Following on from my last blog on "Having a teachable spirit" I would like to examine some folk who were very teachable and therefore very fruitful right out of Gods word. But first let me relay a true story that comes from a Church where I was in a leadership position many years ago.
The tale of the Chris-John ChurchThe Church was led by two leaders Chris and John who took turns in leading and preaching week by week . Teaching and instructing the Church from Gods word with passion and vision.
However, it came to my notice that in our home groups I began to hear people say "yes I really believe in that because I actually heard John say that in a preach a few weeks ago" or "Chris said we are forgiven in his sermon on Sunday ,so I guess we are forgiven if he said it eh?".
Now before I get myself into trouble with this story let me make very clear that thankfully the teaching they were receiving was right out of Gods word and good sound teaching too!(Phew!) However, the way people were receiving the message each week was turning them not into believing Christians but rather believing Chris- Johns. When asked why they believed in any subject very few if any could say from where they had heard it from other than in a sermon at some point by Chris or John.
Now this is not a blog about becoming chapter and verse Christians because to be honest I hate it when Christians say things like " Oh that's an Ephesian"s 2 v 10 issue" or "As we know from Ephesians 4" such comments are sure to alienate new believers (and some old too!). Or give a superior air to those speaking.
No!. This blog is about being a people who know what we believe and why we believe it.
In Acts Chapter 17 we read of some people called the Bereans. This is what we read about them....
11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. 13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The brothers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea.
We are told they were of more noble character than the Thessalonians (The last place Paul had visited) and if we read on we see the next Place Paul visited was Athens where the people we are told in verse ...
21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
But! right in the middle of these two places Paul visited he had this little visit with the Bereans whom the scriptures endear to us with these words
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
The teachable people what were they? ....Teachable .... and not just teachable but looking at the scriptures for themselves to make sure what they were being taught came right out of Gods word. There was no chance of these guys becoming Chris- Johns. (or Paul-Tim's which doesn't work for me here!)
What was the fruit of this teachable people?.....again lets look at it straight out of the text.12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
Being teachable people to them meant Paul could go on to other places absolutely sure of his work and the work of the gospel prospering in them and through them .
A teachable spirit meant they could now take the message received and pass it on with faith and confidence that it was Gods living active truth for all who will receive it.
So......Teachable or not?So what are you ? Who in the story do you most look like? A Chris - John or a Berean ?
Do you have a teachable spirit? Are you rooted and sure of what you believe?
OR.......did you hear someone say something about that somewhere sometime back?...ish,
sort of ...well I think?
When you look at the account of Apollos in Acts chapter 18 when he encounters Priscilla and Aquila we read he was eloquent ,well versed in the scriptures , he had gifting and a audience and yet he was willing to be humble to receive help and encouragement to grow in both his knowledge and gifting. What we see here is a clear picture of a man with a teachable spirit . We read.......
24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
What could he have done?* He could of resisted the help and hospitality offered and said I'm doing just fine thank you very much
* He could have thought I'm doing good and not embraced the chance to see his usefulness go from good to great.
This prompted some great discussion among us What would it take for us to act in the same way as Apollos when provided with an opportunity to grow? How would we react to friends taking us aside to point out deficiencies that might hinder us being all we can be for God?
Firstly we agreed that it would be crucial to know that those seeking to help us were for us . I wonder if you have someone in your life that is willing to tell you the truth about you? Whose heart is so for you that they will lovingly point out ways you could grow and things you could learn to be an even better you for God and yourself ? If you do that is a true friend and valuable relationship indeed. Treasure such a friend. I have said many times that I allow someone only the right to speak into my correction ear if they have first spoken in to my encouragement ear a number of times.....That's a good test to see if they are really for you!
Secondly we must be those who welcome such loving advice and care and take time to consider it both personally and biblically to see just how God want's to grow us and teach us through their loving and caring advice and honesty.
Look at the following description of Apollos after taking on board their helpful teaching and advice...
27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.
Take a big note of the word great in those verses ...He was "A Great help"
A teachable spirit is I believe one of the most valuable assets to us and helps us take Gods good work in us and put it to Gods great use through us.
Later this week we will consider some others from Gods word who had a teachable spirit and how they to prospered greatly.
Hey!....Do yourself a favour and cultivate a teachable spirit...... and find encouraging friends and let them speak into your life . I promise it will be a great blessing.even if its a little odd at first.
Have you noticed that one of the most frequently used words of identity in the New Testament is saint?
