google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2013 October

Archive for October 2013

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Church Moves Ahead Part 21

G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs. This excerpt is from The Eighth Persecution, Under Valerian, A.D. 257.

In Africa the persecution raged with peculiar violence; many thousands received the crown of martyrdom, among whom the following were the most distinguished characters:

Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, an eminent prelate, and a pious ornament of the Church. The brightness of his genius was tempered by the solidity of his judgment; and with all the accomplishments of the gentleman, he blended the virtues of a Christian. His doctrines were orthodox and pure; his language easy and elegant; and his manners graceful and winning: in fine, he was both the pious and polite preacher. In his youth he was educated in the principles of Gentilism, and having a considerable fortune, he lived in the very extravagance of splendor, and all the dignity of pomp.

About the year 246, Coecilius, a Christian minister of Carthage, became the happy instrument of Cyprian's conversion: on which account, and for the great love that he always afterward bore for the author of his conversion, he was termed Coecilius Cyprian. Previous to his baptism, he studied the Scriptures with care and being struck with the beauties of the truths they contained, he determined to practise the virtues therein recommended. Subsequent to his baptism, he sold his estate, distributed the money among the poor, dressed himself in plain attire, and commenced a life of austerity. He was soon after made a presbyter; and, being greatly admired for his virtues and works, on the death of Donatus, in A.D. 248, he was almost unanimously elected bishop of Carthage.

Cyprian's care not only extended over Carthage, but to Numidia and Mauritania. In all his transactions he took great care to ask the advice of his clergy, knowing that unanimity alone could be of service to the Church, this being one of his maxims, "That the bishop was in the church, and the church in the bishop; so that unity can only be preserved by a close connexion between the pastor and his flock."

In A.D. 250, Cyprian was publicly proscribed by the emperor Decius, under the appellation of Coecilius Cyprian, bishop of the Christrians; and the universal cry of the pagans was, "Cyprian to the lions, Cyprian to the beasts." The bishop, however, withdrew from the rage of the populace, and his effects were immediately confiscated. During his retirement, he wrote thirty pious and elegant letters to his flock; but several schisms that then crept into the Church, gave him great uneasiness. The rigor of the persecution abating, he returned to Carthage, and did everything in his power to expunge erroneous opinions. A terrible plague breaking out in Carthage, it was as usual, laid to the charge of the Christians; and the magistrates began to persecute accordingly, which occasioned an epistle from them to Cyprian, in answer to which he vindicates the cause of Christianity. A.D. 257, Cyprian was brought before the proconsul Aspasius Paturnus, who exiled him to a little city on the Lybian sea. On the death of this proconsul, he returned to Carthage, but was soon after seized, and carried before the new governor, who condemned him to be beheaded; which sentence was executed on the fourteenth of September, A.D. 258.

The disciples of Cyprian, martyred in this persecution, were Lucius, Flavian, Victoricus, Remus, Montanus, Julian, Primelus, and Donatian.

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Church Moves Ahead Part 20

G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs. This excerpt is from The Eighth Persecution, Under Valerian, AD257.

In the year 258, Marcianus, who had the management of the Roman government, procured an order from the emperor Valerian, to put to death all the Christian clergy in Rome, and hence the bishop with six of his deacons, suffered martyrdom in 258.

Let us draw near to the fire of martyred Lawrence, that our cold hearts may be warmed thereby. The merciless tyrant, understanding him to be not only a minister of the sacraments, but a distributor also of the Church riches, promised to himself a double prey, by the apprehension of one soul. First, with the rake of avarice to scrape to himself the treasure of poor Christians; then with the fiery fork of tyranny, so to toss and turmoil them, that they should wax weary of their profession. With furious face and cruel countenance, the greedy wolf demanded where this Lawrence had bestowed the substance of the Church: who, craving three days' respite, promised to declare where the treasure might be had. In the meantime, he caused a good number of poor Christians to be congregated. So, when the day of his answer was come, the persecutor strictly charged him to stand to his promise. Then valiant Lawrence, stretching out his arms over the poor, said: "These are the precious treasure of the Church; these are the treasure indeed, in whom the faith of Christ reigneth, in whom Jesus Christ hath His mansion-place. What more precious jewels can Christ have, than those in whom He hath promised to dwell? For so it is written, 'I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.' And again, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' What greater riches can Christ our Master possess, than the poor people in whom He loveth to be seen?"

