Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Life of the Beloved

There lived in Kent a certain Mrs Smithers. Recently widowed her husband had been an Anglican Minister. By mistake she was sent a telegram from another Reverend Smithers, who had just left England to become a missionary in Africa.
You can imagine her surprise when she read…
"Arrived this morning, the heat is awful."

You see, getting our identity right is very important. In the Christian life it’s vital to know who we are.

As Christians we get our identity and self worth from God himself, as we remain in Christ Jesus.

Recently I read a book by Henri J nouwen entitled "The life of the beloved" that spoke to my heart and I want to share it with you.
I owe the title and structure of this message to him

Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because
who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards
those who
earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 gives us a clearly defines what faith is. If we look at it closely you can see two parts...

Now most people don’t have a problem believing God exists. There is almost a universal acknowledgement of Gods existence. To them God is a sort of disembodied force.
The second part shows us that God is a person, that he is intimately interested in us as people, that he longs to reward and love his people. It is this concept of God that most people, even Christians struggle to grasp.

We struggle to see ourselves as a people loved by God. Intimately, personally, experientially.
One of the saddest results of this identity crisis is unbelief.

Many Christians suffer from unbelief. The live under the misconception that they are unloved and unworthy. As long as we languish under this misconception we will struggle in our walk with Christ, sin that ensnares us, and overcoming the patterns and pressures of this world.
One of the saddest results of this identity crisis is unbelief.

Have you seen one of those weather stations people have with themometers and barometers. In our house is an invisible joy barometer. "How is your Joy?" Sometimes we lose our joy for a day or two, but if it’s a week, or a month, then its too long.
As Christians we need one that asks "How is your love life?"

Tonight I am going to talk about three areas of your love life

  • being the beloved
  • becoming the beloved (I will probably spend the most time here)
  • Living as the beloved

You are the beloved. Be who you are.
You can at any moment come into the presence of God IN HIS THRONE ROOM AND SIT ON YOUR DADDIES LAP not only can you but God desires that you do.
The chief purpose of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever

Being the beloved

2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old
has gone, the new has come!

How do we cross over our Jordan.
How do we get through that temple door.
how do we approach the holy of holies with joy.
You do it as a new creation.
you can't do it on your own.
Only Christ can

Mt 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it,
and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."

We don’t often think of this scripture as referring to us.

But we are his body. It may sound redundant but We need to partake in what it means to be his body in order to be who we are… his Body
This scripture shows us four things that happen to the bread, and I am going to talk about each in turn to highlight a different aspect of being the beloved.
Becoming the beloved
Becoming the beloved involves

  • being Taken,
  • being Blessed
  • being Broken
  • being Given

Taken: The freedom of a sure hope

Love is a risky business
Ammi and I do marriage preparation and something we see.
There is a risk in loving, in trusting we have to stick our neck out sometimes in the process of allowing ourselves to be loved.

When I stood at that altar and I took those promises, Id had years to prepare for it, but I still felt like someone about to bunjee jump for the first time. Knot in my stomach, and my heart was pounding. I look across at Ammi and I can see that her bouquet was shaking.

It reminds me of the song by Bette Midler - The Rose

It's the heart, afraid of breaking, That never learns to dance.

It's the dream, afraid of waking, That never takes a chance.

It's the one who won't be taken, Who cannot seem to give.

And the soul, afraid of dyin', That never learns to live.

God is absolutely trustworthy, he will not let you or I down.
In Christ we have the freedom of a sure hope.

Blessed: The freedom to receive love

Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For
he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in
his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus
Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his
glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Broken: the freedom to be transformed

We have an inadequate theology (and understanding) of suffering - people sometimes fall into two camps - one says that there should be no suffering in the christian life - the other that everything is suffering.
Neither side is balanced and pastors run a mile from either group.
As Christians it is our privilege to grow and mature, the freedom to be transformed. Jesus learned from what he suffered, if we are to be like him what makes us think we can get away without going through a similar process.

