Biblical thought & teaching resources to facilitate Christian Discipleship, Commitment and Worship...
G'day! Welcome to Partakers Podcasts and Happy New Year to you where ever you are in this world! Last year we reached over 100 countries again, so if we have helped you in some way in 2022, you are welcome and all to the glory of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Today we are praying together as we enter into the adventure that will be the year 2023! Come and pray! Come back every day to Partakers Podcasts, where there is a podcast uploaded to help you as a Christian, where ever you are in this world! See ya later! Click or tap here to download these prayers as a mp3
The Lord's Prayer “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6v9-13 This is, in all probability, the prayer that is most frequently used, and repeated, by those professing to be Christian Disciples and also by those who are not. It is often called the “Lord's Prayer”. This is not because Jesus, Himself would have prayed it, for as He was sinless, He would have had no need to have said to God, “forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6v12). It was given by Jesus as a model for His Disciples prayers to be like, hence Jesus saying “how you should pray” (Matthew 6v9). When it is spoken and prayed, I wonder if some people truly understand what is being prayed? Come and listen to find out more! When you have listened, answer the following questions for yourself! Q1. In what ways can I as a Christian Disciple adapt my prayers to follow this model given by Jesus? Q2. How can my prayer life reflect attention on God's name, will and kingdom? Q3. How often do I lead myself into temptation and blame others for it? Right mouse click or tap here to download as a MP3 audio file
Sound Doctrine Paul writes in Titus 2v1: "You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. " The word ‘doctrine' in a lot of places is unfashionable. They say that doctrine belongs to a time gone by, and that new experiences of God and miracles from God are all that matters. Some churches teach only what they think people want to hear, tickling the ears instead of exposing them to biblical truth led by the Holy Spirit and therefore stirring them into living transformed lives for Jesus Christ. Come and listen to find out more! Right mouse-click here to download this Podcast as a MP3 file
Almighty God The word for today is Almighty God! Throughout the Bible, God is called Almighty. But how and why is God described as 'Almighty'? God being Almighty, can be summed up in 3 words: Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient. Come and listen to find out more! Right mouse click or tap here to download as a MP3 audio file
Share My Faith In Jesus “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”. (Luke 19:10) Today, we shall seek to discover the answer to some questions, such as: Why did the Jesus say that He came to seek and save the lost? How did He do it and how does He still do it today? Why are Christians to share our faith? To the answerws of these questions and more, come and listen! Right mouse click here to download as a MP3 audio file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
24. The birth of Jesus – Partakers Christmas Bible Thought Merry Christmas to you and to your family and friends where ever you are in this world! This is Christ's Mass. Christmas is about God sending ‘his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.' ‘The Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.' (1 John 4:9, 14). Christmas is about incarnation. We will look further at what that word means after some readings from the Bible. 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:1-7) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14) That Jesus was a human male is not really disputable with much archaeological and historical evidence about Him. There is more evidence for Jesus than there is for Julius Caesar. The birth of Jesus is extraordinary at every level. Come and listen to find our more! Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
24. Mary's God – Partakers Christmas Bible Thought In our last podcast, we looked at Mary's response the visit of her relative Elizabeth, and discovered that in response to Elizabeth's exclamations, Mary spontaneously bursts into song! A song seemingly of renewal, revolution and reformation. Today we look more at the God of Mary whom she worships and what that has to do with us today. Mary knows that her God is called Almighty. We know it as well through our study of the Bible and in our own lives, I am sure. But how is God, “Almighty”, and just as importantly, why? God being Almighty, can be summed up in 3 words: Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. Come and listen to find out more about God and Mary's relationship with Him, in this part in the Christmas story! 46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
23. Mary's Song, the Magnificat In our last podcast, we looked at Mary visiting her relative Elizabeth. Today we continue the Christmas story and discover that in response to Elizabeth's exclamations, Mary spontaneously bursts into song! A song seemingly of renewal, revolution and reformation. God is on the march and God is going to do something new! Some scholars believe Mary is looking back on all the stories she has heard about how God has dealt with people in the past. Others think that she is being prophetic and only looking ahead to what God will do. I personally think it is both. Come and listen to find out more about this part in the Christmas story! 46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home You can also read more about this in our PulpTheology Book on Amazon! Come on over!! Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
22. Mary visits Elizabeth In our last podcast, we looked at Mary's call from God to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Today we continue the Christmas story and see that Mary has gone to see one of her relatives, Elizabeth, who is also with the child whom we later know as John the Baptist. Mary stays there 3 months before returning home. Come and listen to find out more about this part in the Christmas story! 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!” (Luke 2:39-45) Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
21. Mary is called by God Today we continue looking at the people of the Christmas story. Today we start a series of 4 podcasts looking at Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary, to whom was given the great privilege and awesome responsibility of carrying and giving birth to God's Son, the Messiah. Mary was probably a teenager when she received this visit from the angel Gabriel to tell her that the Lord had chosen her for this very special purpose. Come and listen to find out more about this part in the Christmas story! 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.' 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob's descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.' 34 ‘How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?' 35 The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.' 38 ‘I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.' Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38) Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
20. Joseph Today we continue looking at the people of the Christmas story. Today it is Joseph, the future husband of Mary. Joseph is quite often the forgotten man of the story. We meet and learn about Joseph in both Matthew's and Luke's accounts of the birth of Jesus. He is the quiet man in the story but also a spiritual person who wished to live his life and make his decisions in accordance with God's will. Joseph's role was secondary to Mary's. Nevertheless, it was an important one. Come and listen to find out more about his part in the Christmas story! 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.' 22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means ‘God with us'). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25) Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
19. The Magi or Wise Men Today we continue looking at the people of the Christmas story. Today we look at the Wise Men or Magi! These men were travelling towards Christmas and probably for quite a long time, for it seems they originated in what we now call Iran but used to call Persia. These Wise Men, or as they are also known as Magi, were sort of priestly group - not kings, as is usually supposed in traditional Christmas presentations. They were men who studied the night skies for signs of what was going to happen. Come and listen to find out more about their part in the Christmas story! 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.' 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,' they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: 6 ‘“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.' 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (Matthew 2:1-12) Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
18. The Shepherds Today we start looking at the people of the Christmas story. Today we look at the shepherds! They were down-to-earth, rugged, hard working men, who tended and took care of flocks of sheep, mostly belonging to rich people. Come and listen to find out more about their story in the Christmas story! 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.' 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.' 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.' 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:1-20) Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
A Christmas Prayer of Ephraim The feast day of your birth resembles You, Lord Because it brings joy to all humanity. Old people and infants alike enjoy your day. Your day is celebrated from generation to generation. Kings and emperors may pass away, And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse. But your festival will be remembered until the end of time. Your day is a means and a pledge of peace. At Your birth heaven and earth were reconciled, Since you came from heaven to earth on that day You forgave our sins and wiped away our guilt. You gave us so many gifts on the day of your birth: A treasure chest of spiritual medicines for the sick; Spiritual light for the blind; The cup of salvation for the thirsty; The bread of life for the hungry. In the winter when trees are bare, You give us the most succulent spiritual fruit. In the frost when the earth is barren, You bring new hope to our souls. In December when seeds are hidden in the soil, The staff of life springs forth from the virgin womb A Christmas Navity hymn & prayer of Ephraim the Syrian (AD 306-373) Right Mouse click or Tap here to save this as a mp3 file! Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
G'day! Today we are praying a prayer together concerning the Corona Virus / COVID19 Pandemic. I am sure each of us knows somebody who has contracted this virus, and quite possibly succumbed to it and died because of it. Come! Let's pray together! O great God, as you know, we are in the midst of this wretched COVID-19 global pandemic. O Great Comforter, embrace those grieving the loss of loved ones and wipe their tears. We don't know the right way to combat this pandemic, but we know and trust that you do. Therefore, give wisdom and courage to all those involved in its treatment, prevention, cure and vaccine, including our government and leaders. May the vaccines be distributed diligently, justly, quickly and efficiently. We thank you O God that they were prepared by wise people. We thank you for all those caring for others during this time – carers, nurses, medics and others. May you O God, give them courage and wisdom. Amen Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file
17. Harmony of the Gospel Accounts Today we have a harmony of the Christmas Nativity from all 4 Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each Gospel gives us a section of the story, therefore telling it from different perspectives. Our Gospel readings are: 1. Pre-existence of Christ - John 1:1-18 2. Gabriel visits Mary - Luke 1:26-38 3. Mary visits Elizabeth - Luke 1:39-56 4. Angel visits Joseph - Matthew 1:18-24 5. Birth of Jesus Christ - Luke 2:1-7 6. Shepherds visit Jesus - Luke 2:8-20 7. Magi visit Jesus - Matthew 2:1-12 In the next Podcast of this series, we start looking at the people involved in this series! Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
Prophecies Fulfilled 4 – Who would this Messiah be? In the part of the Bible which is called the Old Testament, there are over 300 predictions down through history which look forward to the coming of a Messiah or Saviour. That Messiah or Saviour we Christians believe, was the man, the historical figure of Jesus Christ. Let's continue our adventure! Are you ready? There are over 300 predictions in the Old Testament look to the coming of a Messiah. That man we Christians believe was Jesus Christ. We continue today by looking at some of the global predications about who this Messiah would be 15 Predicted: This Messiah would be a prophet. Prediction: Deuteronomy 18:15 Fulfilled: Acts 3:17-24 16 Predicted: This Messiah would be preceded by Elijah. Prediction: Malachi 4:5-6 Fulfilled: Matthew 11:11-14 17 Predicted: This Messiah would be declared the Son of God. Prediction: Psalm 2:7 Fulfilled: Matthew 3:16-17 Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
