Category Archives: Preaching

Scriptural Balance

  • Scriptural Balance

    Scriptural-Balance
    Scriptural-Balance

We must have scriptural balance – There are a thousand texts that can be made to mean whatever we suppose if we take them out of context. We pray about a passage and look for the central meaning, but to understand each part of the reading we must look at the whole. Example – Paul speaks about behavior and says (1 Corinthians 11:5-15) that “Women must wear hats”.  This is not to say that women must wear hats at all times, so much as to say that women and men should be careful to conform to the social norms of the day. You could extract a “cast iron” rule about hats from this passage, or you could look for the inner meaning and get a valuable insight.  Look for the whole meaning.

  • Balanced Perception

On the previous Sunday our speaker shared about the first “Beatitude”, and what it really means to be humble. Then last Sunday, the lesson was about  self esteem – How we are to take a sober look at ourselves and see ourselves as God sees us.  There is a lovely scriptural balance here in the examining of both sides of one aspect of self perception.  We were blessed that both speakers are led by the Spirit of God.

  • Confirmation

Another aspect of this scriptural balance is that we ought always to seek various forms of proof for what we believe: It is not enough to have a “Peace” about something we believe, we should also look for confirmation in scripture and in the wisdom of our brothers and sisters. All the proofs must agree and be in scriptural balance.  If it isn’t scriptural, or if your spiritual brethren do not agree, then it is unlikely to be the the right will of God. God does not contradict himself, so if you believe the Spirit is telling you something, then the other “Proofs” must follow, if it is true.

Bible Anomalies

 

I want to challenge you, Dear Reader, with this statement, that there ARE NO Bible

Bible-Anomolies
Bible-Anomolies

Anomalies Bible anomalies when you read the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit.  At the last supper Jesus promised that the “Holy Spirit would come and lead you into all truth”.   I do not remember ever meeting any spirit filled person who was bothered about Bible contradictions.  If we read His word in a prayerful and contemplative way, then the truth will be made plain to us.

  • Witness Statements

Any two people, describing the same event, will use different language, and will colour the event with their own interpretation, and this is quite evident in the various Bible records of history.  The fact that the description detail is different from witness to witness does not mean the event didn’t happen.  We need to always look at the underlying story that is being told, and look for the relevance of that story to our own life. The story of the loaves and fishes is not about how many people were fed, it is all about Jesus supplying our needs by faith.  Which He does!  That is the enduring truth that we may prayerfully perceive. We need always to seek the underlying truth in every Bible record.

  • Point Of View

If we see two different accounts of the same event, then we can meditate about it, and we will come to fuller understanding of what God is telling us.  In this way, an apparent contradiction will lead to a more rounded illustration of the story.  Think about why one writer was struck by one aspect of the event, and why another Bible author was impressed with a different  truth.  We all perceive things in a different way, according to our experiences and to our understanding. Each person hearing a sermon, will take home a different portion of the message, according to their need.

  •  Interpretation.

We perceive things differently because we always interpret what we see in the light of our own experience and knowledge.  Our understanding can only be based on our personal experience, qualified by what we believe about the world, and our pre-existing beliefs colour what we see.  For example, a person who has never experienced unqualified love, will have difficulty accepting that others are acting without  a personal agenda: They will suspect  self interest as a motive, and interpret motives accordingly.  They will need to come to an understanding of the spiritual disinterest of unqualified love to believe that the motive is NOT self interest.

  • Truth and Reality.

We need to understand that it is quite irrelevant whether Jesus fed 3000 people, or 5000 people, the point is that Jesus performed the miracle of feeding a multitude of people from a tiny quantity of bread and fish.  If we can grasp the concept that our God will provide for our needs, then it doesn’t matter in the least how many people were fed on a given occasion.  We need to open the eyes of our mind when we read God’s word, and let the Holy Spirit of God illuminate our understanding and bless our lives. There ARE NO Bible anomalies when you read the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit of God.

What Are The Fruits Of The Spirit?

