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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 23 - Hebrews 9:22

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

If we have been brought up in a Christian environment it is very easy to overlook the fact that our faith is founded on a human sacrifice! So we cheerfully talk about the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. For those who have not got that sort of background it can be a real stumbling block to them thinking of Christian faith. Paul recognised that when he said “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”. Even when we think about that verse we may well concentrate on the crucified bit and not think that this means the death of a human being. In almost all the world human sacrifice has been rejected from the beginning even where there is no necessary connection to Christian or Jewish thought. Once we have accepted the idea of sacrifice it is not difficult to see meaning in it as we did in our last highlight from Hebrews.

But why sacrifice in the first place? Animal sacrifice comes into the Bible very early. Animal death is necessary for God to clothe Adam and Eve in ‘garments of skin’ in Genesis 3: 21. It is probable that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by God and Cain’s was rejected because Abel was a herder and brought animal parts as an offering while Cain was a farmer and brought fruits (Genesis 4: 2 – 5; Hebrews 11: 4). Sacrifice was by no means limited to the nation of Israel.

It was commonplace in all the surrounding nations. The crucial difference was that the line of Abraham had a strong and well defined sense of sin and that the purpose of sacrifice was to cover that problem. Other peoples thought of sacrifice basically as an appeasement of capricious gods to try and improve their tempers and get on the right side of them. Biblically sacrifice was about human shortcomings whereas most other thinking was about the gods. Sin in the early chapters of the Bible is all about the breaking of relationships, particularly those with God, rather than with any infringement of a law. In a way nothing much has changed. We still sin because we break relationships with each other or with God. Even the original sin of Adam and Eve was not really about the eating of the fruit so much as disobeying God. it was more a matter of a relationship broken than a wrong action. The penalty for the broken relationship with God was death. Not physical death immediately in the garden of Eden but spiritual death - the death of an unblemished relationship with God. The same principle still applies. How could immediate death be averted? Only by a substitute death - that of an animal substituting for the human being. So throughout the Old Testament animal after animal died to carry the many sins of human beings.

Was there any way that continual death could be averted? Only if something or somebody of eternal worth could die in their stead. And so Jesus went, voluntarily, to his death so that you and I could be forgiven our sins, particularly our sins of breaking relationship with God.

Was there any way that continual death could be averted? Only if something or somebody of eternal worth could die in their stead. And so Jesus went, voluntarily, to his death so that you and I could be forgiven our sins, particularly our sins of breaking relationship with God. People have sometimes died for other people. Like the firefighters who went into the Twin Towers in `New York in 2001 to try to rescue other people. The difference between their action and that of Jesus is that they went in hoping to live even as they took the enormous risk of going back into the towers. Jesus knew he was going to die. He could have walked away from the squad sent to arrest him as he did from the lynch mob in Nazareth (Luke 4: 28 – 30), but he did not. He could have used his superior power over Pilate, but he did not. He could have walked away from the terrible scourging and the mocking of the soldiers, but he did not. He could have nailed the execution squad to the cross in his place, but he did not. Jesus, not just man but also God, died for you and for me, deliberately a human sacrifice for sin. “He did not use his equality with God to his own advantage … he was obedient to death” (Philippians 2: 6, 8) . We are forgiven as a result. Worship him.

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Friday Prayers

18 January 2019

 

 Prayers for Refugees...

Today on Partakers we are praying a series of prayers for refugees worldwide. As we know, Jesus our Lord, was a refugee when a baby, as Joseph & Mary escaped to Egypt with him. Come on in, download the mp3 and pray with us!

Here is a sample prayer from the ancient Syrian church...

O my God,
You are the unsearchable abyss of peace,
the ineffable sea of love,
the fountain of blessings,
and the bestower of affection!
You are the God who sends peace to those that receive it;
open to us this day the sea of Your love,
and water us with the plenteous streams from the riches of Your grace.
Amen

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Dave's Story

"Why am I a Christian?"

 

The Apostle John, writing in 1 John 5v9-12 - "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

Why Is It So?