Prophecies Fulfilled 4 – Global predications In the part of the Bible which is called the Old Testament, there are over 300 predictions down through history which look forward to the coming of a Messiah or Saviour. That Messiah or Saviour we Christians believe, was the man, the historical figure of Jesus Christ. Let's continue our adventure! Are you ready? There are over 300 predictions in the Old Testament look to the coming of a Messiah. That man we Christians believe was Jesus Christ. We continue today by looking at some of the global predications about Jesus the Messiah 11. Prediction: Messiah would spend some time in Egypt. Predicted: Hosea 11:1 Fulfilled: Matthew 2:14-15 12. Prediction: A massacre of children would happen at Messiah's birthplace. Predicted: Jeremiah 31:15 Fulfilled: Matthew 2:16-18 13. Prediction: A messenger would prepare the way for Messiah. Predicted: Isaiah 40:3-5 Fulfilled: Luke 3:3-6 14. Prediction: Messiah would be rejected by his own people. Predicted: Psalm 69:8 Isaiah 53:3 Fulfilled: John 1:11; John 7:5 Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
Prophecies Fulfilled 3 – The Messiah's Ancestry Part 2 In the part of the Bible which is called the Old Testament, there are over 300 predictions down through history which look forward to the coming of a Messiah or Saviour. That Messiah or Saviour we Christians believe, was the man, the historical figure of Jesus Christ. Let's continue our adventure! Are you ready? The first Christmas almost 2,000 years ago is the time when the invisible becomes visible. When God who is outside of time and space, entered time and space. This Almighty God becomes a weakened baby, in what we call the incarnation. Almighty God has become one of his created beings – a helpless human. We continue today by looking at Jesus' ancestry – something very important for the nation of Israel at the time! 1. Prediction: Messiah would be born of a woman. Predicted: Genesis 3:15 Fulfilled: Matthew 1:20 & Galatians 4:4 2. Prediction: Messiah would be born of a virgin. Predicted: Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled: Matthew 1:22-23 & Luke 1:30-31 3. Prediction: Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Predicted: Micah 5:2 Fulfilled: Matthew 2:1 & Luke 2:4-6 7. Prediction: Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. Predicted: Genesis 49:10 Fulfilled: Luke 3:33; Hebrews 7:14 8. Prediction: Messiah would be heir to King David's throne. Predicted: 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 9:7 Fulfilled: Luke 1:32-33; Romans 1:3 9. Prediction: Messiah's throne will be anointed and eternal. Predicted: Psalm 45:6-7; Daniel 2:44 Fulfilled: Luke 1:30-33; Hebrews 1:8-9 10. Prediction: Messiah would be called Immanuel. Predicted: Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled: Matthew 1:22-3 Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
Prophecies Fulfilled 2 – The Messiah's Ancestry Part 1 In the part of the Bible which is called the Old Testament, there are over 300 predictions down through history which look forward to the coming of a Messiah or Saviour. That Messiah or Saviour we Christians believe, was the man, the historical figure of Jesus Christ. Let's continue our adventure! Are you ready? We continue today by looking at Jesus' ancestry – something very important for the nation of Israel at the time! 4. Prediction: Messiah would come from the line of Abraham. Predicted: Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18 Fulfilled: Matthew 1:1 & Romans 9:5 5. Prediction: Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac. Predicted: Genesis 17:19; Genesis 21:12 Fulfilled: Luke 3:34 6. Prediction: Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob. Predicted: Numbers 24:17 Fulfilled: Matthew 1:2 Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
Prophecies Fulfilled 1 – The Messiah's Birth In the part of the Bible which is called the Old Testament, there are over 300 predictions down through history which look forward to the coming of a Messiah or Saviour. That Messiah or Saviour we Christians believe, was the man, the historical figure of Jesus Christ. Let's continue our adventure! Are you ready? The first Christmas almost 2,000 years ago is the time when the invisible becomes visible. When God who is outside of time and space, entered time and space. This Almighty God becomes a weakened baby, in what we call the incarnation. Almighty God has become one of his created beings – a helpless human. “For this is how God loved the world: He sent his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”(1 John 3:16) “So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.” (Romans 8:3) 1. Prediction: Messiah would be born of a woman. Predicted: Genesis 3:15 Fulfilled: Matthew 1:20 & Galatians 4:4 2. Prediction: Messiah would be born of a virgin. Predicted: Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled: Matthew 1:22-23 & Luke 1:30-31 3. Prediction: Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Predicted: Micah 5:2 Fulfilled: Matthew 2:1 & Luke 2:4-6 Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
The O Antiphons - 7. Emmanuel In some parts of the church they use as part of their Christmas worship, these seven O antiphons. Each of them addresses Jesus Christ using a Messianic title drawn from Old Testament prophecy. Read backwards, the initials of each title in Latin form the words “Ero Cras” or "Tomorrow I come" – looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The seven antiphons which we will look at individually over the next 7 days are: Sapientia - Wisdom Adonai - Holy Lord Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse Clavis David - Key of David Oriens - Morning Star Rex Gentium - King of the Nations Emmanuel - God with us Today our Antiphon is Emmanuel. 6. O Emmanuel – God with us, our King and Law-giver, desired of the nations and their salvation, you came to save us, Lord our God. Old Testament reading: Isaiah 7:13-14 - Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn't it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us'). New Testament Readings: Matthew 1:23 - ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means ‘God with us'). John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Acts 4:11-12 - Jesus is ‘“the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.' Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
The O Antiphons - 6. Rex Gentium In some parts of the church they use as part of their Christmas worship, these seven O antiphons. Each of them addresses Jesus Christ using a Messianic title drawn from Old Testament prophecy. Read backwards, the initials of each title in Latin form the words “Ero Cras” or "Tomorrow I come" – looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The seven antiphons which we will look at individually over the next 7 days are: Sapientia - Wisdom Adonai - Holy Lord Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse Clavis David - Key of David Oriens - Morning Star Rex Gentium - King of the Nations Emmanuel - God with us Today our Antiphon is Rex Gentium. O Rex Gentium - King of the Nations for whom they long, the corner-stone who makes of both one, you came and delivered humanity whom you made from clay. Old Testament readings: Genesis 2:7 - Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Isaiah 2:4 - He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more. Isaiah 9:7 - Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 28:16 - Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken. Haggai 2:8-9 - “The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the LORD Almighty. “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” says the LORD Almighty. “And in this place I will grant peace,” declares the LORD Almighty.' Old Testament readings are: New Testament readings: Ephesians 2:14-16 - For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
The O Antiphons - 5. Oriens In some parts of the church they use as part of their Christmas worship, these seven O antiphons. Each of them addresses Jesus Christ using a Messianic title drawn from Old Testament prophecy. Read backwards, the initials of each title in Latin form the words “Ero Cras” or "Tomorrow I come" – looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The seven antiphons which we will look at individually over the next 7 days are: Sapientia - Wisdom Adonai - Holy Lord Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse Clavis David - Key of David Oriens - Morning Star Rex Gentium - King of the Nations Emmanuel - God with us Today our Antiphon is Oriens. 5. O Oriens - Morning Star, splendour of eternal light and sun of justice, you came and illumined those seated in darkness and the shadow of death. Old Testament readings are: Isaiah 9:2 – The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Zechariah 6:12-13 - Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.” Malachi 4:2 “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. New Testament readings are: Luke 1:8-10 - Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside. John 8:12 - When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' Hebrews 1:3 - The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
The O Antiphons In some parts of the church they use as part of their Christmas worship, these seven O antiphons. Each of them addresses Jesus Christ using a Messianic title drawn from Old Testament prophecy. Read backwards, the initials of each title in Latin form the words “Ero Cras” or "Tomorrow I come" – looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The seven antiphons which we will look at individually over the next 7 days are: Sapientia - Wisdom Adonai - Holy Lord Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse Clavis David - Key of David Oriens - Morning Star Rex Gentium - King of the Nations Emmanuel - God with us Today our Antiphon is Clavis David. 4. O Clavis David - Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, who opens and no one shuts, who shuts, and no one opens, you came to free from prison, those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. Old Testament readings: Isaiah 9:6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 22:21-22 I will give him the key to the house of David—the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them. New Testament reading: Revelation 3:20-21 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
The O Antiphons In some parts of the church they use as part of their Christmas worship, these seven O antiphons. Each of them addresses Jesus Christ using a Messianic title drawn from Old Testament prophecy. Read backwards, the initials of each title in Latin form the words “Ero Cras” or "Tomorrow I come" – looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The seven antiphons which we will look at individually over the next 7 days are: Sapientia - Wisdom Adonai - Holy Lord Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse Clavis David - Key of David Oriens - Morning Star Rex Gentium - King of the Nations Emmanuel - God with us Today our Antiphon is O Radix Jesse. 3. O Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse, who stands as an ensign to the peoples, at whom kings stand silent and whom the gentiles seek: you came to free us, delay no longer! Old Testament readings: Jeremiah 23:5-6 “The days are surely coming,” says the LORD, ”when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'” Micah 5:1 - Now you are walled around with a wall; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the ruler of Israel upon the cheek. New Testament reading: Revelation 22:16-17 - “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
The O Antiphons - 1. Sapientia In some parts of the church they use as part of their Christmas worship, these seven O antiphons. Each of them addresses Jesus Christ using a Messianic title drawn from Old Testament prophecy. Read backwards, the initials of each title in Latin form the words “Ero Cras” or "Tomorrow I come" – looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The seven antiphons which we will look at individually over the next 7 days are: Sapientia - Wisdom Adonai - Holy Lord Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse Clavis David - Key of David Oriens - Morning Star Rex Gentium - King of the Nations Emmanuel - God with us Today our Antiphon is Adonai. 2. O Adonai - Ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and gave him the Law on Sinai, you came to redeem us with outstretched arms! Our Old Testament readings are: Exodus 3:1-4 - Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” Isaiah 11:3b - 5 He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. Isaiah 33:22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us. Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
