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March 17th 2019

Thresholds:
I heard an interesting fact a few weeks ago – namely, that our brain automatically dumps short term memories when we walk through a doorway. That is why we often forget why we walk into a room, usually forgetting what we came for. A threshold is that strip of wood, metal, plastic or stone which forms the bottom of a doorway & crossed when entering a house or room. Therefore it often means the point of entry into a new phase of life, a new beginning or a new situation. It is also used to mean the point at which something begins to affect us; some have a high pain threshold others much less meaning that they feel pain earlier & to a more severe degree than others. Some have a low boredom threshold & are much more likely to get involved in risk taking behaviour enjoying the thrill & danger it creates & thus alleviating the boredom.

In the Bible the Hebrew words for threshold can be translated as a boundary or limit, or the threshold of the door of the house. When the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, they placed it in the temple of their god Dagon (1 Samuel 5). This idol was broken, its head & hands broken off, on the threshold of their temple before God’s Ark demonstrating God’s authority over idolatry’s wisdom (head) & power (hands); afterwards, the pagan priests superstitiously did not step on this threshold of their god’s defeat.

In Ezekiel 47, in the great vision of the future Restoration, the River of Healing flows out from under the threshold of the Temple from the very presence of God. Wherever it goes it brings healing & new life. In the wonderful picture of drawing near to God, thanksgiving takes us over the threshold from the earthy setting into the Holy Place – praise then takes us deeper into the Holy (Psalm 100:4) – worship takes us into the very throne room of God connecting us heart to heart with God (John 4:23-24).

As I think about thresholds a little more, these are also often the places to be guarded. In a sense the armour of God (Ephesians 6) guards the thresholds of our lives: i. belt of truth, our morality – ii. Gospel shoes, the basis of our interaction with the world – iii. the breastplate of righteousness, our relationship with God in Christ – iv. shield of faith, our heart/emotions/relationships – v. helmet of salvation, our thinking/mind. We then can then cross the threshold into victory by God’s Word made alive by the Spirit, our Kingdom fruitfulness & usefulness.

Barbara Yoder writes in The Breaker Anointing, ‘We must break through intimidation, faithlessness, fear, hopelessness, despair, or whatever else looms like an unconquerable foe at the gates. The threshold is where we either leap forward or back out. Yet once we leap, it is where we meet the incredible supernatural power of God to break through.’

Perhaps you are standing on the threshold of a breakthrough into a new season of devotion, fruitfulness & service for Christ – I proclaim the anointing, encouragement, biblical understanding needed. It may be that you need to better guard the thresholds into your life – I proclaim over you a new season of prayer with God furnishing you with a deep understanding in how to use the spiritual armour He provides. Finally, maybe you never thought about thresholds in this way – I proclaim a new openness to & awareness of this spiritual concept so that you are trained & equipped for spiritual defence, Kingdom breakthrough & spiritual advance. In Jesus’ name. Amen
God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 

March 10th 2019

God’s Mission
This morning in Church I quoted from CJH Wright’s book, The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission. Wright states, ‘It is not so much the case that God has a mission for His church in the world, as that God has a church for His mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission – God’s mission.’ This explicitly presents God as the sending God. He sent Christ & the Spirit into the world to open a pathway of hope & salvation. Christ & the Spirit sent Christ’s Disciples out to proclaim the Gospel living authentic Christian lives, & they are still sending Christ’s Disciples, you & me, out into the world to proclaim the Gospel & to live in the same way as the Apostles. This sending includes recognising that it is God’s reign in Christ, & His Kingdom, we are serving – not self interest nor the Church.

The old order of Missio Ecclesiae – that the Church seeks to determine its priorities & primary focus, has been replaced by Missio Dei Trinitatis – with Christ as its Lord, God has a Church for His mission; He is already out there before us in the world, through His Spirit, challenging people of wrongdoing & awakening their need for a Saviour. This required a unity in the Spirit - a Trinitarian mission with all three members of the Godhead fully committed & completely involved in establishing the Kingdom. For many years before Ecumenicalism –working at uniting different denominations, movements or groups of Christians together, was a key goal. In essence it was the logical destination for a Missio Ecclesiae worldview. Today, many see Ecumenism as a false foundation block for working together with other Christians.

