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Blessings & Weddings

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Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘The Precious Promise’

The old covenant (contract) that I made with Israel in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. My covenant which they broke, even though I was a faithful to them.

However, this is the new covenant (contract) that I will make with the house of Israel.

After those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

"No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ’Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. I will forgive their sins completely, and I will remember their sins no more." Jer 31:32–34

In this covenant God says ‘I will’ 5 times. In scripture 5 is the number of grace. This is a hint that this contract God promised was based on Grace.

Its based on Him giving Israel something for nothing, they didn’t have to pay anything. It was a one way contract, an unconditional contract.

It was new and shocking! The Jewish religion was based on having to do, and not do a lot of stuff to please God. This new contract was one way, it was about God doing it all and Israel doing nothing.

It was as shocking as a landlord getting out the contract for a flat or house and signing up to promise to let you live in that property, maintain the property, do the repairs, provide a cooker, carpets, everything needed and asking you to do nothing. No rent to pay, nothing. Just enjoy the owners generous gift. The contract totally relies on the generosity and trustworthiness of the landlord. It would seem too good to be true.

We might walk away saying; ‘ nah! too good to be true, I don’t believe it! So we would miss out. However, if we trusted the landlord we could then move in and enjoy the property.

This new unconditional contract from God was totally different from the old covenant where the people agreed to obey 613 rules to the letter to be blessed by him.

The upshot of it all was that the people just had not been able to do what was asked of them in old covenant. They couldn’t be totally obedient to God. The covenant gave them the rules, but not the power or the ability to keep them. Religious rules bring disagreement and disharmony. Everyone argues about what the rules mean, and who is keeping them and who isn’t, who’s in and who’s out. If you can’t keep the rules you have to look as though you are, that leads to hypocrisy.

In the book of Romans Paul told his fellow Jews, who had become Christians, that God’s new contract, the new covenant, brought through Jesus, was a one way promise from God.

It relied on God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness and didn’t rely on flawed people. So no one could fail and no one had to pretend to be something they were not. Hypocrisy now not needed.

All that Israel had to do to get the benefits of this contract was to believe and trust in what God said. And God said ‘I will’ repeatedly. He didn’t say I will as long as you do something.

No, He said ‘I will’ no matter what you do or don’t do, just trust that I will.

He said “I will forgive your sins and I will not remember your sins.” All sins would be wiped out, past, present and future.

The Paul had problems with the Roman Christians. They said ‘Nah! Too good to be true!’. And they insisted on carrying on some rules and saying they were still essential.

The do’s and don’ts of their Jewish religion had a powerful hold over them, they seemed like the right way. So they said keeping their rules said made you more pleasing to God.

Paul wrote to the Jewish believers in Rome, Ro 4:14-15 “If those who live by the Jewish religion its rules and traditions and are correct in what they practice, faith has no value and what God said in His promise is made worthless.’ In Romans 3:27 Paul called this new covenant promise,

the law of faith.” or simply the law of trust in God.

Though the covenant itself had no rules it did have order. In the first creation the law of nature was governed and set in order by God, and it ensures things work together in harmony.

With the New Creation the law of faith is governed and set in order by God. The three persons of the Trinity are ordered, they relate together in trust and harmony in the new creation. To participate in God’s nature we need to trust using the trust in Him that He plants in our hearts.

So in ‘the law of faith’ God’s people could participate, but not by natural human effort, but by a supernatural intimate relationship with God, brought about by faith in what God said.

The Old Covenant was to the Jew, the New Covenant promise was to the Jewish Christian. Paul’s Roman letter was to the Jewish Christian. What has all this got to do with us Gentile Christians? It’s all there for us to learn by, because the character of God doesn’t change.

It shows us that religious systems that rely on flawed humanity doing it right, always go wrong.

Flawed humanity guarantees failure.

The Jewish Christians had a promise based on God’s faithfulness that was so contrary to what they said ‘Nah! Too good to be true! We’ll do it the old way’. We too have a promise based on God’s faithfulness. Let’s grab it, and trust in His promise to us and go through life trusting in Him.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Confounding the Wise’

1Co 1:25-31 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Brothers and Sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no-one may boast before him.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness and holiness.

Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Naaman was the commander of the Syrian Army. He was revered as a great soldier and used to only speaking to other people who were important and powerful. But he had leprosy.

The lowliest of his servants, a little Jewish girl who was his wife’s maid told his wife that Israel’s prophet Elisha, telling her the prophet could cure her husband’s leprosy. Naaman’s wife passed the message on to him.

With nothing to lose Naaman went to Israel but went straight to the most important person, the king, and asked for healing. The king was angry, he wasn’t God. No one is Israel had ever been healed from leprosy.

But Elisha, the prophet heard about this and sent his servant to offer help. When Naaman visited Elisha’s house, Elisha didn’t bother to see him but sent his servant to give Naaman instructions to bathe in the River Jordan to get healed. Naaman was livid, he wanted to see the boss, not an underling and he didn’t want to follow instructions that seemed stupid to him.

But he did. And he was healed. Elisha said God used him to heal Naaman. God did it without involving anyone important or powerful.

In the gospels there is a ‘certain woman’ with a discharge of blood for twelve years. She broke the religious law that forbade her to go out n public or touch anyone when she was bleeding and she pushed through a crowd to touch Jesus’ prayer shawl. She was healed. Jesus praised her faith.

She believed Jesus was the Messiah and knew the scripture (Mal 4:2) that said the Messiah would have ‘healing in his wings’. (The wings were the ‘wings’ of his prayer shawl).

The healing of Naaman is a story full of ignorance, bias, prejudice and pride. The healing of the woman a story full of knowing, focus, and faith.

Naaman’s story begins with a little Jewish girl, a person of that time and place of no significance, yet God used this girl, a nobody, as a messenger. Naaman’s ignorance, bias, prejudice and pride comes to the fore, because he doesn’t go to Elisha as the Jewish girl says, but to the King. Naaman went to, the important one when he should have gone to the one who was gifted.

Even when he did get to the prophet, then pride and prejudice got in the way, as the great army commander considered the prophets guidance beneath him.

Fortunately, God’s unconditional, unwarranted, undeserved favour is on Naaman, and God does not let Naaman’s humanity with all its failings get in the way of His plan and purpose.

The eyes of Naaman and the certain woman were fixed in two different directions. The man of brains and power looked through intellectual eyes, but the weak despised woman looked through eyes of faith.

Grace covered the lack of faith in Naaman and grace covered the abundant faith of the woman.

God and His grace has no prejudice. Do we need to take notice of this at this time? We who are so rich in the grace of God? We who have experienced so much prejudice, can we ourselves fall into the trap of being prejudiced against others?

In our humanity all of us have faults and failings. We each have different spiritual gifts but no one has them all. That’s why we are a body, we need each other to function properly. As we all have received grace we all must give grace. We need to ask the Lord’s help us show grace to each other.

God uses people we don’t expect. Not the intellectual but the gifted. He uses servants, not bosses, chosen prophets and not kings to fulfil His plans and purposes.

When we look at tonight’s text it fits us “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.’ Maybe we need the wisdom to see, ‘God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise…’

Liberty Church has much to rejoice about because God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things, and there is no church more despised by many other churches than us.

The grace of God is our strength, show grace to others who, like us, don’t deserve it. Let us boast in the Lord Jesus who has become for us wisdom from God, our righteousness, and holiness.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Rest In Jesus’

Eph 2:4 Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ Jesus even when we were dead in sin—it is by grace you have been saved and set free.

And God raised us up with Christ Jesus and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that for ever more He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in his kindness to us in His Son Jesus.

For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith—and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God alone, not by works, nor any human effort so that no-one can boast.

In tonight’s reading we are told that we are saved by grace through a gift from God called faith. We had nothing to do with our natural conception, we have nothing to do with our supernatural conception.

We become ‘the children of God’ by being birthed by Mother God. We often refer to God as ‘He’ but God is male and female and more. We are naturally created and supernaturally created.

By being born of Mother God we become ‘a new creation’; beginning our new spiritual lives as newborns, as babies. As we to look at creation we get an understanding of the new creation.

God spoke and creation comes into being. It is the same with the new creation; faith comes by hearing and so God speaks into our hearts and there is new birth, a new child of God.

When creation was finished God rested. When the New Creation was finished God rested. In tonight’s reading Paul writes that ‘we were dead in sin but made alive in Jesus.’

Tonight’s text says the children of God are saved from alienation from God. Then the narrative continues by saying, that immediately we ‘sit down with Jesus in Heaven’. In other words we rest. This is spiritually speaking. We rest in our oneness and union in Jesus.

This is how God sees us; the words ‘it is finished’ takes on a whole new meaning. It is finished, there is nothing to add, as Paul says in Col 2:10 ‘we are complete in Jesus.’ As we cannot add to what is ‘finished’ and ‘complete’ we sit and rest.

As with every newborn, the mother feeds the baby and then cleans up the crap. Our mother God does the same if allowed to. My personal experience was, that even though I was a new born child of God other Christians expected me not to rest but to be very busy and clean up my own crap.

I felt my brothers and sisters expected rapid development. I was expected to run before I could walk. A mother has to teach her baby to sit before it learns to walk. Mother God has to teach us to sit before we can learn to hear and respond to her voice.

My Christian brothers and sisters though expected me to walk immediately. But It is not brothers and sisters who know how to wean baby, it is the mother who knows, supported by the father. Brothers and sisters are not responsible for the newborn, they have just to love their baby sibling.

Jesus said, Joh 13:35 ‘people will know that you are brothers and sisters in me, IF you love one another.’ We’re meant to love each other, not try to mould people into what we think they should be.

The starting point of the Christian life is resting in Jesus, it is knowing we are in Jesus and in knowing who we are in Jesus. Saint means holy one and we are holy because we are in Jesus. Is there anything in Jesus that is not holy? Is there anything in heaven that is not holy?

I know I have a human nature with all its inherent faults and failings, but also, as a child of God I have a divine nature with all its inherent perfection and holiness.

Listen to what Peter writes 2Pe 1:4 ‘Jesus’ divine power has given us EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness through coming to know Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. that we may share in His divine nature.’

Oh! If only I had known years ago that Jesus’ divine power had given me everything I needed for life and godliness. I never would have experienced shame and guilt for not living up to the impossible standard my Christian brothers and sisters set for me.

So many people hear a version of Christianity that condemns them and uses fear. But God is love and does not throw children into eternal torment.

Someone wrote, ‘children have no morality nor false morality.’ It’s so true and the false morality of people, is the front that all human beings use to cover their failings. But God wants His children to be children. He wants His church to be as happy and as joyful, as a children's playground.

But that begins by resting, by knowing ‘the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us’.

By knowing ‘it is the gift of grace and the gift of faith’ that saves us and frees us to be ourselves.

By knowing Christianity is effortless.

By being confident in the unconditional love of God.

By having that ‘blessed assurance’ of who we are in Jesus.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Your Ways and Paths’

Psalm 25 4-6

Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths;

guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Saviour, and my hope is in You all day long.

Remember, Lord, Your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; bring me to mind according to Your love Lord, for You are good.

Moses wanted to know God and so he prayed, ‘God to show me your ways that I may know you’. So God revealed His ways, His characteristics to Moses as he directed Moses’ path through life. Moses gradually got to know God more and more. That’s what I wanted.

When I was preaching one Sunday morning I was using a quote out of a book and I thought I felt the Lord say to me ‘get Norman to read it’. In my minds eye I also saw Norman sitting in a seat on the front row directly in front of me.

He never sat there, he always parked himself on the back row. But I was convinced Norman would be in that front row seat so I put the book with the quote under that seat.

Twenty minutes into the meeting Norman had not arrived then five minutes before I was to preach in walks Norman all apologetic and walks to the front to plonk himself down on the front row seat just as I’d seen earlier in my mind’s eye.

The Lord had spoken to me and showed me visually something that would be in the future. Over a period of time the Lord spoke to me and showed me something in the future and each time it turned out exactly as I he had showed me.

This gave me a great confidence. When God showed me something I had total confidence it would happen as He said, no matter what mistakes I or others made. It was one of the number of ways the Lord answered my prayer as inspired by Moses ‘I want to know You’.

I was learning to hear his voice and learning to grow in trusting His guidance each time, getting to know God a little better.

He taught me gently, patiently, using everyday events in my life, and in ways I was able to understand.

There’s a story in Marks gospel about Jesus in a boat with his disciples, He told them, “Let’s us cross over to the other side of the lake.” He knew they would get to the other side no matter what, so he had a snooze.

A great storm welled up, but it didn’t wake Him, it was the cries of His terrified disciples that woke Him up. The disciples had forgotten that Jesus said THEY WERE crossing over and that is was a done deal.

They also had to learn, Jesus was in the boat and while He was with them, all was well.

Life with the Lord is like that that… things on the surface can appear to go very, very wrong in life and you say Lord where are you… are you asleep, have you forgotten me? We forget that our Father in Heaven never sleeps and that He is always with us.

It was because of the ways the Lord taught me to hear and trust in His voice that when the Lord called me to start Liberty I was full of confidence even though I had no clue about how to get things going. I didn’t have to, the Lord showed me every step of the way. I still have that confidence that the Lord is with us so even though things can sometimes be rocky, all is well.

David the King of Israel wrote tonight’s reading from Ps 25 ‘Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths;’ Again the Lord taught David patiently in ways he could understand, to hear Him and trust Him and to personally experience His grace and His faithfulness.

Some time ago lots of Christians wore bracelets saying "What Would Jesus Do?" the idea was that you could find your way through the problems of life by always asking ‘What Would Jesus Do?’

But I believe that looking JUST to what Jesus did, puts the responsibility on us to work it out as best we can. It misses the call to an ever deepening relationship with Him.

But as we ask Him to reveal Himself to us, to show us His ways and lead us along the path He has marked out for us, we are on the path to grow spiritually.

Responsibility becomes the Lord’s burden, expectations become His obligations, and we become free to be ourselves secure in Him, His grace, His love, His faithfulness.

I have heard many a Christian say I know my bible, I say, that may be so, but do you know Jesus? I say, that if you don’t know Jesus you’ll never know your bible because it’s all about Him.

We cannot know someone by reading a book about them. We have to experience a person, developing an ever increasing intimacy.

And when our heart’s desire is to know Him more he will patiently lead us and guide us in ways we can understand, to know him better.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘God's Ways’

Psalm 25 4-6

Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths;

guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Saviour, and my hope is in You all day long.

Remember, Lord, Your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; bring me to mind according to Your love Lord, for You are good.

One day a verse from Ps 103 seemed to leap off the page to me; it was verse 7

He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel’.

I believe this verse changed my life. I hadn’t a clue what it meant but because it had seemingly, as I said, leapt off the page I was curious as to what it did mean.

Then I read the words of Moses Ex 33:13 “Lord … me Your ways, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.

I immediately said, ‘Lord that’s what I want, I want to know you, I want to know you.’

I had begun a journey which I’m still on, to know God. We cannot fully know Him in this life but we can know Him in an ever increasing measure.

At the time I unwittingly ignored Moses’ second request ‘that I may find grace in Your sight’ It was later that I realised the significance of Moses’ two part request. In his prayer Moses was saying to God, ‘I’m grateful You have found Grace in me and You say You can see it, but I want to see it.’

Moses is saying that if I don’t see the grace you see, how will I ever know what grace is? And, I don’t know what your grace is, I will never know You.

Moses wandered around the wilderness for 40 years getting to know grace and getting to know God.

Similarly I found myself outside the mainstream church, and in a way in the wilderness, getting to know grace and getting to know God.

Moses said ‘show me your ways that I may know you’. I searched the scriptures to find out what are the Lords ways. They are loving, faithful, righteous, virtuous, holy, to mention just some.

But the words lack one thing, experience. They are words, not the reality. Reality is the lived experience of personally knowing someone not just not just knowing a description of them.

Sugar is sweet. We know that as reality when we taste it. The psalmist said, ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good.’ To know God I wanted to taste God, to experience God and experience His love and goodness and faithfulness.

As I went on I discovered that Lord’s love and goodness and faithfulness are all unconditional. When I first realised grace allowed me to do whatever I wanted, I also realised that I didn’t want to do whatever I wanted. I wanted to know what the Lord wanted; I felt the Lord simply say, ‘Get on with your life’.

No clear direction but I already had the Lord’s promises of love and faithfulness and guidance. I’d given the Lord my life so I trusted the next step in life would be directed by the Lord.

