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Posts Tagged ‘Control’

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

Finding Rest in the Shade of God – Song of Solomon 2:3

April 12th, 2010

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‘As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.’

This verse uses the symbolic language of finding rest and relief from the heat in the shade of a tree. Although the book of the Song of Solomon is about romantic love between a man and a woman, it can also be interpreted as symbolic of Jesus and His Bride, the Church.

People often view Christianity as hard work and loading on extra burdens of guilt and shame – but in fact, Jesus does the very opposite. He does precisely what this verse describes – He is like a tree that provides shade from the “heat” of life. Jesus came to give inner rest, as He says very clearly in Matthew 11:28-30: “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 in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The qualification for receiving rest for our souls from Jesus isn’t “you who are spiritual/perfect/righteous” or “you who have it all together” – the qualification is “all who are weary”.

Sitting down

  • you actually have to sit under tree and take advantage of the shade
  • this means letting go, taking the weight off your feet, relaxing

Be still and know

  • we need to stop, to cease striving, to let go of our anxieties and fears
  • it is like God says “Enough!” – that He is in control and cares for us
  • it is when we know that God is God, that we find that shade and inner rest in Him
  • Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’ – the point is that we have to know this, otherwise we won’t benefit from the shade God has for us

Being saved

  • we don’t just need a one-time salvation from Jesus – we need saving from Him daily, to save us from the “heat” of life, from the fears and anxieties and pressures we face all the time

Example of Joseph

  • Joseph faced so much hardship and suffering and injustice, constantly being sinned against – but the fact is that everything that happened to him was a step leading closer to his destiny – to rule over Egypt
  • we are not simply at the mercy of other people and their sin – God is in control and He works all things together for our good and to get us to the place He wants us to be in

The shield of faith

  • Ephesians 6 – the armour of God – says ‘In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one’
  • we need to keep holding our faith up, trusting God and standing our ground, so as to extinguish the fiery darts that the devil sends our way

Breaks & holidays

  • we have missed the point when we view rest as simply having a break or a holiday, where we abandon everything, including spending time with Jesus
  • true rest is found in the presence of God!

The “giants” of life

  • when we merely focus on and are intimated by the giants, we do not trust God and therefore are effectively rejecting Him and treating Him with contempt
  • you’ll never arrive at your destination unless you understand that God provides rest, and that you learn to rest in His shade

The “heat” of a guilty conscience

  • the blood of Jesus cleanses all of our sin and guilt and shame
  • God is just – He will not punish us as well if He has already punished His Son in our place

The presence of Jesus & the fruit He provides

  • ‘in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11)
  • Jesus also provides us with “fruit” in His presence – the closeness His affection and love and tender mercy

The example of Paul

  • Paul lived with a tremendous amount of hardship and suffering and pressure – but it was all so that he could learn that God’s grace is sufficient
  • it is not about the power of “positive thinking”
  • Paul ends up boasting in his weakness because it shows that Jesus is enough for him
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