google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2019 February

Archive for February 2019

WOW Word 27 - Serving

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 37. Serving

Serving God and serving other people is the mark of a spiritually mature Christian Disciple. Did you know that? For it is through serving, that the Christian Disciple reflects the greatest servant of all - Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to serve and to give his life for others.

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.

Philippians 2:5-8 - In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

As followers and partakers of Jesus, Christian Disciples are to be as Jesus Christ and to serve. Yet if we are honest, we sometimes feel incapable. That is because we forget that God the Holy Spirit is within us to empower us to obediently serve God and serve others.

Go Serve!

As a Christian Disciple, a partaker of Jesus Christ, you are called to a life of service: serving God and other people. Your church is to be a body of people, where each person is to have a serving function – serving God and serving others. Why serve others? By serving others as a church, a group of people, it shows unity and solidarity to those outside of the church who frequently accuse the church of infighting and “devouring one another”.

The Christian life is not to be static or inactive, but rather it is to be dynamic and active. The word ‘servant’ is key in Scripture. It is used at least 500 times in its various derivations. Spiritual growth comes from serving, rather than being served. This is because what ever is given in service of God and others, faith grows and Jesus Christ gives back even more. Jesus speaking in Matthew 25:15-30 tells of the rewards for faithful service and the penalties for being faithless. Serving others is a sign that you, as a Christian Disciple, trust God and are having faith in Him.

In serving others, you fulfil the command that Jesus gave to love God and love others. Showing love and serving each other through your Spiritual Gifts and giving, achieves this aim of obedience to Jesus. As the church, we are dependent upon each other, just as one part of the human body has dependence on another part. That is why we serve each other and use the gifts generously given by God.

When you, as a disciple and partaker of Jesus Christ, serve in any capacity, then God’s honour is released. This is done because service shows the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ to those being served and to those watching. That is to be our motive for service. Serving is never about what you can get out of it. When that is the motive, God is patently not glorified. God’s glory and supremacy is the goal of all those who would call themselves a Christian Disciple.

So go … serve. How’s that for a WOW Word?

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POD - Psalm 83

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Psalm 83

A song. A Psalm by Asaph.

83:1 God, don’t keep silent. Don’t keep silent, and don’t be still, God.
83:2 For, behold, your enemies are stirred up. Those who hate you have lifted up their heads.
83:3 They conspire with cunning against your people. They plot against your cherished ones.
83:4 “Come,” they say, “and let’s destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
83:5 For they have conspired together with one mind. They form an alliance against you.
83:6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagrites;
83:7 Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
83:8 Assyria also is joined with them. They have helped the children of Lot.

Selah.

83:9 Do to them as you did to Midian, as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the river Kishon;
83:10 who perished at Endor, who became as dung for the earth.
83:11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb; yes, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna;
83:12 who said, “Let us take possession of God’s pasturelands.”
83:13 My God, make them like tumbleweed; like chaff before the wind.
83:14 As the fire that burns the forest, as the flame that sets the mountains on fire,
83:15 so pursue them with your tempest, and terrify them with your storm.
83:16 Fill their faces with confusion, that they may seek your name, Yahweh.
83:17 Let them be disappointed and dismayed forever. Yes, let them be confounded and perish;
83:18 that they may know that you alone, whose name is Yahweh, are the Most High over all the earth.

 

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Think Spot - 18th February, 2019

 

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 4:15-16

"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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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 19
Who did Jesus say that He was?
  "Light of the World"

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’" (John 8:12).


Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles. One of the great symbols of that feast was Light. At the end of the feast, when the lights are extinguished, Jesus said that he was the light of the world. Throughout the Old Testament, light is an important symbol. There is the pillar of fire and cloud leading the nation of Israel on their journey (Exodus 13). In Psalm 27:1, the psalmist describes God as “my light”. The nation of Israel was to be God’s light to all the world.

This is clearly seen in Isaiah 49:6. Why was this to be? Israel was to be God’s light to the world), so that God would be revealed as the world’s light (Isaiah 60:19-22). By referring to Himself as the light of the world, Jesus is saying it is he who shines light into people’s spiritual eyes and gives them understanding, which in turn leads to them seeing their need of God and his ability to satisfy their spiritual needs.

We continue next week looking at who Jesus said that he was.

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 27 - Hebrews 10:26–31

A word of warning

If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.(Hebrews 10:26-31)

Many countries require a person to have a visa before they are allowed into the country. The visa will often say how long they can stay in the country. If, after entering the country, they sneak back out of the country before the visa is up where there is no entry/exit point and then present themselves to re-enter the country at a proper entry point they would be likely to be in serious trouble.


That is something like what the writer is thinking about here. We received a visa to let us into the Kingdom of God when we first started to follow Jesus. Our writer says we simply cannot leave the kingdom for a while; live in the kingdom of the world; and then return to the kingdom. There is a very important and strong reason why this is so. We may belong to all sorts of clubs: golf, football, book reading or cookery etc., leave the club, cancelling our subscription, and return to it later. But unlike all these clubs the other factor in the kingdom is God himself. On entry to the kingdom we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He cannot be accepted one minute and returned months or years later just because we want to do something else.

We effectively do that if we continue in deliberate sin. The Old Testament is very definite about this. There are two sorts of sin: unintended and ‘with a high hand’, that is defiantly, quite deliberately and intentionally (Numbers 15: 27 - 31).. The former can be remedied by offering repentance and sacrifice, but for the second there is no such remedy.

Unfortunately there seems to be a great deal of teaching around in this Western world in which God is a kind of benevolent grandfather figure who will accept almost anything from his grand-children merely patting them on the head and saying ‘don’t do that again - it is not nice’ or some such comment. We must not forget that we are dealing with the Creator and Sustainer of this world of ours and all the universe. He is a holy God who does not like - will not accept - impurity.

