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Posts Tagged ‘God’

Fathering

June 22nd, 2011

Ephesians 6:1-4

  • Some people don’t have good fathers – we must look to God and see that He isn’t just better than most, He is the perfect Father

Fathering is a leadership role

  • 1 Corinthians 11:3 – God has given men authority over the home – they must not abuse this position
  • Fathers must place themselves completely under Jesus

A Father’s Vulnerable Area

  • vs 4: it would have been very counter-cultural when it was written
  • Father’s must take their children’s feelings into consideration
  • Some things that provoke children are: sarcasm, perfectionism and harsh discipline

Four Keys to Being a More Effective Father:

1) Looking forward and keeping the bigger picture in mind

  • Psalm 127:4 – children are like arrows in a warrior’s hand
  • The ultimate goal is changing a rough stick into a sharp arrow – raising Jesus-like figures ready to be sent out

2) Looking backward and remembering what you were like

  • Remembering how you were will give you grace towards your children
  • Remember the authority styles you had – you might not have liked them but may be coping them

3) Looking inward and looking at yourself

  • This is relevant to everyone – not just fathers
  • Be a credible leader – check how you are doing in:

- your understanding of grace
- your walk with God
- dealing with authority
- resolving conflict
- controlling your tongue
- attitude towards money and possessions
- fighting temptation
- commitment to the local church

4) Looking upward to God and living by faith and not by sight

  • 2 Corinthians 5:7
  • Areas where we can walk by faith include investing time when other influences seem strong in your child’s life and remembering past victories
  • Have faith when things are tough at home – we have the gift of prayer and the power to say “no” to Satan. Talk in tongues and remind God of prophecies not yet fulfilled
  • Even if you do all this there are no guarnantees
  • When children grow up they make their own decisions and this sometimes means walking away from God – God wants to remove the blanket of shame you have

Great fathers lead with:

  • Grace

Bring children up with tenderness, care and love. They have an emotional tank that you need to keep filling up

  • Discipline

This is not about punishment, it is about training. Deep down, children want boundaries.

God fathers us with grace and discipline – Hebrews 12:4-11

 

 

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God as a Father

June 20th, 2011

John 14:1-11

We see the Father in the Son

The God of the Bible is one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted to make clear that, although he is not the Father, that we can see the character of the Father through him, that he shows the family likeness. (see Colossians 1:15)

Like Phillip, we can often fail to see the Father. It is not that God is hiding from us, but, that that we are so busy looking over Jesus’ shoulder looking for the Father that we fail to see the Father in Jesus, as though God becoming a man were too obvious for us. Are we trying to “crack the code” of who God is, or are we seeing the Father in the person of Jesus?

We know the Father through the Son

If we want to know what someone is like, we spend time listening to them. The wisdom of a father is a wonderful thing. We have a whole book of fatherly wisdom in the Bible.

Furthermore, Jesus reveals to us that the Father is personal. This can be quite difficult for us. In the Facebook age many people have more communication with others than before but fewer personal relationships. This struggle with personal relationships can be seen in the following common ideas about God/spirituality which we often encounter:

1. God is a force rather than a person

2. God is not an authority involved in people’s lives

3. We should maintain independence from God, tuning into him when needed.

Even some Christians can keep God at arm’s length, so as to make him convenient. True relationships are often inconvenient but they are more important than anything else in the world.

We can identify that a love is not genuine if it is (1) limited, (2) controlling or (3) detached.

(1) In Jesus we know a God who is not limited in his involvement with us, who became a man, kneeling down, as it were, to put himself on a level with us.

(2) In Jesus, we see that the Father’s love is not controlling. Jesus came not to be served but to serve, associating himself with the poor and broken.

(3) In Jesus, we see that the Father’s love is not detached. Jesus made himself vulnerable, looking at the crowds with compassion and weeping at the tomb of Lazarus.

Our relationships with our earthly fathers often influence our view of God as a father. No earthly father is perfect, even those who are good, and, sadly, many fathers are absent or abusive. We can look at the fatherhood of God through the lens of our own earthly fathers.

However, from Ephesians 3:14-15 we can see that the true picture is the other way round. Our earthly fathers, instead of providing us with an image of God’s fatherhood, are instead a broken reflection of his eternal fatherhood. God is the original father.

We come to the Father through the Son

In Luke 3:21-22 we see how God affirmed his Son through an audible voice at the start of his earthly ministry. It is as if God were saying, “That’s my boy!” and this affirmation echoes throughout Jesus life of service and sacrifice. Jesus shows his obedience to his Father’s will by bearing the weight of our sins on his shoulders. Even here the Father is saying, “That’s my boy!” at his Son’s sacrificial obedience.

At the end, the Son is abandoned by the Father. The worst suffering of the cross is that the Son suffers the loss of the Father and the Father the loss of the Son. The Father’s love is greater than we can understand, he did not spare his only Son but gave him up for us that we too can become sons and daughters of the Father.

Through Jesus, we can be rescued into God’s family. Our separation from God is dealt with at the cross and we can know the Father.

