Monday, May 16, 2016

Instinct versus Worship

Human beings have certain instincts. At birth we seek our mother’s milk. It was wired into us by our Creator. We seek to breathe, and to crawl, and reach for things. But even though we have instincts, we don’t live by them. At least we are not supposed to. Instincts are wired into people and animals to survive. To run when in danger. To sleep when tired. But humans are able to ignore their survival wiring and even risk their own survival just to test out ideas and dreams. Remember Orville and Wilbur Wright? They risked their lives trying to get that first plane in the air. Humans don’t just live in an environment – we love changing our environment – and we yearn to go beyond our environment. Like to the Moon and back! And none of that is instinct. It is what it means to be human. God made us that way – desiring to create, and do great things – greater than has been done before. But humanity, like animals have limits. We can only do so many things before our time is up on this earth. We can only handle so much stress, and try only so many times to reach beyond our environment before we have to quit and call it a day. But Christians go even beyond our human limitations. We seek to go beyond what WE may want to do. We actually enjoy doing our Creator’s will, not ours. Our life is not found in finding a life that we love or enjoy. No. It is found in losing our life for the honour and glory of the One who gave up HIS life for us! Our purpose as Christians - as Christ followers - is more than instinct. It’s more than just eating, and sleeping and reproducing - it is worshipping the God who made all of heaven and earth! Instinct only enables us to survive; desires and dreams can only help us to enjoy the struggle along the way. But true worship enables us to actually live beyond ourselves, and our struggles! True worship lives life, not like animals, and not like all other humans, but just like the Son of God did. “We … worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3).

Friday, May 13, 2016

Preaching to Preachers

I love Bible preachers!
They have influenced my life the most out of all people! But they are THE hardest type of person to preach to!
Why? Because they usually have already heard what I am about to preach; because they usually are very tired when they are sitting still; and because they can actually be the most carnal of Christians in any crowd!
Yep. There. I said it. Believe me… I know from experience – my own experience!
When I sit in a crowd and hear a preacher preach, I find myself critical of his “style” and his use of unmoving reasoning. I spend a lot of time trying to find a “better” direction that I would take if “I” were preaching his truth.
And all the while, the Holy Spirit waits for me to just stop and just listen. What God expects of me is to repent of anything that the preacher might point-out that is wrong in my life – period! He does not need me to “improve” on the message being preached, or find fault with the achievements of the man preaching. God expects me to listen and get right what is wrong in my life.
This problem has been real in my life, both as I hear preaching, and when I preach. I cannot speak for the hearers of my preaching, but I can speak for myself…
Oh that I would quickly agree with what is true that is being spoken, no matter how un-entertaining, or unpleasant it may be presented! Oh that I would repent and humble myself at the gentle stirring of the Holy Spirit of God instead of waiting for the crescendo of some performance that we expect of preachers today! It is absolutely amazing just how easy it is for the devil to harden “my” ears and heart to God’s word. I should NOT care who is preaching, nor how it is being preached nearly as much as WHAT is being preached. God promised that it will always be the foolishness of preaching that does the work – not the logic, nor the enjoyment – just the preaching of an unpopluar message (1Corinthians 1:21)!
Next time someone is preaching from the word of God, I need to remember (and so do you), that God is speaking… even from stammering lips and poor delivery! “For with stammering lips and another tongue (not your own) will he speak to this people. (Isaiah 28:11).
How I, and every preacher will respond, is the real challenge!