It has been my view that we should join with other Christians, when appropriate, in doing missional projects, in alleviating suffering, deprivation & human need, & in fighting for Social Justice. Many ecumenists view denominations as the scourge of the Christian church, the cause of disharmony, and certainly not of God. For me this is a too narrow understanding of both the place of denominations in God’s Missio Dei, and of how Church History is to be interpreted. I believe that Denominations have been important in the development of God’s Missio Dei. Thus Protestant Episcopalians brought a return to a more biblical understanding of the ‘priesthood’ which allowed ministers to marry, the Bible also being read in the language of the people faithfully week by week.

The Puritans sound biblical teaching & interpretation coupled with a deep spirituality; Baptists, adult, believer only baptism; Methodism, the evangelical emphasis on the New Birth; the Holiness Movements, a desire for a deeper faith & holiness in the Spirit; Pentecostalism, the fullness of the Spirit for witness, power, healing & the Priesthood of all believers participating in the ministry of the Church through the operation of the gifts of the Spirit; & the Charismatic Renewal removed the stigma of the Spirit’s fullness from the wider Church & thus that the gifts of the Spirit are an important bequeath by God to His Church Universal. Therefore, in my understanding, denominations are fulfilling God’s purpose for the Church & will only finally be superseded by the revelation of the visible, tangible Kingdom of our great God & Saviour Jesus Christ when history itself will be consummated (fulfilled). May God embolden us as a Church to go out & join Him in His Missio Dei in Telford & Shropshire.
God Bless
Pastor Leslie


March 1st 2019

Worshipping Together:
Christian worship is unique. Why? Because it finds its fullest expression in Christ Himself, He is the One who enables us to worship Father God from the stability & intimacy of a living relationship. A non-Christian can worship God, but he or she will be doing it from a place of ignorance without truly knowing the One they worship. In John 4, Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman about the fact that the Samaritans knew very little about the One they worshipped whereas the Jews knew all about Him. However, Jesus also said that the time had come when the centre of worship would no longer be Jerusalem nor Samaria – instead worship would be done by people in spirit & in truth. That is worship from the centre of our being in sincerity & in absolute dependence on the One we are in relationship with through Christ. If we are in Christ, then our worship is based in relationship with God, & we will have the Holy Spirit within (Romans 8:9). The Spirit enables us to truly worship - Philippians 3:3, ‘For we who worship by the Spirit of God...,’ our worship flowing from our love for the One we know & are known by.

As we consider worship in spirit & truth, we recognise that true worship is more than singing a song or deeper in origin than an outward action such as giving, although these may be expressions of worship; true worship is acknowledging God as number one in our lives. It is seeing God as He is & worshipping Him for who He is. It is submitting to the fact that God’s truth flows from His reality, not from the reality we perceive. We may hear of an incident & pronounce our truth about it only to find out later that there were a number of other considerations which rendered our truth a lie. God’s truth is fully dimensional, He knows all the facts, & this complete understanding always leads to Him to act rightly in accordance to His nature & the highest conceivable morality. When He calls us to worship in truth, He is calling us primarily to worship in Christ & through the Spirit.

Jesus said that He was the Way, the Truth & the Life. Jesus revealed God as He really is. Everything Jesus did – Father God would have done if He had been acting in the same place. Jesus never misrepresented God, after all He was co-equal with & of the same substance in being as Father God. The Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), also will help people to worship in truth. This type of worship sets people free – free from religious bondage, from human pride, from vanity & from the power of self. God is actively searching for those who will worship like this in Spirit & truth.

Worship itself includes honour, humility & a deep reverence for His presence. It flows from our hearts & shapes our thoughts about God, about Christ, & about the Spirit. It also shapes how we seek to express such worship. That worship finds it fullest expression as we worship together sometimes in singing, sometimes in silence, sometimes in corporate prayer, sometimes in giving, sometimes in service, sometimes in mission, sometimes in the ministry of the Spirit’s gifts, but always leading us into the very presence of God. Together, a local church is a Holy Temple proclaiming the wonder of Him who called us out from darkness into His marvellous light in Christ. This fellowship of worship together is based in our fellowship together with the Spirit. As He fills us together in one place as His Church - then we gain new insight into who God is, what He does for us in Christ, & His love for us in the Spirit.

Therefore our worship can be Trinitarian in nature. Jesus accepted worship from the people He ministered to or taught whereas angels forbade it. The Spirit enables us to worship as God intends since He delights in seeing Father God & Jesus worshipped. Although less emphasised because we see Him as the Helper who helps us to truly worship the Father & the Son - we can also worship the Spirit; after all He is God, called the Lord & the Spirit of truth. He is holy, & He is God’s very breath revealing the deep things of God to us.

