connecting theology and life in gospel-centred ways to the glory of God and our joy in Him
[Steven: Middle of the conference – hump day! Please pray for the delegates and their energy levels, and for the speakers to keep preaching it up!]
I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29
The leaders we deserve
There’s a saying, particularly at election time, that the people get the leaders they deserve. Especially in a democracy. And now that we’re days away from the inauguration of Trump in the USA it’s a pretty profound saying. In our post-modern world he’s almost perfect. He says things primarily for effect, not necessarily for its truth.
Two big news items in Australian politics. First is that the Australian government is cracking down on welfare cheats – but the issue has been that some debt collection letters have been incorrectly given to some people. We also know that there are people who do rip off the system and it’s a problem that does need to be tackled. Second, the rorting of travel entitlements by government ministers is also in the news.
The bible says that the problem of picking bad leaders is because we can’t see their hearts. We have a level of trust with our government leaders, our pastors, and even our bible colleges. Our culture is geared in so many ways to making superficial judgements. If only we could look upon their hearts it would be easier to identify people we could entrust our churches and colleges to.
But in the bible we find a heart revealed to us – the heart of God. God is not condemned to the practice of judgement the way that we are – he can identify leaders on their hearts, whose synchronization of lips and heart qualify them for leadership. God, in his mercy and kindness, has provided people with darkened sinful and corrupt hearts a leader they need, not just one they deserve. A leader who can capture our hearts for God, who can captivate our imagination, who can present us with such treasure, such glory, that he can eclipse the idols of our hearts. He repossess our heart for God by the quality of his own devotion and obedience to God, and his willingness to lay down his life for us.
The heart of God
The bible uses the language of God’s heart in the way that is analogous to the way it speaks of our heart – as a way of speaking about getting into the inner life, thoughts and emotions of His inner being. And because the Bible reveals these things to us we can know God more intimately, to know what really matters to him and what he wants from us.
What we’re looking for is now someone who can carry this off. Someone who can bring about all that God’s heart desires.
Someone after God’s own heart
A faithful priest (1 Sam 2:35)
The person are we looking for – looks like Samuel. But here we find out that it’s not Samuel at all – Samuel’s task will be to minister before the anointed one.
A ruler (1 Sam 13:13-14, 16:1-13; Acts 13:22)
1 Sam 13:13-14 – Samuel’s blast against Saul and his unfaithfulness. God has selected ‘a man after ones own heart’ – which is often understood to mean a special man whose heart is for God. But… given the way that David behaves later in his life it’s hard to argue that David’s heart was always after God’s own. The phrase itself more likely refers to God choosing the man that God’s own heart has chosen.
David’s Son, Solomon
David’s Greater Son, Jesus (Luke 4:1-21)
In this temptation we find a leader willing to live for the sake of God and other people – someone who will always live for His Father’s will. Jesus is the one who can recapture our hearts.
He who dwells in our hearts
Jesus is the one who can dwell in our hearts, he is the one who gets our hearts pumping as they should. Cleans out the contamination and washes out the filth and guilt.
By his Sprit (Rom 5:5, 8:14-17; Gal 4:4-7; Eph 1:18)
Ruled by his peace (Col 3:15; Phil 4:7)
Sanctified as LORD (1 Peter 3:15)
Peter says we are to sanctify Jesus as holy – quoting Isaiah 8:13 where Yahweh is the one we are meant to honour as holy. God himself, in the person of Jesus, clothed in compassion and mercy and kindness, comes to give us rest from our chaotic, destructive and deceiving hearts. God comes in flesh to reclaim our hearts, so that we can give him the devotion that he longs for from his people.
…strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:16-17
[Steven: the heart of the Lord is demonstrated in his wholehearted commitment to transform our rebellious hearts so that we can delight in and be in awe of his glorious heart forever. Just… wow…]
Biblical wisdom for handling conflict differently…
This seminar brought to you by PeaceWise! Who is PeaceWise? Vision: to provide practical help and real hope to a conflict-weary world. We help people: learn life-changing biblical peacemaking principles; and build cultures of peace.
What do I most struggle with?
You might think about a current situation, or pattern in your life where we struggle with conflict. Each of us have it to some extent.
How do people usually deal with conflict?
What is different about the way Christians approach conflict?
Big point of the workshop:
See conflict as an opportunity!
In 1 Cor 10:31-11:1 – do everything to the glory of God, try to please everybody in every way, follow the example of Christ.
A radically different way to see conflict: conflict is an opportunity to…
This sees conflict as an opportunity to glorify God, serve others, and grow more like Jesus.
So what’s different for Christians? First – how we think about conflict (as an opportunity); and secondly how we act in relation to conflict (the wisdom in the bible is our framework to respond).