The fruits of the Spirit are quite literally those attributes that develop in your daily life as you live in the Spirit – that is – if you allow the Spirit of God to control your life.  These things, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control will begin to appear in your life from that very moment you give your life to Him by inviting Jesus to be your Savior.  It is interesting that they grow in your life in the very same order that they appear in the Holy  scriptures, thus the 1st fruit is love, the 2nd is joy, and so on.

  • Fruit – Not Gifts

    Fruit-Not-Gifts
    Fruit-Not-Gifts

Confusing these fruits with the gifts of the spirit is a common error.  The gifts are listed in 1st Corinthians 12, and they are gifts that may appear from time to time in our spiritual life, just as the Holy Spirit wills. These spiritual gifts may be temporary,  depending on our needs, or they may be more permanent and form the basis of a particular gift or ministry – E.G., Wisdom or working miracles.  We can specially ask God for one or more of these gifts if we so wish.

  • Self-Control Is A Result, NOT An Aim!

Be aware that self control is the last item on the list.  God does everything he does as part of His purpose, and therefore there is some meaning in the fact that self control is listed last.  I believe the reason for this is that this gift comes naturally when we do have all the other gifts in place.  It is an error to attempt to impose self-control on ourselves; it is much better that it develops naturally as a  “side-effect” of the work of God’s holy spirit.  When we try to impose this on ourselves with an effort of will we are falling into the trap of relying on our own strength, instead of leaving it all to God.  We are told in scripture to seek first the kingdom of heaven and then all these things will be added unto us.  In other words, if we are simply obedient, then the gifts and the rewards will flow on to us.

  • Fruit Grows Naturally.

The fruits of the spirit are elements that grow in us as the Holy Spirit does its work in our life.  We do not consciously grow these things, they are the side effects of our obedience to God.  The new covenant states that we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our minds, and our neighbour as ourselves.  So the fruit of love that grows in us is a result of  being obedient to that command.  As we express that love that has grown in us as a result of giving ourselves to God, we become filled with joy, the joy that we share with God and with our fellows.  It grows naturally – we do not DECIDE to be joyful, it just happens.  And so on, and so on, with the other gifts as the Spirit works in our lives.

How Do You Know God is Here?


  • Know God is Here
    Know God is Here

    How Do You Know God is Here?

Well God doesn’t break his promises, and if He has said it, then it is so! After the last supper when Jesus was reassuring the disciples, he said; “My father and I will come and make our home in you”. Therefore, as long as you have taken Jesus into your heart, then you have got the whole lot, the trinity, right inside you. So it follows that whenever two or more Christians meet, God is THERE!

  •  The Still, Small Voice

I believe that the Hoy Spirit of God is manifest in that “still, small voice” that is mentioned in scripture. That is exactly what happens for me, if I seek the will of God. I sometimes get the answer to my prayer as a, “still, small voice”. It works just like my conscience used to work before I took Jesus in to my heart. It is not so much as a loud audible voice, but a conviction that grows inside me, until it takes on the form of words. I need to shut out the world, and concentrate really hard to hear Him.

  •  Listen to Him

The important thing in any meeting of Christians, is to take the time to listen to whatever God needs to say to those present. The most effective way to do this is to go into a time of silence, and let God speak to each individual as He wills. If those present then share their feelings, then the collective outpouring will be the voice of God! This process is known as, “being led by the spirit of God”; and is the only real way for Christians to govern themselves.

  • Let God Run the Meeting!

It is most important to make a point of allowing the Spirit of God to lead us. It is a great temptation to set an agenda, and to go on and discuss the items on the agenda as though it were a conventional business meeting. Do not allow this to happen. To discuss ‘business‘ without praying about it, is to deny God’s will, and impose the worldly standards that govern the rest of society. WE need to cultivate the ‘mind set’ that imposes prayer on every decision.

  •  How Much Do We LET Him Do?

God himself is present at every occasion, and how much He is allowed to do is a function of: “How much do we LET Him do?” God will move in your church if He is invited to, and if the request is made in 100% sincerity. Be careful what you ask for. It is better to let God decide how to answer a problem, than to ask for a specific outcome. Remember, “He is able to do more than we can ask or think”. The answer He provides may well be better than any solution you might have thought about. Only God knows all the circumstances, so it is better to leave the nature of the answer to Him.

