The power of the Spirit

Luke 4: 14-15 “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.”

The power of the Spirit

Luke writes in verse 1 that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Now he returns in the power of the Spirit.

The power of the Spirit is the longing of the Church who seek after this with all of their might. Yet it comes only after the devil has done his worst in a place which cannot be described as an oasis, refreshing nor a revival.

I imagine the Sri Lankan church to emerge in the power of the Spirit after their onslaught from the enemy. They are limping out of this testing time reporting on the world news of forgiveness to their killers. Already so powerful.

The power of the Spirit is connected to how you survived the wilderness testing.

But it is also connected to your return. No matter what has happened you return. You may have been hungry for 40 days. You may have faced an onslaught of temptation. You may have avoided dangers of wild animals. You may have needed the ministry of angels to help you recover. But can you get up and return again. I have a friend who lost everything. His wife, children, work, position in life, credibility and testimony. Yet he made a return and was in church with his new wife this Easter Sunday.

It is also connected to your mission. Jesus returned to Galilee or as Matthew describes, Galilee of the Gentiles. The power of the Spirit is not for you, it is for others. It is for serving and leading others into the Kingdom of God.

Finally the power of the Spirit will lead you into a new danger which can be as much an enemy attack as the desert trial. The season of exposure, of being known, of opportunities and praise, can be laced with possible dangers that can divert you from your purpose. We will see more of this in how Jesus held his course during the praise reports from the people.

The power of the Spirit comes

  1. after a season of difficulty
  2. as you dust yourself off and return
  3. as you focus on others
  4. and leads to further challenges.

May we walk in that power today.

 

 

Know the opportune times

Luke 4 v 13 “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”

 

Jesus would experience further attacks of the devil in terms of the stealing of the message from people’s hearts (Luke 8:12), separating and sifting (Luke 22:31), lies (John 8:44), promptings (John 13:2).

Further, there are attacks of sickness (Acts 10:38), all kinds of deceit and trickery (Acts 13:10), pretence (2 Corinthians 11:14), footholds (Ephesians 4:27), schemes (Ephesians 6:11), blocking our attempts (1 Thessalonians 2:18), traps (1 Timothy 3:7), attacks of suffering (Revelation 2:10).

When does all this take place? At opportune times.

Some Christians don’t believe in a personal devil so they don’t have to think about this.

However, for us who do, we need to safeguard over opportune times where we are most likely to experience further attacks from the devil.

Last night I was listening to the radio whilst driving as a group of presenters and Sri Lankan politicians were discussing how long their government and Security Council had known that terrorist attacks were planned against the Christian churches and hotels some of which had been advertising Easter events at their premises. It seems it was for at least 17 days! Over 2 weeks of knowing that the enemy was planning an attack and yet nothing was done about it and apparently the President said no one had told him. There is a lot of anger in Sri Lanka today.

If you have been a Christian for a while then you should know when the devil is more susceptible to attack you.

For me an opportune time for the devil to attack me is:

  1. When I have been successful in something there is a tendency to not lean so much upon God for His help.
  2. When I am perhaps only a short time away from a significant event there is a tendency to be more sensitive to emotions and temptations that will weaken my confidence entering into that season of possible blessing.
  3. When I am tired I tend to be too weak and open to all kinds of attacks.
  4. When I am impatient for God to move and/or impatient for God’s people to move I tend to want to take things into my own hands to speed things up a bit.

It is important to know those opportune times for you.

But know this also:

  1. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7)
  2. Do not be afraid of what the devil can do to you (Revelation 2:10)
  3. The devil is a loser who continues to lose and who loses for all eternity (Revelation 20:10).

Be careful of the high points. Luke 4: 1-13

Luke 4: 1-13

Be careful of the high points.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.”

The high point of who he was: If you are the Son of God, then you can do anything and it is certainly justified because you have needs, you are hungry. Jesus knew he was the Son of God, the devil knew and so took him to that high place of identity. There is nothing more disturbing or toxic than a group of leaders at whatever level fighting over their positions and titles. Jesus the good Shepherd calls us to lay our lives down.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”

The high point of ambition: if you stop acknowledging the Father you can achieve anything and far less costly. Jesus knew that to gain the whole world from the authority of the devil he would need to pay the cost. Cheap ambition is the desire to gain without dying first. Jesus tells us that we should only submit to God.