The O Antiphons - 1. Sapientia In some parts of the church they use as part of their Christmas worship, these seven O antiphons. Each of them addresses Jesus Christ using a Messianic title drawn from Old Testament prophecy. Read backwards, the initials of each title in Latin form the words “Ero Cras” or "Tomorrow I come" – looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The seven antiphons which we will look at individually over the next 7 days are: Sapientia - Wisdom Adonai - Holy Lord Radix Jesse - Root of Jesse Clavis David - Key of David Oriens - Morning Star Rex Gentium - King of the Nations Emmanuel - God with us Today our Antiphon is Sapientia. 1. O Sapientia - Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High God. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner: you came to teach us the way of truth. Our Old Testament readings are: Isaiah 11:1-3 - A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. Isaiah 28:29 - All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent. Right Mouse click to save this as an audio mp3 file Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe or share
A Christmas Prayer Service Today as part of our Christmas series, we have a prayer service where we offer to our God, prayers of the Church from history. Come, Church! Let's pray together! 1. Nativity Prayer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux 2. Nativity Prayer from the Orthodox Liturgy Feast of the Nativity 3. An advent prayer dating from the 10th century... 4. Christ, Redeemer of All 5. A Nativity Prayer of St. Augustine 6. The Lord's Prayer Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen. That is all for today! Come back tomorrow for more in our Christmas series! Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
A Christmas Sermon of Martin Luther the angel said to the shepherds, “Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David's town your Saviour was born—Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:10-14 Good News Translation) You have heard today the story from the Gospel of St. Luke 2:10-14 of how it came to pass that our Lord Christ was born and then also the message of the angel, who announced who the boy was who was born. Now we shall go on and take up the message of the angel. So for today you have heard only that the child was born and that he is the Lord and Saviour. Thus we spoke of the story, how it unfolded, and who the persons in it were. This article is so high that even today it is believed by only a few. Nevertheless, God has preserved it even through those who have not believed it. For at all times in the monasteries and universities there have been disputations and lectures which dealt with the fact that Christ the Lord, born of Mary, is true man and God. Come on in! Download the mp3 using the link below to hear more from this giant of Church history enthusing about the Christ child. Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file You can now purchase our Partakers books! Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site! Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
A Christmas Sermon of John Chrysostom (4th century) Behold a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised. Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Son of justice. Ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged. And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb. Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny. Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech. For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works. What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend. Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt. Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature'. For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker. What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness. For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me. Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ‘in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels. Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant's food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star. To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen. Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file You can now purchase our Partakers books! Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site! Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
A Christmas Thought By Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – 390) Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him. Christ on earth, be exalted. Sing to the Lord all the whole earth; and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for Him who is of heaven and then of earth. Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope. Come on in to hear more of this person of the ancient Church! Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file You can now purchase our Partakers books! Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site! Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
Community 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." 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." Individualism 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. Relationship 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 unexpectantly! 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 wrongFinally, 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 5:43-45 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? Tap or click here to save/download this audio Podcast as a MP3 file
Universalism John writes in John 1v1-5, talking about Jesus "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." Jesus talking about Himself John 14:2, 6: "Trust in God; trust also in me. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 17:1-2 "O God, Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him." Most modern societies, particularly in the West, are pluralistic with many cultures evident within any city and country. With the advent of pluralism, comes the widely held belief that all religions, creeds, beliefs and non-beliefs are equal, which all ultimately lead to God and that after death, every person will enter heaven and have everlasting life with God. That is universalism, and sadly, some Christian churches hold this belief. However, that is contradictory to what Jesus said in the bible passages I read earlier. That is not to say that each religion does not have an element of truth within it. But only one religion is ultimate and absolute truth and that is Christianity. As Christians in the twenty first century we are often informed that Christianity is wrong, and that Jesus Christ can't possibly be the only way to God, even if a God or Gods exist. Just a scant look at each religion throws up the incompatibility between them. For instance the great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam all profess that there is only one God. Contrast this against the religion of Hinduism, which has millions of God, or Buddhism where there may well be no God at all! So Universalism could really be just a form of functional religious atheism. If we were all going to be with God anyway, why would God bother having a plan of salvation as revealed in the Bible? If Universalism is true, why bother with morals or ethics now during this life as each religion has differing codes of morality and behaviour. Now as soon as a Universalist says that morality is what defines the human (as some do), we can then say well which God, and therefore religion, decides what morality as different religions have different rules of morality!! Taking it even further we could say why would God bother interacting with His creation at all, if humanity is going to be spending eternity with Him anyway! Why would there even be a thing called death at all, if universalism is true! So why is Universalism wrong? Lets have a look very briefly together, how superior Christianity is to Universalism. Universalism Denies Salvation by Grace Universalists inevitably proclaim that it is due to God's nature of love and mercy that everyone will have everlasting life with God. Surely a merciful God will allow all to live with Him, regardless of the path they took in this early life! However the Bible states that while God is a God of love and mercy, He is also a God of justice and the sins of people need to be dealt with. That is where God's grace comes in. How does God promise salvation to those reaching out for it? Through His unfailing love, kindness and tender mercy, which is enacted through Grace! Salvation can be attained by no other means, but only through the combination of God's mercy and grace - God's twin actions working in unison. Grace is easily defined as: God's Riches At Christ's Expense. So what about Jesus Christ? Universalism Denies Jesus' uniqueness being human & divine That Jesus was a man is not really disputed. But why did Jesus need to fully human? Firstly, so Jesus death could appease God's anger with us. Secondly so that Jesus can empathize and pray for us. Thirdly, Jesus exhibited true and perfect humanity. Fourthly, due to his perfect humanity, Jesus is to be our example to follow. Fifthly, true human nature is good. Lastly, while God is both above and beyond, He is not so far removed from us, that He cannot interact with his creation. But he was more than human, He was also fully God - He was fully divine! God's salvation plan for humans involved triumphant victory over sin, death and the grave. However no person could be found that was eligible or capable to do this. Because of this, God stepped into human history, so that this victory could be achieved. This God-man would be fully human, so as to live every feature of humanity, including suffering and death. This God-man would also need to remain fully God, so as to defeat sin, death and the grave. Jesus, being sinless, was this God-man, consisting as he did of two complete natures, the God nature and the human nature. That Jesus is both human and divine is what makes Christianity truly unique amongst the world's religions. It is why Jesus' claims to be the only way to God are true and make sense. It is why universalism is shown to be a fallacy. Universalism is wrong because it makes Jesus Christ out to be either a liar or a lunatic or worse - both. Universalism Denies Jesus' cross As all paths under universalism lead to God, why would God have to send Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of the world? Surely, if all paths lead ultimately to God, then there would be no need for Jesus to suffer the agony of the cross. On the cross, Jesus died so that all sins - past, present and future sins - can be forgiven. Salvation is to be found only through God's grace and mercy exhibited by God the Son on the cross. Moreover, it is only to those who acknowledge Him as Saviour in this earthly life that He will acknowledge before God the Father. Universalism Denies Jesus' resurrection The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1:22; Acts 4:33, Acts 17:18). But what significance is there in Jesus' resurrection? The resurrection proved and vindicated all Jesus' teaching and claims as the suffering Servant and attested to his being fully God and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53:10-12; Acts 2:36; Acts 3:13-15; Romans 1:4). The resurrection declared God's approval of Jesus' obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises, resulting in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ, Jesus' resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15:12-58, Romans 8:10, 2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Peter 1:3 & 21) As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow him (Romans 5:10; Hebrews 6:20, 1 Peter 1:21). Universalism Denies Jesus' authority Jesus has authority (Matthew 28:18) over all things, all people, all circumstances and happenings. has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons. Jesus has authority over all nations, governments and rulers. Jesus has authority over all earthly and spiritual authorities. Jesus has the authority. Over all religions, leaders and people - Jesus has the authority and supremacy. This means regardless of what ever the Christian Disciple faces, Jesus is in control. Therefore, as Christian Disciples, we can obey him without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm us. We have been given a free will, but as his Disciples, we should choose to exercise our free will to obey him and live a life worthy of him. As we grow to rely and depend on Jesus' authority, we continually gain wisdom, guidance, and power. Because of His authority, Jesus has authority and supremacy over all things - created, non-created, religious and non- religious. Either Jesus was who he said he was - God - or he was a liar and a lunatic not to be trusted. Universalism and Christianity are non-compatible - the Jesus of the Bible and therefore Christianity, is uniquely superior to all other religions and beliefs encompassed in Universalism. For more to think about please do read John 14:1-6. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together. Q1. How does my life of worship to Christ denounce Universalism? Q2. How does the call for me to be a witness for Jesus affect views of Universalism? Q3. How have I witnessed universalism in my community or country? Click or Tap here to save/download this as a MP3 file
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. Right mouse click or tap here to save this Podcast as a MP3.
