My time as the Pastor of our Fellowship will come to an end this Saturday; it is time to move on after nearly sixteen years. To where at this stage is only known by God and that is the way it should be. It is all about trusting in the Lord because if we say we are moving on to our next ministry, which is…? Is this really trusting in the Lord for it to be His will or are we moving because we want a change? [Proverbs 3:5]
When the Lord told us to go to Israel some twenty years ago, there were many things we had to do before He told us when and where we were going and many things we would have liked to have known, God had the last word in all things. [Deuteronomy 29:29] There is a big world out there and no doubt hundreds of Ministries working for the Lord. So which one do you choose to join? If we make the choice surely we are working within our human limitations but if we allow God to make the choice are we not then working in His power, not our ways? [Psalm 118:9]
Working in a ministry of the Lord’s should be a calling of God and not a decision of our own wills. To do this we must know what the Lord of God says on this matter. We must know the Word of God and we must be ready to act on that calling. [Isaiah 6:8] If we choose not to go - and all people have free will - then God will send someone else and then we will never know several things including.
Learning more about God.
Learning more about His almighty power.
Learning more about His supply of needs.
Learning more about His love.
Learning more about His grace.
And the list goes on; so staying home when we are called is not an option if we really want to move on in Him. [Isaiah 55:6]
I believe the first step is to allow God to be the director of the life He has given us. After all if it were not for Him we would not have a life in which to worship Him. [Deuteronomy 32:39] The next step is to accept Jesus so fully into our lives that there is no room for worldly things that will one day fade away. [1 Corinthians 9:25]
To accept Jesus is to get a glimpse of eternity and the prize that awaits all true Believers in that greatest gift ever given to mankind, eternal life. [John 6:40]
Thirdly I believe we have to accept the Bible for what it is - the Word of God. It is truth, it is life, it is our guidebook to that life. [John 17:17] To learn that Word we need the Holy Spirit, yes to be born again, before we can fully understand that Jesus is our only teacher, through the power of the Holy Spirit we can understand just how Holy His Book is. His Book is Holy, more holy than any other book. Jesus explained it this way, Which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? [Matthew 23:19]
In the same way the Bible is Holy not because it is a Book of the things we need to know about God but it is Holy because it is the Word of God. [John 1:1] It has been given to us to teach us and direct us from the things of the World. [2 Timothy 3:16] There are many temptations and many ways to compromise the Word but our focus should always be on the promises of God without compromise or the watering down of the Gospel of Jesus proclaimed in the Word of God.
Here is a word from the Lord that some ladies received many years ago, which followed will keep us in the will of the Lord and ready for that day we stand face to face with Jesus in all His glory; “Walk with Me in the way of peace. Give peace not discord wherever you go. But it must be my peace, never a peace that is a truce with the power of evil. Never adapt my peace to the things of the world. Never adapt my peace to the peace the world wants you to have, a peace of adapting to the world. Sing My peace and then you will truly know real peace.”
It is in this peace we go forward to see the direction of the Lord knowing that in all things in the past God was right. So with no doubt in the Word of God, the actions of God and the leading of God we should all be able to go forth proclaiming His glory when called. [Matthew 28:19]
Today sadly anti-Semitism is growing and even sadder it is growing within the Church. It does not take much to scratch the surface and find underneath a hatred for the Jewish people no matter what the society is. Jewish people around the world are suffering from an onslaught from the news media and general ignorance of the real situation within the Land of Israel, the History of Israel or the Biblical significance of Israel. Very few people have had the privilege of living amongst the Arabs and the Jews as Penny and I have. We have experienced both sides and heard the curses spoken forth from both sides. One out of pride and hatred for the Jewish people and one built out of terror against their people, the Jews. [Genesis 12:3] Arabs are free to go where they want but if a Jewish person wanders into an Arab area they can and have paid with their lives for just being Jewish. However Anti-Semitism is nothing new, just read the history of what the British, the Spanish, the Greeks and the Romans did to these people and you have to start and ask why? What is it about the Jewish people that stirs up such hatred? Well you do not have to go far to find they answer to that question, just read the Bible. Our Messiah and the Messiah of the world is, was and always will be Jewish, He was born into the line of David. [Matthew 1] Destroy the Jewish people and you destroy the promises of God written in His Word. [Matthew 15:24] Destroy the promises to the Jewish people and then we have to look at the promises made by God about us, those who have accepted Jesus as Lord of our lives. Are the Jewish people so bad that God has forgotten them? [Isaiah 49:15] Are they any different in their behaviour than us? The answer is a clear no, so if God has abandoned them because of their sins where does that leave us? But God is merciful and forgives when we accept Jesus and repent. [1 John 1:9] This must include all people, first the Jew and then the gentile. [Romans 1:16]
It seems in the Church that the only unforgivable sin is to be born Jewish. From the time of Esther to Daniel and down through the ages to England, who expelled all of the Jews out of the country in 1292AD. The Spanish did the same in the 15th Century. The Jewish people were caused to wander through Europe after one attack after another. You see if you can destroy the Jewish people and remove them from their Homeland, Israel, where and to whom will the Jewish Messiah return to?
