Archive for January 2016

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God, the Church and the Internet

  • Can God interact on the internet?
  • Who?
  • What?
  • Why?
  • How!
  • John 17:13-19
  • Romans 12:3-8


Preached at Poulner Baptist Chapel, 1st February 2015...

Symptomatic of human history has been the development of different technologies. Each generation seems to have had a great leap forward in some way! Think of the wheel, the printing press, the wireless, the combustion engine and the silicon chip! One of the developments that I am sure that you have noticed is the internet. Everything is on the internet now it seems – increasingly so at a government & banking level! Everybody here has used it – either directly or indirectly. The internet is here. It isn’t going to go away and it will continue to develop and expand.

Likewise, the church is here too. It also isn’t going to go away (at least at a universal level) and it also will develop and expand. So let’s tonight look at what this internet is, why the Church should be using it and lastly how the church can use it for the glory of God. By using it, I do mean more than just a website with the latest information, events and sermons on it!

Before we continue, however, I must warn you, that alas, I have to talk about what I do – much as I don’t like to talk about myself! That is probably the best place to start as we can then quickly move on! In the last 7 years I have had about 4 million individual folk from around the world visit my website to read. There have been close to a million listeners of the audio and video. During 2014 I probably had communication with about a million people, either directly or indirectly. The world is my parish. If I can do it, anybody can! And those numbers are small compared to some folk!

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 18: John 4:48
Signs and wonders


In this, verse 48, “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” He was not speaking exclusively to the royal official and worried father for the ‘you’ is plural. At first the words sound like a rebuke, but Jesus went on to heal the boy that was so ill so his intent was more subtle than that. These words are used quite often by big meeting preachers to justify their claimed miracles and command people to believe. But that is not the intention of these words either and a sometimes very dangerous use of them.

It is much safer and wiser to take these words of Jesus as a comment on what happens, neither particularly encouraging or discouraging those who would rely on signs and wonders. It is important to note that exactly the same phrase is used in the Bible as a pointer to deceptive practices to be avoided (Matt 24: 24; 2 Thess 2: 9). But, positively, this episode is described as a sign in verse 54, the second one performed in Cana of Galilee. Jesus heals the boy. The NIV translates the crucial sentence as “your son will live” when it should more literally be “your son lives”. The action of Jesus is strong positive and instantaneous. So is that of the man. We are clearly meant to understand that he came to a strong, positive and totally valid faith as a direct result of this particular ‘sign and wonder’.

What should we make of this somewhat ambiguous situation? Surely this is actually the danger in signs and wonders – they focus attention on what Jesus can do for us, rather than on who he is. The royal official had a considerable advantage over us: he had met Jesus and could assess who he was. He knew both what Jesus could do and who he must be.

Who was, and is, Jesus? The Son of God; the Saviour of the world; the Lord of Glory; the Judge of the ages. Is that enough to be going on with? Of course we need to become convinced of these things which are not automatically obvious. And that is where the Resurrection comes in. Peter said, (Acts 2: 32, 36)“God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. … Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Paul’s comment on that was (1 Cor 15: 20), “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,”

We are but human. We are quite capable of believing something today and its opposite tomorrow! Make sure your faith is grounded not on your subjective experience of the things that have happened to you or other people but on the objective facts of the word of God. The former may have brought you to faith as it did the royal official but work hard to transfer your true grounding to the latter, to his written word, the Bible and its sure testimony to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Resurrection of Jesus that is the one and only sure, unmovable foundation for your faith and for mine. All other possible logical bases for our faith are secondary and derivative.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

29th January 2016

We pray together and when Christians pray together, including across the internet and from different times, different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity!

Grant, Almighty God,
that since under the guidance of thy Son
we have been united together in the body of thy Church,
which has been so often scattered and torn asunder, —
O grant, that we may continue in the unity of faith,
and perseveringly fight against all the temptations of this world,
and never deviate from the right course,
whatever new troubles may daily arise:
and though we are exposed to many deaths,
let us not yet be seized with fear,
such as may extinguish in our hearts every hope;
but may we, on the contrary,
learn to raise up our eyes and minds,
and all our thoughts,
to thy great power,
by which thou quickens the dead,
and raises from nothing things which are not,
so that though we may be daily exposed to ruin,
our souls may ever aspire to eternal salvation,
until thou at length really slowest thyself to be the fountain of life,
when we shall enjoy that endless felicity,
which has been obtained for us by the blood of thy only-begotten Son our Lord. Amen.

Amen.

(A prayer of John Calvin)

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Glimpses 57-

Stephen from Bournemouth

This is the story of Stephen. He lives in Bournemouth and he shares how an encounter with Jesus changed is life from hatred, violence, cruelty and drug addiction... Come and hear!

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POD - Psalm 42

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Psalm 42


1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
so my soul pants after you, God.



2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?



3 My tears have been my food day and night,
while they continually ask me, “Where is your God?”



4 These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me,
how I used to go with the crowd, and led them to God’s house,
with the voice of joy and praise,
a multitude keeping a holy day.



5 Why are you in despair, my soul?
Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God!
For I shall still praise him for the saving help of his presence.



6 My God, my soul is in despair within me.
Therefore I remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon, from the hill Mizar.



7 Deep calls to deep at the noise of your waterfalls.
All your waves and your billows have swept over me.



8 Yahweh will command his loving kindness in the daytime.
In the night his song shall be with me: a prayer to the God of my life.



9 I will ask God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”



10 As with a sword in my bones, my adversaries reproach me,
while they continually ask me, “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you in despair, my soul?
Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God!
For I shall still praise him, the saving help of my countenance, and my God.

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Think Spot - 25th January 2016


G'day and welcome to Partake! Welcome also to Monday and our Think Spot together!

We have the start of a new week! Its Monday! How and in what circumstances are you trusting God? How did Jesus Christ trust in the Father? Jesus knew that the Father was going to bring Him back to life after his death on the cross. Jesus trusted the Father in this area of His life, just as he did in all aspects of his life. How are you doing? Do you have concerns and areas of your life where you need an assurance that God the Father will help you?



Here are some simple steps which may help you maintain a trust in God.



  1. Pray, casting all anxiety on God. He cares for you because you are His personal concern (The great apostle Peter, one of Jesus' closest friends wrote this in 1 Peter 5v7 "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.")

  2. Accept and thank God that His peace has filled that area (Another great apostle, Paul, wrote this in Philippians 4v7 says "Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.")
  3. Learn to be content whatever your circumstances are, resting in God (Paul goes on in Philippians 4v11-12 "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.")
  4. Allow the Spirit to control your mind for life and peace (and again from the pen of the apostle Paul, this time in Romans 8v6 "So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.")

  5. Trust God to fulfil your every need (Matthew records these words of Jesus in Matthew 6v32-33 "but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." )
  6. Obey and follow God's commands to love God and love others (Jesus is recorded in Matthew 22v37-40 "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.")
  7. Finally, be prepared to be obedient to the Father, in supplying the needs of others you meet and therefore showing you love God and other people! One way to show you are trusting and loving God is to be the answer to the prayers of somebody else and showing that love to them! Ask God to show you, how you can help somebody else in need this week and showing your love.


Go in peace this Monday, into this week, knowing God is worthy of your trust! God will take care of you, but not always in the way you expect! Expect Him to allow circumstances and situations to arise where you are to trust Him fully! He will help you if you ask! After all, He knows you better than anybody! And don't be afraid to help somebody else because by doing that, you show you are loving and trusting in God!



Father, I pray that You would help us to trust in You and that You would supply our needs, calm our concerns and help us to love You and others more fully. I ask this through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside all those who have peace with you. Amen

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