Saturday, 31 August 2013

I am the resurrection and the life

Bible Reading: John 11:1-44

This incredible story is one that would make great headlines even in today’s world that is used to sensation however the meaning behind the story that is just as amazing as the event itself.
       Death is His enemy
The one word John uses more than any other to describe what Christ gives to us is life.  The Greek word for life, Zoe is found 35 times in John and 133 times in the New Testament
On arrival at the funeral and in the face of the death of someone He loves -Jesus is “deeply moved.” (v33)
Some commentators say that the Greek words used here literally mean, “he snorted with indignation.” Jesus is outraged at death.
B. Warfield explained it this way, The spectacle of the distress of Mary and her companions enraged Jesus because it brought poignantly home to his consciousness the evil of death, its unnaturalness and its violent tyranny.”
Death was not a part of God’s original plan but resulted from human sin. It is an intruder, an invader, an enemy in the plan of God.
Many people say they’re not afraid of death – but they are misinformed.
Death should be feared, because death is to be separated from God for eternity.  Death isn’t just when you stop breathing, and you therefore don’t have the struggles and worries anymore. Your soul and your consciousness are never going to die.
 The Bible talks of two resurrections. One is a resurrection to life; the other, resurrection to eternal death – separation from God. 
Erwin Lutzer puts it this way: We do not need a Saviour who can just ‘help’ us. We need a Saviour who can resurrect us. We do not just need a Saviour who helps us when life gets tough; we need a Saviour who can help us when life ends”
Ultimate and final separation of God from His creation is not God’s purpose.  Jesus didn’t accept that nothing could be done about it, He came to offer an answer to it.
2.      Delivering life demonstrates His divinity
Warren Wiersbe says, Jesus transformed Jewish doctrine about resurrection. He took it out of a book and put it into a person, Himself.  He goes on to say, “When you are sick you want a doctor not a medical book. When you are being sued you want a lawyer and not a law book. Likewise when you face your last enemy, death you want the Saviour and not a doctrine written in a book.”
 How could people be assured that it is true?
What better way to prove His claim than resurrecting a dead man? 
Jesus didn’t just raise Lazarus just to prove a point but the miracle did show His God-like character; delivering life demonstrates Jesus’ divine nature.
Jesus wasn’t just putting on a show but recognised that it was imperative that the people understand that He is God, not just a miracle worker. 
Jesus' public prayer in verses 41 & 42 was to assert that He was one with God. He also claimed that He always heard the Father because His will and God’s will were one.
There was no doubt what Jesus was attempting to do. He was claiming to be God in human form.
If Jesus is God his words mean more. When we see Jesus as "less than God" then we can rationalize his directions about sexual purity, forgiveness, the importance of a humble/servant heart, the importance of using possessions not being enslaved by them. But if Jesus is God we can’t pick and choose what bits of His teaching we accept as we could if he were a mere man.
If Jesus is seen as God his actions mean more.
A good man dying for a cause is admirable and moving but God becoming man to bring us to himself is astounding.
If Jesus is seen as God then life is more meaningful. 
We are not a cosmic accident but creatures intentionally created by a God who will go to any lengths to let us live.  
3.  Depending upon Jesus is crucial
Jesus says to the bereaved Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” (v23)
Martha’s response was correct but it lacks any linkage to her life. It’s the religious response, but it doesn’t appear to be relevant.
v 24: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
She understands this in her head, but it hasn’t filtered down into her heart.
Jesus makes it personal. “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
 This statement focuses attention upon Jesus Himself. Depending upon Jesus for life is crucial There was new life now, because He is the resurrection.
This is important because Jesus Christ’s sufficiency is our basis for hope.
Sin does not just have unpleasant side effects. It is a killer. Without Jesus Christ we have no spiritual pulse at all. 
Faith is a key factor in this story.  God operates in response to our faith.
Jesus asks Martha about His claim; “I am the resurrection and the life, “Do you believe this?”
The most important thing we will ever do is exercise faith in Jesus. Our eternal future rests upon it.
Martha affirmed that she did believe in Jesus.  She said; "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."
She moves from abstract belief about something in the distant future to a personalized trust in Jesus.
Trusting in Jesus is not just about booking a place in heaven, an insurance policy for the future but changes life in the here and now.
Martha and Mary in their grief but who cling on to faith in Jesus even when they don’t understand what Jesus is doing.   
Jesus tells Martha, "Only believe". Things may not be as she wished Martha hadn’t wanted Lazarus to die but trust in Jesus would lead to her  seeing God's hand in her life.”
It was when they trusted and obeyed Jesus command to “take away the stone” that new life was released.
When they opened up the situation to Christ, the deliverance they had hoped for began to flow.
Notice the physical progression of Jesus. He is far away, then He comes and is met by Martha and Mary on the outskirts of Bethany. After much discussion He is taken to the place where Lazarus is buried.  But there is still a stone between Jesus and the body.  At last on Jesus’ instruction the tomb is opened up and Jesus is able to speak directly to Lazarus and speak life into what was dead.
Are there some things in your lives that are hidden away to which Jesus needs access, so that he can bring you renewed life.  So often we keep Him on the outskirts of our lives.
We also need to go on being transformed after our initial emergence from death into new life. 
Lazarus emerges from the tomb alive. But he’s quite encumbered, restricted, hindered, and inhibited by his burial wrappings. He’s been freed from the grave, but is still bound by his grave clothes
When Jesus calls us from our spiritual graves to new life, suddenly we are no longer corpses. We emerge from our tombs very much alive to God.
But, like Lazarus, we find that we’re still wrapped up tight in our death rags. We’re still confined by our old habits, old behaviors, old patterns of thinking, old wounds—and we’re not able to freely move about.  Jesus called upon Lazarus’ friends and family to free him from the grave clothes.

