August Articles – 02 Is Church Finished?

August Articles – 02 Is Church Finished?

We have all been turned upside down by the events of the last six months. Straightforward things like haircuts, shopping and grabbing a coffee have become expeditions to a slightly strange world of face masks to protect, floor stickers to distance, and pre-booking to limit numbers.

Hazel and I returned from our sabbatical in March never dreaming that we would be unable to meet physically with our church family possibly for the remainder of the year. Every so often we come across someone in the town who smiles and says, ‘this is the first time I have seen you face to face since December 2019!’ Strange times!

So is church finished? Has the gathered people of Christ had its day? Has a tiny virus managed to shut down the Father’s gift of transformation and life to the world after 2000 years of flourishing success and growth?

Last Monday we met as a Staff Team for our weekly morning meeting. Often we catch up, talk over the previous week, and look at the week ahead. This time was different: this time we put on our armour and went to war! Here are some of our thoughts and prayers…

The rocks cry out

As Christians our lives are forever changed. Jesus has found us and saved us – we cannot stay silent. How can we contemplate meeting together as the people of God and not sing? I would physically burst if I stayed quiet about my Saviour’s love – I have to sing praises and thanks to my Heavenly Father who has saved me.

Luke 19:37-40 ‘As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

Characteristics of the devil

There are some people we are naturally drawn to because of their welcoming smile and their radiance of life. There are others we want to steer away from because of their wrong behaviour and unpleasant speech. 

We know the devil comes to ‘kill, steal and destroy’ and see his handiwork across the world. What are the characteristics of the Covid19 virus? So far, it has killed thousands; stolen loved ones, time, freedoms, and normality; brought destruction to jobs, businesses, and some communities. We must recognise the handiwork of the devil appeal to our Almighty Maker and Lord of the heavens and the earth, and make a stand against the works and tool of Satan. 

Have we become passive? Have we retreated to a Covid19 mental bunker of resignation? Or do we take a stand and resist with the armour of God supplied by the resources of heaven? 

A Gathered People

Wherever Jesus went, people gathered. Jesus builds and bonds relationships and community. This current situation has directly attacked our ability to gather as the ekklesia, the ‘called out ones’, the chosen body of Christ. 

It is vital and essential that we are responsible and safe in our behaviour and lifestyle during this time of potential resurgence in the Covid19 virus – our choices can save lives. Those vulnerable and at risk must protect and shield themselves.

However, it is also vital that we find ways in which the body of Christ can gather in Jesus’ name. Matthew 18:20 encourages us, ‘For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.’

Something dynamic occurs when we gather together. We are encouraged, we are reminded of who we are, faith is released, miracles take place, individuals are inspired, fading coals become bright again – all in the presence of Jesus Christ.

We thank God for zoom and connections made possible by the internet, but we have all found there is no substitute for gathering physically together.

Have we become passive? Are we sitting back and allowing circumstances to dictate our lifestyle? Are we willing to fight for our core values and beliefs?

For a few hours the room in which the staff team meeting took place that morning lit up with prayers of warfare and authority – requesting of the head of the church that the people of God should flourish and grow, and resisting the onslaught of the devil using this foul virus. 

As a church leadership we are looking at how we can be church effectively during the next period of time as the virus and its associated restrictions remain in place. The Bible gives a way forward while keeping safe and acting responsibly – gather together in small groups.

Prayer Triplets

During August we are building up to the launch of prayer triplets in September. We will meet weekly for a period of around 8 weeks to pray for specific things. Consider who could be in your triplet? There is such power when we meet in Jesus’ name to pray for others.

I have also written to one of our local Members of Parliament asking for advice on two things: how can we meet as a church safely with singing? And how can we meet safely as small groups in homes with autumn approaching?

We will let you know of the response. Please pray for the church around the world, that we actively pursue Christ and resist the devil; and that we have wisdom how to be church effectively during this time.

The church is NOT finished and Jesus will return to an overcoming and glorious bride.

Neil Pattison

August Articles – 01 Toppling Statues

August Articles – 01 Toppling Statues

I, like so many of us, was very affected with the images coming across the Atlantic of the disturbing acts of violence towards George Floyd, the enormous outflow of lawful protest and expression of public opinion that cries ‘ENOUGH!’ and the uglier side of the resulting riots.

So many of us want to be part of the solution and ‘do’ something– but where do we start?

