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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.

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘Simple Faith'

Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him — in simple faith. 

Be rooted in him and founded upon him, continually strengthened by the faith as you were taught it and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness. 

Be careful that nobody spoils your faith with big words and intellectual double-talk or deceptive philosophy. Such stuff is at best founded on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ Jesus.           Colossians 2:6 - 8  

From what I know about myself and from what most of you have told me, not one of us took on board what Paul wrote in those two verses in his letter to the Colossians. 

Paul wrote ‘go on living in him... in simple faith.’  I didn’t do that and most of us didn’t. 

As a 14 year old, I believed what I heard about Jesus and put my trust in Him... in simple faith. But then my ‘simple faith’ was drowned in the complications of doctrines and traditions my church taught me. I couldn’t cope with the rules and ‘double talk’, my Pentecostal religion that Paul calls the ‘deceptive philosophy…. stuff founded on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ Jesus.’  

So I left the church. I didn’t return until I was 40 and then I questioned everything. This led me, over time, to a new understanding of the simplicity of faith in Jesus.  

For Nina it was different. The Roman Catholic teachings and traditions she was brought up on did not lead her to God and she had walked away from Christianity. But years later God opened her eyes to see Him in the life of Penny, a woman she worked with. Penny seemed to know God and deep down Nina had always wanted this. God came to Nina to meet her where she was at and showed her his great love for her. That changed her life.  

All she had was a desire to know God and He responded to that. Without repenting, without the sinner’s prayer, without any understanding, without obedience, without any effort to change herself in any way Nina came to know God….in ‘simple faith’.  

Because of her first husband’s opposition, Nina wasn’t able to attend church, so she continued in what she had received and that was God’s love. She just lived in ‘simple faith’. 

For four years Nina’s simple faith, founded upon God’s love, continued and then her marriage ended which gave her the freedom to attend church. It was then that her ‘simple faith’ got very complicated. 

Nina took on church rules and teaching and slowly turned into a self righteous Christian, judging herself continually to see if she was measuring up to what was required by her church and, without realising, leaking judgmentalism to others around her. We know this, because we’ve been there and done it in one way or another.  

In Acts 16 there’s a bloke who asks Paul ‘What must I do to be saved? Paul replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.’ A simple reply to a simple request received in ‘simple faith’. 

The apostle Paul had a real problem with man-made religious traditions and rules trying to influence the new Gentile believers. Jesus also had a problem with man–made religious traditions, rules and religious leaders.  

We mustn’t forget the bible is a picture book for God’s children. It paints word pictures. It also says that there is nothing new under the sun. So if Jesus had a problem with religion, and Paul had a problem with religion it’s not surprising that we all have had, or still have a problem with religion.  

Paul wrote to the Galatian church, who he said, were founded on ‘simple faith’. He said to them, that they’d heard the Good News that saved them, but now they were listening to fake news. 

Every denomination has the Good News of Jesus but adds its own version of fake news. The Good news is God’s unconditional love shown in Jesus; the fake news is all the conditions they regard as essential to hang onto that love. And it’s the fake news, the conditions, which divide us.  

We were all ‘saved by grace through faith.’ The Holy Spirit led each of us along our own unique path of circumstances to the point of coming to know God through ‘simple faith’…simple, uncomplicated.

Paul was saying to the Galatian church; it was the Holy Spirit that brought you into a relationship with God. Why aren’t you simply relying on the Spirit to keep you in the relationship? 

Paul advised, ‘be careful that nobody spoils your faith’. That ‘nobody’ includes ourselves.

We all suffer from ignorance, bias and prejudice. We can all be taken in by fake news in Christianity 

Man made religion peddles the fake news of self righteousness, self achievement and self importance. The Holy Spirit points to the righteousness of Jesus, the achievement of Jesus and the importance of Jesus. 

We have a choice we can either be peddlers or pointers. We have a choice; we can choose simple or we can choose complicated.  

The Galatians let the many rules of religion and its practices creep into their church. The result was grading people on how ‘good’ they were and then deciding who was ‘in’ and who was ‘out’.  

We must ‘be careful that nobody spoils our faith’; and as we received Christ Jesus the Lord, lets continue trusting in him... ‘in simple faith’.   

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘The Better Part’ 

Jesus entered a certain village. A certain woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. 

She had a sister, Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus, hanging on every word he said. 

But Martha was distracted by all the serving that had to be done. She came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" 

The Lord answered, "Martha, Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. 

One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen the better part, and that one thing will not be taken away from her."                                  Luke 10:38 - 42

Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus into their home. Jesus was seen as a Rabbi (teacher), and as a student; a disciple of the Rabbi, Mary sat at his feet to savour everything he had to say and to learn from his wisdom. 

Meanwhile Martha was busy slaving away over a hot stove and racing around like a certain type of fly. Martha was naffed off with ending up with all the work and complained to Jesus about this. She addressed him as ‘Lord’ suggesting she saw herself as his servant. 

But Jesus said that lots of things needed to be done but only one thing was essential and Mary chose the better part looking to and listening to him and giving him her full attention. 

Two female disciples. One doing everything while the other appearing to do nothing. 

Martha’s complaint reminded me of the complaint of the elder son in the parable of the prodigal son. The eldest son had done all the work at home while the younger one played away. But it seemed the eldest had forgotten he was a son and behaved more like a servant, working devotedly but never enjoying his father’s wealth. 

I once fell for the false teaching; that I had to serve God. But a son doesn’t serve. Servants serve and I’m a son. I, like you are part of Jesus’ family. 

As a son I can choose; and like Mary I want to choose the better part. 

In the account of Ruth in the Old Testament the text tells us that Ruth was poor and had to do backbreaking work in the fields picking up the left over barley after the harvesters went by. After grafting all day she had gathered up one measure of barley. 

Later her mother in law Naomi told her that when the boss man Boaz had forty winks after lunch, to lie down at his feet. This she did and Boaz gave her six measures of barley to take home. 

Her hard work earned her one measure of barley but resting at the boss mans feet gave her six times the amount of barley. 

The moral of the story is, that we can graft all day for a measure, but rest at the boss mans feet and get a bounty for seemingly doing nothing. 

Ruth worked hard for her provision, but when she sought the provider she received much more. 

Jesus told us to seek first the Kingdom of God; I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve forgotten that advice. Due to the religion that I grew up in, doing good works was a sign of being a good Christian. 

And we can all become wrapped up in trying to be good Christians, when Jesus says that in fact we are fabulous saints! 

We’re family not servants. We can not only seek the Kingdom of God, but know that we are residents. 

Mary’s ears and heart were more precious to Jesus than Martha’s hands and feet. 

To me Martha represents the religion I was once embroiled in. Martha was so caught up in doing that she had no time to enjoy the presence of Jesus. Mary represents Grace and Faith. 

  •        Martha was busy and serving, Mary was resting and receiving.

  •        Religion works. Faith rests

  •        Religion is busy giving. Faith is resting receiving

  •         Religion says you have to do something to be in the right standing with God.

  •         Faith accepts you are in the right standing with God... resting in the finished work of Jesus. 

