Kingdom Community.

In my mind’s eye i see a huge cloud – rising and billowing up from the earth – beautiful colours, yellow, orange, green, blue, indigo … swirling and churning and then in the middle I see a faint image – the image of a figure on a cross. “Yes Ian – what you see has made it possible for you to hear Me and see My face – I told Moses no-one can see My face and live – but through the work of Jesus on the cross the curtain in the temple has been torn and you can now look on Me ‘in Jesus’ and hear My voice through Him”

As I look the cloud starts to billow and spread. “Do you see how the cloud is spreading and covering everything – that represents My Spirit who I have sent out to cover the whole world, so that every people-group, every person in the world can know Me. I am everywhere, from the darkest places of suffering, pain, hardship and poverty to the mountain-top experience of My immediate presence . Every person is different, every person in the whole world is an individual with a path I have designed for them – no two are exactly alike – but they all lead together to the huge stream of people moving to My heaven and My presence. I have created this diversity – I have created all the quirks and differences – I have done it for My sake that I can enjoy all mankind, made by Me in My image – which is so incredibly diverse – beautiful like a kaleidoscope which cannot be described, only enjoyed.”

Lord what is happening in Israel? “The conflict is a continuation of my judgement on them for rejecting their Messiah, which was pictured in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem – BUT the purpose of my judgement is not meant for total destruction but ultimately to get many to turn to Me and see Me as their true Messiah and join the mighty throng of the kingdom of God – in the meantime when you pray for them – remember there are many Christians, my beloved children, among the Arabs as well – pray for them with equal fervour”.

Reading is Acts 2:37-47. Once again a very well known section, what will Jesus say?

One word stands out: “Saved” vs 21 Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Vs 40 b: Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Vs 47 And the Lord added to their number daily those who where being saved. With the great focus on the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the institution of the Church, it is perhaps possible to miss what God was doing in Jesus. The individual members of the new church (the new Israel) had to be saved and the pouring out of the Spirit was part of that. But what was happening to each one? The Greek word for “saved” is “sozo” which means far more than the English translation “saved”. It means being made complete, it is often translated in the NT as “healed”. It means being made into a complete, whole, healed person, healed from past corruption and brought into the Kingdom of God to demonstrate the full glory of His creation..

What is also interesting is that the action of each person is vital – “call on the Name of the Lord” and “save yourselves…” yet the summary at the end shows clearly that ultimately it is God’s work, His action that does the saving – hence “the Lord added to their number”.

Secondly the description of the new community is a picture of what the saved community looked like. I love this picture and have preached on it a number of times, but today what struck me was that it is not PREscriptive but DEscriptive. It is the beautiful outworking of the magnificent joy of those who were being saved and filled with the Spirit. That means that this can be experienced and demonstrated in many ways in different cultures and communities. I have found subconsciously myself perhaps looking a little down on the way other cultures express their new communities when they are different to my strict Western style and in the light of what God said to me earlier I should instead be ready to embrace a much broader and more vibrant picture of God’s kingdom as His Spirit works in each culture and each person, bringing out their real character as they were created for God so that He can appreciate them and enjoy them in all the huge diversity of His creation.

As I sit back and imbibe what I have read and experienced this morning, the absolute joy of being part of this huge community in all its diversity washes over me. Thank you and praise You Lord for making me and bringing me into your family.

Tongues of Fire Herald the Arrival of the Holy Spirit.

Adoration – Adoration is the recognition, deep down in your heart of the great worth of the One you look upon – His light shines brighter and brighter so that your light – your love for yourself is but a flickering lamp in comparison. “Worthy is the Lamb” as you sang this morning comes from the picture in Revelation of the great assembly in heaven, who have come to the full recognition and acceptance of My beauty and My glory – but remember the avenue for Me to be here on the center of the stage is – ‘That was slain’. My suffering put the crown on all else that I have done – the very beauty and complexity of creation fades beside the beauty and complexity of My suffering – The Lamb was slain for you! I am bringing you closer and closer to the point where your view of Me will be so glorious that your view of your concerns, your love and for yourself will simply fade away slowly”.

