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Archive for February, 2009

Exodus 33:7-23 My Presence Will Go With You

February 23rd, 2009

The presence of the Holy Spirit is a defining and distinguishing characteristic of the people of God.

The presence of the helper amongst us is compared to Jesus among us. He does the things Jesus does – but (unlike Jesus) does not draw attention to himself. Instead he draws attention to Jesus.

As the presence of God among us, the Holy Spirit anticipates a greater time of fulfilment when God’s presence will be universally known. In this era he actually comes upon us to press us into the ends of the earth (and our city). This creates a tension for us. The Spirit of mission (if we misunderstand him) will keep us from our mission.

There is an attractive ‘missiology’ that sees the church exclusively living for seasons of unusual manifestation – which will solve all our problems. (i.e. revival is when God takes over…). But New Testament missiology is a little different. The Holy Spirit is a missionary: always driving us onwards to the regions and the neighbourhoods beyond. Learning cultures, engaging those cultures and being ready for things to change accordingly.

If the Lord is God follow Him

February 16th, 2009

After 3 years’ drought God is ready to speak to Israel again. Elijah who is qualified to represent God because he has continued to stand before God throughout the testing time is called to a fresh encounter with Ahab. On encountering him Ahab calls him Israel’s Troubler. He offers hope but is regarded as trouble. Similar for Jeremiah.
 
Paul & friends are also seen as people causing trouble in Acts 17:6 (NIV) though in reality they were recorded in Acts 17:2-3 as reasoning, explaining, proving, explaining. We must not be surprised if misrepresented.

Elijah challenges their divided hearts. He draws near to them. Like Jesus he says you cannot serve two masters. We can easily drift into serving two masters. Paul says 1 Corinthians 7:12  All things are lawful but I won’t be mastered by anything. God blesses us with many things but we must beware that none of them begin to master us. We may suddenly discover that we have allowed an idol to grow that now dictates our decisions so we are no longer free to serve Jesus.

Jesus is our model. He always kept the Father central in his thoughts. He always pleased him. His devotion to the Father’s will meant that he embraced the cross. He deserves our unmixed devotion.

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

Author: Categories: Elijah Tags: , ,

Jonah 4 Bitterness

February 2nd, 2009

This is a hilarious chapter. The first sentence genuinely makes me laugh out loud.
 
Then I notice myself in Jonah and stop laughing.
 
God is not a liberal or a conservative. Jonah is a conservative and thinks it only right that God should waste Nineveh. He is outraged that they should escape the very stiffest sentence. But true to form, God doles out more mercy. We have no reason to think that Nineveh stuck to their repentant behaviour. The Assyrian Empire (of which Nineveh was capital) continued in its idolatry – as nations do. But God is so kind.
 
Much of our ‘mercy’ does not truly reflect God’s extravagant ways. He is scandalous in his mercy. And if we’re honest, we are very uncomfortable about this sometimes.
 
But that’s when we show that we still don’t get it. We think we have some kind of claim on him. Only when we see that God owes us nothing do we begin to grasp his mercy for what it is.
 
God plays a game with Jonah to point this out. Jonah’s highly unbalanced emotional life is fruit of the fact that he is still all out of perspective. His eyes are not on God – but on himself and his own superficial comforts. God uses the plant to show Jonah still cares far too much for trivial matters.
 
Jonah, again, points to Jesus by contrast. Jonah would rather die than see mercy on the city. God would rather become a man and die than see destruction on the city…
 
(The curious mention of ‘cattle’ in the last verse is not so odd when you see it as a reference to the city’s economy.)

 

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

Author: Categories: Sent To The City Tags: ,