google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2018 June

Archive for June 2018

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Gems in the book of Revelation
(Authored by Roger Kirby)

Part 146 - Revelation 14:1-5
The army of God

The picture of the Lamb standing on Mount Zion takes us straight to Psalm 2:6-11 where we read:


“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”
7 I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.
8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.

What John has written here is clearly a pictorial representation of how that prophecy will be fulfilled. Here we have 144,000 marshalled as the army of the Lamb. Not of course an army, which is to go out with Kalashnikovs etc. but one, that is to fight with love and mercy for the glory of the Lord. As before this number is carefully judged so that when it was first written it might not be so big a number that everyone who heard it might presume that they would be included and not so small that they might worry that there was no room for them. Now it has to be several billion to have the same meaning for all the Christians alive today. They are a mighty army heralded with great natural sounds of water and thunder and great human sounds of harps and singing. In the early days when a Jewish army had to go to war they were instructed to abstain from sexual relations so that they might be symbolically as pure as possible. That is what is referred to here in the statement that the Lord’s army were to be virgins. It should not be taken literally. They are to be followers - the word so often used in the Gospels to refer to those who believed in Jesus as the Messiah.


Once again this chapter will be read between by those Christians in countries where faith is a nice comfortable way to live your life and in a very different way by those who live where to believe in Jesus puts them into an unwanted category and possibly constant danger.

Even in the comfortable countries there are points to note here. 14:4b-5 talk about following the Lamb wherever he goes - not just on Sunday mornings! And goes on to remind the followers that they have been purchased - at a terrible price; that they are but part of a mighty army - now found throughout the world in all except its most hidden corners; and that purity expressed as absolute honesty in every word is the mark of the true believer.

For the uncomfortable countries there is the promise of a future judgement when all the greatest citadels of evil will be destroyed and there will be eventually a terrible display of the wrath of God against all the wickedness and failure to worship the true and only God.

Perhaps the most important thing of all to note in this chapter is that after the great description of the Lord’s army we are not told that it was ever used. All the action is carried out by spirit beings. We are not to go to war on behalf of the Lamb.

However those days will call for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who are to keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

Dear Lord, please, may we so live that you count us amongst those, we pray.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

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!

Lord, because you have made me,
I owe you the whole of my love;
because you have redeemed me, I owe you the whole of myself;
because you have promised so much, I owe you my whole being.
Moreover, I owe you as much more love than myself as you are greater than I,
for whom you gave yourself and to whom you promised yourself.

I pray you, Lord,
make me taste by love what I taste by knowledge;
let me know by love what I know by understanding.
I owe you more than my whole self,
but I have no more,
and by myself I cannot render the whole of it to you.
Draw me to you, Lord, in the fullness of your love.
I am wholly yours by creation;
make me all yours, too, in love.
Amen

(A prayer of Anselm 1033-1109)

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Thursday Story

People meeting Jesus

 

The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer...

Today look at the story of perhaps one of the greatest Saints of the 20th Century church - Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His books and writings have never been more influential than they are today. His fight to stand for the cause of Christ cost him his life. We do well to honour and remember him as an example to us all. Come and listen to his story of faith...

 

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Alfie brings you a WOW Word

 

WOW Word - Cross of Jesus Christ

 

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Our WOW Word today is Cross! Cross, as in the Cross of Jesus Christ!

John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.
Mark 10:45 – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Even a cursory look at the world around you, will tell you that the world is messed up. Is there any hope? Yes there is! That is why God sent Jesus! Jesus is the hope! Jesus came to serve rather than be served. That is why Jesus came to give His life, so humanity may have a hope! God made the world perfect and humanity was in a harmonious relationship with God. Humanity messed it up and broke the relationship bonds with God. When the time was right, God became human, in order to bring humanity back into relationship with Himself.

That man was Jesus Christ and it was His death on a Roman cross about 2000 years ago which was the act of a generous God reaching out to the world that he loves. Without Jesus’ death on the cross would there be no hope for the world! That He died is without doubt, but why did He have to die and what gain do we have as His Disciples?

Alphy the WOWChurch Cat explains the significance of Jesus' death on the cross for the sake of all humanity. Play or download the mp3 audio to discover what Alphy has to say! Bless ya!

 

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POD - Psalm 41

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Psalm 41

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David.

1 Blessed is he who considers the poor.
Yahweh will deliver him in the day of evil.
2 Yahweh will preserve him, and keep him alive.
He shall be blessed on the earth,
and he will not surrender him to the will of his enemies.
3 Yahweh will sustain him on his sickbed,
and restore him from his bed of illness.
4 I said, "Yahweh, have mercy on me!
Heal me, for I have sinned against you."

5 My enemies speak evil against me:
"When will he die, and his name perish?"
6 If he comes to see me, he speaks falsehood.
His heart gathers iniquity to itself.
When he goes abroad, he tells it.
7 All who hate me whisper together against me.
They imagine the worst for me.
8 "An evil disease," they say, "has afflicted him.
Now that he lies he shall rise up no more."