A testimony is an assertion offering firsthand authentication of a fact. For the Christian Disciple, classically it is generally expressed as how they became a Christian Disciple. But I think it is more than just how, and should expressly include why you are a Christian Disciple. I wonder what is your testimony about how you became a Christian Disciple? When was the last time you thanked our God for your testimony? Have you even thought about your testimony of how you became a Christian Disciple? I am sure you have all heard kids in the supermarket yelling out "Why?" to their parents. We all have, I am sure, questions we want to know the answer to. Why? The question I am often asked is "You are a Christian. Why is it so?" My father, was and remained throughout his life a convinced agnostic and in the few conversations we had about religion and Christianity, he could never understand why it was, that I could not just admit that I would never know if God existed or not, far less a God who was personally interested in me. My reply as ever, was that the very question "Why is it so?" needed to be answered, in order for me to be satisfied.

Why I am a Christian?

Now I could say that at the age of 12, we moved to a town on the coast of Australia, and was invited along to a local youth group and several weeks later, gave my life to Christ and became a Christian. Of course that is partly true. I can't even claim to be a Christian because I was raised in a Christian country. Australia was and is probably the second most secular country on this planet. Sure Australia has its moral base grounded in historic Christianity, but for the latter part of its history, Australia has been thoroughly secular and non-religious. Even if I had been raised in a country such as England, with Christian parents, that would also, only be partly true and I could have rejected Christianity as many people do. The reason that I am a Christian is not because I chased God, but rather He chased me. Unknown to me at the time, God was chasing me and following my every path with the urgency of a lover after the beloved, just as described in the Song of Songs 2:2-14.

God had been pursuing me

This piece of poetic Scripture speaks about the love that God has for his people, and the energy He puts in to calling his people to Himself. He is always reaching out, for all to return to His arms. As for me, it wasn't until I was a 12 year old that I heard that I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Before that I didn't know I had to do anything with this Jesus. Jesus was only a curse word for me at the time. That or was just someone or something that the RE teachers bored me with at school. We are primarily Christians, not because we come to church services or just happened to have been born in a supposedly Christian country. We are primarily Christians, because God first chased and harried us into His arms. We are Christians, if you are one, because God first loved you. And as a tremendous lover, He beckons and calls people all the time to respond to His call, and back to Him.

How does He chase us with His love? He chases each person differently, just as each Christian testimony is different. Take for instance the Apostle Paul in Acts 8 & 9. God chased him through Paul's mind and his religious upbringing and education. Paul had known about God from his childhood. Paul was a righteous Pharisee who saw persecuting these ‘Christians' as his religious duty, so that he may somehow find favour with God. As Paul was gloating over the death of the martyr Stephen, God was pursuing Him, probably raising doubts in Paul's mind as to why Stephen would say at the point of death "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and forgive them for what they do" (Acts 7v54-60). Surely doubts must have been raised in Paul's mind as he approved of this death (Acts 8v1). Paul was also wrestling with his conscience. Externally he was a righteous man, a Pharisee of Pharisees.

Yet when he internally examined himself and his heart, he found himself failing regarding covetousness, which is the last of the Ten Commandments. Then finally, Jesus himself makes a sudden and dramatic appearance before Paul and confronts him directly, "Why are you kicking against me? Why are you rejecting my advances?" (Acts 9) Paul's conversion to Christianity is often described as being sudden. But the only thing sudden about his conversion was this climatic appearance of Jesus.

Just as that was true of Paul, it is true of me, just as it is true of all those who profess to call themselves a Christian Disciple. I am a Christian Disciple not because of anything I have done, but rather because He first chased me, and because He first loved me. Jesus himself said "I came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19v10).

If you are a Christian today, it is not because of anything you have done. It is because of the events at Christmas and Easter that you are a Christian, when God entered this world as a human baby and took all the necessary steps so that all people could have the choice to be His people or not. In my more smug moments I used to congratulate myself for being a Christian. How proud I was that I, was a Christian and that God was a jolly lucky God that I had decided to follow Him. It was during one of my less self-deluded moments, that I examined myself and I found God pricking my conscience and correcting me, and I read the New Testament "For the Son of Man came, not to be served but to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark10v45).