I got on with my life with all my flaws but the Lord guided me in ways to change some of those flaws. I was deeply prejudiced against drug addicts, alcoholics and Asians.

Through different people and through speaking to me through scripture God led me to a homeless project. Not a place I would have chosen to go to but I trusted His guidance. As I volunteered there the Lord changed me, changed my narrow attitudes and judgementalism and showed me his grace towards people with alcohol and drug problems.

The Lord enabled me to see them as he did. I developed a relationship with these my fellow human beings, all of us in need of a God who loves us.

He then tackled my prejudice against Asians when I was asked to host an Indian pastor in my home for a week. I took time off work and spent the days with him. At the end of the week we were firm friends and I took up his invitation to visit India. My prejudices, all based on ignorance, rolled away.

The Lord has led me along a path that has turned me into a more rounded and happier person. As I’ve gone through different experiences with him I’ve got to know Him and His grace more.

Grace is the basis of our relationship with God because it allows us to relate to God no matter what we are like or what circumstances we find ourselves in. Our relationship with God doesn’t depend on our goodness but only on His goodness. Its not on what we do or don’t do, but in who we trust and in who God is.

I can very easily upset people, say the wrong thing, put my foot in it. But I know I can never upset the Lord who has given me unconditional freedom.

The psalmist said the children of Israel knew God’s acts, they had seen fantastic miracles but they didn’t know God. Moses knew him and his grace and stood in His very presence on Mount Sinai while the people stood afar off. They were afraid of God.

At the age of 14 I became a Christian after I heard the Good News. But just one year later the gospel of fear had done its work, the bad news had made me afraid of God. Full of guilt and shame I ran away from the One who is love.

But over the years God himself has shown me that what I was taught had lots of errors and I need never ever fear him no matter what I’d done or not done. His grace gave me peace and the freedom to just be me. I can stand in God’s very presence.

I pray that we can all know God more and know His grace as a reality in our lives.

Extracts from Lynn’s Preach ‘I am who God says I am’

Romans 8: 14- 17 ………those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

What do Marilyn Monroe, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs and Eleanor Roosevelt have in common? They were all adopted.

Adoption is very important to our family. All three of our kids have been adopted and because of that experience we know exactly what this passage in Romans is hinting at.

Three times now I have stood before a judge and been scrutinised to see if I was suitable to be awarded the privilege of taking an abused and neglected child into our family.

Adoption means that I wasn’t the birth mother of this child but the judge has deemed me worthy to take them from an abusive and neglectful situation and raise them as my own.

But it’s not just about raising them as if I had given birth to them it’s about healing and restoring the damage done in the past! It’s a commitment to healing that is for life.

This is a legal agreement is for life, no matter what those kids throw at us, what damage or pain they bring with them. I’m their mummy for life! And when my daughter wants to argue that point I simply say “I’m mum because the judge said so”.

In the Roman world that Paul lived in, children were often adopted but adults could be adopted as well. Sometimes a good master would adopt a slave.

There were different parts to Roman adoption that still stand today.

First, the adopted person or child gained all the rights of being in their new family. They received a new name, a new history (they are added onto the genealogy) and a new identity.

When we are adopted into the family of God we received the name child of God and the family we became a part of is made up of all those who know Jesus.

God is a good Father, he’s nothing like the father I had, or the fathers my children had. Paul writes that we have ‘the spirit of sonship’ and can cry out to God as ABBA, Father

ABBA means Daddy. Its such an intimate word. Some of us remember the film ‘the Railway Children’. The children’s father has been away for years and there is a very moving scene where a little girl is waiting on the platform as his train comes in. When she sees him she races towards him, arms out, crying ‘Daddy, my Daddy’ and he picks her up and hugs her tight. I cried! It was so moving. That’s ABBA, Daddy. That’s our new relationship with God.

We come into an intimate, perfect relationship with God the Father. We can run to him with our arms flung wide and cry out “Daddy, my Daddy”!

Second in Roman adoption the adopted child became heir to the father’s estate.

We have become heirs of God and joint heirs of Christ. Because of adoption my children can inherit everything I own in the world. Because of our spiritual adoption by God we become joint heirs with Christ. One of the things we inherit is his holiness. We also share in his suffering. Like in an earthly families we share in good times and bad times. In God’s family we walk in companionship with Jesus that can involve some suffering!

In Roman adoption the old life of the adopted person was completely wiped out, they were regarded as a new person entering a new life where the past had no claim on them. When we are adopted into god’s family through faith in Jesus our sins, past, present and future, are wiped out. Spiritually we are new.

In addition, the old family had no more claim on the adopted person. They were totally the child of the adoptive parent. As with God, no one can pluck us out of His hands.

When people look down on me….., when people will say “Who do you think you are”, when people say that I’m not good enough, that I don’t belong…. Well TOUGH! I am who the Father says I am and I belong to HIM!

Jesus also gave us feminine images of God’s love for us. In Matthew Jesus said – “I have longed to gather you children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” What a beautiful image of God as a mother wrapping her wings around us and holding us to her breast!

God the good Daddy, God the Mummy hen with her chicks clinging on to her breast. Who are we? We are totally His.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Family’

Four verses from Chapter 2 and 3 of John’s first letter.

Dear children, live in Christ. Then, when he appears we will have confidence, and when he comes we won’t turn from him in shame.

If you know that Christ has God’s approval, you also know that everyone who does what God approves of has been born from God.

Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God’s dear children. And that’s what we are. For this reason the world doesn’t recognize us, and it didn’t recognize him either.

Dear friends, now we are God’s children. What we will be isn’t completely clear yet. We do know that when Christ appears we will be like him because we will see him as he is.

In my home town of Blackburn the cotton mills were failing because they couldn’t get the workers so people from the commonwealth were brought in to keep the mills running.

Racism was rife but as time passed views change and the prejudice lessoned.

Except for a woman called Margaret Grimshaw who was very vocal in her racial prejudice. That is until she was invited to spend a week in a Pakistan in a village many people had left to come to Blackburn.

She came back a changed woman. She had her eyes opened to the way of life her Pakistani neighbours came from.

Margaret had learned that in Pakistan the extended family where brothers and sisters, cousins and uncles had responsibilities to look after one another, help each other and support each other if needed. There was no NHS, no benefits no pensions. Without a family to help, people could die from hunger or lack of medical care.

She now understood why her Pakistani neighbours were so tight knit in their families, helping each other out in every way, often sharing homes and wanting to live next door to each other. Family was all important, community was all important, identity was all important.

This family, community, identity, belonging mindset, was what Jesus and His disciples were born into. It was an environment of a shared existence, shared participation and shared opportunity. All the advantages of belonging to a family.

Family gives a family history and an inheritance for family members only. The list of ancestors and who was who’s father is what Matthew’s genealogy is all about. Though not stated plainly I see that Matthew includes us as the children of God as the 42nd generation.

Jesus came and turned a religion of what you do into a relationship of who you are.

As Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit rested on Him like a dove and God the Father spoke from heaven and said ‘this is my beloved Son’ and a relationship was born.

For the first time scripture refers to Jesus as Son. This man, with a human history and human genealogy had a new identity that of beloved Son of God. Jesus belonged, Jesus was family, Jesus was a child of God with an inheritance.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray it was not according religion but according to relationship and belonging and family, and equality. They had a oneness and began with the word ‘Our’.

Our’ how inclusive is that? Total acceptance. ‘Our Father’, two words that say relationship and family. Children speaking together as one with their Father.

There’s a saying, ‘you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family’. Its true. Some of us have suffered much pain and damage from some members of our families.

Unfortunately the same applies to our spiritual family, who can use us, abuse us, inflict pain and cause harm to us and also damage to the family name.

Yet here’s a mystery, God not only chooses His friends He also chooses His family. Recorded in Heb 2:11 Jesus said, ‘Those who I have made holy with my holiness we are all one of the same family, I am not ashamed to call any of you my brothers and sisters’.

That means we are all family, those who we get on with and those we don’t, those who brighten our day and those who darken it.

Those who cheer us up and those who annoy us, those who harm us and those who heal us. We are all family because we were born from above, born of the Holy Spirit into the family of God.

I know I belong to the 42nd generation in Matthew’s genealogy. The generation given life by Jesus.

I have all the benefits of being a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, by the way, the King’s my brother. I’m in God’s family, no matter what anyone else says.

He has written my name and that of all His children in the book of life, an exclusive book stamped on the front with big letters FOR FAMILY ONLY.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Son of Man’

Isaiah 9:6 and 7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His governance and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

In a Gambian village I attended a local ceremony. I sat with the elders under a veranda observing the traditional ceremony unfolding front of me.

A band played African drums and other instruments. Every few minutes the music stopped so each one of them could speak in turn. I sat there absorbing the atmosphere of celebration and I asked the guide what the band members were saying.

He told me these were the history men. Each one was tasked with remembering a segment of the family’s history and genealogy, a list of their ancestors and reciting it when needed. These people didn’t need to watch ‘Who do you think you are?’ to know who their great, great grandfather was and who the generations before him were.

They knew who they were and where they came from. History determined their ancestral rights, who they inherited from. Everything was committed to memory and recited regularly.

Lists of genealogies were as important in the bible as they are in Africa today.

Two of the gospels have the genealogy of Jesus to show His human ancestry. His family inheritance was of utmost importance humanly and spiritually.

The gospel writers, Matthew and Luke confirmed that Jesus was a descendant of King David.

Mary was descended from Nathan, son of David with Bathsheba, that is the blood line followed by Luke. Joseph was descended from Solomon, Nathan’s older brother, that is the legal line followed by Matthew.

God promised King David that a descendant of his would inherit his throne and be King for ever. Matthews genealogy proved Jesus was legally David’s heir. Luke’s genealogy established the blood line. King David’s DNA was in Jesus’ blood.

When Pontius Pilate had a sign made declaring that Jesus was the King of the Jews he didn’t realise how true that was. Jesus, descendant of King David, was the rightful King of Israel.

David was a descendant of Abraham so Jesus also was descended from Abraham. He rightfully inherited the promises God made to Abraham. Promises like ‘I will bless you and you will be a blessing’ and ‘you will have too many descendants to count’.

So what is the spiritual significance of the genealogies? Paul writes in Gal 3:16 ‘Now, God made his promises to Abraham and to his descendant.’ The scripture doesn’t say ‘descendants,’ meaning many ‘descendant,’ meaning one person only, namely, Jesus the Christ.

Gal 3:26 confirms that Christians become children of God through faith and verse 27 tells us that means ‘by that same faith we are one in Jesus.’

Verse 29 then tells that being one in Jesus we inherit the promises God made to Jesus, the descendant of Abraham. Being spiritually one with Jesus we benefit from promises made to Him.

Paul also says in Ro 4 that ‘the faith we have is included in the inheritance,’ Part of our spiritual inheritance is the same faith Jesus had and the same faith Abraham had. Paul calls Abraham ‘the father of our faith.’

Matthew’s genealogy begins with saying Abraham is the father of David and the father of Jesus, the genealogy ends by saying...

there were 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 generations from David until the exile to Babylon, 14 generations from the exile until Jesus the Christ.

Three 14’s adds up to 42. However when we physically count the list there’s only 41 generations to Jesus. 14 + 14 + 13 = Jesus. So who is the 42nd generation?

Spiritually we are. Isaiah 9:6 says about Jesus… ‘his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’

Ever wondered why in this verse Jesus is called ‘everlasting father’. There are 7 scriptures that tell us Jesus, in the spiritual sense, is our father. He brought about the birth of faith in us.

Abraham’s faith is like spiritual DNA within us, passed on to us from Abraham through Jesus.

As children of God we all have the capability to become spiritual parents, to be part of bringing to birth the faith of Abraham, the faith of Jesus, in others.

When I met Nina I felt the Lord say that we were going to have spiritual children.

As people have to come to faith at Liberty that has come to pass in a measure, but we want more.

Like Abraham our father in faith we want children of promise, spiritual children, supernatural children.

Life always reproduces itself and spiritual life also reproduces itself. It’s a DNA thing. Many have told me they have felt the life of Jesus in Liberty, the church Jesus began. Therefore Jesus, who is the life, has to reproduce His life in those who seek Him.

I have believed from day one that the King of Glory, Jesus, would be fruitful through us the children of His glory. In faith Liberty began, in faith we will reproduce, producing children of faith who know and trust Jesus. It’s the DNA thing again.  

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Your Will Be Done’

Following the list of people of faith in Hebrews 11 the writer continues in Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Through His messenger Hosea God said, ‘I spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions and told parables through them.’ Hos 12:10 NIV

In this one verse God reveals three different ways He communicates with His children in particular and with people in general. Speaking, pictures and parables, stories with symbolic meanings, are repeatedly used in scripture to illustrate spiritual truth.

God’s messengers (angels) told the shepherds, who were more than likely to be girls and young women by the way, that finding a baby in a stable was a sign. There was a spiritual message in the scene.

But in our representations of Jesus’ birth in a stable we don’t see any we don’t see any sh1t although the animals there would have produced plenty. We have, for centuries, sterilised the sign made it more acceptable.

There’s a saying ‘the devil is in the detail’ but did you know this phrase came from the earlier saying, ‘God is in the detail’. And the detail means that the stable stank.

God is in the detail, then God is right there in the shit.

The bible says the baby was wrapped in cloths. One of the cloths had to be a nappy. Mary had no baby wipes or plastic bags to wrap things up so they didn’t smell. They did. The cloths wrapping Jesus’ body at the end of His life also smelt as bowels empty after the point of death.

These pictures of unsanitised life and death reveal a truth, that from beginning to the end ‘shit happens’ on a regular basis.

So how does faith deal with the shit?

This is an example of how Jesus dealt with His. Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane when at some point, the text doesn’t say exactly, Jesus realises He is going to die. That realisation is Jesus’ ‘Oh, shit’ moment.

First he tries to bury it, avoid it, saying take this away from me. Then faith kicks in and Jesus deals with His shit.

He says to God in faith, ‘Your will not mine’. To paraphrase Jesus says even though I have to die I will trust you all the way. He completely accepts what is in his path, as God’s will for Him.

Jesus said ‘take up your cross and follow me’ He meant we must be prepared to die to everything we want in this life and instead accept what God gives us.

Choosing the words of faith, the trusting Jesus did exactly that saying ‘God your will not mine’.

Lord help us; bring us to that place of trust, placing our lives into your hands, the place of ‘your will not mine.’

We can’t get there by our own efforts we need You to work that in us. After all You are ‘the author and perfecter of our faith’.

We look to You to help us ‘to throw off everything that hinders and entangles’. Help us Lord to deal with whatever life throws at us.

In the book of Hebrews (Heb 12:2) it says this about Jesus: ‘For the joy set before Him He endured the cross’ He then sat down, the place of rest.

Lord help us. Do what is needed to help us to see that in dying to ourselves and living for You is where the joy of our salvation is found and the promised rest is experienced.

The apostle Paul wrote, ‘It is for freedom that Jesus has set us free’.

Lord help us. Free us from ourselves and from being overcome by the shit life has thrown at us.

Lord take us from ‘Oh shit’ that wants to run and avoid to ‘holy shit’ where we accept whatever life brings as opportunity to walk closely with you. Lord lead us into that place of absolutely trust in You.

Today's shit is tomorrows manure. Lord, turn our shit into manure from which new life can spring. From the shit that bogs us down to the manure that feeds our spiritual life.

Lord, your will be done.

Extracts from Lynn’s Preach ‘Emmanuel, God With Us’

I wonder if anyone knows what their names mean. My name is Welsh and comes from the name for lake ….So I guess I’m deep! James means supplanter or one who follows.

Dale means lives in the valley.

The meaning of names has kind of lost its importance in our culture BUT Biblical names all have an important meaning and often spoke of the character of the person. Jesus had a number of names but the one I like the best is Emmanuel.

Emmanuel means God with us. I have a tattoo on my arm. It’s a quote from John Wesley, the very last words John Wesley ever uttered before his death were – “Best of all God is with us” It reminds me that whatever the circumstance I find myself in – God is with ME!

We know that Jesus was born fully human but also fully God. God was born a fragile, vulnerable and yes screaming and pooing little baby.

Many times Christianity focuses on us coming alongside God rather than God coming alongside us. We are encouraged to somehow reach out, or reach up to God. But we don’t have to tag alongside God He is present with us.

We don’t reach up to God, He comes to us and dwells alongside us. We don’t even need to invite Him! – It’s who He says He is God with us. There are no exceptions, he doesn’t say I am Emmanuel except for LGBT people etc. The incarnation isn’t simply that God comes to us but that He dwells in, around and through us!

