What does it mean to walk and live by faith? Faith, in fact, is something that you and I exercise every day in our lives when we drive over a bridge and expect it to hold our car’s weight – or we inhale the air around us and don’t fear it is poisonous gas. How does this play out when we need to trust God for our finances, futures, relationships and health? Living faith means having a personal relationship with a loving Creator Father.
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You Are Part of Jesus - LIVING FAITH
You Are Part of JesusSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillIt seems that all of us have been brought up right from the beginning and indeed, it’s something we have shared when we have been together these years, with the idea that first and foremost we are separate individuals. You know, you’re your dad’s daughter, I’m my dad’s son, and we’re individual human beings. And if we read the Bible, and believe truth, and give our life to Jesus, and repent, then we will enter into Christ and he will enter into us.It seems to me that’s the idea we’ve all had and certainly, the way I’ve shared it over the years. And of course, what we’re all realizing these days is that’s not strictly true. It isn’t true. In fact, reality is that God kind of turned around to his Son and said, “Let us make man in our image.” And then what the Bible says is true, that we are therefore God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:10, “For good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And that back then before the world was, Jesus was the first-born of all creation. He became the Son of man back then and his Father made all of us inside him. And what we used to learn in our schools about Wordsworth where in his poem Intimations of Immorality he says, “The child is father of the man,” you remember. And he said, “We come trailing clouds of glory.” And in actual fact, that’s truer than we used to think it because, we each have been made in Jesus and we are part of Jesus. And Hitler was made in Jesus and was part of Jesus, and everything that any of us does is done as a part of Jesus, as a cell in Jesus’ body. And of course, that all comes out very strongly in that chapter, if you want to look at it, that deep and complex chapter in Ephesians 1. You can see it makes sense of it all when you begin to think of it like this.You remember, Paul says, Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Has blessed us you know, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” So you know God planned for us and for our lives in Jesus even before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him, “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ”. It even says that, you know, that we are going to be God’s sons and we are God’s sons and daughters because we’re part of Jesus. It’s through Jesus. It’s as if Jesus is our everlasting Father and it’s because we’re in Jesus that we’re God’s children.“He has destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” So it ties up again with the whole truth that we read that God put us into Jesus even before we were born. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” And so it fits in with that whole presentation there that we actually came here to earth as part of our Savior Jesus, that we are part of him. That he is the great human being and all of us are just little parts of him and we are men and women because we’re part of the great Son of man himself. And of course, you see the relevance of that, it’s not that you’re your father’s daughter, you know, or I’m my father’s son. That dear person, and they are dear to us, you know, our dads, or our mums, our grandparents, that dear person was just our elder brother in Jesus.Jesus is our great elder brother but our dads, or our mums, or our grandparents, or our greatgrandparents were just our elder brothers or sisters through whom God brought us into physical existence here on earth. Actually we ourselves are part of Jesus himself. We are part of him. Even whether we have been to church, whether we know him, whether we believe in him or not, we are part of him and the only reason anyone will miss heaven is not because they are not part of Jesus but because they have refused to remain in him. They have refused to dwell in his harmony. They have refused to dwell in his peace.Do you see why people ask the question, “who am I?” Because, we’ve all been brought up with the idea that we’re our father’s son or our father’s daughter and that’s not real. And the way we know it’s not real is because they die. They leave the earth and then if they’re the meaning of our life where are we? You know, you’re left with nothing. So we’re always asking “who am I?”, because we’ve been brought up to believe that we’re first and foremost our father’s daughter or our mother’s son. We’re first and foremost Irish, or American, or Polish, or German. We’re first and foremost a little human being on its own here on earth and maybe by some spiritual miracle we might become part of Christ, but at the moment we’re just a little bit of flotsam or jetsam, a little bit of waste wood floating on the ocean of humanity and we wonder who are we? We have no anchor, we have no stability and the reason is that we’ve missed the whole of reality.We are an integral part of Jesus. When the Bible says, “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it,” the Bible means that you are part of Jesus. Who are you? You’re Jesus. You’re part of Jesus and our whole life is in him and he has himself things to do, he as the great son of man has things to do in his Father’s world using not this finger, not that finger, but that finger, and that hand, and that foot, using you, you as part of him. But you know that we haven’t really believed that and we haven’t really acted that way and of course, the great danger now is that we’ll kind of grasp it as truth and we’ll say, “Yes, that’s right. It’s a new way to think about it but it’s right and it does fit in with scripture. Yes, that is truth. We must begin to recognize that.”And the danger is that we’ll turn reality into a kind of belief, it’ll be a concept that we try to remember and we’ll end up somehow talking about this dear person of whom we are a part. We’ll start talking about him as an it, you know, or a thing. And I touched last Sunday on the danger we have, you know, of bandying about his name, “Oh the Lord does this, the Lord does that,” or, “I wonder what the Lord wants me to do?” And we’re talking about ourselves, we’re talking about our own dear heart, the one of whom we are a part. And the danger is that now we kind of grasp it instead of living in it’s reality, we’ll treat it as a kind of belief, you know, or a piece of theology, or a piece of dogma instead of actually living in him, living in him wholly and fully and entering into the reality that it is him that has this hand, and him that has these lips so that we’ll never again live apart from him, live that lie that thinks it’s apart from him.It’s very dangerous for me to begin to give examples because then you know, your mind can kind of go on the example and can kind of think, “Oh yeah, well that’s what we should be careful to do,” or, “This is what we should be careful to do.” And so it’s a little dangerous to do it but our prayer is his prayer. You know, the bit in Hebrews where it says, “He ever lives to make intercession for us,” and he intercedes. In fact, his spirit groans within us and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Well our prayer is the prayer that he is praying. Our prayers are not, “Lord, dear Father, I want you to do for his sake what I am asking,” or, “Hello God, remember Marty Poehler? Well now his difficulty is this, he is this, and this. Now, will you do that for Jesus’ sake?” You can see the unreality of it, you know, it’s unreal. We are part of him. We are part of our Savior. Our Savior prays through us, says, “My dear Father, here,” and then whatever hesays, but that’s the reality of our prayer life. And then when we come together you can see what bursts upon you. It’s not the glory or the magnificence of Saint Peters in Rome; it’s not the wonderful gothic columns of the Reims Cathedral. It’s that we are Jesus. Our Savior is us. Everything we do here is in him.If I speak sharply to you, I have to cut through his dear flesh to get at you. If I think critically of you, I have to tear a blood vessel in order to do it. Then, all of our life becomes holy, and sacred, and sensitive because my lips are stopped. Who am I? I’m part of Jesus. I’m in him and he is in me and he’s all around me. It’s not a very good illustration. An odd time, just an odd time, so it says a lot for our verbal dexterity, but an odd time we can – Irene and I can come to a point in a discussion, or a disagreement where what can you say? There’s nothing left to say so you can only put your arms around each other. It’s that, you know.You come to a place like Thomas where it’s beyond words, where you realize you’re in Jesus and Jesus is in you, and he’s all around you, and you’re life is him, and this is his life, and words fail you which is why I think the quiet times in prayer are not bad. They’re not necessary, they’re not absolutely essential but they’re not bad because there’s a certain power of reality that leaves you speechless. So, in a way you can’t go much further because if you give illustrations of what it’s like to live actually in Jesus as opposed to living beside Jesus, or what it’s like to realize that you’ve been in Jesus from the beginning as opposed to trying to get into him by exercising enough faith, as you go on in illustrations, then you get preoccupied with the illustrations, or with the individual expressions.So you can’t really go much further. About all we can do is say that that is it, that we are not separate little human beings, we are part of Jesus and of course, we can see some of the beauties of it because it means you’re with the king of the castle I suppose, or you’re in the midst of the one that’s running the party, all those wonderful things. But maybe the most precious thing is that he and you are like that and that that’s what life is. You and He are like that, you’re in him and he is in you every moment and then our – not our place, not our responsibility, not our duty, not our obligation, not all those terrible words, but our great privilege, and joy, and delight is to live every second in him because we are in him. And maybe I could just say that, before I think at times we’ve said, “Our responsibility is to live in him, if you live in him strongly enough then you’ll be in him.” Well no, it’s better than that, live in him because you are in him.Any other kind of life is unreality. And of course, that’s why – that’s why anxiety brings gloom. It’s God’s graciousness. He’s saying, “I’m sending you gloom so that you see you’re living in unreality. You’re in my Son, you’re safe and secure from all alarm, don’t be anxious for a moment. I’m sending you gloom so that you’ll know you’re living in the lie. You’re living the lie.” So often we interpret it, “Oh, he’s sending us gloom because we’re not doing what we should do, or we’re not being real.” No he’s sending it to you to say, “My child, you’re part of my Son. I made you part of him out of sheer grace. I saw the way you would go and I destroyed that way in him and I remade you in him, and you’re here on earth now in him complete and well and I have allowed you to see through this glass darkly the life you would have lived if you hadn’t been in him. So you’re seeing that life all the time daily, but your real life, the life that I have given you is in him.”Do not be anxious for anything, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or what you’ll put on. Your heavenly Father knows you have need of these things. So, all through life any strain that we feel at all is just a love message from our Father saying, “That’s not it. That’s not reality. You’rein my Son and will I refuse any good thing to you who have already given you my Son? No.” So every second of our life is here to be lived in reality in Jesus and him in us and that changes everything. Let us pray.Dear Lord Jesus, you walk through this universe majestic and mighty, serene and full of your Father’s love and though we are little cell 10,000,456,579 yet you know us and you love us and you could not live without us, and we share all the riches that you have from your Father and especially your life fresh and springing up and pouring out. Oh Savior, we turn from that lie that we are poor little individual human beings born of our parents, little orphans who might be adopted by you if we believe the right thing. Father, we turn from that lie and we believe Father, the truth that you’ve plainly set forth that out of the great love with which you have loved us, even when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and even when we were yet sinners you made us alive in Christ Jesus and raised us up, and made us sit with you in the heavenly places that in these coming ages, through which we are passing now, you might show forth the riches of your grace and kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For we are your workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which you have prepared beforehand that we should walk in.Lord, we thank you for that. And we, Lord Jesus, bow to you and ask you – we don’t need to ask you, we say, “Lord, live as you now do in us and we will remember that, and we will allow you to be the great subject of every action in our lives in these coming days.” Now may the grace and peace of God be with us now and forever more. Amen.
A Living Sacrifice - LIVING FAITH
A Living SacrificeSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillI awoke early this morning with some words that were in my head you know, and I believe that God puts them there. They were the words in Romans: “a living sacrifice — present your body a living sacrifice” and I immediately thought, “Oh, that’s what Jesus did. Right in the middle of his life, in a sense — at 33 when he was young and full of agility and aliveness — he presented his body a living sacrifice.” I mean, that dear body that was healthy and was well able to live another 40, 50 years was sacrificed on a cross and cut with a spear, or a sword, and nailed into with nails. He willingly presented his body a living sacrifice for our sake.And it seemed to me — you know the way in those moments in the twilight hours either before you wake or before you go to sleep when everything seems very vivid and God seemed to make it very clear to me — that that was a living sacrifice. It was a sacrifice in that – and I always think of sacrifice where either rightly or wrongly in connection with those animal sacrifices — it’s something that involves the destruction of something that is living, alive and whole.In some way, it’s the throwing away or the casting away of something that is valuable. And so when I thought of Jesus, a living sacrifice not a dead sacrifice, not killing the cow and then burning it, but burning it as it was still alive. And suddenly all the terror of that and the completeness of it came home to me, “Yes, that’s what it was, it was a living sacrifice.” And I actually had got as far as “present his body a living sacrifice” and I realized that that’s what he did. He presented his body, a youthful, live body full of strength and life and health — and he presented it as a living sacrifice. He willingly gave up his whole body that was in good shape and could live a lot longer. He gave that up as a living sacrifice.And then it seemed to just burst upon me what was the full verse from the Bible? And of course, you can look it up yourself, Romans 12 I believe it is, and you can see how strongly I felt I should speak on this because I haven’t even looked at it this morning since God showed me these things or emphasized them to me. Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” And I think another translation is, “…which is your reasonable service”.And then it came home to me so strongly that that’s what God was saying actually, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,” all the mercies that you and I have received from God, you know. I mean, we sitting here in this room can easily see the sunshine outside and the beauty of the azaleas and the flowers, but then we can think of the good brunch we had, and we can think of the nice table we sat at, and we can think of each other, friends, closer than friends, people who love us and care about us, and we can think those are mercies from God.And then we think of our cars, and how much better they are than they were maybe five years ago. And then we think of the motels we stay in, not the bottom of the heap by any means, and we think of our meals that we have, and we think of our clothes that we’re wearing, and then we think of the holiday that we talked of -– “Will we go to France, or will we stay here in America, or will we go to London?” And then you think – I was saying to someone, “You know you think of so many people today who are full of insecurity and uncertainty about the future and wonder what they will do. Forexample, somebody who had to sell their store. What would they do? How would they exist?”And many people wonder how will we see our way through even to death? And of course, here we are with a family that cares for us and with a future that we know is in the Father’s hands. We can even see some of the ways in which it will work out ourselves. And then you think of the mercies of God. You think of so many people who do jobs that they don’t like and they see no sense in. They’re doing it only to keep themselves alive. You think, “Here we are with something that we believe in, something we see purpose in and something we see that could have eternal results” — and we begin to realize that we’re surrounded with mercies.But then of course, that touches nothing of the real mercy of God that we who have been so filled with selfishness, bitterness, criticism, despair, hopelessness, lack of belief in people, distrust of others, distrust of God, desire for our own way and all kinds of things that we’ve inflicted upon other people in order to get our own way, we see that we deserve nothing but death. And yet, we have not borne one iota of pain for any of those things. Anything that could be called pain, certainly nothing of eternal pain, nothing of eternal darkness and desolation, nothing of, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”And we will bear none of it, after the moment of death, when we should be cast out into a darkness of space that drives us crazy and insane with worry and with anxiety. You know, they say many people in a plane crash die of heart attack, sure shock as the thing begins to break up. And we won’t bear any of that the moment after death. We’ll immediately go into our Father’s arms. Why? Because, a dear person has borne that for us, has borne us in himself through that dreadful time of desolation and has borne us through to his Father’s home.So it’s as if somebody else has borne the strength, the power, the agony, and the exertion of the journey and we find ourselves at the destination without any trouble — and you realize the mercy of God. Why did he do that? Why did he give us freedom and then himself bear the cost of us exercising that freedom against him? Why did he do that? Just out of shear mercy.So Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, by all the things that you’ve received, all the things that you’ve got, all the experiences you have, by your very present situation, by those mercies, I beseech you [what?] to present your bodies a living sacrifice.” What does he mean, “Give your body to Jesus as a living sacrifice?” Regard it no longer as your own, no longer as yours to do what you want with and as something that is living. Please, give it while it’s alive. Present it as a living sacrifice. Don’t wait until it’s old and worn, or until it’s dead and in the grave. Present your body as a living sacrifice to God which is your reasonable service, or which is your spiritual worship.So either way you know, when you talk about worship or service, here’s the only way to do it: present your body as a living sacrifice. That is something you regard is gone, something you regard as gone. It’s gone. It is not mine. It is not mine to do what I want with. It is not mine to treat as I want. It is not mine to exercise as I want. It is not mine to speak or to write as I want. It is his to do what he wants with.You can do the application to yourself. I’ll happily do it to myself. It is not mine to determine, “Would I like my greens or would I not like my greens?” It is not mine to ponder, “Would I like chocolate or not chocolate?” It is not mine to ponder, “Will I have Thousand Island dressing or Italian dressing?” It is not mine to ponder, “Will I have another shortbread biscuit or not?” Itis not mine to determine, “Would I prefer this to eat or that to eat?” Above all, it is not mine to allow gluttony to drive my actions.I don’t know about all of you, but I see more clearly what gluttony is. I don’t think, for me, it’s eating so much that I grow massive because I don’t seem to grow too massive. Gluttony it seems to me is that little drive that gets going where you just eat this, and eat this and eat this. “Chocolate chip cookies. I eat chocolate chip cookies or shortbread biscuits. I just eat, eat, eat.” It’s almost a compulsion inside that makes you want to do that. I can see that gluttony is kind of a drive that is almost even independent of myself. It’s certainly independent of the Savior but it’s almost independent of myself. It’s almost a thing that goes, “I just want to have that TODAY.” Or, “I most have that.”I see that presenting my body as a living sacrifice is, of course, being free from all those things because you give it away. You give it away. It’s no longer my body. It’s no longer my body to kind of cosset and to nurture, and to soften, and to surround with all the little things that it wants. Similarly, it is not my body to say, “Will I broadcast today or will I not broadcast today?” “Will I write today or will I not write today?” “Will I exercise today or will I not exercise today?” It is a sacrifice, a living sacrifice that I’ve given away to Jesus.And actually, I can see in a sense that that solves a lot of the problems because you don’t have to deal with all those little details. It’s simply a cut and dry business of, “What, Lord Jesus, do you want to do with this thing that is yours”, not, “…with this body that is me or mine.” And it just came home so strongly to me early this morning that it is not much that God is asking me to do, but it is a very definite commitment. It is a very definite sacrifice and I can see that when I’m hemming and hawing, or when I’m saying, “Oh yeah, I have to give this up,” or, “Oh, I’d love to have that.” Wait a minute, WHO’D love to have it? What is this? Are you your own or are you not your own Ernest O’Neill? Have you presented it as a loving sacrifice or is it still very much yours that you have to kind of enjoy or take care of?And I know it’s very easy for us, the whole danger of getting into legalism. I understand that and I understand the whole question that we can level at ourselves, “Well, aren’t we here for pleasure? Aren’t you expected to have some pleasure?” Well, probably the truth is in the light of a bleeding Savior walking down the Via Delorosa with the cross on his shoulders. Probably the answer is, is that a relevant question to his followers? Aren’t you not to have a little pleasure in this life?Well, as I look at his eyes and the sweat dropping off his forehead, and his arms holding the cross I think, where does sanity begin and insanity end? Is this a question that I can ask my Lord? No, not at all. So it came home to me very clearly that God was saying plainly to us, “I beseech you,” asking us always of course, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, brothers and sisters, by the mercy of God,” not because he has a right to demand it of you. No. Not because he’s Lord God and he’ll throw you into hell if he wants to. No. “I beseech you by the mercies” — by the tender mercies he has extended to you, by the loving kindnesses, and the blessings with which he has filled your life, by his undoubted love for you — “I beseech you to present your bodies a living sacrifice to him which is your reasonable service and is your worship of him.”I could see that that one definite commitment settles all the other stupid things. It’s not a matter of, “Are my trousers shrinking?” It’s not a question of that. It’s not a question of my cholesterol. It’s not a question of, “Am I living the right way?” It’s not a question of, “Am I fulfilling my obligations to God?” It’s not a question of, “Am I being a faithful disciple?” It’snot a question of any of those things? It’s a question of, “Do I hear my Father speaking to me and do I acknowledge his mercies? Do I see that this life is not mine to live as I please? It belongs now to Jesus who presented his body a living sacrifice for me.”Then do I, in a grand, generous and ignoble act, commit the thing wholly to him and never look back? And if ever the question rises and ever a particular instance of it comes up in regard to chocolate chip ice cream, or in regard to whether I stay at home and do my article, or do my broadcast, or whether I go out and do what I like, there is not decision to be made as I have already made it, “Lord, it is yours. It is your body. Let’s go!” And go forward with robust delight in his will so that we too, can say with Jesus, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.”But I’ve applied it to myself you know, because I have no right to apply it to anybody else. It seems to me it is a very plain, clear, word from God that is true — whether we enter into it, live it, or whether we walk by the side of it. It is very clear and plain. And to my mind it is reality and it is what God has for us.Let us pray. Dear Father, we thank you for your goodness to us and for speaking through all the shades of grey, and the shades of black and white, and all the deceptive rays of Satan’s false light. We thank you for being kind enough to make things clear to us so that we can rise up, walk forward with light hearts, joyful spirits, and with the obedience that is no burden because it is delight in you and in your way. So Lord Jesus, we would hear your word in our hearts. We would allow it to echo through our whole lives and up to you again in gratitude and love. Now we ask that your grace Lord Jesus, and your love dear Father, and your fellowship Holy Spirit, will be with each of us now and ever more. Amen.
