CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE 

 

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 

 

 

Introduction 

 

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 youhow 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 believers 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

 

Fullness

 

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 Gods 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.Thats the old nature, the old personthe 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.

 

Forgiveness 

 

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 

 

Freedom 

(V13-14)

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 sinsALL your failures. The believers here to whom Paul writes were probably feeling guilty for past failures and sins- including a shameful failure to keep Gods laws

V14- But now no more! Jesus cancelled the written code of rules and regulations that were impossible for you to keepthat 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

Hallelujah!!

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 sinnerhow 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

OR 

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 

Whats 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

 

 

Conclusion

This is good news .

Jesus brings us fullness - we are complete IN Himdon'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 Designers 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

 

Application 

 

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

AMEN

 

(Prayer as on video)

 

Sunday, 2nd August 2020





Sunday 26th July 2020

Sunday message preached by Pastor Rachel Kuru

Four Invitations to “Come” :- 


  1. Come & Drink.
  2. Come & Feast.
  3. Come & Rest.
  4. Come & be Restored. 

  1. Come & Drink
“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. 

“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, outlives
And ever stands with open hands
And while it lives, it gives
For this is love’s prerogative 
To give & give & give.’

Come to the waters by solid ground
“I felt every teardrop
When in darkness you cried
And I strove to remind you
That for those tears I died. 

You said You’d come & share all my sorrows
You said You’d be there for all my tomorrows
I came so close to sending You away
But just like You promised You came there to stay
I just had to pray. 

And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My side
I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied
I 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 understand
And dear Lord, I know, that all this was planned
I know You’re here now & always will be
Your love breaks my chains, in You, I am free
But Jesus, why me? 

And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My side
I know you are thirsty you won’t be denied
I 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 soul
I know that without God I’d never be whole
Saviour, You open all the right doors
I thank You & praise You earth’s humble shores
Take me, I’m Yours. 

And Jesus said, “come to the water, stand by My side
I 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 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.’ 

  1. Come & Feast
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 ‭TPT‬‬
Many 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

& 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.” 

  1. Come & Rest
‘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

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?

  1. Come & be Restored
‘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. 

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 despair
But now Living Waters will flow
Thirst will be quenched in the desert
Barrenness 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’ 




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 morningPlease 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 ChristIn 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 ChristIn 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.

3.Look Forwards

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 HebrewTikvah -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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,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. 

John 14;1-3

 

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

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 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.

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.

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. 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, 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, 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.

He 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. 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”[b] 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.

(2594 words)

 

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



Psalm 139

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 take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every 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 fast
Lord, You are my security 
And Jesus, You mean everything to me.’

Verses 11-12 OBSERVING
If 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 hidden
There’s never been a moment you were forgotten
Though you have been broken, your innocence stolen.

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your S.O.S., your S.O.S.

I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night it’s true
I will rescue you. 

There is no distance that cannot be covered
Over & over
You’re not defenceless
I’ll be your shelter
I’ll be your armour. 

I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night it’s true
I will rescue you. 

I will never stop marching to reach you
In the middle of the hardest fight it’s true
I 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 ‭AMPC‬‬
ThankYou 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 ‭NKJV‬‬
To 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 enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am 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 loved
When I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong
When I think I am weak
You say I am held
When I am falling short
When I don’t belong
You say I am Yours. 

And I believe 
I believe
What You say of me
I 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 thing
You say I am strong
When I think I am weak
You say I am held
When I am falling short
When I don’t belong
You say I am Yours. 

And I believe
I believe 
What You say of me
I believe. 

Taking all I have & now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure, God, & You’ll have every victory. 

You say I am loved
When I can’t feel a thing 
You say I am strong
When I think I am weak
You say I am held
When I am falling short
When I don’t belong 
You say I am Yours.

And I believe 
I believe
What 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)


INTRODUCTION 

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


BODY

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’!

Romans 8:38-39


No circumstance can ever separate us from God's love ….this is an unchanging reality 


APPLICATION 


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 


AMEN


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



Reading : Ephesians 1:15-23

Verses 15-21 GREAT GIFT
‘For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.’

Paul’s prayer speaks a lot about knowledge. Some people emphasise special experiences, but the only way to experience the truth is first to understand it. Paul means both when he prays for knowledge. This knowledge is the key to our whole Christian life. The only way to grow, the only way to be useful to God, to be holy,is to grasp the truths of the Bible. 
Because ultimately knowledge is to know God Himself, it does not come through just reading a pile of books. That is why Paul is praying for it. Though books may help, the Holy Spirit is essential. He is the ‘Spirit of wisdom & revelation’ of verse 17, who lights up our minds so that it makes sense to us verse 18. 
In particular this applies to three aspects of knowledge:- 
  1. Knowledge of the hope of His calling. What were your expectations when you first came to a personal, saving faith in Christ? What promises did you enjoy? You were called to be holy, to freedom from sin, to fellowship with God’s people ... ultimately to live with Christ forever in glory. Theses are the things we need to grasp hold of. 
  2. Knowledge of the riches of His glory of His inheritance. We need to learn to keep our eyes on the prize. We need to do our suns right when faced with pressure and pain and persecution, and despise them in comparison with that eternal weight of glory beckoning us on (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
  3. Knowledge of the exceeding greatness of His power. Why do we need to understand His power? Because between calling and inheritance comes conflict! And very quickly you begin to see that the power you need must be ‘exceedingly great’ if ever you are to lay hold of the hopes of the first point. It is exceedingly great. 
What do we need a constant supply of? Power! Not our own, for that very soon let’s us down, but a power that is always available, that meets every situation, defeats any opposition, conquers any sin. 
This is just the power that Paul is praying his readers will know the ‘exceeding greatness’ of :- 

The power that raised Jesus from the dead, Verse 20. 
The power which raised Jesus, the Saviour of sinners to be conqueror over sin, hell & the devil must be the greatest power in the universe - infinite power. Surely believers can trust such power not only to see the, them through the conflicts of life, but to raise them together with Christ, victorious over sin! 

The power of the King of the universe, Verses 20-22. 
All things under Him - you can’t get more than that! Nothing in all creation, in person, no power, no devil, can act independently of the reigning Christ. 

The evidence that we live in Christ and share completely in His life, is demonstrated in our faith in Jesus Christ and the way in which we love one another. To walk faithfully with the Lord, Paul recognises the need of possessing the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. These are aspects of the Holy Spirit. So Paul’s prayer is that we will develop in our relationship with Christ by listening to the wisdom and the revelation given to us by the Holy Spirit; and then put it into practice. When we listen to the truth of God’s Word that the Spirit gives us, then we will be people of hope, enjoying the riches of the glorious inheritance that we have in Christ. We will experience God’s power working in us because we live with faith in Him. The Greek word for power is ‘Dunamis’ from where we get our words dynamic and dynamite. So it’s an explosive power, like witnessing a massive firework display - only greater! This is the same power that God used when He brought all creation into being, raised Jesus from the dead and enabled Him to ascend into heaven. This is the power that each of us as Christians now also possess. This power has enabled Jesus to reign, and enables all of us who live in His Kingdom power and authority to share in His reign now. This is why Jesus taught us to pray that His Kingdom would come and His will be done on earth as in heaven. 

