Good morning everyone! It's good to be with you again in Thomas Street today and for the last couple of weeks. It has been a real blessing to renew fellowship with you and share what God has laid on my heart to bring to you. So thank you for the welcome, the invitation to be here, and I anticipate blessing from the Lord again today as we seek Him. I want you to turn with me to Philippians chapter 3 - and just before we read the Scripture (we're going to start reading from verse 2), let's pray. I want you to pray - would you? - for yourself, that God would speak to you. We want to hear from God. Anthony has exhorted us to question why we are here, and we just want to take a moment and say: 'Lord, please, it's me again!' - remember that old Gospel song 'Me, O me, dear Lord, standing in the need of prayer'? We just want to, sort of, say: 'Lord, here I am, and I would like to hear from You today. I really need to hear from You, and I want to experience Your touch upon my life'. God loves those prayers. So really, what we are doing just now is: we are cupping our ear to hear what God has to say.
So let's pray: Father, we thank You for what a good, good Father You are. We thought about that last Sunday morning. We thank You for Your exceptional, indescribable, four-dimensional love that You have lavished on us. We thank You for revealing Your Father-heart to us in Jesus, Your Son. We thank You, Lord, that we just can't get over Him, and we never will. It will take us eon upon eon in eternity to explore the greatness of His love toward us. So, Father, we ask, by Your Holy Spirit, that You will come again, and that You will reveal, open our hearts, and show Jesus to us again. Give us a greater capacity to receive Him, and to desire and follow Him - for, Holy Spirit, we know only You can create that in our hearts. So we invite You to come now and minister to each of us now, for the glory of Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
OK, this series that I have been doing with you, of course, is entitled 'Knowing God'. I've been talking a little bit about how there are key components in any relationship, human relationships, that are mirrored in our relationship with God. Now, I do need to point out that our relationship with God is very different in many capacities; but there are similarities which are striking and which are very informative and helpful to us as we seek to cultivate a closer walk with God. I'll not repeat the ones that we've gone over already, but we're going to read now from verse 2 of chapter 3 - and you can try and guess what the key component might be here in our desire to know God:
"Beware of dogs" - that's not the natural, literal Jack Russell type, but the spiritual type - "beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish" - the actual Greek word there is 'dung' - "that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith". This is our verse that we're going to focus on mainly this morning: "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead".
I think we would all agree that Paul was a man who knew God. Paul, we would describe as being 'a spiritual giant', and if we were to ask the question: what makes spiritual giants? I wonder what your answer might be? For many in evangelical Christianity, they would answer: 'Well, great learning' - you know, I hear people use the term 'He's very knowledgeable in the Scriptures'. The idea is that that makes a person a giant in the faith. Now, there is no doubt about it, you'll not get to great stature and maturity in Christ if you are ignorant of Scripture, but I don't think that is what actually makes giants. Others will say: 'Pedigree'. Paul talks a little bit about that, doesn't he? Who our fathers are, our grandfathers, or maybe our denominational stock, or our theological bent. Others will say: 'No, it's experience, it's what you've done for the Lord, what you've gone through' - but we have to say 'No', categorically, to all those suggestions as to how spiritual giants are made, in the light of this passage of Scripture. Because Paul, especially from verses 4 through to 6, talks about learning, pedigree, and his experience in faith - and yet he concludes that it's all 'dung'. We could use other words for that, but basically he's expressing that in comparison to the great riches that there are in knowing Christ, they are all dung.
What makes a spiritual giant? Spiritual giants have big appetites. We said that Paul was a man we would describe as having known Christ, and yet he still has this insatiability to know Him more. He's got a big appetite to know Jesus in an even deeper way. Of course, appetite is the difference between babies and adults, and we see that this is the same in the spiritual sense. We look at great men of God - not just Paul, but Moses; you remember I started, and I've kept referencing Moses and his desire to know God, particularly from Exodus 33 - but think about it in relation to appetite now as I read these verses again to you: 'Now, therefore', Moses said, 'I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight', and he said, 'Please show me Your glory'. Do you hear the rumble of the spiritual tummy there?
