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Taking the Next Step, Making a Difference, Joshua 1:1-9
“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.””Joshua 1:1-9 NIV
Background regarding Joshua
Joshua’s remarkable life was filled with excitement, variety, success, & honour. He was known for his deep trust in God & as a ‘man in whom is the spirit of leadership,’ Numbers 27:18. As a youth he lived through the bitter realities of slavery in Egypt, but he also witnessed the supernatural plagues & the miracles of the Israelites escape from the army of the Egyptians when the waters of the ‘Red Sea’ opened before them. In the Sinai peninsula it was Joshua who led the troops of Israel to victory over the Amalekites (see Exodus 17:8-13 for further details). He alone was allowed to accompany Moses up the holy mountain where the tablets of the law were received (Exodus 24:13-14,18). And it was Joshua who stood watch at the temporary ‘tent of meeting’ Moses set up before the tabernacle was erected (Exodus 33:11).
Joshua was elected to represent his own tribe of Ephraim when the 12 spies were sent into Canaan to look over the land. Only Joshua & Caleb (who represented the tribe of Judah) were ready to follow God’s will & take immediate possession of the land (Numbers 14:26-34). The rest of the Israelites of that generation were condemned to die in the wilderness. Even Moses died short of the goal & was told to hand everything over to Joshua. God promised to guide & strengthen Joshua, just as He had strengthened Moses (Deuteronomy 31:23 & Joshua 1:5).
Joshua was God’s chosen servant (Joshua 24:29 & Deuteronomy 34:5) to bring the work of Moses to completion & to establish Israel in the Promised Land. To that special, divine appointment Joshua was faithful as the leader of God’s army, as the administrator of God’s division of the land & as God’s spokesman for promoting Israel’s covenant faithfulness. In all this he was an Old Testament type of Christ (see Hebrews 4:1, 6-8).
READY (Verses 1-3)
Joshua takes over the leadership after the death of Moses, & God tells him to be ready to cross the Jordan & to take the Promised Land.Something we can consider here is that Moses had to die, before Joshua could become the leader. In the New Testament, there is often mentioned the concept of sowing & reaping. I’ll just quote two examples to highlight this matter this morning. Firstly, Jesus referred to this regarding His own life :-
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”John 12:24 NIV
Secondly, Paul mentions the concept of sowing & reaping :-
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”Galatians 6:7-10 NIV
Often in our own lives something has to die or change before we can move forward. Many of us here today will have experienced moving house & all the effort that entails. It is thought to be one of the most stressful events that we will encounter in our lives. It is right up there after the death of a loved one or close friend. I can remember my own personal experience back in 2008 when two family members died, my Mom was still receiving treatment for cancer, we went to the wedding of one of David’s sisters in Trinidad, we moved house twice & both started new jobs. An eventful & stressful year! Yet, it was the right time to move to Cornwall.
Back in October 2019, we also experienced the need to move on again. That is when we were here on holiday in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. We were both certain that our time here had been too short & that we were being prompted by the Holy Spirit to move on from being Church workers & to step out in faith. We had both received the calling on our lives back in 2016 to train together at Bible College. Then, whilst we were there, God revealed His purpose for our lives to become Joint-Pastors. This had been confirmed to us by many Christians & non-Christians over the years.
So when the opportunity arose to apply to become Pastors of the Christian Worship Centre here in Playa Blanca we knew it was God’s Perfect Timing. The Church here in Playa Blanca has also experienced moving locations many times & we are at that stage here again right now. So we can relate to the Israelites being a people who moved around. It’s not new even in the Bible, for the time to move to another place started back in Genesis 12:1-3 with Abraham.
Race of Life
You cannot run the raceWhilst sitting down comfortablyYou must stand up & run with gutsIf you are to make the finish line.
Don’t look down or turn aroundKeep your eyes straight aheadFor looking down or turning roundMay make you lose your tread.
Focus your eyes on the goalAnd never from it strayYou may fall down, but to win the crownYou must stick to your course always.
And when you fall, do you have the gallTo get back up again?To not give up, when the going gets toughWill you fix your eyes on Him?
For He alone gives you the strengthTo keep running the raceSo don’t give up, but forwards lookAnd keep relying on His Grace.
The Army of Light
The Army of Light & the Army of darkness fighting the greatest battle of all time. Sometimes the Army of Light would be Winning & enlarging their territory, at other times the army of darkness would seem to be winning & overwhelming and/or appearing to subdue the Army of Light. Both armies fought long & hard, but only one army can win the war. Only one army will be triumphant & victorious : the Army of Light. Which army do you fight for? Whose company do you mingle with?To whom will you pledge your allegiance?For whom will you be willing to stake your life?If you pledge allegiance to the Army of Light, you are fighting for Jesus : the King of kings & Lord of lords. In losing your own life, you will gain Eternal Life. If you pledge allegiance to the army of darkness, you are fighting for the prince of darkness : the Devil. Your fate will be Hell, eternal damnation, weeping & gnashing of teeth, endless suffering. Who will you choose to fight for?Whose standard will you raise up?Make your choice & pledge your allegiance, for soon that choice will be taken away from you. If you don’t chose to fight for the Army of Light, then by not choosing Light you have chosen darkness.
REMINDED (Verses 4-9)
God reminds Joshua of the territory to be possessed & assures the new leader that as He was with Moses, so He is & always will be with Joshua. In verse 5, He says “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”He also reminds him to be strong & courageous, to obey God’s Word thoughtfully & wholeheartedly, & not to be frightened or discouraged. In verse 6, it says, “Be strong & courageous.” This is stated again more firmly in verse 7 where it says, “Be strong & very courageous.” Verse 9 again re-emphasises the point, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong & courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
One thing that David & I have been convinced of over the last few months is that as a Church, God wants us ‘to Enlarge our Borders & to Extend our Territory.’
This can be found in a couple of places in the Old Testament. First of all, regarding Jabez, & both David & I have both individually & as a couple believed that this applies to us as the Christian Worship Centre about ‘Extending our Territory’ as a Church :-
“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.”1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NIV
Secondly, to the Israelites but also God revealed this to both David & myself separately, regarding the Christian Worship Centre’s role here in Playa Blanca :-
““Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.”Isaiah 54:2-3 NIV
So this means moving out from the familiar setting & out of our comfort zones. It is about taking the next step in faith & making a difference. God will honour our faith & obedience to Him. In order to fulfil this task, we need to “be strong & courageous!”This phrase is mentioned more than once, to add emphasis to its importance & vitality to us all. In the closing verses of Joshua chapter one, the Israelites repeat what God had already said to him three times earlier in the same chapter!
“Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!””
Joshua 1:16-18 NIV
RESPONSE (Verses 16-18)
The response the Israelites gave to Joshua is that obedience, an immediate response, & an encouraging response. The people are conscious that they need God & that no rebellion can ever be tolerated. They repeat to Joshua what God has already told him : “Be strong & of good courage!”
or as the New International Version puts it : “Only be strong & courageous!”
That is the same message that we need to hear this morning. We, as Pastors, & as a congregation need to be people who are strong & of good courage. We need to be obedient to God. We need to respond immediately to God. We need to encourage one another & not rebel against the Leadership that God has anointed, appointed & ordained.
May we as a Church Take the Next Step & Make a Difference. May we be ‘Ready’ to step out in faith & move to our next place of promise. May we be ‘Reminded’ that God wants to Enlarge our Borders & Extend our Territory. May our ‘Response’ be one of obedience, an immediate response, an encouraging response. May all of this be done to Praise, Honour, & Glorify God! Amen!
Sunday 21st February 2021
Sunday 14th February 2021
Sunday 7th February 2021
Sunday 31st January 2021
Isaiah 35:1-10 ‘The Joy of Knowing Jesus’
“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away,” Isaiah 35:1-10 NIV
This prophetic passage speaks of how those who will be redeemed through the shedding of Jesus’ blood, will walk on “the Way of Holiness.” In Acts we read that the first believers in Jesus Christ were known as “followers of the Way.” Jesus in John 14:6 describes Himself as “The Way, The Truth, & The Life.”
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6 NIV https://bible.com/111/jhn.14.6.niv
“Jesus explained, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too,” John 14:6 TPT https://bible.com/1849/jhn.14.6.tpt
By faith & through the shed Blood of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary, believers have been cleansed of all their sins & are made holy before God.
To Know Jesus is to Grow in Jesus : Blossoming
Here in Isaiah 35:1, the wilderness will rejoice & blossom.
There was a story of a man who was carrying two buckets of water. Always by the time he reached home one was still full of water, but the other seemed to leak as the patches broke & water came out through the holes the patches had covered. The first bucket used to mock the second bucket saying, “You’re not much good are you? You can’t even hold water! What use are you to our master?” The second one would then become low in mood. The master said to the first bucket, “You have been successful in bringing water to my home. But look at the other side of the field where the water has spilled out. See how beautiful the plants have grown & how lovely & colourful the flowers are that have blossomed there! On your side of the field there are no plants with beautiful flowers, yet you have provided water for me to cook, wash up with, & bathe in.” The moral of the story is that both buckets provided water just for different purposes. So don’t let anyone look down on you or criticise you just because you are different from them. Each one of you matter in the sight of God. God knows each of you by name & has assigned a task for each one of you to do. So don’t compare yourself with others, for comparison is the thief of all joy. Do what you have been gifted & called to do & let others do what they have been gifted & called to do! Then we will compliment & encourage one another. In the last month, there was quite a bit of rain in Lanzarote & what usually looks barren or desert-like in appearance has become green & fertile looking.
To Know Jesus is to Grow in Jesus : Bearing Fruit
The first reference to this is in Genesis 1:26-28,“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground,”” Genesis 1:26-28 NIV
Be fruitful & multiply.
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”” Psalms 92:12-15 NIV
Bear fruit even in old age.
Is evidence of us growing more like Jesus & He Himself said these words :- ““I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you,” John 15:1-11, 16 NIV https://www.bible.com/111/jhn.15.1-11,16.niv
Bearing much fruit is evidence or proof of being disciples of Jesus or as phrased in Acts “Followers of The Way.” Bearing fruit that will last. This results in the Joy of Jesus being in us & Knowing &/or Experiencing complete Joy.
Jesus fulfilled the prophecy that the blind would see, the deaf would hear, the crippled and/or lame would jump and/or leap for joy, & the dumb would shout praises to God. Those who persist in the foolishness of sin cannot walk with the Lord on this “Way of Holiness.” Neither can the lion or wild beasts, meaning the devil & any of his demonic forces. To walk in loving obedience to Jesus places us under His personal protection, for He Himself is “The Way.” These words also look forward to the time when believers will reign in everlasting glory with Jesus!
The land that is now parched, dry, & arid as a desert will rejoice. Where now only wilderness exists, new growth will blossom & flourish, causing great joy to burst forth. The glory of Lebanon & the lush growth of Carmel & Sharon will appear. And the glory of the Lord will be clearly revealed in all the events that occur.
To Know God is to Be Strong & Not Afraid
We are called to rise up & be encouraged. Through His Divine Power, He saves us.
He strengthens those who have feeble hands & weak knees.
You who feel weak & feeble, be strong! You who feel near to fainting or collapsing, rise up & be encouraged! “Be strong,” says the Lord, “And do not be afraid, for your hearts do not need to be fearful, as your God is coming. He will come in judgement, but through His Divine power, He will save you from your enemies.”
This is also mentioned in the books of Job, Proverbs & Hebrews.
“Surely you have instructed many, And you have strengthened weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, And you have strengthened the feeble knees;”Job 4:3-4 NKJV https://bible.com/114/job.4.3-4.nkjv
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil,” Proverbs 4:25-27 NIV
“Set your gaze on the path before you. With fixed purpose, looking straight ahead, ignore life’s distractions. Watch where you’re going! Stick to the path of truth, and the road will be safe and smooth before you. Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked for even a moment or take the detour that leads to darkness.”Proverbs 4:25-27 TPT https://bible.com/1849/pro.4.25-27.tpt
“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”Hebrews 12:12-13 NIV https://bible.com/111/heb.12.12-13.niv
“So be made strong even in your weakness by lifting up your tired hands in prayer and worship. And strengthen your weak knees, for as you keep walking forward on God’s paths all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed!”Hebrews 12:12-13 TPT https://bible.com/1849/heb.12.12-13.tpt
When He comes, blind eyes will see & deaf ears hear. The crippled will jump around like the deer, their feet will be as steady & secure as hind’s feet on high places or mountains.
“He makes my feet like the hinds' [firm and able]; He sets me secure and confident upon the heights,” 2 Samuel 22:34 AMPC https://bible.com/8/2sa.22.34.ampc
“He makes my feet like hinds' feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places,” Psalm 18:33 AMPC https://bible.com/8/psa.18.33.ampc
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments,” Habakkuk 3:19 NIV https://bible.com/111/hab.3.19.niv
“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! For the Chief Musician; with my stringed instruments,” Habakkuk 3:19 AMPC https://bible.com/8/hab.3.19.ampc
Those who were unable to speak will shout out with praises & exclamations of joy.
Springs of water will burst forth in the wilderness, & rivers will flow in the desert. Where before there was only burning sand, there will be oases of water, not mirages to fool those who may be feeling dehydrated. The ground will be alive with bubbling springs that will truly quench your thirst, as waters of spiritual refreshment flow freely & rehydrate. Instead of being a lair or den for animals to reside in, grass, reeds, & papyrus will grow.
A highway called the “Way of Holiness” will be there.Those who have not been cleansed from their sins will not be able to walk there; it will be only for “followers of the Way” ! Those who continue to deliberately sin will not be allowed to walk there. The devil isn’t permitted access to travel that route & neither will any of his co-workers, the demons or demonic forces be found there. Only those the Lord has ransomed will be able to walk on this highway. Those He has ransomed with His blood will return to Him. They will enter Zion with songs of praise, crowned with everlasting joy. Their former sadness & longing will have passed away, & they will be full of joy & gladness.
““The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it,” Isaiah 41:17-20 NIV
“The poor and needy are seeking water when there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the wild olive; I will set the cypress in the desert, the plane [tree] and the pine [tree] together, That men may see and know and consider and understand together that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it,” Isaiah 41:17-20 AMPC
Isaiah 43 ‘God is Doing a New Thing’
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise,” Isaiah 43:19-21 NIV
“Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen, [Isa. 41:17, 18; 48:21.] The people I formed for Myself, that they may set forth My praise [and they shall do it],” Isaiah 43:19-21 AMPC
‘God will make a wayWhere there seems to be no wayHe works in ways we cannot seeHe will make a way for me.He will be my guideHold me closely to His sideWith love & strength for each new dayHe will make a way, He will make a way.
By a roadway in the wilderness, He’ll lead meAnd rivers in the desert will I seeHeaven & earth will fadeBut His Word will still remainHe will do something new today.
God will make a wayWhere there seems to be no wayHe works in ways we cannot seeHe will make a way for me. He will be my guideHold me closely to His side With love & strength for each new day He will make a way, He will make a way.’ (Don Moen).
To Know Jesus is to Be Filled to Overflowing with the Holy Spirit
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail,” Isaiah 58:11 NIV
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams,” Isaiah 44:3-4 NIV https://www.bible.com/111/isa.44.3-4.niv
“For I will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit upon your offspring, and My blessing upon your descendants. [Isa. 32:15; 35:6, 7; Joel 2:28; John 7:37-39.] And they shall spring up among the grass like willows or poplars by the watercourses,” Isaiah 44:3-4 AMPC
““And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days,””Joel 2:28-29 NIV https://bible.com/111/jol.2.28-29.niv
““ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy,”” Acts 2:17-18 NIV
“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life,”” John 4:13-14 NIV
The spring of water Jesus gives wells up to Eternal Life. Or as Isaiah says in Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”Isaiah 12:3 NIV https://www.bible.com/111/isa.12.3.niv
“Jesus answered, “If you drink from Jacob’s well you’ll be thirsty again and again, but if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never thirst again and will be forever satisfied! For when you drink the water I give you it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life!””John 4:13-14 TPT https://bible.com/1849/jhn.4.13-14.tpt
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified,” John 7:37-39 NIV
“Rivers of Living Water” are often a sign or symbol of the Holy Spirit & John mentions this in his Gospel :-
“Then on the most important day of the feast, the last day, Jesus stood and shouted out to the crowds— “All you thirsty ones, come to me! Come to me and drink! Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says!” Jesus was prophesying about the Holy Spirit that believers were being prepared to receive. But the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out upon them, because Jesus had not yet been unveiled in his full splendour,” John 7:37-39 TPT https://bible.com/1849/jhn.7.37-39.tpt
A little illustration:- ‘The pessimist says my cup is half empty.The optimist says my cup is half full. The Psalmist says my cup runneth over!’
In Summary :-
To Know Jesus is to Grow in Jesus, Blossoming & Bearing Fruit.
To Know God is to Be Strong & Not Afraid.
To Know Jesus is to Be Filled to Overflowing with the Holy Spirit.
The Joy of Knowing Jesus
God wants His people to be full of joy!
We are to rejoice in His love & faithfulness, & in all that He gives to us through His grace, His unmerited favour.
We are to rejoice in the victory that He gives us over all that comes against us.
We as God’s people will shout for joy!Even though there is a cost to obedience this fruit will cause us to rejoice.It was the joy of Jesus’ life that set Him apart from others. We are to rejoice always, even in times of trial or adversity, for God is greater than our problems & He will deliver us.So rejoicing in the Lord becomes the evidence of faith in trying times, keeping our eyes on Him rather than on the circumstances.
“We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!” Hebrews 12:2 TPT
A significant aspect of the hope that we as believers have is to know that Everlasting Joy will be ours!
“Only those the Lord has redeemed will be able to walk on this highway. Those He has ransomed with His Blood will return to Him. They will enter Zion with songs of praise, crowned with Everlasting Joy. Their former sadness & longing will have passed away, & they will be full of Joy & gladness,” Isaiah 35:10.
“Yahweh’s ransomed ones will return with glee to Zion. They will enter with a song of rejoicing & be crowned with Everlasting Joy. Ecstatic Joy will overwhelm them; weariness & grief will disappear!” Isaiah 35:10 (TPT)
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty One Who saves, He will rejoice because you delight Him & will satisfy you with His Love. He will even rejoice over you with singing!” Zephaniah 3:17.
Sunday 24th January 2021
Sunday 17th January 2021
Sunday 10th January 2021
The Faith & Hope of Abraham
“It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
Romans 4:13-21 NIV
This morning, we will be considering ‘The Faith & Hope of Abraham.’
Abraham had a long period of waiting before he saw the promise God made in his life become a reality.
It reminds me of a poem written about waiting on the Lord :-
Wait on the Lord
Take courage my friend
He’s not far away
Be strong in your faith
And wait on the Lord.
Stand firm in your faith
Your work is not in vain
Endure sweat, toil, & pain
Suffer hardships in His Name
As you wait on the Lord.
Wait on the Lord
Seek the face of God
Wait on the Lord
Be determined in your life
To follow Him at whatever price
He will bring you triumphant through strife.
Wait on the Lord
Let Him guide & direct your paths
Acknowledge Him first of all
He won’t fail you, you won’t fall
When you’re walking His ways.
Abraham had to lay down everything he knew & leave his home country. This reminds me of the following poem, ’Lay it all down’ :-
Lay it all down
Everything has to be laid down, nothing can remain
For You desire truth & obedience in every domain
My heart which was in fetters now lies smashed, broken on the floor
It’s only in my brokenness that You fill & use me more.
For what held me a prisoner in chains
Is now banished to a dark domain
No longer in exile nor captivity
For You nailed my sins to the Cross, so I can be free.
At the foot of the Cross, my burdens are laid down
Before You Who won the Victor’s crown
So now the need to die to self daily prevails
The curtain torn in two, I worship You within the veil.
You give grace to meet my needs
Daily on Your Word my heart feeds
Till Your life in me is radiantly seen in technicolour, bright
No longer walking in darkness, but by the Holy Spirit’s Light.
Guide & direct my paths, teach me Your truth
So I walk in wisdom & light, not glibly nor uncouth
You reveal to me Your way & say, “Go walk therein
Walk in My purity & holiness, I have cleansed you from your sin.”
Worshipping & serving You out of adoration & a heart filled with love
Divine blessings & power bestowed on me by You from Heaven above
By Your Sovereign will to rule & reign eternally
Worshipping prostate on my face or on bended knee.
Standing in Your strength alone, I can rise to my feet
And see You seated on Heaven’s Mercy-seat
There is no fear but perfect Love & Everlasting Glory
You have written it all down in the pages of Your Story.
“God promised Abraham and his descendants that they would have an heir who would reign over the world. This royal promise was not fulfilled because Abraham kept all the law, but through the righteousness that was transferred by faith. For if keeping the law earns the inheritance, then faith is robbed of its power and the promise becomes useless. For the law provokes punishment, and where no law exists there cannot be a violation of the law.”
Romans 4:13-15 TPT
“It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.”
Romans 4:13-15 NIV
“For the promise to Abraham or his posterity, that he should inherit the world, did not come through [observing the commands of] the Law but through the righteousness of faith. [Gen. 17:4-6; 22:16-18.] If it is the adherents of the Law who are to be the heirs, then faith is made futile and empty of all meaning and the promise [of God] is made void (is annulled and has no power). For the Law results in [divine] wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression [of it either].”
Romans 4:13-15 AMPC
God initially made the promise as we see in verse 13 to Abraham to give him many descendants (quoting here Genesis 15:5-6) & to bless the world through him (Genesis 12:3; 22:18). The promise also included restoring to Abraham & his spiritual seed all that humankind had lost through sin. This promise was not based on the law but on faith in God.
In verse 14 this royal promise was fulfilled through the righteousness that was transferred to Abraham by God through faith.
“The promise depends on faith so that it can be experienced as a grace-gift, and now it extends to all the descendants of Abraham. This promise is not only meant for those who obey the law, but also to those who enter into the faith of Abraham, the father of us all. That’s what the Scripture means when it says: “I have made you the father of many nations.” He is our example and father, for in God’s presence he believed that God can raise the dead and call into being things that don’t even exist yet.”
Romans 4:16-17 TPT
“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”
Romans 4:16-17 NIV
“Therefore, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace (unmerited favor), to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants–not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is [thus] the father of us all. As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed. [Gen. 17:5.]”
Romans 4:16-17 AMPC
This promise in verse 16 is dependent on Faith & can be experienced as a grace-gift from God (The Passion Translation) or by grace (New International Version) or given as an act of grace (unmerited favour) (Amplified Classic Version).
Verses 16-17 tells us that the promise is made available to all who exercise the same faith in God’s Word & promise that Abraham did, not just to those of Jewish descent who stuck rigidly to the letter of the law.
Salvation is of faith, a gift of God’s Grace. This assures the promise to all the seed, that is to say to the Jews & also to us who would be called Gentiles, who share the faith of our spiritual father, Abraham.
Abraham believed in a God Who gives life to the dead & calls into existence those things which do not exist. Therefore, he believed that God could give him a child even though his & Sarah’s bodies were dead as far as childbearing was concerned.
“He never stopped believing God’s promise, for he was made strong in his faith to father a child. And because he was mighty in faith and convinced that God had all the power needed to fulfil his promises, Abraham glorified God! Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfil it. He took God at his word, and as a result he became the father of many nations. God’s declaration over him came to pass: “Your descendants will be so many that they will be impossible to count!” In spite of being nearly one hundred years old when the promise of having a son was made, his faith was so strong that it could not be undermined by the fact that he and Sarah were incapable of conceiving a child.”
Romans 4:18-21 TPT
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
Romans 4:18-21 NIV
“[For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, So [numberless] shall your descendants be. [Gen. 15:5.] He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah's [deadened] womb. [Gen. 17:17; 18:11.] No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.”
Romans 4:18-21 AMPC
Abraham had been given a promise by God that He would cause him to have an heir from his own body. Many years had come & gone & still there was no child as a result of Abraham & Sarah’s natural relationship. Abraham was still standing in faith, believing what God had said would come to pass. As he stood, against the odds, the devil would have been trying to attack him with thoughts of doubt, & the spirit of disbelief tried to press him to disobey God. Yet Abraham would have none of it. He continued to be steadfast. He kept praising & giving glory to God. The Bible states that as he did so, he grew strong in faith. Abraham, after sizing up his situation, (he didn’t ignore the facts), considered the utter impotence of his own body & the barrenness of Sarah’s dead womb. Although all human reason for hope was gone, he hoped in faith. He took God’s promise at face value.
Hebrews 6:19 tells us that hope is the anchor of the soul.
Hope is the force that keeps us steady in a time of testing or trial.
So I would encourage you today : don’t ever stop hoping!
Put yourself in God’s miracle-working realm!
Expect a miracle in your life!
Expect good things!
You see, when God tells us something or asks us to do something, the faith to believe it or to do it comes with the word from God. It’s being faithful & obedient to what God has promised & to look beyond what you can see or what you feel in the natural.
You & I can be aware of our circumstances & yet, purposely, keep our mind on something that will build us up & edify our faith. That is why Abraham stayed busy giving praise & glory to God. We glorify God when we continue to do what is right even in adverse circumstances.
How was God’s promise outworked in the lives of Abraham & Sarah?
In verses 18-21 we see God’s promise being outworked in the lives of Abraham & Sarah in the following three ways :-
They were granted the desires of their hearts.
What was impossible in the natural, became possible in the supernatural.
Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac, & the promise of an heir was fulfilled.
An acronym regarding ‘Faith’ that I have often heard quoted several times is :-
Sometimes, faith can be placing one step in front of another & continuing to seek God to guide & direct us along the right path.
My Grandad’s favourite hymn was ‘One Day at a Time’ :-
‘I’m only human, I’m just a man
Help me believe in what I could be
And all that I am.
Show me the stairway, I have to climb
Lord for my sake, please teach me to take
One day at a time.
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from You
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.’
‘Father of kindness
You have poured out grace
You have brought me out of darkness
You have filled me with peace.
Giver of mercy
You’re my help in time of need
Lord, I can’t help but sing.
Faithful, You are
Faithful, forever You will be
Faithful, You are
All Your promises are “Yes & Amen.”
You have brought me here
You pulled me from the ashes
You have broken every curse.
You have set this captive free
Lord, I can’t help but sing.
Faithful, You are
Faithful, forever You will be
Faithful, You are
All Your promises are “Yes & Amen.”
I will rest in Your promises
My confidence is Your faithfulness.
Thank You Lord
What a Faithful God You are
We say thank You
Oh, I’m not losing hope
‘Cause I know that my God is Faithful
Do you know that Your God is Faithful?
Oh, I’m not giving up
‘Cause my God is Faithful
Oh, my Father is Faithful
We say “Yes & Amen”
We proclaim, our Father is Faithful
“Yes & Amen”
Oh, our Father is Faithful
“Yes & Amen.” (Bethel Music)
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.””
Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
‘God so loved this whole world
That He gave His Only Son
And if we will cleave to Him
We’ll not perish.
But we’ll have Eternal Life
And we’ll never be condemned
For God’s promises are “Yes & Amen!”
