Sermon 25~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 5

“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you: Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For verily I say unto you: That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 6:1–15.

I was struggling with one of the commandments, it caused me to walk away from church as a teenager and when I returned it was still there: Front and centre. Joining a Bible study didn’t help, we were studying the Sermon on the Mount and so I heard what fulfilling the Law by Jesus meant and that it wasn’t about following the letter of the Law but following the explicit and implicit nature of the Law. So not only the act, but the first iota of an inkling of the act.

I spoke to one of our Local Preachers about it and they said and I quote:

“oh don’t worry about them that is why we have the New Testament we don’t have to worry about the Old Testament at all.”

Now young as I was in my faith walk this didn’t make sense, firstly if we weren’t to worry about the Old Testament then why was it still attached to the New physically in our bibles. Secondly we hear Jesus himself saying

“I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

The LP in question were themselves living a precarious life – preaching without call and preaching when preaching itself was contrary to their beliefs, but I found this out later.

But it raised queries for me and sent me on a journey of discovery of how to ‘without a shadow of doubt’ be following the ten commandments, I left the 613 other laws alone as I am partial to a fried prawn curry and my friends were not abominations.

Two things I discovered in my journey and these are vital for spiritual growth:

1. you have to ask, not just of God but of godly men and women whom you trust and listen to their replies with discernment. The wisest of the wise of humans can get it wrong sometimes too.

2. this is not a solitary journey, people walk alongside, some for a season, some for a season or two but all who walk have their own backstory and motivations.

Jesus did not land on this earth so we can read his words and go – “oh that’s nice.” No he came to change the world, change history, change us, individually – you and me.

March 2014 a vid was shown in church, to show a model of mission and specifically shown to me to raise questions about where is the mission field. Like the questions weren’t there already. A few years ago I had the privilege of viewing and touching some of the modern art held by the Methodist Church in Britain. Yes I did say touch, I couldn’t help it, it was so tactile it drew me in and I touched.

It wasn’t the Diwali madonna or the graphic depictions of the death of Christ, it wasn’t five and chips on the mountain. It was “Cross over the city,” a mixed media (Polyester, brass and mosaic, relief panel) conceptual depiction of The Cross over a city. For me it spoke missionally of housing estates where God is not known. No Pharisees live there and the law is that of the concrete jungle – the hierarchical nature of crime- controlled by the older but carried out be the very young. How do we reach those children, whose light quickly fades and is not present from the age of eight? How can hope be found for those that see life as endless drudge of pain and painkillers? Where the rite of passage into adulthood is not a ritual of confirmation into a church but a gang rape for her and needle for him and where that ritual takes place in ever lowering ages. What age will it stop?

These people do not know the commandments, do not know anything about the Lord and his saving grace, do not know anything about right from wrong. I call them people because children are humans too. How can they even hope to have the righteousness of a Pharisee with no knowledge of the Lord?

And where are we? Tucked up safely in our homes, barricaded in – lest they take out. Where we have no concept of how others live. Someone told me once that everyone has a choice. But not if they are living without choices – where children are groomed to accept whatever is thrown at them.

Jesus came for all of us, not just the twin set and pearls and suited ones, but the raggedy ones, the ones like me and you.

I may have openly struggled with one of the ten, but I was struggling for more secretly with others but until I sorted the open one I was held in grace until such a time was right, timing is everything with the Lord.

Sermon 11~~~Discourse II {The witness of the spirit }

This is a solid piece of scripturally and doctrinally sound argument. Wesley is arguing against basically two opinions, that living in the Spirit is an experiential thing alone without scripture, reason or tradition and conversely that the Spirit does not dwell within at all.
The problem we are faced with, as believers who have been baptised by the Holy Spirit is that it is so personal and individual and exactly what we need as individuals that to describe it to someone would be nigh on impossible but also unbelievable and not helpful.
The only evidence that can be seen from the outside looking in is the fruit of Spirit, those special gifts from God. But there are those who puff themselves up because they believe they have been given a spiritual gift from God of prophecy or interpretation, for example. Not that they don’t have one of those gifts but that they then neglect the fruit. And not everyone who has been blessed with a gift of the Spirit so neglects the fruit.
Wesley listens to the argument: “The greatest contenders for it are some of the proudest and most uncharitable of men.” and like Wesley I concur that those people we are going hear, they are going to thrust themselves forward into the limelight but for everyone like this there are hundreds and thousands that Wesley describes as:

“firmest contenders for it are eminently meek and lowly in heart; and, indeed, in all other respects also, True followers of their lamb-like Lord.”

Meekness & Humility in a person is so much more attractive than pushy, in your face, “look at me and what I can do”
Interestingly Wesley talks of the fruit being evidenced in a person’s life preveniently. By the grace of God, to encourage us to move forward into true discipleship and believing we are introduced to one or two of the fruit of the Spirit. This is amazing and explains to my rational mind many of the things that happened to me and others before we were baptised by the Holy Spirit.
He ends by encouraging and challenging his readers to keep in the book of God, the Bible, keep in relationship with the Lord, remember the time when we cried out “Abba Father,” remember the peace that settled on us that passeth all understanding, the expelling of doubt and fear which are not of God.
Romans 8:16

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

Sermon 10 ~~~Discourse I {THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT}

Sermon 10
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT
Discourse I
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
Rom. 8:16

We have a spirit within us and in this discussion Wesley points out that even the most enthusiastic of church goers may have the Spirit of God and their own spirit contrived into an unhealthy relationship.

How so?

I think this is what we now call lining God’s will up with our own rather than the other way round. When we get convinced that a certain course of action is “right” no matter what the obstacles in our path and we just plough straight through, hurtling hurt & offended people to the side.

