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Archive for April, 2011

God’s Way of Winning

April 27th, 2011

1 Samuel 5:1-5

  • Relevant to Easter – Dagon was a giant bunny!
  • This passage makes sense as an Easter message
  • The Ark of God had gone into another nation – the Israelites had taken it into battle
  • The Ark is like a wedding ring – a symbol of God’s covenant to Israel
  • But if you commit adultery you are abusing the symbol – the Israelites were like this, looking for other idols – they lost the Ark in battle because of their idolatry
  • The Ark being taken was so awful that when Eli found out he died instantly
  • The Bible is one big story leading up to one climatic ending – tells the story of God’s glory and power
  • The devastation of losing the Ark is a similar feeling to how the disciples felt when Jesus was taken
  • Jesus was their destiny and they were happy to follow Him – He was powerful and authoritative – their hopes must have been really high
  • Jesus was taken without a fight – it would have been devastating
  • Luke 24:21: Jesus/God can sometimes disappoint us but that is because our expectations are wrong
  • Some people are at church because all hope has gone. Others have been away from church because they feel Jesus let them down
  • If you have God on your terms, you will be disappointed
  • If you have God on His terms – the real God – you will see extraordinary things but you may have to wait a while
  • God doesn’t work on our terms
  • Everyone is looking for hope – the problem with Western culture is science argues humanity is an accident – this leads to despair
  • Even on the Cross Jesus was in control
  • The Israelites felt let down by the Ark
  • The Philistines thought the Ark was feeble, no longer able to help the Israelites
  • Col 2:15 – through this seemingly feeble man, God was destroying all evil
  • You may think everything is going wrong and think God isn’t in control, but He is
  • If God was in control at Calvary, He is in control everywhere
  • Dagon fell on his face in front of Ark and the Philistines had to prop him up – on the second night Dagon falls face down, with his head and arms chopped off
  • God is saying “stop it” – stop worshipping anything other than God
  • God might be saying this today – if things are disappearing in your life, e.g. money or relationships, God might be gently pushing over our Dagons
  • People think Jesus died and didn’t rise again – that people felt He was still alive in their hearts and out of that stories about the empty tomb were created and eventually made into a myth – then into a fraud religion.
  • This doesn’t work as myths take generations to be created and Jesus’ story was being told 20 years after they happened.
  • Paul names eye-witnesses that can be verified and the disciples were killed for preaching this message so unlikely to be a myth
  • Jesus was raised to life!
  • Why did Jesus have to die and rise again?
  • Deut 28:64 – we can’t be with God if we can’t keep His covenant – to resolve this God came to earth to live the perfect life and be sent into exile and death for us – we can’t achieve goodness on our own

What’s The Real Problem?

April 21st, 2011

1 Samuel 4

  • This is a tragic story of Israel’s defeat. It was a case of bad leadership, bad decisions and bad results. They made it worse for themselves.
  • This was before Samuel was judging Israel.
  • Israel were upset – they knew that it wasn’t right that the Philistines were defeating them – they were given this land by God. They asked “why is this happening?” At least they asked the question and wondered why this was happening – could there have been a wrong turn? Some people don’t even ask why it has gone wrong or try analysing it, wondering if they have made a mistake – asking why their marriage/finances/children/work situation is failing.
  • Asking why is one thing, getting the right answer is another thing – and we don’t like the right, honest answers. But when you get the right diagnosis, you can find the right cure.
  • We are “compulsive misinterpreters”.
  • The Bible goes much deeper than we do – it looks at our hearts, the core of who we are – and this is where the real cause of our problems is to be found.
  • It’s not that what has happened to us isn’t real or doesn’t count – but the heart is at the core.
  • Prov. 4:23 – guard your heart above all else, for out of it flows the wellspring of life.
  • If we don’t love the God of the Bible with everything then we will reap mess and error in our life and in the world.
  • The Israelites, rather than looking at their own hearts, just go for a “plaster” option – the centre of it all, Shiloh, becomes corrupt and no one does anything.
  • They go for a religious option – very different to real worship. They took the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle, using it like a religious, superstitious trick, believing the box will save them (as opposed to God).
  • Religion is deceptive because it looks like the real thing but it lacks God and worshipful hearts. Even secular people can be religious – morality. We major on minors and neglect loving God and people.
  • Phineas’ wife – “the glory has gone” – true but also half-wrong. The glory had left decades ago but no one had noticed or cared.
  • We often equate our bad circumstances with the glory being gone – the things we truly care about being gone from our lives. We have all exchanged the glory of God for a lie – for ourselves and for created things.
  • What is at the Shiloh, the centre of your life? What is your glory?
  • We were made for God – we need to get the glory back.
  • The whole story of the Bible is the glory of God returning to our lives and to this world.
  • We think we will work for it but this is not the case. The glory returns to us in the most extraordinary way – God became one of us and displayed His glory through sheer mercy and grace by His cross.
  • God wants the world to know His glory through the grace of His Son – and that is the only way we will know it.
  • Ephesians 1:6.
  • It’s not by trying harder – it’s understanding and knowing the grace of God. It’s so joy- and peace-giving that you would gladly give up anything for it.
Author: Categories: What Kind of King? Tags: , , ,

Wisdom that wins

April 13th, 2011

James 3:13-17

Life is a race to be won, a battle to be fought and a legacy to be built. This can only be achieved through wisdom.