God is not just looking out for us, in Jesus His very presence came to actually dwell within the body of a little baby.

How exciting is this? God is with us. God is for us. We are not far off from God, God is not distant and lurking in the heavens he is here……now…

Do we see our Emmanuel? Do we see that out of the darkness of our life? In our depression, our illness, our grief, our anxieties our weariness, the pressures of the world? Can we see that God is with us in all of that and more?

This is the good news. God is with us. A God who cares for us. A God who understands us. A God who loves us. A God who is intimate with us. A God who forgave us. A God who gives us the free gift of salvation. A God who asks nothing of us because we are saved by grace.

Nearly 15 years ago I was in a rehab centre detoxing from alcohol. In the middle of the night I woke up with the tangible presence of God in my room. My heart was pounding… All night I knew Emmanuel was in that room, I had a huge, physical rush of God’s presence.

It was both terrifying and exhilarating. I rang my friend at 3am in the morning trying to explain what was happening. She told me NOT to tell the medical staff because they would think I was hallucinating. God’s physical presence was in my room.

I have never forgotten it AND I have never touched a drop of alcohol since that day. My sobriety is won every day knowing I don’t do this on my own… God is with me.

God stooped down from eternity to become a baby! But that’s only the start of the incarnation. He’s long out of the manger and swaddling clothes. You won’t find God in temples of stone and marble, you won’t find God in painted icons, you won’t find God in nativity plays or dolls in a manger. God is with us.

God, who was not physical, became substance and flesh so that we might see Him, - as John says, ‘That we might touch Him.’ That we might worship Him. That we might hear Him. That I might know him alongside me in the sweat and vomit of detox.

Someone once said “If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus” God didn’t send the Bible, He sent His Son.

He sent Himself and He took upon Himself our humanity, that He might suffer when we suffer. That He might know what we go through, that He might comfort, that He might help us. This is God’s promise to us today – Emmanuel, God with us.

Jesus promised us his Spirit the Holy Spirit, who now lives within us. Wherever we are, He is there with us. God is with us, in us and around us all the time.  

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Naaman, The Fifth Servant’

From John 12:23-26 Jesus spoke to His disciples:

23 "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

24 I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.

25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.

Naaman was the King of Syria’s right hand man, a General, an honourable man, a man of valour. But he had leprosy.

One of his household servants was a Jewish girl captured in a raid on Israel. She knew God and knew about the prophet Elisha. She told Naaman that God’s Prophet could heal him and amazingly, Naaman listened.

Naaman travelled to Israel to see Elisha. But the prophet snubbed him by not seeing him and just sending him a message via his servant. Elisha’s servant told Naaman to bathe in the Jordan River 7 times and he would be healed. Naaman’s pride was dented! He felt disrespected and fobbed off. He had expected a welcome and a long elaborate ceremony for his healing.

Like all of us Naaman’s expectations were based on his experiences so far and his ideas of what was appropriate and what wasn’t. That can stop us seeing the bigger picture and there is no bigger picture than God.

Fortunately Naaman had a wise servant who waited for the right moment and put it to Naaman that he had nothing to loose by trying bathing in the Jordan. Naaman stormed that he had better rivers at home in Syria that the Jordan but the wise servant talked him round.

So Naaman tried what he considered was a stupid, ridiculous, an absurd idea. By the time Naaman arrived at the Jordan he had somewhat cooled down. Things got cooler when he plunged into the freezing water 7 times. But when he came up the last time his skin was perfect, no sign of leprosy. He had been healed.

Overjoyed Naaman went back to Elisha the Lord God’s prophet, overwhelmed with gratitude. Naaman said to Elisha ‘now I know, that there is no God in all the earth, but the Lord God’

Naaman swore he would now not worship any other god, but only the Lord God who had healed him.

I have every sympathy with Naaman. Elisha was incredibly rude to him in a culture where it was very insulting not to invite a visitor in for food and a drink. But God’s servant Elisha was doing what God wanted, not what Naaman expected.

Naaman expected Elisha to call on the Lord God with an impressive prayer and perhaps a few rituals or the laying on of hands. What a let down! The problem was, that Naaman was looking to God’s servant Elisha, rather than looking to God. Naaman’s had said ‘I thought Elisha would do this’.

So Elisha kept out of the way. He hid so God could be revealed. And Naaman came to know God.

This changed him for life. Naaman’s problem was not just his leprosy, his problem was Naaman himself and his ego. God did not humiliate Naaman, God humbled him.

Naaman’s healing was purely between him and God so Naaman could meet with God and know Him. God did not bring Naaman to his knees in shame, but willingly on his knees in worship.

The story of Naaman is a story of five servants:

The first servant, the Jewish girl: the second, Elisha’s servant: the third servant Naaman’s servant: the fourth servant God’s servant Elisha: the fifth servant Naaman himself.

In 2 Ki 5:17 Naaman refers to himself as Elisha’s servant.

Through a little Jewish servant, God called a General and turned him into a servant. A strong man, a controlling man, a man who was in charge and above others. A man who was used to giving orders, telling servants what to do, not doing what servants told him to do.

God called Naaman for a purpose and that was to be God’s servant. And God had to give Naaman a trusting servant mentality to become someone willing to do unquestioningly the unusual, the unexpected, the unpredictable and sometimes the unheard of requests of a unique God.

All of us suffer from ignorance, prejudice and bias; our intellect, emotions, rationale and strength of character stop us seeing the bigger picture.

We all want control over our lives; to surrender that control, to give totally and absolutely our lives to God, to do His bidding is not easy. We can be a General or a servant in our lives. We can be in charge or humble ourselves before God and his purposes. Its up to us.

A servant of God, Isaiah speaks of Jesus in the book of Isaiah Chapter 53:2-12

. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering… Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, …….But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are made whole……

…….. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Though Jesus was God the Almighty He made Himself nothing. He was Sovereign and all powerful yet the Mighty King Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Grace Church’

From Revelation 3:7-13

Write this to Philadelphia, to the Messenger of the church. The Holy, the True—David’s key in his hand, opening doors no one can lock, locking doors no one can open—speaks:

"I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough…..

"Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I will keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test……….

"I will make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honour. Then I will write names on you, the pillars: I will write the Name of my God, the Name of God’s City—the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven—and my new Name.

13 He who has a listening ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The apostle John, the writer of the book of Revelation, tells us in the first chapter that he was’ in the Spirit’. John’s vision is so intense that he felt he was in heaven itself and maybe he was. In his vision Jesus asking John to write letters to each of seven named churches. And he did.

Many think that these letters are not just to the churches mentioned but are also relevant to all churches in any given place and at any given time throughout history.

The first letter is to the church in Ephesus and it warned them, that though they began inspired by the Lord they finished up doing things according to their own strength, ideas and traditions and lost their focus on Jesus, their first love.

We can easily fall into the same trap. Without realising it we can put Christian practices and church tradition before the Lord’s leading.

It has always amazed me that people who have been rejected by various churches and have come to Liberty and found acceptance have still clung onto as ‘gospel truth’ all they were taught in the place of rejection. Such is the power of religion.

Another letter is to the church in Laodicea. The Spirit says they are lukewarm. The Christians in Laodicea had become like the Pharisees Jesus knew. The Pharisees taught obedience to the law, keep the rules. Do as we say, then it will be OK. Obey, obey, obey that was the rule of the day.

There religion taught: Confess, repent and try as hard as you can. God is merciful as long as you tried your hardest, and then if you fail you fall, you fall into His grace.

As we know cold is good for ice cream and keeping milk fresh. Hot is good for pies and Horlicks.

Hot and cold are total opposites. Lukewarm is neither one nor ‘t’other’.

Now scripture tells us that the law is good, just as cold is good; Scripture also tells us that grace is good, just as hot is good. They are both good. Grace is as opposite to the law as hot is to cold.

Pharisee and Christian alike who mix some law and some grace finish up lukewarm, that was the Lord’s charge against the church at Laodicea and churches like them.

The first church was Ephesus, the church that had lost their first love

The second church, Laodicea was the church that was lukewarm.

The 3rd Smyrna the church that had good news, but mixed it with false news.

The 4th Pergamum the church wrongly following leaders with false teachings and practices.

The 5th Thyatira had a false leader who had appealed to their psychological and emotional needs. The 6th Sardis the church that was dying and almost dead and no longer had the Spirit of life.

The 7th Philadelphia, (it means brother or sisterly love); the only church in which no fault was found.

To this church the Lord says and I paraphrase, ‘I have opened the door of opportunity and because I’ve opened it no one else can close it… you have remained faithful to the good news and upheld my name.

Philadelphia a church were no fault was found was a church of grace, spotless, pure, holy; a church that knew their humanity counted for nothing.

They could do no wrong because they didn’t do anything, it was all of God and what He would do as the perfect letter to Philadelphia emphasises these seven times.

For the Lord Jesus says in Revelation Chapter 3:

I will make them come and bow down at your feet (3:9)

I will make them know that I love you. (3:9)

I will keep you from the hour of testing (3:10)

I will make you a pillar (3:12)

I will write on you the name of my God (3:12)

I will write on you the name of the city of my God (3:12) I will write on you my new name (3:12)

Seven promises from the Lord Jesus that I believe every church of grace can claim as their own. There is good reason I lay claim and believe these promises are for Liberty. Philadelphia the grace church, was responding to the Spirit.

At Liberty we seek to follow the Lord of the book, not the book of the Lord. We seek to follow, not by abiding in what the Spirit wrote, but by living in the Spirit who wrote it. The Spirit who is the Spirit of grace and freedom.

Extracts from Lynn’s Preach ‘Come!’

From Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

We all do it automatically. We judge whose in and whose out. We do it out of ignorance, our own set of rules, on society’s rules, on clothes and on outward appearance. Once I arrived to preach at a Methodist church and was offered a food parcel because they thought I was homeless! I guess I didn’t look like they thought I was supposed to look.

This week some places of worship will preach hate and division. Many Christians will be challenged to stand up against the so called evils of Islam, make a stand against abortion or something else they don’t fully understand. They will turn people’s feelings and difficulties into issues to be opposed.

They will draw lines and write articles about who’s allowed to do what and where, who can and can’t take communion or be baptised. Usually no rules about who can’t give money!

But this invitation in Revelation is simple, uncomplicated and for everyone. The bride in the passage is a picture of the church. The Church is us, right?

So the church around the world and the Spirit of God cry out, "Come."

But who does the cry “come” go out to? Does it go out to the baptised? The church member? The confirmed? Does it go out to those who can conform, who are acceptable?

No - It goes out to the thirsty, those who are parched, scorched, empty, craving, burning, labouring, and sweating! Those who are desperate for Jesus’ water of life.

Whosoever means the drug addicted, whosoever means the alcoholic, whosoever includes the adulterer, whosoever includes the liar, whosoever includes the trouble maker

Whosoever includes the thief, whosoever includes the prisoner

Whosoever includes ALL those rejected by both society and the established Church.

The bride (the Church) and the Spirit of God say Come!

Just turn up. Just as you are. You are welcome to simply come.

The spirit of God says “come, I can do something in you”

I have already forgiven you. I can cleanse you. I can make you your best self. I can deliver you. I can comfort you. I can set you free!

All He asks from us is to come. No rules, no pre existing conditions and no exceptions.

Earlier in this passage Jesus identifies Himself to us. He says “I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star”

This is what Jesus tells us about himself: – When people are hungry, I am the bread of life.

When thirsty, I am the river of living waters. When destitute, I am the Gift of God. When sick, I am the comforter. When you carry a heavy load, I am the burden bearer. When you’re in darkness, I am the light of the world. When you are lonely, I am the one who sticks closer than any brother. When you are in bondage, I am the key and the liberator. When you are weak, I become the strong one. When you are lost, I am your Saviour.

This invitation to come is found near the end of the Book of Revelation, it’s the final call of God to come and accept the gift. Open invitation. No secret clauses to trip us up.

God doesn’t need you to clean up your act before you come to Him. He doesn’t care where you are from or what clothes you wear, how much money you have, or how long you have been coming to church or anything else, it’s a simple and uncomplicated invitation……. Come!

He asks us to come to Him, the giver of the water of life. To dive in, immerse ourselves in His love. In Him we find a life that will sustain us.

In Him There is a life that will empower us.

There is the water of the Spirit that will quench our deepest thirst.

When we reach out to Him He will always respond. Not always when we want him to but at the time He judges is right for us. He then pours over us the water of life, He cleanses our hearts and minds, and He satisfies that deep need in us for Him.

I know this to be true because that’s been my experience. He has sustained me in addiction and homelessness. He sustained me when my son died. He has sustained me in grief. When I come to Him, He is all I need.

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!"

Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life”.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘The Gift of Glory’ 

John 17:20-23 Jesus said "...I pray also for all my followers who will believe in me through the good news. All of them being one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. That they will also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, they being one as we are one: I in them and you in me. Brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved each and every one of them just as you have loved me.

Glory is the seventh gift that Jesus has given to us His Church. We have a couple of English sayings, ‘the crowning glory ‘or ‘that tops it off!’. They mean that after a list of good things, the last thing mentioned is the best, the perfect ending.

The gifts we’ve looked at these last few weeks are grace, truth, living water, living bread, eternal life, peace, and to top it off…..glory!

This expression to top it off is used in the building trade; when finishing a building, builders have a topping out or topping off ceremony. Which is very apt when Jesus said I will build my church and Paul says the foundation of the building is Jesus who is also the chief corner stone.

The cornerstone is the first stone laid on the foundation it is the perfect stone very carefully honed and laid, because it is the plumb line from which every other stone is laid. Nina, I and others have made sure the building is true, in line with Jesus and will rise to be a structure of strength, fit for purpose, a safe dwelling place for all who cross the threshold.

There are seven temples mentioned in scripture. The first was The Tabernacle. The second temple was Solomon’s Temple. The sixth Temple is you and I – individual Christians, Temples of God and the seventh is the church, meaning all who have an abiding relationship with God.

When the first Temple, the Tabernacle was completed in the wilderness God spoke to Moses and said Ex 29:43 there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the temple shall be sanctified by my glory. Scripture tells us at that very moment the Lord God took up residence, the Glory of the Lord filled the whole temple.

In Solomon’s Temple the Glory of the Lord saturated the whole building, overwhelming the priests so they couldn’t function. The Israelites called this presence of God the Shekinah Glory meaning the Abiding Glory.

Sanctified’ means made Holy. In my experience the majority of Christians have been taught that they have to make themselves holy. This was the teaching of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day of many Christians today.

But it is not what we do it is who we are in Jesus that makes us holy. He has made us temples of God. He lives within us we are made holy by the presence of His Glory.

God had promised to place His name in His Temple. In those days a name said everything about you, it who you were. I AM had placed His name in the temple, the glory was at the centre of the Temple, I AM was to be at the centre of their lives.

When Moses encountered God on Mount Sinai, his face shone with dazzling radiance. Moses put a veil over his face to hide it until it gradually faded away. This is what Paul said about that:

2Co 3:13-18 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the people from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, even to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.

To this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. ….. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, transformed into his likeness from glory to glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

At Liberty we strip away any vestige or trace of Moses and Judaism and so remove the veil.

We welcome the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Freedom to move freely among us. And we continue to make strides into the Spirit’s realm of freedom.

We have had glimpses of His glory but we want more. We also want Him to reflect His Glory through us into our community.

We want His Glory in abundance. The Glory that takes your breath away, the splendour, the majesty, the wow factor that carries an overwhelming feeling of wonder and delight.

Lord, in tonight’s reading, You said that you had given us your Glory so that we would become one with You. And that Glory and oneness with You would be a witness to the world we live in.

Lord we know we are your temple and your Glory lives within us. We long for you to move through us to express Your glory to others, we want to see our neighbours discover your Glory. Lord we want to leave this place glowing with your Glory, so that all that we meet will know that we have been in the presence of I AM.

Lord we want people to know that You have placed Your name at the centre of Liberty, the name that is above all other names, the name of Jesus. Lord we all want to be filled with awe, and be overwhelmed in wonder and delight. For your name’s sake. Amen

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘The Gift of Peace'

Ephesians 2:12-17 Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ Jesus, excluded from the promises, without hope and without God. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the cross of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made all equal and has destroyed the barriers, and dividing walls by abolishing in his humanity, the law with its regulations and ceremonies.

