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Extract from Jim’s Preach: 'Complete in Him' 

Taken From Jesus’ Prayer In John 17:20-23

"I pray for every Christian, that they become one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they become one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

"And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, becoming one "I in them, and You in Me; made complete in one and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.’

Jesus prayed regarding us, his people that He would be in us as the Father is in Him: "I in them, and You in Me; made complete in one.”

Paul confirms this in Col 2:9-10 For in Jesus dwells all the fullness of God; and we are complete in Him’

Before we knew him we were incomplete but when we come to know Jesus the fullness of God dwells in us …we are complete; as individuals and collectively as his people.

And Col 1:22 says ‘God sees you holy in his sight, faultless and free from guilt.’ It is as He sees us that counts, not as we see ourselves.

Remember the bible is a picture book full of symbolic pictures. Let’s look at two symbolic pictures in the parable of Creation in Genesis.

First picture:

Ro 5:14 tells us that Adam was symbolic of Jesus. When Adam was put to sleep the story says that God took part of him to form the woman from his side. The woman was made of his very substance. God called them Adam (Ge 5:2), each a different aspect of the same being. Two yet one and they lived in perfect harmony; no division, no discord, nothing divisive..

This is an allegory of Christians, collectively called the Bride of Christ, coming out of Jesus’ side, out of his very substance.

I’ll explain:

At the crucifixion the spear pierced Jesus’ side blood and water came out. Blood symbolizes humanity and water symbolizes Spirit. The blood of Jesus’ humanity with the spirit of His divinity poured out bringing into existence the new creation.

His perfect life, death and resurrection made the new creation possible, created from His very substance. As we are made of his very substance we become the woman of Christ, the bride of Christ, the church. Collectively and individually we complete the picture.

Being one with Jesus, two yet one, we are re united with God. No division, no discord, nothing divisive.

Just as God saw the man and woman as one in the first creation, God sees the man Jesus and His woman the church as one in the new creation.

Jesus gives his bride his own holiness and righteousness as she is part of his very self.

Jesus’ prayer in John 17 "I in them, and You in Me; made complete in one” has been answered we are one with Jesus as we have the essence, the substance of Jesus.

Second picture:

It is false teaching that says Adam disobeyed God and that his disobedience caused the fall and the separation between humanity and God. All relationships depend on trust. When trust is lost a relationship is severely damaged or even destroyed.

Ge 3:17 "Because you listened to your wife.” This tells us that the damage was done because of unbelief, the loss of trust in God. The man believed in and trusted his wife’s word above God’s.

The curse was that now they had to work hard all their lives for the produce from the ground. They now had to work hard for something that was once freely theirs.

I worked my socks off for things I didn’t realise I had been freely given. I worked hard trying to make myself righteous and holy and to keep myself in relationship with God. Have you?

Jesus reversed the curse. Don’t live as if you are still under the curse like I once did; not realising the truth in Ro 5:17 ‘.. those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through Jesus Christ.

I used to sing a hymn with the line ‘He is all my righteousness I stand complete in Him and worship Him.’ I sang it and had absolutely no idea what it meant.

Numbers in scripture have symbolic meanings. 7 = perfection, 10 = completeness.

In Ephesians Paul says we are ‘In Jesus’ 7 times and ‘In Christ’ 10 times.

In 1Co 13 (‘Love is patient’ etc) the chapter tells us 17 times what the love of God is.

Ro 8 tells us 17 times, that we are more than conquerors (beginning with ‘Shall trouble or hardship’ and ending with ‘nothing can separate from the love of God …)

17 = love and victory in Christ Jesus.

Let us not work hard trying to obtain the gifts we already have! Instead let’s celebrate receiving those gifts. The gifts that sustain our lives without having to work hard for them.

Let’s celebrate Jesus, love incarnate, Jesus our victory, Jesus our holiness, Jesus our righteousness, Jesus our perfection, Jesus our peace, Jesus our glory, Jesus our eternal life.

Jesus in whom we are complete, to the glory of His name. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now that is incredibly good news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading from Ephesians 3:14–19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extracts from Matthew 27:37 -46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tonight’s readings are extracts from Ephesians 1 and 2 

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

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

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

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us through Christ Jesus. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will be through the infinite power of grace 

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

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

Ephesians 1:11 - 14 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taken from Colossians 1:15 – 22    

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

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

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 1:1 – 6 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messiah and Christ both literally mean ‘Anointed One’ 

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

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

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

Then he received the revelation that this relationship came solely thro faith as, for the first time he encountered Jesus. He experienced a release from the demands his religion put on him and the guilt of  failing to meet those demands. He found Christianity was not about doing but about being.  

