Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stories of Jesus

So we can take good things out of Christmas, and last week at the Ballysillan Board meeting Carrie asked us to think of stories of Jesus that we love.

The first one that came to my mind was when Jesus turned the tables upside down in the temple! Awesome!

You can find the story in Mark 11 v15-19

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written:
" 'My house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

When evening came, they went out of the city.

Its not about turning the tables over that I love, just the fact that Jesus said "You got it all wrong!" We get so comfortable in our traditions and routines, that worshipping God becomes a ritual, even a business, and its wrong. If anything gets in the place of others meeting with God should wedisgard it, turn it upside down? Jesus might have woken some of the people up, when he turned the tables. Did Jesus disturbed the peace and tranquility of the temple? Again in Church, is there any life or emotion?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I used to be of the opinion that if you take CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS you are left with M-A-S, Minus A Saviour.

I used to say Jesus is the reason for the season!

I have seen a couple of groups started wanting to save Christmas as a Christian festival.

I have also come across people who want to take Christ out of Christmas.

I say let them! Let people change the name and call it winterfest or whatever they come out with.

I say its about time we Jesus followers take a stand and speak out about this pagan commercialised holiday. What is Christian about it? Some good morals or sharing, giving and receiving but thats about it.

Not to be a scrooge but there are so many people who get into debt during this time of year. Kids have become like spoilt little brats who want more, more, more!

And Jesus was probably born in spring, when the shepherds were out in the field so lets celebrate it then and let the heathens do what they want in december! I said this to someone whose response was "But then we cant celebrate Easter if Christmas is in the spring as well!".....DOh!

Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm not going to sin this week!

So I was speaking last night at Christ Church YF and the topic was on being 'Sold Out for God'.

I was reading thru 1 John last week and was focussing my talk on 1 John 2 v9-11.

But while reading thru 1 John I came across some interesting verses. The type that make you rub your eyes, and go 'how did I miss that before??'. The verses that o one really talks about or even dismiss them as being taken out of context.

So 1 John 2 v1 says "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."

So John is writing to these Churches, (probably in the region of Ephesus?)inorder that they might not sin! And if they do sin....

Is this crazy thinking? Can followers of Christ live without sinning? Is it possible? The problem might be that we don't think we could do it. And we are right - we can't, but with God's help thru the Holy Spirit. I think we get it easy being Christians. While other world faiths have a call to prayer 5 times a day, fast for a month, memorise scripture, we get off with reading a thought for the day, goig to church once a week and thats only if we are the holy ones! We fall into sin becasue of our lazy, greedy, self indulgent lifestyle.

John continues in verse 6, "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

If Jesus needed to get up early and go spend time with God, then how much more do we need to? And who ever said it was an option to ready your Bible and pray everyday? We mst walk as Jesus did - in step with the Spirit.

So how do we not sin?

Verse 15-17 says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."

Now I know that this can be an external view of sin - not dealing with issues of the heart, but we can and are effected by the external.

1 John 3 v5-6 continues, "But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him."

If we live in Him we don't keep sinning! We might want to but it is possible to live for Jesus, like Jesus be sold out completely for Jesus. Jesus deals with extremes. Light and darkness. Hot and cold. Righteousness and sin. There is no middle ground. In fact, John who wrote this letter also writes to the Church in Ephesus in Revelation 3 v16, "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

Verse 8 states, "He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work"

I hear a lot in the church of being still a sinner saved by grace. To me, we are either one or the other.

And this is the key verse that blew me away,

"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God"

So do I limit God's Spirit in my life?
Do I settle for second best?
Do I live a defeated life?

I maybe do still sin because I don't identify my problems and ask God to deal with them. But even this language is strange. I have been taught that I am still a sinner. But the Bible does not teach this. If I have been reborn of God, I am a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5 v17) I might fall back into old bad habits but I am not a sinner anymore. Thats got to be good news!

So why do I still sin?
Is there a need for confession?
Is confession more for us than it is for God?
Does God know what we are talking about when we confess our sin?
Has God not forgiven our sins?

I believe God has removed my sin (past, present and future) as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103 v12)

I believe Jesus has saved me from my sin (Matthew 1 v21)

But I continue to say things I shouldn't say, do things I shouldn't do, think things I shouldn't think, go places I shouldn't go.

Maybe I underestimate myself? I love what Rob Bell says about Jesus. Jesus believes in us.

We probably don't believe in ourselves. We probably beat ourselves up with guilt. We probably try and protect ourselves from pride. We probably don't put ourselves in a place to be transformed by God's Spirit.

So especially during this advent season, which gives us the perfect opportunity to take time out of our busy schedule to think about who God is and why Jesus came to earth, could we try and not sin?