Being a saint of the Lord Jesus is not about doing but about being, and the best part is we only have to look and listen to Jesus

As we look and listen to Jesus we receive all that we need to be a saint of Jesus.   

Extract from Jim’s Preach 'The True Vine'

(Jesus said)  I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. 

He takes away every branch in me which has no fruit, and every branch which has fruit he makes clean, so that it may have more fruit. 

You are clean, even now, through the teaching which I have given you. 

Live in me at all times as I live in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you live in me. 

I am the vine, you are the branches: he who is in me at all times as I am in him, gives bountiful fruit, because without me you are able to do nothing.  John 15:1 - 5 

Jesus tells us He is the vine and that God the Father is the gardener. Jesus starts by saying ‘I am’ words never uttered by the Jews because they are reserved for God only. By using these words Jesus is saying that He is God.   

The disciples knew that the Jews as a nation were God’s vine so Jesus saying first that he was God, I am, and then that he was God’s vine to them was mind blowing although in Jer 2 it states that the vine that was Israel had got “worthless and rotten”.  

Israel, the vine destined to be in close union with God had lost their trust in and their desire for God and relied on their own achievements and merits instead. The result was no spiritual life or spiritual fruit like the dead wood on a vine that gardeners cut off and burn.  

We too can do and say things that show us we are not trusting God.  Peter did this when

Jesus told the disciples that is was God’s plan for him that he would be killed. Peter objected and this opposition provoked Jesus to say to Peter “Get behind me adversary, you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." 

Another translation puts it this way; Jesus says to Peter “Get out of my way anti God, your thoughts don’t come from God, but from your human nature!" 

This is the weakness of us all, that we can think, speak and do things that are contrary to God’s will; so making our thoughts, words and actions false, even anti God. 

We all fall into the same trap of letting our human nature influence us rather than the Spirit to inspire us. Fortunately this is where the parable of the true vine helps us.  

A vine by its very nature will produce fruit, but the skill and dedication of the gardener makes every difference to the quality and abundance of the fruit. God the Father is the gardener.  

It’s the gardener’s responsibility to look after the vine so it will produce fruit that contains the life of the true vine. The gardener feeds, trains and prunes the vine. In other words He removes what is false, because a true vine can only produce true fruit. 

Jesus tells us in the parable that we are clean because of what He said to us; that is, what He has said/revealed to us in our hearts. The spiritual truths our testimony of his love and his very being that He made clear to each of us individually when we first came to know Him. 

That is the sap that flows through us, the truth which we were given that began our Christian life, a truth that will nourish that life as part of the vine, a vine lovingly tendered by a loving Gardener. 

Jesus Himself is the life source of the branches and the fruit. This is why Jesus said, ‘Live in me as I live in you’. Separately we cannot produce fruit. We are one true vine. 

Jesus is the vine’ and we are the branches. Notice, He doesn’t tell us to try and be branches, He says quite definitely ‘you are branches’. No effort involved ‘you are’. And seeing that the gardener has pruned all the false branches out we are, without trying or without effort, true branches.  

For us the parable ends with a caution. ‘Without me you can do nothing’. That makes me look again to Peter. A man with lots of faults, a man who acted impulsively according to his humanity rather than his spirituality, a man who was once seen as anti God and called God’s adversary by Jesus. A man who denied knowing Jesus and ran away.  

Yet it was this man that Jesus chose to build His church on. Peters failings are there for all to see in the gospels, Peters failings were all part of God’s plan and purpose.  

But Peter was also a man and whose hearts desire was to follow Jesus, despite many mess ups on the way. Jesus saw that Peter’s failings were God’s will, part of God’s plan. And maybe we fail to see in our failings that it is the will of God at that moment, at that particular time in our lives 

Peter’s heart’s desire was for Jesus, but he was a branch needing the care of a loving gardener. Jesus could see the end from the beginning of Peter’s life. Peter in time produced much fruit.  

We cannot see the end from the beginning that’s why it is unwise for us to judge ourselves or judge one another. Trust Jesus with your life and He becomes your life and you become His.  

And if you desire Jesus but feel as yet you cannot trust, ask him to help you and leave the matter with him.  You are a branch of the true vine, in Jesus you are one vine, and the gardener is skilled.  

Our gardener, our heavenly Father foresees our future; the gardener foresees the fruit, as He tenderly meets the needs of the every part of the vine.  

I paraphrase to end: Jesus said, I am the true vine, you are the branches. Live in Me by continually trusting in Me and my life will flow through you. As for everything else leave it to Our Father, the loving gardener, remembering that it’s no use trying, you yourself can do nothing of spiritual value.  

But as you live trusting in me, together as the one true vine we will bear fruit.

Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Saints'  

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

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

Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us through Christ every spiritual blessing as citizens of Heaven! 

Before the foundation of the world he chose us in Jesus as his children, holy and pure in his sight. He planned, in his love, that we should be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ — this was his will and pleasure so that we might praise his glorious generosity, which he gave us in his Beloved. 

It is through Jesus, at the cost of his own human life, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through the riches of God’s grace.                    Ephesians 1:1-7 

For a long time I’ve been uncomfortable with being known as a Christian; it’s because of what that title suggests.  

Some of you will remember putting on our Liberty Church t-shirts and going to the Flying Handbag one Sunday afternoon. When the drag queen saw us and our t-shirts she said, ‘Oh you make me feel guilty’.  

That’s because as Christians we’re not seen as the ones with good news but bad news. We’re seen as self righteous do-gooders who kill the fun with a message of morality and judgement.  

Scripture tells us that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch about 12 years after the resurrection of Jesus. When Jesus was alive they were called disciples which means students or pupils. Students following their Rabbi (teacher) Jesus.  

It was people that first gave believers in Jesus the name ‘Christians’. God never gave us that title. God has always called believers ‘saints’. Unfortunately even the name saint has been sullied.

Some denominations apply the name ‘Saint’ to people they think are more holy and moral that everyone else. But in the eyes of God, God’s children are all equal.  

The Greek word that means ‘Saint’ in the New Testament means ‘holy one’. 

God’s messenger in Luke’s gospel calls the baby in Mary’s womb ‘Holy One’. Jesus is therefore the first saint of many in the New Testament. 

‘Holy’ means separated out and regarded as pure. You will agree that none of us are pure. We all possess faults and failings but it’s not how God sees us.  

It’s how God sees us that Paul opens our eyes to when he writes:We have been given through Jesus every spiritual blessing as citizens of Heaven!He chose us in Christ, as his children, holy and blameless in his sight. 

I find that quite mind blowing, that God sees us as holy and pure because we are now immersed in and wrapped around by Jesus and He is totally holy and pure. God looks at us through Jesus.  

Paul says of believers ‘Your life is now hidden in Jesus’. Col 3:3  

Our identity is very important; identity relates to self-image, self-worth, and individuality.

We also need a collective identity, a sense of belonging to a group of people who give us a sense of community and acceptance.  

Women since the year dot have been discriminated against, they’ve been seen as second class citizens, and sadly often as second class Christians.  

