Posts Tagged ‘Sin’

How to ruin your life: Can you miss destiny?

October 10th, 2011
  • Saul was a tragic figure – he did not fulfil his potential. Let that not be our story.
  • We may ask, how can we shape our destiny when God is sovereign and in control of everything? The simple answer is – don’t try to be too clever. We are responsible for our own decisions. We must hold these two truths together, even though we can’t fully understand it. God comes down to our level and relates to us like a parent does with a child.
  • God is not thrown by our intelligence or cleverness.
  • God is responsive to our actions. Those who honour God, God honours them.
  • Saul’s heart grew farther and farther away from God – he didn’t fulfil God’s plan for his life.
  • Two ways we can ruin the destiny of our lives:
  1. Avoid Jesus
  • Saul did encounter God in great ways – but he gradually turned away.
  • You can resist God all your life. We are all born to resist, reject and avoid God.
  • Luke 7 – the religious leaders avoided the baptism of John – and it said ‘they rejected the purpose of God for themselves’.
  • In being too clever and proud we can be in real danger of missing out on God’s plan for us.
  • The heart is the issue – we make up all kinds of excuses for avoiding God and we think our rejection of Him is all intellectual – but the real issue is our heart that is fundamentally against God.
  • Left to ourselves we don’t truly want God – or even heaven, the place where Jesus lives and rules over absolutely everything.
  • Sin is basically saying God is not important enough for us, is not as important as we are. Therefore we are all sinners.
  1. Drifting
  • Saul gradually lost his priority with God.
  • We can so easily do this – it is incredibly easy. All we have to do is not keep God the focus.
  • We can drift in very subtle ways.
  • Let us fix our minds on Jesus.
  • You can drift by letting distractions carry you away.
  • It’s possible to be saved by to miss what God saved you for.
  • The Saviour of the world who was the great son of David was supposed to be the son of Saul.
  • God has signed you up for custom-made plans.
  • Israel refused to trust God and they put Him to the test several times. Therefore they didn’t reach the destiny God had for them and they died in the desert.
  • Don’t be presumptuous about the promises/plans/calling of God – both individually and us as a church.
  • Desire to do something with your life.
  • 1 Corinthians 11 – Paul talks about the people who were sick and dying as judgement for messing around with communion. God doesn’t want a ludicrous Church. He judges His Church and may bring some home early, like taking them off the pitch.
  • If you’ve messed up for your life and have been resisting God, there is hope. Saul was told off so that he might change and repent.
  • God is more long-suffering and merciful than we think. His ways are not our ways.
  • King David messed up horrendously – but he repented and turned back to God and God took away his sin, and the plan for David’s life continued.

Jesus died on the cross so we could find grace and be able to turn back to Him.

