Friday 14 July
Bishop Rennis brought his series in Isaiah to a close on Friday morning by looking at Isaiah 61. Here's a summary of what he had to say. #Sligo17
God’s Spirit is already working and transforming us. This work will be complete when He comes but may we a church on the way! It is His joy to create a people for His own glory. As we sing praises to Him, He comes to us and He is singing over us. He is a covenant-keeping God. Because of all this, there is the sound of revival - the Glory of the Lord has risen on you!
Isaiah 60: 21 - 22 We are not many in number but our strength is not in numbers, our strength is in who God is. God has an appointed time. He reigns and He is bound to His people by a love that will not let us go, a covenantal love. And it will grow. It is His work and it will come!
Isaiah 61: 1- 9 As we read the whole of scripture and especially our Lord’s finished work, it is clear that the servant prophecies in Isaiah are perfectly fulfilled in Christ but not exhausted by Him because the church has become a light to the nations. Now we the church are the Lord's servant in a fallen world. As we stand on the brink we need the Spirit’s empowering.
Empowered to minister release to people
v1-3 The spirit comes upon you like a mighty wind to bring life to others. The servant says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me" - this is divine authority and divine enabling.
We are anointed - whatever you ministry - this is an anointing of divine love. God immerses us in His love before anything happens. That is what is so striking about Jesus in the Gospels. Every person matters, He is bringing them into the kingdom and showing them the Father’s love. It is a ministry of release.
Our God loves to set people free. He does not leave us in our chains. We are anointed to bring “good news” to the poor - all who are in distress or in any trouble for any reason. There are many people (it cuts across income groups or stations in life) who are in distress. It is not just the materially poor but it is for all who are in trouble for any reason, including sin. They are in need and we are bringing good news and we are proclaiming God’s victory over all that is holding them in bondage. He sets captives free by His death on the cross.
There are people out there who are bleeding with the pain, struggle, disappointment and bereavements of life. This Gospel heals them.
Proclaiming liberty brings us back to "jubilee" in the old covenant. On the day of jubilee, debts are cancelled, slaves are set free and property is returned. This happens as we bring the good news of Jesus ChristDarkness must go when the king of glory steps in. He sets us free and helps us grow in the light. Transformation is a process. We are helping people grow in the light. We are a new creation.
The Lord Jesus apportions His first coming as a day of favour but there is a day of second coming when He rights every wrong (brings justice). We are to minister release.
Every church can gravitate towards maintenance. You can say the right things but it doesn’t burn in the heart.
What was begun in the spirit, must be continued in the spirit. Let us not rationalise it. Let the kingdom break in. Spirit-filled Gospel ministry leads to transformation. Where the spirit is there is freedom and joy.
It is a long road ahead and there is thick darkness in the society but God has risen and the light shines on you. Your light will bring transformation to others. That is why we get a new name - “Oaks of Righteousness” - that means you have a new beginning, a new nature and new potentialities. We are all aware of the struggle within but we need to overcome that definition. The early church knew the power of Jesus to transform people. The people couldn’t help but tell others, there is a living Saviour and He has come. He empowers us to live righteousness lives. God is in the midst of His people.
Empowered to build up ruined cities
v4 God’s new community shall rebuild the ancient ruins and repair the places long devastated. Isaiah was well aware that for the returning Israelites the rebuilding would be a vital but it will be “not by might, nor by power but by my spirit.”
What needs rebuilding in Ireland? You know your society. I share this as a brother in the global body of Christ. There are three things that I believe need to be restored in the foundation of Irish society.
1) Rebuild the Fear of God - living under the fear of God and holding it up in the public square. Do not be intimidated. Do not follow the most popular trend. I’m thinking of your Celtic history - St. Patrick, St. Columbus… you were once described as the land of saints and scholars. Singapore does not have Christian roots. You have Christian roots. The fear of the Lord is not just reverence but also loving and obeying His commands. That is what Satan is destroying all over the world.
2) Rebuild your Families - the church needs to help families to recover their strength as discipling units. One of the sources of strength is family prayer. We need to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ holds our families together. This will need courage and perseverance. For us who are fathers, we need to re-learn how to lead as a spiritual leader. In our family, at least twice a week, we gather for family prayer.
Family is also a word for your society. You have seen much conflict. The Gospel comes to bring reconciliation - to help Protestants and Catholics to stand together and praise together with one voice. The Lord knows who are His. Let’s not be up in arms against one another because of labels.
3) Rebuild the Fire - You have fire and passion within your culture. You don’t take things sitting down. You are not cool and indifferent. You get involved in the fight. That is who you are as a people. It is in your blood. Let God restore it. You don’t just sigh and let the world go by. Passion is a flame that depending on the wind it catches can build lives or destroy lives. The spirit is here. Allow the spirit of God to fan your passion into a flame for good!
Empowered to walk in covenant relationship with God
We are people who are called to be priests. Because you have the spirit, you have the capacity for covenant faithfulness. This God wants His nature to be formed in us. He wants to make us His church, His vessel. There are covenant blessings, not just for you but for generations after you. That is the promise in v9. The servant of the Lord brings God’s covenant blessings to us and to our offspring. Every generation will be called a people blessed by the Lord.
The Holy Spirit is God’s empowering presence for the believer and the church. We are not left to our own resources. The Spirit empowers us for revival.
Ezekiel 47 - there is a river of God and it is flowing from the throne. Wherever the river flows it brings life.