Verses 22-23 GOVERNING GOD
‘And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.’ 
The power of the Head of the Church (Verse 23). 
Not only Head over the universe for the benefit of the Church, but Head over the Church itself, His own body. That is how closely connected to His people, that is how much He cares for us! Christ fills all the universe in all respects, & yet so intimately connected is He to His people that He counts Himself incomplete without them. They are His ‘fullness,’ His complement without which He cannot be satisfied. 
No wonder Paul prays for a knowledge of this power! Because it is infallible power. Power that cannot let us down in all life’s struggles & pressures. Power that is certain to bring every single person who trusts in Christ to possess his or her inheritance with Christ forever. 
God the Father has put all things under the feet of God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Head of everything, including the Church. His fullness fills it and everything else. As the Church, we are Christ’s body here on earth and the Holy Spirit guides and teaches us the things of Christ for He lives within each one of us as believers. 

So we have been given GREAT GIFTS of wisdom and revelation all given to us by our GOVERNING GOD. 




Sunday, 21st June 2020

Father's Day message from Pastor Chris Herman










Sunday, 14th June 2020









Sunday 7th June 2020


CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE



                                                     TEXT: PSALM 103


TOPIC : THE PRAISE ATTITUDE 



Introduction 

This Psalm is all about praise to God. There are no requests or petitions here like in other Psalms. It’s just pure praise to God. As David looks at the ups & downs of his life, he sees the blessings of God. It dawns upon him just how great God's goodness has been. He realises how undeserving he is & so this song of praise erupts from his heart. He ‘commands’ himself to praise God with all his innermost entire being. The order/command to his soul : “Bless the Lord, O my soul.  Praise the LORD.”  He talks to himself: “Praise the Lord,” I tell myself. Bless the Lord - the word ‘bless’ here means to delight God's heart by expressing love & gratitude for all He is & all He does. So true praise comes out of a grateful heart seeking to glorify & please the LORD. So David shifts his focus - no petitions or complaining to God here. It's a choice he makes deliberately. 


Illustration : A Pastor once said that in pre-marital counselling, he asks couples to list at least five faults of their prospective mate. He finds this exercise humorous because often they cannot mention any. All they are thinking at that stage are : ‘he is so wonderful, considerate.’ ‘She is so beautiful, with a sweet disposition.’ A few years after marriage, after living with each other the couples return for counselling. This time they comment, ‘he doesn't care about anybody, he’s so selfish.’ ‘She is always complaining, always on the phone.’ Their focus has changed. 


Here, David shows that his focus is now on God's goodness. This comes from who God is. 

V.1 The Lord’s name is holy : He is unique. He is without sin & righteous. He is like no other. What He does, how He acts come from His character. He is the Alpha & Omega. So the LORD shows His goodness by forgiving, healing, by redeeming & by demonstrating His loving & compassionate nature. 

V.3 The LORD forgives so we can have fellowship with Him. He is Holy & so we are to be Holy in order to relate to Him. This can only happen through the finished work of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. So when the enemy, the accuser of the brethren, accuses us of any of the old life negativity, Jesus our righteousness & our advocate comes to our defence. Jesus raises His nail-pierced hands & says, “My blood has washed away your sin, all is forgiven, forgotten!” All our sins - past, present & future - ALL FORGIVEN! 

V.3 The LORD heals us making us whole & healthy. Through God's forgiveness, we have His healing. We can take all our physical health needs to this compassionate, Great Physician. In this life because of our fallen nature this will always be a challenge. Yet not only physical or emotional healing are available, but more importantly the Lord heals the sin disease. So David is telling his soul here that God heals all the diseases of the soul - the fear, the doubt, the lust, the pride, the guilt- the Lord heals the sin disease, David tells his soul. 


Praise God, we can know freedom from sin, the guilt of sin through the Lord Jesus Christ! 

His mercy is available to ALL who would come to the Cross. 

V. 12 says, ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.’ David focuses on the goodness of God he has experienced. In doing so, the Psalm shows us how needy we are before God … just as David was. 

The first need is the need for all to be forgiven of sin. Often we do not find it easy to acknowledge our need - our need of a Saviour, a rescuer, a deliverer. WHEN HOWEVER we acknowledge our sinfulness before a holy God, He shows us mercy. It's then we can say like David “Bless the LORD, O my soul!” Our physical frailty shows us all that we need help. We cannot make it on our own. When we acknowledge our dependence on our Saviour, Jesus, we can rejoice, we can say Praise the Lord! 

V.19 Then we can declare God's Sovereignty in our lives that God's kingdom rules over all. We, as fallen creatures, need a Saviour. We deserve death because of our sin. 

V.15 ‘Our days are few.’ Yet God comes along in His abounding love & compassion & ‘redeems our lives from destruction.’ He rescues our lives & gives us meaning - purpose for living. 

As His chosen people, we live with eternal purpose, crowned with blessings from the Kingdom of Heaven. God in His goodness takes us, needy as we are, & makes us a people of royalty - a holy people, a royal priesthood. We are reigning in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah, bless the Lord, Glory to the King of Glory!

The Psalmist continues in V.5, to bless the LORD. The Lord who ‘satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle that soars.’ 

The Passion Translation says ‘the Lord supercharges your life so that you can soar again like a flying eagle in the sky!’ 

Paul says to the faithful followers at Ephesus : ‘God has already given us a taste of what heaven is like. Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm has already been lavished upon us as a love gift from our wonderful Heavenly Father - all because we are in Christ.’ So we celebrate, with the attitude of praise. We say, praise the Lord. Praise is the attitude we adopt - it's our response when God by His Spirit reveals His truth to us. We are in awe of Him … like we can't help but praise Him. 


Application : When we focus on God's goodness - His attributes - that He is gracious, loving, compassionate, forgiving, ready to heal & to deliver, we see our need before Him.

This should stir us in our souls, our hearts to praise the Lord. 

Can you say today that your relationship with God in Christ is a focused, purposeful one? 

That you are praising God with ALL & NOT JUST SOME OF YOUR BEING?

You are here today. You recognise your need for God's goodness - the need for Jesus to be your Saviour. Come to Jesus & receive His forgiveness. 

I encourage all of you brothers & sisters in Christ to spend time allowing God's goodness to overwhelm you. Have communion at home today (we will at 5.30 p.m.) & reflect on what Jesus did on the Cross so you live victoriously in the good of that. 


Hebrews 13:15, says ‘Through Jesus we will offer up to God a steady stream of praise sacrifices from our lips that celebrate His name.’ 

When you begun blessing His name, you will end still praising & blessing His name, just as David does in this Psalm. This is the praise attitude we are to embrace.  




CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE 

Sunday 31st May 2020 ( Pentecost Sunday)



Greetings All. Happy Pentecost Sunday to you .


Welcome to the message today 


TOPIC: We need another Pentecost 

                                                  FOCUS TEXT: Acts 2 ( we will read verses 1-4)


         I would encourage you to read the full chapter to get the wider context of today's message


(Read and pray , then repeat topic name and text)


Introduction 


Celebrations! We all have at some time  attended or participated in a celebration of one event or another. How do people engage in celebrations depends I suppose on the particular event.You may celebrate your birthday differently from a wedding anniversary for example


Back in 1966 England won their first World Cup. Do you remember how that victory was celebrated?

