Knowing Who We Are

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Knowing Who We Are.

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 22nd August, 2021

Good morning Everyone. 

Welcome to our online service for this week.  

I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something pretty special about the intimate worship that our guys have been able to put together for us while they are in lockdown at home.  We really appreciate it.

Let me pray before I launch into what I have to share this morning.  And this prayer will also come into agreement with the many churches that are praying throughout Australia today, as we continue to believe for Covid-19 to bow to the name of Jesus.

“Heavenly Father, 

We stand together this morning with the multitude of Christians across Australia who are also praying right now – and we ask for Your mercy to be poured out over us as a nation.  

We stand as a united front also against this disease, and command it to bow to the name of Jesus.  

We claim the promise of Your Word, where You have said:

Mark 11:22-24

New King James Version

“Have faith in God. 23 …whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

So Father, we command this mountain of Covid-19 to be cast into the sea.  We stand in faith.  We believe the Word to be a powerful, two edged sword – and this is Your Word!  

We call those things which are not as though they are.  We call forth healing and reconciliation and revival across this nation.  We declare that division and strife would be replaced by unity and peace.   We pray for Your divine presence to be poured out over our government leaders.  We see those who are lying in sick beds rising up out of them, in Jesus Name.

You and Your Word are way beyond the bounds of our limitations and restrictions.  

So as we come to this message today, wherever and whenever this word is being received, I pray that it will be Your perfect timing and place for your church to be stirred, convicted, washed, healed, inspired and built up.

I pray for the Anointing of the Holy Spirit to cause this Word to pierce our hearts with truth and revelation – piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and to be the discerner of the thoughts and intents of our heart.

Bring all things into that place of perfect peace – position us as Your church – centred in Your Holy and powerful Presence.

In Jesus’s name,  Amen.”

My last message to us as a church, two weeks ago, was based on the scripture from Ps. 46:10, which says, “Be still, and know that I Am God!”

It was a message about exalting, worshipping, glorifying God right in the midst of our lives and our circumstances.

And it acknowledged that our strength, our peace, our hope is completely wrapped up in who God is – not who we are – and certainly not in whatever is happening around us.

So before I start into my message for this morning, I just want to remind you that we have firstly placed The Father, The Son – Jesus, and the Holy Spirit right at the forefront of everything.  

Knowing God and Who He is, is our source of all things.  He is the beginning and end of everything.

I wanted to clarify that because this message today is more about who we are.

We know who we are when we first know who God is!

But we also need to know within our selves – especially now – how we should be responding to the world we live in.

I’m not even going to mention the things we and the rest of the world are facing right now.  It’s in our faces every day.

But what I do want to talk about is our response.  Who are we in relation to not only God – but to the people and the world around us?

Let me start with this:

How many times have we said to ourselves and others – we are in this world, but we are not of it?

It’s a true statement!  

When Jesus prayed, the night before His death – He prayed for us – you and I – and it was an incredible prayer, drawing us into the presence and unity of God Himself.

And He said:

John 17:14

New King James Version

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

So this sense of being in the world and not of it is true.  

For some, however, it has been an excuse – to disassociate more and more from the world around them.  

Some have retreated away from the world and from people – in an attempt to protect themselves, to find some kind of sanctuary, to hide away in a world of their own making.

And I get it.  Sometimes I just feel like turning off all sources of news and outside influence, and just hiding away in a little bubble.  In fact, I think it’s probably healthy to do that every now and then.

And this desire to withdraw from life is only encouraged by being in lockdown.

So… we’re talking today about how we should be responding to life as we know it now.

Well, as much as hiding away sounds nice – it’s not scriptural.

Yes, we are definitely limited and restricted physically right now. 

But generally speaking – hiding from the world doesn’t advance the kingdom – and it doesn’t really advance our own mental and spiritual health either – when we are deliberately isolating ourselves and withdrawing from regular life.

