Nov 072013
 

Stelios (MICHAEL FASSBENDER) crouches behind his shield as shrapnel tears through the air in Warner Bros. Pictures’, Legendary Pictures’ and Virtual Studios’ action drama “300,” distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTIONSo far in our series on ‘The Armour of God’ we have looked at armour that is worn; ‘the breastplate of righteousness’, ‘the belt of truth’ and ‘the shoes of peace’. This week we will look at ‘the shield of faith’. This shield is not so much something we wear, but rather something we take up. It is no use simply strapping it to our arm; we need to raise it in order to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy.

Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as follows: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It is a trust in God, not only that He does exist, but also that He reveals His character and nature in the bible. Christian faith believes in a God who has made very certain promises to His children, promises that can be trusted.

The enemy’s fiery darts are designed to cause us to doubt God’s promises and not trust in His goodness. The very first dart that he threw was to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, when he said “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1). He has been throwing similar darts of doubt to all mankind ever since.

Every day we find ourselves constantly bombarded by doubts about God. There is so much cynicism in this world, so we need to keep our faith shields up. It is our first line of defence. We would never go into battle without shields, simply relying on our breastplate, belt and helmet to take all the blows. Our faith is what keeps us moving forward in the battle.

It is important to see as well that we are not fighting alone. Our faith can rub off on our brothers and sisters around us. If you spend any length of time with somebody who has great faith, you will find that your faith grows as well. Faith is infectious. The protection of faith together is like the Roman soldiers who locked their shields together into a ‘tortoise’ so that their defence almost became impenetrable. It is said that in this formation a chariot could drive along the top of the shields!

clip_image001

If you have only a little faith, seek out those in your church who have a lot of faith and allow them to encourage you. If your faith is relatively strong, see who you can encourage and strengthen. We are in this fight together and we can make huge inroads into the enemy’s territory when we fight as one.

 November 7, 2013  Posted by at 9:47 pm Armour of God, Faith No Responses »
Apr 102013
 

Reigning in lifeI have been greatly influenced by the teaching of Terry Virgo on the whole subject of Grace. I remember first hearing Terry speak about it at a John Wimber conference in the 1980’s, then reading Terry Virgo’s subsequent best selling book ‘God’s lavish grace’.

Rather than re-inventing the wheel, I thought I would summarise a few chapters from that book over the next few weeks to help us as we continue through the wonderful subject of Grace. If you have read the book, I’m sure it will not do you any harm to revisit it again, but if you haven’t I highly recommend it and have provided a link on the left sidebar so you can order it from Amazon. (If you do click on the link and buy it I will receive a small commission!).

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17)

The promise to ‘reign in life’ is a wonderful promise for the Christian. This and other such verses which tell us that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) and that Christ leads us in triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14) should leave us wonderfully exhilarated. However in reality these can actually leave us feeling deflated and condemned.

Our mindset can easily be that everything we have is earned. We know from the above verses that we should ‘reign in life’ and so after hearing a particularly stirring sermon or while making new year resolutions, we determine that we will do better. We will set the alarm clock an hour earlier, pray more, study more and witness to more people. Then after a few days we find we are already a chapter or two behind on our reading plan, we start falling asleep through our prayer times and to be honest it’s all a bit dry. We get dejected and feel thoroughly rotten until the next time we hear a challenging sermon and go through the whole cycle again.

Is this your experience?

Go back and read Romans 5:17 again. We reign in life by receiving God’s grace, not through earning it. If we try to earn it we have got it all wrong. It’s because of your standing in Jesus that you reign in life. It’s about your position, not your performance.

Romans chapter 7 gives the example of being married to the law. The law is a horrible husband to be married to. He is a dominating husband, not lifting a finger to help, pointing out your failings and inadequacies and is annoyingly always right. He is also impotent and so cannot breathe life into these dead laws. And on top of everything else, he will never die!

But the great news in Romans 7:4 is not that the law has died but that WE have died to the law. In his book, Terry gives a great illustration of a soldier who has just been discharged from the army, walking across the parade ground in his civilian clothes he completely ignores the sergeant major barking commands for him to get in line. That is now our attitude to the works of the law. They are still perfect, but we are released from them.

Rather than impotence we can now bear fruit for God. Jesus said:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. “(John 15:4-5)

We need to get this inside of us; the realisation of this truth will revolutionise our lives. I will finish with Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

 April 10, 2013  Posted by at 9:10 pm Grace, Salvation No Responses »
Jan 242013
 

If you have been around churches for any length of time you will know that there has been a lot of confusion through the years over water baptism. This week we are going to look at what the bible says about this very important subject which could be described as one of the first steps of discipleship.

