Partakers Christian Podcasts



WOW Disciple - Things to Come

Wednesday Aug 29, 2012

Wednesday Aug 29, 2012

Things To Come
Some of the final words of the Bible are in Revelation 22v7 Jesus speaking “Behold, I am coming soon! To which the Apostle John replies in Revelation 22v20, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

As Christian Disciples living almost 2000 years after Jesus spoke those words, this is our hope – to be with Him who is coming again. He who is the object of our faith, worship and life of discipleship! And not just Christian Disciples talk about the “end of the world as we know it”.

There are a plethora of books written about it from all sorts of people, from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of opinions. But what does the Bible say about the time when Jesus comes again and how are we to respond to this fact? What does the Bible say about the future things to come, seeing as it is the authorative source for the Christian Disciple?

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1. The Second Coming of Jesus

I will come back and take you to be with me (John 14v3). He will come back the same way He went to heaven (Acts 1v11)

When will He come?

No-one human knows (Matthew 24v36)
It will be unexpected (1 Thessalonians 5v1-3)
There will be signs preceding His coming (Matthew 24)
When the gospel has been preached in the whole world (Matthew 24v14)

2. Our Response to Eschatological Prophecy

Be ready, waiting, watching and working (Matthew 24v42-44).
Be alert, self-controlled, sanctified and encouraging of each other (1 Thessalonians 5v6-8, 11)

3. Different Responses to Eschatological Prophecy

The three main schools of prophetic interpretation are Amillenialism, Postmillenialism & Premillenialism. These 3 views depend on whether the prophetic parts of Scripture are to be interpreted literally or figuratively (Spiritually). I wont tell you my opinion as to which I think is the correct interpretation, but let you decide that for your self!

Amillenial View - Primarily a figurative/spiritual interpretation. This view sees the O.T. promises to Israel are being fulfilled in the church. The Millennium is the reign of Christ in the Church - the new Israel. The Church is already experiencing tribulation.
Postmillenial View - Christ will return at the end of the millennium - a golden age of the Church.
Premillenial View - Christ will return to set up His kingdom on earth for 1000 years (Revelation 19v1-7). God promises to Israel of restoration, a future king and temple will await fulfilment. God has a separate programme for the Church.

4. Second Coming of Christ

The Premillenial view sees 2 stages in the second coming:

His coming in the rapture. This is when Jesus Christ returns to take His people to be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4v16). The dead in Christ are raised and the living are changed (1 Corinthians 15v51-54)
His coming to Earth (Revelation - parousia). He will return to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14v4; Acts 1v11). He will come with power and glory (Matthew 24v30) and everyone will see Him.

5. Christ’s return to Earth

To judge the antichrist and his followers (Revelation 16v12-16, 19v11-16)
To bind Satan (Revelation 20v1-3) during the Millennium. Amillenialists see this as having already been done. However, Satan is still the ruler of this world (John 16v11).
To save Israel (Zechariah 14v1-3). Israel will repent, recognizing the One they pierced (Zechariah 12v10-13v1; Romans 11).
To judge the nations (Matthew 25v31-46; Joel 3v11-17)

6. Premillenial return of Christ

Christ will come and set up an earthly kingdom for 1000 years (Revelation 20v2-7). Amillenialists see this as speaking figuratively about Christ’s current reign in the Church.

7. History of Premillenialism and Amillenialism

The view of the church for the first 2 centuries was of a literal millennial return of Jesus Christ after the Holy Spirit’s return. Early church fathers such as Papias, Ireneaus and Justin Martyr taught this, and these men were not far removed from the Apostle John. Origen promoted the figurative (spiritual) method of interpretation and Augustine developed an Amillenial view, identifying the Church with the fulfillment of the O.T. promises to Israel and this became official Roman Catholic doctrine. Many scholars returned to the Premillenial (literal) view after the Reformation.

8. Pre-tribulation Return of Christ

Rapture - The tribulation is a time of judgment for unrepentant men (2 Thessalonians 2v9-12). God’s people would be excluded from such judgment (1 Thessalonians 1v9-10; 5v9). The Lord will come suddenly bringing destruction, while people are saying ‘peace and safety’ (1 Thessalonians 5v1-3). These conditions will exist before the Rapture, but not at the end of the tribulation.

Resurrection - The bodily resurrection of the dead, saved and unsaved, is clearly taught in Bible (John 5v28-29; Acts 24v15). Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection (1 Corinthians 15v20-22)

Christian Disciples

Like Christ’s glorious body (1 Corinthians 15v49; Philippians 3v21; 1 John 3v2)
Not flesh and blood (1 Corinthians 15v50ff)
Not partly spiritual (Luke 24v39; 1 Corinthians 15v42, 53)

They will be resurrected (John 5v28-29) and cast into the lake of fire
Timing of the resurrection

1st Resurrection - when Christ comes in the air to take Christian Disciples (1 Corinthians 15v23; 1 Thessalonians 4v16); some place resurrection of O.T. saints at the end of the tribulation.
2nd Resurrection - Resurrection of the unsaved after the Millennium (Revelation 20v5, 11-13)

Judgment - Certainty of judgment - He will judge the whole world with justice (Acts 17v31). Humanity is destined to die once and after that to face judgment. (Hebrews 9v27)

The Judge - God is the judge of all the earth (Hebrews 12v23). The Father has given all judgment to the Son (John 5v22-27)

Judgment of Christian Disciples

Christian Disciples will not be judged for sin - this has been judged already (Isaiah 53v4-6; 1 Peter 2v24)
Christian Disciples will be judged for their works. We will give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14v10). We will be judged according to our works (2 Corinthians 5v10). The quality of our work will be tested (1 Corinthians 3v11-15). Our motives will be exposed either for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 4v4-5) or for our own glory.
We will give account of the opportunities and abilities entrusted to us (Matthew 25v14-30)
Rewards may be gained or lost (1 Corinthians 3v14-15)
Incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9v25)
Crown of glory (1 Peter 5v4)
Crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4v8)
Crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2v19)
Crown of life (James 1v12)

Judgment of unbelievers

The Great White Throne of Judgment (Revelation 20v11-15).
After the Millennium (Revelation 20v11-15, 21v8).
They will be cast into the lake of fire with satan and his angels (Revelation 20v15; Matthew 25v41). This punishment is eternal (Matthew 25v46).

