Saturday, October 04, 2014

 

A Theology Of Technology

We have entered a whole new world. Truly a brave new world, a digital world, completely new to the human experience. Possibilities are endless, as are the pitfalls.

Facts:

· Children aged 8-18 consume 7 hours and 38 minutes of media per day.

· Teens 13-17 send an average of 3,364 texts per month.

· Facebook is cited in almost 1/3 of divorce filings.

· First exposure to internet based pornography is age 12 (and falling).

Technological advancement is chaotic. Not all of it is good. Some of it is quite vile. It is alarming that he deeply unloving acts of soliciting sex with children through internet web sites has been perpetrated by those whom we trust. Teachers and others have been jailed for obscene photos of children.

Often television series are based upon real life experiences recorded by book authors. One young U.S. pioneering family had a daughter; Laura Engles-Wiilder( of “Little House on the Prairie” fame) was born in 1867. Later in life, she wrote about being a pioneer girl. She died in 1957 – the year the Boeing 747 went into the sky, before man landed on the moon, the year before Lennon met McCarthy. She wrote about the steam engine like it was some magnificent invention. However since 1957 technological change has been enormous.

And yet the pace of technological change has not slackened, but rather technological change increases remarkably. The impossibilities of the 1968 Star Trek series have largely become realities; such as the hand held communicator, or the computer screen.

1980 brought about the digital divide. Computers, once the province of big businesses such as IBM, have been displaced by Microsoft and Apple, as computers could now be brought into our homes.

1990 saw the commencement of the internet age. Knowledge, information became available to all at minimal costs. The prophecy of Daniel 12 is being fulfilled. Verse 4 reads about the end of time, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."ESV 4many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase." NASB

Life has changed. The role of the university as the resource for knowledge has been replaced by the portable laptop. Encyclopedia’s, once highly valued as the source of all knowledge, venerated in the reserved public space of the household, has been replaced by, first of all, cheap, then free digital editions, and finally displaced by Wikipedia, the “primary source” for all PhD’s papers.

But how now shall we live? Such an information explosion resourced through new technologies, has changed the way people live. The multiple waves of technological innovations have so crashed repeatedly into human life, that rather than respond wisely to the new innovations with rigorous thought and concern, rather , humanity welcomes all new technologies with an enthusiastic embrace: We are led to assume by the unrelenting pressure of unsought technological innovation that technology is neutral, neither moral nor immoral, and that it is only people who give moral value to things. We are then led to give all technologies unqualified, unthinking acceptance.

Some would distance themselves from all technologies with a strict separation: Like the Luddites who resisted the depersonalizing technologies of the industrial revolution in England, we could distrust and resist anything new.

Or we could use some disciplined discernment: Embrace the virtuous, reject the unwholesome.

Malcolm Gladwell (author of “The Tipping Point”) – was recently asked as to the reason for him writing books? He replied, “Because we are experience rich and theory poor. We don’t think about why things work the way they do. We all have the experience of it, but we never think about the theory behind it.

We tend to think that new technologies are primarily beneficial. We aren’t preparing our hearts for the risk of the not so good things, nor have we duly considered the unexpected outcomes of the technology upon our humanity. The benefits of technology are usually immediately apparent. The risks of a technology are usually only apparent over time. We all have experience with technology; every time we check email or watch television or answer a call on a cell phone we further develop that experience. Many of us have some theory of technology. Perhaps we’ve read a book by Neil Postman or we’ve seen a TV special on the subject. Along the way most of us have picked up some theory of technology. But what few of us have done is consider the biblical perspective on technology, which means that few of us have a theology of technology.

A Theology of Technology cannot be separated from a theology of all things, rather it finds itself imbedded in a theology of all things.  Particularly, our theology of humanity and what it means to thrive as a human being is associated to our theology of technology.  Any and every technology is an artifact of humanity.  It both impacts and is impacted upon by what it means to be human.  What does God say about how humanity shall thrive or fail?

1.The Goal of Humanity and its Artifacts is Fruitfulness

Gen 1:26-30

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”
27 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”
29 God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you,
30 for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it. [I have given]every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came, and then morning: the sixth day.

Socially humanity was made for Community fellowship with God and fellowship with humanity, and fellowship with the created natural world

Morally humanity was created with Conscience.

Mentally humanity was created with Creativity subdue.. to place in order. As God created everything out of nothing, He put in order creation out of chaos. In a similar way humanity exercises creativity in many ways to bring order to his world. Oorder is differentiated here from control.

2. The Guilt of Humanity (and its artifacts) is found in our Fallenness

Socially, humanity created for community experiences isolation and separation. There is a tendency to subordinate relationships to tasks in order to control. Gen 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 And he said, “I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
11 Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I had commanded you not to eat from?”
12 Then the man replied, “The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me [some fruit]from the tree, and I ate.”

Community has been lost, communion with God has been replaced with separation from God.

Tim Challies writes; “The cell phone, a device meant to enhance my communication with others, can increase my ability to communicate with those who are far from me, often at the cost of communication with my own wife and children – those closest to me.[i]

Walls separate humanity. Social isolation has overwhelmed much of humanity. Everyone feels someties the depth of loneliness that separates people.

We have more and greater means of communication than any other age, yet find ourselves experiencing greater social isolation than any other age. We gather together at family and social functions so that we can sit alone and check our facebook updates on our mobile phones.

Morally Conscience set as a guide for humanity, finds itself confused. Man’s creativity in technology provided him the means to cover-up his guilt with things that would never satisfy the depths of his need. Gen 3: 6 Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate [it]; she also gave [some]to her husband, [who was]with her, and he ate [it]. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Mentally humanity was created to be creative, however now creativity is used to control our world and the people in it.

Humanity’s fallenness produces a change in the way people are valued. No longer is fruitfulness in community of relationship the main purpose of humanity, rather it is the tasks whereby are ascribed monetary value to the person; their worth.

Worth is assessed by a person’s ability to “work like a machine”. Vis, Lucy as a factory employee.

Technology is more than just the mobile phone – it includes very artifact of humanity’s culture, whether it be beautiful, artistic, functional, or industrial. Technology is the creative activity of using tools to shape God’s creation for practical purposes.

Efficiency is the new word for worth. Myers staff are made to feel “unworthy” by being reminded that their sales figures are down. They are urged to use relationships as means of being more productive, developing relationships for purely mercenary goals of customer loyalty. I was invited to renew an old and valued friendship, along with several others. We very soon discovered that our desire for friendship had been used for mercenary measures when we discovered we were subject to an Amway sales pitch by our friends. Our souls had been commodified.

No wonder Peggy Lee could croon, “is that all there is?” and the Rolling Stones could complain “I can’t get no satisfaction, though I try and I try and I try.”

Humanity’s fallenness allows humanity to create artifacts with the creativity he has that is marred by his fallenness so that humanity’s artifacts now reflect that fallenness. Some created technologies reflect that fallenness; atomic bombs and hand grenades and explosive mines have only one purpose, the undifferentiated taking of human lives.

When worth is assessed by productivity, then both abortion and euthanasia become meaningful possibilities.

But, still, the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

Many years ago I was confronted with a way side pulpit sign I have never forgotten. It asked the question “Do you love things and use people or do you love people and use things?”

The heart of the human problem is the tendency that we have to subjugate people to ourselves, using whatever means we can to control our environments and control those in them.

