Archive for June, 2017

Baptismal Mastery

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Think of a person you know, an everyday type of person; a person to whom you look as a role model. This person is someone that you may have had dealings with, but then again maybe they’re not. They might be someone you have read about, or seen on television. They might be one of your parents, or grandparents. This person might be a friend or someone with whom you’d like to be friends.

Perhaps they are someone with confidence, or wealth, a healthy lifestyle, successful in whatever they do, or they seem to be at peace with themselves.Whoever this person might be, you see them as one who has it all together. They are lords of their lives, it seems. You see them as masters of their domain.

We don’t use the language of lords much these days, when speaking of everyday people. We no longer use the term to honour those whom we respect, and we don’t use it as a name for the rulers of our country, or for landholders, as they still do in other parts of the world.

Nor do we have a great cause to ponder the function of masters and slaves. We might hear the word master when talking about someone skilled at the top of their trade, or when master is used as a definition of a principal, such as a master bedroom or a master builder.

When we uphold these role models as masters of their domains, or as lords of their lives; we receive a terrible blow when these people begin to fade and struggle with life, or when their domain comes crashing down around their ears. When death comes to those we love and look up to, it usually hits hard. Or when the person we have upheld as such a good example, is not who they first appeared, the let down can leave us feeling deflated.

A harder shock for us all is when we find life harder and harder to master. Our bodies and our wills seem to enslave us. We find that we can’t do what we know we should be doing. Or perhaps we shudder when we find out someone else looks up to us. Disgusted, perhaps you think, “If only they knew what I’m really like!”

We humans are very good at making ourselves slaves, belittling ourselves, and burdening ourselves or others by our misconceived ideas as to who and what is worthy of lordship. When we make these types of judgement, the very elements of life we uphold as being necessary, become the very things killing us and driving us to despair.

The best example of this is at funerals. While hearing the deceased person eulogised, thoughts can arise that either crush you or confuse you. As you listen you might wish you were as good as the person who has passed on, but go away crushed and downhearted. Or you might wonder if you are at the right funeral, thinking to yourself, “Hang on, this person wasn’t as good as what they are being made out to be!”

And so we arrive at the reality of life. This reality is revealed for every person at their death. Unfortunately though, it’s too late for the revelation to do anything, once we die.

However, for Christians, we who believe in, hold onto, and remain in our baptism, the reality is daily revealed why we die but also who is really worthy of being eulogised in our death, and in our being raised to eternal life.

Therefore, we find that baptism and funerals are inseparably joined. And in the inseparability is the need for us to remain with Jesus Christ given at baptism, who is faithfully walking with us every day of our lives, and willing us to trust him for salvation even in our last breath of earthly life.

Death, and our need for baptismal living, reveals that no person can be lord of their lives, and that any mastery of one’s domain is temporary at best.In fact we hear from Saint Paul that in our original condition we can only master one thing — that is sin leading to death.

We hear in Romans 5:19-21… For just as through the disobedience of the one man (that is Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus Christ) the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul then goes on to speak of our struggle against sin and the reality in which we live as believing baptised children of God.

He says… 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:1-11)

No longer do we have to eulogise or uphold the things that end in death; rather we can give all glory to Jesus Christ whose life we have received in baptism. In other words we uphold and remain in the only thing that ends in life, our baptism into Jesus’ death. In baptism we no longer have a master standing over us, enslaving us. But we now have a Saviour who faithfully stands and has mastered sin and death in us.

In the gospel we hear, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. (Matthew 10:24-25a)

We have already seen that Jesus is not our master in the religious sense. We are not bound again as slaves doing works for righteousness. But Jesus is our role model, the only worthy role model. We look to Jesus’ baptism as our example as we hear John the Baptist declare, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

Jesus was baptised with water and the Holy Spirit came, we too are baptised with water and the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit came. Jesus endured a baptism of fire ending in death at the cross, and we too will face many fiery trials in this life ending in death. This is the cross we all must bear.

But, like our teacher, we will be raised to life, because this teacher now lives in us. His death has mastered our sin and our death. Sin and death have no power. They now are dying slaves of Christ; serving him in us so we might have life with him forever. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, you are Lord of lords, and you are master of all dominions, powers, and authorities, and yet you live in us and daily win the battle of sin and death in us. Thank you precious Lord Jesus, not only do we abide in you, but you faithfully abide us. Amen.