His purpose was to make in himself a new creation, so making peace, and in His body reconcile all to God through the cross, by which he put to death antagonism and contention. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

Peace, the sixth of the seven gifts given by Jesus to His church recorded only in John’s gospel. John’s gospel reveals the Lords grace more the others. The name John means ‘God is gracious’. Each of the 7 gifts are given to us freely by Jesus we cannot do anything to earn any of the gifts.

In tonight’s reading Paul says: 1. that Jesus ‘Himself is our peace’ 2. Jesus made peace by the work of the cross 3. Jesus preached peace.

In Judges 6 Gideon was a farmer when his country was occupied by a foreign power. Gideon’s story is about him starting out cowering in fear at the invaders but receiving a supernatural peace from God that enabled him to trust how God guided him and led his people to defend themselves and get rid of the foreign army.

Gideon built a monument, a pile of stones, in the place where he first received God’s peace, the peace he needed to fulfil his God given destiny. Every time he passed by it, he was reminded of that first encounter. Gideon named the monument ‘God is my peace’.

Paul writes that Jesus Himself is our peace. By his Spirit Jesus enables us to accept and trust in Him. That is like a living monument within us, permanent, there for ever.

Knowing that Jesus has removed all barriers and given us supernatural peace with God is one thing. Experiencing that peace is another. Even Jesus didn’t always experience perfect peace. He was deeply troubled when praying in the garden of Gethsemane pleading with God. Yet in His suffering He continued to trust in God and said, ‘Not my will but yours.’

He was deeply disturbed in His humanity, but He found relief in His spirituality, and was able to trust in doing the will of God. But that peace only lasted until the pain and adversity became too much again. On the cross He cried out to God, ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ It sounds like His peace had deserted Him.

Isn’t this life in the real world? A world where Jesus said there’d always be trouble. But He told us to take heart because he has overcome the world. Sometimes those words seem hollow. For those times when life is totally overwhelming, prayers seemingly not answered and we can’t find peace, remember that Jesus experienced that despair as well.

Some of us knew Kayleigh, a gay woman who loved the Lord. Kayleigh who had suffered every kind of abuse as a child. Abuse that drove her to a failed suicide that ultimately led her to be paralysed from the waist down. Yet it was while in hospital that she met Jesus. She came to Liberty till the physical pain stopped her leaving her home.

The suffering though got worse, it was distressing to see her in so much pain. Many times the pain would make her sick for hours even days on end. It was incredibly distressing to see her retch for hours, when there was nothing left in her stomach to vomit.

Yet through it all the adversity and pain, Kayleigh’s faith never wavered. Even in the worst circumstances she would say ‘I know God loves me’.

Kayleigh experienced the worse distress I’d ever seen, yet I witnessed first hand, the peace of God that passes all understanding. This peace was not because of great mental effort on Kayleigh’s part. She had no strength left to summon up anything. It was a gift from Jesus.

Kayleigh knew she was deeply loved, and as the person she was, fully accepted by God. Grace enabled her to know God and she loved Jesus with all her heart. There’s no doubt Jesus was her peace. To this day when I occasionally look at her picture she is one of my monuments that reminds me, Jesus is our peace.

Isaiah wrote; Isa 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is steadfast, because they trust in you. It is only through the faith God gives us as a gift, because of His gift of grace, that we receive that perfect peace. It is only through the faith God gives us, because of His grace, that we receive that perfect peace, the peace that Jesus made perfect on the cross.

Jesus preached peace through his words, his actions, his life and his death His peace was ‘Shalom peace’ complete peace, for body, soul and spirit. That he gave to the deaf and the blind, to lepers and the mentally unwell, to the paralysed and immigrants, to the old and young, to poor women and to rich men.

Due to our human nature, the adversities we experience, the peace we feel goes up and down with life’s ups and downs. But in our spirits peace with God is always there because Jesus has made us right with God, for ever, no matter what we are going through in life.

Before Nina became a Christian she sensed peace in a Christian friend called Penny. Penny was just being herself but the Holy Spirit showed Nina that penny had something she was searching for.

Jesus is our peace; has given us peace and He is still giving peace with God to others through us, though we may not know it. Just being ourselves we are witnesses of Jesus as His peace shines through.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘The Gift of Eternal Life'

John 10:24-30 The Jews gathered round Jesus, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand.

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one."

Eternal life: the fifth of the seven gifts that Jesus gave to His Church.

Salvation is a work of the Trinity. It is through the Grace, Truth and Living Water of the Trinity that we became Christians and received the gift of Eternal Life.

It is a mystery that the Trinity are one, and it is a greater mystery that as Christians we are also one. Each of us can say, like Jesus, I and the Father are one.

Jesus’ words in John 6:63 The Spirit gives life; our humanity counts for nothing.

At the very moment we first believed, Jesus gave us eternal life. This is our legal standing in Jesus, fixed, permanent. The Spirit gives us tastes of the experience of eternal life.

It is only in the life that the Spirit gives, that we can ever hope of fulfilling two very important teachings given to us by the apostle Paul.

Col 3:17 ...whatever you do, whether in words or deeds, do it all in the Lord Jesus,

1Co 10:31 ..whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’

This cannot possibly or remotely be achieved in our humanity. In ourselves the standard is to high, but in Jesus they are possible.

As Paul writes, ‘Whatever we say or do, do it all in the Lord Jesus.’ The mystery of living out our Christianity is this ‘do it IN Jesus’. In the oneness that is freely available to us.

Listen to Paul’s testimony in Gal 2:20 “I died with Christ Jesus; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in my humanity I live by the faith of the Son of God.

It is only when we come to the point that we are able to rely on Jesus in all aspects of our lives we can join Paul and truthfully say those words, that our humanity counts for nothing. Then we experience living ‘by the faith of the Son of God’. Then as we walk on in life our reliance on Jesus glorifies God.

We have had centuries of man made church practices, church activities and church traditions and never achieved anything like becoming one. That is because church practices that rely on human effort, divide. Living in trust and faith in Jesus unites.

The only time Christians of different flavours experience oneness with each other is when we are all worshipping together, all expressing our love and adoration for our Lord, and our focus is on God alone. Its only when we get into discussing theology or religious practises that division comes.

When the apostle Paul became a Christian it was as a Jewish Christian, the Judaeo-Christianity that he would later oppose. At first Paul kept all the Jewish religious rules and traditions, for example he baptised new converts. Then the Spirit took him into the wilderness of Arabia.

It was there Paul says that his Rabbi Jesus revealed the good news of grace. A grace not mixed with Judaism, but absolute grace, a grace that was unadulterated by Judaism.

That means he relied totally on God’s grace for his spiritual life, without relying or adding in any religious practices to gain merit or acceptance.

Out of Paul’s new understanding of the purity and simplicity of grace, he stopped practising his previous Judaeo-Christianity. This change is highlighted when he says;

1Co 1:17 For Christ Jesus did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel of grace; and not with words of human wisdom like in the past, but in grace alone so that the cross of Christ could not lose any of its power.

When I became a Christian I unknowingly followed many Jewish practices like repenting of sins, confession, communion, baptism, all taken from the instructions laid out in a Judaeo-Christian document called the ‘Didache’ written for the Gentiles in Rome.

But now I understand the simplicity of grace and I no longer needed my previous Judaeo-Christianity.

The gifts of Grace, Truth, Living Water, bring oneness when nothing else is added. No more law, no more condemnation, no more guilt, no more shame, no more blame, no more feeling unworthy, no more religious practises, no more a second rate Christian, no more a sinner, but always a saint.

It is never by what we say or do in our humanity that brings glory to God. Glory given to God relies solely on the gifts of Jesus. The glory of God lives in us as a gift from Him.

So who are we? Verse 29 of tonight’s reading tells us, Jesus said “My Father, has given them to me’.. That’s who you are, a Gift from God to Jesus.

Extracts from Lynn’s Preach ‘Don't let anyone tell you what to do'

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house.

And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Mary and Martha were sisters, they lived together with their brother Lazarus. Now adult siblings living together is always a risk (I’m not sure I could live with my sister) but in this story we have a little snapshot into their lives.

The house is referred to as Martha’s home. In those days woman didn’t own property so we could assume the parents died and left Martha the house instead of her brother – very unusual.

When Jesus and the disciples, 13 men in all, show up at Martha and Mary’s house it was considered essential to follow certain customs – not to do so would be very rude. Hospitality, involving washing everyone’s feet, providing drinks, a place to rest and preparing a meal was expected. It was a lot of work and the burden for this fell on the women of the family. 

Martha got on with everything she had to do but found Mary wasn’t helping.  

In Jesus’ time sitting at the feet of a teacher listening and learning was for men only. Women never did it. But Mary took her place with the men and shockingly, Jesus approved! Mary wanted to be in the thick of the teaching, discussion and debating as a student and a disciple.  

The prejudice against women was huge. Every day Jewish men said a prayer “Praised be to God that he has not created me a woman.” 

For a host to complain to a guest was a major breach of hospitality but Martha complained to Jesus. She broke the rules as well. And Jesus’ reply took the wind out of her sails.  He said,  

Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”   

The Greek word is often translated as “better” BUT it’s actually the word for “Good.”   Jesus is saying Mary’s way is “good” but he is not saying Martha’s is bad! Is it a rebuke to Martha? I don’t think so.  

Here we have two women already breaking a lot of social rule. Martha owns property, They are not married, they run their own house, they have independent wealth, They are good friends with Jesus. 

Mary sits at Jesus feet and sees herself as an intellectual and spiritual equal to the men. She doesn’t care what the social, and religious norms are. She’s bolshie, independent and in love with her Rabbi. 

And then we have Jesus who also breaks the social rules of the time!!! This story isn’t about the contrast between service and listening. It’s much more radical than that… Jesus takes those who society rejects and elevates them so that the “unclean” the “rejected” come first. 

Every interaction Jesus had with those rejected completely flipped the social and religious norms. 

Women, the disabled, the lepers, the blind, those caught in adultery, the mentally ill, the Roman enemy, the thief on the cross.....the list goes on and on and yet after 2000 years  we still have a religious hierarchy that misses the point.

The wider Church still has a hierarchy and LGBTQ people are at the bottom of the list. If the established Church says we are at the bottom Jesus welcomes us to sit at His feet.

The gospel is radical, it’s not dependent on how acceptable someone else says we are. It’s not dependent on baptism, conformation or church membership. Grace makes us Sons and Daughters. 

So, what can we learn from this little snap shot of this unconventional family? 

Jesus has a fondness for rule breakers. In fact He doesn’t like rules that prejudise at all !!!

At Liberty we challenge any rule that marginalises people. We stand up for those who are relegated, ignored and rejected. We welcome those on the edges of society. We abandon the rules, creeds and liturgies that keep people segregated and conflicted. 

We don’t develop rules that measure people against some man made measuring stick! 

Mary bravely and boldly sat at Jesus feet despite her culture telling her she was forbidden.

Mary knew where she belonged despite Martha’s complaining.  

So, what can we take away from this little story for the rest of the week? Don’t let people tell you what you can and can’t do. Abandon the unjust rules laid down by others and...   

Sit at Jesus feet, it’s where you belong, it’s where you are welcomed.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘The Gift of Living Water' 

The Woman at the Well’ an taken from John 4

Jesus said the woman, "Everyone who drinks this natural water will be thirsty again,

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst again, the water I give them will become in them a spring of living water welling up to eternal life."

The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty"

He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. …. you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet.”…

Jesus told her a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship 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."

The woman said, "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

We are very gifted people. John 1:17 says we have received the gift of God’s grace and truth freely given through Jesus.

The gift of truth is grace being expressed, being visible. Last week I spoke about Sandra as an example of this: Nina received grace by seeing its effects in Sandra’s life.

Truth is the fulfilment of Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Jesus has set us free. It was that freedom that Nina saw in Sandra that convinced Nina of the truth in the gospel of grace.

It was with the confidence that grace gives you that 13 years ago Nina, Sandra and myself walked into an LGBT church in Manchester. We went to worship with LGBT people for the first time. We knew that because of the gift of grace they were our equals in the sight of God.

Jesus said he could give the woman at the well a gift which Jesus calls living water.

Turns out this woman is promiscuous and Jesus lets her know that He knows all about the men in her life, though there is not even a hint of condemnation in His revelation. She’s impressed; Here’s a Jew speaking to her a woman, without looking down on her. Also He’s speaking to her a Samaritan without the usual racism. Plus He doesn’t condemn her because of her many sexual relationships.

This is unheard of, she’s so affected by this acceptance the woman leaves behind her water jar and runs into town to tell her neighbours. She tells them of the grace this man has shown her, a man who accepted her just the way she was, without disapproval or criticism.

A man who had a gift of which she knew nothing but yet she didn’t need to know because somehow she trusted this man, she just knew what he said was true. And she didn’t even know his name. But there was an urgency in this woman, a strong desire to take her neighbours to the man who treated her so respectfully and said if she drank the water he could give her would never thirst again.

This woman came to the well on her own. That was unheard of; women came together for safety. But this woman was despised, rejected, no other woman would associate with her. Wives would tell their husbands and children especially their sons to keep away. Religious leaders would denounce her lifestyle call her unworthy and unclean.

Why send a woman of ill repute to tell people about a man of grace? Why didn’t Jesus speak to the town’ s Mayor or another man of influence, or any man, especially in that society.

The beautiful thing is that grace is given without regard to position or status. The truth grace expresses comes with power from God to give spiritual life.

This woman was inspired, by a man whose name she didn’t yet know. Such was the power of His grace she knew He was being truthful in promising this gift of living water. And she knew it was true when Jesus told her He was the Messiah. She was so wowed by this she was falling over herself to get back to town to tell her neighbours to come out to meet Jesus.

And they streamed out of town following her – in a culture where no man followed a woman and certainly not a woman like her.

Jesus’ living water of the Holy Spirit was already having its effect on her neighbours. Through her it was drawing them like a magnet to the Messiah. They listened to and followed someone who was the least of the least. Because the Holy Spirit empowered her words and living water was being poured out.

Who will ever listen to any of us lot?. How can we ever reach our neighbours? We don’t hire big venues and get big bands to draw the crowds. Who are we anyway?

According to about 200 churches in Lancashire we’re unworthy, we’re unclean. We are seen as promiscuous with a lifestyle to match.

But Jesus sees us as qualified to share his gospel. He sees us with gifts He’s given us. He’s given us grace and truth and experiences of himself drenched in the gift of living water.

This story in scripture is showing us a recurring theme. That God can empower anyone he wants! It doesn’t depend on our abilities or our resources. It depends on Him working through us pouring out the living water in our stories of Jesus and His love.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘The Mystery Gift' 

Psalm 37:3-5

Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

We have all received a precious gifts. The gift of God’s grace and truth.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Ephesus stating that he had received a revelation of God’s grace for all including the most marginalised of his day, the Gentiles. In Eph 3:3 he said that God had revealed this mystery to him for the benefit of others.

Paul called this revelation ‘the gospel of grace’ Ac 20:24. and said it was a mystery. For me, God opened my eyes to me the gospel of grace over a 3 year period, beginning in 1995. Sandra is the only person here from that time who heard me when I first started to speak about the mystery of all inclusive grace.

John 1:17 In tells ‘The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ’. Grace is the undeserved favour of God, the truth is His favour manifested. Sandra’s experience was God’s undeserved favour and that affected her life.

When I met Nina she was weighed down by all the rules of her evangelical background, do this, don’t do that, do more of this etc. She loved God so put her best efforts into doing lots to please him. She didn’t realise He didn’t need her efforts, because actually, the Lord couldn’t be more pleased with her because His love is unconditional.

At first Nina couldn’t get her head round the gospel of grace, then she got to know Sandra and realised that Sandra wasn’t trying to do anything to please God. Yet Nina could see Sandra was close to God and God was working in her life. Nina knew that when Sandra became a Christian she had never repented, didn’t confess her sins, and has never confessed any sin, not had water baptism, didn’t believe in communion yet Sandra had a deep trust in Jesus and trusted Him in her daily life.

Sandra trusted in what Jesus has done and was doing in her life rather than in the externals; the outward ceremonies meant nothing to her, the reality in Jesus was everything.

Just by seeing Sandra’s relationship with the Lord, Nina saw the immensity of God’s grace and she was able to relax, give up her own efforts to impress or please God and simply respond to Him in her life. Nina felt liberated, set free. For Nina grace and truth came through Sandra.

The mystery of the gospel of grace that Paul proclaimed, is that we as Christians do not have to work to please God but simply need to respond to what Jesus is doing in us.

