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Jim’s Preach ‘The Better Part’
a certain village. A certain woman by the name of Martha welcomed him
and made him feel quite at home.
She had a
sister, Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus, hanging on every word he
was distracted by all the serving that had to be done. She came to Jesus
and asked, "Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the
work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
answered, "Martha, Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting
yourself worked up over nothing.
One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen the better part, and that one thing will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38 - 42
Mary welcomed Jesus into their home. Jesus was seen as a Rabbi
(teacher), and as a student; a disciple of the Rabbi, Mary sat at his
feet to savour everything he had to say and to learn from his wisdom.
Martha was busy slaving away over a hot stove and racing around like a
certain type of fly. Martha was naffed off with ending up with all the
work and complained to Jesus about this. She addressed him as ‘Lord’
suggesting she saw herself as his servant.
said that lots of things needed to be done but
only one thing was essential
and Mary chose the better part
looking to and listening to him and giving him her full attention.
disciples. One doing everything while the other
appearing to do nothing.
complaint reminded me of the complaint of the elder son in the parable
of the prodigal son. The eldest son had done all the work at home while
the younger one played away. But it seemed the eldest had forgotten he
was a son and behaved more like a servant, working devotedly but never
enjoying his father’s wealth.
I once fell
for the false teaching; that I had to serve God. But a son doesn’t
serve. Servants serve and I’m a son. I, like you are part of Jesus’
As a son I
can choose; and like Mary I want to
choose the better part.
account of Ruth in the Old Testament the text tells us that Ruth was
poor and had to do backbreaking work in the fields picking up the left
over barley after the harvesters went by. After grafting all day she had
gathered up one measure of
mother in law Naomi told her that when the boss man Boaz had forty winks
after lunch, to lie down at his feet. This she did and Boaz
gave her six measures of barley
to take home.
hard work earned her one measure
of barley but resting at the boss mans feet gave her
six times the amount of barley.
The moral of
the story is, that we can graft all day for a measure, but rest at the
boss mans feet and get a bounty for seemingly doing nothing.
hard for her provision, but when she sought the provider she received
Jesus told us
to seek first the Kingdom of God; I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve
forgotten that advice. Due to the religion that
I grew up in, doing good works was a sign of being a good Christian.
And we can
all become wrapped up in trying to be good Christians, when
Jesus says that in fact we are
not servants. We can not only seek the Kingdom of God, but know that we
and heart were more precious to Jesus than Martha’s hands and feet.
To me Martha
represents the religion I was once embroiled in. Martha was so caught up
in doing that she had no time to enjoy the presence of Jesus. Mary
represents Grace and Faith .
Being a saint of the Lord Jesus is not about doing but about being, and the best part is we only have to look and listen to Jesus
As we look and listen to Jesus we receive all that we need to be a saint of Jesus.
Extract from Jim’s Preach 'The True Vine'
am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.
He takes away
every branch in me which has no fruit, and every branch which has fruit
he makes clean, so that it may have more fruit.
You are clean,
even now, through the teaching which I have given you.
Live in me at
all times as I live in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must
remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you live in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches: he who is in me at all times as I am in him, gives
bountiful fruit, because without me you are able to do nothing.
John 15:1 - 5
Jesus tells us
He is the vine and that God
the Father is the gardener. Jesus starts by saying ‘I am’ words
never uttered by the Jews because they are reserved for God only. By
using these words Jesus is saying that He is God.
The disciples knew that the Jews as a nation were
God’s vine so Jesus saying first that he was God, I am, and then that he
was God’s vine to them was mind blowing although in Jer 2 it states that
the vine that was Israel had got “worthless and rotten”.
Israel, the vine destined to be in close union with
God had lost their trust in and their
desire for God and relied on
their own achievements and merits instead. The result was no spiritual
life or spiritual fruit like the dead wood on a vine that gardeners cut
off and burn.
We too can do and say things that show us we are not trusting God. Peter did this when
Jesus told the disciples that is was God’s plan for
him that he would be killed. Peter objected and this opposition provoked
Jesus to say to Peter “Get behind me adversary, you do not have in mind
the things of God, but the things of men."
Another translation puts it this way; Jesus says to
Peter “Get out of my way anti God, your thoughts don’t come from God,
but from your human nature!"
This is the weakness of us all, that we can think,
speak and do things that are contrary to God’s will; so making our
thoughts, words and actions false, even anti God.
We all fall into the same trap of letting
our human nature influence us
rather than the Spirit to inspire us. Fortunately this is where the
parable of the true vine helps us.
A vine by its very nature will produce fruit, but the
skill and dedication of the gardener makes every difference to the
quality and abundance of the fruit. God the Father is the gardener.
gardener’s responsibility to look after the vine so it will produce
fruit that contains the life of the true vine. The gardener feeds,
trains and prunes the vine. In other words
He removes what is false,
because a true vine can only produce true fruit.
Jesus tells us in the parable that
we are clean because of what He
said to us; that is, what He has said/revealed to us in our hearts.
The spiritual truths our testimony of his love and his very being that
He made clear to each of us individually when we first came to know Him.
That is the sap that flows through us, the truth
which we were given that began our Christian life, a truth that will
nourish that life as part of the vine, a vine lovingly tendered by a
Jesus Himself is the life source of the branches and
the fruit. This is why Jesus said, ‘Live in me as I live in you’.
Separately we cannot produce fruit. We are one true vine.
Jesus is the vine’ and we
are the branches. Notice, He doesn’t tell us to
try and be branches, He says
quite definitely ‘you are
branches’. No effort involved ‘you
are’. And seeing that the gardener
has pruned all the false
branches out we are, without trying or without effort, true branches.
For us the parable ends with a caution.
‘Without me you can do nothing’.
That makes me look again to Peter. A man with lots of faults, a man who
acted impulsively according to his humanity rather than his
spirituality, a man who was once seen as anti God and called God’s
adversary by Jesus. A man who denied knowing Jesus and ran away.
Yet it was this man that Jesus chose to build His
church on. Peters failings are there for all to see in the gospels,
Peters failings were all part of God’s plan and purpose.
But Peter was also a man and whose
hearts desire was to follow Jesus,
despite many mess ups on the way. Jesus saw that Peter’s failings were
God’s will, part of God’s plan. And maybe we fail to see in our failings
that it is the will of God at that moment, at that particular time in
Peter’s heart’s desire was for Jesus, but he was a
branch needing the care of a loving gardener. Jesus could see the end
from the beginning of Peter’s life. Peter in time produced much fruit.
We cannot see the end from the beginning that’s why
it is unwise for us to judge ourselves or judge one another. Trust Jesus
with your life and He becomes your life and you become His.
And if you desire Jesus but feel
you cannot trust, ask him to help you and leave the matter with him.
are a branch of the true
vine, in Jesus you are one vine, and the gardener is skilled.
