Understanding the dynamics in the unseen realm Part 8
August 11, 2019 • Geoff Wood
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.
Time to Arise & Shine
Andy Elmes • June 21, 2020 • Andy Elmes
Pastor Andy encourages us that we need to be assured that God is at work in all things (Romans 8:28). God has a plan! Let us understand the time we live in and the part God wants us to play. His plan is us, we are His church. Isaiah, a prophet was seeing things through The Spirit ahead of his time. Isaiah 60:1 (NIV) says “‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” This is key to the moment we are in now & how God wishes us to respond. Arise and Shine means get up, don’t shrink in fear and purpose, and be the dawn, the break of day. Darkness will cover the earth comes from hebrew khoshekh meaning misery, destruction death, sorrow, unrighteousness. Thick Darkness here means a cloud of gloom. So Isaiah foresaw gloom over the earth but told the people of God it was time to let the light of Jesus shine. Isaiah 60:3 says that the people of this world, (gentiles & heathen) will be drawn towards the light we shine – when the church stops hiding, arguing and fighting and stands up to be the representation of Christ on earth. The unsaved will be drawn to something better they see in us – the holiness, beauty and reality of Kingdom life. These verses speak to us... His People, His church on earth! The Jesus who came and now lives in us is the Jesus who will shine. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 the bible speaks of us being one body, made of many parts, many cultures and nations (if one part hurts so do we all). The final statement here says that we are the body of Christ and each of us is a part of it. We are the body of Christ on earth and contain the spirit of God. He is here in us now on the earth wishing to express Himself to a confused world through the lives we live, not necessarily our words. We are called to stand out not blend in; we are called to be operating and responsive in a different spirit from those of the world - to be that breaking of dawn in these confusing times. John 13:35 tells us people will know us by how we love one another, a different love from that in the world. People of God choose unity over division or dissention (Proverbs 6:19 reminds us how God hates such things). We speak truth in love not deceptive thinking. We understand the Word of God separates what is soul and what is spirit and how to respond. The world desperately needs us to be different to be the church, however we need to know what this means from a spiritual perspective. We are a called out people in this world but not of this world. Colossians 1:13 tells us we have been snatched out the kingdom of darkness & brought into the Kingdom of the Son of His love. We need to be true to this. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us how we are a chosen people called out of darkness to declare his praises. Once we had not received mercy but now we have! We are a people of Christ on earth, with no partiality to race, colour etc. We know each other only by how we are in Christ. We do not despise our cultures which we celebrate, but we are defined by who we are in God. 2 Corinthians 5:16 onwards speaks about the truth of who we now are. If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation or species, a new variety of people belonging to God. There is no partiality of skin colour here. God expect us to respect each other as human to human. Let us see Jesus in each other and choose to be different. Then we can celebrate our differences not judge or despise them. God looks for us His church to be different in the darkness of today’s world, to be a bright shining light. To accomplish this, our thinking, loving, forgiving, and graceful judging must be different. All this starts with how we treat each other in our own church. Our local culture can then impact the wider church. The church is not peripheral to the world but central. Ephesians 1:23 (MSG) tells us “He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the centre of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” The Bible tells us to understand Kingdom life in order that life around us can change. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us to study The Lord and we shall be transformed into His image with ever increasing glory! Then we begin to shine and impact our own local church then indeed the church and the world over. This means living with no racism, judgement, division but seeing Jesus in each other. The devils plans will be ruined! We must see ourselves as reflected in the Word, how The Father sees us. Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) teaches “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Whether reading the words of Isaiah or Jesus, the request is the same. Pastor Andy shared a personal message he received during his devotions: God is about to move again through His church, His body on the earth. It is vital we know who we are and what we are here to do. It is time to Arise and Shine.
Andy Elmes • June 14, 2020 • Andy Elmes
Following from the previous week, Pastor Andy continues the open conversation about racism and equality. Understanding people’s perspective is a key thing, it is a point of view regarding things going on around us. This can impact our response to issues we face in the world. Various people will have varying perspectives on something and we need to recognise this. This is normal. Our perspective is our view point determined by what is happening. Even how we see things can change as we view from a different perspective. Christians seek to choose and view from another viewpoint, the Kingdom view. This is the perspective of God and His word regarding things we are seeing and experiencing. This perspective is always the one that matters the most. We need to be willing to lay down our perspectives and gain that of heaven. Our identity is fundamental here – we will only choose Kingdom perspective when we fully know who we are in Christ. Citizenship of God’s Kingdom forms a common voice inside us. Colossians 1:13 (NKJV) tells us “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”. This is when we receive Jesus as Saviour here on earth. We are then made alive in our spirit to God. Our lives become under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. We are triune beings – body, soul and spirit. Our soul can be heavily influenced by the how we see things. Our spirit is now alive to God, we are now able to hear and know Gods spirit and His thoughts. We can access the mind of God, having the spirit within us which is alive to God. In 1 Corinthians 2:9 onwards scripture speaks about what God has revealed to us by His Spirit, how only a person’s thoughts are known by their spirit and in verse 12 how our understanding of God’s Spirit can come from His Spirit ((NIV) “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us”). In verse 14 we are told that the person without God’s Spirit in his heart will see things as foolish, not understanding them, as here we speak of spiritual discernment, but the person with Gods Spirit will see all things through Godly eyes. In verse 16 it says (NIV) “for who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ”. We have the mind of Christ and can access God’s perspective of things happening on earth. If this does not agree with our perspective we need to be able to change our perspective. We see God’s perspective through His Word and His Spirit that can lead our ways. God designed us to have a spirit alive to him. Our soul is not removed but our choices need to be carefully made – not by the soul as before we accepted Jesus but by the spirit………..let us be influenced by the spirit of who we now are through the Holy Spirit, the mind of Christ. We need to seek first the Kingdom perspective. We must seek to find Gods perspective when we discuss aspects like racism and discrimination. As Christians, we are carriers of the Kingdom of God and this needs to affect our perspective and the way we live. The cure for racism, inequality and such issues is Kingdom Come. We represent a kingdom where all are equal. This is how we need to see life. In Colossians 3:7-11 Paul speaks of who we used to be and how we were, but how we are now, how God sees us….(NIV) “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all”. This clearly shows no delineation between races, religions, cultures, social or economic distinctions people etc. We are all one in Him and He is one in us. We are one body. Joining the perspectives of the Kingdom of God rather than of the worldly kingdoms is how we may change the world. We are in His Kingdom and He is in us. Let these truths affect how we see ourselves and how we choose to see others. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).