Speaker: Steve Bones
(I Corinthians 12; John 20)
Previously we have had:
- Gathered to make known the wisdom of God (Eph 3:10)
- Gathered to encourage each other (Acts 4, 9, 16, 18, 20; Romans 15:4-5; 1 Thess 5:11)
- Gathered for devotion (Acts 2:42-47, 9:31)
- Gathered to build one another up (Eph 4:11-12) (Steve Bedford) [On the rock with gold, silver, precious stones or wood, hay, straw. God wants to give all of us supernatural gifts, not for us but others. We must not be content where we are.]
- Gathered because Jesus is alive! (Romans 8:11; 1 Peter 1:3, 2:5) [Paul had a transforming encounter with Jesus – that’s what Jesus wants to do in our lives, and shatter our cardboard box]
Smith Wigglesworth devotion – 3 January: ‘Above the ordinary’.
Quote: Nothing can stop the will of God….except the will of man!
Read the entire if 1 Corinthians 12. Starts with the gifts of the Spirit, then moves onto Unity and diversity in the Body (the Church), then ends with ministries and spiritual gifts. We need both to grow! Indeed 1 Corinthians 14:1 states ‘Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.’ Do we?
John 20:19-23 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
verse 26: A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.
The disciples were gathered for devotion, as Andy shared on 12 January, when we were to be devoted to ‘fellowship’ (Act2 2:42).
But what is this ‘unity’ we are meant to be expressing together?
- We all agree what the Bible teaches?
- We all agree what SMBC should do going forward?
- Of course, we all agree about things in the world?
The Bible itself recognises we don’t all agree what the Bible teaches:
Ephesians 4:11-13 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
What about we all agree with the way forward for SMBC. Just think of Members meetings – are all votes unanimous? no dissenters?
What about things in the world? Brexit – need I say more!
Unity in the Spirit
We all agree there are two kingdoms in this world – The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of Satan/world. They are complete opposites:
- Blessed are the rich vs blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
- Blessed are the full vs blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
I believe the same is true of unity – the world’s viewpoint and God’s viewpoint, and they are not the same!
The world wants conformity, reaching agreement at the lowest common denominator, compromise on both sides – we all become the same!
The type of unity Jesus seeks was expressed in his prayer:
Jesus prayed in John 17:20-21: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
God wants and created diversity, as recognised in 1 Corinthians 12.
Share the picture of the wheel with Jesus in the hub and we as spokes around the edge. As we all follow Jesus, ‘trust and obey’ then we all move together as the wheel roles! (Wedding at Cana – Jesus created the equivalent of about 1,000 bottles of fine wine!. The servants just trusted and obeyed, as Mary requested.)
That’s the level of unity that Jesus wants in the church – high aspiration!! How can we do this? We cannot! This is recognised in the following passage:
Ephesians 4:1-3 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
How do we keep the ‘unity of the Spirit’. This is nothing like unity that the world seeks and understands!
We need to walk in the Spirit, to surrender our will to Jesus. This is our choice.(Romans 12:1)
Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
I realised when meditating on this verse that this is a choice I need to make every day – is today going to be what I want or what Jesus wants?
Jesus said ‘I must be about my Father’s business’ (Luke 2:49), and also ‘ My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work’ (John 4:34)
Jesus was totally submitted to God’s will, even though it meant dying on the cross. We too are called to ‘deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him’ (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). Our choice!
Galations 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
Therefore it must be possible for Christians to walk in the flesh! After all, we can ‘grieve’ (Ephesians 4:30) and ‘quench’ (1 Thess 5:19) the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Unless we are prepared to walk by the Spirit, there cannot be any unity of the Spirit, for our will and preferences will get in the way, the ‘desires of the flesh’. Heard recently a preacher say ‘there can be no unity without sacrifice’, and I believe that is what the Bible teaches. There are times we need to ‘in honour prefer one another’.
I believe this is what Smith Wigglesworth was talking about when he talked about walking on a ‘higher plane.’ It is not grading people as God wants us all to walk on this level, the choice is ours!
We are called to ‘live by faith, not by sight’. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
John 4:24 “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Quote: Nothing can stop the will of God….except the will of man!
Are you hungry for God?
How hungry are you for God? Or are you content with your relationship with Him. After all, the Bible states in Philippians 4:11-12 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
But this is speaking of our material circumstances, not our relationship with God. In the same book, Paul writes the following:
Philippians 3:10-14 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.
Paul was hungry for more of God!
What about David? Psalm 42:1-2 ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 13:1-3 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes,
This has been my recent prayer. I want to see God, as David clearly did though not at this time. I want to hear his voice more clearly, after all Jesus said ‘my sheep hear my voice’ (John 10:27). I want to have a personal encounter with God, as Andy encouraged us all last week to seek. But it is our choice!
I am challenged by the following verses:
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
If you are not hungry for God, the answer is to repent and ask God to make you hungry. God wants a personal relationship with each of us. In the garden of Eden, we think of Adam’s relationship broken, but God’s was also effected! We need to walk in the Spirit and then we will have the unity of the Spirit. This is a daily choice, to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, to obey Him, hence we are encouraged in Ephesians 1 to ‘make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit’!
I believe we all need an encounter with God, and I would like to end with reading a section from ‘Harnessed for adventure’ by Gordon Hickson, pages 41-45 (6.5 minutes), again a testimony like Andy shared last week on Shane.