Sunday, 16 September 2012

Big Blessings

Message notes: Sunday 16th September 2012 Exeter Temple  
Ephesians 3:19 “And I pray that you being rooted and established in love may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

The Bible uses the word “full, fully or fullness many times including this verse. It is a very appropriate word for harvest time as it is a time when we recognise how “fully” reliant upon God we are for our survival. Also it is a festival when we express our “full” appreciation to him for all his provision.
Fullness has several different meanings.
1. Extravagance
There is that part of us that looks at the world and, instead of seeing the abundance of creation, sees a scarcity of resources. But we worship a God of abundance                                                                                                 This is sometimes it’s hard to believe when we witness or experience poverty. However this does not need to lead us to the conclusion that the Lord God is a god of scarcity. The infinite variety of creation, the way Jesus demonstrated generosity shows us God’s extravagance. Rather it is man’s wastefulness, greed and mismanagement that causes an imbalance in the distribution of resources.
A human being also cries out to be loved extravagantly. God acts abundantly here also.
God has displayed for all the fullness of his love for us.
Colossians 2:9
His love is demonstrated in Christ’s person and also by Christ’s actions.
Romans 5:8
The cross is a demonstration of love that holds nothing back, that goes to the most extreme act of self-sacrifice, and offers through that sacrifice access to the fullness of heaven.
“Everything of God gets expressed in Christ so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him that fullness comes together for you too. His power extends to everything.” (The Message)

2. Totality
Full also refers to something being totally crammed to capacity.
We are not just to sample the fullness of God’s love we are to be filled with it ourselves. “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
This fullness is brought into our lives through the Holy Spirit.
John 3:5
A.W Tozer “The Spirit filled life is not a special deluxe version of the Christianity. It is part and parcel to the total plan of God for his people.”
Christians can be petty, competitive, materialistic, mean and angry.
Could it be that some Christians have never allowed the Holy Spirit to take total control of their lives? Could it be that some Christians were once filled with the fullness of God but they have let the devil take back ground in their lives?
Ephesians 4:17
Something is either full or it is not. It may not be completely empty but God has not promised half measures he has promised fullness!!

3. Readiness
Fullness can also mean readiness or ripeness? At harvest time we see fruit that is ready to be picked and corn that is waiting to be threshed.
The Old Testament looked forward to a time when God would come in full measure to his people but in the New Testament this is fulfilled.
Galatians 4:4
There is therefore immediacy in the message of the New Testament. The time is now. God has poured out his Spirit in order for there to be a harvest of his love in our hearts now. There is nothing, except our unwillingness to prevent us from benefiting from his fullness.

Harvest time will pass. The time is now because we don’t know when we will run out of time or time will run out on us.
Jesus also calls us to harvest now. He says that there are people who are ready right now to hear and accept his gift of love

God bless


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Big Deal

Big Deal 

Ephesians 1:1-10
Alan's sermon notes  9th September 2012
I am really not bothered whether Dr Who gets exterminated forever by a Dalek. That also goes for any of the characters in the soap operas I never watch. I am not that interested that Miley Cyrus has a new hairdo that makes her look like Jedward because I have no idea who she is and even if I did she can do what she likes with her own hair!

On the other hand what really makes steam come out of my ears is people using mobile phones whilst they are driving and people who hog the middle lane on a motorway.
There are always going to be some things that are a big deal to us and things that pass us by because in our minds they are not that important.

There are many things that can be regarded as unimportant trivia, sin is not one of them
Sin is refusing to let God be the author of the story of our lives which is foolish because God as our creator knows best how our lives should be lived and we are turning our backs on the person who loves us most in the world. Our rebellion not only breaks God’s laws but breaks His heart.

1. Grave consequences

2:1 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live”
How can someone who is dead in transgressions and sins at the same live in them? How can someone be dead and also alive?
The Bible describes humans as a combination of body, mind and spirit. When all of these three are working properly then there is harmony and wholeness. Paul takes the view that in every human being the spirit part is dead. This is part that should connect with our creator God who is Spirit.
In the Bible (e.g. John 17:3) life is defined as knowing God and to be in a relationship with Him. Life is used to express a state of union with God and death a state of separation from God.