Or the recent VE DAY celebrations: activities for this were restricted because of the coronavirus outbreak. People were encouraged to look at activities online and hold 1940’s- style afternoon tea parties with their households


The passage we are looking at today describes a celebration of a different kind.God is involved,,clearly


The celebrations started in the upstairs room in the home where Jesus’ disciples were waiting

for the special gift God promised



Background:


Pentecost is a Greek word which means “ 50th day or the  50th”. In the Old Testament, Pentecost was a Jewish feast day. They called it the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks.

For example in Exodus 23 and Deuteronomy 16, this Feast is mentioned along with the sacrifices and offerings attached to it.

 It celebrated the beginning of early wheat harvest time, which is usually May or June.

This harvest celebration came 50 days after another Jewish festival , the Passover. Hence, the Greek word which means ‘50th day or the 50th’, Pentecost 

It was a very festive time : no school, shops closed , no servile work was done.It was a holiday 


You could just imagine the scene in  Jerusalem  - thousands of people ,pilgrims gathering in Jerusalem for this great harvest celebration. Some Bible scholars  have commented that there might have been more people in Jerusalem at Pentecost than at Passover They celebrated the goodness of God and the early wheat harvest and what their labour had produced 


So harvest was at the centre of this celebration 



Body


This is the picture we  are to keep in mind as we read the first few words of verse 1 ‘When the day of Pentecost had fully come , had been completely fulfilled….’ 

Luke the writer of this book of the Acts of the Apostles, is saying  that what happened on the Day of Pentecost fulfils completely what the Old Testament harvest celebration was foreshadowing 


The events described in this chapter of Acts 2 are therefore significant for the church of Jesus, for every believer in Christ 

For what happened to Jesus’ followers then is the same thing that needs to happen to each believer in Christ today. It is an experience that each believer needs to embrace as a follower of Christ 


Let us read the verses1-4 again as we keep our Bibles open to Acts chapter 2 : 


“On the day Pentecost was being fulfilled, all the believers were gathered together in one place. 

Suddenly there came a sound from heaven LIKE ,as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting 

V3-Then there appeared to them divided tongues, LIKE of fire and one sat upon each one of them

V4 -And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”


>In this time of great, unprecedented refreshing, Luke describes the  sudden sound was like that of a mighty wind, and  flames over their heads looked like fire .It is so difficult to describe such experiences of the work of the Spirit that the metaphors of wind and fire are used



In Ezekiel 37 we see the same wind of God would bring the dry bones of a defeated people back to life.

And that same, unchanging God, is now bringing  His disciples , gathered together, to new life as He fills them with the wind of the Holy Spirit.. ‘Ruach’ is the Hebrew word  for spirit and wind. So as the sound of the blowing of a gale force wind fills the place, the breath of the Spirit is giving birth to the church! 


God is making Himself known as He is present with them in an unmistakable way… full of awesome power! 

The church is going to carry on the ministry and mission of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit 


V 3 The disciples also saw ‘ tongues or flames of fire’ over their heads. Metaphorically speaking, the flames upon each one of them looked like fire.


What does fire do.? Fire changes whatever it touches. The Spirit’s fire burns everything that is not beneficial. It purges and and removes everything that holds you back from living the Spirit- filled life. Through the refining process ,the Spirit transforms you so you are not depending on yourself anymore, trying to serve God your way


Some of the people involved here are fisherman, ex -prostitutes,  and tax collectors.They are changed. Other  followers of Jesus, and  even His own family members  are all changed by the Spirit's fire too. They are now the church


Before Pentecost ,Jesus’ disciples are scared of their future without Jesus. For them it is a crisis They are lacking faith and do not understand  God's plan. God is never in crisis. Yet Jesus tells them that He has to  go away so they can receive the gift the Father promises ,the Holy Spirit. 


After Pentecost , after the fire of the Spirit fell on them, they knew undoubtedly what their mission was. They become a body of believers declaring boldly the gospel message. They are empowered to speak prophetically as people are convicted and turn to the Saviour.They are immersed in the Holy Spirit, baptised in His life and power …in the Spirit’s refining fire ready for harvesting a different kind of crop…a crop that will last …fruit to last forever 


Jesus has ascended into heaven but He promised His disciples another Counsellor exactly like Him would come. So the disciples are not alone.The Holy Spirit will remain with them forever ( John 14:16) !


Now that they are infused with the Holy Spirit they begin to speak in other languages that the Spirit gives them.They are empowered to speak in tongues, in languages they had never learned! 

The Holy Spirit gives real languages to the believers allowing them to express His glory more adequately. This was intelligible to the many present. They understood what was being said


>The response to all of  these events and extraordinary happenings is that people begin to ask questions 

These supernatural events attract the attention of crowds. They are bewildered by the sound of the believers speaking in their own native languages. “How is it that we can hear them speaking in our own languages. How is that possible?”,they ask. “What could this mean?”


Remember these were people from all over the  then known world  who were staying in Jerusalem for the celebration ( V9-11) 


The  speakers spoke in languages they did not learn or understand. Only the hearers knew as they try to understand God's will here


And they are speaking of God's mighty wonders in other people's languages or dialects.They are praising God and  soon they will be preaching the Gospel


Another response to the manifestation of the Spirit is what we see in  v13.Some others are poking fun , ridiculing them.They are  suggesting that these believers are ‘drunk …with new wine.’


So while some are criticising and mocking the believers, others are welcoming this new thing

 that’s happening.  It’s changing their individual lives forever and as a community of believers they are beginning to impact the world


Look at Peter here in v14 . He steps forward boldly, together with the other Eleven apostles.He shouts to the crowd  as he seeks to help them understand what is happening here. He sees its time for action.He grabs this opportunity, it's what you might call the ‘Kairos time’ , the opportune moment as transformation takes place as the people are gathered together 


He explains that the men are not drunk. Prophecy spoken by Joel is being is being fulfilled .God is pouring out His Spirit on all people. A shift is taking place, a new era is being heralded.


Peter preaches with such anointing of the Spirit that people come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit .This is part of the wider ministry of the Spirit, convicting lives of sin so repentance can follow. People see their need of the resurrected Saviour of the world as a consequence 


V 37 says Peter's words under the anointing to the crowd ,  ‘were like an arrow to the heart’.They are cut to the heart , convicted by the Spirit and asks the apostles , “Brothers, what can we do?”

Peter replied, 

 “Repent - change your old ways of thinking, turn from your sinful ways, accept Jesus. Return to God and each one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus, to have your sins removed. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For God's promise of the Holy Spirit is for you and your families, for those yet to be born and for everyone whom the Lord calls to Himself.”…


The promise is for all who turn to Christ with true repentance and faith


V41 says ‘Those who responded to this message were baptised, about three thousand people on a single day !” There were about three thousand more followers joining the body of believers that day!


Brothers , Sisters and Friends we are talking here of a harvest of souls coming into God's Kingdom. 

We might be thinking in this time of  ongoing lockdown measures, how can there be any effective evangelism or outreach ?


