Everybody loves an exclusive offer. There’s something attractive about knowing you can’t get this kind of deal anywhere else. Over the Christmas season lots of places have been trying to tempt us with an exclusive deal. I’ve been considering this for a while and discovered that companies, magazines, websites and TV adverts are making an offer to us that they cannot deliver on.
In Subway recently I read this slogan on the T-Shirt of the person serving me “however you feel, whatever you want – we’ve got a sub for that.” No big deal you might think. Just another marketing slogan from a fast food chain. Actually I don’t think so. This is a gospel message, a false gospel message. It’s kind of like an alternative to the 23rd Psalm.
The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. – see how Subway turns itself into a kind of god who can give us ‘whatever we want’? Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – see how Subway turns itself into a kind of god who is there for us ‘however we feel’? The problem is Subway cannot deliver on the promise. A sandwich can’t make any preparations for our future beyond this life on earth but the One True God can! Jesus makes the important exclusive offer in our lives. We need a Shepherd not a sandwich!
Jesus is the Only One who satisfies the eternal hunger in our lives (John 6:35)
Jesus is the Only One who enables us to face every circumstance (Philippians 4:11-13 & 4:19)
Jesus is the Only One who prepares an eternal home for us. (John 14:6)
Jesus is the Only One whose name brings salvation. (Acts 4:12)
Paul Baloche sings
Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other
Your Name, let the nations sing it louder
‘Cause nothing has the power to save but Your Name
The real exclusive offer of Christmas is found in the Bible “turn to me and be saved all you ends of the earth – for I am God and there is no other!”
That’s all for now – I’m off for a footlong steak and cheese…
If you want to be able to face any situation and be confident, it’s helpful not to be alone. There’s a strength that comes from being in the company of a supportive friend, family member or maybe even a paid professional. As we finished our series in Philippians tonight at Fusion, we were thinking about the company Christians always have. Company which makes it possible for us to face anything that comes our way. Paul says
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We may not have Kevin Costner as our Bodyguard but we have the peace of God as our guard. This peace cannot be understood apart from knowing God. In a way, this peace only makes sense when we grasp the nature of God and understand life from His perspective. Paul was probably chained to a guard in prison as he wrote this book. He knew well what a guard’s job was and so when he tells the church at Philippi of God’s peace being their guard he probably pictured a constant presence that would impact every area of life.
Paul goes on to say…
This means that for the Christian there is not a situation which is beyond our ability to cope with. There is not a challenge that’s too much of a difficulty to face or deal with because we’re never alone. Everything is possible for the Christian because Christ has had victory, even over death! What is there left to fear?
This series in Philippians has been personally encouraging and a real help to all our young people.
You might remember the McCain’s Oven Chip advert from years ago, the one when the little girl wrestles with the question: “which do I prefer? Daddy or Chips..” She eventually concludes ‘chips’ because at the dinner table her dad steals one of them!
This morning at Carnmoney we were thinking about preaching as part of a series we’ve been following to help us understand what worship is all about. We’ve looked at things like congregational singing, prayer, the sacraments (communion & baptism) and today it was my turn to answer the question:
Why do we have preaching?
Basically all of us face the ‘Daddy or Chips’ type of question every day. We struggle to decide what we love most. Our choices reveal to others what our priorities are and we need help to get things in the right order. I believe that this is where preaching comes in. Preaching exists to fill us up with love for Jesus. If we love Him most then we will make the right choices, our desire will be to obey Him because the temporary rewards of sin will lose their appeal. Preaching is proclaiming / heralding the good news of who God is and what He’s done for us.
Paul says to the Romans that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” God has planned that the way faith in Jesus comes to us is through hearing the word of Christ. So preaching is vital for the health of individual Christians and the local church.
John Calvin said that..
when preachers speak – the voice of Jesus resounds.
Augustine said that..
when the Bible speaks – God speaks.
So then preaching is a huge privilege and a humbling responsibility. It’s main aim is to expose people to the love God has for them and to fill them up with love for Jesus. This is not always an easy thing to do but we have plenty of encouragement from God.
Below is a clip from Bryan Chapell who has had a big influence on my thinking in this area..
(even though he has a side sweep going on!)
Last week I got a little nervous as Dave (our worship leader) began his introduction to worship by talking about Billy Joel.. I soon realised the huge importance of the point he was making. He was reminding us that in one of Joel’s most famous songs we hear these words “we didn’t start the fire – it was always burning since the world’s been turning.” Our focus last week was this verse in Philippians he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Dave was reminding everyone that God began the work in us, He started the fire and that’s why we worship Him. Everything we do as Christians is a response to what Jesus has already done for us. Tonight we followed on that thought a bit more as we saw that humility and a concern for the interests of others should be some of the markers of Christian faith. We have no reason to boast in ourselves because God began the work and He will complete it. Jesus considered our need for rescue to be greater than His need for equality with God.
Tim Hughes puts it this way…
King of All Days – oh so highly exalted,
glorious in heaven above,
humbly you came to the earth you created,
all for love’s sake became poor.
Long lasting joy is only possible when in humility we consider others needs more important than our own. This is at the heart of God’s character and is revealed fully to us at the cross. Paul issues a challenge to us in chapter 2 of Philippians when he says Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Billy Joel sings that the fire has been “burnin since the world’s been turnin” The Bible says that God’s love for us was in existence way before that!
Back in May this year I finished the Belfast Marathon but I didn’t actually start it! I was part of a team of people (all of whom were much fitter than me.) We all did our bit but none of us completed the 26 point whatever miles. We did the race for a while and then stopped. In a sense we all ran for a bit and then gave up when someone else took over the responsibility of running.
The good news of the Bible is that God never gives up on us, He completes everything He starts. He doesn’t hand over responsibility for us to someone else because He never gets tired. Tonight in Fusion we were continuing our series in Philippians and thinking in particular about this encouraging part of the letter.
‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
The world we live in is in a hurry: instant coffee, high-speed broadband, next-day delivery, fast track to management, express checkouts and drive through restaurants are indicators of this. The good news is that God is not in a hurry. Waiting time is not wasted time for Him or us. Chris Tomlin sings ‘Strength will rise as we WAIT upon the Lord.’ All of us are a work in progress, God has not finished with us. He will finish this work. He will not give up on us. Our job is to trust Him even when it feels like things are tough. We need to remind ourselves that it is Jesus who saved us, that it was the Holy Spirit who began this work and that God will keep us in His hand.
Maybe I’ll run the whole marathon in May 2010, it’d be great to actually start and finish the race!
Fusion started back tonight and we began a study in the book of Philippians. Our theme is Duracell Joy – we want to see how Paul keeps rejoicing (even in prison) and how we can keep on being full of joy no matter what is going on in our lives. In this encouraging letter Paul says “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
Brenton Brown’s song which is called Adoration uses loads of the ideas found in the book of Philippians but one line in particular stands out for me. He sings ‘all we need is found in you.’ Not some of our needs, not most of our needs, but all our needs are met in Jesus. I have to discipline myself to surrender to this truth on a daily basis, I should have this verse engraved on my credit card and tattooed on my hand. True joy or eternal joy that lasts beyond a purchase or an experience can only be found through a relationship with Jesus. He knows the difference between what we want and what we need. The Bible does not promise Christians an easy life free from difficulty, pain, illness or grief but it does promise us that whatever we are facing that Jesus will be enough for us to get through it.
2 Things To Do This Week
Whatever your situation is right now – why not take 20 mins and read through the 4 chapters of Philippians? Allow God to speak to you about who He is and how He can help you to have joy even in the most difficult of times..
Pick up a pen and write a short note to encourage someone who has been an encouragement to you!