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Archive for the 'WOW Disciple' Category

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Materialism

1 John 2:15-17, the Apostle John writing: "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world-wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important-has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out-but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. "

I wonder what you think is quite possibly one of the greatest challenges to the Christian Disciple standing alone and being faithful to God in the twenty first century?  I want to propose to you that this threat is the temptation of materialism, or to be materialistic.  This is where following Jesus' command to follow Him, take up the cross for ourselves becomes practical.  This is where loving God and loving others becomes difficult.  Materialism grips both the Church community and also Christian Disciples if it is allowed.  Eschewing and casting off materialism will see Christian Disciples who are radical by the very society, which we are trying to win for Jesus.

What is materialism?

Every person has in differing quantities: possessions and money.  These things, in and of themselves, are not evil.  It is however our reaction and attitudes toward them that causes us to be seduced in this area.  Materialism is a reliance on possessions, money people or even the church, as our ultimate objects of trust, instead of God.  The Apostle John writing in 1 John 2v16 gives a very accurate picture of materialism: "lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life." That, brother and sisters, is materialism!

A Particular Sin

If there were to be a particular sin that marks our generation, especially in the West, then it would be this sin of materialism and the worship of money, objects and people. Every day hundreds of thousands of people die from lack of food, water, clothing and shelter.  For each of us in the West, these things are taken for granted.  When we feel like a change of house or location, we just move. 

The whole Christian community is one that reflects the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit.  The Church is to be a community where the strongest members support the weakest members.  Where one member of the Christian community suffers and hurts, the whole Christian community suffers and hurts! This applies not only to the local church in a local community context, but also to the universal Church and therefore has a national and international context as well. 

Too often as Christians we are found turning a blind eye to the suffering of others where the bare necessities of life are in sparse existence.  Too often we gather possessions and people, instead of giving up our time and money generously to help the poor and needy of both our local and global communities.  When one member of the universal body of Christ is hurting, the whole body hurts!

So what?

As Christian Disciples living in the world of the twenty first century, where wealth is seen as a sign of success, the cult of celebrity is rife and where family, morals, ethics, community and God have taken a back seat, how should a Christian Disciple respond to materialism? 

A lot of Churches measure their success solely by the number of members in the congregations or by how much money goes into the offering pot each week.  However, not just good things grow.  Islam measures its success on the so-called growth in those who would consider themselves a Muslim.  It is probably the fastest growing religion in Australia.  However, every gardener will tell you that even weeds grow! So counting numbers is not the best way to measure success.

The measure of a successful Christian Disciple can be seen in thee verses from 1 John 2:15-17. The Apostle John writing: "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world-wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important-has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out-but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. "

Also in Matthew 22v37-40: where Jesus is saying: "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

Action Stations!

By doing these two things, we show we trust in God and not in anything or anybody else.  By exhibiting these commands, we cast off materialism and any thought of materialism from our lives. By doing those two things, both as a Church and as individual Christian Disciples, society will see we are neither dangerous nor deluded. 

To Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and their aficionados who think all religion is pure evil, based on delusion and that religion has never done a good thing in history to benefit humanity, it will help show the folly and irrationality of their thinking. If Church communities and Christian Disciples make radical steps such as eschewing materialism, both in being and making Disciples, I think the Church and Christian Disciples would no longer be seen as evil, deluded and irrelevant.  Rather they would be seen as a thriving community of people, resulting in Jesus being glorified and holy transformation sought.  After all, Jesus is to be the master of those who would call themselves a Christian Disciple and the Head of the Church.

As Christian Disciples, and the church as a whole, you and I are to eschew materialism, cast it off and live a life worthy of our God, living in total obedience to Him and reflected in the love we display for both our local and global communities.

For more to think about, please do read for yourself Matthew 22:37-40.  Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them.  Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1 - As a Christian Disciple, in what ways am I being seduced by materialism and the gathering of possessions, people and power?

Q2 - What things can I do, not do or give up in order to aid the weakest members of my community - local, national and global?

Q3 - How can I better use my "passion, prayer and intelligence" this week for the glory and honour of God? 

