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Back to the original recipe for Church

Andy Elmes

March 29, 2020 • Andy Elmes

In the midst of the chaos we are witnessing something amazing is occurring – the church is being ‘reset’…..watching the church in the world, the church as we have known it is giving birth to the church as known in the Bible in Acts Chapter 2. Services and events are being replaced by being a community based people. We are discovering what the power of church is ….as it was meant to be originally…a community of people called out of darknes….in love with God and each other. What the devil meant for bad, God will work for good. The devil may have wanted to shut the church down through Covid-19, but he has in fact caused the birthing of the church with true identity. When we return to meeting together in our physical spaces, the church will be different in a positive way. We will appreciate our meetings much more, we will look forward to coming together much more maybe than we have done to date. The level of appreciation of everything will have changed, our attitudes to timeliness, other people etc., will be more greatly balanced. The church in Acts didn’t have any public meetings specifically, they didn’t have all the modern technology we have at our disposal for communication, they didn’t have buildings - they met in homes. However, they did have the power of God and Kingdom understanding. They were able to change the world and God used them to bring people into His Kingdom. As we are now, we do not meet in the buildings, the spaces we normally do but we are still the church of Jesus Christ, still the body of Christ. God will likewise use us to change the world. God is still God in the midst of what is going on right now. He knew it would happen as well! The recipe for the church in Acts 2 had some key ingredients; the same are available and applicable to us today. Firstly; make sure you are devoted yourselves to The Lord, not needing to be dependent on someone else to lead you. We must be a people of self-devotion. Secondly; be a people committed to living in His truth, surrounding ourselves with solid truth, not the opinions of others. Let us have the truth of God’s word only. This will grow our faith. Firmly know who you are in Christ and who Christ is in you. Let us dedicate ourselves not to flimsy teaching, but remain committed to good foundational teaching Thirdly; Fellowship …stay committed to staying connected. Where there is a will there is a way, thank the Lord for our technology now, helping us to stay connected. Let us be purposeful here, call people when Holy Spirit prompts you, and be responsive to this. Fourth; be a praying people in our closed rooms and also with families. Let us pray for friends and family, increasing the level of prayer and remaining committed to communion, not religiously but as the book of Acts defines it…..when believers gathered together in their homes with thankful hearts and took bread and wine together. We can all do this together or individually. The power of God is released to heal the sick and provide a protected layer on our households. God is not hindered in any way by what is happening now. A church will be born out of the church as it had become. If we stay as committed as the early church did we will see a new church born from this time.

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Pure Joy

Steve Carey • May 24, 2020 • Steve Carey

Pastor Steve speaks about Pure Joy during trials in our lives, and continues looking at who we are becoming and how we are using our time in this season. James (brother of Jesus writing to the church he oversaw), tells the Jewish Christians to consider it pure joy when they faced trials (James 1:2). We are in a trial right now, but trials always come and always will come. Sometime we see them and sometimes they catch us unawares. Trials may be as a result of spiritual attacks (we need to open Ephesians 6 and put on the full armour of God) knowing our enemy is defeated. Sometimes trials come as a result of a lack of wisdom or something we did. Other times life may just deal out an issue, or sometimes as a result of the actions of other people. Trials have differing types of impact but the key issue is how we respond. James tells us that when we face a trial we should consider it pure joy….but do we respond in this way? Many of us will look at the words James wrote and say he did not know anything about our situation…often our response is anger or doubt. James writes as a pastor and tells the church to consider it as pure joy because the testing of faith produces perseverance (James1:3). So the journey is not so great but the destination – perseverance – we like much more. Often we are excited about getting somewhere but do not enjoy the journey. But in a spiritual context James tells us we need to embrace the journey, what God is doing for us, in us and through us in this season. James is not saying delight in the problem, but delight in what God is doing in and through us. Sometimes the journey to completeness and maturity in Christ comes as a result of times of confusion, pain and sorrow. God is not the author of these things but will use them for our good and for His glory. Often the journey to maturity comes when we are on the edge of quitting. This produces faith which is mature and pure. Jesus did not promise an easy life but he did promise an overcoming life and one of peace and hope. In the context of a classroom of positivity as we have spoken recently, maybe this is a season to look at revising the goodness of God, who he is on our lives, who we are in him, the faithfulness of God. Character is built in the circumstances of life. When we understand how God uses circumstance to develop our character we are able to respond correctly when god places us in character building opportunities. God wants us to grow and mature. His desire is for us to be complete in Him. Elsewhere in the New Testament we see similar instructions (1 Peter 1:6-7, Romans 5:3-5). Maybe it is time for us to change our perspective even in a time of a trial…from allowing the trial to break us to allowing God to make us. Let us ask a few questions…….. 1 - What is our perspective in this trial….out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks or fingers type? Our perspective will change when we change our thinking, by renewing our minds with scriptures of hope, encouragement, peace etc. 2 - Are we praying for this trial to end or for God to mature us in this trial? Even in this season, Dear God use me and complete me. 3 - Are we enduring the journey or embracing it? Are we wishing it away or embracing who God is during this time. Now is a time to be used by God. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Let us use this time effectively. 4 - Is there a sound of joy in our homes and lives? Joy gives us confident hope; it does not take away the issues. Maybe start our day with the word of God and fill it with praise then when other things come into our homes we shall have a different perspective on life. Our challenge is to look at our season and consider it pure joy rejoicing in the fact that God is shaping us.