For more to think about please do. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read 1 Thessalonians 5v6-11. How am I living out these Scripture in my life as a Christian Disciple?

Q2. Read 2 Corinthians 5v10. If I were to give an account of my work today, what would occur?

Q3. Read Matthew 25v31-46. As a Christian Disciple, how does this affect my urgency to tell others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

You can make a comment by clicking on the word "Comment" below! Thank you!

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Issues - Government

Tuesday Oct 20, 2020

Tuesday Oct 20, 2020

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

Wednesday Oct 21, 2020

Wednesday Oct 21, 2020

How not to be a Chocolate Christian
How to change Ch-rch to Church!
Have you ever noticed that chocolate melts under pressure & heat? If you haven't, take a piece of chocolate and hold it between your fingers! It will soon melt!  If you are a Christian, you need to be active in your local church so that you don't melt under pressure and you will remain firm in your faith!  Otherwise you will be a chocolate Christian who easily gives up under the stress and pressure of every day life!At a church local to where you live, you are needed regardless of who you are!Perhaps this is you?
Interested observer but not a committed Christian
Not bothered
Not good enough
Just want to be left alone
Don't know how to be involved
Don't know why being involved is important
Too busy
But why should you be involved?
Why? You have talents to be used!!
When Jesus said to His apostles "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12), it was through the promised Holy Spirit (John 14:17), and the impartation of Spiritual Gifts that His words were fulfilled. The reason that the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to Christians is so that the body of Christ is built up (Ephesians 4:12), for the common good of the church (1Corinthians 12:7, 14:12) and "so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 4:12).  These three reasons signify that God wants Christians to be active in service and not still like stagnant water.  That is why we have been given gifts and if these gifts are not used for God's purposes, then they are utterly useless and meaningless.  And the gifts are not just the supposedly spectacular gifts but also the supposedly mundane!  Cleaning is as much a spiritual gift as preaching is! As we are not to neglect our gifts, or let other Christians neglect their gifts, we are to fan the gifts into flame (2 Timothy1:6).  Much like blowing on embers and stirring them up will restart the flames of a fire!  To do this, as Christians, we are to employ the gifts faithfully and by asking God to continue their development, strengthening and for opportunities to use them! Seek gifts that build up others, commands Paul (1 Corinthians 14:1-12). Ask God faithfully for gifts that give opportunity for service to God and others!
Why?  We are dependent on each other
As Christians, 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.  As all Christians have gifts, we have a responsibility to discover and develop them (1 Timothy 4:14)!  God has called Christians and equipped them with spiritual gifts, and they are not to be neglected! You are a member of the body of Jesus Christ the church! If you are not being active that means the Church body is affected aversely! Its like a part of your body failing to do as it should!
Why? Improve your serve!
They are opportunities for Christians to serve other people.  Some gifts like teaching, helping or leadership quite possibly are enhancements of natural abilities whilst others like faith, healing and miracles are from the Spirit's empowerment alone.In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus intimates that those who follow Him, will be judged according to all that they have been given stewardship of!  This includes things such as Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-10), acts of service (Galatians 5:13) and material possessions (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)! These are used to accomplish three other items of Stewardship: mission, message and people.
Why? To follow Jesus
The Christian life is not to be static or inactive - it was never meant to be!  The Christian life is to be dynamic! It is to be active.  The word servant is key in Scripture.  It is used at least 500 times in its various derivatives. When a Christian serves, 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 to be about what you and I can get out of it.  When that is the motive, God is not glorified. God's glory, honour and supremacy are to be the goal of a Christian's life.  Spiritual growth comes from serving rather than being served.  This is because what ever is given in service of God and others, your 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 are trusting in and having faith in God.  It's a visible aspect of your invisible faith.  Service is the outward expression of your inner beliefs. Serving is an outward expression of your inner faith - an external working out of your inner salvation. Serving God and others is the mark of a spiritually mature (or spiritually maturing) Christian and through service, the greatest servant of all, Jesus Christ, is reflected in our lives.  "For Jesus Christ, came to serve and give his very life for others" (Mark 10:45).  As Christians we are to be as Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28; Philippians 2:5) and to serve.  Yet if we are honest, we sometimes feel incapable, just as Moses did (Exodus 3).  When the church is built up, unity will inevitably prevail and be built up.
So if you find you are currently inactive in your local church, then please go and make yourself available to serve there!  Ask your pastor or church leader how you can help out! By doing so, and submitting yourself to the Holy Spirit who indwells you, the lives of other people could be changed for God's greater glory because of your acts of service and worship.
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Issues - Worship

