The Fourth Sunday after Easter day  - 3 May, 2015
“Why the Holy Spirit?”

“Why the Holy Spirit?”
    It’s a question that has been asked down the ages, ever since the First Christian Pentecost when flames appeared on the heads of the disciples as they were hiding in the Upper Room, causing them to run out into the streets of Jerusalem, shouting out the glories of God in many different foreign and heavenly languages.

“Why the Holy Spirit?”

    But first, let’s back up a little. The arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, had not yet taken place when Jesus said these words to His disciples. No. They were in the Upper Room that night, celebrating Passover. Jesus had been busy that evening, teaching them all sorts of things. He had taken a bowl of water, and a towel, and washed the feet of each one of them. He spoke to them about a betrayer, that He would be leaving them, and that Peter was going to deny Him. He confronted Judas about his role in what was about to happen and He told the story of the Vine and the Branches. And then, He told them about the Holy Spirit.
    By the time that Jesus finally got to the part about the Holy Spirit, the disciples had become a very bewildered and grief-stricken bunch of men. All that they really knew and understood at the time, was that they were about to lose Jesus. They must have wondered
what the past three years had been all about. They had given up everything, homes, families
families, friends, and a future, all for this Man Who was now saying that He was about to go away. Why??? What had they done wrong???
    And then, as Jesus sat among them, He explained that He had to do this, because it had been God’s plan all along, and that because He was going away, it would be better for them. They didn’t understand that. “How could it be better???” “If I don’t go away, the Holy Spirit cannot come.” And then, Jesus went on to explain that while He was on earth
living in a human body, that He could not be omni-Present, everywhere with them, no matter where they were, or even whether they were to-gether or apart.

“Why the Holy Spirit?”

    Because there are no limitations as to what and where for Him. This new Gift from the Father would be with them always, everywhere, at all times. The Holy Spirit, would bring men and women to-gether in an uninterrupted fellowship, just as we to-day are in an uninterrupted fellowship with believers everywhere, whether they are here in Canada, in darkest Africa, or in our churches in Cuba. While Claudia and I are in Cuba, and you are here in Holy Trinity, we will still be in close fellowship because of the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Back to the Upper Room. After assuring the disciples of this new and exciting plan
that God was revealing to them, Jesus then went on to explain two very important functions
that the Holy Spirit would be responsible for in the church that would come to be. It would be the work of the Holy Spirit to convict men and women of the sins that they are committing, and then to convince them that the only way for those sins to be washed away
was through the blood that Jesus shed on the Cross.

“Why the Holy Spirit?” - to convict men of sin.

    When Jesus was crucified, all of the men responsible thought that they were doing God’s will, that they were serving Yahweh. But it tells us in Acts 2:37, that later on, when the disciples began preaching about the crucifixion, that “they were pricked in their hearts.”
What is it then that gives a man or women a sense of sin??? What is it that humiliates them
in face of the Cross??? It’s the work of the Holy Spirit.
    Why should the sight of a man crucified as a criminal in Palestine over two thousand years ago tear the hearts of people open through all those centuries and still does to-day??
It’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

“Why the Holy Spirit?” - to convict men of sin!!!

    Next - “Why the Holy Spirit?” - to convince mankind of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus was crucified as a criminal. He was tried before Pontius Pilate and He was found guilty!!! He was regarded by the Jewish authorities as an evil heretic, an enemy of God, capable of disrupting their joint governing of Judea with the Romans.  The Romans themselves regarded Jesus as a dangerous character.  Branded as a criminal of the worst type, He suffered cruelty and an unspeakable death at the hands of the soldiers. What was it that changed that??? How did He transform from that evil Man into the Son of God???
What was it that changed Saul forever on the Road to Damascus from a killer of Christians
to Paul the Apostle???  It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. He is the What and the Who that convinces men of Jesus claim to be the Messiah, the Righteous One of God.
    It is not Claudia nor I, and the brilliance of our preaching and teaching that has transformed the lives of over 1200 Cubans to turn away from communism to Christianity.
It is not us who have caused men to leave their secular jobs and become Pastors of the Church. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. On the Cross of Calvary, evil stood condemned and defeated, and It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that causes us to look at ourselves in light of that Cross, and to accept Jesus for ourselves. And what is it that causes us to clearly understand that there will be a Day of Judgement before the Throne of God and that there is only One Way to Salvation?? It’s the work of the Holy Spirit.
    That night before they celebrated Passover, Jesus said these words:- “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (NKJV)
    To Jesus, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He is the One sent to bring God’s Truth to the ears of men and women. He caused the authors of the Bible to write the words that we read and study every Sunday, and He is the same Spirit that gives fresh revelation
to believers to-day. Jesus knew that there were so many things that the disciples were not in any position to understand at the time. They had a hard enough time just grasping the things that He had already shared with them. But He knew that it would be the Holy Spirit
Who would reveal to them the things that they needed to know, in the timing that God ordained that they should know them.  We always want to know everything up front, but God knows best, and knows that we could not handle it. The Holy Spirit distills it into our minds at the rate in which we can absorb it. One of the great mistakes that some denominations make to-day, is to assume and preach that all of God’s revelation to mankind is already contained in the Books of the Bible. In other words, God has had nothing more to say since the year 120 when the latest book of the New Testament was written. Nothing could be further from the truth. But God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is always active in the hearts and minds of mankind.

