New Wine for New Wineskins April 2017

By , April 1, 2017 9:57 pm

iBelieveLogoSilver01iBelieve (Part 2)

John 3: 16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The Message

16 This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

Last time we emphasised the importance of looking away from all other distractions and looking to Jesus who is the author and the finisher, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith, and the completer of our faith.

God so loved the world that he gave Jesus as the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen or ever could see.

Romans 5: 8

8…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

8…God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

That is what is so amazing about grace. We have been given absolutely everything we could ever need in abundance even though we have done absolutely nothing to deserve it.

8…God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.

That demonstration of love is the proof that Jesus completes and perfects our faith. All you have to do is believe that God loves you.

Jesus said, “Only believe….”

Any time you are tempted to doubt his love for you see Jesus on the cross and know and believe that he went there for you.

Galatians 5: 6

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

6 For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energised and expressed and working through love.

Jesus actually said that all of the law and the prophets – everything contained in the Old Covenant – could be condensed into two simple instructions. Love the LORD your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.

Simply put – love God  and love others. Respond to your Father’s love by loving him and treat others with the same love and respect, and patience that you would like them to show you.

Religion with all of its laws, rituals and observances has to take a back seat. It is love that activates, energises, and gives your faith expression and puts it to work.

I want to teach you a principle that will help you to freely receive everything that the Father’s love and grace has made abundantly available to you and will equip you to freely give what you have freely received.

Before the law and the prophets God found a man called Abraham (Initially Abram). God spoke to Abraham and told him that he would bless him and make him a blessing.

We are told that Abraham believed God and so God accounted that to him as righteousness. So, the only qualification required of Abraham in order to be blessed and be a blessing was that he believed God. He believed that God was faithful to fulfil his promise to bless him and make him a blessing.

Romans 4: 16

16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.

Only believe.  

Romans 8: 32

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Jesus said to go and tell others the message of the kingdom.

Matthew 10: 7 – 8

7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

We are to freely give what we have freely received.

Like Abraham there is just one qualification to freely receive from God. When we only believe that Jesus did it all it is credited to our account as righteousness and we are instantly qualified to freely receive all things. And so we are instantly equipped to freely give.

Jesus said to heal the sick.

Are you sick?  Look to Jesus who took your sickness on the Cross as he demonstrated God’s love for you. Because he loves you he doesn’t want you to be sick. He wants you healed. Freely receive your healing as a gift of his love for you. Don’t focus on trying to get your sickness healed, but focus on his love for you and know that because he loves you he has already provided healing for you. Focus on the fact that because he can heal you he will heal you.

Only believe.

Think of how many of Jesus’ first disciples had experienced healing and so they were equipped with that testimony as they went out to freely give what they had freely received. They carried a message that declared God loves you, you have a Father who loves you. He loved you so much that he gave his Son for you. If you can only believe that you can receive your healing.

Jesus said to raise the dead.

When someone dies prematurely we are programmed to think that is the end. But Jesus said that he came to give us fullness of life and he demonstrated the all-powerful love of God in raising many who had died prematurely back to life.

How many of these first disciples, like Lazarus, carried a testimony into situations where they freely gave what they had freely received by raising the dead. They shared a message that God loves you and because he loves you he doesn’t want to see parents burying their children and suffering for years under the burden of the grief that brings. Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.”

Only believe.

Because he loves you he doesn’t want young children robbed of their father or mother or both and having to live the rest of their lives bearing the scar that tragedy leaves. He doesn’t want brothers and sisters robbed of a sibling and left with the cruel emotion of survivor guilt. If you can only believe then you can have your prematurely dead loved ones raised to life again. I am in no way trying to be glib about any of this but Jesus said it so I really want to believe it.

Only believe.

Sometimes we have focused too much on the enormity of actually raising the dead rather than looking to Jesus the author and the champion, perfecter and completer of our faith and the ultimate demonstration of the Father’s love for us.

Don’t be afraid. Only believe.

Jesus said to cleanse the lepers.

How many of his first disciples carried a testimony of being cleansed from not only the physical disease of leprosy but from places of being a social outcast for other assorted reasons. And so they freely gave what they had freely received, demonstrating unconditional love to others without prejudice or self-righteous judgement.

Too often we focus on the particulars of a person’s situation and try and unravel all of the reasons why a person has ended up where they are but there is only one thing that person needs. They simply need to look to Jesus and to believe that they have a Father who loves them and accepts them and has a hope-filled future for them.

Addicts of every stripe can say goodbye to their addictions with all of the failure, guilt, and shame, when they simply believe that the old has gone and the new has come because of Jesus.

Only believe.

Jesus said to cast out demons.

Think of the testimony that Mary Magdalene shared with others, as she related how she had been delivered from seven demonic spirits that had controlled and tormented her life. She and many others like her were happy to freely give what they had freely received. They reached out to those who were oppressed and possessed with the message that God loves you, look to Jesus and he will set you free from your addiction, your bondage, your mental torment, and your depression. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy but look to Jesus who came to give you a life to be enjoyed in all of its fullness.  A life of purpose.  Jesus sent the man who had the worst case of demon-possession recorded in the gospels back to his people to freely give from what he had freely received.

Only believe.

I remember hearing about a minister who was given the role of chaplain to a hospital for the mentally ill.  The first ward he was given responsibility for was a locked ward padded cell that housed patients who were severely disturbed and demented.  The patients were almost naked and the room stunk of human waste. He soon realised that conversation with any of the residents of this ward was going to be impossible as the only responses he got from them were incomprehensible moans, groans, and demonic laughter. He was about to give it up as a lost cause when the Holy Spirit inspired him to sit in the middle of the room and sing, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so….little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong….” He continued singing the same song for a whole hour but there was no obvious response that first day. For weeks as he continued to visit he would sit and sing the same song, “Yes, Jesus loves me….yes, Jesus loves me….yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so….”  As the days and weeks passed, one by one, the patients began to sing with him.  By the end of the first month, thirty-six of these severely ill patients were transferred from the locked ward padded cell to a ward where they could look after themselves, and within a year all but two of them were able to leave the hospital and return to normal life.

Only believe.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

It is by looking to Jesus and the incredible love for us that he demonstrated so powerfully and completely at the Cross that we receive all that he has provided. It is believing in him and his love for us that activates, energises, gives expression to and makes our faith effective. And even when we believe but need help with our unbelief we keep looking to him as the champion and perfecter and completer of our imperfect faith.

Only believe.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

And so we meet every doubt and every voice that rises up to try and move us from our position of faith with a simple anthem of:

Yes, Jesus loves me….yes, Jesus loves me….yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so….”

Only believe.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

I remember reading something years ago titled, “Everything I needed to know about life I learned in kindergarten.”

Sometimes I think that everything I needed to know about the life of faith I actually learned in Sunday School as a child.

Yes, Jesus loves me….yes, Jesus loves me….yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so….

Only believe.

I would have had no problem back then believing that Jesus could do anything. Jesus said that without the simplicity of faith demonstrated by a little child we will struggle to receive from the kingdom of heaven.

And so, just like the first disciples, we freely receive whatever we need and we go out into the world we inhabit and among the people we interact with every day carrying a message backed up by our testimony, and we freely give that message and that testimony as we point people to Jesus. We direct them to the one who loves them and longs to save them and to heal them, to raise their dead, and to cleanse and deliver them.

Only believe.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

Freely you have received, freely give.

Yes Jesus loves me…..Yes Jesus loves me…..Yes Jesus loves me…..the Bible tells me so…..”

Only believe.

 

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