April 30, 2014

WOW Word 16

Alfie brings you a WOW Word

WOW Word - Resurrection


Today Alfie talks about the WOW Word - Resurrection!


Our WOW Word today is Resurrection! I wonder what you think the word “resurrection” means. Resurrection means more than just coming back to life! Jesus raised at least three people from the dead, but that was more a resuscitation than a resurrection! They came back to life with their normal bodies and they would go on to die a physical death again! So let’s start by looking at Jesus’ resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ provides the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1:22; Acts 4:33, Acts 17:18). But what significance is there in Jesus’ resurrection?

1 Corinthians 15v12-19 “Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. Yes, we are found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn’t raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. For if the dead aren’t raised, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all people most pitiable.”

Alfie the WOWChurch Cat explains the significance of Jesus' resurrection! Play the video to discover what Alfie has to say and/or download the file to take away! Bless ya!



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Monday Think Spot

28 April 2014

Greatness and Love

To be great is to rely on your own strength, own power and own wiles with a self-serving self-seeking and self-important love. That is the wisdom of the world. But that is not true greatness. It isn’t even really love. So what is greatness?

As ever Jesus overturns the wisdom of the world (including alas some in the church today!)... Matthew 20:26-28 "It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your servant; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

That is biblical greatness. That is biblical love in action. Go into this week determined to serve others selflessly so that others may see Jesus in however you serve other people.

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April 26, 2014

The Spirit Explodes 10


The Spirit Explodes

Part 10 of 22
A major step : welcoming non-Jews
(Acts 9:32–10:48)

by Roger Kirby

After introducing Paul to us Luke switches back to 3 stories about Peter, 2 minor and one major. First the 2 minor stories. As we read them watch out for several sharply contrasting features between the first and the second.


Read Acts 9:32–43.


Question 1:  Apart from the obvious one of a bed-ridden person and a dead person, what are the major contrasts between these 2 stories? What are we meant to learn from them?


  • As so often in Luke’s writing one is about a man and the other about a woman. Luke is clearly concerned that we should understand that a woman is every bit as important in the Kingdom as a man is.
  • Dorcas was an important person much respected both in the church and in the wider community. Aeneas was a nobody: bed-ridden and of no significance. No one is more important than anyone else in the Kingdom. As is sometimes said: the ground is level at the foot of the Cross.


The major story is long and complicated. Some background is advisable. To this point almost all those who had set out to follow Jesus had been Jews. Now the good news of Jesus had begun to break out of the bounds of Judaism in a small way, mainly because of the adventurous ministry of Philip. Certainly Peter was staying with Simon, a tanner, who was therefore a notoriously unclean person from handling dead animals, so he too was beginning to break out, but the great question: did non-Jews who wanted to follow Jesus have to become Jews as well was still unresolved.


Three things in particular defined a Jew:

  • circumcision,
  • Sabbath keeping,
  • obeying the strict food laws.


The first, circumcision, would remain an unresolved problem for some time yet. The second, Sabbath keeping, was probably not a great issue. The early church, which would have included many slaves, can only have met on a local feast day, whether that was a Sabbath or a pagan festival. Slaves will not have been able to keep the Sabbath anyway. We are about to read how the third problem: the argument about keeping the food laws, was resolved.


Read Acts 10:1–18.


Centurions, in charge of 80-100 men, formed the backbone of the Roman army and so were very important people.


Question 1:  What would these verses have meant to Theophilus, the guy for whom Luke wrote this book?


He hears about a highly respected Roman being involved in the story of Jesus and his people. That would be an encouragement to him that he need not be wary of similar involvement himself.


Read Acts 10:9–16.


Peter’s vision was clear in its meaning. As a devout Jew Peter will have avoided any contact with the foods forbidden in the Law. He saw a sheet including animals like pigs, rabbits, herons and snakes – to mention just some now commonly eaten – and was told he might eat them, rather, he was commanded to eat them.


Question 2:  What would his reaction have been?


He would have been shocked and horrified. (So might we be at some of the things included – snakes, yuk!).


Question 3:  What is the general significance of him being told this?


The people of God were to turn away from a rule-based system of ethical behaviour. We shall find out later in this chapter what was to replace the rules.


Read Acts 10:17–33.


What an astonishing scene: a Roman army officer, family and friends in a grand house welcoming a small group of dusty, sweaty, well-travelled Jews. Whatever next!


Read Acts 10:34–43.


‘You know’, said Peter, ‘all about Jesus’. So the whole countryside must have heard all about the life, death and reappearance of Jesus. Peter’s sermon simply tells the story of Jesus.

Question 4:  What were the most important things in his talk? What would have been the bullet points if he had had a computer?

