“Sources of spiritual courage”, Part 4

Quiet Time Coaching, episode 66

Recently I preached a Sermon based on Luke 4.19-30 and the visit of Jesus to the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth (synagogue video).
“All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (Luke 4:28–30 NIV11)

Where did his bravery come from?  In Luke chapters 3 and 4 I can see four sources of his bravery.  If we can understand them, they can help us with our growth in spiritual courage. The first one is God’s approval, the second is God’s refining,  the third is God’s Word and the fourth is:
God’s calling, or mission. 
“At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:42–44 NIV11)
Jesus knew that God believed in him to be effective in the calling he had been given. When we have something to live for that is bigger than us, and when someone we trust believes in us, it makes a huge difference to our bravery.
God has something important for you to do. That can make you more courageous – not because of your own competency, but because of the Spirit of Christ living in you. What will help convince you of this reality? How would being convinced of it increase your spiritual courage?
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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“New Year, Newer You!” Ephesians 2.19-22, Thames Valley churches of Christ

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22 NIV11)

Audio

1. New Identity, v19 – this is what has been done for us by Christ: vv4-22
2. New Foundation, v20 – Revelation 2:1–7
3. New Purpose, v21-22 – We have a new purpose – Ephesians 2.10

Therefore we…

a. Pay attention to our personal relationship with God: Matthew 4:4; Luke 6:46–49; John 15:42.

b. Pay attention to our relationships with one-another in church: 1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 4:15–16.

Questions for reflection

1. How “joined together” do you feel with God, and with the rest of the church?

2. What is it about Jesus (see the rest of Ephesians 2) which will provide the inspiration for you to grow, serve and sacrifice for others in the year ahead?

3. How do you anticipate us experiencing the presence of God by His Spirit dwelling in us as a congregation in 2019?

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,

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Malcolm 

“Sources of spiritual courage” Part 3

Quiet Time Coaching, episode 65

Recently I preached a Sermon based on Luke 4.19-30 and the visit of Jesus to the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth (synagogue video).
“All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (Luke 4:28–30 NIV11)
Where did his bravery come from?  In Luke chapters 3 and 4 I can see four sources of his bravery.  If we can understand them, they can help us with our growth in spiritual courage. The first one is God’s approval, the second is God’s refining and the third is:
God’s Word
God’s word gave Jesus courage in the wilderness. His response to the devil was: “It is written…it is written…it is said…”
He clearly had the Word in his heart, not just as head knowledge. This is the difference between simply reading the Word and being devoted to it. His love and knowledge of scripture were such that when temptations came they were deflected by the word already seated within him.
What does it mean to you to be devoted to the Word? What would that look like in your own life?
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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Sources of spiritual courage” Part 2

Quiet Time Coaching, episode 64

Recently I preached a Sermon based on Luke 4.19-30 and the visit of Jesus to the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth (synagogue video).
“All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (Luke 4:28–30 NIV11)

Where did his bravery come from?  In Luke chapters 3 and 4 I can see four sources of his bravery.  If we can understand them, they can help us with our growth in spiritual courage. The first one is God’s approval, the second is:
God’s Refining
    “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.     The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”     Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”     The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”     Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”     The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:  “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”     Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”     When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:1–13 NIV11)
Jesus is taken to the same place where John heard the word – the desert. For John this was the place of hearing the word of God, for Jesus it is the place where he hears the words of the devil! His convictions are being tested in the most brutal of conditions and while he is in a weakened state.
“The Christian discipline of fighting temptation is not about self-hatred, or rejecting parts of our God-given humanity. It is about celebrating God’s gift of full humanity and, like someone learning a musical instrument, discovering how to tune it and play it to its best possibility.”  Wright, N.T. Luke for Everyone.  4. Accordance electronic edition, version 2.1. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.
We are refined in order to create the greatest beauty for God. Accept his refining and you will see greater beauty in your life and thus greater courage.
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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Sources of spiritual courage” – Part 1

Quiet Time Coaching, episode 63

Recently I preached a Sermon based on Luke 4.19-30 and the visit of Jesus to the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth (synagogue video).

“All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (Luke 4:28–30 NIV11)

Where did his bravery come from?  In Luke chapters 3 and 4 I can see four sources of his bravery.  If we can understand them, they can help us with our growth in spiritual courage. The first one is:
God’s approval

“When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”” (Luke 3:21–22 NIV11)

Jesus not only experienced God’s approval but was determined that others would sense it as well. Perhaps this is best illustrated in the way Jesus loved Peter.

