived here for 33 years. He has many ways of manifesting Himself but especially through us. What do I mean? Listen to the apostle Paul who said “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Also he encouraged us with these words, He said “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” In the Sermon on the Mount (which incidentally is for believers) Jesus said “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.

You and I as born again Christians have Someone to show to the world haven’t we ? How? He is living in us, right?.So we need to become more transparent and Jesus become more apparent in our daily lives. Then they will see God in and through us!! and hopefully say what the lady said in the coffee shop “I want what you've got” Go on, be bold, be strong, show Jesus to whoever you meet today and may they give you the same response. Smile, be generous, listen carefully to them and don’t do all the talking. , be practical and help in whatever way you can, go the extra mile and pray with them there and then if possible, as they may share their worries with you, give encouragement and be like Jesus to them. Lets all Shine for Jesus and help change the world. “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me all his compassion and purity.” Take care , God bless you and have a wonderful day.

Joys Prayer

Yes Lord that's our prayer today. Lord shine through me. Make me a radiant Christian for you. I have so much to tell them of the great things you have done for me. I have peace, joy and such love I want to give all three to all I meet today. Lord make them receptive to You in me. May I be able to say today without fear “I am not ashamed to own my Lord or to defend His cause” Lord may your radiant beauty be upon me for your very names sake. Amen.

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Luke Looks Back 15

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Study 15 - -Luke 11:1-13

Praying to the Father

A disciple asks a question about prayer and although he gets a model prayer he also gets much more.

First the prayer. We read 11: 1 – 4.

This is a shorter version of the prayer than Matthew’s. Matthew starts off with ‘our Father in heaven’ instead of just ‘Father’. Matthew introduces the prayer after warning his disciples against showing off in praying, long words and many words. I doubt whether he would want us to keep on repeating this particular set of words either. He wants honest heart prayers in our ordinary every day language. One good idea is to pray along the pattern he has given us but rewording it as we go. So we might start off: ‘Dear Lord and Father I am so amazed that you have asked me to address you like this’ or ‘may I call you Father this morning even if you seem rather far away just at the moment’ or ‘ you are in heaven and I am stuck here on earth but please hear what I have to say’.

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Question 1: Think up 2 other ways you might start your prayer. Something like:’ I want to honour your name and who you are this evening as I pray – help me to do it by your spirit, please’ and an infinite number of other possibilities.

‘each day’ (11: 3 NIV) is a rare word in the Greek which may mean ‘today’ ‘tomorrow’ or ‘enough for the day’.

Question 2: To which OT incident is it likely to refer? A cynic might ask whether this prayer is necessary in the day of the supermarket (at least in the world’s better off countries).

The giving of manna and quail in Exodus 16 is being referred to. The owners of the supermarket probably think they filled the shelves but a greater than them, the Lord, organised the natural world for them to plunder! Question 3: Praying for the coming of the Kingdom could be dangerous. Why? What effect should praying like that have on us? What might it look like if it came and was openly apparent, as it is not now?

It might come and where would we be then? If we have placed our trust in Jesus we shall enjoy the fruits of his faithfulness, but if not, not. If we ask for the coming of the kingdom we must live in kingdom style now, or else we are hypocrites. No one knows what it will look like with any certainty; all we do know is that it will surpass our wildest dreams.

Question 4: Is it necessary to forgive every one who sins against us before we receive forgiveness from the Father?

No. To say that would contradict every other place where forgiveness is mentioned in the Bible. What it means is that if we expect to be forgiven we need to live in the world of forgiveness. In the same way if we want to be loved by God we need to live in the world of love, which is what John meant when he said: Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. We read 11: 5 – 13.

There is a problem in 11: 8. The NIV has ‘the man’s boldness’ but that is probably not as good as the TNIV ‘your (the person knocking’s) shameless audacity’ and even that is probably not right. The root meaning of the word being translated is ‘ avoidance of shame’ but In the original it is not ‘the man’s’ or ‘your’ but ‘by him’, which can refer to the person knocking or the one in the house being woken up. So it may mean that the person getting up has to do so in order not to lose honour and be shamed. It is amazing that Jesus used a parable in which the Lord God is shamed but that is the most likely meaning of this passage. Our experience of answers to prayer is probably not the same as is expressed in this passage. For something slightly different I will read out 10 statements we might make, or hear other people make, about prayer. I will pause very briefly after each and you can say ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ after each. Then my comment will follow. Keep in mind what we have just read that Jesus said.

1) If we nag the Lord we will get whatever we want. Paul didn’t think so when he only prayed 3 times for his thorn in the flesh to be taken away. No, then. (2 Cor 12: 8!)

2) If we don’t get what we want it is because of our lack of faith. No it isn’t according to Jesus (Lk 13: 1 – 5).

3) All night prayer meetings are always more effective than one hour ones. Not according to Jesus in Matthew 6, but yes according to him in this passage. So it must depend on circumstances and attitudes.

4) Jesus was only making a point to antagonists in these verses – note that he calls his hearers evil in v 13. There may be some truth in this but it is a series of promises even if we find it difficult to see how they actually work out in our every day lives. Maybe, then.

5) Prayer is about learning to align ourselves with the will of God. If we do so successfully we shall ask and receive. This is the gift of discernment. Yes. Definitely true.

6) Prayer is always answered but God in his wise providence often gives us the opposite of what we ask for. Possibly true but it can be the way some people try to get past the fact that they feel they don’t always get answers to prayer at all. So, maybe.

7) Saying ‘if it is your will’ is a simplistic cop-out. Well, yes, it often is.

8) The struggle of prayer is not a struggle with God (like Jacob at the brook Jabbok, as often asserted) but with ourselves (as even Jesus experienced in the garden of Gethsemane) bending our wills to obedience. Yes. Very, yes.

9) Some people with wonderful tales of answered prayer may be adept at only seeing what they want to see. Unfortunately that does often seem to be the case.

10) We may expect our prayers to be answered only if we have a deeper sense of the Fatherhood of God than of our own need. No! In his abundant grace and goodness the Lord will often answer prayers from even his frailest servants, like you and me.

I think passages like this are very difficult, particularly for those of us who live in the cynical, Western world. My questions probably reflect the fact that this is where I live. Those of you who live in a more spiritually open society may wonder why I appear to be so negative. If so, just treasure what you have got and pray for those of us who are not so well off spiritually.

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In memory…

Come and spend 2 minutes in Memory of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes murdered on Tuesday 18th December while on duty...

May they rest in peace and rise in glory...

May the families and friends receive the peace, counsel, comfort and consolation of God...

You can read about them by clicking on the image below...

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(Image copyright to BBC)

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