Our gardener, our heavenly Father foresees our
future; the gardener foresees the fruit, as He tenderly meets the needs
of the every part of the vine.
I paraphrase to end: Jesus said, I am the true vine, you are the branches. Live in Me by continually trusting in Me and my life will flow through you. As for everything else leave it to Our Father, the loving gardener, remembering that it’s no use trying, you yourself can do nothing of spiritual value.
But as you live trusting in me, together as the one true vine we will bear fruit.
Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Saints'
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace and peace be to you from
God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be the
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us through Christ
every spiritual blessing as
citizens of Heaven!
foundation of the world he chose us in Jesus as his children,
holy and pure in his sight.
He planned, in his love, that we should be adopted as his own children
through Jesus Christ — this was his will and pleasure so that we might
praise his glorious generosity, which he gave us in his Beloved.
It is through
Jesus, at the cost of his own human life, that we are redeemed, freely
forgiven through the riches of God’s grace.
For a long time I’ve been uncomfortable with being
known as a Christian; it’s because of what that title suggests.
Some of you will remember putting on our Liberty
Church t-shirts and going to the Flying Handbag one Sunday afternoon.
When the drag queen saw us and our t-shirts she said, ‘Oh you make me
That’s because as Christians we’re not seen as the
ones with good news but bad news. We’re seen as self righteous
do-gooders who kill the fun with a message of morality and judgement.
Scripture tells us that the followers of Jesus were
first called Christians at Antioch about 12 years after the resurrection
of Jesus. When Jesus was alive they were called disciples which means
students or pupils. Students
following their Rabbi (teacher) Jesus.
It was people that first gave believers in Jesus the name ‘Christians’. God never gave us that title. God has always called believers ‘saints’. Unfortunately even the name saint has been sullied.
Some denominations apply the name ‘Saint’ to people
they think are more holy and
moral that everyone else. But in
the eyes of God, God’s children are all equal.
The Greek word that means ‘Saint’ in the New
Testament means ‘holy one’.
God’s messenger in Luke’s gospel calls the baby in
Mary’s womb ‘Holy One’. Jesus
is therefore the first saint
of many in the New Testament.
‘Holy’ means separated out and regarded as pure. You
will agree that none of us are pure. We all possess faults and failings
but it’s not how God sees us.
It’s how God sees us that Paul opens our eyes to when he writes:We have been given through Jesus every spiritual blessing as citizens of Heaven!He chose us in Christ, as his children, holy and blameless in his sight.
I find that quite mind blowing, that God sees us as
holy and pure because we are
now immersed in and wrapped
around by Jesus and He is totally holy and pure. God looks at us
Paul says of believers ‘Your life is now hidden in Jesus’. Col 3:3
Our identity is very important; identity relates to self-image, self-worth, and individuality.
We also need a collective identity, a sense of
belonging to a group of people who give us a sense of community and
Women since the year dot have been discriminated
against, they’ve been seen as second class citizens, and sadly often
as second class Christians.
LGBT folks have been treated differently in society
and within churches. Discrimination and prejudice has a huge effect on
people’s self-image, self-worth, and individuality.
That’s why it’s most important
to know who we are, our identity and our title in the eyes of God
and in the eyes of each other at Liberty.
We have been given far too many negative messages. I
trust that the positive ‘gospel of grace’ at Liberty has helped to
address the negatives.
There’s a saying; that we’ve all been created
equal in the eyes of God.
That is a true saying, no matter what we have been told or no matter how
we have been treated.
is in Jesus. In Jesus we are all
equal and all equally
entitled to be known as saints. Holy ones are who we are, because God
We were chosen as children having
equal standing and
equal rights as citizens of heaven.
Our lives are hidden in Jesus and seen by God as holy and pure; as is every other saint.
We are beloved, as Jesus is the beloved, entitled to
share in the blessings of heaven .
Through God’s glorious generosity, His will and good
pleasure according to His grace, God has called us His saints.
It is our status, our identity, and the title God has given us; in His glorious Son Jesus.
Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Peace and Goodwill'
shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their
flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of
the Lord shone around them, and they were afraid.
But the angel
said to them, "Do not fear. Behold I bring you
good news of great joy that will be
for all the people. Today
in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the
Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths
and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great
company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and
saying, "Glory to God in the
highest, And on earth peace and goodwill for all people!"
from Luke 2:8-14
We don’t know if the angel is female or male or
intersex. It doesn’t say, but the message pronounced is most inclusive;
gender or sexuality apparently not a problem.
Everyone included in the good news of great joy. The news of the birth of the
Messiah; the one promised who would set the people of God free.
These heavenly beings appearing suddenly scared the
living daylights out of the shepherds but their words were reassuring
and then calmed them down. "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace
and goodwill for all people!"
is from the Greek word ‘Doxa’ but ‘doxa’ means so much more. Doxa means
glory and honour, excellence, splendour, magnificence, majesty. ‘In
the highest’ means God is above everything, God is the supreme.
The celestial beings, who were citizens of heaven and
spent their time in the eternal presence of God,
know God, and so can’t stop themselves pouring out their praise
They are overwhelmed by the wonder of God’s excellence, splendour, magnificence and majesty, and His wonderful intentions, plans and purposes.
They are not called messengers, they are not just
relaying a message, they are
speaking heavenly wisdom out of their personal heavenly knowledge and
experience of God.
They know that ‘peace and goodwill to
all people.’ is God’s plan
and purpose. As heavenly beings, they not only know it, they have it.
They already possess peace and
goodwill because they live with God and God lives with them in the
place we call heaven. And they are celebrating that God is giving this
same peace and goodwill to all
To the Jews peace meant Shalom, a completeness of
peace in body, mind and spirit, harmony, tranquillity and contentment.
Goodwill means being good and kind. The celestials
said this because they knew it, they experienced it, they knew it was
God’s disposition, temperament and inclination.
To us peace usually means the absence of problems,
but Jesus said that in this world we would have many problems. The peace
that the heavenly beings were talking about is what I call
real peace. The kind of peace that money cannot buy.
Peace with God is peace that is priceless. It’s the
peace that Paul said ‘passes all understanding’ Php 4:7
and not every Christian has that peace.
I can identify with those Christians that haven’t. I
left church for 30 years because I didn’t have peace with God. I once
wore the Christianity badge, I worked hard in trying to please God.
I couldn’t see what others could
read; a badge that read ‘self righteous hypocrite’.
I had certain peace in that I knew I was saved, but I
certainly didn’t have ‘the peace that passes understanding’,
peace with my standing with God
at all times.
Peace that passes understanding only comes through grace; grace gives the saint Shalom.
A complete peace with
a contentment in ones standing with God at all times.
Now I have harmony with Jesus; I don’t have to
repent, don’t have to say sorry, don’t have to do anything, because
Jesus has done all that we need to be at one with Him and with God.
