Tag: 2018

Magnify the LORD with Me (Psalm 34)

2018 is virtually over. 2019 will be upon us before we realize it. And we’re already thinking about what we’ll do differently, maybe make some New Year’s resolutions.

But they don’t last. 80% of New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned by February. Another 12% are forgotten by the end of the year. So, only 8% of New Year’s resolutions work.

Why do we fail when we know we need to change?

The experts say that we make too many, too general, too costly, and unmeasurable. We try to do too much, without counting the cost, or really knowing how to do it, and we don’t even know if we’ve achieved it.

So, how can we change? There is a guaranteed way to change, and it’s not a 30-day, money-back guarantee. It always works. The way to change is to ask God help you be what He promises to make you.

God tells us His will for us in 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” So, if we ask God to sanctify us, to make us holy, He will.

Today, we’re going to think about just one way God makes us holy: in our thoughts and in our words. In Psalm 34, David tells us the resolution he made, a resolution that changes our hearts, our thoughts and our words:

  1. Make A (New?) Resolution: Continual Praise (v1-3)
  2. Feel An Eternal Motivation: Fear (v4-14)
  3. Depend Upon God’s Action: Keeping (v15-22)

Notice that the change doesn’t depend on our will-power. It depends on what God has done and keeps doing. That’s how we know we can change, and that’s why this change will last: it depends on God. So, what change is God calling us to as the New Year begins?

Sunday 30th December 2018

Review questions:

  • What change does God guarantee (1 Thessalonians 4:3)?
  • What is worship?
  • Our words reveal our __________ (Luke 6:45)
  • How do we worship God (v1, Colossians 3:16, Romans 12:1-2)?
  • Why should we praise God (v4-10)?
  • ‘The fear of the LORD’ means ___________ that leads to ____________ (v7)
  • We learn to fear God by ________________________________ (v11-14)
  • What should we do in trouble (v15, Romans 8:14-17)?
  • Where is God when I suffer (v18)?
  • God kept __________, so He can __________ us, if we trust Him (v20, John 6:38-40).
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Born That Man No More May Die (Hebrews 2:14-18)

Christmas is a good time to reflect on the past and to think about the future. When everything finally stops at Christmas, sometime after 3 o’clock this afternoon, what will you think about?

Maybe you’ve had a good year. Maybe it’s been hard. Perhaps you’re excited about what 2019 will bring. Maybe you’re afraid of the future.

What is your destiny? What will the future bring?

See, Christmas isn’t just about the events that happened more than 2000 years ago. Christmas is about the future.

We saw on Sunday that Christmas is a rescue: The Son of God came into the world He created to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). That changes how we think about the past, what we do in the present, and what will happen to us in the future.

So, how does the birth of Jesus change our destiny?

To answer that question, we need to ask why He came in the first place. Hebrews 2 helps us to answer that. It may not be a typical Christmas passage with shepherds and wise men, but it does explain to us why Christmas happened in the first place and how that can change our futures all these years later. It tells us:

  1. Why Jesus Came (v14-15)
  2. How Jesus Gives Freedom (v16-18)

Christmas Day, Tuesday 25th December 2018

Review questions:

  • Why did Jesus have to be a human (v14)?
  • What is our destiny?
  • Jesus came to free us from _____________, the _________ of _________, & the _________.
  • In what ways can we fear death?
  • What difference does Jesus make to death?
  • How does the Devil use the fear of death (v15)?
  • How did Jesus break Satan’s power (Romans 8:34)?
  • Who are Abraham’s children (v16, Romans 4)?
  • Jesus is __________ful & _________ful (v17)
  • Atonement means ___________________________________ (v17)
  • Jesus _________ed so He can ______ (v18)

 

Glory to God and Peace to Men (Luke 2:1-21)

Have you ever had to call 000?

From before I started school, I knew that dialling 000 on our rotary dial telephone was the way to get help in an emergency. And one day I had to do it.

You tell the operator what sort of help you need, and give them your address. But the wailing sirens don’t arrive straight away; it’s not like the movies. The average wait time for an ambulance in Victoria is 10 minutes and 44 seconds. So, you wait, and listen, and try not to panic, and you wait.

Our world has been in an emergency since almost the very beginning. And way back then, when only Adam and Eve were here, God promised them that He would send someone to save them and us from this emergency.

