Friday, 20 October 2017

3.7 ….. of the world

““And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”  
Matthew‬ ‭28:18-20‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Our Baptist Union of Scotland was born out of local churches realising that, in order to fulfil the commission that Jesus has given to His disciples, it is better to work together than labour alone. What holds us together in this vision is our acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Lord and head of the church; and that He communicates to us, through the Holy Spirit, in directing us according to Father’s will. We hold the Bible as central to all that we say and do, through faith in Jesus Christ. We stress our dependence upon God and interdependence with one another, as we seek to work together in sharing the Gospel with people in our land of Scotland and, in fellowship with other churches that confess Jesus and share in our Principles, seek to reach out in love to all peoples, everywhere, across the world.

  The declaration of the Baptist Union of Scotland: our Principle is to be true to Jesus and to the Scriptural testimony regarding God and His ways. And when we do that, we bring an influence to bear on our Society that is more powerful that we can ever imagine.

Lord God, I thank you for our Union of Churches. I thank you for the life that you pour into us, through the Holy Spirit, that is expressed among us: the presence and purposefulness of Jesus Christ Himself. Thank you, Father, for such a privilege. Strengthen us in faithfulness. Harness us in hopefulness. Infuse us with lovingkindness. Bring glory to your name in this land of Scotland and throughout this Earth, in and through Jesus Christ and His church, Amen

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

3.6 In the evangelisation

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
John‬ ‭6:63‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

There is immense spiritual power when you, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, speak of Jesus Christ. To speak with sincerity about Jesus – who He is, what He has done and what He is doing – releases light into darkness and brings hope to the hopeless. It opens a window to the wind of heaven, that the breath of life might break in.

All the forces of darkness and evil want to silence you, to intimidate and prevent you from speaking about Jesus. Because when you do speak about your Lord Jesus, life is released (John 6.63). You have good news to share: news about Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord (Colossians 1.26-28). To declare the mystery (Colossians 4.3), the Word of life (1 John 1.1-3). Resolve to be a bearer of the good news that is Jesus Christ (Matthew 11.3-5). Speak it out!

Lord my God, I thank you that you have caught me up in the Good News of Jesus Christ. I give myself to you, afresh, as a herald of your Kingdom come in Jesus; a messenger of mercy and grace, made known through the Cross of Christ. Take me to those with whom I can have conversation and share the message, which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Amen. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

3.5 And to take part ....

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.”
‭‭ I Corinthians‬ ‭12:7-14‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Do you recognise and confess Jesus as your Saviour and Lord? If so, you are now a child of God (John 1.12-13). You are a minister and a priest of God. You are treasured and loved by God. And you have been placed within a people (1 Peter 2.9-10). You are one part of many (1 Corinthians 12.12). And you cannot operate effectively without acknowledging that you are integrally one with them (1 Corinthians 12.21-27).

Our enemy has a simple strategy to disable us – jealousy, unforgiveness, isolation. God has a solution – unconditional and determined love. Learn to love and value those in church around you. Seek out their strengths, bear with their faults. Find your place as part of church, the body of Christ.

Lord God, I thank you that you called me to be one of your children. I want to be part of your family, the church. I know that ‘where there are people there are problems’, so help me grow in cultivating humility, patience, forgiveness and genuine love towards others, especially those I find it hard to get along with. Let me see my own faults and failings, that I might repent of them. Help me to reflect your kindness, care and compassion in dealing with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Thursday, 12 October 2017

3.4 To the Gospel of Jesus Christ

“And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.””
Luke‬ ‭24:45-49‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Gospel = Good News. Jesus Christ is Good News. It is His atoning death and the wonder of His resurrection. It is His sending of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, working in and through us. It is the declaration of the present rule of God among us, as we live in a sin-soaked world. It is that Jesus Christ, alive and real, can and would be present in the life of every person who would come to Him, in repentance and faith, right now.

The Gospel is news about new birth (1 Peter 1.3). Fresh growth (Isaiah 11.1, Romans 15.2). A wind that releases life (John 3.6-8). A star that shines bright in the morning (2 Peter 1.19). A fragrance that blesses – and can also offend (2 Corinthians 2.14-16). It is the message of the Word made flesh – alive, active, powerful in penetrating into hearts (Hebrews 4.12). The Gospel is a powerful instrument. Use is wisely. Never forget or underestimate its ability to transform the world you live in and the people around you.