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

The high point of demonstrative power: if you step out, be bold, be remarkable, just show you can, you trust, who you are, then God will match your level of faith. How so often we are encouraged by conferences, books and other stories to demonstrate that we can and that we are as good as anyone else. Our social media statuses need to match the next. We also need to be great. The testing of our faith can be done by ourselves to demonstrate we are powerful and it is a test we usually fail at some point down the line.

The devil’s temptation of Jesus began at the high points. Be careful where he leads you.

 

He is the Son of God!

He is the Son of God!

Luke 3: 38 “the son of God”

So we finish today, this incredible Easter Sunday, having gone through the 77 names listed in Luke’s genealogy.

Adam, the son of God is actually referring to how Adam was made in the image of God.

Israel is called God’s Son in Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son”

And of course, we as peacemakers are called children of God in Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

At the cross the centurion saw God in the horrific death of Jesus: Mark 15: 39 “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

But throughout the New Testament Jesus is referred to as the Son of God in a way different to that of Adam, Israel and ourselves. These 2 verses help to show that when we see Jesus we are looking at God:

Colossians 2:9 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”

1 John 5:20 “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

It was the resurrection of Jesus that was the pivotal evidence that Jesus was the Son of God and God eternal.

T. Wright in his book ‘Who Was Jesus?’ notes, “There were many messianic movements in the first century. In every case, the would-be Messiah got crucified by Rome as Jesus did.” And this is what he writes: “In not one single case do we hear the slightest mention of the disappointed followers claiming their hero had been raised from the dead. They knew better.”

The resurrection was foundational to the Church and always has been.

But it was more than what the Jews believe in that at the very end of time there would be a resurrection. No, for the Church they believed because Jesus was raised it meant that resurrection was now and it was this which gave them hope as they faced constant persecution and death for their faith. They became fearless because death had now no hold over them. Where O death is your sting?!

1 Corinthians 15: 12-14

 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.

It is the centre of what we believe.

It is the offence of the gospel.

It is why there is only one way to heaven through Jesus Christ.

It is why Jesus is more than a prophet.

It is why Jesus is the Son of God, God Himself.

It is why those who put their trust in Him will never die but be raised to new life.

Who is Adam?

Who is Adam?

Luke 3:38 “the son of Adam”

We have arrived! ADAM: the first ‘man’, in Hebrew it is a both a personal name and a general noun, ‘mankind’.

Adam, made in the image of God, placed into Eden which means ‘His Presence’, given a companion wife and given work to do.

Adam, who messed it up, rejecting God’s sole authority was expelled from ‘His Presence’ and life became tough for him and his wife.

It was Apostle Paul who wrote connecting Jesus with Adam comparing the two.

Romans 5: 12-19

“… just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned … if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! … For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous”

But what of Jesus? Did he think of himself as Paul saw it? Paul says Jesus came to do what the first Adam failed to do in 1 Corinthians 15: 45-49 “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.” But did Jesus see himself as this?

What perspective of life did Jesus hold to?

Let’s take one of the time when he was being challenged. Matthew 19:3-6 “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

His perspective was ‘at the beginning’. His answer was ‘what was Gods original intention?’ At the beginning there was never a need for a certificate of divorce.

The mission of Jesus was to link man back to the beginning. It is for the purpose of revelation in order to bring wisdom to us on how to do life.

How did God reveal Himself at the beginning before He revealed Himself as El Shaddai to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? It was ‘El Elohim’ meaning Creator God. “In the beginning God created”

This revelation of God as it forms in you will change your praying and expecting and what you do and how you spend your life.

Your prayer shifts from ‘Help me Jesus, save me Jesus, Deliver me Jesus’ to that of ‘Give me wisdom, give me strategies, use me to change the culture I work in and live in.’

The Creator God, the One who created Adam first but who came as the last Adam, the Son of Man, releasing what is inside of us, creating, producing and changing. We stop praying ‘Help me get through this day’ and we pray ‘Help me to change this day into a creative day’.

We stop crying out ‘Where are you?’ and our call is ‘what do you want me to do?’ We become involved in our world, not trying to escape it afraid we may be tainted by it.