Paul and Timothy, servants ( bond-slaves) of Christ Jesus,To all God’s holy people (Saints) in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons[
:Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
A Saint is literally a holy person. Yet Paul and the other writers of the Epistles used the word generously to describe common, ordinary, everyday Christians like you and me. Notice in the verse above he doesn't say we are saints by hard work but by calling. The Bible says you are a saint because God called you to be a saint. Again the verse says we have been sanctified in Christ...or made a saint through Jesus work in us.Many Christians refer to themselves as sinners saved by grace. But are you really a sinner? Is that your scriptural identity? Not at all. God doesn't call you a sinner he calls you a saint – a holy one.
Here is a couple of questions for you
1. If you call yourself a sinner guess what you will do? If you call yourself a saint who sometimes sins how would that cause us to live differently?2. Discuss the following statement. “What you do doesn’t determine who you are, but who you are determines what you do” Is there any truth in that statement as we consider ourselves as saints.3. What in our upbringing and background can cause us to be nervous of referring to ourselves as saints?
Slaves by choice?
Our second word we looked at on Sunday was a bond slave to Christ. Clearly we are talking about a very different relationship that the slavery we know. It’s interesting that here in Oakville many of the houses on the Lakeshore housed runaway slaves as a part of the Underground Railroad. I know some folk who have tunnels running from their house to other houses that were dug to keep slaves hidden. Let’s explore this term bond servant.
In Philippians 1 v 1 – 3 Paul refers to himself as a bond-servant or bond slave. We find the understanding of this term in Exodus 222 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3 If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges.[a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl (nail). Then he will be his servant for life.
A bond servant or slave is a willing slave. one whose heart and actions value the master . A slave of love. A slave of desire. A slave by choice.1 Why would this be a good description of our relationship to Christ.2. We are told in scripture by Paul that it was for freedom Christ has set us free. So how do we reconcile the two truths together?3 what would be the difference between a slave who is in subjection and whose heart does not desire to serve the master. Who is forced to do his masters bidding and the sort of slavery we are talking about here? 4 Taking the two terms Saint and Slave. How do we live this out in our day to day lives and what effect will this new mindset have on our walk as Christians?
You can hear more about our being Saints and Slaves on the kings Family Church website http://kingsfamily.org/audio/chris_mclean_set_free_be_slaves(Why not take some time to listen to this latest sermon.)
A belief that behaves
However, we have a belief that behaves . As Doug showed us so well on Sunday as he explained that our faith should be evidenced by both unity and fearlessness. How we live our lives before a watching world will have a big influence on how they see the credibility of our faith. We see this principle in Gods word in scriptures like Matthew 5 v 16 "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." I wonder if your behavior, your joy or your excellence at work encourages those around you to see there is a living loving God at work in your life .
Why not take some time to listen to Doug's teaching on this subject on our Sermons page on the Kings Family Church website (it should be posted in the next day or so.)
Our tendencies if we are honest
If we are honest when times of trouble come our first reaction may not be our best reaction...we get caught up in the midst of the panic and quickly lose our perspective .
Instead of being still and looking up to a great God we look to ourselves and our own futile ways of coping with the problem that is staring us in the face .
Again as always I'm so thrilled that Gods word does not paint a picture of perfect faith filled people ,but allows us to see the reality of Gods people in his word being just like us .
In Exodus 14 we see very common human reactions as the Egyptian army are giving chase to Gods people who have only just left Egypt's slavery, bondage and oppression.
On seeing the 600 chariots thundering towards them and kicking up the dust Gods people do what most of us tend to do at such times get stuck in fear , lose their perspective ,blame the nearest person or fold under the pressure and say lets go back to where we were...It was so much better (Ha!..Yep that sounds like us )
What we should do at such times?
However , Gods appointed man Moses shows us the right way to face such overwhelming times .
You can hear his answers to such perplexing moments and how we are to keep our heads when everyone around us is losing theirs in my sermon 'GREAT OBSTACLES, our responses and GODS GREATNESS " now on the kings Family Church website . Facing a Red Sea in your life or feeling hemmed in by your circumstances ? the this will help you navigate from fear to faith.....Enjoy
( click on the Kings Family Church link on the right of this page and go to sermons)
I so enjoyed the performance of Annie the musical I attended on Saturday with my Daughter Maisie in the starring role as Annie the orphan .At times on the stage there was a real sense of emotion as Mr Warbucks and Annie arrived at the point where he asked her if he could adopt her as his own daughter . I think it was the line after he asked her to be his daughter where he then said I love you Annie and she said I love you Mr Warbucks .The thought struck me straight out of Gods word "In his love he adopted us as sons "
A better adoption
In Roman times it was common to adopt to keep the family name and of course they would inherit all of their fathers riches , But Gods word goes further when it explains to us we were chosen in love to be adopted children before the foundation of the world .
