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Archive for August, 2011

Lessons From a 12 Year Old

August 23rd, 2011

Phil Moore

Luke 2:41-47

  • The context: in the Jewish culture of that day, boys were treated as men when they reached the age of 13. Until then they were seen as “nothing”.
  • Jesus is always surprising in the gospels – he acts differently to what we expect. Here we would expect Him to boast about being the Son of God and preach at everyone, but instead He sits and listens.
  • We can learn a lot from the 12 year old Jesus about how to share our faith.
  1. Love like Jesus
    • ‘sitting among the teachers’
    • Jesus was simply spending time with others – not the obvious thing we think of when it comes to sharing our faith.
    • We’re so consumed with communicating the message that we often forget to act like the messenger.
    • Jesus told many parables about people leaving everything and going after the one seemingly insignificant thing (the lost sheep, the lost coin, etc). The parables Jesus told were not meant to be nice stories but were told to surprise us and make us question their seeming ridiculousness.
    • We need to see people as each life that is precious to God. He treasures people – His love is for each person.
    • Sometimes we don’t share Jesus because of fear – but most of the time it’s down to a lack of love.
    • If you genuinely love people, even if you “fail”, God can still use you.
    • Being a smart alec, a self-righteous know-it-all, won’t get you anywhere.
    • Love people and help them.
  2. Ask like Jesus
    • ‘listening to them and asking them questions’
    • Jesus was the last person who needed to ask questions! But questions are the best way to start a conversation about the gospel.
    • Find out about the person you’re with – be quick to listen and slow to speak.
    • We think sharing the gospel is about talking about ourselves.
    • People want to be listened to.
    • Asking questions keeps the conversation going.
    • If you give too much too fast – ramming stuff down people’s throats – they won’t be able to take it; they’ll “vomit” it back up. Prov. 25:16.
    • Questions help you to find out where people are coming from and realise what it is they need to hear.
    • You can’t have a one-size-fits-all message.
    • Ask questions about what people care about.
    • Questions help people realise they need answers.
  3. Share like Jesus
    • ‘Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers’
    • This is where people then start to ask you questions back.
    • The more you ask people about what they believe, the more they’ll ask you about your beliefs.
    • You don’t attack a person – you talk about their beliefs and suggest they may be wrong.
    • People need tour guides not Bible bashers. You see God where other people don’t and you point Him out.

Hospitality and the Nature of God

August 16th, 2011

Revelation 19:6-9

The aim of this first sermon is to launch the “Welcome Home” series and to provide a theological background to the issue of hospitality.

Is there something in the nature and character of God which models hospitality?

A useful clarification to make is that hospitality does not only mean welcoming people into your homes. This series will be using the term
in a wider sense of welcoming people.

Four key words to remember:
• Invitation
• Acceptance
• Fellowship
• Celebration

(1) INVITATION

The marriage supper of the Lamb involves an invitation from God to his church. Of course, the church is united with Christ now, but the marriage supper takes this union a step further – it is a celebration of the church being caught up in the final victory of Christ and never being separated from him.

v. 9 Who is invited? The church. But the church is the bride, how then can the bride be invited? The church corporately is the bride
of Christ. The wedding invitation puts the emphasis on individual believers being welcomed.

God issues personal invitations to us (see James 4:8, Hebrews 4:15-16, Hebrews 10:19 and Matthew 11:28). It is in the nature of God to invite people to himself.

(2) ACCEPTANCE

With us, wedding invitations can be issued out of a sense of duty, but this is not so with God. His invitation to share the wedding supper of the Lamb shows his total acceptance of us. We can be accepted as those who have been justified (i.e. declared righteous) through the sacrificial death of Christ on our behalf. Justification is total acceptance.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “… and such were some of you.” Whatever our background, whatever our past sin, God has accepted us in Christ.

The practical application if this for us is found in Romans 15:7 “Therefore accept one another as Christ has accepted you.”

Hospitality goes beyond duty and must involve acceptance. We should accept one another and associate with people who are not like us, even as Christ left heaven to associate with us. We should keep in good relationship with one another and put things right with one another when they go wrong.

(3) FELLOWSHIP

The world translated “fellowship” is the Greek word koinonia which is basically untranslatable. It speaks of sharing, of relationship and also can be used of marriage. At the marriage supper of the Lamb, we will have eternal fellowship with Christ.

We can offer hospitality out of position, as paying guests. We do indeed have a position as those who are “in Christ” but we have been given this status in order than we can know God and have fellowship with him every day.

Revelation 3:20 – Christ desires to have fellowship with the local church.

(4) CELEBRATION

The strongest element of the marriage supper of the Lamb as described in vv 6-9 is celebration. Jesus ate with sinners in celebration of their redemption. Just by sitting and eating together (even if it is just a cup of tea) we too can celebrate.

Celebration is in the very nature of God.

