Faith and Spirit

Gen 12:1-3; Gen 15:1-6; Ps 32; Gal 3:1-9 Luke 24:44-49

Introduction

Galatians 3:1-9 is a passage where Paul gets fired up against those false teachers who are trying to persuade Gentile Christians that they need to keep the Jewish law to be saved. He is so impassioned because to encourage people to turn away from the gospel message of justification by faith is a form of spiritual abuse whose consequences are far more damaging than any other form of violation. This is clear, but Paul’s argument turns in a direction which makes this section of the letter very difficult to apply; it is based entirely on his readers’ experience of the Spirit. If you have not had an experience like Paul describes here you will struggle to be impacted by his message. This is why we must urgently seek the help of the Lord in prayer before we go any further….

The gift of the Holy Spirit was central to Paul’s own life and ministry. When we look at the description in Acts of Paul’s church planting ministry in Galatia we read that through his preaching of the gospel “the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”, and that there were “signs and wonders” and healings (13:52; 14:3, 8-10). Because the Holy Spirit was so real in the early church Paul’s argument in Galatians 3 revolves around a simple question; “What were you doing when you received the Spirit?” If I ask the same question today to each of you, “What were you doing when you received the Spirit?”; I might get answers like….., “I was being baptised/confirmed, but I don’t remember any experience of the Spirit. ” or, you might have no idea how to answer at all. Paul is not appealing to some sort of religious acts or how well his hearers knew the bible but to their experience of God. Paul and his hearers both know, because they were all there at the birth of the church in Galatia, that the powerful coming of the Spirit had nothing to do with the keeping of the law. The religious opponents of Paul had absolutely no reply to this practical spiritual test. This is behind why he begins this passage with such emotional intensity:

Exposition

Verse1. ““O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.”

When was the last time anyone called you a “Fool”?…. I can clearly remember mum and dad calling me a fool, repeatedly, and someone on a parish council calling me that when I decided I needed to follow the call of God and head from Victoria to Brisbane with Donna and our 4 little kids, even though I had no job. Is it “Christian” to ever call someone a fool? Jesus did warn us, “whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”” (Matt 5:22) but he also said to his disciples on the road to Emmaus, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe” (Luke 24:25). If I get angry with someone about a personal matter and call them a fool this is a sin, but if someone turns away from the truth of the gospel they are a fool in the eyes of God and may need, for their own soul’s sake, to be called so (Rom 1:22). In things as important as the gospel message of eternal life we cannot afford to be restrained by the middle class niceness of political correctness. I once said to a Christian leader about his proposed course of action, “You are mad.”, he did not listen but later said to me in his own words that what followed was “the worse year of my life”.

“Who has bewitched you?” Paul says. The word “bewitch” has the sense of “fascinate”, “cast a spell”, “hypnotise”. In the ancient world pagans were terrified of the curse that came when someone gave them the malevolent glare of “the evil eye”. This fear of enchantments is still real in many places in the world today. When Donna and I were in Turkey a few years ago we were “fascinated” to see there were these symbols of a dark blue centre on a white background on buildings and vehicles everywhere, these were there to fend off the evil eye. Paul felt like that the Galatians had so lost their mind that they must have fallen under some sort of evil power; nothing rational could explain their behaviour in turning to the Jewish law.

He now appeals to the very source of the Galatians’ faith, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified”. The cross was central to the apostolic gospel. Paul reminds the Corinthians; “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified….For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor Cor 2:2; 15:3). This is exactly what was not being preached by the false teachers in Galatians and the same failure to centre on the cross is everywhere in Western Christianity today. Let me use a few illustrations of what I mean.

The first is American. Joel Osteen leads a 43,000 weekly attendance church. One of his more famous books (4m+ copies) is titled, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential; this is a modern “how to live” book. People love “how to’s”, look at the DIY shows on TV, the “how to” become a better….cook, wife, mother, father, gardener, healthier person, have a better body shape, earn more money. I was in a church on Friday and came across a pamphlet with “How to tell your friends about Jesus.” What’s so wrong with all this you may ask? This emphasis on methodology is destructive and cruel because the gospel is not a “how to” message. When I became a Christian no one needed to teach me “how to” share my new life in Christ – nothing could stop me doing it because Jesus was so real to me!