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 were the events leading up to my choosing to be a Christian disciple which symbolize God running after me?
Q2. How am I, as a Christian Disciple, continuing to listen to God's voice?
Q3. Will I be ready to give my testimony the next time somebody asks me as to why I am a Christian?

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WOW Word 46 - Faith

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Faith

People always say that faith is blind! However the Bible says that faith is a total confidence in God’s faithfulness, which leads to reliance, trust and total obedience to Him (Hebrews 11v6). We see this faith in the Godly obedience of those around us and from the Bible and church history.

Faith in Salvation

For salvation, faith is a voluntary change of mind and heart in the sinner in which the person turns to God, relying on and accepting His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.

  1. Mind - recognition of your need of salvation. Acknowledging Christ’s death on your behalf and your need of forgiveness.
  2. Emotional (Heart) – your personal assent to the gospel. You ask yourself, “What must I do to be saved?” and then you agree to make salvation a part of your life.
  3. Will - Personal trust in Jesus Christ.

Now as a follower of Jesus, you are to continue having faith in Him. Four things at least you are to have faith in Him for:

By faith - He is praying for you

Jesus Christ is making intercessions for His followers (Romans 8:34). He knew the disciples troubles (Mark 6:48), just as He knows your troubles now. He feels your cares and knows what you are going through (Hebrews 4:14-16).

By faith - He will come to you

Ever felt like God is far away? Well you aren’t alone! King David often felt God was far away and unconcerned. However he also knew God would ultimately rescue him. Jesus always comes to you through difficult times, although He may not come in the time you think He should come, because He knows when you need Him most.

By faith - He will help you grow

When the disciples were in the storm and Jesus came to them walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33), the purpose of this incident was to show that Jesus would be leaving them soon, so they had to learn to trust in Him when He wasn’t physically present. Peter wrote later on in his life, “for the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers” (1 Peter 3v12).

By faith, He will see you through

At the same event, Jesus said “Come” and Peter went with Him. This must have encouraged the other disciples, for upon seeing Jesus’ power they worshipped him. Whatever troubles you are undergoing are temporary, and Jesus will see you through.

By faith, you have salvation. By faith Jesus is praying, will come to you, grow you and help you through troubles. By being obedient to God, you are showing others your salvation and showing that faith, is not blind, but active!

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POD - Psalm 5

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Psalm 5

 

5:1 Give ear to my words, Yahweh. Consider my meditation.

5:2 Listen to the voice of my cry, my King and my God;

for to you do I pray.

5:3 Yahweh, in the morning you shall hear my voice.

In the morning I will lay my requests before you, and will watch expectantly.

5:4 For you are not a God who has pleasure in wickedness.

Evil can’t live with you.

5:5 The arrogant shall not stand in your sight.

You hate all workers of iniquity. 5

:6 You will destroy those who speak lies.

Yahweh abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

5:7 But as for me, in the abundance of your loving kindness

I will come into your house.

I will bow toward your holy temple in reverence of you.

5:8 Lead me, Yahweh, in your righteousness because of my enemies.

Make your way straight before my face.

5:9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth.

Their heart is destruction.

Their throat is an open tomb.

They flatter with their tongue.

5:10 Hold them guilty, God.

Let them fall by their own counsels;

Thrust them out in the multitude of their transgressions,

for they have rebelled against you.

5:11 But let all those who take refuge in you rejoice,

Let them always shout for joy, because you defend them.

Let them also who love your name be joyful in you.

5:12 For you will bless the righteous. Yahweh,

you will surround him with favor as with a shield.

 

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Think Spot - 14 January 2019

 

I wonder what your last week was like! I know for me it was full of trial and yet with a deep-seated trust that God was in control, despite the events and discouragements I was undergoing! So, whether it was a week for you to forget or a week for you to remember, we now enter a new week! Do you claim to trust God?

One of the natural outcomes of trusting God is joy - often an unspeakable joy that bubbles within you! A joy resulting from overcoming all that life throws at you, and overcoming those hurdles! It involves taking a daily commitment to follow Jesus Christ and not just a one off. It takes commitment, not comfort, to throw off hindrances and barriers. True joy results from being willing to allow the Holy Spirit to work in you, transforming you into the image of Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God the Father.