Though we walk through dark days
Where the earth & heaven’s shake
Through the valley of despair
He is with us.
Never giving up on us
Faithful & forever friend
All God’s promises are “Yes & Amen!”
Through the Cross are saved
In the Blood we put our faith
For there is no other way
Jesus conquered death & hell
Promised to return again
And God’s promises are “Yes & Amen!” (Godfrey Birtill).
Over the last year, things have been continually changing.
It’s so reassuring for us as Christians to remember that Jesus is the one constant that we can rely on in life.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8 NIV
‘Great is Your faithfulness
Great is Your faithfulness
You never change
You never fail, O God.
True are Your promises
True are Your promises
You never change
You never fail, O God.
Wide is Your Love & Grace
Wide is Your Love & Grace
You never change
You never fail, O God.
So we raise up holy hands
To praise the Holy One
Who was & is & is to come.
Yeah we raise up holy hands
To praise the Holy One
Who was & is & is to come.
You were, You are, You will always be
You were, You are, You will always be.’ (Chris Tomlin).
‘Standing on the promises of Christ my King
Through Eternal ages let His praises ring
Glory in the highest, I will shout & sing
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises that cannot fail
When the howling storms of doubt & fear assail
By the Living Word of God I shall prevail
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the Blood for me
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord
Bound to Him Eternally by Love’s strong cord
Overcoming daily with The Spirit’s sword
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises I shall not fall
Listening every moment to The Spirit’s call
Resting in my Saviour as my all in all
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises of Christ my Saviour
I’m standing on the promises of God.’ (Russell Kelso Carter,1886).
Definitions of Faith
“Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. This testimony of faith is what previous generations were commended for. Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created and beautifully coordinated by the power of God’s words! He spoke and the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen.”
Hebrews 11:1-3 TPT
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.”
Hebrews 11:1-2 NKJV
“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.”
Hebrews 11:1-2 AMP
From these three different translations of Hebrews 11:1-3, faith is defined in the following ways :-
‘Faith brings our hopes into reality & becomes the foundation needed to acquire what we long for.’
‘It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.’
‘This testimony of faith is what previous generations were commended for.’ ‘Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created & beautifully
co-ordinated by the power of God’s words! He spoke & the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen,’ (Hebrews 11:1-3)The Passion Translation.
‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,’ Hebrews 11:1, New King James Version.
‘Faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), & the evidence of things not seen (the conviction of their reality - faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses).’
‘For by this (kind of) faith the men of old gained (divine) approval,’
Hebrews 11:1-2, Amplified Version.
I remember quite clearly a more recent example of faithfulness :-
One missionary by the name of Jim Elliot led a team in Ecuador. All the men in that team were martyred to death for the sake of the Gospel. Yet their wives returned to take up the baton & continued to reach out to the tribal people of Ecuador. With extraordinary bravery, the wives reached out to them with forgiveness & the love of Jesus. The Huaorani people were amazed. “We acted badly, badly,” said one of them, “until they brought us God’s carvings. Now we walk in His trail.”
‘“ Let not your heart be troubled”
His tender words I hear
And resting on His goodness
I lose my doubts & fears.
Though by the path He leadeth
But one step I may see
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.’
“And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God. For we come to God in faith knowing that he is real and that he rewards the faith of those who passionately seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6 TPT
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6 NIV
“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].”
Hebrews 11:6 AMPC
“And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God,” can also be translated as “we are powerless to please God.” The Greek word “adynatos” literally means “impotent” or “powerless.”
“For we come to God in faith knowing that He is real & that He rewards the faith of those who give all their passion & strength into seeking Him.”
This can also be translated as “anyone who approaches God must believe in Him.”
It is in the context of these opening verses from Hebrews chapter 11, that we continue to take into account the faith & hope of Abraham.
“Faith motivated Abraham to obey God’s call and leave the familiar to discover the territory he was destined to inherit from God. So he left with only a promise and without even knowing ahead of time where he was going, Abraham stepped out in faith. He lived by faith as an immigrant in his promised land as though it belonged to someone else. He journeyed through the land living in tents with Isaac and Jacob who were persuaded that they were also co-heirs of the same promise. His eyes of faith were set on the city with unshakable foundations, whose architect and builder is God himself. Sarah’s faith embraced God’s miracle power to conceive even though she was barren and was past the age of childbearing, for the authority of her faith rested in the One who made the promise, and she tapped into his faithfulness. In fact, so many children were subsequently fathered by this aged man of faith—one who was as good as dead, that he now has offspring as innumerable as the sand on the seashore and as the stars in the sky!”
Hebrews 11:8-12 TPT
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”
Hebrews 11:8-12 NIV
“[Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. [Gen. 12:1-8.] For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God. Because of faith also Sarah herself received physical power to conceive a child, even when she was long past the age for it, because she considered [God] Who had given her the promise to be reliable and trustworthy and true to His word. [Gen. 17:19; 18:11-14; 21:2.] So from one man, though he was physically as good as dead, there have sprung descendants whose number is as the stars of heaven and as countless as the innumerable sands on the seashore. [Gen. 15:5, 6; 22:17; 32:12.]”
Hebrews 11:8-12 AMPC
What lessons can we learn from the life & example of Abraham?
We like Abraham can be motivated by faith to obey God’s call.
Sometimes we are called to leave behind all that is familiar to us.
We can continue to trust in the Word of God’s promise.
We believe God to be faithful. What He said, that He will do.
We can step out in faith, even when we don’t know exactly where that will lead us.
Even when all hope seems to be lost, we can still place our hope in God.
We can believe that God will make a way where there seems to be no way.
With God all things are possible.
David & I personally can give thanks & Praise the Lord for the fact that his younger sister Karen no longer needs oxygen, has been doing breathing exercises & was discharged home on Friday afternoon. God is faithful. He hears & answers prayers.
Characters such as Abraham & Sarah serve as examples for us & are evidence of God blessing people who put their faith & trust in Him.
Faith is always rewarded when it is placed in God.
Hope is a joyful expectation for a good outcome, & it is a catalyst for breakthroughs in our lives. It is a launching pad for dreams to be fulfilled.
It is important to cultivate this type of hope, especially when we are faced with a choice to either be hopeless or hope-filled whenever we face circumstances or situations that are difficult.
The world we live in is filled with hopelessness, but we are to rise up as a Church as God’s ambassadors of hope. When we are filled with hope, we can help others find hope in their darkest hour.
A Few Other Examples of Hope for Our Encouragement :-
One portion of Scripture I love that speaks of the power of hope is found in
Job 14:7-9, “For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, & its shoots will not fail. Though it’s roots grow old in the ground & its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will put forth sprigs like a plant.”
Job compares mankind to a tree which, even if it is cut down will sprout branches again & manifest new life.
In our back garden, we inherited a banana tree that was shrivelled up & dying. I remember nursing it back to health & nurturing it by taking off the old brown shrivelled up leaves & watering it twice a day.
Now it is flourishing & thriving. It has twelve big green leaves.
Isn’t that just like us? Often we can find ourselves in situations beyond our own capabilities. Like the banana tree we need the assistance from our Helper, the Holy Spirit plus also the help & care of others to enable us to get back on our feet again. Sometimes our lives might feel like that dried-up plant. In the natural it seems like all hope is lost, but all we need is a little nurture - a little hope.
‘When hope’s dream seems to drag on & on, the delay can be depressing. But when at last your dreams come true, life’s sweetness will satisfy your soul,’ Proverbs 13:12.
Sometimes we can learn a lot from the lessons we go through in life by believing & applying the positive instead of the negative :-
Fertility out of infertility & barrenness.
Something out of nothing.
Flames out of sparks.
The possible out of the impossible.
Life out of death.
Love out of hatred & fear.
Joy out of sorrow.
Peace out of anxiety.
Hope out of despair.
Promise out of uncertainty.
Fulfilment out of doubt.
Purpose out of pain.
Long suffering & patience out of impatience.
Prevailing out of struggling & suffering.
Prayer out of problems.
Presence out of pursuit.
Victory out of battle.
Triumphs out of trials.
Testimonies out of tests.
Freedom & release out of bondage & captivity.
Holiness & purification out of dross & impurities.
The letter kills but the Spirit gives life.
We as a Church continue to seek God’s guidance about our next venue in which we can worship. Brian Simmons who has been working on The Passion Translation of the Bible, has co-authored with Gretchen Rodriguez Words called “I Hear His Whisper.”
The following one is entitled, “I Hear His Whisper ... I am your compass.”
I Hear His Whisper . . .
I am your compass.
The road has offered you many twists and turns. It has taken you in directions you didn’t think you would go. But when you realize that life’s path has led you through an unexpected journey, don’t fear. I am with you. No path is beyond the scope of my radar.
I am your compass. I know how to lead you through the blazing desert to the waters of refreshing. This journey may not have gone exactly as you would have chosen, but beloved, we’re not done yet. Continue hoping in me, walking with me, and holding my hand. I am the Way Maker. I am the Way. Trust me beyond the scope of your perspective. I have a much higher vantage point. I see not only your glorious future, but your past and present, and I will weave them together to create something beautiful. I have already laid out a path that is better than you imagined. Things aren’t always going to turn out the way you expect, but when you continue on with me, I always bless you with the best.
The Passion Translation
I will walk the blind by an unknown way and guide them on paths they’ve never traveled. I will smooth their difficult road and make their dark mysteries bright with light. These are things I will do for them, for I will never abandon my beloved ones.
‘Waymaker, miracle worker
Promise keeper, Light in the darkness
My God, that is Who You are.
Waymaker, miracle worker
Promise keeper, Light in the darkness
My God, that is Who You are.’ (Sinach).
‘God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me.
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love & strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.’ (Don Moen).
God continues to guide & direct us in our paths.
It is God’s nature to be faithful.
He is faithful in honouring His Word & in keeping every promise He has given.
We as His children can have faith & complete trust & confidence in Him & what He says because He is faithful. What He says, that He will do.
God wants us as His children to be faithful to Him & to each other.
Faithfulness is one of the attributes of the fruit of the Holy Spirit which He produces in us as believers.
So let’s remember to have faith & hope in God.
Let us continue to meet & encourage one another, in whatever ways that are possible for us to do so.
Father God, thank You for Your Power & Majesty.
Thank You for Your Love for us.
Today, we choose to put all our hope, trust, & faith in You.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen!
Blessing as a Prayer :-
“For the Lord is always good and ready to receive you. He’s so loving that it will amaze you— so kind that it will astound you! And he is famous for his faithfulness toward all. Everyone knows our God can be trusted, for he keeps his promises to every generation!”
Psalms 100:5 TPT
“Now, may the God of peace and harmony set you apart, making you completely holy. And may your entire being—spirit, soul, and body—be kept completely flawless in the appearing of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. The one who calls you by name is trustworthy and will thoroughly complete his work in you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 TPT
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
Hebrews 10:23 NKJV
“Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!”
Romans 15:13 TPT
May you always be filled with His Glorious Hope! Amen!
“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ””
Genesis 15:1 NIV
Let’s stand & sing our closing worship song :-
‘Christ is Enough for me.’
Some of the lyrics say this :-
‘Christ is my reward
And all of my devotion
Now there’s nothing in this world
That could ever satisfy.
Christ is enough for me
I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.’
Sunday 3rd January 2021
CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE
Sunday 3rd January 2021
Message : VISION FOCUS
Happy New Year to you. We hope that your 2021 will be joyous. I pray that you might prosper in every way and enjoy good health and total wellbeing and wholeness just as your soul prospers spiritually.
Now as we leave Christmas behind for another year, I trust that you had a joyous time celebrating the Wonder of the Incarnation- the Birth of Jesus
Now we are looking forward to 2021, we are looking ahead to what God will do in His Church this year.. This is not wishful thinking . For as a people of hope we are looking forward , always looking to the future with expectation of all the good things that are to come.
New Year - it is a time to re -dedicate to a new vision for the future of our lives, families and Jesus’ Church . Vision helps us to focus on what we believe- how to believe God , how to trust Him and what we can trust Him for. We are to be a people with vision, and purpose depending on the Spirit for guidance and direction . The old has gone , the new is come.
So what is God doing ? What is God saying ?
Luke 4: We see that Jesus is about to start His ministry being full of the Holy Spirit. After being tempted by the devil in the desert, at the beginning of chapter 4 , Luke records that Jesus teaches in the synagogues
In verses 18-19 :Jesus reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah : “The Lord’s Spirit is on Me because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to tell the prisoners they can be set free and to tell the blind they will be able to see; to free people from the oppression that has crushed them AND TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE YEAR OF GOD’S FAVOUR HAS ARRIVED.”
In verse 21, as Jesus begins to address His listeners, He says “This scripture is now being fulfilled in your presence.”
So Jesus comes on the scene as sent from His Father. This is the mission the Father sent Jesus to achieve. He declares that what was prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before is being fulfilled in Him
The year of God's favour has arrived. God is extending His favour as Jesus fulfills these prophetic words. What does this mean?
In the context of Isaiah’s prophecy ( Isaiah 61) : Every 50 years, there was a Year of Jubilee. In this year, all Hebrew slaves who may have been enslaved due to debt owed were set free..Land that was sold to another was returned to the original owner ( ancestral owner ).
This was a type, a taste if you will of what Jesus would do through His Spirit- empowered mission
So Jesus came to set the captives free. Jesus came to bring restoration, deliverance and freedom. It is the year when you see the need for a Saviour. It is the year when the poor - those who have nothing, the spiritually bankrupt or otherwise …nothing at all receive all that Christ offers by His grace .
Those who are blind receive sight. Whether this was physical or spiritual blindness, Jesus was here now to deal with whatever their blindness looked like.Those whose lives are shattered, crushed by the troubles of this world receive healing and hope in Jesus
Those imprisoned by Satan’s captivity, no peace , no joy …bound by sin and condemned to eternal death become free in Christ Jesus.
The year when you decide that as you hear such gracious words from the gracious Saviour that you are going to serve Him, follow Him ,worship and obey Him as you seek to live for Him
For the Jews then , the day of the law would soon pass as Jesus would become the ultimate sacrifice for the sins. The Lord provided the way to salvation and abundant life to all who would come to Him. Now for us today, so many years later this mission has not changed
Jesus was beginning to show God's perspective. As a result, people's lives were challenged for Jesus showed during His ministry that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.. I am sure many of you would remember some of the miracles recorded in the gospels that attest to the power and authority that Jesus carried
People's paradigms were shifted by such challenging words that Jesus spoke during His ministry on earth. Some criticised, some opposed Him , yet others responded to His mission and received their salvation and deliverance. It changed their lives -helping them to know who God really is, bringing freedom, giving them true purpose for living, and eternal hope
Now as we come into 2021,I want to share four familiar ,simple points that will give us a vision for this year. Today I will share a general outline on each point just to whet your appetite. This will begin to give us a focus that can help shape our lives, our Christ-like conduct as we aim to live from God's perspective and for His glory. The points I share today, we hope that we can share in more detail in subsequent messages
1- KNOW GOD : This appears very simplistic and basic.Yet this is where we can get it wrong. We know many things ABOUT God but do not really know Him. Jeremiah 9: 23-24 shows how significant this is - to know God.
Jeremiah records “ Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of His might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this ,that he understands and knows Me ..that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth’”
Jesus Himself says in His high priestly prayer in John 17v3 -“ that they may know You , Father ,the only true God, and Jesus whom You have sent”.
One of the sad things in the Church is that people come to church and learn about God but they do not know Him.
Knowing God means you're going to love Him because you cannot know God without truly loving Him. And if you love God, then you trust Him. You trust Him because when you see how much He loves you , it is easy for you to trust Him. As you trust Him, you will want to obey Him, accept His perspective, and obedience brings blessings
Put another way - briefly, blessings come with obedience.Obedience comes as we trust in our Lord. Trust comes out of love for Him and this love comes when you know Him
What we are talking about here is a loving relationship with our Lord and Saviour. The world talks about religious rules and routines, Jesus came to introduce us to a loving relationship with God, the Father.
So it's all about relationship and this leads us to know God more and more. By His Spirit , God lives in the believer and the believer lives in Him. Accepting God's perspective in all matters is rooted in this relationship. As believers God has placed us in this union with Christ…in Him and He is in us. In this relationship God is therefore not separated even from our needs, circumstances and problems
So we come into 2021 with lots of concerns , anxieties. This trusting relationship allows us as believers to depend on Him even when we do not what to do , when we do not have the answers.
The thing is God wants to move whatever knowledge we may have about Him in our heads into our hearts. He wants to transform the head knowledge about God into a heart revelation of who He is. And as we experience His grace,His presence, His power, His glory and His blessings we will develop the desire to know Him even better
As he writes his letter to the Christians in the city of Philippi from prison, the apostle Paul says this: ( 3: 10 ) “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings” Paul says here ‘ I want to know Him. I want to have the same power in my life that raised Jesus from the dead. I want to share, be one with Him, in His sufferings and be like Christ in His death..
The word ‘know’ is from the Greek word ‘ ginosko’ and carries the meaning of knowing through personal experience. It has the idea of intimacy and closeness. The same word is used by the virgin Mary when she asked the angel ‘how will this be since I do not know a man?’
This should be our goal too - to know Jesus personally and experientially for it is through Jesus that the infinite God has revealed Himself . We know God when we know Jesus. He came to show us who God is
2- EMBRACE THE FREEDOM IN CHRIST: Now we all know that positionally all believers have already been set free through Jesus’ victory over sin and death on the cross. Christ has set us free to live in freedom . We are called to live in freedom . This is what Jesus declared , what He came to do as we see from the passage from Luke 4. This freedom opens the doorway to knowing God, loving and obeying Him and worshipping Him.
Let's face it : We all want to be free , want a ‘ break-through’, to be free from sin and guilt, pain and sickness, doubt and despair, and anxiety and fear. Yet often we feel inadequate and powerless to do so.
We are to focus on the truth of Jesus Christ : embrace what God has done for you through Jesus. Accept who God makes you , you know the identity He gives you, the new creation you have become in Christ because you believe in Him . This is His truth that sets you free, as Jesus declared ( John 8 ). Embrace His truth and open your heart so the Holy Spirit reveals to you how you can live in His life and power
Don't settle for mediocre Christianity…you know “Oh well that's just the way I am” kind of thinking. That's not normal Christianity. Don't settle for living in defeat and despair. In Christ Jesus, God's best is available to you. Normal Christianity is a lifestyle of victory- you are not the victim but the victor ! So move forward in 2021, embracing the freedom in Christ.
3- PURSUE HIS PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE :
As you grow in the Christian faith, discovering God's purpose is essential. Purpose gives clarity to your life - it shows very clearly why you are to do some things and not others. It involves knowing what your spiritual and practical gifts are as you grow in Christ . So the encouragement today is for you to pursue His purpose for your life as corporately we seek to do His will as His Kingdom advances here
In Jesus’ ministry ,we see that He taught about God's Kingdom. And that Jesus was sent by the Father. His purpose ? -to make the good news about the Kingdom of God available to all who believe in Him.Jesus says (in Mathew 6:33) “ Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you also. Let the Kingdom of heaven and living in a right relationship with God be your priorities; then everything else you need will be given to you as well”
God is always working in the lives of His people and His Church day by day. As you pursue God's purpose for you , as you try to discern what God is saying to you, you may have questions.
For example: you may ask ‘ is this the right thing to do?, is this from God ….or the devil ?’ or ‘am I trying to promote myself here ?’
Consider three questions you can ask in order to bring clarity to the purpose of God:
Three G’s statements/ questions :
-Everything God does is firstly for the glory of His Name
Is this going to bring glory to His Name? Or myself?
- Everything God does is for the good of His kingdom. God will only do things that promote His kingdom purposes. Ask yourself is God's rule and reign in my heart and life taking place ?
- Everything God does is for the good of His people… for blessing them. Not for our selfish gains and ambitions
So ask yourself is this to my benefit or will it benefit and be for the welfare of His people?
4 - TAKE THE NEXT STEP- make a difference :
This last point is all about serving in the way God chooses to use you as you allow Him. Again in Luke’s passage today we see Jesus full of the Holy Spirit’ anointing begins to impact the lives of the needy, the poor , the hurt, the broken-hearted , those bound and those blind.
In John 2 ,the apostle John records the wedding event where Jesus turns water into wine. Those who tasted the new wine immediately noticed the difference in quality from the old. This signified the new wine of the New Covenant Jesus came to establish. With the coming of Jesus it was time for new wine. Observe what the master of the banquet says to the bridegroom: “People usually serve the choicest wine first,…..but you have kept it back until now !”
Jesus is taking the water out of our ordinary lives and we become new wine …we become people who make the difference in this world . We are different because we belong to God
God first makes a difference in our lives. So then you can take the next step in your Christian growth and impact your world whatever that looks like, in 2021.
K now God
E mbrace the Freedom in Christ
P ursue His Purpose for your life, and then
T ake the Next Step and make a difference
It's easy to remember K E P T :
1 Peter 1:5 says “ You are being kept by the power of God because you put your trust in Him and you will be saved from the punishment of sin at the end of the world” .As believers in Christ,we are being protected and shielded by the power of God until our salvation is given at the end of time”…until the full realisation of the salvation at the end of time. Praise God !
The time of God's favour is here. God is going to give and give again His favour to His Church this year
>We want to go deeper with God . We want to go further in His purposes. We want to take a bold step and make a difference in our world. Then the first thing we need to do is to know God .
(Daniel 11:32) For ‘ the people who are spiritually mature and know their God will be strong and carry out great exploits.’ The people who know their God , believers in Christ, will do great things as His Spirit enables and directs
>As a way of response
I encourage you to join in taking Communion later today where you are. We will do so at Communion at 5:45 pm today at home.
Also as we sing the next song , let us use it as a response time to this Vision Focus for 2021
Sunday 27th December 2020
“When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” ), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.”
Luke 2:22-40 NIV
“When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” ), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.””
Luke 2:22-24 NIV
Faithful Obedience to God & Sacrifice
Following the birth of a son, the mother had to wait 40 days at home for a male child before going to the temple to offer sacrifice for her purification according to the law of Moses. If she could not afford a lamb & a pigeon or dove, then two pigeons or doves would be acceptable. This sacrifice could be done only at Jerusalem & required a journey there. The sacrifice offered was the less expensive one, permitted to poor people - a deliberate reference to the humble status of Joseph & Mary.
Jewish law required that a firstborn child had to be redeemed, bought back.
All firstborn creatures were seen as consecrated to God. This was expressed by sacrificing the firstborn of animals & by making a payment of five Israeli shekels or twenty Roman denarii in lieu of children when they were a month old. It’s worth mentioning here that this would have been equal to the income for twenty days of work for a man at that time.
Every firstborn son was to be consecrated or dedicated to the Lord for two reasons :
- To remember the firstborn sons who were rescued from the final plague in Egypt and
- To honour the promise of the substitutionary atonement of the firstborn of God Who would redeem humankind (Exodus 13:2,12; Numbers 3:12).
Jesus was present because Mary seems also to have made a special offering of her child to God for His service, just as in the Old Testament Hannah had given Samuel to God at the tabernacle. In these ways all possible requirements of the law were fulfilled.
Often, we are called to be obedient & faithful to God even before we know the end result. Take for example, when David & I first came to Playa Blanca, Lanzarote back in July 2016 something stirred within us to go to Bible College together. Both of us had already been to Bible college previously, but not to the same one. So we could have questioned God as to why it was necessary to undertake further training. And yet, we both felt that we needed to go to the same Bible college so that we could one day minister together as a team who had trained & studied the same subjects. I went back to work & within a week I knew that I had to hand in my four weeks notice. I did this as it was what God had told me to do. Yet we didn’t get our FaceTime interview until two days after I had finished work. I had to trust in God. I had to be faithful & obedient to Him, even when I didn’t know whether or not we would be accepted to train together. It was a step of faith & obedience. It is a reminder that God honours faithfulness & obedience.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 NIV
“Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.”
Hebrews 11:1 TPT
“NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].”
Hebrews 11:1 AMPC
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
Faith & Fulfilment of Promise
‘O Lord, in the morning You hear my voice, in the morning I lay my requests before You & wait in expectation,’ Psalm 5:3.
No doubt both Simeon & Anna would have been familiar with this verse from the Psalm of David.
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.””
Luke 2:25-35 NIV
In Luke’s Gospel we hear about Simeon & see the picture of an old man, a good man, a holy man, a righteous man, a devout man living each day in sure & certain hope that he would see the Lord’s Christ - the Messiah before he died. That hope sustained him, day in, day out. He knew that in God’s time the promise to him would be fulfilled, & that was sufficient for him. He faithfully served as a priest while he was waiting for the Messiah as foretold of in the Scriptures he had been studying as we see in
Let’s press the pause button as it were for a moment to note the significance of serving where we are while we wait on the promise of God. Just stop & consider for a minute that if Simeon has been discouraged by the delay of the coming Messiah & had left the temple, he would have missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime. May we remember that God is indeed faithful & always fulfils His promises.
Guided by the Holy Spirit He was in the right place at the right time when that day came. Through the insight of the Holy Spirit he recognised in that very ordinary-looking family the One He was waiting for. He held in his arms the child, & experienced the promise fulfilled, ‘the Lord’s Christ’ as he cradled the Lord of earth & heaven. Now Simeon could leave this life, content in peace & joy, as the Saviour, the Light, & glory of the world, began His life on earth. One day they would meet again, in heaven.
I once felt that Simeon was more blessed than I am because he had the privilege of actually touching Jesus, but I must believe without seeing or touching Him. Now I realise that he too had to exercise faith. After all, he was holding in his arms an infant born to a couple he had never met before. His assurance came through the witness of the Holy Spirit in his heart & we must depend on that same witness today.
The Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis)
‘Lord, now You let Your servant go in peace :
Your Word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation :
Which You have prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal You to all nations :
And the glory of Your people Israel.
Glory to the Father & to the Son :
And to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now :
And shall be forever. Amen.’
In the words of Simeon, which we know as the Nunc Dimittis, we too can commit ourselves in faith & joy to God, knowing that His promise has been fulfilled to us personally, & for all people of every race, culture, time & place.
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, & today & forever,’ Hebrews 13:8.
But are we open to the Holy Spirit’s impulse to recognise Him, however He comes to us?
Are our arms & hearts ready to receive Him, & our lips to commend Him to others as Saviour & Lord?
‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him,’ Hebrews 11:6.
‘We wait in hope for the Lord, He is our help & our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You, ‘ Psalm 33:20-22.
Pursued, a Christian Facebook page, throughout this month of December had a video each day leading up to Christmas called 12 Gifts of Christmas. The 7th Gift was Faithfulness.
God is faithful enough to sustain you. Always remember that.
The following words appeared on the screen, while someone played the piano in the background to the familiar Christmas Carol : ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ :-
‘Your wealth may fade away. You may lose many things in life. People may come & go, but God will stay. And He will never change. That’s how faithful our God is. He will never abandon us. His promises will always stay. And His words will never change. His love will always remain...’
