November 30, 2012

Friday Prayers


Partakers Friday Prayers!

30th November 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 together! Today we are praying an ancient prayer of Ambrose of Milan (339-397AD)...

A prayer of Ambrose 339 - 397AD

O Lord, who has mercy upon all,

take away from me my sins,

and mercifully kindle in me

the fire of the Holy Spirit.


Take away from me the heart of stone,

and give me a heart of flesh,

a heart to love and adore You,

a heart to delight in You,

to follow and to enjoy You,

for Christ's sake...


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November 28, 2012

WOW Disciple December 1, 2012

If you are in the Bournemouth/Poole/New Forest area, why not come along! You can come for one session or stay for them all! We will be looking at: What, How, Why, Where, When; Our message; Enhancing your story; Exploring your identity; Enlarging your outlook...

If you need more information, or are thinking of coming, please do make contact! It would be great to see you there!

Where? Poulner Chapel

When? 10am to about 1pm,

Saturday 1st December 2012

Cost? Free of charge!

Come for just one session or stay for all 6!

New believer? Come and learn!

Mature believer? Come and share your experiences!

Map to Poulner Chapel,

Linford Road, Hangersley,

Ringwood, Hants BH24 1TX

You can download a copy of this video by right mouse clicking here and saving

November 26, 2012

Think Spot


Think Spot 26th November 2012

Letter to a friend

Hi there, this week I needed to write to someone who had shown interest in what they had read from my writings but ended up by saying “but I do not believe in God at this time.” My concern for this person led me to compose a letter prayerfully to try to help her come to a knowledge of the Truth. This format may be of help to you as a believer wanting to share something of your faith with a neighbour, relative or simply a friend or someone you met briefly either abroad or some distance away from your home. Or it could be part of a discussion or conversation you have with them next time you meet.

Hi there , Thanks for your previous correspondence it was most helpful to discover where you stood in relation to belief in God. May I politely ask you to look out of your window at home and see the beautiful countryside around you. Or if you are not privileged to live in the country to visit a forest or Country Park and simply have a closer look at what you see there. At this time of year there are an amazing change of colours of the leaves on different trees as they change to a golden hue.

Look above your heads and see the brilliant night sky when many stars and planets become visible on certain clear nights. Then look closely at an insect and a huge mammal are they not precisely and delicately made? Then consider your own astonishing body. Isn't it intrinsically made ? If you look at Paul's letter to the Romans in the New Testament you will see there what mans excuses are and God's answers to those various excuses. The Bible is the Book of Books to read. With God's help asked for you will then understand it. You need to ask Him as He is the author and inspirer of every word written by 40 different writers over 1600 years. The first obviously not knowing the first. This Bible (meaning library of books) contains all we need to know in relation to all matters of faith and practice including lessons on life, ourselves and God Almighty Himself. His powers of All seeing, All knowing and doing. He is all powerful.

Consider this even as you read or listen to this letter. At this very moment there is a factory working inside of you. What are you doing? You are non active in respect of this phenomenon inside of you. Who is responsible? Who is giving you the ability to breathe, hear, listen or taste, feel or walk etc. Where does the credit go? You wake up in the morning and you expect it to get light at a particular time. Who puts the 'light' on? Similarly at night when darkness descends where does it come from and who puts the 'light' out? Read Genesis, (which means beginnings) the first book in the Bible to discover the answers to those important questions. There is a verse in the bible which reads “The fool in his heart has said there is no God.? Psalm 14:1. The Bible also says when a person becomes a Christian he (or she) becomes a brand new person on the inside. It cannot just happen for it is work done by God, it is a supernatural work of God, a spiritual accomplishment.

It happened to me in 1962, God began this amazing work in me and here we are in 2012 and God is even more real to me now after serving Him as a missionary in London's difficult regions(He never let me down even once} He enabled me to help others to become Christians as I pointed them to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour. I have held pastorates in different parts of the country and taught Believers how to share their faith with others simply for 20 years. To go into their neighbourhoods and explain the gospel.

I give all the glory to God for my life. Al I have achieved through Him to change peoples lives and glorify Him. I just cannot keep quiet about the One who loved me and gave His life for me, died for my wrongs to remove punishment from me, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven and one day is returning for me either when I die or when He returns visibly for every eye to see which He promises in the Bible.

