Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, August 26, 2016

Will You Come and Follow Me ?


Just after Easter we began our series on The Nature Of God, and since then we’ve looked at 21 aspects of God’s nature:  Love   Holiness  Mercy  Grace  Friendship  Parenthood  Justice  Faithfulness  Forgiveness  Power  Creativity  Authority  Providence  Protection  Hope   Promise Keeper    Good  Comfort  Omniscient   Omnipresent   Compassion   Healer
These characteristics also describe the Christian, particularly the Christian born again of water and Spirit (omniscience and omnipotence are of course the exceptions which prove the rule). In my introduction to the series I reminded us that we humans are created in God’s image and as such we
are icons, image bearers, of God, in the world around us. So many people see God in the sunset, or the stars, or the mountains, but primarily God is revealed in humans, and even more so in born-again humans who have said Yes to Jesus and His offer of transforming power in our lives. This is one of the reasons why it is better to see ourselves as Christians in progress, rather than just as Christians, because we progress in revealing God, don’t we? The ultimate revelation of God was, of course, His incarnation, His putting on skin and becoming flesh in Jesus of Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth and Jerusalem. A human being, living in human places, showing us how to be human. That is what He came to do, isn’t it? …  to show us what a full and abundant life looks like, and to offer us, to give us if we will accept, full, abundant life … I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full  the life He had, here and now. What He did, He did because He had the Holy Spirit of God within Him … and so in His full and abundant life, we see a life of: Love   Holiness  Mercy  Grace  Friendship  Parenthood  Justice  Faithfulness  Forgiveness  Power  Creativity  Authority  Providence  Protection  Hope   Promise Keeper    Good  Comfort  (Omniscient   Omnipresent)   Compassion   Healer.

Paul reminds us that we, if we are born of the Spirit, have that same power, that same Holy Spirit in us that Jesus had, and he goes on by connecting the Spirit with the abundant life of Christ in us: And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

“The glory of God is a human being fully alive” wrote Irenaeus of Lyon some 2000 years ago.

Are you fully alive? Do you want to be fully alive? Would you like those you know and love to be fully alive?
When we are fully alive with the life of Christ in us, we will reveal to the world around us a life of: Love   Holiness  Mercy  Grace  Friendship  Parenthood  Justice  Faithfulness  Forgiveness  Power  Creativity  Authority  Providence  Protection  Hope   Promise Keeper    Good  Comfort  (Omniscient   Omnipresent)   Compassion   Healer. These are the things that make us like a city on a hill, or a lamp on a lampstand … these make us light to the world … and our world, our city, needs the light of Christ.
While on leave I caught up on some Songs of Praise on BBC and came across this song which encapsulates so much of the Nature of God at work in us: It’s called The Summons or Will you come and follow me by John Bell and Graham Maule of Scotland. Look for some of the elements of the nature of God as you listen to it and hear the message you might not have heard before that Jesus calls us in order to live in us and through us.
Watch here. 
Now ... a few different types of people are here this morning. Which one of these describes you?

a) Perhaps that song describes you and the life you are living … you’ve said yes and you’re following, and you are what I called earlier, a Christian in progress, like a city on a hill and a lamp on a lamp stand, ... you can say I’m fully alive. Or,
b) Perhaps that song describes how you once were … but you’ve drifted, for whatever reason your light (the light of Christ in you) is under a bowl … it happens … ask any of Jesus' disciples, ask any of the saints in our midst here at Meadow Way … your light is under a bowl and then what naturally follows is of course … it flickers … and it will go out …. perhaps it already has … you just know as you sit here this morning that you’re not fully alive, you're not where you once were in your walk with Jesus, but you want to be back there again. Or,
c) Perhaps you’ve never said Yes to Jesus … and something in you is saying: Today’s the day, I want to answer Jesus who sang to me through that song and say Yes, I'll follow you. There's one more possibility,

d) You're in church ... but still not ready.

Jesus loves each of those 4 types of people equally; but he's laid it on my heart this morning to pray very especially for 2 of those groups ... b and c ... those who are walking with Jesus, but just don't quite feel fully alive ... those who just know they need and want more of Christ in them; and those who feel today's the day to surrender and say Yes to Jesus, unsure of where it might lead but knowing that now's the time.

I’m going to pray for each of you this morning and know this: God’s overflowing cup of love, grace, mercy is waiting to pour into your cup.
But there's a fifth group;
e) Hopefully all of us know people in this group: these are those who aren't in the church and who haven’t said Yes to Jesus … and who therefore don’t have abundant life … they’re not fully alive and they don’t know that there’s more to life … but there’s an emptiness in them that only God can fill and they might say something like: Is there more to life than this? But if they haven’t said it they’ve probably thought it. Can I ask you to think of them by name, right now? Augustine discovered:
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
Think of that person now and remember our reading: John 1:35-51 … John the Baptist points 2 of his disciples to Jesus and they follow Him and begin to ask Him questions. One of them is Andrew and he goes home to his brother Peter and brings him to Jesus. Imagine if Andrew hadn’t told Peter about Jesus … imagine the gospels without Peter … the church without Peter … you know people, perhaps a family member, who are missing from the church; who knows what we are missing out on because you haven’t brought them here yet? .. Won’t you, like Andrew, just bring them … next week, or to Alpha which is an excellent tool for those who just want to come and ask questions.
Back to the gospel … Philip meets Jesus and goes off and tells Nathanael, hugely sceptical of this Jesus chap … and Philip just says come and see for yourself. Won’t you say that to that person I asked you to think about and bring them next week, or to Alpha.
We have treasure to share with the folk around us, pearls of great value to show folk, food and drink beyond measure and value. I plead with you to have in mind someone that you want to just bring to meet Jesus … whether they meet Him or not is out of your hands once you’ve just brought them … I’m not asking you to convert them, that’s not your task so much as it is your task to just say: Come and see.
But, you can’t share what you don’t have … so if you are in some way lacking the abundant life that Jesus talks about, come forward as we enjoy that song again. Perhaps to say: Lord, I’ve drifted, I’ve hidden my light under a bushel, it’s almost gone out; please fan it into life again;
perhaps come forward to say Lord, I’m yours … I want you to come in to me with the abundant life you bring … I’m sorry for all the things that have kept me from this moment, but now I want to say I am yours and you are mine;
and let all of us, as we listen, be reminded of why it is that Jesus invited us to follow Him in the first place and humbly give thanks and praise for what He is doing through us.
Try not to be occupied with whose going forward … or that nobody’s coming forward … let this just be you and Jesus; and you and that person that Jesus is waiting for you to bring to Him.
Watch here.

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