The ancient Nicene Creed states, ‘We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father & the Son. With the Father & the Son He is worshiped & glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.’ As we worship together we begin to reflect the heavenly reality - countless multitudes worshipping together in heaven. One day we will join them in their full worship, but until that day – we will determine to worship together here in spirit & in truth & thus witness to the world about Father God, Christ our Saviour, & the presence of the Spirit.


God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 

February 10th 2019

Connecting Through Love:
1 John 4:7-21 is a sublime biblical passage. John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, writes with such clarity about the love of God. He reaches heights of insight & understanding which are truly inspired by the Spirit, but which also reflect his own life experience walking with the Master. When reading his Gospel, it is clear that John’s heart & life were completely open to Jesus. He sought to walk as closely with Him as was possible, & he soars into beautiful Descriptive writing as he records Jesus’ life, teaching & ministry. The animal chosen to reflect John’s Gospel by the early Church, taken from the imagery of Ezekiel 1 & Revelation 4, & because of how his Gospel soars in narrating its material about Jesus, was the winged Eagle (Matthew was the winged Man – he focuses on the humanity of Christ; Mark, the winged Lion – opens with the roaring voice in the wilderness; Luke, winged bull – focuses on sacrifice).

Twenty eight times John uses the word, ‘love’ in 1 John 4:7-21. Each time it is either agape love or one of its near relatives. Thus, John explores the power of God’s love in one of its most significant forms, – ‘God is love. Agape is most often used to describe the divine, completely selfless & overwhelming love of God. In 1 John 4, this is the love that the church is also to demonstrate, v.11, ‘beloved [agape loved ones], if God so loved [agape] us, we also ought to love [agape] one another.’ As we receive God’s love, each person must learn how to allow it to do its creative work causing agape love to grow & establish itself within.  This is no easy process because it requires us to engage with Christ at a level similar to John’s 2,000 years ago, also desiring Christ’s selfless love to grow & flourish within.

In verse 16 John states that God’s love is something we can put our trust in – we can rely on His love. His love is not fickle nor is it only momentary until He changes His mind about us deserving it because of how we live or respond to Christ. His agape love is solid, dependable & reliable in Jesus. When we are in Jesus then He is more willing to fill our lives with it than we are to ask Him to do so. His love flows from His very being. If you were to cut God in half - completely impossible but a good analogy – His love flows from the very centre of who He is & it is an inexhaustible, powerful life-force drawn from the overflowing well of His own love.

This agape love within will then materialises through our actions, words, non-verbal communications, & reactions. In fact, John writes, verse 17, that as we live in God, we mature & are more able to receive & benefit from His love. The more we mature, the less insecure we become about our position in Christ. His love removes any fear that we are not truly accepted as His own in Christ. In fact, the inference is that as we are filled with His love, then that love has the power to transform how we live & love others. People very quickly sense if we are real or false. It is also the case that if we are holding a part of ourselves back, not allowing it to be seen or revealed – then that area often sits in darkness, does not change & ultimately prevents us truly connecting with God’s love, life & light.

The challenge which arises is that the extent of our love for Christ will be revealed in how we love & connect with one another. It can be relatively easy to love someone whom we like or get on well with – it is another matter to love someone whom we struggle to like or even who is our enemy. The level of our spiritual maturity is revealed in the extent to which we are willing to submit to & seek to live out verses such as, ‘love your enemies, pray for those who despitefully use you. In that way you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:44-45). In fact, Jesus states in Matthew 5:48, that we are to be mature in faith seeking to be as perfect as our heavenly Father is.

This passage is really relevant to us as a church. The picture I have is that many churches are like a glass with some on the inside enjoying close loving relationships with those others inside the glass/church – while there are others on the outside of the glass who only truly connect with those others on the outside of the glass. I believe God wants us to delve into His love allowing it to do its work of causing us to mature in spirituality & in faith. We may not know how to shatter the glass so that all of us can connect in & through the Church, but embracing & living out His love may be the best place to begin the process. After all, His command is to agape love our fellow believers.
God Bless 
Pastor Leslie

 

3rd February 2019

Good evening

Redeeming Work:
Life is complicated enough without making it more so. However, it naturally tends to be complex & often ends up confusing, frustrating or exhausting us. How many times, as human beings, we start out thinking a job will be relatively straightforward only to find that it is so much more than we originally thought it would be. The energy sapping thing is that complexity requires problem solving, &, in the natural, often when one problem is solved - inadvertently two more problems arise because of the solution. I guess this is part of the curse at the Fall of Adam & Eve. It was specifically because of the man’s sin that humankind was held guilty for breaking God’s commandment – known theologically as Original Sin.