Yes I am known as joyful Jim and my joy is in serving Him in telling others of Him. Finally as you share your testimony do not forget to include words like these...We will pray for you that you may too enter into this magnificent fulfilling relationship with God its mote than believing it is getting to KNOW HIM as a real living being in a day to day experience. Encourage the contact to read Mark's gospel offering to read it with them pointing out the many instances concerning those making contact with Jesus for the first time and their responses and changed their lives.

May our wonderful Lord bless you as you share the gospel either by letter, email or in a coffee shop or wherever the Lord sends you. God bless you!


Joys prayer

Dear Lord and loving heavenly Father, Please let this dear friend come to see that this change of direction in their lives is going to be for the best result possible ever in their lives. Help me to speak clearly and with conviction as I share with others this glorious good news which all must hear to help them come to a knowledge of the Truth to transform their lives. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord my Rock and Redeemer. In Jesus name Amen

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November 25, 2012

Luke Looks Back 23


Study 23- Luke 18: 31–19: 27

Seeing and trusting

There are 4 sections in this study all of which have something to do with seeing and not seeing, understanding and not understanding or just plain hidden. The first section, Luke 18: 31–34 serves as a summary of what is to follow.

Do read Luke 18:31-34.

The disciples had a reasonable excuse for not understanding. What Jesus was saying was so strange and unexpected they could be forgiven for not understanding. But we, in all probability, have some knowledge of how things turned out so we do not have that excuse. v 34 provides a challenge to us, the readers or hearers: will we be blind or deaf, will we see or hear and understand? Blindness and sight are metaphors for no faith and faith. Have you moved from blindness to sight? Remind yourself what the effect of your blindness was and how you first knew that you were seeing or, if you are in a group, share together your journey from blindness to sight, darkness to light.

Question 1: What is the significance of the rising sequence of names given to Jesus by the blind man (named as Bartimaeus, literally ‘son of filth’, in Mk 10: 46). Those names are Jesus of Nazareth; Jesus, son of David; Lord.

Jesus of Nazareth probably meant to him the prophet with power to heal and who would have compassion on him; Jesus, son of David, meant Jesus was the Messiah; Lord that Jesus was worth following. The question and answer in 18: 41 may appear strange but begging was a profession in those days as it still is in some countries, dependant on a visible handicap and providing a good income. If the man was cured of his blindness he would have to find a job with no skills or experience to call on.

Question 2: The emphasis is not on Bartimaeus’ restored sight but his faith (18: 42, 43). What exactly did his faith consist of? What is this miracle saying to us?

The important phrase is ‘he followed Jesus’. He must have known something about Jesus or he would not have made so much noise trying to attract his attention. We, too, are not expected to start from detailed knowledge about what following Jesus means. We, too, are expected to get up (metaphorically speaking) and follow him.

Do read Luke 19: 1–10.

Zacchaeus was not only short of stature; he was a collaborator with the hated Romans. He would not dare to push his way to the front of the crowd for fear of a knife in his back. So he ran ahead! Not what an important man should do. But the crowd saw him go and mocked him so that Jesus learned his name. Jesus was intending to go straight through Jericho so that he would not have to spend time (possibly days?) being entertained with full ceremony. But he is prepared to go to Zacchaeus’ house.

Question 3: Note the significance of seeing in this account. Who does the seeing?

Everybody. Zacchaeus had to take action to see Jesus, Jesus sees him; the crowd sees what is going on and starts to mutter. The servant figure of Is 53 takes hostility meant for others on himself. Statements there like: “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” reflect the costly love that Jesus gives to Zacchaeus?

Question 4: We read earlier in this chapter that the rich man/camel had to go through the eye of the needle! What happened to prove that Zaccheus didn’t dodge round?

The promises of repayment Zacchaeus made are far reaching. If you do the Maths on what he said you will see that if he had cheated just on one eighth of his debtors he would end up with nothing. Perhaps he is saying that he has been a good man and that he has not been cheating in the past?

Do read Luke 19: 11–27.