....’He will do good things. He will continue to bless us with what we need. That’s why you need to keep His faithfulness in your heart. Never forget Him, because He will give you enough courage to pursue your dreams. God will rescue you. God will never break His promises. He is true to His words. He will fulfil His plans in your life. His faithfulness will become your anchor. Especially when you encounter unexpected moments in life. And as you grow in His presence, let God teach you how to stay faithful to Him & to the people you love. Your faithfulness to God will never be in vain. A life that is fully devoted to Him is always worth living. We may encounter challenges along the way, but God is faithful to us. So receive this free gift from God. May you learn to stay faithful, even if you go through difficult seasons in life.’
This reminds me so much of our next character, Anna.
“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.”
Luke 2:36-40 NIV
“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Luke 2:36-38 NKJV
Luke also refers to Anna, a prophetess who had been devoted most of her life to serving God through the ministry of prayer. ‘She never left the temple, but worshipped night & day, fasting & praying.’
Herod’s temple was quite large & included rooms for various uses, & Anna may have been allowed to live in one of them. So Anna probably spent her waking hours attending & worshipping in the temple. Life had dealt a cruel blow to Anna, for she was widowed after only seven years of marriage. Yet she had not become bitter or resentful, or allowed her circumstances to overwhelm her, but trusted in God & in His promises. When Moses blessed the tribes of Israel before his death he said of the tribe of Asher ‘Your strength will be equal to your days,’ & ‘the eternal God is your refuge & underneath are the everlasting arms,’ Deuteronomy 33:25b & 27.
Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, showed in her life the beauty & the reality of those words. The years spent in relationship with the Lord allowed Anna to be well in tune with the Holy Spirit. So much so that the very hour the baby Jesus came into the temple she felt it in her soul. Each day of her life was lived to the full in praise & worship, her source of strength & security being firmly founded in God & His Word. She lived to see God’s Word ‘made flesh.’ For, like Simeon, her eyes too saw God’s salvation in that child named Jesus, & she shared her joy with all who would listen, all those who were also looking forward to the One who would come, who had now come. Sensing her Saviour’s nearness, something welled up inside of Anna : overwhelming gratitude. She could not hold back her praise & immediately began giving thanks to God (Luke 2:38).
Coming up to Mary & Joseph, Anna gave thanks to God & spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Simeon & Anna were ‘young at heart’ in spite of being in their eighties. They were also both strong in faith & love, as they saw their longing fulfilled.
On this Sunday morning, will you thank God for His sustaining grace, through all the events & all the years?
'O soul are you weary & troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour
And life more abundant & free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory & grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, & we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory & Grace.
His Word shall not fail you He promised
Believe Him & all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory & grace.’
(Helen H. Lemmel, 1922).
‘Faithful One, so unchanging
Ageless One, You’re my Rock of Peace
Lord of all, I depend on You
I call out to You, again & again
I call out to You, again & again.
You are my Rock in times of trouble
You lift me up, when I fall down
All through the storm, Your love is the anchor
My hope is in You alone.’
Sometimes, life can be more of an upward battle & it’s in times like these that I like to focus on the words of these poems :-
Race of Life
You cannot run the race
Whilst sitting down comfortably
You must stand up & run with guts
If you are to make the finish line.
Don’t look down or turn around
Keep your eyes straight ahead
For looking down or turning round
May make you lose your tread.
Focus your eyes on the goal
And never from it stray
You may fall down but to win the crown
You must stick to your course always.
And when you fall, do you have the gall
To get back up again?
To not give up when the going gets tough
Will you fix your eyes on Him?
For He alone gives you the strength
To keep running the race
So don’t give up, but forwards look
And keep relying on His grace.
Let Faith Arise
Let faith arise & burst into flames
Then the doubts will flee
Knowing that Christ is Lord of all
In Him alone is the victory.
Yes, you may struggle
You may think that you can’t cope
Rely on Him at all times
In Him you’ll find your hope.
Grace guards you constantly
Mercy flows like a rushing river
Water of refreshment will flood into your life
He is your strength, your mighty deliverer.
The Man in the Arena
‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust & sweat & blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again & again; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, & who at the worst; if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold & timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat,’
(Theodore Roosevelt, former U.S. President).
‘Give me the Faith which can remove
And sink the mountain to a plain
Give me the childlike, praying love
Which longs to build Thy house again
Thy love, let it my heart o’erpower
And all my simple self devour.
I would the precious time redeem
And longer live for this alone
To spend & to be spent for them
Who have not yet my Saviour known
Fully on these my mission prove
And only breathe, to breathe Thy love.
My talents, gifts, & graces, Lord
Into Thy blessed hands receive
And let me live to preach Thy Word
And let me to Thy glory live
My every sacred moment spend
In publishing the sinner’s Friend.
Enlarge, inflame, & fill my heart
With boundless charity divine
So shall I all my strength exert
And love them with a zeal like Thine
And lead them to Thy open side
The sheep for whom their Shepherd died.’
Today, will we be grateful to God for His support & blessings which have enriched & empowered us?
‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God,’ Romans 5:1-2.
‘Love the Lord, all His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud He pays back in full. Be strong & take heart, all you who hope in the Lord,’ Psalm 31:23-24.
‘This, this is the God we adore
Our faithful, unchangeable friend
Whose love is as great as His power
And neither knows measure nor end.
‘Tis Jesus the first & the last
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home
We’ll praise Him for all that is past
And trust Him for all that’s to come.’
‘Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees
And looks to God alone
Laughs at impossibilities
And cries : “It shall be done!” ‘
Mary & Joseph demonstrated faithful obedience by presenting the appropriate sacrifices required for poor people after the birth of Jesus in the Temple, in line with Jewish Law.
Simeon & Anna were both in their eighties or even nineties at least & remained faithful to God waiting for the promised Messiah to come.
Because of their faithfulness, they were able to live until He was dedicated in the temple & see that promise of the Messiah in the flesh in their lifetime.
May we too be constant, steadfast, & unwavering in our faith.
May we continue to spend our lives cultivating a lifestyle of worship & prayer.
May we be as committed, dedicated, & disciplined as they were.
May their examples be an inspiration for us to continue developing a habit of prayer & to grow & become more mature believers in Christ, reflecting His character & attitude in all that we think, say, & do.
May we live with our ultimate goal being to praise, glorify, & honour God in all things.
Thank-You, Lord for Your Word that leads us into wisdom & truth about Who You are. Thank-You for the years that Your love has kept & guided us. We are grateful for Your faithfulness to us. May we remain faithful & obedient to You. Help us to continue to look to You when we read Your Word, knowing that being in a relationship with You will allow us to have the veil of our sinfulness removed so that we can one day see You face-to-face. We thank-You for Your Holy Spirit Who continues to guide us into all truth & remind us of Your teaching, Jesus. As we have just celebrated Your first coming, may we long for Your Second Coming with an ever-increasing passion & zeal. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen! (1st Service).
Thank-You God, for all the years You have given us - Your love which has sustained us, Your grace which has supported & carried us, & all Your blessings which have enriched & empowered us. Help us, Lord, to stay close to You, so close that we can sense Your nearness, & that it causes us to rejoice with thanksgiving from hearts filled with an attitude of gratitude for Who You are & for all that You have done for us. May our lives reflect more & more of You, Jesus, as we grow to show & share Your Light & Love with those we meet. Thank-You for this time of joy & celebration, & to You be all praise & glory for ever & ever Jesus Christ, our Lord & Saviour. Amen! (2nd Service)
Christmas Day, Friday 25th December 2020
CHRISTMAS DAY MESSAGE 2020
Friday 25th December 2020
Title : JESUS - The Gift Unwrapped
(Scripture references are based on today's two Bible Readings as well as others we have heard over the Advent season)
Have you opened your Christmas present yet ? Sometimes there can be a lot of wrapping to get through before you actually see the gift that has been given to you
Often before opening , you might try to guess what's inside the package. So you look at it, you see how heavy or light it is, you shake it sometimes, you feel the packaging before you actually open it
The fact is you will not know what you have received, until you unwrap it ,until you open it.Then you may want to thank the giver of the gift as you consider how you are going to use what you have been given
The familiar narratives we have read today remind us about the first Christmas and the Christmas Gift that God gave - His Son Jesus Christ , the Saviour of the world
From the world’s point of view, this Gift of Jesus could have been so wrong. It is not what they expect. If you asked someone what they wanted for Christmas it is very unlikely they would say, ‘I want God to come and live among us’. Yes the true God in the flesh wandering around , interfering with our lives, wanting to give us a restored ,new relationship with Him (God ). It is not the sort of gift the world would want
The world might even say the Gift of the Saviour came at the wrong time. For there was no big celebration for His arrival- nothing like videos to record the event and the media houses competing for spaces, waiting patiently to broadcast the event ‘ live’
Again, from the world’s perspective Jesus the Gift to the world from God who so loved the world, came in the wrong package. A tiny baby. The world would say we don't want this baby , we want something or someone bigger to turn the world upside down like now …not in thirty years time or so ! A super hero kind of person, a no-nonsense guy who would take charge. But a baby ,no. And certainly not birthed through ordinary, peasant folk like Mary and Joseph. That’s just wrong ! No the Son Of God should come , the world thinks , through a well known family with all the hype and publicity such an event deserves
Furthermore why would, the world asks, this Gift be given to persons with flawed characters and reputations? Surely you give gifts to friends and loved ones, not outcasts and foreigners
For example the Wise men , Gentile astronomers - not Jews came to worship Jesus, the King of the Jews. And then there are shepherds to whom the angel came sharing the news of the Saviour’s birth. The shepherds were considered unclean, disgusting and not trustworthy
Come with me now and let's remove the wrappings from this Gift of Jesus
>> Yet as you unwrap this Gift of God, you see that according His Word, according to God's standards everything about that first Christmas was perfect. And it is to the world’s benefit …our benefit by God's grace.
The Bible declares that He is God with us. God coming in human flesh and living among us .This is indeed the Perfect gift , Jesus. He came in the fullness of time. At just the right time , He came into human history to be the world's Saviour.
And the package: this tiny baby - well it is the right one too. ( Luke 2:11 ) “ Today a Saviour has been born in Bethlehem, the Christ, the Messiah”- shows how much God loves us that He would become like one of us by sending Jesus, His Son. It is a clear proclamation that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, the long -awaited Messiah
He used humble and obedient individuals like Mary and Joseph to implement His divine plan. Then shepherds with the bad reputation they had, received this Gift. And they gave glory and praise to God because of what they had seen and heard. For them, everything had been exactly as had been revealed to them. Later on, The Wise men received this Gift and they bowed down before Him, Jesus, in worship
This is the magnificent Gift from God the Giver of all good gifts to all of us today.
So who is this One born on Christmas Day and given to us .?
As the Son of God, there is no one more divine and, being holy, there is none purer
He is the King who is stronger and He reigns forever. He is the Saviour - He is Who we need more than anything , any other
He is the image of the invisible God with authority to rule over all creation. ( Col 1) So when you see Jesus , you see the Almighty God. It is in Him everything is sustained. He has conquered everything that opposed God's purposes. So He is superior in His identity because He is God ! He is the superior Saviour and so is worthy of worship
He is all you need. What an all sufficient Gift !
We can easily lose sight of this Perfect gift this Christmas in the midst of the hustle and bustle of festivities or even when celebrations are cut short by sadness or the ongoing challenges of this coronavirus
Jesus steps into our world to forever change our understanding of love and grace. He gives us His presence because of His mercy and grace toward us and not because we have displayed ‘good behaviour’
Santa may give you presents based on your behaviour this year as the song says , ‘checking the list twice, whether you’ve been naughty or nice’
God gives you this Gift of His Son because He is merciful and gracious. He keeps short account of your sins. He forgives and shows you favour. In fact His presence is the ultimate present or gift. It is unlimited for He gives and gives again. He is full of grace and truth and gives graciously to all who would come to Him
The angel told the shepherds don't be afraid. Like the shepherds ,receive the gift of freedom from fear . Your future is in the hands of your Saviour
The angel told the shepherds ‘ I bring you good news of great joy’. Today the Saviour offers the Gift of the joy of salvation
Then all the angels as they praised God, told the shepherds God's Gift of peace is available to those on whom God's favour rests’ .Today by His grace , God gives you this Gift of the Prince of Peace
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for the greatest and most wonderful gift of His grace to us all in His Son , Jesus Christ
>Show Him as you live how much you appreciate this Gift of Jesus. Worship Him.It opens up our hearts to appreciate all that God is
>Accept this Gift today and receive His abundant life
PRAYER - thank God that He came to dwell among us . Thank Him that when we believe and trust Him , He comes to live in us by His Spirit and we live in Him.He understands all we are experiencing
You, Jesus are not divorced from the circumstances of our lives
Pray for those with virus challenges, isolated persons because of the virus or on their own here and abroad - wherever our friends are relatives are. Thank Him :The blood of Jesus is your protection. Thank Him for His provision , His peace
Sunday 20th December 2020
CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE
Sunday 20th December 2020
SERMON TEXT: Luke 1:26-38
SERMON TITLE: MARY’S GOOD NEWS - YOUR GOOD NEWS !
How are your preparations coming along as we draw closer to Christmas? Is it all good ? Undoubtedly there are some adjustments we all have to make this year because of the corona virus. In this respect it's a unique , unprecedented Christmas 2020
But are you still finding the one thing that draws you, attracts you into the Christmas season? Some talk about beautiful Nativity scenes they have seen or for others it might be ‘feel good ‘ Christmas films. Others get excited, gastric propensities are stimulated just thinking about festive delights like mince pies , Italian panettone, etc. For many others it might be indulging in the crazy shopping activities
When these things are happening :Then you know it's Christmas . So good news for all ! In the midst of all this we are hearing of a vaccine becoming available for the virus… what a gift !
For me another one of these attractions is the big red Coca-Cola truck on TV with the sound of “Holidays are coming ”..it draws me in with excitement ! It's good news for me.This year there is a moving story attached to the video clip between a father and daughter :
Just briefly the father leaves his daughter ,wife at home as he goes to work for Christmas. The daughter( maybe she is called Mary) makes sure to give her Dad her letter to Santa in the North Pole. - you know what she would like for Christmas
The father makes every effort to get the letter to Santa’s legendary workshop. The father encounters a ‘ Closed for Christmas’ sign . Disappointment. Then there is a light , there is the sound of the big red truck with Santa driving. He offers the father a lift back home.As the father arrives at the house Santa gives him the letter from the daughter .The father opens it. It reads “Dear Santa ! Please bring daddy home for Christmas” And so it turns out much to the
daughter’s delight and the father’s pleasure
What good news ,what wonderful news ! It makes all the difference for the daughter and father
And the clip ends with the words: ‘ This Christmas, give something only you can give’.
The narratives we hear at Christmas time retold and reiterated of Jesus’ birth are really reminders of fundamental truths. These are the truths in which we anchor our faith in God and live out His intended purposes
In Luke's narrative of the first Christmas, Dr Luke tells us of the news that Mary receives from the angel Gabriel. This is all good news for her and the thing is it is going to change her life forever
So today let us look more closely to see this good news that the angel proclaims to Mary and what God was about to do in and through her life through the birth of Jesus
SO the angel Gabriel is on special assignment to Mary who live in a town in Galilee called Nazareth. Mary is the humble. peasant girl not wanting any attention, living in ‘Peasantville’- Nazareth. She plans to get married to Joseph, a descendant of David
This village is known for being corrupt, marginalised… its the unlikely place to which God's Holy messenger would be sent with glorious, life changing news
Yet Gabriel under angelic assignment comes down to earth with some good news . It's a message, an announcement from the Lord for Mary
Gabriel lets her know that even though she is a teenager and not married the Lord is going to use her to bring forth a Son. And it all has to do with God's favour. God's grace is extended to Mary
In v 28 - the angel says to Mary : ‘Greetings. You are favoured by God and He is with you.’
These words disturb greatly Mary …her thoughts playing with her emotions , very perplexing scenario
It's an understandable ,normal feeling. She tries to make sense of what is being said. Perhaps it has never happened before - Mary encountering an angel
V30-31: The angel reassures her : ‘ There is no need to fear, Mary, for God is pleased with you. You are to become pregnant and will give birth to a Son who you are to call Jesus.’
God chooses to make her the channel through which the Saviour would come. God is lifting her up. A simple and unassuming teenager , God is exalting her to a place of honour ,so lifting the status of women in that culture. God breaks convention and now Mary becomes an active participant in God's salvation plan. She will be the mother of the Saviour as she submits to this divine plan.
A ‘nobody’ from ‘no where Nazareth’ is becoming ‘somebody’ in God's eyes. That, my friends, is divine favour ! That is good angelic news, encouraging news that even today we have to be thankful to God
>It serves as a reminder to us today - God in His mercy touches our lives ,unworthy and undeserving.Yet He chooses to bring us into His plan .He chooses to do this, we do not deserve this. His mercies endure forever
Now as Mary submits to this plan- her submissive heart shows that she is the right choice to be Jesus’ mother
That however does not mean, it is all smoothe sailing for her . There are obstacles, challenges in the way- she will be ostracised , marginalised, even looked at condemningly…she will be looked at as a fool by others . Yet Mary is ready and willing . She says ‘let it be’…she says ‘yes’
We know that she was familiar with, she knew OT Scriptures. Perhaps she remembered some of the Old Testament characters who also looked as fools as God used them
-Look at Noah - he looked silly , foolish building an ark
-Moses at the Red Sea - the sea in front of him and the Egyptian army behind, advancing. All he’s got is a stick, a rod …how foolish that looked
-Joshua and the people looked silly marching around the walls of Jericho
- Ruth even with no husband or child, and only a depressed mother-in- law said “yes”
- Esther facing a possible death sentence if she revealed her Jewish identity , stood up to a powerful king. She was ready to say ‘yes’ and said “ if I perish , I perish”
- David looked foolish with a sling and five stones against the Philistine champion fighter Goliath with sword , spear and javelin and towering over 9 feet tall
- Even Jesus looked foolish on the cross…one of the two criminals hurling abuse at Him . “ Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us”. Onlookers and the chief priests and teachers of the law mocked Him similarly
When God favours you , you may look silly - people are not always going to think you're awesome and wonderful.Yet as we see in Mary here, only Mary and God knew what is being planned, what is being conceived, what is going to be birthed. So you look foolish.The negative comments will come because to others it is a mystery.
In verses 31-33 the angel describes (to Mary) who this Jesus will be. It is something of a majestic, powerful description ( READ)
He will be the Saviour. Jesus means ‘The Lord will save’ or ‘The Lord is salvation’.He will restore people to a right relationship with God. “He will be great” - extra ordinary, supernatural because He is Great ! Greater than all the prophets that have gone before Him. He is the Son of the Most High. There is none more needed than Jesus.
The angel Gabriel proclaims to Mary that this baby will be the greatest- the best was yet to come in Jesus’ supernatural birth. None is more worthy of admiration than Jesus
So Mary is told that Jesus will occupy the throne of His father King David. His Kingdom is an unshakeable Kingdom ( Heb 12) . Other kingdoms ended, this one will be eternal and His Kingdom will never end.
The good news for us is that after all the mince pies and festive delights are gone , the big red truck disappears we still have a Saviour and his name is Jesus.HE remains in control and on the throne
Mary understands that promises are being fulfilled for God's people.
Yet is this too much good news for Mary to make sense of….is this system overload?
As she begins to process what the angel says so far, she asks the inevitable question
V34—“How can this be?”-“ How can I have a baby , I am still a virgin?” The question here implies Mary is ready to co-operate with God's divine plan. She believes in what God is about to do. She has accepted God's Word to her that it is going to happen
We see today that there is nothing wrong in asking the “How?” question. This helps you to focus on your part in God's plan
V35 —-Observe the angel Gabriel’s reply….notice the first three words ‘THE HOLY SPIRIT’
HOW?- is the question. The answer : THE HOLY SPIRIT….The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you…” There is a miracle taking place here friends.
Something supernatural: “ The child you bear will be Holy and called the Son of God”
So through the activity of the Holy Spirit, God implants the life of His Holy Son inside Mary's womb. A pregnant virgin ! Sounds foolish some folks might say
God uses Mary only through the enablement of the Holy Spirit. She is dependent on Him
God is using her limitations as the opportunity to show His power, His supernatural ability.
The angel stirs Mary's faith into action. She hears God's words and appropriates them to her situation.
V 36-37 : Her boundaries of faith are being expanded.He encourages her faith, spurs her on by describing the miracle in motion that is taking place in Elizabeth: “Your relative Elizabeth is already six months pregnant despite her age and her former inability to bear children” Agains all odds Elizabeth conceived .
The impossible happened because “..nothing is impossible for God”
This is a fundamental truth. Impossible is where God begins to work. So it's not what we can't do. It's about what God CAN do because He is God ! God sees an opportunity to display the truth of his awesome power. Nothing lies outside the reach of His great power as the virgin birth indicates
(PAUSE) Perhaps there is a pause, maybe a moment of suspense here as the angel waits for Mary’s response. A holy hush - as the angel waits …the salvation of the world in a sense is dependent on this response.
V38- “I am the Lord’s servant.So I submit willingly to what you have said”, Mary says to the angel
She surrenders to God, trusting completely in Him.She gives only what she can give
With this response to God's invitation , the powers of sin and death at work in the world are given their final notice. The good news recorded in Genesis 3:15 , is about to become reality. The Serpent Crusher, the One who would crush the head of the serpent is soon to arrive ! A new day is dawning , dark days are coming to an end. The long awaited change is happening. As the song says ‘ the weary world is given reason to rejoice’ again. Hope is springing forth - it has a name and it's Jesus !
Sometimes what God asks of us can feel difficult, messy and uncomfortable. We might even be misunderstood, criticised and judged. Yet it is still something good God wants to do through us.
Mary did not ask the angel : “are you sure you have the right person, the right Mary ? ; don't you know how unqualified I am ? or have you asked one of the other women down the street ?”
God is not looking for so called ‘ super christians’, you know those who think they ‘have it all’.No. As we see in this passage, God needs humble servants who are ready to allow Him to work through them. You don't have to try and impress Him, He just wants you to say ‘yes’ to His ways and purposes
Today we see what God can do with someone who is willing to say ‘yes Lord , I am ready and willing to partner with You in your Kingdom purposes’
When we hold on to our plans so tightly ‘in our fists’, we are not allowing space for the Holy Spirit to dwell and give birth to something good, new, unprecedented .Something which as God unfolds- it will be best for us and bring glory to Him
What happened to those Bible characters ( many from the OT) we mentioned earlier? :those who might have looked foolish?
Noah and his family are saved from the flood ; safe in the ark
Moses with stick in hand did see the Red Sea part - deliverance for God's people!
Joshua and the people gained victory as the wall of Jericho fell down
Ruth - bravely stood up and said ‘yes’ …. “Where you go , I will go…your people shall be my people , and your God my God. Ruth became the great grandmother of King David
Esther - took a risk and saved her Jewish people from being annihilated , from genocide
David - with sling and stones brought the giant down in the name of the Lord !
Jesus - did not stay on the cross.He rose from the dead and accomplished eternal salvation to all who believe. Jesus defeated hell and death through His resurrection power.!
And that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives on the inside of each believer here today.
ROMANS 8:11 say ‘ This Spirit who lives in you is the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. If He could do that , then He is certainly able to give God's life to your natural bodies, because His Spirit is in you.
The same Spirit that would cause Mary to be pregnant with the life of the Saviour is the same Spirit living in us
This should greatly encourage our heart this time of Christmas. This is good news for all of us today
In our spiritual womb as believers we carry the purposes of God. God's Kingdom purposes are waiting to burst forth, waiting to be birthed
Just like Mary in that first Christmas story, when we say ‘yes’ we are saying “not my way but Your way, your will O Lord”
So you understand that it is all about service to Him and not about any status you hold
If you want to see change ,you want God to use you in 2021, let His Spirit lead you. The birthing of new life comes when the Holy Spirit becomes increasingly active as you allow Him to.
His presence is priority to the creation of new life. He will guide us as a church into uncharted territories and we will have encounters we have not experienced. The Holy Spirit will do it
Let us be the bearers of God's greatest gift in our world
The good news for all: God loved the world so much and Jesus loves His church too much for us to just carry on as usual. Allow the Holy Spirit to come and create new life even this Christmas time.Like Mary ,come in alignment with God's purposes
( borrow the line from the big red truck advert): ‘This Christmas give only what you can give’ - offer yourself to God
Sunday 13th December 2020
Today through the characters of Zechariah & Elizabeth we’ll look at three things :-
In God’s Perfect Timing we’ll see :-
Provision & Prayers Fulfilled,
Promises & Plans Fulfilled, &
Praise & Prophecy Fulfilled
Before that, let’s just briefly consider the line of priests that both Zechariah & Elizabeth came from.
Zechariah was from the priestly line of Abijah &
Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron.
The New Testament describes Elizabeth & her husband Zechariah as “righteous & blameless” people who observed “all the Lord’s commands & decrees blamelessly,” Luke 1:6.
“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.””
Luke 1:5-25 NIV
Provision & Prayers Fulfilled
The Angel Gabriel had appeared to Zechariah while he was serving & fulfilling his priestly duties at the temple.
He tells him that God had heard his prayers & they were about to be fulfilled.
The prayers of the people & those of Zechariah were heard, & God was finally breaking the silence to continue His long-awaited plan. A baby would be born & his name would be John & what would he do?
John would be a great man before the Lord, coming in the power of the Holy Spirit like Elijah of the Old Testament. Zechariah’s son would be the one foretold of in Malachi 4:5-6,
““See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.””
Malachi 4:5-6 NIV
Many believe that Malachi was the last book written before the silence of 400 years.
Luke 1:17 connects God’s last spoken words with God’s next spoken words here to Zechariah. God broke the silence & said, “It is time.” God will always answer His people. God answers in His Perfect Timing which is often different from ours!
I believe that God still speaks today. He speaks to His children, to those who have put their faith in Him. Usually, it is through the Bible or through prayer that I hear His prompting in my heart. But sometimes, just like Zechariah did, I want confirmation. Maybe this is your experience too.
In Luke Chapter One, the Angel Gabriel is sent by God to deliver a divine message of good news to Zechariah, a priest of Israel. He & his wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to a son who would be the forerunner of the promised Messiah. Unbelievable! But as Zechariah tried to process & rationalise this visit from the angel, he asked for further confirmation, for more evidence or proof that God’s divine abilities could overcome his own human inabilities.
If I were to put myself in Zechariah’s sandals, I can understand his hesitation. He & Elizabeth were over 60 years old & couldn’t conceive children. But the Angel Gabriel called it what it was : unbelief. Because he didn’t believe the Angel Gabriel’s words (which were given to him directly by God), Zechariah wasn’t able to speak until the birth of his son. As he left the Temple, he couldn’t even tell the people who were waiting outside the good news - he had to try & explain all that had just happened without words. Imagine for a moment just how difficult it would be to try & convey a message such as this via sign language! ‘Charades,’ ‘Give us a Clue,’ & ‘Pictionary’ weren’t even invented back then!
