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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

The Warrior Part 2

February 20th, 2012
  • We consistently face the challenge of taking on the status quo or the prevailing way of doing things.
  • Or we have opposition, like David had his bother Eliab.
  • How did David prevail against Goliath? Faith. He was a man of faith and the Bible teaches that faith is the way to please God and He looks for it.
  • How can we learn to grow in this gift? We take faith to be something it isn’t. The secular world sees faith as something we believe when we know that it’s untrue but faith is a deep persuasion of things that we know to be true. Hebrews 11:1
  • We see God’s hand in creation, in our circumstances, God speaks to us and we have evidence of Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Sam 17:46 – live under peace about what God’s going to do.

Faith is characterised by:

Glorifying God

  • Spend time obsessing about him and get taken up with it – you will grow in faith.
  • Abraham was given children even though he was old. God told him he was going to be a father of many nations – Romans 4:18-21. Abraham grew in faith by giving glory to God

Taking the word of God seriously

  • Samuel 17: 26 – We are a people of God and enemies should be driven out.
  • Most people in the world think the bible is embarrassing. We are always trying to build a bridge between the bible and culture.
  • Listen to God’s word and live by it. The Devil undermines God’s word.
  • Jesus says ‘it is written’. Living in confidence grows your faith.

Taking Risks

  • Our faith is expressed by our actions.
  • David takes risks – he ran toward the battle and had courage.
  • Faith causes us to see things differently when making decisions. Our perspective is changed.
  • The David and Goliath story can be depressing –‘search for the hero inside yourself’ but you won’t find him.
  • We (should) find ourselves in Goliath’s shoes in this story – left to ourselves, that’s what we are, we defy the will of God and his Glory to exalt ourselves. Rom 1:21.
  • People who think they are Davids rather than Goliaths are wrong – ‘nice people’ meet God in the bible and tremble at the presence of God.
  • Cities like Brighton need to recover the shock of the holiness of God.
  • Rev 19:11-16 Jesus is a terrifying Jesus – do not reduce him to Jesus ‘meek and mild’. His best friend fell on the floor like he was dead.
  • One day we will face him – we have all replaced God with ourselves and should be terrified.
  • We should long that God reveal himself to those around us.
  • We need to repent which is bad news and we need to see the bad news before we see the good news
  • The lady was about to be stoned for adultery but Jesus asked ‘whichever of you is without sin’. Jesus knew he was going to take the blame, He knew the part he was going to play and was able to say ‘your sins are forgiven’.
  • Col 2:13-15. Every single piece of guilt and shame was nailed to the cross with Jesus
  • Peter turned into Goliath and cursed Jesus’ name because he tried too much to be like David.

 

