“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”

“New Year, Newer You!”, Ephesians 2.19-22, Malcolm Cox, Watford Church of Christ

Eph2v22 Slides

Eph2v22 Handout

Introduction
We are all building something
Have a choice as to what build
And how well we build
What kind of building we turn out to be
How closely we are building to God’s design – or not

1. New Identity, v19
Nothing more fundamental
Identity theft serious
Something exciting to explore
Still understanding implications of new identity in Christ
vv4-22 – what has been done for us by Christ

Application:
If you want meaningful life, need to be born again
If you want to grow in 2019 make developing your sense of identity in Christ a priority
Use a passage like Eph 2 to explore your new identity – make it a source of study and meditative prayer

The work of God is to give us a new identity
Our work is to grow into this identity and enjoy it more fully

2. New Foundation, v20
““To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:1–7 NIV11)

Application:
Make time and space for the teachings of Jesus in your life.
Basing your life, your new identity life, your kingdom life on him
Following King Jesus as a disciple

3. New Purpose, v21-22
We have a new purpose – Eph 2.10
To become a new dwelling for God – collectively!
“In him”
What does that mean?

A. Pay attention to personal relationship with God
Walking with God
Walking the kingdom way
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”” (Matthew 4:4 NIV11)

We connect with God through the scriptures
We gain strength from God’s word

““Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”” (Luke 6:46–49 NIV11)

We can be that well built house as a church
A church that glorifies God needs members who devote themselves to God
Cannot cut corners here

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV11)

Good fruit, that lasts depends on us being connected to Jesus
We cannot bear fruit by ourselves, we need Jesus
We are only as strong as our relationship with God
Two-way connection enjoyed by ourselves and Jesus

B. Pay attention to relationships with others in church

“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5 NIV11)

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15–16 NIV11)

Not superficial, but real
Using gifts as a sacrifice to help others

Conclusion
Process continues as we enter our next year as a congregation
“being built”
Because of new identity
On a new foundation
With a new purpose
To God’s glory

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.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“How to thrive spiritually”

On a recent tour of  Israel, I spent some good time with my old friend Douglas Jacoby.  We discussed the Psalms and he mentioned the book he’s written on them called “Thrive!”. I bought a copy and started reading it straight away. It’s been blessing my spiritual life and I thought I’d bring you a brief description and review of the book for today’s quiet time coaching episode.

Please let me know what you think of Psalms, books on the Psalms, and Douglas’s book if you’ve read it.

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

“Why we should always be flexible with our song choices”

Last week in my interview with Mwamba Bennett she mentioned an occasion when they changed a song during their church service.  As it happened, this coming Sunday gave me reason to do the same thing.

TJ was preaching on the opening verses of Isaiah chapter 6:
“I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” (Isaiah 6:1–4 NIV11)
While he was speaking, the words of the song, “I see the LORD” came to mind:

I see the Lord
Seated on the throne exalted
And the train of His robe
Fills the temple with glory
And the whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
With His gloryChorus
Holy holy holy holy
Holy is the Lord
Holy holy holy holy
Holy is the Lord of lord

It seemed right to me that we sing that song after the sermon instead of the one we had prepared.  In the attached recordings I share how we did that and why.

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: 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

“Amazed!”, Acts 8.9-25

“What amazes you?”

  • The possibility of the amazing is what keeps us looking forward
  • The possibility of the amazing is what keeps us optimistic
  • The possibility of the amazing is what keeps us faithful
  • People who lose the possibility of the amazing lose the life for which they were designed

What helps and what gets in the way?
Some ideas from this passage…..Acts 8:9–25

Here’s the Acts8.9-25 Handout

Question: What is amazing in this passage?

1. Philip’s courage
2. John’s change, Luke 9:51–56
3.Stephen’s changes
4. Apostles’ calmness and imperturbability

Question: What stops us being amazed & amazing others about God?

  • When all said and done, it is not a what, but a who is amazing.
  • And one is more amazing that all others.
  • And he has inspired more amazing things than anyone who has ever lived.
  • Jesus is the most amazing person who ever lived

“The people were amazed at his teaching, … and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.” (Mark 1:22; 6:2; 7:37; 10:26; 11:18 NIV11)

How do we get the strength/courage? Matt 28.20
From presence and spirit of Jesus.

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.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“The Mwamba Bennett interview”

Welcome to my interview with worship leader Mwamba Bennett. She is part of the worship team in the Birmingham church of Christ. We discuss the strengths of the team, her own personal motivations in worship and much more.

