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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 15 - Hebrews 5:11 – 6:3

Poor scholars

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.


Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

The writer has a grumble about the poor level of knowledge of Christian things in many of the churches of his day. If your situation is anything like ours you will agree that nothing much has changed in nearly 2000 years!


I would place a lot of the blame on the idea of the sermon as it is commonly used in our country. What is the purpose of a sermon? The answer would seem to be something like this:it is part entertainment and part so that those attending may be convinced that good things have been said. They will therefore go home pleased by what they have heard rather than gaining anything from it. This is particularly true of the so called ‘gospel address’. This consists of a statement about the sinfulness of the average person, a call to repentance and conversion and an exhortation to ‘follow Jesus’. This is preached even if there is no one present who is not known to be a Christian or is a hardened listener to such things without the slightest intention that they should change their ways. Everyone goes home pleased that ‘the gospel’ has been preached even if there has been no effect, and no effect could ever have been expected. Any preacher who fails to follow this pattern will be in grave danger of never being asked again however Biblical what he, or she, said may have been. This is the pattern in thousands of churches, chapels and meeting houses in our country. What about yours?
No school teacher or university lecturer could expect to get away with such things. Only a minority of the population is capable of learning anything after about 10 or 20 minutes anyway so the preacher who goes on for a further 10 or 20 minutes is wasting their breath. There - I’ve had my grumble too to add to that of the writer!

What can we do about it? Not a lot has to be the sad answer. We need to think hard and carefully about what it is we are doing. I remember a church in a city containing a large number of students. The preacher catered for the students preaching in a university lecture style and many of them took notes as he spoke. But some of the older locals grumbled about that because it was not the conventional wisdom they expected. I also remember asking the pastor of a church in Pakistan, many of whose congregation will have been illiterate, whether he got them to learn passages of scripture off by heart. He was amazed at the very suggestion even although he was working in a culture where learning by heart the Qu’ran was an accepted and encouraged practice. Conservative Evangelical churches tend to be generally conservative so any change is frowned upon.

We need to learn these things our writer talks about. That is why Dave works away at these Partaker notes. Read them and learn from them every day. If possible go on to some of the study courses he also makes available.

Learn and teach to be a true disciple of the Jesus who ran a 3 year study course for his disciples and a true user of the Holy Spirit in your life and that of those you are able to disciple.

Two of the action words of the Great Commission in Matthew 28 are discipling and teaching. Go. Disciple and teach.

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Partakers Friday Prayers

16 November 2018

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 John Wycliffe

A prayer for the presence of Jesus
Luke 24:29 - But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them.

My Lord, from here on never leave me,
but stay and dwell with me;
for your presence is my only comfort and consolation,
just as your absence is my only sorrow.
O Holy Spirit, come into my heart,
and draw me so near to God,
that the things of the world may be as nothing to me.
Inflame my heart with your love,
and there let it burn without ceasing.
Come, I pray,
for you are my true joy,
my only desire,
and my sweetest love.
Amen.

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Jesus and You 5

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John meets the Risen Jesus

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

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

 

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

Jesus description

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

Keep doing!

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

Stop doing

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

Be blessed!

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

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

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WOW Word 22

Watch Now:

Alfie brings you a WOW Word

 

WOW Word 22

 Prayer

 

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Today Alphy shares about the WOW Word - Prayer!!

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Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

Philippians 4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

What is the response of a Christian to be to these words about prayer by Paul? Prayer, along with the Bible, are our weapons to be used in spiritual warfare! Martin Luther once said that for Christians, their “protection by God lies in prayer” because Christians are too weak in their own strength to withstand all that is against them...

 

Play the video to see Alphy talking about prayer and its place within the life of the Christian Disciple!!

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POD - Psalm 78

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Psalm 78

 

 

A maskil of Asaph.
1 O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old-
3 what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their forefathers- a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
9 The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows,
turned back on the day of battle;
10 they did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by his law.