The prophet Isaiah: ‘You will keep him in perfect
peace, whose mind dwells in You, Because he trusts in You’ Is 26:3. I
trust Jesus. I trust in everything Jesus has done for me, I trust in
everything He is doing for me, I trust in everything He will do for me,
I trust in everything that Jesus is.
In Eph 2:6 it says that God ‘seated us with him in
the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’.
I know that physically I am standing here right now,
but I also know that God sees me spiritually as sitting in Heaven in
Jesus. As a citizen of heaven I claim what Paul wrote about God’s
saints: Ro 5:1 Therefore, having been declared righteous by faith, we
have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I am a human being, but in the eyes of God I am a
heavenly being. I can praise God and God’s glory and honour, excellence,
splendour, magnificence, and majesty. I can speak out of my
heavenly wisdom, through my
personal knowledge and experience of God.
I know that ‘peace and goodwill to all people.’ is
God’s plan and purpose. I know it and I have it. I possess peace and
goodwill because I live in God and God lives in me, in a place I call
heaven. And Heaven is in our hearts.
Heaven is where we find peace. Heaven is where we
find the Prince of Peace, Jesus.
I stand here physically as a human being, but spiritually, as a heavenly being. Because I live in God and God lives in me, I can testify like the heavenly hosts: Glory, and honour, and excellence, and splendour, and magnificence, and majesty to God in the highest, and peace and goodwill to you all.
Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Mercy'
his great love
for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when
we were dead in transgressions—it is
by grace you have been
raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms
in Christ Jesus, in order
that in the coming ages he might show the
incomparable riches of his
grace, expressed in his
kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For it is
by grace you have been
saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is
the gift of God—not by what
you do or have done, so that no-one can boast.
reading we are told twice that it is by grace we are saved.
always more than enough for
anyone, no matter what we are like.
Paul writes in another of his letters ‘It is not by keeping the law,
which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us.’ Tit 3:5
dictionary says mercy is; A disposition to be kind and forgiving, the
feeling that motivates compassion. Another says it is unconditional love
reaching out to meet what is lacking without considering the merit of
the person who receives that need.
Mercy is undeserved
kindness and forgiveness
said ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy’ Mt 5:7. He
was explaining what the law of Moses said about mercy.
Under the law of Moses you had to show mercy to then get mercy from God. You had to give mercy to get God’s mercy. Mercy was on condition you did your part.
You also had
to give forgiveness to receive forgiveness. Forgiveness was
on condition you did your part
But at the
end of Jesus’ ministry He declared the Law of Moses was finished. He put
an end to all the conditions
attached to the law. Now all
could receive his kindness and forgiveness without having to do anything
to deserve them.
We are all
different. Some of us are naturally thoughtful and kind, others, like
me, can be quite unfeeling and hard at times. But even the kindest, most
giving among us find it hard to be like that all the time and
particularly hard to be so with people who hurt us deeply.
Jesus challenges the self righteous Pharisees by quoting the prophet Hosea telling them
‘God requires mercy not sacrifice’.
For me it
would often be easier to sacrifice an animal than to show mercy to some
And that’s the point Jesus was making: the impossibility of the Law of Moses.
mercy but we are not capable of showing mercy all the time to everyone.
The rules can
tell us to be kind and forgiving but the rules have no power to help us.
For a long
time I felt a failure knowing I was so often not able to be merciful.
But now I see things differently.
I see that the mercy He requires is His mercy not our mercy, God wants us to accept our inabilities and our failures in regards to being kind and forgiving.
that God shows His mercy
towards those we could never ever show mercy to.
None of us
can love, show favour, be kind and forgiving in the way God does. We can
though, accept that God does
love those we might think undeserving.
The people we
are closest to, and our fellow Christians,are in many ways the most
difficult of people to show mercy to. We have lots of expectations of
them and it hurts when they let us down or are downright thoughtless or
cruel to us.
And this is where we need help from God because it can seem unfair that he loves and approves of people we don’t approve of. But it only seems unfair if we think that in some way we deserve God’s mercy and someone else doesn’t.
from Christians, especially those demonstrate against us at Pride, hurt
hurt we need to ask God to help us grasp that his abundant
grace and mercy are poured out
on them just as generously as they are poured out on us.
Only he can
help us to start being able to see them more as He does, through the
eyes of love and grace. His love and mercy are gifts and he can give
them to whoever he pleases.
We don’t have to strive to be merciful when we are not. Or pretend to be merciful when we are not. We can rest in him, just as we are.
loves and accepts us despite our many deficiencies.
We are flawed
human beings living along side flawed human beings; often we can’t show
grace to each other. And that is OK because He continues to show grace
to us despite our limitations.
But we can still be channels for God’s love, mercy and grace.
But we can still be channels for God’s love, mercy and grace. Maybe in our prayers we can ask for that – to be channels for God to show His love, His mercy and His grace to others, despite our many deficiencies.
Extract from Jim's Preach 'Joy'
There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were afraid.
But the angel said to them, "Do not fear. Behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in
the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
We like to be
different at Liberty. So being Easter I’m preaching a Christmas message!
reading takes place at night; it is the first time in the New Testament
that the good news, known also known as the gospel, is preached.
messenger. When the messenger preached the good news of the birth of
Jesus to the shepherds light blazed through the darkness. Everyone was
The shepherd’s were terrified so the messenger‘s first words were ‘’Do not fear!’
The message was ‘this is good news that will bring great joy!
The good news of
great joy dispersed the fear. Good news that announced the arrival of
Joy and fear cannot live in the same room. Joy and fear cannot occupy the same space.
Fear is bad news, joy is good news. The gospel is totally and absolutely without fear.
tells us what’s been done, not what we have to do. The good news is not good guidelines for good
behaviour. This news was about
what God had done.
Joy is about a
fantastic sense of gladness, delight and pleasure. David wrote in psalms
28 that ‘his heart leapt for joy’. We talk of jumping for joy. We can’t
describe the feeling.
Joy is a gift of
the Holy Spirit
and when the Holy Spirit brings joy it can come despite our worst
circumstances. When Nina’s baby son died, in the middle of her grief she
received a joy so intense that she wanted to dance at his funeral to
express the joy of heaven that she could feel. That joy, at a deeper
level was bigger than the pain and the grief, it helped her to cope in
the months after.
David knew joy
in the midst of suffering. In Ps 30 he wrote ‘You turned my wailing into
dancing …….. and clothed me with joy.’ Joy can make us want to dance and
Paul wrote to
the folks in the church at Thessalonica ‘in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the gospel
with joy, given by the Holy
The fruit of the
Holy Spirit include love, peace and joy. God is love, Jesus is the
Prince of Peace, The Spirit is joy, joy unspeakable because we haven’t
got the words for it. Joy that can come in the midst of grief and even
In the beginning
in the Garden of Paradise humanity lost connection with God and lost
their joy. Fear came in and they ‘hid from God’.
