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Reality Rule 4(Part2)

December 20th, 2018
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I want to turn to a modern day parable of sorts, a movie called Blood Diamond.

The story is set in Sierra Leone, a country in Africa. The central characters are a father, Solomon Vandy, and his son Dia Vandy. This first scene shows the close relationship between father and son. This is the way God CREATED it to be – it is GOOD.

Clip 1 (stop at 1 minute!): Click here (see 0:00-1:00)

Dia is kidnapped by Captain Poison and made into a child soldier in rebellion against the government. Captain Poison is like the deceiver, the evil one. He lies to make Dia think his parents are weak and that he is the one who really cares for Dia and will watch over him. He tries to confuse and brainwash Dia into assuming another identity.

Clip 2: (see second half – not first part!) Click here (see from 1:50-2:54).

As a child soldier, Dia lives the lie of his false identity that Captain Poison has given him. He becomes a hardened killer and turns against the ways of his parents, who he thinks he will never see again.

Then in a main scene he comes upon his father. You can see two grips, one of evil and one of good, in conflict with one another. While Dia points his gun, his father pleads with him.

Quote from next clip:

Dia, What are you doing? Dia! “Look at me, look at me.” What are you doing? You are Dia Vandy, of the proud Mende tribe. You are a good boy who loves soccer and school. Your mother loves you so much. She waits by the fire making plantains, and red palm oil stew with your sister N’Yanda and the new baby. The cows wait for you. And Babu, the wild dog who minds no one but you. I know they made you do bad things, but you are not a bad boy. I am your father who loves you. And you will come home with me and be my son again.

Clip 3. Click here

What do you think the father means when he says “you will come home with me and be my son again”? Do you think in this father’s heart there was ever a time when Dia was NOT his son? The father is talking about a fresh start to an old truth.

This scene cannot help but remind us of the Prodigal Son story of Luke 15. When the rebellious son returns home, the father exclaims “My son was lost, but now he is found.” Remember what we said about lostness and foundness. We don’t think that it is lostness is before and foundness follows. Both lostness and foundness are true of our lives at any time. By the Holy Spirit we see clearly how being found connects back to our foundness, our found-ation, in Christ.

In the movie, Dia is brainwashed to think that Captain Poison is his father This is a false belonging, a false adoption. It is a a lie that even Dia believes so strongly that he begins acting like a “son of Poison.”

Here is the bottom line. Each of us has two identities.

We have a false identity that the “father of lies” wants us to believe in. That’s when we define ourselves by what we think about ourselves or by what other people say and think about us. In our false identity we are lost.

The enemy communicates “You’re mine” in a threatening, negative way, as one who is intent on destroying us. It’s like Satan is saying, God doesn’t love you, just look at the evidence around you. Look at how messed up you are. Look how messed up the world is. You are mine, and you might as well let me show you how to “get mine” while you can.

The voice of the Accuser can be very strong and convincing. But we have a true identity as good sons and good daughters of our true father. This is the foundation of who we are, because of whose we are. We are in the grip of Jesus Christ, our human brother and Son of God. Because of that we are God’s beloved children. The Holy Spirit continually moves in and through our lives. It is in him that we have ears to hear and eyes to see clearly that we are his, that we have a home – that we are found!

We have two identities. If we were not sure we have a fresh, true identity in Christ, we would never loosen our obedience to the false, stale one. We would stay loyal to the false one and dress it up as best we can. But like Dia Vandy, it strikes us that we have a true, better and constantly renewed identity as children of our true Father. Then in repentance we find power to deny our false identity (our “fake ID!”).

Again, it’s by seeing who you ARE that you can confess who you are NOT. Jesus is constantly calling us to be who we are in him.

I would like to share another Simon Peter moment that is recorded in

Matthew 14:22-31

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.

Simon and the other disciples saw Jesus coming to them, walking on the water!
But then Jesus said something familiar,

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’
Don’t get spooky. Don’t allow your false ideas control you. It is I. I am not the one who is here to frighten you.
And who is the bold disciple in the boat that says he wants to walk out to meet Jesus on the water? Simon Peter, of course!

28 ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’

29 ‘Come,’ he said.

Jesus doesn’t say “Don’t be stupid.” Or “ Oh Peter, you can’t do this.” He invites him to come.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

We would call that a very short prayer because it doesn’t take long to go from your toes to your nose into the water! “Lord save me!” (or even faster, more like “Lordsaveme!”).

The fear of the waves caused by the wind grips Peter in terror.

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.

Oh I let him sink in his failure for a while – just to teach him a lesson. No. Immediately!