11 They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.
12 He did miracles in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand firm like a wall.
14 He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night.
15 He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas;
16 he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers.
17 But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High.
18 They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God, saying, "Can God spread a table in the desert?
20 When he struck the rock, water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly. But can he also give us food? Can he supply meat for his people?"
21 When the LORD heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel,
22 for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance.
23 Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens;
24 he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat.
26 He let loose the east wind from the heavens and led forth the south wind by his power.
27 He rained meat down on them like dust, flying birds like sand on the seashore.
28 He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents.
29 They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved.
30 But before they turned from the food they craved, even while it was still in their mouths,
31 God's anger rose against them;
he put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel.
32 In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.
33 So he ended their days in futility and their years in terror.
34 Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again.
35 They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.
36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues;
37 their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
40 How often they rebelled against him in the desert and grieved him in the wasteland!
41 Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power- the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
43 the day he displayed his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders in the region of Zoan.
44 He turned their rivers to blood; they could not drink from their streams.
45 He sent swarms of flies that devoured them, and frogs that devastated them.
46 He gave their crops to the grasshopper, their produce to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail and their sycamore-figs with sleet.
48 He gave over their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning.
49 He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility- a band of destroying angels.
50 He prepared a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death but gave them over to the plague.
51 He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham.
52 But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert.
53 He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies.
54 Thus he brought them to the border of his holy land, to the hill country his right hand had taken.
55 He drove out nations before them and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance; he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.
56 But they put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep his statutes.
57 Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow.
58 They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols.
59 When God heard them, he was very angry; he rejected Israel completely.
60 He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent he had set up among men.
61 He sent the ark of his might into captivity, his splendor into the hands of the enemy.
62 He gave his people over to the sword; he was very angry with his inheritance.
63 Fire consumed their young men, and their maidens had no wedding songs;
64 their priests were put to the sword, and their widows could not weep.
65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a man wakes from the stupor of wine.
66 He beat back his enemies; he put them to everlasting shame.
67 Then he rejected the tents of Joseph, he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loved.
69 He built his sanctuary like the heights, like the earth that he established forever.
70 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens;
71 from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance.
72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.

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Think Spot 12 November 2018

 
Matthew 17:1-8 - After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
 

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 and the Lord of Lords. This Jesus Christ did not decay in the grave - He overcame death in the grave and was raised again majestically.

As Paul said that Jesus is “the first-born from among the dead”. Paul writes later in Colossians 2:3, 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 His body, the church. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, the church would not be in existence 2,000 years later, let alone 2 years after his death. Jesus’ majesty meaning I can depend upon Him for all matters of life.

Go into this week in full confidence that Jesus is fully of majesty! WOW!

 

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Sermon - Message of Evangelism

1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: ‘The person who does these things will live by them.’ 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?”’ (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 ‘or “Who will descend into the deep?”’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Romans 10:1-13

In this part of Romans, from chapters 1 to 11, Paul has been drawing a word picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel which demonstrates that God gets his hands dirty. The Gospel, the Good News from God, which tells us that God has done all He could do, in order that all of humanity could be saved. The Gospel which claims all people can be in a living and dynamic relationship with God, if they choose to be so. All without favouritism. Paul then goes on to investigate in depth about this Gospel, the nation of Israel and the Gentiles. That is where we are in Romans 10 for the next two weeks. This week we are looking at the message of salvation. The who, what, why, where and wherefore. Next week we will look at what we are to do with that message of salvation.

Paul explains in his letter to the Church in Rome, that there cannot be salvation for anybody apart from the true salvation which is borne from faith in Jesus Christ alone, through the grace of God alone. That is our Gospel message, is it not? In chapters 9 to 11, Paul is elucidating that the Jewish people weren’t saved simply because they were Jewish. By no means, no! They were to be saved by faith, calling on God through their Messiah, the man of history known as Jesus Christ. That is what Abraham, Moses and all the Prophets down through the ages had told them to look for – a Messiah who was to come. But mostly those words had fallen on deaf ears and been ignored.

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 14 - Hebrews 4:14–16

Jesus the great high priest

Here are the first 6 verses: “Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honour on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
“You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”
And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Chapter 5 starts with what may be a somewhat idealised description of life with the original high priests. All too often a man appointed to a high position will forget his background and begin to lord it over people rather than ‘dealing gently with them’. Perhaps, you may retort it was different because these men were appointed by God, not man, but we must remember that although Aaron was appointed by God he became the prime mover at the incident of the golden calf so even that was no guarantee of always having a good man in post as the high priest.

Anyway, after quoting two Old Testament statements, our writer proceeds to talk about Jesus, where he was on firmer ground. And so we come to verses 7 to 10 which are indeed the central statement of the whole book.

Here they are, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”

The curious use of Melchizedek is a big subject, which comes to prominence in chapter 7, so we will look at it then.

There are 2 possible ways to see problems in these verses. Was Jesus originally disobedient if he had to learn obedience? And was he less that perfect if he had to be ‘made perfect’? These two things touch on the very central core of the Christian faith. It is the common view of people that it is best to be strong and dominant, to be one who does not give way or suffer being put down. Jesus taught otherwise. But his way is so different even he had to learn it in his obedience to his Father. It came to a pinnacle as he approached the cross. It was his supreme test. And as the perfect student only reaches perfection when he, or she, sits the exam and achieves 100% so it was only when Jesus was put to that final test that he could be shown to be perfect.

Paul puts it beautifully in Philippians 2:6 - 8 when he says,
“Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”

Of course Paul then goes on to say, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

And that is it. The way up is down; our Lord and Master lowered himself, setting us an example which it is very hard to follow. If we are naturally not one of nature’s strong men or women it is not so difficult. But if we are one of them then it is very hard to walk as he walked. He is the “source of eternal salvation for all who obey him”. May the good Lord find us to be those who obey him.