3. The Growth of Humanity (and their artifacts ) has been by Force

Individuals have always been the key to human development. Historically a key typological figure occurs in the book of Genesis very briefly, yet the results of his technological ability is still felt today.

Genesis 10: 8Cush fathered Nimrod, who was the first powerful man on earth. 9 He was a powerful hunter in the sight of the Lord. That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a powerful hunter in the sight of the Lord.” 10 His kingdom started with Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir, Calah,

Arrogance Nimrod was known as an arrogant man. He was going to make his way in an unknown world. He would boldly go where no man has gone before. And he built himself cities there. A powerful man. It was no wonder that the families that followed him imitated his prowess.

Gen 11: 1 At one time the whole earth had the same language and vocabulary. 2 As people migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let us make oven-fired bricks.” They had brick for stone and asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

Abilities

Nimrod and his people were people of grat technological ability. Even God recognized their ability.

5 Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the men were building.
6 The Lord said, “If, as one people all having the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

Ambition

The problem was not that they were ambitious, but that they were ambitious without respect to God.

They lived independently of God and His plans. And as such, their conscience’s no longer provided them that balance between morality, community and creativity that would allow them to flourish safely. Consequently, rather than punish them, God scatters them, so that their technological advances may be slowed.

7 Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them from there over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babylon, for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Does this provide us warning that technological advancement is not always in the interests of human flourishing?

There is a sense in which we know this already inwardly.

4. The Grace given to humanity is Forgiveness

God’s purpose for our humanity is restoration.

5. The Genuine Fruitfulness

Genuine Fruitfulness is found in reconciliation in our relationships in a new community, with God, and with others.

For us as individuals we cannot allow the time that could be used in developing our relationship with God through His Word, and the time that we should spend in relationship with others, to be swallowed up in time we spend “playing with” technologies. We must never value things more than people. We must live counter culturally. Genuine Fruitfulness is experienced when we value relationships more than productivity.

Genuine Fruitfulness is found Morally by keeping a good conscience about the things that are important. Our conscience allows us a sense of balance. 1 Timothy 1:5 states something of this balance. Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

Genuine Fruitfulness is found Creatively by discovering the beauty of our ordered world, rather than attempting to impose control and order over our world.

God has given us a beautiful natural world, yet humanity so often surrounds itself with a plastic world, a world designed to control our beautifully ordered natural world. Through technology we may attempt to control our world, in ways which ultimately pollute it. Respect for the beauty of our natural world is a value quickly being forgotten in our plastic technological society. And it is a value that is perishable.

Andy Crouch [ii] encourages us to ask these questions of ourselves about every cultural artifact:.

What does this artifact assume about the way the world is?

What does it assume about the way the world should be?

What does it make possible?

What does it make impossible, or at least a lot more difficult?

And what new culture is created in response?


[i] Challies,T. (2011) The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion

[ii]Crouch, A, (2008)Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling IVP Books


Friday, June 20, 2014

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Living a Thanksgiving Life

What is the hardest thing in life to do? It might be trying to climb a fence that’s leaning toward you…or to kiss a girl who’s leaning away from you. But really, the most difficult thing in life might be to “give thanks always for all things.”

If Paul had simply said “Give thanks always,” we might be OK with this. But what bothers us is the next phrase, “for all things.” Many hearts are subdued because of tribulation and anguish. How can we come to the place where we give thanks “always in all things”?

Let me ask you a question. Do you have difficulty with bitterness, selfishness, self pity, negativism, or pride? An attitude of gratitude can change those things and literally transform your life.

There are four levels of living. People in the lowest level constantly complain. These folks are always griping and complaining. Rather than being humbly grateful, they're grumbly hateful.

The second level is just a bit higher. These are not people who are constantly complaining; they just never give thanks for anything. They take things for granted.

The third level are those who thank God for the obvious blessings, when things are going good and everything is fine.

But the fourth level, the highest level, are those who give thanks always for all things.

This is the attitude that will change your life. Today we are confronted by a passage that will profoundly change your life.  Here is God's answer to a character that draws criticism and crankiness. Here is God's answer in how you can tune up your attitude, and make life bearable for those around you. I don't want to grow old to become a cranky bitter old man. You don't want to grow old and be someone that isn’t loved or respected. These three verses today will change your character.

Three things.. 1 Thessalonians 5 :16 Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1. Rejoice always!

What people need is JOY not happiness. Happiness comes from the word “hap,” which means  “luck” or “happenings.” Happiness rises and falls with what happens in your life, but joy remains  constant regardless of what happens. Joy is an inner attitude of cheer that manifests itself through outward celebration.

Joy is an important word in the Bible. Joy appears 158 times and “rejoice” appears another 198  times. In the Old Testament there are 27 different colorful words to describe joy. Some of the  basic meanings are to “run around with delight;” “to shine like the brightness of the sun.”

Joy is really not a feeling; it’s an attitude. But when you experience real joy, you’ll rejoice,  which is the expression of a feeling. At any time, you can choose to rejoice. You may say, “I don’t feel like rejoicing.” That’s okay; rejoice anyway. Paul was in prison when he wrote,  “Rejoice in the Lord. I’ll say it again, rejoice.” He didn’t write, “Rejoice in the prison.” He said, “Rejoice in the Lord.” The Bible never says, “Rejoice in your bank account.” We rejoice in the Lord. The Bible never says, “Rejoice in your health, or your circumstances’. We rejoice in the Lord.

Are you rejoicing in the Lord? Here’s a test. Sometime this afternoon or this week, find someone  who is close to you, your spouse or a good friend. Ask them, “When was the last time you saw  me really rejoice?”

Today is Thanksgiving Sunday among  our Life Anglican churches.   It is a day we have set aside to reflect back on God’s goodness to us in the past year, and a day to reflect forwards on what God’s faithfulness will look like in the coming year. We have organized this week each year to occur before the end of the financial year,  so that , as part of our thanksgiving, we may make a tangible statement of our thanksgiving to God for this past year.

We Rejoice always in the goodness of the Lord towards us His people.
We Rejoice that Jesus is the Lover of our Souls

Gal 2:20 the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

We Rejoice that Jesus is the Life of our Souls  Col 3:4When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

We Rejoice that Jesus is the Liberator of our Souls  John 8:32You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We Rejoice that Jesus is the Lord of our Souls

2. Pray constantly.
Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Listen, friend, if you are too busy to pray, you're too busy. There is the problem of unoffered  prayer, but what about the other problem, unanswered prayer? We do pray, we do seek God, we do beg, we do try to get right, and ask God according to his will and yet our prayer seems to be unanswered

You are to pray when you are adding up prices in the grocery store line. You are to pray when you are changing a tire. You are to pray when you are singing a song. You are to pray when you are teaching a little one how to read.

We are commanded to pray all the time. But how do we do this? Think of a mother who has a child who is ill with a fever. Finally, the fever breaks and the mother and child settle down for some much-needed sleep. Not a noise from the television, from the street, or from the phone could awaken that mother. But one whimper from her child and she’s awake, right? That’s because even when she is asleep, she is in tune with that child—just as we are to be with God…constantly communing and attuned to His voice.