Victory over Fear and Anxiety - LIVING FAITH
Fear of the WorldPractical Faith SeriesSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillSandra and I were talking a little about reading the newspaper these days and you can only bear to read so much of it because it’s full of so many murders, or so many disasters or so many problems that we face. She said that it’s easy to become almost overwhelmed with it so that you don’t even want to read the newspaper. I can see myself, that if you even begin to contemplate some of the difficulties that you meet in business, or some of the difficulties that we face in our own day-to-day life in the world it’s fairly easy for the moment to be thrown off-balance and to become preoccupied with the powers of the outside world and to actually lose your perspective. It’s very easy to find your own mind preoccupied with what power the government has, or what power other people have, or what power customers have or what power even evil people have.It seemed to me that there is something wrong in either whistling a little tune pretending that it isn’t there or in simply not reading the newspaper. I said to Sandra, “Well, I think in some ways we have to set our mind not on things upon the earth but things in heaven where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” But I sense that that isn’t simply a trick of refusing to look at the things that are there. There’s surely something more than that to deliver us from fear, because it certainly is God’s will that we should not walk in fear, and that we should not actually even have a moment of fear — even a moment when either there’s something wrong with the car. We might not call that fear but still, there is a little tremor that goes through us. There shouldn’t be a moment of fear at that, nor should there be a moment of fear when we discover that the finances are not what they seem to be, or when we find the income tax people wanting to do an audit, or we find some legal authority coming at us on some subject or other. It seems at that moment there should not be a moment of fear at that time.Then my own eyes went to of course, the basic reason why that is so — and it’s in John 16:33: “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And we know that that is true. We know that before the world was ever created, God crucified not only us in his son, Jesus, but he crucified the world. And it’s because of that, that God can say he was in Christ reconciling the world to himself because God ,in Jesus, put all the circumstances and all the powers of evil that would destroy his will for us, he put them into Christ, he destroyed them there and he remade them. In fact, Jesus has overcome all those forces and all those powers.We know that he manifested that — for instance, see John 20:19: “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews,” — this was after Jesus’ crucifixion of course — “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” That was obviously Jesus overcoming the world. So they put nails in his hands, and they put a spear in his side, and blood and water ran out, so they knew they didn’t even need to break his legs because he was dead. And then a few days later, Jesus is there in front of the disciples showing his hands and the holes still in them, and his side and the hole still in it. Then a few days later, he’s eating fish with them to prove to them that he’s not just a ghost.So obviously, Jesus did overcome the world. In other words, the world could do its worst to him but it did not end his life. It did not stop his life. I think we know that and say, “Yes, we know that Jesus has overcome the world. We know that there’s nothing that can happen in the world that he has not already destroyed and the sting of which he has not already removed.” We know that and we must try to remember that.I think it’s easy for us to get into that old battle again of thoughts, “Yes, I must remember that Jesus overcame the world. Yes, I know that there’s something wrong with the car but let me remember that Jesus has overcome the world. Now, he’s overcome the world but remember that verse: Jesus said, ‘In the world you have tribulation but you will have peace because I’ve overcome the world.’ Yes, Jesus said I have overcome the world. He has overcome the world. He has overcome the world.” And we get into that kind of mantra or auto suggestion battle where we find ourselves almost trying to win a verbal argument with ourselves.Actually, what we’re doing is we’re putting against the powers of evil, we’re putting against them flesh and blood which of course can never beat them. And what we’re really trying to do is to brainwash ourselves, to fill our thoughts with the fact that Jesus has overcome the world and hope that somehow, that will blot out not only the thoughts of evil, but will blot out the evil itself. I think it’s deeper than that.I think the answer to fear of the world is deeper than that. And I think it’s connected up with the things we’ve been talking about. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” When Jesus overcame the world before its creation as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, when he overcame the world, we were in him. We were created in Christ Jesus. We were in him when he overcame the world.Or you remember 1 Corinthians 12:27, “You are the body of Christ and individually his limbs.” We are part of Jesus and when Jesus overcame the world we overcame it too. That’s just a fact. There is nothing that the world can do to us that can destroy God’s will for our lives. Indeed, there’s nothing that the world can do to us that God does not allow to happen because he knows that the effects that the world has in mind for it will not come about. The effects that world has in mind for it is our destruction. It is the absolute removal of the possibility of God’s will being done in our lives. God knows that whatever the appearance may be that now, is no longer possible.In other words, it’s a bit like Joseph, you remember, and his experience where he says to his brothers, “You meant it for evil to me but God meant it for my good.” (Genesis 45) And that seems to me to be the situation we’re in. We are part of Jesus and Jesus has overcome the world. He has destroyed its’ ability to destroy us. He has destroyed its ability to derail God’s will for our lives. He has destroyed its ability to spoil God’s plan for his son’s life in us. That’s just a fact. We are in Jesus and we have overcome the world.It’s not a matter of us saying, “Yes! Whoopity-whoo! I’ll whistle! I’ll say, ‘I’m happy! I’m happy! I’m happy! Because yes, I’ve already overcome the world. I’m really strong and I’ve overcome.” No, it’s not that game. It’s simply a fact It’s just a fact. It’s just a simple fact — we are part of Jesus. You and I are bits of Jesus and Jesus himself is in us. That’s what he said, you remember, “You in me and I in you.” (John 14:20) Jesus is in us. It is us who have overcome the world, there is nothing that the world can do to us that will stop God’s will taking place in our lives.And it seems to me therefore, the answer to the fear of the world is not “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A” — it’s not whistling a little tune. It’s not even trying to brainwash ourselves into a kind of mantra, a kind of verse from scripture, “I have overcome the world. I have overcome the world.” It’s not that. It’s simply being real. I mean, to use that phrase that is popular, “Get real.” It’s really getting real. It’s refusing to play Satan’s games.If you reflect for a moment — even the fact that it is a game that is obvious to you — the way it works — or for a second, or at the most, for half an hour, you fear the thing and then you get yourself gathered together. Actually, a week later you laugh at it because it’s all over and nothing really happened that was serious. So we refuse to play Satan’s games. We refuse to listen to his first cry of, “Fire, fire, fire!” or “Abandon ship!” We refuse to listen to the momentary deception and the lie. We refuse to allow our emotions to be panicked and we simply stand steady and solid. We are part of Jesus.We look at the waves straight in the face and the waves are meant by Satan to create panic in our “beasties” like a little mouse. But we look at those waves and we stand solid because we are in Jesus. Jesus is in us and he, of course, made the waves. He makes them obey him. Therefore, he has overcome any apparent power they have to drown us or to destroy God’s will.I felt there were three important examples that we should look at — and that one was the first. The first was actually, in a way, the more serious because it was apparently the ability of the waves to destroy. So maybe you’d look at it. It’s Acts 7:54, “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”And I think it’s a plain example of the world thinking that God had failed Stephen because, after all, he died. And it seems to me it’s popular with us today to take the same approach to say, “Well look, he died. Where was his God?” Yet, it’s obvious from the words there, even the final words, “and he fell asleep,” it’s obvious that to Stephen it was no horrifying terror-stricken experience at all. It was very comforting, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” And then he says, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And then he says, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” It’s obvious to anyone reading those words that Stephen was not all taken up with his own death and he was not all preoccupied with the pain he was experiencing. In fact, he seems to have experienced no pain and the dying was not a terrible retching and a crying out in panic. It says, “And when he had said this, he fell asleep” — just like that.I got a glimpse of it sometime last week. It seemed to me that death is going to be a very easy thing. I suddenly saw that our dear Father — who will not quench the flickering torch, and who knows all our infirmities, and who has been with us for so many years, and knows the first moment our little hearts feel fear — has all that arranged. The last thing that he will do at that moment is to leave us in the darkness. The last thing he will do at that moment is to allow us toexperience any fear of infinite spaces, or any fear of the unknown. The last thing he will do at that moment is to allow us to exist even for a second in some kind of limbo. Rather, it will be like Stephen’s experience. It’ll just be a moment you’re looking there — even if it has dear hearts like our own around us and dear friends to comfort us – and the next moment will be so much brighter, and will be so much warmer, and will be like coming into a wonderful party with all kinds of dear friends around us.It seems that God, our dear Father, who knows every weakness in us, and who knows all our infirmities, will ensure that our passing into life will be as easy, and as joyful, and as free from our own fears for ourselves as Stephen’s was. So it seems to me that even if it is death, we look at it with confidence. What is dying? Jesus is dying — a part of Jesus. This part of his limb that is called Sandra, this part of his limb that is called Irene, this part of his limb that is called Ernest, this part of his limb that we are is dying? No, it cannot die. It has already died once and shown that it was just as alive as ever — so this time it will be no different.So it seems there’s no place for fear even when it seems that the world has ended our lives. Actually, all it’s done is open the door into the life that we’ve been looking forward to for so long. But it does seem in all other situations, Jesus has overcome the world. Often, he will not allow it to go to the point of death though finally he will out of love for us so that we may be with him.Acts 16:16-40: “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by soothsaying. She followed Paul and us, crying, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days. But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, ‘I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.“But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the rulers; and when they had brought them to the magistrates they said, ‘These men are Jews and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs which it is not lawful for us Romans to accept or practice.’ The crowd joined in attacking them; and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one’s fetters were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, ‘Men, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family. Then he brought them up into his house, and set food before them; and he rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God.“But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, ‘Let those men go.’ And the jailer reported the words to Paul, saying, ‘The magistrates have sent to let you go; now therefore come out and go in peace.’ But Paul said to them, ‘They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now cast us out secretly? No! let them come themselves and take us out.’ The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens; so they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. So they went out of the prison, and visited Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they exhorted them and departed.”There’s no reason to be in fear of authorities whether they’re police, or tax authorities, or whether they are customers, or our suppliers, or the customs people, or anybody because Jesus has overcome the world and he is able to do this kind of thing when necessary. He is able to do this kind of thing for us and whether it happens as dramatically as this does or not, we are in Jesus and we are part of him, and he has overcome the world’s ability to derail his Father’s plan for our lives and there is no reason for even a moment of anxiety, or a moment of fear. So it seems to me that our victory over fear of the world is the reality that we are part of the Savior, that we are part of him himself and that the world cannot destroy him — and cannot even prevent him doing what God has planned for him to do in us.So for us, it is irrelevant what the apparent power of other people have to spoil our lives. It’s an irrelevance because Jesus himself has destroyed that power in them and has overcome it. And it’s the same — if you would just look at the last one — it’s Acts 9:32-43 — and of course all these miracles were done with the same attitude in the disciples, in the name of Jesus Christ.“Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints that lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aene’as, who had been bedridden for eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, ‘Aene’as, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.’ And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.“Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him entreating him, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ So Peter rose and went with them. And when he had come, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing tunics and other garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, rise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner. “Obviously Jesus manifested his victory over the world right there, and they were able to overcome death in another person and they were able to raise a person who was paralyzed. And so it is with us — Jesus is in us. I think where a lot of this gets contorted is where we think we have the right to heal everybody that needs healing, or we have the right to pray for everybody that dies. I think that’s where we lose the whole truth of the matter. The truth of the matter is that Jesus is the one who is living in this world. He is the one who has this body and these hands. He alone can decide what he wants to manifest of his victory over the world. He alone can determine who he wants to heal or who he wants to raise from the dead. He alone has that right.We don’t even have to think about that. Our only place is our preoccupation with him. Our realizing moment by moment, “Lord Jesus, this is your life, these are your hands. I do not even live — I have been crucified. It is no longer I that live but it is you that lives in me. This is your life. Lord, that’s reality.” As we dwell deeper and deeper in that reality it seems to me fear of the world fades away in the distance. Then he, himself, is able to overcome the world in the instances and in the ways that he chooses.Sometimes it will be by allowing Stephen to fall asleep in absolute peace and rest even in the eyes of the world it’s death. Sometimes he will raise Dorcas from the dead. Sometimes he will heal Aeneas and make him well. Sometimes, he will open the prison doors. Sometimes he will speak to the magistrates and influence them so that they’ll free us. Sometimes he will work around the circumstances so that they do not bring about what Satan intended. But always, he, himself, has the control of the world in his own hands.What we do need to be very clear about is when we look in the waves and look in the face of the people who are angry with us, and look into the circumstances that seem to be falling apart — we look right through them and into his face and we see, “Lord, we are in your hands. We are not in their hands. We’re in your hands. This is your world. This is my Father’s world and it is under the control of my Savior who loves me.”Let us pray. Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for making us part of yourself. We thank you Lord, that this is your life, this is your body, these are your hands and everything that this person that has our name meets are circumstances and situations that you have already passed through your hands. There are things that you have already overcome. And we thank you Lord, that though all around us may be afraid, though a thousand may fall out our side and ten thousand at our right hand, yet it will not come near to us — to bring about the same results in us — because you, yourself, have control of the situation and the circumstances and have overcome the world. So Lord, we do thank you that there is no reason for even a moment of fear — even when it concerns mighty powers and governments, you, yourself, are in control and have overcome the world. We thank you, Lord.
Who Is Your Father? - LIVING FAITH
Who is Your Father?Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillWho is your Father? The answer is of course in that piece that we all know from Handel’s “Messiah”. It’s Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’” It startled me when I first read “Everlasting Father”. This piece is obviously the prophecy of Jesus’ birth, the Messiah, and you’re used to Jesus being called the Prince of Peace, or even Wonderful Counselor, or even Mighty God — but you’re not used to him being called Everlasting Father.It struck me that there was some kind of misunderstanding here because God surely is the Everlasting Father and Jesus is the Son. But in fact, because Jesus is God and wherever God is Jesus is, and whatever God is Jesus is, all that God is Jesus is also. He is certainly our Everlasting Father in a special way too, because he is really the one who begot each one of us. I don’t want to bore you with it, but I did this little diagram to remind you of it: I’ve used the mathematical sign for infinity here, but this [pointing to diagram] is eternity and this is eternity, and in between is this little piece of time.You remember the way we’ve often talked about it — we’ve said that wherever we cannot talk about the beginning when God was, we don’t know about that, but in eternity somewhere God IS and He conceived of creating the world. he conceived of people like himself in that world. Of course Colossians 1:15 states that Jesus was actually the first born of all the creation. God actually took his only begotten son whom he had begotten in eternity and he asked him to become the first born of all creation.Jesus therefore became the first one to be born in that creation and God conceived of that. This presumably we think of as a millisecond in God’s mind. He conceived of it, he did it and he completed it all in a millisecond. We just talk about it in terms of “stages” because of our finite minds, but God conceived of a creation and of people like himself whom he could love, and he conceived of his only begotten son becoming the first born of that creation, becoming the first man.Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for the good.” And “the good” is we might be conformed to the image of his son in order that HE might be the first born among many brethren. So God conceived of his own son becoming the first born of creation so that HE would be the first born among many brethren. I think often we go a little astray because we think, “Oh yes, he did it for us, he did it for us.” Well, in that he loves us, yes, but first and foremost, he did it for his son — that his son might be the first born of all creation. For that reason he created us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God conceived of creating us in Jesus that we might do many mighty works that he had prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. He conceived of that taking place and then realized of course, that we would be free to do what we wanted to do.We would be free to dwell in Jesus and to be what he wants us to be — or we would be free to refuse him, and reject him and to oppose him. At that moment God knew that he would have to change all that he had made –for as many of us that wanted to change he would have to change us — and he would have to crucify us and begin to make us all over again. That is what happened according toRevelation 13:8, “That the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world.”God conceived of all of that in a millisecond. Presumably, he didn’t have to speak to his son, but in our human terms it was like him saying to his son, “My son, this is what will take place. Are you willing for that to take place in you? Because, the only way these dear brethren that I am going to make inside you will ever be able to be like us is if you are prepared to bare the destruction of what they become and their recreation again in what I want them to be.” Of course, the Savior lovingly said, “Yes.” Then in the beginning, God made the heaven and the earth. Then God began to play that all out in time. Of course the part that he has allowed to play out that we can see so clearly is this downward path. This is what we see around us: we see what our life would be if we had NOT been crucified in Jesus and the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the earth and made again anew in him and recreated in him. If we hadn’t done that this is the kind of life we would live — and this is the kind of life that the world would live until there is a new heaven and the new earth.Of course, when we are born of God, what happens is we do what Jesus said: we repent and believe the gospel. We change our mind about the way we think of our past life. We stop thinking, “I am my father’s son. I am my mother’s son.” “I am my father’s daughter. I am my mother’s daughter.” We begin thinking, “I am Jesus’ son.” “I am Jesus’ daughter. Jesus is my Father. I was created in him. The reason I was created was so that he would be the first born among many brethren. I belong to him. My father and mother were only the means by which God brought me into physical birth, but I belong to Jesus. I am part of him.” We change our way of thinking — and at that moment what happens is all of eternity here, by the Holy Spirit, is brought into our lives and we are born of God. Has each of us here accepted that?I would to take you back to a very real experience that I’ve had over the past couple of days — and that everyone in London will understand because we spent so much time on computers. For two years, believe it or not, I’ve been trying to get a program that would do what we call in computer language, “multitasking”. It would mean that people like my dear wife would be putting in a sales order in the computer and someone would call and say, “How much do I owe you? What is my debt to Crown Jewelry?” And she would be able to hit one key and it would immediately replace that sales order module on the screen with the customer file and would show her immediately the credit.Or, if she thought in the middle of entering the sales order she wanted to do a fax to Dan in Thailand to order some more of a certain item, she would hit a key and it would flip over immediately into the fax program. Now, believe it or not, that’s very difficult to do with computers. The way we do it now is that we have to withdraw from the sales order module and have to go back to the main menu. From there we go into the Windows program and into WinFax and we write the fax. You actually have to come out of one program, go into another program — and it all takes time.Multitasking is the ability to switch from one thing to the other. They call it multitasking because for that to happen, the computer has to keep all of them up at one time. It has to keep all the programs open. That’s very difficult for a computer. For two years I’ve been working with a complicated IBM program called OS2 because it will be able to do that — but, it’s not able to do it just yet.On my little computer I have had 50 megabytes set aside for that program and I’ve been playing along with it all the time. I’ve been trying to make the DOS programs work for all of you and for Londonwhen they need it. I’ve always had in my mind, “OS2 is the answer. OS2 is the answer. I have to somehow wait till all the systems get refined enough so that it will work.” That was the situation.Then they came out just a month ago with the new “DOS 7” program. It arrived and so it was wonderful. I thought, “Great! I can put it onto my computer and I can once and for all ‘leave my earthly father behind’. I can go with a whole heart into what now is a workable situation with this DOS 7.” So I have to make changes to my computer but I thought, “Yeah, but shouldn’t I try to keep this old OS2 up just in case this doesn’t work? Maybe I’ll go back to the original idea.”So yesterday, I started to work on it. In the course of it all, something went wrong in the computer. I have in my portable computer all kinds of things: all the work I was doing with Mary in London, the International Secretary of CCI stuff, all the projects that we have in Thailand, all kinds of faxes, the cash flow — which fortunately I’ve copied off onto another computer — but I had everything up. Then, something started to eat away at all the stuff on my computer!It was dreadful. It was like being driven back into a corner. I would try one program and another. We have a program that doubles the disk and I had to unstack it — I had to make it not double. Of course when you have twice the stuff on it the disk, you have to put it somewhere, so I tried to put it onto another part of the disk. I kept working and working, and the thing kept eating up more of my information, and more programs failed and more programs failed!Before I started the whole thing, God had spoken to me and said, “Have you absolutely burned your boats? Are you no longer your father’s son? Are you only my Son’s son? Is He your real father? Do you see your life only as HIS and not in any way as outside Him? Are you ready in this computer business to leave aside what you’ve been fiddling along with for two years?” He said that before I ever started all this, and it was as if He started to eat the stuff away.I couldn’t believe it because I was losing precious stuff – and it took me hours — it will still take me hours to put a lot of it back. I couldn’t believe and I couldn’t understand why it was happening because I’m not dumb as far as computers are concerned, and it shouldn’t have happened. More and more of my 240 megabyte disk started to be eaten away and more programs disappeared. My dear program, “Sidekick”, that I have all kinds of appointments and phone numbers on disappeared. I couldn’t get into it!Then at one point the computer asked, “So that I can rescue the rest of the disk will you let me delete those files?” I said “yes” because I couldn’t do anything else. I deleted 1,700 files! I just got back and back into a corner. I thought, “Lord, am I willing?” It was parallel with, “Who’s Your Father? “Am I willing to let this go and start anew — to put all my eggs into this DOS 7 basket and go with it– and go with that life?” “Am I willing to forget all the past, to forget all the things — even the nice things that I think about my father and my mother, even the enjoyable things about the past — am I willing to forget about it all, the good and the bad, and to go ONLY with Jesus? ”Of course, while this computer thing went on until about five o’clock, it was dying. The whole thing was just dying. Finally I said, “Yes, Lord, yes I am. I’ll put this DOS 7 on now.” I couldn’t get the DOS 7 on until I had all the rest prepared but I thought, “I’ve nothing left. I’ll put the DOS 7 on.” So, I put the DOS 7 on. I don’t have every program back, but I have a lot of programs back like Sidekick and Manage Your Money. I’ve lost a fair bit of stuff, but I’ve got a lot back.I do not know why. I don’t think it’s an angel. I don’t know why, but I do know what God said to me very, very clearly, “Who is your Father? Are you willing to forget all – just to leave aside all the make do’s and the self-help things that you’re holding onto — all the little bits of self-effort, all the virtues that you think you might have brought from the past — are you willing to leave all those make-do’s aside and let them be buried and destroyed for ever and go only as a son of my Son?” I just got it very clearly.I’d feel this way even if I hadn’t the programs back. It’s just a mystery as I don’t know how the programs got back, I don’t know how they came back. Obviously, it’s something that is very clear and probably very simple to some other person who knows better and certainly very simple to God. The message I got very clear in my own heart, and that’s what I want to say to you, “Who’s your Father?”Are you still kind of saying, “Well, I mean the heavenly Father is my Father, but my father is my father and my mother is my mother and I owe a lot to them. I’m them. I’m part of them and I like them.” Well are you or are you not? Has that life died and has it been crucified and destroyed? Is it no longer reality? It was never reality. Are you no longer treating it as reality? Are you in Jesus ONLY and is he everything to you?I can see that it takes a VERY definite step into that. To be translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved Son is a very deliberate step from a life that WAS into a NEW life. It’s very much connected with what we are thinking this moment and what our attitude is. So I’d ask you, “Who’s your Father?” Have you really died to all that the world knew you as, and even your parents knew you as? Have you really seen that all that is a life that was planned from the very beginning to be replaced by the real life — you as the part of the body of Jesus himself — that you are nothing but a part of Jesus? You’re just a little bit of Jesus.You’re not a little bit of Mr. Blomfield, or not a little bit of Mrs. Livingstone. You’re a little bit of Jesus and that is all you are — but that is EVERYTHING you are. Are you living like that? Have you really accepted that? Have you burned your bridges? Have you let go of all the past or are you still trying to hold on to a little bit of something that you might be outside Jesus because you’re hanging on to something that will disappear as quickly as my old programs disappeared on my computer? Jesus is in fact, our Everlasting Father.Let us pray. Dear Lord, we see Lord Jesus, that there is nothing outside you and that we do not exist outside you. What the world sees of us, of our face, and our hands, what the world hears of our voice is like a cinder, a burned out cinder that will collapse the moment someone touches it. It is something that has been, that has been crucified with Christ, that no longer has any real existence. The real existence that we DO have is that we have been created by you in Christ Jesus for good works which you have prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. That’s our only purpose here in this life, to walk in those works with clear hearts, free minds, and with joyful feelings.Lord, we would embrace that with all our hearts. We would walk forward into that with our whole heart Lord and say, “Lord Jesus, you are our Everlasting Father. We are members of you, limbs in your body. Let’s go, Lord. Let us go. Take us forward. Walk into the good works through us that you’ve prepared beforehand. We cast away all that is past and we walk now in a glorious liberated present for your glory, and the love of God.” Amen.
