Sermon Reflections: The Person of Jesus Christ

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These are some immediate reflections as I listen (back) on sermons from CBCWLA, often resulting in brain hurting, always accompanied by caffeine. It’s a brain-dump and won’t necessarily be cohesive or coherent, most certainly won’t be exhaustive of all important parts, but will be personal to me. Here are the questions I’ll attempt to answer with each sermon I review:

  1. What sermon did I listen to today? Title/Link.
  2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
  3. What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
  4. How has it challenged my thinking?
  5. What practical applications can I take from it?

1. What sermon did I listen to? Title/Link.

The Person of Jesus Christ – p. Nick Hsieh.

2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.

In the first 8 chapers, Mark highlights Jesus’ authority as Lord and Christ followed by 3 different possible responses: rejection, misunderstanding, or submission. In writing to a persecuted audience in a pagan culture, Mark ends his gospel with the resurrection and the call to respond with boldness and faith, with the assurance that it is worth it.

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Sermon Reflections: A Resolved Response

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These are some immediate reflections as I listen (back) on sermons from CBCWLA, often resulting in brain hurting, always accompanied by caffeine. It’s a brain-dump and won’t necessarily be cohesive or coherent, most certainly won’t be exhaustive of all important parts, but will be personal to me. Here are the questions I’ll attempt to answer with each sermon I review:

  1. What sermon did I listen to today? Title/Link.
  2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
  3. What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
  4. How has it challenged my thinking?
  5. What practical applications can I take from it?

Before we begin with the reflections, I have to admit this took about 2 months to complete. I’m trying to figure out why it took me so long, but my initial excuse is that the audio cuts off half way through, and that just broke my concentration for the longest time. Then, when I’m having to read through just the sermon notes when I’m not a big reader, it takes me longer to get into it.

It’s not a good reason, but I’ve also been busy or distracted and have had other things to write about that require less brain power. I don’t know how realistic it would be for me to do one reflection per week so maybe if I target myself one every other week, it’d be less daunting and I’ll actually be able to stick to it.

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Sermon Reflections: Singleness of Purpose Part Two

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Click here for part one.

Looks like part 2 took longer to churn out than expected! I do typically try to set aside time to review sermons and write my reflections on a Tuesday though so I suppose I am still sort-of on schedule.

4. How has it challenged my thinking?
I do actually recall being quite challenged by this the first time I heard it, especially given the changing names part.

At that time, Jacky and I were still discussing marriage and whether or not I was going to change my name after we were married. He wanted me to change my name, I did not want to. We eventually decided that I would change my name, but just not immediately after getting married. Regardless, I wouldn’t mind being referred to as Mrs. Chan.

This time, hearing it again so soon after doing my reflections on Christ’s Family First I was really struck by the significance of being adopted into the bloodline of Christ – especially as a woman – and just how dramatically that should change our mindset.

Jesus embodied it first – he declined going out to see his ‘blood relatives’ in order to be with his new spiritual family. Do I, now that I am married – do we, Jacky and I as a married couple – still put Christ’s family first? And are we honest to our single friends about the struggles of marriage and singleness? Have I also fallen into the trap of idolising marriage, or at least inadvertently suggested that it is a natural result for all quality Christians as long as you are not gay?

Post for another time, but I am convinced that you can be a devout, God-glorifying Christian while struggling with same-sex attraction by choosing to remain single – and I believe that while there are many who are heterosexual that continue to have the gift of singleness for the rest of their lives, God calls all His homosexual followers to a life of singleness of celibacy if they remain homosexual and still desire to follow Him.

So while I always strive to shower my homosexual friends with as much love and fellowship as possible to encourage them in singleness if they are believers, or share the love of Christ if they do not believe in Jesus, I am ashamed to admit that have definitely used language to suggest my beloved heterosexual brothers and sisters should be married.

p. Nick wrote:

“One thing you will not find anywhere in Scriptures as God’s will for his people; as a goal or purpose for which believers to strive, is for single people to get married.”

And I highlighted this in my previous post but I think it’s worth repeating:

“Can you imagine if our community were so focused on reaching the lost, discipling the saved, and living out the gospel that questions about whether someone should wait to date or get married were influenced by that urgency?”

And:

“If we would do that, then we would have something meaningful and even attractive to offer those whom we would call to live their entire lives in chastity.”

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Sermon Reflections: Singleness of Purpose Part One

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These are some immediate reflections as I listen (back) on sermons from CBCWLA, often resulting in brain hurting, always accompanied by caffeine. It’s a brain-dump and won’t necessarily be cohesive or coherent, most certainly won’t be exhaustive of all important parts, but will be personal to me. Here are the questions I’ll attempt to answer with each sermon I review:

  1. What sermon did I listen to today? Title/Link.
  2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
  3. What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
  4. How has it challenged my thinking?
  5. What practical applications can I take from it?

Full disclosure: I actually listened to this yesterday and did part of these reflections yesterday, but my brain hurt too much to process it all and I had a small group to attend before I could finish it. So here we are.

1. What sermon did I listen to today?
Singleness of Purpose (Part 2 of 2 of a series on Identity in Christ and Singleness) – p. Nick Hsieh
Unfortunately this recording did not start from the beginning of the sermon and I’d say about 1/3 of it was cut off. I got the sermon manuscript from p. Nick and would strongly encourage others to do the same, to read and follow along whilst listening to the recording. There is one part that he chose to cut out from his sermon message, which he left in the original manuscript that included examples of how people can and have lived out their lives with the principle of Christ’s Family First.

2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
Both singleness and marriage are states in which we are to pursue the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, to live out the will of God, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. They both come with their own set of challenges, and NEITHER are goals or purposes of the Christian life, nor should either of them be venerated as an ideal, focus or priority because you can and should still accomplish the will of God in either of those states.