I thank you, Heavenly Father, that my Lord Jesus Christ ever seeks to enter the door of human hearts, again and again. To come in, healing lives to live more fully; transforming minds to think ore wholesomely; to save and rescue from darkness, sin, despair and hopelessness. Strengthen me in confidence and ability to handle this power of the Gospel, in releasing others from the dominion of Satan and leading them into new life in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

3.3 To bear witness

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
‭‭I Peter‬ ‭3:13-17‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

God has called you to faith in Jesus Christ, because you are born of God (John 1.13). The Word of God became flesh (John 1.14), bearing your sin in His body, that you might carry and express God’s righteousness in your life now (1 Peter 2.24). As Jesus Christ died for you, you are to live for Him.

In living for Jesus, root yourself in showing gentleness and respect towards others. Be conscious that each person you meet was fashioned by God to bear His image. You are an ambassador of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5.14-20). Seek to reflect Jesus to them, in your manner, your care and your attentiveness towards your neighbour, colleague or client. Witness does not begin with a strategy, a method or a plan. Witness begins with what is in your heart (Romans 10.8-9).

My Lord and my God, I want to carry in my body your presence, your righteousness, in a worshipful way. I want to honour you by expressing respect and love, care and compassion to people around me. In my attitudes and actions, I want my life to invite the question, ‘Why do you behave in this way?’. Help me to be this person, more and more. In Jesus name, Amen

Sunday, 8 October 2017

3.2 Of every disciple

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.””
John‬ ‭20:19-23‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Do not be afraid, when you sense God knocking at the door of your life. Open the door to let Jesus Christ in (Revelation 3.20). Jesus wants to come and and impart to you His peace. Jesus is sending you into the world, today. Yes, you are vulnerable. Jesus knows how you feel (Hebrews 2.10-11). Your calling is to bear His presence and peace into the lives of those you meet.

You have an awesome responsibility and gift to impart. You are to show mercy and grant forgiveness to people (Matthew 16.19), just as you have been forgiven (Luke 7.47). Your duty now is to forgive and show mercy (Matthew 18.21-35). This is a basic discipline to embrace, part of your calling as a disciple of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5.18-19).

Lord Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace. You impart to people, by the Holy Spirit, a peace that is unsurpassable. Strengthen me to carry that peace into the lives of those around me. Let me be a bearer of mercy, a bringer of forgiveness. Enable me to to be a herald of hope and healing to those who are harmed and hurting. To our Father’s glory, Amen

Friday, 6 October 2017

3.1 That it is the duty ...

And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke‬ ‭4:17-21‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Born to be formed again in Christ Jesus, you are more than a customer called to consume God’s care and compassion for you. Constrained by the Holy Spirit, you are designed for discipleship.  You are a child of God. You share, in Christ, a common discipline and duty to work for the furthering of God’s Kingdom on earth. You are destined to shine with the reflected light of God, sharing this with those whose lives are wrecked, with grief and despair deep in their hearts. For you, identity and duty now walk hand in hand. When you embrace the truth that you are God’s treasured child, your destiny changes. Now, your delight is to pursue the realisation of the purposes and pleasure of your Heavenly Father. This will happen, through the empowering of the Holy Spirit within you and upon you, in the name of Jesus Christ your Lord. 

Think on it (Galatians 3.26-29). Your life is now in Christ’s life. The Holy Spirit, dwelling within you, would also come upon you, to empower you. All that Jesus represents and engaged in is now your reason for living. Embrace your election in Christ (2 Peter 1.10). Expect more (Ephesians 3.16-21). See God do so much good, in and through you (John 14.12).

