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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Difficult Verses: 1 Cor. 10.13

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Someone recently asked me to discuss 1 Cor. 10.13 as they found it a difficult verse.  No problems there, let’s do it!

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

It’s quite a long verse, so let’s break it down a bit so we can digest it.  The first section says “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man.”  This is actually one of the most encouraging sentences in the New Covenant.  We all have times when we feel overwhelmed with temptation – when doing the wrong thing pressurizes us so much it seems difficult to imagine ourselves surviving temptation.  But the good news is this: firstly, everyone has been tempted too.  Nothing has happened to you that is unique.  In a healthy church or community, you can easily share what you are going through and people will understand because they have been through similar things: that’s part of the value of a strong, healthy community.  It’s why Jesus puts people in churches! Secondly, it means that everything you are facing in terms of temptation is on a human level.  That’s awesome – it means that you are not having to deal with problems that are supernatural or spiritual!  Even an unregenerate human can deal with temptation – and you are born again, you have the zoe life of God inside you.  You are the head and not the tail.  You can deal with the temptation.  So that bit is double good news!

The second bit of this verse says: “and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able”.  This sentence is another bit of double good news. Firstly, God is faithful.  Now, in the Greek, there is no difference between the words “faithful” and “faith”.  This verse is actually letting us know that God is FAITH.  God believes in you.  God knows you can make it.  God knows you can manage.  God knows you can cope.  And God – who knows and believes in you – will never ever let things get beyond your ability to handle.  So whatever mess you are in right now, you know you can cope.  God believes in you – so why not believe in yourself?  So here is the double good news from this part of the verse: God is on your side.  No matter how many times you have messed up in the past, God believes you can make it this time.  No matter your past, God believes in your future.  And secondly: you will never be put in a situation you cannot handle.

Finally, we find out that “but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”  Again, another double blessing in here.  With every temptation there is a way out.  You need to understand this – no matter what you are going through there is a way out.  Maybe you have a porn addiction – there is a way out, there is someone you can talk to, there are solutions to help you get out of it.  Maybe you are drinking too much, there is a way out.  Maybe you are becoming cynical and mean – there is a way out.  THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY OUT!  THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY OUT!  That’s great news.  And finally: you can endure.  The word endure means to put up with; you can find a way out – and it won’t always be easy, but you can endure the way out.  It might be difficult to share your struggles with another human, it may be a shame getting rid of the internet or satellite TV, it may be hard to ditch a couple of your best friends who are always leading you the wrong way.  But YOU CAN ENDURE – whatever the path out is, you can walk it, and you can walk in victory.

This verse is full of good news for anyone who is struggling with sin.  It really is.  

If you have any thoughts or comments, or prayer requests, why not comment below?

Like Precious Faith (a sermon by Smith Wigglesworth)

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Read 2 Peter 1:1-8. We are dull of comprehension because we so often let the cares of this world blind our eyes; but if we can be open to God, we shall see that He has a greater plan for us in the future than we have ever seen in the past. It is God’s delight to make possible to us that which seems impossible, and when we reach a place where He alone has right of way, then all the things that have been misty and misunderstood are cleared up.

This like precious faith that Peter is writing about is a gift that God is willing to give to all of us, and I believe God wants us to receive it so that we may subdue kingdoms, work righteousness, and, if the time is come, to stop the mouths of lions. We should be able under all circumstances to triumph, because we have no confidence in ourselves, but our confidence is only in God. It is always those people who are full of faith that have a good report, that never murmur, that are in the place of victory, that are not in the place of human order but of divine order, since God has come to dwell in them.

This like precious faith is for all; but there may be some hindrance in your life that God will have to deal with. It seems to me as if I had had a thousand road engines come over my life to break me up like a potter’s vessel. There is no other way into the deep things of God but a broken spirit. There is no other way into the power of God. God will do the exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think for us when He can bring us to the place where we can say with Paul, “I live no longer, and Another, even Christ, has taken the reins and the rule.”

I understand God by His Word. I cannot understand God by impressions or feelings; I cannot get to know God by sentiments. If I am going to know God, I am going to know Him by His Word. I know I shall be in heaven, but I could not build on my feelings that I am going to heaven. I am going to heaven because God’s Word says it, and I believe God’s Word. And “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Rom. 10;17.

In Mark 11:24 we read, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” The previous verse speaks of mountains removed, difficulties cleared away. Veneering won’t do. We must have reality, the real working of our God. We must know God. We must be able to go in and hold converse with God. We must also know the mind of God toward us, so that all our petitions are always on the line of His will.

