Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Welcome Home

September 1st, 2011

Graham Marsh

Luke 14:1-22

  • Jesus was invited to the meal but it was set up – they invited a sick man to see if Jesus would heal him – which He did
  • The Sabbath is a day for recreation – it is for our benefit
Jesus didn’t mind being with those who were out to get him
  • We often feel uncomfortable around those we don’t have anything in common with – what did Jesus have in common with them?
  • We need to be in these situations – we are called to be salt and light
  • We need to remember our position and be clear headed – Jesus said stop promoting ourselves – don’t put yourself at the top of the table
  • We exist for God’s glory not our own. It is Jesus seated on the throne, not us
  • Don’t take the seat – wait to be offered it
  • To stop being self-centred, look at Jesus
  • Philippians 2:1-5
  • Humility is knowing our place and being thankful we’re even invited
Everyone on the guest list is disadvantaged
  • This is a room full of ordinary people
  • Why is this story in Luke? Because we are all invited and we all arrived in the same way – we were invited by Jesus
  • We have more in common with the London rioters than we do Jesus
  • In humility, we are invited
  • When we’ve been here a while, we forget what it is like to be new.
  • When we go multi-site there will be many who don’t know what to do
Practical Tips
  1. Not everyone knows someone – be inclusive
  2. Not everyone knows where to go – be helpful
  3. Not everyone knows the routine – be accepting
  4. Not everyone knows they’re welcome – be reassuring
  5. Not everyone knows they’re amongst people just like them – be genuine
  6. Not everyone knows Jesus – be Jesus
  • If you are in, remember the cost and how you got there
  • Come to the feast, there is room at the table

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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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).

The Supremacy of Christ – Hebrews 1:1-3

July 14th, 2010

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The writer of Hebrews compares Christ to what he knows about Judaism – that He is the supreme version of everything (High Priest, sacrifice, etc).

Christianity is not about rules but about the person of Christ.

God has spoken
1. Many times, many ways
2. Last days – spoken through His Son
3. God speaks through what Jesus is

  • Prophecy today is judged by the Word
  • Prophets do speak today, but God speaks to all of us by His Son – not just by what He said but by what He is, which is the very Word of God

Jesus is supreme (v.2-3)
1. He is the heir of all things

  • Jesus conquers all people groups through love
  • Christianity is not a lost cause that will one day fade away – God’s plan is to unite all of creation in Christ, restoring the created order under His headship

2. Through Him, God created the world

  • God spoke and the universe came into existence

3. He is the radiance of God’s glory

  • God speaks to us about His glory through Jesus – in grace and in truth

4. He is the exact imprint of God’s nature

  • We now have access to God through Christ

5. He upholds the universe

  • He sustains all with purpose, moving it all towards a glorious consummation
  • The Son holds it all together

6. He made purification for sins
7. He sat down

  • High Priests in the Old Covenant could never really sit down – the work was never finished
  • Jesus is on the throne – the work is finished – and He is waiting to come back
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1 Corinthians 7: 1-2, 6-9, 25-38. Singleness and Marriage

February 15th, 2010

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Parts of this passage are potentially confusing; ‘It’s good for a man not to have sexual relations with a women’. This seems to contradict Genesis 2 and other scriptures. However, Paul (the writer of this letter) is quoting their (the Corinthians) opinion back to them, this is obviously something they would have said. The bible teaches that sex is good and encourages it wholeheartedly within marriage.

But as well as promoting marriage Paul believes that there is a wonderful role for singleness and is
keen to honour it. Singleness is a unique calling and can bring a liberty to follow God. The bible elevates a certain kind of singleness; for some kind of callings of God singleness can be appropriate.

The church needs to look after and dignify singles and families should be hospitable to them and serve them.

In our culture marriage has a very bad reputation and this has led to people embracing singleness or avoiding marriage for the wrong reasons, even within the church.