The gospel is not a “how to” message and it was certainly not a message of “how to” be accepted by God through keeping the Jewish Law. The gospel is a statement of what God has done for us that requires one simple response- faith. “How to” messages are inoffensive, but telling people that Jesus needed to die for them and all they can do is respond by faith is offensive because it leaves no room for the pride which comes from human effort (Gal 6:14).

When Paul says “before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified” he is describing himself like someone who walks around in a public place carrying a placard with a message on it e.g. The End is Near. Has anyone here ever felt so strongly about an issue that they have done something like that….? Paul’s own life imaged the death and resurrection of Jesus on many levels.  It was in the Galatian city of Lystra that he was stoned and left for dead outside the city walls, but the Lord miraculously raised him up by resurrection power and he went back into that city to minister again (Acts 14:19-21 cf. Gal 2:20). One commentator remarks how bold a man Paul was, this misses the point badly, Paul didn’t raise himself up and will himself to go back into the very city where they had just tried to kill him. It was the power of the Spirit of Christ that transformed his life.

He appeals to a similar spiritual experience shared by the Galatians. V. 2 “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” This expression “receive the Spirit” is a dynamic throughout the New Testament. In Acts the Samaritans “receive the Holy Spirit” in a way which was visible, Peter and the other Jewish believers recognised that the first Gentile converts “received the Holy Spirit” because they were “speaking in tongues and praising God”, later some disciples of John the Baptist register what it means to “receive the Spirit” when they all begin “speaking in tongues and prophesying” (8:15-19; 10:46-47; 19:1-7). If you cannot imagine such things in your own spiritual experience this text describes the normal experience of all Christians; “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” (Rom 8:15). The reception of the Spirit moves us from fear to faith through the revelation of the Fatherhood of God. Forty odd years ago when I was a new Christian life a pastor quoted me this scripture; “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a Spirit of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7). The paralysing fear I had of people before I experienced God’s Spirit is gone forever. I cannot deny or forget such things.

In a meeting during the week people were singing an old hymn with this line, “Let me feel thy Spirit”, there are many songs like this e.g. “Let me feel thy Spirit’s power”, “Let me feel thy Spirit near”, “Let me feel thy Spirit’s seal” and so on. The presence of the Spirit which Paul appeals to in the conversion experience of the Galatians is an unmistakeable evidence of God’s gracious favour. Now he reminds them how it happened.

It was not by “works of the law” but by “hearing with faith”. The Galatians were pagans who were used to trying to win the favour of the gods by their own efforts, but when they heard the radical message of God’s grace in Christ the only thing they did was believe in Jesus (James 1:18, 1 Pet1:23). Even faith is not a human effort but a gift, as it says in Romans 10:16, “faith comes from what s heard, and what is heard comes from the preaching of Christ”. I have a friend who, wherever he goes in the world, East Timor, Cambodia, most recently in Iran, he sees people healed, delivered from demonic powers and coming to Jesus. He tells of a major transformation in his life when after years of working at being a Christian he was listening to a man teaching about Christ and he heard God clearly speak to him about one thing, “Believe in my Son”. That is the one adequate response to the gospel, “Believe in my Son.”; nothing more nothing less (Acts 16:31). [Confession of sin and repentance are signs or fruit of such faith.] If it is that simple what went wrong with the Church in Galatia? And what has gone wrong with the churches in Australia??

V.3 “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” I have seen this happen again and again; people begin their Christian lives with marvellous experiences of Christ’s Spirit and try by human effort to complete their lives morally, vocationally, relationally or spiritually. Paul had to remind his converts in Philippi “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ…. it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 1:6; 2:13) You cannot mature as a Christian by personal effort. Religious effort is exactly what Paul says, foolish.

V.4 “Did you experience so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?”