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The Sin of Doing Nothing

March 27th, 2011

1 Samuel 2:12-36

  • This time we are looking at Eli.
  • There seem to be 2 ways of living here – Eli’s way or his son’s way – but both, we will find out, got it wrong.
  • The sons are flagrantly wicked – they are greedy bullies who take things and women for their own gratification. This is not unusual in our day.
  • Eli seems the polar opposite – the “nice” guy, the “good” guy. He is effectively in charge of Israel – the closest to a king in that day.
  • When God sends a rebuke, He sends it not to the 2 sons but to Eli – because Eli is responsible and held responsible. A shocking speech is delivered to Eli – fierce prophetic judgement. But why? Eli didn’t do anything! That is exactly why – he did nothing and that is what he is rebuked for.
  • If we’re not in the camp of the 2 sons we think we are “good”, because we’re not doing anything.
  • We think there are 2 ways of living – the “wicked” way or the “good” religious way. We think we can placate God through religious acts – but we can’t.
  • There is the sin of commission but also the sin of omission – not doing the right thing. Eli’s failure is omission.
  • But didn’t Eli try to sort his sons out? The hint is in the language he uses – he only really cares about people’s opinions, about the public reputation of him and his family rather than the honour of God.
  • We often do the same to keep our conscience clear – we speak out against bad things and show off our disapproval. But there is a huge difference between disapproving or complaining about something and actually doing something about it.
  • “Tear your hearts and not your clothes” was a familiar saying of the prophets.
  • Eli’s story is a massive warning to us.
  • Eli is so different to Christlike people of the Bible, e.g. Job. Job 1:15 – Job wants to honour God in every way he can.
  • V.29 – Eli is probably in on the deal of the stolen meat – it’s inconvenient for him to change things because there is gain for him in it. Similarly, we let things persist that shouldn’t because we gain from them.
  • V.29 – God asks Eli why he honours his sons about Him.
  • There is something at the root of all of our decisions.
  • It is possible to dishonour God through respectable, religious ways – like Eli did.
  • Many things we put before God sound right and respectable.
  • If you make anyone else into a god – such as your kids – and put them first above God, you will actually harm them. God needs to be first always.
  • Sometimes we disobey God because we’re frightened of hurting other people – but we’re trying to play God.
  • Kids, marriage, etc can all take us away from putting God first. The idol of popularity can also squeeze honouring God out of the picture.
  • Eli probably wanted his sons to like him and so put them first – ironically though, they don’t like him and don’t listen to him.
  • We are made to show the world what God is like – to be His representatives.
  • What is happening on your watch, under your radar? In other words, what are you allowing to happen?
  • Matt. 10:34-39 – Jesus is kind enough to show us that anything else we put in the place of God will harm and destroy us.
  • Worship is like petrol – you wouldn’t give it to your kids, but only your car. Similarly, you need to give worship to the right source – God.
  • To dishonour God is a dangerous thing – there is nothing worse than God dishonouring you, giving up on you and not speaking to you. You could even be saved and yet still dishonour God for years.
  • How do we honour God? It is neither the evil or the religious way.
  • Only one person truly has honoured God – Jesus. It comes from the heart – loving righteousness and doing the right thing, utterly focused on honouring God above all else.
  • This is a gift given to us by Jesus – we cannot do it ourselves. This is the third way to live – coming to Jesus and receiving His grace to live.
  • Jesus died and rose again for us to give us a new life and new heart that loves righteousness. We partner with Him – He is a loving Master who helps at every stage and transforms us by His power.

The Test of Faith

March 14th, 2011


James 1:2-4

  • James is the brother of Jesus but doesn’t mention this – only referring to himself as the servant of God; the bond-slave of Jesus Christ.
  • Although James cared about God’s teaching, he was an unbeliever of Christ for a large part of his life (John 7:5, Mark 3:21).
  • James believes in Jesus when the risen Christ appears to him (1 Corinthians 15:7). James was profoundly affected and later became leader of the Church in Jerusalem.
  • The book of James assumes that all readers are followers of Jesus Christ. Of 108 verses, 60 are commands. It is important to remember that Christianity is not moralism – James tells Christians how to live in a godly way in light of what we have become in Christ. First we must accept the Saviour, then we can receive advice.
  • We must look at our brothers and sisters and be able to see qualities of Christ, the refining of godly character. Non-Christians looking in must be able to see this life lived out – to see the action that comes from being loved by God.

The doctrine of joy in trials

  • Count it only joy when you meet trials and times of testing, rather than looking at it as punishment or the absence of God.
  • The word ‘meet’ is not sufficient, we will be set upon by trials and they will be sudden and savage. Everybody who wants to live a life in Jesus will be persecuted (2Timothy 12). But we must find God’s purpose within the trial, rather than just praying that he remove it.
  • Trials might come in God calling us to hard things which might require the laying down of cherished things. Whether these sacrifices of our own desires are sinful or not, God is calling us to sonship and His intent is for us to receive the riches of Christ.
  • We must count it (the testing of faith) all joy because trials produce endurance/steadfastness. We gain stability in the place of anxiety and confusion. God wants to show us what we’re made of and to trust him in our time of testing. All things work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

James 1:12

Difference between temptation and trial

  • Temptation and trial are similar in that they both mean ‘testing’.
  • Temptation is often associated with overstepping and being indulgent. God sees it as selling ourselves short and settling by not attaining to that which he has purchased for us. We must trust his ways, otherwise we will be left disappointed and bitter.
  • We are also tempted to doubt, fear and avenge. But His perfect love drives out fear.
  • There are two shades of testing. Trials test us to prove character and to show us what we’re made of. Temptation aims to disprove and tests us for destruction.
  • The Devil is the one who tempts us, but he can only do it with our own desires and with a door that we have left open. Do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:22).
  • Temptation can lead to sin and in doing so, will affect our view of God. We must repent and break the barrier that we have created with it.
  • 1 Corinthians 10 – God will not tempt us beyond what we can handle. He is sovereign and has control over everything, even the Devil. He does not commit evil but permits it to happen for His purposes.
  • Evil comes from ourselves and what man has done with his relationship with God. We ushered death into the heart of creation.
  • We have a will and our will may suggest ideas to us, but if we are in Christ, then our will is under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Tempted in every way but without sin

