August 31, 2015

Think Spot 31 August 2015


31st August 2015

I was in conversation recently with a knowledgeable chap who had seen an interesting programme on television about birds and was bursting with interesting facts to tell me of this amazing bird called a swift. He then passed on some interesting facts about them which I want to share with you today. Swifts are amazing birds, and here are some reasons why!  We shall think about them and then learn some valuable truths from their habits.

1. After leaving the nest where they hatched, they'll keep flying non-stop for three years! Isn't that amazing?

2, They even eat, mate (at high speed in what are known as screaming parties) and they even sleep in the air while flying! they can actually 'snooze' with one side of their brain resting while the other is working, and then switch to the other side. Isn't God's creation incredible?

3. Also some of 'our' swifts migrate from Great Britain as far as South Africa for winter. How fantastically strong they are though small. In addition they are the fastest bird at level flight. (up to 70mph). Sometimes they are mistaken for a swallow. Their shape is similar

4. The parent birds gather insect snacks for their chicks, carrying as many as 1,000 at one gulp! How dependant the chicks are upon their parents to care for them.

5. Swifts also choose to live in our houses and churches - they squeeze through tiny gaps to nest inside roofs. God has indeed provided for all his creatures.

I was astounded as I was being told of the incredible abilities of some of these smallest and the youngest of these creatures who fly with amazing strength and skill, do incredible things while flying with accuracy to distant parts and have utmost confidence in their parents to supply all their needs.

In case you didn't take it all in the first time let me repeat these amazing truths. Swifts neither touch the ground or tree or building for the first three years of their lives!. They keep flying eating, mating at high speed and even sleep in the air.

Summing up they can feed from their parents who gather insect snacks for their young carrying as many as 1,000 at one gulp. The young have absolute confidence in their regular meals being supplied to them. Neither do they worry about their living accommodation as to where they live or the size of their home. They slip between very narrow gaps contentedly.

What an example for us who believe in God and want to be active with and for God. Always we want to move forward making every moment count for God with the abilities He has given to us and not giving time to consider where our next meal is coming from, where we shall live or stay overnight etc.

In our Bibles we find Jesus certainly is the best example of this kind of life.(Matthew 8:20;) "The foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head." "I must do the works of Him who sent me, while it is day said Jesus, the night comes when no one can work" Jesus never wasted a moment.

God has promised to meet all our needs as we 'fly' with Him and 'seek' to do his will. One day when Jesus was talking with a Samaritan woman which was surprising enough to his disciples for Jews had no dealings with Samaritans, they said "you must be hungry" he replied that his food was to do the will of the Father who had sent Him and to accomplish His work." (John 4:32)  He went on to say he had food the disciples knew nothing about.

As we look at these examples of God's extraordinary creation we are reminded that God is looking for a faithful people who will be diligent in service for Him. God's people should aim to be single minded in their lives putting God first in all things and desiring His will above their own in every instance. Following in His footsteps.

Jesus followed that maxim every day. He had no home to call his own but spoke of swallows, swifts and other birds having their nests but he had nowhere to lay his head. And although he never 'flew' he certainly was always on the move. He was up extremely early each day to pray for the needs of the day before going early in the morning to the temple to meet and talk with people and it wasn't to discuss the weather! He spoke of heavenly food he lived on when talking to his disciples when they were concerned about him missing a meal.

Like the swift getting through many miles in travel he must have covered a lot of ground in three years accomplishing enough to fill a library of books with his activities and the many transformed lives through his ministry. (Read John 21) The way we live our life is important but......Remember that Jesus has first to become our Saviour and only then our example.

Joy’s Prayer

Dear Lord,

It is with wonder we look at your marvellous universe full of wonderful and so varied creation. From the splendour of mountain grandeur to grassy plains that can stretch for miles and miles to the small and larger animal kingdom as well as beautiful birds that fly across your majestic skies sometimes to be seen by the naked eye full of planets stars and moons.

You are an amazing God and we do glory in your name and your mighty power and wisdom and your own incredible design of earth and sky.

We praise and delight ourselves in your goodness to us and especially for Jesus our Saviour Lord and Friend. Thank you Lord for the privilege of living in your world and for all its benefits. We love and adore You! Amen.

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August 31, 2015

POD - Psalm 109


Psalm 109

1-5 My God, don't turn a deaf ear to my hallelujah prayer.

Liars are pouring out invective on me;

Their lying tongues are like a pack of dogs out to get me,

barking their hate, nipping my heels—and for no reason!

