Love & Holiness – A Beautiful Picture

Holiness – it’s a word we don’t generally feel comfortable using these days.    The Bible says  in 1 Peter  1:15 “But as He called you is Holy, you also be Holy in all your conduct”.  Our Pastor says when you think of being Holy just think it’s being different to the world because of Jesus.

It seems to me that when we try to be Holy ourselves (apart from Jesus) then it just becomes a religious list of dos/don’ts which can then lead to frustration and guilt when we fail.     We can end up doing lots of works with little fruit.

A wise person said. “Holiness will take care of itself when we see ourselves as the Holy people of God with a Holy destiny”.    The way of holiness is living through Jesus.

In Revelation 2 Jesus says to the Church at Ephesus:

“I know your works, your labour, your patience and that you cannot bear those who are evil, and you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not and have found them liars, and you have persevered and have patience and have laboured for My name’s sake and have not become weary, Nevertheless I have this against you; that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen and repent and do the first works”

Jesus said they were patient, hardworking, persistent, hated evil – but they no longer had a fervent love for Christ and God out of which their works should have flowed.   They had lost their first love.

The greatest commandment is “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind” and then “to love your neighbour as yourself”:     In effect Holiness in action.

Love

In my life,  it seems to me that Love has been key to living out a practical holy life.

Love acts as a true motivation for holiness.  Love is, in its true actions, a true outworking of holiness.

  1. Love for God

The Bible says Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul & mind. – Do not worship any other idols.

When we are mature in faith, it is good to stop and consider,  whether our hearts still burn with a fervent love for God and for Jesus, our saviour?  What is it that motivates us daily in the things we do and say?   Remember that first time you became a Christian and how you were so hungry for the things of God?

If that fervent love is not still there, then what has taken the place which God had in our lives?

Idolatry is putting something before God – we can make idols of money, careers, other people -worshipping anything other than God.    Idolatry is one of the areas I believe Holy Spirit is bringing conviction to us as the Body of Christ.

The Holy Spirit can reveal the true nature of our hearts and what it is that is actually taking the first place in our lives, our thoughts, prompting our actions.  Sometimes, we are just blind to what or who is really sitting on the throne in our hearts.

We love God because He first loved us and gave His son to die for us while we were still sinners.

Love for God will manifest itself in spending time in His word and in fellowship with Him through prayer and praise. Times of fellowship with God; being obedient to His Will; allowing His Holy Spirit to fill us and mould us.

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  1. Love for each other

Thessalonians Ch 3 v 12-13 says “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all; just as we do to you so that He (God) may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints:

Love for one another  – loving other Christians.

Love for all – everybody.

We all see this love expressed in Peter’s first letter to the church.  Peter was concerned with how Christians should live their daily lives – with each other and also in front of non-Christians.

Peter confirms that we express holiness to one another through love.  First Peter encourages us in Ch 1 v 15-16 “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written “Be holy, for I am holy”

V22 – Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” or other translations  “so that you have a genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart”

Pure Heart – Ch 2 “laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking”

No hypocrisy, no jealousy, no gossip – all this rubbish has no place in us and needs to come out of the body of Christ.

Someone said “where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding and conflicts abound to satan’s perverse delight”

Humility will help in our relationships with one another.  Peter goes on to say that there should be “unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart and a humble mind”

Is loving each other as Christians optional?   According to the Word the answer must be NO.

As Christians we can’t really opt out of loving one another if we are followers of Jesus – it was Christ’s commandment to us – to love each other as He loved us.  It’s a commandment – if we love Christ then we ought to love one another.

We recall Jesus’ teaching at the last supper.   This was his last opportunity to talk to his disciples before He went to the Cross.   Jesus reiterates 4 times his new commandment to love one another.    He didn’t remind the disciples of all the great miracles they had witnessed – it was love which was important.

JN 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

JN15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Jesus said “if you love me then you will obey my commandments.”

JN 2:3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

1JN 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

As Jesus said to the church – Have we lost our first love? Have you lost your first love?

It takes us back full circle – if we love Christ and he is our first love then out of this love will flow love for one another.  Let us start with love for God first and the rest will follow.

John Wesley said that “Holiness misses the mark if the essence of godliness found in purity of heart expressed in love is missing” His favourite saying was “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love”

So HOW?

I don’t believe we can manufacture this love successfully.   We could perhaps do it for a while but it will stagnate and eventually die – it must develop naturally out of relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Romans 5: the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us and love is created in us by the Holy Spirit Galatians 5: 22 says it is a “fruit of the Spirit”

So instead of striving to do it in our own strength and with our own love – let the love of Christ come through us – let the fruit be produced – How – by abiding in Him & receiving God’s love.

Jesus tells us:

JN 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

JN 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

JN 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

So How is love evidenced practically in holy living?

1JN 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Love will manifest itself in generosity, meeting others’ needs, unselfish giving.   This can be truly testing when we are going through our own times of difficulty.