Last week a senior church leader shared some  salient statistics with us. Briefly, during the current Covid -19 measures, nearly twenty -five percent of people in the UK have been linking in with an online church meeting. There have been two million downloads of the Bible. Lastly ,it is estimated that this lockdown has seen the equivalent of ten years of normal evangelism or outreach taking place. This is really encouraging news for the Church. God's Spirit is restoring and reviving in wonderful, glorious ways


The Holy Spirit hovers over the Church wherever she may be , creating life and bringing hope for such a time like this ! Hallelujah to our awesome God and Saviour 


The lockdown is not hindering the gospel message but helping the message to be proclaimed in powerful ways .


In a similar  way while the crowds  in Jerusalem are gathered for the harvest festival, a greater ,unrivalled celebration is taking place..Those  three thousand people who did not believe in Jesus are changed by the  power of the Holy Spirit.


This is the result of all the disciples, as the passage says, “ all of them  were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” They are no longer timid, confused and lacking in understanding of Jesus’ message of salvation.Peter himself who denied Jesus about two months earlier is now speaking for Jesus .He is one of the many witnesses for Jesus ,empowered by the Holy Spirit, actively involved in this harvest of the Kingdom. 

To be strong in faith and witness for Jesus, you need the gracious gift of God's Spirit


Verse 47 : the chapter ends  by Luke  writing ‘that every day the Lord added to their numbers those who were being saved’. 

The harvest of souls is the fruit that is evident when God refreshes and revives His people. When God breaks loose in the lives of ordinary men and women , when His Spirit invades their hearts and advances the purposes of the Kingdom of God, this is the precious fruit that results - a  great harvest of saved souls 




How does this happen ,you may ask today?


This  comes about when there  is devotion to a new lifestyle because of the transforming power of the Spirit. They are dedicated to this cause. Verse 42-47 help us to understand how the Spirit reorders our lives once we have been filled with the Holy Spirit 


In these verses we :


There is a solid foundation in God's Word- the believers are basing how they live on God's inspired , inerrant Word of Truth.This is priority for any believer. You long to hear …- you want to 

hear God’ s voice and  not the voice of the world.

 We exist as Christ’s body because of  God's Word. Whatever head knowledge you have is now translated by the Spirit into a heart experience 


The early church believers are a people of prayer - “praying together” and worshipping together. They are showing their dependence on God as they draw near to Him. Praying together was a significant feature of these believers. They saw the benefits of meeting to pray together 


The believers shared fellowship with one another in love. They are living for one another instead of themselves.It’s like a community lifestyle of faith and love of believers, sharing with each other


 They are living in the power of what Jesus accomplished on the cross as they break bread and drink wine. Their lives are centred around Jesus. They are loving, supporting  and encouraging each other as God's big family

Their faith becomes a way of life as it is expressed in the love that is demonstrated .


The believers are not settling for anything less …only God's best for God's church family.




Conclusion 


The believers’ lifestyle and devotion reflect a church with a purpose. Jesus mandated them to be His witnesses.They are a harvesting church. Their very lives become in a sense the message of the gospel empowered by the Spirit 


God is with them, in them. His Spirit is living in them. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Surely you realise that God has made your body a temple of the Holy Spirit, who now lives in you?…”And a temple is for sacred purposes , so God calls His chosen  people to holy living


And as we embrace the Christ- like character being formed in us , we see what is true of Jesus becomes true of us 




Application 

What does all of this mean for us today


Pentecost is about  the outpouring of the Spirit  on all men and women. The goal is by this transformation, we all  become workers in God's great harvest of souls


God calls us to be  ready people . As a church we need that Pentecostal power once again


The disciples moved from being spineless ,weak and purposeless to becoming a powerhouse community for the glory of Christ. Through us ,God will work only when we give Him the freedom to do so


As a  community of believers  when the Spirit does a work in our hearts, on the inside of us then we can impact the world outside for the glory of Christ. This will be manifested  in ways that may surprise  and even amaze us just like our brothers and sisters of the early church



-If you’re not a believer, I invite you to come to Jesus, surrender your life.By His Spirit, you will be changed as you seek His forgiveness today.

Be filled with the fullness of the Holy Spirit as Paul says in Ephesians 5: This is a continual  ongoing process as the Spirit guides you in living a Christ- like life


-As a believer, you are struggling with some sin or something similar .Confess it and turn way from it. Allow the Spirit's fire to burn every negativity and breathe His fullness of life into you

Romans 13:12 says..”let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light”,

Be a radiant light for Jesus 


Amen


PRAY TO END:


We thank thank You O Lord for sending your Holy Spirit to live in us, to dwell among your people

So we praise You that You have not abandoned us .Rather  for your great name’s sake it pleased You to make us a people for Yourself. We are your chosen ones .Thank You Jesus


We thank You that where there is disorder and chaos in our lives , in our world You are bringing about Your sovereign purposes. You are in control ,You have never lost control and You will forever be in control !


May your Spirit lead us so that we please You always. So thank You that your Spirit enables us to be your witnesses, lights to radiate in darkness, shining for You wherever we are


Help us Lord to be good harvesters in the harvest field in which you have placed us 

By the power of your Spirit we will make a difference in our world for the good of your Kingdom

    For the glory of Your Name , Jesus…Amen


God bless you and keep in touch.Please do visit  the church’s website: church lanzarote.com and stay informed 





 SUNDAY , 24th MAY



Good morning, welcome to the Christian Worship Centre Playa Blanca to this morning’s worship. Welcome to you, friends, brothers & sisters in Christ Jesus in His precious Name. 
This morning’s service will be slightly different from normal, as we aren’t going to be focusing just on one main, central passage. 
The theme is ‘The Fire of God & Revival.’ Therefore, we will be considering several passages from the Bible in order to understand this more fully. 

The Fire of God & Revival 
“Who is this one? Look at her now! She arises out of her desert, clinging to her beloved. When I awakened you under the apple tree, as you were feasting upon me, I awakened your innermost being with the travail of birth as you longed for more of me. Fasten me upon your heart as a seal of fire forevermore. This living, consuming flame will seal you as my prisoner of love. My passion is stronger than the chains of death and the grave, all consuming as the very flashes of fire from the burning heart of God. Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over your entire being. Rivers of pain and persecution will never extinguish this flame. Endless floods will be unable to quench this raging fire that burns within you. Everything will be consumed. It will stop at nothing as you yield everything to this furious fire until it won’t even seem to you like a sacrifice anymore.” Song of Songs 8:5-7 (TPT).

‘All-consuming as the very flashes of fire from the burning heart of God. Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over your entire being.’ 
The phrase in Hebrew is “ a most vehement Flame” & actually takes its formation from two Hebrew words. The first word is “shalhebet” which means “a mighty flash of fire,” & the second word is “Yah” which is the sacred name of God Himself! In Hebrew the words “shalhebet-yah” could therefore literally be interpreted in this way : “The Mighty Flame of the Lord Most Passionate!” 
STRONG SEAL - Alone with her beloved husband, the bride asks for her love to seal his heart & states that it is as strong as death. It is unquenchable & inestimable. It is often referred to as Christ being the Bridegroom & us as the Church being His Bride. 

