Friday, 28 March 2014

I did it...

The lame man could walk. The leper was healed. The shriveled hand was restored. All were miracles accomplished by the power of God. But what if each individual had taken the credit instead?
The lame man bragged, "I used to be a cripple, but I did a lot of physical training and over time I strengthened my legs so they could move on their own."
"I use to be a leper," another said, "but I cleaned myself constantly and eventually the spots went away."
The man who had the shriveled hand said, "I used to have a deformed hand, but I stretched it and put lotion on it every day for years and it healed."
Sounds ludicrous, doesn't it? Yet so often we take credit for blessings that come to us from God. Pride tells others that we accomplished the miracles in our lives - whether a healing, a renewed relationship, or some other success - on our own, when the credit belongs to God.
~Francis Chan
Oh Lord please take away my pride and allow me to always give you the credit and glory you deserve.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

DWYL - Chapter Five

We missed our study last week due to my youth pastor retreat. So we have preached chapter six, but only covered chapter five last night in our Connection Group.

So you can listen to the chapter five sermon here.

Risk is Right.  Last night we talked all about good and bad risk. We simplified it down to having a child like faith in God. A child asks his daddy for lunch, fully expecting his father to be able to provide. There is no doubt in his mind that if he asks his daddy for lunch he will get something to eat.  That's child like faith seen as child like dependence.  However, the father knows what is best for the child, so while the child may want chocolate for lunch, the father instead provides a cheese sandwich.  There might be a little grumbling, but the child will eat what the father provides.  This is child like faith seen as child like acceptance that daddy knows best.

When it comes to risk, good risk happens when there is childlike dependence on God and childlike acceptance from God.  In that way we are in His plan.

Bad risk happens when we ignore dependence on God... or act in nonacceptance to His plan.
Consider the context of 2 Samuel 10. The Amalekites had shamed the messengers of Israel and made themselves odious in the sight of David. To protect themselves they had hired the Syrians to fight with them against the Israelites. Joab, the commander of Israel's forces, found himself surrounded with Amalekites on one side and Syrians on the other. So he divided his troops, put his brother Abiashai in charge of one troop of fighters and led the other himself.
In verse 11 they pledged to help each other. Then comes this great word in verse 12: "Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and mauy the LORD do what seems good to him." What do these last words mean, "May the LORD do what seems good to him"? It means that Joab has made a strategic decision for the cities of God, and he did not know how it would turn out. He had no special revelation from God on this issue. He had to make a decision on the basis of sanctified wisdom. He had to risk or run. He did not know how it would turn out. So he made his decision, and he handed the results over to God. And this was right.
~John Piper - Don't Waste Your Life - p82

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

DWYL - Chapter Four

We need a recap of the first three chapters before we can handle even the title of chapter four.  So remember in Chapter One we learnt that we need to search for a single passion to live by, that our own personal experiences aren't enough to develop a life that won't be a waste. There has to be something objective which we can grasp... cling to that gives us a single passion which will point to an unwasted life. We were introduced to the objective nature of Jesus, because in Chapter Two it was revealed that the Beauty of Christ is our ultimate joy. What Jesus has done for us is objective (it doesn't rely on any of our own personal experiences) and so we can look to Him as the ultimate truth, and He provides ultimate joy. And God is most glorified when we enjoy magnifying His Name.  In Chapter Three we then saw the very centre of the beauty of Jesus (which is our ultimate joy) is seen in the Cross of Christ.  What Jesus did on the cross is the ultimate act of love and grace... the most important objective thing that impacts our lives - so much so that anything else is a mere shadow and the cross is the single passion we must live by.

We need to remember all that, otherwise the title of Chapter Four will send us running for the hills. "Magnifying Christ through Pain and Death". Not something we might particularly look forward too... but why shouldn't we if we can magnify Jesus through it.  In some cases our timidness and scaredness of experiencing pain or suffering is the biggest hindrance to us sharing our faith.
Living to magnify Christ is costly. This is not surprising. He was crucified. He was treated like a devil. And he calls us to follow him. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34).  He says it will probably not go better for us than for him. "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household" (Matthew 10:25).
But suffering with Jesus on the Calvary road of love is not merely the result of magnifying Christ; it is also the means. He is made supreme when we are so satisfied in him that we can "let goods and kindred go, this mortal like also" and suffer for the sake of love. His beauty shines most brightly when treasured above health and wealth and life itself. Jesus knew this. He knew that suffering... would be the path in this age for making him most visibly supreme. That is why he calls us to this. He loves us. And love does not mean making much of us or making life easy. It means making us able to enjoy making much of him forever - no matter what it costs.
~John Piper, DWYL, p61-62
Jesus tells us to go suffer because He loves us. A paradoxical idea to the world for sure, but Christians should realise that Jesus' love is shown when He gives us the opportunity to glorify Him (because we can always enjoy glorifying Him).

So the point a believer must come to is this; do you value Jesus about life itself?
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