The Disciplined Life (Five ways that we experience God’s discipline in our lives)

The Bible tells us that discipline is the way that God as a loving heavenly father challenges and corrects us to help us grow in him.

“For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child” (Hebrews 12:6).

The apostle Paul talks about the need for self discipline as we seek to grow He likens it to an athlete preparing to compete.

“24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Here are some of the ways that we experience discipline in our lives Continue reading

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The Persecuted Church – A vital application from Revelation

One thing I can’t really ignore having spent 5 months teaching through Revelation is the focus on the persecuted church. For example the emphasis in Revelation 20 is on those who have suffered and been killed for their faith reigning with Christ.  Continue reading

The Big Question- Why Does God allow suffering?

This is probably the biggest and the most challenging of our “Big Questions.” It’s big because it raises philosophical questions about God’s goodness (love, wisdom etc.) and his greatness (sovereignty, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence).

–          Why do good things happen to bad people?

–          How can a God of love tolerate suffering?

–          God is sovereign -can’t stop the suffering

If God is a God of love and a sovereign God then why doesn’t he stop the suffering now?

But it’s also challenging because it’s pastoral.  We are not just asking hypothetical questions. It’s personal: “Why me?” or “Why those I care about?” Continue reading

Singing in the midst of suffering (2) How do I stop from seeking revenge?

So, Revelation 15-16 means I can sing now instead of seeking revenge. How do I do this?  Here are a few suggestions I hope you will find helpful. Continue reading

Singing in the midst of suffering – the reality for urban churches

On Sunday, we looked at Revelation 15-16 and we saw that God’s people are seen here singing, even though they have been suffering terrible persecution and living in a world under judgement. Our main application was that we could “sing even when suffering.”  By this we did not merely mean the ability to join in on a Sunday but singing as representing an expression of joy, trust and hope in the Lord throughout the work demonstrated by how we act and what we say, particularly about the gospel.

We noted two challenges to this:

1.       It may seem easier for those who have already come through the other side to “sing” than for those of us still in the midst of life’s troubles

2.       It is hard to have that sense of joy and hope when what we want to do is seek vengeance for what others have done.

Now, let’s be blunt, the second item is not trivial or light. I realise that when I preach a message of this kind there are people who will have experienced deep and painful suffering and abuse. A congregation may include: Continue reading

Plagues (Revelation 15-16)

The crowd are singing noisily “Going up, going up, going up.” Then against the break of play, the opposition striker gets through, one on one against the keeper, he calmly slots the ball into the bottom left corner.”

Silence falls on the ground. Then the away fans begin to chant “You’re not singing anymore” and “You only sing when you’re winning.”

It’s Sunday morning.  We stand to sing. You open your mouth and nothing comes out. You are just too overwhelmed, crushed, weary. How can you sing this morning when there’s so much trouble and uncertainty in the World? How can you sing after the week you’ve had, after your neighbour said what they did to you …and after what you said back?  How can you sing when you think about what is coming up this week -another one of your colleagues is going to be bullied out of their job because they are too old, senior and therefore too expensive? You’ve seen it coming for a while and you know it won’t be long before they come for you. How can you sing when you’ve watched the news and seen a Christian politician bullied by an angry interviewer demanding that they own up to believing something in the Bible that our world considers offensive? There’s another 7 weeks to come of politicians parading their self-interest? Continue reading

Sealed … but what does it mean for a believer to be safe?

On the last two Sundays we’ve seen that God’s people are “sealed” through the terrible suffering portrayed in Revelation.  What does it mean to be kept safe as part of God’s people?
Continue reading