As this like precious faith becomes a part of you, it will make you so that you will dare to do anything. And remember, God wants daring men, men who will dare all, men who will be strong in Him and dare to do exploits. How shall we reach this plane of faith? Let go your own thoughts, and take the thoughts of God, the Word of God. If you build yourself on imaginations you will go wrong. You have the Word of God and it is enough. A man gave this remarkable testimony concerning the Word: “Never compare this Book with other books. Comparisons are dangerous. Never think or never say that this Book contains the Word of God. It is the Word of God. It is supernatural in origin, eternal in duration, inexpressible in value, infinite in scope, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in interest, personal in application, inspired in totality. Read it through. Write it down. Pray it in. Work it out. And then pass it on.”

And truly the Word of God changes a man until he becomes an epistle of God. It transforms his mind, changes his character, moves him on from grace to grace, makes him an inheritor of the very nature of God. God comes in, dwells in, walks in, talks through, and sups with him who opens his being to the Word of God and receives the Spirit who inspired it.

When I was going over to New Zealand and Australia, I had many to see me off. There was an Indian doctor who was riding in the same car with me to the docks. He was very quiet and took in all things that were said on the ship. I began to preach, of course, and the Lord began to work among the people. In the second-class part of the ship there was a young man and his wife who were attendants on a lady and gentleman in the first-class. And as these two young people heard me talking to them privately and otherwise, they were very much impressed. Then the lady they were attending got very sick. In her sickness and her loneliness she could find no relief. They called in the doctor, and the doctor gave her no hope.

And then, when in this strange dilemma — she was a great Christian Scientist, a preacher of it, and had gone up and down preaching it — they thought of me. Knowing the conditions, and what she lived for, that it was late in the day, and that in the condition of her mind she could only receive the simplest words, I said to her, “Now you are very sick, and I won’t talk to you about anything save this; I will pray for you in the name of Jesus, and the moment I pray you will be healed.”

And the moment I prayed she was healed. That was this like precious faith in operation. Then she was disturbed. Now I could have poured in oil very soon. But I poured in all the bitter drugs possible, and for three days I had her on cinders. I showed her her terrible state, and pointed out to her all her folly and the fallacy of her position. I showed her that there was nothing in Christian Science, that it is a lie from the beginning, one of the last agencies of hell. At best a lie, preaching a lie, and producing a lie.

Then she wakened up. She became so penitent and broken-hearted. But the thing that stirred her first was that she had to go to preach the simple gospel of Christ where she had preached Christian Science. She asked me if she had to give up certain things. I won’t mention the things, they are too vile. I said, “What you have to do is to see Jesus and take Jesus.” When she saw the Lord in His purity, the other things had to go. At the presence of Jesus all else goes.

This opened the door. I had to preach to all on the boat. This gave me a great opportunity. As I preached, the power of God fell, conviction came and sinners were saved. They followed me into my cabin one after another. God was working there.

Then this Indian doctor came. He said, “What shall I do? I cannot use medicine any more.” “Why?” “Oh, your preaching has changed me. But I must have a foundation. Will you spend some time with me?” “Of course I will.” Then we went alone and God broke the fallow ground. This Indian doctor was going right back to his Indian conditions under a new order. He had left a practice there. He told me of the great practice he had. He was going back to his practice to preach Jesus.

If you have lost your hunger for God, if you do not have a cry for more of God, you are missing the plan. There must come up from us a cry that cannot be satisfied with anything but God. He wants to give us the vision of the prize ahead that is something higher than we have ever attained. If you ever stop at any point, pick up at the place where you have dropped through, and begin again under the refining light and power of heaven and God will meet you. And while He will bring you to a consciousness of your own frailty and to a brokenness of spirit, your faith will lay hold of Him and all the divine resources, His light and compassion will be manifested through you, and He will send the rain.

Shall we not dedicate ourselves afresh to God? Some say, “I dedicated myself last night to God.” Every new revelation brings a new dedication. Let us seek Him.

Hulk Out?

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This is the Hollywood statement on the decision to replace Edward Norton as the Hulk in the Avengers movies:

“We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.

The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks.”

You can be the best in the world at what you do, but if you cannot embody a creative and collaborative spirit you will always miss out on the biggest projects because the biggest projects always involve working with others.

Do you thrive working as part of an ensemble?

