google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2020 August

Archive for August 2020

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Think Spot – 10th August 2020


Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor? Romans 11:34.

The reason and wisdom of man go so far as to reach the conclusion, although feebly, that there must be one eternal being, who has created and who preserves and governs all things. Man sees such a beautiful and wonderful creation in the heavens and on the earth, one so wonderfully, regularly and securely preserved and ordered, that he must say: It is impossible that this came into existence by mere chance, or that it originated and controls itself; there must have been a Creator and Lord from whom all these things proceed and by whom they are governed. But, even knowing this, we have not yet searched out or fathomed the exalted, eternal, divine essence of the Godhead.

For even though I have learned that there is an only divine majesty, who governs all things, I do not thereby know the inner workings of this divine essence himself ; this no one can tell me, except in so far as God himself reveals it in his Word. Now we Christians have the Scriptures which we know to be the Word of God. From these, and from no other source, we have obtained all that is known of God and divine works from the beginning of the world. And our knowledge is confirmed and proven by great miracles, even to the present day. These Scriptures declare that there is no God nor divine being save this one alone. They not only manifest him to us from without, but they lead us into his inner essence, and show us that in him there are three persons; not three Gods or three kinds of divinity, but the same undivided, divine essence.

Such a revelation is radiantly shed forth from the declaration of his divine counsel and will. In that counsel and will it was decreed from eternity and was proclaimed in his promises, that his Son should become man and die to reconcile man to God. This no angel nor any other creature could do ; it must be done by God himself. It could not be done by the person of the Father, who was to be reconciled, but it must be done by a second person with whom this counsel was determined and through whom and for whose sake the reconciliation was to be brought about.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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Sermon - Genesis 18

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Genesis 18

“God's Visitation to Abraham & Sarah”

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There I was in Mamre. A distance way from Ur where we used to live quite comfortably. Sitting in the opening to our tent, under the shade of the great trees, in the middle of yet another swelteringly hot day. I was looking down into the dust and wondering to myself what was going on. My wife, now called Sarah, was inside the tent doing whatever it is that wives do in the middle of a hot day here. A mystery to me, as I am just a mere old male.

I am remembering back to a day when our life changed back in Ur. That was when God said he was going to bless me and made promises to me! Little old me - Abraham of the Chaldees! Not only to me but also to Sarah, my wife!
God told me specifically and with authority:
• I will be the father of a great nation (Genesis 12:1)
• I will receive personal blessing (Genesis 12:2)
• I will receive personal honour and a grand status (Genesis 12:2)
• I will be a source of blessing to others. (Genesis 12:3)

What’s more, there will be blessings on those who bless me and the nation which comes from me (Genesis 12:3) just as there will be curses on those who curse me and that nation (Genesis 12:3).

I have been called by God. Personally, and explicitly. Not only me, my wife Sarah as well. That was 25 years ago now. Not too bad for somebody 99 years old is it. It all seems rather inconceivable really seeing as both my wife and I are aged. God made a promise to Sarah too! She would be having a baby. Inconceivable it seems, doesn’t it? Sarah, my wife, is beyond the normal child bearing age to start conceiving a family. The way of motherhood has passed her by. In our culture where we are from, to be a childless couple, the majority of the stigma is cast upon the woman. It is a shame upon her. But regardless, I stepped out in faith, trusted the Lord and here we are on a journey.

Then suddenly!! I looked up from the dust and I saw them. Much to my surprise. How did I not see them coming from a long distance off? Am I seeing things? They seemed to appear out of nowhere. Three men. Three men just standing there looking towards me. I am sure that I recognize the one in the middle. Have I met him before? I still can’t work out how I never saw them approaching. I hurried to them despite my great age and the searing heat. I wanted to show them an even greater welcoming honour than the one my culture usually allowed to strangers. I bowed down as low as I could get. Even lower than normal to convey a great honour upon them. I asked them to come in for a little light refreshment before they continued their journey in the heat of the day.