In my own life, I struggled with “is it of God” or “is it of me,” and I was concerned by barriers but I believe I was creating the barriers or they came from within rather than someone standing in front of me and saying “Desist.”

I have done no hurtling through regardless and have been ever mindful of people who may not entirely agree with the path I am trying to take. Tuesday night I gave a eulogy and read scripture for the Mass in the village. Two people who knew the path said they wanted to pop over to Killarney to hear me preach and the person in charge of readers in the RC church wanted me on their list. Another with a prophetic ministry told me it wouldn’t be the last time I would be on that particular altar.

In one particular area I had a very clear vision of how a project could run successfully but the people involved from the beginning had a different view. In the last three months I have been working towards bringing people along with a shared vision. There were a few setbacks last week and I thought it was going to blow up, not just the project but it insidiously blow apart the congregation. I felt like I was just putting plasters over open oozing wounds and they would pop apart at any moment.

I prayed about it, I let the whole thing, the relationships, the personalities, their spirits and mine. I asked for help in how to lose the project without anyone losing face bar me, so that no impact on the congregation could be determined and that life would continue as before. I got the message of reconciliation and peace with less words. There was more, and more to come from other sources that enabled me to think about rerdrafting, renewing, starting again, regrouping, not stopping but changing the way we did it. Today I got more of a message about messages being received, heard and a recommitment.

What could have ended up with a whole bunch of people “doing their own thing” has resulted in a team being born, still in early infancy with teething problems but the man-made obstacles are gone and I truly believe this group could do mighty things with the Lord and there be much Kingdom growth in the Kingdom.

Wesley tells us to examine & discern over and over that we may truly be children of God led by the Spirit and not going our own way. Sometimes our will and God’s is on target, going in the same direction, but often we take a side road. Pray without ceasing that the Lord and His Spirit will guide us to keep on the right path.

and let all thy thoughts, words, and works be a spiritual sacrifice, holy, acceptable to
God through Christ Jesus! [Rom. 12:1, 2]

Sermon Three ~~~ Awake Thou That Sleepest

When we have reached the age of seventy five we will have slept for twenty five years. A third of our life is spent asleep. Sleeping is almost as important as breathing and eating. Breathing is involuntary, eating is voluntary and sleep is somewhere in between. Deep sleep physically is the time when the body is repaired and rejuvenated, when energy levels are restored.

In complete contrast when we are spiritually asleep we are in the hands of Satan, living a sinful life with no dissatisfaction with that state. To become awake, we need to cast off this deep sleep. However many people just move from deep sleep into a day dreaming doziness, which Wesley compares to the Laodicean church – neither hot nor cold but lukewarm.

In our society this would be people going through the niceties of religion without any commitment. All churches have these people, willing to come to a service but not willing to commit any further, perhaps going as far as seeing the fire but not willing to jump in and be refined by the Spirit.

I remember being on the edge of the fire twice before I just leapt in, an amazing journey started in that first step. I woke up from my deep sleep and awakened into a new life. John Wesley also moved from sleep to awake and I think this is the power of his preaching. When he shouted to the gentry in the paid pews “Awake!” “Awake!” he wanted them to have the revelation of Holy Spirit that he had. He was passionate to bring many souls to the Cross and he didn’t assume that just because a person was sitting in the pew they were an altogether Christian.

In the last paragraph he urges them individually and corporately to awaken before the great trumpet of the Lord is blown! and our land become a field of blood.

Sermon Thirty Four The catholic spirit

john                                                                  audio clip

 

Denominations, no denominations, my denomination, your denomination. Do they matter? Are the differences the things we think of?

Well Wesley says not. Wesley suggests a very simple formula to reach out across the barriers of denomination to make friends. We are all together the melting pot that is the body of Christ.

If we put aside our differences of ritual and worship practice and look into each other’s hearts then we find this catholic spirit that is borne out of our love for each other. That universal love that is a gift from God because first he loved us. That love that allows us to accept we don’t all think alike but we have a unity of spirit. There are small differences but loads of commonality.

  1. Is your heart right with God?
  2. Do you believe in God?
  3. Do you acknowledge his greatness, wisdom and power, his justice, mercy and truth?
  4. Do you accept His authority governing everything for His glory and the good of all who love Him?
  5. Do you live each day trusting in Him, even though you can see Him?
  6. Do you believe in our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, crucified for us?
  7. Does he live in your heart by faith?
  8. Have you decided to put your faith in Him, rather than trusting in your own works as the way to salvation?
  9. Do you ask Him for help in living the Christian life of faith which leads to eternal life?
  10. Do you love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength?
  11. Does God give you complete happiness?
  12. Do you continually praise Him and give Him thanks?
  13. With God as the centre of all your desires, are you laying up treasure in heaven and counting your earthly possessions as worthless?
  14. Has the love of God conquered your love for earthly things?
  15. Are you working for God?
  16. Are you concentrating on doing His work?
  17. Is all your conversation and business focused on glorifying God in everything, giving thanks to Him in Jesus’ name?
  18. Does God’s love make you want to serve him with respect?
  19. Which are you more afraid of – going to hell or displeasing God?
  20. Do you hate evil?

Simple innit, like.

Wow, that is one tough line of questions, search my heart O God, make me ever true.

But yes, I can honestly say yes to all except nineteen and that isn’t a yes no answer!

What about you?

I am not asking you to agree with me about hymns or prayers or language or style of preaching. Can you say yes to all these questions?

Then no matter what church you go to, we can shake hands, we have more in common to glorify His name than things of difference in the way we worship.

Giving the hand does not mean I will try and convert you to my way of doing things or vice versa. But there is so much “world” and so little “Christian” we have to work alongside each other, not keeping score but helping each other along.

love you pray for you, love me, pray for me, love together, pray together, Christians together.