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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.

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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.

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.