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Partakers Bible Thought

18 May 2022

17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (Isaiah 59:17)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full Armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full Armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

To help His people resist satan and to fight spiritual warfare, God has designed spiritual Armor for Christians to wear during our constant battle with sin & temptation. That’s what Paul talks about in Ephesians 6! This Armor is what God wears according to Isaiah 59:17, when He goes out to battle!

Today we explore the Christian in Spiritual Armor, answering questions including: What is “Spiritual Armor?” How is it used by God to help the Christian believer? How is the Spiritual Armor “worn” by the Christian?

Listen or download the mp3 podcast to find out more about the Christian and your Spiritual Armor!

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Acts 20 - Guided by God to serve…

1. Overview

Acts 20 breaks down into 3 sections.

  • v1-6 - Paul in Macedonia and Greece
  • v7-12 - Paul in Troas
  • v13-39 - In this section, Paul says goodbye to the Ephesian leaders.

2. Guidance - How are Christians guided by God?

  • Controlled by the Holy Spirit
  • Convictions and Conscience
  • Counsel and Circumstances
  • Lessons from the past

3. Service

Paul’s Service - How did he serve

  • Spiritual Gifts
  • Words

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My encounter with Jesus

Almost everybody has an opinion of the man Jesus Christ! Countless millions worship him today and down through history! People sometimes ask me "Who is my Jesus?"

"Who is my Jesus?"

My Jesus Christ, is the man who splits history BC & AD! The man who we claim is the messiah and saviour as spoken about by the prophets of old and written about by those who met Him... My Jesus Christ, the man who healed the sick, fought for justice, did many great deeds, filled with compassion, driven on by joy and in constant conversation with God the Father.

My Jesus Christ, is the man who claimed to be God and was God! Jesus who emptied Himself, made Himself nothing, so as to take on human form. Jesus Christ, fully human and yet fully God. My Jesus Christ, is the most amazing man who ever lived, born of a woman, in a humble stable. Jesus Christ, the man born to die that he may come back alive and give all people a chance to live forever.

My Jesus Christ, is the man who died on a grubby Roman cross, pierced, battered, bruised and scarred. Jesus Christ, the God-man who died physically. Jesus Christ, buried within and sealed into a cold empty tomb. My Jesus Christ, is the man who conquered death, came back alive as witnessed by uncountable others. Jesus Christ who defeated the sting of sin, so that humanity may choose to live forever!

My Jesus Christ, whose very death and resurrection we celebrate at Easter, who ascended to the right hand of God the Father. This Jesus Christ, who with the Father, sent the Holy Spirit to transform into His own image, all who choose to follow Him. My Jesus Christ, who covers His followers in His own robe of righteousness so that they would be acceptable to God the Father. Jesus Christ, coming again soon in glory to judge humanity and claim those who follow Him. Jesus Christ who calls to you and I "Come and follow!" That is my Jesus Christ! But, you may be asking yourself, why are you a Christian and identify yourself as such?

Why am I a Christian?

"We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1 John 5:9-12 - 

I am a Christian not because of anything I have done! No, nothing I could do or have done would have made me a Christian. Rather, it is because He first chased me, and because He first loved me. Jesus himself said "I came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19v10). God was chasing me and following my every path. Why am I a Christian? It is because of the events at Christmas and Easter that I am a Christian!

The dual events, in harmony, when God entered this world as a human baby and took all the necessary steps so that all people could have the choice to be His people or not. In my more smug moments I used to congratulate myself for being a Christian. How proud I was that I, Dave, was a Christian and that God was a jolly lucky God that I had decided to follow Him.

It was during one of my less self-deluded moments, that I examined myself and I found God pricking my conscience and correcting me, and I read the New Testament "For the Son of Man came, not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark10v45).

Jesus calls you!

If you would not call yourself a Christian today, and this Jesus appeals to you, this Jesus who speaks with authority, and you want to become a Christian there are three simple steps to follow. Firstly, admit that you have done wrong against God and His ways. Secondly, believe and trust in Jesus.  Call on Him, receive, trust, obey and worship Him, recognizing Him for who He is and what He has done. Lastly, confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.  

Once sin has been confessed, and Jesus is believed in and trusted as Saviour, then you are a Christian. Now you are ready as Peter writes in the Bible, "to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). Christian discipleship is a lifetime commitment!  Welcome to the family of God. It isnt just becoming a convert but rather a life long follower wanting to be more like Jesus Christ in what we call being a disciple. God has chosen you; Jesus has paid for you and has put His mark within you through His Spirit (Ephesians 1:1-13). Finally, I ask again, who do you say this Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you? Thank you.

Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

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John meets the Ascended Jesus

 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.  Revelation 1:12-20! 

 

Jesus has made an appearance to his close friend and disciple, John! Jesus is now the resurrected and ascended King of Kings and Lord of Lords! In Revelation 2 and 3, this Jesus sends messages to seven groups of people who have taken Him up on that offer of salvation!: the first century churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Here Jesus tells the churches to keep doing, stop doing and be blessed! But first, lets look at Jesus, Himself!

Jesus description

Jesus holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. Jesus who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again! Jesus, who has the sharp, double-edged sword, is the Son of God and whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. Jesus Christ, who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars! Jesus Christ, who is holy and true and holds the key of David. Jesus Christ, who opens what no one can shut and shuts what no one else can open. Jesus Christ, who is the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.

Keep doing!

To these 7 churches, of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Jesus praises them individually and separately! They are to continue doing such things as working hard for the Gospel, remaining faithful, not tolerating evil, not being seduced by false teachers, for persevering and enduring hardship and not growing weary. Jesus praises them for being faithful through suffering, poverty and persecution for His sake. Jesus praises them for remaining true to Him and for not renouncing their faith! Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, being ever gracious to His followers.

Stop doing

But He also rebukes them and commands that they stop doing certain things! They are to stop listening to various false teachers and prophets, being swayed by their clever and seductive words and actions. He rebukes because they have forgotten that they are to love Jesus above all and they have forsaken him. In his rebuke, Jesus commands that they repent, that is to ask Him for forgiveness and be willing to turn away from the false teachers, false prophets and false way of living.

Be blessed!

To all those who persevere, overcome and are victorious, Jesus will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. To all those who overcome and are victorious, they wont be hurt by the second death. To all those who overcome and are victorious, Jesus will give the victor’s crown! Those who overcome and are victorious, will be given authority over the nations! To those who overcome and are victorious, they will be in the temple of God, never to leave it! Jesus will do the most extraordinary thing, of writing on them the name of God, the city of God and His new name! To those who overcome and are victorious, their name will be in the book of life, and Jesus will acknowledge them before God the Father and his angels. Then finally, for those who overcome and are victorious, they will sit with their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, on His throne, just as He was victorious and sat down with His Father on his throne. That’s you and me if we hold out to the end!

Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

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Adulterous Woman

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.

They put her in front of the crowd. "Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?"

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!"

Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.

Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?" "No, Lord," she said. And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more." John 8:1-11

 

Jesus, as all Rabbis and teachers did, was at the temple teaching and talking with people. It was also part of the role of the rabbi/teachers to ascertain what to do in certain difficult moral and legal situations. As part of this role, the Pharisees dragged in an unknown woman charged with adultery. Likewise with the Samaritan woman, we don't know this woman's name either! The Pharisees were laying a trap for Jesus. If Jesus said to stone the woman, then the Romans could arrest Jesus, for it was Roman law that any death must be conducted by them and not by others. If Jesus says to release the woman, then the Pharisees would say that Jesus is contravening Scripture and the Law of Moses. So what does Jesus do? He writes in the dirt (John 8v6).

We don't know what He wrote, but from the Greek word for write, we understand that He was seemingly writing a report and that when in he says in John 8:7 "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.", He is in fact saying "If any one of you is without this sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

So if any of the Pharisees had not committed adultery, whether in the mind or the actual physical act, then they could have stoned her. As it was, they left one by one, the oldest first (John 8v9). He must have also been indignant at the way the Pharisees who were hypocrites were quick to condemn others, so maybe Jesus was reminding them of Jeremiah 17:13 - "O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water."

So instead of passing judgement on the woman and also by eluding the trap of the Pharisees, Jesus passed judgement on the judges. Jesus having forgiven the woman of her sin, then charges her to leave her life of sin (John 8 v11). This reminds us that with the forgiveness of sin, comes a responsibility to live a life worthy of Jesus and to pursue righteousness. Jesus showed His compassion and forgiveness on the outcasts of their society. Jesus showed mercy and forgiveness and loved them.

There is no room in Christianity for actions and attitudes that defy Jesus' ever-reaching and all-encompassing forgiveness and love. His Gospel, as he always shows, is for all people everywhere, regardless of gender, race, age, culture or social status. Again, I ask, who do you say Jesus is? But further, what are you going to do with this Jesus and let Him do to you?

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