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Hearing from God

Steve Carey

November 17, 2019 • Steve Carey

Does God really speak? And if so, how? Join us as Pastor Steve grapples with these important questions.

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This is My Story

Andy Elmes • July 26, 2020 • Andy Elmes

This Sunday’s broadcast was titled “This is My Story”. An exciting Sunday's broadcast where we heard from individuals about how their lives have been transformed by God! Several testimonies from Family Church members about how God has impacted their lives and changed them personally gave gripping insight into how God transforms from the inside in a relational way. Following this, Pastor Andy spoke briefly about transformed lives, people encountering God from the inside out, not outside in as religion tries to. Real lives welcome the opportunity with Jesus and consequently have their lives changed. The bible is full of such stories, especially in the gospels; how Jesus met the lady at the well whose life was out of control, when Jesus met the religious Nicodemus (a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin) and answered questions leading to his life changing. Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1) was a tax collector and a thief, but he wanted to see Jesus. Being not too tall he climbed a tree to be able to see Jesus pass by. Amazingly, Jesus tells him to come down immediately and tells him he wants to come to his home. People saw that Jesus was a guest of a sinner, not preaching, but only sitting eating with Zacchaeus who consequently says he will give half his money to the poor and repay people four times anything he had robbed them! Jesus announces how salvation has come to Zacchaeus’ house, how the Son of man has come to save to lost. It’s a great story as Zacchaeus would not have wanted religion, being a tax collector he would have seen such people as hypocrites…he must have been amazed when Jesus stopped, looked up at the tree and said “today I want to come to your house”. We note Jesus did not preach to him or tell him off for his sins; just being in the presence of Jesus was enough to cause the transformation of Zacchaeus life. Previously he had been a thief, now he wanted to recompense everyone! In the moment of encounter with Jesus everything had changed, just as we heard from other people today during the service. When you really meet Jesus, everything inside you changes. Suddenly the life that matters breaks out and relationships begin. God is an incredible God, still changing lives in present days just as in biblical times.

Abiding Presence

Andy Elmes • July 19, 2020 • Andy Elmes

Pastor Andy speaks about being a people of presence and harvest for The Lord. We are a community of people who love and honour and have regard for the presence of God. Exodus 33:7-11 looks at the relationship Moses had with God under the old covenant and describes the Tent of Meeting where Moses would meet with the Lord in an intimate way. Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshipped God. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Afterwards, Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent (he stayed to get the remnant of God’s presence). So Moses had a designated place of meeting with The Lord, away from others, however other people benefitted from his time with The Lord. Moses would receive all he needed and also all he needed to lead other people, it was a relational not religious place, much as in the gospels where Jesus went away to be in the presence of The Father and receive all He needed. Moses (and Joshua) loved the presence of God, experiencing life changing moments. What Moses wanted most was the presence of God. Exodus 33:14 tells us that true rest is found in the presence of God. Verse 16 (NIV) is challenging “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” It is the presence of God that distinguishes us from others in the world, so if we do not walk in the presence of God we are no different to anyone else. Today we are in New Covenant times; we are able to know the presence of God in a greater way as God has achieved more for us through the blood of Jesus. The Old Covenant was about tents and temples made by man where the presence of God could be found momentarily. All these were just shadows of what we can now know. The New Testament does not say we meet Jesus in a temple or tent but that God is within us. Our lives have become temples and tents of meeting with God! Paul speaks to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV) “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Likewise for us, God is not waiting for us to meet with him in a temple or tent somewhere. God has now come to live in the presence of our lives. Also in 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NKJV) Paul tells the church “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” This is as true for us now as it was for the early church then. However, we are not in the days of Moses; The God of outside of us also dwells inside us through the Holy Spirit. We need to realise this and glorify God in our bodies. This is the revelation within this week’s message from Pastor Andy - Moses experienced moments of presence but we are to know abiding presence. Each of us who have accepted Jesus has been made holy and righteous through God’s son-ship. We have been made so holy that the Holy Spirit would call us His Temple. Christ prepared our lives for the abiding presence of God in our lives just as the Tent had to be prepared for the presence of God in the Old Testament. We have abiding presence. He never leaves nor forsakes us. We cannot underestimate the value of this. The same presence of God that Moses experienced in the Tent is available to us every day. John 15:4-5 (NIV) tells us “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”. So if we are abiding in Him we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us. Let us do three things:- • Realise His presence in a greater way, have the revelation He is with us changing our lives. In 1 Samuel 3, Samuel is lying down inside the temple near the Ark, God calls Samuel and he says ‘here I am’. But God didn’t call from anywhere; he was already in the building. God spoke from the presence that was already there. Likewise, for us now, we have God in the Holy Spirit temple of our lives and he can speak any time. • Take and make time for His presence. Wherever we go, He is with us, we have His abiding presence. Let us acknowledge this daily, enjoy the revelation that God is within us. • When we realise His presence we can practice living out His presence. His presence changes everything so all the things we struggle with will alter. Everything begins with a realisation we have been given the ability to have abiding presence with God.