I Hear His Whisper ... “My love for you will never grow dim.”
“Though the heavens roll up like a scroll & the mountains shake & fall into the sea, My love for you will never shake nor will it move. I have held you as My treasure & longed for you even as you have longed for Me. A sacred fire burns within Me - an all-consuming fire of love that will never go out. The passion I have to make you a fire of love that will never go out. The passion I have to make you Mine can never be dimmed or fade away. 
I have promised you that I will never leave you comfortless. I carry you every moment. You never have to grope in the dark to find Me. Every day the glory of My presence hovers over you, even when you don’t discern it. When you thirst, I give you living water; when you hunger for more, I give you living bread & My satisfying peace. When you lift up your face to Me, the sunshine of My love washes over you & strengthens you. Let the reality of My love comfort you today. My presence is all you need.” 

‘We are a colony of heaven on earth as we cling tightly to our lifegiver, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform our humble bodies & transfigure us into the identical likeness of His glorified body. And using His matchless power, He continually subdues every thing to Himself ,’ 
Philippians 3:20-21 (TPT). 

“BEHOLD MY Servant, Whom I uphold, My elect in Whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice and right and reveal truth to the nations. [Matt. 3:16, 17.] He will not cry or shout aloud or cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench; He will bring forth justice in truth. [Matt. 12:17-21.] He will not fail or become weak or be crushed and discouraged till He has established justice in the earth; and the islands and coastal regions shall wait hopefully for Him and expect His direction and law. [Rom. 8:22-25.]”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭42:1-4‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

SPIRIT & SERVANT - In one of the Bible’s ‘Servant Songs,’ The Messiah is foreseen as One chosen & upon Whom the Holy Spirit dwells. He brings justice to the Gentiles. He has compassion, justice, truth, faithfulness & a lasting reign. He will be tender with those who have but a little heat, that are as weak as a bruised reed, oppressed with doubts & fears. Those that are like a smouldering wick like a newly-lit candle whose flame is flickering & ready to go out again, He will fan them into flame. 
Jesus Christ is very tender towards those that have true grace, though they are but weak in it, & accepts the willingness of the spirit whilst forgiving their sins & weaknesses of the flesh. I would like to share the following hymn with you & use it as a prayer :- 

A Prayer for Revival hymn :- 
‘Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Now to Thy saints appear!
Oh, speak with power to every soul
And let Thy people hear. 

Revive Thy work, O Lord! 
While here to Thee we bow
Descend, O gracious Lord, descend!
Oh come, & bless us now! 

Revive Thy work, O Lord! 
And every soul inspire
Oh, kindle in each heart, we pray
The Pentecostal fire!

Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Exalt Thy precious Name!
And may Thy love in every heart
Be kindled to a flame! 

Revive Thy work, O Lord!
And bless to all Thy Word!
And may it’s pure & sacred truth 
In living faith be heard! 

Revive Thy work, O Lord!
And make Thy servants bold 
Convict of sin & work once more
As in the days of old. 

Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Give Pentecostal showers!
Be Thine the glory, Thine alone! 
The blessing, Lord, be ours!’ 


“That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination].”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Just as Paul reminded Timothy, we are able to stir up, rekindle the embers of & fan into flame & keep the flame burning the gift of God through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. 

“Is not My word like fire [that consumes all that cannot endure the test]? says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks in pieces the rock [of most stubborn resistance]?”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭23:29‬ ‭AMPC‬‬
God’s Word should burn within us like a fire in our bones. We shouldn’t be able to contain it or keep it to ourselves. It should be our heart’s desire to share it with others. 

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried and chosen you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it [I refrain and do not utterly destroy you]; for why should I permit My name to be polluted and profaned [which it would be if the Lord completely destroyed His chosen people]? And I will not give My glory to another [by permitting the worshipers of idols to triumph over you].”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭48:10-11‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

GOD’S GLORY - What God does for His children is for His Glory & for His Name’s sake. Christians should live with these thoughts in mind also. God refines them in the furnace of affliction. 
When I was studying GCSE History, we had to do coursework based on a trip to Ironbridge in Shropshire, England. There I got to see iron being smelted in the furnace for myself firsthand. Iron is smelted & then hammered into whatever shape, form or design that the iron smith has in mind. The Ironbridge itself in Coalbrookdale was made using this process. 
In the Bible, however, we see different examples of precious metals being refined in the furnace to get rid of any dross or impurities. This was done so that the silversmith or goldsmith could see their face in the end product. Often this was done seven times & seven is the Biblical number that signifies perfection. How much more precious is the work that God does in refining each one of us, so that He can see the image of His Son, Jesus, reflected in our lives! 

“And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will hear and answer them. I will say, It is My people; and they will say, The Lord is my God.”
‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭13:9‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

THE REMNANT ARE REFINED - THE REDEEMED ARE RESTORED - This is God’s remnant of repentant, refined & redeemed people who will be restored & enter into prayerful communion with God. God will acknowledge them as His people; they will acknowledge Him as their God. 

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the priests, the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”
‭‭Malachi‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

AWESOME APPEARANCE - When Christ does appear the second time, He will come as a refiner’s fire & as the soap of a launderer. He will come to refine, purge & cleanse. Repentance & forgiveness are pre-requisite to God’s final blessing just as they are to our personal blessing. 

In the New Testament, we often see the Holy Spirit as fire or as a rushing wind. David will explore that in more detail next week as we celebrate Pentecost. 

Recently, while we have been staying at the villa, we have had a dove that has been visiting us frequently. But then the African Dove had been gone for a while & it made me feel quite sad. Such joy & delight filled my heart when he returned. His fiery copper appearance made him majestic in form like the Fire of the Holy Spirit, also often depicted as a Dove. It reminded me of an old hymn, ‘O for a closer walk with God.’ In particular, verse four which contains the following words:- 

‘Return, O Holy Dove, return
Sweet messenger of rest
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.’ 

Thursday just gone was Ascension Day & we remember these following words of Jesus before He ascended into heaven :- 
“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth. And when He had said this, even as they were looking [at Him], He was caught up, and a cloud received and carried Him away out of their sight.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭1:8-9‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

After Jesus ascended into heaven, His disciples needed power to carry the assignment of advancing the kingdom. They could not do this in human power; they needed God’s power. Jesus promised them in Acts 1:8 that when the Spirit came they would be empowered to be witnesses in their local area & to the remotest parts of the earth or some versions say to the ends of the earth. The following verses from the old hymns ‘Breathe on me, Breath of God,’ & ‘O Breath of Life Come Sweeping Through Us’ highlight this very well :- 

‘Breathe on me, Breath of God
Till I am wholly Thine
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy Fire Divine.’

‘O Breath of Life come sweeping through us
Revive Your Church with life & power
O Breath of Life, come, cleanse, renew us
And fit Your Church to meet this hour. 

O Wind of God, come bend us, break us
Till humbly we confess our need
Then in Your tenderness remake us
Revive, restore, for this we plead. 

O Breath of Love, come breathe within us
Renewing thought & will & heart
Come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us
Revive Your Church in ev’ry part. 

Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating
While harvest fields are vast & white?
Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting
Equip Your Church to spread the light.’