Author: Categories: What Kind of King? Tags: ,

Hannah’s Song

March 1st, 2011

1 Samuel 1:21-2:11

  • Hannah did something astonishing – she gave away the one thing she asked for, the one thing she had been longing for her whole life, which was a child. Her baby boy was her answered prayer.
  • Her decision seems irresponsible, but she is actually being bold and is not a victim, but is liberated in this decision.
  • She goes away singing after giving her son to Eli the priest – she expresses her emotion and something of a summary of what she has learnt. She is an extraordinary woman.
  • Her song teaches us a number of things – firstly, that God is holy and unique – He is much bigger and greater than we think, and should be taken more seriously than we do. It is like she is getting our attention and warning us – she has seen what God is like and knows that we cannot just live our lives as we please.
  • God is the only true rock – we base our lives on many things (money, relationships, etc) but they are all useless.
  • Everything we have is a gift of God – He is the only reason we have anything. When we understand that, it is so much easier to give things back to Him.
  • We need to be warned off any arrogance or pride. We are wired to think that if we do good things for God, then He has to do good things for us, like He owes us – many people think this is how religion works. Christianity goes flat in the face of that – it’s based on the arrangement of a free gift. None of us deserve God’s favour or grace or mercy or any of His gifts. We need to get to know the God of mercy who gives way beyond anything we could imagine. This is the God of the Bible.
  • The only thing God could have given to redeem us was Himself – His very own Son. When you meet this extravagant God, you start to see things differently – like the way Hannah did. You begin to live more risks – someone who hasn’t met God won’t take many risks.
  • V.8 – Hannah is saying she can trust in God. Even the poorest, the lowliest can be raised up if they trust in God. This gives us freedom to be generous and take risks because we know that God will look after us – He has our backs.
  • God also guards our feet – He shows us where the next step is and we can trust Him with our future.
  • God meets our needs in the process of risk-taking.
  • Hannah is like another hero of the Bible: Abraham, who was willing to give up his son – the one who was promised and who he waited so long for. Abraham obeyed God and totally trusted Him – even to the point of believing that He could raise his son from the dead.
  • Sometimes God will take us to the wire, where we need to be willing to let our dreams die – willing to give up the things we’ve longed for.
  • God’s desire is to prove Himself – to raise up things in life where we have experienced “deaths”.
  • It’s not that God is a slot machine – but He will always supply our needs. Sometimes He doesn’t provide in the way we’d like Him to, but He is always faithful.
  • We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future – that is what counts.
  • Hannah ended up bearing more children – she didn’t know  or expect that that would happen. We mustn’t presume on what God will do when we give, but we can trust Him.
  • Hannah also learned that she has a greater purpose in life than her own purpose. She speaks of her hope that God will set up a great Kingdom and a great King; at that time there was no king, no order, no standards – she was living in a nation that was far from God, living in darkness. And what came upon her was a terrible sorrow for her nation.
  • God wants us to see the bigger picture – He wants us to have a heart for our nation, for our city – to long for His Kingdom to come.
  • Hannah knows one thing for sure: God will rule one day. And in some way she believes that her giving of her son Samuel to God, He will accomplish this. The greater King was to come.
  • Hannah saw that, if God can do the impossible of giving her a son when she was barren, then He could sort her nation out as well.
  • If God can raise His Son from the dead, He can bring restoration in our nation and our city. He can change the hearts of those who reject Him. This can happen when we give ourselves and our money to God.
  • It’s so much more than just our small dreams – the real dream is Jesus and His Kingdom.
  • God is doing something extraordinary all around the world – but what about our continent, our nation, our city? God will do miraculous things as cities like Brighton become alive with the gospel and Jesus is exalted.
  • Giving is very practical – we have to actually do something. It is also painful. V.24 is very slow – God wants us to understand how hard it was for Hannah.
  • The death of the bull can be seen as symbolic for the death involved in Hannah giving up her son.
  • Be need to put to death the love of money – it will either kill us or we will kill it.
  • It’s appropriate to sing and celebrate when we give – the two things go together.

Did Jesus Do Miracles?

November 29th, 2010

Did the miracles happen?

  • Jesus is well-known for his miracles  or the “mighty works” – not just as a good teacher.
  • We have to come to terms with the miracles. As Western, 21st century people, we try to ignore them – we find ways to escape them or suggest a sense of exaggeration. Like they are legends with inflated stories – well-meaning people wanting to make Jesus look great.
  • People try to pass off the stories as Chinese whispers – legends passed on and added to over time, like Robin Hood. But this won’t do to explain it away – we’ve looked already in previous sessions at how the gospels are well-documented, trustworthy historical documents, which kept to the original facts. Luke is one of the finest historical documents we have.
  • John the Baptist – incredibly well-known and respected in that day – and yet the historical books show not one trace of a miracle. This discounts the idea that popular teachers got inflated with miraculous stories.
  • Jesus’ enemies accused him of doing miracles by the power of the devil – they were trying to explain them away because they were actually happening. They didn’t deny that Jesus was really doing miracles.
  • If these stories were fabricated, the disciples would have come off better in the accounts – but they are not very favourable towards them. They often got it wrong – awkward and embarrassing stories. It’s easy to trust these accounts.
  • Someone (unknown to us, not one of the 12 disciples) was trying to do miracles in the name of Jesus – shows that all across the region Jesus was associated with spiritual powers.
  • It’s bad history to suggest these things were made up. Why then would people believe it was made up? Anti-supernaturalism – ruling out supernatural things – saying they don’t happen at all, like fairy tales. So we fit the evidence around that. But is this reasonable?
  • You can’t scientifically prove these miracles Jesus did – they’re part of ancient history. But does it mean they’re not true? The problem is that not everything can be proven using scientific methods, for example – the very notion that something isn’t true if it isn’t proved scientifically – this statement can’t be proven scientifically! It’s another leap of faith, an assumption.
  • There is an awareness that there is power, a miraculous power. We can take the miracles as history.

