Tuesday, 30 April 2013

God is for Us!

God is for us!
Staggering thought isn’t it? But know this the devil absolutely hates it, and is always seeking to undermine the truth, knowledge and experience of it – he comes to rob, kill and destroy.
In some circles you’d think God was against the world he created, but that is not the way the Bible portrays it.
From the beginning we find that God was still seeking out Adam and Eve for fellowship in the garden even though they had messed up. How many preacher’s have thundered ‘where are you?’ as if God were really angry with them, when in actual fact it was a loving appeal ‘Where are you? Why aren’t you here? What’s happened that you don’t want to come near?’
It was their sin that kept them away, the devil had lied, fooled them, and something had happened deep within, something that now caused them to hide from their loving Creator. Yes from there on in there is a deep alienation that causes them to know shame and pain – the consequences were unimaginable, having repercussions not only on them but every succeeding generation. Nevertheless as we journey through the story we find God on a mission, a mission to save, heal and restore humanity to that wonderful circle of Trinitarian fellowship for which they had originally been created.
The story wends it’s way through some amazing and frequently flawed characters, Noah, Abraham, a family, Moses, Joshua, a nation, as God pursues his dream, and the enemy though he constantly tries to undermine it through the character flaws and weaknesses of fallen humanity will not succeed.
Everything would ultimately lead to God himself taking on flesh in the coming of Jesus, weak, frail flesh – it’s impossible for us to dwell with God as we are, but not impossible for God to come and dwell with us.
John says the Word – Jesus, became flesh and dwelt among us. He lived in this stuff, real stuff. He lived a life in communion with the Father in the Spirit as we were intended to do. He went out and proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom (reign and presence) of God, and notably in the Sermon on the Mount he opened wide the door of the Kingdom of God to the spiritually bankrupt, downtrodden, rejected, etc. and invited them in – all of them, much to the horror of the religious leaders of the day! He even ate and drank with them; even forgave people their sins. He healed the sick, delivered the bound, taught them all.
In everything he demonstrates God’s great heart for those whom he gives life to – an act of grace in itself; and ultimately as Paul the apostle says, God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners – self-willed rebels, misaligned, twisted, broken, no-hopers – Christ died for us.
Yes God is for us, and all along he has been intent on restoring what was lost.
This God being for us involves more than saving us and getting us to heaven when we die, but knowing his presence and power in our daily lives, in such a way as to save, heal, deliver, restore, guide, provide, reconcile, renew, etc..
This is not about religion, smells and bells, meetings, etc.. This is about the dynamic of this Tri-personal God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, sharing ‘themselves’ with us without reservation. To that end the incarnation and the cross were absolutely necessary.
And now…. Now the Holy Spirit sheds his love abundantly in our hearts, the same love the Father has for the Son and the Spirit, the same love the Son has for the Father and the Spirit, the same love the Spirit has for the Father and Son, a love that gave us life in the first place and is declared and demonstrated to us in Jesus, and now through believing in Him is poured into our lives by the Spirit, a love more abundant than we could ever imagine, because God is 100% for us, for you, in Jesus! And that will never change!
Do you believe it? Do you know it?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Guilty fears? Lack of Assurance?

Guilty fears? Lack of assurance? Is the enemy trying to keep you away from coming into the Father’s presence by suggesting you are not good enough?
Following on from last week here’s another grand old hymn that expresses something of the cross work of Christ, and so edifies and encourages us.
It was written by Charles Wesley, brother of John the father of Methodism, and in it the writer encourages us to rise up and shake off those guilty fears, and everything that would keep us away from our Father by looking away from ourselves and ‘unto Jesus’ who is ‘the Author and Finisher of our faith.’
Arise, my soul, arise; shake off your guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.
He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.
Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”
The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.
My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.
Charles Wesley (lightly edited)
Some powerful words indeed, but we have an enemy who doesn’t like these truths, let alone us living in and enjoying them! Paul says to us via the Christians in Galatia ‘let the word of Christ dwell in you richly by teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing …. hymns…’ and via the church in Ephesus ‘be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in…hymns.’
Truth is powerful. Sung truth dynamically powerful. Though it the word impacts our minds, hearts/emotions and energies.
You believe in Jesus? You can’t be more loved or more reconciled than the day you believed! Don’t let the enemy keep you away, enter with all boldness and enjoy his loving presence.
You don’t know him? Let me tell you he loves you – that’s why Jesus came and lived and died. There’s nothing that you need to do except realise your need of him; that Jesus died for you and the price is paid, and therefore all you need to do is run into his loving forgiving arms.
If you’ve never heard the hymn, here’s a version I found on Youtube – not sure where it comes from…

No need to Pay Twice!

Following on from Easter and the death and resurrection of Jesus this old hymn came to mind, and what a hymn it is – I’ve lightly modernised it – it contains a powerful declaration of the glorious liberating truth of the cross.
If you are doubting, lacking assurance, wondering whether you’ve done enough, or whether Jesus has done enough, then….
From where this fear and unbelief?
Has not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Which, Lord, was charged on Thee?
Complete atonement You have made,
And to the utmost penny paid
All that Your people owed;
How then can wrath on me take place
If sheltered in Your righteousness,
And sprinkled with Your blood?
If You have my release obtained,
And freely in my place endured
The whole of wrath divine,
Payment God cannot twice demand—
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.
Turn then, my soul, unto your rest!
The merits of your great High Priest
Have bought your liberty;
Trust in His most effective blood,
Nor fear your banishment from God,
Since Jesus died for you!
Augustus Toplady adapted by Richard Burgess
In the words of Paul – there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)!