Because right after verse 14, Jesus says:

John 17:15

New King James Version

“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.”

And then in:

John 17:18

New King James Version

“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

So first of all, I think we can safely say that although we are not of this world – and we should always endeavour to live as though we are not of this world – that doesn’t mean we hide away from it – or from the people in it.

Because we are sent into the world as Christ’s disciples – following the footsteps of Jesus who was also sent into this world.  

The only way this world will be influenced by God’s goodness, His Light, His truth – is as we carry these things into the very world that we are in many ways broken hearted by.

The world needs to see and experience people who are steadfast, stable, filled with faith – not tossed around by every new social media post, news story, or opinion.

This world needs to know that there are people of faith, who trust in God and His Word – a people who have an eternal vision and mindset.  The temporary things we face are for us just that – temporary.

It doesn’t mean they aren’t serious – they are!  What’s happening around us is confronting.  Life itself is threatened on many levels – depending which country you live in.

Our friends, Simon and Allison Rattray are in touch with many people in countries where Christians are persecuted.  He shared this during the week:

“An Afghan Christian says…” 

“That dreaded day of evil is now upon us. Many Christians in my country will be meeting Jesus in the next few weeks. Please pray we will be found worthy of this sacrifice.” 

How can we comprehend what these people are going through on a daily basis?

The people we meet even in our own part of the world – those struggling with fear and anxiety, confusion – their emotional turmoil too – is real.

But we as the people of God have access to something supernatural.  We carry the Word of God on the inside.  We have the Holy Spirit strengthening us and leading us throughout every day.

Don’t take that for granted.  Be grateful.  Be expectant.  Be faithful.  

I think one of the main questions we should be asking ourselves right now is what is God doing in the midst of all this?  Father, what are you doing in our lives right now?  How are you using these difficult circumstances to further Your kingdom purposes?  How are You doing that in me?  And what is my part in the plan?

Pray about that.  Ask God to reveal Himself to you and reveal His plans for your life.   Jesus’ prayer for us to the Father was that we would be kept from the evil one.  Praise God for that!  

As we consider the biblical prophecies surrounding the end times before Jesus returns – we have to realise that nothing is taking God by surprise.  He has an unstoppable plan – a perfect plan – and we need to keep our eyes looking forward – and looking towards Him.

The thing that undergirds our Christian brothers and sisters in Afghanistan is that they have an eternal hope.  And so do we!

We have a hope that transcends the world we live in.  It transcends all the terrible things happening around us.  This is the foundation of our faith – because our hope is real – and it is founded in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 11:1

New King James Version

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

The Passion Translation

“Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.”

This is God’s Word – and one thing that has become reinforced and established in my life – particularly as the world changes around me – is that the Word of God is the one solid, foundational, life producing truth and hope – that remains unchanging – just as Jesus Himself is the same yesterday, today and forever!

This reality becomes even clearer – more black and white – as the the things of the world change every day. 

We do live in the world – and we are sent into the world to bring hope, truth and light – but ultimately our hope isn’t in worldly things, worldly treasures, worldly philosophies.

So – genuine hope in the divine is something we can carry with us wherever we go.

So is the presence of God.  We carry the very source of our hope on the inside. 

1 Corinthians 3:16

New King James Version

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

Church – this is the greatest reassurance and our greatest treasure.  He lives in us.  So does His wisdom, His discernment, His nature, His heart, His purposes.

The Word and the Spirit are our life!

The Word of course includes Jesus Christ Himself.  He was the Word from the beginning.

So then, with God’s presence comes His power.

2 Corinthians 12:9

New King James Version

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The Power of Christ does rest upon us because He lives in us.

I don’t know about you, but I feel these scriptures breathe life and hope into the places of fear and hopelessness that confront us from the world.

It does me good to proclaim them.  And it does us all god to hear them.  It strengthens our faith.  Faith comes by hearing…. And hearing by the Word of God!

Sometimes we do feel weak.  Sometimes we feel vulnerable.  Sometimes we can’t see exactly what the future holds.  