They replied. “All right. Go and do as you have said.” Their blunt response stunned me a bit, if I am being honest!

So, I scurried back. I ensured water was taken to them and returned to Sarah in the tent. “Quick! Sarah! We have visitors! One of them maybe the Lord again. I am not sure. They are all in the appearance of men. Cook up some of that unleavened bread from the recipe your mum taught you! The bread that doesn’t take long to cook. I will go get a good tender calf and have one of the servants prepare it for eating. While he does that, I will get some yoghurt and milk to accompany it all. I will serve them out under the shade of the trees. As is our custom, you please stay here, my love.”

So, there I was. Waiting on our visitors as per the custom of our day, treating them to the hospitality of our culture. When all of a sudden, out of the blue, our guests asked “Where is Sarah your wife?”

How did these folks, these men, if that is what they really are, know her name? Any doubt that this was the Lord God began to leave me - after all He would know Sarah’s name. He is the one who changed her name!

If it was the Lord, we had indeed met before! It must be! It must be the Lord my God. The other two must be angels in disguise. I guess. If this really is the Lord God, then this is the one who blessed us and honoured us when he changed our names to Abraham and Sarah. He called us out of our life in Ur.
I offered in response to our guests, “She is inside the tent.”

Then almost surprisingly, one of them said that he will return in a year and by then Sarah and I will have had a child, a son! It was then, that my wife Sarah chuckled quietly. Almost silently, she talked to herself. “No way! I am outside the age of normal motherhood and Abraham is also a bit old now too.”

But my guests still heard that quiet laugh and that comment. Then I was questioned! Me! “Why did Sarah laugh mockingly and dispute what I said about you having a child? Is there anything that is too hard for God to do? This time next year you will have a son. Be assured of that and be of good courage, the pair of you. What I have said, I will accomplish. I always keep my promises!”

At which point, my dear Sarah who had clearly been eavesdropping, responded by denying that she had laughed. She did this to cover her embarrassment of being found out.

“Nope! You did, Sarah. I heard you!” the Lord God gently rebuked her for telling an alternative fact.

With that, our guests arose and looked out towards that evil city of Sodom. Being a good host, I arose and walked with them to see them safely away, wondering why they were going to such a place renowned for injustice, oppression of the innocent, wickedness and unrighteousness.

The one I identified as the Lord, started speaking quietly to Himself. He was asking himself a question and then answering it for himself. Or so it seemed. I guess he could have also been talking to the other two. Regardless, I could hear what he was saying.
“Hmmm. Should I tell Abraham concerning my plan for Sodom? He, Abraham, will certainly become a mighty and great nation. Indeed, the whole earth will be blessed by Me through him. Abraham will instruct and direct his family and ancestors in the way to follow Me rightly and justly. I have promised Him and I will do it. I am the Lord, and I keep my promises. I uphold my end of the deal.”

“I have heard such an outcry from the innocents there, that we are going to see if things really are as we have heard. A cry of pain from those being oppressed and violated. An outcry against injustice by those who are weak and oppressed. I don’t rely on gossip or hearsay. I have heard and I care for them. I want to see the full story for myself and see if anything has been left out. I am a compassionate God and I seek to act on behalf of those wronged and put things right. Does the hullaballoo and noise match the reality of oppression and injustice?”

Two of our guests then continued their journey onwards to Sodom. However, the third one, the Lord waited with me and seemingly also waited for me to respond to Him. Waited for me to talk to him.

