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Archive for January, 2006

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My latest preach…

abridged and in a narrative style, rather than my usual expository style…

Expectations of discipleship!

When you became a Christian, what were your expectations? What sacrifices have you or your family made to come to Moorlands college?

Many people today, think that being a Christian is a sign of weakness, and that not only are you some form of intellectual pygmy but somebody who has a weak will and needs the crutch of religion to live life in the 21st century. Some people, including Richard Dawkins argue, that religion is the cause of all evil and that if all religious activity was wiped out, then evil would cease to exist.

(Luke 14:25-35)
Large crowds were travelling with Jesus. Some rode on waves of jubilant Messianic expectation that He was going to kick out the rotten Romans and restore the glories of Israel past as God’s holy nation and establish the kingdom as promised by David. Others wanted to see miracles such as the feeding of the multitudes. Waves of irresponsible emotionalism rippled through the crowd. In the crowd were some people like Jim Elliot. But they also contained people like

Tommy – intellectual know-it-all. He had memorized the Scriptures in their original languages. Knew the prophecies regarding Messiah to come.

Lara – involved in every activity going. Busy. Busy. Busy. Too busy to be totally committed to just one cause.

Frankie – just wants to feel good at all times, and have a good time. Gladly enraptured in the tides of emotional joy.

Jesus, not being entirely comfortable with half-hearted followers under a misapprehension to His mission. Wanting quality and not quantity, Jesus, with great deliberation to thin out the dross and the dregs, turned to the crowds and he said: “I want my House to be filled, but if you are to follow me and be my disciple you are to hate your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters — yes, even your own life — you cannot be my disciple. That is not to say you are to break the fifth commandment and not honour your mother and father. But rather, anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Love, marriage, family and sex are the creation of God! You are however, to place Me first in everything you do. I am to be your Master, your Teacher and your Lord. No other relationship or person must come in the way of your following me. If somebody you know is trying to hold you back from doing My will, you are to follow Me and not that other person if you want to be my disciple.

Following me is not to be taken lightly. Count the cost just as builders and kings do.

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Anyone who does not carry his cross daily and follow me, cannot be my disciple. It doesn’t meant wearing bling crosses as jewellery. So if you are my disciple, you are to die. Some of you will literally die for me and for my Gospel. However generally speaking , your own selfish ambitions are to be vanquished. You are to die to self, All your plans and ambitions are to come under my directions.

What do you think it means? Daily identification with Christ in self-sacrifice, shame, suffering and surrender to God’s will.

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Again, you aren’t to take this necessarily literally, although some of you will feel compulsion to. Remember me telling you about the rich young ruler who came to me and asked what he could do to inherit eternal life? Do you remember my answer to him? To him I said go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.

Why am I saying this to you?

Because we are at a banquet. The kingdom of God is a like a lavish feast. If you want to be filled, come to me and I will quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger. Are you thirsty? Come to me. Are you hungry? Come to me and I will satisfy that hunger that besets you. I will give you rest from the strains of day to day life.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. That salty water, which you use to preserve your meat and use as an antiseptic for wounds, kills bacteria. Does that water lose its saltiness and then needs to be thrown away and refreshed? If you are to be my disciples are to be like that salt. Permeating society for the glory of God. Be as me to the people and world you live with. By your character and conduct, you are to make others thirsty for Me and the salvation that only I can give.

The supreme reason I say this to you, is this. Oh I know that being as salt will not appeal to some of you. To others the thought of a banquet doesn’t quite fit the bill. But despite that, the ultimate reason I ask you to take up your cross, is because I have taken up my cross. I am going to Jerusalem. My face is set to go there where I will be betrayed. I will be insulted. I will be spat upon. I will be punched and abused. I will have my beard plucked out. I will cry out in paroxysms of agony as darkness swamps me in the throes of death. Are you having trouble carrying your cross? Look to me on my cross. I ask a cross for a cross. Your cross for my cross. For just as I will die, rise again, ascend into heaven and be glorified, so are you if you are my follower.

If Christians were known by their self-sacrifice, their simplistic lifestyle and as different within society. As Jim Elliot once wrote in a song – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Poem by John Stott

Your call is clear, cold centuries across;
you bid me follow you, and take my cross,
and daily lose myself, myself deny,
and stern against myself shout `Crucify’

My stubborn nature rises to rebel
against you call. proud choruses of hell
unite to magnify my restless hate
of servitude, lest I capitulate

The world, to see my cross, would pause and jeer
i have no choice, but to persevere
to save myself – and follow you from far
more slow than magi – for I have no star

And yet you call me still. your cross
eclipses mine, transforms the bitter loss
that I thought that I would suffer if I came to You
– into immeasurable gain

I kneel before you, Jesus, crucified.
my cross is shouldered and my self denied
I’ll follow daily, closely, not refuse
for love of you my very self to lose

End question – What sacrifices have you or your family made to come to Moorlands?

Methodism’s Obstacles to Grace

Grace comes in relationship—a relationship with God. God’s grace is God’s unconditional acceptance of each person, a covenant relationship that gives life to the recipient in the presence of the almighty love and power of God. As Christians, we highly value God’s grace as the supreme expression of God’s love and as the foundation for spiritual gifts and fruit.

There are many obstacles set in our path, thereby sin occurs. We all experience sin in some fashion (e.g., mental or physical abuse, lying, cheating, overindulgence). Sin takes many forms:

Situations: We find ourselves in enticing situations and lure ourselves into sin.
Evasion: We intentionally evade doing what we know God wants us to do.
Laziness: We do not make the effort to serve others as God would have us do.
Factual: We say we didn’t know it was a sin; we plead ignorance.
Habits: We have developed years of bad habits by not accepting and nurturing the relationship God offers.
Attitudes: We want to “enjoy” life; but we are actually missing the real joy of living – a deep relationship with God
Time: “I don’t have time” to pray, read scripture, help others. In actuality all of life’s fullness can be ours in God’s time.
Evil: Daily we struggle with the internal and external forces of good and evil; we battle our human, at times evil, tendencies in the face of God’s call to holiness (1 Peter 5:6-9).

Combined, the first letter of each of these “obstacles” spells SELF-HATE. Put simply, we do not love and respect ourselves as consecrated children of God and we fail to live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). The Bible teaches us that sin can be overcome by:

* Realizing that God loves us and wants to forgive us of our sin
* Living a life of prayer, with God at the center
* Striving and seeking to know and do God’s will for us

By placing our lives completely in God’s hands, it is possible to strive to live a sinless life, understanding that we do not do this alone. God is with us (Emmanuel) empowering us with the Holy Spirit. The church is with us as we share together in worship, prayer, and watching over each other in love.

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