The Australian poet, Bruce Dawe, who I had the privilege of being taught by, once wrote a funny & satirical poem called Condolences of the Season in which he commiserates with his newborn son on being a patchwork of family traits:
a matronly cosmogony of mums hover above your pram or bassinette
and by an infallible process of recall
place each distinctive trait (the eyes, for instance,
which could only be Uncle Tom's, nobody else's,
Aunt Lena's rugged chin, of course
and, yes, who could mistake those ears of Cousin Ted's?
We’ve all done it, scanning the face of some helpless newborn for vestiges of ourselves. My son went so far as to ask me to bring pics of him & his twin so he could prove to his wife that his newborn son looked just like him!
We recognise distinctive family traits immediately. In my family it is large & luminous eyes; most of our children inherited them, while from their father they inherited a distinctly practical approach to life. We get it in the natural so why don’t we get it in the supernatural?
I suggest to you we don’t get it because we do not recognise ourselves in the Father & can’t recognise His son in us, because at our core we believe ourselves to be unlovable & unworthy of the love the Father showers upon us. It is a lie & it comes straight from the pit of hell. Satan would like us to believe it because it cripples the work of the Holy Spirit within us. It prevents us from coming to the Father & the reassurance that He does indeed love us.
John 3:16 ~ & we all know it so you can say it with me says: For God so loved the world that He gave His only beloved son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Now put your name in there: For God so loved…..that He gave His only beloved son that ….believing in Him should not perish but…..should have eternal life.
You are of such value that God gave the most precious thing He had in order to free you from sin. The very moment you confess Jesus as Lord & believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you become a new creation:
2 Corinthians 5:17 ~Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Say *In Christ.* Here is our key.
Proverbs 14:12 says There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
Please listen carefully. There are things we do as Christians, good things, right things, things we are encouraged to do, things we know we ought to do & all too often they lead to death.
We’re told to read our bible. We’re told to pray. We’re told to come to church & fellowship with other believers, come to prayer group & bible study, love our neighbour even if they’re awful & these are all good things. They are all *Christian* things but I tell you bluntly that without the one necessary thing they will lead to death. They will lead you to religion, they will lead you to loyalty to a church or a denomination or a Pastor instead of leading you into Life abundant.
Psalm 103:7 ~ He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.
Too often we read our bible to learn about God, rather than asking the Holy Spirit to reveal God to us as we read! Many Christians know God’s deeds without knowing Him! Just like the ancient Israelites. Moses knew God’s character ~ & because He knew God he had a completely different relationship with Him.
Yes, we are to know about God; it helps build our faith but it is far more important to know God Himself.
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. Romans 8:29~30
I believe that it is our lack of *being in Christ* that is responsible for most of our difficulties as Christians. Why is it so hard to love our neighbour? Because we don’t love ourselves & we don’t love ourselves because we do not know who we are in Christ. We do not know who we are because we do not take the time to spend in God’s presence allowing Him to address the deepest needs of our hearts.
If I truly know I am loved by God then fear will not control me; peer pressure will not control me; anger will not control me; what others think of me will not control me; sin will not control me…How do I know this? Because scripture says these things:
· Galatians 5: ~23 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
· John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
· Luke 12:32 "So don't be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
· Luke 6:20 Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher
· 1 John 4:17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
· 1 John 3:1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don't recognize that we are God's children because they don't know him.
Over & over & over God promises wonderful things to His children but most Christians never walk in that authority & freedom. I believe this is one of the greatest hindrances to our own healing, authority, power. We believe God can do anything & everything He pleases but we do not believe He loves us enough to do so for us! We don’t trust Him to answer in the affirmative because we don’t really know Him & what He is like. We see His work in others but do not see it in ourselves & begin to think that so & so is more spiritual than we are, that God loves them more than us, & it’s just not true. Scripture tells us God is not a respecter of persons but that He loves those loving me, And those seeking me earnestly do find me. Proverbs 8:17
It is really, really simple. 2 Peter 1:3 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.
Say By coming to know Him.
We are going no~where fast until we come to know the one who is our saviour deeply & intimately. It is perfectly possible to operate in all the charismatic gifts & yet not know the one who gives the gift.
On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.'
There is power in the name of Jesus as we see in Mark 9 & Luke 9 but as the disciples pointed out they were not of Jesus’ company.
Hebrews 6:17~19 So when God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath. Thus by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be strongly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and steadfast. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,…
There is nothing to fear for those who belong to Christ in drawing closer to the Father. Indeed we are encouraged to come boldly to the Throne of Grace.
Our human nature tends to crave the charismatic but we should be looking for the signs of the fruits in our life. The Fruit of the Spirit is the sign to us that we are growing in our relationship with Jesus. I love the charismatic. I love seeing Jesus manifest Himself to heal, to free, to reveal Himself but it is by the fruit that I know I am growing in my relationship with Him. The lack of fruit in my life tells me I need to spend more time with Him.
Lastly I want to discuss something I have taught on before but it never hurts to reinforce a teaching. We have talked a good bit about how much God loves us but I want to leave you with the biblical definition of Love. Most of us have heard the Greek word *agape* used to describe God’s type of love. It was the best equivalent in the Greek the N.T writers could come up with as the Hebrew hesed is a word that has no literal equivalent in either Greek or English.
To understand what is being conveyed you must grasp hesed as a covenant word. Rabbi Simlai claimed that "The Torah begins with hesed and ends with hesed." The Torah, the 1st 5 books of our bible, are the books of the Law ~ or teaching ~ that taught the Hebrews how to relate to God.
Like the Hebrew word shalom, hesed has a broad meaning but is perhaps best understood through the Hebrew pictographs: I am quoting from Tiffany Ann Lewis’ TheSound of Lovingkindness.
is spelled with the three Hebrew letters:
ח The is a picture of a fence symbolizing protection or separation. It is also the symbol of life as it is the first letter of the word for life . Interestingly, it is the letter eight a number that represents “new beginnings”.
ס The is another letter of support and protection. The ancient pictograph of the is that of a prop or support, thus it represents God’s support. The circular shape of the can be seen as a picture of God, our support, who has no beginning and no end. This centre letter is seen by the Sages as a picture of the heart of God where one can reside and be protected by the strong outer circle.
ד The is a picture of a door or a pathway, a porthole you might say. Because the is the last letter in the word for lovingkindness (chesed), we can picture ourselves walking through that door and into the next word. In John 10:7, Jesus releases one of His 7, “I Am” proclamations and says;
While the word is translated variously as lovingkindness, mercy, grace, loyalty, fidelity ~ & certainly includes all these aspects of God’s character, the protective covenant covering of His love for His people, His relentless pursuit of them, is at the core of what this sort of love means.
Understanding this it is easy to see why the N.T writers chose the neutral Greek word *Agape* to describe love crucified. This is the word chosen in Romans 5:5 For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
We understand the biblical definition of love is not a sentimental feeling. It is always an action. If you look at the definition of love described in 1 Corinthians 13 & compare it to Galatians 5:22~23 you will see they are nearly identical. This is how God manifests His love to us. The closer we walk with Him the more we will experience this love & because it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that is the love we will manifest.
Experiencing God’s love & manifesting God’s love through us depends on 2 things we mentioned earlier:
· coming to know him,
· Remaining In Christ
It is our prayer that each of us, both individually & as a church, grow in our love & relationship with our Lord & saviour, Jesus Christ.