Chosen ,,,,In love ,,,,For adoption ,,,to be his Children ,,Wow!
Adopted or Fostered
So many Christians live as if they are fostered ,,,, Fostered Children can stay in the family as long as they obey the rules ,,,and tow the line ,,,But adoptions are founded in Love ,,,, love that endures and continues .
Fostered Children are allowed to stay conditionally,,,but....Adopted Children are loved unconditionally
Do you live as a fostered Child or are you living in the joy of Gods wonderful adoption of you into relationship with him as father ?
Its time to live in the truth
Why not listen to my sermon called "The perfect father with accepted sons and daughters"Its on the Kings family Church website ...click on the logo and go to sermons .
Hey! Your a dearly loved child of God ,,,Live like it!
A strange request
I was wandering along the lakeside in the last week with someone who had got so much out of my sermon on Grace the previous Sunday,when they asked the question " I love this teaching but I tend to forget it in a few days and find myself back in a life and relationship with God that is performance based . Can you give me a law that will keep me in Grace , Can you give me something to stop me wandering back into a life that is not freedom but me being a slave again to earning Gods approval ?"
I nearly split my sides laughing ! "A law that keeps me in grace Ha Ha!" However I did understand where they were coming from as its so easy to find ourselves back in the old slavish ways of thinking we can add to what Jesus has accomplished by adding our efforts .
Trying to do that is not just a mistake in our thinking but it is downright wrong . How can we think our effort can add anything to the finished work of Jesus on the cross. And if we do we are completely deluded .
It is finished
We need to know deep in our hearts that Christ redeemed us ,bought us back with his own body from slavery and in Christ all the requirements of the law and more importantly God are fully and completely for all time fully satisfied .To believe anything else is to believe a different gospel all together .Today in Christ, if indeed you are a Christ follower you are as right with God as you will ever be and its all on the basis of what he did on the cross and not on what you have ever done or will do .
That's the nature of grace after all "Getting what you don't deserve"
Do you find yourself mistakenly thinking your effort or good works or deeds endear you to God ?
Well then as my friend requested I'll give you two laws right now ...1) Stop it! and 2) I command you to get hold of the truth and not be robbed of your freedom any longer.
Why not listen to my sermon called "Grace plus nothing equals freedom" on the King's family Church website .
Click on the kings Family Church logo and head for the sermon page .
Its time to stop returning to slavery and find the freedom in the one and only Gospel .."The Gospel of Grace "......... For there is no other Gospel
Stepping stones or obstacles to maturity?
There are certainly a lot of distractions, diversions, disappointments, trials, temptations and traumas which come along to disrupt the process of becoming the person God wants you to be. Have you found that? Every day we struggle against the world the flesh and the devil, each of which are clearly opposed to your success at being God's person. But Paul reminds us that the tribulations we face are actually a means of "achieving" His supreme goal for us, that of maturity.
He says, "We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character, and proven character hope, and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 4 v 3-5)
James offers us a similar encouragement. "Consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1 v 2-4)
Maybe like me at times you thought your goal was to escape 'tribulations' as the Bible calls them. But far from it, actually God's ultimate goal for you and me is maturity in Christ, to see you become the person he designed you to be. Tribulation just happens to be one of the primary stepping stones God uses to achieve His goal for us. However, I bet like me you wished there was another way!
I bet Joseph thought that... as God honed him and shaped his nation saving gift through trials. But maybe you can only speak such words of maturity like "...You meant to harm me, but God meant it for good." or "...it wasn't you who sent me here, But God." when the very trials you have faced have produced in you... maturity.
That's why Paul calls on us to exult or "find joy" in our tribulations. Why? Because persevering in tribulations is the vehicle to bring us to proven character... which is God's goal for us.
Our hope lies in proven character, not sadly, in favourable circumstances. Neither circumstances nor people can keep you from being what God wants you to be. Trials and tribulations are the most common means for bringing about His goal for our life.
I think we need to see our trials as stepping stones not obstacles and then persevere with an aim to develop proven character. Maybe only an understanding of this "way God works" will cause us to encounter such times with "Pure Joy". Hey I'm not sure I'm there on that one yet, but I do sense a revelation of what these trials in life are all about now. So it's a start, eh!