Throughout history we are familiar with the images of toppling statues that come with a change of regime – Saddam Hussein, Lenin, Ceaucescu… We have recently witnessed the outpouring of people’s anger on the streets of the UK in the pulling down of the statues of various notable people with links with the slave trade or British colonialism.

I fully agree with the challenging of evil actions in our past, but the question I ask myself is ‘where can we focus our energies to bring about a long-lasting change TODAY?’

We cannot change the past. We may review history and learn from our mistakes; we may revise history and insert the stories of overlooked men and women and peoples whose important contributions were left out of the narrative.

I have many heroes and love to read their stories, although I have learned not to expect perfection of even my greatest heroes – because every great man or woman has their dark shadows. We can find questionable decisions or character flaws in all great leaders throughout history: Winston Churchill, King David, Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King, Margaret Thatcher, Peter the Apostle.

The answer to my question of ‘where do we start?’ surely has to land much closer to home – my dark shadows. 

Firstly we need some statue maintenance. We all have in our lives a statue that never should have been raised: the statue of fallen Adam. Fallen Adam represents pride, shame, insecurity, hidden actions, discrimination, violence against others, selfishness – the dark stains of dishonour casting shadows on our lives that we want to forget.

We need to raise a new statue in our lives. 1 Corinthians 15:47 tells us we need a new statue – a second Adam. The first (fallen) Adam is earthy, the second Adam (Jesus) is from heaven. Rather than pouring out my hate and anger on the uncomfortable reading of the lives of others, surely I should be attending to my own statue. Let me topple the statue of fallen Adam in my life. Let me examine my attitudes, my selfishness and the uncomfortable reading of my own history, raising instead a new statue of the Risen Jesus: a statue of grace and forgiveness, of second chances, of understanding, of love, compassion and redemption.

Please, let us not waste energy on rewriting history that cannot be changed. Instead can learn from the past of others, change my present and rewrite the future for our children, so that they do not have to replay the same sad story of mankind?

Secondly we need to choose our battles and our battle language carefully. Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to look after our hearts, ‘Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.’ The heart is a symbol of our emotions and our ‘inner us’. It can refer to our will, our mind, our consciousness, and understanding. Just because we feel the pressure to adopt a certain slogan, or strongly pushed to agree with a certain movement, or display a certain picture or logo, doesn’t mean it is right for us to. What does that movement represent and what is its motivation? Is there a part we can support but other parts we cannot? 

If we are not to remain silent then what do we say? It is sad to see how good messages from good people have been twisted or misrepresented or misunderstood, often when anger and bitterness reigns rather than grace and forgiveness. 

We have all witnessed the trolling of others who say the wrong thing or express an opinion not in line with the current popular message. The venom we see unleashed, especially on social media, adds to the hurt and division rather than addressing the real issue of our hearts. 

We must be careful to whom we speak out, and what platforms we choose to add our voice – guard our hearts so that others do not trample on it or bully us unnecessarily. John 2:24,25 tells us that Jesus, when He was lauded and popular with the people for doing miracles, ‘was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.’ If Jesus guarded His heart so should we.

Let us topple the proud and selfish statues in our lives. We must not keep silent. Speak up when we hear others express racist, discriminatory views, and fight for our children in school if they experience cultures of discrimination and bullying. Choose our battles carefully and express ourselves wisely. Guard our hearts and make sure we express our feelings and agenda, not someone else’s. Be true to ourselves and the values Jesus has placed in our hearts.

Neil Pattison

Judgement Day

Judgement Day

Neil Pattison | 26 July 2020 | Sunday Celebration

There is something inbuilt within us that gives us awareness of light and dark, good and evil.

We are made in God’s image. As humans, we all possess: a need for worship; a need to love and be loved; a sense of conscience and morality; a need for identity and purpose; a desire for marriage and family; a need for work-life balance; a love of creativity, beauty and art; a need for healthy rhythms in our mental, social, physical, spiritual and emotional lives.

When we do something wrong, we feel guilty or bad. Our conscience can be a pain, but it is actually a blessing – it reminds us there will be a consequence to our actions, a Day of Judgement.

Romans 1:18-23 (TLB): “But God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of His existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.

Yes, they knew about Him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship Him or even thank Him for all His daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what He wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. And then, instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they took wood and stone and made idols for themselves, carving them to look like mere birds and animals and snakes and puny men.”

