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The Journal

Filled with the Holy Spirit

Dear Friends,

Being filled with the Holy Spirit and the meaning of that is a controversial topic in the church. However like any controversy we need to come back afresh to the Word of God and see what we can learn together. Today we are looking at Ephesians 5:15-20 and in particular v18 says “Instead be filled with the Holy Spirit.” This is a command from God because He knows that to live the Christian life we need God’s strength and it is the Holy Spirit who helps us to follow Jesus. Too often we fail in our Christian walk because we try to follow Jesus in our strength. The provision of the Holy Spirit is a great gift to us. We know from our lesson last week in Romans 8:9-11 that all Christians have the Holy Spirit. 

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We are Saints

Dear Friends,

The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is critical for following Christ. In Romans 8 Paul reminds us of all that Christ has done for us in being a sin offering 8:3 so that we can enjoy the benefits of not being trapped by sin.  Our core identity changes when we become a Christian because we are no longer identified as a sinner. Rather Jesus and the NT see us as a saint, who is someone who has been adopted as God’s child.   Of course sin is still present and we still sin and we must battle sin and repent but we are saints – those who are God’s children, set apart for Jesus. That is why in Romans 1:7 as Paul introduces his letter he addresses the letter to:- all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be the saints.” This is their core identity. Then in Romans 8:1 Paul reaffirms this identity by saying that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.   

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The Holy Spirit

Dear Friends,

Particularly in John 14-16 Jesus speaks extensively about the work of the Holy Spirit. fact as you read through the Bible the work of the Holy Spirit is an important aspect of God’s work. Our Alpha Course topics 8-10 highlights the point that the Spirit of God is at work in the beginning of the Bible in Genesis as God creates the world and the Spirit of God is also mentioned right at the end of the Bible in Revelation 22 as the church waits and longs for the return of Jesus. Often in the life of the church we have neglected the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Further Christians can sometimes operate as if the Holy Spirit is a force such as in Star Wars but Jesus in John 14:16 indicates that Holy Spirit is a person by referring to Him as He. Jesus is preparing His disciples for His departure from this world and He says that He will ask the Father who will give the disciples the Spirit.  

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Put Your Faith in Jesus

Dear Friends,

The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is overwhelming. After his death Jesus appeared on numerous occasions to help his disciples understand that He is alive. This truth is a good reminder that just as the Lord helped His disciples to come to faith and have confidence He will also help us. On this occasion in John 21 Jesus is also strengthening faith. He wants to restore Peter. Peter was the one who had denied him 3 times and now Jesus shows him that there is a future for Him in God’s purposes. Jesus reminds Peter of his failure by asking “Do you love me ?” 3 times. Why does Jesus do this ? Before Jesus’ death He warned Peter that He would deny him 3 times – Luke 22:34.  

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Good Friday

Dear Friends,

In our Gospel reading today from Mark 15:33 we learn of a great darkness which came over the whole land. This is not a natural solar eclipse because they last only a few minutes and they don’t happen during a full moon and Passover occurs during a full moon. This darkness is a supernatural event and it signifies something. We know that in many places in the Bible darkness is a symbol for sin and evil deeds. For example in John 3:19 and Ephesians 5:8 we see that there is a contrast between the light of Christ and the darkness of sin and evil. We also learn that the prophecies about Jesus speak of Him as a light shining in the darkness – Isaiah 9:2. 

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How Does God Guide Us?

Dear Friends,

Today we are on week 7 in our Alpha series. The topic is How does God guide us ? It is very important to understand that God has a plan for your life and He is interested in us. In Jeremiah 29:11 God said to His people that He has a plan for them and wants to prosper them & not harm them. Before we can hear God properly we need to understand that He is interested in us and wants a relationship with us. That is the whole reason why He sent Jesus to die for our sin. God’s plan for us is bound up in Jesus so we can be friends with Him. In the New Testament Paul after speaking about the fact that we are saved by grace through faith says that God has good works for us to do – Ephesians 2:10. 

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Temptation

Dear Friends,

In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus is confirmed as the Son of God, the Messiah by virtue of the fact that where Israel failed in the wilderness Jesus here obeys God in saying no to the temptations which the devil brought. This is Good News because Jesus is the Messiah who doesn’t fail but rather obeys God. This Jesus can be trusted because He faces temptation by depending on God’s Word. This Jesus will obey God on behalf of us so we can depend on His obedience which takes Him to the Cross. The obedience of Jesus at the Cross brings salvation to us. In fact God leads Jesus into the wilderness or the desert region to test him.  

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Why and How do I Pray?

Dear Friends,

God sets you up to grow. God gives us the gift of prayer so we can grow in faith and get to know Him better. He gives us His Word so we can know Him and know how to pray. A very important ingredient and characteristic of spiritual growth is the development of your prayerlife. Today we are looking at our fifth topic in the Alpha Series :- Why and How do I pray ? There are 2 passages for investigation. In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul explains that the work of Christ on the Cross not only reconciles us to God through His blood 2:13 but also reconciles us to one another 2:14.  

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How Can We Have Faith?

Dear Friends,

The topic for week 4 of Alpha is How can we have faith ? In 1 John 5:13 John writes to Christians to encourage them to know that they have eternal life. There must have been at least some Christians who were struggling with assurance of salvation. As discussed previously it is very important to be sure that you are a Christian because this helps build confidence in Jesus and this leads to spiritual growth. God wants you to know that you are His precious child. In fact the Bible continually teaches us to approach God confidently because of what Jesus has done. 

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We Have Been Forgiven

Dear Friends,

Dr Leon Morris suggests that Romans 3:21-26 may be “possibly the most important single paragraph written.” Martin Luther the great reformer said that Romans 3:21-26 is the centre of the book of Romans and indeed of all the New Testament. The reason it is the centre is that this passage sets forth the death of Jesus on the Cross and the significance of what he has done. This has huge implications for our faith and it is not an exaggeration to say that your apprehension of what Christ has done as explained in this passage has eternal implications. To understand the power and beauty of this passage we need to understand the situation of people. From 1:18-3:20 Paul has been explaining that we the human race have a problem. 

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