Luke does not use the parable of the minas to teach successful stewardship as Matthew uses it in Matt 25: 14–30 but to explain the apparent non-appearance of the Kingdom (the people thought the kingdom of God was going to appear at once 19: 11). The parable uses a well-known and well-understood situation. 73 years earlier Herod the Great, second son of the just assassinated king, made a successful journey to Rome to petition Caesar to appoint him the next king of Judea. Later, about 37 years before Luke wrote, Herod’s son Archelaus had made a similar, but unsuccessful, journey seeking the same thing. (A ‘mina’ was about 100 days wages for a working man.)

Queston 5: What would be the likely outcome for a servant of the would-be king if (a) the petitioner who would be king was successful, (b) he was unsuccessful?

By their actions the servants would demonstrate their allegiance or otherwise to the man seeking to be king. Their future livelihoods, or possibly their lives, would be dependant on having chosen the right option. The last phrase of v 15 should perhaps read ‘how much trading have you done’ effectively asking how conspicuous have you been while I was away when it was known that you supported me. If I win, you win. If I lose, you lose.

Question 6: How was this relevant to the developing situation as Jesus travelled to Jerusalem? How is it relevant to us?

If he was indeed the Messiah he claimed to be and they showed their loyalty by open declaration of their support of him they would gain. If he wasn’t, they would be in a very dangerous situation. At least that was the way it looked. Things did not quite work out in that straightforward way. He was indeed the Messiah but they were still in a dangerous situation, humanly speaking. But in the vast story of human history they became very important. The comment of the third servant in 19: 21 must have been meant as a complement! He must have been suggesting that his master was something like a warlord in a country with much internal fighting going on!

Question 7: How can this and the master’s reply (v 21, 22) be related to Jesus, or to God?

Ps 18: 25, 26 relates to this sort of situation. It says of God ‘To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.’ It suggest that, at least in part, our understanding of God will depend on our general attitudes.

Question 8: The final comment in 19: 27 ‘But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me. is realistic in the Judaean kingship, or warlord, scenario. How can it possibly be related to Jesus, or God?

This is another unfinished story. We are told what the enemies deserved, not what actually happened to them. Compare what we deserve and what we actually get from the Lord. After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. So says 19: 28, finally bringing to an end the long account of the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem and introducing the last phase of Luke’s account of Jesus’ life, death and victory.

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Aspects of Covenantal Love

(Song of Solomon 8:5-7)

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Two weeks ago, we started this journey together at Song of Solomon 2:3-14 and Life under the Apple Tree. We saw together that Jesus, the tremendous lover, wants to hear the voice of His people and to be their king. Then last week, we continued the journey, looking at Song of Solomon 5:9 - 6:9. There we saw together that Jesus is the best of the best and that Jesus is altogether lovely in every aspect - his birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, exultation, holiness, glorification, grace, protection, tenderness, power, wisdom, vengeance, judgment, redemption and pardon! Altogether: lovely and glorious.

There are 3 main ways to interpret this book. Firstly as a story about the joys of biblical love between a man and woman. That bit even I can see. Some would say that it was erotic, but as a white Australian male, I just don't see it! Secondly, the earliest commentators and readers saw it as an allegory about God's love for His people Israel, particularly with their coming Messiah in mind. The third way shows that this Song of Songs speaks not only on a physical level about the importance of human love and intimacy between a man and a woman, but also the intimacy that exists, blossoms and grows between a person and Jesus Christ. Martin Luther called it the "noblest of all songs". Historically this book has been interpreted in 3 ways

We move on tonight, to perhaps, what could be considered the key verses of this book. The couple have now entered a covenantal relationship - a relationship committed to one another. So please do open your bibles and turn to page XXX and let us read the Song of Solomon 8v5-7.These three verses are the key verses of the Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs as other people call it. As the couple, the Lover and the Beloved, have now entered into a Covenant of love, we are, tonight, going to look at 4 Dimensions of Covenantal Love. A Covenant is a contract - a promise. Throughout Old Testament history, God had made covenants with people - people such as Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses. The original readers and commentators would have known that and understood that. With that insight, we are going to ask together 4 questions about Covenant Love - Who? When? Why? How?

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November 19, 2012

Think Spot


Think Spot 19th November 2012

Possessed by Christ

What a thought!! isn’t it amazing?

