Archive for September, 2010

1 Corinthians 16 – Life on God’s Mission

September 27th, 2010

Some passages of Scripture are ordinary, administrative and practical – but they are still God’s word and they will do us good if we really receive what they have to give to us. The theme of this passage is mission – God’s mission. When we meet Jesus and become a Christian, we join in on God’s mission. Every day of Paul’s was spent on mission and ensuring that the churches were sharing in the global mission, playing their part. We too want Jesus to be famous everywhere and for all nations to be excited about Him. God wants to bless our church so that we can bless the city around us and other nations.

Often our life takes a sudden turn when we meet God – although this doesn’t necessarily mean we will move; we may just be caught up in God’s mission in the place we’re already in. Is your life just about you or is it about Jesus’ mission for your life? His mission will change every aspect of your life. Yield your life to His mission without qualification.

Paul demonstrates the wisdom that godly leaders use to make decisions: although there is uncertainty about what to do, he just makes a decision and goes will it, and leaves the details to God. Maturity in godliness means more freedom to make choices and decisions through what we feel is wise and the best. We mature through childlike obedience to God and then He is able to trust us to make up our own minds – but only when our hearts are surrendered to God. God also wants us to seek wise counsel and use our brains, and we know that He can interrupt our course at any time and change our direction. Be attentive to where He wants you to go.

Often we get so anxious and caught up trying to discern the great specific “will of God” for our life, that we become paralysed and won’t do anything until we hear direct instruction from God – but God’s call on our life is already quite clear in the Bible: love God, love people and spread the gospel, to begin with. God gives you a compass rather than a detailed map. As you follow this call that has already been made clear in His word, God will give you more specifics. So do something! Start obeying and going where you believe you need to go – God can steer a moving ship but he can’t steer one that’s on the land.

Verse 2 – Paul talks about there being ‘a wide door’, a massive kingdom opportunity where God was clearly moving, and so he decides to stay. And then he says ‘and there are many adversaries’ – not ‘but’ but ‘and’. Paul knew pain, hardship, difficulty, disappointment and persecution is all part of the mission and the growth of the church – and it is part of our life and our ministry; it’s how we grow up. Just because things turn difficult, doesn’t mean that God is no longer in it or with us – sometimes it is a sign that God is in it. We are guaranteed trouble in this life because we have an enemy who hates God ans hates us. Be prepared for challenges.

Finally, verse 23 – Paul finishes the letter with grace and love. We need the grace of God to do all these things – to strengthen us for the fight and to live on His mission, finishing well at the end.

1 Corinthians 13 – Love

September 20th, 2010

This is a popular and beautiful chapter, but we mustn’t forget that it is also a useful and practical chapter – meant to change and prepare us and help us understand the character of Jesus.

1. Love rescues us from futility

  • Love gives us meaning
  • We fill our life with things – career, relationships, entertainment – to cover the emptiness we feel deep inside and give us some kind of meaning. We construct our own meaning.
  • In this passage, Paul is deconstructing some things that the Corinthians have built to give their lives meaning and importance – e.g. spiritual gifts, impressive talents, etc. They were impressed with the wrong things.
  • Without love, all of these “impressive” things are nothing. Even generous giving and devout religion is nothing without love.
  • Paul is talking about motives – why we do what we do, rather than just what we do. This is exactly what Jesus was concerned with.
  • There is even the danger of raising our kids to do the “right” things regardless of the motives, teaching them effectively to do things to impress people rather from a genuine heart.

2. Real love is a miracle

  • The definition of love is shockingly unlike what we are naturally like.
  • The parable of the Pharisee and the sinner praying – the sinner was the one counted as righteous because he acknowledged how far short he fell, and there was hope for him because of that. This is how we are to be – aware of our desperate need of mercy and help, not making excuses for how we are already “nice” and “good”.
  • This passage is a description of Jesus who never failed at love.
  • Jesus scored 100% on every point of love, and that was transferred to us in exchange for our sin! All of Jesus’ goodness is given to us a free gift – this is the wonder of the gospel! It changes everything, changes how we live – we are transformed by His love.
  • Luke 7:47 – the woman knew she was forgiven much, and so she loved much.
  • We love God and love others because we understand how loved we are.

3. God has made it possible

  • God makes love possible.
  • Paul reminds the Corinthians that spiritual gifts are temporal. He wants to get to the motives of why they want spiritual gifts, and wants them to gain perspective of what’s really important. The gifts are there to serve something greater.
  • Faith, hope and love are the most important things – and love is the greatest. We see Jesus dimly now but one day we will see Him face-to-face – so we rely on faith and hope now in order to love on earth, but in heaven we won’t need faith or hope. Love, however, is everlasting and will be in heaven for all eternity.
  • When we don’t love others it is because we don’t trust in it – we don’t have faith that someone has our back when we put others first, and we don’t trust in the promise of the outcome or that Christ is all-sufficient for us.
  • In order to love we need to first be filled with God, satisfied in Him.
Author: Categories: Alternative City Tags:

Luke 24:13-32 – Knowing Jesus Personally

September 13th, 2010

Luke is trying to show us two things in this passage: that the resurrection of Jesus really happened, and that we can know Him personally.