3. What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
Here are some key quotes that really struck me (most of them are taken from the manuscript verbatim, though I’ve summarised some of the secondary bullets):

  • It’s not whether you have a gift, but whether you are being a gift to the church. The question isn’t, “Do you have the ability to remain single?” The question is, “Are you exercising it?”
    • The “gift of singleness” is not a spiritual gift. 1 Cor 12:4-6 seems to suggest it is equated with services and activities, rather than abilities.
  • You don’t determine whether or not you have a gift based on whether you’re lacking a normal drive or desire.
    • Having the gift of singleness or not is not determined by how strong your sex drive is.
    • Everyone has the gift of singleness until they are married.
  • [The] phrase “aflame with passion” (1 Cor 7:8-9) most likely pictures the idea of being consumed in or by sin (and its accompanying judgement).
    • Typically in the Bible, fire is used to refer to God’s presence, His acceptance of a sacrifice, or judgement, but not passion in a positive sense – so whilst most people nowadays understand “passion” to mean something good, Paul probably means it to relate to judgement.
    • What is good in Paul’s mind is to remain single – by which he means single and chaste. However, marriage is preferable to fornication for those who have chosen to engage in sex.
  • We need to put marriage and singleness in right perspective as equally valid gifts from God, and stages of life from which to glorify Him and edify others, and Biblically, one is not better than the other.
    • Each stage comes with its own set of challenges. Marriage is wonderful, but the effort and intentionality required to cultivate a solid marriage is bandwidth you no longer have to invest for the Kingdom.
    • What do you call a marriage that doesn’t involve lots of time, effort and heart? A divorce.
  • Justification, sanctification, the spread of the gospel, and the spiritual maturity of the church — these are all goals to which we are called as Christians. Marital status is not.
    • Some places in the Bible that tell you what the will of God is:
      • This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent. — John 6:29
      • The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. — 2 Peter 3:9
      • Paul says in a number of places that he has been made an apostle of Jesus Christ “by the will of God” — 1 Cor 1:1, 2 Cor 1:1, Eph 1:1, Col 1:1, 2 Tim 1:1
      • 1 Thess 4:3, 1 Thess 5:18
      • 1 Pet 2:15
      • Eph ch 4 – purpose for which God equips the church and saints for ministry.
  • God has called us to a reconciled relationship to him through discipleship to Jesus Christ first and foremost.
    • We can — and even should — change our circumstances if the opportunity arises to better match the values of the Kingdom.
  • Can you imagine if our community were so focused on reaching the lost, discipling the saved, and living out the gospel that questions about whether someone should wait to date or get married were influenced by that urgency?
  • Loyalty and belonging in a family is drawn from the father’s bloodline. Blood relatives are closer than even a spouse. Early Christians reflected this inclusion in the family of Christ by calling even their wives their sisters in Christ.
    • In Asian culture, a wife did not take her husband’s surname because she was not considered worthy to be a part of his family. But we as Christians have a shared bloodline in Christ. Let’s not lose sight of the significance of that — we are a part of Christ’s family first and foremost.
  • Have we in the church inadvertently played into that lie with our idolatry of marriage while being pejorative and silent to wards singleness? If singleness is unfair, then it’s no wonder marriage has become a right.
  • God has called us to live out the gospel in such a way as to experience for ourselves and show the world that discipleship to Jesus Christ means belonging in a community where singles have value and singleness doesn’t mean a lack of intimacy and connection.
    • If we would do that, then we would have something meaningful and even attractive to offer those whom we would call to live their entire lives in chastity.

Honestly I think there is so much there that I need to take another breather. I’ll try to finish questions 4-5 tomorrow.

Edit: part two is here.

Blessings,
Crystina

Sermon Reflections: Christ’s Family First

Image credit: Unsplash.com

These are some immediate reflections as I listen (back) on sermons from CBCWLA, often resulting in brain hurting, always accompanied by caffeine. It’s a brain-dump and won’t necessarily be cohesive or coherent, most certainly won’t be exhaustive of all important parts, but will be personal to me. Here are the questions I’ll attempt to answer with each sermon I review:

  1. What sermon did I listen to today? Title/Link.
  2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
  3. What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
  4. How has it challenged my thinking?
  5. What practical applications can I take from it?

1. What sermon did I listen to today?
Christ’s Family First (Part 1 of 2 of a series on Identity in Christ and Singleness) – p. Nick Hsieh

2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
Christ died for us to make us a member of the family of God IN ORDER THAT we can grow and build one another up in maturity and sanctification, ultimately for the glory of God. This is done by dramatically re-orienting our priorities to His calling, commands and His family, as part of a having transformative identity in Christ.

3. What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
More what I’d forgotten:

  • The significance of all the excuses that people gave to not follow Christ – that given the historical context, there really wouldn’t have been any better reason to not follow Christ immediately than “let me bury my father first”, but Jesus’ response was “let the dead bury their own dead” – there is no good excuse to not follow Christ when He calls, and that calling will probably look different for each person.
  • The significance of Him leading by example to completely re-define family relationships and identities. Our identities are no longer grounded in our individualism or our earthly families, but rather rooted in Him as a member of His family.
  • Your individual sanctification is a means to an end -> to enable you to be a blessing to the church, that the church might grow in spiritual maturity, so that God may be glorified.
  • God’s family is not limited to the people in the church you feel comfortable being around (duh. But this remains very challenging to me.)
  • The Bible is less focused on what your spiritual gifts are, and more focused on your being a spiritual gift to the church. Sometimes, that means just being present.
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