You’ve heard the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it!”
Whereas God would say, “Will you trust Me & believe, even though you can’t see Me?”
“Will you trust Me before you see how things will work out?”
We may feel inadequate, weak, maybe even unworthy, but we can’t allow our feelings to dictate the truth. God assures us that His Grace is sufficient for every trial & for every task, & we can believe Him & say along with the Apostle Paul in
2 Corinthians 12:9-10,
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
The Angel Gabriel reveals what John the Baptist’s role would be.
These words would come true at the appointed time.
Because of Zechariah’s unbelief at the time, he was struck dumb - He was unable to speak a word.
Zechariah went home after he fulfilled his priestly duties.
After this, Elizabeth his wife became pregnant & remained for five months in seclusion. She rejoiced by giving thanks to God :-
“The Lord has done this for me,” she said, “In these days He has shown His favour & taken away my disgrace among the people.”
Often when we think of obedience, we tend to associate it with duty. True obedience, however, is more than just sheer determination & grit. It comes from a heart that genuinely wants to please the Lord, & it leads to deep & lasting joy. In today’s passage, Zechariah’s obedience led to great joy. During this time period, it was customary for a son to receive the name of the father, or at the very least the name of a family member. So, when Zechariah & Elizabeth gave their son a name that wasn’t from their family’s lineage it surprised everyone. This simply wasn’t done!
But naming their son John was a resolute act of obedience, for the angel Gabriel had already declared that they would have a son & call him John (Luke 1:13).
Consider for a moment the Matriarchs of the Bible : Sarah, Rebekah & Rachel, they were all barren or today we would say infertile until God opened their wombs.
No doubt Elizabeth would have been most likely to relate to Sarah because of the supernatural ability of God performing something that due to their age wouldn’t have happened otherwise. In their culture, it was deemed shameful to not be able to bear children. We can see in this passage what a blessing & a joy it was for the ageing Elizabeth to say, “The Lord has done this for me,” she said, “In these days He has taken away my disgrace among the people.”
When Elizabeth conceived at her age, it was a miracle in & of itself, but another miracle takes place at the moment of Zechariah’s obedience. When Zechariah defied social customs & obeyed God’s command to name the baby John, his speech miraculously returned. And what did he do with his first words? He gave praise to God!
Obedience leads to heartfelt joy & grateful praise. But obedience isn’t always the simple, straightforward process we hope it will be. Sometimes we struggle with obedience, because usually it requires something from us. For Zechariah, his obedience cost him the privilege of naming his son after himself. He waited for decades to hold his son in his arms, & when the moment he’d been longing for finally came, he laid down his right & obeyed God.
For us, too, obedience will usually cost us something, but disobedience will always cost us more! Thankfully, we are not left to our own devices. We have His Word, the Bible & He has given us His Holy Spirit to live inside us, to guide us & empower us to follow His ways.
Zechariah wasn’t a faithless man. He served as the High Priest, & Scripture says that Zechariah & his wife Elizabeth “we’re both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments & statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6).
And yet, when the angel Gabriel told Zechariah the news of a coming son, Zechariah didn’t believe him. As a result, Zechariah became mute (Luke 1:18-20).
A season of silence then followed. Even someone as godly as Zechariah can have moments of doubt & unbelief. But God is so gracious & faithful. While Zechariah did experience a brief season of discipline from the Lord, he was eventually restored.
Friend, if you are walking through a difficult season, if you are experiencing a moment of doubt, let today’s passage be a sweet assurance to you. God sees what you are going through. He knows what you are feeling & He desires to be gracious & merciful to you. Lean into Him. Lay all your cares, doubts, & concerns at His feet. Rest in His comfort.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the story takes another twist & turn of events as Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel & was told her own news in
Luke 1:26-38. We now see the stories of Elizabeth & her cousin Mary intertwine :-
“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!””
Luke 1:39-45 NIV
Promises & Plans Fulfilled
Elizabeth’s Name literally means, “God keeps His oaths.”
When she went for years without conceiving, she had no idea that in her twilight years, God would keep His promises to her.
His kept promise to her brought a prophecy to life as she would give birth to John the Baptist, who would be the forerunner for Jesus.
Elizabeth had a visit from her cousin Mary who was also pregnant.
But Elizabeth rather than bursting with joy about her own supernatural news of being pregnant, first of all she chose to bless Mary instead.
Then she spoke about her own blessing.
She said that the baby in her own womb leapt for joy when the pregnant Mary entered the room. She again refers to Mary as being blessed because she had believed that the Lord would fulfil the promises He had made to her.
You may be struggling right now.
You may not feel like you are making a difference in the kingdom of God, but God has a plan for you, my friend.
I’m reminded at this point of a familiar story, ‘The Starfish Story’ :-
‘One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up & gently throwing things into the ocean.
Approaching the young boy he asked : “Young man, what are you doing?”
The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back onto the ocean. The surf is up & the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
The man laughed to himself & said, “So you realise there are miles & miles of beach & hundreds of starfish?” “You can’t make a difference.”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish & threw it into the surf, then smiling he said : “I made a difference to that one.” ‘
Or another story about a Pastor & his son.
It was a very rainy day & the Pastor was tired.
His son wanted to go out door-to-door to give out tracts which they often did together & his father agreed to let him go out & do so.
The son went out & he only had one tract left after posting many through letterboxes. Yet this time he knocked repeatedly at one house’s door. He waited for about ten minutes & eventually an older lady came to the door. She had a rope set up in the back room & was planning to hang herself, but was restless when she kept hearing the door being knocked.
The boy invited her to the Church on Sunday.
Moving on a few days it was now Sunday morning & when the Pastor reached the end of his sermon he asked if anyone wanted to share a personal testimony.
At this point, the older lady got up, came to the front, & explained what had happened earlier in the week & how she had read the tract & come to know Jesus for herself. She shared that if the boy hadn’t knocked on her door then she would have killed herself.
You don’t always know the impact that you make. But if you make a difference to only one other person then you have still made a difference.
Then in turn they can make a difference & impact someone else’s life too!
On Facebook recently I saw a list of names & photographs, some were familiar or famous, well-known names, others were not.
Edward Kimball, never heard of him?
Edward Kimball led D.L.Moody to the Lord.
Under the ministry of D.L.Moody, Wilbur Chapman was saved.
Billy Sunday was converted by Wilbur Chapman’s Preaching.
Through Billy Sunday’s Preaching, Mordecai Ham was saved.
Billy Graham came to Christ at a Mordecai Ham crusade.
You may be unknown ... but only eternity will reveal the impact of your ministry!
You may not see it now, but He is at work & will always keep His promises!
“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.’ Luke 1:56-66.
Praise & Prophecy Fulfilled
Once Zechariah wrote on the tablet that the name of their son was to be “John” he was able to speak freely again & started to praise God. He also prophesies over him in the next verses :-
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.”
Luke 1:67-80 NIV
In Luke 1:68-80, we see Zechariah’s song of praise after the birth of his promised son, John. In this song of praise, we see the past & the future converge as it first points back to the promise of the Old Testament in verses 68-75 & then looks forward to the fulfilment of the promises in verses 77-79.
Let’s set the scene : The days of the nation of Israel during which Zechariah prophesied would have been likely to have felt particularly dark & dismal. The Roman Empire oppressed Israel & there had been no recorded prophecies for 400 years! One scholar noted that despair & pessimism would have been the order of the day. But Zechariah’s words would have brought a glimmer of hope in their present darkness. The phrase ...”whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high...” Luke 1:78 would have brought to their minds two prophecies from the Old Testament:-
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shone,” Isaiah 9:2.
“But for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings,” Malachi 4:2.
Twice in this song of praise Zechariah mentions a visit (in Luke 1:68 &
in Luke 1:78). Verse 78 looks toward the future, anticipating the Messiah.
Jesus would be the light to the dark world & John would prepare the way for Him (Luke 1:76). Even after the miraculous birth that no one believed to be possible, Zechariah’s song spoke of his son John’s role in the life & ministry of Jesus.
Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit & prophesies about the role that his son John would fulfil. He would be like the Prophet Elijah, fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. John would be a forerunner to the Messiah, Jesus. Thankfully, Zechariah’s story didn’t end with silence, but with obedience & blessing. God’s prophecy was perfectly fulfilled, & Zechariah’s first words after the birth of his son, John, were praises to God (Luke 1:64). True belief leads to obedience, & obedience leads to God’s blessing.
Zechariah’s song shows us how God’s mercy to Zechariah became a conduit for him to tell about God’s mercy to Israel & the whole world
(Luke 1:58, 67, 77). Just as Zechariah allowed his life to be a vessel for God’s mercy to flow through, so we too can allow God’s mercy to flow in & through us. As those who have received mercy we are also to give/show mercy to other people. We, like John, need to be people who point others in the right direction to Jesus the Light of the World.
May we remember that in God’s Perfect Timing :-
Provision & Prayers are fulfilled
Promises & Plans are fulfilled
Praise & Prophecy are fulfilled.
So let us follow the godly examples & choose to live faithful lives like the characters of Zechariah & Elizabeth.
Let us serve faithfully in prayer & waiting, all the while believing God to be a God who keeps His promises. May their story give us hope.
May all of our hearts be strengthened by hope in God’s faithfulness to His promises. As we’ve seen in the lives of Zechariah & Elizabeth, we can wait with expectation & hope for God to answer. We can maintain a good & positive attitude whilst we are waiting. God’s plans are being worked out, even behind the scenes toward His ultimate purpose for each one of us.
May we, like John the Baptist, point others to Jesus, the Light of the World.
Let us agree with God’s timeframe & actions, knowing that when we speak that “Yes” of agreement by faith in Jesus, we are offering God the Glory He deserves as He brings about all His purposes. May we have eyes of faith to see the joy & gladness that can be found, even in the waiting season.
While we wait, let us remember that God has already answered & fulfilled so many of His promises to us. So that encourages us to take heart.
‘But I trust in You, LORD; I say, “You are my God.” “My times are in Your hands” ....
‘Be strong & take heart all you who hope in the LORD,’ Psalm 31:14-15a & 24.
Prayers for after the Message
O God of answered prayers, may our eyes remain fixed on You. Sometimes we can find that our hearts are heavy with the time that passes by while we are waiting, but we continue to remain faithful in the waiting even when it may appear that You are silent. Help us to seek You deeper in this season. To seek Your face & not Your hand, then we shall be truly blessed. Enable us to remember Your promises to us. That all Your promises to us are “Yes” & “Amen” in Christ Jesus.
Teach us to look beyond what we can see. Help us to turn our eyes upon Jesus. To look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the Light of His Glory & Grace. Amen! It shall be so! (2nd service).
Dear Lord, thank-You for the privilege & honour of knowing & serving You. Give us ears to hear, to discern, & to be attentive to Your voice. Give us hearts that are willing to put their trust in You, beyond any shadow of a doubt. For our wills to faithfully obey Your Word & Your calling upon our lives. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen! (1st service).
We’ll now sing ‘Glory’ (Let there be Peace)
Sunday 6th December 2020
CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE
Sunday 6th December 2020
Today we start a short sermon series on Advent
YES, IT IS THAT TIME AGAIN !
When we talk about the Advent, we are talking about the celebration and anticipation of Jesus’ arrival. The word itself , “advent” is defined as ‘the arrival of a notable person , thing or event.”
And every year Christians use the days leading up to Christmas to celebrate the advent of Jesus. So it is an expectant waiting and preparing for our Saviour.It reminds us of the many years the Jews spent longing for the Messiah
As we read these verses, we can say ‘Praise God’ that day came , and Jesus was born
This time also serves to remind us of the waiting and preparing as we live FOR Him, so we will live WITH Him , as we await the Second Coming of Jesus (“Joy to the World”- by Isaac Watts based on Psalm 98 , more about the Second Coming)
SERMON TITLE :Make Room For Jesus
Read>>>TEXT : LUKE 2:1-7
Some very familiar words , a familiar narration of the Christmas story in this chapter
These verses today give us some historical facts.
The historical facts mean that at a certain point in history there was a real emperor called Caesar Augustus
There was also a Syrian governor called Quirinius or I would say “Governor Q” ! These are real facts in history
Illustration - let’s say you were born during the time when the popular leader Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and someone asks you when were you born ? You could say that in the year of your birth Churchill was still Prime Minister ( I would not mention the years right now …for many that might appear a long time ago )
OR for the football fans if you were born in 1966 , you might say that is the year England won the World Cup …so far
These are facts …written in history
And in the midst of these actual events in history, there is still a greater event. For the greatest event in the history of mankind is this : don't miss this truth
the Saviour of the world, God's only Son makes His entrance into human history. Jesus Christ coming into this sinful world in a body of flesh and blood to carry out His redemptive mission….And yet there was no room for Him
This is truth that we need to embrace, we need to make room for. God in His sovereign power orchestrates these events to fulfill the salvation plan as was foretold by the prophets
So Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor issues a decree for a census to be taken throughout all the Roman world/ empire , all areas under Roman rule. So everyone complies by returning to their own town to be registered for this mandatory census . The purpose of the census was to establish tax revenues to be paid to the Roman authorities
Mary and Joseph make the long , hard 90 mile journey to Bethlehem ( King David's ancient home )from Nazareth.
V6-7 Luke tells us that when they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary goes into labour and gives birth to her Son, her firstborn. She wraps Him , the newborn baby in strips of cloth.
Then they ‘laid Him in a manger( feeding trough ) since there was NO ROOM FOR THEM IN THE INN’.
Just like us here at CWC having to say there is no more room in the Sunday meeting .It is just that we have limited capacity…and we have had to ask some individuals or couples to graciously step down so others can come, to make room for others
Or like after the Sunday meetings here , we aim to have a coffee or a drink at a restaurant/ cafe. Then we are faced with the disappointment that there is no room for any more customers !!
One can only imagine what Mary and Joseph’s response was like when there was no room in the inn . When perhaps because of the ‘busy - ness’ caused by this census, this couple was denied a room
Whatever the reason , whether it was the busyness of the time coupled with crowds coming to Bethlehem to register, the fact is there was no room for an obvious pregnant young girl about to give birth to the Saviour of the world
There is only a stable , not a palace or somewhere more comfortable , for Jesus to be born.He is placed in a manger which is nothing more than a feeding trough or box for animals.
The Saviour of the world was born without pomp and pageantry . ‘ No room in the inn’ become prophetic words of the truth that , “He came unto His own and His own did not receive Him and welcome Him” (John 1:11)
This family of Mary and Joseph, was given great promises as God uses them to implement His salvation plan. Yet look at what they had to endure - look at what the Saviour had to endure - the lack of basic comforts because no room was available for them
And today so many years later, there is still no room for Jesus. Things have not changed. Just look at the way Jesus is pushed out:
-People have become so materialistic that in many adverts the words’ Happy Christmas ’ may be replaced with ‘Happy Holidays’ so that others are not offended by the reference to Christ in the word ‘ Christmas’
-Rather than have a ‘ Christmas break ‘ some people talk about ‘ Winter break’ in the name of political correctness
-Then there are some of the ‘Christmas heroes’ like Rudolph, Frosty and Santa vying for some room too every Christmas. But for the true hero of Christmas, the Christ ,there is no room
The daughter of the late evangelist Billy Graham gave this response to a TV interviewer:
When Anne Graham was asked in regard to some terrible tragedy which had occurred, ( reportedly the 9/11attacks in 2001)
“ How could God let something like this happen?”,
the daughter of the late evangelist Billy Graham said,
“I believe God is saddened by this , just as we are but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools ,to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is ,I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessings and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”
Friends, How can we say to God our Creator, the One who created us to have fellowship with Him, how can we say : “we don't have room for You”?
Yet this is what we do when we allow other things to take His place in our lives.
>What if Joseph said: “ I don't care what Caesar Augustus has ordered , I don't have time to go to Bethlehem to pay my taxes….I have got some wardrobes, or bookcases to build”
> What if Mary said : “I’m too young to have a child, it will demand too much of MY time..To make matters worse , I’m not married…so I’ll not go through with this pregnancy”
> What if God said : “I’m not sending My Son to earth. They don't want Me in their world. Also that planet - it's in a mess….is polluted with sin …I am not going to dwell there”
Yet neither Joseph, Mary nor God made such statements/ comments
This couple followed God's plan so that the Child , Jesus ,was born in Bethlehem even in very lowly and humble circumstances . Micah 5:2 says , “ But as for you , Bethlehem Ephrathah ,you are too little to be among the family groups of Judah. But from you One will come who will rule for Me in Israel. His coming was planned long ago, from the beginning.”(NEW LIFE VERSION)
God made time for this world that He so loved. This is what that first Christmas was all about - God sending His Son, born of a woman when the time had fully come ( Galatians 4). His Son would become the Saviour , your Saviour and my Saviour out of love for you and me
How can we ever understand this amazing love of God ? - that He was prepared to become man. God gives His Son on the cross. Jesus gives His life….He makes time for all so that those whom He created would be restored to fellowship and unity with God
>>>>Mr Bean nativity sketch???
If you ever seen this clip, you know how funny it is .A lot of creativity as seen in the characters including a T -rex dinosaur. In the clip, at one point the dinosaur is creating havoc and very soon a helicopter arrives. It ‘descends’ in the manger and takes baby Jesus out of danger in what seems to be a magnetic manoeuvre . A manger without the Saviour - the One who is our Rescuer is being “rescued”… taken out of the picture
The point here is that Jesus takes US out of the danger of sin. We are in danger , not Him. He does not leave us in our sinful state. He does not leave us to suffer in our sin .No. He rescues us from the power of sin , He delivers us and He sets us truly free. He is our Rescuer, Deliverer and Saviour !
So today is there room in your hearts for Jesus? We are the innkeepers of our hearts , our lives
Will we get caught up in the hustle and bustle, the parties/ social activities, the sentimentality of the season that we forget the Saviour. Are we trying to make Him fit in rather than give Him the place of honour in our hearts?
He wants so much to come in to save us , to refresh us and bring us into a precious, loving relationship with Him
If we want God to do something new, something fresh that restores our souls and revives our spirits , this Christmas embrace the Christ of Christmas. Allow Him room to work , to act , to search our hearts afresh
The thing is you will never have room.You have to intentionally decide to make room
We do not want to go into the new year doing the same things that we are doing this year. Certainly not having to deal with the challenges of Covid -19. With this sense of expectation of something new, hopeful, this time of year, comes an opportunity for us to give God room to come among us
- to come among us in His power , in His fullness so that His life and love are poured into our lives and then we see it breaking out to others around us
Let us not get distracted by the world and its busyness and how it portrays Christmas. The reason why there is no room for Jesus to be born in our hearts is because we are busy. B U S Y- this word , in the middle there's “US” .Only thinking about ourselves. Press the Pause button …...
Pause this Christmas and see the Saviour of the Season.
The world distorts what Christmas is all about or rather WHO Christmas is all about.
This must not stop us celebrating the Saviour’s birth. Rejoice in the birth of the Saviour!
Give thanks to the Lord because there would be no salvation without the incarnation ! God coming to live among us , God making room for us - Jesus becoming man and living the perfect life and sharing His life with us
The meaning of Christmas advent simply put is this : IT IS A CELEBRATION AND ANTICIPATION OF JESUS’ ARRIVAL
Jesus’ first coming was as a tiny baby in a manger. His second coming will be as King of Kings
For us today let us consider another ‘coming’ as we make room for Him . It is the arrival of the Saviour , into our hearts as we accept His precious gift of salvation this Christmas
What is the meaning of all this for us today?
Is the fact that there was no room in the inn a reflection of our own failure to make room in our hearts for Him?
Can God interrupt our lives ? Can we make room for Him to come into the messiness of our lives
You know God planned these lowly circumstances for His Son to be born . He did not have to stoop to such a level. He belongs on a throne ,not a feeding trough . He must sit on the throne of our hearts and anything else must be removed , deposed
Yet He comes into the mess of our lives, into our sin marred lives and cleans us up as we let Him People will talk about what a mess your life is. Jesus will take the sinful mess away and replace it with His life …His story of love for you. He must not reside in the stable of our lives
The Son had no suitable room. Yet even though there was no room for Him, He still came into our world to make room for us in eternity. He wants to write His love story in our hearts
John 14 : 2-3 >>>Jesus says that “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home….I am going to prepare a place for you…I will come back again and I will take you so that you can be where I am”
Jesus is preparing room for us for all eternity if we would trust in Him as Saviour
>You do not know the Lord as your Saviour - come to Him , allow Him into your heart
>You as a believer today - allow the Holy Spirit to search your hearts, remove the clutter and impart His life, virtue ,forgiveness, power and healing.
I encourage you as believers to take Communion even in your homes later as part of this response. We will be doing so at 5:30pm today at home
Sunday 29th November 2020
Sunday 22nd November 2020
Sunday 15th November 2020
Remembrance Sunday, Sunday 8th November 2020
On this Remembrance Sunday, we will consider three aspects of the word ‘Remember!’:-
Firstly, Remember what God has done
Secondly, Remember what others have done
Thirdly, What will you be Remembered for?
Remember what God has done
This Psalm is written by Asaph, the Director of Music, to the Chief Musician, Jeduthun.
“I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.”
Psalms 77:1-4 NIV
Psalm 77:1-4. Asaph cried out to God & was real with Him about his doubts & fears. We are not told what Asaph prayed for, but the implication is prayer for the adversity or suffering to cease, for circumstances to be changed for the better. In this sense he ‘remembered God’ : keeping God prayerfully in mind as the One who could intervene & perform the great transformation. Prayer though strongly spoken & untiringly pursued was not the solution, because it expressed, in fact, an anxious refusal to accept God-given circumstances. Indeed God Himself withheld sleep, bringing His child deeper into exhaustion till he could learn the precious lesson of resting upon revealed truth.
Are you resting in God’s love for you today?
Or do you doubt that He can help you in every situation?
“I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?””
Psalms 77:5-9 NIV
In the sleepless hours, his mind turned to the past & memory dwelt on times of happy songs (vv.5-6). But this brought no comfort, only a questioning of God & His ways in (vv.7-9). Interestingly, the questions of Asaph seem to be phrased to bring reassurance, especially by introducing the five changeless covenant realities of God’s favour, unfailing love, promise, mercy, & compassion. But the point is that questions by themselves are comfortless things; they arise from an unsettled mind & settle nothing. Trying to re-live the past (v.6) is no remedy for the present & no recipe for the future. Although we must learn from the lessons of the past.
Is your mind unsettled or do you trust in God completely?
“Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
Psalms 77:10-20 NIV
Suddenly thought takes a fresh turn : not just remembering God as a solution to problems (v.3), nor only remembering former spiritual experiences (v.6) but also remembering the wonder of God’s past acts (vv.11-12), the surpassing greatness of His holy character (v.13), & what He has done for His people in redemption
(vv.14-15), power (vv.16-18), & providential care (vv.19-20).
Do you recall the things God has done for you?
Are you & I relying on His faithfulness?
It is on this thought that the psalm abruptly ends. Circumstances they would never have chosen - the waters of the Red Sea, the great & terrible wilderness - were His appointment. Indeed it was God who, unseen, led them into these very experiences (v.19) & provided for the Israelites in the thick of these situations of crises (v.20). Here is comfort : Wherever God leads He will also provide.
It’s like Asaph said to himself : That’s it! That’s the way forward!
Not praying for the circumstances to be changed (vv.1-4).
Not being filled with anxious thoughts that things were not how they used to be
But remembering the works of God & more importantly the God Who performed the works (vv.10-20).
Do you know the comfort & peace that God can bring?
Are you & I acknowledging God’s provisions for our lives?
Do we trust Him enough to lead us forward into unknown territory?
Remember what others have done
‘Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering?’
Remember what has been fought for & gained.
Billy Ray Cyrus once sang these words, regarding a soldier who died in one of the wars :-
‘All gave some
And some gave all.
Some stood true to the red, white & blue
And some had to fall.
So if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties
Some gave all.’
On this Remembrance Sunday, we remember those who have died so that we can live in freedom.
Jesus Himself said these words :-
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:13 NIV
I learned a beautiful, modern day hymn that was written back in 2018 by Tim Chester, Colin Webster & Phil Moore. It’s simply called ‘Remembrance Hymn’ & I’d like to read you the words now :-
‘O Lord, we look upon the past
Rememb’ring those who went before
Who heard the cry & bore for us
The brutal, bloody face of war
We think of them & think of You
Who came to earth as one of us
To share our pain & bear our wounds
And make the final sacrifice.
O Lord, we look around today
And see a world in conflict still
We pray for those who strive for peace
Who stand for truth & lives rebuild
We weep with those whose lives are scarred
Whose way is hard, whose hope is weak
To refugees whose homes are lost
God of all comfort, comfort speak.
O Lord, we look ahead in hope
To see the dawning of the day
When swords are beaten into ploughs
And every tear is wiped away
When wounds are healed & fear dispelled
And all who trust in You arise
When Christ, the Prince of Peace, has come
And Glory, Glory fills the skies.’
‘I thank God, Whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night & day I constantly remember you in my prayers ... I have been reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois & in your mother Eunice &, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,’ 2 Timothy 1:3, 5-6).
‘But Timothy has just now come to us from you & has brought good news about your faith & love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us & that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you,’
(1 Thessalonians 3:6)
‘I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus,’
“Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.”
Acts 10:31 NIV
Through the characters of Timothy, the members of the Thessalonian & Philippian Churches, & Cornelius we see & remember godly examples.
In our own lives, we can also remember Christians who have helped us in our Christian Faith. Here are a few of my own personal examples :-
I remember that my parents dedicated me to God as a baby & I honour them today for bringing me up in a Christian home & serving as godly examples to me from an early age.
I remember my Sunday School Teacher, Mrs Pearson, who led me to my own personal faith in Jesus when I was only four years old.
I remember Hilarie, my mentor & dear friend, who stood by me in good times & in bad times. A woman of deep faith & integrity.
I remember & honour Apostle & Pastor Colin Urquhart. I remember in particular a Word that Pastor Colin spoke when I was at Kingdom Faith Training College back in October 2016. He had several Words for other students, but the one for me was regarding being healed of women’s problems. I truly believe on that day I received healing from Jesus from infertility & miscarriage.
We can continue to be encouraged by those who are honest, genuine & sincere as we honour, remember & respect them for their godly examples.
We can remember the good things that people have done & their faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ.
What will you be ‘Remembered’ for?
Jesus & the dying thief on the cross
Read out Luke 23:39-43.
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.””
Luke 23:39-43 NIV
The Book of Remembrance
‘Those who feared the Lord talked with each other, & the Lord listened & heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared & honoured His Name.’
“They will be Mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in the day when I make up My treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will once again see the distinction between the righteous & the wicked, between those who serve God & those who do not,” Malachi 3:16-18.
The Lamb’s Book of Life
Regarding the New Jerusalem
‘Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life,’ (Revelation 21:27).
The names of Christians who have faithfully continued to serve & follow Jesus, in spite of persecution, suffering, & in some cases martyrdom.
