Sunday, 25 December 2016

A Short Christmas Message.~ Ganeida

Last night Hanukkah began.  This morning we celebrate the birth of Christ even though we know Christ was not born on December 25th.  Both are celebrations of a great victory of light over darkness & both are a time of coming together with family & community but the focus too often shifts from Christ to too much food & expensive gifts & we know this is a time when alcohol fueled violence increases & for many, many people it is a time of loneliness, isolation & great sadness. I understand.  I buried my youngest brother just a week or so before Christmas. For many others, & my youngest daughter is one, there is nothing quite like the glitz & sparkle & anticipation of Christmas.

There are some truths I can tell you.  God loves celebrations.  He invented them.  It was His idea to have the *moed*, special times of celebration when His people were to come apart & spend some quality time with Him. Jesus loved celebrations.  His first miracle was at a wedding.  He was accused of being a wine bibber & a glutton [Luke 7:34] & you don’t get accused of such things by staying home & being sombre!

I also happen to know Jesus acknowledged Hanukkah ~ by one of its other names, Feast of Dedication. [John 10:22] It was at Hanukkah that the Pharisees demanded, If you are the Christ, Tell us plainly.

We often hear Christians draw the analogy between Christ’s birth as the Father’s gift to a fallen world & the giving of gifts to each other & there is some truth to that but there is so much more to the story.

Philippians 2:7/8 says: Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross.

I cannot imagine ~ & I have tried! What it meant for the God of the universe to lay aside His glory & place himself at the mercy of mere humans as a baby whose every need was dependant on another. The God who spoke a word & separated the light from the darkness, who could call upon legions of angels to do His every bidding, who raised the dead, made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, confined within a womb, absolutely helpless.

James 1:17 says: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Jesus was the perfect lamb without spot or blemish, slain from the foundation of the world.  Christmas is about one thing, & one thing only: This is the point in time wherein God entered into man’s dimension to accomplish one purpose, & one purpose only: to die that men might live.

I like babies.  They are cute & cuddly & completely non~threatening but the thing about babies is that they grow up. Every parent knows they only have a set amount of time in which to train up a child.  God had 30 years to train up His son that He might become the gift beyond all gifts to the nations of the world. He trained Him to be a slave.  He trained Him to be a servant. He trained Him in obedience. When He was fully trained He was sent to the cross.

Christmas has always been about the cross.  Without a birth there could not have been a death & a death was necessary.  The wages of sin is death & all have fallen short of the glory of God.  All of us were condemned under the law to death until Jesus took the penalty for our sin upon Himself. It is not the sort of gift you finding lying under a Christmas tree.  It has no monetary value yet cost the giver His very heart’s blood.

If we followed the Jewish calendar Hanukkah & Christmas would fall together each year giving greater meaning to Jesus words in John 8:12 ~ "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." In Matthew 5:14 He says: “You are the light of the world.”   Because one of the names for Hanukkah is Festival of Lights.

It is no coincidence that light surrounded the birth of Jesus: there was that star ~ & the heavenly host lighting up the night sky where shepherds watched their flocks.  What He brought was a kingdom ruled by Light, a kingdom where the first became last & the last first, where those who ruled were the slaves of all.

So this year we are going to do things a little differently.  I am going to hand out some coupons. As sons & daughters of the Light we are going to practise being that Light.  I admit to having a head start on the rest of you but don’t let that deter you.  On the first small coupons [& you should have one for each person here] write out a blessing over their life.  It could be for health, finances, increase, wisdom ~ anything at all & before we take communion we will take a moment to speak those blessings over each other, a gift that costs nothing except some time & thought. To help you if you want something scriptural I have some sheets with biblical blessings listed. You can find them here: 

The larger coupon is to take away.  Think about someone in your family or community you would like to bless in a nonmonetary way & present the coupon to them to be redeemed at a suitable time.

Here is the blessing I chose for our church community this Christmas starting @ Deuteronomy 28:5

…"Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.Blessed shall you be when you come in, & Blessed shall you be when you go out.The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways. The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you.…

Monday, 19 December 2016

Choices [4]~ Rabqa

Today brings us to the last in the teaching on choices.

Gen 12:4 So Abram departed as the LORD had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.

In Genesis 12:1-9 it forms a pivotal section. It foreshadows the latter patriarchs, & the entire line of David, including the Messiah. It is also the seedbed for the biblical concept of the blessings of God at work in the lives of His people to counter the effects of the curse.

