Indescribable Glory (1): Meditations on the Glory of God
Reading: 2 Chronicles 6:18, 7:1-3
When it comes to the glory of God all a sermon can do is show the equivalent of a landscape photo. With most landscape photos there was always more outside the photo than what was captured in it, yet that does not mean it’s not worth taking photos. For what a photographer captures in a photo is still real, beautiful & often stunning enough to encourage people to personally go out & explore the area photographed. In introducing any sermon series on God’s glory it must be acknowledged there is always more outside the sermons than inside them. That is the reality of preaching on the indescribable glory of God. Yet because we live in a world distracted by many trivial & transient things sermons like photos have the potential to draw people’s attention to a glory they may otherwise miss.
Worship is not only about hearing or playing the latest worship songs; it’s about our heart connection with God. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed in adoration and honour for God, which is reflected in the way we pursue holiness in our walk with Him. As Christians Jesus’ words in John 4:23 help inform our vision for worshipping God. Yet we can all struggle with lack of desire for God, which presents a real challenge to becoming true worshippers of God. By walking us through Psalm 64 & 85 this message seeks to help fuel our desire for God so we can be those who worship him in spirit and truth.
Reading: John 4:23, Psalm 64, Psalm 85
The Man Who Wrestled With God (9): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 32:22-32
In Genesis 32:22-32 Jacob finds himself in an unexpected wrestling match in what can only be described as one of the more strange accounts of Scripture. Yet strange as it is, when we look a bit deeper we realise it is a story we all can identify with at some level. A story of wrestling with God! God waited until Jacob was alone, in the darkness, then he attacked him. At first Jacob has no idea what has hit him, for God does not speak a word during this dark, lonely, terrifying night. It is not until daybreak that he also breaks his silence & gives Jacob a new name. Jacob had been wrestled & wounded by God in the dark, yet he refused to let go of God & now a new day had dawned for the man who wrestled with God.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (8): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 32:1-21
Even though Jacob saw God’s angels were with him here, as well as having God’s previous promise of his safe return home, he still became “greatly afraid and distressed” at the thought of meeting Esau again. This is encouraging because although Jacob had such tangible assurances of God’s protection he was still a man, who like us, wrestled with doubt & fear. In the previous section God orchestrated things so he had to confront Laban (the uncle who has wronged him) now in this part of the story he has to face Esau (the brother he had wronged). In this message we see how God helped Jacob confront his fear & we also find strategy for wrestling doubt & fear in the prayer Jacob prayed.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (7): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 31
In this part of the story God seems to orchestrate things so Jacob has to face Laban before leaving for home. God had told Jacob to return home for sure but the sneaky escape plan was not part of God’s idea. Jacob admitted he did what he did because he was afraid of Laban. Yet providence made sure he did not leave without facing him & because of this Jacob left for home with a covenant securing a better future for him & his family. In a similar way God in his mercy orchestrates our lives so we learn to confront what we fear instead of running from or avoiding things. Ultimately it’s truly knowing God’s favour that enables us to face our fears with courage. God’s ways might be the harder option at times but they bring much more freedom & security to our hearts in the end!
In this inspirational message guest preacher Mark Dunagan from Origen in the USA encourages us to devote ourselves to the Word of God & prayer. He uses both Scripture & personal testimonies from his own life to inspire us to this end. 1. He challenges to devote ourselves to God's Word by meditating on it. 2. He challenges us to pray effectively & fervently with faith. On both points he gives examples of what this looks like in practice order to help teach us how to grow in being devoted to God's Word & prayer.
Reading: Deuteronomy 17:18-20; James 5:16-18
This message focuses on an account about one of the Bible's lessor known characters, a man called Obadiah. Not the minor prophet named Obadiah but another Obadiah who appears in the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18. In this message we're challenged to consider that maybe like Obadiah in the story, our 'second choice' situation may actually be God's first choice. This is a great encouragement, for even though like Obadiah we may find ourselves in a situation we would not choose we can be assured God is still working out his purposes in our life & in his world.