Therefore, I neared him and said, quite boldly yet humbly, “In that place Sodom, where you heard that outcry from the innocent, will you really deliver judgement upon both those who are righteous and those who are wicked? What about if there are 50 such innocent righteous folk there? Are you going to do away with them as well as those who have transgressed against you and others? Will you not spare the city for their sakes? How can you, a righteous yet just and merciful God, destroy both the wicked and the righteous together? Why would you want to do such a thing? You are the Judge of the whole earth and you should do right, surely? Can you, O God, deny yourself and do contrary to your very nature?”
Then I went silent, allowing the Lord to respond. “Abraham. If there are 50 righteous people there, I will spare the city.”
“Ok Lord. I know that compared to you, o Righteous and Holy One, I am but mere dust and ashes. I am not worthy to be speaking to you. However, what if there were only 45? Surely you won’t decimate that city because of 5 people short of your number?”
“Nope. Not for the sake of 45 people.”

“Forty folk?” I asked yet again.
“Nope. I the Lord, won’t destroy the city if we find 40 righteous and innocent people.”

Ok, I was really still concerned for those people. I imagine that it’s a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of God! So plaintively I progressed: “30 righteous people?”
“Nope. Not if I find 30.”

“Ok Lord, in my boldness, how about 20?
“No, Abraham. Not if I find 20.”

Then I thought to myself, one last push, Abraham. “Lord God. Do not be angry with me, I am concerned for the innocent ones. One more request, a final one. How about if there are only 10 found there?”
“Abraham, I will not destroy for the sake of 10 innocent & righteous people.”
With that, the Lord God finished his conversation with me, and went on to meet his companions. Meanwhile, I went back to my tent and pondered all these things further. Lot, my nephew was near Sodom. I hope that he and his family are ok and will be ok.

Well that is Genesis 18. That is all a bit exciting, isn’t it? Please do download the mp3 using the link below to hear my explanation. Thank you.

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Studies of Ruth

Study 4 - Ruth's Wholeness of Obedience.

The book of Ruth is a cameo story of love, devotion and redemption set in the black days of the Judges. It tells the story of a pagan woman giving up everything to cling to the people of Israel and to God Himself. Shows her faithfulness when the nation was faithless. Download the mp3 audio using the link below to start discovering more about this great lady of faith.

In our previous episode, we looked at Ruth's witness in her obedience. In this episode, we look at Ruth’s wholeness of obedience.
But just how did Ruth's obedience come to have such a tremendous impact on those around her? It all started with a personal commitment, a permanent decision that brought her peace and provided her with direction for all that followed. On the border of Moab, Ruth had told Naomi of her commitment (Ruth 1:16-17) as we read earlier. Ruth's commitment was absolute.

Rather than constraining her, this new commitment gave her new purpose and opportunity to develop her character. When they arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth volunteered to pick up the leftover grain (Ruth 2:2). When she returned to Naomi, Ruth shared her grain with Naomi and told her about her day.

Then it was Naomi who sensed God's direction and gave Ruth detailed instructions as to how to approach Boaz, which Ruth obeyed perfectly (Ruth 3:1-6). Ruth 4:17 indicates that after Ruth's future and family were secure, Naomi was included in the household redeemed by Boaz, for when the neighbours noticed how much she cared for Obed they said "Naomi has a son." Truly the deepest love, trust and respect were at the centre of Ruth's & Naomi's relationship, bringing both of them mutual fulfilment.

As Ruth obeyed Naomi, so she obeyed Boaz, both at their first meeting and later at the threshing floor. She won both the admiration of Naomi and Boaz as much by the quickness of her unquestioning responses as by her completeness in carrying out commands. Ruth won respect because she offered her respect in the form of obedience. Her obedience was total and complete. Not through coercion, but by love and adoration.

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Friday Prayers 7 August 2020

Today on Partakers, we are continue our prayers specifically into the CoronaVirus Pandemic which is affecting us all globally... Come and pray with us! One of our prayers is:

O God, we pray into this situation regarding the CoronaVirus pandemic.
O God our Father, help and heal all those who have this virus
and give wisdom to those working on a vaccine or cure.

We are bereft of the number of people suffering from this,
yet we know you are in control.
We trust in you and we worship you alone. Amen

Father, from your twin wellsprings of grace and mercy,
hear these cries of our hearts and take the burdens we carry...