  • his ministry of teaching and preaching,
  • his death at the hands of ‘them’,
  • his resurrection from the dead, validating his status as the Son of God,
  • his role as Messiah and judge,
  • the way belief in him conferred forgiveness of sins.


Perhaps there is a message here to all preachers – you cannot tell the great story of Jesus too often.


Read Acts 10:44–48.


Question 5:  This is a fundamentally important question. What was to replace the rules of Judaism?


The answer is the Holy Spirit. (Of course he is a ‘who’ and not a ‘what’ but to have said ‘who’ would rather have given the game away!) When we start to follow Jesus the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, enters into our being and enables us to do things, to behave, in ways we would not, and could not, before. As John reports Jesus saying in his gospel (John 16:13-14)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.


When we believe and set out to follow Jesus the Holy Spirit comes to us as a special gift from God. We don’t have to look for any particular signs of his presence. To do so would imply that he was under our control and he isn’t. Rejoice in his presence in and with you.


Note once again the close association between the start of the Christian life and baptism. It is not essential but it is definitely expected. After that life will be different because as Paul says we are to ‘walk in step with the Spirit’.

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Thursday with Tabitha

4. Hosea by Tabitha Smith

If you have ever felt that God is distant, disinterested, and aloof from his creation, or youve thought that God is a cruel, heartless God who punishes his creation harshly, then the book of Hosea has truth for you. This short prophetic book contains heartrending descriptions of Gods feelings for wayward Israel. It is one of the parts of the Bible that most vividly demonstrates the intensity of feeling and the depth of emotion in the heart of God.


Hosea prophesied during the latter half of the eighth century BC. This was one of the most turbulent and difficult times in Israels history, just before the captivity to Assyria. The nation of Israel went through six kings in about 30 years. There was violence, political intrigue and great instability.


Hosea primarily writes to the people of Israel, whom he sometimes refers to as Ephraim. His main concern is the way that the Israelites have turned away from worshipping God and instead started to worship Baal.


Baal was a false god of the region of Syria and Palestine. He was thought to control agriculture, rainfall and fertility. Practices involved in the worship of Baal included human sacrifice and mutilation of the body; incest, sex with animals, the use of shrine prostitutes and drinking alcohol in excess.


At the start of the book of Hosea the prophet is called to do something extraordinary. God asks him to marry an unfaithful wife. The events that unfold in Hoseas family will become a vivid image of the events occurring in Israel. Hosea marries a woman called Gomer and she bears him a son.


After this she has a daughter and another son but the wording of the text suggests that these two children do not belong to Hosea. Gomer has been unfaithful to him. The children are given names that mean “not loved” and “not my people”.  In this way, Hoseas illegitimate children become a picture of Israel, a child that will not be shown mercy and does not belong to its father. However, even at this tragic point, there is a promise of the mercy and love that the Father will show. God declares that in spite of this terrible unfaithfulness, he will show mercy and love again to Israel and Judah.


In chapter 2 God expands on the image of the unfaithful wife that was introduced in chapter 1. Israel has strayed from God, turning to worship Baal. She has taken part in pagan worship ceremonies and she has not acknowledged the way that Gods hand has graciously provided all of her crops, wine, oil, silver and gold, which she now uses in the worship of Baal. God declares that he will punish Israel and expose her adultery.


But even in the next breath he expresses his desire to heal her, and restore her and draw her back into a loving relationship with himself:

In verses 19-20 God says:

I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.

I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.

And in verse 23 he says:

I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one'. I will say to those called 'Not my people', 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.' "

The language God uses is tender, affectionate and merciful. Israel will be his beloved bride again.


To complete the real-life metaphor, Hosea is instructed to go and love his wife again, even though she has been unfaithful to him. The fact that he has to buy her back suggests that she may have fallen into slavery. It costs Hosea to take Gomer back into his house. Hosea promises his faithfulness to Gomer and asks her to be faithful to him in return. This is powerful picture of love in action. It is love that is not based on warm glowing feelings but on commitment, intention, and faithfulness. This is love that hurts.


In the remaining 11 chapters of the book, Hosea continues his prophecy from God with a series of vivid pictures about unfaithful Israel. She is described as an adulterous wife, a disinterested mother, an illegitimate child, an ungrateful son, a stubborn heifer, a silly dove and a half-baked cake that is unfit for eating.

Hosea also paints a picture of Israel as a luxuriant grapevine that looked very promising at the start but then went bad. Another image likens Israel to grapes or new figs found in the desert – a wonderful discovery that then turned rotten.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking and tender passage comes in the first part of chapter 11. God describes Israel as a small child, a little son, who God himself called out of Egypt. God taught his child to walk, comforted him, kissed his wounds better and led him with kindness and love. But the child did not recognise the Fathers love and care and rejected the Father in favour of idols.