The apostle Paul wrote “You are not your own! You were bought with a price therefore glorify God in your body and spirit which belong to Him.” …“For me to live is Christ” “Christ lives in me” … How marvellous is that? As I meditated on this fact this morning I was suddenly made aware of being filled with such joy that was inexpressible but so, so, real as the truth of those words hit home to my spirit. For me? How very close is that? He is living in me!. When I go anywhere or do anything he is with me! No longer with but in me!!

What joy may flood your heart too as you grasp and experience this truth. Not only Rivers of living water flowing out from me but He is resident inside of me! Again, Ephesians 2 explains that “we are seated in the heavenly places with Christ. Jesus” Isn’t that an astonishing statement too?

Jesus promised to all his disciples, of which you are one, if you are a born again Christian. “He that is with you shall be in you” The Spirit of Christ living the life of Christ inside of us, right? Doesn’t that make a difference as you face that forthcoming operation? Does that not make you feel different as you submit to Jesus Christ afresh for the umpteenth time having failed miserably before? Doesn’t that make a difference as you come to your daily devotions and looking up the portion for the day previously thinking nothing will jump out at you, but today things will be different! Doesn’t that make a difference as you pray for opportunities to share your faith this day having previously shrunk back when the opportunity arrives with all kinds of doubts?

Expectancy is the key word. “Only believe and you will see!” The Lord wants us to go everywhere gossiping the gospel. There are so many people who have not heard the Good news which has transformed your life and mine. They may have a spattering of knowledge about God but usually they are so lacking in knowledge about Jesus Christ and you have the knowledge and hopefully now with Christ's fresh evidence that He is in you encouraging you to speak out for Him with Him directing your words. Everywhere you go, carrying a tract and the gospel that has transformed your life in your mind and heart and ready to share. All He requires of you to be successful is your heart felt desire to be obedient in every area of your life for you to be full to overflowing with His Spirit.

The proof will be when you step out of the boat into the water and keeping your heart aware He is living within (keeping as it were your eyes fixed upon Him) He may not be walking in water ahead of you but He is walking as it were within you. He is with you to bless your daily conversations when you speak of him to others. He will give you so many opportunities and you will be amazed. Remember every moment you are on the winning side.  Excite people with your testimony of how you find Him operating in your life daily and making such a difference to you. Speak of Him as a real, living Being living close to you. He is of course

When you speak to anyone remember you have the Lord of the Universe inside you. They have nothing in comparison. They need Him in their lives. Be brave and see what Jesus will do through you. Remember “Christ is in you the hope of glory.” I conclude with an up to date experience I had today. On this occasion it was concerning someone I sat with at a table in town and drinking coffee. He had missed his bus back home and because of his failing health (he has inoperable cancer) I offered to take him home in my car. As we drew up to his home he said he does think a lot about God now as he is drawing near to his heavenly home and said he has memorised a comforting prayer written in the common prayer book used in the Church of England. He repeated it to me and as he expressed each word slowly, because.(recently he had a stroke) He then quoted some words from hymns by Charles Wesley and Toplady. I encouraged him as he spoke of the closeness he wants to find in the Lord now that he may be called home at any time. I drew his attention to some of the promises I have shared with you earlier including, “Christ in you the hope of glory” He listened and then I prayed with Him that each day now he may wait in expectancy for the Lord to move him to glory and that he may be ready and that it might be an easy exit from this world to the next.

He thanked me for the prayer then I offered the one booklet I had with me called “My Presence shall go with you” which is one of many I distribute and make available for others to use in their daily walk of witness with the Lord. Again he thanked me and said “I didn’t know you wrote booklets like this but I am sure that one is meant for me.” I said I prayed each day that the Lord would lead me to whoever He wants me to communicate with to share the glorious gospel. The booklet I gave him “My Presence shall go with you” contained a fair amount of personal testimony. He knows his life is in God's hands and he is contented in God. He still witnesses at 90 years of age and has three people coming to his home to talk to next Sunday. Then he said, “ Jim, I really believe it was God's will for us to meet today and for you to bring me...... home …....”

