Friday, February 7, 2014

Occasional reflections

Four years ago I preached a series of sermons on some questions that Jesus asked. I even took some of these on the road to a Keswick Convention in Canada,with plans to turn them into a book later.  Actually, I worked quite hard at the task which was sadly overtaken by my work on preaching as worship.

In my local church the preacher has been considering the ministry of Jesus in John's gospel and, as I sat listening with my Bible open these last Sundays, I was struck again by the immense power of Jesus' questions to take us to deep truth spaces.  Questions reveal so much about us and our willingness to be involved with others,  and none more so than those that Jesus asks.

I think they do make for challenging sermons but I have grown in conviction that because Jesus asks so many leading questions to people just like us,  these would make powerful personal reflections.  If we truly believe that Jesus is alive today and the Holy Spirit is active then we should expect him to go on making personal challenges in the same ways as we find in the gospel.  Yes, they took place 2000 years ago but Jesus alive continues to ask questions just like these today.

I like the story of Andrew Murray, a great teacher on prayer, who addressed a breakfast meeting of Christian leaders in London.  He said that ' at all our conventions and assumblies too little time is given to waiting on God. Has the life of God's people reached the utmost limit of what God is willing to do for them?  Surely not! Let us enlarge our hearts and not limit Him'.  Afterwards, Murray was bowled over by the number of people who clamoured after him saying how this hit the target.  Sensing a deep spiritual vacuum and desire for God, he wrote a book over the next months while he was travelling called 'Waiting on God'. 

At  the beginning he tells the story of the breakfast reaction and his surprise, yet his growing awareness of how basic this need is.  He writes:
The great lack of our religion is, we do not know God.  The answer to every complaint of feebleness and failure..ought to be simply, What is the matter: Have you not God?  If you really believe in God, He will put all right. God is willing and able by his Holy Spirit.' 
He then gives a number of prayer meditations helping us to wait on God.

The truth still hits us - What is the matter: Have you not God?  It is so obvious that lack of God experience disables us.  We stay in shallow places with feebleness and failure. How he longs that we might grow in relationship with him so that we know him for real, in deeper ways.

I think that one way that Jesus helps us is by inviting us to answer some of his questions.  To do so honestly needs us to wait, to reflect and listen in prayer.  This is what I want to do with some occasional offerings.  They will be brief but invite quality engagement on your knees.  Let us enlarge our hearts and not limit Him.

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