In Philippians 2 we find an exaltation to the church in Philipi to have the same attitude that is in Christ Jesus:
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
But then we find this passage that shows us that very quality demonstrated in the life of Paul himself and his valued co workers Timothy and Epaphroditus.
19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honour men like him, 30because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.We find in the life of Paul himself. He is not putting his own interests first as seen in the words about Christ in the first part of chapter 2 but he was willing to give away these guys who clearly serve him and the people of God so well. We find the attitude of them all to put the interests of others before themselves and this is clearly reflected in Paul's words "I hope in the Lord to send to you..." This is Paul making his decisions with a clear heart to put The Lord's will in front of his own... or to not run ahead of what God wants or even to put his own plans into action but only that which is in the will of God.
Timothy himself, we are told, not just has a care for the church but a genuine interest in the welfare of the people of God... I love the word there "genuine"... This was not a job but an attitude of heart. Although Paul benefited from having these guys around him and they no doubt were a blessing to him he saw how their gifting could serve the wider church and not "his own interests".
I find that neat... I find that encouraging... I find that helpful... that we are not just called to have the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus... But we then see it in three lives that evidence the grace of God that this way of living is both possible and a blessing to God and His Church.
Paul is now not saying as he says elsewhere "imitate me" but he is saying "here are some examples God has also made earlier" just like when a chef says... what does this dish look like when finished and prepared?... well here's one (or two in this case) I made earlier.
I thank God for His revelation of Jesus and His demonstration by these three men of what Christlike living looks like in the flesh.
Here's a snippet from one of those heroes Corrie Ten Boom as she encounters an SS officer after the war. Let's read and learn from God's grace evidenced in her life:
At a large Church in Munich, she spoke about how God asks His people to forgive one another and how, with His love, they can become like brothers and sisters no matter what their nationality is.
When Corrie had finished speaking, many people came up to thank her for what she had said. She shook their hands and thanked them for coming and listening. Then, when the church was nearly empty, Corrie spotted a tall man with blonde hair making his way towards her. In a flash she was back in the shower building at Ravensbruk. This man, an SS guard was standing by the door, hand on his gun, leering at the women prisoners as he made them strip. Corrie stood motionless as he approached her. She heard his voice as if it were a million miles away, "Thank you for your talk" he said. "It's so wonderful to know that God forgives all our sins, isn't it?"
Corrie looked at the man standing in front of her. Instead of seeing his smiling face, she saw the faces of Betsie and her father. The man thrust out his hand to shake Corrie's and as he did so, hatred filled her heart. She would not and could not lift her hand to shake his. "Oh God" she prayed silently, "Help me to live my message." As she prayed those words, it was though a strong jolt of electricity had run through her body. Her arm stretched out as though she had no control over it and she took the man's hand. As she did so, all the hatred she felt melted away and she knew she had forgiven him. "Yes, it's wonderful to know that God forgives all our sins" she said, meaning every word.
I love the hinge that story turns on as Corrie prays, "Oh God, help me live my message" or as we would translate it in our day, "Lord, help me walk the talk."
(excerpt from: Corrie Ten Boom - Keeper of the Angel's Den.)
I think such a moment is caught in the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3...Pressing on Toward the Goal 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
What a sense of adventure... (squirrel!)
At your next family night in why not watch the film "UP" and see what I mean! Enjoy!
A Coffee And An Encounter...So I was in "Coffee Culture" in Milton for a meeting with a couple of pastor friends and we found ourselves a comfortable spot in the window with our cappuccino's and sat for a chat when right into the centre of our space came a young man with a big gold chain around his neck and a NFL football shirt. He sat down real close as if he was with us- imposed himself on us more like! He then looked up at the flat screen TV over us and began to tell us in clear detail what he would like to do to the young lady on the screen, went into detail what he thought of her breasts and for a few minutes he trotted out this vulgar talk and how he was never going to be married and what a waste of time marriage was and how he was going to sleep around and on and on and on... until... being unable to contain myself any longer I said...
"You know what! I used to be just like you, I used to think the way you think, I used to say the things you say, and I used to look at and treat people the way you're doing right now.... But then Jesus Christ came into my life, changed me and He forgave my sin and cleaned me up on the inside and now I am married, have been for thirty years and I want you to know that I am so glad God replaced my sinful ways with His wonderful ways and He is now Lord of my life... and I am so glad that happened to me, you see it's all His work and I love it... and it could happen to you too."