It’s going to amaze you when you get to Heaven friend. I believe God’s going to call you over and open the door to his storehouse and say, “Look in there. Do you see those blessings that are soured, and spoiled, and rusty and mildewed? Those are your blessings. Those are things I wanted you to have, those are things that I wanted to load you down with, but I couldn’t give them to you. You went your own way warring, and scheming, and planning and conniving, and figuring and you have not because you ask not.”
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, friend, the presumption of un-offered prayer. Did you know that prayerlessness is a sin? It’s a sin. The Bible says, “…God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you…” (1 Samuel 12:23). Did you know the Bible tells us that we’re to pray all of the time? The Bible says, very clearly in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5 and verse 17 that we are to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)The Bible says in Luke chapter 18, verse 1 that Jesus “spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). And, so you see—look, when you don’t pray, you’re not just simply missing a blessing, you’re committing a sin. You’re doing without the things that God wants you to have, and you’re sinning against the Lord.

There is a great example of prayerlessness in the book of  2Chronicles in the life of King Asa of Judah.
2 Chron 15:2 So he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Asa and all Judah and Benjamin, hear me. The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you abandon Him, He will abandon you.
3 For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law,
4 but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought Him, He was found by them.
5 In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts.
6 Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress.
7 But as for you, be strong; don’t be discouraged, for your work has a reward.”
8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of [Azariah son of]Oded the prophet, he took courage and removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He renovated the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the Lord’s [temple].
9 Then he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, as well as those from [the tribes of]Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them, for they had defected to him from Israel in great numbers when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

2 Chron 16:1 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa, Israel’s King Baasha went to war against Judah. He built Ramah in order to deny anyone’s access—going or coming—to Judah’s King Asa.
2 So Asa brought out the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and the royal palace and sent it to Aram’s King Ben-hadad, who lived in Damascus, saying,
3 “There’s a treaty between me and you, between my father and your father. Look, I have sent you silver and gold. Go break your treaty with Israel’s King Baasha so that he will withdraw from me.”
4 Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies to the cities of Israel. They attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the storage cities of Naphtali.
5 When Baasha heard [about it], he quit building Ramah and stopped his work.
6 Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and the timbers Baasha had built it with. Then he built Geba and Mizpah with them.

7 At that time, Hanani the seer came to King Asa of Judah and said to him, “Because you depended on the king of Aram and have not depended on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.
8 Were not the • Cushites and Libyans a vast army with very many chariots and horsemen? When you depended on the Lord, He handed them over to you.
9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His. You have been foolish in this matter, for from now on, you will have wars.”
10 Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison because of his anger over this. And Asa mistreated some of the people at that time.

12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a disease in his feet, and his disease became increasingly severe. Yet even in his disease he didn’t seek the Lord but the physicians.

Asa died a bitter old man.

How often do we rely upon our own wisdom and intelligence or powers, or ingenuity to get ourselves out of problems?  We should seek the Lord first!

There is no sin in your life but what prayer would have prevented it. The Bible says in Mark 14, verse 38: “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation…” (Mark 14:38).
John Bunyan wrote in Pilgrim’s Progress, “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, and sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” Are you praying? Most of us talk about prayer like we do the weather. I heard about a weatherman who had to leave town for health reasons. The weather didn’t agree with him.

Prayer is like the weather. We talk about it and don’t do much about it. There is no substitute for prayer. Not energy, not enthusiasm, not eloquence, not intellect. There is no substitute for prayer. My life is no greater than my prayer life. What I am that is important is not what I am on this platform, but what I am in the closet before I come here. What you are in your life when you teach your class is linked to your prayer life.
Oh, my dear friends, this church needs to learn how to pray. We are asking God to lead us into a program that is so immense, so big, so unbelievable, that it absolutely cannot be done—will not be done—unless we pray. I believe God wants us to reach the many many new people moving into our area, and we will pray that many will be saved.  And many will be saved. I believe God wants us to have what we need. And, I believe he’s going to give it to us. And, I believe we’re going to be able to raise the money to build these buildings. But, I believe it’ll be God who does it. And, we will have because we shall ask. And, our Heavenly Father will answer that prayer. I’m telling you that if prayerlessness is a sin, then some of us need to repent. And, before you do anything else you need to repent of the sin of prayerlessness. We can do more than pray after we pray, but we can do no more than pray until we have prayed.

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day.

I had so much to accomplish that I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me and heavier came each task.

Why doesn't God help me, I wondered. He answered, "ha, you didn't ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on gray and bleak.

I wondered why God didn't show me. But He said, "but you didn't seek."

I tried to come into God's presence; I used all the keys on the lock.

God gently and lovingly chided, my son, you didn't knock.

I woke up early this morning and paused before entering the day.

I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

3. Give thanks in everything

Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

We are reminded to give thanks in everything!

Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Ephesians 5:20

Your Gratitude Is Proper
Anything good that you have has come from God. You didn't get it by luck, ingenuity, hard work, wit, or wisdom. It is proper to thank God for it.

Your Gratitude Is to Be Perpetual
You're not just simply to be thankful one day a year. One day is not long enough to thank God for all that He's given you. His blessings come daily. Psalm 68:19 says, "Blessed be the Lord, Who daily load us with benefits...." Every day God has brand-new blessings for you, and every day ought to find you thanking God. Every prayer that you pray ought to be salted with thanks.

Your Gratitude Is to Be Pervasive
In everything give thanks. Not in some things, but in all things. Every thing, every area of life is to be a the subject of thanksgiving. There's so much to be thankful for.

Spiritual things — If you didn't have anything else but Jesus, you would have enough to praise God for all eternity.
Simple things — You should be thankful for your families, health, food, and even a glass of water. Thank God for the simple things.
Sorrowful things — You can even be thankful for the heartaches, the pains, and the sufferings. Romans 8:28 says, "...All things work together for good...." That is, the thing itself is not good, but it is God Who is working all things together for good.

Do you want to live on the highest level of life? Cultivate the attitude of gratitude always and in all things. I don't care how bad, difficult, dark, or mysterious things get; take the ultimate step of faith and say, "God, You're greater than this, and I thank You." You say, "Well, I don't feel like thanking Him." Don't thank Him by feeling; thank Him by faith. You're not told to feel thankful but to be thankful. Nothing shows your faith in the absolute sovereignty of God more than just simply thanking God in every situation.

Your Gratitude Will Be Pleasurable
Thankful people are happy people. "Well," you say, "if I had something to be thankful for, I'd be happy." You have missed the point! You do have something to be thankful for. You have life. You have Christ. You may say, "But my circumstance are not good." The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote this, yet he was rejoicing in the Lord. Gratefulness turned his prison to a palace, but ungratefulness can turn your palace to a prison. I'm telling you, the attitude of gratitude will change your life.

Your Gratitude Is Possible
Living with gratitude is not a human way to live, not a natural way to live — it's supernatural. And this kind of thankfulness only comes out of a vital relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whether you're in a prison, as Paul often was you can praise God. I'm telling you it will change your life. Bitterness, fear, self pity, ungratefulness, and negativism will go out of your life if you will practice the grace of gratitude. It's possible. 

Why should you choose Jesus today?

He will give you Immediate Joy.  1 Thess 1:6 and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with the joy from the Holy Spirit.

You face impending death.  Death can be either a stepping into the joys of heaven for you or the woes of hell.  Paul reminded the Thessalonians of this in chapter 4.. those dying  as Christians go immediately to be with the Lord, and there is much joy there.

We await the imminent return of the Lord Jesus.  This gave the early Christians great joy because they knew their Lord, their Life  their Saviour was going to return to bring them home. Listen to the Joy in it.. 1Thess 5 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

The insensitivity of your heart is a reason to choose Jesus right now.  You may be thinking , what has this  joy and thanksgiving got to do with me?   The longer you put it off, the harder ot becomes to choose Jesus.  Choose Him today and experience the Joy He promises.


