He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon
Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The church at the moment is struggling with deep divisions and leaders have been suffering a lot of destructive and spiteful criticism. And although we could quite easily do with hearing some teaching on say, a passage like Heb 13:17, Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
I think we need to go back to the basics. We have so much bible knowledge, but we seemed to have missed God’s heart. Our Father does not want us to destroy our leaders with ‘perfect’ theology. God is not impressed with how many bible verses we can quote while discouraging and criticising our brothers and sisters. We need to go back to the heart of our God.
What does He want from us? Micah 6:8 (NKJV) He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
How does He want us to live? Hebrews 10:38 (NKJV)Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him." Those who profess an abiding and sustaining understanding of the graces of God's ephemeral furnishing of life's requirements are not to shrink from the challenges facing them out of doubt, fear, cowardice, trembling apprehension or dismay as to consequence, but are called to place their continued confidence, their calm trust, the certainty of their belief, without the apostasy of the certitudes(??) personal merit, character and conduct; the exercise of works; and the developed or imbued strengths of the individual, upon God, The I Am, Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord-Will-Provide), Jehovah-Shammah (The Lord-is-There), Jehovah-Shalom (The Lord-Send-Peace).
We have a lot of knowledge, but our actions reveal just how far we are from God. And I think this is something we all need to hear regularly.
Are our actions pleasing to God? Amos 5:21-24 (NKJV) "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream." There is a preponderance of discussion about what church is and should be, and there is a lot of validity to what is being said on both sides of the equation. The issues which provide the most heat are probably what God is referring to on this passage. When the church becomes the thing worshipped, then idolatry has replaced true worship. The structure, the building, even the people themselves are not meant to replace the worship of God. His all-consuming, vehement love for the people of this world is to be honoured and esteemed in the hearts of the redeemed through the praise and glory given to His name and the purposes of His way with His people.
Are we living up to the calling we have received? Titus 1:6 (Dar)...if any one be free from all charge [against him], husband of one wife, having believing children not accused of excess or unruly. Titus 2:2 (Dar)...that the elder men be sober, grave, discreet, sound in faith, in love, in patience; John 8:9 (Dar)...but they, having heard [that], went out one by one beginning from the elder ones until the last; and Jesus was left alone and the woman standing there. I, unfortunately for those who read this, continually live in the present, with the full import of my human condition as the relevant point of reference for the significance, value, underscoring reality of my Christian walk. We as a church have as our theme for the year, 'The Year of the Impossible', it has been that, God has done that which we could not do, and I praise Him for the wonder of His working in our midst and in individual lives, and stand in amazement, awe, wonder and reverence of His grace and mercy. Matthew 15:31 (NKJV) "So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel." This verse pretty much sums up my view of the year we have had and the workings of God in our lives. There is yet more to be done!
Are we actually imitating Christ? 2 Thes. 3:9 (NKJV)...not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. Hebrews 13:7 (Dar) Remember your leaders who have spoken to you the word of God; considering the issue of their conversation, imitate their faith. Genesis 3:19 (NASB) By the sweat of your face you will eat bread,
These are the things my church needs to ask itself.
Contentment is equivalent to saying this needs no improvement. It is moving from looking at the problems and the potential to a view of the p________.(promise, pardon, patience, peace, perfection, perseverance, pilgrimage, pillar, people, ploughshare, power, praise, prayer, presence, privilege, prophecy, protection, prudence, purity, providence,...) You may substitute any p-word you wish from the list or from your personal vocabulary (let me know).
Contentment in this context is an attitude, it is looking out over a people and seeing the intrinsic value, not expressed through the perfections of their being, fellowship or presence, but the value as God looks at them and says you are mine, I have redeemed you, I love you, I esteem you and find pleasure in your worship, praise and fellowship. My friend reminds that God has no ego, we are not stroking Him with our vain singing and prayers, we are honouring Him with our need and our absolute dependence and our gratitude and thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
"The God-centered message is essentially the proclamation of a God who is sovereign in mercy and judgment, sovereign in creation and redemption---the mighty Lord on whom man depends for all good, both in nature and grace. To put it another way, the God-centered message is God and His way with man. The subject of the man-centered message is man and the things God does for him, or the help God gives him."-Ernest Reisinger, Today's Evangelism
Often times what people want to hear preached is different to what I think they need to hear being preached. I do not want to begin a hate on Joel Osteen fest but I think many people want to hear someone tell them that it is easy to be a Christian (a disguised form of the Prosperity Gospel) and that if they remain in the Lord's favor their life will go well. Well that's not true and certainly fails in the call to the cost of discipleship.
There is in the faith/reward mentality a desire to overcome the unpredictable aspects of life's circumstances. There is a desire in the human mind for consistency, a desire for a predictable result-based orientation, a desire for predictive expectations of daily and long-term decisions. There is a longing for the absolution of anxiety and fear. There is a desire for assurances which overcome even the desire for happiness and continually results in people choosing life-styles and making decisions contrary to a the greater good and in spite of common-sense. Contrary to the greater public opinion we are not designed as the whole part of our existence to be happy, but to survive.
As Christians we are called to walk in faith. It is a position polarized from the world-view of existential living. It is predominantly expressed in a Christians acceptance of the salvation provided for by Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for my sins, but from that point forward the fullness of the expression of what walking in faith and trusting in God providentially means is not translated to a belief which truly depicts or even resembles a relationship founded and based upon the God of the Universe.
I continually look for the reality of faith with an expectation that belief in the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills is indwelling a people who purport a belief built upon an expectation for Him to provide, and yet live with a poverty mentality, clinging and holding, grasping and hoarding, unwilling to (for lack of better words) take the chance that God is who He says He is and live in the freedom of faith which has vanquished fear, and hope which has disemboweled the bully, anxiety.
I continually see in reality, a people who are torn between, or vacillate between opinions of poverty and those of a willingness to sacrifice. People tend to view what God has given them as a sacred trust, in which they, as the wise stewards of God's resources must determine the allocation of said resources. Given opportunity we will withhold or distribute resources towards those things that do not fit with our expectations of God's design and incapacitate those areas in need of our gifts and resources. We use shrewd as our by-word,having found the perfect context in which to parlay our false assumptions of what management, stewardship, discreetness, wisdom, discerning intellect mean. We have found a place in which we as the proclaimed by God distributors of His wealth have the inside tract and with this more than proper attitude, we determine how and when resources are to be used.
Luke 16:8 (NKJV) So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.
The unjust steward ensured by his actions a secure future, but at what cost to his master?
It is always easier to withhold, than to give.