The account of God’s response to their sin is recorded in Genesis 3:17-19, NLT, ‘& to the man He said, “Since you listened to your wife & ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns & thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, & to dust you will return.’ i. The ground is cursed; ii. Sustaining life will be a struggle; iii. Work itself & the place of production will be subject to pain (thorns), & unexpected problems (weeds); iv. Nevertheless, enough will be harvested to sustain life; v. Work will be physically exhausting (sweat of the brow); vi. It is never finished (until you die).

I believe, in Christ, we can redeem the workplace & transform it into a new place of hope & productivity. Jobs can be Vocations during which we seek to work & to serve Christ, & other people. We acknowledge that God set in place Creation Ordinances: 1. Marriage; 2. Procreation; 3. Dominion; 4. Labour/Productivity; 5. Sabbath rest. These are timeless & enduring principles which God has planted into the very heart of His Creation. He has endowed humanity with the capacity to rule reflecting some of His communicable attributes including His Love - Spirituality – & Morality, He is always good.

People were made in God’s image with these unique qualities unparalleled in Creation – all other animals were made after their kind or species – humankind after His image. Our ability to accurately reflect His image was seriously marred through the Fall. Calvin said that God’s image in humanity was smashed like a mirror whose glass is broke into pieces but which all have remained in the frame. In Christ, a repair process begins of the broken mirror which continues throughout our lives enabling us to increasingly accurately reflect Christ’s image.

May God help us to reflect Christ’s image & nature in our workplaces so there will be harmony & accord, His blessing & provision at work through our lives. May He supply the grace & power to turn them into productive, caring & enjoyable places to work, fulfil His call, serve His purposes, & other people in love. We pray for the creation of a culture of excellence - for a culture of encouragement which supports & enables people to grow & flourish - for a culture which enables the development of each person’s unique skill-set - for a culture that facilitates good teamwork & produces mature leaders & workers whose combined efforts multiply many times over their own individual effectiveness.

I especially pray that where thorns or weeds grow – God would grant us the grace, strength, resilience & skills to be able to still produce a good, healthy, lasting & bumper harvest. We ask for help to embrace the ‘sweat of our brow’ & the pain associated with production & work recognising His hand, through the curse, of producing this reality, but also the wonder that, in Christ, He has provided sufficient grace to be drawn daily upon to help us thrive, flourish & bring much glory to our Lord Jesus. That He will empower us to be salt & light in our workplaces – good ambassadors for Christ & His Kingdom, soul winners for Christ. Amen

Many Blessings – Pastor Leslie

 

30th January 2019

Climbing to the Next Level
I recently watched the movie ‘Everest’ about the 1996 death of several climbers on Mt Everest & the events surrounding that disaster. Mountaineering is a specialised & dangerous thing to attempt. It also requires a good head for heights. In the movie some climbers reached their maximum height & could go no further. One reached the top but did not have the energy to get back down again. The reasons for this varied from altitude sickness to illness to endurance issues. Very few of us will ever venture beyond climbing Snowdon, or the Wrekin. Even these two require a certain level of fitness to reach the top. It is not easy setting out & climbing these if you are not used to climbing them or if you have health issues. Last year was the first time I climbed the Wrekin – many years struggling with endurance because of ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

From the age of 28, when I first took unwell, I struggled with endurance issues & could not do many of the things others of my age took for granted. Simple tasks beyond doing my work left me exhausted. I haven’t played football since I was 34, only could play 9 holes of golf at a time until last year, & was not able to join in with the children in strenuous things. It was hard because I loved doing sport with them or doing challenging things that stretched our fitness. One of the main issues I had to face over the years was fear & anxiety. The original illness was so debilitating, & the road back to a measure of health so hard, it deeply affected me. Only Joan really knows what it was like because I hid it well from others. She was important to my recovery.

Other factors included the prayer of others. I may not have got any better when people would lay hands on & pray for me, but I stopped getting worse. Gradually, as I read the Bible, rested & leaned into Christ, stood on His promises, refused to settle for a life of ever decreasing activity, battled through the panic attacks, learned how to cope & keep going when completely exhausted, to step a few centimetres beyond what I was capable of yesterday – I regained an ability to endure seven months after the illness started.

