“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
On Sunday we held our Cafe Church where we looked back at our learning during 2023 with the focus upon the Holy Trinity. We considered this as the 'Fullness of God' and discussed what that meant and what it meant for us as a Church and as individual children of God. The aim of this service is to put our learning into practice; actual actions for the Church.
The below are some of the questions we considered. Please give them further thought and if you believe the Lord has identified something in your considerations for the Church, please let us know!
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.
Come thou Fount of Every Blessing - Chris Tomlin
This blog is based on Rev. Kim's sermon "The Trinity Today - Why It Matters", preached on Sunday, November 19th, 2023:
1. Were you ever taught that God is distant, impersonal, quick to judge and punish, or hard to please? If you were, what was that experience like for you? If that was your experience, did it change? How did it change? Different teaching? Different church? A move of the Holy Spirit in you?
2. If you met someone who believed that God is distant or impersonal or interested only in moral obedience, how might that person be helped to encounter or believe in the God who is personal, relational, forgiving, close, challenging and empowering?
3. Have you typically thought of worship as something we humans offer to God? Would it challenge your understanding of worship to know that any real worship we give God is an activity of the Holy Trinity in us, the Holy Spirit moving us to praise and offer our gifts, through the Son, to the Father?
4. When you pray on your own, how do you like to talk to God? How do you personally address God? Dear Jesus? Heavenly Father? Holy One? O, Lord? What is your “favorite”? What moves you privately to pray?
5. Think of what the Trinity does: creating, loving, sending, redeeming, sanctifying, gifting, all in dynamic moving relationships between Father, Son, and Spirit … Now, think of each of our church activities, such as pastoral care or visiting, fellowship and meals, music, preaching, holy communion, mission work, Sunday school, Bible studies, etc. How do any of these church activities reflect the relations and movements of the Father, Son, and Spirit? Hint: consider your answers to Question 3 on worship and Question 4 on prayer.
6. In his sermon on ‘The Trinity Today, Why it Matters,’ Kim said that last January he shared his hopes for St. Aidan’s for 2023 as we look at the Trinity. “My hope and my prayer is that before 2023 is over, we will all know God better, pray with more understanding and depth, and minister with more power and grace from the heart of God. We will worship the Lord, experiencing the communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will better understand God’s mission for his church as a continuation of the Father sending his Son, then the Spirit, and then ourselves into the world.” Do you think any of this happened in us as a congregation 2023? How?
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Psalm 25: 5
Reading: 2 Timothy 3: 1-7
On Sunday we held our act of Remembrance and considered the Grace of God within conflict and war. We remembered a man called Paul Schneider and his stance, as an ordained Pastor, against Hitler, untruth and evil; ultimately, he gave his life. We understood that unless we learn from our history, we often repeat it; evil exists, the vulnerable suffer so truth matters. The essential truth of life is that of Jesus Christ and the salvation God offers through Him in His grace. This is humanity’s true hope, joy, eternal destiny and amazing inheritance (1 Peter 1: 3-9)
Pilate famously asked Jesus Christ, at His so-called trial, “What is truth?” (John 18: 38). Jesus is said to be the ‘truth,’ He said this of Himself (John 14: 6). What do you believe is the truth of life; what do you understand Jesus to mean when He says He is ‘the way, the truth and the life?’
What other ‘truths’ does culture and society believe in? Read 2 Timothy 3: 1-7. What trends do you see in this passage that are reflected in our society, church and lives?
Paul Schneider gave His life for the truth of God that he committed to and believed in. Where do you think his courage and strength came from; would you be able to make such a stand? Consider 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 and Hebrews 4: 16.
Jesus has walked this path before us and for us. Death and sin have been defeated through His self-sacrifice and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15: 56-57). Remember His prayer in Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 36-46), remember His motives (Hebrews 12: 1-2) and His journey (Philippians 2: 5-11). How does such grace and faith provide us with strength and confidence? How will you live in God’s truth today, how will you know His freedom (John 8: 32)?
God of compassion and love may we know your grace and joy through faith in Jesus. Forgive our sins, relieve our misery, satisfy our longing, and fulfill all our hopes for peace; through your Son Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen
Abide with Me sung by Audrey Assad
Ain’t no Grave – Bethel Music and Molly Skaggs
The Holy Spirit and You: A Transformative Relationship
On November 5th, 2023 I preached on the topic of the Holy Spirit and the role it plays in our sanctification. Since there wasn’t any written transcript or script of any kind, I imagine it would be useful to jot down the major points here.
For starters, let’s define what it means to be sanctified. Simply put, something or someone that has been sanctified has been set apart, cleansed, and called holy. When we come to Christ with repentant hearts and accept Him as Lord of our lives, we are immediately born again, that is, not merely a person born of the flesh but born of Spirit as well (see John 3). Our sins are imputed unto Christ and we become His righteousness – hallelujah!