My reading today is Acts 2:1-13. Another well -known and well read passage. What will Jesus say to me from this today? I allow my mind and senses to take in the scene. Not much detail in the text, but I see the streets and the town square teeming with people from 16 different people groups, mentioned in the text. The smell, the noise, the dust. People shouting at each other, others talking loudly. Suddenly a noise, I take it, as loud as a Boeing getting ready to take off, overwhelming and drowning the conversation. People turn around and look at the scene. Some 120 disciples with what appears like flames settling on them. As the noise subsides, in the quiet that follows the group is calling out excitedly – and what? Everyone of the people present there can hear them in their own language. imagine the headlines in a modern newspaper, trying to describe it.

A few things stand out for me: 1. It happened at Pentecost. The timing coinciding with the feast of the first fruits of the harvest, like the crucifixion at Passover this is no coincidence: This is the inauguration of a new world order – the age of the church, being God’s representative and future bride in the world. Remember the main theme of Acts – Witness? The Church is to be the means of witness. Because of the feast there were people from all over the known world, who would take the witness of what happened back with them. What an amazing source and means to launch world evangelization?

2. This wide variety of people could all understand. Remember the Tower of Babel? The people of that time were seeking to make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). that is why God confused their languages that they would not succeed in making a name which was more important than Yahweh. Now, as the people hear the disciples speaking, what are they saying? They are declaring the wonders of God. They are glorifying God, instead of themselves. Is that not the very purpose of conversion and membership of the Kingdom of God?

3. Amazed and perplexed they asked “what does this mean”? vs 12

4.There were those who mocked them vs 13.

So what is Jesus saying to me?

The exciting appearance on the scene of the Holy Spirit in a new role, is one of the things that I see distinguishing so much of the heavy labour of modern “Christianity” from the Gospel empowered life in the Spirit, which should reflect hope, joy and peace and be the witness God wants. However the Spirit points away from Himself at God “declaring the wonders of God”, so we must be careful not to place Him central in our worship, but rather through Him to glorify Jesus and the Father.

A very reassuring reminder comes to me once again from the very timing of this great event, showing how the Father is planning far in advance and is in complete control over all these events, including my own life and service of Him.

The theme of adoration which God spoke to my mind this morning is reinforced as the best avenue to witness, according to the picture which I see here. That is of course, just the first step as we must be ready to speak of all the wonders of God at all times.

And for me the question, “What does this mean”? (Vs12 i), Is an underlining of my continued quest to understand the scriptures more clearly.

Finally – well there will always be those who mock, won’t there?

What a rich passage , my hope is that if you decide to explore it, it will mean as much to you.

Witness – but not yet.

The three weeks of my preaching stint come to an end on Sunday. The time has been characterized on the one hand by great revelation and deepening understanding of His Word, with a warm response from the congregation and on the other hand a sharp reminder and experience of Satan’s opposition and the spiritual warfare we are all involved in. When I have experienced Satan like I have the last three weeks in the past, it has always been a sort of encouragement, because he is only interested in attacking something which he feels is threatening his grasp on the world. Thank you all for your prayers which all form a united front against him and the glory for any fruit must go to God and Him alone.

This morning as I settle with the Lord the word “seek” keeps coming up. “Seek – yes continue to seek – My kingdom and the right ways I am leading you on. Do not look back except to remember previous answers to prayer and previous revelations of My grace – previous victories in Me – don’t focus on the negative and the opposition. So seek to follow My way ahead – the opposition you have experienced has been for the benefit of the growth of your faith. Move forward, you may feel stuck at the moment and unable to build relationships especially new ones – but that is being taken care of. Continue with the blog, there are a number of people on your side who are benefiting from it and enjoying it”.

At the same time I have a strong sense that the Lord is saying to me that I must relax and just enjoy Him. Enjoy every moment I have here on earth to glorify Him – rejoice – rejoice in the Lord always!

Having finished Luke’s gospel I am continuing with his second book – “The Acts of the Apostles”. (Or as some have suggested it should be called “the Acts of the Holy Spirit”.)