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that you see so much more potential in me, than I see in myself. Today, I receive the revelation, afresh, that you have made me your own, precious child. You have invested the treasure and wonder of heaven into me. Father, it is my delight to offer myself to do my duty as a child of Light. Take me and expend my life on earth for the glory and honour of your name, by the power of the Holy Spirit at work within me and as a disciple of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

2.7 Was buried and rose again the third day

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”‭‭
Ephesians‬ ‭2.1-6‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Because of Jesus, your life is already positioned in a fuller, richer, multi-dimensioned reality, in and through the power of His bodily resurrection. At times you sense this; that you do not truly belong to this world’s ways and what many people hold dear. You are pained by financial corruption, perverted sex and mismanaged power. But remember this: God would fashion in you, by His Holy Spirit, with a different appetite. An appetite for the invasion of the New Heavens and New Earth into the present: where holiness, healing and harmonious living can begin to be manifested through your life right now.

Focus on what lies ahead, now and in the days before you. Christ is in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1.27). You are an overcomer (1 John 4.1-4). If God is with you, who can stand against you (Romans 8.31)? In all that you undertake, in Jesus’ name, you will surely succeed (John 15.14-17).

Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that my life is hidden now in you: embraced and enfolded in your healing and reconciling love, lifting me in the presence of my Heavenly Father and filling me with the presence, purpose and power of the Holy Spirit. Help me focus, my Lord, to see through the lens of your concern and care for the people I meet this day. Work in and through me, my God, that I might bear the scent and savour of the richness and love that is yours towards them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

2.6 Who died for our sins according to the Scriptures …

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:14-21‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Scriptures are the lens through which we can perceive both the truth about God and the truth about ourselves. As we look around at a world strained by strife and suffering, we need to stay focussed on the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, God Himself bears the pain and takes the penalty for human sin and stupidity, for all history through all time. Here is God, the ultimate peacemaker, reconciling the world to Himself.

Jesus Christ, in propitiating the wrath of God over human sin (Romans 3.23-6), bore the consequence of all our faults and failings; and also gave us a fresh pattern for our lives. Now we are called to know God in a way that conforms to Jesus Christ in His dying (1 Corinthians 2.2). As Jesus’ disciples, we are neither to deny nor seek escape from involvement in the problems and pain that surrounds us in a world ravaged by wickedness, war and rebellion against the One God (Isaiah 1.11-17). We, filled with life because we are united with Jesus Christ in His death, are called to a path of care and compassion. To identify and involve ourselves with the lives of victims and causalities of selfishness, greed and evil (Matthew 5.13-16). This is what God invites us to (Micah 6.8). This is an integral part of the journey that leads to resurrection and eternal life.

Heavenly Father, help me view the world around me through the eyes of your crucified Son, my Lord and Saviour. Even as He has born the penalty for me, taking my sin and sickness to Himself, now allow me to bear His healing presence into the lives of those around me. As He never abandoned hope in you, help me to walk faithfully and lovingly among those who feel bereft of care and compassion. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Sunday, 1 October 2017

2.5 And faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD.”
‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:21-26‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The essence of Christian faith lies in personally acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord. Faith, born by the Holy Spirit out off our Heavenly Father’s love, graciously and generously calling us to be disciples of His Son. Such faith ushers us into the beauty and limitless dimensions of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. It clothes us in a new way (Ephesians 6.13-19), changing the way we see life (Matthew 5.1-10) and pointing us to an everlasting hope (Hebrews 11.1) rooted in God’s faithfulness.

You are not at the end of the road! God wants you to continue – perhaps even embark - on a path of growth, in increasing measure, into maturity in Jesus Christ. Sometimes that will attract you, sometimes it will scare you. But God’s heart of love is to continue to develop and mature you (Philippians 3.8-12). Keep the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14.12).

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your immense patience with me. Thank you that, even when I falter or fail, you do not give up on me. Your Holy Spirit stirs hope again within me: thank you so much. Now, Father, expand in me a longing and passion to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Deepen and strengthen my faith, that your care and compassion may find greater expression in a love than is in me and through me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, 29 September 2017

2.4 Of those who have expressed repentance towards God …

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.””
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭6:1-8‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Coming into an awareness of the presence and an experience of the One, Holy God begins to change us. Whether suddenly or slowly, an authentic visitation from God into our lives disrupts us, can even distress us, in shaking out sin (Hebrews 12.25-29) and recalibrating our awareness of God and His ways (Acts 2.1-13). When Jesus Christ came preaching, He called people to repentance: to turn around and face the reality of God (Mark 1.14-15). His acts of healing and deliverance were accompanied by a message that challenged and called people to change. God wants to meet with you; and for that to happen, there has to be repentance.