Why did Jesus do the miracles he did?

  • Motivated out of tremendous compassion.
  • Feeding 5,000 people from one person’s lunch – wanting to feed them and look after them.
  • So many examples of the mercy and pity and compassion of Jesus – he was always showing it.
  • Look at the way Jesus treated outcasts and those rejected by society, e.g. healing lepers, physically healing a socially outcast woman – those who people couldn’t go near because they were “unclean”.
  • We don’t fully understand how set apart from us God is – how we can’t just waltz on up to him. Bodily diseases like leprosy are symbolic of how unclean we are and how untouchable God is. And yet Jesus showed himself as willing and wanting to help.
  • Example of woman whose back was bent over for 18 years – a terrible infirmity, which would have also been humiliating. The religious leaders cared more about looking after animals on the Sabbath than people, like this woman – saying she shouldn’t be healed. Jesus sees that this is not right – it’s so wrong, not how his Father intended things
  • The man who asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life – Jesus looked on him with love. The same with us – we don’t fully know how much he looks on us with kindness, love, mercy and compassion – he is full of it!
  • Jesus also did miracles for other reasons:

1.     To teach as a parable, e.g. the fig tree that Jesus curses – seems harsh, but he’s really trying to show something symbolically – that God’s people, the people of Israel, are unfruitful and God will judge them.

2.     To show that we can do miracles with faith in him.

3.     To show his authority – his power to forgive sin.

4.     To show the glory of God, to show how glorious he is. We were designed by God to know the glory of God, to be satisfied by his glory. Any other glory we pursue will ultimately disappoint us.

5.     As signs of his kingdom. The world is under darkness and under the power of the evil one, the devil, who is real (not some mythical cartoon-figure), who hates God and hates people. We can see there is evil in the world – and that’s why Jesus came – to destroy the works of the devil and bring in a new, right kingdom – of peace, goodness and wholeness. Jesus won the greatest victory – one day he will completely eradicate sin and sickness and death, bringing in the fullness of his kingdom. We get a taste of it on earth with miracles that happen now. We are all invited into this eternal kingdom, and get to witness signs of it.

Was Jesus Black/White, Rich/Poor, Right/Left?

November 24th, 2010

Luke 12:13-34. Jesus says a number of shocking things – he doesn’t fit into the boxes we put him in. We try to fit him around our agenda but it doesn’t work, because he is the Lord and centre of everything. Jesus is the cornerstone that was rejected – not the conveniently shaped stone we want – but the foundation we all need to build on. Throughout history there have been many ways Jesus has been put into boxes.

1. Was Jesus White or Black?

  • We all have an idea of what Jesus looked like – in the western world we have a view of a white, blonde-haired Jesus, whereas in places like Africa, Jesus is pictured as black.
  • Jesus and Christianity do not belong to any one particular ethnicity or culture.
  • In heaven there will be people from every race, culture, language – a fully diverse people.