In spite of this painful rejection, God cannot abandon his child. In verse 8 God exclaims, ‘how can I give you up, O Ephraim?


The book closes with an impassioned plea for Israel to turn back to the Lord and enjoy the blessing that this change of heart would bring.


As Ive read Hosea, Ive been drawn to the image of Israel as Gods bride. God pledged his covenant faithfulness to his bride but she was unfaithful. As we move into the New Testament we discover a new image of the church, the new covenant people of God, as the bride of Christ. This image culminates in the glorious wedding feast of the Lamb in the book of Revelation. The church, now perfected and redeemed by Jesus, is presented to him for eternal union in the new heaven and new earth. Jesus has loved his bride, the church with the same complete commitment and devotion that God showed his original covenant people.

In the last days of his earthly life, Jesus had to experience the pain of loving those who would betray, desert and deny him. Johns gospel poignantly says, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1).


Jesus demonstrated the kind of resolute, faithful, steadfast love that would hurt so badly it would cost him his life.


So what do we take away from the book of Hosea? I think primarily it is a powerful reminder of the intensity of the love of God for his people. That includes us. If we are unfaithful to him and put other things in a higher place of importance in our hearts, this hurts God. The human emotion of having been cheated on by someone we love is only dim shadow of the effect of our unfaithfulness on Gods perfect heart.


I think Hosea can also draw us into deeper wonder at what Jesus did for us on the cross. If we marvel at the love Hosea showed to Gomer, and what it cost him to buy her back whilst she was still a slave, how much more should we be floored by the love that Jesus showed for each one of us on the cross, giving everything he had to buy us back for God, whilst we were still dead in sin!


Last Friday was Good Friday and Christians around the world remembered the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. After the grief comes joy and on Sunday we celebrated Jesusresurrection. Each Sunday is a commemoration of Jesusrising on the first day of the week. Each time we celebrate the Lords supper, the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine, we commemorate what happened on Friday.


Easter week may be over for another year, and of course we continue to celebrate each Sunday, but I think it is good to spend regular time thinking about the trial and the suffering of Friday. In doing so we remember what our freedom cost our Father, as we gather at the feet of our broken bridegroom, who loved us to the very end. 


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Easter 2014 – Easter Monday

Responding To The Easter Events

Our response to the events of Easter?

Today is Easter Monday! We have looked at the events of Easter! Jesus dead and buried! Jesus resurrected – raised to new life physically and with a new glorious body! WOW ! Alleluia!! - But so what? What is our response to this to be?

Our first response if we are followers of Jesus is that we are to love. Love not just in words but also in action.. Love God and love others. What kind of love? It is to be a practical, self-less, giving and sacrificial love. 1 John 3:16 states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Jesus told all his followers to take up their cross if they were to follow Him as His Disciple (Luke 9:23). Are you as a Christian Disciple willing to take up your cross and do all you can do to love others?

There is a price to pay for true followers of Jesus Christ! Followers are surrender completely to Him in all aspects of life! Followers identify with Him in suffering and death and follow Him obediently, wherever He leads. Followers are to take up their own cross in order to show that they are followers of Jesus Christ – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The Cross is a choice

The cross is God’s solution to the suffering, evil, troubles and sin of the world. Only by Jesus Christ going to the cross have evil, sin, suffering and satan been dealt mortal blows. The cross provides the victorious solution. The cross is not a symbol to be merely placed around the neck on a chain, to be worn as a lapel pin, or as a item statement of fashion. The cross is not meant to portray Jesus as some form of sadomasochistic ‘tragi-hero’ as some people try to make it out to be. The cross is God’s solution to the problem of evil, sin, suffering and pain, as much as the wise of this world would love to think that it is not.

The cross is a choice. You can choose to deny the cross and say it doesn’t matter. You can say that it is an irrelevance and that is your right. God will not force you to accept the cross and love him. If He did, He would have created Adam so that Adam would automatically love him and not given him free will to rebel. That way the cross would not have been needed. But such is the enormity of the love of God, that each person, including you and I, have a choice to make – follow Jesus and take up your own cross and be an overcomer for Him. God will not force you to accept it, but he will keep on calling you back to the cross. Calling sometimes in quiet ways and at other times, much more loudly. You can deny the cross and its meaning and when Jesus Christ comes again in judgment, you will find that He denies you entrance into His glorious kingdom. When Jesus comes again, everyone will know who He is and bow down to Him. But only those whom He knows, will be granted access into everlasting life.