Beside Ourselves - LIVING FAITH
Beside Ourselves2 Corinthians 5Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillThere’s an interesting verse in 2 Corinthians, a strange verse really, and maybe you’d look at it 2 Corinthians 5:13, “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.” If we are beside ourselves it is for God, and if we are in our right mind it is for you. And no doubt Paul was trying to answer some I suppose gibe or criticism that was leveled at him by the opponent saying, “They’re crazy,” or, “They’re mad.” Along the lines I suppose that the people used when they saw the Apostles being filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they said, “They’re drunk with new wine,” and presumably it was that kind of gibe you know, “Oh the fella’s crazy.”But I thought that the English idiom that is used brings home part of the real truth, that is the English idiom for being crazy, he’s beside himself, implying he’s not really himself, he’s beside himself. And yet Paul takes that and he says, “If we are beside ourselves it is for you.” And then it is interesting of course, that this piece follows Chapter 4, you remember, where he says in 2 Corinthians 4:10, “Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” And then what follows that verse, we are beside ourselves is down there you remember, in 2 Corinthians 5:17. 1 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” And then it is all summarized in the famous verse that we all know, “It is not I that live, but Christ that lives within me.” And it brings home to you that that is the truth of reality that we are to live beside ourselves. We are to be beside ourselves, or another way to put it is, we’re to be outside ourselves. We’re to be outside ourselves, we’re to live apart from ourselves. In fact, this is not our life any longer.I just thought again you know, how real that is, the center and the heart of living here on this earth. That not another hour are you to live inside your own body. Not another hour am I to live inside my own body. This is Jesus’ life and it’s really probably the plainest way to face what living for God is about, simply deciding in your own heart, “Am I actually ready to get out of this body? Am I actually ready to give up this life? Am I really prepared to hand this over to another man? Am I actually ready to let Jesus who made me admittitedly, he made me, I know that, and he made me in himself, so I suppose I am part of him and he certainly says he is in me, he said, ‘You Father are in me, and I am them,’ so he certainly regards himself as being in me. But am I actually ready not anymore to live this life as if it were mine?”And I think that’s the heart of everything. I mean, that’s the heart of our whole existence here. And I was just thinking of it when I considered often what we feel is our concern for each other. I can see how it is good, it is good to love each other, and it is good to be concerned for each other, and it’s good for you to ask me, “Well, how did you sleep?” Or, “How do you feel?” Or, me to ask you, you know, “How your week went?” And that is good, but I can see too that if we find ourselves being preoccupied with, “Oh well, how do I feel today?” Or, “What should I eat tomorrow?” Or, “What kind of thing do I like?” Or, “Am I really a blue person or a green person?” Or, “Am Ireally an ice cream person, or not an ice cream person?” I can see that in a way there’s something there that is – that does not gel with the fact that this is not my life.In a way I can just see that if this is really Jesus’ life then I will want to know, “What would you like to do Lord? What do you really like? Are you a blue person or a green person? Are you a yogurt person? Are you a selling person?” I can see that that is more the response that comes from our hearts. I know it so well because sometimes I think Irene can be a bit cut and dried, you know, “Well, just get up and get out,” you know, whereas at times I would be an old Northern Irish guy whose, “Oh, I’ve got a sniffle of a cold today.” And she would say, “Oh shake yourself and get out,” and all that kind of thing. And I can see that in a real way at each point in our daily lives, there is an opportunity to sink back into the fantasy that I’m on my own, that I have this life to take care of myself, that I have to make what I can of it, and I ought to enjoy all I can, and get all I can from it. There’s an opportunity at every moment of each day to sink back into that fantasy, and that lie. Or, there’s an opportunity to step out into the broad sunlit upland that this is Jesus’ life, and Lord what would you like?I don’t know if you have ever felt it, I have on occasion glimpsed what another person – what another person’s life was like, at least I thought that’s what I was glimpsing. What I was actually seeing was their life from the outside. But I would think I was glimpsing their life and I would think for a moment, “Oh it would be nice to live as separate, as enjoyable life, and yet as detached as that.” And then I’ve realized I’m not actually seeing their life as they see it. Their life as they see it from the inside, is as preoccupied with themselves as mine is, I just happened to be looking at theirs detached from the heart of their concerns. And I would see for a moment what it would be like to actually let Jesus live, and be beside myself. Be actually outside this life, and let him be living it, and me just taking part with him. And I can see that that is the heart of reality, this is Jesus’ life. This is his life.I think maybe there comes up in our minds a little bit of a feeling, “Well wait a minute that sounds a bit crazy,” or, sometime we might say it sounds too easy, but often we will think, “Oh it’s kind of miserable.” And we’ll think, “Well it’s impossible to live like that, and any way I don’t want to live that way. And any way, where would I be, where would I be if that happened? I mean, where would I be floating out there in space somewhere and he’s in here enjoying it, or doing what he wants to do? It would mean I would cease to exist.” And don’t you think that’s the whole fear that Satan plays on and that Jesus answers when he says, “If you lose your life for my sake you’ll save it. You’ll save it. You won’t be lost. You will be unconscious of yourself and unconscious of your own concerns, and your own interests, and your own desires, you will be, but you’ll still be alive. You’ll be alive in me. I won’t let you fade. I won’t let you disappear from existence. Trust me, just trust me. I will keep you in existence. Actually you’ll be more alive than ever before. You would enjoy yourself far more if you weren’t in the center of things the way you are, if you’d let me be in the center of things. You would actually enjoy yourself more, and you’d be freer to do what I want to do.” So it seems to me the heart of our whole life here on earth is the reality with which we actually hand our life over to reality, or the extent to which we ourselves simply enter into reality, and it seems that that is Jesus’ will for us you know. That in a sense we are beside ourselves, because it is not I that live, but Christ that lives within me.So maybe you’d think of that as I’m trying to think if it, and begin to live that, “Lord Jesus, am I or am not I? Are you – are you going to have your life, or am I going to keep on playing this game here where I kind of let you have a little word in here, and a little opinion there, but really it’s my place, it’s my place. Or, is this yours? In which case every second a thought of self occurs Ireject it.” And then of course Satan can get in and say, “Well wait a minute, I mean, you have to take care of yourself. You have to look at after your clothes, you to-” well of course we all know that but that’s, that’s living at him for Jesus’ sake. We want him to look well, we want him to dress well, we want him to be seen well, so you can take care of all those things without it being attached to me, me, me. It can be attached to Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. So really there’s no contradiction between taking care of ourselves and our appearance, and the things that are needed, and yet doing it as unto Christ, because it’s his life and we want him to look well, and we want him to be comfortable.But I can see how every time the thought occurs to us, “Do I feel tired?” I can see that immediately the right question is, “Lord Jesus, what do you want to do? Whatever you want to do, you have energy to do so, what do you want to do?” I can see how it affects all those questions. And of course it especially effects the questions like, “What a way to speak to me? What disrespect that person has shown me. How offensive they have been to me in the store or over the phone.” I can see that those questions immediately you reject because this is not you, this is Christ, and you guard him, but you have no interest in guarding yourself because you’re beside yourself. It’s no longer you that are alive this is Christ’s life, and it’s him, and his Spirit, and his heart that comes out in the same meekness and loneliness that he exhibited in Galilee. So I can see that every time a question comes to us that concerns our own comfort, or our own position, or our own happiness, every time that kind of question comes to us there is only one response that is real and that is rejection of it completely, and looking to the one who is really alive here, and saying, “Lord what do you want to do?”So I think probably we’ll have to decide you know, is this case of a mystical experience and a kind of psychological game, or is this fact? Is this really Christ called by the world, Sandra Tomczyk, or is this Christ called by the world Ernest O’Neil, or is this Ernest O’Neil or Sandra Tomczyk, or Colleen Donahue, or Myron Kliewer, pretending to like Christ, or trying to be like Christ? It seems to me one is a mystical psychological experience the other is simple factual reality, and we need to decide which it is for us. And it seems to me that there is only one thing that is real, and that is part of what Paul means by saying, “We walk by faith and not by sight,” because sight is a temporary fantasy that is passing away, and what is by faith is real and eternal. And the real eternity is that you and I are part of Jesus, and he is us at this moment in this life. Let us pray.Lord Jesus, we see Lord, that you are here and that this is your life. We see Lord, that every moment that our emotions or our mind respond as if it is our life, we bring a great strain of futility into your dear heart. We cause you to bear our sins. We see Lord, that every time we respond inappropriately every time we respond verbally, or emotionally, or mentally, or spiritually as if this is our life, we see we tear your limb from you. We bring pain to you, and because you dearest Father, love your son Jesus, we bring pain to you, because we are part of you Lord Jesus, and this is your life to live, and you have things to do here on earth using this body and this mind. And as you do those things so delight will come to your Father, glory to you and wonderful fulfillment to us.So Lord, we come to you now to renew our covenant with you, but more to renew our surrender of everything that we are and have to you, for you to use as you please so that we may get out of it all, so that we may be transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom our Father of your beloved Son for his glory.
God I need Help - LIVING FAITH
Jesus is Our WorldSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillIf we talk about this piece of paper — I think we’re all used to probably speaking what we would call the “scientific method” of looking at it — Irene describes its whiteness. Sandra describes its touch and I describe its texture. We discuss it and we say, “Oh yes, that’s an interesting piece of paper. It’s white and it feels like this, and it has this kind of touch when you touch it and this kind of shape.” And we have no difficulty discussing it because it is an “it” and we are superior to it because we’re persons and we’re able to talk about it in an objective way.It’s a little more difficult if we say, “We’ll talk about Irene” because immediately, if Sandra and I are going to talk about you [Irene] it’s impossible for you to talk about yourself in that same way. Then if we try and talk about you we’re faced with, first of all, you’re right here and what can we do? We can’t kind of take a part of you and say, “Oh now, look at this finger — this is interesting. It’s this shape,” or, “Look at this ear.” It is just very difficult to talk about any one of us here in that way partly because the person is right here. You can’t treat them as an “it”. In some way, you’re very conscious that they are listening to what you’re saying about them. For one thing, it brings a certain amount of restraint to you and leaves you not quite as free as you are when you discuss this piece of paper. Of course, it’s even more difficult if we ask Irene to take part in the discussion and talk about herself because she’s very aware that she’s trying to talk about herself as if she were not herself.So obviously, it becomes a little more difficult when you’re studying people. It does seem to me the more I read and the more I think about the way I talk about God, we have great danger of falling into an unreal attitude. That is, we’re in great danger of talking about God as if he’s this piece of paper — as if we are in some way his masters or superior to him — in some way as if we can discuss his whiteness, or his texture, or the way he deals with people – as if we can talk about him as if he was an “it”. Therefore, we actually talk about nothing. Actually what we’re doing is being utterly unreal and unrealistic and he has every right to look down upon us and say, “What are you little children playing about? I mean, you’re not talking about me at all. You’re talking about a concept of me in your mind. You’re talking about an idea as if it’s me — but you’re certainly not talking about ME.”Really, it’s much the same reaction that Irene would have if we started to talk about her here. I mean she’d say, “Well you’re not talking about me — I’m here. Why don’t you talk to me? That’s what is normal. That’s what is realistic. It’s not realistic to talk about me as if I’m not here. You’re engaged in some kind of game.” I think often we may be engaged in some kind of game. Even in our sermons and our services and particularly in the way we think about God. We may be involved in something that is very unreal. I often think about it when either you or I, any of us here, are trying to make a decision about summer holiday or what we’re going to do and we say, “I want to find out what God thinks about it.”But as you’re saying that you’re saying it with the tongue that he enables to wag. You’re saying it with the breath that he is actually creating directly through his son. Moreover, he himself is all around us at that moment. So it’s like me saying to you Sandra, “Well, I want to know what Irene thinks about that.” Your response would be, “Go ask her — she’s right there.” And me kind of saying, “Well, no — I know she’s very close and right here but no — I’ll have to think out what she probably would like me to do.” And you’d say, “Why not ask her? Ask her!” And I’d say, “Well,yes I know she’s very close and at times she’s right next to me and maybe she is in this room at this moment but no, I’ll have to think about it.” I think we may do that with God. We may somehow believe in him without really treating him realistically as being here every second. In some way we may talk about Jesus missing completely the reality that we are actually part of him and that HE is everything.Irene and I joke about when we talk about the little fellas that I used to look after in the poor children’s home on summer holidays. There would be one that would always hold on to the ball and wouldn’t pass it to anyone else. He always wanted to score the goal and the other little fella said, “Oh yeah, he thinks he’s the fella in the big picture.” Well the big picture was in those days in Belfast the main movie, the main feature program. In theaters you’d have the main film and then you’d have supporting films — sometimes news programs, or sometimes little light comedies or cartoons. So “the fella in the big picture” was the main star in the main feature. The little fella was saying, “Oh that fella holds onto the ball because he thinks he’s the fella in the big picture. He thinks he’s everything and none of us are important.”I think we are in danger of getting into that where we think of ourselves and we talk about Jesus and God as kind of peripherals, as people on the edges. We talk about them always from our point of view. We always talk about how we can get closer to Jesus, how we can feel Jesus’ presence more, how we can please Jesus, how we can please God, how we can do God’s will — we, we, we, we ! But God himself is not the subject. He is kind of just on the peripheral and we’re kind of still in this position of the masters looking down on the piece of paper.In some way we’re missing what reality is and I think that a lot of our problems come from that. I think a lot of our difficulties in the Christian life come from the fact that we think of it as something that WE do in order to please God. It’s something that we undertake, and we rule, and we run, and we operate with his help — but we are the doers. All the time we’re doing it as if he isn’t here. So that’s what I’d hope, if I can do it properly, I would like to talk about over these next Sundays. Maybe a good place to start is John 8.Most of these verses are verses we’ve talked about before. Certainly, they’re ones that we know. John 8:57 — it’s the time when Jesus is making reference to Abraham and of course, the Jews are questioning him in a hostile way. John 8:57, “The Jews then said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’” In verse 56 Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad. The Jews then said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’” It’s good to pause on that and think of what that means. Jesus was saying very definitely and clearly — and remember Abraham was about 2,000 years ago — “Before Abraham was, I am.”It’s interesting that he says, “Not before Abraham was, I was” — but, “Before Abraham was, I am.” He’s really saying, “I am now and before Abraham was I still am. Everything is present for me. Everything is present. What seems to you 2,000 years ago is present with me at this moment. I actually exist in such a state that everything that has been and everything that will be is present with me now. I am not bound by time. I am beyond time. I exist and have existed always.” And that’s what he says again in John 17:5, “And now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made.” So Jesus is saying, “Father, glorify me with the glory which I had before you made the world, before the world was made.” Jesus is making it very clear that he existed before the world was made. He was in existence before this world evercame into being.I think you can see very clearly that obviously, Jesus is older than all of us and obviously, he transcends time — and you and I don’t. We don’t. We can hardly transcend more than 70 years of it let alone transcend years and centuries and centuries. So it seems that Jesus is implying he existed before the world was. Colossians 1:15 summarizes this: “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” We’ve talked about that before, that Jesus was the first-born of all creation — that before the world was made he was the first-born of all creation.We’ve talked together quite often how God probably, because we can only surmise, but God probably said in a millisecond to his son, “I want others like you my son — and to be like you they have to be part of you because you are your own self, dear and precious and unique. You’re my only begotten. So to be like you they have to be part of you — so I want to make them inside you. You must be their father. I must make them inside you. Now, you will be the first-born but they will be made inside you and they will be part of you.” It’s in that sense that Jesus is called “the first-born of all creation”. In Colossians 1:16, “For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities.” Spiritual powers, angels, archangels, you, me, the earth, the soil, the sky, the planets, oxygen, molecules, “All things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Everything holds together inside Jesus.It’s evident that when we talk about Jesus we’re in – I don’t want to say a very embarrassing position — but we’re in a sense an impossible position because we’re talking about HIM of whom we are a part. We are a part of him. HE is the real us. If we are anything, we are only little molecules inside Jesus. We’re only cells inside Jesus –obviously very privileged and infinitely loved by him — I mean, beyond what love have you for that little piece of skin? Well you know, if you get cut [your hand] you feel it and you like it, and you try to take care of it, but you wouldn’t say you love it. You wouldn’t give your life for it. You certainly wouldn’t give your life for it because it would be a contradiction. But obviously Jesus has infinite love for each of us. So even though we are just little specs and little cells, we are infinitely loved by him because, of course, we are HIM. We are him.The amazing thing is that little piece of skin there does not contain your brain or does not contain my eye. But of course, when he looks at one of us we contain a great deal of him. In some strange way, all of him. In a remarkable way I suppose, we’re not everything that he is but we’re a unique expression of him. His whole personality is in some way in us even though the whole perfection of his personality is not in us. There’s part of him that is in us that isn’t in anybody else. There is that difference that when he looks at us he loves us as his own self because we are a unique expression of him that nobody else is — and yet, we’re only a tiny part of him. Our existence is utterly dependent on him, himself.So you can see what I’m saying when I say we need to go cautiously, thoughtfully — finally you can only say worshiply and reverently and respectfully whenever we ever think of talking about Jesus because we’re talking of our world. HE is our world. He is our existence. We don’t have an existence without him. Every word we speak he knows it before we speak it — of course he hears it when we speak it. So in every way we are encompassed by him, surrounded by him, supported by him — without him we have nothing. That’s, you remember, what is said so plainly in Ephesians 2:10.Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which Godprepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” It’s just simply stated, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” So whether we can tell how God did it or not, it’s stated very plainly that God made us in Christ Jesus. He made us IN Jesus. So we, in no way, exist apart from Jesus. But you see, I think often in the way we talk about our Christian faith — we often talk as if we are separate from Christ. We’ll often think of it in that way, “How can I get into Christ? How can I get into Jesus? How can I get into that place where I’m crucified with him?” The question is rather, how can you get out of him? It obviously is possible by stubborn resistance, by a determined persistence in thinking of ourselves separate from him. It obviously is possible in some way to withdraw yourself or to refuse to face reality. It’s in some way possible to refuse simply, “I do not believe that I am in Christ. I do not believe that I was created in him. I do not believe that I am part of him. I do not believe that what happens to him happens to me. I do not believe that. I am a separate entity on my own.” Of course, it’s laughable. It’s ridiculous. It’s like a cartoon — to see a little fly on the planet earth saying, “I am independent of the earth. I do not need it.” Of course it’s foolishness — it’s obvious that it’s a lie. It’s unreality.Often it seems to me, even in our Christendom, in our Christianity, in our Christian way of talking, we talk of ourselves as if in some way there is a Christian and then there is Christ. We regard Christ as an intellectual concept, an idea that we discuss: we discuss Christ and we discuss how we can follow Christ – then, we obviously are thinking of ourselves much in the same way we are in relationship to this piece of paper. We’re thinking of the piece of paper as an “it” that is separate from us. We are in some way superior or at least separate from the piece of paper and we have an existence apart from it — except that with Christ we have no existence apart from Christ. We don’t have an existence. We don’t have a separate existence. We are nothing but part of him. When we pretend that we are something apart from him we are creating a lie that has no relationship to the larger environment that surrounds us.So it is important to begin to see that Jesus is our world — that we are not so much “Ernest O’Neill”, “Sandra Tomczyk”, “Irene O’Neill” — those names just express the reality that we are different from everybody else in the universe. Those names just express that we are a part of Jesus that nobody else is. But, they do not express that we are separate beings and have a separate existence from him.Of course that’s why they would talk about the “Christian name” when they baptized people. You receive a “Christian name” because the name that you had was looked upon as a pagan name because it expressed the whole unreality of the pagan fallen world that you were a separate individual, that there was no God and that you had your own existence and were a self-made person. So when you were baptized into Christ’s death and baptized into his resurrection then you were born again, rose up into reality and you were given a Christian name. Really, it would have been better to say, “You are ‘Sandra Jesus’ and I’m ‘Ernest Jesus’ and you’re ‘Irene Jesus’.” That’s really what they meant. They were giving you the family name of Jesus — the Christian, Christ. You could say it would be like “Irene Christ”, or “Sandra Christ”, or “Ernest Christ”. It meant that because we had no separate existence — because the reality is that we don’t have a separate existence.And that, you remember, is what is brought out well clearly in 1 Corinthians 12:27 — but of course we again, because of our way of talking about Christianity, we have gone and misinterpreted and under-interpreted all these verses. 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Of course we go off into our little enthusiastic explanations and our very clever charismatic expositions that, “Oh yes, this means the church is really the body ofChrist — and what we normally mean is it’s like the body of Christ. It isn’t of course the body of Christ but it’s like the body of Christ. You all have gifts.” Then we get on to our “gifts”. Isn’t it incredible how we talk about the gifts: “What gift have you? What gift have I?” It would be like us looking down at our toes saying to each other, “What gift have you?” Jesus must think, “What are you talking about? Gift? You have no gift. It is my life blood that is flowing through your big toe and little toe. It is my energy that enables you to be where you are. What gift have you? You talk about how cleverly you can put a sock on? No, I put the sock on. The gifts are mine. You exercise them together with me or I exercise them through you.”So often we misinterpret, “You are the body of Christ.” We end up interpreting it as meaning, “We perform the functions of Jesus.” Whereas the Bible doesn’t say that. The Bible doesn’t say, “You perform the functions of Jesus.” The Bible says, “You are the body of Christ.” Christ expresses himself through you. You are the outward expression of him. You are individually members of him. Each of you is a different part of him. Each of you actually is a unique part of him that nobody else is. You are part of Christ. Christ is the real being. He is the real entity.Maybe where we should finish today is — though there’s a lot more and we can talk about it next Sunday — how everything conspires to bring us into that reality. It’s in Romans 8:28-29, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.” Really, it’s that famous verse that we know from the King James version that runs, “All things work together for good to them that love God.”Everything in this present life is working together for good to those of us who love God — and what is “the good”? That they might be conformed to the image of his son. We usually stop there and we say, “Yes, yes.” We feel that’s very unselfish of us to say, “Yes, everything that is happening in our lives is working to make us like Jesus.” “Make us like Jesus?” Again, we somehow get ourselves into the center of picture. We make ourselves “the fella in the big picture” because we say, “Yeah, yeah, everything is providence, all the events and circumstances that take place in my life, all the disasters, all the moments of happiness and triumph, all the moments of failure — all of those are working together to make ME like Jesus so that I will be Christ-like.” And of course we forget that the sentence goes on, “So that he might be the first-born among many brethren.”In other words, everything is working together in our lives so that Jesus himself will BE and be seen to be what he is, the first born among many brothers and sisters — but HE is the one in whom they all live. So everything in our lives works together towards that. I think often we have great difficulty with the things that happen in our lives, especially our frustrations, our failures, our difficulties, because we think to ourselves, “This isn’t making me happy.” What’s the big deal? You are not God. Maybe it isn’t in order to make you happy — that’s not why they all take place. Sometimes we also think — I have certainly often thought — “This isn’t making me Christ-like. I see myself as more miserable, and retched, and selfish, and stubborn than ever before.” Well, that’s not the big thing. The big thing is that Jesus might be the first-born among many brothers and sisters — that he might have his own body completely in harmony with himself, that we might take our right place in him, and that he above all may be all-in-all to us, and may be seen to be all-in-all by all the universe.So, there’s a lot more that maybe we can begin to talk about next Sunday. The way Barth put it was,“Theology is talking about God in the presence of God.” Well, not only that, but believing in Jesus is BELIEVING in Jesus — that is, INSIDE Jesus – believing, not pretending, you’re outside and believing as if you’re some kind of free agent: “I choose to believe this. I am in Jesus and I am believing.” He is our world. He is everything. We are nothing apart from him. What happens to him happens to us. Let us pray.