LGBT folks have been treated differently in society and within churches. Discrimination and prejudice has a huge effect on people’s self-image, self-worth, and individuality. 

That’s why it’s most important to know who we are, our identity and our title in the eyes of God and in the eyes of each other at Liberty. 

We have been given far too many negative messages. I trust that the positive ‘gospel of grace’ at Liberty has helped to address the negatives. 

There’s a saying; that we’ve all been created equal in the eyes of God. That is a true saying, no matter what we have been told or no matter how we have been treated. 

Our identity is in Jesus. In Jesus we are all equal and all equally entitled to be known as saints. Holy ones are who we are, because God said it. 

We were chosen as children having equal standing and equal rights as citizens of heaven. 

Our lives are hidden in Jesus and seen by God as holy and pure; as is every other saint.

We are beloved, as Jesus is the beloved, entitled to share in the blessings of heaven. 

Through God’s glorious generosity, His will and good pleasure according to His grace, God has called us His saints. 

It is our status, our identity, and the title God has given us; in His glorious Son Jesus.

Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Peace and Goodwill' 

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were afraid. 

But the angel said to them, "Do not fear. Behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace and goodwill for all people!"                     Extract from Luke 2:8-14  

We don’t know if the angel is female or male or intersex. It doesn’t say, but the message pronounced is most inclusive; gender or sexuality apparently not a problem. 

Everyone included in the good news of great joy. The news of the birth of the Messiah; the one promised who would set the people of God free. 

These heavenly beings appearing suddenly scared the living daylights out of the shepherds but their words were reassuring and then calmed them down. "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and goodwill for all people!" 

‘Glory’ is from the Greek word ‘Doxa’ but ‘doxa’ means so much more. Doxa means glory and honour, excellence, splendour, magnificence, majesty. ‘In the highest’ means God is above everything, God is the supreme. 

The celestial beings, who were citizens of heaven and spent their time in the eternal presence of God, know God, and so can’t stop themselves pouring out their praise  

They are overwhelmed by the wonder of God’s excellence, splendour, magnificence and majesty, and His wonderful intentions, plans and purposes.

They are not called messengers, they are not just relaying a message, they are speaking heavenly wisdom out of their personal heavenly knowledge and experience of God. 

They know that ‘peace and goodwill to all people.’ is God’s plan and purpose. As heavenly beings, they not only know it, they have it. They already possess peace and goodwill because they live with God and God lives with them in the place we call heaven. And they are celebrating that God is giving this same peace and goodwill to all people. 

To the Jews peace meant Shalom, a completeness of peace in body, mind and spirit, harmony, tranquillity and contentment. 

Goodwill means being good and kind. The celestials said this because they knew it, they experienced it, they knew it was God’s disposition, temperament and inclination. 

To us peace usually means the absence of problems, but Jesus said that in this world we would have many problems. The peace that the heavenly beings were talking about is what I call real peace. The kind of peace that money cannot buy. 

Peace with God is peace that is priceless. It’s the peace that Paul said ‘passes all understanding’ Php 4:7  and not every Christian has that peace.  

I can identify with those Christians that haven’t. I left church for 30 years because I didn’t have peace with God. I once wore the Christianity badge, I worked hard in trying to please God.  I couldn’t see what others could read; a badge that read ‘self righteous hypocrite’.  

I had certain peace in that I knew I was saved, but I certainly didn’t have ‘the peace that passes understanding’, peace with my standing with God at all times.  

Peace that passes understanding only comes through grace; grace gives the saint Shalom.

A complete peace with a contentment in ones standing with God at all times. 

Now I have harmony with Jesus; I don’t have to repent, don’t have to say sorry, don’t have to do anything, because Jesus has done all that we need to be at one with Him and with God. 

The prophet Isaiah: ‘You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind dwells in You, Because he trusts in You’ Is 26:3. I trust Jesus. I trust in everything Jesus has done for me, I trust in everything He is doing for me, I trust in everything He will do for me, I trust in everything that Jesus is. 

In Eph 2:6 it says that God ‘seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’. 

I know that physically I am standing here right now, but I also know that God sees me spiritually as sitting in Heaven in Jesus. As a citizen of heaven I claim what Paul wrote about God’s saints: Ro 5:1 Therefore, having been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

I am a human being, but in the eyes of God I am a heavenly being. I can praise God and God’s glory and honour, excellence, splendour, magnificence, and majesty. I can speak out of my heavenly wisdom, through my personal knowledge and experience of God.  

I know that ‘peace and goodwill to all people.’ is God’s plan and purpose. I know it and I have it. I possess peace and goodwill because I live in God and God lives in me, in a place I call heaven. And Heaven is in our hearts. 

Heaven is where we find peace. Heaven is where we find the Prince of Peace, Jesus. 

I stand here physically as a human being, but spiritually, as a heavenly being. Because I live in God and God lives in me, I can testify like the heavenly hosts: Glory, and honour, and excellence, and splendour, and magnificence, and majesty to God in the highest, and peace and goodwill to you all. 

Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Mercy'  

Extracts from Eph 2:4-9 

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

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by what you do or have done, so that no-one can boast.   

In tonight’s reading we are told twice that it is by grace we are saved. Because God loves us and has an over abundance of mercy.

There is always more than enough for anyone, no matter what we are like.  

The apostle Paul writes in another of his letters ‘It is not by keeping the law, which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us.’ Tit 3:5   

One dictionary says mercy is; A disposition to be kind and forgiving, the feeling that motivates compassion. Another says it is unconditional love reaching out to meet what is lacking without considering the merit of the person who receives that need. 

Grace is undeserved favour.  Mercy is undeserved kindness and forgiveness 

When Jesus said ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy’ Mt 5:7. He was explaining what the law of Moses said about mercy.  

 Under the law of Moses you had to show mercy to then get mercy from God. You had to give mercy to get God’s mercy. Mercy was on condition you did your part.

You also had to give forgiveness to receive forgiveness. Forgiveness was on condition you did your part  (Matt 6:12).  

But at the end of Jesus’ ministry He declared the Law of Moses was finished. He put an end to all the conditions attached to the law.  Now all could receive his kindness and forgiveness without having to do anything to deserve them.  

We are all different. Some of us are naturally thoughtful and kind, others, like me, can be quite unfeeling and hard at times. But even the kindest, most giving among us find it hard to be like that all the time and particularly hard to be so with people who hurt us deeply.  

Jesus challenges the self righteous Pharisees by quoting the prophet Hosea telling them  

God requires mercy not sacrifice’.

For me it would often be easier to sacrifice an animal than to show mercy to some people!  

And that’s the point Jesus was making: the impossibility of the Law of Moses.

God requires mercy but we are not capable of showing mercy all the time to everyone.  

The rules can tell us to be kind and forgiving but the rules have no power to help us. 

For a long time I felt a failure knowing I was so often not able to be merciful. But now I see things differently.  

I see that the mercy He requires is His mercy not our mercy, God wants us to accept our inabilities and our failures in regards to being kind and forgiving.

And accept that God shows His mercy towards those we could never ever show mercy to. 

None of us can love, show favour, be kind and forgiving in the way God does. We can though, accept that God does love those we might think undeserving.  