5 Really Bad and 5 Really Good Reasons to Go to Bible College

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Really Bad Reasons to Go:

5. Because you are offended, frustrated or disappointed in the local church.  If you go to Bible College annoyed at church, angry at church, opposed to church, I guarantee you will not have a successful ministry after Bible College.  It’s that simple.  Bible College is designed to make you more effective and more utilitarian to the local church.  An increasing number of people are getting offended at local church for a whole host of reasons, and then running away to Bible school.  It helps them feel superior to other Christians who are working in the factory, looking after small children, serving the local church week after week.  That attitude will disqualify you from ministry sooner or later, and once it is seated in you it is really difficult to get out.

4.  Because you have no other options.  It is a truth that during an economic recession applications to Bible Colleges go up a significant amount.  The church needs leaders with a bit more passion for their ministry and their flock than “I had nothing better to do, so I decided to train as a minister…”

3.  Because you think there is money in the ministry.  There may be one day but going after the money is one sure way to ensure your ministry is so unbalanced you never get a large enough following to get any. 

2.  Because someone prophesied it over you.  Charismatics love to prophesy their own emotions and feeling over people.  There are at least a dozen churches in this country where I am been prophesied over that I will be the next pastor.  Er… no.  You cannot be prophesy led, you must be Spirit led.

1.  Because you hate the daily grind of work.  Here’s the brutal truth: if you can’t manage a secular job and church volunteering you should never expect anyone to do what you cannot do.  If you think Bible College is a key to a lazy, easy life you are wrong.  The world has enough lazy pastors, and the truth is that you will be ministering to people who are in the daily grind that you can’t handle.  That means you have no credibility.  Go to Bible College a champion in your work place!  Go for the right reasons!  Take the same overcomer attitude from the daily grind to college, don’t bring a loser attitude from the work world and assume college will work – it’s an attitude change you need first!  Some pastors get together on Monday mornings and discuss quitting because the weekend was so hard.  They discuss how hard pastoring is.  I was in a couple of groups like that on Facebook and so on, and I quit them all for two reasons: 1.  I never want to quit.  The reward is greater than any cost.  2. I don’t think I could ever with credibility get up on a Sunday and say I have the hardest job in the church.  There’s medical doctors and nurses, school teachers, people who work 12-15 hour shifts in factories, people who are in high-pressure sales environments.  I don’t have it hard, I just need to ensure I use the same faith to make it everyday that I preach about.  

5 Really Good Reasons to Go:

5.  You know that you are called to God to minister the Word of God to people and want to be effectively trained to teach and preach the Word to people.  You are not called to College, you are called to a ministry that requires college to prepare you for that ministry.  That way when college is wrapping up (you can’t stay forever) you don’t become a lost little wanderer, but you have a plan for advancing the kingdom and making disciples.

4.  You are a conqueror at life.  You are winning at work, winning with the family, winning financially and you know you have something valuable to offer people.  You have life and life in abundance and you want to share it.  You don’t want to leave your social network or your job because you have learned to love them both and invest your life into something with joy and peace.

3.  You are an integral part of the local church.  If you have learned how to serve in the local church as laity, you will understand the requirements and expectations of serving in the local church.  If you take on an existing church or plant a new church after college, you will succeed or fail because of volunteers.  The way some pastors treat volunteers and speak to volunteers it is clear they have never ever volunteers in a church.  I know one pastor who went to Bible College and was helping a church as part of his placement, then left college and got a secular job.  He immediately couldn’t juggle volunteering at the church with a part-time job, yet when an opening came the church took him on.  I would never take someone on for a paid role who couldn’t do something for free, because every paid role in a church has to be able to manage volunteers.  If you can’t be a volunteer, you can’t manage volunteers.  You don’t get it!  If you are a volunteer, an integral part of the local church then you can grasp what the volunteers you look after will be doing.  Then you are ready for Bible College.

2. You have already conquered the majority of your life dramas.  Of course Bible College isn’t for perfect people.  I was not perfect when I went to college, and I haven’t found a perfect Bible College student yet.  But you shouldn’t be going to Bible College for discipleship, that’s what the local church is for.  You should be going to Bible College to prepare for ministry.  Bible College is actually a really intense time on you – as your ideas are challenged, money is tight, ambitions are dashed, disappointments happen – it’s a real bubble and a really tough time.  I know more couples who have divorced during Bible College than I can count, and that’s a tragedy.  If they had sorted out their marriage before Bible College rather than trying to use Bible College to paper over the cracks in their marriage those tragic situations would never have happened.  Go to Bible College with a strong marriage, without massive gaps in your integrity.

