Stages of revelation, stages of transformation

Today I am looking at some of the greatest and most powerful themes in scripture; the themes which enable us to stand here today and worship the glorious Triune God, whom we KNOW and LOVE because He first loved us!

These are the themes of restoration and transformation – and we are going to discover that although restoration and transformation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ is an immediate process (we ARE saved), it is completed in stages (we are BEING saved).

So….the title of my talk is STAGES OF REVELATION, STAGES OF TRANSFORMATION

We are going to have a look at how Jesus deals with His bewildered, defeated disciples; how He restores them; how He transforms them into an expectant, worshipping group of prayer warriors ready to receive the fullness of the promises made to them……..and as a result of that turnaround Jesus gives them the ability to fulfil the commission He entrusted to them. Then we are going to finish off by looking at how Jesus longs to do this today – with all of us.

I don’t wish to be insensitive here, but in order to put the following events in context I need to ask this question: How would you react if someone you have known, and know has departed from us appeared to you today in bodily form? What would you say? How would you feel? I only ask this as it might help you understand the scriptures we are about to read…….

These are some instances recorded in the Bible of Jesus appearing to His followers post-resurrection:

Jesus Himself stood in the midst of [the disciples] and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.

Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”

Luke 24:36-43 NKJV

And now a rather more compact account, from the Gospel of Mark:

Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.

She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

Mark 16:9-14 ESV

So what can we conclude about their reaction to seeing Jesus was alive? Well, I think their reaction is perhaps a very human one – one we can all relate to I suspect. From these scriptures we can see they were frightened, terrified, troubled, unbelieving, hard of heart even. So was Jesus’ rebuke in the scripture from Mark justified? A little harsh even? They’d seen a dead man walking talking and eating!

I think if we saw someone rise from a grave and appear to us I seriously doubt our reaction would be any different!

However, the massive and significant difference here is Jesus had PREDICTED His death, PREDICTED His resurrection in the presence of some or all of the disciples on numerous occasions and if that wasn’t enough He proclaimed Himself to be no less than I AM – God incarnate.

The very same unbelieving, terrified, doubting disciples knew this. Consider this scripture from the book of Matthew:

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven……

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”

Matthew 16:13-17, 21 NKJV

Jesus had revealed His identity to them and revealed to them that He must be killed, but to the disciples this was only a partial revelation – a prophetic first stage of revelation as it were.

The now resurrected Jesus however was about to impute (or give) to them a whole new level of revelation. How? By answering their doubts and fears by OPENING THEIR MINDS AND HEARTS TO THE SCRIPTURES; the scriptures being in this instance of course what we now call the Old Testament.

As we have already read in the Luke passage, this is the next stage of revelation for the disciples:

“…..He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.”

Luke 24:44-48 NKJV

So we can see a progressive revelation here:

  • The first revelation was PROPHETIC (i.e prior to the crucifixion) – He had to suffer, be killed and rise from the dead. He clearly had done that here He was standing in front of them, so prophecy was fulfilled.
  • The second revelation was REASSURANCE that he was not a spirit and he was not an imposter “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have”
  • The third revelation was SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING; He opened their minds to the scriptures and how the entirety of the Law, Prophets and Psalms pointed to Himself.
  • The fourth and ultimate revelation for the disciples was EMPOWERMENT, still to come at Pentecost by the filling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Along with REVELATION the disciples experienced – and indeed like we all do – needed to experience TRANSFORMATION in order that the disciples could fulfil the mission that Christ was going to commission them with. Then, as now, the amazing thing about this transformation is that it is PERSONAL to each and every disciple, each and every believer. We read in the Gospel of John Ch21:

Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17 ESV

Peter, of course was the disciple who denied Jesus – three times. Here, three times Christ challenges Peter’s regarding his love for him (knowing his heart already) and by doing so he restores and transforms Peter into the Rock He prophesied he would be. (Note this is a PUBLIC restoration in front of a number of disciples in response to a public denial). As a result of this transformation Peter was equipped to fulfil his God given destiny – to the ultimate, a martyr’s death.

