google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2017 March

Archive for March 2017

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Partakers Friday Prayers

31 March 2017

for the Persecuted Church Worldwide

 

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!

 

Prayers for the Persecuted Church

Sovereign God, we worship you and acknowledge that you know all of those who suffer in your name because they follow you. We remember those who are imprisoned for their faith and ask that they would join with the Apostle Paul to see that even though they remain captive, their chains have furthered the gospel, not frustrated it. May they inspire and embolden their fellow believers to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. Amen

God of all comfort, for those who are tortured both in body and mind, give them the grace to endure and to see their suffering as part of following in Christ’s footsteps. Merciful God, for those asked to pay the ultimate price; who are martyred because of their love for you, may they truly know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Amen

Father God, for those who are widowed and orphaned may they know the comfort that comes from your promised presence even when they walk through the valley. May they be strengthened by your Spirit, enabling them to rejoice with the psalmist as they proclaim that the LORD will not abandon them in death. Amen

Heavenly Father, we ask that you would make us ever mindful of our brothers and sisters around the world who need us to stand with them as they suffer in your name. Teach us what it means to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony; we pray that we would not love our lives so much as to shrink from death.

We ask these things O Father, through the name of Your Son, Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
Amen

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Issues - Troubles

 Partake - Issues

Times of Trouble

 

Paul writing in 2 Corinthians 4v16- 18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

I wonder if sometimes you feel just like giving up, throwing it all away and just be buried by whatever is burdening you.  I guess, almost everyone has felt like that at one time or another.  Maybe its because you are undergoing troubles or suffering - physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Whatever it is, as a Christian you are to persevere. We persevere, because we are not alone in our troubles.  Also, if we think about it, in the light of eternity, the time of endurance through these troubles, is but the blink of an eye! Wow!

Persevere!

How are you and I to respond to suffering and other troubles?  Naturally, we either treat them too flippantly or far too seriously.  The response that God wants His followers to have is to be exercised by it.  When we undergo any suffering or trouble, we are to commit it to God, endure it and understand that He is faithful and that it will eventuate in His glory and for our own good (Romans 8v28; 1 Peter 4v18).  We are to be joyful when enduring suffering (James 1v2).  Now I admit, that that can be pretty hard to do, but we are not left alone.  The Holy Spirit indwells us if we are His followers and as one of His names suggests, as the Comforter, He provides comfort during the difficult times. So, just as He perseveres, so are we!

Perseverance in relation to God and His work is the continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in your life as a believer. It is a work of divine grace that is begun in your heart, which is continued and brought to completion.

As a Christian, you will never perish, and nobody or nothing can snatch them out of His hand (John 10v27-29). You have eternal life and you will not be condemned, passed from death to life (John 5v24). God, who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1v6). You are shielded by God's power (1 Peter 1v15). Nothing can separate you from God/Christ's love (Romans 8v38-39).

God's whole purpose for you is to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ. His purpose for you is to make you holy. This is where perseverance for you as a Christian comes in.  He may well, as we have seen, use some form of temporal suffering in order to achieve it, but in the light of eternity, it will not be for long!

You are to keep your eyes focussed on Jesus Christ, carry your cross daily and be willing to obey Him. You are to run the race with eyes fixed ahead, forgetting what is past and not looking back at what in the past had entangled us.  And yes it is hard to forget, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, it is possible! 

As a Christian, persevere in your relationship with God. Obey Him and follow Him. Ask questions humbly of Him and expect Him to answer, particularly if you don't understand something. Persevere in your prayers, your relationships with God and with other people. God will persevere with you, turning you gradually into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. God will not abandon you, but you are free to abandon Him. If you did abandon Him, He would still continue to call you back to Himself. So if He perseveres, so must we! But why do we persevere?

 

Character

Character results from persevering! As a Christian you are to be transformed and developed, working on improving your service and being transformed in the image of Jesus Christ.  That is God's ultimate purpose for you! But in order to do that, we need to find out what needs to be developed! These characteristics will help you to measure how much the Holy Spirit has been free to develop your character.