Friday, May 23, 2014

 

Where is God Taking You?

1 Thess 3: 11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Where are you going with your life? Is there any sense in which we can know God’s will for our lives? Sometimes we view God’s will as something that we hope God will just lower down to us one day so we will know where we are going.

I have learnt over the years that the Lord is concerned to take us to Heaven, by a route, holiness, and He Helps us with it.

Lets back into this short passage. My reversing and parking, you will be glad to hear, has much improved since I first visited the church here. I now no longer knock down walls. My car has a camera attached that allows me to back into car park spots safely.

This passage ends with Heaven

Isn’t it good to know that your destination is heaven. If you have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to be your Saviour and Lord, you have entered a journey where

the Divine Destination is heaven.

This verse reminds us of three important truths.

i. There is An Appointment You Can’t Avoid.

ii. There is An Assessment You Can’t Evade

iii. There is an Assurance You Can Anticipate

There is An Appointment You Can’t Avoid.

so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

You will stand before our God and Father in heaven at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The return of the Lord Jesus with all his saints is a wonderful recurring theme in the epistles to the Thessalonians.

1 Thess 4: 13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are • asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. 15 For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord.

After the return of the Lord Jesus you will immediately stand before the God.

There is An Assessment You Can’t Evade

Other passages remind us of this. 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad.

1 Corinthians 3: 9 For we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to God’s grace that was given to me, as a skilled master builder I have laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, 11 because no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid—that is, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire

Romans 14:  If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
9 Christ died and came to life for this: that He might rule over both the dead and the living. 10 But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God.12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

There is an Assessment of your works as a believer that will occur after the second coming. There are rewards in heaven. How this works out I have no idea. This is not about heaven and hell. If we have believed in Jesus, Romans 8:1 says, Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, The Lord Jesus said John 5:24 I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

This assessment is about rewards for believers.. Matthew 25: 21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful • slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’

Luke 19:16  The first came forward and said, ‘Master, your mina has earned 10 more minas.’ 17 “ ‘Well done, good• slave!’ he told him. ‘Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, have authority over 10 towns.’ 18 “The second came and said, ‘Master, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 “So he said to him, ‘You will be over five towns.’

There Is An Assurance You Can Anticipate

so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Phil 1:6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The Lord intends to make you look good on that day.

The Divine Destiny of each believer is Heaven.

That’s where the Lord is taking you. But the route He is taking you is through Holiness.

12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness

The Divine Definition is Holiness

The Christian life produces the fruits of holy living. “Theology,” William Ames wrote in the opening words of his classic, The Marrow of Theology, “is the doctrine or teaching of living to God.[i]” God Himself exhorts His children, “You shall be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Paul instructs the Thessalonians, “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:7). And the author of Hebrews writes, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). The believer who does not cultivate holiness diligently will neither have much genuine assurance of his own salvation nor be obeying Peter’s call to seek it (2 Peter 1:10).

Our tendency is to think of Holiness as a negative thing. We think immediately of austere puritans sitting in monastic sterility keeping apart from the world lest they be defiled by it. The New Testament speaks of holiness in a much more positive way, as being the way of love. As we love God deeply, and know His love deeply, we extend that love to other believers and then to a lost and sinful world.

The severity of holiness is lost in the joyful fruit of the Spirit, which engages with others in love.

In both biblical languages holy means separated and set apart for God. For the Christian, to be set apart means, negatively, to be separate from sin, and positively, to be consecrated (i.e., dedicated) to God and conformed to Christ. There is no disparity between Old Testament and New Testament concepts of holiness, though there is a change in emphasis on what holiness involves. The Old Testament stresses ritual and moral holiness; the New Testament stresses inward and transforming holiness Lev. 19:2  “Speak to the entire Israelite community and tell them: Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy. 1 Thess. 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Scripture presents the essence of holiness primarily in relation to God. The focus of the sacred realm in Scripture is God Himself. God’s holiness is the very essence of His being (Isa. 57:15); [ii] it is the backdrop of all else the Bible declares about God. His justice is holy justice; His wisdom is holy wisdom; His power is holy power; His grace is holy grace. No other attribute of God is celebrated before the throne of heaven as is His holiness: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3). “Holy” is prefixed to God’s name more than any other attribute[iii].

Isaiah alone calls God the “Holy One” twenty-six times. God’s holiness, John Howe wrote, “may be said to be a transcendental attribute that, as it were, runs through the rest, and casts lustre upon them. It is an attribute of attributes ... and so it is the very lustre and glory of His other perfections.” [iv] God manifests something of His majestic holiness in His works (Ps. 145:17), in His law (Ps. 19:8–9), and especially at the cross of Christ (Matt. 27:46). Holiness is His permanent crown, His glory, His beauty. It is, says Jonathan Edwards, “more than a mere attribute of God—it is the sum of all His attributes, the outshining of all that God is.[v]” God’s holiness denotes two critical truths about Himself: First, it denotes the “separateness” of God from all His creation and His “apartness” from all that is unclean or evil. God’s holiness testifies of His purity, His moral perfection, His separateness from all outside of Him, His complete absence of sin (Job 34:10; Isa. 5:16; 40:18; Hab. 1:13)[vi].

Holiness, includes separation from sin, consecration to God, and conformity to Christ—make holiness comprehensive.

But the bottom line to these is love.

12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father…

Holiness of heart must be cultivated in every sphere of life: in privacy with God, in the confidentiality of our homes, in the competitiveness of our occupation, in the pleasures of social friendship, in relation with our unevangelized neighbors and the world’s hungry and unemployed, as well as in Sunday worship. Horatius Bonar writes: Holiness ... extends to every part of our persons, fills up our being, spreads over our life, influences everything we are, or do, or think, or speak, or plan, small or great, outward or inward, negative or positive, our loving, our hating, our sorrowing, our rejoicing, our recreations, our business, our friendships, our relationships, our silence, our speech, our reading, our writing, our going out and our coming in—our whole man in every movement of spirit, soul, and body[vii].

Thus, holiness is an inward thing that must fill our entire heart and an outward thing that must cover all of life. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23). “Holiness,” Thomas Boston maintained, “is a constellation of graces.” 14 In gratitude to God, a believer cultivates the fruits of holiness, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22–23)[viii].

Calvin “we learn in what the perfection of the Christian life consists — in love and pure holiness of heart, flowing from faith. He recommends love mutually cherished towards each other, and afterwards towards all, for as it is befitting that a commencement should be made with those that are of the household of faith, (Gal 6:10) so our love ought to go forth to the whole human race. Farther, as the nearer connection must be cherished, so we must not overlook those who are farther removed from us, so as to prevent them from holding their proper place.

He would have the Thessalonians abound in love and be filled with it, because in so far as we make progress in acquaintance with God, the love of the brethren must at the same time increase in us, until it take possession of our whole heart, the corrupt love of self being extirpated. He prays that the love of the Thessalonians may be perfected by God, intimating that its increase, no less than its commencement, was from God alone. The end of the law is love, says Paul, (1Ti 1:5) yet he himself declares that it is a work of God. When, therefore, God marks out our life, he does not look to what we can do, but requires from us what is above our strength, that we may learn to ask from him power to accomplish it. Your hearts blameless in holiness: The heart must be made holy first. The devil wants us to develop a holy exterior while neglecting the interior, like whitewashed tombs, full of death (Mat. 23:27).”