The Sons of Korah wrote that amazing Psalm that many of us are familiar with and we sing from time to time, Psalm 42: 'As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. when shall I come and appear before God?'. David, of course, is the Psalmist we are most familiar with, and he is described as 'the man after God's own heart'. He penned the words in Psalm 63: 'O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. My soul follows close behind You' - in other words, 'I'm chasing after You, Lord!' - 'Your right hand upholds me'.
All of this expression of appetite and desire describes what our Lord came on the scene and taught in Matthew 5:6, when He said: 'Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled'. The blessedness is not in the hunger and thirst, the blessedness is: if you've got a good appetite, God has got plenty of stuff to feed you with - that's the blessing! You'll get filled! The blessing is not in the hunger and thirst, it's in the fullness.
When baby birds are old enough to feed, do you know what they do? They open their mouths and the parent birds come and feed. So, by opening their mouths, they are expressing their desire, their appetite. God is not in the business of force-feeding Christians. He doesn't force open your mouth and push food down your throat, God feeds in response to appetite. When we were bringing up babies, there was a bit of a debate on whether you should feed them with a schedule or feed them on demand, when they wanted fed. Well, I don't know which was right by the way - but the way God feeds His children is demand-feeding. He feeds according to our appetite, that's the way God works - because giants are not born, giants are made.
Ask Paul, 'What made you a man of God?', and he will reply - we read these verses, but this is a paraphrase of them, let me read it to you: 'My desire previously was to be found acceptable when tested by the Mosaic law, but now the consuming passion of my life is a Person, to know Him intimately, experientially and continuously! When I found the superior worth there was in knowing Christ, He became the goal of my life, He became the passion of my life - to know Him became the impelling, compelling, propelling force in my life' - that is knowing Him! So, what makes giants? Desire or hunger or passion - it's vital, and if you want to know God more, you need to have this. Now, you may not have it right now - that's OK - but then you need to ask God for it: 'Give me this, Lord'.
Napoleon Hill was an American self-help author before self-help books were popular, actually around 1937 he wrote a book entitled 'Think and Grow Rich' - if only it was as easy as that! It became one of the top ten best self-help books of all time, 'Think and Grow Rich'. This is what he said: 'The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind: weak desire brings weak results. Just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat, to achieve anything you need a burning desire'. Now, I know that's business, but nevertheless it translates into every facet of life. If you're going to achieve anything, and if you're going to know God more than you know God this Sunday morning, you need desire.
Now, we spoke last week about how to know God is to have communion with God. Communion, not in the sense of 'Holy Communion', but it literally means 'an act of sharing', commonality with the Lord. We also used the word 'fellowship', which means 'shared interests'. Paul couches his desire to know Christ here in our verse 10 in the context of sharing, fellowshipping with Jesus in three particular areas - three things that we need to have in common with Him if we're going to know Him better: the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering, and being conformed to His death.
So let's look at each of these - first of all he says: 'That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection'. A paraphrase puts it: 'I want to know Him in a personal, intimate way, and I want the resurrection power that is available to me from Him to be operating daily in my life. I want the power that brought Him to resurrection to be working in me' - wow! So, the big question is: is it? Is it what? Is it working in you? Is what working in you? Is the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead working in you day by day?
Well, the good news is: it is in you if you're a born-again child of God. It has to be, you can't be born-again without the Holy Spirit and the power of God - but that's not the issue here. The issue is not 'Is it in you?', the issue is: is it working in you, outworking from you? A lot of evangelical Christians just assume it is, but that's a big assumption - and you know what that makes you. In Ephesians chapter 1, Paul prays specifically for the power of the resurrection to be in the lives of those Ephesian believers. He knows the Holy Spirit is in them, but the working of that power has to be demonstrated and manifested for it to be effective. In Ephesians 1, he prays this marvellous prayer: 'That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him', knowing the Lord, 'that the eyes of your understanding', that's your inner eyes, 'may be enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints' - that's what we talked about last Sunday night, not having a poverty mindset - 'and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church'.