Charles expressed his joy of coming into relationship and being released from impossible demands in the line ‘My chains fell off my heart was free I rose went forth and followed thee’. 

I knew a man called Alan, who said he had been in his church for 30 years before he became a Christian. For 30 years he’d thought he was a Christian then Alan met Jesus and came into a relationship. Alan discovered that Christian life was not about doing but about being.  

Religion tells us that sacraments are outward signs of an inward grace. Charles Wesley and Alan practiced the outward signs for years but never experienced the inward grace. The outward sign cannot create the inward grace. Only knowing the Lord Jesus brings about the inward grace.  

You can take holy communion and not have communion that is holy. You can have religion and not have a relationship. We don’t have to rely on what we can do but can rely on what Jesus has done.  

Jesus prayed in John 17 that all (without exception) who believed in Him would be one in Him.

We all want a relationship, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a partner. The desire is in our being. God wants relationship, that’s where we get that desire from. And He has made that a possibility ‘by blessing us with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Eph1:3). He has given us everything we need for a relationship with God.  Because the Christian life is not about doing but about being.  

There are 5 relationship gifts: 1. the gift of grace (Ro 5:15) 2. the gift of faith (Eph 2:8) 3. the gift of righteousness (Ro 5:17) 4. the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ac 2:38) 5, gift of eternal life (Ro 6:23).

Five gifts that give you and keep you in a relationship in Jesus, with God. 

The gift of eternal life tells you how long the relationship will last. For ever: no break ups, no separation. None of these gifts can be gained by going to church or being good. They are free gifts from God.    

Galatians 3 tells us Christ redeemed us so that we would inherit the blessing of Abram. That blessing was the promise made to Abram Ge 12:2 ‘I will bless you …  and you will be a blessing’ 

God promised to bless Abram. Who was Abram going to be a blessing to? God. 

Any relationship should be based upon blessing one another. Despite my jokes, Nina and I above all want bless one another; we want to do each other good.  

God wanted a relationship with Abram and so God had to give Abram the ingredients for it. 

Read Abram’s story. He wasn’t perfect by any means. By our standards he was a lying, incestuous, adulterer. Not exactly the model lifestyle of a saint and YET.... 

It didn’t matter. Because his relationship with God was not about doing but about being. 

Our relationship is not about doing but about being, and being in Christ Jesus. 

As it is written, Ac 17:28 ‘For in the Lord we live, and move, and have our being’. 

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

Extracts from Luke 8:43 - 48  

In the crowd that day was a woman who had been subject to menstrual bleeding for twelve years, but no doctor could cure her.

She came up behind Jesus and touched the hem of his garment, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 

"Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you."

But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I felt power go out from me." 

When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she came trembling and fell at his feet. In front of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 

Then Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." 

Continuing the theme in Jesus found seven times in the book of Ephesians 

‘In Jesus’ is how God sees those who trust in His Son and become the children of God enjoying forgiveness of sin, an inheritance of ancestral promises first made to Abraham, and a temple of God’s presence.   

Saint means ‘holy one’. It’s His presence in us that makes us holy.

1Co 6:17 says ‘Those that are united to the Lord are one spirit.’ 

And so to the 7th and final ‘In Jesus’ in the book of Ephesians. In Jesus and through faith in Jesus we can boldly approach God with freedom and confidence.

In tonight’s reading a woman who was slowly bleeding to death (menorrhagia) dared to push through the crowd to touch Jesus. Her bleeding, according to religious law, made her ceremonially unclean and anyone she touched would automatically become unclean too. She had been shunned by everyone for 12 years because no one wanted to be contaminated by her.   

But this woman had the faith to challenge the law and its rules that condemned her. As this woman reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment instead of Jesus becoming unclean, according to the religious law, His righteousness flowed out to the woman and made her clean. Immediately this woman stopped bleeding. 

The boldness of her faith in Jesus was greater than the law but then her boldness deserted her! She knew the law that discriminated against her. Joy turned to fear as Jesus suddenly said ‘Who touched me?’ And everyone else who discriminated against her looked on.  

But instead of getting a rollicking she was shocked to find that Jesus was delighted for her! 