Christ becomes our righteousness and sanctification and salvation (1 Cor. 1:30); that means when God our Father looks upon us, He sees us as perfect, righteous, and blameless since we are in His perfect, righteous, and blameless Son. It doesn’t get more Trinitarian than this: in John 14:16 we read that God the Son will ask God the Father to send unto us God the Holy Spirit. And it is by the grace of our Triune God that we are saved at all (Ephesians 2). It was the will and initiation of God the Father that His Son would die for our sins so that we may become living temples for the Holy Spirit – Romans 8:11 tells us that the exact same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us!
So you might be thinking that something here doesn’t add up: yes, God the Father looks at us as perfect for the sake of His Son, but we are in no way perfect! This brings us to another important topic, positional holiness & holiness.
Let me boil it down to the basics.
When we are saved we experience positional holiness; that is, our souls, now reborn, are securely in the hands of our God. Since all Christians are in Christ (Rom. 8:1), we walk around in and a part of this fallen world dressed in a seamless white robe of righteousness. Our position in Christ is secured forever because of God’s amazing grace!
This is where the contrast comes in.
Practically speaking we are anything but holy, especially when we first come to Christ. Thank God that our Lord Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous, but to call sinners! A person might very well experience an instant freedom from things like drugs, pornography addiction, abusive tendencies, or anything else the moment they come to Christ. It can and has happened before, and glory to God for it. I would argue, however, that more often than not God takes us by the hand when we come to Him and He slowly starts us in the right direction – still wrestling with sinful habits and lifestyles, but finally oriented in the right direction and empowered to overcome the chains of bondage to sin. This growth, this gradual change of direction and transformation into the likeness of Christ is also called sanctification.
That’s right, sanctification is both a noun and a verb – fun!
To be sanctified is a state in which every Christian exists. We are in Christ, covered by His atoning sacrifice, and given the promise and seal of the Holy Spirit for eternal life. To undergo sanctification is a God-given process and journey, the purpose of which is to transform us, degree by degree, into the likeness of Christ. God doesn’t simply save us to leave us where we are, no more than did He dine with and call tax collectors and prostitutes simply to leave their lifestyles unchanged! No, God knows that right living comes from right being. And right being comes from His being!
We want the world to be a better place, right? We want people to agree on right and wrong and to treat others with love and compassion. God wants that more than anyone else. The big difference we need to show others is that He is the only one with a real solution. He is the one who doesn’t merely give us an example of how to live objectively and morally good lives, He also empowers us both to desire and to act in the ways that please Him (Phil. 2:13)!
Our lives are not our own if we are in Christ. Romans 8:11-12 couldn’t be more explicit when it says “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it,” (emphasis added). We have an absolute obligation to the Lord our God first and foremost. Nothing else can come close to our devotion to Him.
Galatians 2:20 spells it out in another wonderful way, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
My friends, I encourage you today to look afresh at the ways in which we should be emulating our Lord Jesus. Absorb the epistles especially. Have your hearts humbled before the Lord as you read and experience His overwhelming grace. Commit anew to keeping in step with the Spirit and keep your eyes on the author and perfector of your faith! It is by sincere love and devotion that we can best glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” 1 Corinthians 3: 16
Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 24b-31
On Sunday we were blessed by the testimonies of Katherine and Darcy, thank you! They shared how the Holy Spirit had worked in their lives and enabled them within the Body of Christ, the Church. We then considered the What, How, Who and Why of how the Holy Spirit works in the Church.
What – God puts the Body together; 1 Cor. 12: 24b
How – by acting in us to fulfil & show us His will; Phil. 2: 13 & Col. 1: 9
Who – He is calling all His children to be the Body; 1 Cor. 12: 27
Why – to bless us and prevent disunity, and for good works He has prepared for us to do 1 Cor. 12: 25-26 & Eph. 2: 12
We then considered the question, “So, now what do we do with this knowledge?” How can we “…fan into flame the gift of God, which is in us through the laying on of hands,” 2 Tim. 1: 6?
As God’s Children, believers, we each have the Holy Spirit within us. He guides us to the truth of Christ, He convicts us of sin, judgement and righteousness, He comforts, counsels and empowers. We heard different ways in which the Holy Spirit has worked in the lives of Darcy, Katherine and me. We also considered the 'Joy of Jesus,' John 15: 11; how this deep joy that we have in knowing God can be a guiding light in our lives. If we lose that light we may be walking astray because of the pressures of life, ministry and the troubles we see in the world. This is just one way in which the Holy Spirit can prompt and help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on fears, troubles or self.
The Question of Application
So, how can we work with God to fan into flame that gift within us, how can the flame of the Holy Spirit become a fire in us and in the Church? Here are some questions to help us consider the answer to these questions:
Lord God, help us to fan into flame the gifts that you have blessed us with through your Holy Spirit. Guide us into truth and enable us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our Saviour. Help us to bless you and one another within your Body. May we remain in you, and your love through faith and obedience so that your joy may be in us and our joy be complete. Amen
Holy Spirit, Come with Power – sung by the Midnight Hymn Sing
Spirit Lead me by Influence Music and Michael Ketterer
In 2024, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.