Endurance is the thing, in my experience, that is completely banjo’ed with ME. I would think that I feel okay, step out & find after a few minutes that I had no power & no energy left. Instead, a world of exhaustion & anxiety would rise up & invade my life. Three years later I had a huge relapse, not quite as far as before, but it changed the course of my life. I recognised a call to ministry on my life & knew that I needed to begin to answer that call seriously. I started a part time Church Training Course in Northern Ireland while farming. The two years of that course helped reorientate my life bringing me to a place where I was willing to lay everything down for the sake of Christ’s service. Joan has always been the one who stood with me, & she was also in the place to say, ‘yes’ lets follow the Lord’s call!

Bible College began in 2002 in England. Three years after the last relapse, second year of Bible college, another major relapse very near led to me giving up on Bible college. Again the battle was very tough but I managed to survive until Christmas, & continued into the spring. Out of this suddenly my grades dramatically improved & these marks continued until I finished Bible College. In February 2006 another relapse which was so severe that it really took me two years to even begin to function beyond survival mode. The last relapse was thirteen years ago – it took two years to actually function beyond leading the church, & only since 2013 that I am able to take on more than church. Jon Adams said something about fear which had a profound impact on me which led me to dive into Christ to find victory over it. Praise the Lord – He guided me to a place of victory.

I have actually been able to do things that I never believed I could do again including climb the Wrekin, play 18 holes of golf, & have a quick recovery time after exertion. It is amazing how God has used ME to sanctify me & align my will with His – His Spirit is so full of life. I still, when difficulties overwhelm or the unexpected curve ball comes, lean into, rest & abide in Jesus – He is so full of mercy, grace & love. My story is not unique & I am certainly nobody special. Perhaps you need to read this & lean into & learn to rest in Christ. Climbing to the next level may simply be stepping, by a few centimetres, beyond what you accomplished yesterday. If you do that every day, you may even have climbed to the next level in your journey without even knowing it...
Love & God Bless

Pastor Leslie
 


22 January 2019

Good morning

Christianity without Christ:
 
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the founder of the Salvation Army, General Booth, had a prophetic dream about the new century. He was later asked by an American newspaper to answer the question: ‘What in your opinion is the chief danger, social or political, that confronts the coming century?’ He replied using his prophetic dream as a basis: ‘I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be: 1. Religion without the Holy Spirit; 2. Christianity without Christ; 3. Forgiveness without repentance; 4. Salvation without regeneration; 5. Politics without God; 6. Heaven without Hell.’ His prophetic based statement was spot on. After all, Booth was a Victorian who saw a great need to preach the Gospel & minister to the poor in London’s East End. His whole life was dedicated to the cause of Christ. His legacy includes many people becoming Christians for he was a great evangelist. It is also the Salvation Army & the amazing things it does to alleviate suffering, support the needy & share life with the vulnerable
.
Booth is long dead, but his words can be equally applied to the 21st Century. Paul spoke about the values & lifestyle of many people outside of Christ in the last days before Christ’s return, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, NIV, ‘But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.’ When Jesus enters a person’s life – He changes that person by renewing their basis for life, Before Christ, we are off Adam’s line – after our salvation – we are now the offspring of Christ. In Adam, we are unable to truly please God & we are dominated by the world – in Christ, we please God because Jesus claims us as His own & God’s grace is the new controlling principle of our lives.
 
There is no-one like Jesus. He is the most wonderful, gracious, loving & terrible One. He is my Saviour, my Lord & my King. His name denotes who He is: ‘Lord,’ the Greek for Lord, kurios – includes the thought of supremacy & authority. It can mean master or owner, or be a polite title such as ‘sir,’ or can be used about idols or false gods. In Scripture, when speaking of Jesus, God the Father & the Holy Spirit, it is used with exactly the same meaning as the Hebrew Yahweh, Jehovah or Lord. ‘Jesus is Lord’ is the shortest credal confession (1 Cor 12:3). ‘Jesus’ was the name given to Him by the angel in Matthew 1:21 meaning the Saviour or Redeemer who will save His people from their sins. ‘Christ’ means the Anointed One - the One prophesied to come by the Jewish prophets.
 
True Christianity has Christ at its heart. He is the very reason we can call ourselves Christians. The challenge is that Satan is constantly trying to sideline the Lord Jesus. He wants us to focus on everything but Jesus. The more Christians focus on being good, by being religiously devoted – the happier Satan is. The more we seek to teach people how to be good, about who Jesus was, about following rules & principles to be a good Christian without introducing them to our Saviour - we are short changing them.
 