“After his work on the cross was finished, however, Jesus went looking for love, and he sought it from the one who had just failed him most. Could this be what he most wanted the cross to produce in his followers? Was his death designed to reach past their fears of God and begin a new relationship based on the intimacy of love instead? What else could it be?”  From, “He loves me!” By Wayne Jacobsen, p78

In light of the significance of this need we do well to do whatever we can and whatever we must to understand, accept and live within God’s approval. Then we will live lives of inspiring bravery. Then we will see the Spirit’s power work through us to live the kingdom life.
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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Where should the shock come?”

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 133

My friend Stefan Wolmerans preached recently using a video illustration with a sizeable shock factor.
It made me consider how we decide where to put our surprises in our lessons. At the start, later, at the end? Where would you put it?

Croatia’s win against Russia in the quarter final on Saturday sent them crashing into the semi-final of the World Cup, but these firefighters had to rush out to an emergency moments before the crucial penalty. As the Zagreb Fire Department watch the final penalty by Ivan Rakitic the callout bell rings, launching the firefighters into action. Without hesitation and without even glancing back at the screen they race over to their protective gear and get it on within seconds of the bell ringing.
At the start?
“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.” (Luke 15:11–12 NIV11)
Later on?
“In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (Luke 10:30–34 NIV11)
How do you decide where to place the surprises in your lessons?
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

“The Bravest Person”, Luke 4.19-30, Watford church of Christ

We take a stroll into Nazareth and the synagogue there. Inside we find Jesus reading the scroll of Isaiah. What will happen next?

Thank you for listening and watching. 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 me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org
Have a super day.
God bless,
Malcolm

“The Bravest Person”, Luke 4.19-30, Thames Valley churches of Christ

We take a stroll into Nazareth and the synagogue there. Inside we find Jesus reading the scroll of Isaiah. What will happen next?

The video shown part-way during the sermon can be found by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and watching. 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

Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“Gethsemane – Keep Watch with Jesus”: Guest blog post by Dr Steve Kinnard

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 53

I’m very privileged to bring you a post on prayer by my friend Dr Steve Kinnard. We’ve known each other a few decades now, and I have benefitted significantly from his lessons, conversations and reading his books.

This blog post originally appeared on Steve’s site, November 7, 2016.

The Garden of Gethsemane is a special place for my family. When we lived in Jerusalem, we often had family devotionals in Gethsemane. Our daughter Chelsea adopted an olive tree that she would climb.  Chelsea would lay upon one of its branches and pray. We called that olive tree–The Chelsea Tree.  We visited the tree on our recent trip to Gethsemane. It is still a strong, healthy tree. And our daughter Chelsea has grown into an amazing woman of God. We are blessed.

Let’s meditate on the story of Jesus in Gethsemane.

Matthew 26:36-ff.

 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Luke 22:39-46

 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Jesus asked his disciples to perform one task–Keep watch with him. Stay awake with Him.

Stated in the negative this is–don’t fall asleep on Jesus.

Stay awake. Stay awake and pray. Stay awake and pray so that you don’t fall into temptation. Stay awake and pray so that you don’t fall into temptation because the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

One task. KEEP watch. Stay awake.

I don’t want to be too hard on the disciples. Luke, who was not one of the original disciples, informs us that the disciples were exhausted with sorrow. I get that. When I’m sad, full of sorrow, I want to sleep. Sometimes when I see a really depressing movie, I say, “I need a nap after that.” I sleep hoping that while I’m sleeping the situation will change, and I won’t have to be sad anymore. But so far, sleep has never caused the situation to go away. So I don’t want to be too hard on the disciples because I understand what it means to be exhausted with sorrow. And they had had a long, difficult week with Jesus.

At the same time, I also realize that if a really good friend asked me to stay awake while he prayed, I’d find a way to stay awake. Especially if there were three of us who were fighting to stay awake. We could help each other stay awake.

Let’s say my good friend Troy Baker asked me to pray with him. I’d be honored to pray with Troy. Troy says, “Steve, just keep watch for me while I pray.” That’s risky leaving me alone to keep watch. But then Troy invites another friend Mike Santorio to join me. Ain’t no way Mike Santorio is going to allow me to fall asleep. He would have me doing push ups if I began to look sleepy. Then Troy invites another friend Lance Sarincino to join us. Lance is an amazing guy. But, at times, Lance can be a little scary. And I’m pretty sure Lance likes it that way. So I wouldn’t fall asleep because Lance might tie me up and dangle me from a cliff. I’m sure pictures of me dangling from that cliff would be posted on Facebook the next day. My point it this–it only takes one person who is invested to make sure the others stay awake. Be that person.

I think Peter, James, and John could have kept each other awake. If one of the three had been intentional about keeping watch, then he could have kept the others awake.