How many of us have tried to get near to Jesus, only to let religious rules come and convince us we’re not good enough and frighten us off? It happened to me. Has it happened to you? 

So the last ‘in Jesus’ of Ephesians says that ‘In Jesus’ and through faith in him we may boldly approach God with freedom and confidence. Anytime, no matter what! Simply because we’re in Jesus. Being in Jesus makes us good enough, always.  

Charles Wesley was an Anglican minister who had a knowledge of God but didn’t know Him. That is, until he read a book by Martin Luther explaining the book of Galatians. A light came on and for the very first time Charles discovered the peace of knowing total acceptance from God that comes through faith alone.  His eyes were opened to the massive extent of God’s love and he was amazed. 

As a result he wrote his famous hymn called ‘And can it be?’ These are some of his words: 

Amazing love! How can it be,/ That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?/… ’Tis mercy all, immense and free,/For, O my God, it found out me!/ Long my imprisoned spirit lay,/Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;/ Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray—/I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; 

My chains fell off, my heart was free,/I rose, went forth, and followed Thee./

No condemnation now I dread;/Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;/Alive in Him, my living Head, /And clothed in righteousness divine,/Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,/And claim the crown, through Christ my own. 

Charles discovered that God freely pours His amazing love and limitless grace over him without Charles having to earn or deserve it. God’s amazing love made him free to follow Jesus without the chains of religion’s expectations binding him up. 

Before this Charles had felt imprisoned, bound up in a religious system whose demands he could never meet. It felt like being locked in a dark dungeon. So many of us have felt trapped by that that failure of being able to live up to what we are told we must do to be ‘good Christians’.  

But then Jesus revealed the immensity of His love to Charles, love that doesn’t apply conditions and rules but love that is totally unconditional. The chains of the do’s and don’ts of religion had told him that no matter how hard he tried he could never be good enough. Those chains had worn him down and stopped him being himself.   

The condemnation and guilt he used to carry were gone! Charles now knew that he was in Jesus, in whom he had forgiveness and an inheritance and the boldness not only to touch Jesus’ garment but the boldness to approach God Himself at any time, no matter what was happening in his life. 

In Jesus Charles had the boldness of faith to claim the crown of righteousness that Jesus had bought for him. Jesus has bought a crown of righteousness for you and me. All we need like Charles is the boldness of faith to claim our crown in Jesus in whom we trust. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach  ‘In Jesus 3’  

Ephesians 2:14 – 22 

Jesus Himself is our peace, He has made both Jew and Gentile as one and has destroyed all the barriers, torn down all the walls that divided men and women, 

He did this by abolishing the law with its commandments and regulations. When He died the law died with Him. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the Jew and the Gentile and men and woman, so making peace, 

Christ brought us together through his death on the Cross. The Cross got us to embrace one another, and accept our differences and diversity. 

Christ came and preached peace to all that listened, treating all as equals. For through him we all have access to the God by one Spirit. 

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and more than that, you’re family. This is all built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 

In Jesus the whole building is joined together ……to become a holy temple in the Lord.

And in Jesus you too are being built together to become a house in which God lives by his Spirit. 

In Ephesians Paul states 7 times that as Christians we are ‘In Jesus’. We have the benefits of being in Jesus, the benefits known as the Divine Exchange (see last week).    

God see us as redeemed people who have a tremendous inheritance, who possess the gift of faith from Him and are sealed with the Holy Spirit so we can never lose what He has promised us and given us.  

But how do we see ourselves? Do we dare see ourselves as God sees us?  

Church and society have judged many of us negatively. Criticism and bullying affect us and give us a tendency to have a low opinion of ourselves.  

But God treasures each one of us as precious to Him and loves and accepts us exactly as we are.

That’s why He chose us, I’ve never known yet for God to make a wrong choice. 

It’s hard for us to think spiritually and grasp that because we are ‘In Jesus’ God sees us as perfect (Col 3:3). 

Paul writes, that we who trust in Jesus are God’s Temple. Like the Temple in Jerusalem that Solomon built. Solomon built the temple precisely according to the plans God had given him.  

Imagine having the money to build your own house, furnish it just as you liked and position it exactly where you want with the  outlook you would like.  

When Solomon finished the Temple he dedicated it to God and scripture tells us in 1Kings 18 that the presence of the Lord came and took up residence in His new house. The Jews called the visible glory of God the Shekinah glory (Shekinah meaning presence or dwell).  

God’s presence was so powerful it totally overwhelmed the priests and stopped them performing their duties, instead they were overcome with awe of God. The temple became Holy the moment God moved in. It was His presence that made it Holy.  

In the story of Moses and the burning bush, God told Moses he was on holy ground. It was God’s presence that made it holy, it wasn’t holy of itself.  

Back to Solomon’s Temple. Scripture tells us that Solomon’s Temple symbolised the Temple to come, which would be made of people. It was to be flesh and blood not stone . God’s Temple today is each one of us who knows Him. 

Each one of us is unique and designed by God. And at the moment when we come to trust in Jesus, God himself takes up residence within us. We become God’s temple, God’s house, the place where God dwells. And we are made holy by his presence within us.   

And each of us is unique with unique life experiences and a unique outlook on life.  

God’s homes throughout human history are all different with different aspects and features in different locations and different outlooks. Each Christian is different. Each Christian is home to God and each one is holy because of God’s abiding presence. God’s Shekinah glory, God’s tangible presence is within. 

And every time Christians gather together God’s presence is among us. So, Liberty is God’s house. I’m not talking about the bricks and mortar that surround us but the body of saints that gather together make it God’s house.  

And His presence among us makes Liberty a holy residence. God is the Architect of the House of Liberty and God is building it according to His plan and furnishing it with those He has called to be here.  

He has chosen each of us for our uniqueness and sees us as precious and holy to Him. 

God wants His house to be filled with joy; a happy and pleasant place for Him to live in. And a home where He can share His peace, rest and to maybe recover from the stresses of life. 

God also wants to share Liberty, His temple, His house. He wants to make it a home where people can come in and meet Him and know the joy of the new life He brings... In Jesus.  

Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘In Jesus 2’  

Extracts from Ephesians 1

To the praise of the glory of God’s grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved Son Jesus.

In Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us

In Jesus we also have received an inheritance, being

In Jesus you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance 

When there is surplus of fruit you can preserve them by bottling. First jars have to be washed and sterilised. There can’t be any contamination or the fruit will spoil, every jar has to be spotless. The fruit is then packed tight into the jars and a lid is put on to seal it. Nothing can then get in to contaminate or spoil the wonderful fruit inside.   

When we become saints by believing and trusting in the Lord Jesus God sees us as being in Jesus. The apostle Paul records in Ephesians the wonderful gifts we have in Jesus. 

According to God’s plan and purpose when he looks at us He chooses to see His Son Jesus instead of us; human beings with all our faults and failings. From the moment that we believe in Jesus, in God’s eyes our lives are hidden in Jesus (Col 3:3). 

In tonight’s reading it says… ‘In Jesus we have redemption’ meaning He paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins. And that’s ALL of them, past, present and future. What an outrageous gospel, what an outrageous grace!   

Being totally forgiven makes us spotlessly clean – a bit like the jars washed clean and sterilised from every possible germ.  That level of cleanliness makes us immediately fit for heaven.         

Scripture records that Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever and because we are in Jesus we are spotlessly clean, yesterday, today and forever.

 

We have received an infinite amount of undeserved favour from God, a massive Grace Gift ticket. So much grace that we’d have no chance of using it up even in 100 lifetimes. 

There’s more than enough grace for each and every situation or circumstance… we can never earn it, no one can.  

We can never fall out of grace or fall away from grace. We can only ever fall into grace and it is always more than enough for our needs.   

So we are spiritually cleansed in Jesus – like the jars were cleansed. What was next in the kitchen? The filling – all that precious fruit is put inside sterilised spotless jars.   

Our reading says we that in Jesus we have an inheritance.  The inheritance is every promise made by God to the ancestors of Jesus e.g. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These promises, for example the one He made to Abraham ‘I’ll will bless you and make you a blessing’ have been passed down throughout the generations of Jesus’ family.  

Paul said Ro 8:17 we are joint heirs in Christ. We don’t have to do anything to inherit… it’s ours guaranteed simply because of who we are, God’s daughters and sons. 

Ephesians goes on to say about our trust in Jesus, we trust Him because we heard about Him one way or another. I say one way or another because folks come to know Jesus in such a variety of ways. It’s always the right way for each individual.  

That’s why the verse in Ephesians 1 ends ‘What you personally heard  was your good news of your salvation’. To make that plain, it was the good news of your freedom, free to be yourself and freedom from everything that at one time came between you and God. 

