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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.

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Are we Believers or Disciples?

Andy Elmes • August 9, 2020 • Andy Elmes

Pastor Andy asks if we are Believers or Disciples. There are similarities but great differences between the two. In Matthew 28, the Lord asks us to be a going people, to make disciples, not just to be saved. Help the people to learn of me, believe in me and obey my words and observe my commands….are words from the Amplified version of Matthew 28. So we are to go and make disciples and teach people to obey Jesus commands. Believing is having faith in something or someone. Believing in God is a powerful thing but even demons believe in God also! - James 2:19 (NKJV) “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” So God does want us to experience the powerful salvation which comes from believing….. But also more……. being a disciple as well. In believing, lives are saved but not transformed. When lives are positioned as disciples, followers of Christ, transformation takes place. It’s an ongoing commitment to the work of the Holy Spirit within. Unlike the thief on the cross next to Jesus, we do have time in our lives for the Holy Spirit to change us. Moving from being a believer to being a disciple was Jesus’ plan in order to transform lives. This is what he called us to be. Believing is not the final thing! Jesus ministered not only to many crowds but also to his disciples when he was not with crowds. Crowds maybe are there for what they can get but disciples are there for what they can become. Being a disciple means becoming subject to the disciplines of the person you follow. A life being transformed will always involve a level of discipline in order to cause the changes required. God calls us to be subject to His teachings and truths. Do we want our lives to adhere to Jesus’ teaching? The bible calls all believers to achieve Christ-likeness choosing discipleship over pure membership. We need to let Jesus train us or disciple us into a better way of living. This means living in the Word allowing the Holy Spirit to challenge us and moving from being in a crowd experience about God to being a follower of God. Believing is belonging but disciplining is submitting, allowing changes to occur, daily. When we are living in the Word of God we will be transformed – Romans 12:2 (NKJV) “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. Our thinking will be challenged and our wisdom altered, this needs to be our prayer. We must exchange incorrect philosophies for correct ones. Colossians 2:8 tells us (NIV) “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ”. The Passion Translation colours this in with even greater clarity in modern day English “Beware that no one distracts you or intimidates you in their attempt to lead you away from Christ’s fullness by pretending to be full of wisdom when they’re filled with endless arguments of human logic. For they operate with humanistic and clouded judgments based on the mindset of this world system, and not the anointed truths of the Anointed One.” So we have a choice as believers, carry on as we are or turn to God and choose His wisdom to operate in inside us. This means we redefine our belief system in accordance with Jesus words. As Jesus said, disciples live by and are obedient to His words (he was speaking to Jewish believers), read John 8:31 (NIV) “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples’”. So Jesus was speaking to people who were saved telling them they needed to hold true to His words. The same is true for us in order to be disciples.

Transformation not Modification

Andy Elmes • August 2, 2020 • Andy Elmes

Pastor Andy speaks about Transformation not Modification. Last week we heard personal testimonies about how God had changed people and transformed their lives. We can only manage modification but God produces transformation – God on the inside of us changing us totally from the inside out. This is not behaviour modification. God does not just save us but also change us from the inside out, just as in a metamorphosis (a change from one form to another). Much of religion only has a gospel of behaviour modification yet the gospel of Jesus Christ is about God coming to live within a person’s life transforming them. Whether instant or process there is always a starting point. In Luke 19, scripture recalls the life of Zacchaeus, a thief wanting to give back to those he stole from……this was an instant encounter with God that transformed a life. In Acts 9 there is a moment where Saul a serial killer is transformed ….a light shone, he fell to the ground hearing a voice calling him. He asks who calls and hears “I am Jesus who you persecute”…. Later he becomes Paul but from that moment everything became different, a transformed life. Transformation can be instantaneous but also ongoing as well, even if started by a single event, perhaps when we received The Lord. As we commit to living a life of “abiding in Him” (John 15) then there is an ongoing transformation. Many disciples had this type of change as they walked with Jesus over time. There can be moments but as we commit to walking with Him our lives will be transformed. His presence, His Spirit and His Word will transform us daily as we walk with Him. This is still His plan to transform us as it was during biblical times. When we love the presence of God, things that are wrong cannot remain.. deceptions, stubborn things! The bible says we are transformed by His Spirit - 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NKJV) says “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord”. The Holy Spirit now in us causes the transformation in our lives and moves us from glory to glory to be more Christ like. Often this is ongoing when we don’t realise it. Also His Word, the supernatural living words cause everlasting change. Romans 12:2 (NKJV) says ”And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. This renewing of our minds comes from reading His word. The Passion Translation embroiders this text further… “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes”. WOW! The Holy Spirit and The Word almost dance together inside us to make changes from the inside out. ….The word of God and The Spirit of God were present in creation (Genesis). What for us? We can only manage modification. God does transformation – which occurs when we choose to yield and submit to Him. All we must do is yield and obey….not purpose in our hearts to do what we wish to do but yield to the Holy Spirit and the Word. Obedience is key and produces fruit. Let us be hungry for God and His change in our lives.

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.