9 Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted,
who ate bread with me,
has lifted up his heel against me.
10 But you, Yahweh, have mercy on me,
and raise me up, that I may repay them.
11 By this I know that you delight in me,
because my enemy doesn't triumph over me.
12 As for me, you uphold me in my integrity,
and set me in your presence forever.
13 Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel,
from everlasting and to everlasting!

Amen and amen.

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Think Spot 25 June 2018

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Think Spot 25th June 2018

As part of our living as followers of Jesus, here is something which has the capability of affecting every person on the planet.

Jesus, our Master, said in Matthew 12:36-37 "But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Jesus took words and thoughts extremely seriously. Jesus’ words encouraged others gently towards paths of right living. He spoke words of love, kindness, rebuke, forgiveness, encouragement and blessing upon and to others. Jesus is to be our guide and Master in the use of thoughts and words.

In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus equates calling somebody a fool with the physical act of murder. Murder has its beginning in anger developing into uncontrollable rage. Improper attitudes, words and thoughts can lead you and I to sin if we don’t stop their destructive use quickly. May the words we communicate and think about, be like those of Jesus – “full of grace”. How is your WOW factor of Jesus now?

When Jesus Christ called you to follow Him, He called you to follow Him wholeheartedly and be committed to only Him. Jesus calls you and I, to love God and be totally committed to Him.

Here is a brief prayer to help us into the new week.

Father, help us this week to be totally committed to you in all aspects of our lives. May those we live with, work with and interact with, know we are your child by the words we speak. We ask this, through the mighty name of your Son, Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Exploring The Bible

62. Old Testament

Deuteronomy

 

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:

Deuteronomy 10:12–13
Deuteronomy 28: 58 - 64

In a series of farewell messages Moses addresses a new generation as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. He takes the opportunity to retell the history of the wanderings of the people emphasising the importance of obedience and the penalties of disobedience.

The book concludes with a warning that if they fail to live righteously in the land they will be exiled – a warning that they do not heed and so will eventually be exiled to Assyria and Babylon.

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Gems in the book of Revelation
(Authored by Roger Kirby)

Part 145 - Revelation 13:1-18
The Christian and the State.

There is another way to look at this chapter 13. It is not particularly encouraging but it is important so we will consider it. It is the contribution of this chapter to what the Bible says about the relationship between Christians and the State. The usual passage to which people turn for comment on this is Romans 13 where the clear teaching is that the Christian is to obey the State even if he or she does not agree with what the State requires.

1 Peter 2:
13 teaches the same thing. What happens if the State is teaching things that are completely against scripture? The classic case in the Bible is Acts 5:29 where Peter says: “We must obey God rather than human beings! Another example of this is the apartheid State of South Africa in the second half of the last century. What does this chapter say which might be taken as throwing a different light on how the Christian and the Christian church should react in that sort of situation?

There are several hints here that the Christian church may be colluding with an evil force. In 13:3 we read that the whole world was filled with wonder (at the recovery of the beast from a fatal wound - which is somewhat like what happened to Jesus!). Everyone follows the beast and worships the dragon. As a result it was given ability to promote its beliefs, and authority to oppose the Lord. Then the second beast comes and deceives the inhabitants of the earth (13:14). It deceives them to the point where they are forced to receive a mark (13: 16) on their right hands or their foreheads if they want to continue to trade in the markets.

In other words there was great evil abroad in the world and people were being deceived to the point where they were actually co-operating with the sources of evil. And it is not at all clear that those co-operating were only non-believers in Jesus. Believers may have been actively co-operating with the evil that was going on. Two obvious examples of this in the fairly recent past were the apartheid teachings in South Africa, already mentioned, and the church in Germany co-operating with the Fascists in the 1930s. No doubt there are other less obvious examples going on all the time in lesser countries.

The fundamental teaching of the book of Revelation is that evil is abroad in the world and it is to be resisted at whatever cost, up to and including martyrdom.

This chapter must be placed alongside those others that, speaking to different situations, seem to suggest that the state authorities must always be obeyed. This is a very tricky subject. I can only say I hope that comment may help someone somewhere as they struggle with what they should do when faced with an antagonistic state.

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Partakers Friday Prayers

22 June 2018

 

Come and join in praying for the world and yourself, offering praises to God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit!

 

Order of Service

 

Opening prayer

Confession

Psalm 65

Prayers for Churches and Christians worldwide

Prayers for others

Silent time (Prayer for your own concerns)

Prayers for the world

Prayer of Benedict of Nursia

 

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Thursday Story

People meeting Jesus

 

The story of Malcolm Muggeridge...

Today we are looking into the 20th Century again, this time at Malcolm Muggeridge. He was, by his own volition and renown, a determined sceptic and vocal non-believer. Until that is, he encountered Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Come and listen to his story of faith...

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Issues - Government

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 Partake - Issues

Government

 

In the UK, when we have a General Election, that is where people vote for their political representatives. After al the votes are counted there will be a government elected! This of course, is not unique to the UK! All people all over the world live under some from of leadership or government.  That government may be democratically elected, a monarchy or even an oppressive dictatorship. 