In verse 1 God commands Abram to get out from his family which was a test of faith to him. He was called to give up everything that was dear to him for an unknown land. How Abram came to know Yahweh is not revealed.

God's plan from the beginning of redemptive history has been global. God's work in Abram's life will be so evident that he shall be a blessing to all families of the earth.

Throughout Old Testament history, individuals & nations who blessed Abram's descendants were blessed by God; those who persecuted them, God cursed.

For twenty five years Abraham believed the promise that God would give him a son. For twenty five years, he stood face-to-face with God on the promise, every year expecting to have a son. Sarah was becoming weaker, & Abraham’s own stamina & body were becoming frailer. Natural conditions were changing both Sarah & him so that as far as they could see it would be humanly impossible for them to bring forth fruit. Abraham dared not look either at Sarah or Himself in that respect.

He chose to look at God. You cannot find anywhere that God ever failed. He wants to brings us into that blessed place of faith, which will change us into a real substance of faith, until we are so like-minded that whatever we ask, we will believe we receive, & our joy becomes full because we believe. I want you to see how God covered Abraham because he believed.

Hear what God said to Abraham, & then see how Abraham acted. He was among his own people & his own kindred, & God said to him "Come out, Abraham, come out" & Abraham obeyed Him & came out, not knowing where he was going. You
will never go through with God in any area except by choosing to believe in Him. It is "Thus says the Lord" every time, & you will see the plan of God come right through when you dare to believe. Abraham left his own country, & God was with Him. Because he believed, & God overshadowed him.

When God sets His seal upon you, the devil will not dare break it. You know what a seal is, don't you? So when God puts His seal upon you, the devil has no power there. He will not dare to break that seal, God puts His seal on the people who choose to believe Him.

There are two kinds of righteousness. There is the righteousness that is according to the law, the keeping of the law, but there is a better righteousness then that. You may ask, "what could be better then keeping the law?" The answer is—The righteousness that sees God & obeys Him in everything is better.

The righteousness that believes that every prayer uttered is going to bring the answer from God is better. There is a righteousness that is made only to the heart that knows God. There is a side to the inner man that God can reveal only to the
ones who chooses to believe Him.

There are many scriptural illustrations as well as personal ones to show us how God works with those who believe Him. One of the greatest examples of all is where God worked in Abraham. There were many good points about Sarah, but she had not reached the place of fully trusting God. She laughed then denied having done so. Gen 18:12, 15.

So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” V15 Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But the LORD said, “No, you did laugh.” We learn in In Genesis 17:17 that Abraham also laughed, as well as Sarah, God's harsher reaction with her (17:19) indicates that Sarah was persistent in her unbelief, not mere astonishment. They had waited a long time & she had seen that their bodies were growing frailer, so she said "It will be good just as good for you to take Hagar for a wife & bring forth a son through her." (Gen 16:1&2). But that was not the seed of Abraham that God had spoken about, consequently that caused a great deal of trouble in Abraham’s house. We see from this that is so unwise to go beyond God's choice. The one who walks with God needs to choose to follow His leadings, & when He leads you, it is direct & clear. The evidence is so real that every day you know that God is with you, unfolding His plan to you.

It is great to be in the will of God, I cannot say it it more clearly—CHOOSE LIFE. We will go back to our Scripture Deut 30:19 AMP I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live There is a higher order than the natural man, & God wants to bring us into that order where we will choose to believe Him. In the first place God promised Abraham a son. Could a child be born into the world, except through the natural law? It was when all natural law was finished & when there was no substance in these two people, Abraham & Sarah, that the law of the Spirit brought forth a son. It was the law of faith in God who had promised. Choose to believe that His promises are yes & amen.

We learn in Matthew 7:13-14 to choose to suspect things that are popular or favoured by the world. Jesus motivates His disciples to live righteously by emphasising that such living comes from the heart with love & trust, more then through some external code of ethics. Consequently, New Testament wisdom reveals the differences between a correct behaviour, based only on the law, & righteous actions that proceed that proceed from a new life reborn in Christ. VV 15 & 16 show us that there are many false prophets who pretend to be Christian guides, but whose real purpose is selfish & destructive. We must test those claiming to prophesy by their fruit, that is by their life-style, character, teaching & influence. Be warned what you practice demonstrates your relationship with Jesus.

