Posts Tagged ‘Choice’

Genesis 25:24-27 – BEAR GRYLLS VS MASTER CHEF

Bear Grylls and Master Chef

He is an outdoorsman, an adventurer, a survivor, best known for his television series MAN VS. WILD”. He climbed Mount Everest at 23 and has excelled in sailing, skydiving, karate, climbing cliffs, parachuting from helicopters, paragliding, and along the way he has eaten snakes and deer droppings and other disgusting things in order to survive.

Recently BEAR GRYLLS came to our Church (Hillsong Church, Australia) and spoke about his adventures and about his faith in God. He describes his faith as the “backbone” of his life. He promotes the Alpha Course on the basics of the Christian faith.

The Bear Grylls of the Old Testament was ESAU, only with more body hair. Esau was a great hunter, a sportsman, an outdoorsman. Today he would have been chosen as the captain of the Rugby League team and he’d have his own survival TV show.

JACOB, his twin brother, was the total opposite to Esau (obviously not identical twins). He stayed around home, much less adventurous. Today he would be training as a Master Chef, writing recipe books, with his own restaurant called “BIRTHRIGHT” known for its great stew.

Being a FIRST BORN SON brings certain privileges. A first born son in Old Testament times is given the overall LEADERSHIP of the family, the SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY of the family as well as a DOUBLE PORTION of the inheritance. Esau is a firstborn son, if only by a few seconds so this is his BIRTHRIGHT. This is how it is always done. Or is it?

God is not subject to our expectations. He sometimes cuts right across social and cultural expectations and CHOOSES people indiscriminately for His purposes? Or at least it seems that way. We’ve seen this already in Genesis. Neither Seth nor Isaac are first born sons, but they are given the responsibility by God to carry the promises of God down through their generations. What is going on here?

Why does God want to BY-PASS Ishmael and choose Isaac? Why does He want to arbitrarily choose Jacob over Esau? Perhaps it’s NOT arbitrary at all! Is it that God FORESEES that Esau will not be interested in the things of God, that he will never be positive towards God or His promises? Is God stressing the importance of PERSONAL BELIEF in Him, of SPIRITUAL qualifications?

Romans 9:6-13 (NLT) clarifies things further by saying “… NOT ALL who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! Being descendants of Abraham DOESN’T make them truly Abraham’s children … Abraham’s PHYSICAL DESCENDANTS are NOT necessarily children of God..”

Abraham is described as the SPIRITUAL FATHER of those who have faith and believe in Romans 4:11f. It goes on to explain that God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants was based on a RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with God that comes by FAITH in the promises of God which ultimately speak of faith in Christ.

Romans 9:10-13 is amazing. Listen to this … “When Isaac married Rebekah, she gave birth to TWINS. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God CHOOSES people according to HIS OWN PURPOSES; He CALLS people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, “I LOVED Jacob, but I REJECTED Esau.”” Why was Jacob loved and Esau rejected? Was it because Jacob would be a man of faith who would carry the promises of God to his descendants?

Ishmael and Esau are FIRSTBORN sons but they are not AUTOMATICALLY chosen by God simply because they are firstborn sons. Neither do Isaac and Jacob receive the inheritance of the promises of God because they deserve it or earn it or work for it in any way. I don’t claim to understand it but God CHOOSES them before they were born with the FOREKNOWLEDGE that they would make a POSITIVE non-meritorious response towards Him and His purposes for their lives. Here is the SOVEREIGNTY of God and the FREEWILL of man in perfect TENSION, which has frustrated both Calvinists and Arminianists down through the ages ever since.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) says “God saved you by His GRACE WHEN YOU BELIEVED. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Titus 3:7 (NLT) says “Because of His GRACE He declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” 

When Jacob believes he looks forward to the promise of the Saviour through whom all the nations of the world will be blessed. He looks forward to Jesus. We look back. Romans 4:23-25 says “It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous IF WE BELIEVE in Him, the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised to life to make us right with God.”

