November 30, 2015

Think Spot 30 November 2015

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Think Spot 30th November 2016

God… Church… You…

Does God meet with us and do you recognise and sense His presence or absence in your church when He is not there?

You answer “Of course He is there”.. Isn't He everywhere? So He surely must be there in our church buildings. He is omnipresent.

Permit me to ask you a further question? Who do you really expect to show up on Sundays? Your close friends? Your pastor? deacons, elders, the worship group.? Of course you do. Now listen carefully. Do you expect to meet with God? . Is His presence recognisably known and felt as you meet in worship? Do you expect to sense His presence with you? Do you know what it feels like to sense His presence?

When the sermon begins do you expect God to carry the words into your hearts and minds. Do you find yourself drinking in every word. Do you recognise when He does show up and maybe when it doesn't happen.? Do you know the difference between a sermon that brings you closer to God and one that doesn't and why? 

Do the words and music in your worship really truly glorify God? Ot may be you feel someone hasn't got things quite right and the songs chosen that Sunday are not conducive or helpful to worship. Your heart is heavy and burdened and its not because of sins you are stubbornly holding on to. You feel as if God is many miles away. 

You have been standing for many minutes as the song leader takes you yet again for the 20th time over the same words. You do not feel inspired. Instead words are coming into your minds like “Oh no not again I must sit down”. You sit down but the situation is still not good as you now are saying “when will this end. I want to go home.”

I am afraid this kind of situation is not rare. But why? Where is the sensitivity of the Lord's absence in worship? Have we settled for something far less than recognising when God is surely with us in worship? When we know His presence with us. Moses once said “Lord if your presence does not go with us we will not go up hence.” Yes I know that was an occasion when sin was in the camp and God wanted that sin dealt with before He privileged Israel with that wonderful sense of His presence once more. I think that God's people are settling for far less than the best in many church fellowships.

Sometimes it is a fact the songs do not glorify God but man. A service can become so man centred. Even the sermon can be produced in such a manner that all the people see is the preacher.

I am not talking about conjuring the Lord up in your minds but truly experiencing a sense of His presence which can be beautifully awesome or so close to us when we feel we cannot leave the building.

Is it not true that God can come down in a time of worship and surprise us in a beautiful manner especially when the attention is on His Son, His death, resurrection and sovereignty. When the music is enjoyable. Doesn't The Holy Spirit long for us to worship the Son and doesn't He encourage it?

On one occasion I was in a meeting away from my home fellowship and it was such a meeting as I have been describing, but on this occasion the pastor was sensitive to realising something was wrong in the worship time.

He asked the fellowship if the Lord was letting anyone know what the problem was. We were in a prayerful attitude when I sensed the Lord speaking into my heart and mind “They are worshipping me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me”

Now I was a visitor to that church what was I to do? I was a little fearful to repeat that verse of Scripture but I plucked up courage and moved quietly towards the pastor leading the worship. With many ears listening in the quietness I whispered those words to the pastor. Suddenly the whole meeting was engulfed in tears as those words hit home.

It was a sermon in itself. Hearts were not sensing the presence of God as worshipping hearts were far from Him. Repentance took place that evening and the whole atmosphere changed dramatically and God's presence returned to that meeting and it was a privilege to be there and enjoy God's presence with us.

We need to be tuned in to sensing God's presence not just in church worship as we gather with others but singly on our own in our own homes and out and about. I am no one special but I am learning more of what it does mean to practice and sense the presence of God. I am on the way. My heart thirsts for God. How about you? I believe God is looking for the thirsty.


Joys Prayer


Gracious Lord , our Heavenly Father,

we can have our minds full of all kinds of thoughts when we come to worship with God's people. Events later to be held that day . Perhaps particular People are on our minds, we are meeting up with later that day. Sports meetings and results etc.

May be our minds are even on sins we do not want to let go with. We are simply going through the motions of worship.

Lord forgive us and cleanse us through Jesus precious blood and give us worshipful hearts and the desire to get as close to You as is possible. Give us a stronger thirst for You.

Lord how can you enjoy our worship when Jesus is not at the very centre of our lives. Lord draw near and renew us in our minds and hearts and do that necessary work in us that we need please. Help us to be totally honest with You in our prayers and if we are prayer less forgive and renew us.

In Jesus Name! Amen

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 13 - John 3:3
Again or Above


When we come to the well known encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus we find something strange. The NIV says, “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’” While the NRSV, another very accurate translation in English, says, “Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’” ‘Born again’ or ‘born from above’ – which is it? The rather surprising answer is ‘both!’. The Greek word translated in those two ways can mean either of them with equal force. Both translations give the other interpretation as a footnote but even that is misleading because it seems to indicate that the translation given in the text is primary and the other is secondary, but the word is distinctly ambiguous and can mean either or both. There is no word in English that can carry both meaning like that so the best we can do is probably something like ‘born again from above’.

