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Archive for February 2017

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Think Spot - 27th February 2017

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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Exploring The Bible

8. New Testament

2 Peter (AD67-68)

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • 2 Peter 1:16-21
  • 2 Peter 3:9-10

 

The vast majority of scholars believe that the author of this letter is the Apostle Peter, writing towards the end of the 7th decade of the 1st century.


Peter expects to die very soon. He writes this letter to a group of believers who are enduring trials and being challenged by false teachers. He is concerned to protect their faith and to encourage their continued spiritual growth.


Therefore, he emphases a positive relationship with Scripture. This will result in protection, stability, progress, and growth. He also clarifies teaching about the Last Days.

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Gems in the Gospel of John
Part 89 - John 20:28
The Climax

 

Although no longer the largest diamond in the world the Koh-i-Noor is perhaps the most famous and the most beautiful. This verse, where Thomas says: ‘My Lord and my God’’ is the Koh-i-Noor of all John’s gems. John’s whole gospel is carefully constructed to climax at this point. He wants his readers or listeners to believe. He says so in the last verse of this chapter, 20: 31, where he says, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He doesn’t challenge them directly, hitting them over the head with a blunt weapon of some call to believe. Instead he gives them an example to follow.


I think Thomas has been unfairly treated in getting his nickname of ‘doubting Thomas’. We do not know why he was not there a week earlier so we should not judge his absence as something wrong. He was clearly of a personality that wanted to be sure. Perhaps he was the sharpest mind amongst the disciples; the first to realise something of what Jesus really was. He needed confirmation, but once he had it he was the one who first called Jesus God. What exactly he understood and thought that meant we do not know. It certainly wasn’t all the things that we think as the statement has gathered so many ideas to itself over the centuries. But what ever it was he then acted accordingly.

This was only one week after the resurrection of Jesus so there will have been much talk but probably also much doubt even amongst the disciples. We cannot claim such circumstances. It is now nearly 2000 years since Jesus rose from the dead; much has been said in that time both for and against the truth of what happened. It is probably true now that virtually all those who say they do not believe because they cannot believe something so unlikely actually do not want to believe because it will upset the nice even tenor of their lives.

Thomas reacted, as he should, to the action of Jesus. He had asked Jesus to allow him to explore the wounds – a rather rash and demanding thing to do. Jesus had allowed him to do exactly as he asked. The king of all the world allowed a subject to do exactly as he wanted.! But that is the way Jesus worked and works. He does not react against our demands but meets them whenever it is for our benefit that he do so.

Thomas did as he should have done and it turned his life upside down – as it may ours if we respond to Jesus as we should. There is a museum in the town of Taxila in northern Pakistan. They have a stone tablet in the wall saying Thomas was there on his way from Jerusalem to South India. That is a guess but a reasonable one as Taxila was, in those days, the major city lying on the direct routs between those two places. Thomas is credited with the foundation of the Mar Thoma church in South India. He made up for any doubts at the end of that first week with a great, and undoubtedly difficult , journey, the founding of a church in a totally new and far away country and, probably, his eventual martyrdom.

There is one other thing to notice here. It is that little word that appears twice in what Thomas said, ‘my’. He didn’t say ‘The Lord and God’, he didn’t even say ‘our Lord and God’. No, he said, ‘MY Lord and MY God’. He recognized that in front of him was the invitation to have a personal relationship with the Lord God in Jesus. God was no longer a far away abstract idea, to be worshipped and venerated but scarcely loved. He was to be spoken to almost as an equal, a senior equal to be sure, but someone to be treated in a quite different way from that which everyone had used previously when they were speaking to a far-off infinitely superior being
Good on you, Thomas. Would that we all would react like that to the call of Jesus.

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Friday Prayers

  Prayer from the Vanuatu Churches

Today on Partakers we are praying a prayer from the Vanuatu group of islands. The origins are unknown. Come on in, download the mp3 and pray with us!

O Jesus,
Be the canoe that holds me up
in the sea of life;
Be the rudder that keeps me
in the straight road;
Be the outrigger that supports me
in times of temptation.

Let your Spirit be my sail
that carries me through each day.
Keep my body strong
so I can paddle steadfastly
on in the longvoyage of life.