Ask God to show you the aspects in your life that need to change, the things you can begin to do something about. Attitudes. Ambitions. Relationships. A time to fast and pray? Invite the Holy Spirit to meet with you in a manner that will plunge deeply into you and expand you in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 96). There are times we all need a ‘spring-clean’ in our lives, whatever the time of year. Now may well be a good time to start again.

My God, You who are a consuming fire, purge me and purify me, that I might be better fitted to represent the family you have formed through Jesus Christ. This day, I would renounce those recurring sins that I have held onto, impeding and resisting the presence and purposefulness of the Holy Spirit in my life. Heavenly Father, enable me, in my days ahead on earth, to be for your glory and the honour of Your Name, in Christ Jesus and His church. Amen.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

2.3 of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:14-19‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

When we are called into communion with God, it is always Father, Son and Holy Spirit who meet with us in harmony together: God is One (Deuteronomy 6.4). Maybe it began for you in learning about and being drawn to Jesus, His life, ministry and atoning death; perhaps you first felt confronted or touched by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit;  or you began by appreciating the might and majesty of our heavenly Father, reflected in the marvel of Creation. However it happened, it is a revelation come from the One God: from the Father, through the Son and by the Holy Spirit.

When we come into a relationship with God, where He reveals Himself to us as He truly is, we begin to realise that we have a heavenly Father who cares intimately about every aspect of our life (Matthew 5.25-33); a Saviour who will always be there to inspire and journey with us through the rough and smooth (Hebrews 13.5-8); and the Holy Spirit who will enter us and enable us (John 14.16-20). God wants us to come to know Him more fully as He is, so that our joy and hope may overflow in abundance. One God, who is eternally Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 Thank you, loving God, that you have drawn me, not only to wonder at your grace and compassion, but to embraced into eternal communion with you. I thank you that I, together with all your people, are caught up into an eternal, ceaseless communion with you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in Your creativity, goodness, justice and love. For such a gift, such a quality of living that knows no end, I would ever praise and worship Your Holy Name. Amen.

2.2 Into the name ....

Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭3:13-15‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Our God has called us to exhibit the power and wonder of who He is (Exodus 9.16), to enter deeper into a journey of understanding and ownership of His Name; this God who calls into being a people who receive His promises, His deliverance and His transforming presence into their lives (Numbers 6.22-27).

As you grow in your understanding of the Name, you will journey into a new perspective on life (Zechariah 13.9) and into an awareness of unseen dimensions to your relationships (Luke 9.48). As you, born to bear the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1.26), overcome denial and degradation through entering deeper into communion with Christ, you will more clearly hear His voice (John 10.25-30). You will come to a keener awareness and richer experience of the sovereign God at work in you and through you (John 14.26-27; 15.24).

I acknowledge, Sovereign God, that you are beyond my human  comprehension. Yet I delight that you have apprehended me by the Holy Spirit, drawing me to a place of wonder upon and faith in Jesus Christ. I thank you that you are showing me, more and more, what it means to come under the care and command of the loving, Heavenly Father that you are. You, Holy God, are One. And I treasure the wonder and the power of Your Name. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

2.1 That Christian Baptism is the immersion in water

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:1-4‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Baptism by immersion in water represents and enacts what it means to be Christian. You have been called to be one with Jesus Christ. To die to what you were, before Jesus came into your life; and to come alive to the whole and complete person God planned for you to be, because Jesus is now in your life (Galatians 2.20). This is not something you can do by yourself; but Jesus Christ makes it possible. He died for you. He rose from death for you. He makes you a new you (Galatians 2.26-27)!

In baptism, having been plunged deep, you were lifted up from the depths of the water, longing and praying that the Holy Spirit come upon you (Acts 19.2-6). You embarked upon a journey to be shaped into the person God always purposed you to be (2 Corinthians 3.16-18). You have been liberated from being less than who you truly are. You have entered into a new freedom, through surrendering to the presence and purpose of God in your life. This is what your baptism by immersion is all about.