The Holy Spirit was an experience that fell on the Galatians and overwhelmed them apart from their own doing. Paul’s deep pastoral concern is that this had all come to nothing (cf. Gal 4:11). But it is not like they had one initial powerful encounter with Christ then God stopped moving.

  1. 5 “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith”

God was still working miracles in the Galatian Church through their faith in Christ. The sub text here is that the preachers of the law were not seeing any signs and wonders in the power of the Spirit so how could they, rather than Paul, be true representatives of Jesus (cf. Matt 12:28; Luke 4:14). The Christians in Galatia did not seem to have understood that the gift of the Spirit as a sign that God’s new age has begun, and in this new creation there is no more need for righteousness by human effort to keep God’s law (Gal 6:15). Now Paul intensifies his concentration on faith by referring to the salvation of Abraham.

V.6 “just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?” In quoting from Genesis 15:6 Paul explains that the father of the Jewish race was brought into a saving relationship with God by faith alone, well before he was commanded to be circumcised. God “counted” Abraham’s trust in him as the equivalent of a perfectly righteous life. Contrary to the teaching of the rabbis in Jesus’ day the Bible never says that Abraham was justified because of faith or that Abraham’s faith was so great that it merited a reward from God. Grace counts/reckons faith as righteousness. God’s relationship with Abraham the father of the Jews is a paradigm for his relationship with all people.

  1. 7 “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.” Sons bear the character likeness of their father. Because the Galatians had heard God’s word and believed it they were like Abraham. Anyone who believes in the gospel becomes a son of Abraham; Hitler could have become a son of Abraham by faith if he had turned to Christ! If salvation is by faith alone those who preached the need to keep the law to be saved were not true Jews at all (Rom 2:29).
  2. 8 “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”” The promise of justification by faith is the gospel, and it is through this promise that all nations on earth receive divine blessings.
  3. 9 “So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

Conclusion

If you ever ask yourself these sorts of questions; “How am I doing in my spiritual life?”, “Am I doing the right thing by God?” you are trapped in the “How To” of life from which Jesus died to deliver us. You need to turn from your own efforts and depend only on the Spirit of God. It is time for the Church in Australia, the diocese of Perth and St Mark’s to wake up. If we are not seeing the manifest signs of the Spirit’s power it must be because we are not hearing the gospel by faith.

An old saying sums up the heart of Paul’s message for today; “what the cross cleanses the Spirit fills” x2 (Roy Hession). Faith in Christ crucified opens the human heart to God so that it becomes filled with the Spirit. The Spirit endorsed Paul’s message by coming upon the Galatian converts with miraculous power when they believed the gospel. This is the exact opposite of the “try harder” message which the preachers of the law brought to the Galatians and which is so prevalent today. It is time to give up trying to be a good Christian/ person/husband/wife, son/daughter whatever. Only the Spirit of Christ can complete your life. It is damn foolishness to think you can, “Do something to complete what Jesus has done.” The only thing a Christian can do is to hear the Lord say, “Believe in my Son.” x 2 (John 6:28-29). Anyone who lets go of spiritual self effort and turns to Christ will definitely know the power of the Spirit of God. During the week Mary asked me if I wanted to use The Message version for my Bible readings, I didn’t, but I do want to end by quoting some of the words of Jesus from this translation; ““Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.” (Matt 11:28). If you feel that’s you today, there is only one thing you can do, believe in Jesus. That is the gospel.

Until very early this morning that was the end of the sermon. Then as seems to happen every Sunday I preach here the Lord started to speak to me deeply about a few things. His one desire is that Jesus becomes more real to each of us. He wants each of us to ask of him today that Jesus become more real to us. He will answer that request. Secondly, he wants to give the greatest miracle of all to all who ask today, this miracle, from which all the miracles of the Spirit proceed, is the miracle of faith (Matt 7:11; Mark 9:24). If we dare to ask for a greater faith in Christ today our prayer will be answered and our lives will never be the same again.