This was the cause behind the actions of Hitler and his government. The evil that was shown towards the Jewish people at that time, not only by the Nazi’s but many of the surrounding countries, was nothing short of demonic. This showed just how much it was and is and will be until the Lord’s return, a Spiritual Battle in which we are all involved whether we like it or not. [Ephesians 6:12] Why do I say we are all in this Battle? Because we will be required to take sides when the Lord returns, we will have to decide if we will look after one of these “brothers of Mine.” [Matthew 25:34-46]
How many people died in the war created by Hitler, nobody really knows. How many Jewish people died in that war just because they were Jewish? The figure is placed at 6,000,000 but this figure is more of a guess rather than fact as it is stated that the figure could have been much higher. A German had a country he could hide in so could the French, Austrian or any other nationality, all had somewhere they could hide. But the Jewish people were not safe anywhere as it turned out even neutral countries handed over their Jewish citizens and many countries in the West refused to help the Jewish people in their darkest hour. [Matthew 24:9]
In May 1948 with the declaration of the State of Israel as a Jewish State they at last had a place to go. A place that could be a memorial to all they had been through, throughout History, a place to call home. [Ezekiel 36:24] But still the world rages on as the return of the Messiah Jesus gets ever closer to the time when He will once more stand on the Mount of Olives. [Zechariah 14:4] And every knee shall bow to Him [Isaiah 45:23] and proclaim Him as Lord. [Philippians 2:11] It is time to take sides, either God’s or the side of evil, as the people were called to do on Mount Sinai. [Exodus 32:26] Israel to us is our Mount Sinai decision time, do we follow the Word of God or the World? In the words of Joshua, “As for me and my family we will serve the Lord”. [Joshua 24:15] Will we do the same?
After sixteen years bringing messages just about every week, you have to ask what if anything new can be said about our Lord that has not already been said? The short answer is, there isn’t. However the Lord is still in His Heaven, He is still touching lives and is still calling people to serve. [Matthew 4:19] This is because there are so many people who have not heard of the saving Grace of God through His Son Jesus, [Acts 15:11] and as long as there are people who don’t have Jesus in their lives there will be a need to take the message to them. [Romans 16:25] With today’s media this can be done in so many ways and many of these ways cannot be stopped by government regulations or persecution, in fact nothing will ever stop the Word of God reaching the people, so all will be able to make that fateful decision, whether to accept Jesus into their lives or reject Him. [Hebrew 13:20-22]
What a marvellous day it was, the day that we accepted Jesus into our lives and sometimes we have to stop and reflect what has happened since that day. [Romans 13:11] The one thing that most people will all agree on is that the walk with Him is not an easy walk, as Jesus did not promise us a rose garden, but a time of trial. [John 16:33] Every new step we take is met with more resistance, more troubles and in some cases more heartache. Somebody recently asked why this was so? they waited for my great theological answer to explain the situation of persecution. However my answer was, because that’s the way it is, that’s the way it works. [Revelation 2:9-11]
With repented sinners accepting Jesus as the Lord of their lives, there is rejoicing in Heaven. [Luke 15:10] But, when people come out of the world and into the kingdom of God, there is a plan by the evil one to destroy that relationship. This is done in different ways and unless we stand firm on the Word we are open to more and more of these attacks. [1 Peter 5:8]
We have just had the Feast of Dedication, [John 10:22] also known as the Festival of Lights. At this time the Word of God was under attack from the things of the world but God came through with a magnificent victory,
because the darkness of the world can never blot out the Light of God, try as it might. So one of the greatest battlefields to either prevent or remove people from the Kingdom is taking place amongst young Believers, young as in reading of the Word, or the battle against the Word of God. [John 10:10]
We need to stand firm on the Word and know it is truth; we need to read the Word and we need to believe the Word. [John 5:24] As the football coach said to his team: we are to praise God if we win and we need to praise God if we lose. [Psalm 44:8] It is the same in our walk with the Lord, we praise Him when all is going well, we thank Him for the blessings and we need to praise Him when the things around us are falling apart. Because God is not a God of just the good times, He is also there when the times are bad. [Psalm 140:8] That is when He is really reaching out to us and really wants to take us in His arms and say, “I love you child.” [1 John 5:1]