Two questions came up:
1. How can a loving God judge people and send them to everlasting hell?
2. What about people who have not heard about the Gospel and Jesus?

Let me turn this on its head. Let’s picture ourselves on judgement day, standing before God, and we are asked to account for every action and motive.
Romans 1:18 says that one factor leading to judgement is “pushing the truth away”. Can any of us honestly say at times we do not push the truth away and instead do what we know we should not? How many times have we chosen actions that are not the best for us, or the best for others?

Understand the nature of God

The Bible tells us that God is pure love. He is perfect and pure and cannot look on anything that is impure or wrong. If we are going to have a judge, we need one that is perfect and pure and loving and who doesn’t make mistakes.
We were created to love and be loved, not be selfish and hurt others. Selfishness and wrong are the opposite of God’s plan for us and it saddens and angers Father God.

God is also just. How do you spoil a child? Withdraw nurture and boundaries. As parents we show loving care and compassion, we also teach a loving justice – there is a consequence to our actions. A disobedient child makes a parent angry. Our wrong behaviour rightly causes God’s anger.

In a court of law, the defendant needs a defence. Back to our picture – we are stood in front of God and we have in front of us all the times we pushed truth away. What is our defence? A system of justice must deliver judgement and sentence. Wrong cannot be swept under the carpet. Sin has to be paid for.

It is also easy to think ‘it’s not my problem – there are people worse than me. We can easily judge others and think we should be excused. But all our lives are polluted and we have a big problem.

Romans 2:1-4: “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

A ray of light in our darkness

Hebrews 9:27-28 (NLT): “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him.”

God in His love has provided a way out.

How do we benefit from this amazing offer?

  1. Hold our hands up and admit our guilt. Point your finger at others – 3 fingers back at you? No, thousands of daggers pointing back at our guilt!
  2. Agree with God, the perfect Judge, that our sentence should be hell. That is how much our “pushing away the truth” has offended and angered God.
  3. Ask for forgiveness and believe Jesus has paid for our sin. He is our defence. When you stand before God on judgement day, you don’t need any excuses or justification; you point to Jesus!
  4. Realise that without Jesus fighting our corner, every person on this planet is in peril. There has to be justice, there has to be payment – this problem will not just go away. What are someone’s chances of judgement and innocence? Motivation needs to be love for others, not guilt.

This Summer, pray for family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. Two things we are planning:

  1. Alpha Course in September. Who does God want you to invite?
  2. We are looking at prayer over August leading up to launch of prayer triplets in September. Start thinking/praying now.

Let’s finish off with communion. It is the celebration of Jesus paying our penalty – bread as His body, juice/wine as His blood shed as payment for us.

He is our defence. Our guilt is gone!

For the video and/or audio recording of the morning, click here.

Soldier – Athlete – Farmer

Soldier – Athlete – Farmer

Neil Pattison | 12 July 2020 | Sunday Celebration

2 Timothy 2:1-6: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.”

Soldier: A person who fights in an army (not a strip of bread or toast, used for dipping into a soft-boiled egg)
Athlete: They engage in a contest, compete for a prize
Farmer: Tiller of the ground, vinedresser

  • Not a time to shrink back. Discern the times.
  • Thank Jesus for those faithful men and women who take responsibility in the church – Pod, Habitation, Mosaic, different groups, home group leaders, cluster leaders, eldership.
  • Ekklesia – a body of citizens assembled to discuss the affairs of state. Believers gathered together to discuss the King’s affairs.
  • We are restricted in size of gathering all at once, but our effect is increased in gathering in small numbers. DO NOT GIVE UP MEETING TOGETHER.
  • Prayer – pray for family and friends and colleagues NOW IS THE TIME OF SALVATION. Soldier – disentangle yourself from the affairs of the world.
  • Set your house in order – not a time for slacking and playing golf [metaphorically] and allowing old habits to return. Athlete – prepare yourself and compete! Address habits, thought life, destructive patterns, pornography.
  • Mission – ask the Lord: “Who forms the part of His harvest field that I can reach?” Farmer – work hard, be diligent, pass on to others what the Lord has shown you, freely give to others what the Lord has given to you.
  • We as a leadership are looking at how to rework corporate prayer. The Power Hour of Prayer will move to only once a month and we will launch “prayer triplets” with specific themes for a specific period of weeks.