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Friday Prayers

  Prayer from the Vanuatu Churches

Today on Partakers we are praying a prayer from the Vanuatu group of islands. The origins are unknown. 

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

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

Amen

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Thursday Story

People meeting Jesus

 The story of Jenny from Taiwan...

We continue apace into the twentieth century and hear the story of a friend of mine. Her name is Jenny and she is from Taiwan. Let's look together at how and why she started her Christian journey and the relevancy of Jesus Christ to her life! Come and listen to her story of faith...

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WOW Word 19 - Love

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Alfie brings you a WOW Word

 

WOW Word - Love

 

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Today Alphy shares about the WOW Word - Love!

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Mark 12:28-34: One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’ ‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions."

What is the response of a Christian to be to these words of Jesus? Play the audio, download the video or audio, to see what Alphy has to offer about this!

 

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POD - Psalm 97

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Psalm 97

(as read by Mary)

97:1 Yahweh reigns! Let the earth rejoice! Let the multitude of islands be glad!
97:2 Clouds and darkness are around him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
97:3 A fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries on every side.
97:4 His lightning lights up the world. The earth sees, and trembles.
97:5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of Yahweh, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
97:6 The heavens declare his righteousness. All the peoples have seen his glory.

97:7 Let all them be shamed who serve engraved images, who boast in their idols. Worship him, all you gods!
97:8 Zion heard and was glad. The daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of your judgments, Yahweh.
97:9 For you, Yahweh, are most high above all the earth. You are exalted far above all gods.
97:10 You who love Yahweh, hate evil. He preserves the souls of his saints. He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
97:11 Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
97:12 Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous people! Give thanks to his holy Name.

 

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Think Spot - 11th February 2019

 

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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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 18
Who did Jesus say that He was?


We are now in Episode 18. In our last episode, we looked at who Jesus taught, and we have also seen previously what it was that he taught. Today, we start to look in more detail what Jesus taught others about Himself, and who he really was.

13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.[d] Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” 1 Exodus 3:13-14 (New Living Translation)

Who has done such mighty deeds,
summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?
It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last.
I alone am he.” Isaiah 41:4 (New Living Translation)

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”
57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM![k]” 59 At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple. john 8:56-59 (New Living Translation)

In John’s Gospel, John records separate statements where Jesus said “I AM”. These written statements are completely unique to the historical account written by John and they are not recorded in the three other Gospels. With these statements, Jesus is reinforcing his claims to be God. How so? Because, when he says “I AM”. Jesus is deliberately referring into Jewish history, to the time when God revealed Himself as the ‘I AM’ to Moses in Exodus 3:14 and through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 41:4. That’s why in John 8:59, they picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy. This was in accordance, so they thought, with Deuteronomy 13, which dictates that anyone who tries to turn people away from the living God was to be stoned to death. They knew Jesus was claiming to be the very God they thought they worshipped.


I AM the Living Bread


"I AM the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; this bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:35, 48, and 51 (New International Version).

Three times here, Jesus refers to Himself as the living bread. By this he meant that he was the only one who could gratify the appetite and yearning of every person’s spirit. For those he was speaking to, bread was a basic staple food for living, just as it is for millions of people today. Jesus indicates when saying he is the bread of life, that he will supply all needs.


When Jesus referred to the manna in the desert (John 6:49) he talked of it being merely temporary, despite being a gift from God. He however, as the true bread of life, would give permanent satisfaction and life everlasting to all those who believe and follow Him (John 6:51). But this bread he offers, must be eaten and it must be taken up by the person wanting spiritual life. Note the inference to his impending sacrifice on the cross at the end of John 6:51. Jesus was fully focussed on His mission – the purpose of His being here.


We continue next week looking at who Jesus said that he was.

 

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 26 - Hebrews 10:19–25

Our confident approach to the Lord

Therefore, brothers and sisters,] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The old pun on the word ‘therefore’ was that we should always ask what it is there for. That was never more true than the ‘therefore’ we have here in 10:19. In our last study we noted two things: that Jesus sat down at the right hand of Father God thus indicating his superiority over all; and that this is based on the new covenant, the newly declared purpose and will of God towards his people.

For our writer this was all brilliantly pictured in the way that, as Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27: 51). This was the work of God; if a man had been responsible it would have been done from bottom to top. The purpose of the veil had been to keep everyone out of the Most Holy Place, where God was. Only the High Priest went into this presence of God once a year on the day of atonement. That was now redundant. Everyone, or at least all the Lord’s people, now had clear unlimited access to the most holy place, which was Jesus. It is hard to see how the flesh of Jesus can be a way through the curtain. It was his blood shed which was effective. The Jerusalem temple was where God was, more than anywhere else on earth. No longer. Now it was in Jesus that God was to be found and, in the person of the Holy Spirit of Jesus, in every believing person. We have, so to speak, not to travel to Jerusalem to find God, but to reach down into ourselves. That must be counted both a huge privilege and a huge responsibility.

However we need to be careful. The next few verses say, “ let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Of those four things keeping our bodies washed would be by far the easiest if it didn’t really mean keeping our souls and spirits clean - nothing to do with soap, I’m afraid!

More significantly, note how the quotation starts with our faith and ends with the faithfulness of the Lord. This is our confidence. It does not have to rest solely on us but draws continuous strength from one who is a great deal more reliable than we tend to be.

When we get to 10:24, 25 we have “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” To give a picture of this: you can have a good going fire with many pieces of coal on it. But if you take one red-hot piece out of the fire and place it on the hearth all by itself it will very soon darken, cool, and lose all its heat. So it is with us if we remove ourselves from the company of other followers of Jesus.

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