Archive blog entries 09 2017

24th September 2017

 

Good evening everyone


The Spirit & the Lord Jesus:

Last week I wrote about walking with the Lord Jesus. As part of that I briefly mentioned how the Gospel writers presented Jesus’ relationship with the Spirit – completely united & indivisible. The Spirit came down upon Him in bodily form as a Dove at Jesus’ baptism, remained upon Him & associated Himself completely with His life & ministry. In order for an intimate, close relationship with Jesus to develop - we also need the complete association of the Spirit with us to help us. We need His godly presence, power for ministry & life, & His character, nature & truth in order to mature in faith & truly walk with Jesus.

At the outset it is important to emphasise that it is only in relationship with Christ that we can have a loving relationship with the Spirit. Apart from a saving trust in Christ, walking with the Spirit is impossible. In the book of Acts, the NIV translation refers to the Spirit as ‘the Spirit of Jesus.’ Paul in Philippians 1:19, calls Him, ‘the Spirit of Jesus Christ.’ This is not another Spirit, but the same Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. Both Luke & Paul want us to understand how close & united the Trinity of Father, Son & Holy Spirit are. By calling Him the Spirit of Jesus, Father God isn’t diminished or robbed of honour because many times elsewhere He is called ‘the Spirit of God.’ In fact, whoever honours the Son honours the Father (John5:23), & thus we begin to understand the amazing wonder of the relationship between Father, Son & Spirit.

One of the most important passages dealing with our standing with God & the nature of salvation is Romans 8:9-11, NLT, ‘But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.’ Here Paul sets our past & present side by side. In the past, before being saved in Christ, we were controlled by our base, sinful nature which was ultimately rebellious against God’s will & opposed to His blueprint for life. Now in the present, in Christ, we are to be under the control or authority of the Spirit – if we are true Christians. Then Paul states that if we do not have the Spirit of Christ living within, we are not a child of God through faith in Christ. It is impossible to be a Christian & not have the Holy Spirit; it is possible, I believe, to be a Christian & not live in the Spirit’s power & with a full appreciation or experience of His tangible presence.

Paul also emphasises the basis for the open & right relationship with God by using the title, ‘the Spirit of Christ.’ The relationship between the Spirit & Jesus is so close & harmonious that He then states that it is Christ who lives within through the person of the Spirit. Many miss this to their cost. As human beings we think in terms of separation, individuality & uniqueness. In terms of the relationship between Jesus & the Spirit we need to think in terms of unity, community & perfect compatibility. They both have unique personalities but are perfectly one, & are absolutely committed to each other without the presence of doubt, identity issues nor envy to cast a shadow on their relationship. This is really hard for us to grasp & understand, but it is essential that we allow this Scriptural truth to permeate & take root as the basis for our understanding of the relationship between the Spirit & Jesus.

To be filled with the power of the Spirit, is to be able to truly proclaim Christ as Saviour & step beyond the limitations of the human mind into the miraculous provision opened to us through the substitutionary, atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Spirit of Jesus, may my life proclaim His reality & Gospel, reveal Him as he is, & bring glory to our Lord Jesus. Amen


God Bless
Pastor Leslie


17th September 2017

 

Good Evening


Walking with the Lord Jesus:

Many Christians envy those early disciples who got to spend each day with the Lord Jesus. They had an opportunity to listen to Him, experience His physical presence & see how He ministered to people. From reading the Gospels it is obvious that He carried an incredible authority, they were in awe of Him. Even in the early scenes with Jesus’ mother & father, there is a recognition that this boy was very human, Mary said to Him, ‘son, why have you done this to us? Look, Your father & I have sought You anxiously’ (Luke 2:48), but also unique, Jesus’ replied, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ (2:49). His parents were anxious about the safety of their 12 year old son – Jesus was amazed that they lacked discernment & understanding failing to recognise His higher calling.

When we come to the introduction of Jesus’ Messianic ministry, each of the Gospel writers do so in a slightly different manner. Matthew presents the effect of His Incarnation on those who witnessed it or heard about it before later narrating the ministry stories. His father Joseph initially thinking his betrothed Mary was unfaithful, & in this Matthew presents four great things about Joseph: 1.An honourable man – not wanting to make a public spectacle of Mary whom he thought had been unfaithful; 2. A contemplative man - not hot-headed nor impetus, ‘while he thought about these things;’ 3. A disciplined man - able to wait to have sex with his new wife until after Jesus’ birth; 4. An obedient man – he called Him Jesus as instructed by the angel.

Mark launches straight into Jesus’ ministry bypassing His childhood, Mark 1:1, with the wonderful, ‘The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ Thus the content of Jesus’ message is foremost in His mind culminating in the cross. Mark 10:45 is the defining verse in his Gospel, ‘for the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, & to give His life a ransom for many.’ Luke sets a detailed prophetic base for the rest of Jesus’ life & ministry, & introduces the godly characters who become the extended family of Jesus. He presents both John the Baptist’s miraculous birth & Jesus’, & how both boys grew up with the favour of God on their lives. Whereas, John’s Gospel begins with his magisterial opening prologue, 1:1-18, which is still one of the greatest & most profound pieces of writing in history, ‘In the beginning was the Word, & the Word was with God, & the Word was God...’

Setting aside the effect Jesus had on His disciples & the people He encountered on His itinerant ministry tours – it is impossible to read the four Gospels without being drawn to the intimacy of Jesus’ relationship with Father God. His relationship with Father was completely open, transparent & loving. His complete desire was to please, commune with & fulfil His Father’s will. If we are truly to walk with Jesus – then these will be the things He will draw us to do as we develop our relationship with Him maturing in faith, deepening our spirituality, & strengthening our whole-hearted devotion to His cause, His will & His glory.

It is also the way the Gospel writers present His relationship with the Spirit – completely united & indivisible – that inspires us to desire a similar relationship. The Spirit came down upon Him in bodily form as a Dove at Jesus’ baptism, remained upon Him & associated Himself completely with Jesus’ life & ministry. The closer we walk with Jesus, the more open, transparent & loving will our relationship with Father God will be. We will experience & understand more & more the true nature of the Father heart of God. In order for that intimacy to develop - we also need the complete association of the Spirit with us. We need His godly presence, power for ministry & life, & His character, nature & truth. As we walk with Jesus then intimacy with Father develops, the fullness of the Spirit enables this, more & more pleasing Father, doing His will, communing more transparently with Him. Most of all, we will get to walk with Jesus. There is no greater thing in this life...


God Bless
Pastor Leslie


14th September 2017

 

Good evening everyone


Exploring God’s Love 2:

 

Last week I considered God’s Love. This week I want to continue this theme including considering how we need to pray for love, in all its complexity & wonder, to fill our lives, especially filled with God’s love. At the heart of life is a precious gift - to love & be loved. Although sadly some children are not wanted nor loved by their parents, most experience love & the security that comes from that from the womb. Unlike our one English word for love, the Greeks had four words to express it & storge is the Greek word that expresses this family love. It included the love of parents for a child, between members of the family, even between husband & wife in a good marriage. A storge love creates a deep family bond, an abiding affection within the family, & helps the family to truly connect with each other. This is not the only quality of love that we need, but it is an important one which transforms our lives for the better. Other character qualities also need to be developed in order for a person to become a rounded, secure, loving & gracious human being.

Without love, life becomes hollow & threadbare, with love, it becomes fulfilling & exciting. 1 John 4:7-21, brings love to the fore & explores it in one of its most significant forms, agape – ‘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 one receives God’s love, each person needs to allow it to do its creative work causing agape love to grow & establish itself within.  We need to engage with God desiring this selfless love to grow & flourish; this love within will then materialise through our actions, words, non-verbal communications, & reactions. 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.
 
Another Greek word is eros: passionate, physical, emotional & sexual love. This is the love of the body & material world. Eros love produces the need for physical contact & relationships. It is also a good love, a love that is supposed to be at the heart of marriage producing joy, children & adventure; it is also expresses itself in a love for nature & creation. However, because it is also linked closely to the physical, it has the greatest potential for becoming soiled, dirty & infected with the world’s lusts & anti-Christ philosophies for relationships. If eros love is not brought under the lordship of Christ, & thus sanctified or set apart as holy, then it quickly degenerates into a carnal, fleshy & lustful feelings led, base, sinful love.

Interestingly, 1 Timothy 6:10 contains another love word, philarguria, ‘love or affection for money.’ There Paul says that the love for or affection for money is a root of all kinds of evil. The Greek literally means ‘a friend of silver.’ This is not a normal love for making money, in itself no sin; it is avarice, an extreme greed or longing for wealth or material gain. This is a greed that drives a person to person to do anything for wealth or great material prosperity. In that sense it is not a love for money, but a deep seated greed for money. However, the root of phila... is philos, a friend who has affection for, an associate; it is also the root for phileo, the fourth Greek word for love: a love that is a deep affection for another, that produces a deep friendship, or a family-like interest in another person.

Last week I said that Phileo describes a much warmer, more emotional, community type of love. Therefore, with what I have written above: Eros, properly sanctified by Christ, adds a physical passion which enhances life; Agape, brings the selfless, grace-filled love of God to us in Christ; Storge, connects us to each other creating the family bond. Father God, may each of these four unique & wonderful descriptions which reveal so much about the depth of Your love, & our capacities to love as human beings, be recognised by us & society. May such a wonderful holistic love fill us, mould us & motivate us to become the redeemed, loving people You originally designed us to be in Jesus. Amen


God Bless
Pastor Leslie


3rd September 2017

 

Good evening everyone


Exploring God’s Love:

 

This morning in Church I preached about four aspects of God’s Love before seeking to apply it. God’s Love is miraculous – completely wonderful. 1. Security – to know one is loved by God is amazing. John 3:35, ‘The Father loves the Son & has given all things [or put everything] into His hands.’ We can trust Jesus in all things. Here, in the context of John 3, referring especially to the gift of life in the Spirit; just as the Father had complete authority, so the Son had the full authority to give the Spirit & eternal life. Jesus was fully God, but also fully human & depended on the Father just as other people like you or me. His love is covenant based – that is absolutely sure because He is the One sworn to uphold the New Covenant. It is based on three things: 1. His promises; 2. The life, atoning death, resurrection & ascension of Christ; 3. The outpouring & ongoing presence of the Spirit in the Church & believers. These three aspects are absolutely dependable, will never fail & can be trusted completely.

 

2. True – The love of God is completely trustworthy, but also absolutely pure, righteous & true. We can trust its integrity & purity. John 5:20, ‘For the Father loves the Son.’ The Father completely & unreservedly loved, & loves, Jesus; & the wonderful thing is that He loves us just as much. This phrase is the only time that phileo is used to describe God’s love for Jesus in John’s Gospel. Phileo describes a much warmer, more emotional, family type of love that the Father also had for the Son – different from the usual agape which speaks of the divine, completely selfless & overwhelming love of God. The Greek tense is in the continuous, it is the ongoing love Father God has for His beloved Son. The truth of His love has the power to overcome every lie, every deception & every evil, malignant word as it operates in & through His people & Church.

 

3. Powerful - As already indicated, Father God’s love for Jesus was absolutely unbreakable. No human being has ever loved another in such a way. The amazing thing is that God loves us with the same love – John 17:23, NLT, ‘I [Jesus] am in them & You [Father] are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me & that You love them as much as You love Me.’ We often focus on the unity section in John17, but by doing so we can miss the extraordinary truth that God Almighty loves us as much as He loves Jesus, & His Spirit. What total love. The difference between us & Jesus is that He loved the Father just as much as the Father loved Him – in this life we will never love as completely & truly. In 17:26, Jesus’ prayer concluded with, ‘& I have declared to them Your name, & I will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, & I in them.’ It is one thing to be loved so completely by God, to know about it, but here Jesus prays for that love to be released inside of us so that we can begin to experience it & its benefits. Also that we would know the life & transforming love of the indwelling Christ – beautiful & inspiring words which have the power to turn sinners into saints, the faithless into the faithful, the weak into grace-filled warriors for Christ, & emptiest into the fullest. Living with such love working within is a powerful, life-changing experience. It opens a door into a new state of being filled with strength, faith, hope, joy & God’s love.

 

4. Giving – John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one & only Son, only begotten, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.’ God’s love led Him to act, to give the most sacred thing – His own Son. His love still compels Him to act on the behalf of His people, & through them reaching out with His Words of life, in Jesus, to the lost world lying under the power of sin, Satan & self. Jesus also gave God’s word to His disciples (John 17:14), a most precious commodity, & asks us to share that same saving word with the world so others can believe in Jesus & be saved. He also gave us His glory; 17:22, ‘& the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are One.’ Jesus’ path of glory included lowly service culminating in the Cross. The glory He shares with us includes the true glory of taking the lowly pathway of service for Christ, wherever it may lead, which makes us One as we believe in & are baptised into Christ. In response, that love should lead us to become spiritually mature givers of our own talents, time & treasure to the cause of Christ & for His Kingdom’s glory.

 

God Bless.
Pastor Leslie

 


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