Entering into the life of Christ through faith, repentance & obedience – ushers us into a living relationship with Him which opens the door to everything else. Focussing on living out a vibrant relationship with Him, changing our thinking so we recognise that our life comes from Him, & learning to truly lean into Him in faith are key steps in bringing Christ to the heart of our Christianity. It is important to introduce others to who Jesus is, what He requires of them today, & what a living relationship with Him means & looks like. He is absolutely dependable, trustworthy & gracious. Do you know Him? Is your walk with Him like this? May Christ be at the heart of our Christianity. Amen

God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 4th January 2019

Faith, Obedience & Righteousness
Three times over Christmas I heard the same phrase at three different services: Christmas Eve Midnight – Christmas morning – New Year’s Eve. The phrase was: ‘God is always at work.’ It really struck me that first night when I heard it. Is God always at work? The answer is yes, He is. Jesus said in John 5:17, ‘My Father is always working, & so am I.’ In the context of John 5, the Jewish leaders were angry that Jesus had healed a man who had been infirmed for 38 years on the Sabbath – they believed such work to have been proscribed under the Sabbath regulations given by Moses. Jesus answer to their harassment of Him for breaking the Sabbath rules made them even more angry – for His answer meant that He was claiming to be equal with God (5:18).

How can God always be working? Theologically, the Bible has much to say about God transcending the limitations of human energy, endeavour, ability & power. In fact, the Bible clearly states that God is all-powerful, able to do anything, never fails, & never sleeps nor is tired. Jesus certainly in His Incarnation as a man got tired, needed to rest – yet He also raised the dead, healed the sick, set the demonised free from their distress, & delivered the sinner from the guilt of his or her sin. It also says that Christ upholds the entire Creation by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3), & in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). In His Incarnation, even as a baby, although His divinity was veiled it was not diminished. He was still God with all the prerogatives of God.

Out of that first mention of ‘God is always at work,’ I started to think about why we do not see the evidence of God’s work in Christ to the same degree today in our setting as some in the past have experienced it? Is it because He is less present with us than He was with our forefathers in the past? Well actually, no; according to His word the Spirit has come to remain to create the Church & to enable the Church to do the works of God. If the Spirit is just as present with us as He was previously – then why are we not seeing the amazing works that our forefathers in Christ did? First of all, sometimes it is easy to look back & see the wonderful things as an everyday occurrence. The truth is that many times biographies & historical studies gloss over the everyday mundane nature of ministry, also the setbacks, difficulties & opposition faced by many of the great ministry leaders. Oppression, opposition & uncertainty were part of their lot too.

The second answer is linked to something that I recently read; namely, that it is not that God’s power is diminished nor His presence among His people less today. God has not withdrawn. As I reflected on these issues, then three things came to the fore – namely: Faith, Obedience & Righteousness. i. Without faith I cannot please God. When I come to Him I ‘must believe that He exists & that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him’ (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is fundamental to engaging with God on God’s terms. What is faith? John Piper said that ‘the last bastion of human pride is the belief that we are the originators of our faith’ (God has allotted to each a measure of faith’ Sept 23, 1998, www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-has-alloted-to-each-a-measure-of-faith). He wrote this in connection with Romans 12:3-8. This is not the faith which is mentioned as a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:9), it is the faith given by God as a gift to each believer through His grace in Christ.

We do not have to work faith up; instead, we are to lean into the faith God already has placed in us as we read His word & hear it being preached. There is also something about associating with people who are living fully in the measure of faith they have received. Their example rubs off on us & we begin to lean more into our own measure of faith. I wonder if many of us today are so indoctrinated with Secularism & Rationalism relying on the world of sense & logic that we are aliens to the life of faith?

ii. Obedience is better than sacrifice. It opens the door to further breakthroughs in our lives (See Psalm 107:10-22). An obedient Christian is not only submissive to Christ, but he or she actually honours Christ’s Lordship in how they live their lives. True biblical obedience is accountable & recognises our accountability to God for what we do, & to one another in love. iii. In Matthew 5:6, Jesus said, ‘blessed are those who hunger & thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.’ This is not the righteousness whereby we are justified before God so that He can accept us in Christ at our salvation – that is imputed righteousness – this is imparted righteousness, the day by day righteousness that comes to us by the Spirit’s ministry within, through applying His word – what is known as sanctification righteousness. This latter type of righteousness is a breastplate for us. The opposite is an unrighteous or sin-dominated life.

May God guide us into a new season of actually walking in faith, being obedient to Him each day, & standing in His righteousness in Christ. As we enter this new way of life, then we will see God always at work around us & be a partner with Him in His work...
God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 

 

 

 


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