Love isn’t love until it’s tested.

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

 

 

Love isn’t love until it’s tested.

For example a parent’s love isn’t tested until a child disobeys or rejects their love. A child’s love of a parent isn’t tested until their mum or dad fails in a promise and lets them down. A husband’s or wife’s love isn’t tested until one breaks the trust of the other or acts in ways that are selfish or hurtful.

Love isn’t love until it’s tested.

But sometimes we test love the wrong way.

For example, a boy will often say to a girl, ‘If you really love me, you’ll let me take you to bed.’ Or children will often say to their parents, ‘If you really love me, you’ll give me what I want.’

Therefore the argument continues that if we don’t get what we want, then the other person doesn’t really love us. In this way we use love as a bargaining chip, or as an emotion to hold for ransom. In reality we don’t play this game of ‘love blackmail’ out of love, but out of selfishness, greed and lust. I suppose we could answer back, ‘If you really loved me, you wouldn’t test me and my love in this way.’

Now of course, true love sometimes withholds things. For instance, a good parent won’t let their children have chips and chocolate for every meal because they love them and know what’s good for them. It doesn’t mean love isn’t there, but love is sometimes expressed by not giving in to every whim and desire you have. Even though you might at first be upset about it, sometimes love and respect can be increased when a family member or friend doesn’t let you get your own way.

There is perhaps another one you test.

Have you ever said to God, ‘If you really love me, then you’ll give me what I want. Now what I want is happiness, good health, riches, no problems or difficulties, good friends, all my enemies to get their just punishment, and everything to go my way.’

You may then think that if everything is going your way, then God is for you and he loves you. But if you become unhappy, if your relationships break down, if you suffer in your health, if you’re poor, if you have problems or difficulties, if you have enemies who seem to get away with their treatment of you, and if things don’t go your way, then you may be tempted to think God doesn’t love you.

This is why some people say, ‘If God really loves us, he wouldn’t allow terrorists to fly planes into office buildings. If God really loves us, he would have stopped the earthquakes and cyclones from killing so many people. If God really loves us, he wouldn’t take young children away from their parents or let them get so sick, he would stop the spread of cancer, he wouldn’t allow people to suffer unjustly, or he would always protect the innocent.’

Some people then blame God for all their troubles and think God’s against them. They might think God is punishing them. So when people try to blackmail God into doing what they want for the sake of his love, people’s hearts aren’t softened, but hardened against God through their fear and rebellion.

Although God may sometimes allow the results of people’s wickedness to visit them, God doesn’t desire to punish his people. God doesn’t want to punish you, but he wants to strengthen your faith in him.

Although bad things may happen for no apparent reason, God will want to use your times of trouble and suffering to lead you closer to him. He may use your times of darkness and despair in order to test and strengthen your confidence in him.

In this way, God may use your troubles, your afflictions, and your tribulations in order to bring about perseverance and endurance. He might use your suffering to build up your steadfastness of faith. He may use your pain to put your character to the test.

You see, your character isn’t tested in good times when everything’s going your way. It’s only when things go wrong and you feel under pressure, under the weather, or under oppression, that’s when your character is truly tried and tested. So, will you crack? Will you take the easy way out? Will you bow to peer or public pressure? Or will you stay the path? Will you remain true and faithful? Will you trust God even when things don’t go your way? In other words, are you a fair-weather Christian, or are you in with God all the way and through all the storms of life?

Your endurance, your character and your hope are gifts given to you through faith in God, but you never put them to the test while things are going well. These gifts are tested and strengthened through your pains, your afflictions, and even through your tears. These gifts of endurance and character aren’t given to you on a silver platter, but given to you and built up through toil and heartache.

Also, your hope and your confidence aren’t based on your feelings (because frankly, you don’t feel very good when you’re suffering!), but they’re based on facts and truth. Feelings are not faith. Feelings are fickle and rise and fall in a moment. Instead, your feelings in suffering often identify your deeper spiritual needs.