Never undervalue obedience. Know that many who who expect divine approval will receive censure or even judgement instead. VV21-23 teach that Jesus warns against self-deception or a mere verbal profession of Lordship without obedience to the will of God. Choose to walk in the authority of the Scriptures
& the name of Jesus with a genuine obedient discipleship. We see in Matthew 11:28-30 In contrast to the heavy burden of Jewish legalism Jesus calls for an open, free & loyal relationships.

He says in V 29 Take my yoke upon you & learn from me for I am gentle & lowly in heart & you will find rest for your souls. WE learn from this that His yoke enables obedience to the Law of righteousness. In God's Word there is always more to follow, always more to know. If only we could be like children taking in the mind of God, what wonderful things would happen. Choose to apply the Bible to your life, It is just great. Don't worry about those who only take part of it. You take it all. When we get such a thirst that nothing can satisfy us but God, we will then have the best time. The child of God must have reality all the time. After the child of God comes into the sweetness of the perfume of His presence, he will have the hidden treasures of God. He will always be feeding on that truth that will make life full of glory.

There are no dry places in God, all good things come out of hard times. The harder the place you are in, the more blessings come out of it as you yield to His plan. If we had known God's plan in it's fullness, we might never have had a tear in our life. God is so abundant, so full of love & mercy; there is no lack to those who trust Him. Choose the life God can give you, a touch of reality so that you will know beyond any shadow of doubt that you can trust Him. What an example of faith is found in Mark 2 in the story of the paralytics' healing. When the sick man's four friends found the house where Jesus was staying was too crowded to enter, the men asked among themselves what should they do. There is always a way.

I have never found faith to fail. May the Holy Spirit give us a new touch of faith in God's unlimited power. May we have living faith that will dare to trust Him & say "Lord I choose to believe. There was no room, not even at the door (mark 2:2), but these men said "Lets go up on the roof". Unbelieving people would say. "Oh that's silly, ridiculous & foolish! But people of faith say "We must get our friend help at all costs. It is nothing
to move the roof. Lets go up & through." Choose to say to day, "Lord, take me & let me go through; let me drop right into your arms." it is the best place to drop into, out of your self-righteousness, out of your self-consciousness, out of your unbelief.

Some people have been in a strange place of deadness for years, but God can shake them out of it. We need to thank God some of the moulds have been broken. We are blessed when the old mould gets broken, for God has a new mould. There are so many reasons why we should choose to follow Jesus: He came to earth, He came to be the Saviour for the world, that's right every one of us He didn't leave anyone out. He came because mankind was saddled with sin. We were at enmity with God. We struggled under a curse. The sentence of death had been passed on to us through Adam's sin. But because of Jesus the dawn of light & life was given to each one of us. To have that light & that life we must choose to accept God's plan of salvation through Jesus, every infraction is lifted off our soul & the Word promises that all sin is washed away, never to be remembered (1John 1:9, Heb 8:12).

The power of real forgiveness changes us at heart level. Choosing Jesus as the Truth the Way & the Life means that you are not left out. The love & grace of God through Jesus is a forgiving & life-giving gift to you. It does not matter who we were, where we are, or what situation we find ourselves in this life, freedom is available. We access our freedom at soul level when we accept the love & forgiveness of Jesus - & when we let go of guilt that should not belong to anyone of us.

Jesus came to make atonement not only for the world's sin but also for it's guilt. You see guilty conscience is the greatest plague we can have because it affects everything you do, even if we try to ignore it. Guilt is a plague & sin injects it deeply into our heart. Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. There is conviction yes! but it does not make us feel guilty, it simply opens our eyes to the truth. I think this the greatest reason to choose Christ, is that we have a second home, that is our home in heaven where we can live for all eternity with Him & to praise & worship him in person.

In Matthew 6:10J eus prayed for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, He wants us to have an abundance in every area, health, joy, peace, contentment, wisdom & all the rest. Jesus prayed that God's will be done here "In earth as it is in heaven". This is an amazing clue as to what is possible with God regardless of your location. Jesus' prayer means that it is possible for God's will to be done as it is in Heaven right here on earth. Remember that nothing is impossible for God & His will always brings abundance—because again abundance is the nature of God. Do not let anyone talk you out of what belongs to you here on earth! Study the Word, accept God's love—the abundant life is always God will for YOU. Continue to renew your mind with God's Word. Get deep inside of your mind & heart so that you have abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, wholeness & blessings. That is what Jesus' birth is all about.