The people we are closest to, and our fellow Christians,are in many ways the most difficult of people to show mercy to. We have lots of expectations of them and it hurts when they let us down or are downright thoughtless or cruel to us. 

And this is where we need help from God because it can seem unfair that he loves and approves of people we don’t approve of.  But it only seems unfair if we think that in some way we deserve God’s mercy and someone else doesn’t.

Prejudice from Christians, especially those demonstrate against us at Pride, hurt us deeply.  

Despite that hurt we need to ask God to help us grasp that his abundant grace and mercy are poured out on them just as generously as they are poured out on us.   

Only he can help us to start being able to see them more as He does, through the eyes of love and grace. His love and mercy are gifts and he can give them to whoever he pleases.  

We don’t have to strive to be merciful when we are not. Or pretend to be merciful when we are not.  We can rest in him, just as we are.

Knowing he loves and accepts us despite our many deficiencies.  

We are flawed human beings living along side flawed human beings; often we can’t show grace to each other. And that is OK because He continues to show grace to us despite our limitations.    

But we can still be channels for God’s love, mercy and grace.

But we can still be channels for God’s love, mercy and grace. Maybe in our prayers we can ask for that – to be channels for God to show His love, His mercy and His grace to others, despite our many deficiencies.

Extract from Jim's Preach 'Joy'

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were afraid.

But the angel said to them, "Do not fear. Behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" 

Luke 2:8-14  

We like to be different at Liberty. So being Easter I’m preaching a Christmas message!  

Tonight’s reading takes place at night; it is the first time in the New Testament that the good news, known also known as the gospel, is preached. 

Angel means messenger. When the messenger preached the good news of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds light blazed through the darkness. Everyone was floodlit!  

The shepherd’s were terrified so the messenger‘s first words were ‘’Do not fear!’

The message was ‘this is good news that will bring great joy!

The good news of great joy dispersed the fear. Good news that announced the arrival of Jesus. 

Joy and fear cannot live in the same room. Joy and fear cannot occupy the same space.

Fear is bad news, joy is good news. The gospel is totally and absolutely without fear.

News always tells us what’s been done, not what we have to do. The good news is not good guidelines for good behaviour.  This news was about what God had done.  

Joy is about a fantastic sense of gladness, delight and pleasure. David wrote in psalms 28 that ‘his heart leapt for joy’. We talk of jumping for joy. We can’t describe the feeling.   

Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit and when the Holy Spirit brings joy it can come despite our worst circumstances. When Nina’s baby son died, in the middle of her grief she received a joy so intense that she wanted to dance at his funeral to express the joy of heaven that she could feel. That joy, at a deeper level was bigger than the pain and the grief, it helped her to cope in the months after.  

David knew joy in the midst of suffering. In Ps 30 he wrote ‘You turned my wailing into dancing …….. and clothed me with joy.’ Joy can make us want to dance and sing.  

Paul wrote to the folks in the church at Thessalonica ‘in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the gospel with joy, given by the Holy Spirit.  

The fruit of the Holy Spirit include love, peace and joy. God is love, Jesus is the Prince of Peace, The Spirit is joy, joy unspeakable because we haven’t got the words for it. Joy that can come in the midst of grief and even in suffering. 

In the beginning in the Garden of Paradise humanity lost connection with God and lost their joy. Fear came in and they ‘hid from God’. 

Bad news was announced for the very first time; as humanity declared ‘we were afraid’ 

Breaking one rule did that. One rule proclaimed bad news and fear. How many rules have now been added, bringing bad news and fear? 

No wonder in John’s first letter he wrote 1Jo 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Fear and love are not companions, fear and peace don’t hold hands, fear and joy are not united.  

In the garden: bad news ‘we were afraid’. In the gospel good news ‘don’t be afraid’ 

Did Jesus come to earth to come to scare the life out of people? I was brought up on ‘the devil and hell’ of hellfire preaching. I tell you, it was not glad tidings of great joy. It was about fear.  

When we read scriptures or we listen to preachers, the plumb line is this; is this good news or bad news?  Is there any fear or a feeling of anxiousness in the message?

As it is written in Ro 8:15  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. 

The good news of the gospel is that there is absolutely nothing in God to be afraid of.  

Life at times can be terrible, a struggle to keep going through hard times without an ounce of joy in it. It was like that for David for long periods of time, and probably at his lowest time He said; Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Ps 51:12 

It’s OK to feel down, its part of our humanity. Jesus knows what its like to be in anguish, in grief, in sorrow. He wept when his friend Lazarus died. He sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.   

Yet Paul wrote this about Jesus; ‘for the joy that was set before him, He endured the cross’ Heb. 12:2.

I’m convinced Jesus was upheld by God’s generous Spirit. 

If the Christian teaching we receive is not founded in Love, Peace and Joy, it is not of God’s generous Spirit. The gospel is peace and goodwill to ALL 

I’m no angel, but my message is the same; ‘Fear not! Behold, I bring you good news of great joy.’ ...Jesus is here.

Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Well Dressed'    

Taken From Ephesians 6:

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Put on the full armour of God, so that you will be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything

Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 

The apostle Paul in tonight’s reading tells us to   ‘Be strong in the Lord’. 

Many of us gained an image of God as a rather stern being preoccupied with judging all aspects of behaviour that the church called sins and what I called my pleasures and pass times. Many of us were given a wrong picture of God; a stern faced old man with a white beard and clothes, sat on a throne ready to judge. 

But Jesus said, ‘if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father’. From childhood I have always seen Jesus as my kind friend and my protective, loving brother, a companion, someone you could always call on, a compassionate helpful person who’d help anyone. 

As most of you know I was in the clothing business. For twenty five years I clothed a sizeable proportion of the inhabitants of Blackpool. What I didn’t realise was that in preaching the gospel of grace I am still in the clothing business. I’ve been helping to clothe those who walk in through our doors with what Paul describes as ‘the armour of God’. 

The Gospel of Grace takes the focus off us and what we have to do and puts the focus firmly onto Jesus. The burden of demands and expectations that once weighed us down have been removed and our lives are hidden in Jesus and in His strength and power. We can declare that we are no longer condemned as sinners but honoured as saints. 

The armour of God starts with the belt of truth that holds everything together. Jesus told us He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the truth that is central to us. 

We’ve all previously put on the rags of self righteousness which is full of holes, they’ve been exchanged for the cast iron guarantee of a breastplate of righteousness. 

We can stand our ground, feet firmly placed in the gospel of peace knowing our peace with God is assured forever and we can never lose it. A peace that affirms us, enabling us to stand firm in who we are both as human beings and as the saints and brothers and sisters in Jesus. 

Our shield of faith is ready to face the trials and rejections that will surely come like arrows. 

The helmet of salvation protects our minds from the doubts about our standing with God.  We know we can be ourselves before God and are always acceptable and loved, no matter what. 

The sword of the Spirit is not for attack but as we stand firm, fitly dressed, the sword is our defence. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. The Word of God is the living word within our hearts. 