What is Happiness? - LIVING FAITH
What is Happiness?Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillYou could call this morning’s subject, “Happiness: “What is Happiness?” The title isn’t important. God did seem in the night to make a phrase real to me — though like so many other things you wonder, “What did he say to you?” But it certainly was very real when it seemed Jesus spoke of himself to me. It’s the phrase in John 15 — and it isn’t even the first part of it – he first says, “Abide in me. I am the vine and you are the branches.” He then says in 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you.” That is, “all those things that I just said have spoken to you.”But what he seemed to say to me, somewhere in the twilight hours or in the middle of the night, “That my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.” It just seemed to come so vividly to me that that’s why I’m saying it this morning because I want to share what God says and not what I say: “That my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.” It seemed obvious to me that he was seeing the joy that I have. That’s the joy that is to be in you: “My joy and then, your joy. Your own joy will be full.” And that’s the way our life will work together.I looked up the Greek word for “joy” and it’s “chara” in English. It means “cheerfulness or calm delight”. Of course, it’s not whoopity-whoop joy but it’s just a calm delight that is always with you whatever. Jesus is saying, “That is the joy that I have and that is the joy that is in you if you are in me — and you ARE in me, so that’s the joy that you will have, my joy.”I think our trouble is that we’ve been used to eating the food that the swine eat. I think we’ve been used to make-do joys so that we’re almost addicts to those joys — not only addicts but it’s a bit the same story as they found in introducing instant coffee here in America. Eventually, when somebody brewed real coffee Americans thought, “That isn’t real coffee,” because they got so used to instant coffee. It’s a bit like that.We get so used to the substitute joys that we can’t conceive of the real joy. Often the real joy doesn’t seem terribly joyful to us despite of the fact that the substitute joys that we have turn out to be very superficial, shallow and transient, too. But we kind of get used to them and we get addicted to them. So this joy that Jesus talks about at first sight seems kind of boring: “a calm delight” — that’s what it is you know. Indeed, one of the definitions is “cheerfulness”. We kind of think, “Oh, cheerful!” We used to have a program on English radio and this person used to say, “Oh, it’s being so cheerful that keeps me going,” — and of course, he wasn’t cheerful at all. So often we think of cheerfulness as kind of, “Oh yeah, keep your heart up. Be as happy as you can.”So often we think of “cheerfulness” or “calm delight” as, “Well, it’s okay you know, but it’s not nearly as wonderful as a great football match or an exciting ride on water skis or all the other wonderful things we could do here on earth.” I think that a great deal of our difficulty in finally going for Jesus’ joy is that we have so many other joys that we’ve kind of got used to – yet, we know in our hearts that they are often based on no reality. They are often based on just the fact that this experience is new to us. Paris is exciting the first time you see it, but you get used to it after a while. Many of what we call “joys” are kind of transient things that are almost more dependent on the surprise factor than on any real deep reality that is in them.We joke with each other about treats, “Oh, I’ll have a little frozen yogurt,” or “I’ll have this little experience or that little experience,” or “We’ll have our chocolate chip cookies,” orsomething that will give us a little bit of a lift. We have all kinds of little things that we kind of live off — and yet, they have shortcomings, too, because there are certain situations that occur in our lives that they don’t succeed in helping us with. There are certain dreadful experiences – well, we call them dreadful experiences — or disasters, or death of people whom we love, or difficulties with finances, or problems with our job, or all kinds of other little issues — and those joys are no use to us at that moment. They do not provide the calm delight that is able to face everything with absolute equanimity and peace.We know in our own hearts that the joys that we’ve got used to don’t actually succeed in helping us when life gets hard — but, we are used to them. I think that’s one of the reasons why we have difficulty with this joy that Jesus talks about. HIS joy is absolutely and utterly different from what we, in this fallen world, call “joy”. And what I saw was that part of our difficulty is right there. We keep thinking, “Oh well, surely the things that we think of as joy, surely there is some element of real joy in them?” Well I think there isn’t! I think probably there isn’t.The joys that we fallen people in this fallen world have got used to appreciating or have got used to living off, are utterly different from the joy that is real, and true, and lasting. That is the joy that Jesus talks about. I think that’s the first important thing to grasp, that the joy that Jesus talks about here in this verse, “That my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full,” — the first truth is the joy that he’s talking about is UTTERFLY different from the joys that we talk about. The little happiness that we have, the little satisfactions that we have with this experience of this nice meal, or this exciting ride in a glider, or these nice people that we have conversation with, or these circumstances that seem to be going well for us financially — it’s utterly different from all those things that we often call joy. We’re probably all prepared to call them “happiness”. We say, “Oh yes, happiness is satisfaction with what happens to you.” So often that is what we human beings are talking about when we talk about joy. We’re talking about “happy happiness” rather than joy. That’s the first thing I think — the joy Jesus has is utterly different from the joy that we talk about.I think that’s why the Bible so often connects HIS joy up with sorrow and sadness. I think the Bible is always – or God in his word — is always trying to point out to us: “Look you’re never going to seek true joy, the joy that is in my heart and the joy that is in my Son’s heart, and the joy that actually, because my Son is in you, I have planted deep down within you, too. You will never seek that. You will never experience it or enjoy it UNTIL you’ve put away those other joys — until you have in fact, come into mourning for sadness as the world calls happiness.”I just have a few of those verses: John 16:20, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.” And I won’t begin to interpret all the complexity or depth of that verse, but you can see that God is saying, “There has to come a time when the world rejoices and yet, YOU are not rejoicing. You’re sorrowful. Because you are sorrowful and aren’t rejoicing in the way the world rejoices, you, yourself, will eventually experience joy.”I won’t go on with that verse because it’s obviously deep, but at least God is saying, “There is going to come a time or there has to come a time in your life when what makes the world rejoice does not make you rejoice. Indeed, you actually come to the place where you SEE those things are no longer the source of joy. “Those things are no longer the things that give me joy.” Indeed, you have to come to the place where those things no longer do give you joy — where you come to the end of the happiness, or the contentment, or the satisfaction that those things bring you and you facenothingness.It’s as if God is saying, “You come to a place of reality where you see that there IS no truth in all those things.” “Yes, the chocolate chip cookie gives me a momentary satisfaction, or water skiing gives me a little bit of a thrill, or having a nice conversation with people gives me a little enjoyment” — but eventually, you come to the place where you say, “No, I’ve experienced those things before. There is a limit to how deep those can go inside me. There’s a limit to what happiness those things can bring me. No, all of that is meaningless.”People pass away. Conversations pass away. Indeed, the little bit of excitement or interest that I get from those, I can see that it’s just temporary. It’s just a little kick. It’s just a little thrill. It just passes. If you said to me, “Do you mean that we would ever come to a place where we’re kind of bored with all those things?” Irene [my wife] and I often joked about George Saunders. He was a British film star who was very smooth, a very smooth sophisticated gentlemen. He did everything just smoothly. He always had the flowers for the lady and always handed her the drinks in the right way. And of course, as I would tumble over something or be clumsy about something, or as I would go into a restaurant and either hold Irene’s chair or know what the waiter was saying to me or not, I would say, “Yeah, George Saunders all over again!” But eventually when he died, Irene quoted what they said in the newspaper — he said, “I’m so bored with life.” And of course, to us it seemed dreadful because we don’t think he said it from the point of view of belief in God at all. We thought it was a tragedy. The man had spent maybe his whole life – it’s not fair to judge him — but maybe he’d spent a lot of his life on the surface, or enjoying what the world calls “happiness”.If you say to me, “Do you mean that you have to perhaps come to a place where you get bored with it all BEFORE you’ll seek the joy that Jesus has?” I think that’s perhaps true. I think that perhaps is true. I know we all like to think we can have our cake and eat it. That you can keep your cake, keep it complete and full and yet, eat it at the same time. We know the danger of our society is to persuade each other that of course, you CAN do wrong and still live — you can have everything. But Jesus doesn’t say that. He often says, “Look, if you love father or mother more than me you are not worthy of me.” He’s always saying, “You have to choose this or that.” And the Bible itself is saying, “If Baal be god, then choose him. If God be God, then choose him.” That’s at the back of these verses in the Bible that say, “First, you have to come to the place where you mourn, or you are sorrowful, or you see that the joys that you’ve lived off so far are meaningless.” At last, you see that they’re meaningless. Lo and behold you see, “Then what is there?” There’s nothing.Until we come to that, we probably will not seek the joy that Jesus himself has. Probably the truth is we will only finally go to Jesus when we’re desperate because we see, “To whom else would we go, Lord? Thou has the words of eternal life.” Only then will we come to him with such a whole and complete heart and hunger that he will actually manifest his joy inside us.Think about it. There are many other verses, but I thought I’d just mention a few because it is so startling the way God juxtaposes joy with sadness. 2 Corinthians 7:4, “I have great confidence in you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. With all our affliction, I am overjoyed.” Again, it’s that juxtaposition of the affliction. Obviously it was the persecution and the trials that Paul was going through, and he said in the midst of all the affliction, “I am overjoyed.”We here in this room — we know ourselves well and truly — we know that is where the rubber meets the road. That is exactly where we live. We find that when affliction comes the joy goes. We’veoften said to one another, “Well, now I know God is in charge. I know he’s in control and I have faith, but it’s just, you know, it’s just …,” and we get to that, “but, it’s just…” “I mean — I was caught off guard. Things seemed so black. It seemed things were not working out,” or whatever it is. We find that the joys of the chocolate chip cookies, or the joys of the good conversation, or the joys of the friendship, or the joys that we experience on holiday — all the things that we call “joy” — they seem not to be present in the midst of affliction. We seem NOT to be able to say with all of our affliction, “I am overjoyed.” We rather say, “With all affliction, I forget all the joys that I’ve had and somehow, I do not have a calm delight in the midst of my affliction.”It seems that in some way, God is saying, “The joy that my Son has is a joy that continues in the midst of affliction.” It is something that is independent of the so-called “joys” that we are used to. Unless you put away those toys, a bit like, “When I was a child, I spoke in childish ways. But now I’m a man, [now I’m a woman] I’ve put away childish things.” (1 Col. 13:11) Or, “Unless you’ve put away those childish toys, you cannot enter into the manhood or the womanhood of my Son”. You cannot.Hebrews 10:34, “For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property.” For example, I think it was you, Sandra [ jewelry sales representative ], who had jewelry stolen. Any of us could think of moments when we’ve either lost jewelry or lost something of our own, but we’ve experienced a plundering of our property. [Do we react] joyfully? Joyfully? Oh, if we’re honest with each other, we probably would all say, “Well, I wouldn’t say ‘joyfully’. I wouldn’t say I joyfully accepted the plundering of my property. I’d say after the first shock and moment of worry and anxiety, I probably gathered myself together and thought, ‘Well, trust in the Lord and don’t despair. God knows all things and he will supply all my needs.’ I’d probably gathered myself together and philosophized a bit and got some peace about it – but joyfully accepted it?”“Joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” But you can see that in the Bible, God is always juxtaposing this joy — not with good circumstances, not with good things happening to us which is usually the way we think of joy — but he’s always juxtaposing it with things that mean the DESTRUCTION of what we call “joys”, the elimination of what we call “joys”. He’s always talking about his joy as something that blossoms in the midst of an absence of what we call “joys”.You can see that it’s really different. There is a great contrast. It’s very difficult to say, “Jesus’ joy is something that he kindly adds to our joy as kind of icing on the cake.” As if we have all this and heaven, too. We have all this fun and we get heaven as well. In no way is this what God is talking about when he talks about joy. He’s obviously talking about a deep joy that is only possible to people who have finally come to the place where they don’t regard those things as joys — where they do not get their kick from those things — where indeed, they have come to the place where they see through all those things. Not only do they see the terrible emptiness of those things in a kind of philosophical safe secure way — but they see the emptiness of them with eyes that have been drained of the happiness that comes from those things.If you like to say, “Do you mean like George Saunders on his death bed?” I think that it is that kind of thing — where you come to the place where you see, “This holds nothing for me. This is kind of boring. This isn’t happiness. Is there happiness anywhere? Is there anything lasting?” Then a voice comes, “My joy will be in you and your joy will be full.” It seems to me that’s it. I don’t think it’s any less than that.James 1:2 is a well-known verse: “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials.” Well, I don’t know how often you’ve quoted that verse. I know the hundreds of times I’ve quoted it verbally and to myself. “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials.” It just seems an absolute paradox! It just seems incomprehensible. However much you try to encourage yourself to see, “Well, that’s God’s word, you know, and we ought to believe that and that’s the way we ought to think”. It just seems so – I cannot say the word because it’s his holy word, but it seems so “stupid”. It seems that can’t be true. Count it all joy when you meet various trials? It’s a contradiction! “Trial” means “unhappiness”. “Trial” means “a lack of joy”. How can you count it as joy when you enter into various trials?But do you see that it is God saying so plainly: “That real joy that is in my Son’s heart is only possible when the trials that you are going through have separated you absolutely and utterly from any hope of happiness in this world.” For all of us in this earthly world, “trials” mean things that take away from us the normal comforts, or the normal encouragements, or the normal reassurances that we receive from the world. It usually means the failure, or the absence, or the disappearance of some of the things that we normally depend on. A financial trial is when we don’t have the money that we need. A family trial is when family suddenly seems no longer to be our stay, and our strength, and our comfort. A friendship trial is when you lose a friend. Normally what we mean by trials, we mean things that take away from us the worldly circumstances, things and people that make life bearable.God says, “Count it as joy when you come into that situation. Only then will you be in a position where you are able to hear my Son. Where you are able to hear my Son speak to you,” and where you are able to suddenly see that HIS joy is the ONLY joy in the whole universe. You can have that joy only because you are part of him — part of his heart — and want to feel what his heart feels and want to experience what he experiences. Only when you want him as badly as that will his joy begin to be manifested in you.There’s no mystery about his joy. His joy is not in ice cream. His joy is not in loyal, faithful friends. His joy is not in a comfortable living situation. His joy is not in security about his worldly future. His joy is not in this experience of thrill or excitement. HIS joy is in one place only. I would say there are almost as many verses that say this as talk about joy being juxtaposed with affliction and with trial. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” In the “Magnificat”, Mary rejoicing in God my Savior. All through the Bible, Jesus enjoys his dear Father. He is FULL of joy in his Father. He is full of joy in his Father. His joy is in his dear Father. That is the only joy that is possible and it’s as bewildering and baffling and beyond explanation as the joy that one person has in falling in love with another person.It’s the joy that friends have when they sit opposite of each other and they’re not getting anything from each other. They’re not giving each other money. They’re not giving each other ice cream. They’re not giving each other thrills and excitement. They’re just there with each other. It’s that joy that Jesus has. The whole purpose of this world was so that we would look through all these things: look behind Santa Claus’ beard, look behind his red cloak, look behind his reindeer, look behind his trees, look behind his lakes, look behind his skies, look behind the gold and silver and his money, and his rivers, and his oceans, and his waves, and see, “There he is, my dear” – and forgive me using the word – “my dear and darling Father! There he is! There is my Father.”We are part of his only begotten son Jesus. As we YEARN for Jesus and hug him to our hearts becausewe have nothing else — (and that’s the only way we’ll ever grasp him in that way — we hug him to ourselves with ALL our being) — lo and behold, his joy in his Father fills our hearts. We find ourselves enjoying the joy that Jesus has in his dear Father. That’s it. That’s it.It won’t come any other way because that joy is joy in God. You and I can’t get that joy from trying just to get through the beard, and the red cloak, and the waves, and the trees, and the mountains — we can’t get through that with our miniature minds. We can’t get through that to our Father. That’s why there is no way to come to our Father but by Jesus. There is no way through to the Father but by Jesus. We cannot get straight to him. We hug the Savior to ourselves. Hug him? We don’t need to! He is in us! He said, “Thou Father art in me and I am in them.” He said to us in John 15, “Abide in me and I in you. My Father has created you in me for good works which he has prepared beforehand that you should walk in. You are in me. You are individually members of my body. You are part of me. Remain in me. Seek me alone with all your heart and my joy will rise inside you.”I think we are made so that we have to first say, “No” to the other joys. Until we’ve really come to the end of those, I don’t really think we can hear him speaking. I think we hear the words, “My joy may be in you and your joy may be full,” and we think, “Oh goody, goody! A little of that will help, too. But we’re glad we’re pretty happy despite some of the evil things in the world. We’re reasonably happy, but that’s good — I’m glad that I’ll have a little of this, too.” So I think that the only way that we’ll be finally happy is if we come to the place where we hear Jesus himself say to us, “My joy I give you. My joy is in you and your joy now will be full.”Let us pray.
Living in the Present - LIVING FAITH
Stale MannaSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillWhy I read Exodus 16:9-36, the part on manna, was because of the experience that I told you we had just about three days ago when Irene [my wife] encouraged me to get rid of all the old sound and video equipment that we brought from Campus Church. I brought it because I thought the camera and the equipment was very expensive and cost us a lot of money. I thought, “Well, eventually, it’s still good enough to perhaps do the videos in Russia or the training videos that you have been doing for the road rep profession.” I always thought, “Oh well, we can use them for something.”Then gradually, I began to realize myself that this little Sony microphone that we have, because of it’s advanced technology, is far more efficient and precise than most of the good mics we used there. In fact, I’ve held on to some of the mics — but the little video camera we have here is probably as good in resolution as the big expensive $60,000 camera that we originally bought for Campus Church.So Irene said, “Let’s throw it away. Let’s get rid of it. Let’s not hold on to it.” It was at that moment that I realized that I still thought while we had that stuff, in a way, we were kind of carrying on some of the advantages that God had given us in Campus Church. I suppose I would have persuaded myself, “Well, we’re being faithful with money that loved ones gave to God’s work and we’re not throwing away money.” Yet, I can see that it is no longer worth that kind of money. In fact, the big camera, as elaborate as it is, requires a lot of adjustments by technicians two or three times a year to keep it working. It would actually cost us more to keep that operating than it is to run these little Sony video cams that we have.The same story is true of the sound equipment and of most of the other things. Did we have an argument over getting rid of that stuff? We certainly had — and of course, I fought every step of the way. You can see in the garage I have still retained an odd bit that probably should be given to the Vietnam vets — I shouldn’t say thrown away – but given to the Vietnam vets because maybe some of them can use it or maybe some company that is producing little league videos can use it.Well, I wasn’t happy with my own performance and wasn’t happy with Irene’s performance. I did what I try to do all the time, be honest before God. “Stale manna” came into my head very clearly – “stale manna”. You remember, the Israelites were told, “God will give you this manna. It will lay on the ground like hoarfrost, coriander seed. It will lay on the ground every morning that you are in the wilderness except on the Sabbath.” I suppose it would be their Saturday. “On the Sabbath there will be none, so gather enough on Friday” — or the day before the Sabbath. “Gather enough to do you that day and the Sabbath day and that will keep overnight. So what you gather on Friday will keep overnight for Saturday and you’ll be able to eat it on the Sabbath. But then each of the other days, just gather enough for that day, because if you try to keep it till the next day, it will grow stale, and foul, and there will be worms in it.” And that’s probably what Jesus is emphasizing when he taught us in the Lord’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” — just give us enough for today. If you gather some for tomorrow you’ll have stale manna on your hands. It will not keep.I suddenly realized that the “equipment” wasn’t the stale manna but my hoping to carryover some of the advantages, or the gifts, or the money, or the equipment that God had given us for a PAST ministry. I was hoping to carry that over into the PRESENT ministry — and for what purpose? “Oh, to aid the present ministry — to make it more possible, to save us spending money that we didn’tneed to spend.” Of course, it came right to my heart, “I will give you manna for today. I will give you the manna that you need today — and indeed, that is the only manna that you’ll be able to use and that you’ll be able to be nourished by is the manna that I give you today.”I think we have said it in past times, “Yesterday’s manna cannot be used for today.” We often say, “Yesterday’s experience of God will not do us today. Yesterday’s grace cannot be used today.” In fact, I saw that insofar as I was trying to preserve yesterday’s manna or to use it, I was in a sense taking over control of the operation myself and trying to ensure that we could do this bit — maybe without God’s provision — or maybe with what he provided years ago.That comes home to me in our own experiences. It came very plainly to me that you cannot live off yesterday’s experience of Jesus. You cannot live off yesterday’s insights. You cannot live off the experience that you had years ago. You cannot live off the light that you had years ago. You have to move on. You have to move on if you’re going to receive today’s manna. If you’re going to be alive, spiritually fresh in Jesus, then you have to receive from him what he has to give you TODAY. What he gave you yesterday was not bad. What he gave you two weeks ago was not bad. What he gave you years ago was not bad — but it was right for that time.Now just as a river is always moving on and you cannot step into the same river twice, so in our own experience with Jesus, you cannot live off what he showed you yesterday. Yesterday was baby food compared with the food that he has to give you today. Yesterday was for the little light that you had THEN. TODAY you have more light and he has more light to give you. If you live off yesterday’s light, you’ll begin to have staleness in your own life today. I saw that — probably in my own heart. It’s up to all of you what is in your hearts. I saw that the life with Jesus can get stale and dry if you’re not sinking your roots deeply into him. If you’re not sinking your roots deeply into Christ, your experience with him can get dry, run-of-the-mill, a bit of a burden — even to the point of uptightness and some frustration and great weariness and tiredness.I don’t remember the details of artesian wells. We studied it a little in geology — but I believe an artesian well is underneath the surface of the ground — that’s what comes to my mind. Jesus has promised us living water. You remember, he says, “Out of the depths shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) We know just from our experience these past two weeks that our well out there has to go down 270 feet before it hits a vein of water. Unless we sink our roots deeply into Christ himself, we will not get living water. We will end up living off the stale manna of yesterday.I began to see myself, that it is so easy to try to live by “the letter of the law” — not just in the sense of, “We ought to do this if we’re going to be Christian. We ought to believe THIS if we’re going to be Christian” — not just that. Therefore, not just a life of law and a life of doing things that you ought to do if you want to be like Christ — but also, in the early stages of life with God, you can live a little bit preoccupied with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You can be preoccupied with, “Now this is what we should do if we’re going to live consistently in Christ.” “This is what we should believe when we come into this kind of situation.” “This is the way to deal with temptation when it comes about.” “This is the way to get guidance when you need it. So when you come into this situation you ought to do THAT. When you come into this situation you ought to do THAT.”All of that is fair enough and true enough in its way. If you say to me, “Is it wrong to share that with another person?” Probably at times it might be helpful. At times it might clear up confusion. At times it might clarify things for a baby Christian, but it’s death to remain on thatlevel yourself because that level is strictly a level of knowledge of how to live close to Christ. It’s very easy to keep dealing with those “how’s” and if you then never do them or do them in a mental way. It’s a bit like me saying to Sandra, “If you want to have a good conversation with Irene, here are the things she’s interested in and you could talk this way. I should tell you she really is an enthusiastic republican in politics.” I can explain just how you do it — or I can explain to Colleen, “Now, Sandra is really interested in running, so if you want to have a good conversation with her, she’s interested in running — and remember she’s Polish – and, etc.” — then Sandra never having that conversation with Irene, or Colleen never having that conversation with Sandra.In other words, it’s possible to be very clear in your mind, “How to live the Christian life”, but actually, never to touch the Savior, himself — never to sink your roots deeply into Christ and draw up living water and eat fresh sweet and energizing manna. I saw that yes, it’s easy to live off stale manna. It’s also easy to try to live off the insights and the truths that you saw for the first time two years ago. They’re really stale manna. What I saw was it’s very easy for so many of us in Christendom to be living off stale manna throughout our whole Christian life — that is, to be always preoccupied with, “Here’s the way to deal with temptation.” “Here’s the way to get guidance from Jesus.” “Here’s the way to love people and here’s the way …”The Savior stands here and says, “Thou Father in me and I in them.” HE’s standing here saying, “Abide in me and I in you.” God is saying, “You are my workmanship created in Christ Jesus”– and all the time, we’re ignoring him, thinking only that we are ourselves and trying to work out how to do what would please him. We’re trying to work out what John Wesley did when he was used by God and trying to do the same thing – or we’re trying to work out what Frances Havergal did and trying to do the same thing. All the time Jesus is saying, “You search the scriptures, you search the books, you search your own mind — and it is those things that bear witness to me — but you will not come to ME that you may have life.”I saw again that there’s a depth that can be found only in the Savior himself. If we do not sink our roots deeply into Jesus himself increasingly as the days go by, we will find ourselves eating stale manna and it will make us sick. We will be starving. We will be dry, thirsty and hungry and life will be rather a burden. I’d just remind us again of the verses that we’ve said repeatedly (I don’t think they bore you because they’re so true): Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” John 1:3, “Everything that has been made was life in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 12:27, “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”We are part of Jesus. He is us. “It is not I that live but Christ that lives within me.” (Galatians 2:20) All we need is Jesus himself. We need Jesus himself. If you all said to me, “Do you mean we don’t need Oswald Chambers? We don’t need Watchman Nee? We don’t need Hudson Taylor? We don’t need John Wesley? We don’t need John Calvin? We don’t need the good books on spiritual life?” That’s right — those we can do without. We can do without all those if we have to. We cannot do without Jesus. He said, you remember, “Abide in me and I in you and you will bear much fruit. But without me you can do nothing.” And it came home to me again you know, that that’s his promise, “Abide in me and I in you and you will bear fruit and by that my Father will be glorified.” (John 15)It’s interesting that verse doesn’t run, “Go and preach the gospel to all nations and you’ll bear much fruit.” The verse doesn’t run, “Go and witness for me to others and you will bear much fruit.”The verse doesn’t go, “Bring many into the kingdom and you will bear much fruit.” In fact, in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” So actually, it’s only God who can draw people. Yet, we still have the idea that bearing fruit is going out and doing something to bring people to Jesus — and that will be fruit. Jesus said it very simply. It’s in John 15, and you should look at it, “Abide in me and I in you and you will bear much fruit and by that my Father will be glorified for without me you can do nothing.”Without Jesus himself we can do nothing. Maybe you should look at that — it’s John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him.” In our prayers, in our prayer life, sitting in the car — maybe it’s a little bit more difficult when we’re eating — but certainly when we’re sitting, thinking, or when we’re going to bed at night, “Savior, Lord Jesus, we need you. Lord, I need you. Lord Jesus, come. Lord Jesus, bring your heart into me now. Lord, what are you thinking in me? What are you feeling in me at this moment?” Abide in him and let him abide in us and then we will bear much fruit.Him abiding in us is what we touched before. Speaking as he speaks, talking as he talks, speaking his word AFTER him, speaking his word WITH him — it’s both a prayerful thing and it’s an active thing. It’s living in Jesus. It’s letting him live in us. It’s not abiding by his principles. It’s not trying to think — as we used to say or at least I used to say — “If you’re ever uncertain what to do just think what would the Lord Jesus do?” It’s true in a way, but too easily it gets into, “Well, the Lord Jesus would do what Wesley did.” “The Lord Jesus would do what Paul did.” The Lord Jesus is in you. He is here — you can ask him himself. You can sink your roots deeply into him and he will express his words through you.It’s what is, “Lord Jesus, this is your life — go, do, speak, act Lord. Here are my hands. Lord, do what you want with them.” It’s an active thing. Then in prayer, a quiet thing, a sinking your roots deeply into Jesus through your hungering and thirsting for him — aware that without him you can do nothing. If you say to me, “Well, what’s the heart of that — I mean, it sounds a bit mystical?” I think the heart of it is that the Father is involved all the time every day in getting us to turn from the world and to turn from each other, and to turn from every other source of strength. I think that’s what he’s about. I think that’s why we have a lot of our frustrations and a lot of our deep sadness and deep sense of futility at times. It’s the Father graciously showing us, “There is nothing there. There is nothing there. They are dear people. This is a dear organization. This is a dear operation. This is a dear world — there is much beauty in it, there is much kindness in it — but it’s dead. Without ME you can do nothing. The only thing that is good in all this that you see around you is ME. That’s what gives it life. If you ever look to the creature or the creation rather than the creator, you’ll find yourself dead, dry, starving and hungry. Sink your roots deeply into me.”I suppose one of the benefits of praying either early in the morning or late at night, or even in the middle of the night, but certainly when you’re very much alone on your own in the darkness, is that somehow God is able to show you there is only one world. There IS only one world — in here, inside — you’ll forgive me as Jesus is beyond “man” or “woman” — inside Jesus’ womb. That’s the only real world — inside Jesus. HE is the only real world. Inside him — that’s the only real world. The rest he made and it has flavors of him in it — but it’s still fallen and therefore, it’s somewhat contorted, somewhat perverted and somewhat diluted. HERE, inside him, is all I need. “In him is all I need. In him is all I need.” [ a hymn refrain]Stale manna tires you and wearies you. Eventually, life becomes utterly unbearable. God is in the business of exposing to us and giving us our fill of stale manna so that we will sink our roots deeply into Christ himself and live off HIM. You remember, he said the same thing in those verses, “Our fathers ate bread in the wilderness. They ate and died, but I am the bread of life and he that eats of me will never die.” (John 6:49) Don’t be cast down every time you discover that you’ve been eating stale manna. Rejoice in God’s goodness in showing us that — and turn to our beloved Savior who has waited so long for us to come into his arms and to embrace him every moment.
