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In the face of disaster people often ask: "How can you believe in a God who allows suffering on this scale?" They make assumptions about God:
An all powerful God would be able to end suffering.
an all loving God would desire to end suffering.
Or they have a wrong view on suffering: Suffering is an illusion - it’s just our unfulfilled desire, if you remove desire for it you remove the suffering - buddhism.But Christianity says suffering is real and we have a God that wants to help.
Suffering is payback - Karma - we get what we deserve - hinduism. But Christianity says this rules out a God of mercy and Grace. God actually holds back wrath to to allow time for salvation.
Suffering is decreed - what will happen will happen it’s just God’s plan don’t question it - Islam But Christianity says that God is deeply moved by our suffering. longing to comfort us and desperate to save.
Suffering is natural - it’s just the way the world is, it would be meaningless to wonder why, there is no why - atheist. But Christianity says our lives have worth and purpose therefore our suffering is not meaningless.
Whatever God's reason behind suffering it didn't stop him from suffering the same fate and going to the cross for us. Showing a God that is both all powerful to save from sin and all loving in making the decision and sacrifice for us.
What does the incarnation mean? God is easier to deal with when we can keep him at a distance - when he’s just the man upstairs. But our God is a relational God. He became flesh and lived amongst us as a man. We can’t hold God at a distance when he is determined to show that he knows us. If we were to be redeemed it would be God that had to do the purchasing - something that could only be paid by shedding blood on the cross.
Audio Download (click title to download) Unbelievable? 4 Apr 2010 am Luke 24 (The Resurrection - Easter Sunday) Bible reading Luke 24:13-35
Why do we find it unbelievable? Do we not understand what happened or do we choose not to believe? An encounter with the risen Christ that two followers experienced on the road to Emmaus. They were unaware of the battle that had been won over sin and didn’t see where the cross fit in with freedom for Israel. The eye opening experience of the unbelievable when we meet the risen Saviour.
We can come to faith, we can have asked Jesus into our lives and we can have a great testimony - but what does it mean to be a Christian? How can we develop as a Christian?
G - Gathering with other Christians R - Reaching Out to others O - Obeying God W - Willing to give T - Talents used for God H - Hearing God Speak
"When it comes to prayer for a Christian. Prayer is like oxygen in a fire. You deprive a fire of Oxygen and it soon goes out. Our Prayer is like the oxygen in our relationship with God. When we stop praying it dies."
Will you ever be full enough to never be hungry again? Jesus starts with your hunger and then works to show you your spiritual hunger. Focusing on full life and not just full stomachs - finding food that endures.
What do we focus on that we think will satisfy us? What do we spend our time on? What are we chasing?
To discern whether or not we are chasing 'junk food' in our lives we should hold it up against God's word. But not just looking at verses that give us comfort but allowing God to really speak to us, challenge us and nourish us.
"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures..." - Jesus (John 6:27)
The Galatians lived in a very promiscuous society - and today we can recognise that our society is the same. We are in the midst of a conflict. There are two forces pulling us in two different directions. A sinful nature pulling us back to our old life and then the Holy spirit challenging us against our sin.
What does our sinful nature lead us into? Not just looking at sexual sin but also religious sins like idolatry where we put something in the place that God should occupy in our lives.
What happens when Jesus saves us? The transforming power of the Gospel that produces the fruit of the spirit. The ultimate test of the Spirit's presence in our lives is our character.
He utterly transforms us. He takes selfish, self-centred, prideful, lustful, critical, miserable people and puts love, joy and peace in our hearts. Patience, kindness, goodness into our relationships and faithfulness, gentleness and self control into our backbones - that is our wills.