Preached at St Marks Perth WA 1.5.16

Re-Incarnation: Faith @Work

Faith-Works-01Personal Matters

Sitting in a breakfast meeting last week with a small group discussing Faith @Work I became greatly stirred up in my spirit (John 11:33; Acts 17:16). The speaker described his journeying around the world to visit a host of Faith and Work Centres that God is using to equip Christians to bring his kingdom into the work space. This is good news, but the discussion highlighted certain limitations. The serious biblical research in this arena is dominated by the Evangelical-Reformed pole of the Church with a lack of Pentecostal-Charismatic presence. Additionally, this quote promoting a Faith and Work Conference exposes the dominance of the middle class, “Artists and educators, designers and technicians, homemakers, engineers, managers, entrepreneurs, doctors, and everyone in between are invited to help us celebrate the remarkable reality that work matters.”  In Faith @Work discussions the world of tradies, council employees, taxi drivers and manual labourers is almost always forgotten. This is hardly a biblical balance e.g. 1 Cor 1:26-28. Without either dumbing down Faith @Work discussions or intellectualising workplace spirituality we need to find a way forward in this vital arena which inspires all the people of God. This Way must involve a greater revelation of Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Gal 1:15-16; Rev 1:1).

Of First Importance

In listening to our breakfast speaker one attendee spoke up with alarm; “How could the Church miss something so important for so long?” But the Church “missed” justification by faith, the power of the Holy Spirit and many other great truths for centuries. The obvious problem blinding us to great spiritual truths is a clergy dominated model of, an elevation of sacred space over secular life and the reduction of discipleship to certain inward disciplines. This is however only symptomatic of a deeper problem. Efforts to redefine “church” keep us within a paradigm that marginalises God’s interest in culture, and launching “parachurch” organisations committed to workplace transformation does not get to the root of our malaise. We need to start and end all our thinking with Jesus. King Jesus sent his followers on a mission to disciple all nations, and in this dynamic of going a Church was created that penetrated the Roman world (Matt 28:18-20; Acts). Jesus>mission>church is the order of God. Should we then, as one brother put it, “Take Christ into the workplace?”

Rediscover the Logos

Unlike us the Early Church Fathers would not debate the faith-work connection from within a perspective framed by the gathered church. Unlike us they thought “in Christ” because they understood Jesus as the all-encompassing Logos (Word); “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made…. and the Word became flesh….all things were created through him and for him… and in him all things hold together.” (John 1:1-3, 14 ; Col 1:16-17 cf. Heb 1:3). The classic understanding of the early theologians that Jesus is the Logos through and in whom all things exist has total implications for our perspective on Faith@Work. The compatibility between the structure of the mind of the engineer and the world that enables him/her to build a bridge has been pre-implanted by Christ, the creativity of the artist is a participation in the infinite imagination of Christ as the Generator of all things new, the manual dexterity of the tradesman flows from him who fashioned the world by his hands etc.  (Ps 19:1; 119:73; Prov 8:22-31). Recognised or not, all true wisdom and knowledge in the world of work and derives from the Word of Christ. The presence of the Logos of God is much bigger than the reading and preaching of scripture.

Is Your Church Too Small?

Sometimes advocates of marketplace Christianity are perceived as “church bashers” whose unresolved frustrations flow from unsuccessful efforts to persuade pastors to integrate the importance of work into the programmes of the local church. The way out of the gridlock between marketplace zealots and clergy enculturated in a narrow paradigm of Church is a greater vision of the true identity of the Body of Christ. Scripture correlates the magnitude of Church to that of Christ; “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all things in every way…..Christ ascended…that he might fill the universe with himself…he gave gifts …to equip the saints for the work of ministry…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ..” (Eph 1:22-23; 4:10ff). God’s ultimate goal in creation is to fill the cosmos with the presence of Jesus through his Church. Monday to Friday Church means bringing the image of God in Christ into the workplace by allowing the Spirit to “re-incarnate” Jesus’ wisdom, knowledge, compassion, power, love, peace etc. in every sphere of culture (Matt 5:14; John 8:12). This is Christ-centred high-Church vision is suited to discipling the nations as Jesus’ commanded (Matt 28:19). The release of this vision requires not only a reformation of theology about Faith @Work but a revelation from heaven.

