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Archive for February, 2011

What Kind of Priest?

February 21st, 2011

1 Samuel 2:11-36

  • The 2 sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were not pleasant people – the Bible calls them ‘worthless men’, even like sons of a demon, with nothing redeeming about them.
  • We evaluate people all the time – we work out the value of others and encourage each other to evaluate others, even from a young age.
  • But we react saying that no one can evaluate us – we are our own judge. This kind of attitude is applauded in our culture – that we should only have to answer to ourselves. But is this the ultimate truth? Could there be someone else – someone far more important and powerful with far higher standards – who is evaluating us and whom we have to answer to?
  • People assume this isn’t true – they gamble their life on their being no God. But the truth is, we will all have to answer to God.
  • The sons were called worthless men, not because of their behaviour but for this reason: ‘They did not know the Lord’ (1 Samuel 2:12). They were judged on whether they knew God – not on their moral or religious state. They were even in charge of religion in that day!
  • We will be judged on the same grounds: do we know God as revealed in Jesus Christ? The sons didn’t and neither did they want to. They knew about Him but didn’t know Him.
  • Humankind doesn’t want to know about God and none of us seek Him.
  • Jeremiah 9:23 – if there is one thing we can/should boast in, it is that we know the Lord.
  • The apostle Paul’s one goal in life was this: to know Christ.
  • If you’re bored with God, you probably don’t really know Him. The more you get to truly know God, the more you desire Him and the more you hate sin. You see that you can’t love both God and sin.
  • The sons of Eli were priests and were in charge of all the sacrifices. These food sacrifices were God’s way of eating with sinners and making sure the priests were looked after. But the sons wanted all the food – they were greedy, for both the temple food and the temple women. They took what didn’t belong to them.
  • God wants us to represent Him as a generous giver – not a snatching thief.
  • 1 Samuel 2:28 – God is trying to make the sons see how much He has done for them.
  • God’s problem with greed is that we don’t realise what He’s already given us – all the blessings and provision – and that we don’t trust Him.
  • Greed makes us steal and take things that are not ours, whether it’s people or things.
  • Jeremiah 2:7-8
  • In the garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve such an abundance – but they went for the one tree God said they couldn’t take from.
  • We don’t expect good things from God and we think He is narrow-minded. But we are the narrow-minded ones! God wants to give us the best but we’re so focused on what we can’t have.
  • 1 Timothy 6:6: ‘Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment’
  • The sons of Eli were a terrible representation of God – they were supposed to be the mediator between God and man.
  • We are also all supposed to represent God as we were made in His image. God was so determined to restore this poor representation that He set up the priesthood. It was a complicated process to show that it is complicated for God and sinners to be friends – but God is determined to be kind to us.
  • God had to deal with Eli’s sons – He was not going to put up with being represented so terribly.
  • But it is not the end; God also promised to raise up a faithful priest, who would show what He is truly like. And He did just that – by His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave up what was rightfully His rather than demanding what was not.
  • Philippians 2:6-8

A Ransom for Many

February 16th, 2011

Mark 10:13-16, 35-45

  • Carrying on the theme of “why Jesus came to die” and why it is significant for us all
  1. What He came to do
  • Jesus came to serve not to be served
  • He is saying: look at what I’m going to do for you – this is the heart of everything
  • Vs 45: He came to give His life
  • Jesus is different from other world religion’s founders – they were successful but their deaths were different – the Jewish dictionary states that Jesus’ enemies defeated Him
  • When the disciples realised what Jesus had done, they proclaimed it
  • Challenge: has the penny dropped for you yet?
  1. Why He came to do it
  • As a ransom for us
  • In ancient times a ransom was paid to free slaves – Jesus paid a spiritual ransom, He paid a debt for us, died a death we should have died
  • Objection – I don’t want to be controlled – Jesus said we’re all slaves to something – the disciples were slaves to status and position – Jesus said if it isn’t Him we will run dry
  • Jesus set our hearts free but sometimes we’re free and yet have run dry – we must get back to the Cross – Paul says it is the heart of everything
  • We’re addicted to what people think of us
  • Often to forgive someone there is a cost
  • If God just forgave us He wouldn’t be just, but if he didn’t forgive us He wouldn’t be loving
  • Jesus’ death means the debt is paid and we can receive forgiveness
  • Ghandi: doesn’t believe Jesus’ death has any bearing on his life but it is a good example of follow à this will crush us because His life was perfect
  • Why do we live our life according to morality? Jesus has set us free! Look to the cross
  • Jesus saved and liberated us
  • Jesus wants us to know He died for us, how much He sacrificed for us
  • If anyone is thinking “here we go again”, they have lost sight of the Gospel
  • Jesus gave His life to show us how much He loves us
  • What Jesus did only works if you accept Him into your life
  • What is the one reason you that means you can’t accept Jesus? One person you can’t forgive? Jesus died for it
  1. How can we personally connect?
  • Jesus said come as children – not childish, but child-like
  • To get Jesus, we must come needing to depend on Him completely
  • We are fully accepted and loved by Jesus
  • Jesus has seen us at our absolute worst, and still loves us and died for us
  • When we accept Jesus He doesn’t leave us as orphans, He sends us the Holy Spirit
  • Jesus said all who call on His name will be saved
  • We must make a response, right now.
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Romans 3: 1-8