O, what tongue is able to express the fury and madness of the tyrant's heart! Now he stamped, he stared, he ramped, he fared as one out of his wits: his eyes like fire glowed, his mouth like a boar formed, his teeth like a hellhound grinned. Now, not a reasonable man, but a roaring lion, he might be called.

"Kindle the fire (he cried)--of wood make no spare. Hath this villain deluded the emperor? Away with him, away with him: whip him with scourges, jerk him with rods, buffet him with fists, brain him with clubs. Jesteth the traitor with the emperor? Pinch him with fiery tongs, gird him with burning plates, bring out the strongest chains, and the fire-forks, and the grated bed of iron: on the fire with it; bind the rebel hand and foot; and when the bed is fire-hot, on with him: roast him, broil him, toss him, turn him: on pain of our high displeasure do every man his office, O ye tormentors."

The word was no sooner spoken, but all was done. After many cruel handlings, this meek lamb was laid, I will not say on his fiery bed of iron, but on his soft bed of down. So mightily God wrought with his martyr Lawrence, so miraculously God tempered His element the fire; that it became not a bed of consuming pain, but a pallet of nourishing rest.

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Church Moves Ahead Part 19

G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs. This excerpt is from The Eighth Persecution, Under Valerian, A.D. 257.

Began under Valerian, in the month of April, 257, and continued for three years and six months. The martyrs that fell in this persecution were innumerable, and their tortures and deaths as various and painful. The most eminent martyrs were the following, though neither rank, sex, nor age were regarded. Rufina and Secunda were two beautiful and accomplished ladies, daughters of Asterius, a gentleman of eminence in Rome. Rufina, the elder, was designed in marriage for Armentarius, a young nobleman; Secunda, the younger, for Verinus, a person of rank and opulence. The suitors, at the time of the persecution's commencing, were both Christians; but when danger appeared, to save their fortunes, they renounced their faith. They took great pains to persuade the ladies to do the same, but, disappointed in their purpose, the lovers were base enough to inform against the ladies, who, being apprehended as Christians, were brought before Junius Donatus, governor of Rome, where, A.D. 257, they sealed their martyrdom with their blood.

Stephen, bishop of Rome, was beheaded in the same year, and about that time Saturninus, the pious orthodox bishop of Toulouse, refusing to sacrifice to idols, was treated with all the barbarous indignities imaginable, and fastened by the feet to the tail of a bull. Upon a signal given, the enraged animal was driven down the steps of the temple, by which the worthy martyr's brains were dashed out.

Sextus succeeded Stephen as bishop of Rome. He is supposed to have been a Greek by birth or by extraction, and had for some time served in the capacity of a deacon under Stephen. His great fidelity, singular wisdom, and uncommon courage distinguished him upon many occasions; and the happy conclusion of a controversy with some heretics is generally ascribed to his piety and prudence.

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Church Moves Ahead Part 18

G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs. This excerpt is from Chapter 2 - The Ten Primitive Persecutions - The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249.

Secundianus, having been accused as a Christian, was conveyed to prison by some soldiers. On the way, Verianus and Marcellinus said, "Where are you carrying the innocent?" This interrogatory occasioned them to be seized, and all three, after having been tortured, were hanged and decapitated.

Origen, the celebrated presbyter and catechist of Alexandria, at the age of sixty-four, was seized, thrown into a loathsome prison, laden with fetters, his feet placed in the stocks, and his legs extended to the utmost for several successive days. He was threatened with fire, and tormented by every lingering means the most infernal imaginations could suggest. During this cruel temporizing, the emperor Decius died, and Gallus, who succeeded him, engaging in a war with the Goths, the Christians met with a respite. In this interim, Origen obtained his enlargement, and, retiring to Tyre, he there remained until his death, which happened when he was in the sixty-ninth year of his age.

Gallus, the emperor, having concluded his wars, a plague broke out in the empire: sacrifices to the pagan deities were ordered by the emperor, and persecutions spread from the interior to the extreme parts of the empire, and many fell martyrs to the impetuosity of the rabble, as well as the prejudice of the magistrates. Among these were Cornelius, the Christian bishop of Rome, and Lucius, his successor, in 253.