  •  It Is Written!

What God has written will never be contradicted, unless God Himself changes it, so this is how we know that God is here: because it is written [John 14:23] in His Word. He said; “MY Father and I will come and live in you”. Jesus also promised that the Holy Spirit, the comforter, would; “come and teach you all things”; and would come and; “Lead you into all truth”. This is how you really know that God is here!

Worship in Spirit and in Truth

  • Praise and Worship

    Praise and Worship
    Praise and Worship

 

What does that mean, to Worship in Spirit and in Truth? What’s the difference? Does it Matter? We can get a clue for this from when Jesus was discussing theology with the smart Alecs in the temple, and they asked him which the greatest commandment was. Jesus Replied; “You shall worship with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind……” Again there are shades of meaning here that are not immediately obvious.

  • Obey The Great Commandment.

When we worship with all our heart, it is a physical thing. We are into praise mode, so we sing, or clap, or dance with an excess of enthusiasm. The mode of worship where we show our love from within our spirit is pure worship. Our souls are moved with passion and we pray or even sing our prayers in a much quieter and more reverent way. To love God with our minds, is to love from pure conviction, from our intellect; which tells us that God is real, that He loves us and answers our prayers. We show our love in worshiping with our minds when we engage in preaching, or testifying, or listening to such things. A common type of church service consists in praise, followed by worship, followed by a sermon or discussion – the three elements in the greatest commandment. [I.E., to love God with our hearts, our souls, and our minds]; so when we meet to worship in this way we are obedient to that commandment.

  • Worship in spirit and in truth

So then, praise is equal to worshiping with our hearts, sung or spoken prayer is worshiping with our spirit, and listening or giving a sermon or discussion is worshiping with our minds. To take this understanding and apply it to the expression “Worship in spirit and in truth”; then can mean that we move past simple praise when we worship. WE need to engage our spirits, and the conviction within our minds that recognising God’s truth will bring. Jesus told the woman at the well in Samaria that, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” It is not enough to only attend church and sing the hymns, we need to take an active part in the prayers of worship, and interactively listen to the message.

What is The Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Have you asked this,

Gospel of Jesus Christ
Gospel of Jesus Christ

“What IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ, exactly?”  And if you did, what did you answer? The short answer is that “Gospel” is a short form of “Good News” (The word gospel derives from the Old English gōd-spell , meaning “good news” or “glad tidings”); and the good news referred to is the news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that our sins are forgiven, and therefore we are in line for eternal life. That is really good news!

  • Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and John.

In the wider sense, The “Gospel” can be the first four books of the New Testamant [Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and John], of the Bible, wherein the life, revelations, and teachings of Jesus Christ are proclaimed. These four books are often referred to as the “Gospels”. Most of the rest of the New Testament is books of “Epistles” (meaning letters), written to various congregations and persons in the first churches.

  • The Gospel of Salvation

If you want to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, [The Gospel of Salvation], therefore, you must proclaim the basic facts of salvation, and as many expanded parts of “the Jesus story” as are relevant to your subject. Failure to include the fundamentals is laying yourself open to error. Whenever we preach we ought to remember this and, if possible, reinforce the message of salvation.  The fundamentqal scripture for this is John 3:16-17 (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”).  A more detailed scripture refereence to the whole process of salvation can be found in Romans 10:9-13. 9 If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved.10 For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved.11 The scripture says, Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed.12 This includes everyone, because there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles; God is the same Lord of all and richly blesses all who call to him.13 As the scripture says, Everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.

  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ

The “Gospel”, therefore, is the wonderful news that we do not have to make sacrifices for our sins to be forgiven, that we do have eternal life, and that we can be living right now in the kingdom of heaven – here on earth. God loves you –  in proof of which, He sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth to bring us this wonderful gospel of love, and then to die on the cross that all our sins might be forgiven.