Here’s a simple four part biblical framework to respond to conflict…
God: Glorify God (1 Cor 10:31)
Rather than seeing conflict as a complete disaster, we can use conflict as a chance to focus upon God and asking how can we please and honour God in this situation?
Me: Get the log out of your own eye (Matt 7:5)
How can I show Jesus’ work in me by taking responsibility for my contribution to this conflict? Rather than blaming the other person alone, we ask ourselves whether we’re willing to see what our contribution to the issue is. Often most people have made a contribution to the conflict.
What’s often our knee-jerk response to conflict?
You: Gently restore (Gal 6:1)
How can I lovingly serve others by helping them take responsibility for their contribution to this conflict?
Consider this question: if you did have a speck in your eye, what sort of person would you like to help you remove that speck?
Us: Go and be reconciled (Matt 5:24)
How can I demonstrate the forgiveness of God and encourage a reasonable solution to their conflict?
Responses on the slippery slope of conflict:
Peace breaking/faking make conflict worse by inflaming it or not dealing with it at all.
Ways to lean and grow from here:
[Steven: a very practical little session, with simple tools on how to resolve conflicts. And yet as simple as the tools are, they require gospel-centred hearts that seek to glorify God and seek the best for others – and that’s hard prayerful work!]
The power and devastation of the tongue
Remember that Mel Gibson incident when he was pulled over by a Police Officer for drunk driving? What he said about Jews was deplorable. An Oscar winner, a hero to man, a respected man in Australia and America… and because of this people vowed to never work with him again. Only now, 10 years later, is his reputation beginning to come back. 15 words said early in the morning while drunk radically changed his life.
We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what they say they are a perfect person able to keep their whole body in check (James 3:2). What hope do we have? To know our hope we really have to nail our problem
Most of us can say we’re not going to stumble in corporate fraud or into violence – but we are likely to stumble in our words. When our words come out we cannot take them back. We struggle in saying the right things, we struggle in saying the wrong things… so what hope do we have?
Well, our hope is that we have been saved from our sins, we have the Spirit indwelling us, we can call God our Father, we can approach the throne of grace with confidence for help in our time of need, we have church to encourage us daily so that sin will not harden our hearts. And so fuelled by these things we are to speak wisely. But in order to speak well we must understand the root of our condition of failure with our speech.
Problem #1: our tongue (3:3-12)
The first thing James tells us is the incredible power of the tongue (vv.3-6)
The ‘bit’ is the little piece of metal in their mouths that rider uses to direct the direction of the horse.
How in the world do these big ships still float? yet they are directed by a relatively small piece of metal…
The tongue is relatively small in the body – but what a muscle to control us.
A fire that rises 10m high in a bush fire can be started by a cigarette thrown out the car window. By comparing the tongue to fire we are focused on the destructive consequences of the tongue. Our speech is not just ‘words’. So many flames that we experience in life are started by a loose tongue.
The warning (v.6).
There is no member of the body that can wreak as much havoc as that little muscle in our mouths.
Words that destroy:
The tongue is extremely difficult (almost impossible) to keep under control (vv.7-8)
All sorts of animals have been tamed by humans, but no human can tame the tongue.
Double talk (vv.9-12).
With the same mouth we praise the Lord then tear down another Christian. The spring of water illustration is also apt – two types of water cannot flow from the same spring.
Resentment and bitterness that we speak of others is truly Hellish – for that is where they spew forth from. A person who is not right with God, walking daily with Jesus, cannot consistently speak pure and helpful words.
Destructive words come out of a compromised heart
Problem #2: our heart (vv.13-16)
The “humility of wisdom” – the foundation of all that is beautiful that can come out of a person’s life (3:14, 4:6, 1:21).
How do we assess wise people? We often think about theology as the first. But it’s about how they live first – someone living with Jesus first, being shaped by his truths, is the wise person. It’s not so much how much we know but what you do with what you know. At the heart of wisdom is humility.
Humility is not something prized by our world. We are taught to talk up our lives and work hard to earn prestige. We are not taught to think of ourselves less.
Our problem = bitter jealousy and selfish ambition
If we don’t deal with God on a heart level then it will come out in other ways. Whatever is in you will come out. Our trials only bring out of us what is already there. We often ask what will help me prevent hellish words coming out of our mouths… but we don’t often ask what was in there in the first place to cause those words.
James sets up a two-sided worldview: Will you choose wisdom or folly? False wisdom is:
Is there any hope for us???
The solution: wisdom from above (vv.17-18)
James asks us to reckon with what is wrong so that we can really grapple with the wrong in our lives in order to move towards what is right.
Our response: how do we get this wisdom? How do we tame the tongue? How do our hearts become uncompromised?
[Steven: Another big challenge to consider the weight of our words and how powerful they are. We prayerfully remember that our tongues must never be underestimated, and keep praying and asking God to transform our words.]
Comments are closed