Apologies for the abrupt start, the start of the talk was missed on the recording.
The story of Ruth, starts from a from a position of grief, loss and abandonment, and we see Ruth making a commitment to Naomi at great personal cost. In this talk, Clair explores what this means when we consider the Promise of the Kingdom in Jesus, and asking what is your next step forward right now when we think about the cost and the commitments we need to make in our journeys with Jesus, like Ruth did.
In the first of a two part series, Nick looks at the vision for Coventry Vineyard. From the first God-given dream 20 years ago to today, Nick explains the vision and direction of our church and how Jesus is building a home in which we are “no longer strangers’ (Ephesians 2:16-22)
Have you ever been in a convoy of cars following the lead, and that lead driver is the only person who knows the way? Have you ever felt like saying to the lead driver ‘don’t get us lost’! Deep down you are not really concerned that they will get themselves lost, otherwise you would not follow them.
In this situation we are just expressing our fear that we don’t know where we are going, and we are reliant on someone else. So if we get lost we won’t know how to get out.
Sometimes it feels like this with God. It feels that we are stepping out into the unknown, in situations where we know we can’t get ourselves out if we get lost. Psalm 23 tells us our God will lead us like a shepherd, and we can have confidence in the direction he leads.
Do you struggle to keep sight of God, the good shepherd and lead driver? How might daily practises such as prayer enable us to better trust in His direction?
Sometimes we feel like if we just had a bit more money then everything would be okay. Or perhaps it is getting a job in the first place, or landing a promotion, or even feeling like if you had a bit more status and influence things would turn out alright.
While there is nothing wrong with any of those objects, unfortunately by looking to them for our security we turn good things into ultimate things, and they aren’t able to come up with the goods. They are not able to provide the security we crave, and ultimately they will let us down, not satisfy. They are not meant to!
What things in your life have you turned into ‘ultimate things’? What deeper need are we trying to address by clinging to these?
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.Psalm 40
Are there things in your life that you ‘praise’? Maybe a great meal, a book, or even a place you have visited?
What does this psalm show us about what David valued?
‘The pit’ is a term used 18 times in the book of Psalms. It is a place of utter darkness. Cut off from family, community and unable to exercise control over our own lives, we often feel helpless and powerless when we are in this place.
The pit may be a place of Sickness
A place of Abandonment
A place of Guilt
A place of Imprisonment
A place of Depression
A place of Debt
A place of addiction
In the psalms the pit describes a hopeless situation.
Where have you experienced the pit? In the darkness, in the silence, can you feel the presence of someone there with you?
The Old Testament way of relating to God is not the same as the New Testament way of having a relationship with God. The Old Testament was all about fulfilling God’s laws and it was based on your performance. Under the Old Covenant, a sacrifice had to be offered every time a sin was committed.
But when God sent Jesus, The Old agreement with God was replaced with grace. It is based on accepting of what Jesus did. If you follow Jesus, you’ve become a new creature, and sin no longer needs to be a barrier between you and God.
Another name for the devil is ‘accuser’ – what do you feel accused of? How can we live in the promise that we will ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’?
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.[a]
For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
The primary thing this psalm teaches us is that we can be honest with God. Whatever you have done. If God created the universe, he exists outside of time and space so there is nothing that surprises him. When David ‘confessed his sin to God’ David wasn’t revealing something to him, he wasn’t telling him brand new information. God already knew what David had done. But David knows that talking to God about something you feel you’ve done wrong is not about letting God in on it, it is about acknowledging it to ourselves and asking for God to help us. David knows that talking to God and acknowledging responsibility for the sin is the only thing that will result in healing and a restoration of relationship with God.
What things in our lives do we hold back from God? What might we need to bring before Him in order to restore right relationship?