We are not out of the woods yet. Continue to be responsible. God is doing amazing things. New salvations, healing, new jobs.

  • Parkwood project – drawings for submission to planning – then pray.
  • Thorny Theology – tackling sensational subjects from the word of God forming a library of discussions to provide an access point into the key issues.
  • Still a need for someone to head up the community side of Jubilee – more opportunities. We want to give of our best. What is God saying to you?
  • Enjoy the summer – holiday season for many. God has plans for many people over the coming months – He doesn’t want to wait until September to bless others!
  • Hub open in a limited way. Let us know before you visit.
  • Let us know if there are areas we have not considered as a leadership – no one should be left out or left behind.

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

For the video and/or audio recording of the morning, click here.

Feedback from Alpha Spring 2020

Feedback from Alpha Spring 2020

An article by Ben Doggett | 9th July 2020

The Alpha Course is an incredible tool for helping people explore the deep questions of life. As a church we have run Alpha previously but we have recently finished our first one online.

I was recently listening to an interview with Nicky Gumball who is the Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, the church who designed the Alpha Course. Nicky said that since lockdown, HTB are now starting two new Alpha courses every single week! The church may not be able to meet together at the moment, but there has been an explosion of interest in the Christian faith.

Alpha is a very relational course. It runs for around 10 weeks and during that time you get to know the other people on the course fairly well. Initially I was nervous to see if the course would suffer from not having the face to face element. Upon reflection, I am pleasantly surprised at how relational it still was. As the weeks went by, we developed a real connection together and I was genuinely sad when the course came to an end and I knew I wouldn’t be spending the next Tuesday night with that group of people again!

Most importantly, the online element was not able to block God from having His perfect way.

In the early weeks, those on the course asked superb questions as they sought the truth of the Gospel. And then, as the weeks went by, we began to see people recommit their lives to Jesus or surrender to Him for the very first time! Zoom also again proved to be a boundary that the Holy Spirit had no problem crossing and so we prayed and watched in awe as the Holy Spirit touched lives despite us being many miles apart. 

To bring clarity to what is important in our complex and often busy lives, there is nothing like the beauty of seeing someone encounter the love and acceptance of Jesus. There is no joy quite like that which comes from seeing a child beloved of God, discover a Father who has been waiting with open arms.

If you have questions about life and Christianity, or know someone who would benefit from this course, there is another opportunity to sign on for a course starting Wednesday 15th July. It will run for 10 weeks on Wednesday evenings between 8-9:30pm.

For more information or to register, please contact Jubilee office at office@jubilee.co.

Rutland Woods | Work Party Results

Rutland Woods | Work Party Results

A message from Tim Biddlecombe | 6th July 2020

A huge thank you to everyone who helped at the Woods on Saturday, and to Gwyneth for the amazing fridge cake and blueberry muffins. If you weren’t there, you really missed out!

As well as some general tidying up, we now have created 3 separate areas; two around the lake, and one at the top end of the wood. Each has its own fire pit and seating. The walkways between these areas have been cleared and widened.
The largest of the sites near the parachute canopy is a great place for camping, and the others for meeting with home group, family or friends for a camp fire.

When I volunteered to help manage the woods, I was surprised that Neil described it as a ministry, but soon came to realise that it really is. For some of the young people from King’s Reach, it may be their only place of safety, peace and contact with Christians. For others it is a place of reflection and connecting with God, or a time of fun and fellowship with friends, Home Groups and families in a unique and special environment.

So please make use of the woods. You can reserve your time there through the office at office@jubilee.co.

Left uncared for the undergrowth would soon cover the paths and choke the beautiful flowers; the lake would become virtually invisible and the open spaces smothered in brambles. So our next work party is on Saturday August the 8th.

Contact Tim at tim.biddlecombe@jubilee.co or the Jubilee Office if you are interested in being involved.

The newly cleared camping and picnic area close to the lake
Campfire site at the other end of the lake.
AC Talk | Are these the last days?

AC Talk | Are these the last days?

A message from John Scholtz | June 2020

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it was still an epidemic and known as the novel Corona virus, I received several links from various folk.

