January 29, 2013

POD - Psalm 19

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Psalm 19

19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God.

The expanse shows his handiwork.

19:2 Day after day they pour forth speech,

and night after night they display knowledge.

19:3 There is no speech nor language,

where their voice is not heard.

19:4 Their voice has gone out through all the earth,

their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,

19:5 which is as a bridegroom coming out of his room,

like a strong man rejoicing to run his course.

19:6 His going forth is from the end of the heavens,

his circuit to its ends;

There is nothing hidden from its heat.

19:7 Yahweh’s law is perfect, restoring the soul.

Yahweh’s testimony is sure, making wise the simple.

19:8 Yahweh’s precepts are right, rejoicing the heart.

Yahweh’s commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes.

19:9 The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring forever.

Yahweh’s ordinances are true, and righteous altogether.

19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey and the extract of the honeycomb.

19:11 Moreover by them is your servant warned.

In keeping them there is great reward.

19:12 Who can discern his errors?

Forgive me from hidden errors.

19:13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins.

Let them not have dominion over me.

Then I will be upright.

I will be blameless and innocent of great transgression.

19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

Yahweh, my rock, and my redeemer.

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January 28, 2013

Think Spot

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Think Spot

28th January 2013

An interesting picture of the power of preaching I believe, is found in Revelation 1 where we see a picture of The Lord Jesus Christ, who is The Word of God in all His glory, powerfully speaking in a vision to John the apostle on the island of Patmos. John describes Jesus Christ in this way, “His voice was like the sound of rushing waters”. He then describes the powerful effect of what he heard. He likened it to a sharp double edged sword in Christ's mouth . He then sees in this same vision seven stars are held in Jesus Christ's hand . ~

Now if the seven stars referred to are those who are leaders of the seven churches addressed by Jesus Christ in the next few chapters and preach the Word, they are in Christ's hands and surely Christ's words are to come from their mouths. Consider what that would mean for today’s churches. What powerful preaching would come from those who preach with Christ controlling their lives and mouths. ~

In Romans 10 we read that preaching is a vital necessity and those called to preach are sent and empowered by God. It is a very special calling. So is it not a fair question to ask why is so much preaching today lame and ineffective? Why do the listeners becomes bored ? Why is preaching spoken of as if it should only have a small part in the service? Some even say out of date. Powerful preaching is so necessary today.

~

So if there is a scarcity of powerful preaching today why isn’t more attention given to this desperate need? Because, we know Its amazing, powerful affect can be shattering to Satan's domain. It is meant to do just that. This positive, powerful preaching builds magnificently the Kingdom of God, and God's people grow strong and are more affective witnesses through its direct work into their lives. ~

How much time does the average preacher spend in the presence of God praying over his message and in preparing that Word from God? John Wesley said “the preacher should spend five hours out of every twenty four in study and in prayer for his preaching.” Why that amount of time? Because of its importance to find the precise meaning of words to be preached and to be applied to the hearers. To seek earnestly the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord blesses immensely the church which gives their minister's time preparing and preaching while others may perform other of his tasks. The church has many parts and gifts to compliment their pastor's ministry. (1 Corinthians 12-14) ~

Are you exercising your gifts to help your minister? I ask you, where is the ardent christian today who is eager to give themselves completely to live for Christ, dying to self whose soul is thirsts for the living God. When you gather to worship, are you looking eagerly to hear the words God wants you to hear in the sermon? Are you looking to be fed, strengthened and equipped to serve Christ where ever you go, and being an effective witness for Jesus Christ to those who don't know Him? ~ Pray for your preachers and be willing to be obedient to God as He speaks through them. And if you are a preacher, then please do take the time to often be in His Word, praying for Him to speak through you so that the church may be built up.

Joy's Prayer

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January 27, 2013

Luke Looks Back 29

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Study 29-Luke 23:26–24:12

The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.

All history pivots on the events described in these verses. The story is told with striking simplicity and absence of comment.

We read Luke 23:26 – 43.

Many people play a part in the judicial murder of Jesus. In order from Luke 22:47 on we read about:Judas, the arresting squad, Peter, the men guarding Jesus, the council of the elders, Pilate, Herod, the soldiers, the crowd in front of Pilate’s house, the soldiers leading Jesus to his death, the watchers and rulers at the place called a Skull and the criminals on their crosses. For each of these we might:

  • Consider what their motives, if any, were for what they did.
  • Think of a present day situation where the same motives might be apparent.
  • Wonder which of these motives we might sometimes have ourselves.