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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

Hannah’s Fight

January 31st, 2011

1 Samuel 1:1-20

  • This time we are looking at Hannah herself – we can learn so much from her as a mighty pray-er.
  • In her pain she prays – but she goes further than just a plea for help, which even atheists might do.
  • Barrenness – a symbol in the Bible of national failure and fruitlessness, when God’s people turn away from Him, replacing Him with other gods. All of humanity has done this and in return we reap corruption, pain and suffering in this world.
  • God speaks through this picture of a barren woman. God doesn’t want us to be fruitless.
  • When we get to that point of desperation of barrenness, that’s where God can work. He loves using impossible situations and loves being strong in our weakness. He wants us to turn to Him.
  • God was the one who closed Hannah’s womb – seems final – but He is open to changing the situation. God is sovereign over all and yet people in the Bible have wrestled with God and pushed through and succeeded – e.g. Jacob, Moses, etc.
  • God is not offended by us arguing with Him – rather He listens and seems to like relating to us in this way.
  • Hannah has every reason to just be depressed and give up, but she believed that she could also be a hero in prayer like the great and mighty figures of the past, despite being just an ordinary woman.
  • Instead of being inspired by the great pray-ers, we can sometimes be discouraged. Do what Hannah did – press through to God anyway; come with all your passion and emotion and longings.
  • God wants us to wrestle with Him – still with reverence and submission, but wrestling nonetheless.
  • Mark 7:25-30 – Jesus says what he says to the Gentile woman in order that she might persevere and to see what kind of fight she had; she did indeed argue with Him and succeeded. Oftentimes we get offended by God, but we need to just press through.
  • God wants us to be stubborn in prayer – all Christians are invited to this!
  • It’s so easy to fall into self-pity, but we are to never give up.
  • Sometimes God purposefully makes it hard for us to see what kind of fight we put up.
  • Jesus told us to pray and no give up.
  • We don’t pray to be religious or spiritual.
  • Be careful when looking at Hannah’s example – in order to persevere through all her suffering she must have been filled with the same Spirit as the Great Pray-er, Jesus Christ.
  • Hannah points us to Jesus. She got what she asked for eventually, but when Jesus asked the Father to take away the cross, He didn’t get His request answered (Matt. 26:36-36). He prevailed when no-one else stood by Him.
  • Jesus is our sympathetic High Priest. Because of His unanswered prayer when He asked for the cross to be removed, we are now able to confidently draw near to God’s throne of grace (Heb.4:14-16).

Was Jesus God?

October 25th, 2010

The Bible is very clear, in countless places, that Jesus was God. E.g. John 1:1-5; 9-14 – John, who was a close friend and disciple of Jesus, clearly states that Jesus was God. Other Scriptures include Romans 9:5, Titus 2, Hebrews 1, Colossians 2:9. Jesus was understood to be God right at the start of Christianity – it wasn’t added later.

But  was that what Jesus meant? Did Jesus believe that of himself?

1. Did he think he was God?

  • Mark 2 – Jesus heals a paralysed man but more shockingly, pronounces his sins forgiven, despite never having met this man before. Jesus is claiming that he is the one who has ultimately been wronged, that he is God (and only God can forgiven sins. This outraged the religious leaders of the day.
  • Matthew 5, 6 & 7 – when Jesus was teaching the crowds and quoting from the Torah – the holy book – he suggests he has authority to “go one better”, which was shocking in the Jewish culture.
  • Matthew 12 – Jesus says he was greater than the temple, the holy place of worship where men met with God.
  • John 17 – Jesus says that he and the Father (God) are one – claims equal standing with God.
  • When he was being interrogated by the religious leaders before being crucified, Jesus gave them a mind-blowing answer, saying “Before Abraham was, I AM” – claiming that he was God eternal, using the same name that God used to reveal himself to Moses in Exodus (“I AM that I AM”). This is an incredible name – speaks of power, immortality, self-sufficiency – something that commands awe.
  • Jesus was very clear – he was not just a “good man” but God himself. Good men don’t claim to be God!

2. Was he lying?

  • Was Jesus a conman? Is this the biggest hoax in history?
  • Apart from not looking like a conman (being known for his kindness and love and mercy), he didn’t gain anything from claiming to be God. People only con in order to get something – but all Jesus got was trouble, suffering and a gruesome death. There is no logic.

3. Was he insane?

  • Perhaps he had lost it mentally? Maybe he had a divinity complex? Some people have had this.
  • But people like that don’t tend to be gracious, loving, humble, kind, etc. Jesus was obviously a very balanced person. In fact, he was also famous for his wisdom and brilliant mind; huge crowds followed him because they wanted to hear what he had to say – his teaching and insight.

4. Was he a mystic?

  • Some people agree that Jesus was neither lying or insane, but they say that what the real meaning of what he meant and what he said was missed. Was Jesus the first century sage/guru, like Buddha and Oprah Winfrey? Was he just god the same way everything is god and we are all part of god (pantheism) – and that Jesus came to enlighten us that we are all mystically connected to god?
  • But there is no evidence for this – Jesus did not ever teach this.
  • Some say he was just trying to accommodate to Jewish understanding – and yet this doesn’t hold, because Jesus frequently went against people’s expectations and the cultural norms of the day.
  • He was a terrible guru if that was all he was!
  • The only conclusion left is that Jesus really was who he said he was.

5. God became a man

  • God had to reveal himself to us. We don’t like this idea because we have our own notions and preferences of what God should be like – but what makes our ideas right?
  • Jesus is the revelation of God – of what he is like. God is found in Christ.
  • Jesus said he who has seen him has seen the Father.
  • One thing Jesus reveals – that God enters into our suffering and pain, and cares deeply for us and weeps with us.
  • Jesus identifies with us, and carried our sin and guilt and shame on the cross. Because he’s God he can deal with it, and because he’s man he can identify with us and be our substitute.