So yes, the fact is that you may be going through troubles right now, or you might face them in the future. This doesn’t make you feel very good about yourself, about others, or even about God. But your feelings don’t negate the truth that through faith in Jesus Christ, you’re given peace with God. The troubles you experience aren’t sent as punishment, but God will want to use them in such a way to deepen your faith and deepen your confidence in Christ alone. After all, if everything went your way, why would you even need God or his Son’s death and resurrection?

Your troubles can help you realise your weakness and God’s strength. In fact, it’s often when you’re at your weakest that you realise again your need to rely on and trust God and his promises. After all, it was while you were weak, sick or helpless that Jesus died on your behalf. Christ bought you peace with God through his death for you when you were weak and sick with sin.

Therefore your sufferings aren’t punishment sent from God, or signs of God being cruel to you, but they may actually be blessings in disguise. Your sufferings can be good for you and your faith in God. Your sufferings may lead you to a deeper level of love, trust, and commitment. Your sufferings then, may be something you can actually boast in.

Now this doesn’t mean you should compare your sufferings with each other and boast to each other as if ‘my sufferings are bigger than your sufferings’, but instead you should pride yourself that through your sufferings, you’re being led closer to God and are growing in your confidence in him.

You can boast in your sufferings because they drag you to the foot of the cross, sometimes kicking and screaming all the way. They can force you to admit your weakness and helplessness. They’ll compel you to find confidence in the death of Jesus Christ. He died for you while you are still a sinner. He died for you while you are still helpless. He died on your behalf.

The cross is painful. Your own crosses of suffering are painful. But as you kneel at the foot of the cross you see your sins hanging on Jesus. All God’s anger against your sins are taken out on Jesus, so therefore your suffering can’t be punishment, otherwise Jesus died in vain.

As you look to that cross in your suffering; your pride, your selfishness and your vain glory are also being put to death. Sometimes every vain and transient thing you’ve unconsciously or consciously put your faith in is being stripped away so all you have left is Jesus on the cross. As you look to the cross, your only confidence grows from the fact that Jesus died for you in order to bring you peace with God the Father. Through the death of Jesus on that cruel cross, God demonstrated his love for you.

Christ is at work, not just in your happiness and your victories, although those things too are a gift, but Christ is most at work in your suffering. That’s where your faith and love and confidence and hope is truly tested and put to work. That’s also where God dwells – in suffering. That’s where you see him the most clearly, and that’s where you realise he is near.

It’s when you suffer, that your experience of God grows. For some people, this brings fear of God and is expressed through their anger and rebellion, but for you, your suffering should bring you closer to God. Therefore your sufferings are a blessing to you.

Thankfully, as you kneel at the foot of the cross, you’re also led to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. As you endure your troubles, you may sometimes think your own resurrection from your suffering seems such a long way off that you may think it’ll never come. But just as surely that Jesus rose from death, he still lives for you and will bring you to be with him in glory. If you have been reconciled and vindicated by his death, how much more will you be saved by his life.

As strange as it sounds, brag and boast in your sufferings. Not because they’re any worse or better than anyone else’s sufferings, but because through them you’re being brought closer to the cross of Christ. Rejoice because your hope and confidence in Jesus Christ through his glorious death on the cross will help you realise and experience God’s love for you and bring you closer to him. Rejoice that Jesus died on your behalf to bring you peace, love and hope.

They say that love isn’t love until it is tested.

God’s love for us was put to the test through his precious Son’s death on that painful cross.

When our hope and confidence in God is put to the test, may be brought closer to him, so that…

The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, even in the midst of our sufferings. Amen.

A Creation Community

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

After half a church year today we arrive at Trinity Sunday. Last week we heard how the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost; ten days before that the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ; another forty days again and it was Easter Sunday, Good Friday, and Lent. These days introduced the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus after the proclamation of his divinity in Epiphany, his humanity at Christmas, and his coming into the world at Advent, way back in the four weeks of December.

Now from today we focus on the Christian life in God’s fallen creation, redeemed and being redeemed by the blood of Christ who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, three persons in one God.

However, there is a tendency for us to believe if Jesus is at the right hand of God, in heaven, he is no longer here with us. That perhaps we have been, more or less, left to our own devices to fend for ourselves. Or we might recognise the presence of the Holy Spirit, who gives us the power to escape this world so we might ascend with our hearts and minds to a place were we see God. Since he is not attainable by our natural senses anymore! Right? Well no it’s not! God’s written word from Genesis one to Revelation twenty-two tells us otherwise!