What If?

Andy Elmes • July 12, 2020 • Andy Elmes

Pastor Andy asks us “What If?” Life is filled with What Ifs, what if Jesus returned today? All our What Ifs should be undergirded by scripture. Romans 8:28 (NIV) says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Alternatively, in The Passion Translation “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfil his designed purpose”. This statement should be a part of what we are thinking in our daily ‘What Ifs’ Maybe we don’t feel God is at work but we must live by truth not feelings. In all things he is designing and weaving things together for our good – even if we don’t know or can’t feel as though this is the case! We need to find firm ground under our feet; God is in it to cause us to win it! This is true for all moments and seasons including this time when church meetings as they were have been halted. What If can cause us to think optimistically or pessimistically. For instance, what if it takes longer for church services as we knew them to begin again. What if God was at work doing things in us beyond the virus and its ramifications. God could be at work in this moment to do us good! What if God was using this time to reset the church, or reset us so that we meet again we are not the same but stronger. Maybe the church gates are closed because God is not finished doing something good in us! Are we sitting waiting for the church doors to open are we busy letting God work in us and through us so we can be the people we need to be when the doors do open again? Scripture shows that God works in unusual moments, doing inconceivable things. God works this way, taking unusual moments when everyone thinks everything is going wrong to do amazing things. Acts 8:1 (NIV) gives an example at the time of the birth of the church of an unexpected moment. “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria”….this group of people who were previously loving gathering together being scattered to the corners of the earth. As this was happening, people must have had What Ifs like “What If we can’t meet again like we used to”. But what a great plan God had for touching the world! In fact it was genius; the church had become obsessed with meetings but had missed the point. Jesus told them to go into all the world and be witnesses for Him in Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. God’s purposes were not just in their gatherings but in their scatterings, although they could not see it at the time. What if we keep our focus on becoming, rather than sitting and waiting? Lord, what are you doing in this moment? Romans 8 tells us God is at work in ALL things. What if God is wanting to do something new in this moment? When our doors open again we need to be a church of strong small groups that gathers altogether at times rather than a strong church gathering with few small groups. It might be a while before we can gather again. Strong small groups will make for a much stronger church gathering overall. If God is in this moment then this is certainly true. Small groups were the norm for the early church. The vision for us to be 100% in small groups was seen by Ps Steu last year without foreknowledge of what was to occur in the year 2020. In fact, during lockdown our small groups have increased and strengthened. What if this is part of God’s plan? If so we shall have stronger church when we do gather again. Our passion for small groups will have assisted this aim. Let us not be sitting wasting this time when God has plans for us. Our expectations should change from expecting much from meetings to enhancing and creating relationships. Let us not expect to connect to people in a large gathering on Sundays but in a more intimate fashion that a small group can provide. Discipleship, training & pastoral care might better be provided in small groups. God could reshape us as a church, even when we feel things are going wrong. What if God is in this unusual moment teaching us things that we never thought of before?, especially if we were still meeting as were had been. What if in this moment God was trying to get the “cells” of Family Church stronger so that when we do re-open we have a body which is stronger and more ready for the purposes of God. What if we are in a moment where God says let us do more life together in small groups that also meet on a Sunday. God could be more in this moment than any of us ever thought! Let us all be much more passionate about our small groups, our Connect groups.