Sermons by Murray Lean (Page 20)
How do you view God? It is virtually impossible to describe Him in a short, simple sentence. And most definitions are hopelessly inadequate. However, in 1 Samuel 5-6 we see the way God dealt with the Philistine and israelite people through their involvement with the ark of the covenant, and through these interactions we see things about God that are very sobering …… His absolute authority, His terrifying power, and His awe-some holiness. Yes, God does want us to have a deeply personal relationship with Him, but we must never become casual or overly familiar with Him. He is GOD in the fullest sense and always deserves our worship, awe and fear.
It’s common to find people who view God as a kind of last resort ….. “when all else fails, try God”. Since the beginning of time people have tried to manipulate God and harness His power, especially in those times when He’s our only hope. The Israelites were in big trouble in their battle against the Philistines and they tried to “use” God in this way but it failed miserably. I wonder how many of us have been guilty of doing the same thing?
It is a fact of life today that people are cynical about leaders. We know that we need good leaders, but we don’t want to trust them (too much!). This is specially obvious in the world of politics, but is also evident in the church. In today’s message we see how badly the spiritual leaders of Israel failed their people around 1050 BC. The nation was crying out for some godly leadership, but sadly they got opposite. For many it seemed that God had given up on them. But though He had rejected Eli and his family as priests, God was preparing a future leader in Samuel, and an even greater leader in Jesus Christ. Our human leaders will let us down, but Jesus will never fail us. You can always trust Him.
For many people belief in God is an abstract, intellectual idea. They are happy to tick a box on a census form and identify themselves as ‘Christian’, but there is no genuine relationship. There is ‘heart experience’ and no life change. In today’s message we meet a woman whose experience of God in her life was deep and real, and it overflowed into the way she viewed every detail of life. It is wrong for us to domesticate God and expect Him conform to our limited human worldview. But when we come to appreciate how great and wonderful he really is, then our relationship with Him will be fresh and living, and Hannah’s joy will be ours, too.
Does God care about the present state of the world with all its evil? Does He care about the drought affecting 70% of Queensland? Does He care about the battles we may be facing right now? For 200 years Israel had been in decline – politically, militarily, socially, morally and spiritually – and it seemed that God had abandoned the nation. They desperately needed a godly leader. Enter …. an insignificant man called Elkanah and his childless wife, Hannah. Through the heartfelt prayer of this humble woman, God showed that He did care, by giving them a son, Samuel. He would restore hope to the nation and point the way to Jesus Christ.
What do you make of miracles? Do they happen? If so, why do they happen? And what do miracles tell us about God? In an age of science and rationalism these are big questions. Yet the Bible is full of supernatural events, and they are especially apparent in the ministry of Jesus. In today’s message Pastor Murray takes us to perhaps the most spectacular of all Jesus’ miracles – the raising of Lazarus from the dead. As with all His miracles, His purpose was to force people to recognise who He really is, the divine Son of God, who has power over life and death. His claim was extraordinary: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies.” Jesus promises LIFE now, beyond death, and forever to all those who put their faith in Him. Do you believe this? Listen to this challenging message. It may just change your life!
Sooner or later every single one of us has to face a medical crisis in one form or another. It could be someone close to us. It could be ourselves. No matter how robust our health or strong our faith, we will all one day die (unless Jesus should return before then). The medical profession will do its best to keep us going, but will always eventually have to concede defeat. So how can we develop a perspective on these things that is both true to life and true to the Christian faith? In today’s message, Pastor Murray unpacks this question by looking at how Jesus coped with the illness and death of His close friend, Lazarus. What seemed to be a hopeless tragedy had an extraordinary turnaround as Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate healer of every disease and the absolute guarantor of life forever beyond the grave.
Someone said there are only two types of people in this world: sinners who admit it and sinners who don’t. Whatever our lives look like, the one great certainty is that we all ‘fall short of God’s glory’ and we all need God’s forgiveness. But do we realise that? It’s very possible to have a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude like the Pharisee in the story, and miss the overflowing joy that comes when we appreciate how much we owe to Jesus for His mercy to us. Instead, let’s be like the ‘sinful’ woman. She knew how undeserving she was. But she had experienced the love, acceptance and forgiveness of Jesus and nothing could stifle her gratitude.
By nature most of us are followers. Just look at the number of Twitter and Facebook ‘followers’ some celebrities have these days. Whether it’s fashion, lifestyle, secrets of success, or even religion, we have an intuitive desire to copy others. So who are you following? Have you considered Jesus? In today’s passage Jesus presents Himself as the good shepherd who loves, leads, cares for, protects and even dies for His sheep. He offers them life ‘to the full’. Can there be a better life than the one Jesus wants to give us? Why not respond to His personal call and start following Him today?
It’s extremely difficult for someone who has never been blind to understand what it must be like to receive the gift of sight. A world of darkness is suddenly transformed into a world of colour, faces and light! And that’s what happened when Jesus miraculously healed a congenitally blind man. Why was he born blind? Only God knows. But we do know that Jesus performed an even greater miracle soon after, which had an even more profound impact upon this man’s life. Listen in as Pastor Murray unpacks this passage and shows how Jesus backs up His claim to be “the light of the world”, giving spiritual sight to everyone who believes in Him.
For most people Jesus is either irrelevant or simply an option in the spectrum of religious gurus. And He has always had His share of knockers. It’s always been that way, as today’s passage makes clear. But in these verses we see Jesus engaging His opponents in a full-on debate. Firstly He points out some truths that every one of us needs to know about ourselves. Amazing how the truth sometimes hurts! But He then spells out some truths that we need to know about Jesus. These truths are essential to a proper understanding of the Christian faith, and if we believe them, as Jesus put it, they will ‘set you free’. What an offer!