The living word reveals the living truth we know through experience, to which we can personally testify. Each of us have lived our own unique testimony of our experience of Jesus, who is that living word. 

The word of God is not a book. The word of God is a person; the word of God lives within us we can feel Him. 

Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power; in knowing that Jesus is our truth, our righteousness, our peace, the source and sustainer of our faith.

We are free to simply be    ourselves confident in His salvation which he freely gave to us. His Spirit and His living word have their home within us. 

We know we are worthy; as worthy as any human being and as any Christian in the eyes of God. 

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power knowing the truth within, never again to bow before any man. 

Never again to fear God, but always to confidently approach the eternal throne beautifully dressed by ‘Grace, Faith and Son’ the Ladies and Gentlemen’s Outfitters…… 

……….booted and suited in the Armour of Jesus.

Extract from Jim’s Preach 'A New and Living Way'  

An extract from Luke 5... The disciples of John the Baptist came and asked Jesus, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

He told them this parable:  “No-one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.

No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.

And no-one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’" 

John’s disciples and the Pharisees fasted according to manmade religious traditions. Fasting was not in the Law of Moses. Jesus’ disciples didn’t fast because Jesus was not following religious traditions but was preaching a new way of living. Jesus was preaching the new Gospel of the Kingdom of God. This gospel was as unpredictable as new wine.  

As new wine ferments and matures it bubbles and fizzes and is a bit unpredictable. If you bottle it too soon the fizzing can pop the cork or even burst the bottle. In Jesus’ time they didn’t have bottles so wine was put into animal skins. New wineskins stretch like elastic but old wineskins are brittle. If you try to stretch them they crack.

New wine went into new skins that could stretch like elastic as the lively new wine fizzed and bubbled. New wine in old wineskins would fizz, crack the hard skin and destroy it. 

Jesus never clearly said what the Gospel Kingdom of God was. His disciples, although they preached the Kingdom of God did not fully understand it. And then the Apostle Paul clearly explained what Jesus was getting at. 

Paul wrote, The Kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The Kingdom of God is not about words but about power Ro 14:17, 1Co 4:20.  There are million words in the bible; the power however is the Holy Spirit.  

The Holy Spirit was the power in everything Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit was the new wine to God’s people in Jesus’ day empowering the Kingdom of God. 

God’s people in Jesus’ time did not rely on the Spirit of God but relied on scriptures that were difficult to understand so in turn they relied on learned men to interpret them. Sound familiar? The people depended on their religion and their religious leaders.  

It was their dependency on religious traditions that Jesus opposed. Traditions were old, familiar, predictable and felt comfortable. To them the familiar taste of old wine was the best.  

The Pharisees blamed the failure of their religion on the lack of dedication of the masses and on their immoral behaviour rather than on themselves. Sound familiar? 

They maintained that neither God, nor their religion had time for new, unpredictable ways of relating to God and worshipping Him.  

Just as Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom was rejected by the religious hierarchy of His day, Paul’s gospel of grace was rejected by the religious hierarchy of His day.  

Both Gospels came through a revelation from the Spirit of God. And with revelation comes unpredictability, a change from the familiar into the unfamiliar. 

Every move of God over the centuries as been opposed by the old guard. Martin Luther, John Wesley and many others tried to reform traditional churches from within and failed. They had to leave to teach and preach their new revelations. Many LGBT Christians are trying to reform from within their churches unfortunately reform from within has never worked before.  

God does away to establish (Heb 10.9). God never reforms the old He always creates the new. Liberty Church is part of establishing the new. Liberty is new wine with a different flavour. Religious practices and traditions are gone, as have has condemnation, guilt and shame. 

In ten years plus, sin and Satan have hardly been mentioned, but Jesus and freedom have never been far from our lips. 

Calvary, the blood, the cross are all behind us; job done, finished in Jesus. Although we are mindful of these things, the throne and heaven’s riches is where we look to. God has done away to establish. 

The old way of relying upon our understanding of scripture must give way to reliance upon the Spirit. We must not follow the book of the Lord but rather follow the Lord of the book. 

Paul said that Jesus made a way into heaven ‘by a new and living way’ Heb 10:20. I believe an invitation is being offered tonight for us as individuals to enter by this new and living way. 

Do we want to open up our hearts to God for Him to do away with the old and establish the new?  

With Jesus’ help, only we ourselves can decide what has to go to open our hearts to God making room for Him to establish His new and living way in us and to drink of His new wine.

Extract from Jim’s Preach 'Imitating Jesus'

Jesus was passing through Jericho. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 

So he ran ahead and climbed a tree to see him, as Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down. I must stay at your house today."So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 

All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner’."

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." 

Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."    Luke 19:1 -10 

Last week our reading highlighted Matthew, a tax collector, sitting in his office and this week we find a tax collector up a tree. Both men were called ‘sinners’ by the religious minded onlookers who were barking up the wrong tree. Jesus never called either tax man a sinner, nor asked them to repent of their past, or do better in the future.   

Jesus says salvation has come to Zacchaeus yet never asked anything of him except an invitation to his house. In contrast to when most of us we experienced salvation we were asked to do plenty by the religious minded, who still treated us as sinners and not the saints we had become. 

Without Jesus asking, Zacchaeus wanted to give away his riches. It begs the question why; and what is this story teaching us?

Scripture tells us that in the centre of the garden of paradise there were two trees. The tree of knowledge of right and wrong and the tree of life. The Tree of Knowledge of Right and Wrong, through its fruit, gave humanity the ability to judge what was right and wrong but it also brought death.  

But the Tree of Life gave wisdom and fruit that nourished and sustained life. Pr 3:18  

The religious onlookers had been eating from the Tree of Knowledge for them to pass judgement on Zacchaeus and call him a sinner. 

Jesus made no such judgement and treated Zacchaeus with respect. Jesus asked nothing of Zacchaeus yet he changed.  

Zacchaeus then spiritually ate from ‘the right tree’. The fruit of that tree of life changed his heart and life. 

This is the power of the new creation, the result of salvation, if grace is allowed to have its way, unburdened by human philosophies, traditions and religiosity. 

God said, ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. Jer 31:33 ‘My law’ of which God speaks, is the law by which He lives.  

Let me explain: I once had a large garden in which I planted a Victoria plum tree. Victoria hardly grew in the first 2 years but below ground she was putting down strong roots. It wasn’t until the fifth year that Victoria produced fruit for the first time and it was delicious.  

All this because, God had written the law of the plum tree within the seed from which Victoria grew. She had produced roots, blossoms then plums in the right way, at the right time without any effort; it was the most natural thing in the world for Victoria to do. With nutrients from the ground, rain from the sky and plenty of fresh air God had provided everything for life.  

‘My law’, the law God has written within us will make us fruitful in the right way at the right time, unique fruit from each individual saint. As we allow God to be our life source and provider. He will cause us to grow, mature and produce fruit as He intended; each one free to be our unique selves while relying on God for life. 

When God’s law within us is given free reign, then Christian life is a matter of growing and maturing in the unique way we are each designed to, according to the law of life written within. It does not have to involve struggling or striving to achieve but is simply relying on God’s law of life within us   

As surely a giraffe gives birth to a giraffe, the Spirit God gives birth to the spiritual after its own kind. We saints don’t have to try to be in the image and likeness of God, we’re born again that way. 