In fact the thought that God is not with us in our creation, is a thematic thread right the way through the bible demonstrating the sinfulness and faithlessness of humanity. But rather, the Trinity is present in creation, giving us God’s creation, so we might dwell with God in his threefold holy community of being and love.

Atheism and atheists, mock us because of our confession of an unseen Triune God and our hidden communion with him in his creation. However, these western infidels and scoffers of the Christian faith only exist because of Christianity. The Romans, who believed in a pantheon of gods, scoffed at the Jews after bursting into their temple in Jerusalem some two-thousand years ago, finding no visual God in the Holy of Holies. Go to a Hindu or a Buddhist country today and atheism is basically nonexistent.

Yet in the Christian world where God is hidden and there are no idol images of gods, it’s not a big step to believe there is nothing. So today the modern cynical athiest claims there is no God and the word of God is just “pie in the sky, for those who are going to die”.

On the other hand, we in the church in the second half of the church year celebrate the victory of Christ in his creation. However, neither the victory in creation, nor the God of this creation, is seen in the normal sense. God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, is not seen, and our world still seems to be spiralling out of control into greater and greater turmoil. Perhaps we might be tempted into the epitome of negativity with the atheist, and believe there is no God and therefore lose hope.

But God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit calls us back into his word, and today especially his “word of beginnings”. His victory calls us to see creation as it was at the beginning and as it will be at the end. And we’re called to see what it is today with the eyes of faith in a world that would rather look into the misery and darkness of the hopeless self with human reason.

When we look at the creation account in Genesis one, God reminds us he loves us. He created the heavens and the earth for one purpose; for an environment where we might be with him in a threefold community peace. In his creation he created a paradise garden so that he might rest in it with us. However since the fall, it’s been lost to our sin, but now since the cross access has been won by Christ’s bloody death and glorious resurrection. And all creation now rejoices and looks forward in hope to the full restoration of creation.

So for us who believe in Christ’s incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension; for us who believe the Holy Spirit has been sent to reveal Christ to us in this creation; and for us who believe the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ exist and work together so we might live in the presence of God the Father in peace — can turn back to the beginning and see the unseen reality of a hidden paradise won for us by Jesus Christ on the tree of life. Added to this we can examine the last chapters of Revelation and see the exact same reality, and continue in the same hope.

Many get caught out when looking at the creation account by falling into the debate on whether creation is seven literal days or perhaps something different. This argument only leads one away on a tangent from a correct emphasis on the creation text, regardless of what position one takes.

For us everything is a distant second from the little phrase in Genesis one, “And God said”. In fact in our search for answers to creation, this simple phrase is in danger of being overlooked. But the whole point of the creation account is to draw our faith to God’s word, in all its power and glory. God’s word needs not our proofs or reasoning, but rather it demands our trust. God said it, it happened — do you now believe it?

The other thing we need to take notice of is the order of creation, and in understanding its order, we soon come to realise its function.

First we hear, “In the beginning God created…” To imagine nothing in the beginning, is impossible, and added to it pondering the beginning as an eternal timelessness, will only make you go completely crazy. We are beings in time and place, and have not the capacity to contemplate boundless nothing. But having said that, God was there before any of it and this can only be believed by faith.

At the other end of the creation account, in Genesis 2, after all had been created by the word of God, God now rests in time and space in his creation.But God created this day of rest for a holy community – us and him together in peace.

All the events of creation fall between these two events in a very deliberate order, so this community of peace can exist in a perfect paradise with a thrice holy God. In fact creation’s order rolls along like a snow ball growing, or like an onion having its layers put on one after the other. In this way the first event of creation, serves the second, and so on until God rests in its completion.

The second last event God commanded in creation is the making of us, and in seeing the order of creation we learn that God created one thing after the other for you and me, in community. And at the very last he desires to be present with humanity in peace and perfect joy.

