Today I preached on 7 different practical provisions of God’s love, for those who have God’s especial love in Jesus Christ (readings: Colossians 3:1-17 and Psalm 16). These are what God gives His holy ones as gifts, and they are things that we even get to participate in:
Provision 1: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Himself)
Provision 2: Other People (Heathen, Fellow Believer, Spouse, Family, Past and Present)
Provision 3: Creation and Humour
Provision 4: Work
Provision 5: (The Ability to) Obey
Provision 6: The New Beginning
Provision 7: The Word & Prayer.
Next week begins the next sermon series at Georges River Congregational Church in Luke’s gospel (1:1-24).
Blessings, Pastor Haydn.
From Pastor Haydn: GRCC Church Bulletin Devotion – Living in the Twilight Zone
This week, I was challenged to focus my mind on heavenly things, since that is where my heart has been ‘raised’. I wondered, however, how do I focus my mind on something that I am not in yet that my eyes cannot now behold? All the more, because although my heart is raised, it does not see like my eyes! Sometimes it feels like walking in a pitch-black room and stumbling through only using my fingers.
These words are not old (Isaiah 31:1) … We are to put our hope in what is (yet) unseen in our heart because that is true worship (Romans 8:24-25). If you haven’t read the book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible), then please do! It can be hard to understand, yet it has breathtaking views of heaven.
What will it be like? Apart from seeing God face to face, we’ll get to meet giants of the Bible like Moses and the countless saints, who cannot be numbered. Above all, it will be the safest place on earth because no evil will enter or exit (it will be Open All Hours, Rev. 21:25, 27). Night and moon will be the only parts of God’s 6-day creation that won’t be making it into the New Heavens (Rev. 21:23). Why? Because God will be the everlasting light – it will always be day … The light will be on us and shining brightly out of us with glorious, unfathomable resurrection bodies. It is the light of eternally warm holy-centred joy.
Interestingly, this idea is not new the Bible. Isaiah foretold it (30:26) – The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and [it] will be sevenfold … in the day Yahweh binds up the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound. This time will be our healing, in heart and body, when God will give us comforting cuddles that dry our tears and see no sin, sickness, and death (Rev. 21:4). Imagine the people now limping at church, barely able to stand up, running around … No one will wear glasses or have to put up with long queues at Centrelink!
Let us focus our minds on heaven with thankful hearts, and seek to replicate what that is like here on earth. How? By bringing to God the chokeholds in our hearts, and inviting the gospel into our hearts every day, to be our joy.
God bless, Pastor Haydn.
Some Aussie women wrote to John Piper asking his advice about sharing their “opinions” about homosexuality. (Gosh, they could have contacted me – I’m right here in Sydney.) Piper’s response is excellent – don’t proffer opinions, but the Word of God.
In the last week the world witnessed the humiliating exposure of Josh Duggar, a man in the US who was once lionised by his own father as being a man who had no struggle with sin. Duggar was involved in conservative politics and was on the Family Research Council in the US. Duggar, in May 2015, admitted to child abuse; last week a website that enables people to cheat on their partners revealed that Duggar had been making ongoing payments to hook up with other women.
Duggar had not been entirely forthcoming about himself, and the fruit of that has been laid bare publicly. Although it robs God of glory (since Duggar had professed to be a Christian), I believe that God’s providence was what allowed the whole affair to be exposed. It is so important for Christian pastors, preachers, and laypeople – myself included – to be open about what we struggle with and seek help. It’s OK to not be OK and ask others for prayer, accountability, help, guidance – hiding behind stories of confected ‘victorious’ talk (while not walking it) is not something God will bless because it is based on a lie and robs His name of glory. John has some hard-hitting words concerning this (1 John 1:8-10):
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
If people see a false testimony, it will make God look false, which fundamentally attacks who God is. People in public leadership, however, often feel pressured to project the image that they’re in control by failing to admit that there are areas of their life that are out of control. That happens because they fear it will undermine their leadership.
The antidote to this is accountability, but more than that: intimate fellowship with God. Colossians 3:9-10 says: Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him …
We have control over what we do. We can choose; we are not victims. Yes, Christians are aided by the Holy Spirit, but disobedience means lack of trust in God, not in the failure of God to produce the obedience. Our obedience is up to us as well – even the softening of our own hearts!!!! These things are not merely expected of God’s children, but are commanded. Hebrews 3:12-15 says it thus:
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
Every Christian is at risk of becoming a Josh Duggar – and the antidote is not avoiding relationship with others but going to it (Proverbs 18:1). Otherwise we will be exposed, and learn the hard way, with the added guilt of realising that we have publicly scarred God’s holy name. Here is a prayer to help avoid that (based on Psalm 139:23-24):
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; ad see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting, in safety and in dignity. In Jesus Christ’s name and authority, Amen.
Saw a terrific article today on why the ‘missional’ church growth movement is a vapid idol that fails to deliver the goods. Here are some excellent quotes: “Society is more liberal and godless than ever before, with no end to its decline in sight. The mega-missional church will gather in their multi-campus celebrations this weekend and slobber over themselves for their victories, even while these same churches have been totally impotent to bring about societal change”. Churches need to centre around GOD’S WORD, and not gimmicks. This spoof illustrates the point quite well –
How true is this?! Every time I go pray to God to change His mind etc He ends up changing me … Amazing.
“Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that Yahweh BINDS UP THE BRUISE of His people and HEALS THE STROKE of their wound” – Isaiah 30:26. Revelation 21:23 describes this constant sunlight: “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it,for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light”.
Here’s my sermon today on how God’s love for His children in Jesus Christ is conditional and unconditional (Romans 8:31-39, Psalm 77:1-15). They say the ‘Devil is in the detail’, but here that couldn’t be further from the truth. God is in the detail for good reason. If we don’t grasp this, we can slip into cheap grace that mimics the gospel but isn’t the gospel at all – far worse, it’s not even the God of the Bible, even though it may use His name.
I was very passionate and Spirit-filled during this sermon :) This is a complex issue, but an essential one to grasp. Next week, we will look at what it means to practically walk in light of this. Blessings.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love ~ John 15:10.
For more information on this, you can listen to a talk by Canadian Don Carson:
GORGEOUS hymn beautifully sung:
1. ‘Forgive our sins as we forgive,’
you taught us, Lord, to pray;
but You alone can grant us grace
to live the words we say.
2. How can Your pardon reach and bless
the unforgiving heart,
that broods on wrongs and will not let
old bitterness depart?
3. In blazing light Your cross reveals
the truth we dimly knew:
what trivial debts are owed to us,
how great our debt to You!
4. Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls,
and bid resentment cease;
then, bound to all in bonds of love,
our lives will spread Your peace.