Heavenly Father, thank you for all that baptism, by immersion in water, communicates and conveys. I thank you that, because of Jesus, I can turn away from all that is dark and destructive in my past with confidence, that I might be born again to new life in Jesus Christ. As I died with Jesus Christ in entering the waters of baptism, I thank you that I can live a new life with Jesus as my Saviour and Lord, raised up to eternal life in Him, in the company of the saints of God and by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

1.7 to interpret and administer His laws

““Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”
‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭36:22-28‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

God, who rescues and delivers men, women and children from the morass of sin, working by His Spirit in imprinting His Word upon our lives, fashions us to be fitted for mission and ministry in Jesus’ name. Where God declared His nature to Moses (Exodus 34.6-7), God gave His people laws to help shape and fashion their lives, that they might reflect God’s holy nature (2 Peter 1.2-8). In Jesus’ name, the Holy Spirit now works in our lives to conform us to God’s laws, forming the mind of Christ among us (1 Corinthians 2.11-16). 

To discern the mind of Christ, we need the counsel of the Scriptures, the leading of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of consecrated lives. We look to the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.19-23) to be evidenced in our conversations and relationships. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self-control: these are the marks of a people ready to interpret and administer our Lord’s commands – to be bearers of His presence - within the culture and context in which they live.

Heavenly Father, may my life reflect and rejoice in your royal law, the liberating commands of the Kingdom of your Son and my Saviour, Jesus Christ. Rule in me, Holy God. Let justice and righteousness sprout from the fertile soil of my soul, irrigated by the Holy Spirit, exhibiting and ministering through my life all that brings you pleasure. May the fragrance of Jesus rise from me and from those who travel with me . May your healing and deliverance cover those around me, bringing joy and thanksgiving for your royal laws and holy decrees. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

1.6 Under the Guidance of the Holy Spirit ...

"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:1-5‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

As Jesus Christ said it would be, we are dependent on the convicting and guiding of the Holy Spirit, to understand the will and the way of God as revealed in the Bible (John 16.13-15). We can do nothing of worth for God without the enabling purity, presence and power of the Holy Spirit at work among us. As the Holy Spirit ignites life in all Creation (Genesis 1.2), that life is renewed and intensified as the Spirit of God comes and resides in you, sealing you with the imprint of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1.13); a fountain of life springing up within you (John 4.14), flowing out as living water from your heart (John 7.38).

As the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, who was full of the Spirit (Luke 3.22; John 1.33), so we need Him also to come upon us (Acts 1.8, 11.15) so that we may properly discern, agree and act together in Jesus’ name. In this manner, the Holy Spirit will lead us in Holy ways: into convictions and practices that mark us out as belonging to our Heavenly Father, ambassadors in Jesus’ name of the truly loving, redeeming and reconciling God.

Father, I thank you for the personal reality of the Holy Spirit, who comes like the wind and living water, to irrigate parched souls and soften brittle hearts. Come, Holy Spirit. Fill me and move through us, the body of Christ, to carry the presence and power of God’s Kingdom into the lives of those who are lost and confused around us. Let flowers bloom again in the desert. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, 22 September 2017

1.5 And that each Church has liberty ...

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:12-21‬ ‭‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We need the Bible to understand God’s way and His will. We also need a ‘community of conviction’ around us, children of God, sharing our reading of the Scriptures with us, so that we can confirm that we are hearing and applying the Holy Spirit’s revelation to our lives in a Christlike way, free from self-deception. God has called and designed every disciple to be part of the ‘body of Christ’, the church. Without being part of church, we are diminished as disciples.

Where we are in place, in the body of Christ, interdependent with others in His name, we come under the authority of Jesus Christ (Matthew 18.20). Gathered in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are drawn into liberty (2 Corinthians 3.17), liberating us from the bondage to corruption through which the Devil deceives the world (1 John 3.7-8).  Mature and holy disciples will help us triangulate - and thereby confirm - what God is truly leading us into, through His Word and by His Spirit. This is the way God chose to communicate to His people after Jesus’ ascension to heaven (Acts 15.28-29). It is the same, in seeking to discern and apply His will and way as directed in the Bible, that God calls us to today.

