11th May 2015
God Seeks Relationship With You
By Steve Bones
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SUNDAY 10 MAY 2015
GOD SEEKS RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU!
Have you been wondering what God is saying to us? I have!
- Last year the Elders believed that it was right to do some teaching on the Holy Spirit, followed by a weekend away in October.
- In February this year we believed it was right to have month on teaching on 2 Chronicles 7:14 'If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then...
- In March we believed it was right to spend the month in prayer and fasting and sharing what God was saying to us. Some words that were shared:
- To try and run a church without the power from on high was like trying to run a car without petrol
- There was a vision of a dry valley with a tree in it, just alive, but its leaves were drooping and had a little dried up fruit
- A vision of our church with light around it but not within and the need for holiness
- The need to keep Jesus central, and what this looks like e.g. obedience to Jesus (see May's newsletter)
- God's extravagant love for us!
- At the end, just before Andy started his sabbatical, he read out a statement which contained the Elders view of the lack of fruitfulness, power and hunger for God in our church (see May's newsletter)
- For the next three months we are largely having external speakers who have had no guidance from us as to what to share - we have asked them to ask God. We have prayed that God will speak to us through these people, to confirm his Word. This is the 5th Sunday, so what has come out to date:
- Maurice Thorne - Hebrews 12: 1-17: we are in a race that starts with faith in Jesus. We are to through off all weight and sin and persevere
- John Symons - John 20:11-29: the resurrection, and how it brings joy, forgiveness, restoration, hope, victory and companionship. The question was asked 'why don't we trust Jesus more?' Remember, Jesus said to Thomas to 'stop doubting and believe' (v27) - Thomas had a choice, so do we!
- Dick Chammings - that Jesus has made a proposal of marriage to us via the bread and the wine, as he loves us, and how we can keep our love alive while waiting for his return.
- Steve Bedford - Genesis 3: 1-15: while God was walking in the garden in the evening, desiring fellowship with Adam and Eve, he asked them questions, though he already knew the answers!
Is there a common theme running through all this? I believe there is - God desires relationship with us! However, the relationship is on his terms, not ours!
When I think of Peter in the Bible, his heart was changed as he followed Jesus. Initially he was rash, out spoken, insecure, denied Jesus, and yet in the end he was a pillar of the church and asked to be crucified upside down. What changed his heart?
Are you different today than you were, say, a year ago? Do you love the Lord more? Do you love his people more? Do you have an increasing passion for the lost?
The passage the Lord has laid on my heart, following its reading at our church meeting, is:
2 Peter 1:5-9 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)
It is therefore clear from this passage that it is possible for Christians to be ineffective and unproductive! It was this thought that started the Elders on the path of teaching about the Holy Spirit last year, and was explicitly stated in the statement Andy read this Easter Sunday.
I have therefore been asking myself the question - am I obeying this word? Let's quickly unpack it.
1. Faith - the starting point as we were reminded by our first visiting speaker, Maurice. But what is faith? I heard an interesting quote on the radio recently 'Faith is acting like God is telling the truth' .Some of you may be saying 'I don't hear God voice'. What about what Jesus said in John 10:27 'my sheep hear my voice'. Do you believe it, or are you like Thomas? You have a choice! 'Without faith it is impossible to please God' (Hebrews 11:6) - why? Because lack of faith dishonours God, calls him a liar. I am not talking about doubting, but choosing not to believe God's word. For example, how does the 2 Peter passage we read start: 2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (NIV) That's the reason, but do we believe it and act on it?
2. Goodness - to live a holy live (2 Tim 1:9 'who has saved us and called us to a holy life' (NIV)). Are we harbouring sin in our life still? What about unbelief? Unforgiveness? Stealing - share J John's testimony (insurance fraud, pens from work, undeclared income).
3. Knowledge - how much do you read your Bible (we were encouraged to do this by Dick)? What about studying it? Having conversations with your brothers and sisters? What about regular times on your own with God?
4. Self-control - my challenge is my mouth and temper! Gossip?
5. Perseverance - feel like giving up sometimes? Take a break from church or house group or your quiet times?
6. Godliness - what is this, as it is not the same as goodness? I have heard one vicar being described as 'he is not a Christian but is a godly man'! One definition I have read is 'genuine reverence towards God'. In other words, the fear of the Lord. The Greek word is 'eusebeia' which means reverence. It is putting God will above our own desires 'thy kingdom come, thy will be done'!
7. Brotherly kindness ('philadelphia', coming from 'phileo', friend) - warm hearted affection for each other, leading to
8. Love ('agape') -selfless attitude leading to sacrifice.
Are you increasing in all these areas, or have you stopped somewhere part way down? Interesting that they build on each other - can we miss a step out?
- Goodness, is there still a certain sin in your life e.g. a grudge.
- Knowledge perhaps, as don't like learning or have other things to do.
Let me end with a picture from the Bible of how much God wants relationship with us from the beginning of time:
We read that when Jesus was being crucified,and there was darkness over the land, in Luke 23:45 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. (NIV).
What is the significance of the temple to the Holy of Holies being torn in two (from top to bottom per Matthew 27:51)?
Let's see what Solomon put in the temple curtain - 2 Chron 3:14 He made the curtain of blue, purple and crimson yarn and fine linen, with cherubim worked into it. (NIV)
Why did Solomon make it like this? Earlier, God instructed Moses how to build the tabernacle and this is how he instructed the curtain to the Holy of Holies to be made:
Ex 26:31 "Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. (NIV)
Why did God want a cherubim worked into the curtain to the holy of holies, where the arc of the covenant was to be stored?
Gen 3:24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (NIV)
So we have ended up back where we started, referred to by both Steve and Dick Chammings - Genesis 3 - God wants relationship with you! He loves you so much he sent his son to die!
Do we want a close relationship with him? Though it is on his terms, not ours! But what are his terms?
Rom 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. (NIV)
This echoes what I read out during communion in 2 Corinthians 5:15
2 Cor 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (NIV)
I would like to finally finish with a song 'Paint your picture' by Julie Meyer (You tube www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xl28CF5YHI ). The words refer to our lives as a paint brush or a clay pot and asks Jesus to paint a picture or mould the pot, to fashion a heart that is wholly his, to use us to glorify him. But for this to happen, we need to surrender totally to Jesus. He loves us so much, his extravagant love for us, hence he will not force himself on us, we must choose, like Thomas.
While the song is playing, please reflect on what I have shared and consider your response. Let's be honest with God where we are. Remember, faith is acting like what God is telling the truth, not just believing it. If it would help to pray with someone, please feel free to join me at the front so we can pray together.