What followed was one of those moments that can either go right or terribly wrong, would this big guy punch my face in or take offence at my words spoken forcefully to him?
He looked up at me and said "I was baptised by immersion, I gave my life to Christ years ago but I have backslidden, turned against the very things I believe. Boy I know what you're talking about, my life has just drifted from this stuff but I still believe."He then went on to share how his relationship with his girlfriend had gone sour she was the mother to his son and so now he was estranged from his son and had turned to drugs and found himself in trouble with the law... and he was having trouble turning things around but how he wished it could be different... How he would like to get his life back on track.
I had the opportunity to pray for him right there in the shop and gave him a copy of Tony Dungy's book "Uncommon"(a book I would highly recommend to any man).
What happened in that coffee shop as I spoke those words of change could of been summed up in the verse from 2 Corinthians 5 v 17, "Any man is in Christ is a new creation the old has gone the new has come." That was the story of my life I was sharing with him. A life of change.
How do we live that way?
So How do we live out this verse in our lives daily? Well, firstly the key is not forgetting who you are... James, the brother of Jesus gives us a picture of a man looking in a mirror and going away and forgetting what he saw and therefore living contrary to who he really is. But he goes on to say our lives will be fruitful if we see ourselves in the mirror as new creations in Christ and when we are living out our lives, "we don't forget who we are" but live out the identity Christ has made us to be. So when I encounter trials and situations that tend to perplex me I don't react out of my old nature but I react out of my true identity, "I'm a new creation in Christ."
I have given some helpful insights in how to live such a life in my sermon entitled "Free to... Walk In The Truth." Follow the link to The King's Family Church website.
So the request is made: "Dad can you come with me on a school trip?". Now what I should have said was, "Where to Clara?" but what I said was, "Sure, I would love to" after all it's the natural father's response isn't it... Well, that is before the reality of what you have agreed to sets in. To make it worse the whole deal was sealed with an enthusiastic hug of my neck for agreeing to go ."Thanks dad you're the best!"
However! (and it's a big however)
If such a thing happens anytime to you, you do well to ask one simple question: "Where will we spend our day out?" because it was only later I was told how I was spending the agreed date with my daughter at the local waste water treatment plant. A date with my daughter looking at how toilet paper is extracted from our sewers, of how "raw sludge" which is a nicer name for it than I would of given, is turned into cakes that looks like Oreo cookies to be used as fertilizer on farmer's fields and how methane is burned off using great flaming torches. Now this is the clean version of the trip and I have, for your own comfort, left out other things we saw that would turn a man's stomach, or the moments of heaving as we walked over the grids on top of the... the... STUFF.
The main point here, and there is a point is this, my daughter loved me being with her and despite the location I wouldn't as her father have been anywhere else but with her. As we rode along on the school bus to the plant she snuggled up to me and thanked me for spending the day with her and she took great joy in introducing me to everyone including the man at the waste water treatment plant (whose hand I wasn't about to shake ) as her Dad!
The Father Loves to Spend Time With Us
As we read the story of the unrighteous judge in Luke 18 we see a complete contrast to our own privileged position. This woman who had no standing in the court, no husband to speak up for her or defend her, no money to pay a bribe to this corrupt judge by his own admission. She gets her way by stalking him (like the paparazzi and princess Diana) she is around his every corner, outside every restaurant he eats in and waiting at his car as he leaves work in the evening... until... he gives her what she wants.
Not so with us... not from our position of relationship with the Father... Is God a judge who is mean and we have to squeeze what we want from Him? Is He mean and stingy and we have to stalk Him and plead with Him to get what we want? No No No.
You need to get the point
This whole story shouts out to us that if this poor woman of no standing got what she wanted from a corrupt judge "How much more" will we as God's dearly loved children receive from our loving Heavenly Father.
Look at the contrasts
She was a stranger... but we are His children whom He loves.
She was a widow with no access to the judge... we are given access right into our Father's presence through Jesus our Lord.
She had no one to plead her case at court. No husband and no attorney... but we have an advocate with the father "Jesus" (How great is that!) The judge's son is our lawyer.
The father loves us to spend time with Him and has provided the way for us to come to Him as dearly loved children... but are you making the most of your Father's presence every day?
Just like Clara and my day out let's enjoy and make the most of spending time with our Father and knowing His daily embrace in our lives.
Do you know He loves spending time with you ?