We are raised into a taskforce to bring creation out of chaos, values out of the void with an energy that stands in contrast to the emptiness of people’s lives, outward looking, community and missional.

This is what the Last Adam successfully achieved and He did it because He went to the cross and he died because of our fall. He brought us back into ‘His Presence’ and gave us purpose again. A purpose given to us by the Creator. So now let us go today and make a difference, let us invade our culture with a different perspective. Let us walk into the room and change atmospheres because the God of Adam, the Creator God is inside of us because the Last Adam paid the price!

Who is Seth?

Who is Seth?

Luke 3: 38 “the son of Seth”

And so we arrive on Good Friday to the end of the genealogical line of Christ, to where it all started from, to the 3rd son of Adam and Eve. The ‘appointed’ or ‘chosen’ one or also the ‘provision’ and even more importantly also ‘restitution.’ Are these the names and titles of Christ, of course they are!

The Appointed One – Hebrews 5: 1-6 “Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honour on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Chosen One – Matthew 12: 15-18 “Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:  “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”

The Provision – John 6: 48-51 “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

The One who makes Restitution – 1 Peter 5: 10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Amen!

And all these titles are also found in the name SETH!

It is the story of how Seth came into being that reminds us of the beautiful gospel story.

Look at his mother. What would Eve teach us today? Many things I am sure. But one of them is this: If you are willing to go again, God will always be there.

To see your family divided is hurtful enough. To witness a murderous death within your family by a family member is a nightmare. To realise it was done through deception which was your own previous failing and sin now passed to the next generation is unbearable.

Genesis 4: 25 “Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”

Eve. What did she do? She again gave birth. She began again. She moved on.

Success is getting up once more than the amount of times you fall.

The future is not in what you have lost.

Seth’s name also means substitute. Eve lost Abel. But it was in Seth that the bloodline would be traced to the birth of Jesus Christ, Gods substitute for our sin.

Isaiah 53: 5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

The past will always be the same. Stop trying to change it. Start believing the best is yet to be. It takes courage to move on.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 3:`13-14

Thanks God for Seth.

Thank God even more for Jesus Christ, the appointed, the chosen, our provision, our restitution and our substitute!!

Who is Enosh?

Who is Enosh?

Luke 3 v 38 “the son of Enosh”

Genesis 4: 26 “Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on[i] the name of the Lord.”

The grandson of Adam lives in a time when people are beginning to pray to the Lord..

He is named ‘mortal’ perhaps because Seth realised that as the replacement brother of Cain who had killed Abel (4:25) life was indeed very fragile. His name also means ‘people’ and could be referring to the great increase of the population.

The devastation of Cain killing Abel was felt deeply in that the Cainites turned their back on the Lord. But the Sethites, those people like Enosh, despite the turbulence of their world and the increasing sinfulness as the population also increased, they called on the name of the Lord.

Never let a day go by without calling on the Name!

The Apostle Paul quotes Joel 3 in Romans 10:12-16

As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Let us pray that this Easter weekend Christians everywhere will have beautiful feet, bringing good news of Jesus Christ and that many more new people will begin to call on the name of the Lord and be saved!

Light of the World
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes
Let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of life spent with You
Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me
King of all days
Oh so highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above
Humbly You came to the earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor
I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross.
Call upon the name of The Lord and be saved

Who is Kenan?

Who is Kenan?

Luke 3 v 37 “the son of Kenan”

The great-grandson of Adam has a name which means ‘possession’ or ‘to build a nest’.

There is nothing about him except his name and that he died before the flood but would have seen the rising prophetic voice of Enoch and Noah.

Kenan is identical to that of Cain but with an added ending. That ending means to chant a dirge. So maybe Enosh thought that his son would be like the cry of an eagle high in a nest reminding the people of lamenting.

It is all speculation of course and playing with meaning of words.

But what I believe is certain is that in the 3 centuries after creation mankind as they knew it had grown from a small family to 2 tribes who were already deep rivals. The tribe of Seth (the line of Christ) of which obviously Kenan is from was trying to walk with their Creator as best they could. Enosh would never have named his child after the rebel and wayward son of Adam, Cain. Cain had founded the rival tribe in Nod. But the Seth family were different and Enosh knew it.