Sunday Oct 25, 2020

Sunday Oct 25, 2020

I often hear people say that their church has the best worship and that other church worship services are inferior! Or I hear that a person has moved churches, because the experience is different and better there!  What are we to think as Christians in the twenty first century about biblical worship? The Psalmist writes in Psalm 105:1-6: "Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given, you children of his servant Abraham, you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones." Today there are many different churches using different worship styles to worship the one True and Living God!  We can even think of different churches in the New Testament worshipping differently, such as the church of Philippi church being more liturgical and ordered, while the church of Corinth is more free and less controlled! As His followers and His worshippers, we are required to worship God and to worship Him publicly and with others!  There is a meaning of worship, whereby our very life is to be a spiritual act of worship according to Paul in Romans 12.  Paul meant that every aspect of our life is to be an act of worship, where our life is to be for the majesty and honour of God!   However, the definition of worship I want to talk about today is about public acts of worship, such as in a church or chapel service.  Where worshipping is to give respect, honour and glory to God! When this is done in reverence, in truth and in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, then the Christian Disciple continues to mature and grow spiritually.  Let us look at the what, why and how of Biblical worship!
What is worship?
Worship is, by way of act, attitude, or thought, a way of giving supreme honour and reverence to God!  As Christian Disciples, God Almighty alone is worthy of our reverence, submission and worship. There are many other things that are worshipped and thus are ‘gods', with a small ‘g'.  Money, careers, possessions, other people are 21st century examples of things which are worshipped by humans.  Thus the threat of materialism is a huge danger to Christian Disciples, because the worship of material possessions takes the supreme place of worship to God, and some Christian Disciples have been duped by it!  But the Bible clearly states that God alone is to be worshipped.  For God is to carry the worshipping Christian Disciple, and not the Christian Disciple to carry the god.
Why worship?
Perhaps the greatest reason that we worship is because God commands it! The 10 Commandments (Exodus 21v1-3) insist that God alone is worshipped, adored and paid homage to!  As humans we are made in His image and as Christian Disciples, He owns us because we claim Jesus to be our Lord and Master! So it is right and just that we give worship to this God who paid the penalty for sin, so that we may be His children, and wants us to call Him Father!  As Christian Disciples, we discover an inner personal satisfaction when God is worshipped and adored, both for the present and in the future (Romans 12v2; Col 3v24)! Another reason to give worship is that God deserves our worship! All of God's attributes demand that we revere and worship Him! His holiness, goodness, love, mercy and providence are but a beginning as to why He, and He alone, is worthy of our worship.  It is by His grace, and through His grace alone, that we worship Him!
How are we to worship?
In some church services, a general confession of sin comes at the start.  This is because before engaging in exultant praise, Christian Disciples should approach with penitence and examine their inner selves just as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6.  We also gather in expectation of meeting God and that He will receive the worship! Worship services should consist of more than just singing songs.  The church is 2000 years old and in that time a lot of resources can be found to help people worship, apart from singing songs!  There are items like responsive prayers and psalms, whereby prayers and psalms are spoken between the congregation to each other and to the leader!  There are times of silence, or times of spoken liturgy where truths of God are both spoken and heard.  Saying the Apostles Creed or Nicene Creed help build the body in affirming their belief in an awesome God worthy of worship! Times of worship should be more diverse than just singing songs and should express the cultural and personality diversity of the people worshipping!  Remember, Jesus and certainly the early church participated in services which would certainly have contained liturgy, Scripture reading and songs! Other core parts of some worship services are the Holy Communion and Baptism!  These were fundamental in churches in the New Testament period and are just as important today! 
Holy Communion is where we as Christian Disciples remember Jesus' death for our sin, acceptance of His death for us, and our dependence on Him for our spiritual life. 
Baptism is where Christian Disciples identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The third element of worship is the reading and preaching of the Bible! This where God's word is read in public!  This is where God's Word is preached so as to that God's word can be applied to the hearer's lives! 
Sermons can be the pinnacle of a worship service as God's revealed word is expounded, talked about and explained! Yet, sadly, for a lot of people its not considered worship! It most certainly is!
The whole of a church worship service should be where the spiritually comfortable are discomforted and those spiritually uncomfortable are comforted!  From 1 Corinthians 14:25, worship should be where non-Christians present can proclaim, "God is really among you".  So often our church worship services are flat, feeble and weak spiritually.  At one extreme in churches, we have worship services that are flippant and no consideration to make worship an awe-inspiring time of devotion to an awesome God!  At the other extreme, we have worship services where everybody looks like they have been sucking on lemons and where grace is obviously lacking.  Somewhere in between, is where public worship should be.  In the broad spectrum of being neither trivialized nor grace-less, is where our church worship services should be!  Sometimes we need to worship, even if we don't feel like it and pray for God to help us worship Him.  Over all this, is 1 Corinthians 14v26, which plainly states: "Everything that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord".Public worship is for the encouragement of the gathered worshipping group of believers and not for the individual worshipper. The modern construct of only worshipping when its enjoyable or because the experience feels right is not a biblical construct.  When you find yourself in a worship service with others, as long as what is being said and sung is biblical, keep worshipping. Even if the style or method is not to your own personal taste! Just because the church down the road from you worships in a different style to you, doesn't make their worship in valid! We have a God worthy of all types of worship! Don't grieve the Holy Spirit by trying to validate your own style over a different style, by saying your church worships better than any other!  The Holy Spirit works in different places in different ways! Stop limiting the Holy Spirit!  Through the energy and power of the Holy Spirit, any and all acts of church worship are done in reverence, in truth and in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. Done regardless of our own personal taste, enjoyment level or experience.  Main thing is to worship in Spirit and in truth, and that is surely to be a cause of joy, regardless of worship style!  Let us use the diversity of worship styles to worship the One True Living God! For more to think about please do read 1 Corinthians 14v26-39. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them.  Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together. Q1. When I attend worship services, is it for the encouragement of others or just for myself? Q2. What are my favourite elements of worship and how should I react to those elements I don't like? Q3. Does my life of following Jesus Christ, match the words I sing and words I speak in church worship services?
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Issues - Individualism