The first was from a UK pastor to his flock informing them with absolute authority and supposed scientific backing, that without any doubt whatsoever, this virus was caused by 5G. The theories continued to grow, and conspiracies have raged on social media blaming everything and everyone you can imagine. If it was not the influenza vaccine being the cause, then it was an international conspiracy of the Illuminate or Bill Gates. Bill had predicted a pandemic back in 2015, so he’d obviously planned this. We are warned by propagators of this conspiracy, never to take another vaccine ever. This is a very irresponsible statement in my view, given the horrific plagues of the past with huge morbidity and loss of life, prevented now by vaccines, but always lurking in the background.

The Americans have blamed the Chinese, and the Chinese the Americans and no amount of scientific evidence from experts working in the field seems to sway the opinions of those looking for someone to blame.

Some Christians have taken it to another level and declared the establishment of the New World Order or God’s judgment on the world,
because of His anger over a particular sin. Still others have declared it to be the start of the Tribulation or The End Time. It’s a sign, they say, of the Lord’s coming.

As believers, what should our response be?

I don’t think turning to examples of God’s judgment on Israel in the Old Testament is helpful or applicable. It’s not as simple as “bad things happen to bad people” as we well know. Remember Job.

No, our response I believe, needs to be based firmly on Jesus, because “now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law…” (Romans 3:21).

People asked Jesus for a sign. He saw it as a sign of their unbelief.

The signs Jesus gave us, were largely about the new creation: water into wine, healings, food for the hungry, sight for the blind and life for the dead.

We should not be living in the “then” of the Old Testament but look for the “now” of Jesus. He was not looking backward to sins which might bring about judgment but forward to the new thing the “now” thing that was happening: The Kingdom of God!

In John 9 the disciples asked Jesus about the blind man (just as is being asked today of the COVID-19 pandemic) “Rabbi, who sinned, this
man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Then He heals him.

Should we not also be looking forward to see what Jesus will do?

He points us to a new world in which He will be the one true sign. “And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” (Matthew
24:6)

Conspiracy theories have always been around, but Jesus says stay calm and
trust in Me. Pray like this, He says: “Thy Kingdom come on earth as in heaven.” Of course, we must repent, and we should also lament for the world, but we’re already living in the last days “God has spoken through His
Son.” (Hebrew1:2)

Jesus warned that people would ‘look here!’ or ‘look there!’ but His death and resurrection, the single, ultimate sign of the arrival of God’s Kingdom, remain the call and pointer to penitence. They were the sign.
Claims to tell from world events when “the second coming” will occur are claims to know more than Jesus Himself. The resurrection is the beginning of God’s new creation, His saving rule on earth.

I’m grateful to Tom Wright for some insights from his recent book “God and the Pandemic.” He says: “The cross is where all the world’s sufferings and horrors have been heaped up and dealt with. The resurrection is the launch of God’s new creation, of His sovereign saving rule on earth – starting with the physical body of Jesus Himself. Those events are now the summons to repent and the clue to what God is doing in the world. Trying to jump from an earthquake, a tsunami, a pandemic or anything else to a conclusion
about ‘what God is saying here” without going through the gospel story is to make the basic theological mistake of trying to deduce something about God while going behind Jesus’ back.”

In Mark 12:1-12 the owner of the vineyard, having had his messengers rejected by the tenants, makes his last and final move by sending his son and they kill him too. After that there can be no more messengers, no more warning signs.

From now on the summons to repentance comes through Jesus, God’s ultimate plan (see Eph 1:10).

There’s no point in asking why this happened. We live in a fallen world.
Let’s rather ask: “What can we, as the church, do?”
It was their love and care for others not clever interpretations that turned the world upside down in the early days of the church. Only in Christ and the coming Kingdom will we find our peace, as we look forward in these difficult and challenging times.

There are 1,7 million unknown viruses in wildlife of which 700,000 have the potential to infect humans, the BBC reports. All known
Corona viruses come from wild animals and it is likely that pandemics will become more frequent the scientists say. This is just one of those.
This fits with what I learned in Medical School 45 years ago, that influenza viruses mutate in the vast bird populations of China, constantly creating new strains, to which we have to become immune. It’s part of the fallen world.

But don’t despair, let’s look forward with great hope: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” Revelation 21:1 (ESV).

Faith – Hope – Love

Faith – Hope – Love

Emma Wilson | 28 June 2020 | Sunday Celebration Testimony

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” – 2 Cor. 3:17

During this time in lockdown, I came across a song called “Be kind to yourself” by Andrew Peterson. I would really recommend listening to it if you struggle to cut yourself some slack every once in a while.
A little while ago, we heard a lot about kindness and the need to be kind to others, because we often have no idea what they are going through, what their story is. In this life we can often feel heavy and pressured, so let’s be on one another’s side, show each other kindness.
But I want to take that a step further and encourage each of us to show that kindness to ourselves, too. Often, we are our own worst critics, the least loving voice in our own minds.