“Why the Holy Spirit?”

    Because God is still revealing His Truth. And, He is not limiting it to only theologians and preachers!!!The great composer George Handel recalling how he wrote the Halleluiah Chorus said, “I saw the heavens opened, and the Great White God sitting on the Throne.”
When a scientist discovers something when a surgeon develops a new technique, when someone else discovers a new treatment for disease,  they are all revelations from God. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Revelation comes to us, not from any book or creed, but from a Living Person. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. And the nearer that we live to Jesus, the better we will get to know the Holy Spirit.
    Jesus, soon enough after that evening in the Upper Room, fulfilled all that He said
and all that was prophesied about Him. And it was only a short time later that the disciples themselves finally understood what it was that they were called to do. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

Let us all pray that we too will be open to the Holy Spirit speaking into us, and that we will each have the courage to follow. So please, while Claudia and I are away in Cuba, pray for us. Pray that we may always and in everything     draw closer to the Holy Spirit, to hear Him, to follow Him, to reveal Him, and to be sanctified in our ministry by Him. For in doing so
you too will be fully involved in the work of the Holy Spirit among your Cuban brothers and sisters.Sermons coming soon


 CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITYTrinity 14  - 6 September, 2015“How Shall I Worship?”
To-day, as we begin a new season in our Church, I thought it best hat I look especially at the ways in which we are called to worship God. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  But really , it is not quite that simple. And I hope, that by spending our time on this very subject at the beginning, that this following year will reflect what it is that God calls us to do. In the Old Testament we read in Numbers 3:6 to 8 the following instruction. It’s important to note that these are the words that were spoken by God directly to Moses as an instruction to the Priests and Levites. 
“ And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:  “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him.  And they shall attend to his needs and the needs of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of meeting, to do the work of the tabernacle.  Also, they shall attend to all the furnishings of the tabernacle of meeting, and  to  the needs of the children of Israel, to do the work of the tabernacle.”
Now, what were “the furnishings of the tabernacle?” In another translation, they are called “the instruments of the tabernacle.” The same thing. The Levitical Priesthood were given the responsibility of keeping the tabernacle in order for the worship of Yahweh. What was referred to here were the physical things that God had instructed Moses and Aaron to bring into the tabernacle for worship purposes. The items were:- the altar, the laver, the golden candelabra, the shewbread table, the incense altar, the ephod, the other priestly clothing, the bronze censors, the knives, and all else that they would need. God required that it be very important that they be kept rightly and in good order. These were all needed for the Israelites to be able to worship God as required under The Law.
Well, in most churches now, it is not quite that complicated in the 21st century. But, in my mind,  it is just as critical to-day that we also do it rightly and in order. So, if these were the instruments of the worship for the Levitical Priesthood, what are the instruments that we need to keep in order to-day??? And remember, while back then there was a specific Priesthood in the Church, to-day, while we do have specific clergy in the church, still, everyone here is a part of the priesthood of all believers. And so, we all have to keep our instruments of worship in order.
So then, what are these instruments of our worship??? I believe that there are four of them. Using myself as the example, the four instruments are my self, my Bible, my tongue, and my chequebook. Each one of these must be kept in proper order,  for my worship of God to be acceptable.
First then - My initial instrument of worship is - MY SELF
In Romans 12, the writer begins that well-known chapter  with the words:-“ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Whether we recognise it or not, we, ourselves, are instruments of worship. We lift our voices and our hands in praise with words and music that bless the heart of God. In our worship, and especially in our worship in church, God wants a people who love Him with all of their hearts, and who are willing to live a holy life in every way. To do this, we all need to make changes in our lives on a regular basis, honouring Him, by following the words of our Epistle to-day from Galatians 5:16-24, where we are called to walk in the Spirit. This calls us, to live as sinless as we possibly can, remembering that we cannot do it on our own, but only with the strong assistance of the Holy Spirit in all that we do.