Monday Oct 26, 2020

Monday Oct 26, 2020

The Apostle Paul writing in Philippians 2:3-4 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." And finally, the Apostle Peter writing in 1 Peter 5:5-6 "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."
Contrast those values to those of the twenty first century society, where morality can be summed up in this kind of attitude: "The more you care for others, the more they will care for you."  So look after the interests of others and you will also be looked after. In other words everyone is on level parity and there is total equality within society.  In some of the more narcissistic and cynical parts of society, there is no other, the order is "me, me and more me and I am far more important and higher than anyone else".  Individualism is where the individual's importance is placed higher than all others and is imbued with self-reliance and personal independence.  Even when help and compassion are offered, so often there are strings attached and hoops to be jumped through. If you do this, we will do this for you.  And sadly, it is not just within society that this exists, but also within the church and amongst Christians. It is as if we are denying the basic rule of compassion and mercy, which dictates that we are to be serving others, because they are also humans created in the image of God, loved by God and so should be loved unconditionally by those who proclaim to be God's people - the Church. Denying that basic need to others is pure unadulterated selfishness and places others below our own selves. Individualism within the church, lends itself to hypocritical behaviour and attitudes, which are inconsistent with Scripture and behaviour.  Individualism, where you as an individual are placed at the front of the queue, is not loving others and not considering others higher than yourself.  It certainly could not be construed as serving other people to always place your own desires above all others. There is an old acronym JOY - Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.
The basic aspect of love is that it involves relationship, so therefore there must be more than one person involved.  God is love, and is a trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  If God were not Trinity then God could not also be love. The church community is meant to be a radical community of service and love, which is a reflection of the Trinitarian God.  Being part of a radical community of service and love would mean the Church going back to basics.  The Church needs individuals to be living radical lifestyles of devotion to Jesus Christ, engaging with the culture, counting the cost of discipleship and reflecting true humanity.  But being an individual in community involves much more than merely being an individual in isolation.  Christians are to be involved within communities, and not as isolationists.  So what does a radical Christian community of individuals look like?
Creative Community
Firstly, the church needs to be a community that is seen to be radical by the surrounding society.  At Pentecost, the church began when the Holy Spirit filled the Disciples (Acts 2v4).  This momentous occasion started the Discipleship process of how Christians were to live as God's people.  The hallmarks of this community were commitment and transformation.  This community was radical. It was where people's lives were being changed as the Holy Spirit filled them.  Instead of being a withdrawn people filled with fear of retribution from the Roman government and Jewish leaders, they became a people filled with boldness and joy.  The New Testament church grew by being a radical community imbued with radical individuals engaging with others. The very existence of the church today is proof that Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead, for if He did not, those who were His disciples would have disbanded and gone back to their old lifestyle and the Holy Spirit would not have come.
Creatively Radical
If we want the church of today to grow then we need to be building a strong community of faith.  A community, which involves joining together isolated and solitary individuals and where people are imbued with love, valued and are showing care to each other, in particular the frail, elderly and young, with what the theologian Jürgen Moltmann calls a "creative passion for the impossible."  An inherent human need is the need to belong, and by fulfilling relational needs, the radical Church community will become relevant to the people within it.  It will then also become relevant to those who are on the outside and looking in. For example, by using virtual reality, digital space and social networks, the housebound and geographically isolated peoples can also be included and cared for. This involves improving present societal conditions, rather than remaining a conservative community, which merely repairs the status quo.  In doing this, today's church will be emulating characteristics of the early church (Acts 2v44-45).  As individuals Christians were added to the church, discipline helped ensure that the community was being seen as a holy community.  We see in the early church as recorded in the Book of Acts, that to be excommunicated from the community for gross sin, was a severe punishment.  However church discipline is not primarily about punishment, but rather a formative and corrective service as part of Discipleship.  Church community discipline is foundational to the making of Christian Disciples, because it concerns the community's spiritual health, and strengthens the bonds with the local community.
Committed Community
The church must be a community of committed individual Christians, willing to radically follow God in lifestyle and behaviour.  Being holy for the Christian means radically exhibiting love for God and others.   It is by being seen as different from the surrounding society, that the church community will grow.  Often when prayers are said, it is within the perception of the individual pray-er of what the answer to that prayer will be!  It is as if the answer is there, we are just waiting for God to confirm our presupposition.  When, in fact, prayer is to be where God is answering the prayers in His own way and timing - often unexpectedly!  By the church community and Christian individuals thinking and acting creatively, many more people would be seeing God in action.  Instead of independence, one of the prime hallmarks of being a follower of Jesus Christ is the need to be dependent on others as well as being dependable. This is imbued within the story of Jesus Christ washing His disciples feet.
Transformed Community
The Church community is to be actively engaged in radically helping people to be transformed and not merely happy.  Transformation is a powerful witness to the power of God and shows the relevancy of God and His people.  The best way to show this transformation is for the Church leadership to set the example, and show a way forward.  Good leadership has good accountability to each other and to the whole Church community.  If the church leaders are displaying a transparent life of creatively loving God and others, then the individual Christians within those churches will also seek to be transparently loving God and other people.  The media love to report when a Church and/or Church leader has done something inherently wrong Finally, Jesus recommends that those who follow Him be wise like serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10v16b).  This means that we are to be skilful and shrewd in making decisions that are characterised by intelligence, patience and shrewdness.  Additionally, we are to be gentle and harmless, like doves.  This would make our church leaders and us accountable to live a life of integrity worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1v27). This is a life, which is seen to be as holy and blameless.  In order to do this, we need to depend on the Holy Spirit for strength and caring for others is a vital necessity for you and I.  By relying on the Holy Spirit who indwells us, we are therefore perpetually connected to Jesus Christ, who is after all, the Head of the church community who are His bride. The antidote to individualism is the continual creation of radical communities of transformed individual Christians, willing to be totally devoted to God, and each other and being sustained by the Holy Spirit who indwells, empowers, comforts, transforms, sustains and guides!  By being radical communities thinking and acting creatively, we will be reflecting a creative Trinitarian God, and the Church will fulfil her bridal mandate of faithfully serving Jesus Christ, in submission to God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus in Matthew 5v43-45 gloriously explains how to do this: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." And then to verse 48 "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." Now that is the key to radically transformed communities and the antidote to individualism! For more to think about please do ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them.  Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together. Q1. What in my life could I change, so that the focus is away from myself and onto helping others? Q2. How can my church and I reflect the Trinitarian God by being creatively loving, transforming and serving? Q3. How can I help my church be more relevant in the community where it is located?
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Tuesday Oct 27, 2020