But, before I go further in this train of thought, let me paint you a different picture of my mind and experience, particularly over the last few months.

As lockdown began, I felt quite shaken in many ways. A lot of uncertainties and a lack of point of reference quickly led me down a spiral of feeling pressured, incapable of balancing different things without a feeling of failing or coming short in one area or another – or all at the same time. As well as that, I felt this weight of expectation for this time of lockdown to be such a God-given gift of time for Him to speak, to reset priorities, to go deeper in my relationship with Him, to do a new work. It felt like all around me, there were people who now had this extra time on their hands to fix their house, their garden, resurrect new passions, invest in godly disciplines, and more. Having a 2-year old and being 6 months pregnant, I didn’t feel like I found myself there at all. And that was eating me from the inside. This comparison and feeling of not doing enough to see God do something in this time.

On a different page, I was being confronted with parts of my heart and mind that were not very pretty at all – parts that pointed fingers, parts that fear, hurts and insecurities, parts that were driven by performance and comparison, parts that felt so overwhelmed and anxious. Having less time to be distracted by or busy with other things left space for lies to sow seeds and my emotions to water them. In my head I was desperate to put things into place to see God do something, to do the “right things” to become closer to Jesus and more like Him in this time. There was this striving to stand pleasing before God in how well I spent my time or how much I did to pursue Him. But in that, there was no space for grace. No space for kindness towards myself. No space for love for myself.

A couple of weeks in, in various circles, we looked at the Holy Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” I knew that was what my heart was longing for, but didn’t know how to get there (once again…). Each day, I woke up saying, “Holy Spirit, I can’t do this myself. I want more of You. I know You have more for me and for my life than this. Fill me. Help me.”

And He did. Bit by bit, I could see how these heavy weights were taken out of my backpack, as it were, and replaced with freedom:

  • Freedom to do what I can and not push myself silly; to give myself grace and time to rest.
  • Freedom in knowing that God will complete the work He has started in me – Phil. 1:6. It is His desire and His doing and He won’t let me miss out when my HEART is postured towards Him.
  • Freedom that this season is not a reflection of me as a whole person nor will it last forever.
  • Freedom in knowing that God is not finished; and He is not finished with me.

Freedom on the other side of FAITH, not works.

From different platforms, the Holy Spirit highlighted all the ways He brings freedom. He showed me the Father’s heart that cares for me, that desires to carry my burdens, that abounds in grace and kindness and LOVE. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, I don’t have to earn my standing before Him each day; I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, including God actually. He sees my heart; He made it and knows what beats within. In Jesus, there is rest and freedom to learn from Him each day, to walk each day by His side, in His power, in His finished work.

So, in conclusion I want to encourage you:
When we look around us, it is easy to feel burdened by how we perceive others’ lives to be and how far our own is removed from that.
When we look within ourselves, we can feel the need to sort things out ourselves and make a plan to ease the feeling of guilt or fear or failing by doing “the right things”.
But when we look to God, we inherit a freedom on the other side of FAITH – faith in the work that Jesus has completed for us; faith in the Father who fully sees, fully knows and fully loves us; faith in the Spirit who searches the heart of man and desires to draw it closer to a gracious God.

My prayer for you is that you find this freedom that truly does set free from all heavy things and that brings life to the full instead.

Click here for the video and audio podcast of our Sunday Virtual Gatherings.

Number 40

Number 40

Dave Cape | 21 June 2020 | Sunday Celebration

“YOUR HEART WILL DETERMINE EVERYTHING.”

We live in a day when almost everything is being redefined. Your thinking, your attitudes, your social interactions and your views. Yet, we as mere mortals find ourselves trying to navigate paths we often never thought we would have to, whilst trying to fathom what we should be making of it, or how we should be responding to it.

Your timing in God will be determined by your level of obedience.                                                                                                             

“The greatest enemy to God’s will for my life, is MY will, for my life!”

God moves in space and time.

Space and time are not “one and the same”. Space and time are distinct. Space is what you move in. Time is something that elapses or “goes by”, by which movement and change are defined.