John 10:10 tells us that He came with a purpose – to give us life & to give it more abundantly. Deut 7:6 For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. Holy refers to a separated people, Israel was a holy people because of their relationship with God. Their relationship was a result of a divine choice whose essence remains a mystery. This declaration of love was spoken over the nation of Israel. God had set them apart for Himself & had chosen them to be His own treasured possession.

 We know that as Christians, we have been grafted into the vine (Romans 11:16-18) and now share in the spiritual blessings from Abraham that God had originally declared over the nation of Israel. We too are a special people that God has chosen for Himself, His treasured possession. Ephesians 1:3-6 tells us how God lovingly chose us before the creation of the world to be adopted as His beloved children in Christ.

 My question today is this... Do you feel the astronomical value that God has placed on your life? If not, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how much you are treasured by your heavenly Father! I believe that if you ask Him today, He will be faithful to show you just how much you are loved and valued by God. In Romans 5:5 the Apostle Paul writes... Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

We know that hope of great future blessings will not turn out to be false, because the Holy Spirit gives lavish evidence in our hearts of God's love for us. In Closing remember: Everything we do begins with a choice. You choose what to eat for breakfast, you chose your job, you chose your friends & even your spouse. But ultimately, you & I have a choice to either live for God or not. That is called free will, that means freedom to choose, which is an amazing gift from God which He gives to all of us.

The leaders of Jesus' day knew that He was real. They believed in Him, but their love of people's approval would not permit them to have a true relationship with Him. I ask myself how did their lives turn out. What did they miss because they said YES to people & NO to God? I wonder how many of them were never mentioned in the Bible again. I wonder did they fade into oblivion & never fulfilled their destinies because they loved the approval of man more then the approval of God. How many of them spent their lives disrespecting themselves just because they were people pleaser’s & not God pleaser’s.

Jesus' death on the cross changed the conditions of all humankind standing before the judge of heaven. Jesus was innocent; He never sinned & therefore deserved to live. But He chose to take our place. Each one of us are fugitives, guilty of sins punishable by death. But the judgement that provoked the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus when He died for the sins of the world. With the cause of justice having been fulfilled by His Son's blood, the Judge of heaven is free to extend mercy to all sinners without being crooked or corrupt.

Choose to say to day, "Lord, take me & let me go through; let me drop right into your arms." it is the best place to drop into, out of your self-righteousness, out of your self-consciousness, out of your unbelief. Some people have been in a strange place of deadness for years, but God can shake them out of it. We need to thank God some of the moulds have been broken.

We are blessed when the old mould gets broken, for God has a new mould. Last but not least remember to choose life so that your descendants may live.

Acknowledgements Smith Wigglesworth.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Discipleship: Law & Grace ~ Ganeida

 This is a teaching sermon where we pull apart some of the ideas around a doctrine to see how it works but never forget it needs to be put back together again & actually applied to your life.

Last time we spoke we talked about what Jesus meant, & what His disciples understood Him to mean, when He invited them to Follow Me.

I am going to recap quickly.
Firstly Follow Me, are the traditional Jewish words used by a rabbi to call a disciple.  The first disciples understood they were being asked to come under the Yoke of Torah & learn what the Torah meant & how to apply it in their daily lives according to Jesus.

We have Jesus words in Matthew 5:7  to consider: "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

If Jesus did not abolish the Torah what does Paul mean when he teaches that we are not under the law? Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14/15

What was the purpose that Jesus came to accomplish & how did He do that?

To answer both questions you need to understand that besides the 10 commandments most people know of there are 613 commandments in the Torah; 248 Positive Commandments (do's) and 365 Negative Commandments (do not's).  The Jews were [& are] required to keep all of them. They covered 3 areas: civil law, ritual law, & moral law.

When we look at what Jesus understood by the law He condensed the entire torah & all the prophets into just 2 things: Jesus replied, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37~39

We have 2 other questions that need to be addressed:
·      By whose authority did Jesus teach?
·      What did Paul mean by Grace?

I will try & keep it simple. The Jews were, & are, judged & condemned under the law of Moses.

Here are 2 different translations of Romans 2:12 :

Romans 2:12 (CJB) All who have sinned outside the framework of Torah will die outside the framework of Torah; and all who have sinned within the framework of Torah will be judged by Torah.

Romans 2:12 (GNTA) The Gentiles do not have the Law of Moses; they sin and are lost apart from the Law. The Jews have the Law; they sin and are judged by the Law.