1. The resurrection happened
• Look at the evidence – the combination of hundreds of eye witness accounts of seeing the resurrected Jesus and the empty tomb.
• The books written about the named witness accounts were circulated while these witnesses were still alive – these people could verify at the time that these were true.
• The gospel writers used female witnesses as sources – counter-cultural as women didn’t count legally as witnesses in those days. Why would they quote female witnesses unless they really did see Jesus?
• All the disciples lost faith in Jesus and abandoned Him – but then they became bold, world-class leaders and witnesses, willing to die for their faith.
• If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is dead and worthless and nothing else in the Bible matters. But if He did, it changes everything – it means Christianity is alive and well!
• If you have questions about Christianity and what the Bible teaches, first start at the resurrection.
• The resurrection is the only explanation for the explosion of the early church.

2. You can know Jesus personally
• Because of the resurrection, Jesus can walk with us.
• We are taken from despair to joy and hope of a resurrection – eternal life.
• These 2 men in the passage despaired because they didn’t recognise Jesus – suggests spiritual blindness. Jesus came as ordinary, when often we are expecting something spectacular or an incredible sign before we believe.
• Jesus is closer than you think!
• You need to be vulnerable – come to Him in humility and recognise that He is near.
• These 2 men also despaired because they didn’t realise what they really needed to be redeemed from. For them it was to be freed from the Roman oppression – to have a change of circumstances.
• Jesus sets us free from spiritual bondage – we are all slaves, addicted to whatever we substitute for God in our lives to give us fulfilment (success, relationships, money, drugs, etc).
• When the thing we use to relieve stress in our life becomes the source of stress itself, we are trapped. And only Jesus can set us free.
• Religion won’t save us – we need a new heart!
• If we can’t admit the depth of our slavery and bondage, we can’t walk through the gate to true life and joy.
• Come to Jesus as a sinner, not a sufferer. Don’t come to Him just to fix your external problems and change your circumstances.
• It’s because of the cross that we can be forgiven and set free! And the cross is only the beginning.
• The Bible is all about Jesus – every great hero is about Him!
• Jesus sees us at our absolute worst – and yet loves us and has died for us. He doesn’t reject us but pursues us and welcomes us in.
• Anyone can come in! Jesus has opened the door and all you need to do is walk through by believing in Him.

Author: Categories: General Tags: , , ,

Romans 14:1-17

September 7th, 2010

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Paul was concerned about the church in Rome and that there was a split over certain issues. The church in Rome was a very key and important one in that day, and it was crucial that they got it right. In working out their Christianity, there became a divide between Jews and Gentiles on matters of  food, drink, holy days, etc.  However, there should be harmony in the church – God wants unity and oneness in Christ.

They were trying to reduce Christianity to rules and regulations. Colossians 2, however, says self-made religion and rules is of no value in becoming Christlike. We need to seek the things of Christ and set our minds on things above. For the Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking and rules, but of love and peace and God’s power.

Paul defines the Kingdom of God:

1. Righteousness
• All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s righteousness, but in the gospel He gives us the gift of His righteousness.
• It is completely free – not our own but a gift from God.
• On the cross there was the great substitution – our sin was exchanged for Christ’s righteousness.
• Romans 4:5 – ‘the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness’. A righteousness not from the law.
• Religion and our own “righteousness” is like dung to God.
• We fall from grace when when we follow laws to try and be righteous, or try to add to Jesus’ righteousness. We have been perfected for all time!

2. Peace
• We have an untroubled conscience as we now have peace with God through Jesus. We are accepted forever.
• No condemnation! Satan cannot accuse us of anything because we have been cleansed of all our sin.
• We also have peace to deal with the troubles and issues of life.
• Peace to live well and to die well – there is no longer fear of death.
• It surpasses all understanding.

3. Joy in the Holy Spirit
• The church is often seen as a killjoy, but the New Testament church began with an explosion of joy!
• As Christians, we have more than enough reason to rejoice! We have conquered death through Jesus and will live forever!
• It is of the Spirit – not a joy associated with our circumstances but from God – otherworldly.
• Be happy in Jesus! It prevents against misery, complaining, grumbling, etc.
• It is better than being drunk, enabling you to a carefree life.
• We should have to use the gospel to explain why we are so happy!
• God is exceedingly happy beyond imagination – He laughs and sings and dances with joy!

All the 3 aspects are in/of the Holy Spirit – the New Covenant is under the Spirit. We live a life full of God, not by rules. Christians are those who live a supernatural life from meeting with a supernatural God.

A promise from the Bible – you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh if you walk by the Spirit, filled with God. It is a command to the whole church to be filled with the Spirit – not just a personal thing.

Don’t reduce the gospel to a list of silly rules! Live in the power of God.