Bad news was
for the very first time; as humanity declared
‘we were afraid’
rule did that. One rule proclaimed bad news and fear. How many rules
have now been added, bringing bad news and fear?
No wonder in John’s first letter he wrote 1Jo 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Fear and love
are not companions, fear and peace don’t hold hands, fear and joy are
In the garden:
bad news ‘we were afraid’. In the gospel good news ‘don’t be afraid’
Did Jesus come
to earth to come to scare the life out of people? I was brought up on
‘the devil and hell’ of hellfire preaching. I tell you, it was not glad
tidings of great joy. It was about fear.
When we read scriptures or we listen to preachers, the plumb line is this; is this good news or bad news? Is there any fear or a feeling of anxiousness in the message?
As it is written
in Ro 8:15 For you did not
receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear.
The good news of
the gospel is that there is absolutely nothing in God to be afraid of.
Life at times
can be terrible, a struggle to keep going through hard times without an
ounce of joy in it. It was like that for David for long periods of time,
and probably at his lowest time He said; Restore to me the
joy of Your salvation, uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Ps 51:12
It’s OK to feel
down, its part of our humanity. Jesus knows what its like to be in
anguish, in grief, in sorrow. He wept when his friend Lazarus died. He
sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Yet Paul wrote this about Jesus; ‘for the joy that was set before him, He endured the cross’ Heb. 12:2.
Jesus was upheld by God’s generous Spirit.
If the Christian
teaching we receive is not founded in Love, Peace and Joy, it is not of
God’s generous Spirit. The gospel is peace and goodwill to
I’m no angel, but my message is the same; ‘Fear not! Behold, I bring you good news of great joy.’ ...Jesus is here.
Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Well Dressed'
Taken From Ephesians 6:
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armour of God, so that you will be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything
Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,
helmet of salvation and the
sword of the Spirit, which is
the word of God.
The apostle Paul in tonight’s reading tells us to
‘Be strong in the Lord’.
Many of us gained an image of God as a rather stern being preoccupied
with judging all aspects of behaviour that the church called sins and
what I called my pleasures and pass times. Many of us were given a wrong
picture of God; a stern faced old man with a white beard and clothes,
sat on a throne ready to judge.
But Jesus said, ‘if you’ve seen
me you’ve seen the Father’. From childhood I have always seen Jesus
as my kind friend and my protective, loving brother, a companion,
someone you could always call on, a compassionate helpful person who’d
As most of you know I was in the clothing business. For twenty five
years I clothed a sizeable proportion of the inhabitants of Blackpool.
What I didn’t realise was that in preaching the gospel of grace I am
still in the clothing business. I’ve been helping to clothe those who
walk in through our doors with what Paul describes as ‘the
armour of God’.
The Gospel of Grace takes the focus off us and what we have to do and
puts the focus firmly onto Jesus. The burden of demands and expectations
that once weighed us down have been removed and our lives are hidden in
Jesus and in His strength and power. We can declare that we are no
longer condemned as sinners but honoured as saints.
The armour of God starts with the
belt of truth that holds everything together. Jesus told us He is
the way, the truth and the life. He is the truth that is central to us.
We’ve all previously put on the rags of self righteousness which is full
of holes, they’ve been exchanged for the cast iron guarantee
of a breastplate of
We can stand our ground, feet
firmly placed in the gospel of peace knowing our peace with God is
assured forever and we can never lose it. A peace that affirms us,
enabling us to stand firm in who we are both as human beings and as the
saints and brothers and sisters in Jesus.
Our shield of faith is ready
to face the trials and rejections that will surely come like arrows.
The helmet of salvation
protects our minds from the
doubts about our standing with God. We
know we can be ourselves before God and are always acceptable and loved,
no matter what.
The sword of the Spirit is not for attack but as we stand firm, fitly
dressed, the sword is our defence. The sword of the Spirit is the Word
of God. The Word of God is the
living word within our hearts.
The living word reveals the living truth we know through experience, to
which we can personally testify. Each of us have lived our own unique
testimony of our experience of Jesus, who is that living word.
The word of God is not a book. The word of God is a person; the word of
God lives within us we can feel Him.
Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power; in knowing that Jesus is our truth, our righteousness, our peace, the source and sustainer of our faith.
We are free to simply be
ourselves confident in His salvation which he freely gave to us.
His Spirit and His living word have their home within us.
We know we are worthy; as worthy as any human being and as any Christian
in the eyes of God.
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power knowing the truth within,
never again to bow before any man.
Never again to fear God, but always to confidently approach the eternal
throne beautifully dressed by ‘Grace, Faith and Son’ the Ladies and
……….booted and suited in the Armour of Jesus.
Extract from Jim’s Preach 'A New and Living Way'
An extract from Luke 5... The disciples of John the Baptist came and asked Jesus, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"
He told them this parable: “No-one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.
No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.
And no-one after drinking old wine wants
the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’"
John’s disciples and
the Pharisees fasted according to manmade religious traditions. Fasting
was not in the Law of Moses. Jesus’ disciples didn’t fast because Jesus
was not following religious traditions but was preaching a new way of
living. Jesus was preaching the
new Gospel of the Kingdom of God. This gospel was as unpredictable
as new wine.
As new wine ferments and matures it bubbles and fizzes and is a bit unpredictable. If you bottle it too soon the fizzing can pop the cork or even burst the bottle. In Jesus’ time they didn’t have bottles so wine was put into animal skins. New wineskins stretch like elastic but old wineskins are brittle. If you try to stretch them they crack.
New wine went into
new skins that could stretch like elastic as the lively new wine fizzed
and bubbled. New wine in old wineskins would fizz, crack the hard skin
and destroy it.
Jesus never clearly
said what the Gospel Kingdom of God was. His disciples, although they
preached the Kingdom of God did not fully understand it. And then the
Apostle Paul clearly explained what Jesus
was getting at.
The Kingdom of God is
righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The Kingdom of God
is not about words but about power Ro 14:17, 1Co 4:20.
There are ¾ million words in the
bible; the power however is the
The Holy Spirit was
the power in everything Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit was the new
wine to God’s people in Jesus’ day empowering the Kingdom of God.
God’s people in
Jesus’ time did not rely on the Spirit of God but relied on scriptures
that were difficult to understand so in turn they relied on learned men
to interpret them. Sound familiar? The people depended on their religion
and their religious leaders.
It was their
dependency on religious
traditions that Jesus opposed. Traditions were old, familiar,
predictable and felt comfortable. To them the familiar taste of old wine
was the best.