Jesus was baptised

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Water baptism must be important because Jesus was baptised Himself. He was the last person who needed to be baptised because He was sinless. There are various reasons for why Jesus chose to be baptised but principally it was to identify with us as sinners and as an example for us to follow. As He was baptised He was looking ahead to His own crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus will not ask you to do anything He was not prepared to do himself and asks all his followers to be baptised as we see in His command in Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism is for believers.

It does not make you a Christian, it is for those who have already committed their lives to Him and decided to follow Him.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2:38)

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.(Acts 16:31–33)

Baptism is a public declaration that you belong to Jesus and have submitted your life to Him. When Jesus was baptised He was identifying with you. When you are baptised you are identifying with Him. There is a wonderful connection, what happened to Jesus happened to you as well. As you get into the water you are showing everybody that your old life is dead. As you are submerged under the water you are declaring that your old sinful life is being buried. It is a funeral for your old life! As you come up out of the water you are being raised from your old life by God’s power (the same power that raised Jesus from the dead) raised into a new life with Him.

Next week I will be looking more into what baptism actually is. If you haven’t been baptised, why not seek God this week about what He wants you to do. If you have any questions or anything you want covered next week, please put a comment in the box below and I will do my best to answer it.

 January 24, 2013  Posted by at 7:11 pm Baptism, Confession, Discipleship, Repentance, Resurrection, Salvation No Responses »
Jan 102013
 

faithLast week we looked at the whole subject of repentance. As they fit so easily together, this week we are going to look at Faith. They are like two sides of a coin and make up the basis of God’s great salvation which many of us enjoy.

Faith is a great theme throughout the bible. In Hebrews chapter 11 you will find a list of men and women throughout bible times who did great exploits and were commended for their faith. In fact this chapter starts with a really good definition of what faith is “….faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”.

Any dealings we have with God by definition are by faith as we cannot see Him, touch Him or hear Him.

God makes it clear throughout the bible that He loves faith. In fact it says in verse 6 of Hebrews chapter 11 “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him”.

Faith, like repentance is a gift from God.

In Ephesians 2:8-9 it says For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

Many people today understand faith as ‘blind faith’. They refer to a ‘leap of faith’, a vague hope that things will turn out alright. This is not biblical faith. Biblical faith is built on the evidence of the bible and how God has revealed himself. It is a reasonable faith.

There are 3 points I want to make about faith:

(1) We are saved by faith

One of the most well known passages of the entire bible is John 3:16 which says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

We believe that Jesus has died for us, we put our trust in Him to save us from our sins and we receive, by faith, God’s forgiveness.

(2) We are justified by faith

Justification is a picture taken from the law courts. God first of all declares us guilty, every last one of us has sinned and the just judgement is death (Romans 3:23). The wonder of justification is that God then declares us righteous because of what Jesus does in our place. He takes our punishment, paying the debt that we should pay. We receive all of this by faith. This is wonderfully summed up in the following passage:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6-11)

(3) We walk by faith

The Christian life is a life of faith. The apostle Paul demonstrates this life of faith through the example of Abraham in Romans 4:13-21. We can take a number of points from Abraham’s life:

  • He heard the word of God and believed (v 13 and 21)
  • He placed his hope in that promise (v18)
  • He didn’t consider his own limitations or let them weaken his faith (v19)
  • He did not waver in his commitment to God’s word (v20)
  • He gave glory to God even before he received the promise (v20-21)

We would do well to imitate Abraham’s faith and gain faith by reading the bible:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

In what areas can you step out in faith this week?

I have found that there is a direct correlation between my faith in God and how often I read the bible. The more I read it, the more I believe that God can do in my life what He does throughout the pages of scripture.

A true faith in Jesus Christ will not suffer us to be idle. No, it is an active, lively, restless principle; it fills the heart, so that it cannot be easy till it is doing something for Jesus Christ.” (George Whitfield)

 January 10, 2013  Posted by at 10:06 pm Faith No Responses »
Apr 182012
 

marathon13As it’s the London marathon on Sunday I thought I would send out my notes from the first preach I ever gave a few years ago at my church. It was on the day of the Hastings Half marathon and I wanted to remind all those watching the race that all Christians are in a race, whether you are a sporty person or not. It is based on the passage in Hebrews 12 v 1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

(1) Encouragement

Let’s look at the first part of the verse; “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” so what does that mean?

When we see the word ‘Therefore’ it means that a lot has been said before. We are in the middle of a point the writer is making. In Hebrews 11 the writer has been talking about faith. He goes through a list of the great men and women of faith who have gone before. These people have run their races and have proved that God is faithful and reliable. They are encouraging us through their example and perseverance.

It’s great to receive encouragement and you can see in a race how the runners are encouraged by a lot of people cheering for them.

In Hebrews 10:24-25 it says; “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

There are a number of ways we can give encouragement through our church community; Continue reading »

 April 18, 2012  Posted by at 6:32 pm Uncategorized 1 Response »