Tuesday Teaching Tips 154, “Brilliant Barnabas – Acts 13.4-12”

Barnabas is brilliant. But what is it that makes him so “effective” as a speaker (Acts 14:1)?  We don’t know much about his technique, but we know a lot about his character and his spirituality.

In this series we will investigate brilliant Barnabas in the book of Acts and beyond. In doing so I hope we will all gain insights which will help us to be as effective as him.

We move on today to Acts 13.4-12.

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org

Thanks again for listening. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

“Jonah – the prophet who hated the God who loved”

Malcolm Cox, sermon for the Watford church of Christ

Jonah
The subversive story of a rebellious prophet who hates God for loving his enemies.

  • Why does Jonah run?
  • Why does Jonah tell the sailers to kill him?
  • What was it like for Jonah in the fish’s stomach?
  • Why does he not say sorry?
  • What is odd about Jonah’s message?
  • Why does God provide the shade and then take it away?
  • In what ways is Jesus like Jonah?
  • In what way is Jesus different from Jonah?
  • In what ways are we like Jonah?
  • How can we be more like Jesus?

Conclusion
Are you OK with the fact that God loves your enemies?

Join us in our adventure: 10.30 AM on most Sundays at Laurance Haines School, Vicarage Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD18 0DD.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for listening. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

With many thanks to “The Bible Project”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 80. “6 mistakes that keep your church from singing”. Part 6 – “Too loud/too soft”

I take “Worship Musician” magazine. I can thoroughly recommend it.  If you would like to subscribe, click here.  And no, I don’t have any commercial links to the magazine! 

An article I read in the January 2019 edition (vol 17) was titled, “6 mistakes that keep your church from singing” by Jon Nicol.  I was intrigued. The churches I serve sing well by and large. But they don’t always sing well. And, it’s clear that some people are less engaged with the musical side of worship than looks healthy to me.  What to do?

I certainly don’t want to berate the congregation when they are not engaged in the singing. Neither do I want to bully individuals into participation!

There is a better way. I think you will find the six tips helpful. They may not all apply in your situation, but it’s worth using them to review the areas which might be hindering your church from fully embracing and enjoying all of what corporate musical worship has to offer.

Last week we talked about “Can I please sit down now?”, this week we are looking at “Too loud/too soft”.

What do you find hinders congregations from singing? Please add your thoughts based on your local situation and personal experience.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 85. “How to tell the difference between imperfect humility and perfect humility.”

Humility is a big deal. Biblically, one falls or rises depending on one’s possession of godly humility:

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5–6 NIV11)

It is, of course, possible to have a false humility as outlined by the apostle Paul: “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.” (Colossians 2:18 NIV11). And it can be tricky to distinguish a Christ-like humility (Philippians 2:3ff) from a pharisaical humility (Luke 18:9-14).

Despite these challenges it is possible to grow in humility. How do we do this? Let me offer something that might be useful. 

I have been reading a book written in the Middle Ages by an unknown author (“The cloud of unknowing”). Part-way through his book about connecting with God, he describes two kinds of humility. Both helpful, but one superior to the other. Tell me what you think about his ideas. Here is the relevant quote:

“Humility in itself is nothing but a true knowledge and feeling of oneself as one is; for certainly anyone who could truly see and feel himself as he is would be truly humble. There are two reasons for humility, and they are as follows. One is humanity’s impurity, wretchedness and weakness, into which we have fallen by sin, and which we must always feel to some degree while we live on earth, however holy we may be. The second is the superabundant love and excellence of God in himself, at the sight of which all nature trembles, all scholars are fools, and all saints and angels are blind; so that, were it not that through the wisdom of his Godhead he made their vision proportionate to their capacity in nature and in grace, I tremble to say what would become of them. This second reason is perfect, because it will last eternally; the first reason is imperfect, not only because it will cease at the end of this life, but also because it may often happen that a soul in this mortal body will find its longing so heightened through the abundance of grace that, as often and as long as God deigns to bring it about, the soul will suddenly and completely lose and forget all knowledge and feeling of its existence, paying no attention to whether it has been holy or wretched; but whether this happens often or seldom to a soul in this state, I believe that it lasts only a very short time. During this time it is made perfectly humble, for it knows and feels no reason but the chief one; and whenever it knows and feels the other reason associated with it, even if God is the chief reason, it is imperfect humility. It is good all the same, and must always be had; and God forbid that you should understand it in any other way than I am saying.