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Partakers Friday 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!

Behold, Lord,
I am an empty vessel that needs to be filled.
My Lord, fill me.
I am weak in the faith; strengthen me.
I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent,
that my love may go out to my neighbour.
I do not have a strong and firm faith;
at times, I doubt and am unable to trust You altogether.

O Lord, help me.
Strengthen my faith and trust in you.
In You I have sealed the treasure of all I have. I am poor; you are rich and came to be merciful to the poor.
I am a sinner; you are upright.
With me, there is an abundance of sin;
in You is the fullness of righteousness.
Therefore, I will remain with you,
of whom I can receive,
but to whom I may not give.

Amen

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Jesus and You 4

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Adulterous Woman

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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WOW Word 18 - Goal

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The Goal Of Being A Christian

Our WOW Word today is Goal! As in the goal of being a disciple of Jesus Christ!

I wonder what you think the goal of being a Disciple of Jesus Christ is to be. Is it just a means to get to heaven? Maybe it is praying a lot? Perhaps it is reading and memorizing the whole Bible? Doing lots of evangelism or doing lots of work for the church? As admirable as those things are, they are not what is to be the goal for those who claim to be Disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

The ultimate goal for any Christian Disciple is to be found in these verses from 1 John 2:3-6 -

“We know that we have come to know Jesus if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

 

According to the Apostle John, the goal of being a Christian Disciple is to walk and live as Jesus did and to follow the commands of Jesus. That doesn’t mean walking around in sandals, wearing white clothes and traversing the terrain where Jesus Himself walked. The Apostle John means that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to be radical, holy and living lives worthy of that of Jesus.

 

How can we be radical and holy?

 

Jean Calvin said that “Denying oneself and relying on God for all things is the goal of the Christian life.” This can only be attained by total submission to the Holy Spirit and a life of constantly “dealing with God” in all matters. That is how Christian Disciples are to be radical, holy and endeavouring to reach the goal of being Jesus to others! This is done by a constant renewing of the mind (Ephesians 4:23) and having a heart willing to be transformed. It is by loving others in such a way, that the end of a Disciple’s generosity is only when the resources have expired.

A Christian Disciple is to live and walk as Jesus did. There is no better way for a Disciple to fulfil this goal, than by imitating Jesus and obeying his command from Luke 9:23 to “…take up their cross daily and follow me.” This is seen as a higher challenge for the mind! Dietrich Bonhoeffer commented that “Discipleship of Jesus Christ, leads to death for all who follow Christ; either as a physical death or in being ostracized from the wider community.”

For the first century Christians, just as in some parts of today’s world, persecution and martyrdom were, and are, reality. A biblical example is that of Stephen recorded for us in Acts 7. Yet it also means enduring suffering, for this is how a Christian Disciple maintains a “communion with Christ”. For it is through suffering, that we share with the crucified Jesus. The bitterness of our cross is made sweeter, the more we dwell on the sufferings of Jesus and our enabled fellowship with Him.

As Christian Disciples, we are linked together in a Christian community through rebirth, and our relationship exists only through our relationship with Christ. There is no such thing as an individual member of the radical Christian community. Members are to be interdependent upon one another, bound by a corporate and inclusive personality. The church community is to be dynamic by nature, and individualism is not coherent with New Testament teaching. Remember these words, the world will know we are God’s possession and people, if we exhibit and demonstrate love toward one another.

How about that for being radical and holy? That is the goal for the Christian Disciple. We as Christians have a goal to be radical and holy. We are to be obedient to Jesus in loving God and loving others - including those who are our enemies. How can we do and be that? If we try that in our own strength we will fail. It is only through the power, strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit who lives within you, that you can do this! How is that for a WOW Word?

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POD - Psalm 6

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Psalm 6 

6:1 Yahweh, don't rebuke me in your anger,
neither discipline me in your wrath.

6:2 Have mercy on me, Yahweh, for I am faint.
Yahweh, heal me, for my bones are troubled.

6:3 My soul is also in great anguish.
But you, Yahweh-how long?

6:4 Return, Yahweh.
Deliver my soul, and save me for your loving kindness' sake.

6:5 For in death there is no memory of you.
In Sheol, who shall give you thanks?

6:6 I am weary with my groaning.
Every night I flood my bed. I drench my couch with my tears.

6:7 My eye wastes away because of grief.
It grows old because of all my adversaries.

6:8 Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity,
for Yahweh has heard the voice of my weeping.

6:9 Yahweh has heard my supplication.
Yahweh accepts my prayer.

6:10 May all my enemies be ashamed and dismayed.
They shall turn back, they shall be disgraced suddenly.

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