The Lie of Loneliness - LIVING FAITH
The Lie of LonelinessSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill“The Lie of Loneliness”. That might be good to use as a title, “The Lie of Loneliness”. I think many of us have had this kind of feeling, “I’m my mother’s son”, or “I’m my father’s daughter — that’s where I came from — and now they’re either dead, or they’re far away from me. Here I am, kind of on my own. I know from what I read in the Bible and what others say, that somehow, I can be part of Jesus and therefore not quite be on my own. That seems to me the ideal. So, I ought now do everything possible that I can see and that the Bible tells me and that others advise me. I ought to do everything I can to get into Jesus so that somehow, I will be part of somebody — or I will have someone who thinks about me so that I won’t feel lonely or feel that I’m on my own.”I think maybe most of us have had those thoughts or those feelings at times. We know fine well ourselves that society certainly has those feelings. Most of the people in society try to exchange a father or a mother for a friend, and then a friend for a husband or a wife. So often, it then goes on to exchange the husband or the wife for the children. But whatever they try, it always ends up rather unsatisfying because either the husband dies, or the wife dies, or the children marry and they go, or the friend ceases to be as close to you as they used to be. So, most of the people in society end up continuing to feel pretty lonely.I’m thinking even more of ourselves here. I think it’s possible to have that feeling that you are on your own and that if you can possibly get into Jesus, then you won’t any longer be on your own. What I’d like to share is that is NOT reality. That isn’t reality. I want to share that not so much from the point of view of me trying to kind of jolly you up, or make you feel better, or make myself feel better — “Oh, you’re not on your own.”We used to joke and I’ve told you about it before: there was a minister that we knew in Ireland and he had three children. Two of them were little girls and the third was a little boy. The girls were maybe eight and six years old and the little boy was three. Of course, one night he couldn’t get to sleep as he was afraid of the dark. He wanted his sister to come in with him so he wouldn’t be so scared. And of course, she would come in and she would say, “David, you’re alright. God is with you. Jesus is with you.” Then of course she would kind of throw in for good measure, “And Mary is with you, and the angels are with you. You’re alright. Jesus is here.” And of course, David lifted up the bed clothes and said, “Get out, Jesus! Get out! I don’t want you. I want so and so.”I think often we talk to each other and it seems as if we’re kind of jollying each other up: “I don’t want you to feel lonely anymore because God is really with you. You ought to remember this. We’re all with you.” That’s not what I’m trying to say. What I’m saying to myself and to you all is, from the best information in this book, it is a lie that we are on our own. I don’t want to say that it is a lie that we have been taught to believe. It is a lie that we have almost believed from the first moment we were conscious of thought — it is a lie that we are on our own. That is a lie. I’d just remind you why it is so plainly a lie. It is because you are “God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus. “ (Ephesians 2:10)If you’re uncertain about that or you say, “Oh I know you’ve said that before,” or, “You’ve quoted that before” — I’d point out to you all the other verses that say not only, “You are the body of Christ”, but “You are Christ here on earth and you’re individually members of him.” In other words, you’re not just generally the body of Christ with all the others that are the body of Christ, butyou, yourself, are an individual part of Jesus. I’d just remind you again what is said in the verse we read in Colossians, “Everything holds together in him. He was the very first-born of all creation.”Then there is another piece that says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3) The correct Greek translation is, “Everything that is was life in him.” In other words, each of us here was made in Jesus and are a part of Jesus from before the foundation of the world — from the very beginning. There are so many verses. Just as you think some of that over a little, look at that piece in Ephesians 1:4, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ.”Remember how I tried to put it in as simple terms as I could think, not just for your benefit but for my own, because I want to try and understand this clearly. You remember that I said that it seems from what you read in the Bible — I know this sounds incredible — that God at the same moment begot his son (and we talk about Jesus as his only begotten son). The best that the theologians have come up with in past centuries is that Jesus is eternally begotten of the Father. They put it that way because they say the Father is obviously the FIRST one. The Father is the beginning of everything. That’s part of why he is called the Father and presumably, part of why he is called the Creator and God, though in some sense, he is obviously preeminent.Yet we cannot tell from our little finite temporal position, “Oh yes, but in this moment in eternity God begot his son.” We cannot do that because you can’t be talking about time and eternity that are contradictory things. You’re kind of saying there’s eternity — which is at least timelessness, though it seems more than that — and then at some point in eternity, God begot his son. So the theologians say, “Well you can’t say that. So all we can say is Jesus is eternally begotten by the Father. That is, at some place somewhere in eternity, which you and I cannot understand, God begot his only son Jesus.”But here’s the truth from the Bible: that at that moment, he knew that his son, Jesus, would not only be his only begotten son and be divine like him and have the powers of knowing the future and the past as he did — (I know it sounds so wild and I’ve mentioned it before, but even as I say it, it stills seems wild to me — wild, I mean, in a sense of unbelievable) — but at that moment, God knew that his son also had to be a man. He also had to be a human being.In a way, you can think of that because you know fine well God conceives of everything in a second. God doesn’t conceive of, “Oh, first I’ll make a world. Now, I’ll have to make people to put in it,” and, “Oh, now they’re going to maybe sin and so, I have to provide some way … what will I do? Yes, my son — here he is — I’ll send him.” Obviously God doesn’t think like that. God conceives of everything in a second. The same second or millisecond as God conceived of having his only begotten son — that same millisecond — he conceived of having others in his son who would be like himself. That same second he conceived that those people would have to have the same free will that he had and those people could reject and could destroy everything. They’d have to be remade and given another chance where they could see, “Oh we can go this way or we can go that way.” At the same moment, he conceived that the only way for that to happen would be for his son to have them all inside himself — for his son, in other words, to be the great human being and all of them as part of him. So in a deep way, away in the depths of eternity, God conceived of you and me as being part of his dear son. That’s why the Bible (Ephesians 1:4-5) says, “He destined us from before the foundation of the world to be his sons through Jesus Christ.” ( I mean his sons and daughters —the Bible just used “sons” to mean children.)From the very beginning, you and I were made by God, in his son, Jesus, to be part of himself. You can see what a lie it is that we have grown up with. I don’t know about you, but I did not think of myself that way. I did not think of myself as God’s child from before the foundation of the world. I thought of myself as, a little skitter-scatter part that was produced by an Irishman and woman in Belfast: “Here I am, a little bit of flotsam or jetsam, a little bit of wood floating on the ocean of life and the world — and oh, there’s a rock there called Jesus. If I can scramble on to that somehow, then at least I’ll be kind of a part of that rock.” But even then I tended to think, “Well, I’ll be kind of a part of him. I kind of will be adopted by his Father as a kind of second class citizen.” It’s a wonderful surprise for me to see that, no way was that the way it was — no way that all that is a ridiculous lie that the majority of the world has chosen to believe because they want to be independent. There is no independence.There is no independence. There are no people outside Christ. There are people who think they’re outside Christ. There are people who think they’re independent. Part of the loneliness and desolation that comes upon them when they think that way is because there is no such thing as independence. There is no such thing as independent life outside Christ.That independent life has been destroyed in Jesus from before the foundation of the world. The only real existence is in Christ, inside Christ. There are people who accept that, believe it, and live in it. There are others who still pretend that they aren’t in Christ and that they have an existence of their own and a right to live their own life, independent of whatever “being” or “force” produced them. That’s why they feel such loneliness because that doesn’t exist. That’s why they feel such darkness at times or such despair. It’s a reflection of the nothingness in which they think they can live.What has come home to me is, “I’m not on my own. I am not on my own. I am not a little bit of humanity that is trying to link up somehow with the great eternal Being behind the universe. I am not a little piece of nothing that has nobody who really feels close to me. I am part of Jesus. I was made part of Jesus from the very beginning. I was created by God. I am “his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he’s prepared beforehand that I should walk in.” That’s who I am. I am the body of Christ. I am individually a member of Christ — that is, I am a part of Christ. I am a little nail on his little finger, or I am a little piece of skin in the palm of his hand, or I am a little cell inside him — not just a nothing but a living person because he’s a living person. I am a part of him, part of him, himself.”I can see it just changes the whole way you think of yourself. You no longer think of yourself as “poor me”. I can see that in myself. I no longer think of myself as “poor me” that maybe has this disadvantage compared to other people or this advantage compared with other people. I’m no longer “poor me” who the last time I was close to anybody was at two-and-a-half years old when my mother cuddled me to her breast. I’m no longer “poor me” who is not close to anybody. My Lord, my Lord Jesus feels for part of his arm and I’m part of what he feels. I’m part of what he feels. He feels me. He feels me as part of him. He thinks of me as part of him. I belong to him and he belongs to me.I think that that is reality. I can see such a difference in waking in the morning. I can see such a difference between, “Oh, here I am. The day’s ahead and I’ve this to do and that to do. I have this thing to face and that thing to face and this problem to solve. Yet Lord, you said, ‘Thou I’mwith you always’. Lord I know you’re with me and that’s a great help and encouragement. I must try to remember that more.” I can see the unreality of all that and the weakness of it and the diluted lukewarmness of it compared with reality: My eyes waken, “Savior, isn’t this a day! Lord, what are your thoughts? What do you want to do? What have we to do? What do you want to do? The good works that you’ve prepared beforehand that I’ve to walk in — Lord Jesus, let’s go!”Somehow, immediately the Savior’s heart rises within you and begins to lift you up with his attitude to his Father. Suddenly, you’re in a big world. Suddenly, you feel a big world developing inside you and opening out. Suddenly, it’s no longer this pokey little creature that is on its own trying to grab at Jesus to kind of get some feeling that somebody’s with me. Suddenly, the center of your heart is not about you at all. It’s about him and with him. It’s about all of the world and all of the Father and all of heaven. Somehow everything floods into your heart and life lifts and is bright. There’s a total difference.I can see that loneliness is a lie. It is a lie. The despair, the fear and the anxiety of loneliness is there because loneliness is a lie. There is no such thing as loneliness. There is no life outside Jesus. The Bible says, “Because he lives, I live also.” And if Jesus doesn’t live, I don’t live. Even those who feel lonely feel lonely because they believe that they’re on their own. They’re NOT on their own. The Lord Jesus, of whom they are a part, still feels they are part of him. Part of the strain that they feel comes from the fact that they are at loggerheads with reality. They are in controversy with God, with Jesus himself. That’s part of the strain and stress that they feel.This morning at breakfast, we were talking about the Italian idea of family (“famiglia”), or the Polish idea of famiglia or family, or the Irish idea of famiglia or family. We all have our versions of it and I can see that it’s a bitter sweet concept. “Blood family” is only God’s way of getting us born into the earth. “Blood family” is only a poor shadow of reality. Reality is that “in heaven there is no marriage or giving in marriage. Who are my brothers and sisters? Those who do the will of my Father. Who is my Father? Did you not know I would be about my Father’s business.” ‘But your father’s a carpenter.’ “No. My Father is the Creator of the universe.” That is our Father. That is our Father. Our dads were dear or are dear but they are only a shadow of reality. They themselves are sons. They themselves are sons. They themselves are part of Jesus and that is the reality.In other words, when Jesus was born of his Father we came into existence. You’re right — we only appeared in time here in the earth in whatever year you were born or I was born. But the fact is that when Jesus came into existence, he came into existence as the Son of God and also as the “first-born” of all creation. As the “first” — and indeed the only human being — and all of us are part of him. So you can see why loneliness is such a lie.Please, I’m not saying it to help you or to help me with my psychological life. I’m not saying it because I think, “Oh, don’t we all feel lonely at times?” I’m saying strongly that that is an utter and absolute lie. We are being downright unbelievers and we are living an unreality. I’m not saying, “Now listen. Let’s all have a little more faith or let’s zippity do-da, zippity yea. Let’s sing a little song and make ourselves feel happier.” Or, “Here’s a thought that will help you in your times of loneliness.” I say to myself and to you, we are downright living in unreality when we feel lonely at all because that’s the LAST thing we are. We are part of Jesus. We are a part of God’s only begotten son. He thinks of us that way. Jesus thinks of us that way. That is reality and we are close to the heart of the whole of reality because we are in the Son who is the apple ofour Father’s eye. That dear Savior loves us more tenderly and more personally than any of our earthly parents or our earthly relatives – more than our earthly friends can ever love us. Each morning when the sun comes up he is here ready to live his life here in this body using these arms, these hands, using these eyes and these ears — he wants me to enjoy the ride. That’s what my life is today.I think you need to think it through for yourself. I’d remind you of Colossians 1:15, “He is the first-born of all creation.” I’d remind you of the verses in Ephesians 1 where “we are destined through Christ to be God’s sons from before the foundation of the world.” I’d remind you of John 1:3, “All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.” I’d remind you of 1 Corinthians 12:27, “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” And dozens more verses that make it clear — John 15, “Abide in me and I in you. A branch cannot bear fruit neither can you unless you abide in me. Without me you can do nothing.”All of these verses make it absolutely clear that reality is that when Jesus was born the only begotten of his Father, he was born also as the great human being. We all were created inside him so that he is, in a sense, our eternal Father and we belong to him. We are not on our own — in no way. If you say to me, “Well, how do you deal with loneliness?” It seems to me there’s only one way and that is to reject it outright as a downright lie, as unreality — and not yield to any self pity or to any of the tricks that Satan plays to get you to think that the way you’ve been thinking all your life is really right — and you are on your own. I think there’s only one attitude to take, that this is downright sin — but not just sin that I ought to pull myself up by the bootstraps and avoid — but this is unreality! This is not reality. This is not reality. “Lord, Savior, this is your life — let’s go.”
Prayer – A Love Affair - LIVING FAITH
Praying God’s WayMatthew 6:1-2Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillCould you please take your Bibles and turn to Matthew 6:1-2, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”So those two verses are important for us here at prayer times and, “In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” So just look at that last verse which I agree brings problems to all of us, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” But I think we should take those words honestly and simply.I’ve always felt there’s something not quite right, really still I’m not sure what it is but there’s something not quite right in Saturday after Saturday saying, “Lord, help Dan to know that you are with him and help him to remember that you are there and you are enabling him to see what he needs to see in all the workers heart.” You know how that would go on, I don’t need to elaborate. But I’ve always felt – I know what we mean and I know what I mean but I’ve always felt there’s something not quite right about it.And I’m sure it has echoed in the back of my mind what I learned at Sunday school that your Father knows what you need before you ask him. And I’ve thought you know it’s a bit like dinging into his head. Here Jesus says clearly, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” and yet you kind of think, “Well yeah, but I’m not going to have anything to say then. I mean, it’s going to be very quite prayer time if I just accept that.” And yet I’ve still felt there’s something not right, there’s something not intelligent about it, there’s something just not right.Please, I’m not absolutely clear of the answer myself but I have felt often when I would pray that way or when you would pray that way that there is something we’re not really dealing with what God says there you know. Jesus says, “Look your Father knows what you have before you ask him,” and so you ask him and we ask him. And then I’ve felt we compounded the problem because it says in the previous verse, “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” And then I think we’re often saying the same words over, and over, and over again, you know. And Saturday after Sunday, indeed you might say day, after day, after day we’re saying the same words over again.And sometimes you even think yourself, “Well, I ought to say them because kind of if I say them Godwill know that I’m concerned.” And so we hesitate to say, “We will add to the worth of our prayers.” We hesitate to say, “We will pile up our petitions before God so that he can’t ignore them.” But there’s a little of that in our minds. We think, “Well yes, but if I keep on asking he’s bound to realize how serious I am,” as if you know he could realize before we asked. And so we keep on maybe Saturday after Saturday, Sunday after Sunday, Tuesday after Tuesday, Friday after Friday, saying the same things.And of course I think you know yourselves where it becomes ridiculous is where you find yourself or you suddenly are conscious of somebody else giving God details about what he should do, you know, as if he might not know and you wanted to outline the thing completely before him. All of that I think bring some question into your mind if you’re at all reflective and if you try to take scripture seriously, you feel there must be something better than this. And yet, we carry on doing it and we continue to encourage each other because we’re not quite clear why or what else you should do.I would just remind you of the reality that we shared last Saturday, it’s the reality in Psalms 139:16, though as you know from the verses we just erased on the white board it occurs in all those other places that you probably took down or know about. Psalms 139:16, “Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” So, “Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” So every day that we have had and every day that lies before us, God has already formed it for us. So it’s all settled out.Yes, it is true that we have a free will but somehow you know he has that lined up. Yes, we turn that way, that way, that way, but we never go outside that you know. Somehow in his miraculous way he’s arranged our free wills, we may vary but inside this there is the counsel of God’s will and he works everything according to that counsel. [Ephesians 1:11] He does it so that our life is planned for us and that means he has foreseen all the difficulties that we face, all the problems that we face, and he has solved them.There is a resting in that contentment that is the heart of true prayer. There’s a resting, there is a deep resting in that contentment that enables God to beget true prayer within us. Now, I think I speak better than I know there because I can’t explain that completely but there is a deep resting in that truth that God has planned our life and he has dealt with it all in Jesus, and he has reconciled it all to himself, and it is a known way. There is a deep resting in the contentment of that that enables true prayer to come from us.In other words, true prayer comes from absolute confidence that God has everything answered and dealt with in Jesus and that in a sense nothing more needs to be done. And from that there issues true prayer. And true prayer starts with one person, that person you’ll find clearly indicated in Romans 8:34. “Who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?” True prayer begins with our Savior who is at the right hand of God interceding for us.And that’s really the only prayer that is real and that has any meaning in it, the prayer that Jesus is praying now at the right hand of his Father. The only prayer that is worthwhile in us is the prayer that he prays within us. We abide in him and he abides in us and in us he wants to pray the prayer that he prays at his Father’s right hand. In other words, prayer is really, so that you remember it vividly, prayer is really Joe with his cool sunglasses on and standing on the ironingboard. Do you remember that? Catching the wave, the surfer catching the wave — we catch the wave. We catch the wave — the heartbeat of Christ. We drop a stone into the pond there in the middle and then the ripples ripple out and we out here catch a ripple, and somebody else catches a ripple. That’s what prayer is.So prayer comes from a great contentment, a life that is content and at rest. It cannot come from a life that is discontented, or is worried, or is anxious. It cannot come from a heart that is trying to do great things for the Lord, and Lord help me to do great things for you. It cannot come from that. The heart of the eternal is wonderfully kind and the heart of the eternal is utterly at peace. The heart of Christ is utterly at peace because all has been done, the battle is over, the victory has been won, all the lives have been reconciled, all the complex circumstances at Bosnia and Herzegovina, all the complex circumstances of our own lives have been reconciled in Jesus and brought together and culminated in him and he is now at the right hand of his Father and he intercedes there for us in the only way that is right and proper and real. And we catch the wave of that prayer.And that’s the all important thing. In other words, the important thing to the Father is that you know his heart, that you know his heart and understand his heart, and feel with him, feel with him. So arrangements have been made for Christmas day, or for the play that we’re going to see, or the outing we’re going to have and then if you keep asking me, “What’s going to happen Pastor? What are we going to do? What are we going to do? What are we going to do? Could we do this or could we do that?” I know you know nothing about my love for you, you know nothing about what I’ve arranged, you know – don’t you know that all that is settled?So it’s only insult to God to keep on, “Well, could you do this? Could you do that? Could you do this?” He says, “My children, it’s all done. It’s all done. I want you to rejoice in that. I want you to enjoy the wonder, and the peace of that that is not only in my heart but that was done so that it would be in your heart. I want you to enjoy that. I want you to enjoy that.” So there is a place sometimes the Savior will prompt us to thank God for something that he has done but it’s not that game we used to play with the man’s doctrine of praise, you mean power through praise. You know, where we thought, “Oh if we thank God that he has done it then that’s a real prayer then he’ll answer that prayer.” It’s dreadful. It’s dreadful.It’s manipulation of the most wretched insulting kind to the Supreme Being of the whole universe. It’s not that kind of thing. It is a joy, a contentment that wells up within you that is just enjoyment. And yet it is not just choosing whatever you want to thank God for, it is the Savior that brings that within you. Now, I venture to say if you’re not content enough or at peace enough with him for him to beget in you a true prayer from his own heart, I venture to say we’re heaping up phrases and we’re just filling – in fact, often – sometimes it can be worse than filling the air with noise. We can often by our noise be distracting others from something they actually might be getting from Jesus’ heart.Now I understand absolutely with you that whether it’s the things, some of which are true I’m sure and some of which are untrue, whether it’s the things that are reported in the Renewal Magazine about people roaring and crying and rolling on the floor, and I’m sure some of that may be right, but whether it’s that or whether it’s us with our ideas of what a good prayer meeting is, or what a lively prayer meeting is you can see all those things have nothing to do with prayer. Nothing at all, they’re just noise; they’re just filling the air with wind.Prayer only comes from one heart and that’s from Christ. And Christ’s heart prays to his Father in the light of the fact that all has already been done and all is accomplished. So if you say to me, “Then probably a lot of prayer would be kind of really praise, or thanks, or just rest?” Yeah, I would suspect it is. I’m hesitant to say because the last thing we want is to set up a set of laws where we kind of tick off okay Thomas’ prayer was okay, that had the right words in there. Marty said, “Help Dan to do something,” so that’s wrong.Well then that’s a killer, you know, then we all clam up and get paralyzed with fear and self conscious and preoccupation with ourselves rather than with God which is the whole point of coming together. But as far as I can see, prayer is something that comes from the Savior’s own heart to our heart. It first exists within our heart and then we express it. But, it comes from within it has nothing to do with what Christians ought to do or how we ought to pray, or what this prayer meeting needs to really liven it up. It has nothing to do with all that stuff. All that is just idle worship and is just waste of time and worse than that is a dreadful insult to our Father.So if you say to me, “What do you think the heart of prayer is?” I suspect the heart of the prayer is our Father’s heart. I suspect that the heart of prayer, the heart of prayer is a delight that comes to him as we come into this parallax, we call it in a camera, you know where if you have one of those things on your camera where it tells you whether you’re exactly in focus, the parallax the two images come together, I suspect that is what it’s like. That prayer is really two hearts coming together, your heart and God’s heart and it’s there that the peace, and joy, and harmony that he longs for is felt and that prayer is mostly that. Prayer is mostly a love affair. It’s mostly a love conversation with our dear Father through Jesus. I would rather say it’s Jesus in a love conversation with his Father in our name. That’s what it is. It’s Jesus loving his Father in our name and that’s the heart of it.Now I am sure there are more and more and greater and greater depths to it, but I think there’s enough there to rescue us from just light verbal prayers that obviously are telling God things he doesn’t need to know. And then you may sit here you know, particularly if we just begin to move in this direction, at the beginning you may sit there and think, “Well, I haven’t a thing to say.” Maybe you shouldn’t have a thing to say. Maybe it’s right, maybe we’re too self righteous to say, “Well, I know I’m a good prayer and now this makes it impossible for me to.” Well, maybe you’re not a good prayer. Maybe it’s time to be still and know that I am God.I agree with you, there’s a silence of death and there’s a silence of worship. You can’t do much can you? I mean, you can’t sit there and decide this is the sounds of death so we whoop it up with a song, or this is sounds of death so I better pray, or why aren’t some of the others praying. I mean, if it’s the sounds of death it’s the sounds of death. Let’s accept it, let’s face it and let’s start there. Presumably God can show us how to get up from the grave eventually.But I do think there’s no sense in bringing superficial band-aids to the situation. If there is a great gaping wound there is only one who can heal it and that is Jesus himself. It does seem to me that we should think about those things. I’m not asking you to accept it all, I’m asking you to think about it, to consider these things, and to consider it in the light of scripture and most of all I think to see our lives are already solved and reconciled by God. That all is done. That’s all done.And it’s from your faith and confidence in that that prayer issues. Prayer cannot issue from a heart that has not really come into rest about itself. Prayer, true prayer, comes from a contentedheart that is at peace. So probably one of the early things is to settle, “Lord, you mean you really have solved all the things in my life and it is all really settled, and all this has been reconciled and worked according to the counsel of your will? And I’m on track and you have me right in your sights and you have me ready to come through the gates into your home? Is that reality, Lord?” And then when you rest in that then out of that the Savior who is within those gates is able to pray through us. Let us pray.