Romans 7:12~13 says But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good. But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God's good commands for its own evil purposes.

It sounds complicated but all it is saying is you won’t be judged by what you don’t know ~ but don’t let that make you complacent in sin because Romans 2:4 says it is possible to instinctively know right from wrong! Even Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.

You see the giving of the law was a gift meant to help people.  Firstly the law reveals our sin. The simplest definition of sin is that it is anything contrary to the revealed will of God.

The root word of toreh is yareh. Yareh is an archery term meaning to hit the mark, so torah is instruction on how to hit the mark in our relationship with God & others.  To miss the mark is sin.

If you just consider the 10 commandments you quickly realise why Jesus broke the entire Torah down into just 2 commandments.  The first 4 commandments deal with our relationship with God, the next 6 with our relationships with each other.

As the law reveals man’s sin so it reveals God’s glory ~ & how far short man falls from the glory of God.  We are a people broken by sin: by envy, lust, quarrelling, bitterness, brawling….& we can’t fix ourselves. All the AA programs, the drug rehabilitation clinics, the jails full of recidivists, the shelters for the homeless & the victims of domestic violence, the dead children, the violence & wars, the large corporations destroying the very air & water we need to survive, testify to our brokenness.  They testify to sin but we are mistaken if we think of the law only in terms of condemnation. 
The law reveals God’s grace to us: Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

The law is God’s standard ~ yet it is impossible for anyone to keep the law because we are a broken & fallen people. Try, just for ½ an hour, to keep yourself from complaining or criticising anything or anyone.  It is like the elephant in the room.  The more you try not to think about it the more you do! That is how sin works in us ~ & because of it God sent one who could keep the law.  That’s grace; the unmerited favoured of God poured out for us simply because the nature of God is to love, even when His love is unwanted, rejected, spat upon & nailed to a cross.

 There is yet another blessing the law imparts but I will come back to that because it is a resurrection blessing.
Now we have said that Jesus disciples understood that He was calling them to the yoke of torah yet a cursory read through the scriptures shows Jesus apparently breaking the torah left, right & centre.  The scribes & Pharisees certainly thought so. However Jesus was imparting a new revelation of torah.

 Jesus said :"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD's favour has come." Luke 4:18/19

You see Jesus understood & imparted the heart of the torah, the heart of God. He said in John 14:9 Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!

He could say this because He had the spirit of God without measure [John 3:34] & thus Jesus explained, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing


That is an enormous claim.  No wonder the Pharisees were up in arms: They demanded, "By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?"  Matthew 11:28 & Luke 20:2

Remember we said that the authority to teach a new understanding of torah had to be given by 2 or 3 Rabbis because 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses [Matthew 18:16] '& it was an honour given to very, very few.  The apostle Paul sat under one of them, a man named Gamaliel, considered one of the greatest teachers of all time. So who were Jesus 2 witnesses?

The synoptic gospels [Matthew, Luke, Mark] all mention Jesus baptism & the 2 things that happened: a voice spoke from heaven confirming who Jesus was & the Spirit of God was seen to descend upon Him.…As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy."

This is reinforced at the Transfiguration on the mount: Then a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him." Luke 9:35

God the Father & the Holy Spirit themselves are Jesus witnesses & it is from them He derives His authority. What’s more, as we have already seen, Jesus only ever did or said what He got directly from the Father.

If Jesus got His teaching directly from the Father & if He only did & said that which came directly from the Father then it was impossible for Him to do anything other than keep the Law perfectly. He fulfilled not only the outward commands but it’s intent & purpose & because of that Paul can say unequivocally that we are under grace, not law.

What does that mean?  It means that the Jews relied on the law to make themselves right with God & so there were continual sacrifices for sin. The Christian relies on Christ to make them right with God because He is the only perfect offering for all sin. The law has not been abolished but the resurrection blessing was the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is He who gives us the new heart, who makes us the new creation, who writes God’s law on our hearts ~ a law not of outward things but of a relationship of the heart.

Remember Luke 6:40~ Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.

The Holy Spirit has been given to be our teacher & helper as well as our comforter but even the best of teachers can do little if a student will not listen & obey.
It is distressing when Christians do not know how to hear from God because as Jesus’ disciples we are meant to become more & more like our teacher, Jesus, through the empowerment of His Holy Spirit. 