1. Persistence & Endurance - Persistence & endurance is developing staying power, to hold courageously under fire. In other words - bulldog tenacity. Things like criticism, circumstances, opposition & problems can stop you cold, if you allow them.. The problem is that we sometimes think the Christian life is a sprint race.  When in fact it is a marathon, where a second wind of the long hard grind is necessary. What is it that stops you? The size of a person is determined by what it takes to stop him or her. Winners are people who have formed the habit of doing things that failures hate to do. Don't let anything stop you!

2. Resistance - This is not resistance to ideas but resistance to opposition. Criticism is the occupational hazard for leaders (1 Peter 2v20-24). Discouragement is a cancer of the Spirit. Be resistant to discouragement and hyper-criticism. Let the Holy Spirit encourage you!

3. Servanthood - Matthew 20v26-28 "Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave." The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Priority is be given to service. An essential part of developing character, is serving. If Jesus, as King, could be a humble servant, in that He came to earth as a member of His own creation, then you and I can also be identified as humble servants..

4. Consistent Example - Modelling is the greatest unconscious form of learning what we know. As Paul writes in Philippians 3v17 - 4v9 "Follow me as I follow Christ". Whether you like it or not, people are following you, but are you following Christ closely? Those who are following and watching you, do not do what you tell them to do, but do what you do!

5. Self-mastery - You need to be unencumbered by the things that weigh you down. This is the danger of an affluent society. (Hebrews 12:1-2) "Travel light". You need to decide what is good and what is evil. The real decision is between that which is good, that which is better and which is better or best. Choose the best!!

6. Virile Private Life - Two things to keep in balance are involvement & isolation. You cannot do enough for others if you are constantly in the company of others. You also need time alone but not as a complete hermit!

7. Confidence - The number one problem in our culture today, is a lack of confidence. Paul said in Philippians 4v13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". For you as Christian Disciple, self-confidence is Christ-confidence - this is not egotism. Say to your self "I can't lose. I can only make mistakes". Confidence is spawned by the ability to say no. The New Testament is the doctrine of moderation in all things. You don't have to do everything you are capable of achieving.

8. Teachability - You are to be teachable because you have an unlimited ceiling of being taught. A key part of your being a Christian Disciple is a willingness to be taught by other people, even if you are in a teaching role!

9. Positive Attitude - A danger in becoming negative, is that a root of bitterness sets up. The greatest therapy is that of thanksgiving & prayer. God says you can do it. Satan says you can't do it.

10. Your capacity to believe God - What is there in your life that you are trusting in God for that He alone can do? (2 Corinthians 4v7) In your life, Jesus is to have the supremacy and glory over all things!

Whatever you are going through - persevere and develop character. Allow yourself to be transformed daily by God the Holy Spirit into the image of God the Son in obedience to the will of God the Father.

For more to think about please do ask your self the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. After reading 2 Timothy 2v11-13, what motivates me to endure and persevere?

Q2. After reading Philippians 3v17, how can I follow Jesus Christ more closely?

Q3. After reading 2 Corinthians 4:7, what is there in my life that where I show trust in God for that which He alone can do?

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Think Spot 27 March 2017

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Think Spot - 27th March 2017

 

G’day and welcome to Partakers! Welcome also to Monday and our Think Spot together!

God's love in the Bible is seen as unfailing, everlasting, intimate, sacrificial, unbreakable, all-conquering, personal, great, immeasurable and all-knowing. This is seen supremely in the Cross of Jesus Christ, when He died for the sins of the world. Supreme love overcoming all that is not love. Even when great acts of evil are committed in the world, such as the slaughter of innocents this past week in parts of the world where terrorism and genocide are rife, love is all around. Love continues despite such acts. How are Christians to respond to this love of God?

The apostle John writes in 1 John 4v15-16 - "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."

Our motivation as Christians is to love and to be love. This is a love, which is sacrificial and self-less. It is tough love which is of service to other people. Loving and serving others, are the primary ways of showing you love God! It is easiest to love your friends. But Jesus commanded that his followers also love their enemies (Matthew 5:43-45)! Now that is very radical and can be difficult! We see constantly in the media and elsewhere, that regards our enemies, we are to be confrontational or at best to just ignore them!