  • It was God’s will to lead Jesus into temptation and to test his resolve, but Jesus’ weapon was scripture. The words of God in the hands of his children are powerful.
  • Jesus experienced temptation to a far greater extent, we give in before it can fully take hold.
  • Because Jesus was tempted, we have a high priest who can identify with our struggles and walk us through them.
  • God wants to establish us; He is looking for progress and wants to restore and build us up. We must take action (Job 5:17-18).

Romans 3: 1-8

February 16th, 2011
  • At the beginning of Romans Paul is teaching about why we need the Gospel
  • Later on in Romans, he is sharing the joy of the Gospel
  • Romans 1: Paul explains to the Gentiles that they are sinners
  • Romans 2: He is explaining to the Jews that the law itself won’t save them
  • Romans 3: He answers three questions:
  1. The faithfulness of God
  • The Jews had been given the oracle of God
  • There is great advantage to growing up in a Christian home – you get off to a flying start, but this isn’t enough – we need to encounter God
  • The Jews thought the problem was God – in today’s world the objection is to sin, war, sex trafficking etc.
  • Vs 4: Paul’s response is from the Greek translation of Psalm 51
  • King David was judged for his sin with Bathsheba – God is just and His will be done
  • Revelation 4 & 5: key theme – the throne of God à however messy and chaotic the world is, God is sovereign – we need to look up and see God
  • God’s purposes and promises come to pass as God is faithful
  • God is in control – He is always on the throne
  1. The righteousness of God
  • Argument: God is being unrighteous because He could just forgive us – people ask: what gives God the right to judge me?
  • Vs 6: how then can God judge the world?
  • People want justice and judgement, just not for themselves
  1. The grace of God
  • God seeks us out
  • People think that more evil is needed so God can do more good – this is not true! – Paul says if you think like this than your condemnation is just
  • Romans 6 – Paul asks the same question and his answer is “by no means!”

What they teach us:

  1. We are not the first people to face objections and challenges
  • Even Jesus faced trouble – people tried to trick Him and catch Him out
  • The Gospel demonstrates the wisdom of God
  • 2 Corinthians 4: 2-6 – we understand the Gospel because God let the light in
  1. Take care how we speak
  • Sometimes we are logical not Biblical
  • Titus 2: 11-12 – grace teaches us to say “no”
  • Don’t abuse grace
  1. We need to be clear on the principles
  • God is faithful
  • God is righteous
  • God is full of grace for us
  • Jesus Christ is sovereign over all and one day every knee will bow to Him

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.

1 Corinthians 5 – Judge or Don’t Judge?

January 18th, 2010

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Healthy Discipline

The purity of the church needs to be maintained. It must, therefore, be characterised by an atmosphere of ongoing submission to the will of God. Sin, once clearly identified in the community and in individuals, must be acknowledged and brought to repentance. When it is simply tolerated and perpetrators are allowed to carry on as if nothing mattered the purity of God’s people is compromised and threatened.
The more it is unquestioned the more dangerous this is – both for the church (which is affected by the bad yeast – v.6) and for the individuals themselves (who need the redemptive effect of discipline. It is meant to act as a safeguard – provoking people to a reality check and a sense of the serious condition. The goal is not to punish people but bring them to their senses and, thereby, draw them back into fellowship based upon true repentance).
We can be tempted to simply let things carry on unchecked and even congratulate ourselves on our ‘tolerance’ but in reality we are bringing danger on the people of God. The reality is that all of us practice some kind of ‘intolerance’ in certain contexts.
Discipline means that those who are not living a repentant life are not treated as if they are. This is NOT the way to treat non-believers. It is not our business to discipline non-Christians who know no better. We are not to be taken out of the world – not at all! So we must maintain our friendships with the lost and retain a totally non-judgemental attitude to them. But those who make out that they are believers but live an unrepentant lifestyle should know our position very clearly and not feel comfortable around us.
This is in line with the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 18. The goal is redemptive and it’s supposed to work.

Joshua – In Achan’s Shoes & Cutting a Raw Deal

August 18th, 2009

In Achan’s Shoes (Joshua 7)

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Cutting a Raw Deal (Joshua 9)

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