“Jesus walked throughout the region with the joyful message of God’s kingdom realm. He taught in their meeting houses, and wherever he went he demonstrated God’s power by healing every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the vast crowds of people, Jesus’ heart was deeply moved with compassion, because they seemed weary and helpless, like wandering sheep without a shepherd. He turned to his disciples and said, “The harvest is huge and ripe! But there are not enough harvesters to bring it all in. As you go, plead with the Owner of the Harvest to thrust out many more reapers to harvest his grain!””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭9:35-38‬ ‭TPT‬‬

“As the crowds emerged from the village, Jesus said to his disciples, “Why would you say, ‘The harvest is another four months away’? Look at all the people coming—now is harvest time! For their hearts are like vast fields of ripened grain—ready for a spiritual harvest. And everyone who reaps these souls for eternal life will receive a reward. And those who plant spiritual seeds and those who reap the harvest will celebrate together with great joy! And this confirms the saying, ‘One sows the seed and another reaps the harvest.’ I have sent you out to harvest a field that you haven’t planted, where many others have labored long and hard before you. And now you are privileged to profit from their labors and reap the harvest.””
‭‭John‬ ‭4:35-38‬ ‭TPT‬‬

The following song, which I’ll read out now expresses these sentiments as well :- 

White Fields 
Looking out, fields are white 
Precious in His sight
Harvest of sinful souls 
Restored by You, made whole. 

Come & listen, you with ears
Lay down your worst fears
Come & give Him your tears
He remains true over the years. 

White fields, loads of crops
Gather now before souls rot
Come on, workers, rise up now
Reap the harvest that’s been sown. 

Now is the time to reach out
Feel the cries, hear the shouts
Rescue souls, now He cries
Before the lost in darkness die. 

Step out now into the light
Don’t be struck down by fright
Reach out in faith, while you can 
Fulfil the golden, Master plan 
(2004). 

Before we moved to Playa Blanca, Lanzarote in March this year, we previously lived in Looe, Cornwall. Back in February, David & I met up with a dear Pastor friend of ours & while we were praying together God gave me the following picture :- 

A picture of the Gospel through the power & enabling of the Holy Spirit spreading like wildfire over the Canary Islands, starting with Lanzarote & then moving to Cornwall & then to all the nations of the world. 
As I prayed this through I saw bruised reeds not breaking, smouldering wicks not being snuffed out but being reignited. Sparks being fanned into ferocious flames licking through the Canary Islands first & then moving onto the coastland of Cornwall, then continuing to flow like rivers of fire streaming without constraint throughout the streets. Spreading like wildfire, like the bushfires of Australia burning up dry tinder. This time, though, with positive effect to the saving of many lives & a great awakening of revival that would spread throughout all the nations of the world. But it started with a bruised reed not being broken. It started with a smouldering wick not being snuffed out. It started with tiny sparks being fanned into ferocious flames. Then with the power & enabling of the Holy Spirit they became unrestrained, spreading like wildfire. 

O Lord, send a revival & let it begin in me! 
O Lord, send a revival & let it begin in us! 
May our bruised reeds not break.
May our smouldering wicks not be snuffed out, but be reignited. 
May our sparks be turned into ferocious flames. 
May the rivers of fire of Your Holy Spirit flow in us & through us.
Come, Holy Spirit.
Come, Holy Spirit, & set our hearts on fire again for Jesus. 
Come, Holy Spirit, blaze within us so that we may be tinder set aflame like wildfire throughout this Island of Lanzarote.
Throughout the Canary Islands, through the coastland of Cornwall, even to the ends of the earth. That they would see the salvation of our God. 
That many would be set ablaze, on fire with the Holy Spirit, & that we too with fresh zeal & passion would glow with Your fire Divine. 
We pray this in Your precious Name, Jesus, Amen! 

         Message for Sunday 17th May 2020

 


       

CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE 


TOPIC : God’s New Thing - Your  Transformed Future 


SERMON TEXT: Isaiah 43:16-21


Greetings in Jesus’ name and welcome

Welcome Brothers,Sisters and Friends to the Sunday sermon. We hope that you are well and that even in the lockdown you are ‘locked in’ with Jesus our Saviour and Lord, drawing even closer  to Him



INTRODUCTION 


(Read the verses)Isaiah 43:16-21 “ This is what the LORD says—

He who made a way through the sea,

a path through the mighty waters,


V17 who drew out chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together,

and they lay there , never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:


V18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

V19 See,I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland


V20 The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert

and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 


V21 the people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim My praise….”


                        (Pray)


Illustration- We can all get nostalgic about the good old days , when we think affectionately about experiences in the past.We almost long for the happiness we had in a former time , place or situation.

And then secular songs like Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Glory days’ or ‘If I could turn back time’ by Cher cause the feelings to be more intense as we think about  the past. You might say it has the ‘feel good’ factor!


Then we inevitably ask “Remember when….so and so happened.”…. It is easy to understand why we all think about the past from time to time. Yet we can't relive it !



Background: 


And Isaiah introduces this section by associating God with the great event in Israel's history.It is a ‘remember when’ moment for God's people


Isaiah speaks to the exiles in Babylon,God's people. He brings a message of hope to God's  people through this promise from God. This message comes at a very bleak time in Israel’s history.They are in captivity, away from their homeland, isolated from familiar land God promised


And  even though they are in exile they would not have forgotten the great deliverance and liberation God gave them hundreds of years before

Babylonian captivity ended their hopes in a sense of returning to their homeland .


Yet God is reminding them that He is their Saviour ..their only Saviour. He has loved them with an everlasting love




BODY


We see here in vv16-17,  that God gives a history lesson as He reminds Israel of their  ancestors’ slavery in Egypt. At that time God delivered His people from Egypt ,then made a path through the mighty waters  of the Red Sea .It is a strong image of His power and His unfailing love to His people.


 It is a picture of God’s redeeming love through the finished work of Christ.This power of His love that  lifts us up , delivers us when all hope is gone and gives us direction as to how we should truly live as His chosen people - Holy and godly lives

This was more than just remembering the good old days , it was the best day - when God delivered His people, a sure testimony to His power and love


As Isaiah speaks these words from God it is beginning to reignite hope. You can almost hear children of Israel saying … “God did it for our ancestors so He can do it again”.And as God reminds them of His great power and might , the Worker of wonders does not want His people to limit Him to what He has done in the past. This time it is going to be better still!



After God reminds them of this ,He gives a a clear command 

Vv 18-19:  So the LORD says “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past, the things of old. 

Behold I will do a new thing , now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?….” 


The command to’ forget the former things ‘is for this reason: God says in v19 ‘See ,I am doing a new thing…’


God is not saying to ignore the past.He is saying don't keep thinking about those blessings when He is going to do a new thing.

 Remember the past but not at the exclusion of seeing what He is doing and what He will do in the future

 Glorious days are ahead. So yes count your blessings, give Him thanks with a grateful heart for salvation, healing and  breakthroughs in your life but look forward to the true glory days that are ahead! 


Learn from the past, praise God for past blessings but don't live there. If you focus too much on what God has done in  the past,  then you will miss what He is doing


God is linking what He has done with what He is going to do.The ‘ good old days’ are now changing into a greater future ‘glory days’ where we will see His glory, His power as His Spirit is poured out on His people !