How is it possible to love our enemies? It is only with the help of God and His abundant grace towards us! We depend on the Holy Spirit who lives inside all Christians to empower and guide! To only love those who love you is what is expected by people everywhere as normal behaviour. But as a Christian, you are to do more! You are to be seen to love more than other people. You don’t have to like others as friends, but you do have to love them as fellow human beings!

Go into this week, being prepared to show your love of Jesus Christ, remaining close to Him and serving other people generously with abundant grace-filled love! By loving and serving others, you become God’s arms and legs in a physical world. One of the greatest limitations you face in loving and serving other people is a severe lack of imagination!

So as you go into this week, ask God to expand your imagination to love and serve; as well as asking for the opportunities to do them. Loving and serving are hallmarks of an authentic Christian life. Love continues even amidst chaos and turmoil all around. Go and be part of the continuing of love.

 

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Exploring The Bible

11. New Testament

Titus (AD62-64)

 

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:

  • Titus 2:11-13 & Titus 3:4-8

 

Titus, another close friend, colleague and student of Paul, is the pastor of a church on Crete. Paul instructs him to teach and organize the believers with authority. He is to emphasize three areas - local church organization and function, doctrinal instruction, and the use of doctrine in everyday life.

Paul commands and expects that their behaviour will be exemplary due to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This will ensure relationships within the church are good and godly.

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 92 - John 21:13
Eating with Jesus

Was this the most exciting, glorious thrilling meal that humans have ever eaten? Here they were, seven men and Jesus sitting cross-legged on the shore of the little sea of Galilee, and, if we let our imaginations fly perhaps an outer ring of local men and women watching in awe and wonder what was happening. The Creator and Saviour of the world was here, alive and well, after his great sacrifice on the Cross. It must have been a beautiful morning when the heavens declared the glory of God more clearly than usual. All creation was rejoicing. The sky was a matchless blue; a gentle breeze just rippled the surface of the sea; all the birds were singing, singing, singing their joy. The little animals, usually asleep in their holes and burrows at this time of day, were poking their noses out whiskers all a quiver to see what was happening. Only the fish left in the sea were not rejoicing because they had lost so many of their mates!


In it all we need to take note that he had sat down to eat with his people, and even to be their cook, their food provider. This time it was fish and bread - and presumably something to wash it down, water or wine. This was just one of the three recorded meals Jesus ate with his disciple after he had risen from the dead. They were not special sacramental meals, but rather simple ones eating the food that was available.

The hint could not be clearer - we too, are to eat with Jesus very frequently in the meal we know as the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, the communion service etc. Those churches which restrict the communion service to once every 3, 6 or 12 months, from good motives to be sure, do their people a grave disservice - and do not follow the clear intent of scripture. So does any church that does not hold a service because there is no officially ordained person, usually male in many cases, to lead the service; or no proper building in which to observe it; or particular liquid to drink. No, by his example, we are to eat with him whenever we can without any particular need to be ‘posh’ in the way we do it. Meeting him is far more important than any detail of how or where.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

24th March 2017!

 

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!

 

Today we pray once more, a Morning Prayer from the Syrian Clementine Liturgy. This Liturgy, dates from the 4th century, and was celebrated in Syria and throughout the Church of Antioch. It is the oldest model known in Antioch, and is a liturgy is related to the Apostle James. Come pray, particularly bearing in mind places in this world where turmoil, war and horror are daily happenings.! 

 

A Morning Prayer from the 4th Century Syrian Clementine Liturgy

 

O God,

You are the unsearchable abyss of peace,

the ineffable sea of love,

the fountain of blessings,

and the bestower of affection.

~~~~~

O God,

You who sends peace to those that receive it;

open to us this day the sea of Your love,

and water us with the plenteous streams

from the riches of Your grace.

~~~~~

Make us children of quietness, and heirs of peace.