God compacts His Omniscience, His Omnipotence and Omnipresence into one action – when we are obedient and cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
E.g.: Acts 8:26-40: Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip is then transported from Gaza to Azotus.

God compacts time.

There are things which only God can explain. He can hasten – and be God of the suddenly.

Acts 12: Peter in Prison:
He was in maximum security. 4 squads –  bound between two soldiers.
Bound in stocks, fervent prayer was being offered up and the next thing they are free.He was so shocked he thought he was seeing a vision.

Sometimes we are free, but we still act as if we are bound. Sometimes we can become so distracted with our circumstances that we lose sight of where we are going.

But God is able to override our circumstance in an instant no matter how complicated or bleak it may look. It all depends on how deeply we are prepared to allow Him access to our lives.

He turns 40 years into 40 days.

What took the children of Israel 40 years in the wilderness, took Jesus just 40 days. God compacted time.

Luke 4:1-12:

“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, He was hungry.

The devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
And the devil took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to Him, “To You I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If You, then, will worship me, it will all be Yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’”
And he took Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’” and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
‘” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

All by the baptism and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. He conquered the devil, embedded God’s word, and established His Kingdom, conquering all temptation, in 40 days.

Jesus’ grounding carried Him though. He knew the word and was prepared in advance.
We have to be prepared before the battle, so we can draw it out in the battle. It’s no good in the heat of the battle or when you are suddenly confronted.

The enemy will always challenge:
– Your credentials or integrity – “If You are the Son of God”
– Your authority and power – “I will give You all this domain and glory, if You worship me.”
– Your security in God – “Throw yourself down. Nothing will happen. He will give His angels charge over You.”

Your response to the trials or the test will determine your destination. E.g.: the children of Israel could not enter into the Promised Land. But Jesus emerged and His ministry was launched.

You might think there’s no way out. No one understands.
Luke 4:13: “When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him”.
Jesus was tempted in every way; He understands your situation and your pain.

That relationship, financial situation, business or job crisis, addiction. God can break in an instant.
E.g.: Joseph went from being in prison with no hope of being released to being Prime Minister in 24 hrs – Genesis 41

40 minutes and 4 hours

1 Samuel 17 – David and Goliath

Sometimes we can feel so locked in and even stumped, discouraged or fearful. Yet by the Holy Spirit, God can alter it in an instant.

Goliath taunted the Israelite army for 40 days, morning and evening, yet when a young teenager led by the Holy Spirit got the word of the Lord, it took just 40 minutes to sort out the situation and have the Philistines on the run.

David responded with boldness, filled with the Holy Spirit, when he ran towards the Philistine: “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” (1 Sam. 17:45)

V52: “And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron.”
It would take a soldier 4 hours to run this distance.

The leading of the Holy Spirit compacts time in God’s economy.

The army endured Goliath’s taunting for 40 days, yet in 4 hours, by the Holy Spirit leading David, the Philistine army was totally defeated.

Conclusion

So, God has a 40 zone for each of us. It’s up to you, which zone will it be and how deeply are you going to allow God to access your life and how ready are you to respond. Don’t be like the children in the desert. Don’t be like the armies of Israel. Be ready to run, like Peter or Joseph.
You can either believe your situation is locked in, or that the Angel is waiting at the door to lead you by the Holy Spirit.

Are you grounded in the word and prayer and ready to respond and move?

For the full message which includes Dave’s stories and real-life testimonies, click here.

One New Community

One New Community

Andy Faulkner | 14 June 2020 | Sunday Celebration

Ephesians 2:11-22

“Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself is our peace. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations.

He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from Him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit.”

Introduction

We have all been affected by the events of recent weeks following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent outpouring of public anger around the world demanding racial justice. We as a church were profoundly affected by Siji’s testimony and sharing last weekend on this topic. I have felt God draw me to this passage during the last few days and I want to share some specific thoughts from it with you. I am troubled as to what I, a white, middle-class man, can do to speak into this situation. What do I have to contribute to this conversation when I have never faced discrimination simply because of my skin colour or sex?

My only answer is to share with you the gift that God has given me of expounding His word to speak into this present age. As an eldership, we believe that God’s call to us as His people is to demonstrate a different lifestyle that shines like a light in these dark times. The church, as we will see, is the jewel in God’s crown; the apple of His eye. She is meant to shine with a brighter light and speak of a different way of living, the way of love enabled by the power of the cross.