Christians and culture
Cultures from around this world are individual, unique and diverse. At least 20 are represented here in this room. Have you ever noticed how people from different countries greet each other? Those from Latin America, will kiss each other on the cheeks. Australians will shake each other firmly by the hand, punch each other on the arm, say "G'day" and proceed to jokingly insult each other. English people, however, shake each other by the hand limply, take a step back, start to talk about the weather and look for the nearest queue to join! Americans greet each other with a hug, take a step back, talk to each other and once the other person has left, promptly forget the other person's name. Yet other people from other nations say hello by bowing or even by sucking mouths! All these are generalisations!
So we see that from many different cultures from over 200 countries on this planet, there are many differences - rich in variety and stark in contrast! And that is why we have come together - gathered from many different traditions and cultures, to both see and show brief cultural insights. If we were to take a more indepth look into a culture that is different from our own, we would see in it, both likes and dislikes and also similarities. The things that are acceptable to me in a cultural sense, may well shock you, because of your cultural upbringing. Some of what we are as people is because of the culture we were born into and raised within. Take for example, an El Salvadorian wedding, where the husband at the post-service reception places his wife's left leg on a chair, discreetly lift her dress to the upper thigh and proceeds to pull her garter off with his teeth! This is in front of everybody! He then throws the garter to a gathered group of single men, all eagerly waiting to catch it! Now if you are offended by this, it is probably because of your upbringing in a culture, where at a wedding, which is not the done thing. Somehow I can't see this happening in a Japanese wedding, in case it was deemed offensive, particularly to the guests! But just because something is different from your own culture, does not necessarily mean that it is wrong. Our cultural heritage and upbringing affects our ethics, lifestyle, family values, and worldview and so on. Culture also has a place and a say in our religion. Some cultures insist that you follow a particularly religion out of respect for tradition, whether that is nominal Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism Islam, Zionism, Taoism, Shintoism, Spiritism or any other ‘ism' which is your cultural norm. Sometimes there are severe pressures and penalties to pay if you want to change your religion, say to Christianity from Islam. Now I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus, was, is and always will be God! So what does Jesus have to say about culture and cultural differences? Jesus kept all the cultural tradition, as a good Jewish man that did not affect his own personal holiness and offend those to whom he engaged in a cross-cultural exchange. Whether it was a Roman centurion; a Canaanite woman; Samaritans; Greeks or other cultures, Jesus was always sensitive to their particular problems regardless of his cultural traditions, taught to him about not touching or talking to foreigners, women, sick and poor people. He continually broke the traditional cultural religious taboos, by doing these things, and that is one of the reasons that Jewish authorities hated him and plotted to kill him. That is ok, you might be thinking if you are not a follower of Jesus. You may well be thinking that I am a Christian because I was bought up in a Christian country and it is your cultural tradition to follow this Jesus. But if you are thinking that, then maybe you are also thinking that Jesus is only for Jews and those in the West where Christianity is the normal religion. You may also be thinking that Christianity is not for you because your tradition and culture say that you must follow another religion. I am a Christian because Jesus was pursuing me! True my upbringing in a country which at least is nominally Christian did pay a small part in my turning to follow Jesus Christ. But by becoming a Christian, I rebelled against my parents and against my culture. The main reason I am a Christian, is because Jesus Christ was chasing me. I have decided to follow him - will you follow him or reject him? You may well reject Jesus Christ as your Saviour and the Son of God because you don't know enough about him yet. If that is your reason then read about him in the Bible. Or you may well reject him because you simply don't want to acknowledge him for who he is. That at least is honest! But please, don't reject him simply because your culture says to stick to your own cultural or national religion. That is just patronising nonsense. Jesus is for all people of all time, all nations and all cultures. Jesus, as we read in the Bible, crosses all cultural boundaries and welcomes all to his searching and outstretched arms. Don't let culture be the excuse for not accepting Him as your God and saviour. Jesus is and always will be the Son of God, the saviour for all people of all nations, languages and cultures for all time. In John 12v32, Jesus said that he will draw all people to himself. So, come. Come to Jesus and start to follow him right now! For those of us who are already followers of Jesus Christ, what does the Bible tell us about culture and following Him. The Bible tells us to be holy, following Jesus Christ as Lord, and growing in righteousness. It is hard for us, because the Christian life is demanding and yet also exciting! We use all sorts of excuses for sinning; that is doing wrong against God and others. Sometimes we use the excuse that is part of our individual cultural identity to do that, so ergo, it can't be wrong! In some cultures, man can have more than one wife; in still others men treat women as a little lower than slaves or dogs. The Aussie culture is well known for its arrogance, insulting and being rude to all and sundry. Other cultures place emphasis on gross materialism & collecting possessions at all costs. Yet other cultures and countries, allow indifference to the suffering of the poor and sick in their community, putting their low position in society down to bad luck, kismet or fate. Now we know that all these things are wrong because the Bible clearly tells us they are wrong. The Bible says only have one wife, love and respect each other. The Bible says love one another; don't be rude but be humble and not arrogant. The Bible says take care of the poor and sick in the community. The Bible says don't accumulate possessions for possessions sake. And yet we can use the cultural barrier excuse to try and justify our sins, time and time again. When our cultural traditions cross over the lines of sin, drawn out for us in the Bible, then we must at all costs to ourselves, stop doing them! Now I am not saying do away with all our cultural traditions - just those that are clearly unbiblical and hinder our path to personally holiness and personal righteousness. Let us follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be prepared to sacrifice your cultural taboos at all cost to yourself and run the race set for you, whilst keeping your cultural differences. So, in conclusion, those of you who are not yet followers of Jesus, don't let your culture and traditions stop you from deciding to follow Jesus and running to those outstretched arms that are waiting for you. For those of us who are already followers of Jesus and believe in him for our salvation, let us stop using our cultural traditions as excuses for sinning. Repent of any attitude, behaviour or action that causes you to sin.
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Issues – Be Radical