Now we know a lot has happened since God created the heavens and the earth. But he also calls us to now know that this reality has been restored in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So as we travel through the next half of the church year, we are called to see with the eyes of faith that the Triune God is present, although hidden.That we are called to peace with God, peace that passes all human understanding, peace that enables us to realise we are already in the arms of a loving God who calls us to rest with him, and trust that an eternity with him has been happening since our baptism and will continue on unto eternity.

We can all take stock from the last words in the bible from Revelation chapter twenty-two, where Jesus assures us that “Yes I am coming soon!” And we rest in response, “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus come.” As we trust the ever-present reality of the last verse, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Rev 22:20-21)

When God speaks

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017
Text: Acts 2:5-8
There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious people who had come from every country in the world. When they heard this noise, a large crowd gathered. They were all excited, because all of them heard the believers talking in their own languages. In amazement and wonder they exclaimed, “These people who are talking like this are Galileans! How is it, then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages?

When travelling in non-English speaking countries, signs that have obviously been literally translated into English for visitors can be often confusing and amusing. Here are a couple of examples.

From a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo, “When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn.  Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigour.”

On the office door of a doctor in Rome, “Specialist in women and other diseases”.

In a Greek tailor shop, “Order your summers suit.  Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation”.

Making a good intelligible translation from one language to another is hard work and can be very difficulty but for the disciples on the Day of Pentecost there was no problem at all. Normally the disciples with their thick Galilean accents would have had difficulty speaking to those gathered in Jerusalem from all over the world of that time. The language barrier can be quite a difficult one to deal with. This was brought home to us when we visited the parents-in-law of our son. We arrived on their doorstep in a small village in France – we didn’t speak French and they didn’t speak English. It was hard work communicating using hand signs and thumbing through a dictionary. What a difference it made when their son arrived who could speak both French and English.

The amazing thing on Pentecost day is that the disciples didn’t need dictionaries or people to translate to find the best way to say something in a foreign language. We are told, “All of them heard the believers talking in their own languages. In amazement and wonder they exclaimed, “These people who are talking like this are Galileans! How is it, then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages?” (Acts 2:7,8).

There are 3 words that describe what happened that first Pentecost Day. Heard, saw and spoke.
Firstly, those present heard a sound – they heard what sounded like a mighty rushing wind.
Secondly, they saw – they saw what appeared to be tongues of fire which spread our across the crowd and touched each person there.
And thirdly, after hearing and seeing, they spoke. They preached. They testified to the great good that God was doing among them. Jesus had said that he would send to them his Holy Spirit who would be their helper and stay with them forever.

The crowd out in the street scoffed saying, “They’re drunk!” The mob couldn’t imagine that God Almighty would use ignorant and unlearned people from the backwater of Galilee to speak the languages of those present with such skill and precision. In spite of the mockery, Peter gets up and speaks about Jesus. His sermon is recorded in The Acts of the Apostles. It’s not all that long. And yet three thousand people heard and believed and were baptised that day. The account of the Pentecost coming of the Holy Spirit concludes with the reaction of those believers. They continued to learn from the apostles, took part in fellowship meals, shared their belongings with those less fortunate, prayed together, and praised God (Acts 2:42-47).

There is a dynamic here, a powerful movement that is at the heart of the Bible’s story about who God is, who we are and what we are doing here.
The first thing we notice is how God reaches down and speaks to us. Our God is a relentlessly, unceasingly self-communicative God. There is something about God that loves to speak us, reveal his heart to us, and demonstrates a determination to get through to us with words that
express his untiring love for us,
his sacrifice for us in his son Jesus,
his dedication to rescuing us from our sinful ways,
his commitment to making sure that all people hear about the free gift of forgiveness that he offers to everyone.
Our God is one who just wants to speak to us.

A sure sign that two people are in love is that they long to be with one another. More than that, they way to talk with one another – the telephone, email, whatever – hours upon hours of talking. The talk is so important because our speech is our primary way of expressing ourselves, of sharing ourselves, giving to and receiving from others.

Every time we gather here for worship, we gather under the promise that God will speak to us. This is an important aspect of our worship services. The large part of our worship is listening to what God is saying to us.
His word of reassurance of the forgiveness of our sins,
his Word to us from the Scriptures,
his Word to us through the sermon,
his Word to us through Baptism and Holy Communion,
his Word of blessing as we leave here and face whatever the week ahead will bring.