Amen…

 

Come and listen to other prayers for you to pray along with us by downloading the mp3 or listening to the Podcast...

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PulpTheology Books

Jesus Who?

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The title "Jesus Who?" was a question put to me by my father many years ago. He was asking me which Jesus I was talking about. The Jesus of Islam? The Jesus of the Anglicans or the Jesus of the Baptists? The Jesus of the imagination?

In this little book, we look at who I think Jesus was and is... It acts as a brief introduction to the greatest man who ever lived: Jesus Christ. Who was he? Why does he matter? What has he got to do with each of us? Jesus Christ. The name which is on everybody's lips at Christmas. But who was this man and so what? When the human we know as Jesus Christ was born, his name imbued the very reason he was born. His conception and birth were extraordinary at every level. Jesus very name, means “one who saves” and the entirety of his birth, life and death were centred on this very role. His role was to save all those who would follow Him.

Almost everyone has an opinion about Him. Jesus was born to confirm God's promises, to reveal God as a loving Father, invite people into His Sonship, and to be our representative before Almighty God. He gave us an example of how to live a holy life to the full. Jesus was not merely a man who received some special power, nor was he some strange creation that was half man and half God. As we will see together inside, He was much more than those ideas.

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Wednesday Wisdom

Proverbs 27

1 Boast not yourself of tomorrow; for You knows not what a day may bring forth.
2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
3 A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.
4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
7 The full soul loathes a honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
8 As a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man that wanders from his place.
9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so does the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.
10 your own friend, and your father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into your brother’s house in the day of your calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
11 My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproaches me.
12 A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
13 Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
14 He that blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.
15 A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
16 Whosoever hides her hides the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand.
17 Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
18 Whoso keeps the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waits on his master shall be honoured.
19 As in water face answers to face, so the heart of man to man.
20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
21 As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
22 Though You should bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
23 Be You diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds.
24 For riches are not for ever: and does the crown endure to every generation?
25 The hay appears, and the tender grass shows itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
26 The lambs are for your clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
27 And You shall have goats’ milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance for your maidens.

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That’s it for today! Come back every day to Partakers Podcasts to hear something to encourage and uplift you as a Christian disciple, regardless of where you are in the world. You can also purchase our books via Amazon at Pulptheology.com

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POD - Psalm 61

Psalm 61

Hear my cry, God.

Listen to my prayer.

From the end of the earth,

I will call to you, when my heart is overwhelmed.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower from the enemy.

I will dwell in your tent forever.

I will take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

 

Selah.

For you, God, have heard my vows.

You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

You will prolong the king's life;

his years shall be for generations.

He shall be enthroned in God's presence forever.

Appoint your loving kindness and truth,

that they may preserve him.

So I will sing praise to your name forever, that I may fulfill my vows daily.

 

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You can also download all the Psalms as mp3 audio files by visiting this page on our site!

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Think Spot – 3rd August 2020


Know you not, that to whom you offer yourselves as servants to obey somebody, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16.

Necessarily your life must be obedient to some master. Either you obey sin, to continue in the service of which brings death and God's wrath, or you obey God in grace to a new manner of life. Reason teaches, through the law, good works and forbids evil, but it is unable to comprehend why its teachings are not fulfilled. It perceives, from the results which follow disrespect for the law, that it is best to honour it, that it is right and praiseworthy not to steal and commit crime. But it fails to understand why, after its teachings are given, they are not naturally fulfilled. With sword, rack and gallows the judge may restrain public crime, but he cannot punish more than what is known and witnessed to before court. Whatever is done secretly and does not come before him, he cannot punish or restrain.