Just like God, grace gives us the freedom to do anything we want. But deep down do we truly just want to do ‘anything’? Or will the law of God, the law of life within us, cause us to live a new life?  

For Zacchaeus, his new life caused immediate change; without a command or demand Zacchaeus’ now freely gave his riches just like His Lord and Saviour gave His riches.   

Zacchaeus was, without even thinking, imitating Jesus.

Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Following Jesus’ 

As Jesus travelled on, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. "Follow me," he said to him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples.

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’

For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:9 - 13

In these five verses are recorded the calling of Matthew. You would think the writer of this gospel would give a lengthier and far better account of his first meeting with Jesus. 

We can read the same thing but our different mindsets cause us to respond differently to it.

I see this story beginning with a coming and ending with a going.  

I think this story is about coming of the unrighteous to Jesus and the going of the self-righteous away from Jesus.  

Scripture declares that; “There is no-one righteous, not even one”. When Jesus referred to the Pharisees as ‘righteous’ he was being sarcastic as the Pharisees were self righteous.   

JESUS said ‘follow me’ to Matthew. My dictionary gives the meaning of ‘follow’ as; to travel behind... to act in accordance with someone's rules or commands...to imitate in behaviour...to accept and follow the leadership, instruction and guidance of.

Depending on our mindset we interpret Jesus’ words ‘Follow me’ in different ways.

Previously I had a rules and obedience mindset and I had double vision. 

I could see that God loved us unconditionally, but at the same time I could also see that God could only love us on condition that we obeyed the rules. 

Then God led me to His opticians ‘Grace, Faith and Son’. There I was fitted with new glasses and began seeing differently. 

‘Grace and Faith’ glasses which the Son prescribed, gave me insight to scriptures that hadn’t made sense previously when I had double vision. 

A  law/rules mindset would emphasise that ‘follow’ meant; act in accordance with someone's rules and commands. 

Follow can mean to accept and follow the leadership, instruction and guidance of someone. A law mindset would see this as being about obeying and doing while a grace mindset would see it as believing and trusting.  

Follow can mean imitate. The law mindset would imitate the morality of the leader; while the grace mindset would look to the spirituality and faith of the leader.  

There are lots of rules in scripture to keep the lawyer busy and happy or perhaps miserable, but the grace mindset focuses on just three pieces of scripture from John’s gospel for inspiration and instruction:  

1. In John 5, Jesus said, ‘I can do nothing of myself; I can do only what I see my Father doing’

2. And in John 8, ‘I do nothing of myself; I say and do the things just as my Father has taught me and that pleases him’.

3. And in John 14, ‘It is the Father who lives in me who carries out his works through me’. 

Jesus is talking about the life of faith, of absolute reliance on the Father of acting on what he inwardly perceived and spiritually saw.   

He also said and did what His Father taught Him and these things pleased His Father. Scripture tells us that it is only faith that pleases God. It was the indwelling Father who did the works in his life.  

The apostle Paul says the same thing only in another way: ‘I Paul have been crucified with Christ, I’m dead. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in this my body, I live by faith in Jesus’ Gal 2:20. 

Jesus said the Father lives in me. Paul said Christ lives in me. Like Paul every saint can say Christ lives in me and every saint should say I live by faith in Jesus. 

Like Jesus, Paul said follow me meaning spiritually, living in faith as he did, not morally by trying to behave as he did.   

God does not want sacrifices and that includes self-sacrifice. All Christians have a choice just like the disciples of accepting the invitation to come and follow Jesus, or be like the Pharisees and go and follow the book; the same book that actually tells us to live by faith. 

Do not follow the book of the Lord; follow the Lord of the book.  

The Lord wants to open the eyes of our hearts. He wants to speak through us and do His will through us. 

That doesn’t take brains or brawn it takes what pleases God, faith; faith in the one who lives within us, our Inspiration, our Guide, our Leader and our Lord, Jesus.  

Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Crumbs’ 

A Gentile woman came to Jesus, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly.

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." 

The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.

He replied, "It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their pets."

"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even pets eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table." 

Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Mt 15:22 –28                                                                       

The Gentile woman shouted out to Jesus "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” She was pretending to be a Jew using a greeting that only a Jew would use for Jesus.  And Jesus ignored her. 

In saying to his disciples that he was only sent to the ‘children of Israel’ Jesus lets the woman know he wasn’t fooled by her greeting and knew she was a Gentile.  

So she dropped the pretence and simply said ‘Lord help me’. Jesus immediately responded to her and healed her daughter. And Jesus praised her great faith.

What can we learn from this?  

First; like Jesus focus on your calling. Focus on what God has given you to do in your life and don’t time waste or spend time pining after or being guilty about what you cannot do.  

For example I’m primarily called to the LGBT community, including their families and their friends, that’s my focus and that is where I put my time and energy. Your calling may be to your family or to the people immediately around you or to a totally different group of people. If you are unsure of where your calling is then ask Jesus to show you.  

Second; don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.  God sees through us. We can’t fool Him. The Gentile woman thought she had to pretend to be someone she was not to get anything from Jesus. But He responded to her faith and was not interested in her race.  

It is our standing with God that is paramount; our standing with people is secondary.

It is what God thinks of us that matters, not what people think of us.  

Remember God expects nothing from us except to respond to Him; to his calling, to his inspiration, to the things He brings about in our lives.   

God is not affected or influenced by our man made efforts or our ‘good works’; they don’t impress Him. The only things we do that are of value to God, are the things He leads us to do and He empowers us to do.  

He wants us, just as we are with all our faults and failings. And in the midst of life’s problems and at times messes, He responds to our desire for Him and works in us to draw us to walk closely with Him.

A crumb of faith can be ‘great faith’ in God’s eyes. Faith is not a case of behaving right or looking right to get anything from God. No it’s more like being on your knees (not literally but in attitude) with just a crumb in your hand, asking from your heart.  

Faith is a gift from God and, when empowered by His Spirit, a crumb is all we need. 

Jesus didn’t mention the woman’s sin or ask if she carried un-forgiveness for anything. He didn’t ask if she led a pure life or kept to the beatitudes. He just responded to the faith God had put in her heart. 

Being yourself, warts and all, and coming to Jesus for help is the point of the story. The Gentile woman didn’t have the right pedigree, or the right standing in society but because of her faith she had the right standing with God  

May we come to the Lord just as we are in confidence knowing that tiniest faith, even if it’s only a crumb is all that is required. 

Help us Lord to know with certainty that your grace for us is always sufficient and the faith You give us is great in your eyes. 

We can come as we are, we don’t need to pretend to be anything we are not. We can come as we are and always find a welcome from our Lord and King whose name is Jesus.

Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Identity’ 

From Paul’s letter to the Christians at Ephesus . Ephesians 1:3- 13 

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, as holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us as children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. 

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished us in all wisdom and prudence,......... 

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. 

Identity is very important. When we’re labelled with the wrong identity it hurts us, a lot.   