“The unceasing and steady aim of every Christian should be perfection — perfection in all things and in his submission to the will of God. No man can be a Christian who does not sincerely desire it, and who does not constantly aim at it. No man is a friend of God who can acquiesce in a state of sin and who is satisfied and contented that he is not as holy as God is holy. And any man who has no desire to be perfect and who does not make it his daily and constant aim to be perfect, may settle it down as demonstrably certain that he has no true religion.” — Barnes.

12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness

Love . That’s where the Lord is taking us in Holiness. Love to one another who are Christians, and love towards others in our world, even those who hate us.

The Lord Jesus said Matthew 5: 43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Perfection, Holiness is found in LOVE!

Phocus was a gardener who lived at Sinope, on the Black Sea, who used his crops to feed the poor and also aided persecuted Christians. During the persecutions of Diocletian he provided hospitality to the soldiers who were sent to execute him. The soldiers, not knowing that their host was their intended victim, agreed to his hospitality. Phocas also offered to help them find the person who they sought.

As the soldiers slept, Phocas dug his own grave and also prayed fervently. In the morning, when the soldiers awoke, Phocas revealed his identity. The soldiers hesitated and offered to report to their commander that their search had been fruitless. Phocas refused this offer and bared his neck. He was then decapitated and buried in the grave that he had dug for himself.

Could you love your enemies like that?

God is taking you to a destiny: HEAVEN
God is working to change you HOLINESS .. and that Holiness is LOVE!!!

God is our only Hope of getting there.

We need His HELP.

 

The Divine Design Is Help

We crave Love.

Marilyn Monroe, foster care one lady in a happy mood whilst putting makeup on, dabbed her with her rouge puffer. Marilyn Monroe said “for that moment I felt loved by her”

We crave Love. And our lives are not over filled with love.

And that love can be found eternally and powerfully in Jesus.

One of the beuties of this passage is it reminds us; may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.

Wesley reminds us that it is the overflowing abounding love of the Lord Jesus that flows into our hearts and out to others. It was Keith Green who wrote

I found it hard to believe Someone like you cared for me
You put this love in my heart I tried but could not refuse
You gave me no time to choose You put this love in my heart

I want to know where the bad feelings go When I'm depressed and I get down so low
And then I see you coming to me and it's alright

I want to tell you right now I'm not afraid to say how You put this love in my heart
There are sometimes when I doubt But you always find me out You put this love in my heart

'Cause when I see all that you've done for me It's hard to doubt, I just have to believe
'Cause you followed and proved it all of your life

Well I know The loneliness I had before Is gone now I'll never feel it anymore 'Cause your love has released me
From all that's in my past and I know I can believe you When you say I'll never be forsaken Your love is gonna last

There's so much more I should say If I could just find a way
You put this love in my heart
Is all this real or a dream I feel so good I could scream You put this love in my heart

I want to know where the bad feelings go When I'm depressed and I get down so low And then I see you coming to me and it's alright

You put this love in my heart You put this love in my heart You put this love in my heart

Wesley writes;

“A heart in every thought renewed, And full of Love divine,

Perfect and right and pure and good A copy, Lord of thine.

“Give me a new, a perfect heart, From doubt and fear and sorrow free,

The mind which was in Christ impart, And let my spirit cleave to thee.”

And every virtue we possess, And every conquest won, And every thought of holiness, Are His alone.

Are you growing in Holiness?

Are you prepared for Heaven?

Are you growing in Love?

Are you drawing upon the Lord’s help to be all He intends you should be?

We need love. We need to give out that love. Is your life full of love?


[i] The Marrow of Theology, trans. and ed. John D. Eusden (1629; Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1968), 77.

Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1978), 13–14.

[ii] Otto, R, The Idea of the Holy, trans. J. W. Harvey (London: Oxford University Press, 1946).

[iii] Charnock,S The Existence and Attributes of God (repr. Evansville, Indiana: Sovereign Grace, 1958), 449.

[iv] The Works of the Rev. John Howe (1848; repr. Ligonier, Pennsylvania: Soli Deo Gloria,1990), 2:59

[v] The Works of Jonathan Edwards (1834; repr. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), 1:101; cf. R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1985).

[vi] Finlayson,R.A., The Holiness of God (Glasgow: Pickering and Inglis, 1955), 4.

[vii][vii] Bonar, H, God’s Way of Holiness (repr. Pensacola, Florida: Mt. Zion Publications, 1994), 16.

[viii] Cf. George Bethune, The Fruit of the Spirit (1839; repr. Swengel, Pennsylvania: Reiner,1972); W. E. Sangster, The Pure in Heart: A Study of Christian Sanctity (London: EpworthPress, 1954); John W. Sanderson, The Fruit of the Spirit (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972);

Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Holiness: Every Christian’s Calling (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1985).


Friday, May 09, 2014

 

Multiply Studies 19-24

LIFE ANGLICAN

Riverstone

Multiply: We will be doing a study on the book Multiply—you can download it for free here: http://multiplymovement.com

Invest & Invite

Host a Movie night!

 
 
Multiply #19 Understanding the New Testament

Jesus the Messiah Read Mark 1

What are some of the answers people in our culture give to Jesus’s question “Who do you say that I am?” Why are these answers inadequate?

Why is it important to understand that Jesus was fully human and fully God? How should this reality shape the way you think and speak about Him?

What does Mark 1 indicate that Jesus has power over?

Why is it important to recognize that Jesus was fulfilling the promises and prophecies made in the Old Testament?

Based on what you studied in the session on the kingdom of God in the Old Testament, why is Jesus’s proclamation of the kingdom of God important? Mark 1:15

How should the concept of the kingdom of God and the reality of Jesus as the King affect your daily life now?

Carefully read Ephesians 2:1–10 and Colossians 2:13–15.

What do these passages say about the significance of Jesus’s death and resurrection?

Read Acts 3:18–21. How did the early apostles present persuasively that Jesus is the Messiah? Why was this important? Is it important to present this today?

 

 

 

 

 

LIFE ANGLICAN

Riverstone

Multiply: We will be doing a study on the book Multiply—you can download it for free here: http://multiplymovement.com

Invest & Invite

Host a Movie night!

 
 
Multiply #20 The Great Commission

Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18–20)

Read Luke 24 and Acts 1:1–11. As you read, place yourself in the scene and try to feel the significance of these events. How do the circumstances surrounding the Great Commission add significance to Jesus’s words?

We can get so caught up in our own personal relationships with God that we forget to think about the global implications of the Great Commission. Why is it important to see the mission of the church as a global calling? Revelation 7:9-17

Why do you think Jesus would give us the strategy of disciple making as the means for accomplishing our mission on earth?

Take a minute to consider the significance of baptism. Write down some thoughts below. If you have been baptized, include some reflections on your own experience with baptism.

What role should teaching play in our Christian lives and in the life of the church? And why?

Most likely, you already believe that God’s presence is with you as you seek to honor Him in this world. But take some time to meditate on that simple truth: “I am with you always.” How should this statement affect your daily life and the way you view your God-given mission?

Have you ever tried to follow Jesus apart from the power of the Holy Spirit? Why is this approach bound to end in frustration?