Today my passage is Acts 1:12-26. Behind this is the powerful opening passage, which many of you would be familiar with. The reminder there was the key passage in vs 8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth”. This sets the tone of the whole book and follows and rests on the reports of many witnesses to the resurrection, described earlier in the text, following on Jesus’ crucifixion and a reminder of Jesus continued intention to bring in the kingdom of God. The movement up to now has been towards Jerusalem, from now on it will be away from Jerusalem.

I felt Jesus was pointing me specifically to the following things:

  1. The Disciples were told to return to Jerusalem to wait (v 4b). It must have been a great temptation to get into action, or maybe even flee, but they obeyed. This is a stark reminder that I can only be a true witness for Jesus if I am being obedient to what I believe He is leading me to do.
  2. The instruction to wait and the sense of inactivity in the face of the majestic events they had experienced, must have been difficult to cope with. Yet they did it, apparently happy and used the time effectively in prayer. At a time when I have been sort of confined and in a way waiting, it is a strong reminder that the Lord brings times like that into our lives and that I can still be used by Him and grow despite this.
  3. As they waited they were guided by the scriptures at their disposal as to what they should do (elect a replacement apostle). The reminder to me is how important it is to study the scripture carefully and follow what the Lord is revealing to me in them.

A sad post script I read in a SU. commentary came from Pilgrim’s progress concerning Judas: In vs 25, it states that “he (ie Judas) turned aside to go to his own place” – that is the place he had chosen for himself. And God confirmed him in that dreadful choice. “Then I saw that there was a way to hell even from the gates of Heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction”.

Let us keep our love together and keep praying for each other, and especially for me for Sunday. Great news of answered prayer with Roger.

He is not here!

The song is “All Hail the Glorious Christ”

I see a huge container, like a bucket and God is pouring out of it – LOVE – His love – He is pouring it out over me – it is washing over me, completely soaking me- “My love is boundless – I am continually pouring out my love on you – the reason you are not always aware of it is because you become distracted by things in your life. Some of them that you love and that hold your attention and some merely those things life is all about. Remember also that My love should be seen against the backdrop of My judgement, righteousness and holiness – that is where I am taking you in My love. I have rescued you from judgement and now seek to form you into the beloved son you are to Me.”

My reading today is Luke 24:1-12. The beginning of the aftermath of the crucifixion, describing the first discovery of the empty tomb. So familiar, what will Jesus say to me from this passage?

Firstly maybe the surprising often overlooked fact that Jesus had warned them repeatedly that He would rise again. More recently Luke had described how he had sent two disciples ahead of him as He arrived at Jerusalem and told them they would find a young donkey – and it was exactly as He had said. Then before the Passover meal He had sent two disciples to find a room for them to meet in and He told them they would meet a man carrying a jar of water that would take them to the room and it was so. Yet the women were on their way to embalm Him. And Peter could not believe what they had said. These were the very people who had known Him intimately over three years! So I stop and think how much of all the promises God has made to me do I really believe? I mean when the chips are down. If He returned today would I be just as nonplussed. Do I really believe all those songs of His faithfulness, His protection, His forgiveness? I mean at the deepest level, when they are challenged? I must meditate on that.

The fact that the first witnesses were women. In Israel at that time women had no standing in society and their witness would be regarded as worthless. The fact that God deliberately chose them to be the first, flies in the face of any effort to fabricate this story. If it were a fabrication then the chosen witnesses would have been ‘reliable men’. So this is once again a timely reminder to me that in God’s dispensation everyone is equal. Young, old, male, female, well-known and gifted, highly qualified and the poor widow/wer living alone. All are equal and I need to remember that at the deepest leve as I view and treat people. Phil 2:3.

Then the phrase in vs 5 b strikes me. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” I am reminded of Ephesians 1:18-21. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ Jesus, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly realms …….”

I am reminded of the atmosphere of quiet joy alongside the mourning at Theo, my friend’s funeral/ memorial service this past week. What a huge privilege we have as Christians to be able stand at this golden portal!