I loved them and now they slander me—yes, me!—

and treat my prayer like a crime;

They return my good with evil,

they return my love with hate.

 6-20 Send the Evil One to accuse my accusing judge;

dispatch Satan to prosecute him.

When he's judged, let the verdict be "Guilty,"

and when he prays, let his prayer turn to sin.

Give him a short life,

and give his job to somebody else.

Make orphans of his children,

dress his wife in widow's weeds;

Turn his children into begging street urchins,

evicted from their homes—homeless.

May the bank foreclose and wipe him out,

and strangers, like vultures, pick him clean.

May there be no one around to help him out,

no one willing to give his orphans a break.

Chop down his family tree

so that nobody even remembers his name.

But erect a memorial to the sin of his father,

and make sure his mother's name is there, too—

Their sins recorded forever before God,

but they themselves sunk in oblivion.

That's all he deserves since he was never once kind,

hounded the afflicted and heartbroken to their graves.

Since he loved cursing so much,

let curses rain down;

Since he had no taste for blessing,

let blessings flee far from him.

He dressed up in curses like a fine suit of clothes;

he drank curses, took his baths in curses.

So give him a gift—a costume of curses;

he can wear curses every day of the week!

That's what they'll get, those out to get me—

an avalanche of just deserts from God.

21-25 Oh, God, my Lord, step in;

work a miracle for me—you can do it!

Get me out of here—your love is so great!—

I'm at the end of my rope, my life in ruins.

I'm fading away to nothing, passing away,

my youth gone, old before my time.

I'm weak from hunger and can hardly stand up,

my body a rack of skin and bones.

I'm a joke in poor taste to those who see me;

they take one look and shake their heads.

26-29 Help me, oh help me,

God, my God,

save me through your wonderful love;

Then they'll know that your hand is in this,

that you, God, have been at work.

Let them curse all they want;

you do the blessing.

Let them be jeered by the crowd when they stand up,

followed by cheers for me, your servant.

Dress my accusers in clothes dirty with shame,

discarded and humiliating old ragbag clothes.

30-31My mouth's full of great praise for God,

I'm singing his hallelujahs surrounded by crowds,

For he's always at hand to take the side of the needy,

to rescue a life from the unjust judge.

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August 30, 2015

Sunday with Sammy

30th August 2015

Jesus Overcomes Temptation & satan

During his earthly ministry Jesus encounters a whole tranch of different people from all walks of life, both sexes and of all ages. They were all important experiences to him and for them, but one, perhaps, whose encounter was the longest, and outcome was the greatest, was when Jesus was confronted by the devil himself in the wilderness.

The temptation of Christ is detailed in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. According to these texts, after being baptized, Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the Judaean Desert. During this time, Satan, old hairy legs himself, appeared to Jesus and tempted him. Jesus having refused each temptation, Satan departed and angels came and brought nourishment to Jesus

Satan full well knew who Jesus was! There couldn't have been any doubt in Satan's mind as to Jesus' identity, as opposed to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who simply refused to believe. No, Satan isn't really asking Jesus to prove Himself. Rather, he has some other motive...

The recorded three temptations of Christ mirror the steps Satan used to bring sin into the world in the first place:

Lets compare Matthews gospel with Genesis for a moment.

Matthew 4:3 "If you are the Son of God..." the devil says vs Genesis 3 "Did God actually say you were not..." Which is what the serpent said to Eve... Also, like with the first sin, it is related to food.


“If you are the Son of God, jump off ...'throw yourself down'” Matthew 4:6 vs Genesis 3:5 “No! You will not die. God knows that the day you eat it you too will be like gods.

And lastly:

"If you fall at my feet and do me homage", Matthew 4:10 vs Genesis 3:5 “you will be like God” Satan is again questioning God's authority. Oh how dare he!

Satan is questioning whether Jesus was who He said He was (and whom His Father had just attested to at the baptism) - He was trying to get Jesus to fail in His earthly life so He couldn't be our perfect sacrificial substitute

As the writer of the letter of Hebrews says: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Satan absolutely did know who Jesus was, and why he was there. And he also knew that Jesus had free will and the ability to make his own choices - just the same as you or I. (In fact, we have one recorded instance where Jesus directly stated that his will was in opposition to the will of the Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane, (Matthew 26:38-44,) but he still chose, knowing what was to come, to do his Father's will and not his own.) And the devil knew that Jesus needed to be perfect to complete the work that he had come to accomplish.