"If we who are evil know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does our Heavenly Father love to spend time with us... His dearly loved children?"
Why not listen to my latest sermon: "Free.... To Enjoy The Father". (Available tomorrow HERE.)
Over the past few weeks at Kings we have been looking at living in the freedom that Christ has won for us.......a freedom from guilt ,a freedom from sin and its power and bondage,a freedom from condemnation . We have answered the question "Is Jesus enough? ....with an emphatic Yes!" We are free . Free to live a new life ,free to walk by the Holy Spirit ,free to enjoy being sons and daughters who are loved by God .
But What is that freedom to ?
We know for sure that this freedom has set us free from all that separated us from God both in our sin and from the law that condemned us but what is that freedom to ...?
Is it freedom Like we are all on a cruise now and we just live it up ...? Is it freedom to be "Free man " like some hippy thing "Hey dude , I'm so free man" Is it just freedom from or is it really freedom to .......
In Romans 14 v 1- 12 we read a phrase again and again "We live to the Lord ". In amongst Paul's teaching on disputable matters (Things that don't matter all that much) we find Paul teaching us how to now live this life . We live it to the Lord .
We are under new Lordship ........we serve him ,not as reluctant slaves but as willing servants .
Its amazing how Paul the very one who wrote Romans that is painting such a clear picture of freedom to us to live in , he starts with the words in Romans 1 "Paul a servant of Jesus Christ " So Paul this exponent of wonderful freedom identifies himself as a servant.
So how do we live ?
Romans 14 teaches us very clearly that how we live matters, and we will have to make account of our lives to God ,not for our sin that is paid for in full but for how we lived out this new life in Christ . The life we live now is a life of "belonging to the lord" a life serving the Lord with gladness , living to please our master but not as reluctant slaves but very willing servants .
I believe serving God with our lives is a wonderful privilege , and whether we feel are working just in our jobs day by day the reality is we are really working for the Lord for we are his servants .
Grace doesn't make you casual but passionate
lets not let this wonderful grace we find ourselves living in cause us to have a casual attitude to our walk with God . But rather let us be enthusiastic servants of our wonderful master and ....... FREE TO SERVE....HIM.
Readings: Romans 4, Romans 5 v 1 -11
I was thinking The King's Family Church should have got a cheque from Microsoft after our weekend Easter Celebration for two of the illustrations were of Bill and his company. I was looking at Justification, which is our right standing before God. Fully forgiven, totally acquitted, and not guilty. Justification has two sides- let us look at them and apply them to our lives.
SO WHAT IS JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH?
Firstly, our sins have been deleted forever. The last few weeks Jess has been away so my computer has been at my mercy. On my computer I have a key and it has the word "delete" on it. If I have some text on my screen or a document or an icon or a page shown, I can just highlight it and push delete and it will be deleted. However on Windows that I use (Praise the Lord!!) it then sends up a little screen which says, “Do you really want to delete this item?" Ahhhhh! This is because my computer knows me well and if you have that on your computer, you should thank me because it clearly was made for me. The next response is to think about it for a moment- sometimes I delete and other times I realise that I’m about to say goodbye to hours of work.
Listen... God has a big DELETE key, He is ready to delete all your sin... and you have the right to say yes or no... "sometimes" is not an option on the screen. We need to know that when the small screen came up saying "do you really want to totally delete all this sin?" He pushed yes... emphatically.
The trouble is with Christians is that we love to bring up the old backup file called.. “MY CONDEMNATION FILE”.
However, justification is God forgiving you. It's God taking your sin and casting it into the deepest sea.
Question: The great Dutch Christian Corrie Ten Boom said, “and God puts up a sign at that place saying “No Fishing”. Why would God have to put up such a sign?
But Justification is not just about what God has taken away. It also speaks about what he has put into its place in our lives. Justification is more than forgiveness, as great as that is. If all it was was forgiveness, then I would say what a wonderful gift and I would praise God just for that the rest of my life. However, the second part of Justification is the gift of righteousness.
Let's imagine you were in debt for 10 million dollars and you know you could work your whole life evenings and weekends too and never get that debt played off, you could never ever pay it back. You are in debt 10 million. However you found you had an uncle with the surname Gates. A rich Uncle Bill.
You ask Uncle Bill if there is any chance he might have a spare 10 million dollars laying around and he says it’s funny because it was only this morning as he was cleaning out his pants for the dry cleaners that he found a spare 10 million dollars and you can have it! You go pay off that debt and you are so thankful!