God spoke to those gathered at the first Pentecost and he speaks to us again and again at the weekly celebration of Pentecost here at worship. We hear him speaking to us and being filled with his Spirit. What God says to us places us under the power of the Holy Spirit.

That leads me to ask then, what difference does God’s Word and his Spirit make in our lives? What are the characteristics of people under the power of the Spirit?

Spirit-filled people are people who know God’s love, they know they’re not perfect, but they know they have forgiveness through Jesus Christ. And they are able to pass that forgiveness to those who sin against them. Spirit-filled people know they have God’s power to help them and he will remain faithful and always love and care for them.

Spirit-filled people are growing people. They are continually growing in their faith, from the time of their Baptism to this day. They seek out every opportunity to discover Christ, and what it means to be children of God. They can’t get enough of hearing God speak to them.

Spirit-filled people are changed people. Through God’s Word and the Sacraments, the Holy Spirit wants to bring a change into our lives. He wants to come into our lives to bring light into our darkness; to turn our death into life; to change our lives from sin-filled to Spirit-filled. Every day Spirit-filled people try to live in their baptism. Daily they listen as the Holy Spirit reminds them, woos them, and persuades them through the Word of God. When the Word of God is heard the Holy Spirit draws us closer to God, brings us to repentance, to an assurance of the love of God for us and turns our lives around. He changes our direction!

Spirit-filled people have a new language. I don’t mean they go around speaking pious sounding words all day or use the name of Jesus in every other sentence. What I mean, Spirit-filled people speak words that heal and restore and make people happy and build people up instead of tearing them down. They speak a good word to our world, the good news about a crucified and risen Saviour.

Spirit-filled people are moved to love those around them. They are given a new outlook on the problems and the needs of other people and are happy to help and care for others. Spirit-filled people reflect the love of God into the lives of the people around them. This is how Paul described Spirit-filled people and how he saw the Spirit active in our lives. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Spirit-filled people want to share what Jesus means to them. The news about Jesus is too good not tell. This is something we can do on our local scene, as we go about our work, or talk to our neighbour over the back fence, let’s not be afraid to let people know that Jesus is someone special to you.

Spirit-filled people are concerned about the concerns of God.
Is God concerned about the way we are destroying our world? Spirit-filled people are!
Does God care for the starving, the dying, the homeless, the sick? Spirit-filled people are!
Is God concerned about those who don’t know of his love? Spirit-filled people are!

Spirit-filled people are praying people. Paul encourages us, “Pray on every occasion as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray for all God’s people” (Eph 6:18). It is the Spirit who gives us a child’s confidence to go to our heavenly Father in prayer. It is the Spirit who “helps us in our weakness … and intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” It is the Spirit who enables us to pray the most unlikely prayers in the face of suffering, on the battlefield, here in worship and at the kitchen table. Spirit-filled people “take everything to God in prayer.”

Spirit-filled people are worshipping people. In Philippians we read, “We worship God by means of his Spirit…(3:3). We have been saved by Jesus our Saviour and daily we experience the blessings of the Holy Spirit as he leads us to change the direction of our lives and assures us of the love and forgiveness of God. Spirit-filled people join with fellow Spirit-filled people of the body of Christ to give thanks and praise to the God who has done to so much for them.

Spirit-filled people are praising people. There is nothing more that we could ask of God. We haven’t done anything to deserve it but he has given us everything.

As you have listened to God’s Word to you about the Spirit-filled life, I’m sure your response is much the same as mine.
God has spoken but I haven’t been listening.
God has been giving me directions but I have chosen to ignore them.
God has kept on speaking, speaking and speaking to me about his love and his plan for my life and I still I don’t get it.

The longest word in the English language is “pneumono-ultra-microscopic-silico-volcano-coniosis,” which describes a lung disease caused by breathing in particles of volcanic matter or a similar fine dust. An even longer word, nearly 100 letters long, was used by James Joyce in his book ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ (1939). He created it to describe a thunderclap at the beginning of the story: (not even going to try to say it) bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuvarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk.”

The words that God speaks to us are much simpler than that. “You are my child. I have sent you my Son and given you my Spirit that you may believe and have eternal life”.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy