I do not know if you are aware of the latest rumour doing the rounds? Actually I am reliably informed it is not a rumour nor is it fake news. There is a growing belief that crime does not pay. The extent of this belief has resulted in investigations proceeding against corrupt officials, and even being charged by the law, while some are even rumoured to be paying for their own legal fees – instead of you and me footing the bill.
This apparent change will, hopefully, lead to an increased resolve to fight corruption and to use the law as it was envisaged. To use the law to punish criminals. To use the law as it is expected.
There are, of course, so many laws covering every aspect of our lives from jay walking all the way down to really heinous crimes like murder and rape.
I presume all of us here today make every effort to be law abiding and obedient citizens?
Show of hands from those who do not????
The laws of the land are many and confusing. Is that why we employ rich attorneys! In fact despite all these complicated rules and regulations our justice system does not accept ignorance of the law as an excuse.
We have every reason to obey the law. The alternative is to slink around in the shadows, fearfully and continuously looking over your shoulder.
How much easier is it to be a follower of Jesus Christ and believe in Him as the Son of God?
Well apparently if your name was Thomas not that easy. In fact not that easy even if your name is not Thomas. Remember – “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.””
The question is how obedient to God’s call are church goers? The reason I ask is because church attendance does not signify devotion to God. God does not tell us to build churches for the people. In fact the early church of the Apostles was built around small groups meeting in homes. The church still grew rapidly.
Just as being a member of parliament does not make me an honest citizen so attending church does not make me a Christian devoted to Jesus Christ.
This country has been largely destroyed through corruption and state capture. The Word of God warns us in Colossians 2:8 “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”
Spiritual capture is as bad as state capture. Both of them destroy rather than build and inspire.
The only way to stop the decline of this country is to apply the laws and the rules as it is required of us.
Hopefully we avoid falling deeper into a corrupt society bereft of any conscience.
The only way to move into a close relationship with God is to obey His Word and abide in His Holy Spirit.
We all wish to find joy and love through spiritual oneness with God.
Do we offer an opportunity for everyman to enter these doors and then to leave blessed and joyful in the presence of the Holy Spirit? Or do we arrive with the cares of the world on our shoulders and go home in the same condition? If everyman does enter our church will he walk away praying for us!
Is the Spirit of God active and loved by the members of this church? Can visitors feel the love and the active presence of the Holy Spirit?
Can you feel the active presence of the Holy Spirit?
The voice of the Holy Spirit is as loud as your willingness to listen.
The Lord Himself spoke to Isaiah and said “Acts 28:26 “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” Then later on He says “Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’”
The ability or even desire to abide in the Holy Spirit is an easy path to follow but not while we affirm sleeping churches – churches as in congregations of people and not buildings. The bible is very explicit in calling us to service. It is our responsibility to reach out.
That is a command from God.
In our defence we use Revelations 3:20 as the invitation to salvation “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
What we choose to ignore is the door itself. Jesus was knocking on the door of a backsliding church – the church of Laodicea. “15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
The lukewarm church! Neither cold nor hot for the Spirit of God. Where do we stand in relation to the church of Laodicea?
Where do we stand in our relationship with the Holy Spirit?
You are as close to God as you choose to be. You are as hot or cold as you choose to be.
A good citizen is obedient to the laws and rules of the land in which he lives. A Christian should also be obedient to the God who calls him through His Word.
One life totally devoted to God is of more value to God than 100 lives which have simply been awakened by His Holy Spirit.
God’s incredible gift of the Holy Spirit helps us in our struggles to obey and follow Jesus Christ.
Abiding in the Holy Spirit provides us with the confidence to step out in His name and stand as a light in His Name.
Just as the common thief and law-breaker walks in fear of being punished so do we struggle and lack in confidence when we are not obedient to the will of God. We must remember Jesus is still the light of this world. The Spirit of God promises us so much and all he wants us to do is make the effort to reach out to Him. All He expects of us is that we spend time with Him daily – reading, meditating and listening on His Word and in prayer – and I am talking devoted time. Devoted time not devotional time. Not a stolen few minutes here and there.
The promise from God has never been His Way is easy. He does promise us peace, joy and the blessings of eternal life. I’m prepared to invest my time in that ideal.
Seek ye first the kingdom because that is where you will abide in the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 6: 33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.”
Hebrews 13:6 (NLT) “So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?””
William Carey “Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.”
What do you expect from God? What are you doing to justify those expectations?
I cannot close any better than to use the words of Jesus Christ. This is the prayer of Jesus to His Father, following His prayer for His disciples, and tells us how much God wants us to be one with Him.
John 17:20 (NIV) “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
I repeat. Jesus wants to be one with us.
Do you accept His invitation?
Every time you participate in Holy Communion you do ask God to be one with you. Look in your APB top of page 128.
“grant us therefore gracious Lord so to eat the flesh of Your dear son Jesus Christ and to drink His blood that we may evermore dwell in Him and He in us.” . . . that we may evermore dwell in Him and He in us
The next paragraph we are invited to “Feed on Him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.”
I believe feeding on Him in my heart will result in my heart being filled with Jesus Christ.
Are we serious when we ask God to dwell in us?
Is it really something we want to happen?
Sadly for many it merely remains part of our Anglican ritual?
Sermon June 10th