Here in this passage as  God speaks  through the prophet Isaiah, God  says that He is going to do a new thing .It  will be something so spectacular that this new thing will be their focus of attention. The Red Sea event for the children of Israel was a significant turning point in their history. It  brought deliverance from  Egyptian bondage. Freedom from slavery and the destruction of the army of Egypt “ with all its chariots and horses , to lie beneath the waves ,dead, their lives snuffed out like candle wicks.”(as v17 says)


This new thing  : It will surpass what the children of Israel experienced at the hands of their God at the Red Sea. It is something that has never existed before, unprecedented …in a sense like the coronavirus. But this new thing is all good unlike the coronavirus.


This is why God says, v 18 , to  “forget all that, for it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do!” Don't restrict God to what He is already done. Don't even try to figure out God's ways and how He works in doing something new. 

You are just limiting Him to your own ideas. By His Spirit, let Him work in you a ready heart - a heart ready to respond as you come in alignment to His ways ….seeing things the way He sees them


So in order to embrace the brand new  thing that God is doing, there is need for a change of 

focus. If  you’re spending a lot of time thinking about the past, now begin to look ahead to Jesus

 

You are not to live in condemnation of past mistakes and failures .Jesus has set us free so live in that new freedom and never doubt God's mighty power to work in you and to do “superabundantly more than all that we dare to ask or think.”


It’s like driving a vehicle, you take glimpses at the back through the rear view mirror while your main focus is in front of you. .If you spend plenty time looking at the back , you will not see where you're going. Looking back a lot makes moving forward a difficult task.That's why the rear view mirror is smaller I guess


Past victories may help us prepare for future battles.Yet in our journey with Jesus, past victories do not sustain us .In their captivity, the children of Israel need another victory, a new miracle.They could do nothing as prisoners in a foreign land.They need new faith ,not yesterday’s faith.Faith   for today. Faith is for today 


God is promising them something new as they cling to Him in faith and forget what He forgets - the past. The  covenant keeping God is giving them another chance .They don't deserve it but God is merciful and is giving them what they don't deserve. 


He speaks hope to them. The Lord says “the plans I have for you are plans for peace and well -being, and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope….I will restore you ,I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”(Jer 29)


This kind of faith enables us to trust God even when we cannot see any visible signs of progress or improvement to our situation. The faith that needs to develop within us is the faith that takes your eyes of the problems as you focus on Jesus ,and with God ,you begin to see possibilities .You must see yourself , your situation as God sees it… “for all things are possible with God” 


In Daniel 3 , the three Hebrew men namely Shadrach ,Meshach, and Abdenego tell the king “ we are not worried about what will happen to us.If we are thrown into the flaming furnace, our God is able to deliver us, and He will deliver us out of your hand…” They saw ,by faith, their God delivering them as they chose to serve the living God rather than idols


In the passage before us today, God says in V19: the King James Version renders it like this: “now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

The word  “know” here is not just intellectual.The idea it carries is of ‘giving yourself totally as in a marital -husband and wife relationship’ . It is an embracing of something new, an openness. Your heart is open to change, trusting in the one you love. 


It is something unheard of ,yet because of your relationship with Him, you are embracing what God is doing. As His Church we are the Bride of Christ. And Christ shows His saving ,forgiving and redeeming love to His bride  for He wants to draw us closer into the new thing He is doing


So you cannot see all that God is doing. It is only just springing up, sprouting. Little by little something new is taking place, it is in the process of happening. God is putting ‘the wheels in motion’. It is like a blade of grass pushing itself above a stony area or a concrete slab. Life, new life is springing forth and by faith you are to take hold of it..God will unfold the bigger picture in His time

Even the wild animals, jackals and ostrichs too will thank and honour  God for the water in the wilderness.Wow!


>>God's people could look at their past and their current problems. Or they could choose to focus on what God is doing and by faith move forward so the past does not disrupt their faith .God is making a road through the wilderness for His people so they can return home.There are no obstacles in their way for God is leading. He leads and they follow- the way it must always be for us too


In the wilderness of your  situation, or our situation as it relates to Covid 19 and lockdown measures, God.. is… beginning… to.. bring… transformation. The desert areas of your life are being refreshed, revived and restored with flowing streams.

Waters in the wilderness and streams where they never existed before. This is God's transforming ,creative power in action


The desert places are being transformed into places where there is life ,not death

Jesus said in John 7:37-39 “..If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water shall flow from the innermost being of anyone who believes in Me, relies and trusts in Me.” 

‘Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit who would be given to everyone believing in Him’..the Holy Spirit was yet to come 


The Lord is going to give drink to His people, His chosen ones, the people whom He formed for Himself. So that His people will declare praise to Him, proclaim His praise. As His chosen ones you are to reflect His glory so attracting others to Him

So the unbelievers  will see His glory radiating in your life and will come to Him ,the Saviour. That is the aim of the new thing God is going to do.


 All He wants you to do is hold on to His promises and trust Him as works out His purposes in your life for His glory



CONCLUSION


In His redemptive plan , God is restoring the Jews back to Israel after their captivity in Babylon.He is showing that He is their Saviour. And today God shows us that He is our Saviour too for through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour we are restored , healed and full of hope .Christ in you the hope of glory! God's restoration happens not because of any good we have done. In  His grace He chooses to love us back to Him


God is doing a new thing and He desires His people to be future- focussed, faith- filled and forward -moving.

Greater things are yet to come for all believers. God is showing you another aspect of His character, His wisdom and power. He is showing the world and His Church that He is sovereignly in control with all that's happening currently 


He is using the lockdown as a preparation time for what He is about to do. It's a time to refocus and reset  your priorities. He has got your attention .As you spend time with God, as you align yourself through repentance and renewal, He is going to pour out His precious Holy Spirit in a way that you have never experienced before.


For many the lockdown feels like an obstacle. For the believer it is the opportunity for the Spirit’s outpouring on you. As He revives and restores  you, He wants to empower you so much that you become a bold and effective Jesus light-bearer wherever you are. 

So you don't give in to fear and negativity. No, you are listening to what the Spirit is saying and following in loving obedience 


APPLICATION 


Are you ready to embrace the new thing God is doing?


What is your response to this new thing that God is about to do?


-Firstly our hearts need to be ready


There are things in our hearts that might be competing for His love.

 So decluttering  needs to take place so you make room for Him.Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us 


-Secondly in order for the new to come , the old must go

Jesus speaks of not pouring fresh, new wine into old wine skins. New wine is always poured into a  new wine skin.

So come to Jesus, let go of the old, and let Him do that new, transforming work in you today


Let the Holy Spirit conform us into the image of Christ so that we live for His glory and praise and the good of His Kingdom purposes.    

Amen


PRAYER TO END:

Thank You Lord that You have loved us with an everlasting love.And in Your love, You are drawing us to Yourself .I ask today God that you will impart  to your people ,my brothers and sisters in Christ the Spirit of wisdom and revelation of who You are and what You have done for us so that we will come to know You better.

Search our hearts, forgive us for the times when we have done our own thing and not obeyed You. 

Wash us in your blood so our relationship with You remains intimate, Holy and godly

We surrender afresh to You today as we turn away from the old ways and turn to You with hearts that are ready for the new thing You are doing .Fill us Lord with your Holy Spirit


I pray for anyone who is hearing this message today and does not know You.Lord reveal Yourself as their Saviour so they can begin to serve You as You do a new thing in their lives too


Thank You that You are building your Church and the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church

Thank You for the blood of Christ that covers our lives.Thank You for taking care of all needs according to Your riches in glory .We praise your awesome name.!