One practical application of this is the way in which we practice the Lord’s Supper. Communion should be a celebration, not a grim
ritual. Yes, we remember the death of Christ, but, through the bread and wine, we celebrate our redemption and look forward to that day when the Lord’s Supper will pass away and be replaced by the marriage supper of the Lamb, to which Christ has invited us, where we are accepted, where we will have fellowship with him and where we will celebrate his victory and our redemption.

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Jesus’ Invitation

August 8th, 2011

On one as Jesus was teaching in the towns of Galilee he said,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

These are words of invitation, mercy and love. They speak of ‘having a rest’ yet this invitation of Jesus is much more profound. It is
tender and reveals the character of Jesus’ heart as it is about relationship rather than a course of action.

The Invitation

It is for the weary and the burdened rather than for those who impressively perform. In context it was probably spoken to religious people who constrained and burdened by rules and regulations in attempting to gain favour with God through performance. On other occasions Jesus spoke critically about the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Matt 23:1-39; Luke 11:37-52) and it seems that these hindrances to having a relationship with God were behind Jesus’ invitation.

In contrast Jesus offers a relationship without a heavy load. It strips away any sense of a performance orientated culture so that
there is no need to self-assess against how well ‘we do the stuff’ (e.g. prayer, read the bible, etc.). Asking what we have to do to keep it up only leads pressure and guilt where we feel better by accomplishment but are disappointed when we fail to make the standard. This results in being like Martha (Luke 10:38-42) who was anxious about many things. Jesus’ invitation to come and find rest is an offer of freedom from being driven.

Additionally it is an offer to non-religious people looking for inner peace. This is illustrated by Zacchaeus (Luke 19) and the woman at the well (John 4) who were seeking fulfilment in money and relationships respectively. This inevitably leads to disappointment. Thus the invitation of Jesus is ‘come to me all you who are weary.’

A Crisis

The crisis comes with an awareness of what God has done through Jesus Christ. Jesus’ promise to provide rest arise from his actions to remove our guilt. He came to serve and to be a ransom for many. Through his sacrifice on the cross his righteousness is credited to us and our consciences are cleansed. There is no longer any condemnation, i.e. we get peace and rest for our souls. Tragically we often behave like some of the Christians at Galatia (Gal 3) and try and add practice to our salvation. There is no need for Jesus sets us free.

A Process

The process is described by Jesus as ‘taking his yoke.’ What this means is to take what he is giving. Taking his yoke means learning of and from him. This may mean unlearning things as illustrated in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says ‘you have heard’ (stuff to unlearn) ‘but I say to you’ (stuff to learn from Jesus). By being yoked, in close relationship, with Jesus we hear his voice and learn to be content in all situations and contexts.

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The Lamb of God

August 8th, 2011

Leviticus 1-17

  • Lev 1: 1 God is a speaking God, but we are not always a listening people. In the Old Testament He speaks through Prophets but in the New Testament he speaks to us through the words and teaching of Jesus.
  • The offerings that they bring in this passage are something given to God. The word for offering is ‘corban’ which also means
    ‘to come near’. We can understand offering as an invitation from God to draw near to him. He is inclusive and anyone can come.
  • The offerings given were animals and the type was determined by money and position. The rich would bring a bull, the not so rich a lamb and the poor a pair of birds.
  • The offerings were burnt and the passage instructs how to bring the offering but what can we learn from this (imagining that the worshipper brings a lamb)?

Burn the Lamb

  • God loves passion in our worship. The worshipper brings an offering to get near to God – is it in our heads every Sunday to draw near to God?
  • God is with us all the time, but it says in James 4:8 ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’.
  • Offering was expensive, to burn a whole lamb would have been costly the lamb was without blemish or defect; the worshipper chose the best one – what will our worship cost us? Today, the most costly thing tends to be time.
  • There are so many possible distractions on Sundays nowadays that we must make sure that we don’t make church on a Sunday just one of a list of options.
  • Passion for God is not just experienced on Sundays but we experience God’s presence most strongly when we meet with God’s community of people. We should be expectant to meet with God on Sundays in a fresh and exciting way.
  • It will cost us time to be passionate to worship God and to spend time in prayer.
  • The worshipper cuts the lamb and washes it and gets blood on his hands. He is very involved and hands-on, he isn’t just
    expecting the priest to do it for him. Are we demonstrating that kind of worship?
  • You can be worshipping with your body and your voice but not your heart. Get involved and get engaged.
  • God loves the smell of the burnt offering – the passion of the worshipper is like wonderful perfume to him.

