A Work in Progress

Encouraging and helpful thoughts I've had as I seek to grow in my walk with God.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Books that I got for Christmas 2010

It's Not What You Think by Chris Evans

A Journey by Tony Blair

The History of Mathematics: A Reader edited by John Fauvel and Jeremy Gray

Living Faith by Dr Helen Roseveare

Travel with William Tyndale
by Brian H. Edwards

Travel with John Bunyan by John Pestell

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where is the Spirit's Power? Lessons from Achan

Notes from the Sunday evening service at Townhill Baptist Church 22/8/10 where Owen Batstone was preaching on Joshua 7. You can download the sermon from the Townhill Baptist website or direct here.

Where is the Spirit's Power?
  1. God is sovereign
  2. Man is responsible
Israel had become a merely religious people.
v2 - They act without God
v3 - They misjudge their enemies
vs4-5 - They fled in fear

Achan didn't trust God. God wasn't enough for him.

1. Christians must be the genuine article.

Am I genuine?
Is your heart like stone?
Have you stopped getting as close as you can to the Lord?
God says 'Forget your sin, it's not better than me.'
V Higham - 'If you leave the secret chamber it will show.'
One of the marks of spiritual rebellion is deviousness.

2. Christians can be a help or a hindrance to their Lord (v12)

Do you harbour grievous sin against God and then let people pray and preach on in church?
Are you getting closer to Him every day?
Would people choose to share fellowship with you?
Woe to us if our 'theology' protects us from God.
Either you deal with your sin or God will.
If you're not bowing now, you won't bow then.
Have ever met someone in church who's made you realise 'I'm here for social conversation but he's here for God.' Let us live for Christ.

3. The Lord cares about the condition of your heart.

Matthew 25:23 is said to the profitable Christian not every Christian.
Pull the veil of the law away and see the Son in all His beauty.
v13 - sanctify yourselves
Don't let Him pass you by - take hold of Him.
All the fitness He requires is that you feel your need for Him.
We are called to admire the Lord Jesus.


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Acts 8: Spirit and Simon

"I love the thought of coming home to you" but do we come home to God though?

There are only two spirits: the Holy Spirit and Satanic spirits
There are two forces but they are a mismatch. God is not in a battle, He is reigning.
God permits Satan to cause chaos on Earth but He is still sovereign.

1. What is this sorcery?

It's not of God but it is impressive. Satan masquerades as what he's not.
Simon was doing something impressive.

2. Was Simon a Christian?

Simon appeared to be sincere.
People can be converted to church or to good moral behaviour or to a certain theology. Are you converted to Christ?
This is counterfeit. The evidences can be found in v20 - 'perish', v22 - 'perhaps' and v23.

3. Is believing enough?

Yes and no - it depends what you mean.
Nodding in agreement to doctrines isn't enough. Satan knows who Jesus is but that doesn't save him.
You may believe in your head but you need the life of God (see Romans 3v22)
Jesus saves through faith not on the basis of faith - even faith is a gift of God and a means of saving.

4. What's it got to do with us?

Every heretic has a Bible verse.
Keep hold of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.

Simon overvalued money.
Christians let the Devil in when they choose their darling sins all the time.
Simon wanted status and significance (v19) He was famous before he met Philip.

2 Corinthians 5v15 - we no longer live for ourselves - do we really?
Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ - really?
You can be effective in church and yet be serving yourself.

Hebrews 5:14 - "solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."

v24 - Simon is afraid but there's no record of him praying or repenting.
We to deal with God on our own. Simon avoids the burning issue by not repenting.

Are you repenting?

Psalm 71:3 - Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go

Don't be soft on sin and kid yourself that you're being big on grace

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just a Prayer Meeting - Acts 4: 18-31

1. They acknowledge
i) God is almighty (v24)
ii) The animosity of the world towards God (vs 25-26)

2. They ask
There's no formula here - they're calling to God because they know Him.
The Greek word for witness is martyr.
v29 - they want to be good, clear witnesses
The emphasis of the New Testament is on being not doing

3. The answer came
v31 - wow!

Do you give the impression that the kingdom of God is power or just words?

You don't learn to pray as you should because you can think of a thousand other things you would rather do. You choose not to pray.

We don't really know our hearts - if we did we would pray better.

Do you love Jesus? Do you even know Him?

Here, God answers prayer in the best way - He comes.

You could spend all your time organising prayer lists and still not get to God - you need Him. We must learn to pray.

Tell God everything - don't pretend. Tell God that you feel a fraud if that's how you feel. Are you ashamed or embarrassed about your prayers? Tell Him!

Give Him time so you can learn to hear Him. Decide to learn to pray - it will be hard.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Feeling Ill at Ease with the Westminster Declaration 2010

Yesterday evening I came across the Westminster Declaration 2010 after I noticed a couple Christian friends had become fans of it on Facebook. At first I hoped that this had been started up by Evangelicals making a stand on what the gospel is and campaigning for freedom to believe it. When I looked at the first few names on the list of notable signatories I realised that this was not the case.

You can go to the website linked above to read about the Declaration which is largely about Christians wanting freedom to believe certain things without being marginalised, criticised, arrested, etc.