Joys prayer

Dear Lord and loving heavenly Father, we admit our fears to you and ask You for holy boldness and love in our hearts for people we meet today. Help us to open our mouths and speak forth clearly the truth about You. Help us to be witnesses to people who You have already planned for us to meet . Make us even more aware that Christ is living within us and that as we offer ourselves afresh to you each day we may be able at the close of each day to say “I feel great to have been a witness for Jesus today”. In Jesus name, Amen

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November 18, 2012

Luke Looks Back 22


Study 22 - Luke 18:9–30

The Way of the Kingdom

We now come to two very significant parables either side of a short and rather surprising paragraph. I think we should start off with some explanations. The first parable is not about ways to pray but about righteousness (Luke 18:9). Righteousness is a very important, but very tricky, word in the Bible. Our English word has been used to translate a word in the Greek, which does not quite mean what our word means! In fact the Biblical word carries with it a whole set of meanings that no single word in English can possibly include. Our word has as its primary meaning ‘being right’, in the sense of being morally and ethically right in the scale of good and bad.

But the Greek word in the NT is used to translate an OT word, which is primarily about being accepted, about being in relationship with someone. Our word is an accountant’s word; the OT word is a social word. Of course, in the OT one can only be accepted by a Holy God if one is right in the moral sense too, but that idea is secondary. And then a third implication of the word is that if you are accepted by God then you are within the covenant that God struck with Abraham. So the word means being accepted by God, being good and being within the covenant.

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Also, a big family of related Greek words about righteousness have to be translated by English words with two very different roots, righteous and justify, which don’t sound as though they have anything to do with each other. If there was an English word ‘righteous-ify’ things would be much easier but, unfortunately, there isn’t. So ‘justify’ in Lk 18:14, and through all the rest of the NT, would be righteous-ify, if there was such a word.

So our reading from Luke 18 is going to start off with ‘to some who were confident of their own righteousness …’ which could be translated ‘to some who thought they, being better than everyone else would be accepted by God and were within the covenant.’

Please read Luke 18:9 – 14.

The whole focus of this parable is about how one can come to be accepted by God, to be in a saving relationship with God. How? The answer is in the meaning of the word translated ‘mercy’ in v 13, which is exactly the same word translated ‘sacrifice of atonement’ in Rom 3:25 and 1 John 2:2. The time for prayer in the worship centred on the temple, which is when these 2 guys would have been praying, was the time of the sacrifice for atonement, as mentioned in the first few verses of this gospel when Zechariah went into the temple. The tax collector was effectively asking ‘Lord, make this sacrifice, going on right now, an atonement for me, a sinner’.

Question 1: What is the only way we can be righteous, that is be accepted by God?

As the write to the Hebrews says ‘Jesus was like us in every way in order that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Heb 2:17)? Or, as Paul says ‘and all are justified-righteousified-freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.

Question 2: What other words are used in the Bible about the way God deals with us, which particularly emphasize our relationship to God?

There are all the words about adoption, being children, and having an inheritance. For instance Paul says:‘those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. If we are children then we are heirs …’ There we have adoption, sonship, recognizing God as our Father and being heirs all in Rom 8:14 – 16; all of those are words about relationship. Paul piles up the same sort of relationship words in his letter to the Galatians too.

Question 3: What is the important difference between the Pharisee’s prayer and the tax-collector’s?

The Pharisee was relying on his own goodness to make him acceptable to God. But, like all of us, he could not be good enough to be acceptable to God who is pure holiness. The tax collector knew that he was not good enough to be acceptable so he asked for the mercy of God, the atonement from sacrifice. He did not realise that all sacrifice at that time was only of value because it was a foretaste of the perfect sacrifice that Jesus would make on the Cross. Question 4:Aren’t we glad we are not like the Pharisee …. Oops! There is something wrong with that question. I think I had better do another question 4.

Please read Luke 18:15 – 17.

Question 4: Children were not then the little gods they are in many cultures today. So what is Jesus emphasising by his statement in 15 – 17?

Children accept what comes to them rather than attempting to organise the world around them to their advantage. Jesus is saying that we too can only progress by a accepting what is given to us from the Lord.

Please read Luke 18:18-30

Question 5: What is the rich man suggesting by his use of the word ‘inherit’ (v 18)? How do we inherit?