This is total trust in Jesus for our right standing with God and trust in His plans and purposes for us. It’s not about our efforts but about what He’s done and is doing.

Paul wrote in Gal 2:20 “It is no longer I that live but Christ lives in me.” This is the surrendered life. Paul continues, “the life which I now live in my humanity I live by the faith of the Son of God.”

This is the believing life, the result of a surrendered life.

The Law of Moses came at a cost, grace and truth were gifts freely given. The law put burdens on people, the result of grace and truth was freedom. The law marginalised and excluded women, non Jews, disabled people and other minorities. But Grace and truth are inclusive, gifts from God.

All religious laws, rules, commands, principles, religious practices or traditions are based on what we do for God. They place conditions on the unconditional promises of God. Therefore as Paul writes in Romans, all these things make faith meaningless, and the promises worthless Ro 4:14.

In 1995 the mystery of grace raised a question within me; if all Christian rules, Christian practices, Christian traditions are no longer part of my Christianity what do I do?

I felt the Lord simply say ‘Get on with your life’. It dawned on me that all God’s promises are mine; they were all fulfilled, in Jesus. Jesus my shepherd, my leader, my teacher, my God who I had trusted with my life. Surely my life was and is safe in the hands of my Lord.

I once saw tonight’s reading as things I had to do to gain God’s favour, but the mystery of the gospel of grace caused me to see these verses rather differently. I’ve re-written them here:

Psalm 37:3-5 a paraphrase:

3. I AM the Lord trust in me and I will infuse you with My goodness. Regard Heaven as our home and eat with me there, know My faithfulness, and be nourished with My love.

4. Let Me be the source of your happiness, and it will be My happiness to fulfil what your heart desires.

5. Trusting Me with your life means that Our lives become entwined and Our desires become as One.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach 'Take Away To Establish’

Hebrews 10:5 - 9

When Jesus came into the world, he said: "Sacrifices and offerings you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.

Then Jesus said, ‘It is written about me—I have come to do your will, O God.’" First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "I have come to do your will." He takes away the old to establish the new.

Liberty Church was established onthe words in Hab 2:4.

Those words are ‘the just will live by faith’ These are quoted twice by Paul , once in Romans 1:17 and again in Gal 3:11.

Martin Luther began the reformation with a belief in the very same words. In some translations it says "The righteous will live by faith."

They mean that Christians live by faith, trust in God and not by their own efforts to achieve spiritual standing. But Luther realised that Christians were locked into a religious system of religious practices ruled from Rome.

Luther first tried to reform from within the Catholic Church and he failed. Repeatedly throughout history people have tried to reform the church from the inside and failed and then, in order to bring about change, they had to come out.

Throughout scripture, starting with the Genesis account of creation God has always ‘done away with the old to establish the new’.

Luther founded a new liberated church but did not do away with all the old . As a result the old man made traditions and practises crept back into the new church.

John Wesley, who founded the Methodist Church, respected and affirmed inspirational women preachers. He was moving forward in a new move of God. But 12 years after his death, those who clung to their traditions succeeded in banning women from preaching. That ban remained for years.

Just like the 12 apostles, the newly converted Apostle Paul preached the message of the ‘ Kingdom of God’ to the Jews. But his three year Arabian wilderness experience changed him.

In the desert God changed Paul radically. God did away with the old in him to establish the new. The new was the radical different inclusive gospel of grace which Paul began to preach.

A gospel that put him on a collision course with the Christian religious establishment in Jerusalem.

Paul’s words in Phil 3:8 in a modern version: ‘all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life ...everything I once thought I had going for me is meaningless dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the bin so that I could embrace the anointed one’.

The old in his life was done away with to establish the new.

It can be painful to let go of our the traditions and practices when God leads us into the new and different. But to move on with God we have to. Many of us here recognise that God has taken away the old and familiar in our lives to establish the new.

Jesus said, Lu 5:37 ‘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. New wine must be poured into new malleable wineskins.’

Liberty is a new malleable (flexible) wineskin, with new wine, bubbly, effervescent, unpredictable and like all new wine can even be explosive. But Jesus said some prefer the old wine…….

I reckon Jesus is still taking away the old to establish the new. Living by faith, meaning living in reliance on God instead of on our own abilities, is easier said than done.

Over the years I have come to know the gentleness of God and so I know He only takes away what we freely give Him, and He never ever takes away the real you.

Our biggest problem, the greatest enemy to our spiritual advancement is ourselves. Living by faith is stepping into the supernatural. Responding to God’s will instead of to our own. It can be scary!.

To take up your cross and follow Him means dying to yourself, your plans, ambitions, ways of doing things in order to live according to His plans and His leadings.

He wants to take away the old, in our individual lives and in our gathering together as church to establish the new. Something new and different and full of His life.

Extracts from  Jim’s Preach ‘Don't Go Back’

They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch.

Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the town. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, "Do you see anything?"

He looked up. "I see men. They look like walking trees."

So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had 20/20 vision. And Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Do not go back into the city.’ Mark 8:22-26

In scripture Miracles were called signs. They were sign posts to a spiritual truth. As we discovered last week this miracle was to show that we are all partially sighted, the disciples did not understanding some of the things that Jesus was doing and saying. Neither do we.

The complexity of scripture and our frequent lack of understanding is like God saying to us ‘You can’t fully understand and I don’t want you to rely on your understanding of the bible.

I want you to totally rely upon Jesus.’

We became a Christians because we came to know and put our trust in Jesus. We need to continue doing that. Jesus said ‘... remain in Me’ and apart from me you can do nothing’ (nothing of spiritual value). We must remember that.

In the story above after Jesus healed the blind man he told him ‘don’t go back into the city’.

The story started with Jesus meeting a blind man in Bethsaida but led him by the hand out of the city to heal him, then told ‘don’t go back to the place I brought you out of’ What had Jesus got against Bethsaida?

Jesus had previously performed miracles at Bethdaida but despite this its people rejected him..

Bethsaida was a place of unbelief and rejection so in the spiritual sense all of its inhabitants were blind. Jesus led the man who was also physically blind out of the town to heal him. Jesus led him outside the place of unbelief then warned ‘Don’t go back.’

Bethsaida means ‘house of fish’. Fish are symbolic of Christians so ‘the house of fish’ can be seen as representing many Christians together. In this case Christians who are unbelieving, knowing Jesus but is unable to really rely on Him.

I believe today’s message is for those who have been led out of the darkness of unbelief, or out of rejection, or a place of tolerance but not acceptance. Don’t go back.

There are plenty of scriptural examples and warnings of not going back and even not even looking back like Lot’s wife. The Israelites are brought out of slavery in Egypt but instead of looking forward to what God had for them they wanted to go back to what was familiar to them. Scripture lists them wanting the foods of Egypt; cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. All foods that were back breaking to collect because they all grew on the ground

The foods they looked back to were gained by hard work but the fruit God had for them in the Promised Land was free for the taking. The fruit was grapes from vines they had not planted and fruit from trees they had not grown. With no effort they could just take the fruit at will.

The story set in Bethsaida is a warning. Don’t go back to any place of rejection or unbelief where you have to work for your spiritual food. Celebrate that Jesus has brought you out for the purpose of taking you into something far better. It may take time for you to realise that works or effort in any form are not necessary in the kingdom of God.

The fruit of the vine that is from Jesus and the fruit of the Holy Spirit are truly free

Although the Israelites didn’t go back into Egypt they often harked back and held on to the past and the mindset they had developed in Egypt. Egypt was a place where gods were visible so they soon fashioned a symbol of God according to there limited understanding. They made a golden calf. They easily slipped back into the familiar and started to worship their symbol.

Learn from the golden calf. What may be a symbol to you may bean idol to God.

Symbols are man made. Their purpose is to focus the mind an emotions on some aspect of your relationship with God. The emphasis is on the mind and emotions. We relate to God in the spirit and in the spirit symbols can get in the way.

Our relationship with God is built on having the closeness of our spirit being connected, immersed, and infused with God’s Spirit. Anything we can create is not able to make us closer to God than that.

Jesus talked about worshipping in Spirit and in Truth. In other words worship in the Holy Spirit and in Jesus who is the Truth. Don’t trade the spiritual for the physical. For our spiritual lives we must always depend on Jesus.

The blind man was led out by Jesus. His eyes were opened by Jesus. The first thing he saw clearly was Jesus. When Jesus brings us to a place where we see Him more clearly lets move on in the clarity He gives us. Don’t look back. Don’t go back either physically or mentally.

Keep hold of Jesus’ hand and let him lead you on. Look forward to where he taking you not back to where you once were.

Continue focusing only on Jesus.  

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Partially Sighted’

They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, Jesus led him out of the city. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, "Do you see anything?"

He looked up. "I see men. They look like walking trees."

So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked and realized that he had perfect vision, able to see clearly.

And Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Do not go into the city.’ Mark 8:22-26

In scripture miracles are called signs; they’re sign posts to a spiritual truth. In this miracle it appears that Jesus failed to restore the man’s sight the first time and had to try again.

Surely that can’t be right? What could this event be teaching us? Let’s look at it.

On a previous trip to Bethsaida Jesus performed the miracle, we call the feeding of the five thousand. He multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 people and have 12 baskets of leftovers. (Mr 6:43). (The Jewish nation was made up of 12 tribes.)

Mark 8 then tells of Jesus visiting a Gentile area called Decapolis. Jesus miraculously fed 4,000 Gentile people with very little and had 7 baskets of leftovers. (Seven Gentile nations lived in Canaan.)

Later some Pharisees caught up with Jesus and challenged him to give them a sign (Mr 8:11). Jesus refused then sailed back to Bethsaida with his disciples.

On the journey the disciples said “We forgot to get provisions we’ve only one loaf.” Jesus replied with a warning "Be careful, watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees” (Mr 8:14,15).

He then said “Why are you on about having no bread, don’t you not understand?

The twelve baskets and the seven baskets. Do you still not understand?" (Mr 8:21)

They didn’t understand him. And often today we don’t understand Jesus either.

They disembarked at Bethsaida the place that had seen the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus touched the blind man and asked a strange question. “Do you see anything?” Surely he wasn’t doubting the man could be healed? Surely not. Just what’s going on!

The blind man said ‘I see people like trees walking around’, meaning he could see shapes and outlines and movement but he could not see the all the details.

Jesus touched the blind man again. His eyes were now fully restored and he could see clearly.

This is the spiritual teaching in the healing of the blind man. Our eyes have been opened spiritually to know Jesus and just like the blind man in the story we often can’t see clearly.

We have all been touched by Jesus and like Jesus’ disciples then we are all spiritually speaking partially sighted in many areas.

We can all think at times that we know it all and get entrenched in what we believe, yet we all fail to understand so much. We fail because we are all partially sighted and it’s not until Jesus touches our eyes again that we can clearly see Jesus and what He’s teaching us.

The disciples missed the meaning of the twelve baskets left over from feeding the five thousand Jews and the meaning of the seven baskets left over from feeding four thousand Gentiles.

Miracles are signs, sign posts pointing to a spiritual truth. The five thousand were are all Jews. Twelve baskets leftover demonstrate that Jesus had more than enough bread for the twelve tribes of Israel.

Then four thousand Gentiles in Decapolis. Scripture refers to the seven nations of Gentiles. So Jesus was attesting that he also had more than enough spiritual bread for the Gentiles.

Jesus is saying, “See I have enough bread for all the Jews and all the Gentiles, that’s how abundant my supply is.”

What about the yeast of the Pharisees? Later Jesus told the disciples that the yeast of the Pharisees is hypocrisy (Lu 12:1).Is Jesus saying to his disciples and therefore Jesus is speaking to us, ‘don’t pretend that you are something you’re not’? That’s what being a hypocrite means.

When we try to big ourselves up to impress Jesus we’ve missed the whole point of grace that tells us we are welcome just as we are.

I think we all have to acknowledge that we, including myself, are all partially sighted when it comes to spiritual understanding. We mustn’t fall into the Pharisees trap of pretending to know everything when in fact we don’t. When it comes to spiritual things we know very little,

We are often spiritually blind and at best we are all partially sighted.

So let us just thank Jesus for what little understanding we do have and, as the disciples did, look to Jesus to lead us into more.

Because the God given understanding that we do have was enough to bring us to know Jesus.

Jesus the bread of life who is our abundant supply. Let’s keep our eyes focused on Him.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Hyper Grace’ 

1Corinthians 3:10 - 13 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.

For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus the Messiah.

If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, or wood, hay or stubble, every man’s work will be clearly seen in the light of day. Because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall show up every man’s work for exactly what it is.

Ephesians 18 - 22 For through Jesus we all have the right to enter into the presence the Father by one Spirit. And for this reason alone, we are no longer outsiders but we belong, fellow-citizens with God’s saints and equal members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with the Messiah Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

And in him we too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

In his letter to the Corinthians Paul says that no one can build on any other foundation apart from the one already laid which is the Messiah Jesus.

Then in the letter to the Ephesians we are told of building on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Confusing, two foundations?

Both foundations are based on an understanding that a church is a temple of the Holy Spirit. A place where God’s Spirit dwells, where God lives.

The Temple in Jerusalem had two foundations; one below ground that couldn’t actually be seen and a foundation above ground that could be seen.

The foundation above ground was the first row of stones that were laid upon the absolutely solid foundation already laid below ground.

There is no way that Nina and I would have started Liberty Church if we hadn’t felt that Jesus was asking us to do so.

And so we believe whole heartedly that Jesus sent us to this community and He laid the foundation and has the constructional details of the spiritual Temple He wants to build us into. Jesus is the foundation of this church. Our job is to ensure Jesus remains in place as the cornerstone.

The corner stone is the big stone placed in the first visible row of stones above ground. It stands squarely in the corner. We need to ensure that we, the living stones of this Temple’s walls, are in line with Him.

What do we know about building temples? Very little. That’s a great advantage because it encourages us to rely on Jesus all the way. Jesus the master builder lays the foundation. He places the cornerstone and all other stones so long as we don’t interfere.

Liberty began as non-denominational. Liberty is also non-sacramental, devoid of religious ceremonies and will remain so. Liberty was simply founded in faith according to God’s grace.

Our humanity, with its intellect and emotional needs is the adversary that opposes our faith that depends upon the faithfulness of God found in His grace.

Tonight's scripture says there is a choice of building with gold, silver, precious stones, or wood, hay, stubble. What do these building materials represent?

Gold represents Jesus’ deity, silver the redemption in Jesus and the precious stones, the light of Jesus, like the ‘Bling’, the dazzle or sparkle in a diamond.

Wood is a dead tree and represents humanity that is spiritually lifeless. Hay is dead, lifeless and seedless, unable to reproduce. Stubble is the dead dried up stalks of the crop that has been harvested which the farmer burns up.

So the scripture is saying we can choose to build with humanity, our intellects and limited abilities. Or we can build on that foundation that is Jesus by looking for Him to put His life into this Temple.

How do we build with Jesus’ materials? By faith in Him. By listening for Him, trusting in Him and responding to Him. By following his directions rather than our own ideas and emotions.

Soon after Liberty started I felt God tell me that like Abraham He was taking us into the Promised Land.

God was speaking to Nina at the same time saying, like Joshua He was taking us into the Promised Land.

Abraham represents faith and Joshua represents freedom. To enter the Promised Land we need faith in Him, and we need to be free from anything that might constrain, restrain or burden us.

The Promised Land is the land of faith and freedom. It’s living in faith in Him and its where we is where we find joy (mega-happiness). It is also the land of grace: unlimited grace that excludes no one.

Romans 5 says ‘Religion with its rules were added in so that failure might abound. But where failures abound, grace abounds all the more’. In the verse the word ‘abound’ occurs three times; twice the Greek means ‘increase’ but the third time the text uses a different Greek word hyper-perisyoo.

Its saying that there is a ‘hyper grace’, a grace that exceeds, overflows and is beyond measure. I can imagine Paul sitting there writing trying to get a word big enough to describe this exceeding grace and coming up with hyper-perisyoo ...hyper grace!

I want to be in the place of hyper grace, the place of faith and double measures. The place of freedom, a place filled with the sweet aroma of Gods presence, a place where our experience of God can overflow and exceed human possibilities.

A place that’s free from the expectations, obligations and restrictions of religion, a place where we can be ourselves. A place of the supernatural and a place where Jesus is free to be Himself. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Mega happiness’ 

Taken from a Psalm of David chapter 16:5 – 11

You, my LORD, are all I want, and you give me all I need; you are my future.