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.

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: 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

“The connection between the kingdom, peace and joy”

What is the connection between the kingdom of the heavens, peace and joy?

I’m teaching a three-part series on the kingdom for the Thames Valley churches of Christ.  There’s no way I will do it justice, but I do hope to make it more relevant to myself and the congregation.  One of the kingdom verses which has given me the most pause to think and pray is Romans 14:17-18.

Here is Tom Wright’s translation:

“God’s kingdom, you see, isn’t about food and drink, but about justice, peace, and joy in the holy spirit. Anyone who serves the Messiah like this pleases God and deserves respect from other people.” (Romans 14:17–18)

Compare that translation with the NIV:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” (Romans 14:17–18 NIV11)

Finally, take a look at this translation by Dallas Willard:

“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking [whether you do it in one way or in another] but is inner rightness and peace and joy sustained by the Holy Spirit. For those serving Christ in this way are well-pleasing to God and approved by men.”

The key phrase here for me, is “inner rightness”.  Far be it from me to criticise the NIV or Tom Wright, and I’m sure the translations are correct, but the Willard version emphasises the personal connection with Jesus. It is this personal connection which ensures our ability to experience the peace and joy of the Messiah.  It is he who gives us peace (John 14:27) and joy (John 15:11).  Why are we confident of this personal connection? Because Jesus promised, “I will be with you” Matthew 28:20.  Since we have the spirit of Christ, we can enjoy the fruits of that spirit (Rom 8.9; Gal 5.22).

As Willard says, “..the kingdom of the heavens, from the practical point of view in which we all must live, is simply our experience of Jesus’s continual interaction with us in history and throughout the days, hours, and moments of our earthly existence.” (The Divine Conspiracy)

Would you like more joy and peace?  Practice becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus. That is why we pray, and engage with spiritual disciplines. Not to make us “better”, but to make us more aware and thus more connected with the source of peace and joy. And the benefit? Why do we need to question the benefits of more peace and joy! But, we should also be aware that the fuller our experience of the peace and joy of the spirit, the more it will set us apart in this world as people who have something others need. Those with spiritual hunger will sit up and take notice.

The kingdom has many facets. But perhaps, practically, the most fundamental is the opportunity to avail ourselves of a supernatural peace and joy for which we were always designed.

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.

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

“A tasty scripture-song sandwich”

The website I refer to in the podcast is Resound Worship.

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: 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

“Return to be refreshed”

If you are watching the video you will notice that I am not my usual place to record today’s quiet time coaching episode. That’s because I felt called, drawn even, to go back to a place where I prayed regularly five years ago. I have just finished my prayer time there and wanted to share the experience with you.

Where did I go? I went to a viewpoint overlooking the Harrow area of north-west London. You can see all of North West and West London from this place. It’s a wonderful view. I used to come up here regularly to pray. Sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night when the lights were shining and the stars were twinkling.

Behind the car park for the viewpoint are some woods. The area is called Grimsdyke. I came here to pray 3, 4 or five times a week between 2000 and 2013. It became the most important prayer place for me during that time. I came up here with my dog in the sunshine, the rain, snow and whatever else the weather threw at us and we walked, and I prayed.

It’s five years since I was last here. It was so helpful today to reflect on all the lessons God has taught me the last five years. To realise that his disciplining hand has always been for my good. To celebrate his grace to me. My soul is refreshed.

Is there somewhere significant to you, that you could go back to and pray? Somewhere you haven’t been for a while. Perhaps a place where you used to worship, the location of your baptism into Christ, a regular former prayer spot or something similar?

I’m so glad I came here today. I am refreshed and ready for my Monday (I’m recording this on a Monday) and my week.

Have you returned to be refreshed? I would love to know your experiences.

Please leave a comment wherever you read or see or hear these recordings. Please leave it publicly because we learn best when the learn in community.

If you know someone who might benefit from these thoughts, please pass the link on to them.

If you’re listening to the podcast, please leave us a review. If you’re watching the video, please hit the like button and the subscribe button and then you will be notified when new recordings go online.

I pray that between now and the next time we see each other you will find great refreshment from being reminded what God has done in the last year, or five or ten of your life.

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

“How to be lifted up by God”

Would you like to be “lifted” by God as you lead others in worship? There’s a key to such an experience. I was reminded of that key at a recent Sunday service where I was preaching for the North West Region of the London International church of Christ.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6 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.

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: 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