Characteristics of a spiritually dead person.
V2 They arepowerless In a similar way because we are spiritually dead we have no choice but to “follow the ways of the world.”
V3 They are bereaved
When human beings experience spiritual death we are in state of bereavement for that lost relationship with God. Craving speaks of a longing, a desire, of incompleteness, of loneliness.
V 3b They are imbalanced
We were made to be balanced people, body, mind and spirit. It is the spiritual part of us, which is united to God that should be in control of our life and not the appetites or our bodies and minds. Our natural instincts are not wrong but they are meant to be controlled by our spirit. With the spiritual part of us dead then the needs of our bodies and minds rule our lives and because they are not meant to we end up with a dysfunctional world.
V3c They are doomed
Wrath is a strong word; it means God’s holy anger against sin and the resulting judgement.
We tend to see the wrath of God in opposition to the love of God but the two are not opposites, they need each other.
God would not be completely loving if he did not hate the things that rob us of living full lives; similarly He would not wrathful if He didn’t care about us because if He didn’t care he would be ambivalent.

2. Great Contrast
You were dead but now you are alive! What has brought about the contrast?

God was motivated
God knows our state and why we are in the state we are in.
v 3 “It’s a wonder God didn’t lose His temper and do away with the whole lot of us.” (The Message)
We deserve rejection and destruction but instead we are given life.

God acted It is foolish for someone who is spiritually dead to try to be live as a Christian. Something has to happen to change our state. Paul says; “that God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ.” It was His action. He gives new life.

God offered us the gift
“He took our sin dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did this all on His own with no help from us! Saving is all His idea and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!” (The Message)

Salvation is salvation from death. We are not grateful to God because He sent Jesus to cheer up our lack lustre lives or just to untangle the mess we’ve made of the world. What the cross offers in not just forgiveness. It offers salvation. Forgiveness is part of the package but not the whole story. We are grateful to God because without His salvation plan we are dead.

God bless Alan

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Big money

The outcome of a dispute between the two Russian oligarch’sRoman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky. The amount of money involved in the case is staggering. It is thought that Mr Abramovich has a net worth of £12.1 billion!
Sometimes Christians on have a “getting by” kind of attitude but actually in spiritual terms we are in the “big money” league. We are spiritual oligarchs!

Paul praises God in verse 3 because we every spiritual blessing is found in Christ. They are outlined from v 4 onwards.

1. Being Chosen  v 4
2. Holiness and blamelessness v  4
3. Adoption v 5
4. Grace v 6
5. Redemption through his blood v 7
6. Forgiveness of sins v 7b
7. Revelation of his will v 9
8. Our identity  v11-12
9. Salvation v13
10. The seal of the Spirit v13b
11. Heaven v14
12. Growing knowledge of God v17
13. Hope v18
1. Entitlement v 11-13a
Everyone on earth is a benefactor of God’s generosity because we owe our continued existence to the providence and the mercy of God, however these spiritual blessings can only be claimed by a person who is found to be “in Christ” This is the important clause. You have to be “in Christ” to claim all these blessings. If you are not a Christian they are not yours they do not belong to you. It is being “in Christ” that qualifies us to receive this inheritance of spiritual blessing. Our place “in Christ” is not gained through personal merit but won for us through the work of Jesus Christ himself on the cross. It is a condition that is on offer to all people everywhere and is accessed through faith.

John 1:12 “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name he gave them the right to become children of God.” Ephesians 1:13 “You were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed you were marked in him with a seal.”

2. Endorsement v 13b-14
Paul uses two illustrations of the Holy Spirit’s action in giving us assurance that all that is “In Christ” both now and in the future
“Having believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”

Seals were used in the ancient world on invoices to authenticate them. A seal ratified a covenant or contract and endorsed it. The Holy Spirit has placed a SEAL on us, identifying us as a genuine member of God’s kingdom, marking us as his prized possessions and guaranteeing our inheritance of all God’s promises, wealth and goodness.

A deposit or down payment placed on an item declares an intention to complete the transaction. A portion is invested now to give assurance of future payments. The reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives today gives us the assurance that we will receive our inheritance in full.

3. Enlightenment
Unless our eyes are opened what we actually have in Christ, the inheritance he offers us is wasted on us. Esau in the OT is an example of someone who couldn’t see what was valuable and what was not.

In v 17-18 Paul asks that the believers be given revelation. The Holy Spirit is needed to give knowledge of God.

This is the most important prayer any believer can pray for another believer. It is good to pray for healing, for provision, for protection, for obstacles to be overcome but above all pray that those you pray for know him.

In Christ, God does not give us a donation towards things we need spiritually but a permanent inheritance to live upon. We need to start living as heirs of a kingdom, as children of God.

2 Peter 1: 3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

God bless