All of these things being done daily in your life lead to what I am convinced is the key to the reality of a successful Christian life - that key being joy. As you grow closer to Jesus, living in peace, trust and obedience, then your spiritual life will be your natural life and your natural life be your spiritual life! Your joy will abound and shine a light giving people a reason to ask "Where do you get all your joyous hope from?". You will then be able to· share Jesus as your source of joy. A joy that is anticipatory, expectant and true! Joy comes from putting Jesus first, others next and then yourself! Go practise it this week!

You can show this joy by singing, laughing, smiling, shouting praises to God, lifting hands in worship', and crying, but that is only the external part of joy. True joy also incorporates an internal joy. Real joy is when you can believe in: the mountain top when you are in your deepest valley. Abundant joy is being surrounded by darkness and still believing in 'the light'. Anticipatory joy is when amidst total confusion you still believe God has a plan of love for you. It was this type of joy that Jesus had, when in the garden praying, the night before he was betrayed, when full of mixed emotions and anguish he said "Not my will, but yours, Father!"

As sons and daughters of God, we have many reasons to be full of joy. Yet how often we forget! Here are some reasons for joy!

  • Psalm 51:8 & 12 - Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me-now let me rejoice. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

  • Jeremiah 15:16 - When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven's Armies.

  • Luke 15:8-10 "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbours and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God's angels when even one sinner repents."

  • 1 Peter 1:8-9 - You love Jesus Christ even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your soul.

 

Do you desire to be' overflowing with joy today and this week? Go into this week with a joy that is anticipating and expectant! Do you need to hand over to Jesus a particular area of your life' where Jesus does not fully reign and have control?

I pray that the Father will reveal more of Himself to you, as you daily seek His face, overcoming all hindrances to living a successful and joyful-Christian life. May the Holy Spirit who lives within you, if you are a Christian, continue to transform you into the image of the Son Jesus Christ, and all to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 14
Jesus’ Purpose

What was the purpose of Jesus? Jesus’ mission was to be the Servant of the Lord, and therefore, the saviour of the world as God’s Son.

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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17).

His purpose as the Messiah was neither that he be served nor that he will lead a political overthrow of the Roman government as some had hoped. Rather, as we see here, his purpose as the Messiah was to be God’s servant and give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people. When Jesus rebuked Peter, he was also telling off the other disciples (Mark 8:33). They had not yet understood how suffering and glory were in relationship with each other.


However, by the time Peter had written 1 Peter, he had correlated the two as being in harmony with each other. (1 Peter 1:6-8, 1 Peter 4:13-5:10). Some Jewish leaders taught that there would be two Messiahs – one to suffer and one who would reign (1Peter 1:10-12). Instead of following who we think Jesus is, we need to follow who Jesus actually is. Jesus does make demands of those who would follow Him.


We learn that:
• There is a price to pay for true followers of Jesus:
• We must surrender completely to Him.
• We must identify with Him in his suffering and death.
• We must follow Him obediently, wherever he leads.

What is the reward for following Jesus?

• satan promises glory now, but in the end suffering comes.
• God promises suffering now, but the suffering turns to glory.
• Spiritually, now, the disciples were still blind to who Jesus was, just as the man who was physically blind.

Our confession of who we say that Jesus is, is a matter of life and death (John 8:21; 1 John 4:1-3) and it is necessary to do for salvation to be assured (1 Corinthians 12:1-3), when that confession is from the heart (Romans 10:9-10). Christians are called to follow Jesus and take up their own cross. This means being ready to suffer and die for Jesus - just as many people down through history and today are prepared to do. Are you?

 

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 22 - Hebrews 9:11-14

The blood of Jesus


When Jesus Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, cso that we may serve the living God!