2. Rich or Poor?

  • Jesus was a skilled manual labourer – would have earned quite a respectable income for his culture. He came from Nazareth, a town which was generally poor, and his parents also showed themselves to be poor (e.g. in the temple, they offered 2 turtle doves – the sacrifice for poor people).
  • When Jesus was a travelling preacher, it was custom to be kept going by the donations and financial support of others – he was not wealthy, but neither was he destitute.
  • Jesus and his disciples often got by financially completely by faith.
  • There are 2 popular versions that people have got behind – the wealthy Jesus or the poor Jesus. The first camp say rich is good and poor is bad; the second camp same the reverse.
  • But there was no evidence that Jesus was wealthy – no evidence for prosperity theology. But in the other camp, being poor doesn’t make you holy.
  • You can be rich for good reasons – because of hard work, wise handling of finances, integrity, etc. and you can be poor for bad reasons – squandering your money away. But you can also be rich for bad reasons and poor for good reasons.
  • The point is that it’s our attitude to wealth, not wealth itself, that is important. It’s about what you do with the money you have – do you give generously or do you hoard it all for yourself?
  • Money is a terrible deceiver – it makes you think you’re safe and secure, when ultimately you’re not.
  • It’s not a sin to accumulate a lot of money, the same way it’s not a sin to sleep with a sword hanging over your bed – it can just be very unwise and risky.
  • When Jesus talked about the poor being blessed and receiving salvation, what he means is that the poor seem to have a head-start in realising their need for God as they are deeply aware of their needs – whereas the rich think they already have all they need and are content with that.
  • God doesn’t need us – we need him! We are all “in the red” with God – we need him to pay our spiritual debt against him.
  • Money ruins our perspective and takes us away from trusting God.
  • We never have enough money!
  • God knows what you need – he can be trusted to provide. And with that comes real peace, security and rest. He has your back – he will always provide for you.
  • We can give generously with joy, because we know we’ve found something better than riches – Jesus. You deal with your money in the right way when you meet him.

3. Left or Right (Political)

  • This has also been passionately debated through history – was Jesus left-wing or right-wing?
  • In some ways Jesus was right-wing: he knew the ultimate problem is within the human heart (the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart). Jesus said no-one except God is good and we are all evil. So many human decisions/solutions completely ignore the wickedness of the heart.
  • But Jesus did not promote complacency.
  • In other ways, Jesus was left-wing: he brought about the revolution of God’s kingdom and fought for social justice. He was revolutionary about how people can change – not by rules but by a new birth and a changed heart through meeting Jesus.

Ultimately, where you treasure is there your heart is. Jesus is worth everything – you see that when you meet him. You find something better than your own preconceptions, better than riches – Jesus himself.

Hebrews 10:19-25 – The Call to Worship

August 29th, 2010

Worship is not just a part of our church meeting, but the whole of our life. Sometimes the word used for “worship” in the Bible (e.g. Philippians 2) refers to “lifestyle” – how we live our life. It is the life of obedience to God, of bowing down to Him.

However, in looking at corporate worship – what happens when we meet together as the church to worship God? Often we get so locked into our own musical style, but we need to not be so narrow-focused – we need to look at what the Word of God defines corporate worship as and how we can express it. We should have an expectation to meet with God.

There is a concern that there is a greater focus on worshipping God with our minds, and less on heart (will & affections), strength (physical actions), and soul (emotions & desires). The word Jesus uses to describe worshipping the Father in Spirit and in truth is to “kiss” – we come to an intimacy with God, to embrace Him with passion. God made us for relationship – to dwell with us. Sin separated us but the cross reconciles us.

We are now the temple, the dwelling place of God – the holy place that is flooded with God’s presence.

Five reasons/exhortations to worship:

1. The worshipper’s invitation
i. With confidence: Jesus is our High Priest who identified with us and opened the way to heaven, which gives us confidence to approach God. God wants us to cry out to Him.
ii. To enter the holy place: God wants to take us beyond intellectual truth and to experience the presence of God. He wants to lift our expectations. We don’t stop short at the outer court; we come right in with joy, enthusiasm and exaltation.
iii. By the blood of Jesus: we cannot come into God’s presence without the shedding of blood to atone for our sin. We testify together what the Word says the blood of Jesus does for us; we live in victory.
iv. By the new and living way: worship needs to be fresh and not always predictable, while at the same time preserving structure. We need to have bigger expectations of what will happen within that structure.
v. Through Christ our High Priest: our worship needs to be Trinitarian – to the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes our worship acceptable to God. We worship in the Spirit. God is a worshipping God – each member living to worship each other. God sings and spins around with delirious delight over us! We get to join in with His celebration.
vi. With a true, sincere heart.
vii. By faith: in full assurance of faith. Faith grows when we declare truth together.