Reading: 1 Kings 18:1-16
The Man Who Wrestled With God (6): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 30:25-43
The story of Jacob seems to move from one struggle to another. Here the struggle between his wives gives way to a struggle with his father-in-law. Here we find Jacob reasoning with Laban & then Laban cheating on Jacob before Jacob outwits him with a plan blessed by God. Jacob had shown great patience & many years of servitude but there comes a time when enough is enough. There are some characters you just can’t reason with & therefore you have to find a way to outwit them without losing your integrity. This is partly what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to be wise as serpents & as innocent as doves. The same Jesus who came as the hero of the Divine plan which outwitted the ultimate Laban, securing our escape from his control so we can return home to God our Father.
The idea of Temple, which helps symbolise God's presence with his people, is one of the themes which builds throughout the story of Scripture & therefore helps us understand God's great redemptive story. In this inspiring message we're taken on a journey from Genesis to Revelation (Eden > Tabernacle > Temple > Jesus > ___________ > New Jerusalem & earth) & then shown where we are as the Church in God's story today. Helping us to see our mission to carry God's immediate presence where we are everyday.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (5): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 29:31-30:24
This part of the story zooms in on the personal struggles & rivalry between Leah & Rachel, the two sisters who now find themselves married to Jacob. Both Leah & Rachel had their own personal wrestles & they each had something the other desperately wanted. It was because of their personal wrestles that they had this unpleasant rivalry with each other. Yet in the midst of their personal struggles & relational disharmony it becomes clear God has stepped into the ring with them & is working out his purpose of redemption both in them & the bigger story. Revealing God to be a God who is still functioning in the midst of dysfunction! This should give us faith & hope for our lives, relationships & the church!
The Man Who Wrestled With God (4): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 29:1-30
Since his encounter with God at Bethel there seems to be marked progress in Jacob. In this next part of the story we see him showing great patience & working honestly out of costly love for his future wife Rachel. In fact everything seems to be going very well until out of the blue Laban serves him a taste of the medicine he dealt his brother. This is not some kind of divine payback however, but rather the opportunity to be led forward in a divine process of transformation. In the same way getting ‘a taste our own medicine’ can be good for our soul when like Jacob we have the promise of God’s presence. For when we truly know God is with us & for us even the hardest trails have a way of softening our hearts. This is the grace of severe mercy.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (3): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 28:10-22
Jacob is in a place of loneliness, isolated from his family, away from home for the first time, way outside his comfort zone, in a place of danger & uncertainty with a stone for a pillow. Yet in the middle of all this he had a significant & life changing spiritual experience. Jacob wasn't looking for a personal encounter with God, he was running from the consequences of his own actions. Yet before he gets too far the grace of God catches up with him. Jacob had two very unusual experiences of God, the location of this first one he named "Bethel".
In this message on the Apostle Paul's powerful words in 1 Corinthians 15 we’re focused on the Christian’s hope of resurrection. We're encouraged that because of this very hope we can be assured nothing we do for the Lord is useless. It is this very hope that fuels & strengthens the Christian to remain “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord [our] labour is not in vain.”
Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:44-58
The Man Who Wrestled With God (2): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 26:34-28:9
The story of Jacob receiving the blessing instead of Esau was a battle for a father’s blessing. The blessing was everything in the story, the lengths the characters were prepared to go to & the desperation shown by Esau when he realised Jacob got there first. Thankfully as brothers & sisters in Christ we do not have to battle for our heavenly Father's blessing. Among other things this message aims to show us why.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (1): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 25:19-34
If there is a word that sums up the story of Jacob perhaps it is the word struggle. Jacob struggled with his brother Esau, he also had to struggle to marry the woman he loved & he struggled with God when he wrestled with him. Here we learn this struggle began in his mother’s womb, God revealed to Rebekah; “two nations are in your womb”. In the New Testament, God also reveals to us there is struggle between two kingdoms. One thing is clear in both struggles; ultimately it is always God’s unstoppable purpose that progresses. This should give us great confidence in prayer & faith no matter what struggles we face.
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