The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works (Penguin Classics) (Kindle Locations 1396-1408). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.
  1. Imperfect humility. This is the humility brought to our attention by a consciousness of our own sinfulness.  Imperfect humility is useful, because it is a reality with which we need to reckon, and which can help us to understand our need for God.  It can be the creator of a helpful  soberness (Romans 12.3).  However, it is focused on ourselves rather than God.
  2. Perfect humility.  Such an humility is ours when we are focused on the holiness of God, his magnificence and glory.  Perfect humility is perfect because it is an humility engendered by a contemplation of perfection.  As such, it is superior to the imperfect humility.

It is my supposition that most of us have a preponderance of focus upon either imperfect humility or perfect humility. In other words, our humility is inspired by an awareness of our sinfulness, or an awareness of God’s righteousness.

Doubtless we find both useful from time to time, but perhaps due to our personality and experiences we might find that one predominates.

Which one is it for you? Do you have them in balance?

If your focus is imperfect humility, what could you do to develop “perfect” humility. If your focus is exclusively perfect humility are you missing anything by not contemplating the source of imperfect humility? Do we need both? Is one superior to the other? 

The next time you go out to pray, why not pray about both your wretchedness, and God’s righteousness?

Please report back and let us know the effect of praying about both kinds of humility has on your connection with God. Good or bad, helpful or unhelpful.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Second Attempt at Live Streaming on Facebook – Review, 21 April 2019

Watford (https://www.facebook.com/thewatfordchurch.org/)

  • Remembered to turn it off at the end of the lesson.
  • Quality not good – 360p. No solution yet. 
  • New mic much better – Shure MV88
  • Started to play once I hit “Finish” – what’s going on there?
  • Had to turn it off – same in Thames Valley.

Thames Valley (https://www.facebook.com/TVCOC-308095889554/)

  • Correct page, not group 
  • Started stream in landscape mode but still wrong way round!
  • Sound good
  • Comment during broadcast
  • Set up in advance

Lessons/Questions

  1. Turn off volume before start so can finish and upload straight away
  2. Difference between personal, group and page.
  3. Landscape works at home, but not when I was out – what am I doing wrong?!
  4. How interact if phone on tripod?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Tuesday Teaching Tips 153, “Brilliant Barnabas – Acts 12.25-13.3”

Barnabas is brilliant. But what is it that makes him so “effective” as a speaker (Acts 14:1)?  We don’t know much about his technique, but we know a lot about his character and his spirituality.

In this series we will investigate brilliant Barnabas in the book of Acts and beyond. In doing so I hope we will all gain insights which will help us to be as effective as him.

We move on today to Acts 12.25-13.3.

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org

Thanks again for listening. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm 

“Dead or Alive”, Easter Sunday 2019

Sermon for the Watford church of Christ

Introduction

Early church certainly thought he was alive: Acts references to resurrection/Jesus raised: Acts 1.3, 22; 2.24, 31, 32; 3.15, 26; 4.2, 10, 33; 5.30; 10.40; 13.30, 34, 37; 17.18; 23.6; 24.21; 25.19

Central message of early church. Jesus is alive and victorious Victorious because alive Because God vindicated his sacrifice

Christianity stands or falls on the fact of the physical resurrection: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:13–14 NIV11).

Without the resurrection we cannot explain the existence of the early church: “If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”” (1 Corinthians 15:32 NIV11).

