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May 2013

August 30, 2013

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Thoughts From The Cottage

 

Dear Friends

 

This month we celebrate the Christian festivals of Ascension and Pentecost and I’m always struck by how little impact they have on most Christians. There are four main festivals, Christmas, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. Theologically they are of increasing importance in the order listed but most people treat them of decreasing importance in the order listed. Only when we, individually and as a church, give Ascension and Pentecost the importance they deserve will we see the church become what God intends it to be.

 

Ascension is not simply about Jesus returning to heaven, important though that is. It is about him regaining his rightful place as Lord and King of Everything. When we talk about his Ascension we are not simply referring to him reclaiming his throne but to his place in our lives, our Lord and King. Whether he is recognised as such or not Jesus is Lord and King of the universe for all of eternity. As Christians we are the ones who recognise that now and should live accordingly. If Jesus is Lord and King then we are his subjects and as loyal subjects we live obediently by his standards.

 

Jesus told us that we must love God and love our neighbour and that the second arises out of the first and both must be done wholeheartedly with heart, soul and mind. Jesus told us to obey everything that he commanded his disciples to do and he upheld the ten commandments. He said that God must come first in our lives, before everything else including family. In short his demands on our lives ore tough and uncompromising but he does not want us to be obedient because he says so, he wants our obedience to arise out of our love for him. In other words our Christian lifestyle is not to be a grudging observance of God’s rules but to be a joyous embracing of all that God requires. When we say Jesus is Lord, we must mean it and live by it.

 

Pentecost is when we remember the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the early disciples. On that day Peter claimed it was the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy that God’s Spirit would be poured out on everyone. It is not an option it is a fact yet Christians so often treat the Holy Spirit as an optional extra and refuse to accept God’s gift. True to his chosen way of working God does not force the Holy Spirit upon us but he longs for us to accept him. Just look at the benefits of being filled with the Holy Spirit, to use the Biblical phrase, we can do things which humanly are impossible, we become more Christ like.

 

The Bible tells us that the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. This is the kind of people God wants us to be, all of us with all of the attributes. God enables them to grow in us through the outpouring of his Holy Spirit. If we do not exhibit these attributes we are not accepting God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. But there is more. As well as these attributes which we know as the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ there are ‘gifts of the Spirit’. These gifts are Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Working of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits, speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues. These gifts are given to build up the church and equip for it’s mission. Without them, at best, we are of limited functionality. This Pentecost we must all pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

 

Ian

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