Transformational Disciplines: Savouring Scripture

SERMON 5 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 18 NOVEMBER 2012.  READ Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 119:97-105 (better read the whole psalm); 2 Timothy 3:1-17

 

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.

Martin Luther, “Martin Luther–The Early Years,” Christian History, no. 34.

And I add – it challenges me, comforts me and converts me.

This book we call ‘the Bible’ is no ordinary book – it is living and active, continually challenging us to uncover fresh meaning and giving us insight into how we might live out God’s story. By savouring Scripture we are challenged to change, we are comforted with knowledge of God’s love, we are converted to Jesus likeness and thus he is seen in us, in our attitudes, and in our actions.

What is the Bible?

  • A collection of stories
  • A book
  • Scripture – holy Words
  • A Word of God
  • The Word of God

Let’s stop with that thought for a moment. The Bible is the Word of God. What does that mean?

This is no ordinary book – it is not a story about God, it is not a text book about God, it is God’s Word to us.

That surely affects the way we regard it! Given that we say we LOVE God you’d expect that we would love God’s Word. Given that we say we want to follow Jesus you’d expect we would immerse ourselves in the Word to know him more.

Yet strangely we don’t. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Fasting that pleases God

SERMON 3 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 04 November 2012.  READ Matthew 6:1-18

You don’t hear much about fasting these days, in fact in the worship surveys conducted at the start of the year some here noted that they knew little about fasting and that they have never heard teaching on it.

Well that is about to change!

I guess as we look around our culture we can understand why fasting may be out of favour.

It doesn’t fit!

Seemingly in NZ and much of the world we’ve become conditioned to comfort, excess and instant gratification and that direction is only increasing.

If we want fast food – we want it now, and if they can’t serve us in only a few minutes we complain. Following trends set overseas we increasingly upsize our orders, and at a eat all you can buffet we end up eating more than we need, even more than we should – just because it’s there.

This attitude of having what we want when we want it extends to most aspects of life: texting, FB, entertainment. There is little we have to wait for. And we believe it’s our right to satisfy our desires whenever we want. So excess marks our landscape: and in the busyness of satisfying ourselves where is God?

God of course is where God has always been. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Thanksgiving

Sermon 2 of 5 in a series exploring Spiritual Discipline, preached 28 October 2012.  Read Colossians 3:1-17

Last Sunday I introduced the topic of Spiritual Disciples. As I said at the time these take many forms but essentially are any practise that we undertake that helps us make space for God in our life; or to put it another way ‘Disciplines are simply practices that train us in faithfulness…’ (Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast).

Or in yet another way: practices that put ourselves in the way of God’s transforming presence, so that we live in the presence of God’s power; so that we experience the power of God’s presence.

And this is important! I experience myself at times the difficulty of knowing God, and I hear from many others that the idea of living in the presence of God’s power is but a distant dream – a personal relationship with God is something that others might have but it is not their experience.

Having faith in God is essential – but there is more…

KNOWING God deeply, personally, intimately and knowing that we are KNOWN by God is Joy, it is life-giving, it is the type of relationship that I believe we were created for, and is available to us NOW.

Thankfulness is but one way we can know God more.

Scripture is full of encouragement to be thankful; Psalm 95 heard earlier is typical: ‘let us come before Him with thanksgiving’.

In the New Testament Paul encourages the Colossians in thankfulness.  “… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Continue reading