Christ Living in You - LIVING FAITH
Christ Living in YouSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillMany of us have got used not only to this abbreviation. It is really what we were taught in seminary but many of us have not only got used to it. We have made it a kind of metaphor for our own Christian life, “Christ in you.” And I think up till recently probably, most of us have not seen any difference between thinking of it metaphorically and thinking of it actually. In other words, if I had said to you, “Christ is in you and you are in Christ.” You would have said, “Yes, that is the basis of all Christian faith. We know that.”But it seems to me we’re not beginning to see that this is true in actual fact. That in fact, these verses state very clearly that we were created in Christ Jesus. And this verse states very clearly that we are actually Christ’s body. You, yourself, are here so that Christ himself could live a life in you that he will not live in anybody else and that you were thought of by your Father before the foundation of the world because he had a certain glory of his only begotten Son that could be expressed only in you. And that’s why you exist.So, I think we’re all beginning to sense that there is a difference between thinking it metaphorically, “Oh yes, we’re in Christ,” that is, we think about the things that Christ thinks about and we look at politics, and we look at finances, and look at business in terms of Christ’s philosophy and therefore we’re generally in Christ. That’s the metaphorical way of looking at it. But I think many of us are beginning to grasp, no, this is not a metaphor. This is not just a nice thought but in fact Christ is in me. In fact when Paul said, “I live, not I but Christ lives in me.” He was not simply making a dramatic point but he was stating very clearly this is not my life. I have been bought with a price. This is not my life to live the way I want to. In fact, I have died and my life is hid with Christ with God [Galatians 2:20] and now Christ in his Spirit is living a life that he had planned to live years ago. He’s living it in me.And you remember, I tried to use the term that we so often use, we say that we do this in Christ’s name rather it is Christ is living in our name. Christ living in the name of Irene O’Neill. Christ living in the name of Ada Luo. Christ living in the name of Thomas. Christ living in the name of Joe. That is it. It is Jesus himself living in us.Old Barth puts it this way, he is of course what we call a reformed theologian or is certainly thought of as that. As I would often deal with Wesley, of course, he would often deal with Luther. So he quotes Luther in this little book. It is not the greatest, I think. It’s alright but I think really his, I know you won’t like it, but Barth’s 12 treatises in volumes, I think are better if you can struggle through them. But he says, “For a Christian life,” this is Luther, “For a Christian life exists wholly in practicing and experiencing the things that one hears and reads from God’s word daily.” And so that kind of makes you feel good because you feel, “Oh yes, so we read the word. We study the Bible, and we study its principles, and we study the things its saying and then we live by those.”Except it goes on, “Therefore if thou does so seek to know properly and hit upon and give the definition of what a Christian may be or whence a man may be called a Christian, then there must not tramp across to Moses’ law, papal rule, or to any man whatever, not even to the holiest saints, life and sanctity.” It’s quite interesting, he says, “No wait a minute, when I say you’ve to live daily by God’s word, I don’t mean you’ve to study Moses’ life or study Moses’ law, or even so much juststudy Christ’s life or study Paul’s life. And you’ve certainly not to study the rules of the Benedictine order,” who I’d like to mention this evening. “And you’ve not to study the life of Hudson Taylor, or the life of John Wesley, or the life of Martin Luther, or George Mueller, this is not how to live the Christian life.”“Or to any man whatever, nor even to the holiest saint’s life and sanctity but only to Christ’s word when he says, ‘My sheep hear my voice.’ In short, nothing that can happen in and by us makes a Christian, only this does it, that this man is known. That one holds by him and turns to him for what one wants to have of Christ. That he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep and knows them. Therefore I say on no other way does a man become a Christian except he hears this voice alone.”In other words, you don’t live like Christ by studying the Bible. He himself said that, “Search the scriptures; it is they that bear witness to me. If you think you’ll find an eternal life but you will not come to me for it. You will not live the Christian life by studying the Bible, or by studying the lives of the saints, protestant or catholic saints, or by thinking through the principles of Christ. You will only live a Christian life if daily you hear the voice of Jesus within you. If daily you hear the voice of Jesus. If daily you wait upon him until his Spirit becomes clear to you. If daily you quiet your heart, and your mind, and your emotions, and your spirit, and your body and you wait long enough not for the time that you have set apart for him, the quiet time, but if you go before him early enough or late enough, whichever is your time, and you wait upon him to catch his voice in you.He actually quotes Arius who said, “Who us fits to God,” who adjusts us to God. The Holy Spirit adjusts us to God. If you would wait upon the voice of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, he will adjust you to God daily. Daily and that is the only way to live a Christian life. You have to throw away that phrase. That is the only way for Christ to live each day in you. In other words, Christ lives when your tongue speaks what he speaks. Christ lives in you when your hands do what his hands are doing. That can only come if daily you are touching him. If daily your spirit is being adjusted to his Spirit. And that is the Christian life.Now you can see the life that we are living now. It’s a coarse approximation to that. It is coarse. It is a joke because so often we study the Bible to get some good thoughts, get some good insights. “Oh, I never saw that before.” But so often it is something that we take upon ourselves, we are the masters of it. “Ah, I’ve seen that. Now, I have to apply that here, and here, and here in my life.” And that may produce a virtuous life, and may produce a religious life, and may produce an ethical life. But it will not produce a fragrance that Christ himself produces in you as his Spirit pervades your spirit as you catch the fragrance and the sweetness of his own heart. And that only comes, and you know it’s – well, it’s good authority, the best authority is scripture but it’s good authority for saying it, but the only way the Christian life can be lived is if we are daily touching Christ’s own heart and spirit. Then, somebody then knocks at your door at 5:30 or 4:30, or 3:30, or whatever time you get up and calls, “Joe, are you ready?” And then instead of oh going out of the door, out of your ears, and out of your head, and thinking, “Oh, that’s Trish,” or, “That’s Marty. Oh, okay I’m coming.” Instead of that, Christ can respond and you experience that and you feel his peace, and you feel it is him responding and you feel his heart.Then as the day goes on it becomes so much a part of you that you’re not thinking, “Oh this is Christ.” It’s you yourself have been taken over by him and it’s his voice, and it’s his fragrance, and it’s his Spirit that speaks forth from you as the day goes on. And of course, the importantthing we all know is when the day gets hectic and paperwork is flying in all directions at the office, it’s him, it’s him and his Spirit that prevails miraculously. And if there’s a second when, you remember, Greg used to produce the theology of “losing it,” whether you lose it three ways and when you begin to lose it, it’s recollection, a moment of recollection, “Savior, you alone matter.”I’ll go to the bathroom or wherever so the crew will not just think I am sleeping, but I go somewhere and I come back and I retain the fragrance that Jesus gave me in the morning. But that’s the life of Christ. It’s the touch of his Spirit, it’s waiting upon him. Please, I understand many of us have got so coarse in our spirits that we hear this, but you’re like the man that Jesus touches. You say, “Yes, pastor I see men but as trees walking. I can kind of hear what you’re saying and I can kind of catch at it but I can barely catch at it.” I don’t blame you because our spirits have got so coarse and we are so utterly convinced.But the Christian life is something that we live with a little help from our friend, Jesus. We live with a little help from the Spirit. But it is us that does it, and for many of us it’s just an elevated kind of ethical life. So, I understand that our spirits have gotten very coarse and very strong so that we can hardly distinguish between our soul and our spirit and we can hardly determine when we’re running the thing for Christ and for God’s glory and when it is Jesus. So, I know that but the Holy Spirit, if you begin to yearn for this, will fill you as Jesus said, “That you are blessed if you hunger and thirst after this for you will be filled.” [Matthew 5:6]This is the Christian life and the purpose of our businesses is not simply to give honest value for money in the food we cook in the restaurant, in the oranges and apples that we sell. It is not even to be kindly to people, or to be mannerly. It is not even to be people who simply don’t swear at each other, or don’t lose their temper, or seem even to love each other. It is not that. The purpose of the business is nothing short of this — that Christ himself would serve each person who comes into the café. Not in the sense that you would do it in Christ’s name. Not in the sense that you would do it as patiently as Christ would do it. Not in the sense that you would do it as lovingly as Christ would. Not in the sense that you are doing it for Christ’s glory and not for money. Not that at all, but Christ himself, his own Spirit would serve people so that they would go out of the door and would have touched something that they can’t even define themselves because it is a spiritual thing that is perceived spiritually.It is probably true that just as the only authentic part of a painting is that which cannot be expressed in words. Also, the only authentic part of a sculpture is that which cannot be expressed in any other art form, and the only authentic part of a piece of music is that that cannot be expressed by any other means. It is probably true that the touch of Christ and his life can probably not be expressed in words. And he’s probably the reason why often you might feel, even about a preacher, and we would certainly feel it about each other in conversation. Stop. Stop, you’re not speaking of anything real. You’re losing it. You’re just filling the air with words. This is not true spirit. Just let’s be quiet.So, in our businesses the purpose for them is that what you would say is true that the man or the woman would fade and Christ himself would step forth and touch the person. That will not come about by a simple discipleship approach to Bible study, or a simple picking out of principles from God’s word. Or even from the life of George Mueller. All that itself is a dead Colleen. Only Christ himself, his own Spirit can bring life. Only if you and I touch Christ daily will Christ himself speak with our tongues and act with our hands and that is the Christ life.I have used the term to you that Martin Luther said, “The aim is to have new Christs.” I thought, “That’s a good way to put it.” Old Barth of course is always splitting hairs until you see the hair is trimmed and smoothed after he’s finished with it. And he says, “No, there’s only one Christ, there cannot be many Christs. There is only one Christ.” But that Christ is going to live a unique life in you. So, there are many expressions of Christ but it is Christ himself in you, it is not you as another version of Christ. It is not you as another picture of Christ. You are not just an “It”. That’s the incredible thing. You are not actually just a channel in a sense, you are Christ himself in a way that no one else is.Of course, it can only be that as you hang on him daily. I don’t need to elaborate why it’s necessary to hang on him daily, because the pressure of the outside world is so strong that we are always slipping into the half life that is lived here on earth. So you cannot afford to go a day without waiting upon him. I know we’ve all had our struggles with quiet times. Please, it is not something that we have to do to be in Christian Corps. It is not something you have to do if you are a Christian — it is not something you have to do if you want to be in good spiritual health. It is not something you have to do if you want to get to heaven. Quiet time is quiet, a time of quietness when you can wait on Jesus’ Spirit himself and let him fill you and fill your personality with himself. And as much as we say, Mary, Jesus’ mother, was there at some moment and at some moment the Holy Spirit came in.But who can tell when that moment is. Who can tell when the Holy Spirit came in and began to create something inside you? No one can tell. No one has ever attempted to tell when that occurred. So it is with Jesus, himself, in our quiet times. All we can do is wait upon him and be aware that this is what we were made for and this is the only thing that we need. Then as we hunger and wait upon him, then we know he comes in.I believe at several elders meetings and I think we knew, I mean, one time it was after three hours, but I think we knew when Jesus comes and when we cease from our own works and we cease from our own thinking and our own strife and the quiet Savior comes. And it’s in that, that God has given us the privilege of living and that’s what the Christian life is. That’s what we have been giving this year for, so that Christ Luo, Christ Overby, Christ Poehler, could live so that Jesus himself would live in places we find ourselves through the days of this year.I would just say that cannot be unless we ourselves refuse to begin our daily lives unless he is here, unless he’s here. And I would say every day we go forth without him is a day that may as well not have been. Because it’s him and his Spirit that lives the life of God here on earth and gives us a sense of fulfillment in our own lives. So I’d ask you to deal with him this day and especially to look out on this year and decide is it going to be “you” again? Is it going to be you again fitting him in where you can? Or, regarding your main job as doing what you are supposed to do here in Christian Corps. Or, is it going to be you saying, “Savior, not a step today without you — not a step. Lord, if I have to wait here all day, not a step until you are here and until I have stopped myself and you have begun to live.”Let us pray.
Fatherhood of Jesus - LIVING FAITH
Jesus is our Real FatherColossians 1:15-29Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillPlease turn to Colossians 1:15-29, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ. For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me.” May God help us to understand these words.I’d like to share about the consequences that I can see of the things that we’ve shared over the past few weeks and the first is this – I’m sure none of us have any trouble thinking of our dads or our mums and immediately their dear faces spring to our eyes, and we know exactly and I can smell my dad’s tobacco and so we all have no trouble thinking immediately of our dads and our mums. And that governs a great deal of our living even after we’ve married and we’ve our own children and all that kind of thing. Still, that governs a lot of our lives and what I can see is that that’s not reality. That isn’t reality.So I’d just point you to some of the verses that we’ve already dealt with in the past but Ephesians 2:10 is an obvious one. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship,” that’s God’s, “Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” That’s the reality. We were not first created in our mum’s womb, but we were created first in Christ Jesus. And please, I’m with everybody here that things, “But that’s metaphor, metaphor, metaphor, that’s just a metaphor.” Well, you know, as we’ve studied it, it isn’t just a metaphor.Right throughout the Bible you read, “All things were created by him and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men.” [John 1:4] So repeatedly in the Bible we see that it is true, everything was created in Jesus, not least of all us, ourselves. It’s very easy for us to take the attitude, “Oh yes, you mean the first little amoeba on the first little pond was created in Jesus, and of course, we eventually came from that somehow.” Well no, according to what God has told us, it’s a much more personal thing than that.And it’s back in Psalms 139 which we looked maybe about a month ago almost most. Psalms 139:13-16, “For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was no hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret.” You know which is obviously different from my mother’s womb. “My frame was no hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance.” Not talking about embryo or anything but an unformed substance, “Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”And you can see the whole thrust of that is that God saw each one of us long before we appeared in our mother’s womb and long before we appeared on this earth. God saw us and saw us made and it should be no surprise to us with the computers and our own ability to foresee things that he foresaw what was likely to happen. It’s quite interesting I found a bit in one of the old church fathers that Barth quotes. It is Athanasius, whom some of us know him from church history studies, and he says, and puts it really as some of these old guys do very simply, later on I’ll read his complex abstract statement first, “The God of all things who created us by his word knew what should befall us better than we ourselves. And he foreknew that after our first righteousness which should transgress his commandment and that because of our disobedience we should be expelled from paradise for that reason in his loving kindness and goodness he prepared beforehand in his word by which he created us, a provision for our salvation. He did this so that even if we fell deceived by the serpent, we should not finally be destroyed but possessing the redemption and salvation prepared beforehand to the word should rise again and live forever.” [The Incarnation of the Word, Athanasius]And then he has this little example, “Now wise master builder when he undertakes to build a house, considers at the same time how he may repair that house should it fall into decay after its erection. And weighs up what preparations must be made for that purpose, supplying the foreman with the materials necessary for such repair and thus making all the preparation for renovations even before the house is built.” And we know fine well ourselves, you prepare, Yeah, “I’ll fly to the States in June, but if Continental goes bust I’ll…” and we line up the contingencies. And so it’s not remarkable that our God who has an infinite mind, who can see far beyond where we can, that he would, when he first conceived of his only begotten Son and conceived at that same moment of bringing about our existence in his Son and created us in his Son that he foresaw that if he was going to give us the same freedom that his Son had then we could abuse that freedom and then all would have to be done again. Then he determined that his Son, and his Son was pleased to agree with his Father, that whatever we did he would hold us inside himself whatever the cost. Even if it brought about the agony that was expressed on Calvary.You know I have likened it to us having a virus inside our own bodies or a cancer eating away inside all the time. That’s really what he bore. It’s in that sense that he bore our sins, he kept us inside himself whatever the costs and he still at this moment does. Even for the guy that murdered somebody yesterday in New York, he keeps him inside himself and bears that in order to do everything to give him a chance of coming into heaven with him. But, God foresaw that and he created us in his Son. You can see what I mean — you’ve guessed it at times yourself — I’m sure you’ve thought as I have thought, I mean my dad and mum are dead now but I did think, “What would happen when they die?” I thought the world would end when they died but then when they die and then their memory is very vivid. Then I used to think of my dad when he was my age, how did he forget his mother and think ofme so much. And of course, it’s just a fact that as the time goes by they fall into the right place. They fall into the place that God gave them. They were God’s method of bringing us to earth. That’s all they are.And when we see them again, well we’ll still know them as dad and mum but we’ll all be the same age, or we’ll all be beyond age and so in that sense, just as there’s no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven, so there will be in a sense no father, and mother, and son, and daughter. We will all be the children. Ridiculous though it sounds because you’re – well, you know better than to say, “Yes of God,” we will all be the children of Jesus. We will all be the children of Jesus . I’d just remind you of the piece there, I think it’s in Isaiah isn’t it, it’s Isaiah 9:6, that remarkable piece of Isaiah that is used in Handel’s Messiah and we all sing it confidently, gaily ignoring its meaning, of course.Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name,” this is Jesus we all know that, he is the son that was born. “And his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor,’” and we agree with that, “Might God,” and we agree with that, “Everlasting Father.” No, no, God is our everlasting Father. But no, in God’s inspiration of Isaiah he expressed the reality that Jesus is the Everlasting Father. You know, wherever God is Jesus is and wherever Jesus is God is wherever the Holy Spirit is God is. You know, the trinity means that wherever one is present they are all present. Of course Jesus is our Everlasting Father because we were created in Christ.So that’s a different way to think. If you, and I know you do want to live in reality and I want to live in reality, I can see that I have to live in that reality that Jesus is my Father. That Jesus is my dear parent. That he is the one who has begotten me and the things that I have are the things that he has. They are not the temporal things, some of them weaknesses that we inherited from our dads and mums. They are not even the strengths, some of which we inherited from our dads and mums, but we are Jesus’ children. He is our dear Father, we owe him everything.So, I don’t know about you but I certainly always wanted to please my dad, you know, and I wanted him to be proud of me and all that sort of thing and I’d imagine you’re the same with mum or dad. And please, I’m not saying that the Savior did not show some of himself through them, I’m not saying that they aren’t as precious as we are, but they’re precious because of Jesus in them and Jesus is our Father even above them. I remember, having a real struggle, I was a dumb guy, I mean, I was not as mature presumably as I should be, but as I came up into the teens I felt it was a real competition to have a girlfriend. I mean, how could I love my mother and have a girlfriend at the same time. I was not a mommies’ boy by any means, I was dad’s boy probably if anything. But I felt great loyalty, you know, to my parents.Well, now you couldn’t divide your loyalties and so when I began to try to think of God and my parents then I saw, “How can you divide your loyalties?” How can this be your dad, your dear father and how can Jesus be your dear Father? But in reality that is the truth. Jesus is the one who has begotten us he is our real father. He is the one to whom we owe everything. And can you see what I’m saying that he in a way, it is reality that he takes the place of our Father in not only our affections if you’d like to put it, but in our efforts in this life. It’s to please him. It’s to make him proud of us. It’s even more than that and I’ll try to come to that in a moment, but he is the one under whose influence and care we live, and under who’s upbringing and education we exist, and he is the one who’s praise we want, and he is the one whom we want to be proud of us, and he is the one we want to please. And that is actual reality.Please, I’m not advising you to do this. I’m just telling you the best that I can understand of this book [Bible] and of this presentation of reality is that that is reality, that we are actually Jesus’ children and every moment of our life is lived in reality if it’s lived with him as the over shadowing over sheltering surrounding person who loves us. I still remember, I mean, we all have so many funny little things about our dads and I think I’ve told you before, it was wonderful to fry, fry in Ireland, everything was fried. And of course that fried breakfast I told you – oh Shelia I should remember that there’s someone here to corroborate or contradict me now because my wife wouldn’t dare.But we used to have for Sunday morning fried soda bread, fried pancakes, fried potato bread, fried plain bread, fried pan bread, fried vita, everything fried plus the bacon and the eggs. But to me there was nothing as wonderful my stuff was okay, but if dad, you cut soda bread you’d cut it in strips and then we would put bacon on it and tomato ketchup and it was just wonderful and to eat my dad’s sandwich was more wonderful than mine could ever be. And so I know what we all probably have felt about our mums and dads, we have all kinds of dear things that we respect them for tremendously but after all that’s said and done I know that those of them who are in heaven at this moment are saying the same thing to us, “Yes, Jesus is your Father. He is everything to you. He is the one who gave you life. It is his blood that flows through your veins. It is his air that you’re breathing. It’s him that holds everything together at this moment.”And that seems particularly strong to me in that piece in Colossians where, “In him all things hold together.” [Colossians 1:17] In him at this moment our bodies hold together, our brains hold together, the air around us, the bricks of this chapel, everything holds together in Jesus. It is in him that everything has existence and so reality is living with him