google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2018 September

Archive for September 2018

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus

Part 4
Jesus in the Four Gospels

 

In the New Testament, we have four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ which are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These are called Gospels. But what is a Gospel, how are the four accounts different or similar and what were the main points each writer sought to communicate?

Firstly, they are called Gospels, because they gave substance to the Gospel or Good News about Jesus Christ as described by one of his early followers, the man we know as the Apostle Paul (Romans 1:16) We know that during his time on earth Jesus Christ wrote nothing formally. Yet after his ascension, the stories about Him were preserved and passed on by his disciples and other Christian teachers and evangelists. For the first thirty years or so, these stories were possibly collated and stored together. That would explain the similarity in the four accounts of Jesus’ life. They are not an exhaustive biographical detail of all that Jesus did.

Similarly, the Gospels are also not diaries reflecting a daily account of Jesus’ life. Rather they are selective accounts of his life, and were probably factual illustrations used by his disciples when preaching about Him. Therefore, they would represent the theology of the disciples, as each story about is Jesus is told. That is why they are trustworthy accounts as well as rooting Jesus’ life in first century Judaism and the Greco-Roman world

The first three of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke are what are called the synoptic Gospels. This is based on their great similarity and possibly use of a common source. Mark was probably the first Gospel written as it is shorter in length than either account written by Matthew or Luke. Mark writes as if Matthew and Luke used the Gospel written by Mark as a guide and elaborated where required. We see this in that Mark wrote none of the great discourses of Matthew (Mark 13 being the exception), such as the Sermon on the Mount. Nor does Mark show the great parables that Luke recorded. Surely if Mark had used either the accounts of Matthew or Luke, he would have used those two examples. Matthew is closer in similarity to Mark than Luke. Luke does share large portions of Mark and quite often verbatim, and with a greater use of the Greek language.

The Gospel of John on the other hand, while still telling about Jesus’ ministry, has vastly different story content. Whereas in the synoptic Gospels Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God frequently, in the Gospel of John, Jesus talks about Himself much more often, as in the seven I AM statements which we will look at in Chapters 9 and 10. For this reason, the Gospel of John was probably written much later than Matthew, Mark and Luke.

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 8 - Hebrews 3:1
Jesus rules


The writer says “Therefore fix your thoughts on Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1) This reminds me very much of the old song that starts ‘fix your eyes on Jesus’. Both of them are very good advice.

The image they bring to my mind is that of a collie sheep dog. We, in this country, herd sheep with the help of dogs who race around the flock and move it in the right direction. A collie will walk alongside its master or mistress scarcely taking its eyes off them and so walking very awkwardly. At the slightest command they are away very fast to follow voice or whistled instructions. Not only are they very obedient they are also very intelligent - one of the most intelligent breeds there is. So if there is a fold in the ground that takes them out of sight of their master they will almost certainly continue to do the right thing.

In the previous chapter the writer has been explaining things about Jesus, how effective his death has been for us in making us acceptable to God in spite of our sinfulness and general waywardness. He has now come to a ‘therefore’, challenging us to live in a way worthy of Jesus. (He does this most of the way through his book, alternating descriptions of what Jesus has done for us with challenges of how we should respond to him.)

Here his ‘therefore’ indicates that we are being challenged to act towards him as a sheepdog does to its master: with complete obedience whenever possible and intelligence when it is not. That is an intelligence that has been well developed by our past history of concern for scripture reading whenever possible, studying it and developing a good working knowledge of what it says.

When and how we do this is important. It used to be that everyone was exhorted to start the day, everyday, with Bible reading and prayer. That is all very well if you are retired and come to life as soon as you wake up. If you have a young family, need to start work as soon as you can, or, like me, are quite hopeless until you have some breakfast inside you, that is not very good advice. What you need to do is to set yourself a pattern of activity with the Lord that will fit into your day or week. I remember one time in my life when it was one evening each week, always the same one, which I dedicated to Bible study and prayer. That fitted into my life in a way that an early morning daily ‘quiet time’, as we used to call it, would not. Don’t worry if you can’t fit into someone else’s idea of what you should do. Make up your own schedule and stick to it. The good Lord will surely approve of you if you do that provided you are consistent and persevering.

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Partakers Friday Prayers

28 September 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 - CS Lewis

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Thursday Story

People meeting Jesus

 

The story of CS Lewis...

We continue apace into the twentieth century and hear the story of perhaps one of the foremost Christian thinkers of our age – CS Lewis. Let’s look together at how and why he started his own Christian journey and the relevancy of Jesus Christ to his life! It may not be what you have heard it said to be! Come and listen to his story of faith...

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WOW Word - Doctrine

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Doctrine

Paul writes in Titus 2:1: “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. “


The word ‘doctrine’ in a lot of places is unfashionable. They say that doctrine belongs to a time gone by, and that new experiences of God and miracles from God are all that matters. Some churches teach only what they think people want to hear, tickling the ears instead of exposing them to biblical truth led by the Holy Spirit and therefore stirring them into living transformed lives for Jesus Christ.

What is Doctrine?