‘When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound
And time shall be no more
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright & fair
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
Let me labour for the Master from the dawn till setting sun
Let me talk of all His Wondrous love & care
Then, when all of life is over, & my work on earth is done
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.’
Will you be there?
‘I’ve got a home in Gloryland that outshines the sun
I’ve got a home in Gloryland that outshines the sun
I’ve got a home in Gloryland that outshines the sun
A way beyond the blue.
Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me
Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me
Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me
A way beyond the blue.
I took Jesus as my Saviour, you take Him too
I took Jesus as my Saviour, you take Him too
I took Jesus as my Saviour, you take Him too
A way beyond the blue.
Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me
Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me
Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me
A way beyond the blue.
If you do not bear the cross, you can’t wear the crown
If you do not bear the cross, you can’t wear the crown
If you do not bear the cross, you can’t wear the crown
A way beyond the blue.
Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me
Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me
Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me
A way beyond the blue.’
Summary & Application :-
Remember what God has done
We remember what God has done & how He has remained faithful to us over the years.
We remember how He has comforted us in the past.
We remember how He has provided for us.
We remember His mercy towards us.
We remember His compassion towards us.
Remember what others have done
We remember the Biblical examples of Timothy, the Philippian & Thessalonican Churches, & Cornelius.
We remember the godly examples of other Christians & thank God for the blessing, encouragement & influence that they have had upon our lives.
What will you be ‘Remembered’ for?
May we be remembered for our integrity.
May we be remembered for faithfully following Jesus, whatever that may cost us.
May we be remembered because our names have been written in the Book of Remembrance & in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
May it be our main ambition to follow Jesus Christ & remain faithful to Him forever. Amen.
Early yesterday morning, I believe that God gave me the following word :-
He would say to some of you here today & others that hear this message through social media such as Facebook, Messenger, What’s app & YouTube, for you to remember that He has heard your prayers for your children.
They may be your children through birth, through adoption, through fostering, they may be your step-children, or your spiritual children - those you have mentored or provided for financially in some way.
God has heard your prayers & He will answer, but in His timing & not yours.
So continue to pray, continue to hold onto the promises that He has made you.
For God is faithful. What He has said, that He will do.
Remember : “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
1 Thessalonians 5:24 NIV
Sunday 1st November 2020
Sunday 25th October 2020
Jesus is Coming Soon
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
Revelation 22:1-5 NIV
Flowing from the Throne that is shared by God the Father & the Lamb, is a pure, crystal clear river. The river of the water of life. The description of the river here seems to combine elements taken from the description of Eden in Genesis 2:8-14 and the river flowing from the new temple seen by Ezekiel in Ezekiel 47:1-12. It waters the Tree of Life which produces its twelve fruits every month. Its leaves heal the nations. The river signifies the continual flow of God’s life & blessings through the city, the Bride, the redeemed. Then there will be only blessing; no more curses! Guilt will have been removed. God’s servants shall see His face & bear His Name on their foreheads. They will reign forever & ever in this land where there is no night because God gives them light. In seeing the Lord, the redeemed will become like Him, transformed into His likeness. The saints will bear His Name & will reign eternally with Him.
Poem : ‘Guilt Taken Away’
‘You wake up crying
Thinking your secret has been let out
You try to hide the way you feel
Seeing eyes look at you
With every step you take
Eyes that pierce right through
Sharper than a sword going into your heart
Each heartfelt cry of yours
Is being laid bare
Exposed like a common criminal
For all the world to see.
Fear and guilt gather together
Like vultures round a dead body
So negative thoughts press in
The shadows once behind you
Become the one in front
On show for all to see
People look upon your sin
Gazing intently on your mistakes
You feel like you’re in a witness box
But the sentence is made
Condemning you before the trial begins.
Judged by your actions
Head hanging low
Walking about shamefaced
Everybody must know
People whisper and gossip
But when you approach
Silence fills the crowded street
As tongues are stilled.
One Man walks up to you
Love is radiant on His face
He says, “My precious child
You are more valuable
Than all the gold and silver in this world
Worth far more than expensive stones
I love and accept you for who you are
I’ll forgive you all these mistakes
Forget all these sins and regrets
And also forgive yourself.”
He stretches out His arms
Reaching out to you in love and tenderness
He envelops you with compassion
Like clothes cover your body
His love blots out your sins
Blood flowing like a mighty river
Washing and cleansing you
Purifying your heart.
You are made whiter than the snow
You put on radiant robes of righteousness
You are now like a bride clothed in white
Waiting at the altar for your bridegroom.
You are renewed
Your strength is restored like the eagle’s
You arise with power and healing in your wings
You stand pure and holy before God
With no defects, like an innocent lamb
You sing from a heart that reflects
Joy and peace springing forth like a bubbling brook
Love flowing like a fountain
You freely praise and give thanks to your Maker
From a heart filled to overflowing
With a love and a desire to worship
And serve Him alone.’
(Rachel Chase, 1993).
Guilt & shame can only be taken away by Jesus. So if you are struggling with guilt or shame this morning & don’t want to anymore then the answer is this : lay it all down at the feet of Jesus at the Cross of Calvary. I often see it as carrying a heavy rucksack on my back, which I wasn’t intended to carry. In the past, I drew a picture of the Cross of Christ & myself carrying a heavy rucksack. The ruck sack contained things like guilt, shame, fear, & many other things so that the weight of it on my shoulders weighed me down. Then I saw myself taking off the heavy rucksack, kneeling down, praying - asking Jesus for forgiveness & leaving the heavy rucksack at the foot of the Cross. Then I was free from the heavy weight & my arms were no longer restricted in their movement. I was free to raise my arms & hands in sweet surrender & worship. Once again, I could freely & openly praise the Lord. You may need to hear & respond to that picture this morning.
The Passion Translation & the New International Version of the Bible refer to this in Psalm 55:22.
“So here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Leave all your cares and anxieties at the feet of the Lord, and measureless grace will strengthen you.”
Psalms 55:22 TPT
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”
Psalms 55:22 NIV
Once you cast your cares on the Lord, by laying them at the foot of the cross, leave them there. Don’t go back to pick them up, but give them once & for all to Jesus. Which is easier said than done, I know from personal experience!
As the old hymn used to say : ‘Take your burdens to the Lord & leave them there.’
“The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.””
Revelation 22:6-7 NIV
The truth of God’s Word & accuracy of God’s inspired prophets are restated. Jesus declares for the first time, in this chapter, that He is coming soon.
Those who keep ‘the words of the prophecy of this book’ are blessed.
This revelation is authenticated by the spirits of the prophets, by John’s personal testimony of what was revealed to him, by the angel, who makes it clear that this revelation of the truth will be a determining factor in distinguishing between those who oppose God, & those who express their love for Him by submitting to Him.
Soon does not necessarily mean soon from John’s perspective or indeed from ours either, but that once the time comes it will happen quickly.
The Greek phrase is ‘en tachos’ meaning that once something starts it will take place swiftly.
“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!””
Revelation 22:8-9 NIV
John repeats his earlier mistake of worshipping the angel!
The angel corrects him, constructively again, & reminds him that he is only a fellow servant & that he, John, must worship God.
Let’s not be too hard on John here, as we have all made mistakes too & can get into a vicious circle of repeating them as well. At times we also need reminding to shift our focus back to worshipping Jesus & becoming Jesus-centred rather than problem-centred. Again, we need the help & enabling of the Holy Spirit to do so. Often we cannot achieve this on our own.
“Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.””
Revelation 22:10-11 NIV
John must herald the words of this prophecy because ‘the time is at hand.’ When the deadline is passed, the saints will be saved & the lost will be lost, & there will be no reopening of the case. The state that each person is in then, will continue eternally.
On the wall tower of Zoar Methodist Chapel in Lower Gornal, near Dudley in the West Midlands, England there is a clock & underneath it is a sign which displays these words :-
“It is time to seek the Lord.”
Back when we lived in the West Midlands, I had a picture of this clock showing the time as a quarter to midnight. Recently, God revealed to me that it now shows the time five to midnight. Time is getting short.
The Final Countdown has already begun.
Jesus is Coming Soon.
Are you ready & prepared for His Return, for His Second Coming?
““Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
Revelation 22:12-13 NIV
This is the second of Jesus’ sayings & He again proclaims & testifies that He is coming soon to reward & to deal with people according to the deeds they have done. Jesus reminds us of His divine eternal nature.
““Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
Revelation 22:14-15 NIV
“Wonderfully blessed are those who wash their robes white so they can access the Tree of Life and enter the city of bliss by its open gates. Those not permitted to enter are outside: the malicious hypocrites, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, murderers, idolaters, and every lover of lies.”
Revelation 22:14-15 TPT
‘Only the Blood can heal the broken heart
Only the Blood can make you cleansed
Only the Blood can pay the ransom price
Only the Blood can set the captive free.
Only the Blood of Jesus
Can wash you whiter than the snow
It can fully cleanse you from all your guilty stains
Only Jesus’ Blood can make you whole again.
Only the Blood of the Lamb can purify
Through the fountain & the Blood you can draw nigh
The Holy Spirit convicts you & the Lamb redeems & saves you
And through your words you now testify.
Only the Blood of Jesus
Can wash you whiter than the snow
It can fully cleanse you from all your guilty stains
Only Jesus’ Blood can make you whole again.’
“Washed white, through the Blood of My Son, the Lamb without spot or blemish.
Washed white through My Son, the Lamb Who was slain before the foundation of the world.
Washed white through My Son, Who now sits at My right hand.
Washed white through My Son, the Lamb, The Shepherd-King.
Washed white through My Son, the Lamb Who deserves the Highest Praise.
Washed white through My Son, the Lamb Who wears a robe saying : ‘King of kings & Lord of lords.’
Washed white through My Son, Who rides on His white horse to gather together the elect.
My Son gathers the elect to be with Him forever.
My Son gathers the elect to be with Him to rule & reign with Him forever.”
‘Your precious, shed Blood, Jesus
Your Blood cleanses, washes, purifies
I can plead Your Blood, Jesus
Your Blood is precious, Lord Jesus
Your Blood sanctifies
Your Blood forever flows
Your Blood forever cleanses
Your Blood forever heals
Because of Your Blood, Jesus
Because of Your Blood, Lord Jesus
Because of Your Blood, Lord Jesus
Through Christ, I stand forgiven, free.’
And while there is still time, there is still the opportunity to know Jesus.
The blessing of those whose conversion to Christ has led them to obey His law, look forward to the tree of life, as only the saints have access to those great riches in heaven, is contrasted with those whose sinful lifestyles show that they remain outside His forgiveness because time has already passed them by.
““I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.””
Revelation 22:16 NIV
Jesus confirms that He commissioned & authorised the angel to testify to God’s truth to the churches. He reminds them & us again of His own divine character & authority as ‘the Root & the offspring of David, & the Bright Morning Star.’
Jesus Himself heralds this new day, this new creation.
Jesus is the Bright Morning Star Who signals the end of night & the beginning of God’s perfect day.
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
Revelation 22:17 NIV
““Come,” says the Holy Spirit and the Bride in divine duet. Let everyone who hears this duet join them in saying, “Come.” Let everyone gripped with spiritual thirst say, “Come.” And let everyone who craves the gift of living water come and drink it freely. “ It is my gift to you! Come.””
Revelation 22:17 TPT
‘Let Your Living Water flow over my soul
Let Your Holy Spirit come & take control
Of every situation that has troubled my mind
All my cares & burdens onto You I roll.
Come now, Holy Spirit, & take control
Hold me in Your loving arms & make me whole
Wipe away all doubt & fear & take my pride
Draw me with Your love & keep me by Your side.
Give your life to Jesus, let Him fill your soul
Let Him take you in His arms & make you whole
As you give your life to Him, He’ll set you free
You will live & reign with Him eternally.’
God’s pressing invitation by His Spirit is clear : “Come!” Three times in one verse is that one word used, & Christ’s Bride, the Church, endorses it. Anyone who hears, thirsts, or desires is invited to take the water of life freely. This is as true for a lost sinner coming for salvation as it is of a Christian needing renewal. Simply, “Come!”
The Spirit & the Bride - that is to say the Church of Christ who believe this revelation bear witness to this truth, that those who come to Christ & trust in Him alone, can receive this heavenly inheritance.
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.”
Revelation 22:18-19 NIV
In the Bible’s last warning to its readers, God firmly strengthens & cements these facts found elsewhere, that no one must add or take away from His Word. The book of Revelation is the last book of the Bible to be written, & anyone adding to it will have the plagues recorded here added to them by God. To say that God has not spoken enough, or to say that He has said too much is a blasphemous insult to Him, His wisdom, & His ultimate authority.
God-breathed Scripture is completed with this last chapter of Revelation.
“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
Revelation 22:20 NIV
“The one who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”
Revelation 22:20 TPT
Jesus underlines the importance of His second coming. The last recorded words of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Bible are, “Surely I am coming quickly,” repeating what He has already said twice in this chapter. Clearly the Christian is to take the Second Coming of Christ as real & that He will come again soon. When He does come He will come quickly & there will be no more delay. The enthusiastic response of us as believers in Christ should be the same one that John gives :-
“Amen! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
‘El Elohim, El Shaddai
Maranatha, Yeshua, ADONAI
Parakletos, Hagion, Pneuma
Maranatha, Yeshua, ADONAI
Lord God of Hosts, Lord God Almighty
Our Lord will come, Jesus, LORD
Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, Breath of God
Our Lord will come, Jesus, LORD.’
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”
Revelation 22:21 NIV
The last words of the Bible are, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”
The grace of the Lord Jesus is with all who trust Him & honour Him.
The Book of Revelation, the New Testament, & the Bible end with the word ‘Amen,’ which literally means ‘it shall be so.’
So we are not viewing a movie preview of a film that is ‘Coming Soon.’
‘Coming Soon’ is not about a film preview or a main attraction or event.
It’s about the Lord Jesus Christ Who is Coming Soon, but not to a cinema near you!
He is Coming Soon as the Bridegroom seeking a Bride who has made herself ready for her wedding day.
We as a Church, are His Bride. Are we ready?
For ready or not He will come soon in Majesty & in Glory.
And He will come quickly & not delay.
This reminds us of how things are in the Jewish culture. Only the Father knew when his son, the Bridegroom, would go to meet his bride. So, too, it is the same regarding when Jesus will come as the Bridegroom for His Bride the Church. Jesus Himself, as the Son of Man & the Son of God says these things in Matthew 24:36, 42, 44 :-
““But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Matthew 24:36, 42, 44 NIV
The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) serves as a reminder of the need for us to be alert, ready & watchful, for we do not know what hour or day when Jesus our Bridegroom will return.
““At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Matthew 25:1-13 NIV
‘Christ is surely coming, bringing His reward
Alpha & Omega, First & Last, & Lord
Root & stem of David, brilliant Morning Star
Meet your Judge & Saviour, nations near & far
Meet your Judge Saviour, nations near & far!
See the Holy City! There they enter in
All by Christ made Holy, washed from every sin
Thirsty ones desiring, all He loves to give
Come for Living Water, freely drink, & live
Come for Living Water, freely drink, & live!
Grace be with God’s people! Praise His Holy Name!
Father, Son, & Spirit, evermore the same
Hear the certain promise from the Eternal Home
“Surely I come quickly!” “Come, Lord Jesus, come”
“Surely I come quickly!” “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”
May we be alert, ready & watchful, knowing that Jesus is Coming Soon.
He is the Bridegroom & we as the Church are His Bride.
Do you know Him? Are you ready for His Return?
If not, come to Jesus today, thank Him for dying on the Cross for you.
Thank Him for His shed Blood at Calvary. Admit that you have sinned, done things that are wrong in His sight. Ask for His forgiveness. Turn your back on your sin. Literally do a u-turn & go in the opposite direction. Believe in Him. Live for Him. For Jesus is Coming Soon! Make sure you are ready!
May our hearts always rejoice with a willing trust & obedience, in response to what God has done, is doing, & one day gloriously will do.
May our response be the same as the Apostle John :-
“Amen! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
We’ll now declare this by singing our final worship song :-
‘These are the Days of Elijah (Behold He comes)’
Sunday 18th October 2020
Sermon Title : JESUS WINS, SO CAN YOU !!
Sermon Text : REVELATION 12:10-12
( READ )
The book of revelation is so rich in imagery and symbolism. According to Revelation 1:3 and 22:7, a joyous blessing rests upon the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and upon those who hear and embrace/ believe what is written.
The book unveils both a portrait and a promise
—— a portrait of Jesus the Victorious One, the one true King, God the Son
———-a promise that His servants will be overcomers through Him . For in the end , Jesus wins and in Him we are overcomers too
In this chapter and continuing in chapters 13-14, John actually witnesses the ‘conflict of the ages’ between God and Satan
Amidst the chaos, the horrible events that unfold and the troubling times for the church, God is working out His purposes. In the midst of severe persecution , God is keeping His church in His care and protection and His sovereign plan is being unfolded
So we see that before John describes what the loud voice is saying ( as in v10) , we see that there is war in heaven :verses 7-9
Michael and his angels are involved in a heavenly conflict with Satan and his angels.Satan is defeated and both Satan - the devil and his angels are thrown down to the earth. There is no place for them in heaven !
Yet he will be persistent even on earth, intensifying his hellish activity, because he knows his time is short- he is only given a brief time to work. Worst than a sore loser !! - the devil and his angels are worst than a sore loser. That does not stop God from accomplishing His plans for in another three and a half years , he is going to be bound and thrown into a bottomless pit
V10- Then John the writer hears a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brethren, who accuses them before God day and night, has been hurled down…” The devil , the accuser of the brethren has been thrown down. Heaven rejoices in the devil's defeat, and explodes in praise and thanksgiving
So apart from the devil’s defeat in the heavenlies ,his defeat on the earth will also become apparent.
This will be the ultimate victory .It will take effect through the expansion of God's Kingdom and the exercise of Christ’s authority given to the church, proclaiming His victory over the devil and all the demonic powers of darkness.
It is the time for salvation to be fulfilled completely.It will be the time for God's power to be clearly manifested as the power of evil and sin is destroyed .It will signal the coming of the kingdom of God- Christ taking up His authority in heaven and earth
The devil will no longer be accusing us before God. The devil also referred to as the slanderer or false accuser( from the word diabolos) is also our adversary. He opposes everything that is decent ,holy and right . He stands in opposition to God's plan even since creation.
Then we see the response of the saints who have been martyred for their faith. The devil has been accusing them before God, pointing out their sin and failures.Now they are overcomers .As we look at verse 11 we see they use three weapons to defeat the devil to become overcomers
1 - They use the blood of the Lamb
2 - They use the word of their testimony
3 - They use their supreme love for Jesus
>> So the first way the saints are overcoming is through the blood of the Lamb.
The saints did not fall for Satan’s lies that religion will be good enough or that they do not need the blood of the Lamb because they are good as they are. No. They saw their sinful condition and their need for forgiveness through the blood of the Lamb only
As the blood was applied , they were safe from the enemy’s attacks on their souls. Yes the enemy might kill their bodies , but through the blood , he cannot touch their souls. The blood redeemed them so securing their eternal victory .
This is Jesus’ blood that redeems us from fear and and bondage. This is Jesus’ blood that frees us from a guilty conscience !
The enemy takes great pleasure in tormenting the conscience
For example he may tempt you to do something that is wrong : ‘go ahead, you will get away with it’. Then as you do what you should not do, when you sin, he may say : ‘ see what you’ve done, you are never going to get away with that !
Yet Jesus’ precious blood is available to you because it is Christ’s blood that gives us an inner cleansing from all sinful acts that lead to spiritual death. We can now have consciences clear of all guilt and truly serve God as His holy people ( Hebrews 9:14)
Yes brothers and sisters ,friends you can overcome because of this blood . One songwriter put it this way:
“It has the power to free the bound , as their chains fall upon the ground. So let this blood of Christ , this liquid glory flow , for what can make you whole again? Nothing but the blood”
What can enable you to live in victory? Nothing but the blood of the Lamb
>>> The second weapon by which the saints overcome is the word of their testimony
The saints redeemed and made right before God share their testimony. Despite the opposition they faced, they were never backing down in reporting or testifying about the freedom into which Christ has brought them. They were steadfast in whom they believed - firm in their faith in Jesus. Renouncing their faith was not an option.Even as they faced death, their lips declared the mercy and grace of the God they know.
Satan’s power pales into comparison to our Saviour’s power to save eternally
This is a source of victory for them and they testify about it boldly
So too for us as Christians. When we share with others about our salvation and the hope we have in Christ, we are letting the enemy know that he is a defeated foe. We are reminding him of his destination ultimately
By using this weapon to defeat the devil, you are sharing God's love- the same love that has brought transformation in your life. You are declaring what is contained in God's Word, so you are standing on the authority of His Word which never fails
As you speak His words over your life or situation ,any attempt of the enemy to lure you away from truth is foiled.
You overcome when you refuse to accept any thought or word that contradicts the truth of God's Word. The deceiver , the enemy, the liar has no answer to the truth.
>>>Not only did the saints use the blood of Jesus and the word of their testimony,( but thirdly) they also used their supreme love for Jesus
Look at v11- ‘ They overcame him - the accuser and devil, by Jesus’ blood and through the word of their testimony; AND BECAUSE THEY DID NOT LOVE THEIR LIVES SO MUCH AS TO SHRINK FROM DEATH - because they loved not their lives, even to the point of death’( repeat)
So even when they were threatened with death, they would not back down. They loved their Saviour more than their own lives. Dying a martyr’s death would only usher them into the holy presence of the Redeemer forever . Nothing is worth more that being in His presence.
God has promised to us an inheritance that ‘does not fade away’.It is through His abundant mercy, God has given us an inheritance that can never be ruined, taken away from us or even reduced in anyway ..it is an inheritance promised and preserved in heaven for you !
(1 Peter 1:4)
So the going is rough for a while here on this earth. And yes often this ‘short time on earth of struggles and trials’ seems like a long time admittedly.
Yet we can overcome when we care more about promoting His honour and truth and not bringing shame to His beautiful name. When we live the selfless, Christ- glorifying life, we overcome .
When we are relying not on ourselves but on Christ and His resources, when we embrace His salvation , His power and Kingdom then we operate in His authority boldly and we live in continuous victory
Today we are reminded how we can overcome the devil's schemes and deceptions and ongoing attacks. Just like the brethren( saints) who are being accused by the devil night and day, so we too can be attacked. The enemy fires all sorts of accusatory words like - God could never love you, you are a mess , you will not amount to anything. It's his attempt of luring you from the truth of what God says about you
The truth that keeps you on the winning side of Jesus who is the Truth says:
-You are MORE THAN a conqueror through Him who loved you and Who has already done the fighting for you on the cross. Jesus’ victory becomes your victory
-Nothing , no circumstance can separate you from God's love which Jesus has already expressed for you
-Jesus paid the ultimate price through His sacrificial death and your filthy rags of sin have been exchanged for His pure robe of righteousness
-God has begun a good work in you, a glorious work of grace and He will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus , when He appears
In those difficult times, we are to >remind the enemy of the blood of the Lamb , Jesus .
>Remind Him of the cross and the finished work of Christ. Jesus took your sins so you are no longer condemned before God
The guilt and shame of which he accuses you are in the past.Your future is one of great hope and eternal satisfaction because of the blood of Christ .When he reminds you of your past , remind him of his future ! The devil’s future is destruction
Jesus has overcome and so can you brothers and sisters, so can you!
So to encourage our hearts today:
Personalise the verses in the Bible- the promises in the Bible- when things get overwhelming , when the fight seems too much for you, declare His promises for you
Live by God's Word - it is living and powerful .Jesus used it when He was tempted by the devil as we see in Matthew 4. Come in alignment with God's Word
Draw near to God. Submit afresh and wholeheartedly to God and see the enemy run away from you because HE HAS TO obey the Lord’s authority in the believer
Sunday 11th October 2020
All Things New
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.””
Revelation 21:1-5 NIV
John now receives revelation of the new heaven & the new earth that will follow the final judgement. The saints, the saved, are the Bride, The New Jerusalem. Their inheritance is eternal fellowship with God. In the new creation there will be no more death, grief or pain, for there will be no devil or rebellion against God’s authority. Everything is made new in the new creation.
Isaiah prophesied concerning this :-
““As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure.”
Isaiah 66:22 NIV
Earlier on in Revelation 19 we see a picture of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb :-
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.””
Revelation 19:6-9 NIV
The Bridegroom is Jesus Christ & the Bride is the Church.
Going back to Revelation 21:3-4
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.””
Revelation 21:3-4 NIV
God first of all dwelt with Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden.
So this is in the future tense, when God will once again physically dwell with His people. In a way, you could call it ‘Eden Restored.’
We are looking forward to such a time as this & eagerly awaiting this event to take place. Also we will be completely full of joy when God wipes away every tear from our eyes. Then there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. For the old order, that which is currently happening here on the earth, will have passed away.
Yet I’m not under any delusion, for that is not where we are at the moment!
Each one of us will have experienced the death of a loved one, friend or a work colleague. For me personally, it has been difficult when friends of mine have died young. My best friend from school died at the age of 25 years old from an inoperable brain tumour.
A friend from my Bible college days at Birmingham Bible Institute died due to a tragic accident when he was rock climbing whilst he was serving as a missionary in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia at the age of 22.
Yet many of his former youth group became Christians at his funeral.
Another friend died in his forties from Motor Neurone Disease. He prayed for many people to be healed & they were healed, but he was never healed himself. Before he lost his voice, he recorded a series of sermons entitled, ‘Dying to Live.’
One of my former work colleagues committed suicide earlier this year.
She was in her fifties. And the list could go on.
At times like this, I find reassurance in the following verse :-
“You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle–are they not in Your book?”
Psalm 56:8 AMPC
God knows about our tears, He literally collects them in a bottle or in other versions He writes them in His Book or scroll. So it’s always worth remembering that your tears are precious to God.
I’ve heard it said before that ‘tears are liquid prayers.’
Sometimes, there are no words that can truly express how we feel. I have experienced this myself, when I suffered two miscarriages.
Often, I would cry myself to sleep. Yet, I also wrote poems to our two sons, Joel meaning “Yahweh, the Lord is God” & Joseph meaning
“May God increase or add.”
For now, we can take comfort in the shortest verse in the Bible,
“Jesus wept.” This was over the death of His dear friend, Lazarus, before He raised him from the grave. Someone once said, “Jesus wept & so do I.”
Thankfully, God promises that one day this will all be over.
Tragedies will cease.
Isaiah prophesied about this :-
“he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 25:8 NIV
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ””
Revelation 7:17 NIV
“He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.””
Revelation 21:6-8 NIV
There are only three times in Scripture where God announces His work is complete.
The first is at creation when God rests from all He has created & reveals all He has made is good in Genesis 2:2-3.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
Genesis 2:2-3 NIV
The second is when Jesus triumphantly cries out from the Cross “It is finished!” as He yields His spirit in John 19:30.
The third & final time is here in Revelation 21:6 as Christ declares the plan for creation & redemption has reached its glorious climax.
“It is done! I am the Alpha & Omega, The Beginning & The End.”