Father, I thank you that I am freed by Jesus Christ from domination by the Devil. I thank you you have liberated me into a new dimension of life, to be directed and empowered by your Holy Spirit. I thank you I am a person whose identity is enhanced by being part of a people, the Body of Christ. I thank you for those around me, disciples of Jesus Christ, who are also looking to be led by the Holy Spirit. Help us, as church together, to test, confirm and conform to what you are saying. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

1.4 as revealed in the Holy Scriptures

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:14-17‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The sixty six books of the Bible, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, are God’s precious gift to us, to inform and instruct us in the faith and practices of a Christ-centred life. The Bible is our instruction manual, as worshippers of Jesus Christ. Reading, seeking to understand and apply what it tells us, of God’s will and His ways, is a foundational component of Christian discipleship. 

The way that we check that our faith and practice, to ensure that it fits with Jesus’ mission and ministry is, in the first instance, with reference to the Bible. We look to the Scriptures to lead us into understanding and confirming the plans (Jeremiah 29.11), the promises (2 Corinthians 1.20), the pattern (Romans 12.2) and the purposes of God (2 Timothy 2.19-22) for our lives.

Father in heaven, I thank you that we have received the Bible, transmitting the revelation that you have given to us over many centuries, leading people to faith in and conformity to Your Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. As I read the Bible, speak deeply to me, my God. Illumine me in my understanding by the Holy Spirit. Show me and teach me your Fatherly will, that I might be true to you and please you. To be a blessing of hope and and a bearer of love to many. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

1.3 in all matters pertaining to faith and practice

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; 
that you may know what is the hope of His calling, 
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 
and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, 
according to the working of His mighty power”
Ephesians‬ ‭1:17-19‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

God wants you to be His delighted, fulfilled child. The perfect Father, God is fully interested in who you are, what you do and how you do it. He is invested in shaping and maturing you to become more and more like His firstborn, Jesus Christ. Jesus is our perfect prototype. Through the Holy Spirit, your heavenly Father would shape you to be more and more like His firstborn Son.

Faith: ‘Forsaking All I Take Him’. Jesus Christ invested in what He saw His heavenly Father doing (John 5.19), always seeking to please His heavenly Father (John 8.25-29). That’s why when we look at Jesus Christ, we see exactly what God our Father is like (Hebrews 1.2-3). In His attitude and by His actions, Jesus demonstrated that He belonged to God (John 10.37). God longs for us to become more and more like Jesus Christ. Do I want that too?

Father in heaven, I want to be more like Jesus. Whatever it takes, make me more like your firstborn Son. In my goals and ambitions, through my words and my actions, I want to love and to listen, to serve and see people saved. May the people around me see and sense something of Jesus Christ in my life, this day and in the days ahead. May your Holy Spirit accomplish this, I pray. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

1.2 Is the sole and absolute Authority

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:15-18‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Our Declaration of Principle follows the Bible in pointing us to the highest authority there is in the Cosmos: the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God, come among us, as a human person. Jesus Christ saves us from destruction and brings us back to what God planned and now purposes for us. In this, our Union stands in the mainstream of historic Christianity, reaching back over 2,000 years. Our foundation is the life, ministry, death, resurrection and present rule of Jesus Christ, who reigns over heaven and earth. Jesus Christ, who calls us into personal relationship with Himself.

We recognise that God’s absolute authority resides in Jesus Christ, the Word of God, who became human like us (John 1.14); a living person in whom we discover the way, truth and the life that God has for us (John 14.6). God wants us to grasp this authority: what it brings to us and enables us for (Matthew 18.18-20). God’s intent is for us to grow in recognising Jesus Christ’s presence with us, through active participation in His mission and ministry (Matthew 28.18-20).

Lord Jesus Christ, there is none like you. You are above, over all and more powerful than all. Yet you came to reach out and minister, humbling yourself to bring healing and deliverance to others. Today, I submit myself afresh to your authority. I want to be established in your authority through knowing you and obeying you, now and in the days that are ahead. To the glory of God and for the blessing of others. Amen.