The Pharisees blamed
the failure of their religion on the lack of dedication of the masses
and on their immoral behaviour rather than on themselves. Sound
They maintained that
neither God, nor their religion had time
for new, unpredictable ways of relating to God and worshipping Him.
Just as Jesus’
Gospel of the Kingdom was
rejected by the religious hierarchy of His day, Paul’s
gospel of grace was rejected by the religious hierarchy of His day.
Both Gospels came
through a revelation from the Spirit of God. And with revelation comes
unpredictability, a change from the familiar into the unfamiliar.
Every move of God
over the centuries as been opposed by the old guard. Martin Luther, John
Wesley and many others tried to reform traditional churches from within
and failed. They had to leave to teach and preach their new revelations.
Many LGBT Christians are trying to reform from within their churches
unfortunately reform from within has never worked before.
God does away to
establish (Heb 10.9). God never reforms the old He always creates the
new. Liberty Church is part of establishing the new.
Liberty is new wine with a different flavour. Religious practices
and traditions are gone, as have has condemnation, guilt and shame.
In ten years plus,
sin and Satan have hardly been mentioned, but Jesus and freedom have
never been far from our lips.
Calvary, the blood,
the cross are all behind us; job done, finished in Jesus. Although we
are mindful of these things, the throne and heaven’s riches is where we
look to. God has done away to establish.
The old way of
relying upon our understanding of scripture must give way to reliance
upon the Spirit. We must not follow the book of the Lord but rather
follow the Lord of the book.
Paul said that Jesus
made a way into heaven ‘by a new
and living way’ Heb 10:20. I believe an invitation is being offered
tonight for us as individuals to enter by this new and living way.
Do we want to open
up our hearts to God for Him to do away with the old and establish the
With Jesus’ help, only we ourselves can decide what has to go to open our hearts to God making room for Him to establish His new and living way in us and to drink of His new wine.
Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Imitating Jesus'
Jesus was passing through Jericho. A man
was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was
wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could
not, because of the crowd.
So he ran ahead and climbed a tree to see him, as Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up
and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down. I must stay at your house
today."So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner’."
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the
Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the
poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back
four times the amount."
Jesus said to him, "Today
salvation has come to this house,
because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to
seek and to save what was lost."
Luke 19:1 -10
Last week our
reading highlighted Matthew, a tax collector, sitting in his office and
this week we find a tax collector up a tree. Both men were
‘sinners’ by the religious minded onlookers who were barking up the
wrong tree. Jesus never called either tax man a sinner, nor asked them
to repent of their past, or do better in the future.
Jesus says salvation
has come to Zacchaeus yet never asked anything of him except an
invitation to his house. In contrast to when most of us we experienced
salvation we were asked to do plenty by the religious minded, who still
treated us as sinners and not the saints we had become.
Without Jesus asking, Zacchaeus wanted to give away his riches. It begs the question why; and what is this story teaching us?
Scripture tells us
that in the centre of the garden of paradise there were two trees. The
tree of knowledge of right and wrong and the tree of life. The
Tree of Knowledge of Right and
Wrong, through its fruit, gave humanity
the ability to judge what was right and wrong but it also brought death.
Tree of Life gave wisdom and fruit that nourished and sustained life.
onlookers had been eating from the
Tree of Knowledge for them to pass judgement on Zacchaeus and call
him a sinner.
Jesus made no such
judgement and treated Zacchaeus with respect. Jesus asked nothing of
Zacchaeus yet he changed.
spiritually ate from ‘the right tree’. The fruit of that tree of life
changed his heart and life.
This is the power of
the new creation, the result of salvation, if grace is allowed to have
its way, unburdened by human philosophies, traditions and religiosity.
God said, ‘I will
put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. Jer 31:33 ‘My
law’ of which God speaks, is the law by which He lives.
Let me explain: I
once had a large garden in which I planted a Victoria plum tree.
Victoria hardly grew in the first 2 years but below ground she was
putting down strong roots. It wasn’t until the fifth year that Victoria
produced fruit for the first time and it was delicious.
All this because,
God had written the law of the
plum tree within the seed from which Victoria grew. She had produced
roots, blossoms then plums in the right way, at the right time without
any effort; it was the most natural thing in the world for Victoria to
do. With nutrients from the ground, rain from the sky and plenty of
fresh air God had provided everything for life.
‘My law’, the law
God has written within us will make us fruitful in the right way at the
right time, unique fruit from each individual saint. As we allow God to
be our life source and provider. He will cause us to grow, mature and
produce fruit as He intended; each one free to be our unique selves
while relying on God for life.
When God’s law
within us is given free reign, then Christian life is a matter of
growing and maturing in the unique way we are each designed to,
according to the law of life written within. It does not have to
involve struggling or striving to achieve but is simply relying on God’s
law of life within us
As surely a giraffe
gives birth to a giraffe, the Spirit God gives birth to the spiritual
after its own kind. We saints don’t have to try to be in the image and
likeness of God, we’re born again
Just like God, grace
gives us the freedom to do anything we want. But deep down do we truly
just want to do ‘anything’? Or will the law of God, the law of life
within us, cause us to live a new life?
For Zacchaeus, his new life caused immediate change; without a command or demand Zacchaeus’ now freely gave his riches just like His Lord and Saviour gave His riches.
Zacchaeus was, without even thinking, imitating Jesus.
Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Following Jesus’
As Jesus travelled on, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. "Follow me," he said to him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples.
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?"
On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’
For I have not come
to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:9 - 13
Matthew 9:9 - 13
In these five verses
are recorded the calling of Matthew. You would think the writer of this
gospel would give a lengthier and far better account of his first
meeting with Jesus.
We can read the same thing but our different mindsets cause us to respond differently to it.
I see this story
beginning with a coming and ending with a going.
I think this story
is about coming of the unrighteous to Jesus and the going of the
self-righteous away from Jesus.
that; “There is no-one righteous, not even one”. When Jesus referred to
the Pharisees as ‘righteous’ he was being sarcastic as the Pharisees
were self righteous.
JESUS said ‘follow me’ to Matthew. My dictionary gives the meaning of ‘follow’ as; to travel behind... to act in accordance with someone's rules or commands...to imitate in behaviour...to accept and follow the leadership, instruction and guidance of.
Depending on our mindset we interpret Jesus’ words ‘Follow me’ in different ways.
Previously I had a
rules and obedience mindset and I had
I could see that God
loved us unconditionally, but at the same time I could also see that God
could only love us on condition that we obeyed the rules.
Then God led me to
His opticians ‘Grace, Faith and Son’. There I was fitted with new
glasses and began seeing differently.
‘Grace and Faith’
glasses which the Son prescribed, gave me insight to scriptures that
hadn’t made sense previously when I had double vision .
law/rules mindset would emphasise
that ‘follow’ meant; act in
accordance with someone's rules
Follow can mean to
accept and follow the leadership, instruction and guidance of someone. A
law mindset would see this as being about obeying and doing while a
grace mindset would see it as believing and trusting.