In this one little verse God asserts His faithfulness, His sovereignty & His unique identity as the everlasting God. He stands in charge over both the beginning & the end of human history, & He stands Sovereign over everything in between. All aspects of history & every detail of your life & mine are in His hands. Because God is already at the end. He knows exactly what will happen & He has told us so.
Now those who love the Lord can drink freely of the spring of God’s Eternal Life.
As indicated in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation chapters two & three, this rich inheritance is for the victorious, those who have overcome because of their faith in Jesus Christ. In contrast, a sad list of those who have not been victorious, & their inevitable judgement follows.
He immediately makes the new comparison that those guilty of sin & not reconciled to God, will be in the eternally burning & consciously experienced lake of fire, the second death. There is no middle way.
Revelation 21:9-21 share a glorious description of the New Jerusalem given by all the angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues. The New Jerusalem is depicted as the Bride of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. Glory, splendour, symmetry, beauty & inestimable value mark this city which, by the twelve tribes of Israel represents the redeemed from the Old Testament times, & by the apostles, representing those who have been redeemed since Jesus came to earth to save sinners. I would ask you to read & consider these verses later at home.
“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.”
Revelation 21:22-26 NIV
In the eternal presence of the Lord God Almighty & the Lamb, no temple building is needed in heaven. Neither will be any focus on a physical sun or moon in the new creation, but God’s continual light by the Lamb is central & where the focus is now fixed in these verses. All saved people will walk honourably forever in that light & glory. Night will cease to exist & the redeemed from all nations will walk in its light. Gates used to be shut to maintain safety & security, to protect the citizens of the city. The Lord God Almighty & the Lamb are there & there is no longer any threat of danger or anyone who would inflict harm on us there. Therefore, there is no need for the gates to ever be shut, the gates will constantly remain open.
“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Revelation 21:27 NIV
John confirms, however, that nothing with a shadow of sin will enter there.
Only those will be found in heaven whose names are written in ‘the Lamb’s Book of Life,’ & who have therefore had their sin cleansed or washed away through the Blood of Christ.
‘The Lamb’s Book of Life’ is a register or ledger of all citizens of the community of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Daniel speaks of this Book in Daniel 12:1, ‘everyone whose name is found in this Book will be delivered or saved.’
So what does it look like for us to prepare for ‘All Things New’?
That one day for us will be no more death &/or sorrow or mourning or crying or pain.
For these things happen in life as we know it now & we’ve all experienced these things.
Yet we can look forward to life with Jesus & living with Him forever, if we have come to know & trust in Him as our personal Lord & Saviour.
What does that mean exactly?
It means that we say we are sorry for all the wrong things, the sins that we have done. It means to know that Jesus bled & died at Calvary on the Cross for us. He shed His blood to buy us back, to redeem us.
He rose again & is now in heaven pleading our cause before God.
So there is still hope for each one of us, while there is still time.
Praise the Lord, that He still hears the cries of our hearts.
Thank You Jesus, that one day soon You will make everything new!
“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”
1 John 1:9 AMPC
When we have done this, we can look forward in eager anticipation to spending eternity with Jesus. O how glorious that will be to worship Him forever & to meet up with our loved ones who were Christians & have gone before us!
We can rest in the assurance then that our names are written in ‘Lamb’s Book of Life.’
Where is your heart today?
Is it hardened or paralysed with the troubles of this world?
Let’s be reminded that our lives here on this earth are temporary.
God is faithful & this world is not all there is.
He is making all things new.
May we learn, grow, rest, shine His light & fix our eyes on Him through it all.
Take hold of His Peace.
Push away the weight of the world - let it fall as you sit with the King of kings.
Be still & know that He is God.
He is our Refuge & Strength.
He is Holy & Righteous.
He is with us.
As a Christian, this literally can be summed up in the following verse :-
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
Hallelujah, we can know Jesus personally as our Lord & Saviour & as the Lamb of God! Amen!
We’ll now sing our last two songs :-
‘I Am a New Creation’ &
‘There’s a Place Where the Streets Shine With the Glory of the Lamb
(Because of You)
Sunday 4th October 2020
Text: REVELATION 7:9-17
Message Theme : ‘Worship in the Throne Room.’
John the apostle, the ‘beloved’ disciple of Jesus received this revelation.It takes the form of a series of prophetic visions given by God to John. It was written for every church in every generation
In chapter 6, we see six seals have been opened. The opening of the seals heralds the start of a series of judgments. In chapter 8, the Lamb opens the seventh seal inaugurating the second series of judgements
But in chapter 7 there is a break, an interlude, in the chronological order or subject matter of judgements . As God pulls back the curtain of eternity, He is allowing John the apostle ( and us too) to catch a glimpse of the wonderful worship in the throne room. He is giving John a glimpse of the events taking place in heaven during the midst of the Great Tribulation
John describes what he is seeing. John is describing a great celebration of God's people in heaven . This follows their triumph over the great tribulation … they endured and now they can celebrate as they praise and worship in the throne room of God in front of the Lamb
Illustration: You might have visited, on holiday, some spectacular building, a skyscraper or similar only to be blown away by its architectural designs, interior decorations , etc.
Or you might have visited a scenic place .These familiar sights or scenery elicit an almost spontaneous response of ‘Wow! Amazing !’ You might even say ‘this is like heaven’ . It grabs your attention and you stand in awe, in amazement at the spectacular sight before you
The passage we are looking at today draws us in to see with amazement and awe what is taking place before the throne
The passage begins with John seeing a crowd of people so great that it was impossible to count
John observes that they stand BEFORE THE THRONE in front of the Lamb. They are clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands
In a LOUD voice they cry out : ‘ Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb’
>There is a focus
In verses 9-12- the whole crowd which is innumerable and represents every people group echoes the promise to Abraham. In fact it fulfills what God promised Abraham- that he would have descendants too many to count.
In the NKJV v9 begins like this : ‘After these things I looked and behold a great multitude ….’ John the writer here does not want us to miss what he is saying , hence the use of the phrase ‘and behold’ in v9.
What is it ? John is drawing our attention to something amazing: that even in a time of God's wrath, this great tribulation, the mercy of God is extended and so many will be saved - even a great multitude ! as John sees in the throne room
God's heart for people is not to judge but to save…so God extends His mercy bringing salvation to many
So ‘in the worst of times, it is the best of times’ ,just to paraphrase a Charles Dickens’ quote from his book , ‘ A Tale of Two Cities’.
So while there will be suffering at that time, it is deemed the best time in human history. For in the midst of bad news, there is good news -Salvation because of God's inexhaustible mercy!
It explains the cry of praise and worship from the great multitude “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb “… belongs to our God who is majestic and in control!!
In verses 9, 11 and 15 we see the phrase ‘ before the throne ‘ repeated . It is before the throne and in front of the Lamb this massive crowd stands and worships. They ‘cry out’ - here this is a cry of joy, they are jubilant over their salvation.. “Salvation belongs to our God” -God alone is the source and means of salvation.
They are before the throne - now they have this awesome privilege of accessing the very throne of God since they have trusted in Christ. They are wearing the white robes of righteousness- they are made acceptable before God as a result of trusting in the finished work of Christ. Jesus has made them righteous and worthy before God.
The white robes they are wearing stands for their purity and victory over sin .Now they are in the presence of the Holy One…standing holy and blameless ,without guilt because of the blood of Jesus
The palm branches they hold in their hands are indicative of their final victory over suffering.It reflects the joy of this celebration in the Throne Room
They are worshipping God who is all powerful, sovereign and in control. God has brought them ‘salvation’-deliverance from evil and the power of sin.
Through the Lamb’s sacrifice, they are saved from sin. Even in the tribulation God has shown Himself faithful. So they direct their praise their worship to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb our Saviour , Jesus
And as these tribulation saints cry out LOUDLY in worship, observe what follows.
V11-The angels who stand around the throne, the elders and the four living creatures are falling on their faces ‘before the throne’ too.
>>>Some may say ‘ falling on their faces’ - oh that might be undignified, improper even.Yet this is integral to their worship in heaven as we see here.
They say ‘Amen’ to the saints’ loud cry affirming what the saints have declared about God's salvation
They worship God by saying: “Amen! Praise and glory , and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!”
This is how they worship.Their focus is in the throne .They are not focused on themselves. The worship takes various forms yet it describes:
attributes of God -God's glory, His wisdom, His strength, power
actions God has performed- bringing salvation, judging , bringing victory over evil
Now He has brought them into His eternal presence , fulfilling the plan of salvation
Verses 13-14. There is fellowship
One of the elders asks John : “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” (These elders are responsible for overseeing the worship around the throne as they serve in the presence of God.)
Perhaps John is puzzled as to the identity of this group of people
So the elder asks a rhetorical question to John seeking to clarify precisely who this great multitude is: for the benefit of John and the readers of the book of Revelation
The conversation between John and this elder goes like this, as we see in verses 13-14:
Elder to John - ‘WHO are these in glistening white robes, and WHERE have they come from?’
(Sounds like two questions TV presenters of talent shows might ask : ‘tell us who you are and where you’ve come from )
The question is asked so that it could be answered
John says respectfully, ‘ Sir you know …you must know……please tell me”
V14b : Elder’s response - ‘ok let me tell you John… They are those who have come out of the great tribulation, who have washed their robes in the Lamb’s blood and made them white’
This is all salvation language here- they have done what is required to be right before God.They have a relationship with God , they are in fellowship with God only because of the Lamb’s blood
They have seen their spiritual state - sinful and in need of a Saviour.They seek the washing in the cleansing blood of the Lamb. They are no longer isolated from God , they have fellowship with Him
The phrase ‘coming out of’ here denotes a continuous process of liberation from the tribulation, intense suffering and great persecution.Now they are arriving in heaven victoriously.
One by one they have suffered, some have become martyrs for their faith in Jesus Christ. They decided to follow Jesus to the end of their earthly lives whatever the cost .They have been delivered through their faith in the saving blood of Jesus Christ and His righteousness …the redemptive blood of the Lamb
But Jesus is not on the cross now. (V 17- )He is at the centre , on the throne. He is the focus of their worship
Now they are worshipping the Conquering Lord, the King of Kings in the throne room .
The One who always leads us into triumphant procession is forever worthy of praise and worship
Verses 15-17. There is a future , a glorious future
So these saints have endured , persevered through the tribulation. They have trusted in their Saviour’s finished work on the cross and their robes have been washed in Jesus’ blood
(The elder continues ….)
As a result they are in the throne room , they are “before the throne”continuously serving and worshipping .No need for sleep or rest as we know it…life's limitations are no more.
They are in the very presence of God who will shelter them and protect them
These saints are now completely satisfied with Christ - never again will they experience hunger or thirst, never again will the sun or any scorching heat , any demonic affliction affect them
The sinful nature , the hostile world system and every attack of Satan will not be present
The Lamb at the centre of the throne becomes their shepherd caring eternally for these worshippers , these who belong to Him. He guides them to springs of living water -‘ the everlasting fountains of the water of life’( TPT). God satisfies them fully and eternally
Hallelujah.He is worthy to be worshipped , worthy to be adored !
Even every tear God will wipe away…tears of suffering, pain, of sorrow. All wiped away by God our loving Father
Today we are receiving wonderful insights into the continual worship taking place in heaven
This kind of worship focuses completely on God and His Son. It is the kind of worship God desires to see reflected on the ( His) Church
In the throne room you will be ‘ blown away’ by the wonder, awe and majesty as you worship your Lord and Saviour. It will be worth it all to be in His presence forever , worshipping Him in majesty and power
Jesus says in John 16:33 that in this world you will have tribulations … “you are bound to experience trouble. But you do not need to be down- hearted about this…cheer up, for I have already defeated the world”. Jesus has overcome , so by faith in Him we become overcomers
You may be facing great troubles, worrying situations, a crisis you might be feeling like you're in your ‘great tribulation’ Whatever it looks like , I encourage you to look at Jesus today. Your ‘great’ problem is no match for the ‘Great I Am’ .He has overcame and so will you.
Worship Him. He is the One Who is majestic in holiness, awesome in glory and the Worker of wonders.There is no one like Him !!
What does this mean for us today?
Firstly to be a true worshipper ,your robes must be washed in Jesus’ blood. As you trust in Him and the work of the cross ,you are made righteous in God's sight. So you can stand before Him and worship Him. Come to Jesus today
Worshipping God means you are in submission to His Lordship. Your focus is on Him not on yourself or your feelings or any other circumstance
As a believer worship needs to become a way of life , not only an activity we do in church services
It's not about styles and forms and personal preferences - it's all about Him..Jesus says in John 4:The Father is looking for those who will worship in spirit and in truth.. knowing and declaring truth about the One to whom all worship is due.
How can our worship resemble heaven’s worship? Focus on all He is and what He has done for you.
Let it become a way of life as we prepare for an eternity of worship. Keep on worshipping
Sunday 27th September 2020
Preacher Silvano Peretto, translated by Anne Peretto
Sunday 20th September 2020
"King of kings & Lord of lords," "The King of Glory"
Pastor Rachel Kuru
WORD AND HOLINESS
ENCOURAGEMENT - GREATER GLORY
WORSHIP AND WONDER
Only One Wears the Victor’s Crown! (29/03/2020)
Sunday 13th September 2020
Revelation Chapters Four & Five
Pastor Rachel Kuru
Sunday 6th September 2020
Revelation Chapter One
Pastor Chris. Herman
Sunday 30th August 2020
Sermon series: Living In Freedom Every Day
TEXT: LUKE 4:14-22a (READ please)
TOPIC: Freedom…the Lord’s Great Favour To You
Today this short Sermon Series on L.I.F.E.- Living In Freedom Every Day come to end. Yet the freedom that Christ gives does not end- it is an ongoing experience for each and every believer
Luke records for readers here the commencement of Jesus’ ministry.In fact one of the major themes of this gospel account is the Person and Work of Jesus
Jesus returns to Galilee. He is full of the Spirit ‘s power.
He is gaining popularity as news about what He said and did spread throughout the whole region.
Everyone is praising Him for the teaching He gave in the synagogues. This is the meeting place for Jewish people
Now He comes to His home town of Nazareth. As usual He goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath.
Typically, at the synagogue service one man stands up and reads the text.This man then sits down and explains the text
We read that Jesus preaches from the Word of God. His message is from the book of Isaiah (we will refer to the passage from Isaiah 61 later on too)
So Jesus is handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolls it to the place where it reads( Vv18-19)
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
(V 19)to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2. His focus is on most of these two verses. He then rolls up the scroll, gives it to the attendant and sits down.Jesus therefore indicates by sitting down , he is about to speak with authority as everyone wonders what he is about to say
V21: As Jesus begins his address, he says “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
So Jesus has come to fulfill these prophetic words of Isaiah.. Jesus is saying “You’re looking at Him” - the Messiah spoken of by the prophet Isaiah
What God promised , what was prophesied hundreds of years before is being fulfilled in the presence of those in the synagogue.
Friends —- God never fails to deliver on His promises . Jesus’ mission is to obey the Father’s plan and provide salvation to the world that “ God so loved”.
Illustration:There are many speeches that have been made that might have impacted your life over the years
For example take Martin Luther King Jr iconic “I have a Dream “ speech in front of thousand of supporters
Parts of his speech go like this …see if you remember- ‘Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.We hold these truths……that all men are equal.I have a dream that one day ……..the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice…I have a dream…’
OR ,What about Winston Churchill’ s speech in 1940 before the Second World War:
‘We shall fight on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets.
We shall fight in the hills ; We shall never surrender’.
Do you remember theses words , how impacting they might have been ?
As we look at this passage today , we see that Jesus’ speech made an impact on the listeners
Let us take a closer look today at the work or the mission that Jesus is fulfilling
Some reasons why Jesus is anointed ,and appointed for action:
>Firstly , the Spirit of the Lord is on Jesus because the Spirit has anointed Jesus
To preach good news to the poor :
The good news is that God has provided the Saviour in Jesus Christ- the Anointed One
( the word for “anointed” is ‘Messiah’ and in the Greek the word is ‘Christ ‘)To those who have been passed over, the outcasts, to those who see their need of the Saviour, Jesus brings good news
He saves us from sin . Spiritually we are all poor living in darkness and destined to death , eternal separation from God.
This is the case until Christ comes into our lives and blesses us with every spiritual blessing. He pours the riches of His grace, the glorious riches, into our lives making us rich in Christ Jesus
Jesus brings good news that puts an end to the status quo of spiritual poverty and inaugurates the new way of living
The One who is Alpha and Omega , Beginning and the End bestows favour to a spiritually needy people ….undeserving yet Jesus shows how merciful He is, how gracious He is
>Secondly, we see that Jesus is sent by the Spirit of the Lord
To proclaim freedom for the prisoners.
Some can be captive to fear, anxiety ,and overwhelming and dark thoughts . Some can be held in bondage to particular sins, addictions .Jesus comes in the power of the Spirit to free these individuals . You can overcome such struggles -such negative things -as you saturate yourself with the promises in God's Word. His Word is alive and powerful so even now begin to receive your freedom .
So those who are bound , I declare :be set free in Jesus’ name
Declare Truth over your life because of what Jesus has done on the cross
Declare the bondage broken by the power of Jesus ‘ name!
Jesus sets you free to remain free from that sin, the habit to which you are in bondage….be free in Jesus’ mighty name ,my dear brother or sister
>The third aspect that Jesus fulfills is the recovery of sight for the blind
In Jesus’ ministry He met the needs of the physically blind. He healed them. Yet He also reaches out to the spiritually blind so that they can believe in Him too. They will no longer walk in darkness as their eyes are opened to the Light of the world, Jesus
When God restores your spiritual sight, your thinking changes because your mindset is heavenly.You see your circumstances from God's perspective. So you remain free continuously in Christ.
>Jesus has been anointed by the Spirit to release the oppressed.
This word can be translated as ‘bruised’ .And the word ‘bruised’ has the idea of being shattered, crushed, mistreated in life…even wanting to quit
In these vulnerable times, the devil convinces many that they are bound, chained to a certain way of living and that there is no hope of being set free.The devil tries to sow negative thoughts and these undermine faith in the truth of who we are in Christ Jesus.
So these people tend to think that the guilt they carry, the oppressive thoughts , feelings of being depressed, the anxiety they are experiencing for examples …is something they have to live with for the rest of their lives. It almost defines who you are.
This is a stronghold - a mindset of hopelessness, negativity which seems unchangeable.. This is not consistent with God's Word. These kinds of thoughts must be dismissed immediately .It is a lie of the enemy and it must be broken in Jesus ‘ name
God has given us power to pull down strongholds so theses chains are going to be broken today
You are not to be bound by these strongholds but set free by the One who defines your life , Jesus!!
Yet the Bible says ( Isaiah 42v3 ) “A bruised reed He will not break off and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish…He will not harm those who are weak and suffering”.The weak and vulnerable God will not disregard
So Jesus is saying He will heal your wounds so you can experience His joy and peace .That is why He went to the cross …when He was beaten, when He took those stripes, your healing, your freedom was accomplished. Jesus’ mission was aimed at you and me so we can have total well being and be restored to wholeness in Christ Jesus
From this passage in Luke 4, the last part of Jesus’ mission is
> V 19- To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour….OR the ‘acceptable year’ as is rendered by the NKJV
Jesus is announcing that the year of God's favour has arrived.
For the Jews, this refers to the Year of Jubilee - a year when all debts were forgiven , and all land returned to its original owner. In the OT, every 50th year was a year of Jubilee ( Leviticus 25:8-13)
During this time , Hebrew slaves would be free, debts would be cancelled, possessions would be restored to the original owners
The ‘acceptable year’ - the year of the Lord’s favour- refers to the time when it would be acceptable to God to proclaim a message of deliverance…when salvation and favour of God abound greatly
This means there was a fresh start- the past was behind as the Lord makes all things new
The Jews were waiting , hoping praying for the Messiah to come. After hundreds of years , Jesus full of the Holy Spirit’s power declares He is the “Anointed One”, the Rescuer who proclaims true freedom in every area of your life
You are here today and you know Jesus to be your Saviour. As you believe this , then you are in your spiritual “Year of Jubilee.” This means you have been set free from bondage to sin and the devil
Your debt to God for transgression has been paid in full by the blood of the Lamb.You are given a new beginning
The Deliverer, Jesus has come to do only what He alone can do : to free all those who are ……. poor in spirit, those who feel imprisoned by negative thoughts and habits. The ones that are blind spiritually and are crushed, shattered, broken , Jesus will heal and restore.
You are feeling like giving up and quitting — there is hope in Jesus .He is fulfilling His promises today , right now in your life
Jesus speaks words of comfort to you .Jesus speaks provision for those who grieve - to comfort you in your sorrow, to strengthen you who are crushed by despair .Jesus is announcing a new season of God's grace to you.
In verse 22, we read that everyone spoke well of Jesus and were astounded at the gracious words He spoke
His words are full of His favour for He is full of grace and truth and He gives grace upon grace.Jesus is constantly giving to you for He wants to see you live in His victory that was won on the cross.
From Jesus’ fullness , you are fulfilled with blessing upon blessing, favour upon favour. His words are life . Jesus said to His disciples in John 6 , from V 63 “It is the Spirit who gives life ; (and) the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life- they contain the life of God's Spirit
>>>>>The EFFECT OF THE GOOD NEWS: (what is the effect of the good news Jesus proclaims?)
In Isaiah 61 verse 3 - we see a description of how God will restore those who are crushed and feeling like a prisoner because of sin and sinfulness. God shows His favour in Jesus’ mission of mercy.
He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes- so that His glory will shine through every brokenness , sadness and negativity that they have experienced and that has been caused by sin
The anointed One , Jesus will give the oil of gladness and joy instead of mourning and tears.God’s desire is to turn lives around from failure to favour .He will give you a garment of joyous praise instead of the spirit of despair. Your cries of despair are turning into a song of praise
To those who are crushed and who mourn and feeling like a prisoner, He will give you a new identity- you will be called oaks/trees of righteousness: “ Strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice and right standing with God”. You will be planted by the Lord so you live to display His glory that radiates from you!
This is the ultimate purpose of the message of good news - that God will be glorified through your freedom and transformation , as you experience the Lord’s great favour
This year 2020 may be the year you will remember very much…what an unprecedented year !!
Remember it not merely because of Covid- 19 and the effects of this virus as impacting as this is for all of us.
Remember 2020 as the year of God's great favour to you. The year when you benefit from the Jubilee that it is for you . God is ready to give blessing to all who come to Him
May the Word of God that is alive, quick and powerful impact your life today.So that just as Jesus fulfils the prophetic words of Isaiah then , so He can bring freedom in your particular situation now in this year, just as He declares and promises
Ezekiel 12—I will fulfil whatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord…None of my words will be delayed any longer
Leave no room for the enemy’s lies. Receive Jesus’ truth in your life today. God favours you with true freedom
APPLICATION / RESPONSE
As Jesus speaks to His disciples in John 6 , He asks if any of them will stop following Him.
Simon Peter responds in v68 : ‘Lord to whom shall we go , to whom shall we turn ? You are the One with the words of eternal life’…You are our only hope, Jesus
Jesus, the One who is anointed by the Spirit, is the answer to your spiritual captivity .So come in line, in agreement, to what Jesus says today and see every chain broken. Jesus proclaims truth! Believe it! Amen
Prayer- Thank You Lord for the freedom that you give by your grace toward us
We pray for those who struggle to live in this freedom O Lord
We declare today that strongholds are broken in Jesus’ mighty name.The weapons we have to fight have God's power that shatters the enemy's strongholds that oppose us. With the weapon of truth we demolish every false way of thinking and we take authority over what is not right in God's eyes.
We reject every thought and argument that seeks to undermine faith in Your truth. We accept only those thoughts that glorify Jesus so that we might obey Him
Thank You Jesus that your blood covers our lives
For the glory of Your name , Amen
Sunday 23rd August 2020
From Slavery to Freedom
Biblical examples can be found relating to this, such as the Israelites. They were slaves in bondage in Egypt & how God brought them out of and/or delivered them into His freedom. An account of this can be read in Exodus chapters 1 to 15 in particular. ‘The Israelites groaned in their slavery & cried out, & their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning & He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. So God looked upon the Israelites & was concerned about them,’ Exodus chapter 2 verses 23-25. It was in this context that God called & raised up Moses & his brother Aaron to return to Egypt & approach Pharaoh with the ongoing call for deliverance which God had given them to implore him to : “Let My people go.” Pharaoh’s heart was hardened & many signs & plagues ensued. It was only when Pharaoh experienced the death of his first-born son, that he relented. The Angel of the LORD Passed over the houses of the Israelites & all their first-born sons were saved because of the blood of the lamb on the lintels of the doorposts of their houses. How much more so are we saved by the precious Blood of the Lamb - Jesus - which was shed for each one of us on the Cross of Calvary?
A couple of weeks ago God said these words to me quite clearly in a dream I had seven times :- “Break the curse & the power of Osiris.” Osiris was known as an Egyptian god. He represented fertility, alcohol, agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, life & vegetation in Egyptian religion. Today in society the ‘Eye of Horus’ (the son of Osiris & his wife Isis) or otherwise known as the ‘Eye of Providence’ is still part of sects such as the Illuminati & Freemasonry in particular & appears on US Dollar bills on the top of the Pyramid.
So we come against this curse & power of Osiris in Jesus’ Name.We declare that the Blood of Jesus has more power & strength, so we pray for the deliverance & freedom that can only be found in Christ & His shed blood of any who have come under the influence of Osiris. We break this curse in Jesus’ Name & declare freedom & deliverance. The chains of captivity have been broken in Jesus’ Name. Amen! It shall be so!
It reminds me of the words of a hymn written in 1962 by Andrae Crouch :-
‘The blood that Jesus shed for me Way back on CalvaryThe blood that gives me strength From day to dayIt will never lose its power.
It reaches to the highest mountainIt flows to the lowest valleyThe blood that gives me strength From day to dayIt will never lose its power.
It soothes my doubts & calms my fearsAnd it dries all my tearsThe blood that gives me strength From day to day It will never lose its power.
It reaches to the highest mountainIt flows to the lowest valleyThe blood that gives me strength From day to dayIt will never lose its power.’
In the New Testament, this is translated and/or transformed because of the New Covenant we have in Jesus & His shed Blood on the Cross at Calvary. This is outworked through the Holy Spirit.
‘Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?There’s power in the blood, power in the blood.Sin stains are washed in its life-giving flowThere’s wonderful power in the blood.
There is power, power, wonder-working powerIn the blood of the LambThere is power, power, wonder-working powerIn the precious blood of the Lamb.
Would you be free from your passion & pride?There’s power in the blood, power in the bloodCome for a cleansing to Calvary’s tideThere’s wonderful power in the blood.
There is power, power, wonder-working powerIn the blood of the LambThere is power, power, wonder-working powerIn the precious blood of the Lamb.’
