Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Sermon...

Sermon ugh! thats not the best word to use. It has connections to Sunday's spent being bored to death by young men who didn't know what to say or old men who didn't know how to get my attention.
God I hope I'm neither of those.
Well I'm quite sure I may well be one of those to someone, someday.
I prefer to use the word message. It has a better emphasis. It gives me peace that I'm just giving a message, being God's messenger. The importance is on God and the message and I the messenger am merely the mouthpiece for a period of time. It puts the focus for me off myself and on to Him. So (hopefully) if I'm coming to this not trying to exalt myself and only Him then maybe others wont try to exalt me either. My ego does not need the stroking. Of course when I think of being a messenger I think of a Herald.
The first one that comes to mind is Montjoy from Henry the V.

I told you my ego didn't need any help.

But onto the message for the 10th of August which is a fortnight away and at the moment a fortnight is what I seem to need to find what God wants me to say.

I got the early seeds of the current message from listening to a podcast from the Times Square church of David Wilkerson. Yes that Dave Wilkerson who was played by Pat Boone in the movie version of "The Cross and the Switchbalde".
No I am not going to mention that Eric Estrada played Niki Cruz - bother! - I did. Lord please help me not to geek out anymore on a blog dedicated to you and not to the fact that I spent way too much time (and still do sigh!) on geeking out.

Now in this message given in the pod cast the bloke mentioned that "We don't know what God is doing." He was emphasising that we need to understand God from His point of view. We need to look past our current circumstances and look to God. We need to find out where God is leading us.

When I heard this I instantly thought of Joseph. You know Joseph and the Coat of many colours, who had all the funny dreams and whose brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph who by doing nothing but the right thing got thrown into Gaol. Joseph who ended up being raised to be second in charge of the Egyptian empire. Joseph who was able to provide for his family in abundance despite the famine in the land. Joseph who realised that even though what his brothers did they did for evil. God used it for His good purposes.

There are many stories such as these in the bible old and new testament. Ruth comes to mind, as well as Daniel. Also Paul and Silas in Gaol. But there are other ways God moves apart from saving people through circumstances manipulated by Him. Sometimes its ridiculous

In Mathew 17:24-27 we have a strange piece where Jesus runs into the officials again and deals with it in His own way. Its a real throw away part but I think there's more there than you can see straight away. It shows Jesus contempt of the religious authority its really offhand. I'd better include it here so you can all read it for yourselves.

The Temple Tax
24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax[b]?"

25"Yes, he does," he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?"

26"From others," Peter answered.

"Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."

Because we are Sons we don't have to pay to use the temple. It leads to the new temple which God's Holy Spirit will live in (which is Us) and the fact that right now we don't have to pay for it.
What grabs me is that its laughable. In fact if you listen to the New Testament narration I have they have Jesus actually laugh.

Can you imagine what someone who was walking by when Peter was fishing for this one fish.
"Hey Pete whatchya Fishing for?"
"Ummm! Well the Rabi told me to catch a fish for Him" replies Peter not telling the whole story. Because its a bit stupid to be fishing for a fish which Jesus said would have money in it.
Then the line goes taught and Peter pulls the fish in. The passer bay expecting Peter to remove the hook and put the fish aside is taken by surprise when in the fishes mouth there is money.

Of course Peter is just as surprised as the passer by. I wonder if Peter got it then, He probably didn't. If your listening to Jesus and following Him, sometimes its going to seem really foolish to do what He's asked of you.
Its happened to me.
My parents packed my family up from the security of our own home (which was a year or two short for being owned by them outright) and moved our family to another part of Australia. They told me that they were following what God told them. My best friend told me not to go. I never heard what my Nanna said but I remember her crying as we left Perth in the bus. She must have thought my parents were crazy. I'm quite sure that my parents thought they were crazy. For me at the time it was a great big adventure.

Its an adventure that continues to today. At this moment I have a total of $40 or so dollars to my name. I am currently behind a month on my rent. There is money coming but its not coming as fast as I'd really like it too. However despite all of this the money is coming at the right time. Bills are being paid on time, except the rent but the Landlords knows Jesus too and is willing to trust Him and not me for the money. Is there panic? Yes I feel it from time to time. It scrambles at my emotions and tries to make me fear. The amazing thing is that there is this calm that I feel about it all too. I have a decision to make.
Do I
a) Freak out and scream and rant and rave about it all.
b) Pack up and move back in with my parents.
c) Exercise a little bit of faith and grab hold of that calm that God's Holy Spirit is providing me.