Most of the errors which crept into the Church at this time arose from placing human reason in competition with revelation; but the fallacy of such arguments being proved by the most able divines, the opinions they had created vanished away like the stars before the sun.

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Church Moves Ahead

G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs. This excerpt is from Chapter 2 - The Ten Primitive Persecutions - The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249.

In the year of our Lord 251, the emperor Decius having erected a pagan temple at Ephesus, commanded all who were in that city to sacrifice to the idols. This order was nobly refused by seven of his own soldiers: Maxi-mia-nus, Martianus, Joannes, Malchus, Dionysius, Seraion, and Constantinus. The emperor wishing to win these soldiers to renounce their faith by his entreaties and lenity gave them a considerable respite until he returned from an expedition.

During the emperor's absence, they escaped, and hid themselves in a cavern; which the emperor being informed of at his return, the mouth of the cave was closed up, and they all perished with hunger. Theodora, a beautiful young lady of Antioch, on refusing to sacrifice to the Roman idols, was condemned to the stews, that her virtue might be sacrificed to the brutality of lust.

Didymus, a Christian, disguised himself in the habit of a Roman soldier, went to the house, informed Theodora who he was, and advised her to make her escape in his clothes. This being effected, and a man found in the brothel instead of a beautiful lady, Didymus was taken before the president, to whom confessing the truth, and owning that he was a Christian the sentence of death was immediately pronounced against him. Theodora, hearing that her deliverer was likely to suffer, came to the judge, threw herself at his feet, and begged that the sentence might fall on her as the guilty person; but, deaf to the cries of the innocent, and insensible to the calls of justice, the inflexible judge condemned both; when they were executed accordingly, being first beheaded, and their bodies afterward burnt.

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WOW Word 10

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Evangelism

This week, Alphy shares about evangelism - telling others about, and showing, Jesus! WOW!

You are called to evangelise!

While you may not be called to be an evangelist (Ephesians 4:11), you are called to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). In Jesus’ last words on earth, His church was commanded to be witnesses for Him (Acts 1:8). You are a member of that church, and as a part of the Church, you are included in the way God has chosen to spread His message of reconciliation (Acts 4:12; 2 Peter 3:9). Remember Paul’s words from Romans 10:14-15: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

What is evangelism?

Why evangelise?

Be beautiful to somebody by both telling and showing them the good news of Jesus Christ. Come see and hear more by playing and/or downloading the video below!

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Church Moves Ahead G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs. This excerpt is from Chapter 2 - The Ten Primitive Persecutions - The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249.

Cyril, bishop of Gortyna, was seized by order of Lucius, the governor of that place, who, nevertheless, exhorted him to obey the imperial mandate, perform the sacrifices, and save his venerable person from destruction; for he was now eighty-four years of age. The good prelate replied that as he had long taught others to save their souls, he should only think now of his own salvation. The worthy prelate heard his fiery sentence without emotion, walked cheerfully to the place of execution, and underwent his martyrdom with great fortitude. The persecution raged in no place more than the Island of Crete; for the governor, being exceedingly active in executing the imperial decrees, that place streamed with pious blood.

Babylas, a Christian of a liberal education, became bishop of Antioch, A.D. 237, on the demise of Zebinus. He acted with inimitable zeal, and governed the Church with admirable prudence during the most tempestuous times. The first misfortune that happened to Antioch during his mission, was the siege of it by Sapor, king of Persia; who, having overrun all Syria, took and plundered this city among others, and used the Christian inhabitants with greater severity than the rest, but was soon totally defeated by Gordian.

After Gordian's death, in the reign of Decius, that emperor came to Antioch, where, having a desire to visit an assembly of Christians, Babylas opposed him, and absolutely refused to let him come in. The emperor dissembled his anger at that time; but soon sending for the bishop, he sharply reproved him for his insolence, and then ordered him to sacrifice to the pagan deities as an expiation for his offence. This being refused, he was committed to prison, loaded with chains, treated with great severities, and then beheaded, together with three young men who had been his pupils. A.D. 251.

Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, about this time was cast into prison on account of his religion, where he died through the severity of his confinement. Julianus, an old man, lame with the gout, and Cronion, another Christian, were bound on the backs of camels, severely scourged, and then thrown into a fire and consumed. Also forty virgins, at Antioch, after being imprisoned, and scourged, were burnt.