1.  You can see beyond college.  If you can’t see what is going to happen when you graduate, what sort of ministry you will do, what you might become.  Whether you are travelling teacher, a missionary, an assistant pastor, a church planter.  Plans can change, but if you cannot see beyond the horizon of college before you go, I question whether you have a call of God to go.  Your vision should be bigger than college BEFORE you go.

If you are a pastor, and people in your church are thinking of going to college, don’t be shy about asking these hard questions.  The world is desperately in need of Christian leaders with integrity, with passion, with ministry.  It is not in need of another couple divorced at Bible College, people finishing college and wandering around lonely as a cloud hoping someone will one day give them a ministry.  This is serious stuff, and needs to be considered.

Also, notice I haven’t mentioned instructions from God in this.  A lot of people think God is telling them something when it is just pizza from last night, or just the sheer excitement.  A good Bible College is a fine place to be, and because it is only Christians, and only people who are taking the things of God seriously, it can be a lot faster and a lot more exciting than local church.  That’s why some people want to stay there forever.  But the truth is that joining the fast lane of Bible College is only for a few years, and you need to be able to handle the slow lane of life and church.  Ministry is not about getting there first, it’s about taking as many people with you as possible.  If you don’t learn that before Bible College, I doubt you will learn it there.

 

Difficult Verse 6: John 19.30

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When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

This is not really a difficult verse – it’s just that there are a number of similar verses in the four gospels, and unless they are all understood it can seem that the Bible is contradictory or implying something that it never said.  This verse, and Matt. 27.34, have both been used by people to suggest that Christians should be for euthanasia and assisted suicide; that in some way Jesus committed suicide on the cross.  In John 19.30, Jesus is offered wine vinegar while on the cross.  Now the thing to remember is that this is the second time Jesus is offered a drink while he is on the cross – the first time he is offered wine mixed with gall and he refuses it.  If you read Mark 15 from beginning to end, you can see clearly Jesus is twice offered drink.  Luke and John only record the second drink, as per our verse here.

The first drink Jesus is offered is wine mixed with gall.  The second drink is wine vinegar.  So the first drink Jesus is offered (Matt. 27.34) he tasted and refused.  What was this drink?  Gall, or bile, is the product of the gall bladder.  It tastes exceptionally bitter and functions like a painkiller.  While on the cross Jesus was offered wine laced with a narcotic to ease his pain, and he refused.  He was going to go through the full pain of your sin, sickness and suffering on the cross to redeem you.  That just shows again how awesome a Saviour, what a champion Jesus was.  He wouldn’t even take an aspirin while dying for you!  He was going to do it!  He would suffer the fullness of sin to be able to offer us the fullness of redemption.  Jesus was fully aware and conscious while he was dying for you! And he planned it that way!

The second drink was wine vinegar, which was a cheap wine, drunk mainly by soldiers.  It was mildly alcoholic but was the kind of drink you could drink quickly, making it useful to the soldiers as they could quickly quench their thirst.  John tells us that Jesus said he was thirsty while on the cross.  Jesus died as a human, fully human, and on the cross was naked, hungry and thirsty.  He became poor with your poverty so you could be made rich (2 Cor. 9.8).  There is nothing poorer than being thirsty and unable to quench your thirst.  Also, thirsting on the cross was prophesied in Psalm 22.15 that the Messiah would have a parched mouth.  In Psalm 69.21 it mentions that the suffering servant would be offered both gall and vinegar.  This all shows how the death of Jesus was exactly how He and His Father planned it.  Now John is the only gospel writer who let us know Jesus actually received the drink – Luke tells us it was offered, but only John tells us he received the drink.  Now drinking at this stage would have actually prolonged Jesus’ life – making the cross more painful and agonizing!  The drink would have extended his suffering, not shortened it.

By confusing the two drinks, some people see Jesus deliberately medicating while on the cross.  They then say it is ok to over-medicate a patient and actively euthanize people.  Nothing could be further from the truth – Jesus rejected the drink that would have eased his pain, and instead chose a drink that extended his pain and suffering.  Why?  Because he was suffering for you!  He died your death and did it deliberately, made it as difficult as possible, ensured he did it with a sound mind – to make sure that he paid the full price for your sin so you could be the righteousness of God in Christ.

That’s not a difficult Scripture – it’s a powerful one!

 

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