as our dear Father.Now, the other side that I saw was that we have not only thought of our fathers and our mums as the people we should please, but of course, ourselves. And indeed they in their innocence often encouraged this because they said, “Now son,” or I don’t know that they called you daughter but they called us son, “Now son, you’re going forward into life now it’s up to you to make of it what you can and you’ll have to plow out there yourself, get a good education, good job, and do well. But you’ll have to stand up for yourself and you’ll have to make something of yourself.” And they did that in good faith.But of course, after we get through our high school years and our teenage years we have converted that all into me, me, me, me, me, me. I mean, everything is judged on the basis of me and how it affects me and am I going to fulfill myself in this job? Am I going to be totally fulfilled? Are my brilliant talents going to be used properly to the benefit of society and me and we all think in terms of me, me, me. And even those of us who think of ourselves as unselfish find that our thoughts are always judging how do I feel this morning? How will I enjoy this day? What am I going to do this afternoon? It’s all from the point of view of me.Now of course, what we’ve been seeing is that in a way there is only one human being and that’s the importance of that, what to me seemed a ridiculous verse, I would just ask you to look at it again because I ignored some of these verses for years. I just ignored them because what could you make of them? They didn’t make any sense. It’s Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God,” and that was no trouble because I was always taught Jesus was the son of God and was the revelation of God. But the next phrase, “The first-born of all creation.” I just couldn’t make sense of it at all. Jesus, the first-born of all creation? First of all, if you think of him born as a littlebaby and 4 BC or 6 BC or not BC, whatever it was, that wasn’t – he wasn’t the first born. There were thousands and thousands of years of humanity before him so, how could he be the first-born of all creation?Yet that runs right through you know, in Verse 18, “He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning.” He is the beginning. “The first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent.” And so you’re eventually driven to see that, if you like there was a millisecond when God was, then the next millisecond he conceived of his Son, his only begotten Son and that same millisecond he conceived of him as being a man. As being a man who would live on earth and not a man who would live on earth for a short time as we all kind of thought but a man who would continue to be a man even after he came back from earth. So that when the Bible talks about judgment day it says, “Not when the Son of God comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him before him will be gathered all the nations and he will separate them as the shepherd separates the sheep from goats.” But, “When the son of man comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him.” [Matthew 25:31]So, obviously, Jesus is a man forever. He’s the son of God he’s the complete and only begotten son of God in a way that you and I never can be but he is a man forever. He is a human being. He doesn’t just come down visit us, and then go before his Father and say, “I represent these human beings.” But he himself is the human being. He was the first-born human being. Abraham was not our original father, Jesus was our original father not only before the creation but as the first human being. It was in him that all human beings were born on earth.I agree with you, he appeared not to come to earth until 6 BC but even that is questionable because you remember Daniel walking in the lion’s den they say, “We beheld somebody that looked like the son of man.” So often we talk in the Old Testament of times when there are these appearances of God that are unknown. There are these remarkable figures that we cannot identify. So Jesus himself was the first-born of all creation and out of him came all human beings. In a sense God sent his son to complete the creation that he and his son came first as whoever Adam was and then came as Adam’s son, and then came as Adam’s grandson, etc., etc. Then he showed who he was by coming as himself in Galilee for 33 years and then left the earth and continued to live in different men in his spirit. But he is the great human being and we are his body. That’s it.That’s what the Bible says so clearly. You are the body of Christ and individually members of him. Individually limbs of him. And I sympathize with everybody here that has been taught as I was taught a kind of a team idea. We were taught the body of Christ is a kind of community, it’s a kind of a church, and it’s a kind of team. We’re all on a team, that’s the way you’re the body of Christ. You’re part of not this club or that church but you’re part of this club which we call the body of Christ. Except that’s not what the Bible says. If it does say that, it’s ridiculously literal in its interpretation of the metaphor because it goes on in detail in 1 Corinthians 12 to say, you know, “The eye can’t say that it has no need of the hand and the hand can’t say it has no need of the foot.” Well, if this was just a general kind of metaphor then of course it wouldn’t deal with it as literally. But in fact, it’s very clearly stated that Jesus himself is actually in each one of us.You know that’s in several places but you can find it certainly in John 17:23. Jesus talks about his life before the world was. Verse 22, “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me.” “I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved themeven as thou hast loved me.” But that Jesus is in each one of us and we are his body here on earth and that’s it.That it’s not you plowing out trying to prove yourself or trying to do something worthwhile that will make your wife proud of you or will make your mother proud of you. It’s not you here on earth trying to fulfill yourself. Each of us is part of Jesus. It is him who has a work to do here on earth that can only be done through each of us. What makes sense to me is I can see why we are all different. We can see why we’re all different. I mean, it is quite remarkable that even identical twins are different from each other in some way that even their mother and father at times can’t see, but everyone of us is different because Jesus himself is so glorious and so many faceted that he can only show himself as he is which is what showing his glory is. It’s showing him as he is. He can only show himself as he is through millions of people like us who will express a part of him that nobody else can express. So, of course, reality is that Jesus is in each of us and that we are here to do works, actually that that Ephesians passage says, “He has prepared beforehand for us to walk in. For you are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”And so you and I come here with an agenda that Jesus has and things to do that he has planned to do from before the foundation of the world. Of course it transforms all we do because if all you do throughout your whole life is brush the floor of this chapel, that is a work that God prepared beforehand for you to do. That’s why it makes sense to me, Apinya or Ada, when I think of the millions of little ones, they’re here in England too but it’s just in China or in Asia we think of them more. There are millions, and millions of little ones but nobody knows what they’re doing and they’re doing all kinds of things, they suffer all kinds of things, they bear all kinds of things that nobody knows, that nobody talks about. There are no psychologists to ask them if they’re being fulfilled, or there are no sociologists that are tabulating them. There are all kinds of little hearts all through the world that live and die and nobody seems to care or know them. But they have fulfilled a work that God prepared beforehand for his son to do.And so each one of us are in that situation. That we’re here not for ourselves and it’s not me, and it doesn’t matter actually anything about me. Would I rather be me, a miserable little creature that does some of the things that thousands of others could do or would I rather be a tiny little cell in the one unique person in the universe? Well, I know what I’d rather be. It’s obvious you’d far rather be what God has made us, a vital part of his own son.I’d just say one more thing, I think it’s very easy for you to sit, and me to sit, and me to stand and listen to this and think, “Oh yes, you mean I kind of do something that Jesus wants to do?” No. You are something that Jesus himself is. You are a part of Jesus. You are not just a tool, an extension of his hands, you are a part of him. That’s what it says. He says, “Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself neither can you unless you abide in me. If you do not abide in me you have no life in you.” Barth says, “He lives and I live also.” That’s it. Jesus lives and because he lives I live also. If he would cease to live I would cease to live. I am part of him.If you say, “A cell in his body?” Well, that’s the way I’ve put it but that’s not enough because we are not conscious of every cell in our bodies. So it gives you a wrong idea. We are – more if you’d like to say an eye because we’d know if we lost an eye. In other words, we are dear in Jesus. We are a dear part of him. Indeed, we are more than that because we can think a cell doesn’t apparently have a brain or emotions but each one of us have all that Jesus has. So we are in asense a full replica of Jesus and yet we’re only part of his beauty and part of his wonder. But it means that each of us here exists for him to speak and do what he has planned to speak and do in us. So, of course, it just, it just blows you out of the whole egotism stuff you know.All I could say to you is the best that I can see is that is reality and all I can see is each of us, if we want to live in reality, need to be willing in every little detail no longer to think of ourselves but only of him. And though we have kind, and loving, and grateful thoughts towards our mums and dads, in a sense see that they are older brothers and sisters, but that he is our dear Father and we owe everything to him. And reality is living like that. Living in that certainty that he is our dear Father and he is watching us and looking down upon us, proud of us, watching every step and providing all that we need and he himself is in us and has things to do today that we alone can do.Let us pray. Holy Spirit, without you we see no hope. Our minds are so small, our habits are so engrained, and without you we see no hope of living in this reality. But with you, we know that that is possible. We know Father, blessed Lord Jesus, we know that you do not mock us, you do not create a reality in which we cannot live. We know you are all wisdom, and reason, and order, and whatever you have created as reality you’ve created it so we would live in it.Holy Spirit, we can only throw ourselves before you. We can only open our hearts and our whole lives to you and say, “Holy Spirit, you who are Jesus, because we know the Lord is the Spirit, you are our Lord Jesus in us.” Holy Spirit, will you lead us into this life of reality so that we live it every second of every day and through the night hours as we begin to discover the wonder and the safety of having you as our dear Father Lord Jesus. You who have begotten us, you have borne us inside yourself at great pain and you who continue to lovingly keep us in your arms even as we smash you in your face. And then Lord Jesus, that we begin to live in the reality that this is your life not ours. That this is your body, and your fingers, and your eyes, and not ours. And that you have something to do through us in our life here on earth and something to be that you cannot be or do through any other person.Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the dear Holy Spirit be with each of us today and throughout this week. Amen.
A New Heart — Pastor’s Hospital Miracle - LIVING FAITH
A New Heart – Pastor’s Hospital MiracleEzekiel 36:26Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillWould you take a Bible and look at Ezekiel 36:26, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” I want everybody to know I’m actually kind of playing games with that verse but reminding you that that is God’s promise. He will give us a new heart. That is, he would change the attitudes and the feelings we have towards each other and the motives that govern our lives. He would change how we feel inside about things. He would take out of us the selfishness that governs us apart from Jesus and he would put in us the pure heart of Jesus. In other words, he would give us the whole truth of the clean heart that God has promised us.And then what I’d like to try to do in a realistic way this morning is to relate it to a blessing that God has brought to us. If I cry at all it’s not because of any sorrow but it’s just because of the wonderful thing that God has done in me and I think in us as a family.This is about the 19th of March. Just about a week ago God just gave me a new heart and I’ll tell you about it. I’d like to point out to you why I think it happened. And I hope that it’ll bring home to you God’s ability to give us not only new physical hearts but new spiritual hearts. He is able and had already done the same work in Jesus for us. He is able in the same way to make that real in us as he did in fact make real the physical heart that he gave us in Jesus, and specifically in me, these past few days.So I’ll try to tell the story quickly without a whole lot of detail and fuss. If I falter at all my wife will have to step right in and tell. I know those of you who love me must have thought when you heard what happened to me, “Is that poor guy still alive at all?” And you can see I’m very much alive and Jesus has done a great work.I think you all knew I had trouble sleeping over the past year or so. I attributed it to jetlag. After 30 years of back and forwards to England and then to Thailand I thought that the body was getting out of synch with itself and never knew when to sleep. So often I would waken up in the mornings with a kind of restlessness. I would say it was a restlessness rather than strain or pain — just a restlessness. But admittedly in past months I would have felt just a little strain. At times Irene would waken up and I’d be kneeling at my bedside about four o’clock in the morning and she’d say, “Are you praying?” And I’d say, “Yes, I’m okay.” And I would get into bed and say, “Yes, God has given me release.” Then I’d often sleep the rest of the night.So that was going on and I was very tired. I came back from England this last time still tired and disappointed at feeling so tired after what was really a vacation. So Irene of course in her great kindness said, “Why don’t you go down to Florida for a week or a couple of weeks.” And that’s what I did. I had a nice quiet time there and came back here probably two weeks ago. I was preparing to go and visit you all in London and felt, “Yes, I’m ready for it and that’s good.”I admit I still was not sleeping wonderfully but I thought, “Yes I can handle it.” So I was looking forward to going to England. But last Thursday morning I woke at four o’clock and felt some pressure in my ears, my chest and in my head. I prayed and Jesus gave me relief. I got into bed again andIrene realized I had got in but then she found me out again on my knees at about a quarter to five.She asked me what was wrong. I said, “I still feel that pressure in my head and my ears. I suppose there’s a little pressure down my arms but I’m not very aware of it. I don’t seem to be able to get relief now. It seems to be getting worse and it seems to be getting out of control.” And that’s when I felt it was a pressure (I could hardly even call it pain) but a pressure or a strain that was beginning to build out of control. Over the past years even though I had approaches to this kind of feeling, I hadn’t had it as bad as this.So Irene said, “Do you think we should go to the hospital?” And I was ready to go to the hospital by that time. I said, “Yes, I think we should.” We got into the car about 5:30 AM. The roads were pretty clear as we headed down to the hospital in Raleigh. At one point I remember Irene said to me, “Why did you do that?” I had put the hazard light on in the car and she said, “Why do you do that?” And I said, “Because I can’t wait any longer we better get there fast.” We were stuck at a stop light.Anyway, we ended up at the Raleigh Hospital, and went in. They’re dear people and they welcomed us in. I explained the situation. The doctor gave me a nitrite which is apparently for angina and heart strain. That eased it a bit and so we began to feel that maybe this wasn’t anything big. He took a few more details and they then did an EKG which is putting little plugs on you all over to check the heart, the activity of the heart, the electrical activity of the heart.The results looked alright, dead on. And so they generally felt, “Maybe this is just a little angina you’ve had and it isn’t very serious. We’ll give you something for it, you’ll have to take care a little but you’ll be okay.” And so that’s the way it was set. And that’s where I’d like to make plain to all of us the miracle of timing. It was a miracle of God’s timing because at that moment we could have just as easily gone home. I was there on the bed in the Raleigh Hospital and they had the EKG on me.The tension or the strain rose again inside me and at that time I think a cardiologist had come by because the doctor said, “Well, you could go home but we have a cardiologist who will be by here in an hour so you might as well stay on.” And so I stayed on even though I could easily have gone home. The doctor sent the cardiologist over and he is watching the EKG at the very time that this pressure or tension rises.He contacted Irene who had gone back to the office to open things up and get the business going. He said, “I think you should come by because I see something strange on the EKG and it doesn’t look normal. Come by and we’ll talk it over.” So Irene came by and they talked it over. He said, “I would normally say, ‘let’s watch him all day.’ But, it is coming to the weekend and I hate to do that because on the weekend there’ll be nothing we can do and I’m going off for the weekend. So I think we should do a catheterization.”Catheterization is putting a tube in your thigh area with a little telescope. It goes up your artery and into your heart. They can actually look and see what’s happening to know what the situation is.The doctor said, “Normally you have to line up for this thing but it so happens that there’s an opening right now at the big hospital he calls it – The Wake Heart Institute across the state. There’s a spot and we could get you in right in now.” That’s why I think it’s the Father’s timing. So before I know it, we’ve agreed upon that and I’m on a trolley into another ambulance. Threepeople are monitoring me and the heart is now beginning to defibrillate — which is a fluttering like that.They were calling to the other hospital and saying, “The heart’s in defibrillation, da-da-da.” After about 20 minutes we got there and the catheterization team was ready to go right away. Everything was going like a ballet. In fact, the cardiologist said several times to us, “It doesn’t normally go like this. It doesn’t normally go like this.” But everything just went smoothly. I went straight to catheterization. They had that ready.They started to it, while Irene met with another cardiologist there at the Heart Institute. He said, “This is probably nothing. We’ll probably go in, have a look and we might see maybe a little occlusion. You know the way the cholesterol closes down the arteries. We might see a little occlusion in one of the arteries that supplies the muscle of the heart — not the heart itself because the heartbeat seems strong. But we might see something there, have to put a balloon up so as to open it out and then you’ll be home by the weekend.”The cardiologist came out after 15 or 20 minutes and he said, “O’Neill”? And of course Irene stood up. He said, “This is very serious. One artery is 95% blocked another artery is 90% blocked and the third is 85% blocked. The back one is clear, it’s clean but it’s very serious. There could be a catastrophic heart attack.”So he said, “We have to do something right away.” Irene is sharp and knows about medical things and she says, “Bypass?” And he says, “Yes, we’re prepping him now. There’s a surgeon standing by. ” This was miraculous because he was set to do an operation but that operation was cancelled.God’s goodness is what amazes me. It was God’s kindness because the whole thing was just set. Irene said, “Yes, let’s go for it.” Then of course they go immediately into action. He had great love and sympathy for Irene and said, “If you want to see him he’ll be going by like the queen. He’ll be going by at this corner.”Irene saw me as I was going by and said, “It’ll be okay. Everything will be okay.” And I said, “Yes this side or the other.” But Jesus gave us great peace and great rest. It is the enormity of the situation that day that makes me weak now rather than any sorrow, or fear, or terror — because we didn’t have any. Jesus just made everything so dead easy. I went into the operating theater and shifted myself over from the table because I felt for the nurses trying to lift me.They put a catheterization tube in and showed me my own heart on a little screen. They showed me a photograph of my own heart and I could see the thing. I think the amazing thing was it wasn’t the heart itself. The heart itself seemed to be in good shape and all through it he said, “You’re in good shape. Your breathing is great, your lungs are great. But the muscle of the heart is fed by four blood vessels and one of them is absolutely great but the other three are almost completely blocked. What we have to do is take an artery out of your leg with two round the back of the heart and replace those three. And that’s what we’ll do and it will take four hours.”And so they just went to it and that was it. That’s all the fun and wonder of it because all the rest is just the misery of the post op thing. Anyway that was Friday night. So I was out on Friday night. I couldn’t talk because they put tubes down your throat which is why I’m a little horse. They put tubes down the throat so you can breathe and then you’re full of all kinds of other tubes.They obviously split you open so you have to drain all that. You’re obviously quite a mess with pipes coming out your plumbing. I think a miracle after the operation.But anyway Irene saw me on Saturday and we could talk to each other. Then Sunday she brought the computer up and I did some computer work. And Monday we got a little better. Monday I was walking around the hospital. Tuesday was the last day and Wednesday I came home. And here I am gloriously, almost within a week.I’m walking a mile three times a day. Oh yes, and those of you who wonder, “Yes, but will the poor old guy make it for much longer?” We asked him. I said, “Well, in a way I suppose it’s as good as new?” And he said, “It’s better than new. It’s better than new because the arteries you had were filled up with cholesterol and had been filled up over years and years. Now you have three absolutely new ones, clean ones, and you have the other one that was not blocked at all.” And that’s why I say, “And I will give you a new heart.”If you say to me, “Well, the pastor didn’t come and lay his hand upon you and say, ‘In the name of Jesus be healed.’” No, but would I be alive today if everything had not worked exactly as it did? I don’t have any doubt; no doubt, that if the timing had not gone as it did I would not be here. It was God’s miracle. Finally, you must admit that what this man did was sew the arteries around on to the heart. He sewed this up, that’s all he does. It is the Savior’s heart and whole new body that fills in here.I go back to him in two or three weeks time and he’ll hardly be able to see my stitches. He’ll hardly be able to tell that anything has been disturbed in here and yet he hasn’t done anything to it since he operated last week. He hasn’t done anything. It is Jesus’ body that has filled in here.I wanted to share this because I want us to be real about our attitude to Jesus and our trust in him to every practical situation. But I wanted to share this especially so that you might be able to see what I was beginning to see that it’s a miracle whether the surgeon does it and we happen to understand it or whether it is done by God and we don’t even know about it. It is God that does it all the time.I can understand John Wesley through all kinds of heart aches and pains — we don’t know what kinds of miracles God did in him when the surgeons did not know enough to do it. Now the surgeons know a little more and they are able to do some of the things that God has taught them. But it is still the Father that arranges everything so that things fall in line exactly.I’m very aware that God intended us to continue as a family together, and with me as part of it. As long as God wants us to be here and to be together, we will be together. He will insure that, however he has to do that, however he has to manipulate this operation that has to be done or this surgeon that must be on hand, or this man that happens to notice a little thing or this person that happens to say that little thing. God will insure that all falls right for our sales, and for all hundreds of things needed.God will be faithful. He will continue to apply the miracles of Jesus to us in a way that we need at that time. He will do that not only for our physical hearts and health but he will do it for our clean hearts – so that we are clean inside, so that we can love as he loves and obey as he obeys. He will do this so that the Lord Jesus will be lived fully in you and me.It’s just a wonder, a great joy and delight, with all the fuss here – it’s a great reassurance for all of us in Christian Corps that God is saying, “I know you’re there, I know what you are doing, I know what you need and it will be there. Everything you need, every miracle that you need I will do, on time and without fail. You can depend upon it.And you know, I don’t have to do anything except take 2 baby aspirins a day and go to lots of movies my wife says. I’ve been back swimming and I seem to have no limitations. I’m hoping now that the jet lag will be no problem as I think the sleep problem came from the deteriorating heart rather than from the jet lag. So, I’m looking forward to being with all of you. Let us pray.