2 Corinthians 3:18 says: So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image

There are 2 parts to becoming more like Jesus: learning how to hear from God as Jesus did & doing what Jesus did, thus keeping the law of love & grace.

The first is tied to the second.  You will experience little power in the doing until you learn how to hear.

Now I will give you some pointers on how to hear & the first is glaringly obvious  & exceedingly simple but so little practised most people overlook it: shut up.  That’s all.  If you are so busy doing all the talking & doing the doing you are not paying attention to anything God may want to say to you. You will not learn to hear until you learn how to be quiet in God’s presence.

How do I know it’s God & not just me?  Firstly God’s voice will never disagree with His revealed word in the bible & it will never disagree with His character so the second way to hear God is to know what He has already said & who He has said He is.

This is also how you know you have been given the power & authority for the doing things.

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark16:17~20

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” John 14:12

All of this is expressed most clearly in2 Peter 1:3~4
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvellous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires.

We have been given everything we need to keep all of the law & to do all of the law through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. The law we obey is not a law of dos & don’ts, which cannot save anyone, only bring condemnation. Rather it is the law of love & grace which is Christ in us, For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' Acts17:28 If we abide in Him & He in us, then all of this, & more, is not only possible, it is everything.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Communion ~ Rabqa

Today is communion in our Church, so we will be
learn that Jesus was obedient to His Father, even unto death, death on a cross. 

At the famous dinner Jesus held for His disciples before He was crucified, we of course call it the last Supper. This Supper took place on a Jewish 
holiday called Passover, the day the Jews celebrated escaping judgements of God in Egypt during the days of Moses. Do you remember the plagues God brought about in Egypt because Pharaoh chose not to let His people go. 

God's judgement passed over the Israelites because they sprinkled the blood of a lamb over the doorway of each of their homes as Moses instructed them. 

The passover holiday actually originated as a prophetic act intended to prepare the world for the Lamb of God, whose blood was applied to the door posts of all our hearts. 

While the disciples were having dinner with Jesus, He explained that He was the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of the world. Jesus death would fulfil the harsh Old Covenant, which said that the person who sins must die.  Ezekiel 18:20. 

Jesus blood inaugurated a New Covenant. Like the Passover in the days of Moses, this New Covenant would cause God to relate to the world through the sacrificial blood that is the blood of the Lamb of God. No longer would God relate to the world as He had Pharaoh & Egypt. Instead, Jesus became the door of destiny covered by the blood of a sinless lamb which would cause the wrath of God to "pass over" the world. 

Let me explain it this way. 

How would God free His people whom He loves so much from their self imposed bondage to the law? How could He extend mercy to those who are guilty, without violating justice? 

Theses questions make it clear that God has challenge on His hands. He had to create justice for all of humankind so that He could extend mercy. Remember God sits on the mercy seat, but the foundation of His throne is righteousness & Justice Psalm 89:14 & Hebrews 9:5 Here is a story that demonstrates His predicament & His profound solution. 

Late on foggy night, a violent man lurked in the streets of a sleepy neighbourhood. He peered at a beautiful home surrounded by a wooded forest. The house was at the end of a long street which was in darkness because of a moonless sky & no street lights. Quietly he approached the front door, taking hold of the door he picked the lock quickly. 

 He was clothed in black & wore a ski mask, he crept through the front room where a wedding dress lay on the floor. Shinning his torch down the hall he noticed a trail of shed shoes & more clothing littering the floor towards the master bedroom. He listened to make sure the newly weds were sound asleep. 

Slowly the masked intruder made his way to the dressing table, where he spied the brides beautiful engagement ring. As he reached to take it, the young bride woke up. Seeing the silhouette of the masked man beside her, she sat up confused & startled began to scream. The robber covered her mouth to silence her, then pulled out a knife, she fought back as her husband still half asleep jumped out of bed. 

Desperate to safe his wife, the young groom grabbed the intruder by the head trying to dislodge the knife from his hand. Freeing herself, the bride kept screaming for help as her husband fought to subdue the attacker. Suddenly she went silent & limp falling onto the bed, blood pooling out under her. 

The robber wrestled his opponent to the floor, the husband was able to dislodge the knife as they fought on the floor. When the robber jumped up to flee, the desperate young man grabbed him from behind & pulled his ski mask off. Time seem to stand still as the men glared at one another. The attacker then sprinted towards a plate glass window, jumped through it shattering it. The husband turned back to his wife, but it was too late. Her lifeless body lay slumped across the bed. 