So, Paul prays specifically for Christians, that they may experientially know the power of the resurrection in their life. He reminds the Ephesians of what God's power did for Christ. First of all, verse 20, it raised Him from the dead; then it set Him at the right hand of the Father in glory; it has also subjected everything in the universe to the authority of Jesus Christ; and constituted Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church, verse 22. That great power is available to us by the Holy Spirit - wow! Romans 8:11, what a wonderful verse, the same power that raised Christ from the dead is living in you! My question is: do you believe that?
It's a good question, because some of you wouldn't look the way you look when I'm looking down at you if you did believe it! Sorry about that, but honestly: would it not make a difference in our lives if we believed the dynamic, beyond atomic power that made the corpse of the Son of God come to life again - not just to live like He lived before, or anyone lived before, but to live in the power of an endless life? Lazarus died again, the widow of Nain's son died again, Jairus' daughter died again, Dorcas died again; but Jesus will never die again! That same power is in us, within us - but obviously, in the context of what we are saying here today from Paul, there needs to be a desire to know it working and manifesting in our lives. Desire and appetite for that needs to be there. Jesus cited this in John 7 when He said: 'On the last day, that great day of the feast, He stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts'' - there it is again - ''let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart'' - his innermost being - ''will flow rivers of living water'. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified'.
Of course, He did get glorified, and the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost - but Jesus is inferring that there needs to be a thirst, a desire, an appetite to experience the outworking of this in your life. To put it another way: there is always more. So, if you're sitting there in the gathering today thinking: 'I'm not a bad Christian, and I've experienced a good bit. I walk on the clean side of the street, and I've had a few experiences with God - and I'm satisfied with that' - you need to waken up! You need to waken up! You're actually dead if you're thinking that! Do you know there's no such thing as being static in the Christian life? You're either going forward, or you're going backward, you can never be standing still. So, if you think you're standing still, you are going backwards. There has to be this ongoing desire that Paul had, because there is always more.
I was reading this week in my daily readings, John 3, and an amazing phrase within it - we know 'For God so loved the world' - but an amazing phrase is where it says that 'God does not give the Spirit by measure'. Do you know what that means? He's not in heaven pouring out the Holy Spirit, and saying - putting the power of God's Spirit in a jug - and saying: 'Right, that's allocated to David Legge, that's all he's getting and no more'. That's not the way He behaved towards Jesus, and that's not the way He behaves to anybody. The Holy Spirit is a Person, we know, but His power is not measured out or meted out - there is always more! So, no matter what I've experienced of God, guess what: there's much much more, and I'm going after it! But you've got to have an appetite for that, a desire.
Even in those passages to do with spiritual gifts in Corinthians, Paul encourages them to earnestly desire the best gifts: 'Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts'. So, there has to be that appetite for more. If you want to know the Lord, and you want to know the power of His resurrection, being effective in your life and touching others - you need to desire it. The good news is, if you desire it, He promises: 'If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!', Luke 11:13. When was the last time that you asked for more of the Holy Spirit's power in your life? When was the last time? When was the last time you pursued it? When was the last time you positioned yourself in a posture to receive it?
Paul wanted more, isn't that staggering? Paul wanted more! He wanted to fellowship with Jesus in the power that raised Him from the dead - phew! What would that do to Portadown? What would that do to Portadown, if all the Christians that are walking about today were actually walking about in the power of the resurrection? The second thing he wanted to fellowship with Jesus in was the fellowship of His sufferings. We'll move quickly through this - no, only joking! But that's the way we feel, isn't it? I mentioned inheritance to you last week, didn't I? How whatever comes to Jesus comes to us, because we are joint heirs with Him - but we didn't emphasise the end of verse 17 of Romans 8, which we read: 'if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together'. It's unfortunate, but it's not all the wealth and the blessing that we get in the inheritance in Christ, it's also the suffering. It's part of being inheritors and heirs.