Rest Of Faith – A Plan - LIVING FAITH
The Rest of Faith: Pastor’s Heart OperationSermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillI don’t want to drag this one out or get every ounce out of the exciting operation that I had, but I did think there were things that came to me. I would have to say there are confirmations of reality that are so clear to me in this whole experience that I felt it was worthwhile mentioning them again together.I should say to you who are watching, that this is the 26th of March and it was the 10th of March that I had the exciting triple bypass. So I’ve been home about 11 days. You can see I’m feeling much better. I should say that I can’t thank God enough for Jesus, for all of you, and then for the four dear ladies that live with me.I need to say that not only about my wife but Sandra has just been a strength. Yesterday, I rode the new tractor lawnmower, and Sandra and I cut the grass. She did most of the hauling of grass and the hard work, I just drove the tractor. And we’re walking two miles a day every day. And of course I couldn’t say enough about Colleen, the dear card she sent me beyond what anybody could expect. And then Lucy comes in with $7,600 in sales last week. And she made me chicken soup.Jesus has just surrounded me with more love than I could ever expect. I’m feeling good and organized again even though it was only two weeks ago since the operation. There were some things in this that I thought are an encouragement to all of us in the family that I thought it would be good just to mention them very clearly. And the first one is in Psalm 139.And Irene read it for the scripture reading. It’s Psalm 139:16, “Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance,” and then this part in particular, “In thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” “In thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none.” And I know we’ve talked about that verse before but I’d just remind you what Jesus in his kindness did for me and for us.On the 10th of March at 4AM God awakened me and 16 hours later he had replaced three blocked arteries in my heart muscle with the aid of the surgeon that he had already prepared for the operation before any of us knew it was going to take place. And that’s the reality of it. I woke 4AM on the 10th of March and a matter of 16 hours later that day, about 9PM Friday night, the operation was all over. I had three blocked arteries replaced with parts from my leg and the rest of my body by a surgeon that God had prepared and appointed.And I’d just ask us each one to look at the miracle of the thing. I’m sure it was two or three years ago that I fainted on a plane going to Paris. Some of you may remember it. I fainted, fell, hit the seat and cut my head open, that little gash up there. And Irene thinks of that as one of those times when I would have said I had a sinking feeling, as if all my blood pressure was just draining away. And she thinks that long ago back then there was something a little strange happening.And I’ve told you all that for years I’ve attributed the difficulty with sleeping to jet lag. And I cannot tell you the difference it is now. I breathe a breath and I get air. Now my lungs were good — I was always breathing plenty of air in but the oxygenated blood was not getting through to my heart muscles because these three arteries were blocked. So my heart was strong, my lungs werestrong, but the heart muscle itself was not getting enough oxygenated blood because of these three blocked arteries.Well obviously, we can all see that has being happening for years. I don’t know how many years, but at least as far back as that flight to Paris, if not before. And yet, God awakened me at 4AM on the day when I was going to die. That’s it. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but I think that’s what the cardiologist virtually said to Irene, “He’s on the edge of a catastrophic heart attack.” Well you and I know how those pencil thin arteries, how long it took them to get thinner, and thinner, and thinner until the blood could no longer get through and the muscle was about to stop controlling the heart. And yet God was not a moment too late.So I think it’s very important for us to see that. “In thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” That’s the only explanation I could give you. If God had not awakened me at 4AM; if God had not got Irene to take me to the Raleigh Hospital; if God had not had there a cardiologist who even though he had not all the equipment to do it saw me at that time; if God had not prompted my system to go into spasm again so that he was able to notice on the EKG something strange; if God had not arranged a gap in the group that was being catheterized that day in the Heart Institute across the city; if God had not governed the three dear hearts that took me in the ambulance and noticed that my heart was going into defibrillation again and called ahead; if God had not after the catheterized was done and they saw that there were three arteries blocked and that immediate bypass was needed; if God had not had a surgeon who had had a cancellation and was ready to go into action immediately; well, you can see if God had not, if God had not, if God had not. I don’t know what all you think. I don’t think it’s me that God is saying this alone, I think he’s saying to each one of us, “I have your days arranged each one of you. I have your days arranged. Nothing will stop the plan I have for your life. You will not come to me here in my home before it’s time. You will not leave there before it’s time.”I think there is great encouragement for us to rest in faith, just to rest in faith. Our Father will not let anything happen to us that he does not include in his plan. And he is able, by hook or by crook, to look after us. I think you can all see that. And I would go on even to the next stage. I know Myron, Irene and Sandra know, and maybe many of you know — that though I wasn’t feeling great coming back from England after a great Christmas time I had decided that I can’t wait around for the jetlag to disappear. I’ll just go for it and trust God to give me strength for this. So I said to Irene one day in February, “Let’s set the thing up. Let me go to England for three weeks and let’s get going on this Internet, and some of the things Myron and I wanted to do together. Let’s go for it. Let’s just buy the plane fare and set it up so that three weeks later I go to Thailand. And that was the arrangement.It was Friday that the thing happened and I was to go to you all on Monday. Well, don’t you see the same thing as I see? Couldn’t it have happened on the plane on Monday? You don’t know it but in trying to get myself kind of built up for the English trip, Irene suggested I go down to Florida for a couple of weeks and so I did. I was down in Florida and came back on the Tuesday before the thing happened on the Friday. Couldn’t I have been in Florida on my own? Couldn’t I have been on the plane to London? Couldn’t I have been on the plane to Thailand?Dan McCarty and Amy know what it would have been like if I had been in Hong Kong or Bangkok. I would have been a goner. God will not allow even the plans that we have made in good faith, if they’re made for his glory, God will not allow those even to prevent his will being done. I mean I didn’t believe I would be the person who would be able to prove this so clearly. And I thank God forallowing me to be that person but it is so clear to me, that Romans 8:28 is right.Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” Or we all know it from the King James Version, “All things work together for good to them who love God.” It’s just so plain. Or you remember, the other verse, “God works all things according to the counsel of his will.”Well it has to be obvious to all of us who know and love each other, who know these facts that that’s what God did. And all of us can see it, that there was a very, very small window of opportunity. There was a very tiny window of opportunity to save this old Irish guy from death, a very, very small window. And I didn’t know any more than to kind of move all kinds of things around it. I had all kinds of flights arranged, all kinds of plans made that would have put me in positions where if that rising up that took place inside my heart (I suppose it’s angina that gave me that pressure and tension in my head, my ears, and my arms), if that had happened on the London flight there would have been no chance.You can see that from 4AM until 9PM on Friday are really only 16 or 17 hours. And that would have been enough to finish me. During that time they even gave me nitrite to kind of hold the thing in order. So God does what God thinks according to the counsel of his will.I think of all the things that we’ve all talk about. Both brothers and sisters have often talked about marriage and said, “Oh yes, it doesn’t matter if you’re in one country and another person is in another country. If God wants you married he will bring it about. You don’t need to make sure that you’re both in one spot at the same time.” And this seems to be so plain now.And what about all the other ifs and buts that we arrange? “How can this happen in my life if I’m leading this kind of life? How can I achieve this if this is happening? How can I have good sales if this is the economy that we’re operating in? Or, how can we succeed if this is the stage at which this product is in its lifecycle? How can this happen if this is the case?” Answer: “God works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Answer: “All things work together for good to them that love God.” Answer: “God is working his will for good for those that love him.” God will bring it about.And if we doubt it look at this creature. Look at this creature alive after he should be dead two weeks ago. This is proof. Our Father has everything planned to the very last detail. He has everything planned and he will not let us drop. He does know when a sparrow falls to the ground and we are of much more valuable than many sparrows.So for me, there’s a clear word from God. It’s Psalm 37:5. Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your right as the noonday. Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him.”“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” It just seems to me so plain in this situation. You commit your way to the Lord. We give our lives to him with all our hearts for him to do what he likes with. We lay out our life and our plans as we see he wants done. And then we put our trust in him. And do you doubt that he will act? I don’t. I don’t doubt it. He will act. Whether you’re asleep, whether you’re half dead, whether you’re in the right place or the wrongplace, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.”It’s interesting what comes home to you at a time like this. I feel, “Sure I’m an important part of the family of Christian Corps and yes, I’d be kind of missed as many of us would be missed.” There’s a great temptation to feel, “Yes, yes, I must stay alive to do the things that God wants us to do. I must keep going.” No. No striving, no straining, it is Jesus in us. All we have to do is commit our way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act. We don’t need to try and make sure that this or that is done. It is not us but him that works within us. It is Jesus.What we’ve to do is to commit our way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act. So it is a wonderful time, it is just a wonderful time. And then it’s a great opportunity for us together to look up and thank our Father for reassuring us that he knows we’re here and the he will not let anything happen to us that is not inside his plans and that our joy and privilege is to delight ourselves in him, to commit our way unto him, and trust in him, and he will act. We don’t need to strive. The Lord Jesus is in us and he will strive for his Father. But his striving is just loving his Father. That’s what God has called us to do.Let us pray. Dear Father, we thank you. We thank you now Lord, for the glorious way that lies before us. We thank you Lord, for speaking to all of us. Thank you for making us dear to each other so that if one member suffers the whole body suffers and if one rejoices the whole body rejoices. But we thank you especially Lord that you’ve brought us close enough to each other so that what one of us experiences we all have experienced. And where one of us receives from you a clear assurance that you know we’re here and that you act to deliver us, we all know that.What you’ve done for one you will do for all of us. Indeed you, who have not spared your own son, will not fail to give us every good gift. Father, we thank you. We thank you for the wonder of these days and for your own dear kindly heart, and for giving us the courage to rest in you — to rest deeply in you and to trust you every moment of our lives knowing that you will not let anything drop. You will not let our hearts miss a beat. You will prepare the way before us so that we will walk every step in peace and rest. Thank you Lord, thank you.And now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and ever more. Amen.
Who Is The Center Of Your Life? - LIVING FAITH
Is Jesus Preeminent in our Lives?Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’NeillPhilippians 2:1-13 says, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” May God help us to live like that.Shall we try loved ones the hymn #166. You kind of look at that hymn and you think, “Oh, he must have been a very childlike simple man.” And one of the most advanced books we studied in English literature in university was “The History of English Literature” written by Stafford Brooke so he’s a very sharp guy. But it’s interesting that he had that relationship with Jesus.It’s very easy I think, to keep thinking that our life here on earth is to do things for Jesus. It’s very easy to think that. And we think, “Of course that’s what it’s about. Of course we’re here to do things for Jesus. He has done everything for us and now we’ve to do things for Jesus and that’s what we’re about here. We’re trying to do things for him in his service.”In particular analysis in English, “we” would be the subject. We “do” would be the verb, the predicate, and the “things” would be the object. We do the things. And that’s what’s wrong about it all. I know it’ll sound terrible to you but that is sin. WE are the doers. And you can see it among ourselves that we tend to be preoccupied with what we are doing for Jesus. Actually, it leads to something that is really threatening for those of us who try to lead. Because as WE are important and do the things so the “WE’s” in us (that make a lot of the decisions), we become important and so we lionize each other.We lionize especially our leaders but we even lionize each other. And it’s not long before the whole air is filled with “us” in spite of the fact that we say, “The Lord of all, the one who is preeminent among us is Jesus.” Somehow or other we still end up rather concerned with what WE are doing for Jesus and what we think we should do for Jesus, or what we think our leaders should have us do for Jesus.But somehow or other we end up like the little fellows in Belfast, at the holiday home that we use to run for the children from the slums. There were two little fellows playing soccer. And one of the guys was mowing through everyone else, kicking everyone else around, and just blasting through. The other little fellow said, “He thinks he’s the fellow in the big picture.” The big picture forus was the main feature in a movie show. The fellow in the big picture was the main actor. So he thinks he’s the fellow in the big picture.We don’t want to be the fellow in the big picture. We want to be servants of Jesus. But somehow or other we tend to end up the fellows in the big picture, or the girls in the big picture. We tend to end up rather preoccupied with what WE are doing for Jesus.I think it goes back to us not understanding the whole set up at all. I think it’s because from when we were born, we were brought up to believe that we are separate entities. We are separate entities. Our moms love us, and we were all the world to them. We were all the world to our parents and they thought the world of us.Of course everybody makes a lot of a little baby. Then the little baby grows a little more and you’re proud of him. In North Carolina we have a bumper sticker that says, “I have the most terrific kid in our high school.” Yes, we put that on our bumper. I would feel kind of dumb if I saw my mother with that on our bumper.It’s for the best reasons. We all want our kids to grow up balanced and not with inferiority complexes. We want them to feel they’re whole people — competent and capable. But somehow the result of it all is that we tend to think of ourselves as separate entities who are here to do some great things.We get some of that knocked out of us as we go through school, university, and we go to work. But still we’re generally left with the feeling that we are here to do something. And when we give our lives to Jesus, then we’re here to do things for Jesus. And the fact is it’s not true, it’s all upside down.I’d like to show you the first clue to it in John 8:58. John 8:58, is one of those baffling sentences that we have all read at different times but tend to just set it aside because it’s a baffler. What does it mean? It just is senseless. Either the tense is wrong or Jesus is saying something far deeper than we know.John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” And it looks silly grammatically, “Before Abraham was, I am.” “No Lord, you should say, ‘Before Abraham was, I was.’” But of course Jesus is saying, “I am here. My Father conceived of me in one second in eternity. And in the second second, (the number two second), he conceived that within me Abraham would be created. And so I didn’t cease to be the moment Abraham was created in me, I am here and I saw those two seconds. So I am this second and I am this second. Before Abraham was, (and I’m talking about 20 AD), because he was back there and we are here, Jesus says, before Abraham was, I am. I am there.”It’s a bit like that illustration you remember, of the procession through the little town and there were two brothers watching it. One was a little guy, six or seven years of age and he could just see through a little hole in the fence. He could stand at that hole, look through and see just what was passing in front of his eyes. The band was passing so he could see the drummers, then he could see the ones that were playing the pipes, and then he could see the marchers that came after. But he could just see the little bit in that hole.His brother was older. He decided he would climb on to the roof of the shed in the garden. So heclimbed onto the roof and could look over the fence. He could see not only those people who were passing, but he could see the ones that were still coming way down the street. He could see the ones that had past, and the ones way out that way, where the little guy could just see those passing.So Jesus, in that one second in eternity, sees all of time, just in one great moment. And not only did he exist there, not only did Abraham exist, but look at the verse that we looked at before it’s Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”Because, we were created in Christ Jesus and so not only did Abraham exist in Christ, but we existed in Christ and we were created in Christ. And when God conceived of his son he conceived of him also as someone who is of all things – well, you can see it in Colossians 1:15. Colossians 1:15, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” And so the first second God conceived of his only begotten son and the second second he conceived of him as the first-born of all creation.We always think of Jesus as being just the divine son of God that had nothing to do with earth. But here God is saying, “I conceived of him as the very first man, he was the first-born of all creation, he was the father of all of you.” Because that’s what that verse says in Colossians 1:16, “for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent.”The truth is that all of us were created in Jesus. We were created in him so that he would be preeminent. But we have the idea that even though we were in Jesus, he threw us off almost like a planet throws bits into space. So, he threw me off here and now I’m out here trying to do something for him. And someone else is out there trying to do something for him. And we’re cast off into time to fiddle around for 70 years or so and we do our best for him. Then somehow we get back together with him. No. There’s nothing in the Bible that says that. In fact, the Bible says the opposite. The Bible says, “You are individually parts of the body of Jesus. You are the body of Jesus. You’re Jesus’ body now. “I created you in my son and you are his body here on earth.” Jesus himself stresses that. He says, “Just as my Father is in me, I’m in you. I’m in you and you’re in me.” And then he says, “Now, stay in me, abide in me. I never threw you out, I never cast you out, you’re part of me.” But we have missed that.When you think of it the church tried to get that over to us in some way. It wasn’t just chance that they baptized babies. It wasn’t just because they’re not evangelical enough that they baptized babies. We baptize babies to make it clear that this person was in Jesus. Now, sooner or later they either accept that and live like that or they reject it and don’t live like that. But the truth is they were created in Jesus, they were part of Jesus, and that’s where they are. I agree with you that in the church we baptized the baby but then we fell into living the way the rest of the world lived.We than began to treat them as individual little creatures that had their own rights. And indeed, some of our own pride and our own independence got into it. We wanted them to succeed. In fact, we wanted all kinds of things that we didn’t know whether Jesus wanted or not. But the fact is, you don’t have an independent existence. The only way in which you and I exist is that we’re part ofChrist. And the truth is that we are part of God’s son whom he has sent to earth to bring the world into order.And that explains the rest of that verse, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good words, which he has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” In other words, God has an infinite mind and he doesn’t have to see you born and then pass through adolescence and then come into some kind of adulthood before he knows the kind of person you are going to be. We’ve said it before that even our computers enable us to foresee what our needs for gasoline will be 20 years hence. Even our computers can tell us what the population of the world will be in the 2000, or the year 2020.Well, how much more can the infinite mind of God see everything in a second so that he foresees and can see all that will take place? He himself has seen all that in his son. He has foreseen the creation of each one of us in Jesus. He has foreseen the creation of the world. He has seen how the world will go. He has outlined the whole thing. It is laid out and there are good works prepared beforehand that we should walk in. And all the time it’s one person walking. It’s Christ himself. He has walked this road already. In two seconds he walked it.He bore all the pain and the agony in two seconds and now for our little minds he lets that be played out from whatever it is — 4000 BC or if they want to say 25 million BC to what it is going to be in 2000 AD or 5000 AD. But to them he’s playing it right out. It’s all set for us and it’s Christ himself who will walk that way. And so you and I are part of Christ and that’s our meaning. That’s the purpose of our lives.So you can see how ridiculous it is when we have this attitude that we are here to do something for Christ when we are part of Christ and it’s Christ in us that is doing the thing. We are not here to do something for Jesus. We’re not here to try and set out some kind of life for ourselves that will be fulfilling or will leave the world a better place than we found it. We are here only for one reason, for Jesus himself to live the life that he planned to live in us and to do the works that he has already done. We simply walk in those works.But it changes everything, and sets everybody free. It sets us free. I mean, it’s not Marty Overby trying to work out, “Well, I hope Myron Kliewer, Pastor, and my wife care about my abilities and what I can do. I hope they sense the kind of hopes I have for my life. I hope I can find something that I can do that’s useful for God and I’m going to try.” No. The Savior knows what he has already done in your life and through you and he will reveal those works to you so that you can walk in them.And I think that’s the wonder of it. It’s not Ada this little Chinese girl and I’m Ernest O’Neill having to think out how she can be used to expand Christian Corps or to do wonderful things for God.” That’s such an insult. It’s an insult to you, and to me too. It’s such an insult that we try to run each other’s lives. No, no, the wonder and the dignity, why I’m excited that you’re here, is that Jesus has a life that he has already planned to manifest in you and he will show you each step. And so there are things that the Savior can do through you that I have no idea of, Myron has no idea of, Marty has no idea of, and Joyce has no idea of. It’s exciting to see those things being unfolded. And it gives you a freedom and a liberty in Jesus that is far beyond being a worker in some little company or some little missionary organization.It’s the wonder of Christ himself living a life in you that he has already planned, has already laidout, and the thing is already achieved. You have all the excitement and the wonder of manifesting it here in time. That’s what it’s about. That’s why in the early days after Jesus’ resurrection there was that sense of excitement.I always think of it in a funny way, “They seek them here, they seek them there, they find them anywhere,” — Scarlet Pimpernel. I sometimes think it’s like that. It was like that with Christ. He came through that wall last night in our time and he appeared to the disciplines on the lakeshore, where will he be next? And so there was an awareness that Christ was right there, right there.And that’s what God’s will is for us, that we would be a community that would hang on our Savior. That we would be motivated by him and would worship him, so that as the Bible says, “He would be pre-eminent.” There would be therefore an awareness, a restraint, and a faith. It would be the obedience of faith. Not just obedience, but the Bible talks about the obedience of faith. That is, the obedience of faith that knows that Christ is in me and that I am part of Christ and that Christ himself has things to do through me today and I obey him. Because, you remember, the Bible says, “The Lord is the Spirit. The Spirit within us is Jesus alive.” And that’s the obedience that we’re called to.If you say to me, “Does that result in obedience to one another?” Yes. It results in being mutually submissive one to another in Christ. So there’s a mutual submission to one another in Christ but that isn’t the big submission, that isn’t the big obedience. The big obedience is not me obeying Trish, or obeying Mary, or them obeying me. The big obedience is to this dear Savior of whom each of us is a part. That’s the obedience that counts. And I’d just put it to you a bit as I’ve put it to others at times. Is Jesus the big person to you? Is Jesus the big person in your life? Or is somebody else the big person in your life?When you think of what you should do who immediately do you think of? Well there is only one. You’re part of one person and he’s the only one that knows what he wants to do through you and none of the rest of us really do. Do you know that’s why Paul said, “The spiritual man is judged by no one.” That’s why he said that. The spiritual man is judged by no one because he’s responsible to one preeminent person, the person in whom he was created, the person of whom he is a part. And whenever we live any other way but that, there comes a deadness and a sense of coldness into our lives because it’s unreal. Because, that’s a whole life that has been destroyed and crucified and cast out forever.And so, whenever you live like that you feel a deadness, a lostness, an anxiety, and a worry, wondering what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to get through the day. The reality is that you’re part of our Savior; you’re part of Jesus himself. You’re part of God’s only son. You’re a part of his son that none of the rest of us is. So actually our moms and our dads were right. We are very important but not in the way we all thought. But you’re invaluable.Do you realize that God himself thought of you a second after he thought of his son? God thought of you, he saw your life a second after he conceived of his son. I agree with you it’s almost inconceivable, but that’s the truth. God thought of you. That’s how much you mean to him. That’s how intimate and inherent a part of his life and mind you are. That’s how important you are. It is overwhelming.There’s a line of poetry that we use with each other and it’s, “Tread softly; I shall layout mydreams before you.” He says that I suppose to his loved one, “I shall layout my dreams as carpets so tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” So that’s why we walk carefully with each other, because when I touch you I touch the Savior. If I touch your life, I’m touching Jesus. So it’s very important that I don’t make you a robot. It’s very important that I don’t make you preoccupied with me and what I think you should do. It’s very important that I do not for a moment draw your attention off the blessed Savior because it’s you and it’s him that I’m touching.So it brings a great holy reverence and respect for each other. It brings a gentleness and a restraint with each other that then in its turn encourages each of us to look to Jesus himself. Then, that sparks renaissance. That sparks the exciting creativity of the body of Jesus. That sparks all the life that produced the Shaker’s furniture, all the life that produced the Quaker village that became Welwyn Garden City. That sparks all the life that was in the old Mennonites, all the life that is in Ignatius and St. Theresa when they founded the settlement houses. That sparks the creativity of whom? — The blessed Savior himself.Every time he comes the lake lights up with the sunlight that he brings and is turned into gold. Everything that Jesus touches turns into gold. And so when you get a body of men and woman who live in reality you get the life of Jesus multiplying. And that’s actually what happens when revival comes, the life of Jesus multiples the loaves and fishes. What have you to do? Oh just have this mind in you which you already have in Christ Jesus. You have this, you’re in Jesus. You’ve been created in him and he’s in you. Live that gloriously. Live that and let him reveal to you and through you to us what he’s doing and what he wants to do. And that’s life, and that’s the wonder of it.But you do see that he then becomes preeminent. And you’re no fools, you know fine well we’ve only to look at a lot of the religious operations and religious movements to see they’re lionizing like that. They lionize this leader, and that leader, and this preacher, and that preacher. They lionize him, make him great and then in the shadows there is a one who says, “I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest unto your souls.” He’s in the shadows and we are out there, the supermen and superwoman. No, he is the king of kings, he is the Lord of lords, he is all of us. All of us are in him; we can’t breathe if he didn’t breathe today. We couldn’t see if he had not eyes today. We are him, we are in him, and we have no existence apart from him. Because he lives, we live also.Let us pray. Dear Savior, we are ashamed how we have thought of you as the third person, a he, a him, up in heaven at our Father’s right hand all the time we have been this little cell inside you. All the time you have been bearing us, feeding us with your breath, giving us life with your blood, giving us ability to see with our eyes. All the time Lord, we’ve been in you as you’ve been in us. Savior, we see how we have sunk into ourselves and sunk into each other so that everything has become important but the one who is important, you yourself.Oh Savior, we would embrace you today and enter into life and let you unfold the good works which you’ve already done and which you want us now to walk in. Holy Spirit, will you lead us in this? Our habits have been long established and they have a grip on our minds and emotions, and on our very bodies, so will you lead us out? Lead us out of this wilderness where we’re preoccupied with ourselves, and with each other, with everybody but the one of whom we are part, the one whom is our life.Oh Holy Spirit, lead us back now to the loving Shepherd in whom we have been created and in whom wenow live and have our being. Holy Spirit, lead us now into reality. We hardly know how to change or what to do so we ask you Holy Spirit to show us. We don’t know what changes these things will bring about in us but you know. You, our Savior has told us, will take of the things of Christ and impart them to us. Holy Spirit, will you do that? Will you take of the things of Jesus and impart them to us so that we can turn this into actual actions, and words, and thoughts that will enable you Lord Jesus, to manifest the life that you have already lived.We do thank you Father, for assuring us that you have numbered all our days. Before there were any of them you have numbered them all. You have seen them all. And so the way is sure before us and is plain, and is seen by you, and has been lovingly planned by you. Lord Jesus, take back the life that we have wrenched from your grasp. Take back the life Lord Jesus, that we have often unknowingly but sometimes knowingly, the life we have grabbed to ourselves and turned into nothingness.Lord Jesus, come and live the life that you have planned to live, that rich life that has your creativity and your direction in it. Thank you Savior, thank you that we each one have a life that is rich and full that you have planned. Thank you Lord that it’s far beyond anything that we have seen with our own little human eyes. Lord Jesus, come and live now in us and live in us together so that we not only have your mind Lord Jesus, which is already ours because we’re in you. We don’t only have it in ourselves and think of things the way you think of them, but we also have this mind among ourselves so that we live this way with each other and you yourself are exalted.Above all you are lifted up and you will draw all eyes unto yourself. Lord, we thank you for this day. Thank you for all the wonder that lies before us and for all the enjoyment of these next few weeks. Above all Savior, we look forward now to you living your life in us as part of you for your glory. Amen.