It was months latter when the young husband met his wife’s murderer in court. His heart yearned for justice, both for his bride & his own pain. But as the arraignment began, something about the process seemed to go terribly wrong. 

The judge turned to the defendant & said, "Henry Hamstead, your father & I were best friends & room mates in collage. He used to brag about you when you were a little boy. I loved your dad. You are free to go." 

Outraged the young husband jumped up & began shouting in protest, "Your Honour, are you serious? That man killed my bride! He took the love of my life. You can't just let him go free. ''

The judge replied that he was in charge & that he chose to be merciful to this man. 

The young man said "Yes your Honour, but aren't you also just?'' he demanded."Doesn’t justice matter to you? Or don't you have any integrity?" 

While the judge hesitated over his dilemma, apparently waging war in his mind between justice & mercy, there was a sudden commotion in the courtroom as an elderly woman forced her way to the stand. 

"Your Honour," said the woman through her tears ''Henry is my son & I choose to offer my life up for his. Take my life & let him go.''

The merciful judge turned to the magistrate & whispered in his ear. A few tense moments passed as the magistrate pulled out a thick book marked with an "H" off a large bookcase that covered an entire wall. All the books were identified with letters of the alphabet, which were in order on the shelves from "A to Z". The magistrate put on his glasses & searched through the book. Finally he looked up with grief on his face & proclaimed, "Mrs Hamstead, I have found your name in the Book of Fugitives. You can't die for your son because you are also wanted for crimes punishable by death.'' 

The courtroom was stunned as the woman cried out for mercy for her only son, pleading for his life. 

"He was stealing to try to keep the bank from foreclosing on my house!'' she wailed. ''It was an accident he didn't mean to kill the girl.'' 

But the constable ushered her out of the courtroom in handcuffs. 

A moment later, a young man in his thirties stood up at the back of the room. 

"Your Honour," he shouted, his voice quivering, ''I choose to die for Henry!" 

Shocked exclamations filled the courtroom. 

"Your name?" the magistrate demanded. 

''My name is Jacob," the young man replied. 

His eyes met those of the magistrate & Judge, & they stared intently at each other. 

Suddenly the expression on the faces of the Judge & magistrate changed. They seemed to recognise something about the young man. The Magistrate turned to the book shelf & finding the book marked "J", he began to turn the pages nervously. The courtroom grew silent as the Magistrate looked up in amazement. 

"His name is not listed in the Book of Fugitives, Your Honour," the Magistrate said. "I don't understand it! We are all guilty somehow..." 

Seeming to fear what this could mean for the brave young man who had offered himself up as a sacrifice for the murderer hung his head & stared at the floor, not wanting to meet Jacob's eyes. 

"If he is not wanted for any crimes," the judge declared, "then no one can refuse to let this innocent man pay the price of this guilty man." 

The young groom jumped to his feet & protested again, "Your Honour, how can he take the killer's place when this man is guilty?" 

"I had the magistrate check" the judge explained, "& even you & your wife are listed in the Book of Fugitives, wanted for crimes punishable by death. You are no less guilty then Henry here. Yet something is different about this man, Jacob, whose sacrifice will preserve the cause of justice. He is the only one I have ever met who can take the place of a guilty man & justice will be served through the innocent so that mercy can be extended to the guilty." 

This imaginative story illustrates how Jesus' death on the cross changed the conditions of all humankind standing before the judge of heaven. Jesus was innocent; He never sinned & therefore deserved to live. But He chose to take our place. 

Each one of us are fugitives, guilty of sins punishable by death. But the judgement that provoked the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus when He died for the sins of the world. With the cause of justice having been fulfilled by His Son's blood, the Judge of heaven is free to extend mercy to all sinners without being crooked or corrupt. 

Paul said it was best when he wrote For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.2 Cor 5:21. 

In the book of Romans Paul wrote that He (Jesus) was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Rom 4:25 & in Rom 5:9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 

The point is that not that God can judge sin in the life of a sinner; He is God & can do whatever He wants. The point is simply that He is not obligated to punish sin to create justice on Cavalry’s cross. God has now the right to release everyone from sin without being an unjust judge. 

The blood of Jesus creates a new agreement between God & mankind, which reconciles the world to our Creator once & for all. Luke records the last Supper like this LK 22:19-20. 

He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 
After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. 

Acknowledgements Kris Vallotton.