Given your specific setting, what would it look like to pursue the Great Commission through the power of the Spirit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIFE ANGLICAN

Riverstone

Multiply: We will be doing a study on the book Multiply—you can download it for free here: http://multiplymovement.com

Invest & Invite

Have friends over for dessert!

 
 
Multiply #21 The Spirit of God

Consider the significance of the promise of the Holy Spirit in Ezekiel 36:25–27. Explain why this promise is so important in the history of redemption.

How should seeing the Holy Spirit as a person and as God Himself change the way you relate to Him?

Read Acts 2 carefully. As you read, pay attention to two things: (1) references to Old Testament truths and promises and (2) references to the Holy Spirit. What references do you see in Peter’s sermon to some of the key concepts you studied in the Old Testament sessions?

What does this passage say about the Holy Spirit? How was the Holy Spirit working at this significant moment in redemption history? John 16:5-15

Read Romans 7 and 8. What does Paul’s comparison of these two ways of living say about the role of the Holy Spirit and our need for Him?

How have you seen the Spirit of God working in the life of your church?

How are you partnering with other members of the body of Christ to be used by the Spirit in fulfilling God’s mission on earth?

 

 

 

 

 

LIFE ANGLICAN

Riverstone

Multiply: We will be doing a study on the book Multiply—you can download it for free here: http://multiplymovement.com

Invest & Invite

Have friends over for dessert!

 
 
Multiply #22 The Early Church

Read Acts 2:42–47 slowly. After you read it, spend a few minutes meditating on what characterized this group of people. What stands out to you?

Why do you think the early church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching? What implications does that have for the church today?

Why was fellowship so important for the early church? Why is it important for the church today?

In your own words, describe why the Lord’s Supper is significant.

Does communion carry this significance in your church? Why or why not?

Explain why prayer is essential to the life and mission of the church.

What would a devotion to prayer look like in the life of your church?

Read 1 Corinthians 12. How should Paul’s analogy of the church as a body affect the way we think about the church? In what ways are we more than individuals? Does the life of your church look anything like the body that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 12? How so? If not, why do you think this is?

What do you find most compelling about the way the book of Acts describes the life of the early church?

Does your church possess the compelling characteristics of being Generous, Holy, Fearless, and Multiplying? If so, briefly describe them and thank God for them. If not, why do you think these characteristics are lacking?

What do you think the Holy Spirit would want your church to do in an effort to fulfill the church’s mission in your unique setting?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIFE ANGLICAN

Riverstone

Multiply: We will be doing a study on the book Multiply—you can download it for free here: http://multiplymovement.com

Invest & Invite

Have friends over for dessert!

 
 
Multiply #23 Good News for All Nations

How should God’s heart as revealed in the Old Testament and in Jesus’s ministry affect the way we think about and relate to those people who seem “unreachable”?

After He rose from the grave, Jesus announced to His disciples that the Holy Spirit would empower them so that they could be His witnesses “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The rest of the book of Acts explains how this played out, beginning with the growth of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 2) and ending with Paul’s proclamation of the gospel from prison in Rome (Acts 28).

Read Acts 15. How is the global aspect of God’s plan of redemption demonstrated in this passage?

Take a minute to meditate on Galatians 3:28–29. Why do you think Paul made such a big deal about the relationship between Jews and Gentiles?

What does it mean to be a “fisher of men”? Is there anything about your life that would identify you as a “fisher of men”? If so, what? If not, what can you do to grow in this area?

How would you describe your church’s attitude toward and participation in spreading the gospel to all nations? How might you encourage your church to work toward this end?

What is your own involvement with missions? Are you at all involved in going, sending, training, supplying, praying, etc.? What changes might you need to make to this area of your life? Would you consider going on a short term or long term mission?

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9–10)

Are we a multicultural church and what does that mean for us? Ephesians 2:11-22

 

 

 

 

 

LIFE ANGLICAN

Riverstone

Multiply: We will be doing a study on the book Multiply—you can download it for free here: http://multiplymovement.com

Invest & Invite

Have friends over for a meal! Show a DVD

 
 
Multiply #24 The End of the Story

Therefore [because of Jesus’s obedience and sacrifice] God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9–11)

Have you done much studying or thinking on how and when the world will end? If so, what has been your impression of the end times? If not, why do you think you haven’t approached this issue in the past?

Read Romans 8:18–25. How does this promise affect your view of the world?

Read Revelation 1. Based on this description of Jesus, how will Jesus in His second coming be different from in His first coming?

Read Revelation 21–22. As you read this beautiful description of the New Creation, don’t get caught up in trying to interpret every detail. Instead, try to picture and feel the beauty and peace of the scene that awaits us. What stands out to you most from reading this account?

Based on what you read in Revelation 21–22 and what you read and discussed in the session on creation, how will God’s new creation reflect the reality of God’s initial creation before the fall? How will it be better?

How should the promise of judgment at Jesus’s return affect the way we think about and interact with the non-Christians in our lives?

Is there anyone in your life whom you need to be more purposeful in reaching out to? If so, spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to give you confidence and wisdom in reaching out to this person with the gospel.

Read 2 Peter 3:8-14 How should the end of the story affect the way we live today? Be as specific to your own situation as possible.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

 

Jesus Brings Forgiveness

We are living in a state of cultural chaos.  And in a time of tolerance and chaos, how do we reach the lost today?   5 common characteristics of today’s lost:

Searching for a meaningful relationship.  This is their number one desire.  Dating websites are exploding, promiscuity

Want immediate gratification.  Give it to me, and give it to me NOW.

Want something for nothing. There is an entitlement mentality that exists within today’s culture from all socioeconomic groups.

Want guilt-free living.  This generation still has a conscious, and at the end of the day they strive to feel good about themselves.

Thirsty for prosperity, but not certain how to attain it.

 

FORGIVENESS!

1. Everybody Needs it

The paralytic

The spiritual paralytics

Guilt shatters the personality

Guilt paralyzes the body.

Guilt paralyzes the human spirit

Guilt paralyzes the relationships marriage

2. Anybody can have it

It’s POSSIBLE

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

These are REAL riches.  When we realize the grace offered to us, we realize that we have true wealth.  It isn’t measured by what’s in our bank account, but by what God offers us!

He Can Forgive

Not what these hands have done Can save this guilty soul;

Not what this toiling flesh has borne Can make my spirit whole.

Not the labor of my hands Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;

Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow,

All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless look to Thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.

He Releases the Sinner (Aphiemi)

It’s PERSONAL

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

the answer to their deepest desire to have a meaningful relationship is given to us in Jesus Christ.   we have 3 relationships in our lives.  

Outward (relationship with one another),

Inward (relationship with self)

vertical (relationship with Christ.)  

Successful relationship with one another and with self lies in having a successful relationship with Christ.

It’s PRESENT

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

we have it RIGHT NOW!  No waiting.  When we accept Christ as our personal savior, the joy of Christ is within us.  We don’t have to wait for our redemption, there is no initiation.

He Announces the Sinner Released!

–The Accusation

–The Answer

–The Act

–The Acknowledgement

It’s PROVIDED

(“. . . through His blood. . .”)

The gift of salvation is just that – a GIFT.  It is something for nothing.  We cannot earn it or deserve it.  We don’t have salvation because of the life or works of Jesus – we have it because of His BLOOD.

Its PROFITABLE

  (“. . . according to the riches of His grace.”)