What are we becoming?

Andy Elmes • May 17, 2020 • Andy Elmes

Pastor Andy asks us “What are we becoming?” during this season of lock-down. Two Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV) says “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”. In this season we need to ask what are we becoming? ‘Coming’ and ‘becoming’ are not the same. We cannot ‘come’ to church we as did but we can still ‘become’ more as god wanted us to be. We are still in an element of isolation and our choices will determine what we become. Some fitter, some fatter! We are all ‘becoming’ something; some wiser, some less so. Some bitter, some better! A great example is Joseph in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 37, he shared dreams with his brothers, but they threw him into a pit and later sold him. He might have become bitter and insecure. However, in his isolation he determined not to quit. In Genesis 39 the favour of God is on Joseph, he has risen to be second in charge in the house of Potiphar. He even scorned Potiphar’s wife who wrongly accuses him of improper behaviour. Joseph is wrongly imprisoned, but in this time of isolation he actually developed himself to be stronger and better. In Genesis 41 when he is released from prison God works for his good. Pharaoh asked for Joseph to interpret his dream about seven years of good and seven years of famine. Pharaoh then promoted Joseph to being second in charge of the country! So he is not broke and weak but he comes out of prison strong and ready for action. He leads the nation in a successful plan of well-being and sustainability. Why? Because in prison he chose to let God do in him what God wanted to do at that time. When others were quitting he chose to develop from glory to glory. Such decisions we can all make for ourselves when we read the word, pray and spiritually develop. God is in this moment with us. When Joseph was in prison, he was diligent – Genesis 39:21-23 speaks of God’s favour being upon him, even being promoted within prison! He also stayed sharp in walking and hearing God. In Genesis 40 the Cup Bearer and Baker ask Joseph to interpret their dreams. Joseph was hearing heaven! Let us be alert and spiritually diligent also. Three things kept Joseph focused - • He knew God was with and in him and had plans for him • He had a revelation of Romans 8:28 which speaks of all things working together for those who love God (Romans wasn’t written then!). In Genesis 50 his worried brothers were brought to him when his Father Jacob had died, but Joseph showed optimism, telling them not to be afraid as even although they had intended to harm him. God had put him in the place he had been to accomplish His plans and save many lives. • He stayed submitted to God. God often leads people into wilderness or isolation in order to accomplish His plan or make that person ‘become’ something different. Jesus is the prime example in scripture. The Holy Spirit is with us now in our periods of isolation. We need to stay submitted to Gods plans for us to become as he intended.

Spending Time To Pursue God

Andy Elmes • May 10, 2020 • Andy Elmes

Pastor Andy Speaks about pursuing God, and redeeming time during this season of lockdown. Some things in our lives are out of our hands, others may not be. Things may not necessarily be out of control but waiting for us to manager properly. Time, a gift from God is such a thing. We can all do different things with this precious gift of life. Many folk have a lot more time than usual presently, (not everyone), but many do have extra time at the moment. What do we do with this time, which we can consider as the currency of our lives? God has blessed us with time, our life and also the ability to spend it as we see fit. We need to spend the rest of our time in best way we can. It’s the most important currency we will ever own. Unfortunately, some people are not good at managing time well. We cannot get back time we have wasted….but we can invest time in serving others. In Ephesians 5:15-16, Paul speaks about the best use or redeeming of time. In Colossians 4:5, we are also told to walk in wisdom to outsiders, making the best use of time. Let us make sure today we are being wise in how we use our time. The best way we can use our time is in our personal pursuit of God. Many other things are admirable, but this ought to be top of our priorities. Let us be diligent in knowing Him more. God is waiting and wanting to be found by those who dare to seek Him. We need to seek God out, search for him. Jeremiah 29:11 speaks about knowing the plans to prosper and live with good health. However, verses 12-14a (NIV) also say “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord”. This is not a casual pursuit, but a whole hearted action by someone desiring God. Matthew 7:7-8 tells us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Many verses in the Old and New Testaments encourage us to be in pursuit of a deepening relationship with God. Proverbs 8:17 (NKJV) says “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me”. James 4:8 instructs us that if we would draw near to God, He will draw near to us. This is not just a call for those who do not know God, but also for us who do know him….to know him deeper, to know him as we could. God waits for those who will pursue him. He beckons us to spend our time to be in personal pursuit of him in ways we did know know before. God will never disappoint the person who hungers for him. Psalm 42:7 speaks of “Deep calling unto Deep”. Nothing satisfies the longing we have within us like a deep calling for God. We must find God for ourselves. We must not choose familiarity but rediscover awe for God.