God bless
Alan and Carol

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

I am the good shepherd

Exeter Temple Corps Message notes
Sunday 18th August 2013
John 10:11-16

Jesus says that he is the good shepherd
2 Greek words for English word good
- agathose 
a moral and efficient quality about a person.
- kalos   
capability with the addition of loveliness, or attractiveness
 Jesus is the model shepherd who brings to the job the strength and courage of an earthly shepherd, but also the qualities of beauty and kindness which helps us to call him friend.
1. Jesus:  the Shepherd who saves life v 11
n Israel, 2000 years ago a shepherd faced daily danger from wolves in the hills.
Hired hands tend sheep to earn a living not because they love sheep. No job is worth your life so they run when a wolf threatens.
Jesus is not a hired hand but a good shepherd who owns the sheep and to whom they are precious.  
The hired hand loves his life more than the sheep but Jesus loves his sheep more than his life.
 There are 3 destroying wolves in John’s gospel
a) Sin                         John 1:29                                                                                                        Sin is a wolf that destroys the world and cuts us off from God. And Jesus came into the world to draw the wolf of sin off the world onto himself, and so die in the place of his sheep.
 b) Death                     Romans 6:23                                                                                                   Death is a great destroyer. It attacks and destroys everyone, great and small, rich and poor, men and women, every race, every creed. The purpose of wolves is death – the purpose of the shepherd is life
c) Judgment: Hebrews 9:27                                                                                                           Death does not lead to nothingness. It leads us into the courtroom of God Almighty whose law we have broken and whose glory we have despised. Jesus is not a weak shepherd. When those wolves threaten his sheep he lays down his life to destroy them and to save us from them.   John 5:24,
2.Jesus the shepherd who gives new life
Dead wolves and a dead shepherd leave the sheep alone to care for themselves, which they cannot do. Other creatures left alone will fend for themselves but sheep will become the prey of other animals or die in the cold. The death of the shepherd would be in vain were it not for the fact that the good shepherd also has power to overcome death. We need to recognize our need of the living shepherd:

a)    Just as an area where wolves dwell might seem an attractive place for sheep to graze we find sin attractive. Isaiah 53:6   We need to repent of our waywardness and or foolishness

b)  We cannot meet our own needs. Self-help books, DVD’s or 10 Steps to Success Courses don’t lead us home because they are written by other sheep like us, who are just as lost. And some are even wolves in sheep’s clothing’s. We need to accept his help.
3. The Shepherd who extends life to all     v16
Jesus doesn’t stop with just the sheep that are immediately at hand, he says that other sheep must be brought into this fold.
The fold of sheep, the church, is always changing, growing, adding and losing members. It is not a constant place, but a place where things happen, where changes are made, where people grow in faith, where people meet people of faith who help them to understand and receive God’s love.
How much does the above describe Exeter Temple Corps? What needs to be celebrated?  What needs to change?

Is there an area in your life that you are not letting God be the “Good Shepherd” for you?
God bless
Alan and Carol


I am the gate

Exeter Temple Message notes
Sunday 11th August 2013
John 10:1-10
The city picture v 1-6
- a public sheepfold
- all local shepherds would come at night with their flocks.
- watchman guarded the door - only allowed legitimate shepherds in
- true shepherds knew their own sheep
- sheep recognised the shepherd through distinctive voice 
The truth behind the picture
 a)    Bogus callers
Not everyone who seeks entry into our lives is from God. 
Teaching in John 10 arose out of confrontation with the Pharisees over the healing of the blind man.  Their attitude and teaching showed that they were not the real shepherds of the people that they claimed to be. 
Their teaching was based on     - religion rather than relationship,
                                                   - salvation by works 
Such bogus teaching and wrong thinking is still around today plus such things as humanism
materialism and new age philosophy
b) Identification of the genuine
A true shepherd seeks entry legitimately.  If something is of God it does not need cunning deception, force or manipulation to get its way.
 Who is the watchman?
- John the Baptist- like the watchman in that he ushered Jesus, the true shepherd into his ministry.
- The Holy Spirit - acts on our conscience. Speaks truth and gives discernment to us.
- The Bible - everything that seeks to gain access to our lives needs to be measured against it.
All testify to the authenticity of Jesus as the true shepherd and will only open the door for him.   If something doesn’t measure up to the word and the witness of the Spirit then we must not let it into our lives.
 c)    Familiarity
The best safeguard is to know the shepherd personally.
Sheep were trained to recognize the voice or the tune played by their shepherd.
2. The country picture v 7-10.
- sheep herded into a low walled enclosure of piled rocks with small  opening.
- sheep returned to the fold at night after a day of grazing,
- shepherd accounted for, inspected and ministered to each   sheep as it entered.
- shepherd lay down across the doorway to protect sheep.
Further reading:     
Psalm 121                 Hebrews 10               Revelation 3:8

 Prayer focus
Think about the people who may come through or to your front door this week and pray for them. 
What are the doors of opportunity that have opened to share the love of Jesus recently?   What do you need from the Holy Spirit to help you walk through them?
Open Doors is an organisation which supports persecuted Christians, pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ, as they seek to bring the gospel in places that try to shut the door to them. 

God bless
Alan and Carol