Friday, January 01, 2016

It's been way too long since I last blogged anything, simply because I have been way too busy doing other things. But, here goes. Here is a thought about Christmas Day... On Christmas Day What God Did for One Day Luke 2:1-20 Dec 25, 2015 AM Christmas Day Pastor Craig Ledbetter Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland On that day, that we call Christmas, a lot of things were happening; And they were happening on a world wide scale! Luke 2:1-5 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. Caesar Augustus had come up with a new tax for everyone to have to register for and pay. That one act, mobilised the entire world into mayhem. They had a mandatory deadline to get back to their ancestral homes to register with the Roman Government. It was a huge undertaking. And NO one was exempt. So on that very first Christmas Day, even in the small towns and villages, like Bethlehem: There were crowded streets; Visitors were calling; Houses and hotels were full; Kitchens were bustling with activity; Family reunions were taking place everywhere; And as usual, Problems and pressures were crushing. None of the things going on were easy to handle. It was driving many a man to drink, and many a woman to give up. But none of it was Christmas. That was just normal life. But, in the midst of all that “normality”, ‘Christmas’ happened. On Christmas Day… There was a Baby born (Luke 2:6,7) It was absolutely Marvellous! Miraculous… An impossible reality! A virgin woman had actually conceived, and now had born a Son - The very Son of God! Just like prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son…” And there He was, lying in a manger, in the city of David, just as was prophesied in Micah 5:2. If nothing else, THAT was and still is CHRISTMAS! So, Forget all the family – SERIOUSLY! Forget all the gift-giving Forget all the food and fun of the holiday Because, That Baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, born to die for all of mankind… THAT Baby, is Christmas! On Christmas Day… There was Singing and Announcing (Luke 2:8-14) First just one angel, Then more, Then all of heaven opened up, and sang like only heaven can! As they announced that GOD had stepped down from heaven to save us all. Who did they announce the news to? Shepherds. God likes shepherds. Israel’s greatest king, David, was a shepherd. This little Baby named Jesus would grow up and become the Good Shepherd, who would lay down His life for the sheep. So, to the shepherds were the angels sent, to announce the birth of Jesus. They were not the wealthy, the powerful, the important… They were the least of society. And yet THAT is where God began his Gospel – at the bottom, so that ALL would hear! On Christmas Day… There was Rushing, Panicking, Hasting (Luke 2:16) As the angels disappeared, the shepherds began to panic, began to run: Not to buy more things; Not to get to grandma’s house; But to get a glimpse of the new born Messiah! Oh what a need there is to seek to see for ourselves if God actually HAS come to earth, and if He actually HAS kept His promise to save us from Satan’s power. Thank God for all the effort it takes to get to church, and to open our Bibles and to see for ourselves what God has done in Christ Jesus! On Christmas Day… There was Worship Something happened to everyone who ever got near to that Manger. They worshipped! Wonderful, simple, powerful worship. Not of Mary, or Joseph, or the angels, or the cows! Just worship of Jesus! “Unto you is born this day… a Saviour… which is Christ the Lord” (11) “Ye shall find the babe” (12) “found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe” (16) And believe me, this worship never stopped. Even 2 years later, when the wise men came, when they approached the presence of this little child, they bowed their knees, and presented their gifts, and worshipped HIM! Oh, on Christmas Day, let’s worship Jesus only! So again, Forget about the family; Forget about the gifts. Forget about everyone; Even forget about the past. Just sit in awe of the Son of God, who loved us, and came into this world to save us! On Christmas Day… There was Joy (Luke 2:10) It means excitement – like children on Christmas day! GREAT joy even. Not because of a house full of people, or a tree full of gifts… But because of the greatest gift ever given and received by anybody A Saviour - A Forgiver - A Justifier - God now WITH us! That Baby brings joy better than any gift, or hug – if you will let it! But some of you are so bitter you NEVER WILL enjoy Christmas. YOU above all people need to bow you knee and surrender your hurts to the Lord of lords, who will make you whole again! On Christmas Day… There was a lot of Pondering and Thinking (Luke 2:16,19) Notice Joseph! Joseph was not the father of this Baby. He was still only engaged to Mary – espoused. So he just sat there and watched as everything unfolded. And truly, that is all any of us can actually do – just watch GOD do something marvellous And then there was Mary. Yes she had given birth to Jesus, but she did NOTHING but carry Him in her womb. And now, as Shepherds came and went; As the weight of all that was happening started to hit her; She just stopped and pondered, meditated – she stored up all the good things that were happening. Because those memories would one day be needed. On Christmas Day… There was Confusion (Luke 2:17,18) As those shepherds ran through the streets, compelling people to come see the Babe, to come discover the Messiah, the people “wondered.” They asked “What? What could be so important about a poor baby, born in a barn? What could be more important than all the family I have around me this day? What could be more important than all the cooking and eating? What could be more important than paying bills, taxes, dealing with problems and pressures? Who do these lowly shepherds think they are, running through the streets interrupting our evening with something about a Baby?” I think so many stayed in their homes, and went back to their “normal” life, simply because the real event of Christmas wasn’t what they expected. Wasn’t about THEM! What a shame. If there is anything the same with Christmas THEN and Christmas NOW, it is that there is ONLY confusion that some BABY has been born! But On Christmas Day… God was glorified (Luke 2:20) The entire rest of the planet was busy doing other things. But there, in that little barn; Amongst just a few people, and shepherds, and village folks; God was glorified. And it was enough! An Invitation On THIS Christmas Day… Let’s Remember, There was a Baby born. The very Son of God. Wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, born to die for all of mankind… THAT Baby, is Christmas! On THIS Christmas Day… Let’s Do Some Singing and Announcing Ourselves. Let’s make sure the whole world hears! On THIS Christmas Day… Let’s Rush, Panic, Haste… Oh what a need there is to seek to see for ourselves if God actually HAS come to earth, and if He actually HAS kept His promise to save us from Satan’s power Thank God for all the effort it takes to get to church, and to open our Bibles and to see for ourselves what God has done in Christ Jesus! On THIS Christmas Day… Let’s Worship. Wonderful, simple, powerful worship of just Jesus. And let’s make sure it never stops. If you have no family, or only a messed up one. If you have no gifts, or a bus load. Just sit in awe of the Son of God, who loved us, and came into this world to save us! On THIS Christmas Day… Experience REAL Joy – of Salvation from Sin, Death and Hell. Have you been born again? Or are you still struggling just to be religious, thinking it is enough? Well, it never can be. Ye must be born again, Jesus said! On THIS Christmas Day… Do a lot of Pondering and Thinking about the goodness of God. On THIS Christmas Day… IGNORE the Confusion. So that On THIS Christmas Day… God can be glorified AGAIN!