What happens, the very instant we believe, is what’s called the Divine Exchange…  

Jesus made Himself nothing… to give us everything

He accepted the poverty of earth… to give us the riches of heaven

He took our punishment… to give us forgiveness

He was cursed… so that we would be blessed ,He took our sin… and gave us His righteousness

He took our guilt… to give us his glory, He endured rejection … to give us acceptance with God

He lived a temporal life… to give us eternal life

He died darkness…to give us life in His glorious light

He rose victorious from death… to make us conquerors in life  

Without us knowing it, at the very moment we trusted in Jesus, the divine exchange took place. And Paul tells us that we were immediately sealed by the Holy Spirit. And that takes us back to the preserved fruit. Paul writes 2Co 4:7 that we have this treasure in jars. 

Jars made spotless by Jesus then filled with His love, His righteousness, His holiness, the inheritance, the promises, the blessings and the Spirit’s fruit. Jars sealed with His love by the Spirit. 

And because of that spiritual seal nothing we can do can ever contaminate it. Nothing can pollute it, nothing can spoil it. We are sealed in and preserved eternally, in Jesus. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach 'In Jesus'

John 14:16 – 20: Jesus makes a promise to His brothers and sisters   

I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. 

This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

"I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back.

In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. 

At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.”  

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian saints, he repeats the phrase ‘In Jesus’ seven times.

Seven is the number of perfection. It’s a bit of an odd thing to be ‘in’ Jesus. 

I often find myself in trouble…, in Nina’s bad books, in dickeys meadow. I know exactly what all those things mean and the consequences of them.  

But in Jesus???  What does that mean and what are the consequences?  

When Paul wrote that letter to the saints in Ephesus (Eph 3:4) he told them about the revelation  the Holy Spirit had given him, his ”insight into the Mystery of Jesus Christ”. 

A mystery  is something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. We live in the natural world whereas Jesus lives in a supernatural realm. And we need inspiration from the Holy Spirit to grasp something spiritually that our minds cannot explain.

I have firsthand knowledge that knowing the nature of Jesus only comes through experiencing Him, and increasingly over time, He reveals Himself to us.  

Jesus, born an ordinary man stepped into our world with an invitation for us to step into His realm. Because of the sin of unbelief, humanity had lost their relationship with God and were separated from Him. But God gave the perfect substitute, His Son, to pay the redemption price to bring humanity back into close connection with God.  

That reminds me of my chocolate gateau voucher.  I have an Iceland voucher that I can exchange for a free jumbo chocolate gateau for one!  

I didn’t earn it. I trust that when I present the voucher in Iceland, I’ll receive the cake because it’s already paid for.  

That’s like our redemption. When every saint gets to heaven they give their redemption voucher which reads: ‘This person knows and loves Jesus.’ So each saint has full access to heaven because the price of entry has already been paid in full.  

And the wonderful thing is that spiritually we can enter heaven, His realm, right now. There are times in life when the sense of His presence is overwhelming and we get little tastes of heaven.   

God’s viewpoint is that because we trust in Jesus our lives are hidden in His life (Col 3:3). When God looks at us he sees Jesus enfolding us. To God we are in Jesus.  

Another consequence of spiritually being in Jesus is that we are the spiritual descendents of Abraham and inherit all the promises that God gave to him (Galatians 3:29). Simply because we are in Jesus we have an inheritance and we inherit all those wonderful promises that Abraham was given ‘I will lead  you, I will guide you, I will bless you etc, etc and a thousand etc’s. 

We are also able to share in Jesus’ divine nature.  Peter confirms it in his 2nd letter 2Pe 1:4 ‘…God has given us (note, a gift, not anything earned) his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.’ 

We share in Jesus’ divine nature. It’s his nature in us that enables us to know God and to love him and to know His love for us.   

The promises are made to all God’s children. All are involved. No human being or human organisation or human codes of conduct have the power to block those promises that come from God Himself.  

Which takes me back to the beginning and the apostle Paul’s experience of… ”insight into the Mystery of Jesus Christ”. And to Jesus’ promise to us in tonight’s reading ‘You will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you’.  

As we live in faith, we grow in our ability to trust in Jesus more and more. We don’t get free from all our faults and failings, our bad habits and selfish ways and become perfect human beings. 

But there are times, despite us, when His qualities, His nature, come alive in us, inspired by His Spirit. And it is the divine life and nature that can reveal Jesus to others who don’t’ yet know Him. 

Then we become bearers of His life as others meet Him in us, and discover that life for themselves.  