People in the church are nervous about marriage and can stay single for some of the following wrong reasons;

  • Concerned that they are loving their prospective partner more than God. They feel they’ve developed a unhealthy devotion which deflects from their relationship with God. Don’t be hooked into false spirituality, If that isn’t a tension we are balancing in courtship perhaps we should question the relationship?
  • The ‘Who is the one mentality’ is also to be avoided. God restored you to sonship not to be a robot. We’ve been given ability to make decisions and choose our own partners.
  • Guys can be picky, they can have a picture of beauty that isn’t biblical. Obviously you need to be attracted to your bride but physical beauty is quite secondary.
  • For some women misinterpretations of what a spiritual man is can hold people back. Don’t look for the ‘platform gift’ or christian eloquence, look at the heart.
  • Fear can hold people back but we can be set free by knowing God. If we are fearful we are then not really enjoying God. If we are exposed to the love of God it will overwhelm fear.

We can make marriages our God and try and make them perfect, this is not possible. There has only ever been one perfect husband.

Story of the bible is one of a husband and a bride.God pursues us as a husband to a bride  He is perfectly faithful to us and utterly beautiful. To see proof of this look at the cross of Jesus Christ where the greatest husband in history died for his wife, the people of God. He is faithful enough to be tortured and murdered for us.

The Loot From His Victory – Isaiah 9: 2-7

January 12th, 2010

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His Righteousness
Through his sacrificial death on the cross he provided righteousness that does not belong to us. We are now declared righteous and the perfect life that Jesus lived is now exchanged for our sinful one.

Communion with Him
We have not been made righteous to feel better about ourselves. It’s for communion with God, it’s so we can know God and have fellowship with Him. We have been rescued for communion.

Victory Over Darkness
Colossians 2: 15 Rulers and authorities have been disarmed (this is talking about satanic power). Although we can be led to believe that satan doesn’t exist and he’s just a comic book character, he does. His greatest trick is to convince us he does not.

At the cross Jesus destroyed Satans kingdom. Jesus has won the decisive battle over all darkness.

By his wounds we are healed. At the cross we find healing.

Grace for suffering
God gives us grace in the midst of our suffering. With Christ we will still suffer, we are not removed from the world, but God gives us grace to be able to endure and even be blessed in our suffering.

The Lord of the Storm

November 9th, 2009

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  • Real World Power
  • Infinite Power
  • Costly Power
  • Call on His Name
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Elijah Prayed for Rain – 1 Kings 18:41-46

June 15th, 2009

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Elijah withdrew from the crowd, as did Jesus. Do you get closed in with God?

Our prayers, based on God’s promises, give us great grounds for asking! Are you laying hold of His promises? He has appointed us to be askers! Be specific.

Elijah prayed fervently. Do you? Don’t lose the reality that prayer is the active exercise of a personal relationship.

Elijah prayed with importunity. Although our requests may not receive instant answers, He knows what we need and what we can handle. Stay tenacious!

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If the Lord is God follow Him

February 16th, 2009

After 3 years’ drought God is ready to speak to Israel again. Elijah who is qualified to represent God because he has continued to stand before God throughout the testing time is called to a fresh encounter with Ahab. On encountering him Ahab calls him Israel’s Troubler. He offers hope but is regarded as trouble. Similar for Jeremiah.
Paul & friends are also seen as people causing trouble in Acts 17:6 (NIV) though in reality they were recorded in Acts 17:2-3 as reasoning, explaining, proving, explaining. We must not be surprised if misrepresented.

Elijah challenges their divided hearts. He draws near to them. Like Jesus he says you cannot serve two masters. We can easily drift into serving two masters. Paul says 1 Corinthians 7:12  All things are lawful but I won’t be mastered by anything. God blesses us with many things but we must beware that none of them begin to master us. We may suddenly discover that we have allowed an idol to grow that now dictates our decisions so we are no longer free to serve Jesus.

Jesus is our model. He always kept the Father central in his thoughts. He always pleased him. His devotion to the Father’s will meant that he embraced the cross. He deserves our unmixed devotion.

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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Jonah 1:11 – 2:10 Turning

January 1st, 2009

Jonah was tossed overboard and died in the sea. There is dazzling Christological significance to this.

It took physical death and resuscitation in the belly of a fish to resuscitate Jonah spiritually. True repentance (for us) is that dramatic and miraculous. It really is a matter of life and death and is something that is well beyond us – ‘salvation belongs to the Lord!’

True repentance means a stripping down of everything we’ve clung to and an acknowledgement that nothing we desire besides God can be GOD. We must take God on His terms or not at all.

When God brings us to this place of glad submission we are vessels fit for his hands again. And he can do anything to get us back into the centre of his will again.

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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