Our reward is not earthly but heavenly:

M.T 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

MT 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

MT 25:40 “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

Conclusion

I believe that Love for God is holiness which is then expressed in love for those in the body of Christ and others. Love in its actions is the true outworking of holiness.

The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 13

1CO 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

1CO 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1CO 13:8 Love never fails.

If we as the body of Christ are serious about living holy lives then let’s ensure that we have not lost our first love and that we truly love one another. Then the light will shine from us and men will see our good deeds and praise our father in heaven.     If we want to see people come to Christ then one of the keys is to obey His commandment to love.

In Isaiah Ch 5 – we read about :God’s disappointing vineyard” – ‘My well beloved has a vineyard, on a very fruitful hill, He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; so he expected it to bring forth good grapes but it brought forth wild grapes”

God’s expectation is that you will produce good grapes – good fruit for Him.  He has a plan for you individually and for your fellowship.  You are important to Him.  God never gives up – He never slumbers or sleeps – He is always working with you to produce god fruit.   Let the fruit of His Love grow and develop in us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Perfect Plan

God reminded me today that even though at times my life seems chaotic and overwhelming to me when I am trying to balance work, family, home and many other things which distract me, the truth is that He is always right there with me and I am made right with Him through Jesus.   I am living out His perfect plan for my life because He is in it.     I don’t have to earn it or work at it – I just have to accept the greatest gift which Jesus has given to me – the gift of relationship with God.

I wrote down the following words which came to me as I spent some time with God today:

“My children,  From the very foundation of the world I had a plan and My plan has not altered.    It is a plan set in the heavenly realm and My son Jesus achieved and accomplished in perfect obedience and perfect sacrifice and in perfect timing that plan.   Every person on earth who has ever lived and was created with life has a place in My perfect plan.    There is no-one who has ever lived who is not able to partake.  None has been left out.   I long that all would come into My perfect plan for their lives.   My plan is simple.  It consists of relationship between Father, Son, Holy Spirit and you in perfect harmony of relationship.  There is nothing which can stop you being part of My plan.   All that is necessary is humble acceptance of My son’s sacrifice and offering of Himself for you.  He has obtained by His death and resurrection the keys of death and hell so that the door is open to walk into the perfect plan for your life.   No other plan will bring you the desires of your heart for no other plan can bring you into perfect harmony with Me.  It is simple and it is true.  There is only one plan which is perfect and so why accept anything less for yourselves.”

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The Rubbish Gate

Just as the name suggests this gate which Nehemiah rebuilt was the one used to get rid of the rubbish and dung.      I don’t know about you but even after being a Christian for over 40 years, I am still a work in progress and I still sin (even when I don’t want to or intend to) and get things wrong.       However, I don’t write myself off.   Even though I still sin, I know that the power of sin over me has been broken because of the work of Christ at the Cross.    I repent when I know I have done wrong and the Holy Spirit convicts me and I am cleansed by the power of the blood of Christ.    The rubbish is swept out of the door.   When the accuser comes to me I just point to the blood of Jesus and he has nothing on me.   The slate is wiped clean.    I don’t use the grace of Christ as a licence to sin but I rely on the grace of God in my life to convict me of sin.

If there is still rubbish in your life or you are carrying it around then I encourage you to get rid of it.   It is only choking the word of God and the fruit of the Spirit maturing in you.   If we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives then He will convict us of sin. Keeping our hearts soft and not hardened by disobedience.   What rubbish needs to be out of our lives today?  Let’s be ruthless with it and get rid of it – once and for all.  

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The Fish Gate

The fish Gate was another gate which Nehemiah rebuilt.  As followers of Christ we are called like the disciples of Jesus to be fishers of men.   We have been given the great commission to go out and make disciples. It is the mandate from Christ to His church.     If however we just put all of our efforts into catching the fish and seeing converts, but don’t disciple them properly afterwards, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see any growth or maturity.

Discipleship requires service, commitment, love and sacrifice.    In order to walk alongside people,  especially people who are hurting, we can need grace, patience and love in great abundance.   The Holy Spirit can help us to develop the fruit of the Spirit in discipleship and teach us how to disciple others.     We need to know the truth of the gospel ourselves in order that we can help others to mature in Christ and follow Him.    The Christian life can be one of suffering, hardship and persecution because of our faith in Jesus and preparing people for that is a key part of discipleship. 

Are the nets ready for the catch?    If there is to be a great harvest of souls then we need to get ready to disciple them.    If you are a follower of Christ then I encourage you to share your testimony and life with others who are new to the faith and disciple them.   Help them and strengthen them to grow and mature in Christ and share your experiences with them.    We all have something to offer in service to Jesus.   Is there someone that you can take under your wing today or give a supporting hand?