February 16th, 2011
  • At the beginning of Romans Paul is teaching about why we need the Gospel
  • Later on in Romans, he is sharing the joy of the Gospel
  • Romans 1: Paul explains to the Gentiles that they are sinners
  • Romans 2: He is explaining to the Jews that the law itself won’t save them
  • Romans 3: He answers three questions:
  1. The faithfulness of God
  • The Jews had been given the oracle of God
  • There is great advantage to growing up in a Christian home – you get off to a flying start, but this isn’t enough – we need to encounter God
  • The Jews thought the problem was God – in today’s world the objection is to sin, war, sex trafficking etc.
  • Vs 4: Paul’s response is from the Greek translation of Psalm 51
  • King David was judged for his sin with Bathsheba – God is just and His will be done
  • Revelation 4 & 5: key theme – the throne of God à however messy and chaotic the world is, God is sovereign – we need to look up and see God
  • God’s purposes and promises come to pass as God is faithful
  • God is in control – He is always on the throne
  1. The righteousness of God
  • Argument: God is being unrighteous because He could just forgive us – people ask: what gives God the right to judge me?
  • Vs 6: how then can God judge the world?
  • People want justice and judgement, just not for themselves
  1. The grace of God
  • God seeks us out
  • People think that more evil is needed so God can do more good – this is not true! – Paul says if you think like this than your condemnation is just
  • Romans 6 – Paul asks the same question and his answer is “by no means!”

What they teach us:

  1. We are not the first people to face objections and challenges
  • Even Jesus faced trouble – people tried to trick Him and catch Him out
  • The Gospel demonstrates the wisdom of God
  • 2 Corinthians 4: 2-6 – we understand the Gospel because God let the light in
  1. Take care how we speak
  • Sometimes we are logical not Biblical
  • Titus 2: 11-12 – grace teaches us to say “no”
  • Don’t abuse grace
  1. We need to be clear on the principles
  • God is faithful
  • God is righteous
  • God is full of grace for us
  • Jesus Christ is sovereign over all and one day every knee will bow to Him

Hannah’s God

February 2nd, 2011
  • Hannah was a giant in prayer – she learnt how to pray successfully.
  • There is a pressure to be “normal” as defined by society and not take prayer – or God – seriously. But one day we will find out what was truly “normal”.
  • In Hannah’s day Israel was far from God and was a mess, and so Hannah stood out just as much then as she would do now.
  • God has a habit of choosing people and things that society rejects. Psalm 118:22. Build your life on Christ.
  • Hannah makes a remarkable vow to give her son back to God – but she probably didn’t start off praying like this.
  • We usually start off praying asking God to perform tasks for us – to have this thing or get rid of that thing – like God is some kind of cosmic butler, not to have a relationship with but to serve us. Most religion works like this – with God at arm’s length. But the God of the Bible is different – He saved us for relationship and to be known.
  • God does do things for us but He also knows He is the only thing that will ultimately satisfy us, and through answers to pray He wants to get our attention and draw us to Himself.
  • Luke 17:11-19 – all 10 lepers were healed by Jesus but only 1 came back – the other 9 didn’t want to know the real God; their god was healthy skin. Oftentimes we use God to get our real gods – the things we desire the most, more than God.
  • Answered prayers are sometimes like crumbs from the table to get us to come up and feast with the real God.
  • In the process of her affliction and praying, Hannah finds the real treasure, more precious than a child – God Himself.
  • John 15:4-7 – when we abide in Jesus, when we are aligned with Him and His desires, we begin to pray and see it come to pass. We are branches of the Vine – we are supposed to be extensions of Jesus. We can’t be independent branches.
  • We get pruned as being part of the Vine. We submit our life to God and give up claim over it, and God works in us and prunes us.
  • Our heart needs to be that our life exists for God – then we will see our prayer life explode.
  • Jeremiah 33:3.
  • Hannah had to learn this.
  • Hannah starts praying in a different way, calling on God as “O Lord of Hosts”, meaning “God of heaven’s armies” – because in her heart it is more about just having a child but a longing for God’s name being vindicated, and to have a son to dedicate to that cause. Her vision grows so much bigger than just having a baby.
  • It’s not about us but about God’s mission – it’s His battle.
  • We need to meet the God of the armies of heaven.
  • Real obedience comes from trust in a good God. And we know God is good because He gave us HIS Son. Yield to Him.
  • ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ (Matt. 6:33)