He would seem to have understood that eternal life is not something we can demand but depends on the gift of someone else. So the important thing is being in right relation to the person who gives, in this case, God. We can only inherit through the gift of God. Paul says in Gal 4:4 – 7 ‘God sent his Son, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, you are no longer slaves, but God’s children; and since you are his children, he has made you also heirs.’

Question 6: Compared to most of the people who have ever lived most of us are relatively rich! After all you must be sitting in front of a screen of some sort to be hearing or reading this. What then do we do with verse 22 where Jesus said ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.? Are we thereby failing in our obedience?

We are very fortunate people. but we cannot live in most of our societies without being able to pay our taxes, pay for the electricity and everything else we necessarily have – well, nearly necessarily have, anyway. The real punch line in what Jesus said is the last phrase ‘come, follow me’. If we do that all else will fall into place. We can enter the Kingdom. So that we will remember his warning Jesus gave one of his most memorable over-statements. Various attempts to explain camels as ropes or needle’s eyes as narrow gates are wrong. Just remember what Jesus said. That is the point of what he said.

Question 7: We have just had 3 lovely stories:the Pharisee and the tax-collector, the children coming to Jesus and the rich man asking Jesus about eternal life. What are the similarities between these three stories?

They are all focused on how we should approach God. In the first story we are told that being religious and pious are not sufficient ; in the second that it is all too easy to allow maturity and being worldly wise become a barrier; and finally that riches and good deeds are likely to be a hindrance to us. As one hymn writer said long ago “nothing in my hand I bring; simply to thy cross I cling”. I do hope all our hearers are doing just that.

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November 16, 2012

Friday Prayers


Partakers Friday Prayers!

16th November 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 together! Today we are praying an ancient prayer of Julian of Norwich... On the MP3 audio download, before the prayer, there is a short biography and a thought from her, about prayer and praying.Our pray-er today is Sammy...

A prayer of Julian of Norwich

In you, Father Almighty,

we have our preservation and our bliss.

In you, Christ,

we have our restoring and our saving.

You are our brother, and Saviour.


In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit,

is marvellous and plenteous grace.

You are our clothing;

for love you wrap us and embrace us./span>

You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.


Teach us to believe that by your grace

all shall be well, and all shall be well,

and all manner of things shall be well.


O God, of your goodness,

give us yourself,

for only in you do we have all.


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November 12, 2012

Think Spot


Think Spot 12th November 2012

Moving Home and choosing a new church ?

We will assume you have already prayed about the matter when you knew you were moving to a new location. If you had the choice of where to live then you would have prayed and then looked at the area noting where different churches were situated, Is that right? Maybe your prayer would have been along the lines of “Lord, where do you want my family and I both to live and worship? I personally want to serve you in a church where I can just sit back and listen to nice comfortable sermons that do not make me think too much where I have to change my life style. Somewhere, where the seats are comfortable, the people friendly, and where not too many questions asked as to what my past life has been like. Somewhere pleasant to go to from time to time.” Well I certainly do not hope you prayed in that way. The truth is new, genuine Christian people will be looking for a church where they can be assured Jesus Christ is central in the church ministry.

A keen Christian, which I hope you are, will be wanting to attend a church where Jesus Christ is right in the centre of the church's teaching and

(1) where a real sense of God's presence is surely sensed whenever a meeting is about to take place and this is confirmed to you as the service continues.

(2) It will be a fellowship of God's believers where the ministry of God's Word is taught accurately, in language you can understand and where it is applied unreservedly, honestly and with understanding.

(3)It will be a place where those who minister are competent. God called teachers. These men of God will not take God's Word lightly and certainly they are not full of jokes that have no relevance to the preached Word. These men will realise they are standing in God's holy place as they stand to preach. They preach “Thus says the Lord” Nothing flippant at all entering their vocabulary.

(4)They will be fully aware of their responsibility of revealing to the people what they themselves have learned in the secret place as they have prayed over and painstakingly searching God's Word diligently for the richest of food for God's people.

(5)They will be aware of the need to bring milk for the new believer as well as meat for the more mature from God's Word so that all who will attend will be catered for.