The beauty of the church lies in her diversity. She is the manifold (variegated, multicoloured, polupoikilos) wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10). She is the statement, above all of the statements that men could make, of God’s abhorrence of division and hatred, of racism, sexism and discrimination. On that great and final day, when we are gathered around His throne, a great cry will go up:

Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.Revelation 5:9-10

I want to say to every one of my brothers and sisters this morning who is from a different tribe or language or people or nation to me, “We stand with you. We celebrate all that is positive and delightful about your culture and your heritage. We love the colour that you bring to us. We love the variety of God’s brilliance that you reflect. We are thrilled and proud to have so many nations represented in Jubilee and we hunger for more.” 

I want to use these verses from this passage to inspire us to live differently and reflect the beauty of the diversity with which God has blessed us and to root out every form of injustice that does not measure up to God’s standard of love as reflected in these words.

Exposition (v19-22)

No longer foreigners and aliens

  • Once you were foreigners and aliens; without hope and without God in the world
  • Christ-less, stateless, friendless, hopeless, and GodlessHendriksen
  • Excluded/separated from God, and excluded/separated from others (N.B. contrast love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself);
  • Individualism was our creed and our lifestyle.

Fellow Citizens with God’s People

  • Now we are included; now we are in fellowship with others.
  • We are not just individuals; we are a community of God’s people.  Consumerism is the shaping influence behind much modern expression of Christianity: me, my, mine… (e.g. songs, books, sermons).
  • We are no longer defined by reference to our individual styles, tastes, or preferences.  
  • We are part of a one another community. The “you” most often used in the N.T. is plural, not singular; e.g. in French: “vous”, not “tu”.
  • No Christian bubbles of me and Jesus! It’s all about us.
  • No division based on race, or education, or wealth, or intelligence – we are one new community 

Members of God’s Household

  • We are also not separated from Him. Once were excluded from Him but now we are members – we’re a living, active, organically joined part of His work and His way. His Spirit is in us; we are spiritually joined to God.
  • His Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are His children.

Built on the foundation of Apostles and Prophets

  • We have a foundation. That foundation is doctrine, but it is not documentation.  
  • What we are founded on is a living ministry of the Spirit, not a set of words on paper. The word of God is alive; one of the ways in which it lives is in the hands of those who preach and teach and disciple it into others.
  • We welcome apostolic and prophetic ministry in the form of people such as Dave Cape and Tony Fitzgerald. The preaching and teaching of God’s word like this. 

Christ Himself as Cornerstone

  • Underpinning everything and supporting everything is Christ Himself.  But note that He is supporting the church, not individuals!  He is supporting the collective structure and not simply individual needs, wants, preferences and desires.
  • Christ is the beginning and the end; the keystone and capstone; He is the one in whom “all things now hold together” (Col. 1:17).

In Him the Building Rises

  • Christ’s intention is not simply individual salvation or personal holiness. Of course, a personal relationship with Christ is the entry point, but what we are discipling and building people into is a corporate structure – the church of Jesus Christ.  All the wonders of the truth of individual salvation serve to underpin the greater purpose: a people for His own possession (Eph. 1:14).
  • Christ is the common ground; the glue that binds us together; the energy that causes growth and life.
  • The expectation of what we’re doing should be growth: the building rises to become a temple (literally a dwelling place) of God.

A Dwelling of God by the Spirit

  • The means by which all this is made real in our lives and experience is the Spirit.
  • We are committed to building a Spirit-filled church: not a modern church; not a contemporary church; not a lively church.
  • The centrality in work, worship, guidance, preaching, salvation, teaching, training, planning, strategising, and discipling is always the Spirit. We must be men and women who are full of the Spirit, and who live Spirit-filled lives.
  • A key qualification for leadership is the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3-5). We should be able to see in our own lives and the lives of those we lead the evidence of Spirit-baptism. Ask the question…
  • We are looking to see a dwelling of God (God’s manifest presence) by the Spirit (the dynamic, in breaking, empowering, experience of God).

Conclusion

  • God has smashed forever the dividing walls between us and Him, and us and one another.
  • The church is the multicoloured wisdom of God revealed.
  • We are committed to seeing that community of the Spirit in all her beauty built here at Jubilee.
  • It’s about community in diversity not individual Christianity.
  • We’re going to celebrate our diversity in coming weeks.

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