The emergency is sin, defying the God who made us and gave us everything, and who deserves our loyalty and obedience.

Back then, in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3, God promised that Eve’s offspring would crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). Even though we deserve God’s wrath and punishment, He promised to send a Saviour.

But what would the rescue look like? How would the rescuer come? Those are the questions the Christmas stories answer for us. And here in Luke 2, we are reminded that God’s rescue doesn’t come how we would have done it. God’s rescuer isn’t who we would have expected.

Luke tells us in Luke 1:1-4 that he is writing us “an orderly account”, a carefully researched description of real events, so that “you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

This isn’t just a story of ‘back then’; the birth of Jesus changes how we think about our past, how we live today, and what will happen in our future. So, there are three lessons for us today:

  1. Receive the Saviour: Christ the Lord (v10-11)
  2. See the Proof: A Baby in a Trough (v12)
  3. Have Faith: Peace from God (v13-14)

Christmas is so much more than a story about a cute little baby. It’s God’s rescue plan in action.

Sunday 23rd December 2018

Review questions:

  • What is your emergency (v11, 21, Rom 5:12-21)?
  • Luke carefully _________________ his account so we can have _______________ (Lk 1:1-4)
  • “Saviour” means __________________________________
  • “Messiah” means __________________________________
  • “Lord” means __________________________________
  • Did God the Son exist before Jesus was born (John 1:1-4)? Yes/No
  • Does God expect us to believe without proof (v12)? Yes/No
  • What proof does He give (v16-20)?
  • Why does God deserve glory (v14)?
  • Jesus gives peace for our guilt by _________________
  • Jesus gives peace for our hurt by Jesus means _________________ (Mtt 1:21)

Repentance Unto Life (Acts 11:1-18)

It might seem redundant to consider Acts 11:1-18 after looking at Acts 10:1-48. The vast majority of what is said is recounting what happened in Acts 10. But the key is to see why those events are retold: It’s all about the question, “Who is good enough for God to accept?”

  1. The Challenge Issued (v1-3)
  2. The Change Explained (v4-17)
  3. The Chance to Belong (v18)

Sunday 16th December 2018

Review questions:

  • Why were ‘the circumcision’ stirring up trouble for Peter (v1-3)?
  • Why did the Jews have purity laws (Ex 19:3-6)?
  • Does it matter how Christians live (Gal 5:1)? Why/why not?
  • What changed (v16-17)?
  • What was the same with the disciples at Pentecost & Cornelius (2:38, 10:44-47)?
  • Who made the change (v4-17)?
  • The purity laws were _________________ to lead us to __________ (Col 2:17, Heb 10:1)
  • How can I be acceptable to God (v18)?

Application questions:

  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

The Gospel Goes to Good Gentiles

Today, we’re going to focus particularly on the person Cornelius. He is a man we are introduced to in verse 1. What happens with him is a key event in the book of Acts. These events are repeated three times in chapters 10 & 11 because of how important they are.

This issue is how could a man like Cornelius, who is not a Jewish person, be a part of the people of God? We might answer that question a number of ways: We might look at the description of him in Acts 10:2, and say, “Well, he was a good man. That’s why he was acceptable to God.” But the narrative that Luke records for us shows that that is not the whole story. In fact, that not the right answer at all.

We need to see both in the vision what Cornelius sees and the vision Peter sees, a different answer to how Cornelius can be one of God’s people, to how we can be a part of God’s people too.

We need to see three things about Cornelius, and ask one question about ourselves:

  1. What He Was: A Good Man
  2. What He Wasn’t: Saved
  3. What He Became: Believing
  4. Who Are You?

Sunday 9th December 2018

Review questions:

  • Cornelius was d__________, he ___________ God, he was g_________, & he ________ (v2)
  • Are we basically good (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:10)? Yes/No
  • Are people as bad as could be? Yes/No
  • Why aren’t our good actions good (Rom 14:23)?
  • What did Cornelius need (v43, 11:14)?
  • What did Peter see (v9-13)?
  • How did the animals become clean (v15)?
  • What did the vision mean (v28)?
  • Summarize what Peter told Cornelius (v38-43):
  • Am I a Peter or a Cornelius?
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Transformed by the Resurrected Christ (Acts 9:20-43)

Last week, in Acts 9:1-20, we saw how now one is too bad for God to save. Today, we see the difference God’s salvation makes: it’s a complete transformation, a change of life, a coming to life. That’s why coming to faith is called “conversion”: it’s a change from one thing into another. It’s new life; it’s being born again.

