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Posts Tagged ‘shame’

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.

Sacred Mums – 1 Corinthians 7:14

March 15th, 2010

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We often neglect the subject of motherhood, but it is a relevant topic to all of us – at the very least, we were all born of a mother. It is also an incredibly important and significant role within the church, and should be viewed as such. It is means whereby Jesus can be taken into the home and the family, even if the mum is the only Christian in that place (which is mainly who the apostle Paul is addressing in this verse). Mums can bring godly influence.

The Bible esteems motherhood and holds it in great honour, because it is a calling and a gift from God. There are 6 aspects of this calling:

1. Undervalued calling

  • Motherhood is not valued highly in our culture and it is seen as “unfashionable” now to have children.
  • Mums often feel a sense of shame and embarrassment to say they are “just a mum”.
  • It is not seen as a “real job” – even though it is tough, demanding, 24-7 work!
  • Our culture has wrongly evaluated motherhood – but the Bible evaluates it in the right way, and so we need to view motherhood through scripture.
  • Dorothy Patterson – motherhood offers something no other job can: to work with the people you love the most and want to please the most.

2. A noble calling

  • 2 Tim 1:5 – Paul talks about how Timothy came to faith in Christ because of his grandmother and his mother. These 2 women literally changed the world through their role as mothers.
  • The fifth commandment is a command to honour both our mother and our father (Exodus 20:12).
  • The book of Proverbs continually lifts up mothers and their role and demonstrates their influence (e.g. 1:8, 23:25, 31:1).
  • Mothers get to do work on a child’s heart by the grace of God. The heart of a child is what matters – mothers are to shepherd it towards Jesus. All children are born sinful and foolish, and need their hearts to be transformed by God (which only He can do).

3. A warrior’s calling

  • Motherhood has a weak image but the fact is that actually mums are at war.
  • Ephesians 5 – the passage about spiritual warfare – comes right after Eph. 4 – the chapter about how family/domestic life should work. Home is where the battlefield is.
  • Mums need to battle for their children (e.g. in prayer).
  • Gen. 3 – God describes how the power of evil will affect domestic life and in particular, motherhood.
  • Mums need to be a force for God in the home.

4. A rewarding calling

  • Mums can have faith that there will be seasons of blessing, fruit, reward and fulfilment.
  • Prov. 31:28: ‘Her children rise up and call her blessed’.

5. A spiritual calling

  • If God calls, He also equips with grace and power from His Holy Spirit.
  • Mums need to be continually filled with the Spirit, carrying the presence of God.
  • Mums can trust God to act on their behalf.
  • God cares especially deeply about single mums – covered by the term “widows” in the Bible. Psalm 146:9.

6. A God-revealing calling

  • Motherhood reveals something of the character and heart of God.
  • Gen. 3 – God promises that through children, He will defeat the power of evil. Through one child in particular, Jesus, He did this – He reversed the curse.
  • God is also like a mother to us (Isaiah 49:15).
  • God abandoned His own Son so that He would not have to abandon us.

1 Corinthians 6 v 12 – 20 Sex and Purity

February 1st, 2010

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The first experience of sex in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2) was without shame, there were no hang ups. But Adam and Eve fell away from God into rebellion and immediately were ashamed. One of the many results of our rebellion is a sense of shame and embarrassment associated with nakedness and sexuality. We now no longer use sex to worship God but now we can worship sex itself.

God’s model for us is to enjoy sex within a covenant relationship, a lifelong marriage commitment made before God of the body and soul to one another.

In sex we are looking for pleasure
We are designed to look for and find our pleasure in God. God intends pleasure for us and ultimately only He can give it to us. We look for it elsewhere but it can only give limited returns.

Sex is a magnificent gift from God but in itself it makes a terrible God.

In sex we are looking for love and security
We crave physical intimacy because we are looking for love, support, security, protection etc. Again God intended that this need was ultimately fulfilled in Him and Him alone.

A lifestyle pattern can develop of desiring physical intimacy and this, or the person who gives it, can become our saviour.  This can lead to a blinding dependence on people which can lead to abuse.

Defilement and the answer
The reason we are left feeling defiled is really the same reason we feel guilt. We feel guilt because of guilt. We feel defiled because we are defiled.

In the end something has to objectively be done to set us free and the fullest true answer is what Jesus alone can do. Through real repentance, which is rediscovering the person we should have been worshipping in the first place, we can be free. The route to freedom is finding our joy in Jesus.

Through the cross we can receive forgiveness and also cleansing from our sin. Part of the work of the cross is the removal of shame from us. It’s taken away. In our place Jesus has became the scapegoat, he became shame for us.