Thursday, May 31, 2012

Does God need to be worshipped?

Of course not.  God doesn't need anything outside of Himself.  He provides everything that He requires in His very being.


That isn't to say that you don't need to worship Him...


See what's happening with these two ways of looking at the need to/for worship? One is God's need, and He doesn't need anything because He provides all that He "needs" in Himself. That could be very contradictory if you take it the wrong way, but that's not the focus of what I'm saying.


The other is your need. If you don't worship God, then you are broken, fallen, unredeemed, unregenerate. You really need to learn to worship God. If you can do so, it will fix you, raise you, redeem you, and regenerate you. You will become a new creation in Christ. Someone who has seen something of God and can't help but share that glorious sight and change yourself to become like it (at least in part). That is worship, and an encounter with God is necessary.


If you can't worship, ask God to reveal Himself to you, that you might speak of the wonderful things He has done for you.


Friday, May 25, 2012

What form does your hope take?

There are two ways to look at hope:

  1. A worldly hope which is based on a desire alone

  2. A Christian hope which is based on the promises of One who can deliver


The first looks like this: You see the "cool things" in the world, or you see people who are better off (financially, health-wise, suffering less) and you really want what they have.  You think about it all the time and you believe that you would enjoy life more if you had what they have.  You might buy a lottery ticket in the hope that you could win money and solve many of these problems.  You might even work long hours, sacrificing much, in order to get ahead and achieve what you hope for.


The second looks like this: You see the "cool things" and those who are better off, but these things are not your main desire.  What you want is to be free from yourself, and the sinfulness and weakness in your flesh which drags you down.  You want your children to grow up to be wise.  You would like good (physical) things for your family but you realise that these things are not the be-all-and-end-all, that you can work hard and still not guarantee the acquisition of these things.  Instead, you trust God to give you all that you require, and if he chooses to give you little now it is still more than you deserve.  In the long run, God will grant you eternal life, filled with everlasting joy in the presence of the Lord, because you trust in Him to save you.  for now, you hope to faithfully represent your God, becoming closer in nature to Christ, your saviour.


The second is trusting on One who has all of the power to deliver exactly what you need to achieve everything that you should hope for... and more!  If God can make a universe, He can grant me all that I hope in Him for.  If you trust in yourself, your hope is empty.


"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." - Psalm 121:1-2

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What makes you rejoice?

What makes you unexpectedly excited and spontaneously explodes you with happiness?  The things which have this effect in you are a good indicator of whether you are a Christian or whether you are fooling yourself (or pretending for the eyes of others).


If you never find yourself excited about a loved one making the right moral decision, or their growth in personal discipline and contemplation of godly matters, then you clearly don't consider these things important.


Are you more excited when the latest gadget is released? Or do your worldly concerns overpower and you want a pay rise to end your financial struggles more than you want to see your children learning to look to God for help?


Do you constantly seek God?


Yet, it is a journey of formation - your sanctification. If you find these things hard to get excited about, but you want to be excited about them, then ask God who gives all things to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What must a person do to be saved?

Depending on how you look at it, there could be two ways to answer this question.


If you look at it from a theological point of view, removed of human passions and emotions, focused solely on what is happening at the moment of conversion, then you might answer as follows:

"Nothing. A person can't actually do anything to be saved. God causes a person to be born again. Nothing a person does can contribute to that. Even faith is a gift from God."


If you look at it from a more personal, front-line, emotional, practical, point of view, then you might say something like this:

"If you have heard the gospel, the proper response is to believe it in faith and to turn away from doing and thinking the things which you know are wrong.  You must now live in the way that you know Jesus would want you to live. Copy him and live for him."


These are both correct responses, but we can get caught up trying to be either too practical or too theological. We must remember that a new believer will likely struggle with the deep theological significance of what is happening to them. For them, they need a simple call to action as Jesus demonstrated:

"Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” " - Mark 1:14-15

Yet at other times, a theological focus is needed, as Paul demonstrates with his letter to the Ephesians:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. " - Ephesians 2:8-9


As always, what has actually happened is that a person has been born again by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Their faith and actions of repentance are the fruit of the new creation that they have become.  Yet it is a truth that Christians need to be called to both faith and repentance, at times.  This is an important role of the community of believers in building one another up in Christ, to his glory.


Friday, May 4, 2012

How was Christ revealed to you?

"What do you mean by this question of how Jesus was revealed to me?" you might ask.

I am talking about the point in your life when Christ and his work became real for you. The time when it actually started having an effect on your attitude and character development. The time when you were born again.

The Apostle Paul was fortunate enough to have Christ revealed to him by Jesus himself, knocking him from his horse and speaking to him directly. This was definately a special case and is not to be considered typical for the average Christian. Paul's special ministry needed special revelation.

Jesus said that he would send the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit would bear witness of him. Bearing witness means that the Spirit brings conviction that what you read about in the Bible of the life of Christ, that these things are true. This leads to faith in the person of Christ.

This is the revelation that is given to every Christian, to know the truth about Christ. Whatever the circumstances of your conversion, no matter how great or simple the events that lead to it, the Spirit was there and was working to open your heart to understand and believe the gospel.

How amazing it is to know that God Himself has spoken directly to you, and worked directly within you, to reveal His Son to you. Praise his glorious name!