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Family Night - Why not you?

Charlie Kang

May 15, 2020 • 1 Thessalonians 1:4

We have been chosen for this time - why not us to bring the good news of Jesus to people who are searching for hope? God chose you & He knew why He chose you to fulfil His promises for your life - He has given us His Spirit for this season.

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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.

Do you know what time it is?

Andy Elmes • July 5, 2020 • Andy Elmes

Do you know what time it is? Pastor Andy asks this key question. We need to know what time we are in as a church right now. We need to learn to tell the time spiritually. The bible may tell us different things that will happen in various times but we may not have grasped this fully. 1 Chronicles 12:32 speaks of the peoples of Issachar (one of the 12 tribes of Israel) understanding the times they were in. Likewise, as the church, we need to understand times we are in with readiness to respond. We are in last days as the bible teaches. But do we know this, the days before the returning of Jesus Christ. He will come back to collect the people who belong to Him. In less than a second some will go to hell, some to heaven. No one knows the exact time but we can know the season we are in if we listen to the Holy Spirit and understand the nature of what is happening in the world. The global happenings now indicate times different from any before. We need to make ready for when Jesus returns. The Word does not give us exact times but it does give significant signposts. Jesus describes to His disciples how things will be before His return in Matthew 24 (TPT, extract of key verses) {His disciples came privately to where he was sitting and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what supernatural sign should we expect to signal your coming and the completion of this age?” Jesus answered, “At that time deception will run rampant. For many will appear on the scene claiming my authority or saying about themselves, ‘I am God’s Anointed,’ and they will lead many astray. You will hear of wars nearby and revolutions on every side, with more rumours of wars to come. Don’t panic or give in to your fears, for the breaking apart of the world’s systems is destined to happen. But it won’t yet be the end; it will still be unfolding. Nations will go to war against each other and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be terrible earthquakes—seismic events of epic proportion, horrible epidemics and famines in place after place. This is how the first contractions and birth pains of the new age will begin! You can expect to be persecuted, even killed; for you will be hated by all the nations because of your love for me. Then many will stop following me and fall away, and will betray one another….many lying prophets will arise, deceiving multitudes and leading them away from the path of truth. There will be such an increase of sin and lawlessness that those whose hearts once burned with passion for God and others will grow cold. But keep your hope to the end and you will experience life and deliverance. Yet through it all, this joyful assurance of the realm of heaven’s kingdom will be proclaimed all over the world, providing every nation with a demonstration of the reality of God. And after this the end of this age will arrive. The appearing of the Son of Man will burst forth with the brightness of a lightning strike that shines from one end of the sky to the other, illuminating the earth. Concerning that day and exact hour, no one knows when it will arrive, not even the angels of heaven—only the Father knows. For it will be exactly like it was in the days of Noah when the Son of Man appears. Before the flood, people lived their lives eating, drinking, marrying, and having children. They didn’t realize the end was near until Noah entered the ark, and then suddenly, the flood came and took them all away in judgment. It will happen the same way when the Son of Man appears. At that time, two men will be working on the farm; one will be taken away in judgment, the other left. Two women will be grinding grain; one will be taken away in judgment, the other left. This is why you must stay alert: because no one knows the day your Lord will come}. Jesus is the ark people will now find salvation in……….but are we ready for this time? In 2 Timothy 3:1-5 Paul also speaks of the last days (TPT, extracts from verses) {But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce and difficult for the people of God. People will be self-centred and obsessed with money, boasting of great things as they strut around in pride and mock all that is right, ignoring their families, being ungrateful and ungodly, addicted to hateful and malicious slander; Slaves to their desires, they will be ferocious, belligerent haters of good and right. With brutal treachery, they will act without restraint, bigoted and wrapped in clouds of their conceit, finding delight in the pleasures of this world rather than God. They may pretend to have a respect for God, but in reality they want nothing to do with God’s power. Stay away from people like these!} These descriptions do paint the times we are in now. What ought our response to all this be? We need to ensure our lives are ready for Him, no junk in our hearts. Also it’s a moment for the church to find its purpose…we need to be harvesters. God is speaking to His people. We do not know the hour or second but these are unusual days naturally and spiritually. If Jesus is returning soon, we must focus on harvest of souls. If our closest friends and family have not heard the good news they may be looking at an eternity of hell. This must motivate us and focus us. The fields are ripe for harvest (John 4:35)….people are emerging from lockdown. The harvesters and labourers are each of us, to rescue the lost. Nothing is as important as somebody’s eternal soul going to hell. Roughly one hundred people die per minute worldwide! Where will these people go….to a lost eternity if they have not heard about Jesus? God made a way for everyone to escape lost eternity. If they choose not to choose His Son, having heard of Him, then this is their decision. But our motivation must be to tell them firstly. We are not waiting for buildings to open but to focus on getting into the harvest field and save people. Harvest now is not bringing people to buildings, but the church being mobilised to go into other people’s worlds to tell them of Jesus. We have been able to rediscover ourselves as a community of people of God during lockdown. He is still sending us into the harvest. What time is it? Time to be mobilised! There are no last moments. It is about reaching our local community, neighbours, maybe using social media to spread the good news rather than anything else! In Acts 1:8 (NKJV) Jesus said “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Our local world is our Jerusalem. Our loved ones are our immediate concern. Let us ensure we are ready, that we know and understand the gospel. Are we ready for His return? Are we a wise or foolish virgins (Matthew 25), do we have oil in our lamps? Yes, scoffers will come in the last days as in 2 Peter 3:3-10 (NKJV) “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they wilfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word are reserved for fire until the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Let us make sure we are ready, for ourselves ….and to help rescue others.

