Sunday, 28 September 2008

Does Jesus want you to be rich?

So read the title of an article in The Week magazine last week, reporting on the growing popularity of the so-called ‘Prosperity Gospel’. One speaker is quoted as saying: “Get your calculators out, I know this is going to beep your horn.”
OK, so what are we to make of this?
Does Jesus want to bless us / do us good? Yes He does.
Does our heavenly Father promise to take care of us & provide for us? Yes, He does.
Might that include financial and material provision? Yes it might.
Does that always include financial and material provision, thus making it my right? Ah, there’s the crunch.
In the Old Testament, God’s blessings were most often material, so the measure of how blessed a man was, could be seen by the number of sheep and camels he possessed. However, even in the Old Testament there’s clear warning not to equate God’s blessing solely with riches, since God may, for his own reasons choose to withdraw them for a higher purpose. See Job and Joseph, for instance.
Coming into the New Testament you could say that you find almost the exact opposite. The blessings that Jesus won for us on the cross are far more significant (and lasting) than cash and cows! Jesus has made us righteous, made us alive with abundant, eternal life, given us a hope and a future, AND promised us that His grace, His undeserved, loving favour and provision, will always be more than sufficient. So WHATEVER circumstances we find ourselves in, wealth & abundance or jail, shipwreck & beatings, as in the case of the apostle Paul, we can experience the priceless gift of His gracious presence and provision for the moment – and that’s something that no financial market can take away!
That’s how Paul & Silas could sing in prison! That’s how Paul was able to boast: ‘I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.’ Philippians 4:12

So yes, call on God & trust Him for all your needs. Enjoy ALL the benefits God gives you, including the material things. Be generous with what He entrusts you with. But don’t equate His blessing with wealth – and don’t give with the motive of wanting to get rich, because that sounds to me very much like the love of money – and that is sin.

Last word…

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."


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Monday, 22 September 2008

Who said church was boring?

Well let’s face it, it often is – although not at Kings!
I heard a great story yesterday about a young lad in the King’s Church family who went to school last week for the very first time. Were there lots of tears? Was he desperate to get home? Not a bit of it! In fact he loved it so much that wanted to go on Saturday and was really disappointed when his mum explained to him that the teachers wouldn’t be there!
I can’t say that was my experience, but isn’t that great? Doesn’t it say something about his teachers – and something about child-like enthusiasm?
When we think of Jesus’ words about receiving the Kingdom of God like a child, we usually think that he was referring to the need for us to have a simple, trusting faith, and no doubt that’s true. But I am provoked by young Reuben’s enthusiasm and excited anticipation! That surely was just as much what was in Jesus’ thinking.
Then my mind went on to think about that verse in Roman chapter 8 that says that we have received the Spirit of adoption that causes us to cry out (literally ‘scream!) “Abba! Father!”, and then there’s that promise of Jesus when speaking of the coming of the Spirit: “I will not leave you as orphans.” There’s a link here, I think, between child-like enjoyment & enthusiasm and the coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives.
Who needs boring? So who needs more of the Spirit? Yes please!

Way to go, Reuben! Hope your second week at school is as good as the first!!
And for all you guys launching into a new academic year, especially if you’re starting a new course in a new place, enjoy! And you’re invited for lunch next Sunday @ Kings!

See you there


Thursday, 11 September 2008

High Hopes...

Last Sunday we began our preaching series for the autumn: ‘High Hopes – Believing God for breakthrough in a world that’s breaking down.’ As leaders, we’ve been gripped lately by the Christian doctrine of ‘hope’ and I trust that this series will prove to be of great value & encouragement.

Frustratingly for me, it wasn’t till a few hours after I’d preached that the words of an old hymn came to mind that summed up what I had been trying to preach –

‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness...'

I then looked up the background to that hymn and read the following: ‘One morning it came into my mind as I went to labour, to write an hymn on the ‘Gracious Experience of a Christian.’ As I went up Holborn I had the chorus, ‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.’ In the day I had four first verses complete, and wrote them off…..
So wrote Edward Mote in 1836. A baptist preacher, he is quoted as having said at one point in his life, ‘the day I stop preaching Christ, put me out of the pulpit’!

I am increasingly anxious to be more Jesus focused, to make Him known, to speak of Him and direct people to Him. WWJD? is a really valid question to ask. Many of you will remember Henry Tyler, my predecessor at Kings, he would regularly say to me ‘Goff, always make sure, whenever you preach, preach Jesus!’ And coming back to our new preaching series, it was Henry who wrote that great little book on Christian’s joy, ‘Jump for Joy!’ There is, of course, a connection.....
‘This accords with the glorious gospel of the blessed (happy) God that was entrusted to me.’ 1 Timothy 1:11

By the way, I hope you're enjoying our new publication, 'The Loop'. There;s more on 'Hope' in there!

Goff (Hope)