Partakers Bible Thought Psalm 66 - A Life of Joy Today we are going to look at Psalm 66, which I consider to be a prayerful song of ecstatic joy - describing a life of overwhelming joy that exists between an Almighty God and one of His followers... So please do turn to that Psalm in your bibles. Charles Spurgeon said of this Psalm "it is a marvellous psalm just to read; but set to suitable music, it must have been one of the noblest strains ever heard by the Jewish people." The first impression I get from this Psalm is that there is a sense of a deep intimacy between God and the Psalmist. Part of that intimacy and that relationship was joy, true joy. Let us see together from Psalm 66, where joy fitted into the life of the Psalmist. The author was probably King David and we have no reason to doubt that. Then we will go on to discover what I think joy actually is, before discussing what is one of the greatest barriers to joy. Then finally, we will see where joy is to fit into our life. Right Mouse click or tap here to Download as MP3 audio file 1. The Psalmist and Joy! a. Joy and the Earth (vs. 1-4) Throughout the history of Israel, the majority of scribes and leaders of Israel usually gave praise to God in silence, in meditation and solemnity. This was of course acceptable to God and proper to do so. But here, on this occasion, first of all for the Psalmist, among a great number of people, the whole earth is encouraged to shout with exuberant joy to God. It is quite natural for great crowds of people to shout in harmony. If praise is to be widespread, it must be vocal; joyful sounds stir the soul and cause great thanksgiving spread throughout the people. Of course everybody is different and each person praises differently! Some people are naturally loud and others naturally quiet! Whatever your own style of praise, God is to be praised in all styles and with both the voice and the heart. The whole earth, everything and everyone, is encouraged to sing of the glory and power of God! The psalmist encourages worshippers to turn their praises of joy to God alone! Turning in joy and admiration to a God who one day will cause all the earth to fear and tremble before him. For those who are enemies of God, who have never believed in him, never followed Jesus Christ, they too will be forced into submitting worship to Him before departing His presence forever. They will be forced to worship Him, due to His joyful magnificence and through forced submission, not because they choose to. But their worship will not be like those who decided to follow Jesus Christ during their earthly life. The worship of all those who truly believe in Him, following Him intimately - their worship will be of truth, love, service and pure unadulterated joy. Their reward will be to praise God eternally. b. Joy and the nation of Israel (vs. 5-12). The psalmist now goes on to exhort great communal joy because of what God has done for Israel. He has done mighty works for his people. Did not God start the nation of Israel from Abraham in Genesis? Had not God led His people out of exile in Egypt by parting the Red Sea with His mighty hand so that his people could walk to freedom? Does not God rule forever by his mighty power and His outstretched hand? God watched over that nation of Israel, making covenants with Abraham and Moses, promising that He will be their God and they will be His people. The people of Israel were to be a people of joy, because they could look and see what God had done for them, and had a sure hope of what He would do for them in the future. They were His and He was theirs - a cause for great joy! The psalmist continues to encourage the people to exhibit joyfully. God kept the feet of Israel from slipping. Even though Israel often turned their back on Him, God always kept a remnant of true believers for Himself. God sent Israel into exile under oppressive enemies, as punishment for their rebellious ways! Eventually He led them into the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey. That is why Israel could have exultant joy because of the hope they had in their God and the testimony they could give as a nation under their God!. Indeed, in the book of Leviticus, which is little read these days in Christian circles, in 9:24 we read, "Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown." How often have you heard joy linked with the book of Leviticus? WOW!! The Psalmist would certainly have been aware of that! c. Joy and the Psalmist (vs. 13-20) Thirdly, now after joy as a community, the Psalmist turns to himself and gets personal! His own joy starts with a sacrifice of vows and burnt offerings - a sacrifice, which costs him something. The psalmist has given promises to God and he wants to fulfil those promises before his God. Because of his great joy, the psalmist tells others of the source of his joy. He gives testimony to the love of God: how he confessed his sins to God, and how God had listened to him and heard his prayers. The Psalmist told the people to come and "Listen to what God has done for me." They had all seen God's work, but they also needed to hear that He was a gracious God! The psalmist has developed an intimate relationship with Almighty God, which is revealed in the joy of the psalmist through sacrifice, testimony and praise. 2. What is joy? Now that is all very well you may be thinking, but just what is joy? Is joy merely a form of bloated happiness, or is it more? Joy is not going around everywhere and at all times with a silly grin on your face! That kind of joy is dependent upon circumstances and feelings! The type of joy the Psalmist was talking about, was to a certain degree dependent upon circumstances and feelings but he was also talking about a deeper, inner joy that is not! The source, object and target of the Psalmist's joy, was God and God alone! That kind of joy, however, is not to be confused with mere pleasure or feeling good! That joy was a way of life and it permeates every facet of the person and not just at an emotional level. To enhance that thought, hear what C.S. Lewis once wrote: "Joy is never in our power, and pleasure is. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted true joy would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasure in the world." As Christians, we are all instruments in the orchestra of God's joy. Does that describe your experience of joy? As humans, we feel happiness or pleasure depending on our circumstances, while true internal, biblical joy is always separated from our circumstances and is a heartfelt response that endures regardless of circumstances. The world says happiness is looking out for number one, look out for your own interests and negotiate your own personal good in all you do and at all times. The world says the greatest good is your own personal happiness! They also mistakenly call that joy. But that is not true joy! That kind of happiness or type of joy doesn't last long so the perpetual search for happiness continues in a circle - like a dog chasing its tail. Now I am not saying happiness is a bad thing, but in comparison to true joy - well there really is no comparison! True joy as we have seen results from praise, testimony and sacrifice! Joy in the bible is more to do with peace and salvation rather than just an emotional state! Over and over again, joy is mentioned with peace and salvation. Joy is always for the good of others, not for our own selfish gain. When we give away our will, for the sake of others, we receive the joy that Jesus desired for us. Happiness and joy are radically different. True joy is never an end in itself. It is only as we make Jesus Christ our overwhelming first priority, that true joy, almost without our knowing it, comes. The source, object and target of our joy as Christians, is to be Jesus Christ and Him alone! Where Jesus is glorified in the power of the Holy Spirit, so is the Father and this pure, unadulterated joy is released upon us and in us! If we seek joy for joy's sake alone, we will mislay it, because it cannot be caught. People of the world seek mere happiness, which is a form of anemic joy. The happiness industry is big business! "Me, me, me" they cry when in fact, true joy is "Jesus, Jesus and yet more Jesus!" True and unbridled joy, is given only by Jesus Christ and we receive it by serving Him and Him alone. 3. Joy and Suffering I am aware that there are all sorts of barriers to having and exhibiting true joy. One of the principle things that will often hamper a life of joy is suffering. I am not that naïve and to say otherwise would be to deny human experience. We all suffer in some way. I am sure some of you know very well from personal experience, just as I do. In the New Testament, joy is often associated with all kinds of suffering. One day soon though, we will have perfect bodies and full health. One day there will be no more persecution, terrorism, missiles, guns, wars or bombs. No more will humanity's inhumanity to humanity be allowed. No more pain. No more sickness. No more death. No more suffering. No more sin. No more evil of any kind! Suffering of any kind leaves some sort of scar or mark. Do you have scars? Physical, emotional or mental scars due to sickness. Perhaps you are scarred because somebody else sinned against you or as a result of your own sins? Scars come as a result of human life and experiences. Much like a house that has been lived in. Scratches visible in the paintwork. Windows, which are broken or cracked. Dents and knocks in the walls. Our human bodies are the same. Yet... Yet... One glorious day all those things will be gone!! Vanished!! Perfection attained and with exultant joy, it is to the glory of God and His majestic doing, that this will occur. Do you believe it? Do you live it? Salvation is to be your joy, as you are an instrument in the orchestra of God's joy! If you keep forgetting, put Psalm 66v1-2 and tape it to the bathroom mirror! 4. Applying it to ourselves. Now, finally, we come to ourselves and what does all this have to do with us! If the psalmist's intimate relationship with God and life of joy involved sacrifice, testimony and praise, so that is also the key to our own joy! Jesus prayed that his disciples would have joy: "I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them" (John 17:13). WOW! And not only for his 12 disciples, but also for all those who profess to follow Him! As I look around in my daily life, I see faces and eyes devoid of joy. When I look into their eyes, I see a hunger and thirst for joy and imagine how they have searched in their journey of life for true joy. Whether that is through materialism, drugs, sex, alcohol, the search for true joy continues. Sadly that also includes people who would profess to be Christian. If we are honest, sometimes we don't feel as if joy is part of us. We look around at the world we live in and see all the misery and injustice; we see human life being wasted by cancer and HIV Aids, and we don't feel very joyful. But when we do that, we are confusing happiness and true joy. If we have lost the joy of our Christian life, we need to put back into perspective just what God is calling us to do, remember what He has done for us, look ahead to the promises He has made us and consider if Jesus Christ is still truly first in our lives. As Christians, we can never truly lose joy, but we can mislay it if our priorities get jumbled up. Once we make a conscious decision to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all kinds of suffering, life becomes a celebration. Joy never denies the sadness, but transforms it into a fertile soil for yet further joy. Joy unbounded if you like! Joy is a relationship - it is Jesus Over Yourself. True Joy is the result of being in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and Him alone. Joy stems from seeking to obey God in all things and through all facets of human experience! The joy of Jesus Christ is transferred to us as we enter into a personal relationship with him and go about the task of serving him in this world. Joy is to be a quality about us, just as it was a quality of the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostles and of the New Testament church. We are his disciples, his followers, and we are to practice joy! Salvation is your joy, and your joy is to be your salvation dancing in action! Joy was sacrifice, testimony and praise to the Psalmist. It was in the life of Jesus Christ and therefore it is to be for us as well if we call ourselves His followers. a. Praise - Firstly, there is Praise! Praising God lifts the heart, soul and spirit when we are feeling down. The psalmist praised God, and there was great joy in his heart. He had many reasons to praise God, God listened to His prayers, took his sacrifices and worship and forgave him when he had confessed his sins. God had not withheld his love from him. Surely the praise of God's people should cause great joy to be spread amongst them. Now if you want to praise God quietly that is fine! If you want to praise God loudly, that also is fine! Let us not decry each other's way of praising God but be joyful simply that God is being praised! Praising God is not simply to be going through the motions, because praising God is to be a sacrifice! It is to be done with effort and not complacency! Praising God the Father joyfully through Jesus Christ the Son, regardless of our feelings, emotions, situations and circumstances. As part of an intimate relationship with God, it can only be done through the comforting and encouraging power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside all Christians! Praise, is a reflection of the inner joy of both the individual believer and the community of believers! b. Testimony, - Secondly there are testimonies! Testimonies and stories such as that given tonight by Andy! Testimonies telling people of what Almighty God has done should cause great joy in both them and us. Hearing people talk about what God has done for them should cause every one of us to have even greater joy. Telling others of God's mercy, grace and love is also to be part of our joy. The joy of God bubbling inside of us and demanding that we praise God the Father, through God the Son in the power of God the Holy Spirit. Joy is praise in action! Joy also comes from encouraging others, urging others on to grow in faith and being encouraged to do likewise! c. Sacrifice - Then thirdly, there is sacrifice. The psalmist never presented a starving goat to God as a sacrifice, but always well fed and perfect animals of the very best fields. In the book of Leviticus, all sacrificial animals were to be perfect - without spot, stain or blemish! We are no longer required to make sacrifices and offerings in accordance with the book of Leviticus, because of the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross. But we are required to make sacrifices, indeed our whole lives as Christians is to be sacrificial! Making sacrifices takes effort, no room for complacency and shows gratitude to God in action. It means that we should always give our best to God - both as individuals and as a community. Joy derives from giving all things to God. It could be sacrifices of praise as commanded by the writer to the Hebrews. It could be a sacrifice of time and money given to serving! One of the hallmarks of the early church was true joy and members of the early church sacrificed time and material possessions. Where somebody was in need, they fulfilled that need as soon as they could. They were radical in their sacrificial giving of time and possessions. Are we? 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 sacrificially. When anybody was in need, another member of the church fulfilled that need: physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. That is to be one of the hallmarks of a joyful church and not just at a local level but a statement about the global church! Conclusion In Hebrews 12v2 we read this "Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our saviour is now experiencing glorious joy in all senses of the word! As I conclude, lets go to the end of the Bible and let me read to you Revelation 21:4 - "God will wipe away our tears. There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying and no more pain, for former things have passed away." What a gloriously joyful day it will be for those of us who love Him now. Jesus Christ Himself, caressing our faces in His own hands, and wiping away our tears. We often think of tears as meaning sorrow. But tears can also be tears of overwhelming joy! WOW! What a day, that will be!! We will enter those gates with tremendous joy. I finish with this quote from CS Lewis' last book of the Narnia Tales, "The Last Battle": "But for them it was only the beginning of the real story ... which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before." A life of pure, unadulterated and unending joy awaits you and I if we follow Jesus Christ alone and persevere to the end! If you haven't that true joy because you don't know Jesus personally, come and see one of us after the service. But if you are a believer here tonight, go out into the week with joy, knowing and remembering that salvation is your joy resting in God and joy is your salvation dancing in communion with peace! Let us go, both as individuals and a community of believers, practising joy by showing joy in action, through obedient service to God by way of testimony, praise and sacrifice! Go and see where joyful praises, joyful testimonies about God and joyful sacrificing takes you! The secret to having true biblical joy is beginning and developing an intimate relationship with God, which involves praise, testimonies and sacrifice - all key elements in the life of all those who would call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. Go into this week, knowing you are indeed instruments in the orchestra of God's exultant joy. Right Mouse click or tap here to Download as MP3 audio file