Whatever kind of government we find ourselves with, we have one!  If there was not a government in place, as hard as it is to imagine, total chaos would reign and people would just do whatever pleases them, regardless of consequences and regardless of other people.  Therefore, regardless of whatever government we live under, what does the Bible say should be our reaction and attitude to the government. 

By government, I mean all levels of government and authority - from local authority to federal government. 

But first of all, lets look at what the Bible has to say about the function of human government, before going on to look at our responsibility to Government and our community.

The Function of Human Government

Paul writing in Romans 13 "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour."

Here Paul indicates that there are at least three functions of a human government: protection, punishment and promotion.

  • Protection: From the moment Adam sinned, it was plainly obvious that human civilizations would need some form of restraint and law, in order to protect their citizens - form themselves and others.  We see this clearly in Acts 21, where the Roman soldiers step in to save Paul from being killed by other people in Jerusalem. 
  • Punishment: Paul stipulates that duly appointed government officials and servants are to be considered as servants of God (even if they don't believe in God!) 
  • Promotion: Human government, as thought by Paul, was to promote the broad-spectrum welfare of all the community and not just select groups, where its laws are in effect.

 

Christian Response to Human Government

 

Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 writes: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour,"

The Apostle Peter goes further when writing in 1 Peter 2v13-17 "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king."

From these passages of Scripture we see that it is clearly impossible to be simultaneously a solid Christian and a poor citizen.  As Christians we have responsibilities to our government.

  • Firstly we have a responsibility to recognize and acknowledge that God ordains the Government. We see that from Paul's writing in Romans 13 and Paul was writing when the Emperor Nero was in power and systematically persecuting and torturing Christians!  We also see this thinking in the passage from 1 Peter. There is no authority except as given by God.  Even to the most sadistic, dictatorial or atheist governments - they have power only because God has allowed them.  So we are to obey our government!  But it is not to be slavish obedience regardless of what laws are decreed! No!   The exception to this is where obedience to the Government would require the Christian to actively or passively disobey God.  For we read in Acts 4v18-20 that the believer is to live in obedience to God rather than man.
  • Secondly, as much as we probably hate to, we are commanded to pay taxes to the government!  For by doing so, the government can set about ensuring, for example, that the weaker and more vulnerable sections of the community are cared for and protected!
  • Thirdly, and quite possibly, most importantly, Christians are to pray for their leaders, governments and those in authority!  Both Peter and Paul command and recommend it!  To pray for them is to love them and it is also a way for God to shine into the lives of people.  One of the things we are to pray for, is that the government governs righteously, honourably, honestly and with integrity. The Christian, as a citizen, is free to be law-abiding, conscious that they are under submission to Almighty God. It also means giving respect to all members of society from the lowest to the highest!  As Christians, we are to submit ourselves to our Government and be living lives worthy of the Gospel of Christ. This may indeed win some for God, win the recognition of their government as well as influencing Government policy and law.  Whatever government you find yourself under, pray for your leaders even if you thoroughly disagree with some or all of their actions.  They are in power, only because our God has allowed them.  They will answer to Him one day for what they have done with the power given to them by God alone.  God is in control, and He is on the ultimate throne and is the definitive power!

 

Community Responsibility

But just as we have responsibility to our Government, we also have a responsibility for those in our community - both local and global.  We are also to work for social justice and be involved in social action - that's part of our loving of other people.  The oppression and persecution of people is to be anathema to us as Christians, just as it is to our God!  Where a minority is maltreated and discriminated we should be at the forefront of demanding justice for all!  We are to be promoting civil rights and using all aspects of the law to do so.  We are to be working to ensure the poorest members of our community, both local and global, are cared for and the oppressed freed! In your country, this could mean peaceful demonstrations and interacting with your political representatives! 

Look at some of the great reformers or social activists of the past: Wilberforce helping to abolish slavery; or Martin Luther King Jr. at the forefront of ending segregation and racism.  May each one of us, on both a local and international scale, play some small part in ending prejudice, suffering, racism, poverty, bigotry, abuse, oppression and other injustices. 

As John Stott once said: "The reason for our acceptance of social responsibility... is simple uncomplicated compassion.  Love has no need to justify itself. It merely expresses itself in service wherever it sees need."

As Jesus of Nazareth once said: "Love God and love other people."

Some questions to help your thinking!

  1. In what way can I influence and encourage my government to promote justice, free the oppressed and take care of the poor?
  2. How can I help my government authorities to protect, punish and promote?
  3. When was the last time I actively prayed for those in authority over me, whether Christian or secular? Thank you.

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Psalm 91

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Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of Yahweh, "He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust."
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers. Under his wings you will take refuge. His faithfulness is your shield and rampart.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day;
6 nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked.

9 Because you have made Yahweh your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.
11 For he will put his angels in charge of you, to guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands, so that you won't dash your foot against a stone.
 

13 You will tread on the lion and cobra. You will trample the young lion and the serpent underfoot.
14 "Because he has set his love on me, therefore I will deliver him. I will set him on high, because he has known my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him, and honor him.
16 I will satisfy him with long life, and show him my salvation."

 

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