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G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs. This excerpt is from Chapter 2 - The Ten Primitive Persecutions - The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius

Trypho and Respicius, two eminent men, were seized as Christians, and imprisoned at Nice. Their feet were pierced with nails; they were dragged through the streets, scourged, torn with iron hooks, scorched with lighted torches, and at length beheaded, February 1, AD 251.

Agatha, a Sicilian lady, was not more remarkable for her personal and acquired endowments, than her piety; her beauty was such, that Quintian, governor of Sicily, became enamored of her, and made many attempts upon her chastity without success. In order to gratify his passions with the greater conveniency, he put the virtuous lady into the hands of Aphrodica, a very infamous and licentious woman. This wretch tried every artifice to win her to the desired prostitution; but found all her efforts were vain; for her chastity was impregnable, and she well knew that virtue alone could procure true happiness.

Aphrodica acquainted Quintian with the inefficacy of her endeavours, who engaged to be foiled in his designs, changed his lust into resentment. On her confessing that she was a Christian, he determined to gratify his revenge, as he could not his passion. Pursuant to his orders, she was scourged, burnt with red-hot irons, and torn with sharp hooks. Having borne these torments with admirable fortitude, she was next laid naked upon live coals, intermingled with glass, and then being carried back to prison, she there expired on February 5, 251.

Thanks for joining us here at Partakers! Come back soon, where everyday a new podcast is uploaded for the benefit of your life as a Christian Disciple. Visit us online at www.partakers.co.uk. Thank you!

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G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs.

Lucian and Marcian, two wicked pagans, though skilful magicians, becoming converts to Christianity, to make amends for their former errors, lived the lives of hermits, and subsisted upon bread and water only. After some time spent in this manner, they became zealous preachers, and made many converts. The persecution, however, raging at this time, they were seized upon, and carried before Sabinus, the governor of Bithynia. On being asked by what authority they took upon themselves to preach, Lucian answered, 'That the laws of charity and humanity obliged all men to endeavor the conversion of their neighbors, and to do everything in their power to rescue them from the snares of the devil.'

Lucian having answered in this manner, Marcian said, "Their conversion was by the same grace which was given to St. Paul, who, from a zealous persecutor of the Church, became a preacher of the Gospel." The proconsul, finding that he could not prevail with them to renounce their faith, condemned them to be burnt alive, which sentence was soon after executed.

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G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs.

~

This excerpt is from Chapter 2 - The Ten Primitive Persecutions - The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, AD249. ~

Denisa, a young woman of only sixteen years of age, who beheld this terrible judgment, suddenly exclaimed, "O unhappy wretch, why would you buy a moment's ease at the expense of a miserable eternity!" Optimus, the proconsul of Asia, hearing this, called to her, and Denisa avowing herself to be a Christian, she was beheaded, by his order, soon after. ~

Andrew and Paul, two companions of Nichomachus, the martyr, A.D. 251, suffered martyrdom by stoning, and expired, calling on their blessed Redeemer. Alexander and Epimachus of Alexandria, were apprehended for being Christians: and, confessing the accusation, were beat with staves, torn with hooks, and at length burnt in the fire. We are informed, in a fragment preserved by Eusebius, that four female martyrs suffered on the same day, and at the same place, but not in the same manner; for these were beheaded.

~

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G’day and welcome to Partakers and our series Church Moves Ahead, where we look together at the history of the early church, and in particular its persecution. We are taking brief excerpts from an ancient book, Foxes Book of Martyrs.

~

This excerpt is from Chapter 2 - The Ten Primitive Persecutions - The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, AD249. ~

Peter, a young man, amiable for the superior qualities of his body and mind, was beheaded for refusing to sacrifice to Venus. He said, "I am astonished you should sacrifice to an infamous woman, whose debaucheries even your own historians record, and whose life consisted of such actions as your laws would punish. No, I shall offer the true God the acceptable sacrifice of praises and prayers." Optimus, the proconsul of Asia, on hearing this, ordered the prisoner to be stretched upon a wheel, by which all his bones were broken, and then he was sent to be beheaded. ~

Nichomachus, being brought before the proconsul as a Christian, was ordered to sacrifice to the pagan idols. Nichomachus replied, "I cannot pay that respect to devils, which is only due to the Almighty." This speech so much enraged the proconsul that Nichomachus was put to the rack. After enduring the torments for a time, he recanted; but scarcely had he given this proof of his frailty, than he fell into the greatest agonies, dropped down on the ground, and expired immediately.