Kindle in us the fire of Your love;

sow in us Your fear;

strengthen our weakness by Your power!

~~~~~

Bind us closely to You

and to each other

in one firm bond of unity;

for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

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Issues - Standing Alone

Issues Facing Christians Today

Standing Alone

Jesus speaking and from the Gospel of John 15:18-21 "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.  Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.' Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.  They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me."

As Christian Disciples, those who proclaim that they follow Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we have a new identity.  What are we to do with it?  The Bible is very clear that we are to stay faithful to Jesus Christ, particularly when it is difficult! It means staying faithful to Jesus and His will, regardless of opposition and alternatives. By doing this we are standing alone and being faithful to Him. Satan brings pressure to bear on Christians to reduce their standards and commitment.  Christian Disciples undergo challenges from those that either don't like or understand us.
We are constantly tempted to do wrong things or we are tempted not to do right things.  Either way, we are tempted to sin against our God. So we are to be separate from sin but not separated from a sinful society. This is what Jesus meant when He said we are to be "In the world but not of the world" (John 17:15-19).  The key to standing alone is to have constant identification with Jesus Christ in lifestyle and words.  It is to have a permanent reminder that we serve a faithful God and that Jesus Christ is to be our Master.  When we sin, either actively or passively, it is because we have some form of memory loss about who we are, if we call ourselves a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God.

Hindrances to standing alone

As we live the Christian life, as Christian Disciples we will face hindrances to identifying with Jesus.  Here are three major areas that as Christian Disciples, we all undergo.
Firstly there is an inborn fear of what others will think - fear of being different and being laughed at.
Then there is the fear of losing friends. To have the right friends however, a person must be willing to have enemies. Jesus made friends on the basis of who would accept Him and His message. We may be excluded from the company of those who reject Jesus (Luke 6:26).
Another one is the desire to be like those in the world. In Psalm 73 David envied the success of the godless, until he realized their destiny was disaster; and that he had God and needed nothing else. Always taking what is best is no sacrifice.

How to stand alone

So if they are some of the hindrances, what are some of the keys in battling these hindrances?  As Christian Disciples we have to remember God's way of life is superior.  It is a life filled with abundance according to Jesus in John 10:10!  Then we realise that acting as light & salt in the world, you are co-operating with God and He is being glorified according to Peter in 1 Peter 4:12-14).  Remember; if you give people no reason to ask about the hope and faith you have in Jesus, they probably won't ask!  Jesus said in His final words before His ascension in Matthew 28:18-20, that we are to expect persecution for being his Disciples.  If that's how we identify with our lifestyle how do we identify verbally with Jesus?

How to verbally identify with Christ

Never apologize for what you know and believe to be a superior way of life.  However, that does not mean to be smug and arrogant about it because we are commanded to walk humbly and meekly.  Then just be natural about it.  As a college principle told me a long time ago and I still remember the words "Let your spiritual life be natural and your natural life be spiritual."

One way to do this is to project the idea that you are not your own boss - Jesus is your Lord and let him take both the strain and glory.  Remember that those who reject you also reject Jesus.

Making right decisions in questionable areas

Imagine you are in a situation and you have to make a correct decision in a questionable area.  What do you do?  Why not ask yourself questions and tell yourself statements such as:

  • Does it bring glory to God? (1 Corinthians10:31)
  • Can I thank God for this activity - could Jesus accompany me?
  • Does it build Christian character? (1 Corinthians10:23)
  • Will it cause another Christian to sin/stumble? (1 Corinthians8:9-13)
  • It should not control me habitually (1 Corinthians6.12)
  • If in doubt, throw it out. (Romans14:22-23)
  • Ask other people for advice. It is important what other people think.
  • Abstain from all appearances of evil (1 Thessalonians5:22)
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit to help you! Ask for His help and guidance!

Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them.  Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together. For more to do and think about please do read for yourself, John17:15-19.

Q1 - Have I given every area of my life to Christ in order to be faithful to Him?
Q2 - Am I prepared to be holy and obedient to God in all circumstances?