 

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Partakers WOWDisciple - an interactive seminar designed to ignite your imagination, creativity and passion for God! We would love to bring this to your church or christian group! Play the video excerpt to find out more.

To find out even more, including excerpts of seminars held please click here to visit the WOWDisciple website.

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God as Trinity

God as Trinity

Jesus speaking: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14v15-17

What kind of God offers salvation? A personal God! Now a God who is personal, must be capable of having and sustaining relationships. A God who sustains relationships will also want to be known! We know that God is spirit, yet also a personal and infinite being (John 4v24). He is one in substance or nature and incapable of being divided “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.(Deuteronomy 6v4) yet also as we shall see, three co-equal and eternally existing persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We can say for certain however, that the inter-Trinitarian life of God is a mystery beyond our mortal comprehension, experience and language.

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Having said that, the word that the Church historically has come to define the God-head is ‘Trinity’. The actual word “Trinity” does not exist in the Bible! Does that surprise you? The word "Trinity" or "Tri-unity" actually derives from the Latin word "Trinitas," which is defined, as “three are one “or” the property of occurring three at once”. Whilst the word doesn’t appear, the principal behind it, most assuredly does! The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Opponents of this doctrine say that it is actually 3 gods, but that would be to say the Trinity is 1+1+1=3... However the Trinity is best seen as 3 persons in one God, which is 1x1x1=1.


There are principally two main errors when thinking about the Trinity. One is that the three names, Father, Son and Spirit are simply three different designations of the one God. The other is that God the Father is the true God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are somehow inferior, and therefore not strictly God.


Whilst there are no explicit Scripture texts using the word trinity, the concept is explicit throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament "God said, Let us create...” (Genesis 1v26) and "Sovereign Lord, Spirit and Redeemer" (Isaiah 48v16). In the New Testament, at Jesus' baptism the three persons of the Godhead were represented (Matthew 3v13-17); also in the Great commission “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28v19). Elsewhere baptism is to be in ‘the singular name, of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and not ‘the names (plural). God is One “and there is no other but Him” (Mark 12v32); and it is also in the Paul-ine Grace “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13v14). The Lord Jesus also impressed upon the Twelve Apostles the distinction between the Father and Himself, and clearly taught about the Holy Spirit as being distinct yet again.

Indivisible - There is in God, one indivisible essence or substance of which God is made. God is expressed in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In each of these belongs the whole undivided essence of God. The totality of God exists in the Father, also in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Trinity is self-conscious and self-directing. The three members never act in opposition to any other member, but always in union and harmony.

Precession – This endeavours to describe the relationship within the Godhead. The members of the Godhead are co-equal and co-eternal. However, there is an order of succession in their relationship but this does not imply superiority & inferiority. The Son is begotten of the Father (John 3v16) and does the Fathers Will. Both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” (John 15v26).

Relationship – There is a communal honour between the Trinity Persons (John 15v26; 16v13-15; 17v1, 8,18,23). In the work of redemption or salvation, there is a co-ordination in the Triune Godhead (Hebrews 10v7-17; Ephesians 4v4-6; 1 Corinthians 12v4-6). The Father ‘elects’ (Ephesians 1v4); The Son ‘redeems (Ephesians 1v7); and the Holy Spirit ‘seals’ (Ephesians 1v13-14). Between the three Persons, there is an eternal unison in active purpose and yet seemingly external distinctive between the Three members of the Triune Godhead.

This Godhead Trinity, with its inherent qualities of relationship shows that God is indeed love, and the work of salvation is an act of love from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If God was not a Trinity, then how could love possibly be shown, as love requires more than one Person for it to be active? As a Trinitarian being, love is an endemic quality of the Godhead. The Father loves the Son and the Spirit. The Son loves the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit loves the Father and the Son. The God we serve as Christian disciples exhibits love and this God commands us, to love one another so that He will be seen (John 13v34-25). By showing love, we reflect the Trinitarian God, in whose image we are made.


For more to think about please do read Ephesians 1v3-14. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How can the inter-relational aspects seen in the Trinity, be an encouragement to me?

Q2. How does each member of the Trinity individually help me?

Q3. How can I be thankful that I serve a God who is love, and knows love intimately?

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