Follow can mean
imitate. The law mindset would imitate the morality of the leader; while
the grace mindset would look to the spirituality and faith of the
There are lots of
rules in scripture to keep the lawyer busy and happy or perhaps
miserable, but the grace mindset focuses on just three pieces of
scripture from John’s gospel for inspiration and instruction:
1. In John 5, Jesus said, ‘I can do nothing of myself; I can do only what I see my Father doing’
2. And in John 8, ‘I do nothing of myself; I say and do the things just as my Father has taught me and that pleases him’.
3. And in John 14,
‘It is the Father who lives in me who carries out his works through me’.
Jesus is talking
about the life of faith, of absolute reliance on the Father of acting on
what he inwardly perceived and spiritually saw.
He also said and did
what His Father taught Him and these things pleased His Father.
Scripture tells us that it is only faith that pleases God. It was the
indwelling Father who did the works in his life.
The apostle Paul
says the same thing only in another way:
‘I Paul have been
crucified with Christ, I’m dead. I no longer live, but Christ lives in
me. The life I live in this my body, I live by faith in Jesus’ Gal 2:20.
Jesus said the
Father lives in me. Paul said Christ lives in me. Like Paul every saint
can say Christ lives in me and every saint should say I live by faith in
Like Jesus, Paul
said follow me meaning spiritually, living in faith as he did, not
morally by trying to behave as he did.
God does not want
sacrifices and that includes self-sacrifice. All Christians have a
choice just like the disciples of accepting the invitation to come and
follow Jesus, or be like the Pharisees and go and follow the book; the
same book that actually tells us to live by faith.
Do not follow the
book of the Lord; follow the Lord of the book.
The Lord wants to
open the eyes of our hearts. He wants to speak through us and do His
will through us.
That doesn’t take brains or brawn it takes what pleases God, faith; faith in the one who lives within us, our Inspiration, our Guide, our Leader and our Lord, Jesus.
Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Crumbs’
A Gentile woman came to Jesus, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly.
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."
He answered, "I was sent only to the
lost sheep of Israel."
The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.
He replied, "It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their pets."
"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even pets
eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table."
Then Jesus answered, "Woman,
you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was
healed from that very hour.
Mt 15:22 –28
The Gentile woman
shouted out to Jesus "Lord, Son
of David, have mercy on me!” She was pretending to be a Jew using a
greeting that only a Jew would use for Jesus.
And Jesus ignored her.
In saying to his
disciples that he was only sent to the ‘children of Israel’ Jesus lets
the woman know he wasn’t fooled by her greeting and knew she was a
So she dropped the pretence and simply said ‘Lord help me’. Jesus immediately responded to her and healed her daughter. And Jesus praised her great faith.
What can we learn
First; like Jesus
focus on your calling. Focus
on what God has given you to do in your life and don’t time waste or
spend time pining after or being guilty about what you cannot do.
For example I’m
primarily called to the LGBT community, including their families and
their friends, that’s my focus and that is where I put my time and
energy. Your calling may be to your family or to the people immediately
around you or to a totally different group of people. If you are unsure
of where your calling is then ask Jesus to show you.
don’t pretend to be someone
you’re not. God sees
through us. We can’t fool Him. The Gentile woman thought she had to
pretend to be someone she was not to get anything from Jesus. But He
responded to her faith and was not interested in her race.
It is our standing with God that is paramount; our standing with people is secondary.
It is what God
thinks of us that matters, not what people think of us.
expects nothing from us except to respond to Him; to his calling, to his
inspiration, to the things He brings about in our lives.
God is not affected
or influenced by our man made efforts or our ‘good works’; they don’t
impress Him. The only things we do that are of value to God, are the
things He leads us to do and
He empowers us to do.
He wants us, just as we are with all our faults and failings. And in the midst of life’s problems and at times messes, He responds to our desire for Him and works in us to draw us to walk closely with Him.
A crumb of faith
can be ‘great faith’ in God’s eyes. Faith is not a case of behaving
right or looking right to get anything from God. No it’s more like being
on your knees (not literally but in attitude) with just a crumb in your
hand, asking from your heart.
Faith is a gift
from God and, when empowered by His Spirit, a crumb is all we need.
mention the woman’s sin or ask if she carried un-forgiveness for
anything. He didn’t ask if she led a pure life or kept to the
beatitudes. He just responded to the faith God had put in her heart.
warts and all, and coming to Jesus for help is the point of the story.
The Gentile woman didn’t have the right pedigree, or the right standing
in society but because of her faith she had the right standing with God
May we come to the
Lord just as we are in confidence knowing that tiniest faith, even if
it’s only a crumb is all that is required.
Help us Lord to
know with certainty that your grace for us is
always sufficient and the
faith You give us is great
in your eyes.
We can come as we are, we don’t need to pretend to be anything we are not. We can come as we are and always find a welcome from our Lord and King whose name is Jesus.
Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Identity’
From Paul’s letter
to the Christians at Ephesus . Ephesians 1:3- 13
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, who has
blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in
Christ, just as He chose us
in Him before the foundation of the world, as holy and without blame
before Him in love, having predestined us
as children by Jesus Christ
to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of
the glory of His grace, by which He has
made us accepted in the Beloved.
we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of His
grace which He lavished us in all wisdom and prudence,.........
In Him also we have
obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose
of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that
we who first trusted
in Christ should be to the
praise of His glory.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard
the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having
believed, you were sealed with
the Holy Spirit of promise.
Identity is very
important. When we’re labelled with the wrong identity it hurts us, a
I identify myself as a Christian, but I don’t like the term Christian because it labels me with all the negativity that goes along with that name. I don’t like the name Church, again because for many its associated with judgementalism, bigotry, prejudice etc, etc
Gandhi is reported
as saying, ‘I like the Christ, but I don’t like His Christians.’
For many of us, when
we came to know Jesus we automatically identified with the church we
found ourselves in and quite naturally took on the beliefs and
traditions because we wanted to belong. We had come into a new spiritual
reality and we readily identified with those who could understand our
A vicar once told me
‘he fell in love with Jesus and but ended up marrying the church’. By
that he meant that he ended up
identifying himself with the practises and traditions of his church
instead of simply identifying himself with Jesus.
I did the same. Only
in later years I realised I’d chosen the
wrong identity as the
practises and traditions I identified with were more manmade than God
As LGBT people and
LGBT affirming people we are identified by a segment of Christians as
being promiscuous sinners. As Christians we are seen by many in the LGBT
community as hypocritical, judgemental, do gooders. But the Gospel of Grace is a million miles from
Gospel of Grace identifies us as
‘Saints’. It gives us an
identity with and in Jesus. The name ‘saint’ means ‘holy one’,
because that is how God sees us – accepted in His beloved son and so
made holy. God sees us foremost not as LGBTQI or H
people but as
saints, holy ones.