How you think of the cross, ultimately has relevance to you and affects your reality. You can accept the cross as your personal substitution, personal propitiation and personal redemption. That way you have peace with God. The cross of Jesus Christ thoroughly epitomises God’s glory, and if there were any other way that God the Father could restore people into relationship with Himself, then surely He would have done it that way. But there was no other way – Jesus Christ, as the Son of God who was simultaneously fully God and fully human, died on a Roman cross. He took on the sins of the world, paying the greatest price, so that you can be restored into a peaceful relationship with God the Father. That is for all people, of all nations, ages, generations, statuses and gender. The cross is amazing love in action and is ignored at great peril. Let us go forward in hope and faith, choosing deliberately not to boast in anything else, save only of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The wisdom of God as exhibited on and in the Cross of Jesus Christ, is foolishness but only to those who don’t accept it.

But it is more than that for the Christian!

Luke 9:23-26 Jesus speaking “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

What is our response to this to be? As followers of Jesus Christ we are commanded to count the cost of following Him. That is how we carry our own cross for the sake of Jesus Christ. Jesus wants to be number one in the life of all those who choose to follow him! Jesus wants supremacy over everything in our lives, including family, friends, and possessions! Alas, that’s a cost too high for some! Here is one man who couldn’t give up something to follow Jesus!

Let’s call him Basil. Basil runs up to Jesus! Basil wants eternal life, and he wants it now! So Basil asks Jesus about how to get it. He has fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus. However! However when Jesus said to Basil that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth and possessions in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, Basil leaves disconsolate and shattered. Basil couldn’t do it!

It was a step too far for Basil. He wanted his riches and also everlasting life, but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains the only person that we know of, who left Jesus’ presence sorrowful. That was due to Basil putting his trust in himself, his riches and wealth alone. Now riches, in and of themselves, are not necessarily wrong! The life of Basil, this rich young ruler, reflected a life of absorption with his own self-interest and self-importance! Basil was not willing to make the sacrifice required to follow Jesus. He couldn’t count the cost of following Jesus– it was too high a price for him to pay!

What have you given up in and as a result of your decision to follow Jesus? Making sacrifices to follow Jesus is all part of the WOW factor of Jesus. Jesus demands that He is number one and supreme over everything else in your life - yourself, family, others and material goods including money and possessions.

How is this done? This is done by consistently ensuring that your works and words match your lifestyle and that no hypocrisy can be found, or indeed will be found. It means standing up for God in the face of adversity. It means loving others even though they hate you. In the UK, we aren’t systematically persecuted. We are marginalized, ridiculed and ignored but some of our Christian family around the world who daily face death simply because they chose to follow Jesus. They are carrying their cross for Jesus!

What about us in the UK? For example if we as Christians were known by our self-sacrificial love of all others, then Jesus whom we claim to love, follow, worship, and adore would be seen. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote "When Jesus Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. ... Discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Jesus Christ, nor is it hero worship, but intimacy with Christ." (The Cost of Discipleship). Bonnhoeffer knew that as a Christian, a person has to take up their own cross in following Jesus and count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

He goes onto say: "Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. ... The Christian disciple must receive his portion from God every day. If he stores it up as a permanent possession, he spoils not only the gift, but himself as well, for he sets his heart on accumulated wealth, and makes it a barrier between himself and God. Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry." (The Cost of Discipleship)

Finally, let’s look at 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for others.” Jesus told us to take up our own cross if we are to follow Him as His Disciple. How is that possible? If we try to do that in our own strength and wisdom, we will fail. If we do that using the power and strength of the Holy Spirit within you, then you will succeed at following Jesus’ command. Are you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ willing to take up your? What a difference that would make to the community where you live!

Jesus still meets people today

To those that have responded to Jesus and are following Him, Jesus still meets with them. How does He do this?

Jesus walks with us, wherever we go and in particular in the darkest periods of our life. Just as he did with the two people on the road to Emmaus, he walks with those who proclaim to follow Him (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32). Jesus speaks whenever the Bible is faithfully preached and read from, just as He opened the eyes of those on the Emmaus road when He explained the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). Jesus meets us in the Communion or Lord’s Supper, with the bread and wine, which symbolise His flesh and blood as an act of remembrance of what He did for humanity.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, it show that we as Christians have also risen from the dead! Our old nature is dead and our new nature is alive! In the sacrament of baptism, Christ’s death is symbolised in our going under the water bodily, just as His resurrection is symbolised when we are raised up and out of the water! WOW! Jesus Christ – dead, buried and raised to new life! The Christian – dies to self, buries their old sinful nature and raised to new life in Jesus Christ with a new nature, ready to serve the risen Jesus! WOW!

More than that, His resurrection was not merely coming back to life. Jesus had raised people back to life during his ministry. But those people would go on to die again. Jesus was not like that, because he had new and glorious body! And we too will one day have new bodies! WOW!

If you are not yet a follower of this Jesus, then start following now! You may not have another opportunity to do so! If you don’t know what to do then contact us here at Partakers and we will help you!! Thank you.

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