Sligo17: Make us Holy!

Sunday 9 July

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David Mc Clay spoke at the opening night of the #Sligo17 New Wine Ireland summer conference.  David and his wife Hilary live in inner city Belfast where David is Rector of Willowfield Church.  Here VOX editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings you a summary of his message based on 1 Thessalonians 4: 1 - 7.

No doubt during this past 12 months there have been lots of things that have gone in your lives:  lots of high points and mountaintop experiences but also painful seasons and challenges.  Life is not straightforward for any of us as followers of Jesus Christ. 

The culture around us conditions us to think that life is about personal fulfilment or personal gain.  Some even think that the Christian faith is another self-help programme to advance ourselves. We forget that as followers of Jesus our central prayer is “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done!”

Our calling is to live for Him. That is at the very heart of what it means to follow Jesus.  The call is to deny ourselves. 

Dr. Helen Roseveare: 1925 - 2016

That night when I first heard the gospel, I fell in love with Jesus and that has been my motivation ever since. The very first night I was saved, I had this overwhelming desire to serve Him. All of us have the privilege of being called to be His servants.  Jesus did not come to be serve but to serve…How wonderful that God has chosen to give me the privilege of sharing in His sufferings.

I have watched that over and over again and I think it is so powerful.

We are living in days where we expect people to affirm us for everything and criticise us for nothing.  We figure that we should be able to find great job and be part of great churches.  We live in a culture where increasingly we want it all.  But follow Jesus is about living for Christ and giving Him all.  It is the upside down way of doing life!

We should expect to see people healed.  We should expect to hear encouraging words into our lives.  We are expecting to be refreshed and renewed.  We expect to meet God in the worship times.  We expect to be fuelled for life and every day living.  We expect to encounter God in worship and meet Him in prayer.  We expect to be blessed by Him and we should expect all that and so much more.

But as I have been thinking about this week and thinking about God’s purpose for each of us … as we ask what is God’s will… I have been brought back to 1 Thessalonians 4:3 “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…”

Paul says that how we live morally matters.  We want to believe the culture that would tell us that it doesn’t matter any longer.  Sanctification matters more than how successful we appear to be and how fulfilled we feel. 

Are we chasing after the wrong things?  How willing are we to know Him and to embrace the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering?  

Will we become more like Jesus? 

When we become Christians God declares us holy.  We want to see people become believers and followers of Jesus. But in these verses, Paul pulls no punches.  He tells us to abstain from sexual immorality. When we pray for revival do we realise what that means?  It means we must die to self!

Sanctified lives are grateful lives

Sanctification means we will become a people who become more dependent on God and express that in a life of devotion.  It means we will be a grateful people.  Our lives will be so filled with the holiness of God that others around us will be impacted by this.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16 -18)

I wonder how much time, do you spend thinking about our future, our finances or our wellbeing?  Do we give more time to these things than to living God-focused lives, to living lives that are prayer-filled and morally clean?

Sanctified lives are praying lives.

Too often we lack the Spirit’s presence and power.  We lack courage.  The church lacks because we don’t do what Jesus did!  More of the Holy Spirit will mean more prayer in our lives and in our churches (Romans 8:26)

Sanctified lives are worshipping lives

(John 4:24) As we are sanctified, we will worship Him in Spirit and truth.  We will say yes to sharing Christ with others and to God’s word.

Sanctified lives will say “No” to sin

(Romans 8:2.) We desperately need to say “no” to our own agendas and to doing lives in our own way.  We are not as good as we think we are.  We need to say “no” to sin and to disobedience.  I’ve been a Christian a long time.  I remember being taught that Jesus wants us to be Lord as well as Saviour of our lives.  That is language that we need to recapture.

If I am at a distance from Him, then I soon become aware that I am doing life in my own strength without His presence.  We grow in dependence as we die to self and allow Him to be Lord.

Can we tell a glove to pick something up?  No.  It will only pick something up when we put it on.  It needs power and strength inside it.  The Father has told us to live sanctified, holy lives.  The Son has shown us how to live but we need the power of His spirit in order to do that.  We are called to do away with complacency.   It is time to say “No” to sin, disobedience and apathy.

Sanctified lives will confess sin

(1 John 1: 7 - 9) Repentance, brokenness and obedience will characterise the sanctified lives.  We will also be filled with hope!

Expectancy is the fruit of an abiding faith… Hope is faith elevated to confident expectation.  We prove our underlying faith by being on tiptoes of expectancy and watchfulness. - RT Kendall

Sanctified lives are not afraid

As we follow Christ and pursue holiness, we need not be afraid.