But that’s not where there minds were.

They failed to Keep Watch. They failed to stay awake with Jesus.

If you are going to keep watch with Jesus, you have to be intentional about it. Staying awake with Jesus doesn’t happen by accident.

And here’s the thing:

If we aren’t careful, we can easily sleepwalk through our spiritual lives. We get up in the morning, have our routine quiet time, rush off to work or to school, rush back home after work, have a quick dinner with the family, perhaps run out to a regular midweek Bible study, come back home, go to bed, and wake up the next day for the same routine. We aren’t intentional about growing to be more and more like Jesus, so we don’t grow spiritually. We maintain the status quo, but we don’t grow.

We might think about growing with Jesus, but we don’t do the things that Jesus did to be the person he was. Like getting up early, while it was still dark, to connect with the Father in prayer. Or, memorize large portions of scriptures so that when we are tempted we have scriptures on our hearts to use against Satan. Or, develop the compassion of Jesus for the sick, the needy, and the hurting. Or, be willing to go person to person and village to village to preach the good news of God’s kingdom to those who are lost. Or, pray the Gethsemane prayer, “Not my will, but your will be done.”

So we must decide to Keep Watch with Jesus. We must decide to stay awake and not to sleep walk.

The older I get, all I want to know about, learn about, focus on, think about, meditate on is Jesus.

Because Jesus is THE difference maker in life. He gives me energy. He gives me purpose.

When I’m selfish, I think about the selflessness of Jesus.

When I’m lazy about pursuing God, I think about how Jesus would get up early to pray with God or stay up the whole night in prayer.

When I’m struggling with love for neighbor, I see the way Jesus touched lepers and spoke with outsiders like the Samaritan woman and cared for people with a selfless, agape love.

I know one of the most special aspects about being in the Holy Land is knowing that you are walking where Jesus walked. On our tours, we love to focus on the spots where we know Jesus walked there. You don’t see signs in Aramaic that read “Jesus slept here,” but you do have places where you know Jesus was.

Like the Sea of Galilee.

Or, Caesarea Philippi.

Capernaum

Nazareth

Bethesda

The Garden of Gathsemane.

The steps of the southern Temple Mount.

It’s exciting to be in those places. I love those spots.

But I think the question we each need to ask is, “Am I going to walk in the steps of Jesus every day of my life wherever I might be in life?” Because the steps of Jesus lead to the needy, the lonely, the hurting, and the lost. The steps of Jesus lead to great relationships within his kingdom–helping, helpful, encouraging relationships. The steps of Jesus lead to keeping the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. The steps of Jesus lead to building up the kingdom.

So keep watch with Jesus. Keep watch by obeying his commands. Keep watch by getting into his word and letting the word change your heart. Keep watch and pray. Pray that you will not give into temptation for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Be intentional. Have great times in the word. Have inspiring pray times. Decide to be with positive people who build you up and don’t drag you down. Flee temptation. James says that if you flee temptation, the devil will run from you. When is the last time you made the devil run?

Will you stay awake with Jesus? Will you stay awake and pray? Will you stay awake and pray so that you will not to fall into temptation?

Keep Watch With Jesus

Jesus on the Sea of Galilee

Jesus in Caperaum

Jesus in Bethsaida

Jesus in Chorazim

Jesus in Caesarea Philippi

Jesus in Nazareth

Jesus on the Temple Mount

Jesus on the Mount of Olives

Jesus in Gethsemane asking his disciple

Keep watch, stay awake, pray

Pray that you will not fall into temptation

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

Jesus on a cross at Golotha

Arms outstretched

Breathing his last breath

Jesus in a tomb

But not for very long

Jesus rose

Up from the grave-Jesus rose

Keep watch

Stay awake

Pray

Pray that you will not fall into temptation

Keep watch with Jesus.

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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Three ‘S’s for super communions”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 123

1. Presentation

  • Short
  • 1 Scripture
  • 1 point
  • Story – emotionally engaging, but not emotionally overwhelming
  • Avoid jargon

2. Focus – 1 Cor 11, Lk 22

  • Jesus
  • Proclaim his death
  • Relevant scripture
  • Why taking bread and wine – what is the connection?

Conclusion

  • Feedback please
  • Feel free to disagree, but not to be disagreeable!
  • More material on the website and YouTube playlist

The three “S”s….

  • USE ONE SCRIPTURE TO ..
  • REFRESH MY GRATITUDE FOR MY SAVIOUR TO GIVE ME ..
  • STRENGTH FOR THE DAYS AHEAD

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

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

God bless, Malcolm