Notes to go with talk based on the theme for May 17, 2020
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Spiritual lesson from a historic plague
Plagues are not new
Black Death 1347-51
- repeated in subsequent generations
Great Fire of London 1666
- destroyed the medieval city (few deaths)
- also destroyed the plague (very many deaths)
Industrialisation in the 1700s/1800s
- cholera + typhoid – London and the cities
- ‘fever hospitals’ which may need to be brought back
Smallpox scarred many until…
- Jenner made the God-given discovery: vaccination
6th c. BC plague in Athens
Paul refers to this while speaking at the Areopagus (Acts 17:22)
- Athenians: sought to appease all gods
- Poet Epimanedes: altars “To an unknown god” (Acts 17:23, 28)
- not appeasing angry ‘unknown’.
- who loving ‘unknown’ God is
- good news: can worship personal God, spiritual Father.
Not remote – known through Jesus
- Jesus is the “exact representation of God” (Hebrews 1:3)
- Different from pagan god assumed to demand our gifts and servility
Paul tells Athenians, Acts 27:25, our God is “not served by human hands as if He needed anything – rather, he Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”
God so loved the world that He gave…
Jesus said part of giving (John 14:16) is gift of the Holy Spirit “to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth.”
- The Spirit of Truth — He leads us into the truth about God.
- Truth also = REALITY: better way of putting it
God being real/near/speaking through spiritual impartation
- when we are born again
- born spiritually from above
- asking Jesus into our hearts and lives as Lord.
May 1738, John Wesley
Returned to London after experiencing failure as a missionary in Savannah
Went to a Moravian prayer meeting in Aldersgate, London
- Moravians: attracted Wesley because he could see they were spiritual.
- Wanted to know why.
- They knew the Spirit of Reality!
While hearing words from the very beginning of John’s gospel, how Jesus had come into the world to give “all who would receive Him the right to become children of God”
- he felt his heart “strangely warmed” = what happens when you are born again.
- Life, ministry was upended, started again
Remembered for leading a national spiritual awakening
- prevented the kind of revolution already simmering in France
Psalm reading (Psalm 66:16) has the sentence: “Come and hear… let me tell you what God has done for me”
Peter says the same thing in his letter (1 Peter 3:16) “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
- A new hope, confident expectation, the experience of new life in Jesus
- we are keen to share
- others will want to hear.
- Goes on to mention baptism
Baptism in NT (and contemporary church) is always a public response following giving one’s life to Christ
- Important part of baptism is first telling our story of finding Christ, or being found by Him.
- then into the water — burial of old life
- rise again — a new and clean life
They tell their story, how they met with Jesus, how they came to trust Him with their lives
- giving the reason for their new hope.
Peter says, always be prepared to do this
- Testimony – what God is doing in our lives – is worship.
The God we know doesn’t live in an altar…
…as the Athenians quickly learned from Paul
- He is personal and intimate
- He is known through the Spirit of Reality
- for Him, it’s all about the relationship!
We receive His love, so we can love others
- discover God is what Jesus showed us
- we want to tell others.
Knowing Him, we want to live like Him
- with attitudes and values of Jesus.
Where is our peace found?
- in a threatening, difficult time
- disturbing news, conflicting messages.
Knowing God personally through Jesus.
- the way Paul spoke about
- the heart warming John Wesley experienced
- is to open ourselves up to hear His voice
- His encouragement and direction
- His rest for the soul.
God wants to be known
Indeed He can be known, by anybody that will pause the headlong rush of their own life to turn, and find Him.
Prayer to invite Jesus into your heart
Dear God, I thank You for sending Jesus
to show me what You are like.
I know my life has been selfish,
and independent from You,
full of actions and attitudes that are against You.
And as I turn to Jesus,
I turn from that wrong direction.
I thank You, Jesus,
that You have taken my rebellion to the Cross, and paid for my sin
in Your own blood and pain.
I am deeply grateful.
More than words can express.
I recognise what You have done for me,
that I could never earn or achieve for myself.
I ask You, Saviour, to redeem me now.
I ask You to come into my heart.
I offer You the charge of my life and look to You as Lord.
I open myself now to receive Your Holy Spirit.
Open my spiritual eyes to see You
in reality and truth,
and show me Your way. Amen.