Here are my thoughts on it:

The declaration reads as quite bullish and I can understand why parliamentary candidates would be quite put off the idea of signing it if there is no explanation of what is really important to Christians. The freedom to believe the gospel (i.e. that we are all condemned unless we are saved through the finished atonement of Christ alone) is a lot more important than the freedom to believe that marriage is just between a man and woman for example.

My point is that if those values in the declaration are the only values we go with then we will be seen to be ‘religious’, ‘old-fashioned’ and out of touch rather than liberated by the gospel, lavished with the grace and love of God and living (as good citizens) as belonging to God, not ourselves. Obviously I agree with everything written in the declaration but I wouldn’t say I got an impression of the real Christian faith from it whatsoever (even taking into consideration the initial paragraph about belief in God).

Any statement that allows nominal Christians, Protestants and Catholics to happily sign should alarm Evangelicals as being nothing to do with Christianity whatsoever. Unity under the banner of Christ must be grounded on the true gospel not on the lowest common denominator.

Brothers and sisters, let us live for Christ and be salt and light and the fragrance of God to the world around us.

I would be pleased to discuss this because I know many friends will disagree.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hold back those staggering to the slaughter

This evening my friend Owen preached in Townhill Baptist Church on Proverbs 24:11 which says:
Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
The sermon can be downloaded here. My notes can be read below. It was a very sobering message.

Two questions:
  1. Can those who know you say 'he/she held me back'?
  2. Do you believe the lost are staggering towards slaughter?
For all of their smiles and confidence, remember that the lost are doomed on every level. They will not have Jesus as Lord over them.

Psalms 73:18-19 - the true state of the lost

Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!

You must stand distinct because you must hold back the lost.

Can the world see your breastplate of righteousness?

Proverbs 24:

v7 - a fool has nothing to say
v10 - A fraud falters in times of trouble
vs21-22 - Do not join in with the rebellious
v26 - Be courageous to be honest

Isaiah 58:8 & Isaiah 59:1
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
The lost look at us and judge the Lord.

Will they speak of you holiness and godliness at your funeral?

Psalm 73:17 - Was he useless until he came to this point?
We can do nothing without Him - stay in the sanctuary.

Is your heart after the Lord? The world will spot a fraud.
You will be useless without the sanctuary.

Blending in is dangerous.
The world hates Jesus and those who look like Him.
Are you willing to break the barriers of your natural self?
Are you willing to say trouble is coming?
The lost watch you - what are you living for?
Jude 7 - this is just a sign, the reality is worse.

The hope for the lost if that believers cherish their Saviour.

Provers 24:16 - the Lord picks us up

Work to the best of your ability and take every opportunity to speak for Jesus.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Second Coming

20 themes from the Bible concerning the Second Coming of Christ

1. Jesus promised he will come back - "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne." Matthew 25:31

2. The Old Testament prophets looked forward to it - "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him." Daniel 7:13

3. We will see Him as He is - "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:2

4. At the Lord's Supper we remind ourselves - "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." 1 Corinthians 11:26

5. The early Christians often greeted each other with the reminder "Maranatha" (Come O Lord) 1 Corinthians 16:22

6. Before the Second Coming there will be tough times - "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea." Luke 21:25

7. Before the Second Coming many will turn away from the faith - "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth." 1 Timothy 4:1-3

8. Before the Second Coming there will be many antichrists - "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour." 1 John 2:18

9. Before the Second Coming false teaching will increase - "For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect." Mark 13:22

10. Noone knows when except the Father - "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." Matthew 24:36

11. The Second Coming will be unexpected - "Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Matthew 24:44

12. Jesus will come like a thief - "For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." 1 Thessalonians 5:22; "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed." 2 Peter 3:10

13. The world will be unprepared - "For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." Matthew 24:38-39

14. He will come in the same way as He ascended - "And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11

15. He will come visibly - "Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Matthew 24:30; "Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen." Revelation 1:7; "Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:2

16. He will not come in secret - "For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." Matthew 24:27

17. He will come in power - "Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven."" Matthew 26:64; "Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Matthew 24:30

18. The angels will accompany Him - "For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done." Matthew 16:27; "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."" Mark 8:38; "and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels" 2 Thessalonians 1:7

19. He will come in blazing fire - "and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels." 2 Thessalonians 1:7 (NIV)

20. We are to long for His coming - "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8

Gems from Rees

Whilst tidying my study I found some notes I made during a sermon from October '09 at Townhill. Here are the highlights:

Jesus and the message of the gospel did not end at Golgotha.
Without integrity we lose our witness.
When was the last time you clearly sought an opportunity to share the gospel?
Without following Jesus you won't live a godly life.
"If the church learned discipleship it would be transformed" - David Watson
You cannot live the Christian life without the Spirit of God
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit into the church before He sends the church out
By your life are you presenting truth as if it is fiction?
The solution is never feelings it is coming back to truth.
Eph5 - Be filled with the Spirit
Until I see that the cross was done by me, then I'll never understand what the cross does for me
The apostles were consistent, chosen, convinced and commanded. How does this describe you?