Our Good News is
that above all else we are saints,
because God says we are.
In 1Co 3 12 He says we are a holy temple
In 1Pe 2 5 He says we are a holy priesthood
In Col 3 12 He says we are chosen and holy
In Col 1:22 He says we are holy in His sight ...and
In Ro 8:29 He says we are the image of his Son
Five scriptures that
we can put in place of all the negative ‘clobber verses’ that many of us
have felt oppressed by for years. Clobber verses that have rendered us
second class Christians.
When Paul wrote to
Christians in the New Testament he didn’t begin any letter by
saying;‘Dear Sinners’, or with ‘Dear Christians’. He always wrote ‘Dear
We are saints Jesus
did everything need to make us holy to Him. In His sight.
It doesn’t matter
what we look like to others, we need to base our identity on how we look
to God. And to Him we are holy.
We often say there’s
only one rule at Liberty Church. It’s respect. We ask that we respect
ourselves, respect each other and respect Liberty as a whole.
We need to have the
greatest respect for each other as we are fellow saints of God. He chose
each one of us and He doesn’t make mistakes. Col 3:3 says ‘your life is
hidden with Christ in God’.
We as believers in
Jesus, it doesn’t matter who we are, what we are, what we’ve done or
what we will do. Our lives are wrapped around by Jesus, by his holiness.
God sees us only in Jesus.
As far as God is
concerned we have the image of Jesus,
Jesus is our identity.
In tonight’s reading
the apostle Paul states strongly that we the saints of Jesus are:
v3 Blessed in Christ
v4 Chosen in Him
v5 Made children in Him
v6 Made acceptable to God in Him
v7 have redemption
in Him v8 In Him God lavished grace upon us v11 In Him we have an
inheritance v12 In Him we can trust
And it ends with saying v13 In Him we were sealed with the Spirit of promise. Sealed like with a wax seal on a legal document that bears the legal identity of the Spirit of Promise. A document that declares we are legal identity as saints, because Jesus makes us so and his Holy Spirit puts his name to it.
Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Righteousness’
An extract from the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 6:25 – 33
Jesus said do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not
sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds
them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See
how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin.
Yet I tell you that not even
Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is
how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow
is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
seek first his kingdom and his
righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.
The religious system
that Jesus found Himself battling against was overseen by the Pharisees.
Jesus called them hypocrites.
‘Hypocrite’ is from a Greek word meaning actor; it means someone who is
false, pretending to be something they are not.
When street surveys
have been done asking people what they think of Christians
overwhelmingly they answer ‘hypocrites’.
What Pharisees and
Christians have in common, as I see it, is self righteousness, a ‘holier
than thou’ attitude. That is something I suffered with in my early years
as a Christian.
The Sermon on the
Mount, as I now understand it, is Jesus telling the Jews what the rules
for living under the Law of Moses
really mean. Jesus interprets the rules very radically. Suddenly ‘do
not murder’ means, do not even get angry with someone; don’t commit
adultery means don’t even look lustfully at someone.
I now realise that
Jesus gave a radical interpretation of those rules to show beyond doubt
that no human being could ever
live like that. Therefore no one can ever earn (righteousness) right
standing with God; we only get it if God gives it to us as a gift.
Like most Christians
I was taught that the Sermon on the Mount was a list of rules I should
keep. Like everyone I else found the rules impossible so we just faked
it. We pretended that we were better than we were and acted like it. We
having right standing with God. God is holy, pure and perfect. We can
never attain all that we need to be right with Him.
That is why the
apostle Paul tells us that the righteousness we have is a gift. When we
have had to receive our righteousness as a gift from God, because we are
incapable of earning it, judging anyone else who can’t earn it is
stopped in its tracks.
Jesus said seek
God’s righteousness. So what
is God’s righteousness? Simply put it is God’s right standing with us.
God is perfect and God is love. So God’s love is perfect, unchanging and
unconditional. His faithfulness is not restricted in anyway. His mercy
towards us is not influenced by anything or anyone.
His mercy, faithfulness and love are
In Jesus saying,
seek God’s realm and righteousness He meant seek
all that God is. God reveals
Himself more and more to us in proportion to our developing
understanding and according to the faith that grows in us as we have
repeated experiences of his goodness
Jesus said: Don’t worry about your life I’ve come so you can have eternal life.
Don’t worry about what to eat or drink I’m your bread and my Spirit is your refreshment.
Don’t worry about
what to wear because I’ll clothe you with the garments of salvation.
Look at how the
birds are provided for, and how beautifully the lilies of the field are
dressed. Aren’t you far more valuable to your Heavenly Father than they
Our heavenly Father knows what we need to be in the right standing with Him.
So seek first
His kingdom and
His righteousness, and all
these things, spiritual life, spiritual food and water and spiritual
covering will be given to us.
The treasures of heaven, the riches of His glory freely poured out upon the ones He loves.
Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Freedom’
Luke 4:16 - 22
On the Sabbath day Jesus went he went
into the synagogue as usual and He stood up to read. The scroll of the
prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, Jesus found the place
where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because
he has anointed me to preach good
news to the poor. He has sent
me to proclaim freedom for
the prisoners and to release
the oppressed, to proclaim
Jubilee, the year of the Lord’s grace."
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the deacon and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
And Jesus said to them,
"Today this scripture is
All spoke well of him and were amazed at
the gracious words that came from his lips.
The apostle Paul
said ‘the Law is spiritual’. Jesus said ‘ I have come to fulfil the
law’. Tonight’s reading is an example of Jesus fulfilling the Law of
The Law of Moses decreed that every 7 years was a Sabbath year when the people would rest from their labours for an entire year and the land would rest from producing crops.
That meant in year 6 the land had to provide enough food for them to eat until the harvest
in year 8 or, if
they didn’t have a bumper harvest they would have to rely on God for
That required a huge act of faith for God’s people. If they ran out of food they would starve. The people did not have the faith to rest in the 7th year. It never happened.
In tonight’s reading
Jesus announced the ‘Year of the
Lord’s grace’. The year of the Lord’s grace was the
Year of Jubilee which the Law
of Moses decreed should take place every 50 years. It was
a year of freedom and rest and celebration.
Leviticus 25-27 lays out what should happen in this year:
-if you had borrowed money your debt would be written off, you didn’t have to repay it.
-if you had sold yourself into slavery to pay a debt you would be set free.
-if you had sold
your inherited land to pay a debt the land would be returned to you.
So in Jubilee many, many people were to receive what they had not earned or deserved, freedom from debt, from slavery and restoration of their inheritence.
And they were to
receive it simply because God decreed it.
Jubilee year never
happened - the nation did not have to faith to do it.