Again this particular “gripping” incident reminds Simon that he can trust the Saviour who always has a grip on him. This is a lesson Peter, and all of us, are continually learning and re-learning!

It doesn’t say in the text, but I have to imagine, that when Jesus reached out and grabbed Simon, it was by the forearm, like in our grip illustration.

Again, don’t be confused by this story to think that sometimes Jesus’ grip is on us and sometimes it is not. Like our grip analogy, Jesus’ grasping of Simon’s arm in the story is just a physical reminder of a spiritual truth. It serves to remind us that Jesus always has his grip on us.

‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’

But we do don’t we? We don’t know this Jesus well enough. As Peter said years later in 1 Peter 1:8

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

Reality Rule #4: Jesus loves me this much [arms outstretched] to give me a bigger picture for life!

This to reassure us that we are not just some isolated individual barely keeping afloat in the storms of life – all alone, depending on our resources. Remember our first three reality rules

Reality Rule #1: Jesus knows me the best and loves me the most!
Reality Rule # 2: Jesus is my Good Shepherd who rescues me and carries me home!
Reality Rule #3: Jesus chooses me and embraces me at my worst.

And the reason for this confidence

Matthew14:32-33

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

This is not just another ordinary man. Their response of worshipping him is like homage to a king. In NT the word for worship can mean to do reverence or homage by prostration, to pay divine homage, to bow one’s self in adoration.

Obviously they were responding to his authority over the life threatening wind. But for us we can see that Peter was always safe in his grip. It was stronger than the grip of the waves and wind.

Lets quickly introduce an another example.

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Message for the Day

Reality Rule 4 (Part1)

December 19th, 2018
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When we talk about the good news of the gospel we are talking about a new creation in Christ. This means that we have a new identity. I would like to rephrase it as our true identity.

Our lives can be described a shaving three sections: the past, the present and the future.

But there actually is fourth dimension to add:  our original beginning in Christ.

Ephesians 1:4-6

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

That’s our original foundness – the home we we were created to belong to.

It is interesting to read who basically came in to the early church in Corinth

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

In their past they were seen as nothing. Slaves, ordinary, expendable people at the bottom of the pile. That’s how the god of this world wanted them to see themselves and others to see them.

28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

But in Christ , God restores them to how he sees them in his original purpose in Christ.

Satan’s kidnapping of them is removed, they are set free to come home and now live as the free children of God. They live now looking forward to the fullness of the homecoming and dwelling with God forever.

One can begin to understand the sense of liberation ordinary people, particularly slaves felt when they heard this good news. They were not trapped in the identity this world gave them. They have discovered who they really are.

There are incredible difficulties in living this true identity, particularly in a world that does not know who we are in Christ. Just imagine how a member of the Brahman caste in India would have accepted equality with an untouchable if they were called together in Christ.

Or a black slave attending the same church with white masters throughout history. Or the Lord of the manor with his servants.

Read now to  Philemon as Paul delicately endeavours to practice this truth, restoring a slave who has become a Christian since fleeing from his Christian mater Onesimus. Paul doesn’t want the world’s identity of Onesimus to remain. He wants the church to recognize his true identity in Christ which was purposed from the beginning by God’s grace.

As we go through Paul’s letter to Philemon, we will hear how Paul seeks to give one individual the freedom to enjoy in God’s family his true identity in Christ.

Message for the Day ,

Reality Rule 3

December 12th, 2018
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Now for Reality Rule #3: Jesus chooses me and embraces me at my worst.

Our deepest desire is to be loved unconditionally by someone who knows us completely and to know we belong. This is why we want to begin to sense deeply our foundness—our home—in Jesus Christ as we have been discussing.

Have you ever had the feeling of being not chosen? Maybe in the play ground at school? For a school play? Or an invite to a party? In the family? Or later in life at work? You felt like an outsider?

Many of us have hurtful experiences of being left out. In human experience, for one person to be chosen often means others are not chosen. But choosing some and excluding others is not the way God works. In the grip of Jesus Christ we are all chosen!

But what does that mean?

To be chosen is also described in the Bible as election, or adoption. In the movie Like Mike with Lil’ Bow Wow? there is one heart-wrenching scene at the orphanage where the kids live.

The orphanage hosts an “open house” where prospective parents can come and basically shop around in hopes of finding a kid they want to take home with them.

This is NOT what adoption means in the Bible. God our Father does not stand back and say, “Hmmm, I wonder if he’s got good upside potential. I’m not sure this one will work out. I’m not sure about that one—she seems like damaged goods,

That one’s not pretty enough, or strong enough. Hmmm, not sure this one has what it takes to be my son.”

