Removing Idols – Fighting the battle till victory is secured

The Christian life is full of challenges and change. We walk a lifelong journey of  being changed to be more like Jesus. (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

Recently at Hope Church we have had a series on recognising and removing idols in our lives. Idols are sometimes good things which have subtly taken the place of God in our lives. We may need help to recognise them as they can be hidden from us. They do not want to give up the ground they have gained in us and we may experience a battle as they seek to take back control. Thankfully we know we have victory in Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit and the support of His body the Church.

During the the series I found I was challenged by the preach on the Idol of power and glory. I recognised that although I know that I am totally reliant on God, when things go well I can easily take credit for them or look to be validated by others instead of giving God the glory. During the service I stood to respond and repented of this idol. What I didn’t expect was the battle in my mind that started 2 days later. As a mature christian I have overcome many battles but the lies thrown at me felt real and tapped into my emotions leaving me an emotional mess. It was as if many past hurts that had been dealt with and forgiven came bubbling up, all of them made me feel unvalidated. Fortunately for me I have sisters and brothers in the body of Christ that love me, don’t judge me when I struggle and help me through to final victory. Victory involved standing on forgiveness, forgiving anything new and announcing the truth that Jesus is the only one to be glorified and I live to serve Him and don’t need that validation from others. My relationship as His child is the most important one. I chose to put to death the earthly desires I struggled with. The next day I felt completely different. None of the pain of the previous day was there. the old scars healed as before.

 

Why do I share this? Because when we respond to God identifying an idol or an ungodly belief we may hope for immediate freedom in our lives, but often a further battle follows as we put in place new ways of thinking and behaving. As part of the body of Christ I encourage you to find a trusted brother or sister to help you recognise things that need to be prayerfully dealt with and lies you may be believing. (Ephesians 6:12) Find someone you can be accountable to. It can help to have someone alongside you as you establish your life in a way that puts God in His rightful place as first in your life. We replace the idol with Christ and line up our lives with the truth in God’s word. (Colossians 5) This may take ongoing effort on our part until victory is secured but with his Spirit living in us our victory is assured.

Hallelujah!

 

Written by Theresa Middleton

Thoughts to ponder from Genesis 1

posted in: Bible, Tony Thompson 0

I recently came across two separate thoughts that spring from Genesis 1. 

The first is how the trinity is involved in creation. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, that is God the Father. He did it by his word, God said, that is the Son. The Spirit of God was also involved, hovering over the waters.

Genesis was originally written is Hebrew but in the time of Jesus most people read the Scriptures in an Aramaic translation. It is in the translation of this passage that we have the only place in the Old Testament that the Spirit of God is described as a dove. The Hebrew original literally says the Spirit is fluttering rather than hovering. In the Aramaic translation he is called a dove. Therefore, in the gospels at Jesus baptism where God the Father speaks over his Son and the Spirit is present as a dove the Aramaic readers would have seen this as re-creation, the creation story of Genesis being repeated. An interesting train of thought.

I also same across the point that Genesis 1 describes mankind as made in the image of God and created to work with God in partnership within the world. Prayer is a major way we acknowledge our partnership with God in the world. As it is a partnership it doesn’t mean that God will do everything we ask but it does mean we ask and talk to Him about what we are doing, how we can work together and what we would like Him to do. I found this train of thought very helpful.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

Idols

This doesn’t seem to be a relevant topic for today. It conjures up pictures of ancient cultures bowing before statues or of Eastern cultures far removed from Western society. However, it is a topic that occurs throughout the Bible. As Paul travelled throughout the Roman world, as described in the book of Acts, he found each city had its favourite deity (God) that had a shrine and was worshipped. We need to ask the question, is our society really any different? Ancient cultures worshipped Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty; Ares, the god of war; Artemis, the goddess of fertility and wealth. Doesn’t our society worship beauty, power, money and achievement? Doesn’t each of these have their own shrines – office blocks, gyms, stadiums, shopping malls? We can be blind to the idols within our culture, even our lives. A Ugandan bishop travelled to the UK and identified what he considered to be the major idol of our society, security. He discerned this from the fact that the first question people asked him was, is Uganda safe? We called ourselves Hope Church, as hope is the antidote to despair which we found all around us. There is a great difference between sorrow and despair. Sorrow comes from losing one good thing among others, e.g. if you lose your job you gain comfort from your family. Despair is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing. The cause of despair is idolatry, making things other than God the ultimate thing. The first commandment says, you shall have no other gods before me. When we make things other than God the ultimate thing, we will always end up disappointed and vulnerable to despair. During our sermon series we will be seeking to unmask the idols in our society, the impact that they have and most importantly how we find and replace the idols in our own lives.

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO OUR ‘IDOLS’ PREACHING SERIES

 

Written by Tony Thompson

The Bible and Cultural Challenges – Part 4: Individualism and you

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One major disadvantage of reading the Bible in English is that the English word you can be either singular or plural. Due to our inclination towards individualism we tend to assume that you is singular which often causes us to misread Scripture and over emphasises my relationship with God verses our relationship with God.