How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they truly are.

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

I have put the Lord always before me; he is my strength, I will not be moved.

Therefore my spirit is glad, and my soul rejoices: my body rests in hope.

For you will not abandon me nor let my soul be imprisoned.

You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure.

In the middle east girls and women of the family usually look after the sheep. King David as the youngest child was the family shepherd, because there were no girls in his family to do the job.

So the adult male shepherds on Christmas cards give a false impression. There are good reasons to think the shepherds the angels announced Jesus’ birth to were women. I think the first to hear that good news of a supernatural event, the birth of a unique life, were women.

Also outside the tomb in the garden of Gethsemane an angel announced to women the good news of a supernatural event, the re-birth of a unique life.

The first two words of the angels at the nativity and at the resurrection were ‘fear not’, that’s no coincidence, especially when in each story two more very important and significant words appear which are, ‘great joy’. The first instance was ‘great joy’ going in and on the second it was ‘great joy’ being expressed.

Joy is not a word we use much these days. Joy basically means happiness. The English word ‘great’ in the Greek is ‘mega’, so great joy is ‘mega happiness’.

About a year ago Lynn walked into Liberty for the first time. She had suffered repeated rejection from Christians. Rejection hurts, I know, I’ve had a taste. But it cuts deeper when you are rejected not just for what you do, but for who you are.

When that rejection tries to tell you that God rejects you as well then it becomes spiritual abuse. That is what Lynn experienced and is what many of us here have experienced.

To be treated like a leper is simply awful. Where is the love, where is the respect for a fellow human being, where is the good news?

Over the last year Lynn has been able to share the pain she experienced and find support and understanding to help her towards healing. Her pain has turned to the happiness I saw on her face as she preached here last Sunday. The good news of mega happiness has gone in to Lynn from Liberty and now comes out from her to others.

Months ago Lynn had a question, ‘Why has God brought me to Blackpool?’ Now she knows. It’s to spread mega happiness wherever she goes, as the Lord leads her on in her ministry.

The apostle Paul tells us in Ro 14:17 That ‘the kingdom of God is... righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ Ro 5:18 tells us that righteousness is a gift, its free to all God’s children. We can’t work for it or earn it. It is the giving of God Himself, it is His own righteousness, bestowed upon those who trust in Him. We are now seen as holy and perfect in God’s sight Col 1:22.

Our peace comes from knowing that God Himself has made us right with Him. We may not have peace with other people or with life in this world, but we have peace with God. It is the peace that passes understanding, perfect peace because we trust in Him. Living in peace with God is something to be mega happy about.

For me, coming from a religion of condemnation into the freedom of the gospel of great joy makes me very happy, even mega happy. I’m no angel, as you know, but I bring good news of great joy.

Ro 8 tells us ‘that the Spirit of life has set us free from religion and its demands.’ Religion the text says that is ‘devised by humanity for humanity which ultimately fails because of humanity.’

We are warned that ‘those who live according to their human nature and its desires have their minds set on their own needs.’ Whereas ‘those who live according to the Spirit have their hearts fixed upon the desires of the Holy Spirit.’

When we focus on living according to the man made demands of religion that path leads to a dead end.

Whereas the Spirit takes us along the path of righteousness into the life of peace and mega happiness. It is in the Spirit that the fruit of the Spirit joy and peace is to be found.

It is not only Christmas cards that give a false impression, religion also gives a false impression.

We all to easily put our confidence in the false news of religion and its practices.

The angel that spoke to the shepherd women, and the angel that spoke to the women at the empty tomb, both announced good news of a supernatural event that brought God’s life into this world.

Lynn’s preaching last week was a supernatural event that brought God’s life into this place. If our meetings are not a supernatural event it is religion. Religion can never ever bring life, unique life conceived and birthed by God through His Holy Spirit.

At the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit a supernatural event recorded in Acts 2, onlookers said the disciples seemed drunk. They weren’t, they were delirious, experiencing life in the Spirit for the first time and they were overflowing with mega happiness.

Lord may the river of life overflow in this place and so bring the glory of mega happiness to your throne. I close with Jude verse 24, ‘Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with mega happiness.’

Extract from: Jim’s Preach ‘In Christ’ Part 7

There is NO condemnation now for those who live united in Christ.

For the law of the Spirit, which brings us life in union with Christ Jesus, has set me free from the law of sin and death.

What the Law could not do, because human nature was weak, God did. He condemned sin in human nature by sending his own Son, who came as a man with a sinful human nature, to do away with sin.

God did this so that the righteous demands of the Law might be fully satisfied in us who live according to the Spirit, and not according to our human nature.

Those who live as their human nature tells them to, have their minds controlled by what human nature wants. Those who live as the Spirit inspires them to, have their minds directed by what the Spirit desires.

To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be inspired by the Spirit results in life and peace. ‘ Romans 8: 1 - 6

The last of the ‘in Christ’ statements found in the letter to the Ephesians is in Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

The eternal purpose, or God’s plan, had always been to bring humanity into an eternal relationship with Himself. A relationship that is foolproof, that even we, in our worst moments, can’t mess up, can’t destroy.

It was always the will and intention of God to accomplish and fulfil His plan through and in Christ Jesus His Son.

Many of us failed at Christianity because of the never ending pressure to do more and more Christian Religious Activity and Performance. And the frustration, guilt and shame of never seeming to be able to do enough or to be good enough. I almost drowned in the C.R.A.P.

But then I met some very elderly men and women, retired missionaries who had lived for decades taking the gospel to the Untouchables in India, the poorest class despised by all. They had lived in severe poverty and had found, by experience that Jesus constantly led them, equipped them for the things they had to do and never, never let them down.

They never once spoke of striving to make themselves better, or more moral or kinder or more loving. No. They knew, they themselves had plenty of personal faults and failings. But they didn’t rely on their own goodness to keep them in relationship with God.

They relied on Jesus to keep them in that relationship and He was reliable, always.

I wanted the deep relationship with God that they had and I saw that faith, trust in Him, was the way to gain it. The C.R.A.P didn’t help in the slightest. So I ditched it and gave up on all the activities and performances that I had put such energy into.

Mt 6:33 says ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness’. First what is the Kingdom of God? The apostle Paul tells us in Ro 14:17 ‘The kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit….’

Paul tells us the Kingdom of God has spiritual power, it brings life and harmony with God.

Paul also tells us what the Kingdom of God isn’t; and that it is not being clever in words or speeches, or anything man-made, or external, for such things lack spiritual power.

The Kingdom of God, that Jesus, and later his disciples, preached was a compelling invitation to every woman and man to receive as a gift

Totally undeserved righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!

Now that is incredibly good news.

Jesus never asked people to repent or seek forgiveness; not the Samaritan woman, not the paralytic, nor the blind, deaf, lame or leprous, not the apostles including Paul, not even Peter after his denial.

All sin was cancelled out and righteousness (Jesus’ own righteousness) was given freely to people who didn’t deserve it.

Mr 1:4 tells us that John the Baptist preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And so many churches today preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The preaching of John not Jesus. A preacher said ‘God has no problem with sin because God had sent the answer, Jesus.’

It is a fallacy, a false teaching that our sins separate us from God, Nothing can separate us; only one thing spoils our relationship with God and that is unbelief.

Repentance and asking for forgiveness ended 2000 years ago. My prayer for today is ‘I believe, help me in my unbelief.’

The Christian life has to be lived in Christ, through and in union with the Spirit of Jesus. In total reliance upon the sufficiency that’s in the grace of God.

Jesus said that the Kingdom of God was like you scattering seeds. Just step back and watch them grow, watered from heaven they flower and bear fruit without any effort.

Jesus also said the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, see how small it is but yet grows effortless into the largest tree in the garden

For 11 years I’ve preached that wonderful free gift given to us in Jesus: righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. In other words the gospel of grace. And I’ve seen this good, incredible, even fabulous news bring freedom to many. 

Extract from: Jim’s Preach ‘In Christ’ Part 6

Reading from Ephesians 3:14–19

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’

In Ephesians 3:6 it says that as a body of believers we all share in God’s promise in Christ. On a ten pound note it says ‘I promise to pay the bearer 10’. Our monetary system, at its basic level, works on a promise. The promise on a banknote is an unconditional guarantee.

Christianity, at its basic level, works on a promise. The trouble is that often Christianity has gone away from that basic attitude of trusting in Gods promise. Christians often behave more as if God had given us a loan with conditions attached. But ‘In Christ’, God’s promises are unconditional lifetime guarantees and do not depend on our performance.

At the age of 15, when I first came to know and trust in Jesus, I was full of excitement, enthusiasm, exuberance and expectation. Well, my church soon knocked that out of me!

Over the following year I became, so I thought, more Christian. I became religious, meaning I did things with the aim of pleasing God. I involved myself in Christian Religious Activity. I thought that being a good Christian was based upon my Performance.

In Matthew 5 Jesus starts off the beatitudes about how those who are pure, meek, and merciful and thirsting after righteousness are blessed by God. My Christian Religious Activity and Performance gave me the illusion that it was possible to make myself like this. But really it wasn’t an illusion. It was a delusion that through my efforts I could achieve the compassion and moral excellence of Jesus. I tried and I failed.

In Matthew 5:48 Jesus’ command was to ‘Be perfect’. How perfect? ‘as perfect as God Himself.’ But try as I might with my Christian Religious Activity and Performance, I couldn’t be perfect.

I tried my best to be a goody two shoes. Failure left me feeling guilty and condemning myself I left the church.

I had failed in my Christian Religious Activity and Performance because it relied upon me. I was the problem. I was the weakness in the system. I was the weakest link.

When I came back to church, 20 years later, I was again full of excitement, enthusiasm, exuberance and expectation. But once I was back in the system that demanded performance I very quickly slipped back into my Christian Religious Activity and Performance.

This time, older and a bit wiser, I sussed out what everyone else in my church did about Jesus’ command to ‘be perfect’. They ignored it. They simply and concentrated on improving their Christian Religious Activity and Performance. They said that God is happy so long as you keep doing your best. The command to ‘be perfect’ was watered down to ‘do your best.’

My Promotion was very quick. I didn’t have to serve as clerk of the court, or as a solicitor or even a barrister No, I went straight in as a Judge and I was a judge who didn’t need a jury. In court Judges are seated higher than everyone else, it gives them the ability to look down on people. When I was doing well in my Christian Religious Activity and Performance I looked down on those who were not and this fed my pride. Judging others made me feel better about myself.

With my arrogance well topped up, my self righteousness blossomed. Interestingly the initials of Christian Religious Activity and Performance make up C.R.A.P. I was once full of excitement, enthusiasm, exuberance and expectation now I was full of C.R.A.P!

All my C.R.A.P. just made me tired, not perfect. So at last I stopped trying to make myself pleasing to God. There was no point as I could never do it. I gave up my C.R.A.P. Instead, just as I was, with no pretence or performance I turned to Jesus. My prayer was that I wanted to know him.

A few months later in answer to that prayer, I found myself face to face with a woman I looked down on with distaste. She was homeless and I saw her as a scrounger and too lazy to work. (I later realised how wrong I had been). But as this woman spoke to me, miraculously despite my prejudice, I felt tremendous love for her. A flood of emotion entered the top of my head and flowed through my entire body. It was incredible. I felt as though I was glowing. I knew it was Jesus’ love and compassion for her. For just a few minutes, I felt overwhelmed with the love of Jesus for this woman.

And for those few precious minutes, I believe, as far as is humanly possible, I was filled with the fullness of God. Jesus himself had fulfilled in me Mt 5:48 to be perfect. I no longer had to ignore the demand of this verse. In Jesus I had the supply… of His perfect love and compassion.

His perfect love was within me and at that moment He chose to show it. The promise in Christ could be manifested at any time of His choosing according to the perfect plan and purpose of God in Christ Jesus. And when it was not being manifested I didn’t have to force myself to try to make it happen.

Like Paul prayed for the early believers in Ephesus I pray now that, according to the riches of God’s glory, you are strengthened, with his power, by his Spirit, in your inner being.

I pray that Christ Himself dwells in your hearts by faith…I pray that you are rooted and grounded his love.

I pray that as you truly grasp how vast God’s love is and know this love as part of your daily life, that the promise of God in Christ Jesus will be manifested in you.

I pray that each of you at Liberty Church will know times when the perfect love found only in Christ Jesus will be demonstrated in you. And that you will rest in the knowledge of His wonderful love for you, just as you are, without labouring under the oppressive pressure of trying to change any aspect of yourself.

Lord fill us with excitement and enthusiasm for you! Fill us with exuberance and expectation for the things your love will do in our lives. Fill us with the promise of your Spirit. Now to you who can do far more in us than we could ever think or imagine, according to your power within us, to you be the glory by Christ and in Christ. Amen.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘In Christ’ Part 5 

Extracts from Matthew 27:37 -46

The guards placed a written accusation above his head. It read, "This is Jesus, the king of the Jews." At that time they crucified two criminals with him, one on his right and the other on his left. Those who passed by insulted him………..

………At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

We continue the theme ‘in Christ’ as found in the book of Ephesians. Eph 2:13 ‘But now in Christ Jesus you who were separated and afar off, are made near in the blood of Christ.’

We sing a song to the Lord ‘You’re Beautiful’. Beautiful according to my dictionary means lovely… exceedingly good… of extreme excellence.

I’m going to tell a story of two women, both found in a garden. The first woman represents humanity in the first creation, the creation of the physical world.

The second woman represents all those in the new creation, the spiritual creation resulting from re-birth in the Holy Spirit. Scripture refers to those in Christ as ‘the bride of Christ’.

The story: It was a beautiful day in a beautiful garden. A beautiful God had made them both. A beautiful woman walked in this beautiful garden and saw a beautiful tree.

The beautiful woman wanted the fruit on the beautiful tree and mistakenly she thought that the beautiful fruit would add to her beauty. But the beautiful woman was already exceedingly beautiful because she was made in God’s own image.

Neither the tree nor the fruit had the exceedingly beautiful image of the beautiful God. When the beautiful woman swallowed the beautiful fruit she swallowed a lie, she was deceived by her won desire for more, and that ruined her true beauty.

The woman had stopped trusting God, God and the woman were separated. No longer did the woman possess God’s beauty. The woman was now so separated from God’s life that now she would experience ultimate separation from him and would die.

God wanted the woman back; the woman was part of His love, part of His life. God knew that only He could bridge the gulf of death between them and restore life. And so, thousands of years later God, through his Son reached out to restore that precious relationship.

It was the plan of the divine exchange. God’s Son Jesus would take into Himself all the flaws, the faults and failings of the woman and in exchange God’s Son would freely give His qualities to the woman.

od’s substitute Jesus was buried in a beautiful garden. A beautiful woman, Mary Magdalene, walked in that beautiful garden on a beautiful day. She saw that the tomb was empty and she saw a beautiful man, Jesus.

This beautiful woman hadn’t always been beautiful. There had been an ugliness about her until earlier in her life she had met Jesus. And Jesus had exchanged his beauty for her ugliness. The exchange was so profound that her only desire was now for more of Jesus.

No longer separated God and the woman once again walked together in a garden. And the beautiful woman saw herself as Jesus saw her, a new creation living in the image of her Saviour.

In the new creation, as in the first creation God made His children in His image. He made us spiritually lovely, exceedingly good and extremely beautiful. But through the centuries those who are created anew have over and over again tried to add to what God has done.

It’s as foolish as ‘gilding a lily’ trying to make a lily that is perfectly beautiful, even more beautiful by our efforts. The result always spoils the original.

A lily created by God is alive, it sways in the wind displaying its different colours, shades, textures. It produces a wonderful scent and feeds the insects. It can reproduce and give life in its seeds that grow into more lilies.

A lily gilded, meaning covered in gold, is lifeless. Its shape is beautiful but its stiff and rigid and compared to the living lily it’s dull. There is no variation in colours and textures, no scent, no seeds and no nectar and pollen. It’s stiff its dead. Adding man made beauty to it only spoiled it.

Why is it that we desire to make ourselves more like Jesus when over and over in scripture God says already have the image of Jesus? Why do we strain for man made beauty and goodness when we have God’s?

As Paul writes of the divine exchange: 1Co 15:49 ‘…we once bore the image of the earthy, we now bear the image of the heavenly.’

We don’t need to gild the lily and become lifeless. We can see ourselves as God sees us, in Christ, excelling in loveliness, extreme in goodness and exceedingly beautiful. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘In Christ’ Part 4 

Tonight’s readings are extracts from Ephesians 1 and 2 

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know  how immense is his power at work in us who believe.  