One thing I know is that God loves the Bear Grylls and the Master Chefs and every other person upon earth and longs for every one of us to believe Him and His promises. He gives every person the invitation and the opportunity to be born again into the family of God as they place their trust in Christ and come under His authority for their lives.

Pastor Ross

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Part 10 – Matthew 12:24-30 – GOD, YOU ARE SO NARROW MINDED AND INFLEXIBLE!

Narrow Minded and Inflexible?

There’s a fictional story of the soldier in the American civil war who did not want to fight with anyone. In an attempt to remain NEUTRAL, he dressed in Union pants and a Confederate jacket. Unfortunately BOTH SIDES shot at him.

Jesus says “Anyone who isn’t WITH Me OPPOSES Me, and anyone who isn’t working WITH Me is actually working AGAINST Me”(Matthew 12:30 NLT). There is no room for COMPROMISE or equivocation here. When Jesus says in John 14:6 (NLT) “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”, He means it! No other way! No other truth! No other life! At first glance this is such an exclusive, elite, INFLEXIBLE kind of statement.

No wonder people see Christians as uncaring when they hear these words used like a sledge hammer against any OTHER RELIGION or against anyone who does not believe in Christ. It implies that God is UNLOVING and rigidly bent on sending people to hell.

If God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), why won’t He accept those who don’t believe in Jesus alone? What about BUDDHISM? What about HINDUISM? What about ISLAM? What about OTHER RELIGIONS? Half the world doesn’t want anything to do with Christ? Isn’t God rather ARROGANT AND EXCLUSIVE? Narrow minded! WHAT IS JESUS SAYING HERE?

On examination of the Bible, Jesus statement is not emphasising EXCLUSIVISM so much as it is defining a REALITY. God so LOVED the world that He has to tell us that there is NO-ONE ELSE there to SAVE us! (see John 3:16). He is saying “I love you and I came to pay the price of sin for you personally so you could experience God’s love.” No-one else did that. No-one else will do that! No-one else could! No other gods are real! BUDDHA didn’t come to save us. MOHAMMED didn’t come to die for us or come back to life for us. SUICIDE BOMBERS don’t die to save us but to kill us.

All the founders of modern day religions are either dead themselves or they are non-existent. The only good thing about all religions is that they are an attempt by us to reach out to God but they will not save us. At best they will lead us to Jesus. At worst they will distract us from the only rescue mission that we have available.

Jesus found a way for you and me to come back to God and enter into relationship with Him. It wasn’t going to happen unless He came and died for us! Jesus is saying, “There is NO OTHER way, truth or life. Life is found in Me. Love is found in Me. The truth is that without Me, you are LOST!”

He draws a line in the sand. There is no SYNCRETISM with Jesus. No room for DOUBLEMINDEDNESS. Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile opposing beliefs by combining and merging different traditions and beliefs in “a great big melting pot” to have them come out in all pretty rainbow colours of equal proportion.

Jesus is saying in effect, “Make up your mind about Me, one way or another. Respond to Me! Stop vacillating!” And He loves you enough to give you a choice. As Joshua said of old “… CHOOSE today whom you will serve. … But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NLT)

In 1 Kings 18:21 (NLT) Elijah said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.” Jesus doesn’t want us to remain dumb about what we believe.

When Jesus heals a demon possessed man, Jesus makes it clear that He is stronger than Satan, not on equal in terms of power and status. He says “the Kingdom of God has arrived” (Matthew 12:26-30). He is not only speaking of His heavenly kingdom (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven) but of His authority as a King to rule over my life today and always. He is speaking of His victorious power over sin and Satan. And He is speaking of His love for us because there is no other kingdom of God in which we can trust in order to be saved.

God bless you Church as you refuse to compromise concerning your trust in Jesus Christ alone as your Lord and Saviour. Allow heaven’s authority to be a reality in your life and experience Christ’s love for you today. In Him God launched the only rescue mission that will ever be able to save you from your sin.

Pastor Ross

 

Becoming a Christian

Part 18 – Matthew 10:37-42 – MY FAMILY IS ACTING LIKE THEY BELONG TO A CULT!