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”

(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21:18-19 ESV

Another example. Most of us will know the story of ‘doubting’ Thomas, the disciple who would not believe Jesus was alive until He saw Him in the flesh. Jesus graciously showed him and transformed him from a doubter into a worshipper:

“….said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!””

John 20:27-28 ESV

Jesus, through his loving restoration of the bewildered and defeated disciples, His rebuke for their unbelief, His reassurance and encouragement through his numerous appearances and post – resurrection teaching, TRANSFORMED his disciples, as the scriptures tell us.

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He said to them, “Thus it is written, and accordingly it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things

Finally they fully understood who Jesus was, their doubts and fears answered, their purpose in Him revealed. A commission was about to be given along with the promise of power to fulfil it; AS SUCH THE TRANSFORMATION WAS AS YET INCOMPLETE. However, we can refute the common fallacy that the disciples were cowering in a room in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit fell upon them. They were praying and waiting, but as they were waiting the last two verses of the Gospel of Luke tells us:

.they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.

Luke 24: 52-53 KJV

So that was then, what about now? Is our Lord Jesus in the business of restoration and transformation today. YES, YES, and YES!!!!!!

As I said right at the beginning today, for all those who are truly born again, it is one of those profound mysteries in Christ that our condition before God is that we ARE saved, whilst at the same time we are BEING saved. (That’s another sermon – I’m not going there today!).

I think (well I hope) we can all testify that we have experienced a degree of restoration and transformation, the biggest miracle being of course that we stand here knowing God at all! I think we would all in here be honest enough to admit that God is not finished with us yet! I would also like to think we can all agree that that PROCESS of restoration and transformation is not just unique to each and every believer, but PACE of restoration and transformation is different for every believer.

The truth is, we are all work in progress.

Remember how we learned that Jesus opened the scriptures (from the OLD covenant)? Well here are just two scriptures from the ‘Prophets’ that demonstrate and describe the JOURNEY we are on – and I will reiterate again the pace of restoration and transformation is unique to each and every individual believer.

Just as Jesus needed to do some individual ‘head and heart surgery’ on the disciples before they could fulfil their potential in Christ, we too need to see the trans-formative work of the Spirit at work in our lives for us to fulfil our potential – as individuals, as a Church, as THE Church.

The restoration and transformation are as yet incomplete – and never will be complete until we see the Lord in Glory. But it has started!

…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Phillipians 1:6b NIV

There is a pitfall here, and I hope it is not one we fall into. It is so easy to compare ourselves to another Christian and think we are ‘not as good’ as they are. Not all of us are called to be a Spurgeon, a Wesley or a Rees Howells.  Do not compare your walk with the Lord with another in Christ. Friends – He is dealing with YOU as an individual according to your individual needs, and you are doing great today. Aspire to greater things in Christ, YES! Compare yourself to another and judge yourself inadequate, NO, NO, NO!

Only you (and He) know what you have gone through to get to the point you are here and now, and what you have gone through is always going to be different than ________ (fill in the blank). EVEN if you are in need of the restoring touch of the Lord this morning, (and all of us are to some degree) you are DOING GREAT.

Whatever stage our walk with the Lord is at and whether you are on a high mountain or in a deep valley today we do have a point of commonality. It is our yearning; prompted by the revelation of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us – to BE transformed. As Charles Wesley wrote (some of the most incredible hymn words ever written):

Finish then Thy new creation
Pure and spotless let us be
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee
Changed from glory into glory
Till in heaven we take our place
Till we cast our crowns before Thee
Lost in wonder love and praise

So to conclude, I would encourage you to hear the challenge of word of the Lord in this house today and ask yourself this hard question: Where are you at with Jesus?

(RESTORATION)

Are you in need of restoration?

Do you need your eyes opened to the truth – again for for the first time?

Are you bowed down, lost, bewildered?

Are you weary and tired in your faith – tired of life even?

Are you lost in your sin – knowing full well that your behaviour and attitudes are not right before God?

Are you unbelieving that God is who He says He is?

Are you unbelieving that God is capable of what He said He can do?

Come to Jesus afresh today and receive from Him all that He longs to give you. He loves you!