Amen

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Think Spot - 20 February 2017

 

I wonder what your last week was like! I know for me it was full of trial and yet with a deep-seated trust that God was in control, despite the events and discouragements I was undergoing! So, whether it was a week for you to forget or a week for you to remember, we now enter a new week! Do you claim to trust God?

One of the natural outcomes of trusting God is joy - often an unspeakable joy that bubbles within you! A joy resulting from overcoming all that life throws at you, and overcoming those hurdles! It involves taking a daily commitment to follow Jesus Christ and not just a one off. It takes commitment, not comfort, to throw off hindrances and barriers. True joy results from being willing to allow the Holy Spirit to work in you, transforming you into the image of Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God the Father.

All of these things being done daily in your life lead to what I am convinced is the key to the reality of a successful Christian life - that key being joy. As you grow closer to Jesus, living in peace, trust and obedience, then your spiritual life will be your natural life and your natural life be your spiritual life! Your joy will abound and shine a light giving people a reason to ask "Where do you get all your joyous hope from?". You will then be able to· share Jesus as your source of joy. A joy that is anticipatory, expectant and true! Joy comes from putting Jesus first, others next and then yourself! Go practise it this week!

You can show this joy by singing, laughing, smiling, shouting praises to God, lifting hands in worship', and crying, but that is only the external part of joy. True joy also incorporates an internal joy. Real joy is when you can believe in: the mountain top when you are in your deepest valley. Abundant joy is being surrounded by darkness and still believing in 'the light'. Anticipatory joy is when amidst total confusion you still believe God has a plan of love for you. It was this type of joy that Jesus had, when in the garden praying, the night before he was betrayed, when full of mixed emotions and anguish he said "Not my will, but yours, Father!"

As sons and daughters of God, we have many reasons to be full of joy. Yet how often we forget! Here are some reasons for joy!

  • Psalm 51:8 & 12 - Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me-now let me rejoice. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
  • Jeremiah 15:16 - When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven's Armies.
  • Luke 15:8-10 "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbours and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God's angels when even one sinner repents."
  • 1 Peter 1:8-9 - You love Jesus Christ even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Do you desire to be' overflowing with joy today and this week? Go into this week with a joy that is anticipating and expectant! Do you need to hand over to Jesus a particular area of your life' where Jesus does not fully reign and have control?

I pray that the Father will reveal more of Himself to you, as you daily seek His face, overcoming all hindrances to living a successful and joyful-Christian life. May the Holy Spirit who lives within you, if you are a Christian, continue to transform you into the image of the Son Jesus Christ, and all to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen.

 

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Exploring The Bible

7. New Testament

Hebrews (AD67-69)

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Hebrews 4:16
  • Hebrews 12:1-2

 

The writer, unknown to us, argues that in every conceivable way the Son is superior to all other possibilities. He shows that God the Father has spoken through the Son; that He honours the Son, and therefore Jesus Christ is the new covenant’s high priest or mediator.


The writer explicitly states Jesus’ superiority over angels, Moses & Joshua and that He provides a far better sanctuary, covenant, priesthood and sacrifice. The writer concludes with the superiority of the Christian believers walk of faith.

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 88 - John 20:21-23
The Great Commission and the Spirit
 

In 3 short verses John 20:21 - 23, John covers what took Matthew 4 long verses and Luke 47 verses, Those are the great commission of Matthew 28 and the giving of the Spirit in Acts 2. Here is John’s version: “Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

As has happened before John seems to have not been the least bit concerned about when things happened, only in their theological significance. So the fact that he says the disciples became Spirit filled on the day of the resurrection while Luke says it happened 50 days later should not worry us.

The way he has put it has highlighted the connection between the 2 things and, in particular, the importance of the Spirit for true evangelism. We are to be small copies of Jesus! Mark tells us in 1:14,15 that “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.’” John never puts what Jesus did in quite those terms but it is clear that that is a good summary of what John records with his emphases on particular incidents in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus did not spend all his time in direct evangelism. He did a lot of teaching and healing as support for the direct challenges he gave to people like Nicodemus and the woman by the well. We are not all called to be evangelists in that direct sense. That is just as well because surveys in our culture seem to suggest that less than one believer in ten is likely to be a good and effective evangelist by directly talking to strangers. It is the job of the rest of us to teach, to disciple, to heal, to do the more and greater works that Jesus said we should in 14:12 - and to support and pray for those who have a true gift in direct person-to-person evangelism. And they may need it. It is easy to mix up the natural ability of the born salesman and the Spirit filled gift of evangelism. If you are one of the gifted ones you need to be careful because you may well have a natural gift for salesmanship as well but only what comes from, and is guided by, the Holy Spirit himself is going to be spiritually effective.