I was greatly saddened last Sunday evening to hear of the suicide of a former dear friend & colleague from my previous Nursing workplace, Hillcrest House Nursing Home in Looe, Cornwall. I will also remember to hold Sharon a dear friend & colleague close to my heart, as she was deeply supportive of me when I suffered my second miscarriage back in August 2015. So I pray for her dear family, friends & former colleagues at Hillcrest House for the peace & comfort of the Lord to be real to them in their & my time of sadness. It’s a difficult time & one that can’t be explained.
I went for a walk on Wednesday morningto clear my head. A song based on Psalm 61 entered my head :-
‘Hear my cry, O Lord, attend unto my prayerFrom the ends of the earth, will I cry unto Thee When my heart is overwhelmed Lead me to the Rock, that is higher than I O that is higher than I.
For Thou hast been a shelter for meAnd a strong tower from the enemy When my heart is overwhelmed Lead me to the Rock, that is higher than I O that is higher than I.’
And then another song, sung by the same lady : -
‘We are going up, ahaWe’re going up togetherWe’re going up to conquerIn the Name of the Lord.
I am a WarriorI am a Conqueror I am an OvercomerIn the Name of the Lord.
Stop,no,noDon’t talk defeat to meI am a Child of God And I have the Victory.
We are going up, ahaWe’re going up togetherWe’re going up to conquerIn the Name of the Lord.
I am a WarriorI am a Conqueror I am an Overcomer In the Name of the Lord.’(Marvia Providence).
‘Where do I goWhen there’s nobody else to turn to?Who do I talk toWhen nobody wants to listen? Who do I lean on, when there is no foundation stable?I go to the Rock, I know He’s ableI go to the Rock.
I go to the Rock of my salvationI go to the stone that the builders rejectedI run to the mountain & the mountain He stands by me.When earth all around is sinking sandOn Christ the Solid Rock I standWhen I need a Shelter, when I need comfort I go to the Rock.
Where do I go, where do I goWhen the storms of life are threatening?Who do I turn toWhen the winds of sorrows blow? And is there a refuge, in the time of tribulation?I go to the Rock, I know He is ableI go to the Rock.
I go to the Rock of my salvation I go to the stone that the builders rejected I run to the mountain & the mountain He stands by me.When the earth all around me is sinking sandOn Christ the Solid Rock I standWhen I need a ShelterWhen I need a Friend I go to the Rock.’(Whitney Houston, ‘The Preacher’s Wife,’Film).
Then I saw ‘The Lighthouse’ here at Faro Park & it reminded me of the words from a Rend Collective song :-
‘In my wrestling & in my doubts In my failures You won’t walk outYour great love will lead me throughYou are the peace in my troubled seaYou are the peace in my troubled sea.
In the silence, You won’t let goIn the questions, Your truth will holdYour great love will lead me throughYou are the peace in my troubled sea You are the peace in my troubled sea.
My Lighthouse, my LighthouseShining in the darkness, I will follow YouMy Lighthouse, my Lighthouse I will trust the promiseYou will carry meSafe to shore.
I won’t fear what tomorrow bringsWith each morning I’ll rise & singMy God’s love will see me throughYou are the peace in my troubled sea You are the peace in my troubled sea.
My Lighthouse, my LighthouseShining in the darkness, I will follow YouMy Lighthouse, my LighthouseI will trust the promiseYou will carry meSafe to shore.’
Going back to our topic from Slavery to Freedom : -
The Apostle Paul goes into great detail about being a slave to sin. This battle or struggle with sin is recorded in Romans chapter 7 verses 5 to 25. Let’s just read together verses 14-25, which state this :-
“For we know that the law is divinely inspired and comes from the spiritual realm, but I am a human being made of flesh and trafficked as a slave under sin’s authority. I’m a mystery to myself, for I want to do what is right, but end up doing what my moral instincts condemn. And if my behavior is not in line with my desire, my conscience still confirms the excellence of the law. And now I realize that it is no longer my true self doing it, but the unwelcome intruder of sin in my humanity. For I know that nothing good lives within the flesh of my fallen humanity. The longings to do what is right are within me, but willpower is not enough to accomplish it. My lofty desires to do what is good are dashed when I do the things I want to avoid. So if my behavior contradicts my desires to do good, I must conclude that it’s not my true identity doing it, but the unwelcome intruder of sin hindering me from being who I really am. Through my experience of this principle, I discover that even when I want to do good, evil is ready to sabotage me. Truly, deep within my true identity, I love to do what pleases God. But I discern another power operating in my humanity, waging a war against the moral principles of my conscience and bringing me into captivity as a prisoner to the “law” of sin—this unwelcome intruder in my humanity. What an agonizing situation I am in! So who has the power to rescue this miserable man from the unwelcome intruder of sin and death? I give all my thanks to God, for his mighty power has finally provided a way out through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! So if left to myself, the flesh is aligned with the law of sin, but now my renewed mind is fixed on and submitted to God’s righteous principles.”Romans 7:14-25 TPT
Thankfully, we are delivered by Jesus Christ, Who gives us the Victory! This is further described in Romans chapter 8 verses one to four, especially :- “So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One. For the “law” of the Spirit of life flowing through the anointing of Jesus has liberated us from the “law” of sin and death. For God achieved what the law was unable to accomplish, because the law was limited by the weakness of human nature. Yet God sent us his Son in human form to identify with human weakness. Clothed with humanity, God’s Son gave his body to be the sin-offering so that God could once and for all condemn the guilt and power of sin. So now every righteous requirement of the law can be fulfilled through the Anointed One living his life in us. And we are free to live, not according to our flesh, but by the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit!”Romans 8:1-4 TPT
‘Long my imprisoned spirit layFast bound in sin & nature’s nightThine eye diffused a quickening ray I woke the dungeon flamed with light.My chains fell off, my heart was freeI rose, went forth, & followed Thee.
No condemnation now I dreadJesus & all in Him is mineAlive in Him, my Living HeadAnd clothed in righteousness Divine.Bold I approach, The Eternal ThroneAnd claim the crown, through Christ my own.’ (Charles Wesley)
Other key verses for us to consider, in particular, are mentioned in 2 Corinthians 3:1-18. Of vital importance for us to recall are verses 17 & 18, which say the following :-
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NIV
Praise the Lord! We don’t have to live as slaves to sin, but have the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord & Saviour & the Holy Spirit gives us His freedom.
There’s an interesting story behind the hymn, ‘Amazing Grace.’ It was written by a former slave trader by the name of John Newton who converted to Christianity. Campaigners, for instance, like William Wilberforce & his associates tirelessly campaigned in the political realm against slavery many years ago. A film was made entitled ‘Amazing Grace’ which told this story about the abolition of slavery.
Yet slavery of many kinds still exist today. 2 Christian organisations fighting to abolish modern issues of slavery are : Firstly, on a worldwide basis, A21 which is led by a Christian couple Nick & Christine Caine & secondly Streetlight U.K. based in London, England - both which focus on the serious issue of the ongoing sex slavery/trafficking, prostitution trade. They both actively seek to provide safe places of refuge & counselling, for those who come to them in desperation. When they have gained their trust, they then can speak about Jesus & the Gospel of salvation & the freedom that He alone can bring. But it is a gradual process, as trust has to be earned first.
How does slavery affect us today? While the majority of us have probably never experienced being abused or mistreated sexually, all of us at one time or another would have been a slave or captive, as we are all affected by sin. “But when that era came to an end and the time of fulfillment had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the written law. Yet all of this was so that he would redeem and set free all those held hostage to the written law so that we would receive our freedom and a full legal adoption as his children. And so that we would know for sure that we are his true children, God released the Spirit of Sonship into our hearts—moving us to cry out intimately, “My Father! You’re our true Father!” Now we’re no longer living like slaves under the law, but we enjoy being God’s very own sons and daughters! And because we’re his, we can access everything our Father has—for we are heirs of God through Jesus, the Messiah!”Galatians 4:4-7 TPT
‘There is power in the Name of JesusWe believe in His NameWe have called on the Name of JesusWe are saved, we are saved.At His Name, the demons fleeAt His Name, captives are freedFor there is no other Name that is higher than Jesus.
There is power on the Name of JesusLike a sword in our handsWe declare on the Name of JesusWe shall stand, we shall stand.At His Name, God’s enemiesShall be crushed beneath our feetFor there is no other Name that is higher than Jesus.’(Noel Richards).
“Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “When you continue to embrace all that I teach, you prove that you are my true followers. For if you embrace the truth, it will release true freedom into your lives.” Surprised by this, they said, “But we’re the descendants of Abraham and we’re already free. We’ve never been in bondage to anyone. How could you say that we will be released into more freedom?” “I speak eternal truth,” Jesus said. “When you sin you are not free. You’ve become a slave in bondage to your sin. And slaves have no permanent standing in a family, like a son does, for a son is a part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free!”John 8:31-36 TPT
‘Freely You gave it all for usSurrendered Your life upon that CrossGreat is Your love poured out for allThis is our God.Lifted on high, from death to lifeForever our God is glorifiedServant & King, rescued the worldThis is our God.’ (Hillsong).
‘There is power in the Name of JesusTo break every chain.
All sufficient sacrificeSo freely givenSuch a priceBought our redemptionHeaven’s gates swing wide. We believe
There is power in the Name of Jesus To break every chain.’ (Jesus Culture)
You can become a slave to sin by anything that is a master or controls you, other than coming under the Lordship of Christ. Whereas, Jesus has come to set us free. Therefore, true freedom or liberty can only be found in Christ Alone.
I’d like us all to sit still & close our eyes. The invitation is through two verses of an old hymn, through which if you are able & willing to dedicate & surrender your life to Jesus again :-
‘Just as I am of that free loveIt’s breadth, length, depth, & height to proveHere for a season then aboveO Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am Thy love unknown Has broken every barrier downNow to be Thine, Yea Thine aloneO Lamb of God, I come, I come.’
This is what it means personally to go from slavery to freedom & is only found in Christ Jesus our Lord & Saviour. Amen.“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”Galatians 5:1 NIV
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.””Galatians 5:13-14 NIV
We are no longer slaves to fear, but are sons & daughters of the Living God. The Jerusalem Prayer Team stated these words in one of their quotes on Facebook :-
‘I AM NO LONGER A SLAVE TO :- FearAnxietyLoneliness AngerHatred WorthlessnessBrokenness Depression.I AM A CHILD OF GOD.’
Let’s echo & declare these facts by singing the next two songs :-
Amazing Grace (My chains are gone) & No longer slaves (You unravel me with a melody, You surround me with a song)
Sunday, 16th August 2020
Sunday, 9th August 2020
Sunday 2nd August 2020
Today we are starting a Sermon series entitled L.I.F.E.- Living In Freedom Every Day
The Bible passage today : COLOSSIANS 2:9-15
The topic for this Sunday: The Life of Freedom
Lockdown- the early days, back in mid March 2020. Almost all of a sudden our freedom was taken away ,it seems.
For many it felt like imprisonment; for others it might have felt like a death sentence
How did it feel for you? Were you one of those who said something like ‘I am just looking forward to more free movement….. when we can go out again’.
Fast forward to today and I ask how is it for you…how are you coping these days?
Well for the believers in Christ things can be different! Things are different!!
For the freedom in Christ is not just about the absence of limitations but relationship with the Lord And this is not affected by external circumstances.
For those of us who trust in Christ, you have been set free through Jesus’ victory on the cross.This freedom opens up the way to knowing Jesus more by loving obedience to Him
So you want to love a Holy life, pleasing to God, in the power of the Holy Spirit
Your desire as a believer is to grow in the abundant life Jesus gives. So, fulfilling fleshly desires is not your goal. Rather, the believer’s goal is to see that God is glorified in and through his / her life
Often this is difficult because of personal/ spiritual conflicts, recurring sin, a difficult/ traumatic past, addictions and even guilt and unforgiveness
Therefore living the life of freedom that Christ offers is not experienced
BUT there is great news- For our conquering Saviour, is mighty to save and is ready to rescue us!!
>> The major reason what Paul writes this letter was to equip the Colossian church to fend off false teaching. In the passage today, Paul tells us of the deep riches found only IN Christ.
He tells us Jesus is great and Jesus is ALL we need
When we begin to embrace this truth,when we begin to embrace our relationship with Him….,then we will see meet our greatest needs for ‘ life, finding identity,and acceptance.’ This Friends can only be found IN Christ through the true freedom He offers
As Paul combats the false teaching which can only lead to bondage, he tells the believers that in fellowship WITH Christ , there is fullness, forgiveness and freedom
As we see in V9, it is IN Christ that the complete revelation of who God is has come to us. Jesus is everything God is : in divine qualities, attributes and in divine essence
As you live in relationship with Him,you are not swept away by false teachers,or any other challenge/ negativity that you may face.
Why is this? Because Christ is everything that we need - we are complete in Him.This is the great benefit you have from being ‘IN’ or ‘WITH’ Christ
Today ,you might be seeking acceptance .Know that you stand before God , brothers and sisters, fully accepted in His sight ! One hundred per cent!! There is no need for you to add anything to this relationship with your Lord and Saviour. Jesus and Jesus only makes this possible!
Furthermore, Christ remains in charge, in control.The One who lives in You by His Spirit is supreme over every power and authority.He is the One , the Life -giver who imparts His life to you
John 10:10: Jesus says, ‘The purpose of the thief, the devil, is to steal, kill and destroy.But I have come to give the fullness of God’s life to those who believe in Me.’
Jesus wants to impart life that frees you to live as He intended you to live. The devil wants to prevent people from receiving this life.
So he brings to your mind past failures, enslaves you to habitual sins, causes you to feel rejection and to experience guilt
He tries to make you His captive so you remain in bondage. Then as a believer- as a saint in Christ Jesus, you walk around as St.Defeated,St.Worry or St.Failure
The truth is …..this is a pack of lies from the devil.
It is not the life of freedom Jesus has called us to live.That’s the old nature, the old person…the one who has died, is buried and ‘finished with’. The Bible in 2 Corinthians 5:17 says ‘Anyone who is IN Christ is a new creation! You are made one with Christ so you have a totally different perspective of life, a different view of your circumstances and indeed who Jesus is to you.
And because of what Christ has done on the cross , you have forgiveness. In Christ, a heart circumcision has taken place.Sin is cut off - V11-12. The old life that was under the rule of sin is being stripped away.It is a circumcision that is not made by human hands.No friends.
It is a cutting away of sin by the blood-stained hands of our Saviour ,as the nails were driven into hands….as he hung upon the old -rugged cross. The sin that corrupted our lives, condemned us enslaved us ,,is gone! We are liberated from bondage to sin. Yes brothers and sisters, the old has gone…..the new life of freedom has come!!
Now you can walk around as St Victorious,and St Overcomer for you can have freedom in Chris and Christ alone.Now you can live as God intended ….by His resurrection power , empowered by the Holy Spirit
You are no longer alive to sin.You are resurrected to new life- raised to new life.God has brought you to life.He forgave ALL your sins…ALL your failures. The believers here to whom Paul writes were probably feeling guilty for past failures and sins- including a shameful failure to keep God’s laws
V14- But now no more! Jesus cancelled the written code of rules and regulations that were impossible for you to keep…that only consigned you to failure and defeat
Jesus removed this code by nailing it to the cross.It is at the cross Jesus paid the debt for us .And as He is nailed to the cross, symbolically Jesus writes, ‘Paid in Full’.All debts erased .Cancelled
And so we see in V15, it is at the cross, Jesus disarmed the demons, all demonic powers and authorities that accuse and oppose us. This is a picture of conquered soldiers stripped of clothing and their weapons- meaning total defeat for them
>>>Accusation : The devil is also referred to as the ‘accuser of the our brethren’(Revelation 12)
He constantly points at God's people in an accusatory fashion:
The devil may say to God something like
‘ how can You love this sinner…how can You call these sinners Your children ‘
‘how can You allow such sinners into heaven- they have sinned against You’
‘Your children fail You, they are unfaithful to You’
The devil may say to you something like
‘you don't measure up …. you are a bad person’- God does not love you’
‘you will never amount to anything’
Sometimes too others who are under the devil's influence may accuse too similarly
BUT now because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, you are set free from all accusations
What’s more Paul emphasises, in V15,that Jesus has triumphed over all the power of Satan
This is a picture of a “Roman General leading his captives through the streets of his city for all citizens to see, as evidence of his complete victory’
This is what Jesus did- His triumph over Satan and his demons was a public defeat for them!!
This means victory for all who believe in Him
This is good news .
Jesus brings us fullness - we are complete IN Him…don't listen to the lies of the devil.
Jesus brings us forgiveness- through His blood
Jesus gives us freedom- liberated from the bondage to sin, free from the devil's accusations
This spiritual freedom enables the believer to live in the way God designed you to live.You are the Designer’s original and His life of freedom allows you to live as God intended
Illustration: Imagine if you will talking to a fish ( we shall call him Nemo! )This fish wants to use his freedom to live outside water.What would you say to this fish? How would you counsel him to use his freedom?
Perhaps you can say, “Sure you are free to live outside of water BUT if you use your freedom in this way you will end up being completely NOT free……..dead!
Why? Because fish are designed/ created to live in water. So the fish fulfills his ‘fish role’ by
living in water
Today however difficult life may be for you
I encourage you to live in the good of what Jesus accomplished on the cross
Appropriate the finished, victorious work on the cross to your particular situation: it might be a sin issues, unforgiveness, bitterness, struggling with addiction problems or illness or the devil's oppression .There may be things you need to renounce and forsake as you cling wholeheartedly to Jesus
Whatever it is today God sets you free through Jesus’ finished work. Declare this over your life, confess it …this will result in true freedom for you
When you begin to declare His freedom, your behaviour will reflect what you believe
I encourage you to take some time later to have communion in your own home.We will be doing so at 5:30pm
It is freedom that Christ has set us free.Live His life of freedom
Jesus said( Luke 4:18-19) : ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on Me because He has appointed Me to preach good news to the poor.He has sent Me to tell the prisoners they can be set free and to tell the blind they will be able to see; to free people from the oppression that has crushed them and to announce that the year of God's favour has arrived’
This is what He came to do.And when He said ‘ it is finished’ your victory , your freedom was secured
Today can be the start of a new season for you as you embrace the life of freedom
You are here today and you don't know Jesus. Come and experience true freedom.For when you know Him, you live in His freedom and you live as He intends
(Prayer as on video)
Sunday, 2nd August 2020
Sunday 26th July 2020
Sunday message preached by Pastor Rachel Kuru
Four Invitations to “Come” :-
- Come & Drink.
- Come & Feast.
- Come & Rest.
- Come & be Restored.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; & you who have no money, come, buy & eat! Come, buy wine & milk without cost,” Isaiah 55:1.The exiles are summoned to return & be restored. ‘Thirsty’ referring to spiritual thirst. ‘Waters’ relating to spiritual refreshment. Christ similarly invited people to drink from the water of life. When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, who had come to draw water from the well, He said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life,” John 4:13-14. The Greek word for springing up is ‘hallomenou,’ & is never used for inanimate objects such as water. It is a verb used for people (living beings) & means ‘leaping up’ or ‘jumping.’ This is described as an activity of the Holy Spirit.
- Come & Drink
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me & drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him,” John 7:37.When man’s feasting is over, there is still thirst. Jesus comes at the last day of the feast to satisfy the thirst of those who seek God. Only the Lord Jesus can quench the thirst of people by giving them & us His Living Water, that is to say the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will refresh & satisfy the hearts of those who believe in Jesus. The fullness of the Spirit’s work depends on Jesus’ prior work of salvation. The emphasis in all these verses is placed on unsatisfied longing & pointing to Jesus - the One who can meet us at the deepest point of our need. Referring back to Isaiah, in hard times when people had no money even water had to be bought. ‘Wine & milk’ are symbols of plenty, enjoyment & nourishment. ‘Without money’ the death & resurrection of Jesus paid for us so that we could have the opportunity to receive eternal life.
In a dream, I heard the following one night, many years ago :- “My character is undeserving & yet Divine love, grace & mercy are bestowed on me. You have given these to me, Jesus, & still do endlessly. I bring nothing to You, my Lord & Saviour. My empty hands reach out, for I have no love apart from that which You have lavished on me. May Your love flow through me to refresh others. Lord Jesus, my very heart & life are Yours, do with them as You will.” And Jesus said, “My body was pierced for you. My love is still exchanged for your sin, all the wrong that you have done. My blood continues to be poured out it flows freely for you, My sons & daughters, but remember it had a great cost for Me. My love met with your sin & cancelled out without limit all of your debts. This is how much I love, forgive & accept you. Do this for others - give & love without checking the cost. Freely you have received - freely give, freely forgive, freely love.”
In a book entitled Notes, Quotes & Anecdotes I found the following short poem:- ‘Love ever gives, forgives, outlivesAnd ever stands with open handsAnd while it lives, it givesFor this is love’s prerogative To give & give & give.’
Come to the waters by solid ground“I felt every teardropWhen in darkness you criedAnd I strove to remind youThat for those tears I died.
You said You’d come & share all my sorrowsYou said You’d be there for all my tomorrowsI came so close to sending You awayBut just like You promised You came there to stayI just had to pray.
And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My sideI know you are thirsty, you won’t be deniedI felt every teardrop when in darkness you cried And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.
Your goodness so great I can’t understandAnd dear Lord, I know, that all this was plannedI know You’re here now & always will beYour love breaks my chains, in You, I am freeBut Jesus, why me?
And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My sideI know you are thirsty you won’t be deniedI felt every teardrop when in darkness you cried And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.
Jesus, I give You, my heart & my soulI know that without God I’d never be wholeSaviour, You open all the right doorsI thank You & praise You earth’s humble shoresTake me, I’m Yours.
And Jesus said, “come to the water, stand by My sideI know you are thirsty you won’t be denied I felt every teardrop when in darkness you cried And I strove to remind you you that for those tears I died.”
““Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”Revelation 22:12-21 NIV
In The Passion Translation, verse 17 is interpreted in this way, “Come,” says the Holy Spirit & the Bride in divine duet. Let everyone who hears this duet join them in saying, “Come.” Let everyone gripped with spiritual thirst say, “Come.” And let everyone who craves the gift of living water come & drink it freely. “It is My gift to you! Come.”
‘Let Your Living Water flow over my soulLet Your Holy Spirit Come & take controlOf every situation that has troubled my mindAll my cares & burdens onto You I roll.
Come now, Holy Spirit, & take controlHold me in Your loving arms & make me wholeWipe away all doubt & fear & take my prideDraw me with Your love & keep me by Your side.
Give Your life to Jesus, let Him fill your soulLet Him take you in His arms & make you wholeAs you give your life to Him, He’ll set you freeYou will live & reign with Him eternally.’
In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus tells us the Parable of the Wedding Banquet.“As was his custom, Jesus continued to teach the people by using allegories. He illustrated the reality of heaven’s kingdom realm by saying, “There once was a king who arranged an extravagant wedding feast for his son. On the day the festivities were set to begin, he sent his servants to summon all the invited guests, but they chose not to come. So the king sent even more servants to inform the invited guests, saying, ‘Come, for the sumptuous feast is now ready! The oxen and fattened cattle have been killed and everything is prepared, so come! Come to the wedding feast for my son and his bride!’ “But the invited guests were not impressed. One was preoccupied with his business; another went off to his farming enterprise. And the rest seized the king’s messengers and shamefully mistreated them, and even killed them. This infuriated the king! So he sent his soldiers to execute those murderers and had their city burned to the ground. “Then the king said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, yet those who had been invited to attend didn’t deserve the honor. Now I want you to go into the streets and alleyways and invite anyone and everyone you find to come and enjoy the wedding feast in honor of my son.’ “So the servants went out into the city streets and invited everyone to come to the wedding feast, good and bad alike, until the banquet hall was crammed with people! Now, when the king entered the banquet hall, he looked with glee over all his guests. But then he noticed a guest who was not wearing the wedding robe provided for him. So he said, ‘My friend, how is it that you’re here and you’re not wearing your wedding garment?’ But the man was speechless. “Then the king turned to his servants and said, ‘Tie him up and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be great sorrow, with weeping and grinding of teeth.’ For everyone is invited to enter in, but few respond in excellence.””Matthew 22:1-14 TPTMany are invited, but few are chosen. The wedding garment no doubt speaks about the righteousness that God, the gracious host, provides for all who accept His invitation. God issues an undeserved invitation to undeserving people, & in addition provides the righteousness the invitation demands. We are made righteous through Christ if we know Him personally. Those invited to come from the streets to the Wedding Feast, had no opportunity to go & buy wedding clothes. The wedding robe is a picture of the garment of righteousness that Christ provides for us. The man without the wedding garment had one provided, but he didn’t want to change into new clothes. A change is necessary, for Jesus our King provides garments of white linen for us to wear, our wedding garments. This is also highlighted in Isaiah 52:1 “Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean.”Isaiah 52:1 ESV
- Come & Feast
& Revelation 19:6-9 says this :- “Hallelujah!For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice & be glad & give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come,And His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright & clean, was given her to wear.”(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints). Then the angel said to me,”Write : blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” Then he added, “these are the true words of God.”
‘At the time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven & earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise & learned, & revealed them to little children,” Matthew 11:25-26.‘Little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them & pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.’ Jesus said, “let the little children come to Me, & do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there,’ Matthew 19:14-15.
- Come & Rest
In a rather negative but thought-provoking slant, Helen Lawes wrote these words :- ‘Would it be any different if Jesus came to us now, God’s Son on earth? A 21st century man & appeared in the middle of the street creating a traffic jam. Would the awe-struck Constable hold up a hand & hush the abuse flying around? Or would it be “Come on there, move along son, or your grubby feet won’t touch the ground.” If Jesus walked in the park or down the village & said “little children, come to Me,” & gathered the children from where they played & took one of them on His knee, would the mums & dads push them forward their faces aglow, & beg Him “here, Lord, please bless mine!” Or unite in hate keeping Him under restraint & send someone to dial 999. If His words, wrapped in mind-blowing, laser-lit sound brought a message of hope to us all; if His faithful followers spelled out His name in red paint, four feet high on the wall - would we listen or say, “turn off that creep. You’re polluting our minds - you’re nothing but sheep pop music will ruin you all.” If the PC on oath said “last night your worships, I picked up this vagrant at One claims He’s Jesus Christ - a relation of God (makes a change from Attila the Hun).”Would their worships rejoice that their Saviour had come & reverently fall to their knees or barely give Him a second glance thinking He had one or two slates coming loose in the attic & fine Him for Breach of the Peace.’
Hopefully, we would all respond in a much more positive way!