I identify myself as a Christian, but I don’t like the term Christian because it labels me with all the negativity that goes along with that name. I don’t like the name Church, again because for many its  associated with judgementalism,  bigotry,  prejudice etc, etc

Gandhi is reported as saying, ‘I like the Christ, but I don’t like His Christians.’  

For many of us, when we came to know Jesus we automatically identified with the church we found ourselves in and quite naturally took on the beliefs and traditions because we wanted to belong. We had come into a new spiritual reality and we readily identified with those who could understand our spiritual experience. 

A vicar once told me ‘he fell in love with Jesus and but ended up marrying the church’. By that he meant that he ended up identifying himself with the practises and traditions of his church instead of simply identifying himself with Jesus.  

I did the same. Only in later years I realised I’d chosen the wrong identity as the practises and traditions I identified with were more manmade than God made.  

As LGBT people and LGBT affirming people we are identified by a segment of Christians as being promiscuous sinners. As Christians we are seen by many in the LGBT community as hypocritical, judgemental, do gooders. But the Gospel of Grace is a million miles from judgmentalism.  

And the Gospel of Grace identifies us as ‘Saints’. It gives us an identity with and in Jesus. The name ‘saint’ means ‘holy one’, because that is how God sees us – accepted in His beloved son and so made holy. God sees us foremost not as LGBTQI or H  people but as saints, holy ones.  

Our Good News is that above all else we are saints, because God says we are. 

In 1Co 3 12 He says we are a holy temple

In 1Pe 2 5 He says we are a holy priesthood

In Col 3 12 He says we are chosen and holy

In Col 1:22 He says we are holy in His sight ...and

In Ro 8:29 He says we are the image of his Son

Five scriptures that we can put in place of all the negative ‘clobber verses’ that many of us have felt oppressed by for years. Clobber verses that have rendered us second class Christians.  

When Paul wrote to Christians in the New Testament he didn’t begin any letter by saying;‘Dear Sinners’, or with ‘Dear Christians’. He always wrote ‘Dear Saint’s’. 

We are saints Jesus did everything need to make us holy to Him. In His sight.  

It doesn’t matter what we look like to others, we need to base our identity on how we look to God. And to Him we are holy. 

We often say there’s only one rule at Liberty Church. It’s respect. We ask that we respect ourselves, respect each other and respect Liberty as a whole.   

We need to have the greatest respect for each other as we are fellow saints of God. He chose each one of us and He doesn’t make mistakes. Col 3:3 says ‘your life is hidden with Christ in God’.  

We as believers in Jesus, it doesn’t matter who we are, what we are, what we’ve done or what we will do. Our lives are wrapped around by Jesus, by his holiness. God sees us only in Jesus. 

As far as God is concerned we have the image of Jesus, Jesus is our identity. 

In tonight’s reading the apostle Paul states strongly that we the saints of Jesus are: 

v3 Blessed in Christ

v4 Chosen in Him

v5 Made children in Him

v6 Made acceptable to God in Him

v7 have redemption in Him v8 In Him God lavished grace upon us v11 In Him we have an inheritance v12 In Him we can trust 

And it ends with saying v13 In Him we were sealed with the Spirit of promise. Sealed like with a wax seal on a legal document that bears the legal identity of the Spirit of Promise. A document that declares we are legal identity as saints, because Jesus makes us so and his Holy Spirit puts his name to it.  

Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Righteousness’ 

An extract from the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:25 – 33 

Jesus said do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you. 

The religious system that Jesus found Himself battling against was overseen by the Pharisees.  Jesus called them hypocrites. ‘Hypocrite’ is from a Greek word meaning actor; it means someone who is false, pretending to be something they are not. 

When street surveys have been done asking people what they think of Christians overwhelmingly they answer ‘hypocrites’.  

What Pharisees and Christians have in common, as I see it, is self righteousness, a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. That is something I suffered with in my early years as a Christian.   

The Sermon on the Mount, as I now understand it, is Jesus telling the Jews what the rules for living under the Law of Moses really mean. Jesus interprets the rules very radically. Suddenly ‘do not murder’ means, do not even get angry with someone; don’t commit adultery means don’t even look lustfully at someone.  

I now realise that Jesus gave a radical interpretation of those rules to show beyond doubt that no human being could ever live like that. Therefore no one can ever earn (righteousness) right standing with God; we only get it if God gives it to us as a gift. 

Like most Christians I was taught that the Sermon on the Mount was a list of rules I should keep. Like everyone I else found the rules impossible so we just faked it. We pretended that we were better than we were and acted like it. We became hypocrites. 

Righteousness is having right standing with God. God is holy, pure and perfect. We can never attain all that we need to be right with Him.   

That is why the apostle Paul tells us that the righteousness we have is a gift. When we have had to receive our righteousness as a gift from God, because we are incapable of earning it, judging anyone else who can’t earn it is stopped in its tracks.   

Jesus said seek God’s righteousness. So what is God’s righteousness? Simply put it is God’s right standing with us. God is perfect and God is love. So God’s love is perfect, unchanging and unconditional. His faithfulness is not restricted in anyway. His mercy towards us is not influenced by anything or anyone.   

His mercy, faithfulness and love are absolute. 

In Jesus saying, seek God’s realm and righteousness He meant seek all that God is. God reveals Himself more and more to us in proportion to our developing understanding and according to the faith that grows in us as we have repeated experiences of his goodness  

Jesus said: Don’t worry about your life I’ve come so you can have eternal life.

Don’t worry about what to eat or drink I’m your bread and my Spirit is your refreshment.

Don’t worry about what to wear because I’ll clothe you with the garments of salvation.  

Look at how the birds are provided for, and how beautifully the lilies of the field are dressed. Aren’t you far more valuable to your Heavenly Father than they are?  

Our heavenly Father knows what we need to be in the right standing with Him.

So seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things, spiritual life, spiritual food and water and spiritual covering will be given to us. 

The treasures of heaven, the riches of His glory freely poured out upon the ones He loves. 

Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Freedom’

Luke 4:16 - 22 

On the Sabbath day Jesus went he went into the synagogue as usual and He stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, Jesus found the place where it is written: 

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to release the oppressed, to proclaim Jubilee, the year of the Lord’s grace." 

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the deacon and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,

And Jesus said to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled." 

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.  

The apostle Paul said ‘the Law is spiritual’. Jesus said ‘ I have come to fulfil the law’. Tonight’s reading is an example of Jesus fulfilling the Law of Moses. 

The Law of Moses decreed that every 7 years was a Sabbath year when the people would rest from their labours for an entire year and the land would rest from producing crops.

That meant in year 6 the land had to provide enough food for them to eat until the harvest

in year 8 or, if they didn’t have a bumper harvest they would have to rely on God for their needs. 

That required a huge act of faith for God’s people. If they ran out of food they would starve. The people did not have the faith to rest in the 7th year. It never happened.

In tonight’s reading Jesus announced the ‘Year of the Lord’s grace’. The year of the Lord’s grace was the Year of Jubilee which the Law of Moses decreed should take place every 50 years. It was a year of freedom and rest and celebration.   