Both translations go on to say that Nicodemus picked up the ‘again’ possibility and proceeded to comment on that. That would seem to suggest that he thought Jesus meant ‘again’ but he was a clever man and may simply have understood instantly that there are deeper problems with the ‘above’ option and carefully avoided it.

Exactly the same thing is true in our culture. To be ‘born again’ can mean nothing more than to return after a gap to something you used to do and enjoy. So you might be a ‘born again rock-climber’ if you return to that sport after giving it up on getting married and starting a family; but now they are grown up and you don’t feel the same deep responsibility for them so you return to that sometimes dangerous sport. But you cannot play any such tricks on the phrase ‘born from above’.

What did Jesus mean by what he said? Including what did he mean by talking about ‘seeing, or entering, the kingdom of God’?

It is a matter of dimensions. You may be stuck in two dimensions if you think only of being born again. The phrase can mean no more than I have decided to follow Jesus, or I have decided I am a Christian. But if you bring the third dimension into it things are quite different. If you are born from above you have clearly been touched by those who come from ’above’, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In only a few verses down the page we shall read that Jesus said he was talking about heavenly things, and only a verse or two further and he is talking about how he will be ‘lifted up’. He will be lifted up on the Cross, which will take him out of our two-dimensional world into a greater world of three dimensions. And when we are born again from above we are being touched by the glory of the Cross; by its potent effect in carrying away our sin and broken relationship with the Father; by the way in which it released the Holy Spirit to encourage and empower us provided we are one of those who want to enter the ‘kingdom of God’.

That kingdom is not a place in any sort of worldly sense. It is a sphere of influence where the Triune God, God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit rule. You may live in one of the many countries of this world, divided up as they are by the whim of men, the results of history, by many a reason long forgotten by almost everybody. It doesn’t matter how big, how small, how rich or how poor your country may be and how much you have to participate in it for good or ill. You can be a citizen of heaven a member of the kingdom of God. WOW!



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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 12 - John 2:13-25
Revising the Temple


This second story in this second chapter is as remarkable as the first. Here it is:

“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

They replied, “It has taken forty- six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”

It causes even more puzzlement amongst the experts than the first story of this chapter. Clearing the Temple is recorded in all 4 Gospels but in the other 3 it occurs near the end of Jesus’ ministry where here it seems to be at the beginning. Or has John put it here because he wants us to read and hear the rest of his book with this in the background? I think he has. If a squad of Roman soldiers or temple guards allowed something like this to happen for a second time they would be in very serious trouble. The Philippian jailer was thinking of killing himself as the less painful option when He thought Paul and Silas had escaped from his prison. If Jesus had cleared the Temple early on He would have been a marked man every time He went to Jerusalem subsequently. No, again John has chosen a surprising passage for his introduction to the life of Jesus. Why? What did he mean by doing so?

The Temple was the very centre of Jewish life. Everyone who was able to visited it at least once a year as we are told Jesus and his family did for the Feast of Passover (Luke 4). They thought of God being there more than anywhere else. He had led the Israelites through the wilderness at the Exodus in a tent and then a tabernacle. He had been present in the Temple when Solomon dedicated it. Only later, when things went badly wrong in the life of the nation, had He ceased to be there visibly (Ezek 10). There was no visible proof that He was there in Herod’s temple but they still reckoned it was the place to be as often as possible.

John records: “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts He found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market.”

It looks as though He was annoyed by the way the merchants had set up a bazaar inside the outer courts. But there is much more to what He did than that. Mark is most helpful. He says that as Jesus and His disciples were approaching Jerusalem they saw a fig tree and Jesus went up to it to get some figs. A curious thing to do as it was not the right time of the year for it to have fruit on it. Then, even more surprisingly, Jesus curses the tree. They go down into the city, Jesus clears the temple, and they come back to find the tree had withered. What is going on and why?

Mark has put one story, the clearing of the temple, inside another, the death of the fig-tree. He does this sort of thing with stories quite often and clearly relates the two stories, one of them explaining the other. In this case He is saying the temple is done, finished, it is withered, it is dead. And, indeed, just 40 years later it was, pulled down and destroyed by the Romans at the sack of Jerusalem. That had already happened when John wrote this Gospel.

So what was to happen now? Answer, from Jesus: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Which they don’t understand. They say, “It has taken forty- six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”

John knows what the whole event means. He tells us, “the temple He had spoken of was His body. “
The Temple is done, gone, even if it hasn’t fallen down yet. But God is still with them, and with us, in the person of Jesus.
In fact, there is still more to come in the later teaching of the church. Paul says, “we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’”
That is you, assuming you have set out to follow Jesus, and me. Where is God these days? He is in you and me, and nowhere else in any special sense in the whole wide world. WOW!


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