New people will need to be sure they will be well fed regularly from God's Precious Word! In the scriptures we read of those who looked up and were not fed. That would be a travesty especially for those who have come a distance, or are weighed down with troubles at home or at work and need an uplift for the downcast or an encouragement into some new venture God has already planned for them.

They will need the assurance of God's Word required for guidance into that new project. Yes, may well say “that's a tall order, isnt it?” You will see now that there is a tremendous responsibility upon the preacher and the church to fill the pulpit with such ministry where the people look up and are fed adequately, according to their various needs. Testimonies are fine especially at baptisms but they must never replace the preached Word.

The new person to the church will be looking at its worship. Is its content doctrinally sound and words easy to see and sing? Is the focus centred on the music alone or the words also? All words of spiritual songs should be centred on God's precious powerful Word with Christ at the centre. Again may I be permitted to say that although many modern songs today are centred on God's Word they need to cover more than expressing the love of God. That is very important but what about God's holiness, His majesty and power, His mercy and judgement, His guidance and compassion etc. It is also a danger for songs to focus on man and man's love for God rather than God and His love for His people. God's power available towards man! God's wisdom! God’s power and strength! God's perfect peace! Glory to God means just that. “To God be the glory great, great things... HE HAS DONE!” We are to expect new people to be looking for such worship and so they should find it.

The new person to a church will be looking for good fellowship! When they arrive they receive a warm friendly welcome. They could be shown to a seat also if possible. Following the meeting, over refreshments, is a further chance for them to be introduced to other different members of the church, being made aware they are there for the first or second time. It means such a lot to a newcomer to be thus welcomed. New families need to be easily directed also to the Sunday School and youth departments as well. Christianity is to be practised as well as believed. If they are interested in Home Groups at least by the second visit they should be made aware of a Group suitable and near as possible to their own new home.

These are evidences then of a truly live evangelical church which should be in place. They have moved to one new home now they need a good spiritual home. Take your time looking and praying regarding both your home and new spiritual home. Prayer is of ultra importance for you but also make sure it is a church given to prayer about everything. You will experience Bible study and Prayer meetings and will be requested to help in Outreach. These are hallmarks of a lively evangelical church. Be prepared to be an active Christian in your new spiritual fellowship.

Some while ago when I was looking for a church at one time I spent the best part of a year making sure it was the right one. It is so important to know you are where God wants you to be and to worship and serve Him. So pray continually and pray expectantly and don't forget to glorify and thank Him when you find your new spiritual home. Have your friends pray for you to that end. May God richly bless you, your family and the new church family where you settle.

Joys Prayer

Gracious God and loving heavenly Father,

Please help people seeking for God as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ, to find their true spiritual home where their families , each member in particular, can find the church where they can settle down, to enjoy its church programmes activities. A place where they are all sensing that they are seen to be real assets to their new church through God's wonderful grace.

Each church is like a jig saw with some pieces already in place but with enough spaces for those God wants to join where they will work together to complete the local body with its activities towards others in the fellowship as well as in the surrounding neighbourhood of the church. Please give clarity of the understanding of your will, in Jesus name! Amen.

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November 11, 2012

Luke Looks Back 21


Study 21 - Luke 17:1-18:8

Faith and its consequences.

This next section of the Gospel contains a collection of small episodes mainly about faith and its consequences. We read about having to be careful not to hurt anyone else, being prepared to serve in any capacity, giving thanks and praising the Lord, looking forward and behaving in the light of the coming kingdom and being persistent in prayer.

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Please do read 17: 1 – 10

The 'little ones' (v2) are not defined but we probably will not be far wrong if we take them to be any Christians young in faith. 'to sin' (NIV) is more literally 'to stumble'.

Question 1: Is the advice of 17: 4 realistic? Can we sensibly forgive someone seven times if they keep on repeating the same thing for which we need to forgive them? Compare 1 Cor 5: 1, 3b - 5. What is the significant difference between these two situations?

Perhaps we should not forgive anyone 7 times if, by so doing, we encourage the persistence of the problem. There has to be a difference in our reactions when we are acting as private individuals and when we are acting on behalf of the church. In the situation in 1 Corinthians Paul is acting on behalf of that fellowship.