Protecting Our Unity

Andy Elmes • June 28, 2020 • Andy Elmes

Following from last week Pastor Andy speaks about Protecting Unity in the church. Last week the message spoke of God moving through His people, the Church. As His church, we need to live differently in order not to blend into the world. We have a light that is different to that of the world. Isaiah 61:1 tells us why we are different (NIV) “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord as anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners”. The Spirit of God is upon us, this makes us different! Daily we need to choose to live by His Spirit. How we live and love will make us different to the world. Additionally we choose Unity rather than division. We believe God has a plan to use His church for His plans; hence we need to protect the church from strife and division. The enemy’s plans surely are to divide and conquer the church rendering it useless. 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV) says “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” Let us not be unaware of the devil’s schemes! Paul told the church in Ephesus how to live to protect unity and provide maturity – Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV) “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”. A unified church has great effect…unity in fact means acting as a single unit. Let us must march in step with the commission the Lord has given us. God reminds us how nothing is impossible when men remain united in speech and purpose (Tower of Babel story) – Genesis 11:6 (NIV) “The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them”. In verses 7 & 8 God confuses their language and scatters the people resulting in the cessation of their building. Satan is equally wary of Gods plans and can confuse our communication if we let him resulting in an inactive church! Our unity is precious to God, it also attracts commanded blessing. Psalm 133:1-3 (NKJV) tells us of this “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forevermore.” Unity needs to be a covering on our lives, to drip down over us all….there we get the commanded blessing. We must however protect our unity both in action and speech, building up rather than knocking down. Do not interpret unity for uniformity, free speech is powerful, but let us be of one spirit – God’s Spirit. We need to be wise in how and where we speak. Issues between us are usually best solved person to person as Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:24, rather than public airings on social media! Better to use these channels of communication to display a better way of loving and living undergirded with the spirit of love. Different views on some things are acceptable, but we do need to walk in the spirit of unity. What matters most is lost people going to a lost eternity. The saving of the lost should be at the top of our priorities and should drive our unity as we are God’s plan to prevent this. We need kingdom etiquette in how we protect unity as Paul teaches in 2 Timothy 2:23-24(NIV) “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful”. Let us be careful that the spirit we operate in does not bring quarrels or dissention - Proverbs 6:19 states that God abhors dissention in His church. Our freedom of speech is a gift but we must be careful how we use it. A divided church God cannot use but a united church God can use to turn the world upside down. 1 Corinthians 12:27 tells us that we are a family, a team, however we need to understand the season we are in now as God has a plan to use us but the enemy has a plan to separate us. We must strengthen the bond of unity in peace. Beware of spiritual auto-immune diseases…..let us celebrate our differences in spiritual unity. The separator, the devil, is very subtle, thankfully Christ has rescued us. Before his arrest, Jesus prayed a prayer of oneness, unity, for all his believers that we need to pray and keep as our mantra – John 17:20 & following (NLT) “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began”. Let us be the answer to this prayer. The spirit of The Lord is upon us and He has anointed us to make a difference to the world. Let us protect our unity, making us an unstoppable force on this earth. We are not peripheral but central to the world. Let us be wise in how we express ourselves, using all our communication channels to glorify God. Amen.