Freedom To Live! Romans 8:18-30 In the Bible, all roads or paths seemingly lead to Romans. Paul here in chapters 5-8, is giving glimpses from different angles about the Christian living under and within grace – God's unmerited favour to undeserving sinners. It's like he is creating this fabulous stained glass sphere depicting life for the Christian believer who is now under grace and has Jesus as their master and Lord. In our passage from Romans 8, we come to another angle with another scenario. This passage of the Bible is diamond encrusted gold. The purest of gold and clearest of diamonds! Some people consider that speaking about this passage is akin to somebody trying to describe Beethoven's 9th symphony with mere words. If that were true, then tonight we have the Ode to Joy! We live in a troubled world. I am sure you are aware. As did the original recipients of Paul's letter. Now Paul is assuring his Roman readers that even when the troubles of life hit them, God is secure and their salvation is assured – despite what anybody can do to them or what troubles they may have to endure. Paul is assuring them that God will not separate Himself from them during their pains and trials of life. I wonder what you are undergoing currently in your life. Suffering comes to us all in one-way or another. John! Cathie! Suffering of varying degrees is common to all people of all time and of all cultures. Whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others, troubles and sufferings unite all of humanity. It is a common denominator. And of course there are no easy answers. With that said, let us look together at this most wonderful piece of Scripture. Right mouse click or tap here to save the audio in MP3 format. 1. Freedom from pain and suffering. a. Creation groans (Read vs. 18-22). When God finished His creation, it was a good Creation. Just as Adam was made in the image of God, so are we. But because of Adam's sin, this imperfect world, including us, bears the mark of sin. The creation is fallen & marred as are all humans. Creation is groaning. There is suffering and death; there is pain, all of which is, of course, the result of Adam's sin. It is not the fault of creation. Note the words Paul used to describe the plight of creation: suffering (Romans 8:18), pride (Romans 8:20), bondage (Romans 8:21), decay (Romans 8:21), and pain (Romans 8:22). However, this groaning is not a useless thing. Why? Paul goes on to compare it to a woman giving birth. There is pain, but the pain will end when the child is born. One day creation will be delivered, and the groaning creation will become a glorious creation! As people of the kingdom, Paul exhorts his readers to not focus on the sufferings of today; but look forward to the coming glory. Today's groaning bondage will be exchanged for tomorrow's glorious freedom. b. The Members of the Kingdom groan (Read vs. 23-25). The creation groans as do we. The reason we as Christians groan, writes Paul, is because we have experienced what he calls "the first-fruits of the Spirit!" That is a foretaste of the glory to come when we shall live with our King in glory. Just as the nation of Israel tasted the first-fruits of Canaan when the spies returned (Numbers 12:23-27), so we Christians have tasted of the first blessings of heaven through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This should encourage us to want to see the Lord, receive a new body to live with Him and serve Him forever in everlasting life. We are waiting for "the great adoption," which is the redemption of our bodies when Jesus returns again. This is the thrilling climax to "the adoption" that took place at our conversion when the "Spirit of adoption" gave us the standing of an adult in the Kingdom of God. When Jesus returns, we shall enter into our full inheritance. Meanwhile we wait and hope as Paul writes here in Romans 8v24. What hope is this we ask? It is "The blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). The best is yet to come!! As Christians, people of the Kingdom of God, as God's children, we should not get frustrated as we see and experience suffering and pain in this world as we live in the Kingdom. Paul exhorts that Christian believers should know and remember that the suffering of today, will one day give way to eternal glory. c. The Holy Spirit groans. (Read vs. 26-30) So creation groans. God's Kingdom people groan. What about God? Is He a distant God who is not concerned with the sufferings of His creation or His people? By no means!! Our God is not a distant God but a God actively concerned for His creation and for His people! God is concerned about the sufferings we go through and the troubles we endure. He desires for the redemption of His creation and His people! When Jesus walked the earth, He saw what sin was doing to men, women and creation (Mark 7:34; John 11:33-38) and this happened. Jesus wept. Isn't that profound? Paul writes that God the Holy Spirit groans with us and that He feels the burdens of our weaknesses and suffering and lifts us. He is the Comforter. He is the Counsellor! He is the Helper who lives within us. As we struggle to persevere as we sometimes do, is it because forget to ask for His help, His comfort and His wisdom? But the Spirit does more than groan: He prays for us in His groaning so that we might be led into the will of God. We do not always know God's will. We do not always know how to pray, but the Spirit intercedes for us so that we might live in the will of God even though we are suffering in some way. The Holy Spirit shares the burden with us as we endure and persevere. 2. Freedom for God! I would like to concentrate here on verse 28 and I like the way The Message translation of the Bible paraphrases it “That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” “For your good” is a recurring theme throughout the Old Testament. Joseph, Moses and Jeremiah were surely in Paul's mind! For example, from Genesis 50, Joseph after he is reunited with his brothers said this: Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Moses as he tried to get Israel into shape, while they whinged and whined about the Law frequently told them it was for their own good. Deuteronomy 10:12-13 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” Or take Jeremiah, as the ancient Israelites were in exile Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Millions of Christians over the centuries have taken great comfort and hope from Romans 8:28. I wonder if any of the recipients of this letter, recalled Paul's words to them when that horrible little man, the Emperor Nero butchered the Christians in Rome just a few short years later. I wonder what their response was and I imagine that they were comforted. Paul writes here “In all things God works for our good.” Now the phrase, “all things” includes not only the good, the happy and the pleasant things in life, but also the bad, the unhappy and the unpleasant things as well. It includes evil, sickness and death. At the times when we are happy and things are going well, it is very easy to agree with this verse. But in times of trouble, this verse is hard to understand and still harder to believe. For the millions, of Christians who have spent their lives in jail, or have been killed for the faith, we cannot possibly say that all things have been for their good in this world. If that is so, how then are we to understand this verse? Perhaps we should understand it this way. All the things that happen to us here on earth, God will work for our good in heaven. In the previous verses, Paul teaches about our future hope and future glory. Therefore, in this verse the good that Paul talks about is heavenly good, not earthly good. But having said that, it is also true that God is concerned for our welfare in this earthly life. He cares about our bodies, our health, even our food and clothing. When God allows trouble to come into our lives, He usually uses that trouble to bring about some good result in our lives here on earth according to both our writer, Paul and to the Apostle James (Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4). For example, I wouldn't be here if I hadn't had that stroke back in 2003. It is through troubles that our faith is tested and strengthened (1 Peter 1:6-7). Through various kinds of trouble God disciplines us, so that we might become more that is more like His Son, Jesus Christ, according to the writer of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 12:7,10-11). The most important thing to remember about this verse, however, is that the promise given here is only applicable to those who love God - those who are his children and in His kingdom. That is those have been called according to His purpose and are therefore members of the kingdom of God. If we love God, called according to His purpose, and therefore members of the Kingdom of God, then we can fully trust Him to work for our good in all things. Our hope is in God; He is faithful and able to fulfil all He has promised. If this does not describe you, then please do see somebody after we finish in a short time. As those who are in the Kingdom of God, that would call themselves believing Christians, Paul exhorts us to never give up in times of trial and suffering because God is at work in the world (Romans 8:28). Paul encourages us that God has a perfect supreme plan (Romans 8:29) and that He has two purposes in that plan: our good and His glory. Ultimately we will be transformed into the Lord Jesus Christ – that is God's ultimate goal for us – to be like His Son. Best of all, God's plan will succeed – He has the victory and that victory was gained at the Cross of Calvary. It started in eternity when He chose us in Jesus Christ. God predestined that one day we would be like His Son. The word predestination here applies only to those in the Kingdom of God, not to those outside the Kingdom. Nowhere in Scripture are we taught that God chooses who will remain outside the kingdom. If people remain outside the kingdom, it is because they choose to, by refusing to trust and believe in Jesus Christ. Those whom He chose, God called (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)' when they responded to His call. He justified them by taking away their guilt and sin, and He also glorified them. This means that the believer has already been glorified in Jesus (John 17:22); the revelation of the glory awaits the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Recapitulate So let's recapitulate and then conclude. There is no point somebody speaking up here if there is no application given to us to go on with as we walk the Christian life under grace. We have seen together that God is not distant but is close and personal and that we know He Himself has suffered. He cares for His creation and for His people through the ministry of the God the Holy Spirit. Times of trouble may come, and we are being transformed into the image of God the Son, Jesus Christ. We have seen that we will one day have freedom from pain and suffering. Freedom to truly live! We also saw that there is to be no fear from separation from God. God is for us. Christ died for us. God the Holy Spirit lives within us, praying for us, guiding us, empowering us and is the seal of our salvation. God has declared us His sons and daughters if we choose to follow Him. Jesus Christ prays for us and He loves us. Do you sometimes get discouraged and frustrated in times of trouble as I do sometimes? I have to ask myself questions. Questions such as how can we believers ever be discouraged and frustrated when we already share the glory of God? Our suffering today, guarantees much glory for us, when Jesus Christ Himself returns in glory! How can we be discouraged when the God we love and serve, who has called us to follow Him, who Himself had great anxiety the night before He suffered and died on the cross? How can we be discouraged, when we know that this Jesus rose from the dead and ascended back to the Father. Jesus still had his scars when he ascended. How can we be discouraged when this Jesus will come back again one day to gather us? Where is God? What does He have to do with it? God does not shelter us from the sufferings and hard times of life because we need them for our spiritual growth (Romans 5:3-5) and for our transformation into the image of Jesus, God's Son. As we read in vs.28, God assures us that the difficulties of life are working for us and not against us. God allows trials and sufferings to come that they may be used for our good and His glory. We endure trials for His sake (Romans 8:36), and since we do, do you think that He will abandon us? Of course not! Instead, He lifts us through the hard times. Conclusion Folks, we all have troubles. There are no easy answers to most of them. I don't even have answers for my own troubles. My memory some days is like a sieve. Other days it is more like a funnel. But I know God is there – I may forget many things but I have not yet forgotten that. It is God whom I depend upon and personally know to be totally reliable in every way. For those in the community out there, we need to be God's hands and feet. We need to radically show people out there and in here, that God radically cares and loves for each of them. Too often people in need, both within the church and outside it, are shown care and concern for a little while. But gradually as time goes on, the caring and loving of that person diminishes and ultimately ceases. Dogged persevering to love and care is required. We can love and care for all using the power and imagination of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. All sorts of excuses are given for not showing care and love, but in reality, there can be no excuse or reason. Not caring means not loving. Love is to be for all people, regardless of personalities, conflicts, opinions, gender, sexuality, prejudice and bias. You don't have to agree with people's choices but you do have to show you love and care for them. Lots of people leave churches through the back door, because they don't get the care they need and desire. Lots of people won't even listen to us because they see that churches and Christians are not showing love towards them or others they know. Too often, I would say. Too often a church can be too interested in its own little world, concerned for its own little programme, rather than God's programme of love and care for all people. They are 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 members of its local community and those who come within its walls. . If you are a Christian here tonight, the troubles and suffering we endure, are all part of living in the kingdom of God. Part of life. It is, as we look to the future, as we see that we are being transformed into the image of Jesus and to the supreme glory of God. Not for our own glory. In any pain or suffering we endure, we shouldn't give up, we persevere. God perseveres with us because God has not given us up and neither has He given up on us. God the Son died on the cross and rose again from the dead so that you may have new life! God the Holy Spirit lives within you! For it is when we are weak, that God is strong. Hold on to Jesus. The Jesus who said “Come to me all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” The Jesus that will one day take our face in His hands and wipe away our tears. Oh what a day! We will say, it was all worth it. And yet, even though I know this, I still have the impudence to often cry out with frustration and confusion to the Father “Why Dad?” And then He assures me that he loves me with an everlasting and enduring love. As CS Lewis once wrote: “If God is wiser than us, His judgement must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil.” Let's go and radically love and care for others that we meet or others that we know who need to see God's radical love and care in action. However, if you happen not to be a Christian, you are separated from God. He doesn't have you in His hand. To be in the kingdom of God, you simply have to trust in Jesus, and believe in Him for your future. If that is you, please do not leave here tonight without talking to somebody such as Chris and Sue about how you can take that step. They would love to help you. Right mouse click or tap here to save the audio in MP3 format.
1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:11-12 Living in the face of alienation. 1 Peter 1:1-2 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God's elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. 1 Peter 2:11-12 - Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file Outline The verses we have today, 1 Peter 1:1-2 and 1 Peter 2:11-12 may seem an odd combination but they both start respect natural halves of the letter. 1 Peter 1:1-2 is obviously the beginning of the letter and the first section. 1 Peter 2:11-12, structurally speaking, is the beginning of the second section. Part 1. God (1 Peter 1:1-2) Trinity is Love Indivisible God is made of one indivisible essence or substance, and this is expressed in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Trinity is a Love Relationship Salvation is a co-ordination within, and by, the Trinity (Hebrews 10:7-17; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6). God the Father foreknew! God the Spirit sanctifies! God the Son sacrifices. Part 2. Therefore (1 Peter 2:11-12)! Peter reminds the sojourners! They are God's dear children – beloved of God! They are in exile – maybe physically but certainly spiritually because their permanent home was not in this world. They were travelling towards the heavenly city. They were to abstain from sinful desires and go to battle spiritually! They are to live lives so innocent, clean and good, that their very lives, were to be a living testimony to the God they had their hope in So What? If you have not responded to the Father's call, talk to somebody or leave a comment here! We will get back to you! If you are already a Christian Remember who you are! A person chosen as an object of love by God the Father, sanctified by God the Holy Spirit through the obedient sacrifice of God the Son. Remember your permanent home is not on this earth. Remember to persevere through all your suffering and persecutions. Remember to keep short accounts with God. Remember in all aspects of life, as a Christian you are to be seen as different - “counter-cultural”! Right Mouse click or tap here to save this as an audio mp3 file
Stop being a Christian made of Chocolate 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 14v12), it was through the promised Holy Spirit (John 14v17), 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 4v12), for the common good of the church (1Corinthians 12v7, 14v12) and "so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 4v12). 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 Timothy1v6). 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 14v1-12). 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 4v14)! 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 12v1-10), acts of service (Galatians 5v13) and material possessions (2 Corinthians 9v6-8)! 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 25v15-30 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 10v45). As Christians we are to be as Jesus Christ (Romans 8v28; Philippians 2v5) 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. GO! 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. Right mouse click or tap here to save this Podcast as a MP3.
Partaker To partake, or to be a partaker of something, can mean at least three things! Firstly, it means having the qualities or attributes of something. Secondly it can mean having, giving or receiving something. Finally, to partake of something, means to consume! Jesus Christ was a Partaker! Did you know that? He was a Partaker, in so much as that when He became human, He adorned human flesh and blood Hebrews 2:14-18. As a Christian Disciple, you also are a Partaker, for you are to hunger and thirst for righteousness or in other words, be Partakers of righteousness. In this pursuit of partaking after righteousness, the New Testament has a lot to say about what Christian Disciples are to be Partakers of. Here is a list of other things the Bible says that Christian Disciples are Partakers of: When you became a Christian, you became a Partaker of the Gospel - 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. When you take communion, you are a Partaker of the Lord's Table - 1 Corinthians 10:14-33. Additionally as a Christian Disciple, you are a: ~ Partaker of spiritual things Romans 15:25-27 Partaker of the material benefits of one's labour 1 Corinthians 9:1-23 Partaker of suffering and consolation 2 Corinthians 1:6-7 Partaker of the promises in Christ Ephesians 3 Partaker of Grace Philippians 1:3-7 Partaker of the crops that are sown 2 Timothy 2:6 Partaker of His holiness Hebrews 12:10-11 Partaker of Christ's suffering 1 Peter 4:12-13 Partaker of the glory that will be revealed 1 Peter 5:1-4 Partaker of the divine nature through God's promises 2 Peter 1:1-4 ~ These things that you are to partake of, which lead to a full experience of the Christian life. Lets go, as Partakers of Jesus Christ, to show the world that He is alive through us. ~ Right mouse-click or tap here to download this Podcast as a MP3 file
Jesus! WOW Factor Matthew 16:24-26 Right mouse click here to download as a MP3 audio file Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26) The Jesus I hear about today from some people outside the church, as well as inside the Church, bears no resemblance to the Jesus who said those words. They are comfortable with a Jesus who is at their mercy and who doesn't ask too much of them! They like putting Jesus in a box and only opening the box to let Him out when required! That Jesus is an insipid, nodding head, Jesus - worthy only of being on the back shelf of a car and that's about all. But that is exactly the opposite of the Jesus who said those words from Matthew - the Jesus who commands obedience and sacrifice! As I look through the Old Testament, I read about how the world fell out of a living, dynamic relationship with God! But I also read how a Messiah, a saviour or rescuer if you like, was to be sent by God, in order to restore the world back into an intimate, living relationship with God Himself! I read the Gospels in the New Testament and I see this Messiah as the God-man, Jesus Christ. As I read the rest of the Bible's New Testament and the history of the followers of Jesus Christ and the spread of his followers, the church, through its birth and early life, I get a WOW factor about Him. But for a lot of people today, including those who would call themselves a Christian, their view or vision of Jesus is still too small. So I wonder as I begin, is your Jesus too small? 1. Who is my Jesus? As I regularly read the Bible, I see at least a six-sided portrait of Him! There are many more, but we don't have time for that today, you might be thankful to hear! a. Unique The first word I would use for Jesus is Jesus is unique - totally unique! Never before and never to be repeated ever - Jesus Christ is the standout person from all of history! Indeed, history is divided into BC and AD - ‘Before Christ' and ‘After Christ'. In all of history, Jesus Christ is incomparable and totally unique! Yet in human form, we read that during his earthly ministry he had no physical beauty that would draw people to him. We read that Jesus' body on the cross was disfigured and tortured beyond that of human likeness. His perfect life, His salvation work on the cross and His subsequent rising from the dead, is what makes Jesus Christ unique - a once and for all lifetime Messiah or Saviour for the entire world! WOW!! b. Majestic Then the Jesus I see is full of majesty and awe! He is not simply a king with a crown on his head. He is the King of all Kings! This Jesus Christ did not decay in the grave - He overcame death in the grave and was raised again majestically! Paul writes in Colossians 2v3, that in Jesus Christ, all the majestic treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. Jesus Christ the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who with unparalleled majesty is the head of the church. c. Tender Next I go to look into his eyes - his tender eyes! Jesus looks upon people with love, adoration, justice, tenderness and compassion. Eyes filled with the tears of mercy, grace, love and compassion. Eyes that are also filled with rage at injustices! His penetrating eyes that can separate flesh and spirit!! This Jesus is kind and sympathetic - his look of love on a world that is separated from God, and a world He is calling back into an active relationship with God. The love Jesus had when he wept in the garden as he sweated drops of blood, before he was betrayed and crucified. d. Wise Then there is Jesus the wise man! When Jesus spoke words, people were amazed! They were astounded that He spoke with elegance and yet with authority. They had never heard anyone speak like He did - with both grace and authority. The same is true today, if we are listening. That is why we read the Bible to find out what He would say to us. That is why we seek to hear Him speak to us and why we speak to Him. That is why preaching is to be seen as an act of worship - by both the preacher and the listener! e. Strong Strong! Jesus is strong enough and capable enough, to carry any burden that we can lay upon Him. Jesus Christ gives a solid and sure foundation for all aspects of life. If something has a solid foundation, it will not fall and cannot be destroyed. Indeed Jesus Christ will never fall or decay such is His imperishability as the everlasting God. He is solid, dependable and strong; nobody and nothing can stand against Him. If we are truly His, then we ought not to fear or worry about anything, for we will be under his protection,. f. Lovely Finally, my Jesus oozes loveliness! He gives out a sense of exaltation and joy. Joy is not always externalized loudly as some people think but also internalized quietly! So if somebody is filled with joy, don't always expect it be seen! Jesus is altogether lovely and lovely altogether! Jesus is beyond compare for the things He has done and the things He will do. He is altogether lovely in regard to his person, humanity, birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, exultation, glorification, grace, protection, tenderness, power, wisdom, vengeance, judgment, majesty, redemption and pardon. I could go on and on! That is my Jesus -unique, majestic, tender, wise, strong and lovely. Is this your Jesus? 2. Jesus - So what? That is my Jesus, whom I seek to serve and obey every second of every day. This Jesus I seek to obey in every facet of life. And it is this Jesus whom I depend upon and personally know to be totally reliable in every way. But so what, you may say - those outside the church certainly ask it! All through this trip of the US, He has been dependable, going ahead of me! Amazing! This is the Jesus who commands self-sacrifice and obedience. This Jesus who commands His followers to rely solely on His sacrifice and have dependence on Him for all things. Jesus Christ who commands all His followers to a life of total obedience to Him and Him alone. This Jesus who died on a Roman cross two thousand years ago was the same Jesus who was raised from the dead, without decay, into newness of life and ascended to the right hand of the Father. There is only one Saviour for the world and there will never be another. Despite the bleating of other religions and faiths! Jesus never said, "I am a true vine; a way, a truth and a life". Just as He did not say "I am a shepherd, a door, a light or a bread of life. No - Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life. Jesus is the only great shepherd and the only door to life with God. Jesus is the only light of the world and the only bread of life. Jesus calls everyone to partake of the nourishment and shelter only He can provide. Sadly only a few respond: "Yes!" Are you one of those? 3. Jesus! WOW! Jesus WOW! What does WOW stand for, I hear you asking yourself? It means "Worthy Of Worship!" Jesus Christ most certainly is that! The Jesus WOW factor involves Jesus being radical and relevant! Even a brief look of the Gospels will reveal that about Jesus! Some people even back then didn't get Jesus, and people still don't get Him two thousand years later! And whose fault is that? Its not Jesus' fault that people today still don't respond to Him! It's a result of the church and christians down through the ages, including today, not following Jesus and obeying His commands as closely as they could or should! People out there are looking at the Church and Christians - looking at how we behave, how we speak, how we drive our cars and looking to see if we are any different to them and looking to see what difference Jesus Christ has made in our lives! That's why my parents thought churches were dangerous places and Christians brainwashed and deluded people. They did not hesitate to tell me that that is what they thought about Christianity! But I responded to the call of Jesus, rebelled against my parents and became a follower of him 30 years ago next year. You could say I am the white sheep of my family - so far anyway! 4. We are to be little Jesus' The word Christian, means little Jesus. When living in London, after church each Sunday, we would go to this one particular Chinese restaurant for lunch each time. Often as a group of us entered and walked up the stairs to take our seats, they would say: "There go the little Jesuses!" They would mean it mockingly but we took it as a compliment! That's what being a Christian is to be - a little Jesus! In our local community, wherever we happen to live, work or be! We are to live lives worthy of Jesus Christ, being transformed by the Holy Spirit who lives inside each one of us if we are His, and being totally and willingly obedient to Him! Loving God and loving others - by, showing compassion, helping others and being the voice of Jesus Christ to a community out there, which is rapidly decaying. The world out there and this community will know you and I are Jesus' followers, if we are obedient to Him, practically showing love to all! Oh that we as the church would love each other instead of fighting with each other! Imagine this community transformed for Jesus Christ, having got the WOW factor! Imagine this community filled with people seeking to know about our Jesus, because the Christians were sacrificing their time and possessions, wanting in every aspect of life to give Jesus the glory and honour that is worthy of His name alone - just as they did in Acts 2! Loving God and loving each other as He commanded would spread the WOW factor through our local communities, both large and small! Transformed communities of people devoted to Jesus and experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in bringing people back to God the Father! The WOW factor is not always an exuberant experience but also covers the silent, contemplative and gob-smacking experiences! Jesus Christ doesn't just live in the loud, as some would proclaim, but also in the quiet where the small, still voice of God is whispered. Don't be like the only man who left Jesus' presence in sorrow. Let me read about him to you. Matthew 19v16-30 from The Message "Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Jesus said, "Why do you question me about what's good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you." The man asked, "What in particular?" Jesus said, "Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself." The young man said, "I've done all that. What's left?" "If you want to give it all you've got," Jesus replied, "go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me." That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go. As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God's kingdom? Let me tell you, it's easier to gallop a camel through a needle's eye than for the rich to enter God's kingdom." The disciples were staggered. "Then who has any chance at all?" Jesus looked hard at them and said, "No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it." Then Peter chimed in, "We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?" Jesus replied, "Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields-whatever-because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first." " Now riches aren't necessarily a problem but they were for that man because nothing could take precedence over them - they were his ‘god' as it were, and he was placing all his trust in them, even if he didn't realise it at the time! What are you placing your trust in, over and above, Jesus Christ? Conclusion! If you are already in a relationship with Him, He wants to give you freedom, true independence on this Independence Day, to live a life worthy of Him. Is Jesus your whole life and your whole life Jesus? That means does He have total authority over every aspect of your life. All aspects of life such as relationships, family, work, bank accounts, possessions, worries and troubles? By authority, I mean power! Following Him and carrying your own cross means that - a life sacrificed for Him and obedience to Him alone! Jesus wants to influence every area of your life - not just certain parts you are willing to give up but all aspects of life! Jesus came to earth to give comfort to the uncomfortable and we are to do the same - give comfort to those in need. Maybe you are feeling the desolation and loneliness because of decisions made in the past. Give it up willingly to Jesus and don't keep trying to take it back like a security blanket! If you have something even partially blocking your relationship with Jesus, get rid of it - ask Him to take it away! Finally, you may not yet be a follower of Jesus Christ. I don't know. If that is you, then accept His call upon you. For He is calling you, urging you to return to a relationship with God through Him and Him alone. You may not get another chance. Usually, with a small still beckoning voice, Jesus whispers: "Come! Come and follow me alone!" This Jesus wants to connect with you in an intimate, dynamic, active and spiritual relationship - remember His eyes wander the earth looking for those wanting to submit themselves willingly to Him. If that is you, then please do speak to somebody today about finding out how you can start this relationship with the Living God, Jesus Christ. He calls you by name. Jesus says to all here "Come! Let me get in the driving seat and you hold on to Me! Follow me and follow me wholeheartedly and with all aspects of your life, obey Me alone! I will take all your burdens, give you true freedom and independence and help you in all aspects of life! Come! Follow me!" Right mouse click here to download as a MP3 audio file
Psalm 28 28:1 To you, Yahweh, I call. My rock, don't be deaf to me; lest, if you are silent to me, I would become like those who go down into the pit. 28:2 Hear the voice of my petitions, when I cry to you, when I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. 28:3 Don't draw me away with the wicked, with the workers of iniquity who speak peace with their neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts. 28:4 Give them according to their work, and according to the wickedness of their doings. Give them according to the operation of their hands. Bring back on them what they deserve. 28:5 Because they don't respect the works of Yahweh, nor the operation of his hands, he will break them down and not build them up. 28:6 Blessed be Yahweh, because he has heard the voice of my petitions. 28:7 Yahweh is my strength and my shield. My heart has trusted in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices. With my song I will thank him. 28:8 Yahweh is their strength. He is a stronghold of salvation to his anointed. 28:9 Save your people, and bless your inheritance. Be their shepherd also, and bear them up forever. Right mouse click to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file
Partakers Prayers We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together! A prayer of Bonaventure Lord Jesus, as God's Spirit came down and rested upon you, may the same Spirit rest upon and be within us. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ O Yahweh, Grant us the gift of understanding, by which your precepts may enlighten our minds. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ O Jehovah, Grant us counsel, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the path of righteousness. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ O Great God, grant us courage, by which we may ward off the Enemy's attacks. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ O Sovereign God, grant us knowledge. by which we can distinguish good from evil. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ O Merciful God, grant us piety, by which we may acquire compassionate hearts. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ O Holy God, grant us fear, by which we may draw back from evil and submit to what is good. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ O ineffable God made known through Jesus, grant us wisdom, that we may taste fully the life-giving sweetness of your love. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ For we ask this O God our Father, In the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us Through the Son who died and rose again! Amen. Based on a Prayer of Bonaventure 1221 –1274 Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file
Watch out, Noah!! Genesis 7:11-24 "Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out,· men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth." Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark." Genesis 7:23 I wonder if you have ever been in a flood. I remember when as a boy growing up in rural Australia. Sometimes it would be dry for months and then suddenly rain would come, and come and keep on coming for days on end and the entire landscape would be flooded with water. One particular time, we were totally isolated from everyone, and nobody else was to be seen as far as the eyes could see. It was as if my family and I were the only people on earth, just like Noah and his family were. Noah - How and why? But how did Noah and his family happen to be in this ark and saved from dying in the flood? So let us put the passage before us into its context. Some time before, God had created the world and humans. Shortly after that man went against God's commandments and sinned against Him. This sinning process continued down through the generations of people. As Genesis tells us "that every inclination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil all of the time." So God, in holiness, repented of his decision to make man and decided to wipe all living things from the earth. However one man, Noah, had continued to walk with God and was righteous. God, then commanded Noah to build an ark so as to keep him, his family and all types of creatures alive during the flood. Noah, whom the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us was a righteous and godly man, obeyed God and built the ark, gathered the animals, and entered the ark of safety with them and his family. So that is the background in which we come to today's passage. The story of the flood is one of the more well known stories of the Old Testament, and is particularly popular with children. But with it comes a series of messages that we learn from this section of the Bible in the 21st century? God is a Judge The first message we see is that God is a judge. The flood demonstrated that God is a righteous and just God, who will not tolerate evil. The flood showed that God means what He says: He gave man 120 years to repent, they did not, so they were judged. This judgment tells us that God is true to His Word. The flood was complete; God's judgement was complete. The waters "rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered ... Every living thing that moved on the earth perished." It is hard for us to conceive how such a great amount of water came to cover the earth. How the flood happened is a mystery. However God's judgement is not a mystery. We have seen here that the basis of God's judgement is the response of man to the revealed will of God. It is a thoroughly just and convincing thing. No doubt that when the waters of the flood started to appear everyone left outside the ark were panic struck and their mouths gaped open as they stopped in disbelief at the justice of God's judgement and feeling very sorry that they hadn't listened to the words of God through Noah. God is a Deliverer Our second message that we can refer to is that God is a deliverer. In fact, the ark is typical of our salvation through Christ in many ways. God designed the way of salvation, long before God revealed to Noah the judgment. Noah was saved because he fulfilled the requirements for salvation as given by God; the way of salvation provided a refuge from the judgement of God upon the world; the Lord "shut Noah in" to His salvation, a salvation that nothing or no one could take away. As the rain fell, Noah was safely in the ark. The rest of the world, however, could only watch as "for forty days the flood kept coming on the earth." Noah, however, as the floodwaters grew, could look back on all the work he did in obedience to God and realize that it was not for nothing. He could look back at all the persecution that he suffered as he built the ark and count it not worth comparing to the glory of his salvation. He must have felt greatly honoured to receive from God deliverance from a judgement that he, as a sinner, deserved also. As the rain fell, he probably pondered God's mercy to him, asking, "Who am I, that I should be saved?" New Testament Reflection So far we have seen that God is both a judge and a deliverer. But what does that have to do with us, living several thousand years after the event? What possible connection is in there for us? Well, lets have a look at what the New Testament has to say about this episode in history? Firstly Jesus quoted it in Mt 24:39, when He talked about the end of the age, when