Leviticus 25-27 lays out what should happen in this year:

-if you had borrowed money your debt would be written off, you didn’t have to repay it.

-if you had sold yourself into slavery to pay a debt you would be set free.

-if you had sold your inherited land to pay a debt the land would be returned to you.  

So in Jubilee many, many people were to receive what they had not earned or deserved, freedom from debt, from slavery and restoration of their inheritence.

And they were to receive it simply because God decreed it. 

Jubilee year never happened - the nation did not have to faith to do it.  

But the year of the Lord’s Grace had a spiritual significance. 

In tonight’s reading Jesus was saying that its Jubilee, now! It’s the time of the Lord’s grace, the time when debts are cancelled, people are set free and inheritance restored. 

Jesus said to the thief on the cross, ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’ because for the thief, as well as for us, in the death of Jesus spiritual debts are cancelled. 

Jesus brought us freedom from whatever spiritually enslaves us and our spiritual inheritance is secured, not that we deserve it but because it is the time of the Lord’s grace  

Jesus said in Joh 8:36 “If I make you free, you shall be truly free.” 

I believe that the fullness of our freedom has to be entered into. Freedom has to be experienced. Jubilee year was a time when no work was to be done, a time of complete rest. But not to work goes against everything we have been taught, complete rest makes us feel ill at ease, doing nothing doesn’t sit right, doesn’t seem right. 

Yet the time of grace means just that: do nothing of yourself, rest in the provision, rest in the supply of God, have faith in God meeting your every spiritual need.  

This surely is Good News. Israel failed to rest, failed to keep Jubilee through un-belief. We His church must trust, rest in Jesus’ finished work and be free. 

Today is the time of the Lord’s grace, the time when spiritual debts are cancelled, people are set spiritually free and our spiritual inheritance is restored.   

Paul also wrote in Gal 5:1 “It is for freedom that Jesus has set us free.” We enter that freedom by faith. 

Today is Jubilee, today is the time of the Lord’s grace, today is the time to celebrate the undeserved favour of God and the freedom it brings. 

Today is Jubilee, where Grace and freedom is found in Jesus 

Extract from Jim’s Preach ‘Spirit and Truth’ 

Extracts from John 4:4-24 

Jesus came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?"……. 

 Jesus said "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." 

"Sir,"…. Where can you get this living water?....Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."  

"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." 

 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  

 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. 

 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth."

According to the text the Spirit led Jesus to Sychar in Samaria to a well that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. According to Jewish religion Samaria was an unclean place. Jesus broke a religious rule by going there and broke another religious rule by talking to a woman.   

Jesus told the woman that He has water to give that wells up into eternal life. She wants that sort of water and asks for it. He send her to get her husband and lets her know that he is aware that the man she lives with is not her husband but her 6th partner. 

The woman realises that Jesus has spiritual insight and recognises that He is a prophet from God.  

(Interestingly she doesn’t react to his revelation with guilt and shame even though in her culture her way of life would be seen as shameful. So many people regarded as sinners felt comfortable around Jesus yet so many today feel uncomfortable around the church and judged by it).  

So she, feeling comfortable talking to Jesus, asks him an age old spiritual question: where should we go to worship God?  A question that divided Samaritans and Jews for centuries.   

Jesus says it is not where you worship but how you worship, because God wants His people to worship in Spirit and in truth. Jesus says that because God is Spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth. 

Jesus then reveals that He is not just a prophet but is the actually the Messiah 

It is at this point the woman rushes off to tell her partner. She also tells everyone she meets her testimony of encountering Jesus, what He said to her personally and the miracle of knowing all about her yet having only just met. 

There is power in anyone’s testimony about Jesus and this woman’s testimony is powerful enough for everyone to follow her back to Jacobs well. They all want to meet Jesus and get the living water.   

Jesus stayed in the city to speak firsthand to the people and the text tells us many people there became believers and knew that Jesus was the Saviour of the world.  

The Jewish way of interpreting Scripture involves literal and symbolic meanings 

This story takes place in Sychar which means ‘intoxication’ or drunkenness.

In the Old Testament Jacob symbolises the Holy Spirit and Joseph symbolises the son, Jesus 

What unfolds is at ‘Jacob’s well’ the Holy Spirit’s well where living water wells up, as Jesus says, into eternal life. The living water is the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives as a gift.  

Where to worship has caused division between Samaritans and Jews for centuries. Jesus says this is coming to an end. Jesus quite clearly said a time is coming when true worshippers will worship in spirit and in truth 

This challenges me. How can I worship in spirit and truth? Because Jesus does not explain. He says what needs to change but doesn’t say how. 

I want to be a true worshipper. Lord, my understanding right now is that truly worshipping in spirit and in truth begins with an outpouring of your living water. I think all of us here want to drink so much of your living water that we become intoxicated with you. 

Jesus I have a thirst for you that I feel has not yet been quenched.  

This woman’s testimony brought her community to Jesus and many believed in him. Lord do what’s needed in us so that our testimony will bring our community to you and so that many will come to trust in you.  

Jesus pour your spirit out here within us, quench our thirst and refresh those around us with your streams of living water.

Extract From 'Rejection' (On Liberty Church Podcast. See Top of Page)

Jesus knew from an early age that he was different from other boys. Under Old Testament Law Jesus, along with eunuchs, would have been disqualified from the congregation because Joseph was not his true father. His true father and mother were not married and that made him illegitimate. He had to keep this secret or face being ostracised by his community and bring shame on his family.

The law rejected and condemned what he was and he experienced self-condemnation from knowing his peers would view him as unworthy to stand in the congregation of the Lord. When he returned to Nazareth to preach he was rejected by members of his family and rejected by people he grew up with and worked with. His friends rejected him when he was arrested.

He was denounced by the religious leaders because he wouldn’t deny who he was and what he was. When he appeared before the King, the highest court in the land, an injustice was done with mockery and rejection. His rejection by his fellow Jews fulfilled the scripture that he would be rejected by men.

He experienced the desolation of an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and when a cry to God ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me’ seemingly went unanswered. The final rejection. That rejection was too much, He died feeling desolate and alone.

Scriptures used De 23:2. Joh 7:5. Mt 13:54-57. Mr 15:13,14. Mt 26:56. Mt 26:65. Lk 23:11. Is 53:1-3. Mt 27:46.

His prayer was answered when he rose from the dead. God had not rejected his child. Jesus was the Son of God. He had died to his past and its rejection and now he had entered into a new life.

Jim explained how the Lord can identify with the rejection experienced by many people today from the law that brings self condemnation, family, friends, community, religious leaders, those who you should be able to trust and receive justice, even feeling rejected by God. Jesus himself went hrough it in a profound way.

The Lord touched the hearts of those listening who have been deeply wounded by such rejection. Some of the pain of this was expressed in the tears that were shed. Expressing the pain is part of the healing process. In His time and in His way He will bring each one to a place of healing the pain of rejection and into a new phase of life free of the burden of hurt. Jesus will never reject you.

1Pe 2:4 Come to Him...rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him.

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Liberty Church Blackpool