~

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God as Trinity

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God as Trinity

Jesus speaking: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14v15-17

What kind of God offers salvation? A personal God! Now a God who is personal, must be capable of having and sustaining relationships. A God who sustains relationships will also want to be known! We know that God is spirit, yet also a personal and infinite being (John 4v24). He is one in substance or nature and incapable of being divided “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.(Deuteronomy 6v4) yet also as we shall see, three co-equal and eternally existing persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We can say for certain however, that the inter-Trinitarian life of God is a mystery beyond our mortal comprehension, experience and language.

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Having said that, the word that the Church historically has come to define the God-head is ‘Trinity’. The actual word “Trinity” does not exist in the Bible! Does that surprise you? The word "Trinity" or "Tri-unity" actually derives from the Latin word "Trinitas," which is defined, as “three are one “or” the property of occurring three at once”. Whilst the word doesn’t appear, the principal behind it, most assuredly does! The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Opponents of this doctrine say that it is actually 3 gods, but that would be to say the Trinity is 1+1+1=3... However the Trinity is best seen as 3 persons in one God, which is 1x1x1=1.


There are principally two main errors when thinking about the Trinity. One is that the three names, Father, Son and Spirit are simply three different designations of the one God. The other is that God the Father is the true God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are somehow inferior, and therefore not strictly God.


Whilst there are no explicit Scripture texts using the word trinity, the concept is explicit throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament "God said, Let us create...” (Genesis 1v26) and "Sovereign Lord, Spirit and Redeemer" (Isaiah 48v16). In the New Testament, at Jesus' baptism the three persons of the Godhead were represented (Matthew 3v13-17); also in the Great commission “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28v19). Elsewhere baptism is to be in ‘the singular name, of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and not ‘the names (plural). God is One “and there is no other but Him” (Mark 12v32); and it is also in the Paul-ine Grace “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13v14). The Lord Jesus also impressed upon the Twelve Apostles the distinction between the Father and Himself, and clearly taught about the Holy Spirit as being distinct yet again.

Indivisible - There is in God, one indivisible essence or substance of which God is made. God is expressed in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In each of these belongs the whole undivided essence of God. The totality of God exists in the Father, also in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Trinity is self-conscious and self-directing. The three members never act in opposition to any other member, but always in union and harmony.

Precession – This endeavours to describe the relationship within the Godhead. The members of the Godhead are co-equal and co-eternal. However, there is an order of succession in their relationship but this does not imply superiority & inferiority. The Son is begotten of the Father (John 3v16) and does the Fathers Will. Both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” (John 15v26).

Relationship – There is a communal honour between the Trinity Persons (John 15v26; 16v13-15; 17v1, 8,18,23). In the work of redemption or salvation, there is a co-ordination in the Triune Godhead (Hebrews 10v7-17; Ephesians 4v4-6; 1 Corinthians 12v4-6). The Father ‘elects’ (Ephesians 1v4); The Son ‘redeems (Ephesians 1v7); and the Holy Spirit ‘seals’ (Ephesians 1v13-14). Between the three Persons, there is an eternal unison in active purpose and yet seemingly external distinctive between the Three members of the Triune Godhead.

This Godhead Trinity, with its inherent qualities of relationship shows that God is indeed love, and the work of salvation is an act of love from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If God was not a Trinity, then how could love possibly be shown, as love requires more than one Person for it to be active? As a Trinitarian being, love is an endemic quality of the Godhead. The Father loves the Son and the Spirit. The Son loves the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit loves the Father and the Son. The God we serve as Christian disciples exhibits love and this God commands us, to love one another so that He will be seen (John 13v34-25). By showing love, we reflect the Trinitarian God, in whose image we are made.


For more to think about please do read Ephesians 1v3-14. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How can the inter-relational aspects seen in the Trinity, be an encouragement to me?

Q2. How does each member of the Trinity individually help me?

Q3. How can I be thankful that I serve a God who is love, and knows love intimately?

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