Second - my next instrument of worship is - MY BIBLE
In Paul’s writings to Timothy, his beloved son in the Lord, he lays out some very specific guidelines for him to live by. They are worthwhile for all of us to memorize and to commit to heart. Put yourself in Timothy`s shoes as he reads Paul`s letter to him. Paul begins with a warning about evil men in the world, and then, how to stand up to them.
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,  and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Every day, I begin by taking time to get into my office, and close the door to distractions, such as Claudia talking to clients on the phone, people coming to the door, and the dogs barking. And then, with a cup of coffee nearby, I go through either Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer. As I pray the Prayer for All Conditions of Men, I use the Prayer Lists that have been printed in the bulletin for the week. I enter into intercessory prayers for all those mentioned on the lists, the church, the clergy, the countries, and the sick. I  especially read the Scriptures that are set for reading in the Lectionary in the front of our Prayer Book. My life would be pretty empty and powerless, if I did not daily fill my spiritual tank with God’s Word.
Third - my next instrument of worship is  - MY TONGUE
My tongue is connected to my thoughts, and is the revealer of what is going on in my mind, whether it is good, or if it is bad. Our tongue, more than any other member of our body, has the ability to either join in the worship and praise of Almighty God, OR, to join in with the world in the condemnation and rejection of Almighty God. Again, in turning to Scripture, James talks about the tongue in this way in Chapter 3. “Even so,  the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.  Bt no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it, we bless our God and Father, and with it, we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” 
Of all of the parts of our body, it is the tongue that Satan uses most often and most effectively to undermine us and our confessions of faith. I is usually our tongue that condemns people in such a way that they want nothing to do with the God that we love and worship. As James says, it is able to build people up, and it is able to tear people down. I believe that more marriages end in chaos and divorce over words spoken than for any other reason. We don’t mean to hurt people by what we say, but we often say just what we don’t want to say. And when a hurtful word is spoken, it can never be taken back, and the sting of it is always there, ready to leap to the surface by even the smallest of things. As Christian men and women, we must always strive to make sure that our mind is on God, and that our words line up with our mind.
If you have not noticed it yet, we are in a war with Satan for our families, for our colleagues in our work places, for our neighbours, for the soul of our country, and for the world. Just look at the devastation being spread by ISIL and Boko Haram!! The only way that we can ever win this war, is in how we use the instruments of worship that God has given to us. Planes in the air and boots on the ground will not win this. The governments of the world are trying to win a spiritual war by non-spiritual means. It just will not work!!! I believe that it is a war that we need God to win!!! But, we also have to do our part.As we daily spiritually exercise our SELF with a consistent Godly lifestyle,  read our BIBLES and learn God’s holy Word, and employ our TONGUES speaking out our faith to God’s glory, so we will win others to this same faith in Jesus Christ, and overcome the evil that is out there trying to destroy everything that is good. If we fail in our task in the proper use of these instruments of worship, then our witness will be lost, and so will be all those who we need to be trying to win to Jesus.
Finally we come to that fourth and powerful instrument of worship  - OUR CHEQUEBOOK!!!
So then, Who is the Lord of your chequebook??? My life, my Bible, my Tongue, and my Money, are ALL Instruments of Worship of Almighty God!!! Not one, is less than any other!! I have stated these instruments in a progressive order, because each one effects each other, and each one will either strengthen, or weaken the others.
The Bible talks about our wallets in a powerful way. Proverbs 3:9 clearly calls us to “Honour the Lord with your possessions and with the firstfruits of all your increase.”    You know,  there is a promise attached to that statement. Proverbs continues by saying:- “So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”Even more strongly, we read God’s Own words in Malachi 3, verses 10 & 11.“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
WOW!!! Who would not want that???
God wants to fill our lives with blessings, and our use of the instruments of worship are key to those blessings. Now, they cannot be just stabbed at in a hap-hazard way. They are intended to be used as a cycle of worship. In other words, the instruments must be used in unison in order for them to be really powerful. As examples:- You cannot walk in faith without acting on it with your chequebook. (Having your financial affairs in order);  You cannot just give without having your tongue in line with your giving; And you cannot just have your tongue in line without your lifestyle being in line.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize very strongly how much I believe that we, as a congregation, no matter what our size, must incorporate these instruments of worship into our daily lives. They are powerful tools by which we, filled with the Holy Spirit, praise God physically, spiritually, vocally and financially. Please pray for us, Barry and myself, and all of the leadership of this church, so that by our leading and example , this coming year may reflect upon us as a church people, a people who are praising and worshipping God to the utmost of their ability, and, to the glory of His holy Name.