But Grace!  Grace is poured out in those moments.  The Grace of God is what brings us strength in times of weakness.

The devil uses fear to try and weaken our resolve.  But let’s take hold of that prayer that Jesus prayed – that God would keep us from the evil one.

Circumstances might be grim.  Our lives might be caught up in things that are out of our control.  We may have to face worldly threats.

But we rebuke the devil’s plans and we can ask God for His grace to abound toward us.

I believe a big part of the way we respond and deal with things, is what is going to influence our family and friends and our world – for good!    And for God!

That’s really what this message is all about.

Have we come to that place yet that Paul spoke of, when he said:

Philippians 1:21

New King James Version

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

While we live – live as Christ would live.  

 

Live with hope.  Live with love.  Live with joy!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

New King James Version

“Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

In the Passion Translation, it says, make your life a prayer!

In other words, be continually communing with God.  That’s how Jesus lived.  He was continually listening for what the Father said.  In fact He only did what the Father said.

Isaiah 26:3-4

New King James Version

“You will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.

Trust in the Lord forever,

For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”

This is where we find life.  

And when our time comes – Paul says, to die is gain.

Don’t worry about when that will be.  It is already determined.  Again – it’ll be no surprise to God.

But know that you are totally precious and loved by God, more than you could ever imagine. His plans for your life have all been written in His book, it says in Ps. 139.  

Communing with Him always will be your way of continually discovering those plans.

His thoughts about you are more than the sand in the sea.

I think in these times, we need to know deep on the inside that we are in the Hands of a wonderful, powerful, loving Father.

And the things we face – even suffering – have the potential to make us stronger.

Romans 5:3-5

The Passion Translation

“But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. 4 And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. 5 And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!”

Finally, don’t let your own mind or the voice of anyone else, try to reduce or undermine God’s love and care for you because of the struggles and trials that you face.

God’s love and compassion – His grace towards us, is based on the greatest expression of love that has ever been displayed. 

The cross is the proof of that love.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

We are going to share communion in a moment, around that precious truth.

But remember, God has lifted us up from this world – not to remove us from it, but to send us back into it as new creations in Christ – being ambassadors for Him.

Also – Celebrate and be grateful for the hope that we have that is eternal – and which comes by faith – hearing the Word of faith.

We carry the presence of God on the inside – we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We are called to live out of His presence and power – and demonstrate His love and truth to the world.

When we are weak – He makes us strong.  His grace is always sufficient.

While we live – rejoice, pray and give thanks always – for even in the times of trials and tribulation – God is doing something profoundly deep in our lives – causing us to become more and more like Jesus.

And we can confidently say that, because He is our example of how we are to face every circumstance.

And that’s where we started this morning.  It’s about about how we respond.

In His time of trial – Jesus prayed for us.  He brought us right into the place of God’s presence – that place of total love and unity.  He called it the glory.

As we share communion this morning – lean into Him by faith.  Receive this bread and juice and at the same time receive Him afresh into your heart.

This is a moment of being strengthened – being filled – being refreshed – being empowered to live life for Him.

Let’s take and eat together in Jesus name.

Amen.

I just wanted to say Thankyou this morning as you continue to give your tithes and offerings.  It is a powerful demonstration of your love for God. – but also your commitment to Seacoast Church.

I’d like to point you towards our Facebook page –  Seacoast Church Australia – to a new post I shared yesterday.

Our friends at Old Quarter Coffee are personally connected to their coffee producers in Sumatra.  And recently they raised money to build some roads and pathways connecting the villages where their coffee is grown.  They were really concerned for their safety, and you’ll see why when you look at the photos.

It’s a wonderful story – but I’m letting you know here because we were part of it.  Seacoast Church donated money towards this amazing project.

So in the midst of some very ordinary news that’s happening right now    this is a really great feel good story.  

Your giving makes a difference in all kinds of ways.


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