If a big white man with a strong personality tells unsophisticated villagers in an underdeveloped country to jump, they will jump. If he does not understand their culture and then goes home and boasts about how many converts he has made he has done more damage than good. (I have seen this happen!) Let us be careful and wise.

The last of these three verses is difficult for it seems to say that we here on earth can decide whether someone’s sins are forgiven or not and that heaven will then fall inline, always agreeing with our decision. That is a very simplistic way of thinking and you will probably have reacted against it when I put it in those blunt terms. The forgiveness of sins is the privilege and prerogative only of the heavenly realm. When, in Mark 2:5, Jesus said to the paralyzed man ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’ the surrounding people were rightly shocked because they said, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

That is an entirely healthy and Bible honouring reaction, both in Old and New Testament terms.

In all our dealings with other people, particularly those who are not yet believers, we need to be extremely careful, recognizing that only the Holy Spirit himself can forgive those who repent and give them the gift of new life and the Holy Spirit.

Indeed we need to be sent by God himself, as Jesus indicates when he tells the disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Note too, that the words immediately before that command are about the peace that the presence of Jesus brought to them. We too shall know the deep peace of the presence of Jesus particularly when we obey his command to go where he sends us.

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Friday Prayers

 

 Thomas Ken

Today on Partakers we are praying a prayer of Thomas Ken (1637-1711), Chaplain to King Charles II. Come on in, download the mp3 and pray with us!

To God the Father,
who first loved us
and made us accepted in the Beloved;
To God the Son,
who loved us, and washed us
from our sins in his own blood;
To God the Holy Ghost,
who sheds the love of God
abroad in our hearts
Be all love and glory,
From time and for eternity.
Amen

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Think Spot 13 February 2016

"God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9

 

All over the world, people share a common desire for peace! But what is peace? The peace the world wants varies from the peace the Christian knows. The world sees peace as the absence of conflict and people being generally ‘nice' to one another. Peace in the Christian context goes further, saying peace is perfect harmony with God, other people, circumstances and self. Therefore perfect peace will not come until Jesus Christ comes again, and takes Christians to be with Him.

That doesn't give us as Christians a mandate to sit around not doing what we can for peace, because we are commanded to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), our God is a God of peace (1 Thessalonians 5:23), and the Kingdom of God is about peace in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Peace is to be our business!

In a world full of conflicts, such as conflicts between nations, conflicts between neighbours, conflicts even within families and conflicts within and between churches, Christians are to be peacemakers!With that in mind, here are some thoughts on what the Bible has to say on peace, to help you this week be a peacemaker:

1. Peace with God

  • Justified by faith (Romans 5:1-2)
  • Christ is our peace between God and man and between men (Ephesians 2:13-18)

2. Peace with others

  • Live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:17-20)
  • Do everything possible which leads to peace and mutual encouragement (Romans 14:13-19)
  • Be a peacemaker - a sign of real wisdom producing a harvest of righteousness (Matthew 5:9, James 3:17-18)

3. Peace within/circumstances

  • Peace is a gift of God (John 14:27, 2 Thessalonians3:16)
  • Worldly peace requires manipulation of circumstances, God's peace comes regardless of circumstances
  • We have peace in troubled times - an untroubled, unfearful heart and mind (John 16:33)

Go in peace this Monday, into this week, knowing that the God of peace lives inside you if you are one of His children! Yesterday churches around the world celebrated the feast of Pentecost - the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus. If you desire peace with God, with others and in all circumstances, ask this Holy Spirit who lives inside you to help you! If you would not consider yourself as one of His children, ask Him to help you become one!

Father, I pray that this week we will do all we can to be peacemakers and make a difference in world in conflict. 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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Exploring The Bible

6. New Testament

Jude (AD68-70)

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Jude 3-4

 

Jude, another brother of Jesus and James, writes warning against apostasy. He urges his readers to recognize the problem and fight for the faith. He uses graphic illustrations from the Old Testament.

Jude is careful to emphasise the positive things they should do as well as instructing them to condemn the errors of some. He closes with a statement of confidence and of praise to God.

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