And come to know the mystery of Jesus being in them; and they in turn knowing absolutely that they are in Jesus. 

Extracts from Jim’s Preach 'Walk in Him'

Genesis 5:21 - 24 

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. 

Hebrews 11:5 & 6 

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away.

For before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 

Ge 5: tells us that Enoch walked with God and Hebrews 11 tells us Enoch had faith 

What does it mean to walk with God? It means to walk along side one another as companions; coming together for a journey. It involves talking about the experiences along the way, especially when the journey is hard. This togetherness leads to appreciating each other’s company and support when needed. 

Walking with God means that Enoch had an intimate relationship with God, a closeness and in step with God. The prophet Amos wrote "How can two walk together unless they’re in harmony?"  

The Apostle John writes “if we walk in the light, as Jesus is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” So when we are walking with God we are able to relate to others who are also walking with the God. It is always manmade rules that separate us. 

Enoch joined God on His journey not the other way round. I believe that here at Liberty we are on a journey that God started more than 10 years ago in response to the fervent prayers of a lesbian called Hayley.  

The Lord began the journey and each one of us has joined Him at various stages of His Liberty journey. Some may be with us for just part of this journey others may be here for the duration.  

Do we know the way? No... Do we need to know the way? No... We rely on the Spirit to guide us.  

Scripture says that Abraham walked before God.* Abraham was walking out in front but he didn’t know the way. He took wrong turns and made mistakes but God was behind him supporting him.   

Why did God allow those mistakes and wrong turns? Because Grace allows God’s children to be themselves, each with the freedom to make their own choices.  

Ex 6:3* Abraham knew God as ‘El Shaddia’ from the word ‘shad’ meaning ‘breast’, Mother God not Father God. Mother knows best has the tendency to fall on deaf ears and so all good mothers allow their children to make mistakes as part of their learning, while keeping an ever watchful eye on their child.  

In every step of his journey Abraham had the faith to know that Mother God was with him no matter what. So what about you and I as saints, and together as Liberty? 

Col 2:6 tells us. ‘As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him’

Plus, 2Co 1:20 For all the promises of God are in Jesus; and ….fulfilled in Him.

Walking in God means that we are walking in the promises of God. 

When I came into the freedom of the gospel of grace, I realised all the laws and rules had been swept away. I stood before God simply as me. I said, “Lord what now?” the answer came “Get on with your life.” So I did, later realising that in Jesus I had all the promises of God to rely on. 

I simply believed God’s promises in scripture: “I will lead you, I will watch over you, I will bless you” etc, etc. and a thousand etc’s. I trusted that Mother God knew best. 

How do we walk in God? Simply by trusting Her/Him and being open to Her/His leading. Col 2:7 tells us to be “rooted and built up in Jesus… grounded in faith in Jesus”. And faith is simply trusting Jesus.  

When our desire is to grow in our faith in God, and to walk in Her/His way instead of ours, then our relationship strengthens and becomes more intimate. Faith that can start out as small and as fragile as a mustard seed can grow to become strong and unshakable.   

Walking in Jesus brings us into unity with the Holy Spirit and in union with God, who is both Mother and Father to us. 

This union can gradually empower us to fulfil the following; Eph 5:2,8 "Walk in love" …"Walk in the light."  Ga 5 "Walk in the spirit".  The light is in Jesus… the fruit and the fullness of the Spirit in Jesus, the power God’s unfailing love is in Jesus 

Heb 11:5 says simply that “Enoch pleased God”. And here’s how …with his faith. Heb 11 verse 6 says … “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It was Enoch’s faith that pleased God.  

Faith gives each one of us as individuals and collectively, the ability to walk with God, walk before God, walk in God and most importantly, it pleases God. 

Because nothing pleases God more than having the faith for life’s journey with God in Jesus.

* Ex 6:3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as El Shaddia, but by my name Jehovah I did not make myself known to them.

Ge 17:1 ...the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God (El Shaddia); walk before Me.”

In light of the overall context given in Genesis 17, the name El Shaddai is directly connected with the promise given to Abraham regarding the future growth of his family, (“I will multiply you exceedingly") and ultimately of the coming of the promised Seed, the Messiah. Understood in this light, the name El Shaddai provides a picture of God's nurturing love for our lives... God nurtures and loves us, like a mother loves her newborn child.

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’.   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rejection. CD’s or tapes are available free of charge. Contact Us

 

Liberty Church Blackpool