2. The worshipper’s hope
• We sing songs about our prophetic direction – where we are going as the church and what our mission is.

3. The worshipper’s motivation
• We stir each other up to love and to do good works.

4. The worshipper’s commitment
• We should not and cannot neglect meeting together – it is vital.

5. Worshippers fellowship in the gospel
• Worship goes hand-in-hand with evangelism and spreading the gospel.
• We will naturally witness  to others if worship is our lifestyle.
• Our times of corporate worship can be the times where unbelievers meet God and find saving faith.

Alternative Security 1 Corinthians 3.18 – 4.5

November 30th, 2009

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Security and Boasting

We can base our value, our worth on things totally inappropriate. But no one should boast in man. Boasting leads to and is caused by insecurity.

Stress seems to be caused by our need to prove our own greatness and we can often evaluate ourselves against others. Any peace we get from this is utterly false. Jesus confronts anxiety in Matthew 11. In this passage Jesus delibertely links freedom from stress to humility. This was the difference between us and Jesus, He really was confident in the God who works it out right in the end 1 Corinithians 3.21 ‘Let no one boast in men. For all things are yours’  This is why we shouldn’t boast – all things are yours.

Security and Faith

Boasting (in ourselves and our own achievements) is the opposite of faith. Boasting in God is faith. God runs everything deliberatley for your good.

All things are yours 1 Corinithians 3.22, including the world, life & death. He has given us everything we need for life. Life can be hard but it’s not supposed to be an enemy but we are to see it as God’s gift. We need faith to keep believing this – If you know Jesus you have all you need for life. Even death is ours, if you belong to Christ death is now defeated and we now have nothing to fear in death, it’s ours. To die is now gain.

To enjoy life we’ll need our character shaping, this will help us enjoy God forever. Can be painful and difficult but God is at work in you. You can’t enjoy God unless you are shaped to enjoy God. We can spoil our appetite on small momentary, passing pleasures but we need to have an eternal perspective. The more you are like Jesus the more you will enjoy heaven.

Titus 2.1-2; 6-8; 11-15 Gospel Men

June 29th, 2009

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Paul doesn’t ASSUME believers will automatically live a life in line with the doctrine they have believed. This is a temptation preachers can give in to. There is, and always will be, a specific place – a vital need – for exhortation. Don’t just teach the sound doctrine – teach what ACCORDS with it. Lifestyle, choices, etc.

This is why Titus needs to be tough (good thing he was. He has a tough name too. Paul might have been more worried if he was writing to someone called Rupert). People like debating doctrine all day – but when you suggest their life changes it gets awkward.

But here’s the thing – it must accord with sound doctrine: the grace, which teaches us to say no to ungodliness. How does it do that? It replaces ungodly passions with godly zeal…

With this in place we can be exhorted/instructed as to how we should live… if this is not in place – the exhortation is either water off a duck’s back, a provocation, a miserable burden or a reason for smug moralistic pride…

So the work of Christ comes first. He purifies us and makes this life possible. So how does sound doctrine express itself thru men? N.B. All of Paul’s exhortations have a missional focus. The gospel must have a good rep in the city. Titus needs to ensure this. Guys being stupid are harming the progress of the gospel by distorting it.

The older guys are called to sobriety, dignity, self-control and soundness in faith, love and steadfastness… Paul is using his faith, hope and love trio – but the hope is being expressed in terms of steadfastness. For older guys this would appear the way it shows. Maybe hope is an easier thing for young guys – so older men are called to be sound in steadfastness.

Young men need to be self controlled – and Titus needs to exemplify this. So that men will never shame the gospel.