Thursday Oct 29, 2020

Thursday Oct 29, 2020

Be Radical
Luke writes of the early church in Acts 2:42-47 "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need..." then onto v47 "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
1. The Purpose of the Church
First of all, the purpose of the church! The church, we know, is described as the body, bride and temple of Jesus Christ.  We, the church, are to be as Jesus Christ and fulfilling His purposes! From the Bible, we can see at least 5 purposes of the church.
To glorify God (Ephesians 3:10 & 21)
To build up spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:12-13)
To equip for service (Ephesians 4:11-13)
To reach those outside the church (Matthew 28:10)
To promote the spiritual and physical welfare of all people - (Galatians 6:10)
Every church is to at least have those 5 things as its purpose.  Your church is to exist, not for those who belong to it but also for those outside its walls!  If the church gets the balance wrong at all, then surely it is failing in all of its purposes!  One of the key things for churches in the 21st century is in the area of providing welfare, both for its members and those in the local and global community.  Too often churches and its members have fallen into the ideological trap of consumer-based materialism.  There is a saying that God helps those who help themselves.  I want to tell you that that is clearly unbiblical.  As a Christian and a church, you are to help those who cannot help themselves.  After all that's what God through Jesus Christ did - helped those who couldn't help themselves! The church is to provide welfare for all on all levels - physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual.  Too often the church only concentrates on one or two of those areas.
2. What will you say?
Judged accordingly! And in fulfilling those purposes, we will be judged! We are aware, I am sure, that God will judge all people for their sin. That is clear within the Bible.  But did you know that there is to be a judgement for all those who profess to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour? It will not be a judgement for sins and wickedness, because for Christian followers, those have already been judged when Jesus Christ died on the cross (Isaiah 53v4-6; 1 Peter 2v24)! Of that you have been declared innocent and accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ, as you have accepted His free offer of forgiveness! However, you and I will be judged for what we have done with our gifts and talents!. We will all give an account of ourselves to God, if we profess to be Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ (Romans 14:10), and will be judged according to what we have done with what we have been given (2 Corinthians 5:10). The quality of our work will be tested (1 Corinthians 3:11-15), and our motives will be exposed. Exposed as to whether things were done for God's glory (1 Corinthians 4:4-5) or for our own glory. As we give account of the opportunities and abilities entrusted to us (Matthew 25:14-30), rewards may be gained or lost (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). Rewards such as the Incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25); the Crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4); Crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4v8); Crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19) and the Crown of life (James 1:12). Therefore, do all you can for the glory of God the Father, as you submit to the Son Jesus Christ in the power of God the Holy Spirit! Go and help your church fulfil those 5 purposes of its existence: to glorify God, build and equip, to reach out and provide spiritual and physical welfare for all people within its community and beyond.  Don't wait to do it, take every opportunity to do it! How do we go about this? Let me suggest two ways to be radical: radical care and radical finances! Radically caring: Too often people in need, are shown care and concern for a little while, but gradually as time goes on, the caring ceases. All sorts of excuses are given, but in reality, there can be no excuse or reason for not caring.  Not caring means not loving.  Love is to be for all people, regardless of personalities, conflicts, opinions, gender, sexuality, prejudice and bias.  Lots of people leave churches and house groups, through the back door, because they don't get the care they need and desire.  Too often, I would say.  Too often the church is too interested in its own little world of new buildings, new programmes, new schedules or new members, as important as those things can be! Rather than churches that look after only the interest of select people within its walls and community, the church is to look after all interests of all, both its members and non-members and within both the local and global community.  We are to eschew, cast off, being insular, self-seeking and materialistic.  If your own church can't supply the need required, then it may just be that one of the other churches in your community can provide the need! Local churches, working together, to show that churches can work together - something we are often accused of not doing!  By loving and caring for others, we show true fellowship with Jesus Christ. We can be seen to be one church, even though we are separate expressions of the one global church. Most people who are sick, both short-term and long-term, will appreciate contact or even a visit! There must be someone you know in your church you can do that for! Be caring! And on a even more radical note, lets look at money! Lets talk money! For a lot of people there are three subjects never to be raised within church circles: money, sex and politics!  We may look at the others in another podcast, but lets look at the Christian and money!  Jesus certainly talked a lot about money, even just a cursory look in the Gospels will reveal that!  Before I go further, this is aimed at all Christians, not just a select group! We all desire to mature spiritually (one of the Church purposes remember). Perhaps the greatest indicator of this in the 21st century, concerns financial giving. Giving is to be done whole-heartedly and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). 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 behind it. All our money and possessions belong to God anyway, so giving is to be in response to this.. Failure to give back for God's work, what He has given in the first place, robs God (Malachi 3:8)! The reason it is robbery is because the giving cannot be used to support those who are working for God. Most churches with one busy pastor could quite easily afford another pastor on the payroll if more people gave money using those biblical principles. Missionaries shouldn't have to literally beg for funding as some do, particularly when some professing Christians continue to build up massive pension pots to keep themselves in the luxurious manner they are accustomed to when they retire. The hallmark of the early church is clearly seen in Acts 2.  The New Testament church made sure that giving was done and that the poor, the oppressed, the lonely and the widows were taken care of.  People gave.  When anybody was in need, another member of the church fulfilled that need: physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. That is radical church! It is not to be for just the first century church but also for the 21st century church.  It is not communism under another name as I have heard it called. Those who say that are entrapped within the snare of materialistic consumerism and political dogma, looking after their own interests rather than the interests of others. Its biblical welfare as commanded by Jesus Christ and exemplified by His life.  Anything outside of that can be regarded as deplorable, revolting and an abomination. That is also radical! Churches and Christians are to be so radical so that even today, people outside the church can say with amazement: "These people love their God because we see that they love each other and us!" Go! God gave everything so that you may life and life in abundance, so by caring and giving, you will reflect that. Be radical church and encourage others to be likewise.
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Issues - Guidance