Question 2: Jesus cannot be saying to the disciples in 17: 5, 6 that they have no faith because they cannot throw a tree in the sea! However he must be saying something about faith. What?

Perhaps this is just another example of Jesus' dramatic over statements to make a memorable saying. But even so Jesus was challenging the apostles to think bigger about prayer than they had been accustomed to doing. Probably we all need to think bigger about prayer - I certainly do.

Question 3: What is the Christian service (17: 10) you do, or have done, which you have found hardest to do - only doing it out of a sense of duty? Does asking that question imply a wrong attitude towards duty?

You will have to answer the first part of that question yourself. Luke put the comment about duty immediately after the sayings about prayer. Perhaps what we think of as duty he is suggesting we should think of as prayer.

Please do read 17: 11 - 19.

The story of the 10 lepers is all about seeing and not seeing - a recurrent theme in this gospel. (see also Lk 8: 10; 10: 23, 24). It reminds us of the story of Balaam and his donkey. The seer who could not see and his donkey who could see.  Does that mean we need to be donkeys and not seers, I wonder?

Question 4: Who saw what here and with what effect? Who failed to see? What do we find the hardest things to see (in this sense)? What do you do when you see?

The first person we are told 'saw' was Jesus. Then just one of the lepers 'saw' he was healed, although presumably all 10 of them had been. That one leper saw more deeply than the others what Jesus had done for him. And so he had faith. Probably the other 9 did not have faith, but went on their way as spiritually stupid as they came. He got far more out of his meeting with Jesus than the rest did. A clear warning to us.

Please do read 17: 20 - 37.

This section is about the Kingdom of God and is not easy to understand as Jesus seems to have made 2 sets of prophetic statements. The first is about what would happen to Jerusalem - and did happen to Jerusalem some 40 years later when, in response to a revolt by the Jews, the Romans attacked it, besieged and largely destroyed it with huge loss of life. The second set of statements is about what will happen at the end of the world. The fall of Jerusalem was the end of the world as they knew it; the end of the world will be the end of the world as we know it. It is not at all easy to know exactly which some of the statements refer to. The destruction of Jerusalem is a sort of prophetic foretaste of that still future end.

The very important phrase that is used to summarize the teaching of passages like this is 'Now, but not yet' meaning that the Kingdom was there in the presence of Jesus and is here now in the presence of the Holy Spirit but is not yet evident in its full and final glory.

Question 5: What does Jesus say here concerning the 'Now'? But the question of the Pharisees was about the future. What did Jesus say here about this 'not yet' aspect of the Kingdom? What do his words suggest our attitudes to these two aspects should be?

The now of those days was as difficult as anybody's now of today, full of wars and rumours of wars. Mankind has not changed much in these last 2000 years. Although Jesus clearly knew there was to be a last day he offered no suggestions at all about when it would be. The 'not yet' has already stretched out for those 2000 years. That fact inevitably affects our thinking, making us careless when we should be preparing for it. Jesus is warning against such carelessness. Be warned.

Please do read 18: 1 - 8.

The parable of the unjust judge is difficult. It probably belongs more to what goes before, the sayings of Jesus we have just been thinking about, than what comes after. Its primary meaning is not about persistent prayer in general but of our attitude to the expectation of the final day for at least 4 reasons:

  • It is about a judge - and the final day is one of judgment;
  • There is a general Biblical expectation that the apparent inequities of this present life will be compensated in the future life as Luke 6:21 and Luke 6:25 teach us and that is evident here.
  • 18: 7 is similar to Revelation 6: 9 - 11 which is very clearly about the future in heaven.
  • 18: 8 is about the coming of the Son of Man and that reflects Dan 7: 13, 14, 26, 27

Question 6: What compensating justice in the future life would most please you? Is that wish one that will encourage the Lord to think that he has found faith in you, or were you just being rather selfish?

It is a good job that only you know what your answers to those 2 linked questions are!

It is too easy to read this story as teaching that the Lord measures prayer by its quantity. That seems inherently unlikely. What about its quality? Paul only prayed about his thorn in the flesh 3 times and then decided he was stuck with it. We might have been tempted to go on pleading with the Lord like the widow in this story. Somewhere between the two stories is the right balance.

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