When we confess our sins to God, he is faithful to forgive us.  The Bible says He remembers them no more.  Sin will haunt you, but God will forgive you!  We need not live in guilt, because we have the forgiveness offered through Jesus.

He Receives the Sinner


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

 

Grace upon Grace

John 1:14-16

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed, “This was the One of whom I said, ‘The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ ”) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, (HCSB)

The words of John 1:14 are overwhelming.

The news is tremendous. Here is the Glory of God, the Shekinah Glory of the presence of the Lord, here in human flesh.

Here was the shatteringly new thing--that God could and would become a human person, that God could enter into this life that we live, that eternity could appear in time, that somehow the Creator could appear in creation in such a way that men's eyes could actually see him.

So staggeringly new was this conception of God in a human form that it is not surprising that there were some even in the church who could not believe it. What John says is that the word became sarx. Now sarx is the very word Paul uses over and over again to describe what he called the flesh, human nature in all its weakness. The very thought of taking this word and applying it to God, was something that their minds staggered at.

Yet there is more.. for this passage goes on to tell us that He brings us grace.. and not just grace.. more and more grace...

Martin Luther said of this grace...“If any one is to obtain grace, His fulness must do it: our crumbs and morsels, our tiny drops and bits, they verily will not do it. All, whether Jews or Gentiles, if indeed they would obtain grace and be really found before God, are required (and indeed they can do no other) to fill their little flasks from this well--a well which flows and overflows for ever and ever; they must drink their fill from this fountain-head of living water, springing up into eternal life. In short, His fulness is without measure or end; therefore draw manfully and without fear, and drink with pleasure and joy! For here is overflowingly enough, even into eternal Life; in this you will have enough to praise and thank God for to all eternity.”

What do you need for Christmas?

Immediately we think of the things we could buy that would somehow meet our cravings for stuff.

And then the divorcee or widow thinks of that which she might never have .. the love of someone close… the man thinks of that which he has really desired but never achieved, the love and respect of his father.. the person who has through his own foolishness lost his family may think of that which he needs most.. even his own self respect, for he hates to see his face in the mirror.. there are so many deeper unspoken needs that grip the human heart. Perhaps one may feel her need of peace in a very unhappy household.. another the need of gentleness and communication from an isolated spouse… another feels the need of that smallest piece of respect from another…

What are your needs this Christmas? What are the needs of your neighbor?

For some of us our greatest need may be forgiveness.. from a spouse.. a family member… a friend… For others the greatest need this Christmas may be the need of security.. that it will all end well in the end.. others of us need a good conscience… others of us need …

Will those deep personal needs ever be met?

These few verses from John’s gospel could never be completely mined for all the riches that there in them. But what ever your need is today, this week, this Christmas… these verses have your answer to your deepest needs.

Fullness is Found In Jesus

Fullness is Available in Jesus

Fullness Abounds in Jesus

What did you get for Christmas? Everything!!


Thursday, December 05, 2013

 

Francis Drake’s Prayer

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Francis Drake,


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

 

Decisions Determine Destiny.

 

Todays message is about Choice.

Matthew 7 tells us about some choices… narrow gate or wide gate, narrow way or wide path, truth or error, good foundations or poor foundations.

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it.
14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves.
16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit.
18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.
19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but [only]the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’
23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’

The Two Foundations

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock.
25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock.
26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

We like choice. Did you know that, if you want to get a soft drink, you can get Pepsi; you can get Coke; you can get 7-Up; you can get something else? You can get caffeine-free or with caffeine. You can get sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened. You can get small, large, medium. We just like choices.

Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny. Charles Reade

Reade was correct. Choosing to think certain thoughts leads to choice of action from which habits form. In the furnace of your habits your character if forged and your character, the kind of person you are, determines to a large degree your destiny.

Let me help by giving you some principles of choice. Your choices — your decisions — will determine your destiny.

1. You Are Free to Choose

Every day God gives us the freedom to make choices about what we think is going to be good, or even best for us.

2. You Are Not Free to Not to Choose

To decide not to choose is a choice. Am I making any sense? Let me make it very clear — to decide not to choose good is always a choice tochoose evil.

Jesus said, “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30). If you do not crown Jesus, you crucify Him. There is no middle ground.

David Clarke Then, I asked him again. I said, “Would you like to pray and receive Christ?” he said, “No sir, I’m not ready to do that.” I said, “Well, don’t you realize that if you do not say yes to Christ, you’re saying no to Christ, that you’re rejecting Him, that you are saying, ‘I don’t want You, Lord Jesus?’” “I just want to go to this party next weekend, then I’ll do it!” David died on the way to that party in a horrendous car crash.

3. You Are Not Free to Choose the Consequences of Your Choice

Stand beside an open window on the tenth floor of a building. You’re free to jump. Now, that’s a foolish thing to do, but if nobody is there to restrain you, you can choose to do so. Stay in the room or jump out. Now, if you decide to jump, then you must be ready to face the consequences of that choice.

4. One Big Choice Will Take Care of a Lot of Little Ones

How does this work? We see it played out every day.

Let’s say you are a man who has made up his mind that you’re going to be loyal to your wife. Then, you see, you don’t have to worry when you check into a hotel whether to watch pornography or not. You don’t have to be concerned whether you’re going to flirt with another woman.

You don’t have to keep making that decision to be loyal to your wife. You already made that decision, and that one big decision takes care of a lot of the other little decisions.

5. The Day of Choice Is Passing Away

Don’t think that you have forever to make up your mind whether you’re going to be a follower of Jesus Christ or not. Make your eternal salvation secure today.

Choose Jesus because…

1. You can know immediate joy. Why wait to have joy when you can have it right now? I’d be a Christian if there were no heaven or hell for the joy that I have today in Christ.

2. You may die tonight. These may be the last words you ever read about salvation in Jesus Christ. After you die, there are no second chances to get saved. Choose life.

3. Jesus Christ is coming back. Matthew 24:24 says, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” If you don’t think He’s coming, then that is a fulfillment of this verse because He’s coming when you least expect Him.

4. Each time you decide against Him, you harden your heart. Hebrews 3:7-8 says, “Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts.” A person becomes proficient at anything he does for a long time. You can become a professional Christ-denier.

Dear Friend, the day of choice is today. Your decisions will determine your destiny.


 

What is a Christian?

The term Christian turns up just 3 times in the Bible; Acts 11, Acts 26 and 1Peter 4. Acts 11 says the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

A Christian is Someone Saved By Christ.

They were proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.

They would have proclaimed the really important stuff about the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15: 1 Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed to no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day...
A Christian is Someone who has HEARD BELIEVED, and TURNED to the Lord.

A Christian is Someone Standing For Christ.

Acts 11:22 Then the report about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart.... and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

A Christian is a Disciple..... it takes

Decision

Have you decided to follow Jesus?

Direction Are you following Him in a daily discipleship relationship, fellowshipping with Him daily by reading His Word and praying?

Devotion When we know how much He has loved us by giving Himself for us, we say as all Christians have said in all ages, “All this You did for me, what can I do for Thee?”

Denial It takes discipline to be a disciple. When the Lord Jesus called Levi, this si what happened. Luke 5: 27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” 28 So, leaving everything behind, he got up and began to follow Him.

Death For some this can mean physical death. Jesus called us to take up the cross and follow Him. At the least it means putting to death our selfish desires to do whatever He wants with our lives. Have you surrendered all to Jesus?


