The sermon for November 4th 2018 is now available on the New Life web-site.
In this sermon, which is based on 1 Corinthians 12, Margaret Bates talks about being the Body together.
I don’t have any reason to boast about preaching the Good News. Preaching is something God told me to do, and if I don’t do it, I am doomed.
Paul does not preach the Good News because he wants to or because he gets paid. The Holy Spirit drives him onward, and because God has commanded him to preach, he feels doomed if he doesn’t.
He is not by nature a slave, but he enslaves himself to everyone in order to win them. So he lives as a Jew when he is among Jews and as a Gentile when he is among Gentiles. He does all this for the Gospel so that he can share in its blessings.
Paul had no reason to boast about preaching the gospel. It was God’s command for him to do this so he was compelled to do it.
When I stepped out of ministry with the Uniting Church to plant a new church, it was not a decision that we made lightly. We knew that God had commanded us to do that. One colleague said it was the bravest step of faith he had ever witnessed. But to my thinking it would be far braver to say “No” to God, knowing that you are being deliberately disobedient.
Sometimes God backs us into a corner, forcing us to say “Yes” in the hope of greater blessing.
For Paul the blessings were not always obvious. He was badly beaten, imprisoned, ship-wrecked and ultimately executed because of his obedience. Yet it was in these times that he knew the greatest sense of the presence of Christ.
For most of us the steps of obedience come in small daily decisions that lead us inexorably to the presence of Christ. We learn to obey and it feels like choosing a curse to do anything else.
Lord you always lay before us the choice of life and death, obedience and sin. Help me to choose your way every day. Amen.
Many things in heaven and on earth are called gods and lords, but none of them really are gods or lords.
Paul answers a question that had been raised by the Corinthians themselves, that is, is it right for christians to eat food which had been offered or dedicated to idols?
Paul says that even though the food is offered to idols we know that the gods and lords they represent are not really gods at all. We know that there is only one God the Father and Creator of all things. So these idols are nothing to Him.
But some people have grown up believing in these gods. To see christians eating meat that has been offered to false gods might cause to stumble such a person whose faith in Christ is weak. For the sake of these people it would be better not to eat meat in their presence.
Paul’s approach to this issue is very pragmatic. We know that in Christ, God has given us all things. We know that other “gods” are false gods. Therefore we have nothing to fear from eating meat offered to imaginary deities.
This is not to deny that demonic forces can hold people who worship these gods in spiritual bondage.
In Christ we are “more than conquerors.” If any demon attaches itself to the food that we eat, then our praying over our food in the name of the Lord cleanses that which might be unclean.
People sometimes worry about artefacts bought in developing countries. Unless they are idols, or you get a revelation that there is a spirit associated with the item, then they are usually harmless.
Christians should avoid idols and other items intended to be worshipped. To bring such items into our homes is to honour the demonic spirit behind it.
In all things we should remember that Christ is greater than all so-called gods. We are to live in joy and freedom and not in fear.
Lord, help me to walk in victory over all false gods and demons in this world. May I always live in joy and freedom not in fear and bondage. Amen.
It won’t make any difference how much good you are getting from the world or how much you like it. This world is now passing away.
The Lord is coming soon so everything will change. Being married or single count for nothing. Our economic status and our position in the world are totally irrelevant in heaven.
We spend so much time and energy in worldly matters. Our education, job, marriage (or otherwise), family, money, possessions can all dominate our thinking. Christians are not exempt from this.
It is important that we carry out our responsibilities diligently, but none of the things that we get anxious about carry any importance in heaven.
Money cannot save you.
Politicians cannot save you.
A nice house and secure job cannot save you.
We worry about these fleeting things that are inconsequential and neglect the issues of eternity and salvation.
At the gates of heaven we will not be asked, “Did you live in a nice house?”. No it will be, “Do you know Jesus and were you faithful to Him?”
The Lord is preparing us to be citizens of His kingdom. If we incest our love and affections on the things of this world, we cannot be listening to His lessons about eternity.
It’s all about priorities really. Do I live as if this life is all there is? Or do I see a vision of eternity, a distant city on a hill bathed in light that calls me home?
Lord the cares of this life threaten daily to strangle my faith in you. Please help me to die to this life and to live for you. Amen.
God can be trusted, and he chose you to be partners with his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul writes to the church at Corinth whom Jesus chose to be His own people. He prays for God’s blessing and peace to be with them.
Paul never stops thanking God for the church in Corinth. They will not miss out on any blessing as they await Christ’s return. God van be trusted to care for those whom He has chosen.
In these few verses, Paul uses the word chose (or chosen) three times. Like the nation of Israel, these people were chosen by God to reflect His glory and to carry the gospel of Christ to their city and beyond.
We are chosen by God. He is sovereign.
We often think of the choices we make, including the decision to follow Christ.
But before we chose God, He chose us.
From before time began and long before I was even born, God had a plan for my life that included eternal life with Him.
The Lord arranged my life and manoeuvred key events in my life so that I would be ready to say “Yes” to Him.
This is not to say that my life is predetermined by God or that I am a robot following a divinely ordained program. At the intersection of divine will and human deciding there is always mystery.
God chose me! Why me as opposed to someone else, I do not know. I rejoice that He called and I answered.
As for those who have not said “Yes” to Jesus, I believe they were chosen too, but they have not yet realised the preciousness of God’s grace.
Thank you Lord for reaching down and choosing me. Help me to see those whom you have chosen but do not yet realise it, and to share the Good News with them. Amen.
Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
Together we are God’s temple. The Holy Spirit dwells n us. If anyone tries to destroy His Temple, God will destroy them.
Those who think they are wise in the world’s ways should become fools because God’s standard of wisdom is different to the world’s. We must not boast about our human leaders because we belong to Christ.
We are God’s temple. Together the church “contains” or become a place of habitation for the Holy Spirit.
We read this verse and think it means “I am a temple of God.” But Paul says “You (plural) are the temple of God.” He does not say “You are temples of God.”
It is when we worship and work together in the unity of the Spirit that God is manifest amongst us.
This is not to deny that each individual christian has the Holy Spirit. Three is a special anointing that comes when the people of God come together and worship with one heart and one mind.
Holy Spirit come and fill me. Empower me to worship you in unity with my brothers and sisters so that we truly become the temple of God. Amen.
The sermon for February 12th is now available on the New Life web-site.
In this sermon, which is based on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, I talk about Preaching With Power.
The first 5 minutes is missing from the recording, but the rest is pretty good.