The sermon for November 5th 2017 is now available on the New Life web-site.
In this sermon, which is based on Ephesians 5:1-14, I talk about the history, vision and future of New Life.
Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
We must not associate with people who seek to deceive with empty words for the wrath of God is coming down on the disobedient.
We were once darkness, but now in Christ we are light. So we must live as children of the light. We must have nothing to do with the shameful deeds of darkness.
Sometimes Paul puts it straight and simple- try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. That summarises the role of every christian.
We have been rescued from the darkness and now we must learn to live in he light as children of the light.
Sin must go, but righteous deeds must come in. We need to try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
Reading, studying and meditating on Scripture are a great way to do this. Scripture is God’s inspired word. Daily reading of the Bible is as important to the soul as eating is to the body.
Listening prayer is another important discipline. Prayer is not about laying out my demands before God who knows what we need before we even ask. Prayer is a two way conversation in which we still our heart to hear the still small voice of God.
By telling us to try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord, Paul reminds us this is a process, a gradual alignment of my will with the Lord’s.
We don’t always get it right, but that’s not the point. It is the intention or desire to please God that is important, not the total adherence to a set of rules.
God loves me. Because of His love for me, I am learning to love Him. I want to please Him because I love Him. I delight in God’s pleasure.
Holy Spirit, please help me to learn how to please God. Remind me to read Scripture and pray daily. Teach me each day how to live my life as an offering to you.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul, now a prisoner for Christ, received a revelation of the mystery of God’s grace. This mystery was not made known to previous generations and is now only being revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through Christ Gentiles and Israel are being made members of one body.
Paul became a servant of this gospel and received a grace to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. God’s intent is that through this church comprising both Gentile and Jewish believers in Christ, God’s wisdom will be revealed to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
God’s plan before the creation of the world was that all who believe in the Lord Jesus would be of one faith, one heart, one mind. God has torn down the divisions between Jew and Gentile, because in Christ all may be redeemed.
My salvation is no longer dependent on where I was born or whether I can fulfil a life of obedience to the law of God.
We live in a time of grace. God’s love is poured out on the world so that whoever believes in Christ may come confidently to the Father and receive eternal life.
Thank you Lord for dying to pay the price for my sin. Amen.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil on the heavenly realms.
We must put on the full armour of God to resist the devil’s evil plans. We don’t struggle against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil.
The armour of God is our combat equipment that enables us to stand our ground and defeat every attack of the enemy. It consists of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.
We should pray in the Spirit on every occasion, with all kinds of prayers, especially for our christian brothers and sisters.
Our struggle as christians is against the demonic forces not against people. For this reason, it is important to fight our battles in the heavenly realm, not in the earthly realm.
Prayer is what wins our battles for the Lord- prayer together with integrity and devotion to Christ.
God does call us to action, even to activism, but this must start and continue in prayer. There is no point fighting the battles we have not been called to fight, nor in engaging in actions which God has not initiated. These are the very things which play into the hands of the devil.
Lord help me to discern your will for me as I step out into the battle each day. Amen.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.
We are to speak truthfully to one another. Anger must go; nobody should let the sun go down while they are still angry.
Thieves must steal no longer, but work for a living instead.
All forms of bitterness, anger, slander and malice should give way to kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
We must imitate God, living lives marked by love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.
Following Jesus means that our lives should be transformed at the most basic level. Our relationships and attitudes to others will be radically reorganised by the power of God’s love.
The commandments Paul gives in this section are impossible in human strength alone. The good news is that we have the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
We cannot expect the Lord to do all the work, however. He will not change us if we refuse His grace. The christian life is a process of learning to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, and then repenting daily of those sins. It is a partnership in which we co-operate with the Spirit’s sanctifying work.
Thank you Lord for the grace to change my life. Amen.
As a prisoner for the Lord then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Paul urges us to live a life in accordance with our calling as followers of Jesus Christ. We should be humble and gentle with one another, making every effort to live in unity under the one God and Father of us all.
God has given gifts to the church- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers- to prepare God’s people for service and to build up the Body of Christ in unity and maturity.
When we become truly mature we will be growing into Christ and not listening to the vain teaching and scheming of men.
We must learn to live together as christians in genuine unity. For too long, the church has been mired by denominationalism, by envy, by competitiveness, and by false teaching.
If we take this chapter seriously, we will learn to love one another regardless of worship styles and the ways we express our faith.
Most of what divides christians is the superficial and irrelevant. We must learn to be people of love.
True ministers- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers- will be working to bring the church into unity. Only the false ministers will use their positions to divide the flock of Christ,
Holy Spirit work in my life so that I can love my brothers and sisters. Show me how I can break down barriers to people from other churches and traditions. Amen.