Perhaps a summary of the OT (Old Testament) practices that the writer is relying on for so much of his argument is necessary first. This has two aspects found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Negatively - full of ‘no’ and ‘not’ - are all sorts of instructions about how they were to live and what they were to eat. Our writer is not very interested in these. They comprised the Law. Positively there were detailed instructions about the tabernacle ( a sort of big tent construction) used during their wilderness journey and the practical details of how sacrifices were to be made there and what they accomplished. They thought of the tabernacle as the place where God was much more than anywhere else. Later the same basic idea was transferred to the temple that was to be built in Jerusalem. These sacrifices constituted a recognition that no one is perfect and there would be many involuntary infringements of the Law. These could be remedied through the complex sacrificial system. Not that it was the sacrifices that effected the remedy. They were symbolic of the attitude of the one sacrificing and of the grace of God that accepted his or her contrition.


Even with the help of the Holy Spirit we too are not perfect - we sin - and we need Jesus to remove defilement from us. His death is effective and does remove the consequences of our sin from us. This is the great concern of our writer who explains the effects of the death of Jesus in terms of the OT examples.

Of course this is not really about the ‘blood’ of Jesus. It is what is called a metonymym where a small part of something is used as a name for a whole. (Another example is the way some people will refer to their car as their ‘wheels’.) The ‘blood’ refers to the whole death of Jesus given as a sacrifice for us. In a quite remarkable way the writer uses the practices associated with the temple to explain what Jesus death means for us. He says that the earthly temple was, by Moses instructions (8:5), a copy of the true temple in heaven. So he is able to use the known facts about the earthly temple to indicate the deeper heavenly truths. The central purpose of the temple was as the place of sacrifice for sins and for worship.

There were at least three implications of a sacrifice:
1. It rendered clean those who were not because of their past sinfulness. The OT system, particularly with the annual sacrifice in the innermost part of the temple made by the High Priest once a year, allowed for recovery from sin, that is redemption, Verse 12 uses that picture to explain what Jesus did “he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. .
2. The Old Testament sacrifice was a symbol that the person making the sacrifice wanted to live in and for the Lord. This becomes what verse 14 says about “serving the living God”;
3. In the giving of the blood of the OT sacrifice it died in place of the one sacrificing. Now Jesus obtains for us an eternal redemption, “ He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (9:12). Of course, we must expect that we shall die one day in a physical sense. How then can our redemption be eternal? By the fact that although we shall die in an earthly sense we shall live forever as members of the eternal kingdom.

So we have past, present and future aspects to the meaning of a sacrifice. The Old Testament sacrifices had to be made again and again, daily, monthly and annually. Because Jesus was both human and divine his sacrifice was effective forever and did not have to be repeated.

This then is the great central teaching of the book of Hebrews. Christ was sacrificed to take away our sins (9:28); he sets us the greatest example of how we should live, ‘serving the living God’ (9:14); and he gives us a great hope for the future ‘he will bring salvation to those who are eagerly waiting for him’ (9:28).

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Partakers Friday Prayers

11 January 2019

 

Come and join in praying for the world and yourself, offering praises to God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit!

 

Order of Service

 

Opening prayer

Confession

Psalm 65

Prayers for Churches and Christians worldwide

Prayers for others

Silent time (Prayer for your own concerns)

Prayers for the world

Prayer of Benedict of Nursia

 

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G'day and welcome to Partakers! Today we hear a testimony of how Partakers began! We started when I was in a doctor's surgery and collapsed.

Come on in, listen to what happened next, how we began. By listening, you are sharing in the work that God has been doing through us!

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WOW Word 33

God of Love

 

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. John 3:16

We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16

We live in a world that is in love with love. Love, according to some people, is what makes the world go around. In the Bible, God’s love is revealed. The Apostle John in 1 John 4 does not simply say that God loves, but rather that God is love.

How is God love? How is God's love revealed today? How is that relevant to you?

Play or download the audio below to hear  more and how this affects you as a Christian in the 21st century!

 

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POD - Psalm 1

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Psalm 1

1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,

or stand around with sinners,

or join in with mockers.

2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,

meditating on it day and night.

3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,

bearing fruit each season.

Their leaves never wither,

and they prosper in all they do.

4 But not the wicked!

They are like worthless chaff,

scattered by the wind.

5 They will be condemned at the time of judgment.

Sinners will have no place among the godly.

6 For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,

but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

 

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