But the year of the
Lord’s Grace had a spiritual
In tonight’s reading
Jesus was saying that its
Jubilee, now! It’s the time of the Lord’s grace, the time when
debts are cancelled, people are
set free and inheritance restored.
Jesus said to the
thief on the cross, ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’ because for
the thief, as well as for us, in the death of Jesus
spiritual debts are cancelled.
Jesus brought us
freedom from whatever
spiritually enslaves us and our
spiritual inheritance is secured, not that we deserve it but because
it is the time of the Lord’s grace
Jesus said in Joh
8:36 “If I make you free, you shall be truly free.”
I believe that the
fullness of our freedom has to be entered into. Freedom has to be
experienced. Jubilee year was a time when no work was to be done, a time
of complete rest. But not to work goes against everything we have been
taught, complete rest makes us feel ill at ease, doing nothing doesn’t
sit right, doesn’t seem right.
time of grace means just
that: do nothing of yourself, rest in the provision, rest in the supply
of God, have faith in God meeting
your every spiritual need.
This surely is
Good News. Israel failed to
rest, failed to keep Jubilee through un-belief. We His church must
trust, rest in Jesus’ finished work and be free.
Today is the time of
the Lord’s grace, the time when spiritual debts are cancelled, people are
set spiritually free and our
spiritual inheritance is restored.
Paul also wrote in
Gal 5:1 “It is for freedom that Jesus has set us free.”
We enter that freedom by faith.
Today is Jubilee,
today is the time of the Lord’s grace, today is the time to celebrate
the undeserved favour of God and the freedom it brings.
Today is Jubilee, where Grace and freedom is found in Jesus
Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Spirit and
Extracts from John 4:4-24
Jesus came to a town in Samaria called
Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there. When a
Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me
said "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a
drink, you would have asked him and
he would have given you living
"Sir,"…. Where can you get this living
water?....Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be
thirsty again, but whoever drinks
the water I give him will never thirst. The water I give him will
become in him a
spring of water welling up to eternal life."
"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that
you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews
claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the
Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will
worship the Father in spirit and
truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth."
According to the text the Spirit led Jesus to Sychar in Samaria to a well that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. According to Jewish religion Samaria was an unclean place. Jesus broke a religious rule by going there and broke another religious rule by talking to a woman.
Jesus told the woman
that He has water to give
that wells up into eternal life. She wants that sort of water and asks
for it. He send her to get her husband and lets her know that he is
aware that the man she lives with is not her husband but her 6th
The woman realises
that Jesus has spiritual insight and recognises that He is a prophet
(Interestingly she doesn’t react to his
revelation with guilt and shame even though in her culture her way of
life would be seen as shameful. So many people regarded as sinners felt
comfortable around Jesus yet so many today feel uncomfortable around the
church and judged by it).
So she, feeling
comfortable talking to Jesus, asks him an age old spiritual question:
where should we go to worship God?
A question that divided Samaritans and Jews for centuries.
Jesus says it is not
where you worship but
how you worship, because God
wants His people to worship in
Spirit and in truth. Jesus says that because God is Spirit, and his
worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.
Jesus then reveals
that He is not just a prophet but is the actually the Messiah
It is at this point
the woman rushes off to tell her partner. She also tells everyone she
meets her testimony of encountering Jesus, what He said to her
personally and the miracle of knowing all about her yet having only just
There is power in
anyone’s testimony about Jesus and this woman’s testimony is powerful
enough for everyone to follow her back to Jacobs well. They all want to
meet Jesus and get the living water.
Jesus stayed in the
city to speak firsthand to the people and the text tells us many people
there became believers and knew that Jesus was the Saviour of the world.
The Jewish way of
interpreting Scripture involves literal and symbolic meanings
This story takes place in Sychar which means ‘intoxication’ or drunkenness.
In the Old Testament
Jacob symbolises the Holy Spirit
and Joseph symbolises the son, Jesus
What unfolds is at
‘Jacob’s well’ the Holy Spirit’s well where living water wells up, as
Jesus says, into eternal life. The living water is the Holy Spirit that
Jesus gives as a gift.
Where to worship has
caused division between Samaritans and Jews for centuries. Jesus says
this is coming to an end. Jesus quite clearly said a time is coming when
true worshippers will worship in
spirit and in truth
This challenges me.
How can I worship in spirit and truth? Because Jesus does not explain.
He says what needs to change but doesn’t say how.
I want to be a true
worshipper. Lord, my understanding right now is that truly worshipping
in spirit and in truth begins with an outpouring of your living water. I
think all of us here want to
drink so much of your living water that we become intoxicated with you.
Jesus I have a
thirst for you that I feel has not yet been quenched.
testimony brought her community to Jesus and many believed in him. Lord
do what’s needed in us so that
our testimony will bring our community to you and so that many will
come to trust in you.
Jesus pour your spirit out here within us, quench our thirst and refresh those around us with your streams of living water.
Extract From 'Rejection' (On Liberty Church Podcast. See Top of Page)
Jesus knew from an early age that he was different from other boys. Under Old Testament Law Jesus, along with eunuchs, would have been disqualified from the congregation because Joseph was not his true father. His true father and mother were not married and that made him illegitimate. He had to keep this secret or face being ostracised by his community and bring shame on his family.
The law rejected and condemned what he was and he experienced self-condemnation from knowing his peers would view him as unworthy to stand in the congregation of the Lord. When he returned to Nazareth to preach he was rejected by members of his family and rejected by people he grew up with and worked with. His friends rejected him when he was arrested.
He was denounced by the religious leaders because he wouldn’t deny who he was and what he was. When he appeared before the King, the highest court in the land, an injustice was done with mockery and rejection. His rejection by his fellow Jews fulfilled the scripture that he would be rejected by men.
He experienced the desolation of an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and when a cry to God ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me’ seemingly went unanswered. The final rejection. That rejection was too much, He died feeling desolate and alone.
Scriptures used De 23:2. Joh 7:5. Mt 13:54-57. Mr 15:13,14. Mt 26:56. Mt 26:65. Lk 23:11. Is 53:1-3. Mt 27:46.
His prayer was answered when he rose from the dead. God had not rejected his child. Jesus was the Son of God. He had died to his past and its rejection and now he had entered into a new life.
Jim explained how the Lord can identify with the rejection experienced by many people today from the law that brings self condemnation, family, friends, community, religious leaders, those who you should be able to trust and receive justice, even feeling rejected by God. Jesus himself went hrough it in a profound way.
The Lord touched the hearts of those listening who have been deeply wounded by such rejection. Some of the pain of this was expressed in the tears that were shed. Expressing the pain is part of the healing process. In His time and in His way He will bring each one to a place of healing the pain of rejection and into a new phase of life free of the burden of hurt. Jesus will never reject you.
1Pe 2:4 Come to Him...rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him.
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