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The Sheep Gate

Here are some questions for us?  How and What are we building in our lives?   First the How?     I am encouraged by the example of how to build from Nehemiah Ch 3 in the Old Testament.   The order in which Nehemiah describes how the gates and walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt is an example of how the Holy Spirit inspires us to build in our lives.    Jesus said that he would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

The Sheep Gate was the first gate to be rebuilt.    This is the most important in our lives.   We have to come to God through the Sheep gate. The bible teaches us that it is only those who enter in by Christ (the Shepherd and the Sheep gate) who can come into relationship with God.   Have we come through the Cross – and really understood the power of the Cross in our lives? That the power of sin and death  is broken.  If we try and build on anything apart from the true revelation of Christ and the Cross we will be in difficulty. Christ is the cornerstone of our faith.   We need to come in through the Sheep gate.

Christ warns us about those who don’t come in by the Sheep gate – not sheep but wolves in Sheep’s clothing – and false shepherds.  John 10 -7 – Jesus says “Most assuredly I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” “But he who enters by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep – To him the doorkeeper opens and the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep he goes before them and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  Jesus went on to explain: “Most assuredly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door, If anyone enters by Me he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.   The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”     Please beware of any teaching about Jesus which is contrary to what the Bible reveals to us about Jesus and weigh and test it against scripture.    We need to come to Christ through a true revelation of the Cross and  build on Him as the cornerstone of our faith.

I understand that the Sheep gate was the only gate that didn’t have locks and bars.    To me this symbolises that the way to God is open through Jesus and it is open to everyone.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done.  Nothing can disqualify you from receiving grace and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ and the redemptive power of the Cross.   If you have never come through the Sheep Gate then I encourage you to confess your sins and take that step by faith today.    Receive forgiveness and start a new life in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Breakthrough

A visiting speaker encouraged us recently to be a bit of kindling and allow the Lord to set fire to us.   A little fire can be all it takes – it can spread like wildfire as nature has shown us with the wildfires which took hold last year in various places. At this time we are to press in and not be discouraged.  Don’t settle where you are but press on in faith.     The breakthrough or miracle you have been waiting for or seeing in faith could be just around the corner.

We may face opposition just before we see the promise and answer come to pass.    When Jesus was on the way to heal the sick daughter of the leader, Jairus, people came to tell him not to bother because the girl was already dead.     Jesus refused to accept that and told them that she was not dead only sleeping.   The people ridiculed him but Jesus silenced them, pressed ahead and the girl was raised up. People may ridicule you or try to stop you pressing in to what God has for you and the vision He has shown you.

When we step out in faith we are His vessels.  It is the oil of His Presence and the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through us to do His good works which He prepared beforehand for us to do.    The people who know their God will be strong and do mighty things.   You may have people telling you opposite things to the promises of God and what God has revealed to you by His Holy Spirit.   Do not listen to them and refuse to believe them.  Stand on the Word of God.    You may have to be bold and silence them.   Fix your eyes on Christ.  Lift up your head and see the King of Glory

In scripture John the Baptist said that Jesus was the one who would baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire.     Tongues of fire appeared on the heads of those who first received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.   I have been baptised in the Holy Spirit but I want to be on fire for Jesus.   I believe this fire is purifying and empowering to enable the Holy Spirit to flow through us in power in signs and wonders to give a powerful witness to the gospel message of Christ.     The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and glorifies Jesus Christ. People are saved and those who are suffering to healed and restored. Hold on to your promise and vision today and believe in faith. It will happen in His appointed time.

Are you Hungry? Feed on Him

I felt that Jesus said the following to me this morning.  I am the bread of Life.   Whoever eats and drinks of Me will never hunger and thirst again.   Some of My people are happy to feed on the crumbs from the table and the drips of My presence.  I died so that they could feast on Me.  There is everything laid up in My Kingdom -the resources of heaven which are available to My people if they would only believe.  The Lord says- stop feeding on the crumbs and being satisfied with those.   There is so much more of Me available says the Lord.  Come and feast at My table.  Realise that you are hungry.  Stir up the hunger within you and do not be satisfied with the crumbs.  Come and feast at My table.  I have set a banqueting table before you – Come and eat and drink.  There is everything available in Me.  Why do you eat things which cannot satisfy you?  Why do you drink things which cannot satisfy you?   Eat and drink of Me.  The fullness of Me.  Every part of Me is available to you.  My love, My truth, My grace, My freedom, My power, My Authority.  It is all freely available to you.   As you freely receive then freely give.   Give without limits – pressed down abundant giving – for out of giving more then more can be received and overflow.   Let the oil of My presence freely flow through you.  The oil comes from refining through My spirit.  Let Me flow through you.  Do not turn the tap off.   Blessings to all My children, Blessings.

The words of Isaiah 55 came again to mind.  “Ho Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters: Any of you who have no money, Come buy and eat.  Yes come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend money for what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy.  Listen carefully to Me and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.”

Later this morning our Pastor was talking about the nativity scene and what did we see when we looked at the picture.   He saw Jesus lying in the manger and this was significant to him.  He said Jesus is in the manger for a reason.   The manger was the place of feeding for the animals- the French word “manger” to eat is the same root word.   Jesus is in the manger because He is our spiritual bread and we all need to feed on Christ.   He is our spiritual food.   He is the gift of God freely given to us.