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POD - Psalm 112

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Psalm 112

 

Hallelujah! Blessed man, blessed woman, who fear God,

Who cherish and relish his commandments,

Their children robust on the earth,

And the homes of the upright—how blessed!

Their houses brim with wealth

And a generosity that never runs dry.

Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people—

God's grace and mercy and justice!

The good person is generous and lends lavishly;

No shuffling or stumbling around for this one,

But a sterling and solid and lasting reputation.

Unfazed by rumor and gossip,

Heart ready, trusting in God,

Spirit firm, unperturbed,

Ever blessed, relaxed among enemies,

They lavish gifts on the poor—

A generosity that goes on, and on, and on.

An honored life! A beautiful life!

Someone wicked takes one look and rages,

Blusters away but ends up speechless.

There's nothing to the dreams of the wicked.

Nothing.

 

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Think Spot 15 January 2018

 

We start this new week with a challenge! Each of us can make a difference in this world. Are you aware of that? Let's see what we can do together!

One of the most well-known bible verses is when Jesus says “Love your neighbour as yourself.” But did you know he is actually quoting from Leviticus 19:18b "love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord." What does that mean for us today?


As Christians we are to live right lives - to be holy. That is a fundamental about being a Christian. It means being practical and loving others - not just in words but in action. Not just saying I love you but showing that you do. It means sometimes doing things we don't want to do. Or not doing things we want to do. It means putting others first and ourselves last. It means not showing favouritism – to the rich or the poor, to the beautiful and the not so beautiful.


Loving others as yourself, does not mean loving yourself less. It means loving others more. It means holding the interests of others higher than your own. It means honouring others above yourself.


How are you doing at loving others - all others? Are you loving others generously & selflessly? Or are you saying you love them, but only on your own terms or only in words and not in action. Loving them selfishly by putting your own needs first and others after yourself.


Here is a challenge for you. Go into this new week determined to love others – all others – without favouritism. Each of us has ways in which we feel the love of others. We all have our own needs & wants. Ask somebody else today that what it is that you could do for them that would make them feel that they are loved and valued. You may well be surprised that it is something very simple and you would never have found out what it was unless you had asked.


As we continue into this new year of 2018, let's be committed to showing practical love to all we meet - one person at a time. Imagine the difference that could make to the world! WOW!

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Exploring The Bible

45. Old Testament

Ecclesiastes - 1000–931 BC BC

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Ecclesiastes 2:26
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

 

Written during the reign of Solomon, the Book of Ecclesiastes tells the story of life’s emptiness when trying to be happy apart from God. The preacher concludes that only life with God leads to true happiness.

There is an air of mischievousness about the book: it often seems to say the wrong thing. Presumably to make us think!

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Gems in the book of Revelation

Part 127 - Revelation 2:7

Eating from the tree of life.

As with all the other seven cities the ‘gem’ is in the promise that ends the letter following the words ‘to the one who is victorious’. To put those promises in context we need to read the rest of the letter in each case so it is printed first.

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

These seven letters to churches in what is now west Turkey are not full of gems. They tend rather to analyse the specific churches and that implies finding faults. Only two, Smyrna and Philadelphia, escape without words of condemnation.

However each church receives words of encouragement towards the end of their letter following the words “To the one who is victorious, I will give …”, or some minor variation on it, and these we will consider gems, particularly as it is quite clear that the gifts are available for all people of all times who qualify in the same way as the folk for whom they were first designed.

What did being victorious mean in real everyday terms for people in churches under increasingly hostile attention from the authorities? It means having succeeded in moving forward along the narrow and difficult path that leads onwards towards the final great day.

The first and largest city in this journey of the imagination is Ephesus. The congregation in the church here are strongly criticised. They have done many good things but in doing so have failed to live up to the standards they originally set for themselves. It is not hard to form a story suggesting what might have happened:

By the time John wrote this the church in Ephesus had been going for probably at least 30 years. They had started off with a great flash of enthusiasm imitating Jesus as much as they could in all their relationships with their neighbours. But – guessing a bit - probably some legalistically minded guys had got hold of the reins of control and, with the best of intentions, set out to bring system to what was going on in so many small, diverse and apparently chaotic ways. They wrote down what should happen, made sure it did and generally brought order to a confused situation. Unfortunately in doing so they had succeeded in killing off that first flush of enthusiasm and leading of the Holy Spirit - they had never really begun to understand the Holy Spirit and how he works. That sort of scenario fits rather well the very brief comment about what was going on. Is it a familiar picture?

What is shocking is the depth of the punishment the church was to receive. Although it survived for a long time it eventually disappeared, as Jesus said it would.

On the other hand for those who survived the problems, sorted them out and returned to the attitudes of love that had motivated them at first, all would be well. The tree of life first appears in Genesis 2: 9 and in Genesis 3: 22 is described as the way to live for ever. It reappears in Revelation 22: 2 and 29 where it is clearly implied that it is the way to eternal life, which we may think of not only as a life that will go on for ever but one of the greatest possible quality to be lived on this earth here and now.

And the implication is that this is available for us!

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Friday Prayers

12 January 2018

Order of Service!

 

Opening prayer

New Year Prayer

Confession

Thanksgiving Prayers

Prayers for jobseekers and workers

Prayers for those grieving

Time for your own prayers/petitions!

Closing prayer

 

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Exploring Islam 11

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Exploring Islam

11. The Jesus of Islam

Part 2 - Jesus remains a man not a god

Despite Jesus’ unusual birth to a virgin Islam still considers him to be simply a man chosen by Allah to be a prophet. He is viewed as a created being from the dust just as Adam was (Qur’an 3:59). To consider Jesus as anything more than his humanity would be to ascribe to him some status of divinity, and as we have seen previously this is a serious sin.

Allah reveals himself through the Qur’an as being one, and in being the only one. He is if you like singular in construction and the only one of his kind. During Muhammad’s life the early Church was spreading rapidly throughout the world and he would have heard of their radical concept of a Trinitarian God – that is a God which is three in one.

Such a paradox, which is accepted in Christianity through faith and the testimony of the Bible, seemed to simply be a wilful act to distort the truth about Allah and elevate a man into a deity. If you remember from one of the first podcasts in this series at the birth of Islam Muhammad was reacting against an Arab people who were polytheists, that is belief in and the worship of many different gods and spirits. Muhammad placed the Christian view of Jesus into this category.

The Qur’an summarises all of this in the following: Qur’an 4:171 – ‘O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter anything concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease! (It is) better for you! - Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son.’

Interestingly, there are two aspects regarding the Islamic view of Jesus which are not fully explained. In the previous verse you may noticed that Jesus is referred to as a ‘word’ and a ‘spirit’ from Allah. What exactly does this mean? The Qur’an does not make any further reference to it and they are unique to him.

From a Christian perspective Jesus being described as a ‘word’ is familiar as it is found in the opening verses of John’s Gospel to denote his divinity. Alongside this, the Qur’an also makes the unexpected claim that Jesus was holy, faultless, pure, or righteous depending on your translation from the Arabic in Qur’an 19:19.

These characteristics are commonly associated with divinity outside of Islam and offer a stark contrast to Muhammad who required forgiveness for his sins (Qur’an 48:2). Many Muslims are not aware of this last verse and can take offense at the suggestion that their greatest prophet is in fact sinful, so refer to it with care and respect.

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