The context of this verse, of course, is the book of Philippians - which is called, ironically, 'The Epistle of Joy', and Paul is writing it from prison in Rome. He is locked up for his faith, and he is encouraging Christians: 'Rejoice, again I say rejoice; cheer up, Christians!'. Now, I want you to notice: his desire is to fellowship with Jesus in His sufferings. It doesn't say 'We fellowship with Jesus in our sufferings'. Isn't that right? I think we get that wrong sometimes: 'Oh, I'm so tired today, oh, I have a sore head - and this has all gone wrong in my family and my business', and we think this is having fellowship with Jesus in His sufferings. That's our sufferings. Fellowship with His sufferings is what Paul describes when he says: 'Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ'. He is describing how he is suffering for identifying with Jesus.
Consider Jesus' sufferings for a moment, and then consider whether you would like to fellowship with Him. It includes aspersions cast upon your birth, and your character and identity - because that's what they said about Jesus: 'He's illegitimate' - there are words for that as well, and that's what they called Him. They doubted who He was, they attacked Him in His character and identity - have you ever had that happen to you? I have, it's wonderful! Then the Lord was tempted by Satan himself - I don't think that has ever happened to me, I mean Satan doing it. He can only be one place at the one time, but I've had plenty of temptation in my life, and plenty of warfare; because there is a demonic realm - and it's not pleasant, but that's fellowship in His sufferings; because it happened to Him, it's going to happen to me. Denial by friends - have you ever had that? The one who ate bread with you lifts up his heel and betrays you? What about betrayal by an associate? Misunderstanding by the majority of people who get you wrong, being hated by the privileged class and the religious establishment - it's all right when you fall out of favour with people out in the world, that's to be expected, yes; but what about when the church turns against you, or brothers and sisters turn against you. Jesus suffered a broken heart while He was living because of the brokenness of humanity - that's part of fellowship in the sufferings of Jesus. You see, the holier you become, the nearer Christ and the more knowledge of Him that you get, there's that modern song that talks about 'Break my heart with what breaks Yours' - that's what start to happen! You start to feel what God feels, see things how God sees them
Tim Keller, if you can see that, it says: 'Look at Jesus. He is always weeping, a man of sorrows. Do you know why? Because He is perfect. When you are not absorbed in yourself, you can feel the sadness of the world'. Now we're not meant to be crushed by what's going on in the world, there is only one Saviour who bore away the sins of the world and it's not you or me - but we are meant to be touched by it, we are meant to feel it. In fact, Colossians 1:24, it's a strange verse, says: 'I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church'. What is lacking in the sufferings of Jesus? We would say it's finished, nothing is lacking - but there is something lacking. We are not 2000 years ago standing at Golgotha actually seeing what Jesus suffered for us - so what is lacking is a presentation now, a manifestation of Christ's suffering love for the world - that's what we're meant to fill up the deficit of. People need to see in us that we are taking our stand with Jesus, even when we suffer for it.
Of course, at last, the agonies of His death on the cross - His greatest of all suffering - and Paul wanted to fellowship in that. Now, who wants to pray: 'That I would know Him, and the power of His resurrection' - Amen - 'and the fellowship of His sufferings?'. It's dangerous to pray, unless you're really willing to accept the fullest implications of it. Yet, if you enter into this, there is the richness of fellowship with Jesus that is unsurpassed. Jesus did say, didn't He: 'In the world you shall suffer persecutions'. Let's not forget He said: 'I have overcome the world, be of good cheer' - but He said: 'If they hated Me, they're going to hate you. If they hate the Master, what will the servant suffer?'. Yet He also said: 'Count it all joy when you enter into different testings'. Another passage, 1 Peter 4:16: 'If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter'. Now please note, it says 'If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed', not 'as a pain-in-the-neck, let him not be ashamed'. There are an awful lot of Christians who are just pains-in-the-neck, they are obnoxious, they are hateful, they are rude, they are dogmatic, they are very cheeky, and they put more people off the Gospel. We're not saying to suffer persecution for that, but actually graciously taking a stand for truth - we're meant to rejoice in that, and we need grace for that, don't we?