Friday Oct 30, 2020

Friday Oct 30, 2020

 Perhaps this is one of the questions that Christians ask at one time or another: "How does God guide me?"
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."
Isaiah 6:8: "Then I heard the Lord asking, "Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?" I said, "Here I am. Send me." When Jesus Christ called you personally and said: "Follow Me!" and you responded "YES, Lord!" that was the start of a beautiful relationship between the Living God and yourself.   Perhaps the most common question all Christian Disciples ask is "How can I know God's will and His guidance?"  Now of course, being active in prayer and studying the Bible play major roles, in this and they are assured ways of building the relationship between God and yourself.  We will discover that are other aspects to be considered about being guided, and discerning what is God's will for you and I.  These involve being controlled by the Holy Spirit, through counsel and circumstances and through making wise decisions. 1. Controlled by the Holy Spirit So firstly, the Christian Disciple is guided by being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Another way to say this is by submitting to the Spirit's leading.  Fundamental to being guided by the Spirit, is for you and I to be filled with the Spirit and to keep on being filled with the Spirit, or controlled by the Spirit.  When the Spirit is quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or grieved (Ephesians 4:30), then the Spirit no long has control of you and I.  In order to allow the Spirit control of us, we need to resubmit ourselves to God! It is a good daily practice for you and I to do the following on a daily basis.
Confess all known sin (1 John 1:9) and accept unreservedly the certain assurance of being forgiven for your sins including the sin of quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit. Sin is sin and there are no degrees of sin, big or small, it just is... Any sin creates a barrier whether (in our earthly terminology) it is a big sin like murder or a small sin like lying... Homosexuality and pornography are just as bad as lusting after that girl who just walked by - all are adultery.... That's one of the reasons the Pharisees got it so mixed up and why Jesus Christ was indignant with scorn towards them misleading people.
Devote to being a living sacrifice for Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2)
Enable the Holy Spirit to convict you of anything wrong and sinful in your life (Psalm 139:23-24)
Seeks the Holy Spirit's divine power in order to serve Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 3:16) and to do all things for glory of Jesus Christ, for this is one of the prime roles of the Holy Spirit, and sadly, often a neglected part of the Holy Spirit's role in the life of the believer.
Additionally, part of being controlled by the Holy Spirit, the Christian Disciple is to yield to Him.  Romans 6:13 and James 4:7 command this.  In yielding to the Holy Spirit, the body (1 Corinthians 6:20) and mind (Romans 12:1-2) are given to Him sacrificially for the glory of Jesus Christ.  Both the body and the mind are yielded, because the body activates what is conceived in the mind.  It is a total dedication of all thoughts, plans and actions into God's hands and the seeking of His divine wisdom. Being guided by the Holy Spirit is illustrated in Acts 16:6-10 where Paul and his group of people acted quickly!  "Paul and his companions went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn't let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas. That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans." 2. Counsel and Circumstances Additionally to submitting to the Holy Spirit, other people and circumstances are also great helps in regards to guidance.  Proverbs 24 reminds us that: "The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger.  So don't go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers.  Wisdom is too lofty for fools. Among leaders at the city gate, they have nothing to say."
We may not be going into physical war, but seeking the advice of others in trying to understand God's guidance, plays an important role in deciding God's will in the life of the Christian Disciple.  When seeking the advice of others, we should bear in mind that the person should be a reliable, godly and faithful servant of God - and know us well.  As Proverbs 25:19 says "Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot". However, as Christian s we must also be aware that even the godliest of people make mistakes, such as Nathan the prophet when he exhorted David to build the temple in 2 Samuel 7.  In the end, each of us alone, is responsible for our own actions and for discerning God's guidance for themselves. Then we also have circumstances, which are a great learning tool.  Circumstances surround us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  However, as Christians we are to live above all circumstances, while being mindful of them.  Through circumstances, God often disclosed his perfect will.  As Paul writes in Romans 8:28 - "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Some examples of where God's will was discovered through circumstances include:
Abraham being asked to substitute a ram caught in a thicket for his son, Isaac (Genesis 22).
God arranging for Pharaoh's daughter to be bathing in the River Nile as the baby Moses floated by (Exodus 2).
Paul's nephew over hearing a plot to murder Paul, and then reporting it to the authorities and therefore saving Paul's life (Acts 23).
Now some may sceptically claim that these are purely coincidental, but if they are, and all others like these are, its an awful lot of coincidence! 3.  Wise Decisions: Now, its all very well to say that we are to make wise decisions. That would seem obvious!  But how do we go about it? A great way is by endeavouring to maintain a right attitude, and asking ourselves the following questions:
Have I prayed and meditated on God's Word regarding the decision?
Have I given every area of my life to Jesus Christ?
Am I prepared to be obedient to God? (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Am I willing to sacrifice my desires for God's Will?
Do I truly love and acting lovingly towards other people?
It should not control me habitually (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Will it cause another person to sin/stumble? (1 Corinthians 8:9-13)
Does it build Christian character? (1 Corinthians 10:23)
Does it bring glory to God? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Can I thank God for this activity - could Jesus accompany me?
If in doubt, throw it out! (Romans 14:22-23)
Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
For more to think about please do read Isaiah 6. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them.  Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together. Q1. Am I willing to do whatever God commands me to do? Q2. Am I willing to be humble enough to ask other people's advice? Q3. Am I willing to sacrifice my desires so that God's Will is achieved and His glory acclaimed? 
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Issues - Materialism

