Monthly Archives: November 2015

When we meet the real God.

Last week, God’s people were challenged to depend on God in the national crisis. This week in Isaiah, we see the crisis behind the crisis. Hezekiah, king of God’s people, is told he will die. Yet, he sees his terminal illness as a benefit from God (Isaiah 38:17)… what a strange thing to think?!

This reminds me of a quote from Abraham Kuyper (1908), which was quoted by Nancy Guthrie who has a lot of helpful things to say about grief (https://www.crossway.org/blog/2010/02/learning-to-understand-the-real-god/), about the real God we meet in suffering, death, and grief:

‘At first what our heart feels is that we cannot square this with our God as we imagined Him, as we had dreamed Him to be. The God we had, we lose, and then it costs so much bitter conflict of soul, before refined and purified in our knowledge of God, we grasp another, and now the only true God in the place thereof . . .

We fancy ourselves the main object at stake; it is our happiness, our honor, our future and God added in. According to our idea we are the center of things, and God is there to make us happy. The Father is for the sake of the child. And God’s confessed Almightiness is solely and alone to serve our interest. This is an idea of God which is false through and through, which turns the order around and, taken in its real sense, makes self God, and God our servant . . .

Cast down by your sorrow and grief, you become suddenly aware that this great God does not measure nor direct the course of things according to your desire; that in His plan there are other motives that operate entirely outside of your preferences. Then you must submit, you must bend . . .

This is the discovery of God’s reality, of His Majesty which utterly overwhelms you, of an Almightiness which absorbs within itself you and everything you call yours. And for the first time you feel what it is to confront the living God. And then begins the new endeavor of the soul, to learn to understand this real God.’

Isaiah’s relentless message to us – week after week – is whatever you trust in – apart from the LORD – will turn to destroy you. In his terminal illness, Hezekiah came to meet the real God he needed to trust in.

Let’s pray for each other that we come to know the real God through his Word and can depend on Him, alone.

In Christ, Tory.

‘Remember those in prison’

Today we remember the persecuted church. The writer to the Hebrews says:

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (13:3).

In his book Tortured For Christ, Richard Wurmbrand says when beaten in prison – even if one small part of his body – his whole body felt the pain. In the same way, the whole body of Christ – the church – ought to feel the pain the persecuted church suffers. We are the one body of Christ.

Open Doors estimates 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide for their belief in Jesus Christ. Often it is communist atheism or Islamic extremism that persecutes. The research shows that daily life for Christians is getting harder and harder.

Persecuted Christians ask that we pray for them and send Bibles.

Pray God would strengthen, protect and encourage the persecuted and their families; the gospel message would spread across restricted borders; more Bibles for the persecuted church to grow; for the persecutors to come to know Jesus personally; and that we would stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

We will take a special collection for Bibles for the Persecuted (Bible League Australia) this week and next. You can also give online: https://bl.org.au/donation/

To know more about persecuted Christians, so that we can remember them and stand with them, go to: http://www.opendoors.org.au or http://www.vom.com.au

Maybe next time you’ve a few minutes and a coffee, go to these websites rather than the popular media or Facebook!?

In Christ, Tory.

How do you walk into church?

Seems like a silly question, and perhaps even sounds like a Monty Python skit, but how we do says what we think church is, and why we are there. In his book ‘How To Walk Into Church,’ Tony Payne says:

‘If we think it’s like going to the movies, we’ll expect to be entertained or inspired.

If we think it’s about personal devotion and worship, we’ll probably come not expecting to interact much with others.

If you think it’s the right thing to do and helps stay on ‘God’s good side,’ we’ll come because it needs to be done.’

Why did you come today?

Each Sunday, I still find it helpful to remember and pray Hebrews 10:24-25:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
(Hebrews 10:24–25 NIV11)

It reminds us we need to be there, and we need to be there for each other, more and more each week. Try it!

My early Christmas present to you is ‘How To Walk Into Church’ (Matthias Media, Tony Payne, 2015). It’s a short read (64 pp), and might just change our experience of church forever! (sorry: we ran out of copies at Walgett, and so will aim to have more this week at all services)

In Christ, Tory.

Suck it in and enjoy the view!

I loved 4-day bushwalks that included at least one large mountain (note the past tense, sadly!) The thrill and photos from the top were spectacular.

But the only way to get there was regular stops to ‘Suck it in and enjoy the view!’ That was code for: ‘I’m so unfit I need to stop to suck in some deep breaths, and look around to enjoy the views… to remind me why I’m climbing this big mountain!’

Isaiah tells us to ‘Suck it in!’ on our Christian walk.

He tells us to strengthen our feeble hands, steady the knees, be strong, do not fear, and look forward to when God comes to save you (Isaiah 35:3–4). He goes on to give a beautiful picture of when the redeemed will finally walk into heaven singing with everlasting joy and gladness, to be with God.

We need to regularly pause to ‘suck it in and enjoy the view’ of heaven where we are heading.

Let’s keep meeting to help each other take a deep breath, look to heaven, and keep on the Way. Let’s suck in Isaiah 35 and enjoy the view, and on we go!

In Christ, Tory.

God’s strange work

Most of us feel uneasy at God’s judgment that we read about each week in Isaiah’s prophesy. It can be confusing and unsettling that our loving and gracious God could judge his own people so harshly.

We prefer when God rescues his people, as He did through David at Mount Perazim (2 Samuel 5) and miraculously through hailstorms at the Valley of Gibeon (Joshua 10:11).

In Isaiah 28:21, God tells us He doesn’t enjoy using harsh judgment… it’s strange and alien to Him.

He gives us a parable to explain what He does:

A farmer varies his methods depending on the crop and season… sometimes he ploughs, levels, sows, cares, or harvests (Isaiah 28:24–28).

In the same way, God changes His ways. He is not haphazard, indecisive, or split-personality; He is working according to his wonderful plan and his magnificent wisdom (Isaiah 28:29).

God judges with a heavy heart, it is strange to him. But he does it with an eye to the future. In God’s plan there is a time for judgment and so God won’t continue his strange work forever. There is hope through judgment.

While we don’t always understand why God does what He does, it’s great to know He is working to a wonderful plan and that His wisdom is magnificent. We’re in good hands, in a wonderful plan!

This (God’s strange work of judgment) is what couldn’t fit in today’s sermon, and so don’t forget to read God’s plan from the rest of Isaiah 28… or listen to the talk at ‘Bible talks’ above.

In Christ, Tory.