Q3 - Am I willing to sacrifice my desires for God's Will, so that I can clearly be seen identifying myself with Jesus in lifestyle and in words?

 

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POD - Psalm 149

Psalm 149

 

 

Praise the Lord!

 

Sing to the Lord a new song.

Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.

O Israel, rejoice in your Maker.

O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King.

 

Praise his name with dancing,

accompanied by tambourine and harp.

For the Lord delights in his people;

he crowns the humble with victory.

 

Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them.

Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds.

Let the praises of God be in their mouths,

and a sharp sword in their hands -

to execute vengeance on the nations

and punishment on the peoples,

to bind their kings with shackles

and their leaders with iron chains,

to execute the judgment written against them.

This is the glorious privilege of his faithful ones.

 

Praise the Lord!

 

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Think Spot 20 March 2017

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Think Spot - 20th March 2017

 

Matthew 11:28-30 records these words of Jesus Christ. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Are not those amazing words? Not just anybody could say them. If the person who said them couldn't actually fulfil that promise, that would be one of the biggest hoaxes in all of history. But Jesus Christ is no hoax and he is able to fulfil those words and live up to the promises he makes. He is totally trustworthy.

We don't like to ask for help.  We are trained as children to be independent and not to rely on anybody else for anything ever.  But this is contrary to what Jesus is about.  To rely fully on ourselves for all things is to walk by sight and commit the sin of pride. To rely on Jesus and ask Him for help in all things is to walk by faith and with humility. True independence and freedom comes from being dependent on Jesus Christ and not being held back by anything or anyone else, such as family and our own wealth and possessions.

How are you doing at the start of this new week? Maybe you are feeling desolation and regret caused by decisions made sometime in your past. Give them up willingly to Jesus and don't keep trying to take it back like a security blanket!

Are you feeling abandoned and lonely? Let Jesus encompass you in an embrace of compassion and let the Holy Spirit comfort and counsel you.. Or perhaps are you feeling tired, burnt out and burdened?. Let Jesus give you the strength to endure! Give the burden to Jesus and let Him take the weight for you. Maybe you need to make a major decision and don't know what to do. Seek the wisdom of Jesus in making that decision. He will help if you ask. That's all part of Jesus being Jesus.

It may well be that you are being overwhelmingly tempted to sin against God, another person or even yourself? You cant resist for too long if you do it in your own strength, because you will eventually succumb to it. But if you ask God to help you overcome the temptation, He will do it - if you allow Him control and use your own self-control! After all, self-control is one of the evidences of the Holy Spirit working in you!

We all get those feelings of regret, desolation, abandonment, loneliness, despair, burdened and temptation. Feelings are important, because they are part of the human experience and if we didn't have them, we would be merely mindless androids. But feelings can also be very misleading.  As Christians, we have to take it by faith that Jesus is there for us through those times. Because you are lonely, doesn't mean you are alone.  Because you are tempted, doesn't meant that you have already committed the sin. Take it by faith that Jesus is answering desperate cries for help and is helping you. Take a few seconds now in this short silence to hand over these things to Jesus and ask him to help you.

Or it may just be that you are starting the week and you are feeling great and enjoying your dynamic relationship with God! Then keep going and letting Jesus be your strength, your wisdom and your help.  But don't keep it to yourself - that would be selfish! Go to others you know who are in need, helping them where you can with an encouraging word or helping to supply their need. Be the practical and imaginative answer to their prayers. Go into this new week, confident that Jesus is able to help you in every situation you face. Ask him to come to you, and He will - just as He has done for countless millions.

 

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Exploring The Bible

10. New Testament

Philemon (AD64-65)

 

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:

  • Philemon 15-18

 

This is a personal letter from the aged Paul to Philemon who is both a believer and a slave owner. He had a slave called Onesimus who escaped and disappeared. Paul met Onesimus, probably in Rome, and he became a Christian and a helper of Paul.

Paul asks that Philemon graciously love and forgive him, receive him back and treat him not just as a slave but as a brother in Christ. Although there is no suggestion that this should be the end of slavery if this action was accepted it would eventually lead to the end of that awful institution.

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