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Archive for April 2017

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Exploring The Bible

13. New Testament

1 Timothy--A.D. 62-64

 

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:

  • 1 Timothy 3:16
  • 1 Timothy 6:11-12

 

This and the following three letters are all addressed to one person rather than a church. Paul delegates authority to Timothy, his personal representative in Ephesus, effectively the minister or pastor of the church there. He instructs Timothy about life and ministry and about the organization, function, and edification of the church.

Timothy is encouraged to counter with sound doctrine any false teaching particularly in regards to the Mosaic Law, to develop Church leaders and encourage godly Christian living.

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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 95 - John 21:21
Challenges


“What about him?” asked Peter, referring to his close friend ‘the disciple that Jesus loved’, probably John, the writer of this gospel. His question will have been of but small interest when Peter asked it but had become of much greater significance over fifty years later when John had died or it became clear he could not live much longer. (That there was this interest behind the reported question suggests someone else was working with John on this chapter.) Several things Jesus had said had seemed to suggest that he would return before all the disciples had died. One of them is quoted here, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Earlier he had said in Mark 9: 1 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” They had failed to realise that the Kingdom had come quietly when the King, Jesus, came and more openly at his death and resurrection. Unfortunately the idea is still around that we can work out when the kingdom will come in its full splendour even although Jesus warned that “about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Don’t be one of those misled by folk with more concern for their own apparent cleverness in working out the details of his return than their ability to hear what he actually said.


There is another important point to be learned from this passage. Jesus had just told Peter in verses 18, 19 “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.” That is a strong hint that Peter would die by crucifixion as Jesus had done, and as he in fact did about 30 years later. Peter wanted to know whether John would suffer the same fate. Whether that was from concern for his much younger friend or from a sense of wanting to protect him or from a hope that he would not share such a singular privilege (as Peter saw it) is not clear.

This is significant for us, as is the reply of Jesus. In all probability some few of those who read or hear this will live in a country where you are in danger of martyrdom because you hold to a faith that the majority do not agree with. Most of you will not be in such a dangerous situation but can expect to die a natural death when your days are done. For us of the second sort the interesting question is: will we be in some sense second class citizens of the kingdom to come behind those who have been martyred? The clear implication of the reply of Jesus in verse 23 “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you,” is ‘no’ I simply have something different for you to do.

I always feel a bit uncomfortable singing hymns like the one that says ‘All to Jesus I surrender … ‘ when I know perfectly well that I am surrounded by folk who have no real intention of surrendering anything if they can possibly help it, and I am not at all sure about myself either! It seems to me that the really important thing is when I receive a direct challenge from the Lord to do something - how do I respond? I do not have to concentrate on the big things in life that may never come my way, but how do I respond to the small things: what will I not do; what work promotion will I not seek; where will I actually go in the here and now; rather than some grand gesture.

What about you? Do you agree with that attitude? Or how else will you confront the challenges of life for the sake of your Lord and Master?

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

28th April 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!

 

O eternal Father of lights
from whom all good and perfect gifts come,
you who from whom we receive
the spiritual light and all good and perfect gifts,
and for the sake of Jesus Christ,
your beloved child,
master of heaven and earth,
who glorifies your will
and before whom all of us will one day appear to be judged,
and in whose name we must be saved,
for there is only one grace,
that of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and none other.
May the name of Christ be praised, now and forever.
Amen.

(A prayer of Mennon Simons)

 

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Consequences 01

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Consequence 01

Jesus Goes!

 

Jesus has been raised from the dead! What happened next! In this brief series called Consequences, we shall look together at 7 consequences of Jesus’ death and resurrection and some of the theological implications.

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Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. Frequently Jesus taught that he would rise from the dead. He was mocked for it when on the cross. The disciples had seemingly forgotten this and were hiding in fear at any retribution by the Jewish religious authorities. At his tomb, there were both Temple and Roman Guards to ensure nobody could steal the body of Jesus.

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Acts 1:1-12 In my first book, Theophilus, I wrote about what Jesus began to do and teach. This included everything from the beginning of his life until the day he was taken to heaven. Before he was taken to heaven, he gave instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles, whom he had chosen. After his death Jesus showed the apostles a lot of convincing evidence that he was alive. For days he appeared to them and talked with them about the kingdom of God. Once, while he was meeting with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there for what the Father had promised. Jesus said to them, “I’ve told you what the Father promises: John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when the apostles came together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you’re going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus told them, “You don’t need to know about times or periods that the Father has determined by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. Then you will be my witnesses to testify about me in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he had said this, he was taken to heaven. A cloud hid him so that they could no longer see him. They were staring into the sky as he departed. Suddenly, two men in white clothes stood near them. They asked, “Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking at the sky? Jesus, who was taken from you to heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives. It is near Jerusalem, about half a mile away.

