Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Are you Spirit Baptised and Filled?

Pentecost – what a day, what an event!
Before Jesus went back to heaven he said that he was going to send One just like himself, One who would be in us and remain with us. Now sat down at the right hand of the Father he sends the Spirit, and my, how he came! I’m not sure they new what to expect, but when he came it was evident, a mighty rushing wind, tongues of fire, speaking in other tongues… church had never been like this!
Throughout the book of Acts the Spirit turns up again and again, in similar and different ways, and as the story unfolds you get the sense of a real dynamic at work – God present speaking, guiding and empowering…..
We need to remember, they didn’t have the Bible as we have it, they didn’t have the structures we have, they didn’t have the programs we have, they didn’t have the technology we have…. but what a church, and what a missional impact.
Today in the church at large we have the Word (in multiple versions), various structures, an endless array of programs, and a powerful array of technology.
As a young person I sat in chapel and wondered about the disconnect between what I saw and experienced and what I saw in the Bible – something was missing. Then I encountered Pentecostals. Well this was different, and they still believed in and experienced the Spirit in ways I had never known – but was it really for today? were they of the devil?
Over time a hunger grew…. then one day God met me, the Spirit came, he filled me and I spoke in tongues (even tough I was still struggling to believe in all these things due to the cessationist theology I was brought up with). The Christian life took on a new and powerful spiritual dimension – what I believed, became real and powerful, suddenly I was energised and enabled to witness like I had never done – God was present with me.
This shy and retiring guy felt the call of God, and the Spirit enabled. The guy who wouldn’t speak unless he was spoken to, suddenly found himself empowered to lead worship, preach the Word, go out door to door…. all because He had come. The Spirit made the difference.
Then over the years I found that I backed off due to the abuse of the gifts and some of what was being said and done in the name of the Spirit. I found myself becoming sceptical even cynical, and my experience began to dry up. At one point I felt like going back to straightforward evangelicalism, only to come under the conviction that I would be denying what I knew to be part of God’s Word. I couldn’t do it. God had to get me through, and he did. Abuse and mis-use should not lead to no-use.
I wonder where you are today, maybe you’ve seen some stuff that turned you off, maybe seen or been on the end of the abuse of gifts and today you are in a backwater?
Are you reliant on an intellectual knowledge of the Word?
Are you reliant on your own personality, abilities and or strength?
Are you reliant on your own ability to make music, turn up the sound, create an atmosphere?
Are you still doing it like you did yesterday, afraid to listen to the fresh wind of the Spirit?
Are you dependent on the structures of your church, the way you’ve always done it, afraid to listen to the Spirit?
Don’t settle for false fire, don’t settle for no fire and don’t settle smouldering embers.
It’s time to open up again to the fresh wind of the Spirit, don’t allow the enemy to rob you of what God wants to give you – why don’t you stop and take time to open up to God, to welcome afresh the gift of Spirit.

Monday, 13 May 2013

A Forgotten Truth - The Continuing Incarnation

What does the ascension mean to you?
Most of us are familiar with the birth of Christ, his life, death and resurrection, and the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost, but when it comes to the ascension that’s another matter, yet without the ascension there would be no Pentecost, a glorious and powerful experience of the presence and power of God in a tangible way.
But there is something else, something that is fundamental to our faith: without the ascension we are missing the continuing dynamic of Christ’s incarnation – a powerful truth, as powerful as his birth.
Scripture declares in no uncertain terms that the Word, God, took on “flesh like ours under sin’s domain” (Rom 8:4), made in “every way like” those he came to save (Heb 2:17). When Jesus came to earth the second person of the Trinity took on human flesh. He didn’t stop being God. He added flesh to God. The big question is what happened when he went back to heaven, did he stop being man?
As with the incarnation, so with the ascension we are in another realm.
What’s at stake here? If Jesus ceased to be man, we have no true advocate and no certain hope.
Praise God, Jesus continues to be the incarnate Son – no less. In the same way that when Jesus came to earth and took on flesh he didn’t stop being God, when he ascended to heaven he didn’t stop being human, carrying our flesh, carrying our humanity. Staggering thought isn’t it! Just as much as the incarnation itself, if not more so!
The glory of the ascension is that Jesus has redeemed, reconciled, healed and transformed our humanity and carried it right into the heart of the Trinity, and our lives are now hidden in him in the Godhead – wow, wow and wow!
That means today there is a man, a real man, Very God and Very Man, at God’s right hand who is a true and wonderful representative.
It is in this context that the writer to the Hebrews is able to say, “Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens-Jesus the Son of God-let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.” Heb 4:14-16.
Great thought isn’t it – we have One who sympathises with us right in the heart of the Trinity, One who is our true Representative and Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).
As they used to say, “There is a Man in the glory.”
That also gives us hope of the resurrection – a man is already there, one who has conquered death and hell, and now lives eternally before the Father and the Spirit.
And here’s another thought – something has eternally changed in the Godhead…. The second Person of the Trinity, will now forever be Very God and Very Man! Chew on it! Be blessed by it!

Bible references: Holman Christian Standard Bible - and

Monday, 6 May 2013

Everyday is a Miracle!

Driving, walking, riding around these last few days one can’t help but notice that Spring has indeed sprung!
Suddenly the earth has responded to the increasing warmth of the Sun, and the world is awash with glorious colour – there’s Daffodils, Tulips, Primroses, Aubrietia, Forsythia, the fresh and varied greens of new leaf appearing … Suddenly out of the death of winter life bursts forth in an amazing array. Wow!
Looking at it and enjoying it I couldn’t help but think it’s all such an amazing miracle! Yes I know the biologists and scientists can give us all sorts of explanations, but at the end of the day no one can explain just how it happens – the why of life at all.
I grew up on a farm and for a number of years worked in glasshouse horticulture, and later in landscape and garden maintenance. Working with nature has so many variables. We are dependent on what’s already in the system, not all seeds are the same, germinating conditions vary, etc. To produce a new breed of animal takes a lot of work with many failures, the same goes for producing new strains of plant life, some are successful, many are not.
Knowing the work that goes into the development of new breeds, or plant life, or for that matter ways of combating the various illnesses and diseases that afflict them, one can’t help but be staggered at the whole idea of life and how it works at all.
Life is a miracle – that it evolved for no rhyme or reason to what it is today, with no mind, power, or purpose behind it, doesn’t make any sense.
The Psalmist (19:1-4) spoke about the universe being a witness to the God who created it, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day by day they pour out speech and every night reveals knowledge… their voice goes out through all the earth…”
I wonder, have you heard it, have you got the message?
Paul said “In him (God) we live and move and have our being.” The fact I’m sitting here full of life is staggering, an amazing being with an amazing array of systems and functions, with a brain that far excels any computer. Wow!
Are you taking too much for granted, going to fast and missing the voice of God in the world about you?
Do you need to recover the wow factor?
Why don’t you stop and go for a walk in a garden or park…. take time to observe the world around you….. think about it, smell the fragrances… look at the stars, think about their courses… feel the wonder of your own heart beat and breath….think about the miracle of it all…
Let the thought lead to the wonder and the wow, and the wow and the wonder lead to worship - without the wonder there is no worship.
“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works Thy hands have made…. then sings my soul my Saviour God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art!… When through the woods and forest glades I wander, and hear the birds singing sweetly in the trees….. then sings my soul my Saviour God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art!”
Life is a miracle, the world, yours and everyone else’s, take time to thank and praise God for it before you move on, and keep doing so when you do.