But, you see, what Paul is talking about is that love always longs to bear another's pain. So the heart of the apostle's intensity, longing to suffer for Christ, is because he wants to be a part of the heart of Jesus, in fellowship with Him. Tim Keller puts it well again when he says: 'Jesus Christ did not suffer so that you would not suffer' - Jesus never promised that we wouldn't suffer - 'He suffered so that when you suffer, you’ll become more like Him. The Gospel does not promise you better life circumstances' - although they may come - 'it promises you a better life', in the midst of those circumstances and after them.
To know Him, the power of His resurrection, fellowship with His sufferings - and finally: being conformed to His death. It's a little bit confusing initially, because you think: 'Well, have we not been talking about that? What's the difference between suffering and death for Jesus?'. Well, here's the difference: there is no suffering after death. Do you get me? The dead person is one for whom suffering has ceased to hurt. So, someone who is fond of dwelling on their suffering has not died. Do you see the difference now? Just as Christ's resurrection power is in me - do we agree with that? - when we are born again, but it must be worked out of me through appetite, desire, and pursuit; well, in the same regard, I hope you know this New Testament truth: when you come to Jesus, you have already died with Christ, yes? David Legge died with Jesus on the cross; but I must reckon it so - that's what Romans 6 is all about. I must believe that, and consider that all my flesh is dead with Him. Then, day by day, I must daily die to the things that hinder His life in me. So, in the choices that I make, I must consider myself dead to the flesh, dead to sin. It's already true because of what Jesus did, but I must believe it and outwork it.
When I practically die to my selfishness, die to sin, guess what happens? His power will be manifested in me! Jesus taught this in John 12:24: 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain'. Now I heard that verse for years, and it was always pitched in a very negative way - but it's not negative. I know death is not something that we celebrate, but the best thing for David Legge's flesh and David Legge's selfishness is that it dies! Newsflash: God does not want to make you better, He wants to kill you. He wants to kill you - and He did, when Jesus died on the cross - why? Because He knows that until you're dead, the power of Jesus' life cannot live through you - and the wonderful positivity of this verse is that when you get out of the way and realise that you're dead and buried, and stop digging yourself up and trying to breathe new life into you, doing CPR on a corpse - you're dead, Jesus put you to death on the cross - now it's time for you to allow that resurrection power of Jesus to live out of you! That's what we were singing: 'It's not I, but Christ in me'. Galatians 2:20: '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 for me'. This is Christianity, and it's not what a lot of us are living! It's not my life, it's not a better life for me, it's Jesus' life in me!
It goes full-circle. This is the Christian experience, OK: because of the resurrection of Jesus - Jesus died, He was buried, He rose again - but if I want to know the power of His resurrection, I have got to identify with His sufferings, I have got to die in Christ and reckon myself so; and then the power of the resurrection will be manifested from my life. That's what Paul said in verse 11: 'if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead'. So this is already true, alright? You have died with Christ, if you're a child of God, His resurrection life is living in you - but how is it practically? A number of us are like Nero, who, when he was pursued by his enemies, he stabbed himself in a score of places - but he was very careful not to stab himself in a fatal part. That's sometimes how we die, we are selective in the things that we surrender to the Lord. But Paul is saying: 'Instead of being conformed to this world, instead of being conformed to established religion, I want to be conformed to the death of Jesus Christ' - because the place of victory, the place of rest is when we are really dead; that means we're not even conscious of the suffering any more, but we're dead to everything and alive to Christ! Conscious only of Christ, conscious only of resurrection life.
The old missionaries, pioneer missionaries, were going to the mission field, and they took vans of coffins behind them into the field. On one occasion, one of them was asked: 'Are you not afraid to die? In all likelihood some of you will die, are you not afraid to die?'. Do you know what the reply that came back was? 'No, because I'm already dead'. All the apostles were already dead to themselves, but alive to Jesus Christ - that's why all of them, bar John, were martyred, all of them. But this is good news! Because resurrection life is both the source and the result of our death in Christ. What am I saying? This is very deep, listen: we can only truly suffer and die with Christ or for Christ, not by mere willpower or stern, cold, dead surrender - we'll never do it until we've entered into His resurrection life. That's why Paul starts with the power of the resurrection, then the fellowship of His sufferings, then being conformed unto His death, and then resurrection happens again - so it's a full circle from resurrection power to resurrection power.