This power working in us is the same divine energy which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 

Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our un-righteousness—it is by grace you have been saved. 

And God 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 through Christ Jesus. 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God it’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so that no-one can boast. 

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.   

The Big Bang theory states that the cosmos originated from nothing. This theory coincides with my belief in God who created everything out of nothing. God spoke from infinity, from eternity and an explosion of light and energy occurred and there it was, the creation of the heavens and the earth. 

We can’t imagine the power of such an event… it’s beyond us. 

I regard the six days of creation in Genesis as each symbolising an age of development. Light in the first age, second age atmosphere and land light, third age plants and trees etc.  

The progression is light, from light comes energy and from the light and energy comes life.  

In 2Co 5:17 it says: ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…’ 

The Genesis creation story and the New Creation story have similarities. The physical creation of the earth started with light. The New Creation, coming into relationship with Jesus starts with light, Jesus shining His light into our spiritual darkness.  

From His light comes an energising by the Holy Spirit and that brings spiritual life In the physical creation life first appears on the third day. Spiritually resurrection life first came on the third day.  

In creation the sun is the source of light and the moon reflects that light. In the New Creation

Jesus is the source of our light. We reflect his light as we have once again the image of God.  

According to Genesis God intended from the beginning that humanity should bear his image. That image was lost but, through the salvation Jesus brings, it is restored.   

Genesis says on the 7th day God rested when creation was completed. Jesus rested when the work of salvation was completed. Jesus sat down, rested, as tonight’s reading tells us 

Ephesians also tells us that we are created in Christ and, spiritually speaking, we are seated in heaven. Being seated signifies being in at rest.  

As the new creation we can rest in what has been done for us. Jesus has done all the work to make our salvation and our standing with God complete. Sit down, feet up, chill! 

Php 1:5-6  Because of your communion in the gospel from the first day until now,  be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 

These 2 verses tell us our new life created in Christ is completed in Christ. It is from infinity,  eternity, the power of God gives us new life and completes new life in us.   

This immense power that created the cosmos is the same infinite power that raised Jesus from the dead and the same power that gives is new life. 

We have God’s potential. There is within us is the capability to do the extraordinary, to bring others into this new life.  

Because the infinite power that brought life to the cosmos, the infinite power that resurrected Jesus from the dead, the infinite power that gave us life in Christ… lives on within in us. 

As in the beginning the Spirit hovered over creation… the same Spirit now hovers over the new creation, over us, to bring light and energy and life to others  

The same Spirit brings the infinite power to release the infinite power of Jesus’ life within each new creation. 

We are saved by the infinite power of grace. We are saved by the infinite power of faith. 

We tend to under estimate the power of grace and faith but yet, that’s what brought us here tonight to be God’s church, God’s people sharing his life together.  

Liberty was born from eternity, by God’s divine power bringing new life. By its very nature life reproduces and we will continue to see Liberty bring new life to many.  

It will be through the infinite power of grace 

The infinite life of God in Christ… to the praise of His glory. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘In Christ’ Part 3  

Ephesians 1:11 - 14 

We have obtained an inheritance in Christ our Lord, being chosen according to the purpose of God who works out all things according to His will, so that we… who first trusted in Christ… should be to the praise of His glory. 

And you also trusted In Him, after we heard the truth in the good news of our salvation. In Jesus, you having believed, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance …to the praise of His glory. 

We are continuing to look at the phrase ‘In Christ’ that we find 10 times in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In the four verses of the text Paul twice uses the phrase ‘to the praise of His glory’. 

He says ‘that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory’ and then later says you also trusted in Him are to the praise of his glory. According to the context the ‘we’ meant Jewish Christians and the ‘you also’ meant Non Jewish Christians. 

This was written in an incredibly racist world where Jews looked down on non Jews, the Gentiles. Jews considered the Gentiles unclean, unfit and undesirable. They kept them at a distance.  But here Paul puts them on a par, giving them equality brought about purely through trust in Christ. 

It was a shocking statement, a revolutionary statement. An all inclusive statement if I’ve ever heard one. It includes everyone, with no exceptions, ‘to the praise of His glory’. I see the good news of Jesus as being all inclusive and that message to me rings loud and clear above all else. 

According to Paul being ‘in Christ’ gives us equality but also lifts us up as he says we all are ‘to the praise of His glory’. And that is just by being ourselves, being in Him. This is not about doing its simply about being. 

I want to explain this by telling a story. A schoolgirl choir called ‘Angelicus’ had an audition on  Britain’s Got Talent. You can Google it to see the audition.  The girls said that they were inspired by their teacher Mr Williams and they had become a choir because of what he had done for them. The camera panned to a very frail looking man in the audience. They said that Mr Williams had had a bad car accident that year and was still recovering. 

The choir of 12 to 16 year olds then sang ‘Nessun Dorma’. It was stunningly beautiful. The audience and the judges were on their feet applauding, including Simon Cowell. Then Simon Cowell asked Mr Williams to come up to the front. He had difficulty walking and needed help to walk but the applause for him was deafening! 

The girls were so proud of what he had done for them that evening. They gave him glory and you could see Mr Williams was so incredibly proud of them. 

For Mr Williams that wonderful choir was to the praise of his glory. It proved his great love of music and his dedication to teaching the girls. The audience had heard the choir and wanted to applaud Mr Williams for what he had done. 

We who know Jesus have come to know him because of his great love for us and his dedication to us. He gave his very life for us. 

The difference between Mr Williams and Jesus is that we don’t need to perform for Jesus.

We give Him glory just by being who we are in Him. 

It is God who formed and fashioned us in the womb and until this very moment in our lives in Christ. Jesus is incredibly proud of us. We are ‘to the praise of His glory’ 

We are the evidence that Jesus succeeded on the cross, we show His resurrection, we bear witness that He closed shut the separation between God and humanity. We are the proof that what Jesus did bore fruit. The fruit is each one of us who have come into a living relationship with Him. 

And just by knowing Him and loving him we add to his glory. We are the redeemed, the holy ones of God. We are ‘to the praise of His glory’. We are the ones who live in the light of his life and presence. We are the crowning achievement of all Jesus did on earth. 

To those who think we are unclean, unfit and undesirable and that we should be kept at a distance; it’s not what they think that matters, it’s what Jesus thinks. It’s what is being thought about us and said about us in Heaven, we are ‘to the praise of His glory’ 

We must always remember it is not even what we think of ourselves in human terms that matters.Our human condition or our human frailties matter not a jot to Jesus, He is dedicated to us just as we are. 

Whether we sing in tune or sing out of tune down here doesn’t matter, we are a choir in perfect harmony in Christ in heaven. We’re all appearing at the royal command performance singing praises; for our King and to our King. 

God has pressed the golden buzzer, we’ve won the final our names are in lights, we’re top of the bill, all of us individually and collectively headliners. All of heaven along with Jesus are on their feet and applauding, because we are to the praise of His glory. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘In Christ' Part 2  

Taken from Colossians 1:15 – 22    

Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him & 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. 

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 

Once you were separated from God and alienated because of your untrusting ways.

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, blameless and free from accusation 

We are looking at the 10 times the Apostle Paul uses the term in Christ in the book of Ephesians. The third is in Eph 1:10 where it says:

‘According to His will, His purpose and plan, in the fullness of the time, God will gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth’ 

It simply means God is going to restore everything back to the way it was in the beginning.

Scripture records that in the beginning everything was very good. The original Hebrew text of Genesis says exceedingly good. (Like a Mr Kipling’s cake!) 

In tonight’s reading says how in the beginning God created everything in Christ… in the end God restores everything in Christ… once again making everything exceedingly good. 

So what happened in the beginning that’s in need of restoring at the end?

In the beginning God was in an intimate, life giving relationship with humanity.  

In the Genesis creation story humanity lived in the simplicity of trusting in God. The Lord advised Adam (representing humanity), not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and bad. This tree would give them moral knowledge and the power to judge themselves and to judge God. It would feed their pride but would not give them the ability to be exceedingly good, or do good exceedingly

God hatched another plan, Plan B. God chose a nation to relate to. They had the ability to judge through the knowledge of good and bad and God spelt out the rules to live by. He knew they would not be able to keep these rules so there was a remedy.   

When the people failed to be exceedingly good an animal could die in their place as a sacrifice and so keep the relationship with God intact. But humanity’s ego and pride came in. They trusted their own judgement instead of God. Relationships are built on trust. Separation was the only answer. 

Another plan: Plan C. THIS relationship would depend upon God alone. Now people would not need to know what was good or how to do good because God himself would live in them. His life and His goodness would be in them. All they needed to do was trust in Him.  

There would be no system, no rules to religiously keep, because God would do it all. God had created everything through the Word. He recreated everything through the Word.  

So the Word became flesh. Plan C was JC, God’s son as a human being who was exceedingly good. It was a glorious plan. JC would keep absolute trust in God He would be exceedingly good and do good exceedingly. 

JC would not eat of the tree of knowledge.  JC wasn’t here to judge but to save. JC only did, and JC only said what God empowered Him to say or do.  

JC fulfilled plan A … the simplicity of trusting God. And JC fulfilled Plan B the religious system. JC kept every rule, every ceremony, every sacrifice exceedingly well. He fulfilled plan B.  

Plan C was trust on another level, because to fulfil Plan C JC had to be the exceedingly good sacrifice that had to die and JC had to trust God that He would rise again.So on resurrection day God filled JC with His life. A union between JC and God took place. God had at last what was intended from the beginning, a union and relationship with JC who was human.  

The glory of plan C was that when people trusted in JC, JC would become one with them. It would be a marriage made in heaven, the two would become one flesh because JC is flesh. But also in this marriage the two would become one spirit. 

The lives of those united with JC would be hidden in JC. They would become exceedingly good simply because they were united in JC’s exceeding goodness. And as long as they trusted in JC, together they would do good exceedingly.  

Plan C is a relationship built on trust and when God’s people continue in trust the relationship develops, grows and matures and becomes exceedingly good. If you are in Christ you are in the ongoing plan C. You are part of something that is exceedingly good. 

Scripture tells us that all those in Christ, those in heaven and those on earth united in a relationship with God, will never ever again be separated from Him. 

Because of JC nothing ever again, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God. We are in JC; in Christ, from head to foot, from inside out and from outside in. What a joy to know that we are exceedingly good in the exceedingly good JC.  

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘In Christ Part 1’  

Ephesians 1:1 – 6 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Because of His love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his sons and daughters, this was his will and purpose. 

To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in his dear Son Jesus. 

The theme in Ephesians is that the life of the saint is not about doing... but about being.  

In Ephesians Paul uses the phrase ‘In Jesus’ 7 times and the phrase ‘In Christ’ 10 times.  7 is the number of perfection and 10 is the number of completeness.  

Christ is not Jesus’ surname. Christ is a formal title (an identifying name signifying status).

Messiah and Christ both literally mean ‘Anointed One’ 

Paul is writing to Christians and he calls these believers saints and faithful. Saint is a formal title (an identifying name signifying status). Saint means ‘holy one’. Paul is saying that those who are in Christ are holy ones.

Jesus the ‘anointed one’ was the Messiah, the Christ, not by what He did, His indentifying name was not by doing, it was by being. Our identifying name saint is not by doing it is by being. Being a saint is not of ourselves we cannot make ourselves holy. 

Last week I spoke about the Charles Wesley hymn ‘And Can it Be’. I said Charles had been bound by the chains of religion. He had been an ordained minister but he didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.  

Then he received the revelation that this relationship came solely thro faith as, for the first time he encountered Jesus. He experienced a release from the demands his religion put on him and the guilt of  failing to meet those demands. He found Christianity was not about doing but about being.  

Charles expressed his joy of coming into relationship and being released from impossible demands in the line ‘My chains fell off my heart was free I rose went forth and followed thee’. 

I knew a man called Alan, who said he had been in his church for 30 years before he became a Christian. For 30 years he’d thought he was a Christian then Alan met Jesus and came into a relationship. Alan discovered that Christian life was not about doing but about being.  

Religion tells us that sacraments are outward signs of an inward grace. Charles Wesley and Alan practiced the outward signs for years but never experienced the inward grace. The outward sign cannot create the inward grace. Only knowing the Lord Jesus brings about the inward grace.  

You can take holy communion and not have communion that is holy. You can have religion and not have a relationship. We don’t have to rely on what we can do but can rely on what Jesus has done.  

Jesus prayed in John 17 that all (without exception) who believed in Him would be one in Him.

We all want a relationship, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a partner. The desire is in our being. God wants relationship, that’s where we get that desire from. And He has made that a possibility ‘by blessing us with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Eph1:3). He has given us everything we need for a relationship with God.  Because the Christian life is not about doing but about being.  

There are 5 relationship gifts: 1. the gift of grace (Ro 5:15) 2. the gift of faith (Eph 2:8) 3. the gift of righteousness (Ro 5:17) 4. the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ac 2:38) 5, gift of eternal life (Ro 6:23).

Five gifts that give you and keep you in a relationship in Jesus, with God. 

The gift of eternal life tells you how long the relationship will last. For ever: no break ups, no separation. None of these gifts can be gained by going to church or being good. They are free gifts from God.    

Galatians 3 tells us Christ redeemed us so that we would inherit the blessing of Abram. That blessing was the promise made to Abram Ge 12:2 ‘I will bless you …  and you will be a blessing’ 

God promised to bless Abram. Who was Abram going to be a blessing to? God. 

Any relationship should be based upon blessing one another. Despite my jokes, Nina and I above all want bless one another; we want to do each other good.  

God wanted a relationship with Abram and so God had to give Abram the ingredients for it. 

Read Abram’s story. He wasn’t perfect by any means. By our standards he was a lying, incestuous, adulterer. Not exactly the model lifestyle of a saint and YET.... 

It didn’t matter. Because his relationship with God was not about doing but about being. 

Our relationship is not about doing but about being, and being in Christ Jesus. 

As it is written, Ac 17:28 ‘For in the Lord we live, and move, and have our being’. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘In Jesus’ Part 4   

Extracts from Luke 8:43 - 48  

In the crowd that day was a woman who had been subject to menstrual bleeding for twelve years, but no doctor could cure her.

She came up behind Jesus and touched the hem of his garment, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 

"Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you."

But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I felt power go out from me." 

When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she came trembling and fell at his feet. In front of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 

Then Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." 

Continuing the theme in Jesus found seven times in the book of Ephesians 

‘In Jesus’ is how God sees those who trust in His Son and become the children of God enjoying forgiveness of sin, an inheritance of ancestral promises first made to Abraham, and a temple of God’s presence.   

Saint means ‘holy one’. It’s His presence in us that makes us holy.

1Co 6:17 says ‘Those that are united to the Lord are one spirit.’ 

And so to the 7th and final ‘In Jesus’ in the book of Ephesians. In Jesus and through faith in Jesus we can boldly approach God with freedom and confidence.

In tonight’s reading a woman who was slowly bleeding to death (menorrhagia) dared to push through the crowd to touch Jesus. Her bleeding, according to religious law, made her ceremonially unclean and anyone she touched would automatically become unclean too. She had been shunned by everyone for 12 years because no one wanted to be contaminated by her.   

But this woman had the faith to challenge the law and its rules that condemned her. As this woman reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment instead of Jesus becoming unclean, according to the religious law, His righteousness flowed out to the woman and made her clean. Immediately this woman stopped bleeding. 

The boldness of her faith in Jesus was greater than the law but then her boldness deserted her! She knew the law that discriminated against her. Joy turned to fear as Jesus suddenly said ‘Who touched me?’ And everyone else who discriminated against her looked on.  

But instead of getting a rollicking she was shocked to find that Jesus was delighted for her! 

How many of us have tried to get near to Jesus, only to let religious rules come and convince us we’re not good enough and frighten us off? It happened to me. Has it happened to you? 

So the last ‘in Jesus’ of Ephesians says that ‘In Jesus’ and through faith in him we may boldly approach God with freedom and confidence. Anytime, no matter what! Simply because we’re in Jesus. Being in Jesus makes us good enough, always.  

Charles Wesley was an Anglican minister who had a knowledge of God but didn’t know Him. That is, until he read a book by Martin Luther explaining the book of Galatians. A light came on and for the very first time Charles discovered the peace of knowing total acceptance from God that comes through faith alone.  His eyes were opened to the massive extent of God’s love and he was amazed. 

