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Archive for January 2015


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I Will Share My Faith

(preached at United Methodist Church, Embury, Tennessee, USA)

We continue our worship with the sermon! Did you know that the sermon is part of our worship – both the delivery and the hearing of it?
When I was growing up my favourite question was “Why?” “Why is it so?” Of course being a young’un, that question came to mind for all sorts of things. I am sure you have all heard kids in Walmart yelling out “Why?” to their parents or guardians. We all have, I am sure, questions we want to know the answer to. Why? Ask for any examples of things you ask “Why is it so?”

Our theme today in this new series is “I will share my faith” and our key text is taken from Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”.

Why did the Jesus say that He came to seek and save the lost and how did He do it and how does he still do it today? So why are we to share our faith? Hopefully by the end I will have at least answered those 2 questions a little, given the time we have.

Why Is It So?

Let me start our journey today by first telling you my testimony. That is a good starting point and is what most people probably consider today as evangelism.

Before I do though, I will say this. A Christian testimony is more than just saying how a person became a Christian. It should also include why the person became a Christian. Have you even thought about your testimony and why you became a Christian?

So here is mine! I am sure you have all heard kids in Walmart yelling out “Why?” to their parents. We all have, I am sure, questions we want to know the answer to. Why? The question I am often asked is “You are a Christian. Why is it so?” My father was and remained throughout his life a convinced agnostic and in the few conversations we had about religion and Christianity, he could never understand why it was, that I could not just admit that I would never know if God existed or not, far less a God who was personally interested in me. My reply as ever, was that the very question “Why is it so?” needed to be answered, in order for me to be satisfied.

Why I am a Christian?

So why I am a Christian? The reason that I am a Christian is not because I chased God, but rather He chased me. Unknown to me at the time, God was chasing me and following my every path with the urgency of a lover after the beloved.

How did that happen? As a teenager I was actually invited to a church and I subsequently accepted that invitation. I thought “Ok! If church is so dangerous, let’s go for a bit of danger!” So I rebelled and went to church, and after a few weeks, became a Christian. Much to the dismay of my father, who as I said could never understand why I would want to be a Christian of all things!

So at that church, it was the first time I had heard of God’s love for me, that I was indeed apart from God and that this God had been on a mission to seek me, and change me from being lost and apart from Him to being found by him and accepted as His child! Amazing news to me as a teenager back a long time ago now! Additionally, it was not in my search for Him that I found Him, but rather through His search for me that I found Him! It was that there, that I discovered there was nothing I could do in order to be reconciled to God, but that He had done it all, when Jesus died on the cross 2000 years and rose again from the dead!

So what is the answer to why am I a Christian? I am a Christian, not through anything I have done or my own pursuit of God, but rather I am a Christian because of God’s constant pursuit of love after me. Continuing with our topic for today about Sharing our Faith, What is to be the goal or aim of a person being a Christian – a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ? Is it praying a lot? Perhaps it is reading and memorizing the whole Bible? Perhaps it is by doing lots of evangelism, sharing the faith avidly or doing lots of work for the church? As admirable and important as those things are, they are not the prime focus and goal for those who call themselves “Christian.”  How is that for a WOW?


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Job - Why God? - Part 10


Study 10: Study 10: Job 40:15 - end

Two surprising chapters

The book of Job ends with two very surprising chapters. The first because of its content, emphasising what has gone before and the second because it appears to stand the whole book on its head!

Here is the first part of the first of these chapters (which is actually in the chapter before). It is about Behemoth whose name means something like the ‘beast of beasts’. He is a terrifying creature, very like a hippopotamus with some supernatural additions.

As if that is not enough we now go on to read about the Leviathan. He is just as dangerous sounding as Behemoth, very like a crocodile, again with some supernatural additions. 

We may well ask “what was that all about?” There is no other Biblical reference to Behemoth and not many to Leviathan, though it is possible to see that this latter is a sea or water monster. Both are possibly linked in the culture and literature of that area in that time with gods, the god of death and the god of evil or the Satan himself. Their dual role is strikingly similar to that of the dragon and the beast from the sea of the book of Revelation, the twin figures of evil. Both have power, strength and savagery far beyond human ability to match. Therefore, since they are the creation of the Lord, part of his world and under his control, they set a marker for power, which the Lord stands far beyond. Also, particularly with Leviathan who rules over the sea, which was the well-known symbol of the chaotic, they stand as markers of the chaotic nature of the Lord’s world. Thus they reinforce the statement made in our last study that this is an essentially chaotic world and it is no good pretending otherwise, however difficult it may be to fit that into a scheme of theology and our understanding of the ways of the Lord.

Now we come to the final words of Job in the first 6 verses of the last chapter. Job has finally come to a realisation of what he has been doing wrong and how he can remedy that. He now realises how high above him the Lord is, that all his attempted arguments against what has happened to him were a waste of breath. The Lord has a plan and a purpose for him, although he is unable to see what that is and how it will work out so that he could only see it as part of a chaotic world and accept that it is in the hand of the Lord. He is deeply sorry and upset by what he has done and said so he repents – not of sins in the ordinary sense but of his failure to acknowledge the place and power of the Lord in his life.

