Friday, 29 May 2015

We only know God – by the Trinity!

For through him, we…. have access to the Father, by one Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)

Even this one Bible sentence alone is enough to revolutionise our whole approach to religion – and finding God! Here is open access – a way through - from Earth to Heaven! It has been authorised by the loving plan of One we now call THE FATHER; achieved by ‘Him’ – whom we know as Jesus THE SON; and activated by the inspiring work of THE HOLY SPIRIT within the life of a believer.

This one sentence from the letter to the Ephesians shows us that we are not bound by formal definitions, correct phraseology or statutory procedures when entering the holy presence of God. In former times, pagans and others were frantic in their attempts to attract the attention of the gods…. and not to offend them by getting their names wrong!

And then we come to the three Persons in the one God – each with their own function that makes access in prayer possible – described in terms of a family relationship.

In certain eastern and middle-east belief-systems, God can only be perceived as remote and inscrutable. Gigantic, yes - but aloof and unapproachable; you cannot get near him! Any revelation given is never of him disclosing himself – but largely of required duties that are laid down, and set prayers to be recited. He is massive – but far away.

In traditional panthesistic belief of ancient Africa, God was identified with Nature, with hills, rivers and sacred trees. In such a case God is conceived of as being quite close to the worshipper – but oh, so small!

Through the historical event of Christ becoming human and dying for our sins, the great and true God has brought Himself within tangible reach of those who receive His Spirit…. and strangely without shrinking Him!

Accept what the blessed Trinity has done for you and now… PRAY!



Saturday, 23 May 2015

Pentecost – the arrows point outwards!

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

Two contrasting kinds of intoxication – and the better way is to be filled – controlled – by the Spirit of God, who was promised to the Church by Jesus Christ before He left this world. It all began on that momentous day of Pentecost (Acts 2). And what surprises!

1. Spirit-filled people are more aware of Christ than of the Spirit.

There is this strange anonymity about the Holy Spirit. He comes into the life of every believer – not to draw attention to Himself, but to Jesus (John 16:14). For this reason, a Spirit-filled person – or church – is always Christ-centred.

2. Spirit-filled people are more concerned with ‘emptying’ than with ‘filling.’ 

 We are not to hug our blessings to ourselves, but to share them with others. Don’t you, Christian, feel better – more filled and fulfilled - at the END of a piece of service for the Lord and for others than you did at the beginning? That is related to the filling of the Spirit. The way to be filled is to be emptied!

3. Spirit-filled people are more absorbed with others’ interests than with their own. 

 Any gifts and abilities we are have given by the Spirit of God we must use for the up-building of the wider community in the church – and beyond. All the arrows point outwards, never inwards!

And how can we be filled? By daily removing any blocking caused by sin; by opening our lives in surrender to Christ, and by sharing those blessings of ours! Let’s ask to be filled with the Spirit every day!


Monday, 18 May 2015

A power that breaches prisons

Peter therefore was kept in prison; but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him (Acts 12:5 KJV)

Yes, heads were getting cracked right and left. Stephen and James had both been eliminated from the company of Jesus’ apostles; now it was Peter, the Rock man, who had got clapped into a top security wing under heavy guard. The story ends well with the angelic intervention, the snapping of the prisoner’s shackles and the freeing of Peter – whereupon

He heads straight for the church prayer gathering.

The Covenant of Prayer

Prayer was central to the church’s life; there was an agreement about it – ‘We are going to pray!’ The tyrannical Herod Agrippa thought he had disposed of the early church by incarcerating its leader…. but prayer brings God into the arena! Your church…. your fellowship – do you have a prayer meeting? If not, begin a covenant among yourselves, this very week!

The Community of Prayer

A tingling sense of expectancy characterises the church that prays. Church worship, fellowship and outreach become irradiated with the presence and power of Christ himself when prayer is recognised as the most important activity of all! It is a great thing when Christ’s people learn of some distant event – or of a Christian in prison – and pray.

The Combustion of Prayer

When Peter gets to the prayer meeting, the members were ‘amazed’…. a masterly understatement! Peter’s arrival fairly lit up the prayer meeting that night. Typically, we are invariably surprised. We find ourselves gasping – ‘Why –He actually heard MY prayer!’

The church that prays will be in for shocks!


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Greater even than Christ’s doings?

“Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)

Whatever did Jesus mean by this saying? No one – no one at all – has ever out-performed the Man of Galilee in the field of miracles, either in quality or quantity. That only needs ten seconds thought! Who else in history could still storms at a word, heal leprosy sufferers at a touch, feed 5,000 from virtually nothing, walk on water or raise someone after four days in the grave?

Greater things? The key to understanding this sentence lies in the words ‘because I am going to the Father.’ As Christ’s bodily presence was withdrawn from the world, so His Spirit was sent to accomplish – through the ministry of ordinary believers – ‘greater things’ …. not so much of a superior physical kind, but of a superior dimension altogether. A world-wide community was about to come into being, embracing people from every culture and language. The conversion of the 3,000 at Pentecost was a ‘greater thing’ than the feeding of the 5,000 by Lake Galilee.

Every time someone is born again by the Spirit of God and becomes a follower of Jesus, in China, in India, in Peru or Iran, it is a ‘greater thing.’

Can you put John 14:12 into practice this very week? Could your Spirit-led prayers touch people far beyond the limited areas that Christ’s ministry affected when He was on earth? It could be possible that a work colleague, family member or near –neighbour might respond even to YOUR witness and become a new person in Christ!


Monday, 4 May 2015

Quote - Misquote

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”     (John 16: 12,13)

Misguided – or false – teachers often quote the Bible in the hope that a Scripture text (such as John 16:12,13) will give greater credence to the beliefs that they are declaring.

But Jesus’ promise of the Spirit’s guidance into all truth was given exclusively to the APOSTLES.  The fulfilment of the promise is with us in the New Testament Scriptures! And yet these words of John 16 have again and again been emblazoned on platform banners and conference programmes – conveying every expectation that fresh definitive truth is being received. Jesus’ words have frequently been blandly quoted by teachers with a revisionist agenda for the life of the church. To them, truth is always evolving. It has even been said, ‘We wrote the Scriptures; we can re-write the Scriptures!’

And the untaught are taken in by the lie.

For it is a lie. Beyond the prophetic writings of the Old Testament and the Christ-centred apostolic teachings of the New, there is nothing to add (Hebrews 1:1,2; Jude 3).  After Christ – God has no more to say to us! The importance of this issue was highlighted when the Church – faced by bogus manuscripts – finally drew a line under the ‘Canon’ (the Standard) of the recognised Scriptures, to which nothing may be added.

Yet, while God has no more truths to reveal to us, we have plenty more to learn! In the scriptures we have a bottomless resource that it will take us a life-time to explore!