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”

Matt 11:28 NKJV

(TRANSFORMATION)

What about transformation? Are you being transformed into a Christ-like person. If not, why not? That is a serious question, and it demands a search of your heart for the answer.

Jesus is in the transformation business, so if you are not in the place you know you should be, are you willing to continue to be transformed into His image?

Is this your experience of God?

“….whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2 Cor 3:16-18 NIV

If not, is that what you want to experience today? Is that what WE as a church want to experience today? I hope and pray the answer is YES!

Church, I need to ask you – do we really WANT transformation? I ask this because I sincerely believe that God wants to take us onto the next level of transformation. Perhaps we are like the disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem, full of joy and praise – in a good place, knowing God, waiting for more of Him – waiting for the fullness of the promises to be fulfilled………..BUT HERE’S THE THING:

UNLESS WE (LIKE THEM) ARE WILLING TO BE RESTORED AND TRANSFORMED, GOD WILL NOT TAKE US ONTO THE NEXT LEVEL OF TRANSFORMATION…… BECAUSE WE ARE NOT R E A D Y FOR THE NEXT LEVEL!!

GOD MAKE US READY!!

Lets pray:

OH GOD MAKE US READY FOR ALL YOU HAVE TO OFFER, ALL YOU LONG TO POUR UPON US, ALL YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE THROUGH US.

CONTINUE OUR TRANSFORMATION INTO YOUR LIKENESS

CONTINUE TO RESTORE US O LORD

CALL US AND USE US FOR YOUR GLORY

ACCORDING TO YOUR PURPOSES IN CHRIST JESUS

A REALISTIC call to live a life of victory

Easter Sunday. This is considered a special day in the church calender – a victorious day, a happy day. I think it is great that we have a designated day that focuses on the reality of Christ’s resurrection (especially for non-Christians) but I am also so thankful that we don’t NEED this day, because we as Christians are encouraged and called to walk in the victory and power of Christ’s resurrection every day!

This is the reality: In Christ we have the victory; we have the power to overcome; we have the faith to believe mountains can and will move; we have overwhelming joy; we know we are loved; we are redeemed; we are victorious………

Except……… lets have a reality check here!

The reality is it doesn’t always seemingly work out like that or feel like that. If we are being honest with ourselves and others we sometimes get weighed down, discouraged; we lose the joy that we told in ours in Christ Jesus. We perhaps allow doubts to creep in and steal our assurance that Christ is in control. We continue to move forward, but we shuffle with our heads down rather than stride forward in the power of Christ with our heads held high.

Is THAT living as a Christian?

Well, as we are going to discover tonight…..we are on a JOURNEY of faith that one ends up in one place – a eternal place of praise, adoration and victory. For us who truly believe, each of us are in a different place on that journey and VICTORY IS ASSURED, despite any wobbles we have along the way.

Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith and it is in Him we have the assurance of eternal life and ultimate victory. As we remember over this Eastertide, it is a complete victory that came at such a great cost, as the only begotten Son of the Father was forsaken for us on the cross of shame.

However, as we know (and as we specifically remember today) that Christ’s death was not the end of the story! I would like to read two passages of scripture that detail the events immediately following Christ’s resurrection and then encourage us all that our own wobbles, doubts and fears are echoed even in the disciples response to Jesus’ resurrection. Then we’ll discover that Jesus has an answer for them and for us today!

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre [tomb] And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

Matthew 28:1-8, 16-17 KJV

And then the same events from another writers angle, this time, Luke:

Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be unto you.”

They were terrified and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Feel Me and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

When He said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they yet disbelieved for joy and wondered, He said to them, “Do you have any food here?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate it before them.

He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me.”

 

 

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He said to them, “Thus it is written, and accordingly it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Luke 24:36b-48 MEV

The disciples had walked and talked with Jesus right the way through His ministry years; they had seen thousands of people fed with a bit of fish and bread – twice; they had seen the blind see, the paralysed walk and even seen Lazarus raised from the dead. They had heard His parables and witnessed Jesus Himself proclaim that He was I AM (an absolute categorical proclamation that we was God Incarnate). His coming was the fulfilment of Biblical prophecy as Jesus Himself taught them.

This is Just one of those conversations from the book of Mark:

Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”

So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”

Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 8:27-31 NKJV

So here, Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection (not for the first time). The disciples heard from His own mouth what was going to happen – yet they were dismayed, confused and bewildered when it did.

Therefore it is really interesting to examine for a moment the disciples reaction to the first appearance of the risen Lord Jesus:

…when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

They were terrified and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit….

And while they yet disbelieved for joy and wondered….

It is clear from these accounts that even though they had ‘walked with Him and that they talked with Him’ for three years they still didn’t understand or fully grasp what Jesus was teaching prior to His crucifixion……or they did but they still didn’t truly believe it.

The disciples just didn’t fully understand. They certainly believed He was sent from God – a Saviour, a messiah – but they were perhaps guilty of constructing a picture in their own mind of what their Savour looked like. We can perhaps speculate that they were expecting another King David, a warrior/King who would gloriously overthrow the oppression of the Romans.

What was Jesus response to their doubts, fears and unbelief?

Did he rebuke them or disown them for their wavering belief?

NO!! HE REASSURED THEM, HE SHOWED THEM HE WAS A PHYSICAL BEING, HE OPENED THEIR MINDS TO THE SCRIPTURES, HE ENCOURAGED THEM, AND COMMISSIONED THEM!

He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me.”

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He said to them, “Thus it is written, and accordingly it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things

It is at only at this point they fully understood who Jesus was, their doubts and fears answered, their purpose in Him revealed. The power to fulfil the commission was yet to come (at Pentecost), so we can refute the common fallacy that the disciples were cowering in a room in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit fell upon them. They were praying and waiting, but as they were waiting the last two verses of the Gospel of Luke tells us:

.they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.

Luke 24: 52-53 KJV

These 1st Century, world changing events speak to us today.

It surely encourages us to know that Jesus’ own disciples, both before and even on occasions after the resurrection event we have looked at here, didn’t always grasp what the Master was doing. Although they had a perfect Teacher, they often failed to understand him correctly. Nevertheless, Jesus used them mightily to take the message of Christ to the nations.

The thing is, we haven’t physically walked with Jesus as they did. Our faith is built on ……the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 KJV

So the reality is this….. If we are really honest with ourselves, there are times and seasons in our lives where we wonder where God is. Sometimes life events weigh us down or challenge our faith; sometimes we just drift away from the presence of God; sometimes we are disappointed that we have not seen answers to prayer; sometimes it is our own stubbornness and disobedience that puts distance between us and God.

As it was with the disciples in that day, He is in the revelation and restoration business today! So despite our doubts and fears, our disobedience and faithlessness He LOVES us, He CARES for us and He constantly reassures us of these things by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

We are far from perfect, we are However, children of the King. He is patient with us while we work through our struggles and fears; He is willing to teach us, open up our hearts to truth and revelation; he loves us with an everlasting love; He cares for us so much He was willing to sacrifice Himself for us.

What is also abundantly clear is this:

He longs to open our minds to understand the Scriptures

He longs to encourage us by means of His abiding presence

He longs to draw near to us

He has commissioned us

He has empowered us

He has SAVED US FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS

He has given us purpose

He has empowered us

He has given us all things to walk victoriously in HIS power.

A modern worship song puts so much better than I could:

Mighty Saviour, lifted high

King forever, Jesus Christ,

Crowned in glory, raised to life

The same power lives in us.

Let us therefore, tonight resolve to walk victoriously in the power of the resurrected Christ, despite our tendency to wobble and wavier.

 

Idols in heart

At the end of Ezekiel chapter 13 we read ,
“When any of the Israelites or any foreigners residing in Israel separate themselves from me and set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet to inquire of me, I the Lord will answer them myself. I will set my face against them and make them an example and a byword. I will remove them from my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’

This got me thinking in the wee small hours of the night about what we call idols of the heart now. Is it the same as what God meant when He spoke these words to Ezekiel? I doubt it. We can carry many “idols” within us and not even realise we have them there and love/ worship/ desire/idolise them. So what can this mean to us in a very different time and age?

I believe that we can idolise people, places, work, church, worship, ourselves, hobbies, media, social media and even church activities without the knowledge that they have taken such a place. Sometimes we put things too high up because our relationship with God isn’t as it should be and we conceal this within us with business and activity. Sometimes it’s accidental. Somehow life got so busy or stressful that it took over our thoughts all the time pushing out those close to us and the Lord with them. Maybe it’s slowly spending too much time on or doing an activity and we don’t see the worrying signs that it has become an idol.

It doesn’t really matter why that thing has taken hols of us, but it does matter to understand it has to go. We have such a forgiving and loving God, but He is jealous for us. He sent the Spirit to help us in these circumstances, and isn’t about to let you go from His hand now.

I talk to myself more than anyone today. It is all too easy to let times with Him slip when they should be the times we long for more than anything else in the world! Guard your hearts and minds. Keep them wholly for Him.

No sleep

So, I find it very difficult to get any sleep. I suppose I have gotten used to it more now, but still find the darkest hours of the night disturbing and lonely, even with my beautiful family only yards away from me. My husband made a picture for me and framed it near my pillow with a verse from proverbs in it, which in those times of bad thoughts, loneliness, times of attack or times when God seems so far away, I can look at this verse and be reassured that He never leaves or forsakes me.

Proverbs 3 vs 24-25

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of the sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes.

True Worship?

What do we see as worship? Do we see the fast songs as praise and slower songs as worship? Is this the only worship we experience or take part in? Are we missing out on true worship?

Worship is not limited to songs and times with music within our church services. It is beautiful to be in a service and experience the powerful and important times of worship. These are needed in our walk with God and it is vital that churches include these times during services. Worship though is not only these times.

William Temple describes worship in this way,

“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God; The quickening of our conscience by His holiness; The nourishment of mind with His truth; The purifying of imagination by His beauty; The opening of the heart to His love; The surrender of will to His purpose – and all this gathered up in adoration with the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable, and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centredness which is the original sin and the source of actual sin.”

So should our worship be a ongoing, continual event? I think it has to be. If God loves and desires us to be in a continuous attitude of worship and it is evident in our lifestyles, hobbies, relationships and friendships, then it must be a constant in our hearts. Everything we do and say should be showing our worship and love of God. God sees our hearts and minds, which no one else can see. He can see how we worship and how we love.

2 Chronicles 16 v 9, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him”

How amazing is it that God is loyal to those who love Him in all circumstances and desire to do His will. Worship is the start.

Volunteering

“Thriving churches have a culture that honours and celebrates their volunteers. Their volunteer teams are characterised by camaraderie, fun and mutual respect. However, experience shows that this does not just happen. The key leaders must build it into the culture of the church.”   Steven Matthew.

Churches across the world are full of loving volunteers that give willingly their time, skills, experience, money, emotions, energy, love and loyalty to their congregations and the building up Gods people and churches in their areas. They are priceless and a necessary group. This army of people are in many cases what keeps the church going and without their support and energy working tirelessly in the background most Pastors and leaders would not have a church to go to. They are indispensable. And they are amazingly awesome!!

How does our church honour these wonderful people? How are they encouraged to keep going when they are tired and feeling unloved? How do we thank those who are the backbone of all we see happen on a Sunday and throughout the week? We need to be as committed to this group as much as we are committed to any other mission we have. These amazing people make the impossible possible by their giving to God all they have. We are on the receiving end of their support, but know they do it for the Lord of Lords.

We need to celebrate involvement and those who give all and give a little.

Better Communication

Good communication is needed in every relationship, but I feel more so now that a lot of our words are typed through text messages or emails. We have lost most face to face communication, and since there is a high percentage of how we speak is done by body language or facial and vocal expressions, there is much more of a chance to get the wrong message from the one that was meant.

Our relationships thrive on good communication, and I feel it is the nutrient needed for a healthy relationship, whoever that is with. It could be your Pastor, spouse, friends, shop staff, employees, postman, the list is endless.

Norman Wright explains that when people communicate there are at least 6 messages that come through.

What you mean to say

What you actually say

What the other person hears

What the other person thinks they hear

What the other person says about what you said

What you think the other person said about what you said

This shows how important it is to think and work on how we communicate with everyone we have contact with. By spending more time working on what and how we say to others, we can make sure more of what we say is clear and helps us to smooth out any weaknesses we may have in this area.

If we want a relationship to go deeper, then we need to grasp how to communicate with that person, not just in what we say but in how our body and  vocal languages come across. We all have some hang ups in this area. We may have a fear of opening up to others for fear of rejection, fear of being hurt, low self esteem or image. All these factor in when we open up to anyone. The relationship will only ever go as deep as you are willing to communicate with openness and honesty. Say what you mean, and work hard to say it in the way you would want it to be received. Try to put yourself in the other persons shoes for a minute and think about how you would want that sentence, greeting, criticism, word of encouragement to be said. How would we want to receive that spoken and unspoken communication?

Try to be constructive and focus on the positives of the other person or group.

Proverbs 18:21,” your tongue has the power of life or death.”

Bring life and love to our relationships.

 

Teams

Church life depends on groups of teams who give time and energy to making sure church life runs as smooth as possible. It is a group of two or more people ideally. It usually has some sort of leader or a nominated person who takes on board creating the rotas or creating jobs for individuals within the role of the team they are involved in.

“But most other church ministries would be far more effective if they worked as a team: a pastoral group rather than just a pastor; an eldership in harness with a minister; a music group to reinforce the organist; a finance committee assisting a treasurer. Harmonious teamwork doesn’t just add to the effectiveness; it multiplies it. It brings fulfilment and personal growth to each team member. And it’s a working model of Christianity in action to the people the team is serving.”

In the steps of Timothy, Lance Pierson

 

The Calvary Road

Roy Hessian says in his book The Calvary Road:

“The outward forms of revivals do, of course, differ considerably but the inward and permanent content of them all is always the same – a new experience of conviction of sin among the saints; a new vision of the cross of Jesus and of redemption; a new willingness on man’s part brokenness, repentance, confession and restitution; a joyful experience of the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse fully from sin and restore and heal all that sin has lost and broken; a new entering into the fullness of the Holy Spirit and of His power to do his own work through His people; and a new gathering in of the lost ones to Jesus.”

Revival is taking place in pockets all over the world and each one is different in how it starts, how God’s touch fall, how many are saved and complete in Him, country, people group. There are so many variations of the same thing, but a true revival or renewal will see many or all of the content that Roy Hessian talks about. It is the same God and same Spirit that fell on Abraham, on John the Baptist, on Elijah, on Jesus at His baptism, through Jesus on the cross. He never changes, and salvation and reconcilliation will always come through Christ and His saving blood.

What do you want to show?

All churches are full of culture, personality, vision and character. Church is a living, breathing organism of people from all different backgrounds, jobs, ages, and even old age “social classes”. We all bring something with us and each member has their own talents and gifts to enrich their church family.

But what do we look like from the outside? What do we show the local area?

Every church has a vision, and a statement of how they want to fulfill that vision. When was the last time your vision statement was updated? Is it still a valid vision for your area? Has there been a change to housing, new estates been built or knocked down? Has there been a big drop in the local economy, a loss of jobs, a number of jobs created? Has the number of families increased or decreased since your statement was created? Has your church grown or seen a number of people left? Has the leadership changed? These will all have some affect on the vision of the church in some way, even if the change is a positive one.

Does your church want to be relevant to the local community? Then from leadership down, it must been shown and lived out. Devotion? Be devoted. Live what you preach and teach, live and breathe the Word.

St Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words”.

Actions speak louder than words, so what we live and communicate is vitally important. We can be watched by our communities, and if we are living different to our vision and teaching, then how do we differ from the world? How do we show ourselves to be the Bride of Christ in a world that lives the opposite of what we see in the Bible.

Think about how our fellowships are coming across to the outside unchurched locality. Welcoming? Accepting? Bible believing? Christ filled? Empowering? Devoted? Loving? Teaching?

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