We came to Sydney to live from the beautiful Whitsundays. Why would anyone leave the Whitsundays and come to the big city? We were Pastors of a great Church of people we had come to love. We had been there for 10 years.

Our primary reason for moving was that we were too far away from the grandchildren. We wanted to play a part in their lives, rather than have to commute every 6 months for a week here and a week there. We had the conflict of whether we stay with a Church and in a location that we loved or whether we move closer to the FAMILY. Family won. We knew that wherever we lived we would serve the Lord, so that wasn’t an issue.

For some Christians in the world today, the choice concerning family is a different one, especially in some parts of the Muslim world. Battle lines are drawn and it becomes a CHOICE BETWEEN FAMILY AND CHRIST. Becoming a Christian means certain OSTRACISM by their family (see part 16 of Matthew 10).

Unbelieving family members can become like a CULT applying pressure in the form of PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE. A family member who gives his or her life to Christ can face the possibility of death, and the certainty of rejection. One woman family member demanded that I change her husband back after he had become a Christian.

A spiritual war ensues and a choice needs to be made concerning allegiance in this spiritual battle. I must answer the question, “What will I do now? l love my family but I also love Christ! To whom do I owe my allegiance!” What an awful choice, but it is one that every person must make! Our love for our family will not diminish but the question comes down to “Who and what do I love the most?”

In Matthew 10:37, 40 (NLT) Jesus says “If you love your father or mother more than you love Me, you are not worthy of being Mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than Me, you are not worthy of being Mine.”…”Anyone who receives you receives Me, and anyone who receives Me receives the Father who sent Me.” The choice is clear, though heartbreaking for some. Having your family reject you is not easy. MY ALLEGIANCE AND LOVE AS A CHRISTIAN IS TO CHRIST. My love for my family is given a new perspective as He becomes PRE-EMINENT in my life.

In order to become a Christian I need to reason, think critically, and pray for God’s help, and then be willing to step out in faith, but when it all comes down to it, there is NO SITTING ON THE FENCE. It involves a CHOICE. What is your choice?

In Matthew 10:32-33 (NLT) He says “Everyone who acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before My Father in heaven. But everyone who denies Me here on earth, I will also deny before My Father in heaven.

Being ACKNOWLEDGED BEFORE GOD THE FATHER sounds pretty good to me! NOT BEING THROWN INTO HELL sounds pretty good too (Matthew 10:15, 28). Philippians 1:29 (NLT) says “For you have been given not only THE PRIVILEGE OF TRUSTING IN CHRIST but also THE PRIVILEGE OF SUFFERING FOR HIM.” Matthew 10:22 (NLT) “And all nations will hate you because you are My followers. But everyone who endures to the end WILL BE SAVED.” Hey, it’s worth it! SHORT TERM PAIN, LONG TERM GAIN – peace with God now despite my circumstances and eternal life as well.

Persecution and rejection! A Cross, death, family turned against you? Doesn’t sound all that rewarding, Lord!

I’m not trying to be a MARTYR but I’m also not trying to give the impression that in becoming a Christian there is not a sacrifice or that it guarantees an easy life. The rewards of trusting in Christ will not guarantee that my life will be a breeze, no tough situations to deal with, everything easy.

When I became a Christian it wasn’t because I thought I would be immune to living life in a sinful world. I may not be immune but with the sword that Christ came to bring (not a literal sword) I can CONQUER the world’s influence (Matthew 10:34). And I can only have VICTORY over it because I have Christ in my life to wield that sword. He tells me to “Take heart for I have OVERCOME THE WORLD” (John 16:33 NLT). He says I am more than a conqueror in Christ (Romans 8:37).

In Matthew 10:39 (NLT) Jesus says “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it.” The key to living life on earth is receiving Christ as our Lord and Saviour. The key to handling pressure in this life is not compromise in terms of your allegiance. It is standing firm in your resolve to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and come under His authority and direction no matter what the world throws at you. It is finding VICTORY over every circumstance in this life IN HIM.

The invitation is to live for Christ today without compromise, no matter what the circumstances.

Pastor Ross