The words translated as “doctrine” are found frequently in the letters written by Paul, primarily 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. The original words are didache (the act of teaching) and didaskalia (that which is taught). They are used fifteen times and are translated as doctrine. Doctrine is the study of God. For Christians, our doctrine is revealed through the pages of the Bible. The more you as a Christian learn about the God you have chosen to follow, the more you will be able to deal with the daily pressures of living in a world who does not want to know about God.

You will continue learning and understanding the very nature of God and therefore be wise in your actions and reactions to conflict and circumstances. You will continue to develop the relationship between yourself and the God you serve. Doctrine is for all Christians, regardless of education, time of knowing the God personally and status within your church. Indeed, everybody, Christian or not, have doctrines whether they want to have a doctrine of belief or not – that includes atheists who have a doctrine of non-belief!

Doctrine Matters

So, for all people, Christians particularly, doctrine matters. Doctrine matters because what you believe about God, ultimately affects how you will behave. If as a Christian you have solid, biblical doctrine being practised in your life, you will be living a life of total obedience to Jesus Christ. For Christians are to hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6) and this only comes through the continuing work of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

As the mind is renewed and transformed (Romans 12:1) with teaching about Jesus Christ, what the mind learns is put into practice, and your life is being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. People will start asking you about the reason for the hope you hold onto. That way the Gospel and Good News of Jesus Christ is spread. This hope is also an unending hope, which will enable you to endure to the end and run the race marked out for you.

Finally, learning solid doctrine is important is so that you will be able to discern true Apostolic & biblical teaching from the false teaching of heretics and those who want to lead you astray from the truth. Experiences and miracles are important, but to base your Christian life upon them, and not on solid biblical doctrine, produces a rollercoaster effect and not the constant reliance on the indwelling Holy Spirit for direction, guidance and trust.

 

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POD - Psalm 73

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Psalm 73

 A psalm of Asaph.

1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.

5 They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity ; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression.

9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, "How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?"
12 This is what the wicked are like- always carefree, they increase in wealth.

13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.
15 If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me

17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
20 As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

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Think Spot - 24 September 2018


As I reflect upon the life of Jesus as given to us through the Gospels, I see that in his interaction with people he exhibits his loveliness. An example of this is found in Matthew 20:29-34


As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.”
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.”
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

See how Jesus exhibited his loveliness to those two men, through an act of compassion and mercy. Jesus gave those two men great joy in receiving their sight and enabled them to overcome the rejection by the crowd. Those two men could testify that Jesus is altogether lovely and lovely altogether. Jesus is beyond compare for the things He has done and the things He will do.

Jesus Christ is altogether lovely in regard to his divinity, humanity, birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, exultation, glorification, grace, protection, tenderness, power, wisdom, vengeance, judgment, majesty, redemption and pardon. Jesus’ loveliness means I can have His incomparable inner joy when I feel defeated, dejected and discouraged. Jesus oozes loveliness.

As you go into this week, remember that when you are feeling defeated, dejected or discouraged, that Jesus joy is inside you. Joy is not necessarily loud and obtrusive but also quiet and peaceful. Allow that joy of Jesus to carry you through. Let His loveliness embrace you and allow Him control over your circumstances.


A prayer to help you into this new week:

Father, we thank you for sending Jesus. We thank you Jesus that you are altogether lovely and lovely altogether. We thank you that you are with us when everybody else rejects, despises, defeats or discourages us.
Amen.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus

Part 3

 

Welcome back to this series “Investigating Jesus Christ”. Together we are exploring the life of the most amazing person who ever lived - Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We will investigate together who this man was and why he matters.

Today we continue looking at some of the evidences outside of the Bible for the existence of the man we know as Jesus Christ.

Josephus (37-101AD) Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3

“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared.”

Jewish Talmud (400-700AD) (b. Sanhedrin 43a)

“Jesus practiced magic and led Israel astray”

“It was taught: On the day before the Passover they hanged Jesus. A herald went before him for forty days (proclaiming), “He will be stoned, because he practiced magic and enticed Israel to go astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favour come forward and plead for him.” But nothing was found in his favour, and they hanged him on the day before the Passover."

 

As we have hopefully seen clearly, there is much evidence for the man we know as Jesus Christ from writings outside of the Bible. These are only a handful of sources which give good evidence for His existence. You may like to do your own investigation into the evidences: whether you are not a Christian, been a Christian for a long time or just begun being a Christian. Go for it! Discover extra WOW factors about this Jesus for yourself! We continue next week, looking at the evidence in the Bible. 

