Seeking God in a Crisis

James 1:2-4 states

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

A challenging statement and far easier to read that to go through.
Isaiah 64:8 states

8 But now, O Lord, You are our Father,

We are the clay, and You our potter;

And all of us are the work of Your hand.

How wonderful to know that we are the work of the creator of the universe!
Russ shared with us the “crisis” he went through with God (available here) and here are some of the revelations:

 

  • In order for a resurrection there must be a death.
  • When God speaks, your situation doesn’t necessarily change, but you change.
  • When God speaks, life is released.
  • Prov 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
  • Even in the midst of a crisis you can still have intimacy with God. Jesus said (in Matt 28:20) that he will be with us “even to the end of the age”
  • You have to build your relationship with God yourself. You can receive an impartition from others, but you cannot receive someone else’s experience of a relationship. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day, so he wants to walk with you, be with you.
  • Give God time to respond. A relationship is a two-way thing, Ps 34 “I sought the Lord and he answered me.”
  • Share what you are going through with your spouce/ best friend
  • You are not abandoned, God is with you in the fire Ps 23 “Even though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me’.

“Great faith is a product of great fights” – Smith Wigglesworth.

Phil 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Why church?

There are many people who go to church and many who don’t, mainly through their beliefs or traditions. There are some who don’t but should and its these people I address today. Why should you go to church? There are many reasons for not going. Doing something else on Sunday morning like sports practice, work, gym etc, or perhaps you feel as though church isn’t for you, or you were hurt in your last church, or there was a personality clash, or of course, you just don’t believe.

Lets start with what church isn’t. It isn’t a building, or an institution. It isn’t the Roman Catholic Church, Church of England (or wherever) or an organisation.

The word church comes from old English cir(i)ce, cyr(i)ce, related to Dutch kerk and German Kirche, based on medieval Greek kurikon, from Greek kuriakon (dōma) ‘Lord’s (house),’ from kurios ‘master or lord.’

What is church? Church as translated from the Greek (ekklesia in the New Testament) means an assembly and the type of assembly comes from the descriptive words connected to it. In a Christian context therefore, it would mean (loosely) an assembly of Christians.

Now we move onto why church? As people, God said right at the beginning that we should not be alone “It is not good for man to be alone, I will create for him a helper” (Genesis 2:18). Jesus stated “…I will build my church…” (Matt 16:18). It is God’s idea to have church. Church is important for those belonging to it. It is far bigger than the sum of the individual parts and does so much more, and because it is a body of people it has an organic, fluid and warm feel to it.

When you are down, the church will hold you up. When others are down, you and others hold them up. You are a family together, together in Christ, and even those who don’t know Christ can be part of this family. Having said that, like families do, churches also have problems because it is made up of people and people can and do things wrong/badly. But, just because someone did something wrong to you or your friend doesn’t mean you should leave and not come back. Every church is different, and there is a church out there for you.

Go and look for a church, pray about it, listen to God, go and visit the church. Listen to what they have to say, go back the next week. If it’s not for you, ask them if there is another church nearby that might be more to your liking. But as soon as you find a church right for you, stay, be committed. Bare in mind, there is no perfect church. If there are problems, don’t run away, talk to someone who can help, not just a listener who will be a “yes, yes, really” sort of person, but someone in authority who can help sort it. If you have problems, ask someone to help you. The majority of problems you can sort out with the guidance of the church, and the first port of call is always God. God is always there for you, and so is the church.

And don’t worry if you’ve been away for a short time or a long time, a good church will welcome you with open arms and encourage you to belong, not condemn you for being away. The story of the parodical son (Luke 15:11-32) always comes to mind with this subject because if you look at the reaction of the father to the sons return, that is the how God will react to you returning to church, His house. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. See you on Sunday morning!

Which God?

In Melbourne a few months ago, a collection of religious leaders, about 14000 of them! arrived here for a conference. And apparently, they hold the key to world religion.

What is the difference between the “Christian” God (of the bible) and all the other gods of other faiths and religions?

The answer is twofold. Firstly, the God of the bible is a living God and He is a God of action. Secondly, Christians get to call Him Father because He has adopted them into his family. The God of the bible loves his creation, loves his children, all of them. When Jesus’ disciple asked him how to pray, Jesus replied “Our Father…” not “God who is far away and I cannot see”, but he addresses God as his Father and we can and should do too. When we become Christians, we repent of our sins, we believe that Jesus died for our sins and was risen from the dead and so defeating death, we are baptised in water and baptised in the Holy Spirit, we have also been adopted into Gods family, co-heirs with Jesus, and therefore God is our Father. There is no faith or religion that has this intimacy. Christianity isn’t a religion, it is a relationship with God, who is our Father.

Getting right: putting your house in order

2 Corinthians 10:5 …taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

I was out in the countryside recently, walking about and taking some time out, when I came across a pile of tires. The top tyre at first glance looked almost now, no scuffing on the side wall and plenty of tread, and I wondered what a new tyre was doing in a pile of old ones. When I took a closer look I noticed that half the tread had worn away! The tracking on the car it was taken off must have been out of alignment. This made me think about how some people (me included) like to look as though we are fit for the job, made for the purpose, and at first glance we may well look the part, but if one was to look a little close, dig a little deeper, what would we find? This really challenged me to look at my own life carefully. Are there bits and pieces in your life that need fixing, urgent reappraisal? In my life I had a look and noticed that there were some things there that shouldn’t be there, habits of old creeping back in un-noticed.

At this point I went back to God, asked for forgiveness and repented. I can stand firm that I am in Christ Jesus (John 18:21, Eph 2:8) and that by taking every thought captive I can continue on the narrow path.