When a conspiracy is formed, three motivating factors are behinds such a move—power, greed, and/or lust. Disciples achieved none of those.

What would motivate those early Christians to not only be persecuted for their faith, but to do it asserting that they were confident of a belief in the resurrection which they claimed to have witnessed. Why would anyone die for something they knew was a lie?

How could Paul write to these words if he knew they could be contradicted? “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–8 NIV11)

We are left with no other option than that the early Christians truly believed that Jesus was resurrected.

Not a fairy tale but a fact; Paul does not give us the option of allowing it to be metaphorical. The likelihood of them being mistaken about this is beyond fanciful.

What are we to make of this?

The Apostle Paul: Acts 26.1-32
“they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.” (Acts 25:19 NIV11)

Question: “What impact has seeing the living, risen Jesus had on Paul?”

He is: humble, bold, clear, urgent, obedient, courageous, faithful, risk-taking, change belief system, change religion, risk life, risk future, risk livelihood

Application

We’ve seen what the experience of the resurrected Jesus did for Paul. What does the Resurrection do for us?

1. Confidence
a. In Jesus – he predicted this “He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”” (Mark 9:31 NIV11) Therefore we trust him for other things he promised and predicted

b. In God hearing our prayers “…because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:24–25 NIV11)

c. In our eternal destiny. It is why we do not fear death.     “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 NIV11)

2. Motivation
a. Following – Motivation for a life of discipleship. “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.     For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.     Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” (Romans 6:3–10 NIV11)

b. Persuading – Motivation for trying to persuade people. “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:11–15 NIV11)

It is why we do not live for what we have here, and why we do not fret over what we do not have here.

Communion/conclusion

Confidence in Jesus, prayer and our eternal destiny. Motivation to follow Jesus and persuade people to follow him.

“This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:23–24 NIV11)

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

The Sunday Sample: Episode 79. “6 mistakes that keep your church from singing”. Part 5 – “Can I please sit down now?”

I take “Worship Musician” magazine. I can thoroughly recommend it.  If you would like to subscribe, click here.  And no, I don’t have any commercial links to the magazine! 

An article I read in the January 2019 edition (vol 17) was titled, “6 mistakes that keep your church from singing” by Jon Nicol.  I was intrigued. The churches I serve sing well by and large. But they don’t always sing well. And, it’s clear that some people are less engaged with the musical side of worship than looks healthy to me.  What to do? 

I certainly don’t want to berate the congregation when they are not engaged in the singing. Neither do I want to bully individuals into participation!

There is a better way. I think you will find the six tips helpful. They may not all apply in your situation, but it’s worth using them to review the areas which might be hindering your church from fully embracing and enjoying all of what corporate musical worship has to offer.

Last week we talked about “Singing from the screen”, this week we are looking at “Can I please sit down now?”.

What do you find hinders congregations from singing? Please add your thoughts based on your local situation and personal experience.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching, Episode 84: “Leaving Yesterday Behind”, 2 Samuel 12:15-23

What have cans of dark fruit cider got to do with prayer and the past?  Join me today as we explore how to leave yesterday behind.

One of the reasons we pray each day is to help us make sense of the previous day’s victories and mistakes. We cannot go faithfully into the day ahead unless we have cleared away the spiritual “rubbish” of the previous 24 hours.

We take some inspiration from King David in 2 Samuel chapter 12 and reflect on the significance of leaving yesterday behind.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

First attempt at Facebook Live: lessons learned

I’m sharing today about lessons I learned from my first attempt at Facebook live.

I recorded two sessions on Sunday – one at the Watford Church of Christ, and the other at the Thames Valley churches of Christ.

Search: @thewatfordchurch.org on facebook

Search: https://www.facebook.com/TVCOC-308095889554/

I made plenty of mistakes, and had many learning opportunities!

I’d be grateful if you could give me your tips, especially on the practicals, but also on the issue of promoting Facebook live sessions.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John