 

(1) Wisdom is supreme

Look at some of the ways that scripture describes wisdom.

Proverbs 8:11 – all that you desire cannot compare with wisdom!

Proverbs 4:7 – the beginning of wisdom is – get wisdom!

We tend to think of wisdom in terms of the intellect, however, in scripture, wisdom is of the heart, and the heart is the seat of desire and reason. Joy is bound up with wisdom, it is something for which we were made.

Biblical wisdom is best defined as insight into true reality, thinking God’s thoughts after him.

It is God-centred. In scripture, only those in relationship with God are described as being wise.

Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. Disciples (or students) of Jesus are meant both to study him and to know the times in which they are living.

We show our wisdom by good conduct (the Greek could be translated as “beautiful life”). Jesus is the perfect example of living in wisdom, always watching to see what the Father is doing.

 

(2) That which is not wisdom

Anything good will be counterfeited.

v. 14 speaks of the heart being orientated to self. Folly starts with a rejection of God and plays out in bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. There is something corrupt in the human heart which desires to see the downfall of others. Haman, in the book of Esther, is a good example of this. Jesus was put to death due to the bitter envy of the religious leaders.

James describes this kind of wisdom as demonic. We should remember that there are two falls, the fall of man, and the fall of Satan, which led to the fall of man. Satan is the world’s greatest example of sin corrupting thought.

Earthly wisdom is a form of religion, trying to provide for God with outward obedience, yet empty in the heart.

The result of these two false wisdoms (the earthly and the demonic) is disorder in life and every vile (that is “worthless” or “trivial”) practice.

True wisdom is found in humbling ourselves before God and receiving wisdom from him.

All of us are building for eternity. This life is not to be toyed with, it matters.

 

(3) Wisdom from above

Wisdom from above is undefiled.

Proverbs 1:7 and Psalm 111:10 both assert that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

To fear God is to recognise that God is God. Yet, for those who believe in Jesus we can approach the Father as beloved sons, because we are in Christ, and the fear which has to do with punishment (1 John 4:17-19) has been taken away. God’s way of bringing his wisdom to us is through the sacrifice of his Son.

Wisdom is a gift. We can receive wisdom by humbling ourselves and committing our lives to God. It is not worth holding on to anything in our lives which will stop us from receiving his wisdom.

Author: Categories: General Tags: , , ,

Listening to God

April 4th, 2011

1 Samuel 3:1-4:1

  • This is a practical message. It shouldn’t freak us out – we were made to hear from God
  • The problem is with us, we have resisted God – we grow complacent and ignore God, which leads us to become deaf. God keeps talking however and is creative with how He speaks
  • This book teaches that listening to God is very important
  • 1 Samuel 3:1 – God rarely spoke as the people had become deaf. This is tragic and dangerous
  • 1 Samuel 3:3 – the lamp was nearly out and Eli the priest was almost blind – situation was very bad
  • God starts speaking again to a little boy – He began with the weakest
  • If it seems that God is speaking we must take it seriously
  • Heb 3:7-11 – challenged to take God seriously
  • Matt 13:9
  • Samuel heard an audible voice – is that normal?
  • In the Bible there are some who uniquely hear God’s voice but there is a hint that we all should – Joel 2
  • It is possible to be a Christian and still live in the Old Testament – saved but not hearing God
  • God expects us to talk and listen to Him – our prayer life should be a 2-way conversation
  • How does hearing God actually work? Are there principles?
  • On the surface there doesn’t seem to be!
  • God spoke to Samuel in a unique way – unlike in Exodus when God’s voice was thunderous God spoke to Samuel like Eli
  • God isn’t predictable! He talks in very different ways
  • God’s style changes but His message is consistent
  • 1 Samuel 3:12 – God is building on what He had already said

 

Keep the Bible central

  • Everything God says matches up to the Bible
  • We test what people say is God by the Bible – the Bible doesn’t have to be tested
  • God speaks through the Bible – it is alive
  • If the Bible doesn’t speak to you, you’re reading it wrong!
  • Preaching is meant to be powerful
  • It is disastrous to wander away from the Bible but still be “spiritual”

 

Serve the Church

  • God speaks for the benefit of everyone
  • When Samuel hears God, he goes to Eli for help and to check out what he’d heard
  • A mistake people can make when God speaks: they get puffed up and start to think they don’t need the church. This is pride and God will stop talking. Be careful and be humble.
  • Hebrews 3: 12-13 – there are two choices: a hardened heart or go to church
  • We need to exhort one another
  • There may be some who feel like they’re in a spiritual desert – this is because they have isolated themselves
  • If God told you something, be humble and submit it to someone
  • If God spoke, it will happen.

 

Accept Pain

  • God will tell you to do something that you’ll not want to do – say something or change something about yourself
  • 1 Samuel 3:15 – Samuel had to tell Eli hard things from God
  • Hearing from God is a privilege but it can bring pain
  • As we learn to walk in obedience God gives opportunities to speak
  • Take risks, sometimes we can be unsure – the more risks we take, the more we grow and learn to discern God’s voice

 

Stay humble

  • Listening to God will be painful and sometimes lonely, but Jesus has been there
  • Matthew 26 – Jesus had to bring awful news
  • We are never forsaken by God and we will never be completely alone