No, hopefully by now we are beginning to understand God does things differently. If Jesus, God the Son, stepped into this room he would look at each of us individually and say, “You are mine. You belong to me and I love you, and you, and you…” until every one heard it. The scene in Like Mike is heart-wrenching because it is so opposite to God’s way of choosing.

Never forget 1 Timothy2:1-7

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
3 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle – I am telling the truth, I am not lying – and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

This was for the Gentiles – who were told they were outsiders by the Jews – that they were included.

Even though many kids are left out, adoption in human terms is still a beautiful thing as long as the particular event serves to remind us of a universal truth. God’s adoption nobody is left out. It is tragically unfortunate when God’s way of adoption is pictured to be just like ours (where some are chosen and others not). These human projections onto God must be rejected!

There is another false idea: that somehow Jesus’ attitude towards us is different from the Father’s. To split Jesus and the Father, as if Jesus has a smile towards us and the Father has a frown (or maybe that Jesus talks the Father into loving us and accepting us)—that would be a huge mistake! Instead, Jesus came to show us the Father’s heart and the attitude that God has always had towards us.

Jesus is the true Chosen One in whom we are all chosen

Ephesians 1:4-6

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Because we are in the grip of Jesus Christ we can know for sure, even if we’ve had negative experiences with our earthly father, that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and to whom we belong. And if we’ve had good experiences with our earthly father these are only pale reflections of the Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly. He wants us and will never let us go.

Like the parables, Jesus wants us to see ourselves in the lives of the people he meets in the gospel stories. People were just like us with the same feelings and needs that we have.

Let’s look today at Luke 5:1-11

1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding round him and listening to the word of God.

This account starts out with Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. By this time in his ministry Jesus was already drawing huge crowds. People were attracted to him. I imagine his eyes flashing with life and his words filled with love. Why are not people today attracted to Jesus? Is it that people have a wrong view of who Jesus is? The story of churchianity probably hasn’t helped. Our witness falls so short of the this wonderful presence described here.

If they saw him clearly, it seems to imply that the even the most unreligious types would flock to him like these people.

So picture Jesus on the shore, and the crowd surrounding him like a semi-circle.

They are pressing in on him, pushing him into the water. At that moment, the Scripture tells us, Jesus got up on a nearby fishing boat to get some relief from the advancing crowd

2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats,

Now let’s take note of a very important sentence
the one belonging to Simon,

He is Simon Peter, a fisherman. Now Galilean fishermen were tough, strong guys. They manned heavy fishing nets and battled the weather to work their trade. Simon was a particularly rough character. Just to give you an idea, we see Simon later cursing out a servant-girl and trying to behead a bloke with his sword (he ended up just slicing off the bloke’s ear). Simon was over confident . His actions often didn’t match his words. So again, it says there were at least a couple boats there. But Jesus got into Simon’s boat, “the one belonging to Simon.”

and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

He asked to be pushed out a little from the shore so that he would have a better platform to see and teach all the people.

4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’

Simon’s response is irritated. I can imagine him saying “Jesus, we just came in from fishing, remember? When you got on our boat a while ago we were cleaning our nets from our night on the sea. And what do you know about fishing anyways, aren’t you a carpenter?”

But after his initial reaction, Simon has a great response:

5 Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’

This is a statement of faith, because from what Simon can see, this doesn’t make sense. It’s like people who say it doesn’t make sense to wait until you are married to have sex. Its like your own heart when it tells you not to forgive someone who has hurt you. Like Simon, we can say, “Lord, I don’t really understand why you are asking this, but if you say so.”

6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

But then there is a turn in the story. Because when Simon Peter and his mates put the nets into the deep water, they catch so many fish that the nets begin to tear. The boat begins to sink! It is at this point that Simon realizes Jesus is much more than an ordinary man or even a great teacher. Can you imagine Simon looking in disbelief at the ripping nets, and then at Jesus, then back at the nets? He’d never seen anything like this! This is a miracle that defies description. Simon, in the holiness of the moment, senses God is present.

8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Simon didn’t see how God’s holiness could have anything to do with him. Simon knew his own shortcomings. In his way of thinking, holiness could have nothing to do with Simon and his sinfulness. Simon had an attitude problem he had a wrong idea about how God is to him.

But note Jesus’ words to Simon, because these are some of the most important in Scripture.

Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

It was like Jesus was saying, I know, sinful people are all I have to work with! Don’t be afraid.

People struggle with thoughts of suicide? Anxiety? Depression? Worries? Eating disorder? We need to be reassuring.Don’t be afraid. He’s got you.

Reality Rule #3: Jesus chooses me and embraces me at my worst!

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Message for the Day