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Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

What’s The Real Problem?

April 21st, 2011

1 Samuel 4

  • This is a tragic story of Israel’s defeat. It was a case of bad leadership, bad decisions and bad results. They made it worse for themselves.
  • This was before Samuel was judging Israel.
  • Israel were upset – they knew that it wasn’t right that the Philistines were defeating them – they were given this land by God. They asked “why is this happening?” At least they asked the question and wondered why this was happening – could there have been a wrong turn? Some people don’t even ask why it has gone wrong or try analysing it, wondering if they have made a mistake – asking why their marriage/finances/children/work situation is failing.
  • Asking why is one thing, getting the right answer is another thing – and we don’t like the right, honest answers. But when you get the right diagnosis, you can find the right cure.
  • We are “compulsive misinterpreters”.
  • The Bible goes much deeper than we do – it looks at our hearts, the core of who we are – and this is where the real cause of our problems is to be found.
  • It’s not that what has happened to us isn’t real or doesn’t count – but the heart is at the core.
  • Prov. 4:23 – guard your heart above all else, for out of it flows the wellspring of life.
  • If we don’t love the God of the Bible with everything then we will reap mess and error in our life and in the world.
  • The Israelites, rather than looking at their own hearts, just go for a “plaster” option – the centre of it all, Shiloh, becomes corrupt and no one does anything.
  • They go for a religious option – very different to real worship. They took the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle, using it like a religious, superstitious trick, believing the box will save them (as opposed to God).
  • Religion is deceptive because it looks like the real thing but it lacks God and worshipful hearts. Even secular people can be religious – morality. We major on minors and neglect loving God and people.
  • Phineas’ wife – “the glory has gone” – true but also half-wrong. The glory had left decades ago but no one had noticed or cared.
  • We often equate our bad circumstances with the glory being gone – the things we truly care about being gone from our lives. We have all exchanged the glory of God for a lie – for ourselves and for created things.
  • What is at the Shiloh, the centre of your life? What is your glory?
  • We were made for God – we need to get the glory back.
  • The whole story of the Bible is the glory of God returning to our lives and to this world.
  • We think we will work for it but this is not the case. The glory returns to us in the most extraordinary way – God became one of us and displayed His glory through sheer mercy and grace by His cross.
  • God wants the world to know His glory through the grace of His Son – and that is the only way we will know it.
  • Ephesians 1:6.
  • It’s not by trying harder – it’s understanding and knowing the grace of God. It’s so joy- and peace-giving that you would gladly give up anything for it.
Author: Categories: What Kind of King? Tags: , , ,

Mount Carmel – Gunfight at OK Corral

April 19th, 2009

Elijah arrived at Mount Carmel for the showdown with the prophets of Baal. This represents the climax of Elijah’s ministry.

God often allowed Israel to be up against overwhelming odds where his hero stands virtually alone so that God can break in and demonstrate that salvation comes ultimately from God.

Moses stood against mighty Pharaoh and his army. David stood against Goliath and the Philistine army. Each of them stood virtually alone. Gideon had to cut his army down to only 300 to stand against the tens of thousands of Midianites. Each time God wanted to demonstrate His own power to intervene with salvation.

God always needed a mediator who would represent Him through obedience and faith so that He could work through His agent to bring deliverance.

Elijah represented God on this occasion. He showed complete contempt for the false religion represented by Baal. The Bible never suggests that all religions ultimately lead to God. False religion is despised (Romans 1:21-23).

The exposure of false religion
The prophets of Baal begin their ritual leaping around the altar.

They move on to ‘cutting themselves’ and displaying the kind of self-harm sometimes associated with religions that try to rid themselves of guilt through asceticism, special washings, pilgrimage etc.

Thirdly, they raved, moving into a frenzy totally unrelated to life.

Some reject Christianity because of its outrageous claim to be uniquely right. Many would argue, ‘How can only one religion be the right one?’ but this is not a scientific reason to question but rather an emotional response of rejection. It is not logical.

Not all religions lead to the same conclusion.

Restoring the covenant relationship
Elijah invited the people to draw near and rebuild the altar with its reminder of the twelve tribes and God’s covenant relationship to them, as reflected in Exodus 28:17-21 by the twelve beautiful gems on the High Priest’s chest, each expressing God’s tender love towards His people.

Elijah, the obedient servant, prays according to the will of God and fire falls.

Jesus said, ‘If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it will be done for you’ (John 15:7).

Another greater showdown

Before we close, let’s remember another hill where another encounter took place, another crowd stood against a single mediator.

On this occasion, instead of the mediator taunting like Elijah did the prophets of Baal, he himself is being taunted.

‘He trusts in God let Him rescue him if he delights in Him.’

‘If you’re the Son of God, come down from the cross.’

‘He is the King of Israel, let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him.’

No fire falls from heaven. No answer comes from the sky. They cry, ‘He saved others, he cannot save himself.’

If Jesus the great mediator of God is going to save us, he cannot save himself. There can be no answer from heaven. There can be no miraculous escape. He must endure the suffering that others might be saved.

Later, Paul explains, in Colossians 2:14, ‘He cancelled the writing that stood against us with its legal demands. He set it aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to an open shame by triumphing over them.’

He could not save himself because he was saving us.

This is the greatest showdown of all time. Salvation is from the Lord. He must save. He must deliver.

This is Jesus in his glory
King of heaven dying for me.
It is finished, he has done it.
Death is beaten
Heaven beckons me.

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

Author: Categories: Elijah Tags: , , ,