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Jesus’ resurrection is the catalyst for the mission of the church, beginning with the disciples and throughout history. Indeed, the growth and spread of the church, is a proof of the historical fact of Jesus’ physical resurrection or rising from the dead. Having been raised from the dead, Jesus’ mission to earth is coming to an end and shortly He will be returning to the right hand of the Father. Just as He had said to his disciples a few times before He went to the cross. Before He does leave though, He has some final instructions for His disciples.

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In the Gospel of Mark 16:14-19, the Gospel of Luke 24:50-51 and in our reading from the book of Acts 1:1-12, we read about Jesus physically ascending into the heavens. Jesus has returned to the right hand of the Father, as He said he would do before His death on the cross. During their last discussion with Jesus, the disciples were still expecting him to lead a revolution against the Romans (Acts 1:6). Despite all Jesus had said to them in the previous 3 years, they still did not understand that Jesus had come to lead a spiritual kingdom and not a political kingdom.

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Now it would be easy to think that Jesus has abandoned them, but no! Jesus tells them to go back to Jerusalem, wait for the Holy Spirit and then go tell others the Good News about Him! He had told them previously that he was going away and that it was better for them if He did, because the Holy Spirit would be sent to be with them, to live in them and empower them for the work they had to do! And even after Jesus had vanished into the clouds, the disciples still gathered around looking into the sky for Him to return! So two angels came and said “You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky.” (Acts 1:11) From there the disciples returned to Jerusalem and waited. They didn’t have to wait long, 10 days, until the Holy Spirit came, filled them and started living within them. And that is what we will look at tomorrow in the next of this series Consequences.

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WOW Word 17 - Your Cross

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Alfie brings you a WOW Word

 

WOW Word - Your Cross

 

Luke 9:23-26 Jesus speaking “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

 

What is our response to this to be? As followers of Jesus Christ we are commanded to count the cost of following Him. That is how we carry our own cross for the sake of Jesus Christ. Jesus wants to be number one in the life of all those who choose to follow him! Jesus wants supremacy over everything in our lives, including family, friends, and possessions! Alas, that’s a cost too high for some! Here is one man who couldn’t give up something to follow Jesus! Let’s call him Basil. Basil runs up to Jesus and wants eternal life, wants it now and asks Jesus about how to get it. He has fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus. However!

However when Jesus said to Basil that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth and possessions in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, Basil leaves disconsolate and shattered. The life of Basil, this rich young ruler, reflected a life of absorption with his own self-interest and self-importance!. It was a step too far for Basil. He wanted his riches and also everlasting life, but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains the only person that we know of, who left Jesus’ presence sorrowful. That was due to Basil putting his trust in himself, his riches and wealth alone. Now riches, in and of themselves, are not necessarily wrong! But for Basil, well, he was not willing to make the sacrifice required to follow Jesus. He couldn’t count the cost of following Jesus– it was too high a price for him to pay!

What have you given up in and as a result of your decision to follow Jesus? Making sacrifices to follow Jesus is all part of the WOW factor of Jesus. Jesus demands that He is number one and supreme over everything else in your life - yourself, family, others and material goods including money and possessions. How is this done? This is done by consistently ensuring that your works and words match your lifestyle and that no hypocrisy can be found, or indeed will be found. It means standing up for God in the face of adversity. It means loving others even though they hate you.

Just a couple of examples. In the UK, we aren’t systematically persecuted. We are marginalized, ridiculed and ignored but some of our Christian family around the world who daily face death simply because they chose to follow Jesus. They are carrying their cross for Jesus! What about us in the UK? For example: if we as Christians were known by our self-sacrificial love of all others, then Jesus whom we claim to love, follow, worship, and adore would be seen.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote "When Jesus Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. ... Discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Jesus Christ, nor is it hero worship, but intimacy with Christ." (The Cost of Discipleship). Bonnhoeffer knew that as a Christian, a person has to take up their own cross in following Jesus and count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

 

Finally, let’s look at 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for others.” Jesus told us to take up our own cross if we are to follow Him as His Disciple. How is that possible? If we try to do that in our own strength and wisdom, we will fail. If we do that using the power and strength of the Holy Spirit within you, then you will succeed at following Jesus’ command. Are you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ willing to take up your cross? What a difference that would make to the community where you live! 

 

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POD - Psalm 99

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Psalm 99

As read by Sarah

 

1 The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble;

he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.

2 Great is the LORD in Zion;

he is exalted over all the nations.

3 Let them praise your great and awesome name- he is holy.

4 The King is mighty, he loves justice- you have established equity;

in Jacob you have done what is just and right.

5 Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,

Samuel was among those who called on his name;

they called on the LORD and he answered them.

7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;

they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.

8 O LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel  

a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.

9 Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain,

for the LORD our God is holy.

 

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