Saturday Oct 31, 2020

Saturday Oct 31, 2020

1 John 2:15-17, the Apostle John writing: "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world-wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important-has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out-but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. " I wonder what you think is quite possibly one of the greatest challenges to the Christian Disciple standing alone and being faithful to God in the twenty first century?  I want to propose to you that this threat is the temptation of materialism, or to be materialistic.  This is where following Jesus' command to follow Him, take up the cross for ourselves becomes practical.  This is where loving God and loving others becomes difficult.  Materialism grips both the Church community and also Christian Disciples if it is allowed.  Eschewing and casting off materialism will see Christian Disciples who are radical by the very society, which we are trying to win for Jesus.
What is materialism?
Every person has in differing quantities: possessions and money.  These things, in and of themselves, are not evil.  It is however our reaction and attitudes toward them that causes us to be seduced in this area.  Materialism is a reliance on possessions, money people or even the church, as our ultimate objects of trust, instead of God.  The Apostle John writing in 1 John 2v16 gives a very accurate picture of materialism: "lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life." That, brother and sisters, is materialism!
A Particular Sin
If there were to be a particular sin that marks our generation, especially in the West, then it would be this sin of materialism and the worship of money, objects and people. Every day hundreds of thousands of people die from lack of food, water, clothing and shelter.  For each of us in the West, these things are taken for granted.  When we feel like a change of house or location, we just move.  The whole Christian community is one that reflects the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit.  The Church is to be a community where the strongest members support the weakest members.  Where one member of the Christian community suffers and hurts, the whole Christian community suffers and hurts! This applies not only to the local church in a local community context, but also to the universal Church and therefore has a national and international context as well.  Too often as Christians 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 local and global communities.  When one member of the universal body of Christ is hurting, the whole body hurts!
So what?
As Christian Disciples living in the world of the twenty first century, where wealth is seen as a sign of success, the cult of celebrity is rife and where family, morals, ethics, community and God have taken a back seat, how should a Christian Disciple respond to materialism?  A lot of Churches measure their success solely by the number of members in the congregations or by how much money goes into the offering pot each week.  However, not just good things grow.  Islam measures its success on the so-called growth in those who would consider themselves a Muslim.  It is probably the fastest growing religion in Australia.  However, every gardener will tell you that even weeds grow! So counting numbers is not the best way to measure success. The measure of a successful Christian Disciple can be seen in thee verses from 1 John 2:15-17. The Apostle John writing: "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world-wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important-has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out-but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. " Also in Matthew 22v37-40: where Jesus is saying: "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."
Action Stations!
By doing these two things, we show we trust in God and not in anything or anybody else.  By exhibiting these commands, we cast off materialism and any thought of materialism from our lives. By doing those two things, both as a Church and as individual Christian Disciples, society will see we are neither dangerous nor deluded.  To Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and their aficionados who think all religion is pure evil, based on delusion and that religion has never done a good thing in history to benefit humanity, it will help show the folly and irrationality of their thinking. If Church communities and Christian Disciples make radical steps such as eschewing materialism, both in being and making Disciples, I think the Church and Christian Disciples would no longer be seen as evil, deluded and irrelevant.  Rather they would be seen as a thriving community of people, resulting in Jesus being glorified and holy transformation sought.  After all, Jesus is to be the master of those who would call themselves a Christian Disciple and the Head of the Church. As Christian Disciples, and the church as a whole, you and I are to eschew materialism, cast it off and live a life worthy of our God, living in total obedience to Him and reflected in the love we display for both our local and global communities. For more to think about, please do read for yourself Matthew 22:37-40.  Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them.  Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1 - As a Christian Disciple, in what ways am I being seduced by materialism and the gathering of possessions, people and power?
Q2 - What things can I do, not do or give up in order to aid the weakest members of my community - local, national and global? Q3 - How can I better use my "passion, prayer and intelligence" this week for the glory and honour of God? 
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God, Internet Church and you

Sunday Feb 07, 2021

Sunday Feb 07, 2021

PulpTheology Book
God, Internet Church & You
Due to lockdown or quarantine due to the CoronaVirus / COVID-19 Pandemic, Church has moved to using the Internet for its services to the world.  In this little book we seek to answer why the Church is using the Internet, as well as exploring together ways in which we can respond.
Here are some of the questions we will explore together:
What is Digital Space & the Internet?
Why should the Church be on the Internet and how?
Isn't Church on the Internet just a modern form of the ancient heresy of gnosticism?
Is God able to interact there?
For the Christian, what are some of the liabilities and virtues of the Internet?
Could an internet based church be part of the historical church?
What can a Church service on the Internet look like?
How can this technology be used, so that you as a Christian, can use your talents and serve God on the Internet in the 21st century?
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Copyright © 2023 Dave G Roberts. All rights reserved.

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