The Bible says nothing can separate us from the love of God. [Romans 8:39] And I say ourselves, or sadly other Christians can put up a barrier between us and God; some Christians who with their self-righteousness, do not accept the faults of other people, forgetting God accepted them with all their faults, cause a lot of trouble for people who are going through hard times. [Isaiah 42:3] Repentance is a great “Happy Pill”. Asking someone to forgive them is another and saying I am sorry is another. These are the steps we need to take to be happy in our walk with Jesus. After all when things are down and all the world is against us, all we have to do is look up at the cross. The cross that Jesus died on and you will see just two pieces of wood. The Cross is empty and the reason it is empty is that Jesus has the victory over all evil. [Matthew 8:28-34] Evil tried to destroy Him but God raised Him from the dead to give us life. [Psalm 16:10] Yes, the life we have may be dealing up some bad hands but just wait to the final hand when we stand in His glory and all the things of this world will fade away as we stand in Glory with our Saviour Jesus. So I say let us focus on what is to come because the prize is worth the price Jesus paid and we pay in being his disciples. [John 15:18]
There is much talk in the Church over whether this is a sin or that is a sin, and who is a sinner and who is not. The simple answer is we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. [Romans 3:58] There are those sins that lead to death and those that do not, [1 John 5:16-17] so how do we tell the difference between the two? It may sound too simple but to understand the difference between the two all we have to do is go to the Word of God.
If the Word says it is an abomination before the Lord [Deuteronomy 25:16] I would take it to mean this is not good for people to get themselves involved with. The Church is for sinners to come to repent before the Lord for past and present sins. After all sin is sin no matter which group they fall into and little sins can lead to greater sins. [James 1:15] Of course we do not have to go before the people of the Church to repent and ask God’s forgiveness, we can do that within the privacy of our own homes. However the Bibles does say to come before the each other and confess our sins and we will be healed. [James 5:16]
The confession of sins does not have to be done before a minister; it can be done before anyone in the Church. Of course there is a need to ask forgiveness of anybody we may have hurt. [1 John 1:9] However the point still remains we have all sinned before God, from the most outwardly pious person to the person seen as far from God. From the Pastor to the person just attending services each week. Sin is sin and if we say we have not sinned God is not in us. [1 John 1:10] Sin is a separation from God, so the question is how do we get back to God? I have heard many ask. Again it is simple just to ask God to forgive us and ask Jesus afresh into our hearts. That is all we have to do and we will be saved. [Romans 10:9] There are no rituals, or works, or flags, or pictures, or symbols, or idols we have to acknowledge. All we have to do is confess Jesus because He is the only way, the only truth and only life. [John 14:6] He and He alone is our only advocate to the Father, and that is Jesus. [1 John 2:1]
This week we celebrate the Feast of Dedication, a Feast Jesus attended [John10:22] The time when the Temple was re-dedicated to the Lord after it had been desecrated by the Greeks in approximately 168BC.
Without the “resurrection” of God’s Temple there would have been no place for the Messiah to come to the Jewish people. During this Feast we have a lot to be thankful for. Jesus came for the Jews first and then the Gentiles. [Romans 1:16] If the Temple of God had been destroyed the Messiah - Jesus’s first coming would have been prevented and therefore no Cross and no salvation and we would still be in our sins. [John 20:23]
Hanukah - the Feast of Dedication is held over 8 days, the time it takes to make the oil required to burn in the Temple at that time. If Jesus was born on the first day of Hanukah He could have been “Dedicated to God’ [Genesis 17:13] and this would have taken place on the eight day [Genesis 17:12] If this was the case then we have a double reason to celebrate as the Light came into the World and the darkness could not overcome it. [John 1:5] So the Light that overcomes all darkness is there for all and proof of this is within the crucifixion. When Jesus was crucified the darkness covered the earth. [Matthew 27:45] But on the third day that Light proved that the darkness had no hold on it as it burst forth from the grave. [Matthew 28:3] It is the Light of Jesus, the Light of the World, that exposes sin because when we walked in darkness the light showed us the truth and sin no longer had a hold on us. [1 John 1:7]
What better time can there be to rededicate our lives to the Lord of Hosts. We were created to know Him, to serve Him and to love Him. He came to set us all free from our pasts as He took the sins of the world upon Himself, so that we can have a glorious future with Jesus. [John 3:16] The One while on the Cross, reached out to God, “Forgive them Father they know not what they do”. [Luke 23:34] And “Man, today you will be with me in Paradise”. [Luke 23:43] At this time of the year there is no better time to rededicate our lives to God. He gave His all for us can we not give just a little in return?