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Posts Tagged ‘spirit’

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.

Romans 14:1-17

September 7th, 2010

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Paul was concerned about the church in Rome and that there was a split over certain issues. The church in Rome was a very key and important one in that day, and it was crucial that they got it right. In working out their Christianity, there became a divide between Jews and Gentiles on matters of  food, drink, holy days, etc.  However, there should be harmony in the church – God wants unity and oneness in Christ.

They were trying to reduce Christianity to rules and regulations. Colossians 2, however, says self-made religion and rules is of no value in becoming Christlike. We need to seek the things of Christ and set our minds on things above. For the Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking and rules, but of love and peace and God’s power.

Paul defines the Kingdom of God:

1. Righteousness
• All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s righteousness, but in the gospel He gives us the gift of His righteousness.
• It is completely free – not our own but a gift from God.
• On the cross there was the great substitution – our sin was exchanged for Christ’s righteousness.
• Romans 4:5 – ‘the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness’. A righteousness not from the law.
• Religion and our own “righteousness” is like dung to God.
• We fall from grace when when we follow laws to try and be righteous, or try to add to Jesus’ righteousness. We have been perfected for all time!

2. Peace
• We have an untroubled conscience as we now have peace with God through Jesus. We are accepted forever.
• No condemnation! Satan cannot accuse us of anything because we have been cleansed of all our sin.
• We also have peace to deal with the troubles and issues of life.
• Peace to live well and to die well – there is no longer fear of death.
• It surpasses all understanding.

3. Joy in the Holy Spirit
• The church is often seen as a killjoy, but the New Testament church began with an explosion of joy!
• As Christians, we have more than enough reason to rejoice! We have conquered death through Jesus and will live forever!
• It is of the Spirit – not a joy associated with our circumstances but from God – otherworldly.
• Be happy in Jesus! It prevents against misery, complaining, grumbling, etc.
• It is better than being drunk, enabling you to a carefree life.
• We should have to use the gospel to explain why we are so happy!
• God is exceedingly happy beyond imagination – He laughs and sings and dances with joy!

All the 3 aspects are in/of the Holy Spirit – the New Covenant is under the Spirit. We live a life full of God, not by rules. Christians are those who live a supernatural life from meeting with a supernatural God.

A promise from the Bible – you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh if you walk by the Spirit, filled with God. It is a command to the whole church to be filled with the Spirit – not just a personal thing.

Don’t reduce the gospel to a list of silly rules! Live in the power of God.