Life is hard... - Acts 2:1-21

Life is hard...

  1. Internationally the situation in Syria is beyond words, compounded by both disconnection with reality at the meeting of the G20 summit this week in St Petersburg and failure to find a humanitarian way forward. Egypt is also an explosion waiting to happen. World events remind me of a lyric in Bonnie Tyler’s song ‘Total Eclipse of the heart’ I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark, we're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks.

  2. At the personal level, it is hard for many to survive, uncertainty dominates most areas of life including education, employment, care of elderly, common values and more...
    Some are also in situations of immense personal suffering.

  3. I have been pondering about the role of James in responding to this.
    I am aware of many good things – and this could be the sermon today, but...
    God’s revelation to each local church in Revelation acknowledged good thing(s) then said ‘but...’

  4. I want to try to identify the ‘but’ of St James and suggest a way forward.

The ‘but’ of St James

  1. I compare St James to Acts and note some differences:

    • Have we lost our first love for God which seemed so evident then?

    • Have we lost the desire to pray together, they prayed constantly?

    • Why is it so hard to get leaders (e.g. children/youth work) – they seemed to have many?

    • Why is there a trickle of people leaving St James, either openly or through the back door

      when they were growing daily?

    • They seemed really connected with God and action followed revelation – we seem disconnected.

  2. Four vital points to for you to hear:

    • My heart is for the Gospel to change society and for God’s Kingdom to come. (Rom 12:1,2)

    • I am not blaming anyone.

    • Although it may not feel like it, realising where we are and seeking God is the right place to

      be. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. (Rev 3:19)

    • The answer is not to ‘try harder’ – to put emotional pressure on people and exhaust them.

  3. This Spiritual restoration promised by God through Joel, realised at Pentecost, is available today:- But how, what can we do? Two areas to consider:

1st thing is personal – have we grieved the Holy Spirit?

  1. Eph 4:30 do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

    Grieving the Holy Spirit creates a broken church which God will not spiritually inhabit.

  2. We grieve the Holy Spirit when:

    1. a)  We don’t to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Mt 6:33)

      and fail to live ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done’. (Put Him first)

    2. b)  We are independent from God and do not pray. Ultimately we are helpless and dependent on God. (Pray fervently)

c) We have broken relationships with others, this causes cracks in the church and the Spirit will not stay. (Try to restore these relationships)

d) We refuse to follow the Spirit’s lead. The Spirit enables mission of God. (Go in the power of the Spirit to be a Godly influence where He has put you)

3. If one (or more) fits for you, I ask you to do something about it, so that we have the right attitudes to God and others, to receive His blessing.

2nd thing is corporate.

  1. We are engaged in Spiritual Warfare - the devil wants to paralyse us.

    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10f)

  2. Please put on the full armour of God.
    Please pray in the heavenly places for the power of the Cross, of the Risen Lord Jesus to defeat all attempts of the devil to paralyse the mighty church of God in St James.

Then two promises will be fulfilled:

  1. God promised through Joel:

    In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders... And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:17-21)

    How I long for this to be fulfilled in St James as it did in Acts, and it can be.

  2. God has not abandoned us. There is hope and confidence to move forward from this place.

    13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chron 7)

    Mark 4:9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”