The Word of God, however, teaches how to crush the head of the serpent and to slay the evil, so that judge and executioner are no longer necessary. It tells us that a Christian has certain knowledge that through the grace of Christ his sins are forgiven, blotted out and deprived of condemning power. Because he has obtained and believes in such grace, he receives a heart abhorrent of sin. Although feeling within himself the presence of evil thoughts and lusts, yet his faith and the Holy Spirit are with him to remind him of his baptism. He says : Although time and opportunity permit me to do evil and I run no risk of being detected and punished, I will not do it, but will obey God and honour Christ my Lord, for I am baptized into Christ and as a Christian am dead unto sin, nor will I come again under its power.

So acted godly Joseph, who, when tempted by his master's wife, "left his garment in her hand, fled and got him out." He was but flesh and blood and naturally not insensible to her inducement, to the time and opportunity, to the friendship of the woman. But he restrained himself, not yielding even in thought to the temptation. Such obedience to God destroys, indeed, the source of sin and evil.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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~

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A Strategy to Cope (Hebrews 3)

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I wonder how you have changed over the years. It is almost 40 years now since I first became a Christian and started following Jesus Christ. I haven't fallen away from Him in that time, but I have known some people who have. A question as we start: "How can we, as 21st century Christians, keep from falling away?". The answer I believe, is what I would call it the COPE strategy: Consider, Persevere and Encourage.

1. Keep Considering! (Hebrews 3:1-6)

  • Moses was cool
  • In Comes Jesus
  • How is Jesus better than Moses?
  • What about us?

2. Keep Persevering! (Hebrews 3:7-12, 15-19)

3. Keep Encouraging! (Hebrews 3:12-14)

Conclusion

 

If you would call yourself a Christian and you are unsure where you are, then please do look back and remember what Jesus has done for you. Consider Him as you look back to your first profession of faith in Him. Consider that just as He died, you died in the waters of baptism. Consider that just as He rose to physical life, you rose from the waters of baptism and will also rise again when you physically die. Consider that just as Jesus will be glorified, so too will you be glorified before the Father - if you hold out until the end. Be assured of who you are - you are a child of the living God - hold out to the end. He has a firm grip on you, so maintain your grip on Him! Remember who you are! The way to cope with the rigours of 21st century life as a Christian believer is to keep considering, keep persevering and keep encouraging. Thank you...

 

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Studies of Ruth

 

Study 3 - Ruth's Witness in Obedience.

The book of Ruth is a cameo story of love, devotion and redemption set in the black days of the Judges. It tells the story of a pagan woman giving up everything to cling to the people of Israel and to God Himself. Shows her faithfulness when the nation was faithless. Download the mp3 audio using the link below to start discovering more about this great lady of faith.

In our previous episode, we looked at Ruth's surprising obedience. In this episode, we look at Ruth’s witness in that obedience.


Ruth did more than merely remain with Naomi. Ruth was in fact Naomi's main support, both during their journey and after arriving in Israel, even though she was a stranger in Bethlehem. News of her faithfulness obviously spread quickly as it went before her into the fields of Boaz. When she asked why as a woman not from Israel was being treated so kindly, Boaz replied because of her support and friendship of Naomi You can see that in Ruth 2:11. Though directly attracted by her outward beauty and manner, Boaz was already -aware of her reputation for loyal love and service. We see this when Boaz tells her, "All my fellow townsman know that you are a woman of noble character" (Ruth 3:11).

Here we see the powerful testimony and witness of Ruth's relationship with Naomi. Her unselfish devotion to one person, characterized by her obedience, made her appealing to another person and to a whole community. However, Ruth did not abuse -or flaunt her obedience as long-suffering, but held it in her heart as love. She was not looking for praise or pity, and she seemed genuinely surprised that her service of Naomi had been seen and recognized. Not once did she complain about the leadership of Naomi or her own circumstances. Instead of bitterness there was beauty, in her attitude as well as on her face. Ruth found her obedience fulfilling. Her immediate and ultimate rewards far outweighed anything she could have anticipated. Her obedience was a wow surprise but it was also a testimonial witness that had gone out before her.

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~

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