As a result he wrote his famous hymn called ‘And can it be?’ These are some of his words: 

Amazing love! How can it be,/ That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?/… ’Tis mercy all, immense and free,/For, O my God, it found out me!/ Long my imprisoned spirit lay,/Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;/ Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray—/I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; 

My chains fell off, my heart was free,/I rose, went forth, and followed Thee./

No condemnation now I dread;/Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;/Alive in Him, my living Head, /And clothed in righteousness divine,/Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,/And claim the crown, through Christ my own. 

Charles discovered that God freely pours His amazing love and limitless grace over him without Charles having to earn or deserve it. God’s amazing love made him free to follow Jesus without the chains of religion’s expectations binding him up. 

Before this Charles had felt imprisoned, bound up in a religious system whose demands he could never meet. It felt like being locked in a dark dungeon. So many of us have felt trapped by that that failure of being able to live up to what we are told we must do to be ‘good Christians’.  

But then Jesus revealed the immensity of His love to Charles, love that doesn’t apply conditions and rules but love that is totally unconditional. The chains of the do’s and don’ts of religion had told him that no matter how hard he tried he could never be good enough. Those chains had worn him down and stopped him being himself.   

The condemnation and guilt he used to carry were gone! Charles now knew that he was in Jesus, in whom he had forgiveness and an inheritance and the boldness not only to touch Jesus’ garment but the boldness to approach God Himself at any time, no matter what was happening in his life. 

In Jesus Charles had the boldness of faith to claim the crown of righteousness that Jesus had bought for him. Jesus has bought a crown of righteousness for you and me. All we need like Charles is the boldness of faith to claim our crown in Jesus in whom we trust. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach  ‘In Jesus 3’  

Ephesians 2:14 – 22 

Jesus Himself is our peace, He has made both Jew and Gentile as one and has destroyed all the barriers, torn down all the walls that divided men and women, 

He did this by abolishing the law with its commandments and regulations. When He died the law died with Him. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the Jew and the Gentile and men and woman, so making peace, 

Christ brought us together through his death on the Cross. The Cross got us to embrace one another, and accept our differences and diversity. 

Christ came and preached peace to all that listened, treating all as equals. For through him we all have access to the God by one Spirit. 

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and more than that, you’re family. This is all built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 

In Jesus the whole building is joined together ……to become a holy temple in the Lord.

And in Jesus you too are being built together to become a house in which God lives by his Spirit. 

In Ephesians Paul states 7 times that as Christians we are ‘In Jesus’. We have the benefits of being in Jesus, the benefits known as the Divine Exchange (see last week).    

God see us as redeemed people who have a tremendous inheritance, who possess the gift of faith from Him and are sealed with the Holy Spirit so we can never lose what He has promised us and given us.  

But how do we see ourselves? Do we dare see ourselves as God sees us?  

Church and society have judged many of us negatively. Criticism and bullying affect us and give us a tendency to have a low opinion of ourselves.  

But God treasures each one of us as precious to Him and loves and accepts us exactly as we are.

That’s why He chose us, I’ve never known yet for God to make a wrong choice. 

It’s hard for us to think spiritually and grasp that because we are ‘In Jesus’ God sees us as perfect (Col 3:3). 

Paul writes, that we who trust in Jesus are God’s Temple. Like the Temple in Jerusalem that Solomon built. Solomon built the temple precisely according to the plans God had given him.  

Imagine having the money to build your own house, furnish it just as you liked and position it exactly where you want with the  outlook you would like.  

When Solomon finished the Temple he dedicated it to God and scripture tells us in 1Kings 18 that the presence of the Lord came and took up residence in His new house. The Jews called the visible glory of God the Shekinah glory (Shekinah meaning presence or dwell).  

God’s presence was so powerful it totally overwhelmed the priests and stopped them performing their duties, instead they were overcome with awe of God. The temple became Holy the moment God moved in. It was His presence that made it Holy.  

In the story of Moses and the burning bush, God told Moses he was on holy ground. It was God’s presence that made it holy, it wasn’t holy of itself.  

Back to Solomon’s Temple. Scripture tells us that Solomon’s Temple symbolised the Temple to come, which would be made of people. It was to be flesh and blood not stone . God’s Temple today is each one of us who knows Him. 

Each one of us is unique and designed by God. And at the moment when we come to trust in Jesus, God himself takes up residence within us. We become God’s temple, God’s house, the place where God dwells. And we are made holy by his presence within us.   

And each of us is unique with unique life experiences and a unique outlook on life.  

God’s homes throughout human history are all different with different aspects and features in different locations and different outlooks. Each Christian is different. Each Christian is home to God and each one is holy because of God’s abiding presence. God’s Shekinah glory, God’s tangible presence is within. 

And every time Christians gather together God’s presence is among us. So, Liberty is God’s house. I’m not talking about the bricks and mortar that surround us but the body of saints that gather together make it God’s house.  

And His presence among us makes Liberty a holy residence. God is the Architect of the House of Liberty and God is building it according to His plan and furnishing it with those He has called to be here.  

He has chosen each of us for our uniqueness and sees us as precious and holy to Him. 

God wants His house to be filled with joy; a happy and pleasant place for Him to live in. And a home where He can share His peace, rest and to maybe recover from the stresses of life. 

God also wants to share Liberty, His temple, His house. He wants to make it a home where people can come in and meet Him and know the joy of the new life He brings... In Jesus.  

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘In Jesus 2’  

Extracts from Ephesians 1

To the praise of the glory of God’s grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved Son Jesus.

In Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us

In Jesus we also have received an inheritance, being

In Jesus 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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance 

When there is surplus of fruit you can preserve them by bottling. First jars have to be washed and sterilised. There can’t be any contamination or the fruit will spoil, every jar has to be spotless. The fruit is then packed tight into the jars and a lid is put on to seal it. Nothing can then get in to contaminate or spoil the wonderful fruit inside.   

When we become saints by believing and trusting in the Lord Jesus God sees us as being in Jesus. The apostle Paul records in Ephesians the wonderful gifts we have in Jesus. 

According to God’s plan and purpose when he looks at us He chooses to see His Son Jesus instead of us; human beings with all our faults and failings. From the moment that we believe in Jesus, in God’s eyes our lives are hidden in Jesus (Col 3:3). 

In tonight’s reading it says… ‘In Jesus we have redemption’ meaning He paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins. And that’s ALL of them, past, present and future. What an outrageous gospel, what an outrageous grace!   

Being totally forgiven makes us spotlessly clean – a bit like the jars washed clean and sterilised from every possible germ.  That level of cleanliness makes us immediately fit for heaven.         

Scripture records that Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever and because we are in Jesus we are spotlessly clean, yesterday, today and forever.


We have received an infinite amount of undeserved favour from God, a massive Grace Gift ticket. So much grace that we’d have no chance of using it up even in 100 lifetimes. 

There’s more than enough grace for each and every situation or circumstance… we can never earn it, no one can.  

We can never fall out of grace or fall away from grace. We can only ever fall into grace and it is always more than enough for our needs.   

So we are spiritually cleansed in Jesus – like the jars were cleansed. What was next in the kitchen? The filling – all that precious fruit is put inside sterilised spotless jars.   

Our reading says we that in Jesus we have an inheritance.  The inheritance is every promise made by God to the ancestors of Jesus e.g. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These promises, for example the one He made to Abraham ‘I’ll will bless you and make you a blessing’ have been passed down throughout the generations of Jesus’ family.  

Paul said Ro 8:17 we are joint heirs in Christ. We don’t have to do anything to inherit… it’s ours guaranteed simply because of who we are, God’s daughters and sons. 

Ephesians goes on to say about our trust in Jesus, we trust Him because we heard about Him one way or another. I say one way or another because folks come to know Jesus in such a variety of ways. It’s always the right way for each individual.  

That’s why the verse in Ephesians 1 ends ‘What you personally heard  was your good news of your salvation’. To make that plain, it was the good news of your freedom, free to be yourself and freedom from everything that at one time came between you and God. 

What happens, the very instant we believe, is what’s called the Divine Exchange…  

Jesus made Himself nothing… to give us everything

He accepted the poverty of earth… to give us the riches of heaven

He took our punishment… to give us forgiveness

He was cursed… so that we would be blessed ,He took our sin… and gave us His righteousness

He took our guilt… to give us his glory, He endured rejection … to give us acceptance with God

He lived a temporal life… to give us eternal life

He died darkness…to give us life in His glorious light

He rose victorious from death… to make us conquerors in life  

Without us knowing it, at the very moment we trusted in Jesus, the divine exchange took place. And Paul tells us that we were immediately sealed by the Holy Spirit. And that takes us back to the preserved fruit. Paul writes 2Co 4:7 that we have this treasure in jars. 

Jars made spotless by Jesus then filled with His love, His righteousness, His holiness, the inheritance, the promises, the blessings and the Spirit’s fruit. Jars sealed with His love by the Spirit. 

And because of that spiritual seal nothing we can do can ever contaminate it. Nothing can pollute it, nothing can spoil it. We are sealed in and preserved eternally, in Jesus. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach 'In Jesus'

John 14:16 – 20: Jesus makes a promise to His brothers and sisters   

I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. 

This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

"I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back.

In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. 

At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.”  

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian saints, he repeats the phrase ‘In Jesus’ seven times.

Seven is the number of perfection. It’s a bit of an odd thing to be ‘in’ Jesus. 

I often find myself in trouble…, in Nina’s bad books, in dickeys meadow. I know exactly what all those things mean and the consequences of them.  

But in Jesus???  What does that mean and what are the consequences?  

When Paul wrote that letter to the saints in Ephesus (Eph 3:4) he told them about the revelation  the Holy Spirit had given him, his ”insight into the Mystery of Jesus Christ”. 

A mystery  is something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. We live in the natural world whereas Jesus lives in a supernatural realm. And we need inspiration from the Holy Spirit to grasp something spiritually that our minds cannot explain.

I have firsthand knowledge that knowing the nature of Jesus only comes through experiencing Him, and increasingly over time, He reveals Himself to us.  

Jesus, born an ordinary man stepped into our world with an invitation for us to step into His realm. Because of the sin of unbelief, humanity had lost their relationship with God and were separated from Him. But God gave the perfect substitute, His Son, to pay the redemption price to bring humanity back into close connection with God.  

That reminds me of my chocolate gateau voucher.  I have an Iceland voucher that I can exchange for a free jumbo chocolate gateau for one!  

I didn’t earn it. I trust that when I present the voucher in Iceland, I’ll receive the cake because it’s already paid for.  

That’s like our redemption. When every saint gets to heaven they give their redemption voucher which reads: ‘This person knows and loves Jesus.’ So each saint has full access to heaven because the price of entry has already been paid in full.  

And the wonderful thing is that spiritually we can enter heaven, His realm, right now. There are times in life when the sense of His presence is overwhelming and we get little tastes of heaven.   

God’s viewpoint is that because we trust in Jesus our lives are hidden in His life (Col 3:3). When God looks at us he sees Jesus enfolding us. To God we are in Jesus.  

Another consequence of spiritually being in Jesus is that we are the spiritual descendents of Abraham and inherit all the promises that God gave to him (Galatians 3:29). Simply because we are in Jesus we have an inheritance and we inherit all those wonderful promises that Abraham was given ‘I will lead  you, I will guide you, I will bless you etc, etc and a thousand etc’s. 

We are also able to share in Jesus’ divine nature.  Peter confirms it in his 2nd letter 2Pe 1:4 ‘…God has given us (note, a gift, not anything earned) his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.’ 

We share in Jesus’ divine nature. It’s his nature in us that enables us to know God and to love him and to know His love for us.   

The promises are made to all God’s children. All are involved. No human being or human organisation or human codes of conduct have the power to block those promises that come from God Himself.  

Which takes me back to the beginning and the apostle Paul’s experience of… ”insight into the Mystery of Jesus Christ”. And to Jesus’ promise to us in tonight’s reading ‘You will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you’.  

As we live in faith, we grow in our ability to trust in Jesus more and more. We don’t get free from all our faults and failings, our bad habits and selfish ways and become perfect human beings. 

But there are times, despite us, when His qualities, His nature, come alive in us, inspired by His Spirit. And it is the divine life and nature that can reveal Jesus to others who don’t’ yet know Him. 

Then we become bearers of His life as others meet Him in us, and discover that life for themselves.  

And come to know the mystery of Jesus being in them; and they in turn knowing absolutely that they are in Jesus. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach 'Walk in Him'

Genesis 5:21 - 24 

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. 

Hebrews 11:5 & 6 

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away.

For before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 

Ge 5: tells us that Enoch walked with God and Hebrews 11 tells us Enoch had faith 

What does it mean to walk with God? It means to walk along side one another as companions; coming together for a journey. It involves talking about the experiences along the way, especially when the journey is hard. This togetherness leads to appreciating each other’s company and support when needed. 

Walking with God means that Enoch had an intimate relationship with God, a closeness and in step with God. The prophet Amos wrote "How can two walk together unless they’re in harmony?"  

The Apostle John writes “if we walk in the light, as Jesus is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” So when we are walking with God we are able to relate to others who are also walking with the God. It is always manmade rules that separate us. 

Enoch joined God on His journey not the other way round. I believe that here at Liberty we are on a journey that God started more than 10 years ago in response to the fervent prayers of a lesbian called Hayley.  

The Lord began the journey and each one of us has joined Him at various stages of His Liberty journey. Some may be with us for just part of this journey others may be here for the duration.  

Do we know the way? No... Do we need to know the way? No... We rely on the Spirit to guide us.  

Scripture says that Abraham walked before God.* Abraham was walking out in front but he didn’t know the way. He took wrong turns and made mistakes but God was behind him supporting him.   

Why did God allow those mistakes and wrong turns? Because Grace allows God’s children to be themselves, each with the freedom to make their own choices.  

Ex 6:3* Abraham knew God as ‘El Shaddia’ from the word ‘shad’ meaning ‘breast’, Mother God not Father God. Mother knows best has the tendency to fall on deaf ears and so all good mothers allow their children to make mistakes as part of their learning, while keeping an ever watchful eye on their child.  

In every step of his journey Abraham had the faith to know that Mother God was with him no matter what. So what about you and I as saints, and together as Liberty? 

Col 2:6 tells us. ‘As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him’

Plus, 2Co 1:20 For all the promises of God are in Jesus; and ….fulfilled in Him.

Walking in God means that we are walking in the promises of God. 

When I came into the freedom of the gospel of grace, I realised all the laws and rules had been swept away. I stood before God simply as me. I said, “Lord what now?” the answer came “Get on with your life.” So I did, later realising that in Jesus I had all the promises of God to rely on. 

I simply believed God’s promises in scripture: “I will lead you, I will watch over you, I will bless you” etc, etc. and a thousand etc’s. I trusted that Mother God knew best. 

How do we walk in God? Simply by trusting Her/Him and being open to Her/His leading. Col 2:7 tells us to be “rooted and built up in Jesus… grounded in faith in Jesus”. And faith is simply trusting Jesus.  

When our desire is to grow in our faith in God, and to walk in Her/His way instead of ours, then our relationship strengthens and becomes more intimate. Faith that can start out as small and as fragile as a mustard seed can grow to become strong and unshakable.   

Walking in Jesus brings us into unity with the Holy Spirit and in union with God, who is both Mother and Father to us. 

This union can gradually empower us to fulfil the following; Eph 5:2,8 "Walk in love" …"Walk in the light."  Ga 5 "Walk in the spirit".  The light is in Jesus… the fruit and the fullness of the Spirit in Jesus, the power God’s unfailing love is in Jesus 

Heb 11:5 says simply that “Enoch pleased God”. And here’s how …with his faith. Heb 11 verse 6 says … “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It was Enoch’s faith that pleased God.  

Faith gives each one of us as individuals and collectively, the ability to walk with God, walk before God, walk in God and most importantly, it pleases God. 

Because nothing pleases God more than having the faith for life’s journey with God in Jesus.

* Ex 6:3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as El Shaddia, but by my name Jehovah I did not make myself known to them.

Ge 17:1 ...the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God (El Shaddia); walk before Me.”

In light of the overall context given in Genesis 17, the name El Shaddai is directly connected with the promise given to Abraham regarding the future growth of his family, (“I will multiply you exceedingly") and ultimately of the coming of the promised Seed, the Messiah. Understood in this light, the name El Shaddai provides a picture of God's nurturing love for our lives... God nurtures and loves us, like a mother loves her newborn child.

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.

Rejection. CD’s or tapes are available free of charge. Contact Us


Liberty Church Blackpool