 

When To Preach The Gospel

The short answer to the question of when to preach the Gospel is : ALWAYS.  Whenever you get the opportunity! There is no shortage of fresh material on this subject, because this Gospel of Jesus compasses the whole teachings of Jesus.

  • Gospel Means Good News
    Gospel Means Good News

    Gospel Means Good News

We know the “Gospel means Good News; so the entire gamut of Christian teaching falls under this banner.  It is “Good News” that Christ died for us, to save us from our sins; it is “Good News” that Christ rose again in the “Ressurection” that we might be redeemed from sin to everlasting life; it is “Good News” that Christ lives in the world today to continue the work begun 2000 years ago; and it is “Good News” that Christ loves you and me and wants to share His grace and gory with each and every sinful one of us on this planet!

  • So what exactly is this “Good News”?

So what exactly is this “Good News”?  What does it mean in practical terms to you and me?  For my part, it means that the whole care and worry of living in today’s fraught society is shifted off my shoulders and laid at the foot of the cross.  My foundational scripture is the “sermon on the mount”[Matt 5,6,7], where Jesus teaches that we don’t need to worry[Matt 6:31-34]31 So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.[about ANYTHING]; but if we pay attention to His will, He will take care of us and supply ALL OUR NEEDS!  I understand this to mean that if I am always attentive to His will, then He will supply ALL my needs.

  • We Lack Nothing!

It is my testimony, that since I understood this and put it in place in my life, that God has richly blessed me and Mary; and in the 20 odd years since I made this committment, we have never lacked anything. Praise the Lord. So I say that this in every way, is Good News.

  • Salvation and Everlasting Life

I find it tremendously comforting too, to know that my sins have been forgiven, and that I am a living working part of the Kingdom of Heaven here, now, and in this place. When Christ rose [the ressurection] from the grave, He took my sin, and God has promised that He will remember it no more. The covenant I have with my God is this: That I will love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my strength and with all my heart and my neighbour as myself – or I am to Love God, love my fellows, love my neighbour, and tell the Good News.  This is not too hard to do. In return, God has covenanted that he has forgiven my sins, that I am born again through His Grace in to everlasting life, and that He will supply all my needs. What more could I want?

  • Good News for Everyone in Need

Given the very foundational nature of the Good News, then we need to preach it at every opportunity, whenever we have an opportunity.  It is fundamental to Christianity, it can never be preached too often.  It is vital news for anyone carrying any kind of load of care, or worry, or sickness, or oppression, or need, or is suffering any form of depression

 

 

Oh Lord – It’s Hard to be Humble

Oh Lord – It’s Hard to be Humble

 It's Hard to be Humble
It’s Hard to be Humble

 

That was the punch line of a song from my youth, “Oh Lord – it’s hard to be humble; when you’re perfect in every way!”  Today I had to think hard about being humble in the face of today’s text (Micah 6:8) for the days sermon which went; ” He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy  and to walk humbly with your God.” So how exactly does one walk humbly with one’s God?

  • Walk Humbly With Your God

Seems to me that the elemental meaning in “humble”, is deference to another or others. You can’t be humble without deferring to the other party.  So to walk humbly with your God is to listen carefully to what He wants and to be obedient to that.  This brings me straight to Psalm one where it says that happy is the man who meditates on God’s law both day and night. To be doing that would be to be attending humbly to God. It would be one way to know how to act in deference to God. You would in fact be “hearing from God

  • Fundamental Rule For The Christian

This then is a fundamental rule for the Christian.  Simply live out Micah 6:8, and act justly, (as God would have us act); show constant love, (as it says in the Good News Translation); and walk humbly, (in constant attendance) with your God. You can’t go wrong if you are listening to Him ALL day! This puts a reluctant truth to the line of the song above.  It IS hard to be humble, and we have to work at it because acting in love, acting justly, and being fully attentive to God are NOT natural acts for your average sinner.  We have to train ourselves  to do this; so don’t expect to instantly get it right!

  • Forget One-upmanship!