Look to the Lamb

  • Personal offering – the individual wanted to get near to God to get atonement for sin.
  • Genesis 3:21, when Adam and Eve were fallen andashamed of being naked, God clothed them in animal skins to hide their shame and sin.
  • John the Baptist points to Jesus Christ as the lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world. Jesus is the lamb who was slaughtered.
  • The OT animal sacrifices foreshadow Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice in the NT. The old system of sacrifice could never wipe out
    sin for all time. Jesus was given a body of flesh which he laid down for us to wipe out sin in the one perfect sacrifice.
  • The priests in the tabernacle/temple (where offerings were brought) worked for two weeks non-stop to deal with the sacrifices of worshippers.
  • Hebrews 10:11 – after Jesus’ single sacrifice, he is now sat down at the right hand of God. His sacrifice never has to be repeated. It is finished.
  • Stop fretting and being anxious and look to the lamb – we are clean and righteous before God.

Lean on the lamb

  • When worshippers brought lambs to be sacrificed, they would place their hands on the lamb’s head to make atonement.
  • They would lean on the lamb in prayer and confession of sin, and to identify themselves with the animal.
  • It was symbolic of transferring the sin – a slaughter and death took place. Leviticus 17:11,  the life is in the blood of the lamb. The sinner’s blood is not shed, despite sin but it is the lamb’s blood that is shed.
  • For us, the cost has been paid by Jesus Christ which perfectly fulfils the OT sacrifices. His life was taken, he carried the punishment and has paid the full cost.
  • There is an open invitation to draw near to God but there is only one way – lean on the lamb.
  • We must be careful not to lean on other things; fear, materialism, the world, ideas, ourselves.
  • Be full-on in passionate worship to God.
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The Lamb of God

August 2nd, 2011
  • Lev 1: 1 God is a speaking God, but we are not always a listening people. In the Old Testament He speaks through Prophets but in the New Testament he speaks to us through the words and teaching of Jesus.
  • The offerings that they bring in this passage are something given to God. The word for offering is ‘corban’ which also means ‘to come near’. We can understand offering as an invitation from God to draw near to him. He is inclusive and anyone can come.
  • The offerings given were animals and the type was determined by money and position. The rich would bring a bull, the not so rich a lamb and the poor a pair of birds.
  • The offerings were burnt and the passage instructs how to bring the offering but what can we learn from this (imagining that the worshipper brings a lamb)?

Burn the Lamb

  • God loves passion in our worship. The worshipper brings an offering to get near to God – is it in our heads every Sunday to draw near to God?
  • God is with us all the time, but it says in James 4:8 ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’.
  • Offering was expensive, to burn a whole lamb would have been costly the lamb was without blemish or defect; the worshipper chose the best one – what will our worship cost us? Today, the most costly thing tends to be time.
  • There are so many possible distractions on Sundays nowadays that we must make sure that we don’t make church on a Sunday just one of a list of options.
  • Passion for God is not just experienced on Sundays but we experience God’s presence most strongly when we meet with God’s community of people. We should be expectant to meet with God on Sundays in a fresh and exciting way.
  • It will cost us time to be passionate to worship God and to spend time in prayer.
  • The worshipper cuts the lamb and washes it and gets blood on his hands. He is very involved and hands-on, he isn’t just expecting the priest to do it for him. Are we demonstrating that kind of worship?
  • You can be worshipping with your body and your voice but not your heart. Get involved and get engaged.
  • God loves the smell of the burnt offering – the passion of the worshipper is like wonderful perfume to him.

Look to the Lamb

  • Personal offering – the individual wanted to get near to God to get atonement for sin.
  • Genesis 3:21, when Adam and Eve were fallen and ashamed of being naked, God clothed them in animal skins to hide their shame and sin.
  • John the Baptist points to Jesus Christ as the lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world. Jesus is the lamb who was slaughtered.
  • The OT animal sacrifices foreshadow Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice in the NT. The old system of sacrifice could never wipe out sin for all time. Jesus was given a body of flesh which he laid down for us to wipe out sin in the one perfect sacrifice.
  • The priests in the tabernacle/temple (where offerings were brought) worked for two weeks non-stop to deal with the sacrifices of worshippers.
  • Hebrews 10:11 – after Jesus’ single sacrifice, he is now sat down at the right hand of God. His sacrifice never has to be repeated. It is finished.
  • Stop fretting and being anxious and look to the lamb – we are clean and righteous before God.

Lean on the lamb

  • When worshippers brought lambs to be sacrificed, they would place their hands on the lamb’s head to make atonement.
  • They would lean on the lamb in prayer and confession of sin, and to identify themselves with the animal.
  • It was symbolic of transferring the sin – a slaughter and death took place. Lev 17:11,  the life is in the blood of the lamb. The sinner’s blood is not shed, despite sin but it is the lamb’s blood that is shed.
  • For us, the cost has been paid by Jesus Christ which perfectly fulfils the OT sacrifices. His life was taken, he carried the punishment and has paid the full cost.
  • There is an open invitation to draw near to God but there is only one way – lean on the lamb.
  • We must be careful not to lean on other things; fear, materialism, the world, ideas, ourselves.
  • Be full-on in passionate worship to God. 
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