Last week, we saw how, when God saves us, He makes us new people with a new purpose. But there is a wrong way of thinking we need to avoid here: We often confuse our identity with our purpose.

When you meet someone, about the first question we usually ask is ‘What do you do?’ How we spend our time (at work or study or home) can be so important that we define who we are by it: “I am a farmer”, “I am a mother”, “I am a student”. And then, when we can’t do what we used to or want to do, we wonder who we are.

But there’s a bigger issue here: if we think who we are is determined by what we do, we can think we can change who we are by changing what we do, that I can become a new person by changing my purpose in life. That’s putting it the wrong way around: God makes us new people by changing who we are; our new purpose comes with that. But we think that we can just do something different, and we’ll be different.

Why does that matter? Real change doesn’t begin with what I do or you do. There is something fundamentally wrong with us, all of us; it’s called sin. That’s why we don’t get along with others; it’s why we feel guilty, because we are.

To become a new person, the change cannot come from us. The change must come from God. Here in Acts 9:20-43, we see three accounts of change, real change. In each case, the person who are changed were powerless to change themselves. Everyone realizes that when the see the change: they’re amazed and mystified! And in each case, the only explanation for the change is that Jesus is the Christ who has risen from the dead. No amount of social pressure or inner determination could bring about this change. Only the Risen Christ could. If Jesus is only a good teacher or a good example, none of this change is possible.

So, what do we see Christ do here? And what does it mean for us?

  1. Christ Proclaimed Himself Through Saul (v20-31)
  2. Christ Healed Aeneas to Wholeness (v32-35)
  3. Christ Raised Dorcas to Life (v36-43)
  4. Christ is Transforming People, So We Must Be Faithful (v20, 31, 35, 42)

Sunday 2nd December 2018

Review questions:

  • Can change come from inside us? Yes/No
  • Why/why not?
  • What changed Saul (v4, 1 Cor 15:8)?
  • How did Barnabas know Saul was really different (v27-29)?
  • What did Saul have in common with his opponents in Jerusalem (v29)?
  • What might following Jesus cost us (Mtt 10:21-22)?
  • How does Jesus’ resurrection power change us (v34, Phil 3:10)?
  • What does God do for the Church (v31)?
  • What should we do (v20, 31)?

Application questions:

  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Saul Sees the Light (Acts 9:1-20)

The Damascus Road is iconic. If we ask what happens in the book of Acts, Pentecost and Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road are the two big events.

And the Damascus Road has become a term for a dramatic change of mind, of convictions. So, we think, “Great, sometimes people change.” But we don’t expect that to happen normally.

Sometimes we think, “God can’t save them” or “If they were going to become a Christian, they would be by now.” I wonder who that person is in your life: a neighbour, a friend, someone in your family?

We think, ‘They’ll never change’, ‘They have so many problems, they’ll never listen’, ‘He never will; he’s just so angry’, ‘We’ve done everything we can’.

Then we need to hear what God says to us in Acts 9:1-20:

  1. No One is Too Bad for God to Save (v1-2)
  2. By Confronting Them with Jesus (v4-9)
  3. Making Them a New Person with a New Purpose (v10-20)
  4. Saints, Be Ready & Sinners, Come to the Light (v10-14, 17)

Sunday 25th November 2018

Review questions:

  • What did Saul think about executing Stephen (7:58, 8:1)?
  • R.C. Sproul: Saul was “like a wild beast that snorts before it _______________.” (v1)
  • How far did Saul walk to arrest Christians (v2)?
  • Is God in control when we suffer? Yes/No
  • A Theophany is _____________________ (v3)
  • Hurting Christians = hurting ________ (v5)
  • Belonging to Jesus means belonging to His ____________________ (Ephesians 4:16)
  • Eternal life is ____________ Jesus (John 17:3)
  • Who spoke to Ananias (v11, 17)?
  • What difference did meeting Jesus make to Saul (v15)?
  • An apostle had to be a ____________ of the ___________________ (1:22, 1 Cor 15:7-11)
  • Why was Saul “filled with the Holy Spirit” (v17, 4:8, 6:10)?

Application questions:

  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • How I should live:
  • Something to pray about: