Archive Blog Entries 06 2018

26th June 2018

Refuel:
Fuel is such an important element in life. We all know the issues surrounding burning fossil fuels to create energy. Non-renewable sources of energy such as petrol or diesel are finite; yet the generation of so-called clean electric power is still largely done through natural gas or coal in many countries. Renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind & wave only contribute a fraction of the total global energy demand. Transport & industry are globally still reliant on fossil fuels.

The destruction & clearing of Rain Forests are still happening at a frightening rate. As a young person in the 1980’s, the rise of so-called Green issues became important to me. Of all the issues that most troubled me, way back then, was the destruction of the ‘earth’s lungs’ – what the areas of forest, & especially Rain Forest were then called. In Brazil alone, 1977 – 2015, some 770,000sq km of rain forest have been destroyed – equivalent to the entire size of Turkey, or an area over 3 times larger than the entire UK.  The rate of destruction has reduced, but is still terrible.

Food is also a fuel which sustains human & animal life. The amount of food that needs to be produced has also increased dramatically. In 1950 there were an estimated 2.5 billon people on earth; by 1980 this figure had risen to 4.5 billon; today the total is just short of 7.5 billon people. On top of that livestock consumes huge amounts of food - there are 1.4 billon cattle & almost 1 billon pigs worldwide. Human knowledge & understanding is fuelled by books, text books, computers & industrial, commercial, social & health needs. Without fuel everything fails or dies. Different types of fuels are traded as a commodity making many rich in the process.

What started me thinking about all of this was during the 7am Prayers at church this morning – a prayer was said about how church refuels our souls & spiritual lives. We are refuelled by spending time in God’s presence, especially as part of a group of brothers & sisters in Christ. As we worship together, hear God’s word being read & preached, pray together, give together & seek the Spirit’s fullness, presence & power – we are refuelled. It refuels our souls by:  feeding our minds so that they are being transformed, our hearts/emotions become whole & more submissive to Christ, conforming our wills so that we determine to do that which pleases Christ, & enhances our ability to love ourselves & others thus enriching our relationships. This time not only feeds our souls – it feeds our spirits. We leave knowing that Father God delights in us, feeling more connected to His Kingdom than to the world’s kingdoms, & more alive in Christ.

Of course, as we leave a church service or gathering or group, Satan desires to rob us of any benefits we received & so throws all sorts of things at us which are designed to drain away the fuel of heaven which we just received. He wants to replace it with the toxic & destructive things he offers. The world also encroaches & demands that we conform to its blueprint for a good life often driving us to exhaustion & despair in the process. Our own ill-discipline, & lack of clarity about how to possess our spirit & soul in a good way so that we are spiritually enriched & maturing as disciples, affects as well. Instead of feeling the good of being refuelled in church – we sometimes can be guilty of coming away thinking that church or our life group or prayer meeting drained us.  

God’s word says not to forsake meeting together as Christians. Standing on this truth, it is the Spirit who inspired the human authors who wrote the Bible, means that we commit to obey & to meet together. I proclaim the blessings of clarity of understanding about how important church is as a refuel point for our spirits & souls - & of discernment & godly maturity in order not to lose the heavenly fuel we receive there. In Jesus’ name. Amen
God Bless

Pastor Leslie


10th June 2018

Your Testimony:

Your story or testimony is a powerful spiritual weapon. It can help overcome Satan’s attacks. How to give your Testimony & use it outside of Church is what I want to look at this week – I spoke about it in Church this evening. One of the famous verses on this is Revelation 12:11 ‘They overcame him (the Devil or Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, & by the word of their testimony, & they did not love their lives unto the death’

Paul used a long version of his testimony twice in the book of Acts: Before King Agrippa in chapter 26 - & previously in Acts 21:37- 22:21. Here he used it to identify with the crowd in Jerusalem who had attacked him. In that setting, facing a hostile Jewish audience, he began by emphasising his Jewish heritage 21:39; 22:1-3. Paul spoke about who he was before his conversion: a Good Pharisee – who was well taught by the leading Jewish teacher, Gamaliel (22:3b). Paul was an inquisitor (22:4), persecuting the Way, Christians, even travelling beyond Israel to Damascus to do so.

He then told if his own conversion experience on the road to Damascus (22:6-10). Paul highlighted his first encounter with Christ (6); how Christ challenged him about what Paul was doing to Christians (7), ‘why are you persecuting Me?’ This must have been a terrible challenge as he was beginning to discover who Jesus really was - Lord & Saviour (8). He included some context - the effect on those travelling with him (9), before saying how he had humbled himself before Jesus, ‘what shall I do Lord?’ (10).

The effects of this encounter, he was blinded by the Lord’s light & as a result needed to be led by the hand to Damascus - humbled & blinded (11). Ananias, a wonderful Christian, was sent to him - God was also at work in other people around him (12-13a). This led to Paul’s healing & his new life’s commission in Christ (13b-16). This included his miraculous encounter with Christ’s healing power (13), which meant that he could now ‘ look up’ (13) – in v.7 he had humbled himself before the Lord Jesus, looked down. Paul was chosen by God... (14), to know His will - see Jesus - & to hear from God. Paul mentioned his water baptism (16); & a piece about him being back in Jerusalem (17-21). As he was in the Temple praying (17), he saw a vision & received revelation from the Lord – Jesus told him to escape, for the Jewish leaders were not open to receive his testimony (18). He confessed the destructive nature of his former life before his salvation in Christ & then that he had escaped in obedience to the Lord’s command (21).

How do I construct a testimony? It depends on the setting where it is being used, & who is listening, but should be about 3 – 7mins long. Seek to identify with your listeners & be time sensitive – less is more. Bring out who you were before your conversion. How you encountered the message about Jesus for the first time; or the first time it really had an impact on you. Mention when you discovered what Jesus was really asking you to do; & how this then affected you. It is good to speak a little about your conversion; or when the realisation of a living faith in Christ arose within. Mention your water baptism; & how you encountered the call of Jesus to follow Him in discipleship.

It is good to reveal how your conversion affected others in your family, friends or even work colleagues. Any dramatic experiences are worth recounting – one or two instances such as...a definite answer to prayer - discovering the power of the Bible & its truth – how you were baptised or filled with the Spirit; a healing or deliverance you may have experienced. If you are clear about, mention what you believe God has chosen you to do. Also highlight what are the results of your salvation – how it has positively changed you in a godly way Christ-honouring way.

When can you use your testimony? In overcoming Satan & the world, (Rev 12) under the blood of Christ. 1 John 1:7, ‘But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, & the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.’ The following is an outline anyone can use to write up their Testimony – a useful & good thing to do: 1. Who was I before my conversion - 2. Encountering Jesus & My conversion experience - 3. Discovering who Jesus is & what He asks of me - 4. Any dramatic Experiences – 5. What He has called me to do -  6. The positive results of your salvation, including the godly change in your life. Father, may You guide us to be clear in developing our testimony, when to use it, how to use it, & where to use it. Grant us divine appointments during which we can share it to the glory & honour of our Lord Jesus. Amen
God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 


5th June 2018

Overflowing Zoe Life:

I have been meditating on John 10:10 a lot recently: ‘The thief does not come except to steal, & to kill, & to destroy. I have come that they may have life, & that they may have it more abundantly.’ The Greek word here for ‘life’ is zoe. There are two other words used for life in the NT: bios, the life of the physical body (Luke 8:14); psuche, the life of the soul that is at the heart of what makes us human including the life that animates our relationships, emotions, mind & will (Matthew 16:24-26, ‘Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, & take up his cross, & follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, & loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’).

Zoe is the life that comes from the eternal uncreated life of Christ. John 1:4, ‘In Him was life (zoe), & the life (zoe) was the light of men.’ The Word, our Lord Jesus, is the source of eternal life. Life does not exist in its own right – even bios or psuche life need a spark to create them – reproduction. While we live, the life of the physical body & soul remain; the moment we die they are extinguished & are no more. However, zoe is the life that comes from God & only can be received by us by faith. John 20:30-31 in the Message conveys this truth really well, ‘Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, & in the act of believing, have real & eternal life (zoe) in the way he personally revealed it.’ It is in the act of believing in Christ, of saving faith, that we received real & eternal life.

In John 10, we have two characters introduced, the thief & Christ. Christ comes to give us true, eternal life – He is not a hired hand who is only interested in his personal gain. The thief or hired hand comes to rob people of a saving faith in Christ which is the only chance to receive God’s true life. In fact, the Greek implies that he comes to kill for his own purposes, ‘kill for food.’ He destroys the potential a person has to live as God intends, the life of faith & fruitfulness in Christ. Jesus is unselfish & gives life through His death – He became a sacrifice which dealt with that which separated me from Father God, my sinful nature, my sin & spiritual death. The thief is selfish & uncaring about the best interests of the sheep; he devours them for personal gain; & is committed only to his own life, not the spiritual lives of the sheep.

John 5:39-40, NLT, ‘You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to Me! Yet you refuse to come to Me to receive this life.’ It is by coming to the Lord Jesus in faith & surrender that we receive His life. Leon Morris wrote, ‘Jesus is the Life-bringer & the Light-bearer.’ Therefore, zoe life is only found in Christ, He is the only source. It is not a better or improved human life that He offers – it is the eternal life that comes from God. It is the increase of the benefits of the zoe within me that God wants to release. It is found in my death to self. As I die to self, as I count myself dead to the world, as I pursue this zoe life – then I find myself experiencing this richer more full & satisfying life. As my capacity to benefit from His life, by my faith growing & my surrender to Christ becoming more complete, confusion & darkness recede, & clarity, understanding & His light increase within me. In Christ, my life becomes as it was designed to be: life filled with His love & truth.
God Bless
Pastor Leslie

 


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