Jesus said, “come to Me, all you who are weary & burdened, & I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you & learn from Me, for I am gentle & humble in heart, & you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy & My burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30. Many times Jesus said, “Come after Me” or in most translations of the Bible, “Come follow Me,” but here He says, “Come to Me.” A “yoke” was intended to ease the discomfort in carrying a heavy load. The metaphor of a yoke is that it joins two animals to work together as one, an older, more mature oxen would train or teach a younger ox how it should be done & it was done in unison keeping the same pace as the other one. One couldn’t race off ahead, as they were joined together so had to move together. It is not simply work or toil that is the focus here, but the implication corresponds to our union and/or personal relationship with Christ. It also symbolised obedience & the acceptance of responsibility. The rabbis often spoke of ‘taking on the yoke of the law,’ & under their direction that could become heavy. The yoke of Jesus, by contrast is easy, not because the call to follow Him is less demanding but because it makes us students of One who is gentle & humble in heart. The key lies in the personal saying of Jesus, “Come to Me.” The yoke for us is easy because we don’t need to carry it alone, Jesus enables us to carry it in His strength. Paul also shed some light on this in his letter to the Galatians where he says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”Galatians 6:2 NIV
The Aramaic in Matthew chapter 11 verse 29 could literally be translated in this way, “Come to Me & I will cheer and/or refresh you. I am cheerful and/or refreshing & humble in heart, & you will find cheer and/or refreshing for your soul.”
St. Augustine once wrote about God : “You have made us for Yourself & our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”Come to Jesus & receive the rest He offers you. Lose that heavy load that you’ve been carrying by turning to Christ & relying on His strength to see you through. As an old hymn puts it ‘Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Jesus is very near.’ Or as a more modern worship song says, ‘Cast your burdens unto Jesus, for He cares for you.’ “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”Psalms 55:22 NIV
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV
Can you rest today knowing that you are secure in Jesus?Will you spend time in His presence & let the refreshment of His Spirit soak into your life?
‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod & Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness & love will follow me all the days of my life, & I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever,’ Psalm 23.
- Come & be Restored
He causes my life or soul, Hebrew ‘nephesh’ to return. Often we can get busy & end up feeling drained & we need to take time out to rest & be restored. We like, David, need to find that God restores our well-being by pursuing what pleases God by resting in Him.
Come to the waters & rest Lie down by tranquil streams Be bathed in rivers of refreshment Rise renewed in strength & love
Yes, you’ve journeyed through despairBut now Living Waters will flowThirst will be quenched in the desertBarrenness will be flooded by love.
Being led in paths of righteousness. It is a common trait for sheep on the hillsides of Israel to circle their way up higher. They eventually form a path that keeps leading them higher. This is what David is referring to here. Each step we take following our Shepherd will lead us higher, even though at times it may feel like we’re going round in circles. Allow Jesus to renew, revive & refresh your soul today.
In Psalm 51:10-12, David writes :- ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, & renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation & grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.’
Today Jesus can enable you to rise renewed. Is your heart being continually cleansed by God? In difficult places & situations there will be refreshment. The dry areas in our lives will be transformed into fertile places renewed so that they are made into something beautiful by the Holy Spirit.
How will you respond to these four invitations set before you today?Come & Drink, from the Living Water of the Holy Spirit.Come & Feast, at the table of King Jesus. Come & Rest, by casting your cares to the Lord. Come & be Restored, by the Lord Who is your Shepherd.
Will you accept or reject these invitations which the Lord Jesus Christ offers you? May Jesus continue to both challenge & encourage each one of you. Amen.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”Romans 15:13 NIV“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV
We’ll now sing two songs :- ‘You never let go’ & ‘Now when Peace like a river attendeth my soul’
- Come & Drink.
- Come & Feast.
- Come & Rest.
- Come & be Restored.
- Come & Drink
- Come & Feast
- Come & Rest
- Come & be Restored
Sunday, 19th July 2020
Message preached by Stephen Miller
A Living Hope: 1Peter:1-9
What a joy it is again to be here. And what a joy to be able to worship together to sing His praises and to receive from hisliving word together this morning. Please keep your Bible’s open as we look together at this short passage.
I’m really praying that the Lord will speak to us all this morning from this letter. A letter written by the Apostle Peter to Christians in what is now modern Turkey living there as exiles -refugees. Like us living in a pagan culture that doesn’t acknowledge God as their king. So this letter is definitely forus Today as well as for the Christians back then.
There’s a line in the hymn Amazing Grace- The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures. So, I want us to focus on hope this morning. Not just any hope though – the hope that God gives us. What Peter calls in his letter living hope.
We all need hope, and as Peter is about to show us this hope, true hope can only be found by God’s grace – God’s undeserved, generosity, in Jesus.
Lockdown has made us see the world differently hasn’t it?
Things we may have taken for granted, we now notice and appreciate in a new way- sharing a meal or a drink with friends, being able to hug one another.
Yes, it’s been a real blessing being able to connect online but there was something missing wasn’t there when we couldn’t meet in person. Thank you, David and Rachel for all the loving hard work that’s gone into shepherding the church here during these months especially during lockdown- but we have all missed the physical connection, haven’t we?
We’ve all seen afresh during this strange time that how we view or experience the world is more complex than we may have thought and see things in a new light.
So how should we see or experience the world we live in as Christians?
Can I suggest 3 ways of seeing as we move through life
We need to LOOK UP, LOOK BACK and then LOOK FORWARD. And by doing this we can nurture God’s hope in our lives.
1. LOOKING UP. Verse 3(a).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We must start with praise, with adoration towards our heavenly father. Before anything else we need to look up to him- that’s why in church services it’s good to start a time of worship with hymns and prayers extoling God’s greatness and sovereignty, his wisdom and might before we start thinking about our own needs. This gives us a proper perspective. Peter shows us this pattern. He starts, ‘Praised be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’! We lift up our eyes and see the Lord. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
2.Look Backwards (3b)
Verse 3 continues
In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
He has given us new birth! Let’s not rush past this awesome fact. We have been born again, and with that a new family, a new identity, a new life. New citizenship. There is nothing quite like a new birth- whether it’s a baby boy or girl or a new-born lamb to lift the spirits and raise our hopes. And notice what has made possible our new birth. Our new birth has been made possible through the resurrection of Jesus.
We are born again into eternal life. We will experience resurrection as well when he returns. We are heading to heaven and the new earth. Jesus is risen, this changes everything.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
So Look up to praise god, look back to the empty tomb andnow look forward.
Our new birth is into a living hope.
What do we mean by hope? and what is a living hope?
We have a problem here. In English the word hope has come to mean something uncertain- “I hope it will be sunny tomorrow for the picnic”- in England this is not something you can rely on – unlike here in Lanzarote. In the Bible, hope is seen completely differently.
In Greek the word is – Elpis, which means is a strong certainty.
In Hebrew, Tikvah -comes from the same root as ‘a strong rope” and is a firm, solid expectation.
So, in the Bible ‘to hope’ for something is to be sure it will happen.
Why do we hope for things?
Well, God has made us with desires, and it is natural that we want these to be satisfied. Our hopes are what we expect to fulfil these deep desires. That is why we need hope to live. Without hope life becomes intolerable. I recently heard a talk by the pastor and writer Tim Keller, and he illustrated the importance of hope by telling this story.
Two men were taken on by a factory for a year to work on an assembly line, the work was laborious – screwing part A on to part B, 10 hours a day 5 days a week for the year.
The first person was paid £1000 per year. The second £10 million pounds per year.
After a few weeks doing the job they met up at coffee time – employee number one complained- “what a terrible job this is I don’t know if I can stand much more of it”. whilst employee 2 said- ‘Actually I’m finding it not too bad- the days go by remarkably quickly”.
They were both experiencing the same conditions but their hopes or expectations at the end of the year radically changes how they were experiencing the present. We are hope orientated creatures.
Our hopes matter- especially what we hope for after we die-and this is our ultimate future, isn’t it? Two things are certain in life- taxes and death!!
Let’s look at verse 4 and 5.
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
We are going to receive an inheritance. And Peter tells us this is ready to be revealed in the last time – that is When Jesus returns, then we will receive our inheritance. What will that be? See what Jesus said to his disciples the night before he died.
‘ Do not let your hearts be troubled . You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you , I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
I will come back to take you to be with me. So being in heaven with Jesus is our inheritance. In Romans 8 Paul says we will be co-heirs with Christ. That is our inheritance. And nothing can spoil this. or spoil it or cause it to decay.
So, remember we look up to God in our creator in his glory, we look back to what Jesus has done for us on the cross and forward to our inheritance.. All this helps us keep our hope where it should be in God. Especially when we find life tough and suffering strikes. Which brings us to our finally 4 verses.
And here I want us to remember that although our hope looks to up, back and forward to the future it is also grounded verymuch here in the present. God is with us now and his presence is very real. Let us read on. From verse 6
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.
The Bible is very realistic about life and the trouble we face as Christians. These first century Christians that Peter was writing too did not have easy lives. They were exiles living far from home , marginalised, suffering for their faith. their suffering was a direct result of their following Jesus which is the case today for many Christians- living in other parts of the world. For us our suffering is mostly not directly related to our faith- but a consequences of living in a broken world.- maybe due to illness, difficult relationships and bereavement.
Sometimes as we look ahead things may seem black, no immediate change- troubles and trials. As these Christians opened this letter their eyes were lifted to the true horizon. A new dawn will come. And it’s the same for us too as we face troubles this letter can help.
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
As we look up to praise and worship God, as we marvel at the resurrection of Jesus and what it means for us, as we take hold of his promises and look forward to being with him in eternity we get a new perspective. Our difficulties don’t goaway but we see them differently.
Our difficulties, the trials we experience, the troubles in our lives are not outside God’s plans for our lives. Look at verse 7 to 9 again.
7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
God is building our faith, refining us. Many of us can testify that it is often through difficult times that we experience God’s presence in a special way. Sometimes this is through support of other Christians sometimes it is a supernatural peace and comfort that the Holy Spirit gives. And often it is through these times that we grow and are able to help others experiencing similar struggles at a later date.
And now look back with me to verse 5- there is something here we may miss if we are not careful. Starting to read from the second half of verse 4
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time
Did you notice it? you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation.
Until Christ returns, we are shielded by God’s power. We are not alone. Jesus is both with us by his Spirit.-There is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ. Romans 8:39 says
- neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation , will be able to separate us from the love of god that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And because God is everywhere and all knowing (Rachel shared this with us from Pslam 139 last Sunday)– as well as being with us by his spirit he is also in heaven at his Father’s right hand praying for us,
Hebrews 7:24 and 25
but because Jesus lives for ever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Jesus hasn’t left us to our own devices- he is with us by his holy spirit and he is prying for us now- at this very moment.
I would like to finish by telling this true story :Henry (HC)Morrison returned to the USA with his wife after 40 years of faithful missionary service in Africa. As the ship approached New York, Henry said to his wife, “Look at that crowd. They haven’t forgotten about us.” However unbeknown to Henry, the ship was also carrying President Teddy Roosevelt, returning form a big game hunting trip in Africa. Roosevelt stepped from the boat, with great fanfare, as people were cheering. Flags were waving, bands were playing, and reporters waiting for his comment. Henry and his wife walked away un-noticed. Over the next few weeks Henry struggled with this experience. Saying to his wife “This is all wrong.This man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody throws a big party. We give our lives in faithful service to God for all these years, but no one seems to care. He struggled with his feelings of bitterness and poured them out to God in prayer.
When he came out from his room his wife could see that he was changed and at peace. what has happened his wife said.
“ I poured out my feelings to the Lord telling him how bitter I was that the President received this tremendous homecoming, but no one even met us as we returned home. After I had finished, it seemed as though the Lord, put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, “but Henry, you are not home yet!”
That welcome awaits us in the new creation.
So, if you feel overwhelmed by the trials and troubles of today. Look up, look back and look forward and see what John saw in Revelation 21:1-5
21 Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death”[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’
5 He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.
Let us pray.
In Christ alone my hope is found all other ground is shifting sand .
Sunday, 12th July 2020
Message preached by Pastor Rachel Kuru
Verses 1-6 OMNISCIENT (ALL-KNOWING)‘O LORD, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in - behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.’
God not only knows everything about everything, but He knows everything about David and in the same way He knows every little detail about your life and mine. God is never surprised by David or by us. But we, like David, who went before us, can be lost in wonder and amazement about what God can do and the incomparable knowledge that He has concerning each one of us as uniquely designed individuals.
When we lived in Looe, Cornwall, we would often see the Air Ambulance or RNLI Lifeboat when they had been called out on a search & rescue mission. The RNLI crew would take great care in seeking out a person who was drowning in the sea & endeavour to save their life. At other times, the Air Ambulance had been called out to a secluded area where it would be impossible for an ambulance vehicle to reach safely to rescue people who had maybe slipped when hiking along one of the narrow coastal paths. Sometimes, the searches would be hard & long, but on the majority of occasions lives were saved & the injured person or people were airlifted to the closest hospital to receive further more specialised attention, care & treatment. How much more so does our Heavenly Father seek us out? I am reminded at this stage, of the Parables found in Luke ch. 15, regarding The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, The Lost/Prodigal Son. We also sang about this earlier in the song ‘Reckless Love.’
Verses 7-10 OMNIPRESENT (ALL PLACES/EVERYWHERE)Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.’ Wherever David goes and whatever situation he finds himself in, he discovers that God is there. As children, I’m sure we have all been familiar with playing the game ‘Hide & Seek.’ Yet we cannot hide forever, at some point we would have been found. God seeks us out. Wherever we may go and hide, He will seek us out & He will find us. It is a great assurance to us that He will be with us throughout whatever circumstances we go through in this life.
Unlike a 1980’s song which is more sinister, like ‘Big Brother’ watching you :-
Every Breath You Take By The Police‘Every breath you takeEvery move you makeEvery bond you breakEvery step you take I’ll be watching you.’
A close friend of mine died earlier this year. As well as being my school teacher, she was a Christian lady who had later gone on to be an Evangelist, Preacher & Teacher in the West Midlands, England & later spent time as a Missionary in Africa. The following words are part of a song that she sang on a tape that she had recorded many years ago with her brother & sister :-
‘Where can I go from Your presence Your right hand will hold me fastLord, You are my security And Jesus, You mean everything to me.’
Verses 11-12 OBSERVINGIf I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.’
A modern song called ‘Rescue’ By Lauren Daigle reminds us how God sees you & I. Allow Him to speak into your heart & mind through these words of truth :-
‘You are not hiddenThere’s never been a moment you were forgottenThough you have been broken, your innocence stolen.
I hear you whisper underneath your breathI hear your S.O.S., your S.O.S.
I will send out an army to find youIn the middle of the darkest night it’s trueI will rescue you.
There is no distance that cannot be coveredOver & overYou’re not defencelessI’ll be your shelterI’ll be your armour.
I will send out an army to find youIn the middle of the darkest night it’s trueI will rescue you.
I will never stop marching to reach youIn the middle of the hardest fight it’s trueI will rescue you.’
Daytime and nighttime are the same to God. He observes David’s & our actions at all times. The following two Scriptures also bear witness to this fact & that Jesus helps us in these matters.
“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do. Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].”Hebrews 4:12-16 AMPC“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”1 John 1:9 AMPCThankYou Jesus, that if we confess our sins that You are faithful & just to forgive us our sins & cleanse us from all unrighteousness! Therefore, there is hope for each one of us. While we are convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit, we should never feel condemned. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8:1, where he says,“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”Romans 8:1 NKJVTo this we can surely say a loud & hearty, Amen! Hallelujah, Praise You, Jesus!
Verses 13-16 OBVIOUS ‘For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame wasn’t hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.’All the evidence of the wonder of God’s creative and designing miracle of human conception and gestation is obvious. God’s involvement in the life of a child does not begin at birth, but at conception. Life is so precious. Each one of us has been uniquely created & designed by God our Heavenly Father. We are all individuals, made in His image. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.””Genesis 1:26-28 NKJV
What does it mean to be fearfully & wonderfully made? The human body is a unique design of multiple systems that all work intricately together. On a basic level, to name just a few, the cardiovascular system gives you energy to move & literally pumps blood through your veins. The muscular system gives you the ability to move, lift & hold things. The digestive system processes food into energy & discards waste. The immune system keeps you healthy, by enabling you to fight off viruses & infections, & so the list goes on. You were also blessed with a brain, so that you can think, process & create. God created you on purpose with love. You were designed with an intense need to know your Creator, God. Without a relationship with Him you will always be searching for something to fill that void in your heart. Drugs, alcohol, food, money, sex, material possessions, occupations, hobbies, travel, success, fame are some of the ways individuals can try & fill the empty space inside. All these things in & of themselves are futile, like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Only a relationship with Jesus can truly satisfy.
There used to be an advert by Coca Cola saying ‘It’s the real thing!’Christians jumped on this bandwagon & slightly changed the phrasing to ‘Jesus Christ, He’s the Real Thing!’ I remember having a sew-on badge with this slogan on my keyboard carrying device - a sleeping bag that my Dad had transformed into something to carry my keyboard around in!
After recently studying in our Bible Studies ‘The Battle for Your Mind,’ the following lyrics are particularly relevant from the song ‘You Say’ By Lauren Daigle :- ‘I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enoughEvery single lie that tells me I will never measure upAm I more than just the sum of every high & every low? Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know.
You say I am lovedWhen I can’t feel a thingYou say I am strongWhen I think I am weakYou say I am heldWhen I am falling shortWhen I don’t belongYou say I am Yours.
And I believe I believeWhat You say of meI believe.
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity.
You say I am loved When I can’t feel a thingYou say I am strongWhen I think I am weakYou say I am heldWhen I am falling shortWhen I don’t belongYou say I am Yours.
And I believeI believe What You say of meI believe.
Taking all I have & now I’m laying it at Your feetYou have every failure, God, & You’ll have every victory.
You say I am lovedWhen I can’t feel a thing You say I am strongWhen I think I am weakYou say I am heldWhen I am falling shortWhen I don’t belong You say I am Yours.
And I believe I believeWhat You say of me I believe.’
Verses 17-18 OUTNUMBERED‘How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with You.’God’s gracious and precious thoughts towards David, and towards all of us as His people, outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore. Living close to the beach both here in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote & previously in Looe, Cornwall, I can appreciate how impossible a task it would be to try & attempt to count all the grains of sand on the beach! It shows the immeasurable thoughts & mind of God our Creator.
God wants to give these promises to those who feel hopeless. May hope come alive within you no matter what you are facing!
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV
“For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, & its shoots will not fail. Though it’s roots grow old in the ground & its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish & put forth sprigs like a plant,” Job 14:7-9. This reminds me of our time at the villa at Casas Del Sol, the maintenance men had cut all the hibiscus down to stumps & they looked like they would never grow again & this made me sad. Yet over the weeks green shoots started forming & vibrant coloured flowers have blossomed there once more. So there is hope, even when the pruning looks brutal new life & hope flourishes at a time when you least expect it!
Verses 19-22 OUTRAGED‘If only You would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of You with evil intent; Your adversaries misuse Your name. Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against You? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.’David is so taken with the very Majesty and Holiness of God that, by comparison, he hates the enemies of God. He is outraged by their rebellion.
Verses 23-24 OPEN‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’ In perhaps the most open prayer in the Bible, David invites God to search him, know his heart, try him, deal with his anxieties, search out his wickedness, and lead him in the everlasting way. He wants to be as different as he can from God’s enemies who make him so angry. Only repentance and wholehearted faith can produce such a prayer in a child of God. Another prayer similar to this can be found in Philippians 4:6-7, in which the Apostle Paul prays the following things for the Church at Philippi :- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
Prayer :- We thank You, God that You are Omniscient, all knowing, that You seek us out, like on a search & rescue mission. You are Omnipresent, always with us, wherever we may go. You Observe whatever we say, do or think. Your creative work is Obvious in Your design of each one of us as individuals. Your thoughts are beyond measure. They Outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore. We also are Outraged at those who oppose You, God. There is a need to be Open & honest before You in our prayers. Help us Jesus in this task. For You are my strength when we are weak. You are the treasure that we seek. You are our all in all. When I fall down You lift us up. When we are dry You fill our cups. You are our all in all. Jesus, Lamb of God, in Your Holy Name we ask & pray these things, Amen.
We’ll now sing two songs :- Whom shall I fear? (You hear me when I call, You are my morning song) & I am who You say I am (Who am I that the Highest King would welcome me?)
Closing Prayer/Blessing :- “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV
CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE
Sunday 5th July 2020
SERMON TITLE: Love Without Limits : God's Love
BIBLE PASSAGE: 1 JOHN 3:1-3 ( please read)
John the apostle writes this very challenging and encouraging letter.He writes towards the end of his long life ( ?AD 90). He is writing to combat false teaching that was circulating at that time. For he is concerned for this group of Christian believers whom he describes as ‘dear children’
He is encouraging them to live in continual fellowship with the Lord and do ,as His children, what is right
As John reaches this point in his letter it is like a theatre curtain slowly being opened. He has just exhorted these believers not to love the world and to beware of antichrists and opposition to the truth of Jesus Christ
Now he opens the curtain a bit more, if you like, light comes in and another truth is revealed :
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us…”
Another version (NKJV) puts it this way: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us….” This is a command - a statement of wonder and amazement. In today's language, the modern vernacular, we would say, ‘hey, check this out…have you ever seen something, anything like this?’ This love is ‘ out of this world’ you might say
John is drawing our attention to the Father’s love - a love that one cannot categorise or put in some context. It’s not familiar to the human heart . The phrase ‘ manner of love’ implies that this love is not from this world…It's foreign to our hearts YET we all need this love .It’s so great it cannot be put into words !!
It reminds me of a song from the 80’s : ‘I want to know what love is,I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is,I know you can show me’
The apostle here is giving us here some insight into the Father’s love
We are all being summoned to turn our attention to God's great love- something of extraordinary beauty and worth. For it is this love that the Father has lavished upon us that gives us IDENTITY, helps us to live with the CERTAINTY of a future hope and enables us to live with PURITY in this life
So as John pulls back the curtain just a bit more, we see that the IDENTITY we have.We are children of God because of the Father’s love. We did not deserve this Father/ child relationship with God.We did not earn this identity by anything we have done
God chose to give us this gift of love. He has taken You from being a child of darkness and made you into a child of light. He shows His love towards you by bringing you into His family and giving you all the rights and privileges of a child of God.
Yes, sinners deserving the wrath of God are now made children of God., co heirs with Christ
We as believers are ‘ blessed with every spiritual blessing’. We heard a lot about this from the book of Ephesians over the last two or three Sundays
Why ? Because the Father loves you and me and gave His Son, Jesus for all the world.None of us deserves God's love yet it is a gift the Father gives through Jesus. And by God's power ONLY we become children of God
There is no doubt about WHO we are in Christ because of this love without limits. God chose to love us because He is love. Our identity as children of God is based on God's sovereign love for us
>> So when you are faced with challenges, trying to navigate your way through the storms of life, when you are faced with trials, negativity and injustices… .remember that He loves you. You don't need to keep focused on those things. Don't look down. Rather, look up! Shift your focus off you and your problems and on to the wonderful and amazing love God has for you in Christ Jesus
For in Christ , the Father has secured your adoption as His child. And this love distinguishes you from the world. The world - those who are antagonistic to the things of God , does not understand this. As a child of God, it means that you have experienced God's great love as demonstrated by Jesus on the cross. So your response to life's challenges- in broken relationships, in trials whatever it may look like for you, your response should reflect your new position/ identity in Christ - being a child of God
Because of God's love, we have the CERTAINTY of a future hope.Yes we have hope! We shall be like Him WHO IS OUR HOPE. That's the certainty we have in Christ. There are many things we may not understand, there are lots we may not know about the future. Yet we can live with complete confidence and absolute certainty of a glorious , promised future wit our Saviour
And because our hope is centred on Christ we are to live in PURITY. THE hope - this wonderful expectation motivates us to live pure and Holy lives …..pleasing Him always.For Christ is pure.He is our perfect example. And our desire is to be like Him increasingly.
V3 says ‘Everyone who believes this wonderful truth keeps himself pure in the way he lives…’
We are God's children , loved by the Father and we are to live and relate to Him in loving obedience to Him
>>>> To illustrate further, I would like to refer to 2 Samuel 9:
Here is an Old Testament picture of New Testament love and grace shown to Saul’s grandson , Mephibosheth
For the purposes of today's message, we shall call him Mephibo !
Just to give a brief background: Saul is dead and David is crowned king of Israel. The common practice in those days was to exterminate all family members of a previous king to avoid any threat to the new king
King David shows Mephibo undeserving love- it is not earned and it cannot be repaid
Mephibo is crippled, living in poverty and obscurity in an isolated part of the kingdom
When he appears before King David, maybe Mephibo thought.. “I’m going to die, to be killed like my grandfather Saul…”
V 7- King David shows love to Mephibo ‘I intend to show you kindness because of your father Jonathan.I will restore to you the fields and you will always eat meals at my table’. Mephibo ‘s needs at all taken care of by this act of loving kindness
David reaches out to Mephibo- the crippled , the ourcast. Mephibo did not deserve this.Yet the king shows kindness like Mephibo had never known before! Wow!
Here is the Father’s love in action depicted.An ‘ out of this world’ kind of love.It’s a love that the Father lavishes on you, a love that restores broken lives, reaches out and takes care of the marginalised in society and a love that brings you into God's family making you His child. He makes you a child of royalty who inherits all God's blessings with Christ
This is the Father’s love that restores shatttered dreams, breaks every racial or hostile barrier down in our lives and in our world
This is the love that God possesses and expresses it through Jesus’ sacrifice.
Jesus bridged the great divide between God and man because of sin.
Jesus went between God's holiness and our sinfulness, so reconciling the world to God.The Father’s love goes beyond and far above what we could imagine.This is the love without limits.
This is the love that has a name and that name is Jesus!!
Like Mephibo,this love saves us from a miserable, sinful life , so we can feast at the King’s table.
Our inheritance is in Christ who redeems us by His blood.
>>Would you accept His love today if you're not a believer in Jesus?
Don't let pride get in the way
>> As a believer whatever your struggles are today ,immerse yourself in His love afresh
Just come humbly before Him
Immerse yourself- like a paint brush in a bucket of paint , immerse yourself so you are covered in His love…Many waters cannot quench love friends .His banner over you is love.
‘Nothing in the present, nor anything that could happen in the future would be able to destroy God's love for us
There is no spiritual power, nor any created power, that will ever be able to separate us from God's love for us that has already been so clearly expressed in Christ Jesus our Lord’!
No circumstance can ever separate us from God's love ….this is an unchanging reality
Jesus dealt with injustices by acting with justice.His justice was expressed through love by going to the cross.His love enables forgiveness and reconciliation
The question today: does the love of God change the way you process your thoughts- in the things you do and say ?
God's love is expressed in the ways He gives to His people.The way we express love to God and to others is similarly by giving love. We are as the Church,His bride…we are loved; let us show the world true love- the love that Jesus shows us
As you reflect on His love today,I suggest humbly to partake of communion at home where you are. We will at 5:30 pm…so join in if and when you can
PRAYER TO END:
‘I pray that you will know the presence of Christ in your hearts because of your faith in Him
I pray also that your lives will be deeply rooted in His love; that you will be so steadfast in this love that, like all those who believe in Jesus and who are set apart for His purposes as His saints, you will be able to comprehend something of the amazing extent of Christ’s love
This love seems boundless and unlimited and through that love you can be filled to the fullest extent with God Himself’….Amen
Sunday, 28th June 2020
Sunday message by Pastor Rachel Kuru