He will come again. In verse 37, He compares the flood with the coming of the Son of Man. There will again be two groups of people. There are those that are like Noah, who are prepared and saved; and those who are unprepared and lost. Secondly, Peter backed this up in his second letter, and added that the next judgement will not be with water, but fire for the destruction of all ungodly people (2 Peter 3:5-7). The godly people, will have a new home of righteousness to look forward to. So What? So let us recapitulate and then conclude. Firstly we have seen that God is a righteous judge. God, in His pure holiness, cannot tolerate sin and disobedience, and needs to judge it. He judged the earth with a flood several thousand years ago. Secondly we learnt that God also delivers or saves. All through out history, even in the most ungodly times, God has always kept a remnant or group of people for Himself, and has always had a spokesperson ready to speak for Him. We learn this throughout the Old Testament, in the story of the people of Israel. Thirdly we discovered what the New Testament teaches us about it. Jesus and the Apostle Peter, both referred to it. The writer of Hebrews, tells us that Noah was a man of faith, who lived in holy fear and was the heir of righteousness to a new world following the flood. How then can we conclude? Today, as in the days of Noah we have 2 groups of people. Those of us who are Christians, who are His children safe in the arms of Jesus, and those who don't know about God's grace and mercy and are lost in the flood of sin. Some of us here today, have been Christians possibly only a couple of days or perhaps for decades. What are we doing, knowing that the judgement of Christ is coming? Are we like Noah, and obeying God and his commandments? Working out our faith, with fear and trembling. Are we showing people and telling the lost that God loves them, cares for them, and is coming back again to judge the earth with fire and righteousness. That is our work and mission as Christians. Maybe you belong to the second group of people and you are not a child of God and safe in the 'ark' of Jesus. It is God's will for you to be safe, for He desires that nobody should be lost. You are still lost in the flood of sin, and do not yet know God as your Father? Sin is not obeying what God has revealed to be true. I implore you to turn to Him today! No-one knows when the next judgment day will be, just as in the days of Noah. It could be now, tomorrow or in another hundred years. No one knows when that judgment will be, only the all knowing and all wise God. The time for you to turn to Him is now. All you have to do is believe, accept that Jesus is God, and follow Him trusting that He will save you and then you will be safe in the God's modern ark. If that is you today, please do see one of the leaders or myself afterwards and we will be very happy to talk with you further! Thank you Right mouse click or tap here to save/download this Thought as a MP3 file
Sermon - How not to be a Chocolate Christian 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 14v12), it was through the promised Holy Spirit (John 14v17), 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 4v12), for the common good of the church (1Corinthians 12v7, 14v12) and "so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 4v12). 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 Timothy1v6). 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 14v1-12). 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 4v14)! 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 12v1-10), acts of service (Galatians 5v13) and material possessions (2 Corinthians 9v6-8)! 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 25v15-30 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 10v45). As Christians we are to be as Jesus Christ (Romans 8v28; Philippians 2v5) 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. GO! 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. Right mouse click to save this Podcast as a MP3. You can now purchase our books! Please do click here to visit our Amazon site! Click on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
G'day! Today we are praying a series of prayers concerning the Ukraine Russian conflict and war. Молитви за Україну / Molytvy za Ukrayinu Come! Let's pray together! Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file
Glimpses 56 - Donna from Detroit, Michigan This is the story of Donna, from Detroit sharing about her encounter with Jesus! Come and hear! Right mouse click here to download as a MP3 audio file
G'day! Today we are praying a prayer together concerning the Corona Virus / COVID19 Pandemic. I am sure each of us knows somebody who has contracted this virus, and quite possibly succumbed to it and died because of it. Come! Let's pray together! O great God, as you know, we are in the midst of this wretched COVID-19 global pandemic. O Great Comforter, embrace those grieving the loss of loved ones and wipe their tears. We don't know the right way to combat this pandemic, but we know and trust that you do. Therefore, give wisdom and courage to all those involved in its treatment, prevention, cure and vaccine, including our government and leaders. May the vaccines be distributed diligently, justly, quickly and efficiently. We thank you O God that they were prepared by wise people. We thank you for all those caring for others during this time – carers, nurses, medics and others. May you O God, give them courage and wisdom. Amen Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file
Developing A Strategy to Persevere (Hebrews10:26-39) Download this Podcast (right click and save) Introduction As Christians living in Britain in the beginnings of the 21st century, we are relatively removed from the original recipients of this letter. We know that the original readers were around probably before the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. That this group of Hebrew Christians, due to the sufferings and persecution they were enduring, were thinking of abandoning their faith in Jesus as Messiah due to the suffering and persecution they were enduring. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world do suffer for the sake of Gospel and are systematically persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. In 21st century Britain, we don't have those kind of physical sufferings and persecutions because of our faith - yet. But as I read history, and read of the persecution of the Church down through the ages, I can see signs of persecution coming even to us in this country. So, just as the writer speaks to this group of Hebrew Christians, so he speaks to you and I. I, of course, don't know your personal circumstances. I don't know where you are at in your Christian life. You may be persevering joyfully or you maybe struggling with some aspect of life and thinking of giving it all up. You may not even call yourself a Christian, as you are at the stage of investigating what all this Jesus talk is all about. Wherever you are at, whatever stage you are at, there is something in this passage for you. I know that classically these passages are seen as warnings, but I also see them as active encouragements - in this case, to persevere. Persevere by being obedient. Persevere by remembering who you are and what you have done. Persevere by looking forward to being with Jesus Christ permanently and forever. Part 1 - Just Stop! - Persevere in obedience (v26-31) 26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There is only the terrible expectation of God's judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. 28 For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God's mercy to us. 30 For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” 31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Part 2 - Do Remember! - Persevere by remembering (v32-34) 32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ.[j] Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. 33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. Part 3 - Hope Confidently - Persevere for reward (v35-39) 35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. 37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” 39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. Conclusion - Perseverance of the Christian You are to keep your eyes focused on Jesus Christ, and be willing to obey God. As a Christian, persevere in your relationship with God. Obey Him and follow Him. Ask questions humbly of Him and expect Him to answer, particularly if you don't understand something. Persevere in your prayers, your relationships with God and with other people. God will persevere with you, turning you gradually into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. God will not abandon you, but you are free to abandon Him. If you did abandon Him, He would still continue to call you back to Himself. Jesus Christ is to cover our entire life, permeating and being involved in every aspect. By doing so, this is showing an acceptance of Him, and not a rejection of Him. For when we sin and disobey in anyway at all, it is some form of rejection of Jesus as Lord of our life. The more you sin, the less sensitive you become to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. So when you realise you have sinned, be quick to humbly ask for forgiveness. So I challenge you with this: if He who was without sin, became sin, for you, then you are to live a life worthy of Him and your status of freedom from sin in Jesus Christ. One day, Jesus is coming again. He will take your face in his hands and in the words of Revelation 21, will wipe the tears from your eyes, embrace you and you will be with Him forever! That's if you would call yourself a Christian. But if you would not call yourself a Christian here today, there are all sorts of excuses you can make for not accepting Jesus. I hear them all the time. I just need a little bit more evidence. I just need a little bit more of this or a little bit more of that. An example to disprove these kind of excuses is that of Judas Iscariot. He lived with Jesus Christ, ate with Jesus Christ, travelled with Jesus Christ, yet gave it all up for a short-term gain of money. For him, there was never enough evidence, even though he had all those experiences with the earthly Jesus Christ. There is no other way, no other sacrifice you can make, to ensure that you are will be in the presence of Almighty God - except through Jesus Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. He will continue to call you and urge you to accept Him, until one day it will be too late, and your opportunities will have passed. Click or tap here to download this mp3 Podcast
Psalm 23 Today we are praying this Psalm in honour of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II who passed from this life to new life on 8th September 2022. Come and pray. 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever! Right mouse click to save/download this as a mp3 audio file
A Simple Way To Pray Martin Luther Study 13 The Ten Commandments The Ninth and Tenth Commandments: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house." Similarly, "his wife," etc. This teaches us First that we shall not dispossess our neighbor of his goods under pretense of legal claims, or lure away, alienate, or extort what is his, but help him to keep what is his, just as we wish to be done for ourselves. It is also a protection against the subtleties and chicaneries of shrewd manipulators who will receive their punishment in the end. Second, we should render thanks to him. Third, we should repentantly and sorrowfully confess our sins. Fourth, we should ask for help and strength devoutly to keep such divine Commandments These are the Ten Commandments in their fourfold aspect, namely, as a school text, song book, penitential book, and prayer book. They are intended to help the heart come to itself and grow zealous in prayer. Take care, however, not to undertake all of this or so much that one becomes weary in spirit. Likewise, a good prayer should not be lengthy or drawn out, but frequent and ardent. It is enough to consider one section or half a section which kindles a fire in the heart. This the Spirit will grant us and continually instruct us in when, by God's word, our hearts have been cleared and freed of outside thoughts and concerns. Nothing can be said here about the part of faith and Holy Scriptures because there would be no end to what could be said. With practice one can take the Ten Commandments on one day, a psalm or chapter of Holy Scripture the next day, and use them as flint and steel to kindle a flame in the heart. (‘A Simple Way To Pray by Martin Luther': Prayer, the Lord's Prayer, the 10 Commandments, and the Creed - A Letter to His Barber, Master Peter Beskendorf, Spring 1535. The ebook or PDF is widely available to download for free online.) Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file