Thursday, September 26, 2013

 

Falling Plates

http://www.fallingplates.com/


 

Mission –Moving from inreach to outreach

Life Anglican Church -Riverstone

Our Mission

The majority of people in our world have no idea about their need for God or how to deal with the sin that separates them from God.

In our world today people live and die without hope.

It is estimated that 95 percent of the current Australian population is lost without Christ.

“All authority has been given to Me
in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).

Two important promises:

We will have His power.

We will have His presence.

Moving Toward Spiritual Dialogue

Jesus was intentional in His approach.

Look for Opportunities

Make Opportunities

Search for common areas of interest.

Listen for what the person already knows about spiritual matters.

Discover details about a person’s church background.

Let your friend talk.

Ask open-ended questions.

Let people tell their stories.

When Making a Home Visit

Look for clues about the family when you arrive.

Identify yourself as being from your church.

Make sure you know the full name of the person.

Express interest in the things important to the person.

As often as possible and appropriate, call persons by name.

USE Your Testimony of Conversion

Your evangelistic Preconversion experience:

Select a time in your life that illustrates what it was like without the assurance of heaven.

Be as specific as possible.
Keep this part of the story to one minute or less.

Your Conversion experience:

You may want to use the statement “I had a life-changing experience” to describe your conversion.

The purpose is to create a desire in the person to know how to have heaven.

Ask A Key Question

You are seeking to find a way to introduce discussion about Jesus.

The Key Question

In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven and have eternal life?

Could one reason we have difficulty sharing Jesus with others be that we have lost our love for Him?

F Is for Forgiveness
Everyone has sinned and needs God’s forgiveness.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

God’s forgiveness is in Jesus only.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”

Ephesians 1:7

All humanity was created to be in relationship with God.
We are separated from God by sin.

By using the word forgiveness for the letter F, you have the opportunity to remind people of their need for forgiveness and to establish the fact that only God can provide it.

No one can obtain that standard and is therefore already a condemned person.

Sin results in broken fellowship with God.
Anything that disturbs, distorts, or breaks this fellowship is sin.

God’s Forgiveness Is in Jesus Only

Forgiveness is based on the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for our sins when He died on the cross.

A Is for Available

God’s forgiveness is available for all.

“God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

God’s Forgiveness Is Not Automatic

God’s forgiveness is available but not automatic.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 7:21

I Is for Impossible

According to the Bible, it is impossible to get to heaven on our own.

“By grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Because of who God is
Because of who we are

T Is for Turn

Question: If you were going down the road and someone asked you to turn, what would he or she be asking you to do?

Turn means repent. Turn away from sin and self.

“Unless you repent, you will all perish as well!” Luke 13:3

Turn to Jesus alone as your Savior and Lord.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

Our choice is a simple one: we can keep trusting ourselves and living the way we are living, or we can give our lives to Christ and begin to follow Him.

H Is for Heaven

Heaven is a place where we will live with God forever.

“If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.”

John 14:3

Heaven is the epitome of beauty, glory, and joy.
It is best understood as the place where God’s holy presence dwells.

Heaven is the future home of believers.

The Reality of Hell

Hell is a literal place. It is described as a place of constant fire and torment.

Enjoying a Bit of Heaven Now

Eternal life begins now with Jesus.

“I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10

How? Making the Transition

The letter H can also stand for how—how God took the initiative to save us through the death of His Son, Jesus, and how a person can have God’s forgiveness and eternal life in heaven.

How can a person have God’s forgiveness, eternal life, and heaven?
ASK

Understanding what we have shared, would you like to receive this forgiveness by trusting in Christ as your personal Savior and Lord?

With this question the conversation moves into the Invitation—when someone has the opportunity to receive personally the truth you have shared.

The Invitation

Inquire

Understanding what we have shared, would you like to receive this forgiveness by trusting in Christ as your personal Savior and Lord?

Invite
Insure

Leading to a Response

“Is that something you would like to do?”

“Have you ever thought about making this kind of commitment?”

Let the person respond.
Ask God to help you know what to do next.

Do not rush them or appear pushy.
At times it may be necessary to continue the conversation on another day.

Continue to depend on the Holy Spirit, listening to Him every step of the way as you share.

Leading someone to pray a prayer of salvation becomes a meaningful expression of that person’s decision to accept God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation and to begin following Christ.


 

Discovering Your Ministry

Have you considered your place of ministry at Life Anglican Church -Riverstone? (Please circle the items you feel you would like to do)

Magnification

The Magnification Shift - from Self to God

Worship Ministries: Worship leading,

Music, Drama,

Reading , Prayers Other

Ministry

Ministry Shift - from consumers to contributors

Service Ministries: Pastoral care giving

meals Visiting set up, mowing,

cleaning Life group hosting computer

helps caring for the poor and the sick other

Maturity

Maturity Shift - from Disciple to Disciple-Maker

Teaching Ministries: Life group leaders Preaching, teaching

other

Membership

The Membership Shift - from events to relationships

Incorporation Encouragement Ministries: Encouragers who bring people to church etc

advertising Leading Membership classes;

follow up. other

Mission

The Mission shift - from Inreach to Outreach

Evangelistic Ministries: Evangelistic work in scripture, children’s’ work, youth work

other

Administery

Service Ministries: Treasurer, minutes secretary, church warden

other

DISCOVERING YOUR MINISTRY

STEP 1: DEDICATE YOURSELF

"I urge you... to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- which is your spiritual worship." (vs. 1)

STEP 2: ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (vs. 2)

STEP 3: EVALUATE ACCURATELY

"Don't cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith God has given to you. (vs.3 Ph)

STEP 4: COOPERATE WITH OTHERS

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one Body and each member belongs to all the others." (vs. -5)

* Every member is a minister in Christ's body.

* Every member has a different function.

* Every member's ministry is important.

* Every member belongs to the others.

STEP 5: ACTIVATE GIFTS IN MINISTRY TO OTHERS

"We have different gifts, according to the grace God has given us.. prophesy... serving... teaching... encouraging... contributing... leadership... showing mercy..." Romans 12:6-8

Dear Steve,

I believe God has equipped me to do these ministries in this local body, the church. ________________________________________

I will look for ways that I can help this church grow by serving Him and serving others at Life Anglican Church Riverstone

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Spiritual Gifts I believe I have:

1)

2)

3)

I feel I may have these gifts because:

1)

2)

3)

HEART

1. What I have a heart for, or what motivates me most:

I LOVE TO :

I LOVE TO :

I LOVE TO:

2. Who I love to work with most, and the age or type of people:

3. Church issues, ministries, or possible needs that excite or concern me most:

ABILITIES

1. My current vocation is:

2. Other jobs or skills I have experience in:

3 . I feel my most valuable personal asset is:

PERSONALITY

This is how I see myself: I am mainly (circle one)

Extroverted or Introverted

Routine or Variety

Self-controlled or Self-Expressive

Cooperative or Competitive

EXPERIENCES

MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

This is how and when I became a Christian, and what it has meant to me since:

Times when I have felt closest to God, and meaningful spiritual experiences that stand out in my mind:

MY PAINFUL EXPERIENCES

These are the kind of trials or problems I could relate to and encourage a fellow Christian who is going through them:

MY EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES

Seminars or training that has been meaningful to me:

MY MINISTRY EXPERIENCE

Where I have served in the past (if applicable):

Name of Church, what position of service and how many years involved:

clip_image002RIVERSTONE


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