For example if you understand 1 Corinthians 6: 19 to mean: “your [singular] body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you [singular], whom you [singular] have received from God,” you might conclude a good application would be, “I need to quit smoking.” (That’s what I had always been told was an appropriate application of this Scripture.) If, however, you read “your [plural] body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you [plural], whom you [plural] have received from God,” you might conclude Paul’s concern has more to do with the community at large. In the context of 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is speaking about visiting temple prostitutes. If you read the passage individually, you think in terms of personal repercussions, but Paul was worried about how bad behaviour contaminated the entire congregation.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

I Have A Dream…

Is some ways my dream is not unlike that of Martin Luther King Jr’s from 1963. My dream is to see an end to prejudice and end to shame. My dream is to see people set free and able to live in the reality of their real identity in Christ, as sons and daughter of the living God, heirs of all the promises of Christ.

 

I wonder how long it took for the prodigal son to be able to live in the reality of the loving acceptance of his father, who really didn’t want his past life or mistakes to weigh on his future. I also wonder how long it took the elder son to realise he was living in the fullness of his fathers love but limiting it because of his own attitudes and restriction he had placed on himself?

 

God shows us he is an incredible loving and gracious Father and He asks that we will extend that love and grace to all, especially those who do not know about his love, so they might experience it. He asks us to be that outrageous Father who runs to meet his son, undignified and risking wagging tongues and the disapproving glances of the villagers.

 

There are many people inside our churches hurting and they are struggling to live in the freedom that Christ has for them because of the fear or shame. There are people who want to connect with the living God or who are searching for help or friendship but do not look where they can find true life because of fear or shame.

 

I have a dream… to see the church become more and more like the loving father and risk being misunderstood and talked about! As part of my journey in this Jesus has asked me and others to engage with a specific group of people who he cares about very much : Those women and their partners who are facing a crisis pregnancy: Women and their partners who have had an abortion: Women and their partners and families who have suffered a miscarriage, cot death or their child has died. He has called and commissioned me to start a work to help bring Isaiah 61 to Luton. In order to do this a small group of us are setting up a charity called Love For The Family.

 

Love for the Family has four areas that we would love you to pray for and think about getting involved with.

  1. Crisis pregnancy support.

A safe space for women and men to come and talk about their situation, reflect on their circumstances and feelings, and find out about their options.

2. Baby Basket.

Practical help for families in need. Including donated new and used clothes and items to help with the first year of life.

3. Post abortion recovery.

We have Christian and non religious, group or 1:1 courses that will help women and men connect with their experience and bring healing and hope into their lives.

4. Baby Loss.

Loosing a baby or child at any stage is traumatic. We are looking to partner with other agencies as well as using Infant Loss training to help and walk along side those experiencing loss.

 

If you have any further questions or would like to be involved in this exciting new project please get in touch jane@loveforthefamily.org.uk or come to our information evening on Monday 27th January 2020. 7.45pm @ Hope Church, Villa Road, Luton. More information will be available on our web site very soon.

 

Written by Jane Reynolds

The Bible and Cultural Challenges – Part 3: The role of ethnic divisions and prejudice

posted in: Bible, Tony Thompson 0

From time immemorial, humans have held prejudices against others based on their ethnicity, the colour of their skin or factors such as where they’re from and how they speak. We are all guilty of it, it is best to recognise it so that we can do something about it, it impacts how we read the Bible.

 

An example of this is Numbers 12 v1, “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite”. A Cushite was a Black African. I have read some comments on this where prejudice against Black Africans is recognised. However, this is probably us bringing our experience of prejudice to the Scripture, whilst Westerners may have once considered Africans a slave race, in the Nile River valley of ancient Egypt, the Hebrews were the slave race. It is more likely that Miriam and Aaron thought Moses was being presumptuous by marrying above himself. 

 

Paul describes divisions in the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 1 v10 – 12. As we tend to fall out along doctrinal lines or because we are drawn to one pastor over another, we can assume this is what was happening in Corinth. It is more likely, though, that the divisions among the churches in Corinth were not theological. We may be failing to note ethnic markers that Paul sprinkled all over the text. Apollos was noted as an Alexandrian (Egyptian) Jew (Acts 18: 24). They had their own reputation. Paul notes that Peter is called by his Aramaic name, Cephas, suggesting the group that followed him spoke Aramaic and were thus Palestinian Jews. Paul’s church had Diaspora Jews but also many ethnic Corinthians, who were quite proud of their status as residents of a Roman colony and who enjoyed using Latin. This may explain why Paul doesn’t address any theological differences. There weren’t any. The problem was ethnic division: Aramaic- speaking Jews, Greek- speaking Jews, Romans and Alexandrians.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

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