This humble stuff is not restricted to God – when we walk “humbly”, we can treat our fellow man with the same polite deference that we treat God.  I can say that most of the real truths that I have learned in life has been taught me by my fellows, by the people I interact with every day.  I have learned a heck of a lot by listening to, and watching the people around me.  If we are into “one-upmanship”, or any other kind of “scoring off” our acquaintances, then we will never learn anything from them, (apart from how silly we really are!).

  • Just Do It!

So think about the old song; “Oh Lord – it’s hard to be humble; when you’re perfect in every way!”  And try walking humbly with your God!

Listen to The Holy Spirit

  • Listen to The Holy Spirit

I recently came across this quote; attributed to the late Christopher Reeve;And that is my religion. I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don’t know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do“.

  • Holy Spirit, or Your Conscience?

This comes really close to what I believe about the Holy Spirit.  I feel that He lives in the same little room in my head where my conscience lurks, and that when I surrendered my heart and mind to God and was baptized with the Holy Spirit, then that little voice that formerly was my conscience became the voice of the Holy Spirit.

  • Tune Out The World Listen to The Holy Spirit& Listen to The Holy Spirit

It is really hard to Listen to The Holy Spirit , and I have to, as Reeve says,  “shut out all the noise and clutter from my life and listen to that voice”.  In the Bible, it is referred to as, “the still small voice within”.  This is a really accurate description for me, and I know I have to try very hard to shut out the world and tune in to that voice.  It takes considerable will power to do this, for me the greatest difficulty is that I tend to drop off to sleep; but when I finally manage to switch off the world around me, it is in that precious moment when the world recedes that that wee small voice can be heard.

  • Not The Only Way

This is, of course, not the only way to hear the voice of God; but it is a good reliable method if you want to seek guidance or inspiration; or if you need to preach a sermon. God speaks to us in our own idiom, in the terms that we are familiar with, and that we can clearly understand.  Think about that for a minute: He will always make himself known in familiar terms, so there is no rationale for talking in old-fashioned language when we are praying.  Our God is the God of the here and now, and the Kingdom of Heaven is right here where we are.  Why therefore would you want to address Him, or He us, in King James style English from the  mid 1700’s? Expect to hear God in your normal everyday language when you Listen to The Holy Spirit.


Holy Spirit Power

A recent commentator said; “If the Holy Spirit is given authority in your life BY YOU, it will always use you to preach, heal, and more.”  This is so profound.  The Holy Spirit is always gentle, and polite, never pushy, never demanding, and we have to ALLOW Him to work, or nothing happens.  The Christmas reading today underlines the action of the Holy Spirit on Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She had to listen to the Holy Spirit; she had to permit the Holy Spirit to act in her life, (as did Joseph too!) – or none of us would be doing what we are doing today!

  • Our Commitment

It is our commitment to our faith that allows the Holy Spirit to work on those around us.  We have to say; “OK Lord; I will take this step in faith; or that step in faith.” Thus God can work in the world. God is not powerless, but He has chosen to work His will through us, and it comes down to simple obedience on our part.

  • The Whole World In Your Hands
    Whole World In Your Hands
    Whole World In Your Hands


This is an immensely sobering thought, that God will often only act through our obedience.  We do, in effect, hold the fate of the world in our hands.  We can choose to obey, to step forward in faith, or we can choose NOT to act, to put off that inner prompting.  To do this is to rob ourselves of blessing because God will often find another person to do His will, and they will be blessed instead.

  • Open Our Minds

There is a very big challenge here.  If the above be true, as I believe, then we can open our hearts and our minds to God to WHATEVER He might ask.  I think we are usually tempted to only ask for and to pray for those things that we judge are likely or possible, and in so doing we limit God to the bounds of our own intellect. Historically we know that in Him ALL things are possible, but we shut down on the unlikely things, and thereby limit Him to very small and mundane blessings.

  • The Challenge –

The challenge therefore, is to open our minds to whatever the Holy Spirit might be prompting us to do.  To believe in the impossible; to expect miracles, and so to grow our faith and our expectation of God to wonderful new heights.  Let us step out, and up, and believe that He will indeed empower us to “Preach a Sermon, and Heal, and More”!