This week my family and I are at Word Alive 2015.
The adventures of Day 5 included paddling in the (ice cold) sea, buying more books, and trying to listen to a talk without needing a wee while water trickled down the walls from a burst pipe.
Here are my notes from Day 5…
Morning Bible Reading
The most important thing that we recognise daily that our souls are healthy in the Lord, and to endeavour to fulfil our part in this by spending in time in prayer, the word and speak God’s truth to ourselves.
Romans 12 v1 reminds us that what follows comes in the light of Romans 1-11. The previous 11 chapters provide the foundation for the exhortations that follow in the next 5 chapters. If we move straight to the ethical exhortations of the Bible, we will be leading people to moralism and not the Gospel, where our ethical and moral work comes as a result of and founded entirely on the work of God in Jesus on the cross and his resurrection.
In view of God’s mercy, we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. As living sacrifices offered in the light of Jesus, the cross has made the Old Testament sacrificial system redundant. The only sacrifice that can be offered now is the personal sacrifice of our lives offered to Jesus and dedicated to living in Christ and like Christ. 1 Corinthians 6 spells this out, that we have been bought at a great price and so we do not live for us but for him.
Our sacrifical living for Jesus is our spiritual act of worship – that is, the logical, reasonable, rational act of worship and the right and proper response.
We no longer conform to the pattern of this world but instead allow ourselves to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our emotions are transient and unstable, and our actions are always tainted with sin and folly. However, a mind that is founded on the Gospel is stable and steadfast, and will impact and shape how we feel and how we live. This means that as we read God’s word we should cultivate our minds. For example, read the Bible for 1 minute and then spend 4 minutes thinking on it and allowing it to shape your mind.
A transformed mind means…
- we think of ourselves in right sober judgment (12 v3-5) and recognise that we are one part of Christ’s body (v6-8).
- we demonstrate love, service, joy, patience, faithfulness in what we do (v9-13).
- we recognise our place in the community and do not follow class sctructures (v14-16).
- we do not seek revenge or vengance but instead love our enemies the way that Jesus tells us and shows us (v17-21).
None of this comes naturally to us. This is why we depend so heavily on the first 11 chapters: you do not belong to you. We cannot claim the redemption of Jesus without handing in our lives to him, to be lived his way in his time by his grace
8.30pm Evening Celebration
Forgive us our sin
Why is there so little confession of sin in our churches? It is most likely that we have lost sight of our own sin and need for forgiveness, God’s readiness and ability to give forgiveness… or both.
We need forgiveness
Without Jesus, we are dirty sinners and we need to readily acknowledge this and confess it freely. We need God’s forgiveness because…
- our sin and shame makes our experience of God go cold or dry (Isaiah).
- our sin and shame stops or hinders our prayers (James).
- our sin and shame shows that we do not trust God or his motives (David).
- or sin gets out of control.
Forgiveness is a family thing
Jesus urges us to ask God to forgive us our sin.
Sin does not break our relationship with God the Father, but it does spoil it. When we sin, we being dishonour to our family name (Ezekiel).
Think about what sort of impression of the God the Father do people get when the see the family of God, that is us?
Forgiveness in the family of God starts with confession in the family of God. Confession of sin is also a family thing. Prayers of forgiveness offered in the midst of messy sinful people seeking to confess sin is a powerful and effective thing (James 5).
Forgiveness really is on offer
Jesus instruction to seek forgiveness implicitly means that God is willing to forgive us, that forgiveness really is on offer. But we…
- doubt that God will forgive us.
- duck our sinfulness and need to be forgiven.
When we come to God seeking forgiveness we mustn’t come in the sense of ‘I hope he will forgive me’ but in the sense of thankfulness that he will forgive, that he does forgive, that he has forgiven us in Christ who died once for all.
We need to forgive
God often established us to be giving people who receive by giving: teaching, money, and (here in the Lord’s Prayer) forgiveness.
Have we forgiven…
- our parents?
- those who have let us down?
- those who have hurt us?
- our enemies?
And how often should we forgive someone? Jesus tells us to forgive people like our Father in Heaven forgives.