1Pe 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving
you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 says;

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are
perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by
God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our
bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may
also be seen in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NLT)

John Fischer from Purpose driven life says

These verses are what I call the fine print of the Christian life. When you sign
up, you sign up for this, but unfortunately, not too many people read that far
into the contract, and not enough leaders point it out. So when bad things start
happening to us, we think something went wrong with our faith. Not necessarily,
in fact, it's an honor to think that your faith is worthy of being tested. It's
a reverse spiritual principle that nonetheless is true: we get beaten down so
that Christ might rise in us. It's the whole idea God has of avoiding
See, He doesn't want people confusing human power and achievement
with His power and what He is achieving in and through our lives. If all
Christians were super-Christians, people would be impressed with them. As it is,
God wants people to be surprised at us, not so much impressed - surprised that
we can keep on believing, given what has happened to us. Surprised at us -
impressed with God. That's the way it should go.
It's important to know this
so that the things that happen don't throw us into a tailspin. Paul wrote in the
passage above that troubles, confusions, knock-downs and drag-outs, are all to
be expected in a life of faith, and they are not just something to suck it up
and endure, they are what will actually release the power of God in our lives.
We encounter deathlike experiences so that Christ's lifelike nature may clearly
be seen in us, despite what is happening.Let me try and say this again. This is
not just endurance training through tough times. This is God's strategy for
ministry through us. There is no other way for it to be done. His strategy is
His power and strength through our weakness - His life through our death. This
doesn't just happen to some Christians; it happens to us all if we desire to be
effective in our faith. So don't forget the fine print today, and allow the
troubles you face to springboard you into finding God's purposes even in this.
He had this planned all along. It's even in the contract!"

Given: the freedom to love supernaturally

I don’t know what you associate with Christmas.
When I think of Christmas I think of watermelons. And chlorine from the swimming pool.
It would always be really hot over Christmas time in Africa.
I never used to like Christmas, it was always a busy time for me, my friends would always be away on holiday, although I couldn’t be. But I did love presents.

The first Christmas I remember I was three or four in this beautiful small town Louis Trichard at the foot of the Zoutpansberg mountains. My dad was preaching about Jesus being the prince of peace, I on the other hand had just been given a toy machine gun by my gran, which I was using to shoot parishoners up and down the aisle, much to their amusement.
But when I became a Christian, Christmas became something different. Go had given me a present. Jesus was someone like me. He was born, he lived, he breathed air like I do. Here was someone I could relate to.
What a gift could you give an only child, but someone who would always be there?
You see we have to accept the kingdom of God like a child, and pass it on with the grace with which we have received it.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s
glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which
comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Living as the beloved

Dt 33:12 About Benjamin he said:
"Let the beloved of the LORD rest
secure in him,
for he shields him all day long,
and the one the LORD
loves rests between his shoulders.

We long for rest. We crave it in the deepest part of us.
Do you remember what I said at the beginning about God being a rewarder. One of the key rewards is the peace of God, a peace that goes beyond circumstance, beyond understanding, and really satisfies.
2Pe 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and
godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and
2Pe 1:4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious
promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and
escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

I haven't said it yet- Holiness - Christlikeness is what we are created for.
I am a big doctor Who fan- you see I am a little like the ship the tartus - I am bigger on the inside than the outside. The whole creation is waiting until what is on the outside conforms to what is on the inside. We read in Romans 8

Ro 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of
childbirth right up to the present time.
Ro 8:23 Not only so, but we
ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait
eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

For what reason verse one - therefore - what’s the therefore there for.
answer is in the verses before.
We are full of hope we have his precious promises
He has granted us everything for life and Godliness
Letting go of the past
Pressing on to the future
Pressing on toward the goal
The number one purpose Christ came was to restore man made in Gods image an likeness.
2Pe 1:8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep
you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus
2Pe 1:9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and
blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Peter 1:8 is the crux of the argument

If you are wanting a life that is going to count this is what it looks like
goodness faithfulness self control. It looks like Jesus, because you are full of Jesus, you have his life overflowing
There is a kind of knowledge which is unproductive, a type of knowledge that puffs up like the yeast in the Egyptian bread, but ultimately it doesn’t satisfy
God wants us to be satisfied - he longs to feed us on good things- and that’s Good news
Like your master, you are into transformation
You are daily being transformed
We are effective transformers of the earth around us
Do you remember there was a kind of toy called a transformer- you would start out with a little action figure and the fold the legs and arms and so on to create a whole new thing- a battle tank or a mighty fighter aircraft- something useful - God wants to transform us into something useful.
Go and be transformed - and may the irresistible force of Gods Love be with you.

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