Question 1: Select 3 people or groups of people from that list and consider:motive, present day equivalent and personal reflection for each of them.

The arresting squad, the men guarding Jesus and the soldiers were all obeying orders so motive doesn’t really come into it except for those who mocked Jesus rather more vigorously than they might have done. The problem of when to disobey orders is still with us. No one has ever been able to explain why Judas did what he did completely satisfactorily. Peter acted from a desire for self preservation, something we have probably all been guilty of in some small or large way at some time in our lives. The elders, Pilate, Herod and the rulers watching the crucifixion allowed political aims to dominate their thinking. They thought their ideas more important then the life of the most important man who ever lived. Some people still allow purely political aims to lead them to dreadful acts of wickedness. Only the friends watching beside the Cross, of whom the most important, according to John, were women and just one disciple, come out of the story with any credit at all. They had seen something in this man that transcended the danger of being associated with him. May we have the strength and courage to do the same.

Question 2: Paul talks about sharing Jesus’ sufferings (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 3:10). For some of us those statements may be reflected in our own lives. What would we achieve by such suffering? Would any such sufferings be in any way redemptive?

Of course sufferings, by definition, are not pleasant. Such things give us a great sense of solidarity – these would give us a much enhanced sense of solidarity with Christ, of fellowship with him. And apart from our feelings there would be the practical experience of His glory that Paul also mentions.

We read Luke 23:44–56.

The tearing of the temple curtain symbolises the opening of the way to God to everybody – you and me included. Each and every attempt by men to re-erect a barrier to God by saying that only they have full access, or only in their way is it possible to approach God, is sadly mistaken. After the death of Jesus the action moves to the apparent outsiders:Joseph of Arimathea was not one of the leading disciples and the women were second rate citizens in the thinking of those days.

Question 3: Which one sentence of the story of the crucifixion will you take away as the most memorable for you?

Different people would give different answers to this. For me, I think it is that brief comment “the centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God” because that mirrors my thoughts as I read about what happened. And so we come to the resurrection.

We read Luke 24:1 – 12.

This is one of the four accounts of what happened that we have. They do not exactly agree about what happened, differing in the way that eye-witness accounts of any surprising, unexpected, event will do. The women set out to do the obvious, necessary things, for a dead person. They did not agonize in prayer about what they should do (did they leave that to the male apostles?). They were hugely blessed as a result of undertaking the obvious tasks. Is this a lesson for us?

Question 4: Why was it women (in those days considered unreliable witnesses to anything!) who were there first? What are we expected to learn from the fact that they were first to meet the risen Lord (according to Matthew and John)?

The NT challenges the way women were thought of and treated in those days. It does this obliquely, rather than directly in gospel stories like this, in the way Paul refers to women particularly in the last chapter of Romans where Priscilla has a dominant role in what she does with her husband, in what is said of Phoebe, in that Junias, a woman, is called an apostle, and many other women are mentioned and commended, all in this same chapter. The church, like the societies in which it has existed for most of its history has been male dominated. We need to be careful to think about the balance we see in scripture.

The most important event in the history of the world was the death of Jesus on the Cross, for that act alone atoned for the rebellion of all men and women, including you and me, against God. That we know this is the correct understanding of what happened is because of what followed – the resurrection of Jesus to the new life of the ages. Had he not risen he would have been just one more of the many failed would-be Messiahs of those days. There would have been no church, no Christian movement. Many people have tried to argue that it did not happen. None of them have given a satisfactory explanation of what did happen. We know without the slightest doubt that there was a Jewish nation there when Jesus was born and that a remarkable movement of people known as Christians started very soon after his death.

Something happened in between to cause the move from one to the other. What was it? Only the Biblical account recorded in the four gospels makes any sense of the gap. We – you – have to come to terms with what happened and decide how we – you – are going to respond to it. The next, and last, study in this series considers the two episodes describing what happened when disciples met the risen Christ. These are clearly written to challenge any and every reader or hearer to faith. So, if you are not already a follower of Jesus, you are going to be challenged to think deeply about what you have heard. Will you be prepared to follow Him, whatever the cost may be?

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