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)
Part 7 - Hebrews 2:17
Jesus atones for us


For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

A few days ago, as I write, Liverpool football club took on Real Madrid for the Champions of Europe cup. The game is remembered for two awful mistakes made by Loris Karius, the Liverpool goalkeeper. They might still have been beaten but he made sure they were. He threw the ball out far to close to an opponent who was able to score easily from it, then he let a very catchable ball slip through his hands into the goal. One can only imagine what he felt like in the changing room afterwards. He must have sat in a corner and wished the ground would open up and swallow him! Nothing he could do would remedy the situation. Nothing he could do would atone for his awful mistakes. They had lost and that was that. He will have been the outcast of the team. He will have been lucky if anyone was prepared to say anything kind to him. He will not have been at-one with the rest of the team. (Only much later did they realise he may have been concussed in an earlier incident.)
We too have made some awful mistakes. Nothing we can do will make us winners who can appear before the great Lord God. Although we may not have broken any of the greatest laws of mankind such as murder or adultery, we have failed to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and souls and minds. We have lost the game of life.


But we are not as Karius. We, amazingly, have been put at-one with the Lord God. Not through anything we have done or could possibly do, but because of what Jesus has done for us. Jesus has made at-one-ment for the sins of the people. He has done that by his death on the cross; by giving his blood as a sacrifice for us. Later our writer categorically announces that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (9:22) The reference is, of course, to the blood of animal sacrifices made for the forgiveness of sins. Why that should be is never completely clear but it is a fundamental background understanding through scripture. The writer to the Hebrews is going to go on to explain this background in great detail though he only uses the word ‘atonement’ once more in his book.

Rejoice then! We have been accepted into the favour of the Lord God through the action of Jesus. Charles Wesley’s great hymn starts, ‘And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood’
 
Its answer is Yes, Yes, and Yes.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

21 September 2018

 

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!

 

Almighty, eternal and merciful God,
whose Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,
open and illuminate our minds,
that we may purely and perfectly
understand Your Word
and that our lives may be conformed
to what we have rightly understood,
that in nothing we may be displeasing
to Your majesty,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

(A prayer of Ulrich Zwingli)

 

 

 

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Come and hear Andy give his testimony of a journey

from darkness into glorious Christian joy!

 

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WOW Word 23 - Giving

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Giving

 

A story - King's Cross to Caledonian Road. And what happened when...

Time, possessions and money

Giving is seemingly one of the three forbidden subjects for Christians to discuss in the 21st century! The other two being sex and power. Jesus talked about all three often!

Every person has in differing quantities: time, talent, possessions and money. In relationship to giving, the Church is to be a community where the strongest members support the weakest members. This applies not only to the local church, but also at a national and international level as well.

Too often, even as Christian Disciples we are found turning a blind eye to the suffering of others where the bare necessities of life are in sparse existence. Too often we gather possessions and people, instead of giving up our time and money generously to help the poor and needy of both our world and local communities. Too often we keep our time and talents selfishly to ourselves instead of giving them to others in need.

Spiritual Growth Indicator

Perhaps the greatest indicator of spiritual growth in the Christian Disciple concerns their giving – particularly financial giving. Paul writing to the Corinthians commands that giving is to be done whole-heartedly and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). WOW! For the Christian Disciple, it is not so much how much is given, but how much is left after giving. God looks beyond the amount that is given to the motive and attitude behind the giving. All of our money, time, talents and possessions belong to God anyway, so giving is to be in response to this. Giving is to be done out of love for God. Paul offers in 1 Corinthians 16:2 a three-point system for giving financially: regularly, methodically and proportionately.

Failure to give back to God's work what He has given the Christian Disciple in the first place, robs God (Malachi 3:8). The reason it robs is because the giving cannot be used to support those who are working for God. As a result of giving, the Christian Disciple will be blessed (Malachi 3:10) and have their needs satisfied (Philippians 4:19).

Old Testament
In the Old Testament, Widows were important to God, because justice is important to God as He is a God of perfect justice and consummate mercy. In the Old Testament, under the Law of Moses, God commanded provision for those who were widows, oppressed or uncared for.

The 12 Apostles would have known about God caring for the widows and through Jesus’ teaching about justice for the poor and the oppressed. We know this because if you read the Book of Acts, people were selling and sharing possessions and ensuring that all people within the Christian community were being looked after and cared for. This included making sure that everyone got fed, particularly those who had no family to care for them. And it was not just for those within the church – but from the wider community!

New Testament
The New Testament church made sure that financial giving was done and that the poor, the oppressed, the lonely and the widows were taken care of. People working fulltime for the Lord, were given recompense by others for their efforts. People gave. Paul in Romans 12:6-8 places giving as a spiritual gift! I wonder how many people have asked specifically for that particular gift. Perhaps it’s the least asked for gift; after all it isn’t one of the supposedly spectacular ones!

You and I
How are you doing? How is your giving of your time, your talents, your possessions and your money on a local, national and international level? The get out clause for a lot of Christians is that it would not be good stewardship to give to that person or that cause. Or they say the passages in the book of Acts are only descriptive of that particular time and have no relevance for us today.
Each of us has in varying quantities: time, talents, possessions and money. How is your giving of those to others doing? God gave everything so that you and I may have life and life in abundance. So by giving generously of your time, your talents, your possessions and your finances, you are reflecting that. Just as God gave and gives generously, and gave His Son as a ransom for sin. If you have run out of ideas about how to give what you have, ask God to show you and give you some creative ideas! Go live! Go give!

How’s that for a WOW word?

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