Far from perfect I am sure but we like Kenan are the prophetic symbol of being like Cain’s family, a possessor. However, we are high in the nest crying over what we see far in the distance. Lamenting over people who have walked far from their Creator. We possess but not like Cain’s family. We don’t possess at all costs. We don’t kill our brother to possess. We walk in line with Christ.

We must learn:

To build a high nest. We must see what God wants to show us. We must view the possession, the inheritance that is ours in Christ. We must get to the top of the hills surrounding our cities, we must map out our towns and look at the demographics and the needs and challenges of the people. We must see people who Christ died for.

To lament. We must learn to weep. Weeping not only because we have had fires in our buildings. Weeping not only because of persecution. Weeping not only because of Christianity being marginalised continually in the freedom of speech etc. All that is good weeping. But we must find our voice to lament and wail that still today Christ’s presence is on the earth but they do not recognise Him. We must weep over those who are lost. We must weep over the desperation of people’s lives. We only hang on a cross for people if we have first learnt how to weep for them.

To possess. We must move. We must do something. We must say enough is enough. I have a Pastor in Birmingham who is 67 years of age and full of passion, more than I have seen in those half his age. He had 3 teenagers of parents saying they didn’t want to come to church anymore. That was the sum total of his youth generation. He didn’t have a youth club. He couldn’t afford to buy into a national pioneering youth initiative to launch a youth work. So because he knew what it is to work hard, because he had been down the pits as an engineer and knew that at times life gets tough and if we are going to possess anything we have to roll our sleeves up, this is what he did. He got a snooker table and a table tennis table and this 67 year old Pastor started a youth group on a Friday night for the 3 teenagers. He moved in and possessed their futures within the Church. It causes me to weep with joy. The Church in the UK need more of these men and women who will get up and possess.

We need a move of Kenan people. May they rise up today!

Who was Mahalalel?

Who was Mahalalel?

Luke 3 v 37 “the son of Mahalalel”

This strange name means ‘God shines’ and also ‘praise of God’.

At a time where the light of God in people’s lives seemed to be growing dimmer there comes a man called ‘God shines’.

It matters not how dark the world can get nor who rules the land we live in. In the midst of fear from the threats of man and the lies and manipulation of selfish people there can live lights shining bright, waiting and available to the story of God. Faithful names holding on to a much more faithful God. People of God who hold worship as the foundation of their life.

Even only 4 generations down from Adam and the creation is groaning and yet there are signs that some people are at least carrying hope in their hearts. Lights in the darkness, praise in midst of the cursing. Maybe Mahalalel’s demeanour is different to all the rest of his generation. Maybe he really does shed the light of God. Though his circumstance was dark and dismal, maybe he is the one who constantly praises God despite and in all circumstances.

No matter what you face today your face can reflect a picture of the divine. This is not make-up, a pretend that all is going to be okay attitude. This is an assurance that whatever happens you belong to Him who died for you.
So let your enemies look intently as you shine the glory of the Lord in a dark world.

John 8:12 ““I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Who was Jared?

Who was Jared?

Luke 3 v 37 “the son of Jared”

There are 2 Enoch’s. The one fathered by Cain and the one fathered by Jared. Jared’s name means ‘descent’ and one of the reasons why his parents could have named him this is because since Adam and the fall there had been a continuous decline from the standards and values of Eden.

Other interesting thoughts are this:

There was a city named Enoch which Cain built as a protection for himself and family in line with the curse on his life. Jared would have known that city when he named his son.

Adam died within Jared’s lifetime. When the first man who walked with God in Eden (His Presence) dies then perhaps everyone is affected.

He no doubt searched for his son who God took away but as we know never found him.

He is the man who lived the second longest in Bible history.

Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday in the Churches across the world. We also commenced the descent into the darkness of Gethsemane and the cross knowing that this coming Sunday we will rise in victorious resurrection light!

Philippians 2 speaks of Christ:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

We will soon celebrate the ascension of Christ however because since the time Adam and Jared to the present day man has descended from His Presence, Christ came, God came down. He descended to be man amongst us to die for us. To lead us into a glorious ascension ourselves.

As we move into this Holy Week let us remember and be grateful that though we live in a descending sinful world, Jesus, descended for us.