A couple of days Later Uncle Bill calls you and says “I know you mess up at times so I put a little extra into your account to meet those future needs, OK?”
So you say goodbye and you rush like crazy to the bank or the ATM to check what your balance stands at now and you see: 15 billion dollars. You think “I THINK I'LL BE OK! I think I will manage on that!"
You see, he has not just paid your debt he has credited to your account something to live on. So too with Christ, He has paid our debt and credited to our account righteousness. We stand now in the righteousness of Christ. We live now knowing the old has gone and the new has come.
Question: How would such a person knowing the debt has been paid and there is full provision for the future, live and worship? For we are that sort of people.
Last illustration: It's He and He alone who justifies!
There’s a guy, he’s a lawyer. On his way home from the office he meets a homeless guy on the street, begging. As he asks for money, the lawyer looks at him and says, "I remember you! We were at school together; we were in Mr. Philbins science class. Hey, what happened to you?"
The man replies, “Well I fell on hard times and-”
"STOP! Buddy I don’t want to know how you got here, I want to help you get back on your feet again!"
The Lawyer gives him a cheque for a thousand dollars saying, "Take this and get cleaned up. Get it together, find a job and don’t mention it. It’s my privilege to help you."
So he takes the money to the bank, he peers in and sees how nicely they all dressed are, how neat and tidy the bank is, and he looks at how tatty his clothes are how dirty he is and he just feels so unworthy to enter the bank. So he doesn't go in or cash the cheque, he just leaves with the cheque in his pocket.
Next day he is begging again and he sees the lawyer again who asks, "Hey- did you go off and spend that money I gave you on booze or drugs or gambling?"
"No" He says, "I still have it- look... I just felt ashamed, I didn’t feel worthy to go into that bank with the cheque."
The Lawyer says to the homeless guy, "YOU SEE THAT CHEQUE, IT'S GOT MY SIGNATURE ON IT... SO YOU GO DOWN AND CASH IT COS IT'S NOT BASED ON WHO YOU ARE IT'S BASED ON WHO I AM. IT'S MY SIGNITURE ON IT. SO JUST CASH IT!”
That is the work of Justification in your life!!
BUT I DONT FEEL WORTHY CHRIS!!!!!
YOU NEVER WERE OR NEVER WILL BE. IT’S NOT TO DO WITH YOUR WORTHINESS
IT’S TO DO WITH GRACE THAT HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO YOU AND AS WE LIVE IN THIS LIFE WE DON'T LIVE TO EARN GOD APPROVAL BUT WE DO THINGS BECAUSE WE HAVE GODS APPROVAL.
Question: If Jesus name is the name on the cheque and we are saved through Him, why on earth are so many Christians trying to earn Gods favour when we already have it?
I'm sure it’s great to have Bill Gates as an uncle but its even better to live knowing you are justified by faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.
As Christians we know that Jesus has dealt with the gap between ourselves and God, we know He paid for our sin in His body on the cross and we will celebrate that fact this week, we know that it is not good works that qualify us to have a relationship with God but it's all because of Jesus. It's because of His substitution for us and His becoming our mediator, bridging the gap between us and God that we find ourselves in this privileged position.
The Other Gap
However so many Christians live with another gap in their lives, the gap between who they are now and the sort of Christian they would like to be or attain to being. Often Christians try to fill this gap themselves as if there is a level of spirituality to be attained. This is wrong thinking and we need to know that "we are God's workmanship" not we were God's workmanship but we ARE God's workmanship. So quickly we can become "our project" rather than God's workmanship.
The problem with thinking that way is not only that it is wrong but it leaves us striving and trying to attain favour and position that is already promised to us in Christ. What God has begun in us He is wanting to bring to completion.
Are you your work or God's?
Listen! You are God's workmanship, you are God's project. Having been freed from sin you now are called to live a new life. A life of freedom. Not a life of trying to attain favour with God that's already yours in Christ. Nor is it to obtain your own personal holiness as a Christian but a life living in the riches of God's grace through the relationship Jesus has brought us into.
Jesus Christ is our righteousness. Today, tomorrow, and forever. It doesn't matter what you did this week when you come to God you come in Christ's righteousness not your own. Your access not only was through him but continues to be through him.
The Christian life is not snakes and ladders where we get going and then if we foul up in some way we slip back to number 1 and start again with the cross. No! If we make mistakes (and we will) if we sin there is provision for that for Jesus paid for our sin past, present, and future.