The author of the book of Job has brought it to a point, a single climactic statement in a way strikingly similar to the way John would do with his gospel many centuries later. John brings his book to the climax statement “My Lord and My God” by quoting the words of Thomas, obviously intending and hoping that his readers will make that same statement for themselves. Our author brings us to the statement of Job, “My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you!” also obviously intending that we should echo that statement for ourselves. John continued by quoting the words of Jesus, “because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” and if our author had had access to those words I think he too would have used them. We are not going to see the Lord, not likely to do so any way in this life; we are not going to be able to understand all his ways any more than Job did; we are going to get confused by all we hear about him as Job did; but with the eyes of faith we can see him; with the knowledge we do have we can believe – and then we are blessed – his promise, not my assertion.

Question: when did you start hearing about Jesus? When did you begin to see him – to see him properly in the sense Job means? What was the trigger that changed you from hearing to seeing? Could you make that, which was the trigger event for you, into the trigger event for someone else?

In verse 7 we leave behind the poetic dialogues that have constituted most of this amazing book. We are back into the simple prose of the first 2 chapters and this part chapter – the frame of the poetic stuff. Here it is.

The obvious first reaction is surprise. Job has been right all along and his 3 friends have not (Elihu does not get a mention – a major reason for thinking the speech of Elihu was a late addition to the story). So Job, described as ‘my servant’ and thus equated with people like Moses and David, is to act as a priest for them. We must also note that if what these 3 guys said was all so wrong how can we define the truthfulness of scripture – inerrancy, suggesting nothing was in error, does not seem to be the best word to use in spite of its popularity.

And then we are told what Job’s future was. What has all the argument been about if Job was headed to such a lovely future? But is it really such a wonderful future? He gets exactly the same size family as he had before but the first family died and their deaths will have left a scar that will never completely heal. People are people and cannot be substituted one for one just like that. Not even if his daughters are now so much more beautiful than the ones he had before and have such wonderful names. And all those animals, just twice as many of each variety as he had in the first place, did that make life any easier?

We can have no possible expectation of six thousand camels etc. but we know things Job did not know. When Job said, “I know that my redeemer lives” it was only a hope. For us it is a certainty. Because we live after Jesus, who died, rose again and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us we have a much superior hope to that of poor old Job. We have been told by the writer to the Hebrews that “we have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. We have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. We have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood.”

Yoiks, WOW, Hallelujah and Hooray.

One final comment: this is a great book of the Bible, perhaps unfairly neglected (that really means that I didn’t know it very well at all until I started looking into it for these notes!). Also, more than most of the scripture it will mean different things to different people. I have attempted to chart one particular way through it for my own good and, hopefully, yours as well. Don’t let it stop there. Read it, think about it, meditate on it for yourself and find your own way through this challenging and thrilling writing. May the Lord bless you in so doing.

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Christmas 2014 - Fulfilled 14


Fulfilled 14 - So what?

During this brief series, we have seen just 45 of over 300 things predicted in history concerning the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Predictions made about Him before He was born.

Let’s look at these in summary together:

The Messiah would be born of a woman - born of a virgin - in the town of Bethlehem.
The Messiah would come from the line of Abraham and be a descendant of Isaac & Jacob - from the tribe of Judah and be an heir to King David's throne.
This Messiah's throne will be anointed and eternal and his name would be Immanuel. This Messiah would spend a period of time away in Egypt. At the Messiah’s birthplace there would be a grand massacre of children.
There would be a messenger sent who would prepare the way for the Messiah who would be rejected by his own people.
The Messiah would be a prophet, preceded by Elijah and this Messiah would be declared the Son of God.
This Messiah would be a Nazarene and bring light to Galilee. He would do this by speaking in parables and healing the brokenhearted.
This Messiah would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek, be called King yet also praised by little children.

This Messiah would be betrayed for a sum of money which would be used to buy a potter's field.
This Messiah would be falsely accused, He would be silent before his accusers who would spit upon and strike him.
This Messiah would be hated without cause and be crucified with criminals.
This Messiah would be given vinegar to drink, have his hands and feet pierced, be mocked and ridiculed and soldiers would gamble for His very clothes.
Yet despite all this, this Messiah would pray for his enemies.
This Messiah’s bones would not be broken but He would be forsaken by God Himself.
Soldiers would pierce Messiah's side on His death and he would be buried with the rich.

But there is more! This Messiah would rise from the dead and into new life! WOW! This Messiah would ascend to heaven where He would be seated at God's right hand.
This Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin before God and therefore anybody can take on this Messiah as their Saviour and be restored back into a living and dynamic relationship with God.

If you are not already in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, there is no need to delay! If you want to turn to God there is no need for delay. You are separated from God now, but there is no need to be. God is ready and willing to take you as His own right now. Just ask and He will take you in and help you.

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Christmas 2014 - Fulfilled 13


Fulfilled 13

At Partakers, like most of the world, we are now on the countdown to Christmas! This year we will look at how the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ was fulfilment of words and promises spoken about down through the ages – through countless years as people looked to God to rescue them.

Over 300 predictions in the Old Testament look to the coming of a Messiah. That man we Christians believe was Jesus Christ. Over these 2 weeks, we will look at just a few of them! Look up the Bible references yourself to see!

We continue tomorrow in our series "Fulfilled!" See you then!

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