Some of you here this morning, you want to know God more - and that's commendable - but you need to stop trying to be a Christian, you need to stop all that you're doing in mere willpower alone, and you need to come and die out to self, die out to your sin, and surrender to the resurrection power of Jesus and ask Him to come and start living in you. This is why Abraham could go up to Mount Moriah and sacrifice, or at least attempt to sacrifice Isaac - do you know why? Because of the power of a resurrection which he knew God had. We read in Hebrews 11:19 that he concluded that God was able to raise him up even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. In Genesis 22 in the story it says Abraham said to the young men: 'Stay here with the donkey, the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you' - he believed that God is a God that raises the dead, that's what made him able to suffer and sacrifice the one in whom all the promises of God were.
Maybe the reason why you can't really go deeper with God, maybe one of the reasons why you can't let go of some of those selfish or sinful things that are hindering you knowing the Lord in a deeper way, is because you don't really know the power of God. It's not by might, nor by power; it's by My Spirit, says the Lord. A.T. Pierson asked George Mueller - you know George Mueller who was that great man of faith, and opened orphanages, and clothed hundreds of thousands of orphans with faith alone. He asked Mueller: 'What is the secret of your great work, and the wonderful things that God has done through you?'. Mueller looked up for a moment, and then he lowered his head lower and lower, until it was almost between his knees, and he was silent a moment or two - and then he said: 'Many years ago there came a day in my life when George Mueller died. As a young man, I had a great many ambitions, but there came a day when I died in all those things. I said: 'Henceforth, Lord Jesus, not my will, but Thine' - and from that day, God began to work in and through me'.
Do you want to know the Lord more? You've got to fellowship in the power of His resurrection; you've got to suffer with Him; and you've got to die to yourself and to sin - and I'm telling you: that is the best life, it's the greatest life, it's the most victorious life; but some of you need a funeral. You've never had that funeral, you're trying to do it - that's the majority of Christianity, as well as evangelical Christianity: DIY religion. Would you say today: 'Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God' - wait a minute, don't start shuffling now - 'All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood'. Do you want to know power? Then you'll know power. Let's pray.
Let's still our hearts before the Lord now. I believe the Lord has been doing a deep work in people's lives. It's up to you to respond. I'm not asking you for a public response, I'm saying to you: you need to do something about this. Why not, just where you are right now in this service, come to the foot of the cross of Jesus and say: 'Lord, You died for me, and You died as me there. I've been trying at this thing, I've been struggling at this, wondering why it has not worked. I have been trying to do it, and I need to die out, I need to see myself on that cross - my sin and my good deeds all nailed to that cross, and then I need You to take me to the empty tomb, and show me that that power that raised You from the dead is in me. You took it from the tomb, and You put it in me. I ask You to live in me, Lord Jesus. I surrender all to You now. I ask for Your Holy Spirit to completely fill me. I ask for everything that You desire for me, in Jesus' name'.
Lord, I just pray that You will really meet people today in a transformative way; that this will not be perceived as a negative message, but actually the most positive good news that there is. What is it? Lord, that I don't need to do this, because I can't do it - I'm free in the liberty of the Gospel to die, and to let You live through me. Lord, we really want to know You, and the greatest way we could ever know You is to encounter this power. Lord, I pray that those who have never been born-again will be born-again - you just cry out to the Lord and ask Him to save you this morning; if you're backslidden, come back to Him, and do it the right way this time: not your flesh, but His power. But all of us need to know there is more, so much more - will you hunger and thirst after that? Will you ask Him for it? Will you pursue it?
Lord, bless, with the superabundance of every blessing in heavenly places in Jesus Christ today. We give You thanks that it's all because of Calvary and the resurrection, and may that weigh heavily and yet joyfully upon us as we remember Jesus around His Table. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Portadown Baptist Church, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifth recording in his Knowing God series, titled "Fellowship With Christ" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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