Of course its C. I have been grabbing hold of that calm for three months now. God has paid the bills and the insurance for the car on time. I don't need to worry. Jesus told us not to.
Matthew 6:31 (New American Standard Bible)
"Do not (A)worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?'

32"For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for (AP)your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

33"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and (AQ)all these things will be added to you.

34"So do not (AR)worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

So whats the conclusion here?

Where am I getting to?

Well this is a message from God not a sermon so I guess I gotta ask God for the next bit.

I seem to be moving in the direction that leads us to not worry about our situation. That if we take our eyes off ourselves and look to Him. We find ourselves not worrying about these little concerns. We know God's track record with money. We know he wants to provide for us. I don't mean prosperity here I mean your needs. For you to be fed and clothed and housed these are concerns that He WILL provide for. He provided for Joseph, he provided for Ruth, Daniel and so many more. He WILL provide for you.

See it from His perspective. Realise you are not the center of the universe. You are not the star in your own personal sitcom. He is. Once you change your attitude and decide that He is the center of the universe. Then the universe will begin to make more sense. Things wont feel the way they felt before because you have changed your perspective.

I could go on here and I probably will when I give this message but for now I'm very happy with where I ended up. Well where He got me ending up at.


God bless.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Single Christian Man

Its my experience that as a single Christian man things aren't the easiest. There seems to be only so many single Christian women of an acceptable age. I add acceptable age because being 34 I don't think its all that cool to be considering young girls 25 and under as possible candidates. This does make it hard, the fact that I've put certain conditions on a possible partner. I have many (unsaved) men telling me the only consideration is that they be legal. However I have known of Christian men marrying women 10 to 15 years their junior (I also know of the reverse happening too).

But all of this is beside the point and has little to do with what I'd like to address. Which simply is "are you putting certain standards on what God can provide in a wife or husband?"

Are you? No really search your heart and I'd be surprised that you don't have some pre-concieved idea about looks, earning capacity, age, ethnic background, intelligence. If its not this then it may be the fact that you have a senario in your head as to how it will occour. These are notions that you've either made up or accepted from the world. Even the ones from your Parents, your friends and even your Pastor. They are false. Only God knows the how, the why and the when. If you desire marriage and all that goes with it then I suggest you look to Him.

The world tells us if it feels good, do it. God tells us differently. Paul advises that it would be better if we weren't married at all and stayed single. Paul's advice is given in 1 Cor7:7-8 and is rather confronting.
1 Corinthians 7:7-8
I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.
At 22 I thought that I'd be married by now. Now at 34 I can tell you that there are things I can do for God that I could never be able to do if I had a wife and kids. Paul's advice is one that leads down the path of service.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
Being single we can give our all to God to the point where we are available at any moment to drop what we are doing and follow His lead. To be able to have time to listen and pray and study the scriptures. To grow and let Jesus be the all in all of our lives.

That is a hard challenge, give up something that we have been taught all our lives to expect. Its something thats supposed to be given to us, we are supposed to find that certain someone that Eve to my Adam. I often feel that way "Shouldn't i get this, everyone else is". Yet we all know of Spinster Aunts and Batchelor Uncles. It happens. Therefore is marriage not for all of us?
No Marriage is for all of us, just not for some in this world.
All of us who get married and those who don't will as the Bride of Christ experience a marriage of a kind not see before. Jesus is the one true groom who waits expectantly for His Bride the Church. This marriage will happen at the end of this world and the begining of the next. But we can find rest for ourselves in the fact that we are a part of His bride now.

We can find in Him the centre of our lives as one finds it in a wife or a husband. It isn't a lead role like a husband its not as a servant too. We become heirs with Him just as a wife becomes a part of the husbands family we will become a part of Jesus family, the God head.
But for now we should look to Him for direction as a wife looks to her husband. You are loved by Him, and this love isn't the Eros love that we get from a spouse. Its an AGAPE love that is deeper and stronger.

So don't be sad if you are not married. You are promised already to the true Groom. Jesus will always love you, Jesus will never forsake you. Jesus is the perfect groom. You will get none better than He.