So if he could find any way of tempting Jesus to step off the path, even once, it would have destroyed God's plan, which is exactly what Satan wanted. So Satan tempted him, trying to get him to use his power for physical desires, for fame, and for wealth and earthly power

One of Satan's biggest tricks is to try and confuse you about who you are, and whose you are.

Satan will wait until you are at your weakest point in life and then come to you with questions about your life... your calling... and your ability to do for God the Father.

You must know that you have been given the power to become a son or daughter of God... Just as Jesus was his son in whom God was WELL PLEASED

Go this day with the love of Christ in your hearts... Amen.

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Gems in the Gospel of John

John 1:1 - Jesus is God

This is the first of what is likely to be many thoughts on John’s Gospel. The very first verse of this Gospel is this, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’

That introduces two exceedingly powerful ideas in the two words ‘God’ and ‘Word’. So powerful that we need to take them one at a time, so ‘Word’ is left to next time.

What a way to start a Gospel! Matthew wanted to put Jesus in context so he gives us a genealogy going right back to Abraham. Mark was so excited by Jesus he plunges right in to what he did without bothering with an introduction. Luke wanted to be a very careful historian so to explain how Jesus fitted into his immediate surroundings he takes us back through a few months of family history. But John goes straight to telling us who Jesus is. He is GOD. That was some assertion in a world where pagans thought there were many gods but the Jewish people knew there was only one God. It is hard to say which is the more difficult idea to challenge head on, as John does. Of course it was the non-Jewish, the pagan, world that thought there were many gods. There were gods in the house, perhaps even one in every room; there were gods in the town, and the country. There was a god in Rome, called Caesar – and he was the most dangerous one of all since one could worship many gods, choose which ones to worship, but you could not choose to worship Caesar, or not to worship him - you had to worship him. No choice; if you were not prepared to say ‘Caesar is Lord’ you were an atheist, and you might die because of it. John was writing, probably about 60 years after Jesus died, for people he knew in the fellowship of which he was leader, and they were under threat. So it was important to say to them, ‘Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God’ very loudly, and very clearly.

And then there were the Jews, brought up to believe that there was only one God and to say every day, at least once, ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’ John knew very well that Jesus was a man, he was human, but here he is saying he was God. Could he be both at the same time? The answer is yes – he was both man and God, but that is no easy thing to get your mind round so people have been struggling with the idea ever since. There is no point in me trying to argue in these brief notes how Jesus could be both God and man at one and the same time. What I am going to do is point out some of the main reasons the early Christians decided he was God as well as a man.

The first and probably main reason is that they found themselves having to worship him and you could not worship someone who was not God (the pagans did worship heroes who were human but that was not even a possibility for the many Jews who were in the early churches). Thus when he was healed the blind man said, ‘“Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.’ (Jn 9: 38). When they saw him go back to heaven it is said of the disciples, ‘they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy’. (Lk 24: 52). There are many praise statements scattered through the epistles such as 2 Pet 3: 18, ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever’. There is plenty of evidence that this is what happened and continued to happen in the early church after the New Testament was complete.

The second reason was the many things that he did and said which could only be said or done by God. Thus when Jesus said to the paralyzed man in Mk 2: 5 “Son, your sins are forgiven,” religious people watching immediately started to think and say, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus also had the ability to command the creation. When he and his disciples were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee Mark reports that , ‘He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm’. Only God had control over the created world.

The third reason is perhaps best expressed in the words of a famous writer who said ‘he was either mad, bad or God’. He was pointing to the fact that no one could say the things that Jesus said unless he was indeed God. Otherwise it was the most extraordinary show of pompous self-promotion and blasphemy imaginable. He said, ‘Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ Really! Who could possibly say that of themselves? Jesus did.

Our God is that astonishing thing a Triune God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: three persons but only one God. We shall never get our minds round that completely but that is what Scripture presents us with. We shall see the remarkable results of that in our next study. What an amazing Lord and God we follow and worship.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

28th August 2015

A prayer of Praise!

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!

O God, you are the most beautiful and most priceless One!
O God, you are the most glorious and uncreated One!
O God, you are the eternal and holy One!
O God, you are the infinite and blessed One!
O God, you are the immense and Living One!
O God, you are the Everlasting and wise One!
Accept these words of praise from our mouth and our hearts!

O ever-loved & ever-loving One;
Make us, O holy God, your treasured one;
Make us, O glorious Lord, your precious one;
Make us, O highest Good, your longing one;
Make us, O blessed Word, your chosen one;
Make us forevermore your loving ones.

(Based on a prayer of Cardinal Newman)

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