Discernment

Christina leaders need an epiphany of the cosmic Christ so that we can see in the Spirit; ““There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” ” (Abraham Kuyper). Only a revelation from heaven of the magnitude of the glorified Christ in us (Gal 1:16) can release us from the sort of small mindedness that paralysed even Jesus’ ministry; ““Is not this the carpenter…and he could do no mighty work there…” (Mark 6:3, 5). The residents of Christ’s home town in Nazareth could not believe he was Messiah because they failed to discern the indwelling Father. Today we have held back the power of Faith@Work because we have failed to discern Jesus in “Artists and educators, designers and technicians, homemakers, engineers, managers, entrepreneurs, doctors, AND everyone in between” (John 14:10). The dimensions of such a revelation of Jesus@Work are illimitable (Rev 21:24).

Conclusion

As a pastor-teacher I was once almost totally enculturated in a small church-centred vision of ministry. Then after a week of prayer I had a vision of Jesus in heaven restoring order to all the spheres of human existence (Acts 3:20-21)[1]http://cross-connect.net.au/jesus-and-the-marketplace-of-all-things/. Through a revelation of Jesus@Work a radically new perception of Faith@Work was born in my heart. Can anything less than such an epiphany for all the people of God in their vocations, from minister to mechanic, prevent us from commodifying what the Lord is releasing across the globe in our day? The rediscovery of Faith@Work holds the promise of a new reformation spanning all our old denominational divisions and interlacing the earth for the glory of God. Such a move should involve us all; yet without an accompanying renewal of a prayerful Christ-centred faith I fear Faith@Work may simply be another wave that never reaches its God intended shore.

References

1 http://cross-connect.net.au/jesus-and-the-marketplace-of-all-things/

Sanctuary/Secret Place 2015

pdf Downloadable PDF

by Dr. John Yates

Date 31 December 2014

2014 will be remembered as a year of great evils; MH 370 disappears somewhere to the west of Perth; MH 17 is shot down over Ukraine; another flight QZ8501 “goes missing” over Indonesia; Ebola breaks out in West Africa, 100’s of Nigerian schoolgirls are kidnapped, ISIS hits the headlines and a “lone wolf” strikes in Sydney.

It would be naïve to predict that in 2015 the visible terrors that strike fear into the human heart will somehow disappear. I sense however the Lord wants to reverse our priorities and transport our perceptions from the visible to the invisible realm. As the decline and fall of the Roman Empire precipitated a prayer revival in the form of monasticism so the arrival of numerous barbarian influences, not only at the gates of our cities but deep within them, is a catalytic call for a prayer revival in 2015. This wave of prayer will give priority to the eternal and unseen world (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Seeing the Invisible

In God’s plan his “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:20). Today however the idolatrous heart of man worships the power of science and technology (scientism) distorting our discoveries of the order and potential of the natural world into a drive that takes us further and further away from God. The recent rise of militant atheism in the West e.g. Richard Dawkins, may appeal mainly to the intelligentsia but it helps create a climate where talk of the immortal, invisible and eternal (1 Timothy 1:17) becomes an object of ridicule.

It is time that the people of God defied the dominance of the visible and moved in the realm of the unseen Spirit. After all “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” which are our real enemies are themselves unseen to the physical eye (Eph 6:12).

It was said of Moses, “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” (Heb 11:27). The ability to “see the invisible” is exactly what needs to be recovered today. There is I believe an important order to help us move into this realm that is outlined in the book of Revelation.

Seeing Behind the Curtain

In Revelation 6 Jesus begins to open the scroll in the hand of God and war, famine and plague are released on the earth as expressions of the wrath of God and his all conquering Lamb (Revelation 6:1-8). These are exactly the horrors headlining our world today. To those without access to the throne room of grace the traumas of this world are simply causes to turn away for the face of God and curse his name (Revelation 6:12-16; Revelation 16:9-11, 21). But we share the heavenly throne of God’s grace with Jesus (Eph 1:3; Eph 2:6; Heb 4:16).

Hebrews exhorts us, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh…let us draw near” (Heb 10:19-20, 22). To go behind the curtain is to enter into the most intense intimate presence of God, it means to enjoy that place where wrath has been turned away; it is to see the Lamb smiling upon his Father’s children (Matthew 18:10; Heb 2:17).

It is by going behind the curtain with Jesus that we can see what God is doing in the world and affirm it with a sense of peace. Those who dwell in the holy places in heaven reign in life in the midst of tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and the sword filled with the conviction that in all these things God is working good for those who love him (Romans 5:17; Romans 8:28, 35-37 cf. Ps 110:2).

In the last week we have remembered the 10th anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami which took a quarter of a million lives and the 40th anniversary of cyclone Tracy that devastated Darwin, such is the world in which we live (cf. Romans 8:20-22). Whilst I cannot see good growing in the world in 2015 we can grow in the goodness of God by drawing near to him.

The Secret Place

Jesus counselled us to give, pray and fast “in secret” and our heavenly Father “who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:4-6, 18). In 2015 we are being called to live a secret life of prayer, fasting and giving in the presence of God. Those who would know the secrets of the kingdom of God and of the wisdom of Christ and his Spirit must abide in the secret place (Amos 3:7; Mark 4:11; Romans 16:25-27; 1 Corinthians 2:7).

The dominance of highly visible persuasive charismatic personalities with can-do pragmatic solutions to life’s problems must to come to an end in the Church if we are to understand the order of God in creation and redemption.

The reversal to which we are being called reflects the order unveiled in the book of Revelation;entry into the heavenly throne room of God the Creator and the Lamb slain and standing in its fourth and fifth chapters must precede insight into the world of judgements in chapter 6.

Spiritual things are known only by spiritual people (1 Corinthians 2:13-16 cf. John 4:24).

Though more personal petition and greater time in interceding for others may be a fruit of the secret place this is not our primary call. The call is into the pure presence of God mediated only by Christ to know the Lord in a more direct face to face way (Exodus 33:11; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18; 1 Timothy 2:5).

This is the very opposite of the avoidance of the face of God which is the preoccupation of those who “dwell on the earth”[1]An expression used in Revelation for those under judgement [Revelation 3:10; Revelation 6:10; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 11:10; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 13:14; Revelation 14:6]. today (Revelation 6:16). When Revelation describes Christians persecuted by the beast as God’s tabernacle/sanctuary and “those who dwell in heaven” it describes the followers of Jesus both dead and living (Revelation 13:6). With lives “hidden in God” we are a tent of witness offering sanctuary and refuge to those whose lives are tormented by the evils of our time (Col 3:3). As the monasteries of the Dark Ages provided sanctuary for the fearful this is the call upon the Church in Perth today.

A call which can only be obeyed if we leave behind the dominance of the public space, the space of work, family or church life, to draw aside to be with Jesus as our first priority (Mark 6:31).

Conclusion

The presence of God which the Church and the world so separately needs in these fearful times cannot be found primarily in meetings characterised by mood music and lots of emotion, but in the secret place of stillness before God (Habakkuk 2:20; Zechariah 2:13; Revelation 8:1).

It is time for a “New Year’s Resolution” to spend more time with God and less time with people, or perhaps less time with people in front of screens. We are being called to the practise of the presence of God so as to taste of the goodness of the Lord and the power of the age to come (Hebrews 6:5; 1 Peter 2:3).

This unalloyed goodness of God in Christ cannot be expressed in words but can be expressed in peace and stillness to a mad, bad and busy world (2 Corinthians 9:15; 1 Peter 1:8). Coming from the secret place “every public thing in your life will be marked with the lasting imprint of the presence of God.” (Oswald Chambers)

In this way transformation will come not only to the people of God but a door shall be opened for the salvation of many.

References

1 An expression used in Revelation for those under judgement [Revelation 3:10; Revelation 6:10; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 11:10; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 13:14; Revelation 14:6].