Not that we just ignore it but we are of course grieved with how we have marred our relationship with our Heavenly Father and will be quick to seek to restore our relationship and confess our sin to a God who will forgive us. When we sin we don't go back to the start but we confess and carry on (1 John 1 v 9).
This is the big question: do you? Do you live with guilt and condemnation, do live with a sense you just are not good enough? Do you live with a sense you will never be able to be good enough to really please God like you feel you should? Do you feel there is a gap between who you are and who you think you should be in God?
Well, there is something for you to KNOW.
And I have pointed out what you should know on my current sermon "Why do I feel so guilty?"
Click HERE to listen.
Quote from the epilogue of the book:
"When I look back over my life so far, I can't begin to undersatnd why everything happened the way it did. But I do know the One who has been with me through it all and has brought me to this point. So even though I dont know exactly where I'm going in life, I do know for who I'm living. I know who is in control and because I've seen and appreciate what He's already done I can trust him with my future. Not that I don't have dreams of my own. I do. But I want my dreams to be the same dreams God has for my life."
This book is one for your shelves: "The Inpiring Story of a Miracle Named... JOEL."
By Joel Sonnenberg and Gregg Lewis
As we read the Story of Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9 we see a guy who was dropped and lived with the results of that moment, not just physically but also spiritually. He was dropped and permanently disabled and had to go through life with this affecting him day after day.
I wonder if you got dropped in life? You got dropped good and proper! You were neglected... You experienced something, some event or some treatment that cut your legs away from under you. Maybe you were abused, mistreated, neglected, overlooked, forgotten, or passed by.
Maybe you were poorly handled, not by your nurse, but by others. Nobody saw much hope for you... maybe you carry to this day the scars of that neglect.
Not So Our God
Well not so our God! Our God has a heart like David. He restores, He overlooks the past, He invites us to eat at his table, He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve, He lays all that on his Son. He removes our fear and shows us favour. He takes us from Lodebar (a place of no pasture) and He provides fresh pasture for us to dwell in. He heals the crippledness from our history and in His love overlooks our inadequacies.
And what are we? Like Mephibosheth we are coming to Him with no merit, no great history. Like him we had nothing, we can pay nothing, we can repay nothing. We expect our fate but find ourselves recipients of His favour.
The Loving Father
Like the prodigal son we have come home with the pig's smell on us, having squandered our lives and ignored the wisdom of the Father. We await our fate on our arrival home but find the Father's embrace and food, sonship, and fresh clothes!
Only to eat at the Father's table forever. What great grace and forgiveness!! That is the heart of our God. "The Prodigal Son" -is that the rite title? No! Rather: "The Forgiving Father"Yes! That's the right title.
Hear more about this grace shown to us by listening my sermon called, "What awaits me? My fate or God's favour?"
It's been a weekend of high activity. Rachel, my wife, having headed off to the UK leaving me with the children to look after. Let me say from the outset this was no chore... this was a real joy.
I love to bless my children and this weekend was no exception. Whether it was buying a top for Katy from Aeropostale or watching a film late at night under the duvet, eating at New York Fries or heading off to a hockey game, it was fun from begiinning to end and I loved doing it!
What is it about us that makes us feel God wants to bless us any less than our earthly father. The Bible makes clear the very opposite is true when it contrasts our fathers on earth with our Heavenly Father it says, "If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children HOW MUCH MORE does your Heavenly Father want to give the Holy Spirit to you." Hey listen! When it comes to fathering our God is perfect in his fathering of us.
I spend a lot of my time with people who feel God is out to pay them back or trip them up because they feel they deserve it. But when Jesus prayed He prayed, "Our Father who is in heaven..." and He prayed such a prayer because He died on the cross to remove our sin from us and to bring us into a relationship where now God is our loving Father. The question is whether we believe that?
I love the passage in Numbers 6 where God's very nature is revealed as a loving God who wants to bless us. The blessing that was given by God for the people to hear was so they would believe as they hear it time after time that God really was for them and full of grace and care for them.
Listen as you read these words:
Are you convinced God loves you and smiles upon you?
Are you convinced He's caring for you, keeping you, listening intently to you, smiling over you and imparting His peace to you?
Or do you still live with feelings that God is just putting up with you because He has to.
Let me make clear to you today on the basis of God's word that God wants to bless you and keep you and make His face to shine on you. He wants to be gracious to you and give you peace.
Why not click HERE to listen to my sermon called, "The Desire Of God... For You!" on The King's Family Church website.