Amen





Sunday 10th May 2020


Good morning brothers & sisters, friends in Jesus to the Christian Worship Centre, Playa Blanca. I’d like to open this morning’s time together with a personal prayer.

LORD, I come before You now
At Your feet I come & bow
Seeking to hear Your voice & stop a while
O LORD, have mercy on this Your child. 

O LORD, please make me so aware 
As I approach the Heavenly chair
In Your presence I now bathe
Knowing You alone can save. 

O LORD, I seek You alone
Leaving pride behind at Your Throne
With You I linger & be still
In submission, searching till I find Your will. 

O LORD, be my food & be my drink
I’m so thirsty & on the brink
Only You, O LORD, can turn things around
O LORD, I’m on the battle-ground.

O LORD, I seek Your face again
Not bowing to idols or the advice of men
You, O LORD, are my strength & my song
You, O LORD, I’ll worship all the day long. 

O LORD, when daylight fades to night 
Still I will be here at Your side
O LORD, I know You will provide
You are my Saviour, Shepherd & Guide.

O LORD, to You alone I will yield 
You, O LORD, are my protective shield
O LORD, enable Your servant to lead
More to You, so they also can feed. 

O LORD, You alone meet the needs of the fight
You, O LORD, alone are my strength & my light
You, O LORD, put all fears to flight
You, O LORD, fresh passion ignite.

O LORD, You alone are my desire, my zeal
You, O LORD, are my portion, more than a daily meal
You, O LORD, my Saviour Who will stay
O Sovereign LORD, forever You will remain. 

O LORD, unite others to join the throng
An Army by Your Spirit, equipped & made strong
To march into battle, knowing the victory is won
Soldiers cleansed & commissioned through Your Only Son. 
(22/03/2013, a prayer based on 2 Chronicles 20:1-30). 

“The Battle Belongs to the LORD!”
Today we’ll be considering what this phrase means for us by studying the following passage :- 

2 Chronicles 20:1-37.
At the end of 2 Chronicles 19, we see King Jehoshaphat appointing judges & some of the Levites, priests & heads of families to administer the law of the LORD & settle disputes. In this context we will begin looking at & considering what the passage means. 

2 Chronicles 20:1-2
‘After this, the Moabites & Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. Some men came & told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea (that is the Dead Sea). It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi).’ 

CONFRONTED Judah under King Jehoshaphat, is confronted by a great coalition led by Moab & Ammon.

2 Chronicles 20:3-13
‘Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolves to enquire of the LORD, & he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek Him. 
Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah & Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard & said : 
“O LORD God of our fathers, are You not the God Who is in heaven? You rule over all the nations. Power & might are in Your hand, & no one can withstand You. O our God, did You not drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel & give it for ever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend? They have lived it & built in it a sanctuary for Your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgement, or plague or famine, we will stand in Your temple that bears Your Name & will cry out to You in our distress, & You will hear us & save us.’ 
“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab & Mount Seir, whose territory would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them & did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession You gave us as an inheritance. O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” 
‘All the men of Judah, with their wives & children & little ones, stood there before the LORD.’ 

COMPOSED - Although alarmed & fearful, Jehoshaphat responds by proclaiming a public fast & prayer. He encourages his people to look to God Who has delivered & blessed in the past. He admits that he has no power of his own to win this victory, despite the forces that he has. Thus composed, all Judah stands before the LORD. 
We have seen an example similar to this recently of calling a nation to prayer & have seen people on their knees praying & singing ‘Because He lives’ on the streets of Brazil because their godly leader has led by example & the people of that nation have followed suit. 

Seek God’s face, to Him draw near
Raise your voice, loud & clear
Draw the Assembly of God to the Holy Place
As together you seek His face & know His grace. 

Bow your knees to Him in prayer
Repent & shed your tears before Him there
Come with hearts & motives true
He will equip you for what ensues. 

Lie prostrate on the ground
Let Your cries & tears alone sound
To plead the cause of the homeland
Rend your hearts for the sin that abounds. 

Prevail long & patiently in prayer
Seek His face, not His hand, He is there
He alone can rescue & He will save
Redeeming lives from the pit & the grave. 

Now you know that He has heard 
He will be faithful to His Word
Through you, His promises achieve 
And victory you will receive. 

Raise your voice & lift it high
Till your praise & worship fills the skies
Resounding & echoing round Heaven’s Throne
The Great High Priest celebrates with the saints who are His own. 

Rejoicing now that this battle has been won
Claiming the victory, through Christ, God’s Only Son 
Revelling & worshipping the Lamb we adore
Knowing one day we’ll be reconciled on Heaven’s golden shore. 
(29/03/2013). 

2 Chronicles 20:14-17.
‘Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite & descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. 
He said, “Listen King Jehoshaphat & all who live in Judah & Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you : Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the Battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, & you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions & stand firm & see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah & Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, & the LORD will be with you.’”

CONFIRMED - God confirms that the victory will be theirs & that He will be with them. This He does through His Spirit coming upon Jahaziel, who declares God’s Word to Judah & Jerusalem. God will fight this battle for them. All they have to do is stand still & see Him do it! 

God speaks these words to us again today, “Be still & know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth,” 
Psalm 46:10.
“Do not look to what is happening in the world. Nations will continue to rise against nations. Wars & rumours of wars will continue. Do not fear. Stand firm. Be still & know that I am God. I will be exalted in the heavens. I will be exalted in the earth. If you look to the current world events, you will be frightened & that fear will paralyse you. Do not fear. Stand firm. Be still & know that I am God. I will be exalted in the heavens. I will be exalted in the earth. The world powers look strong, but they are weak. They have not looked to Me for help, they haven’t sought My face for wisdom & guidance. Therefore, the last battle will take place soon. Judgement will begin with My House. Do not fear. Stand firm. Be still & know that I am God. I will be exalted in the heavens. I will be exalted in the earth. Look beyond what you can see My child. Look beyond what you can see, My faithful child. Look beyond what you can see, My faithful child in white raiment.” 

2 Chronicles 20:18-22.
‘Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, & all the people of Judah & Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. Then some Levites from the Kohathites & Korahites stood up & praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 
Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood & said, “Listen to me, Judah & people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God & you will be upheld; have faith in His prophets & you will be successful.” After consulting the people Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD & to praise Him for the splendour of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying : 
“Give thanks to the LORD, for His love endures for ever.”
As they began to sing & praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon & Moab & Mount Seir who were invading Judah, & they were defeated.’ 

CONSULTATION - This is immediately met by a worshipful obedience before the LORD & a consultation with the people who are encouraged to trust & praise the LORD for victory, by faith, even before the battle began. This is not complacency, but rather confidence in God’s promise. The people sing & praise the LORD. The LORD set ambushes of His very own against the men invading Judah from Moab, Ammon & Mount Seir. These men are defeated. 

2 Chronicles 20:23-28.
‘The men of Ammon & Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy & annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped destroy one another. 
When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert & looked towards the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat & His men went to carry off their plunder, & they found among them a great amount of equipment & clothing & also articles of value - more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah (Beracah means praise) to this day. 
Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem & went to the temple of the LORD with harps & lutes & trumpets.’ 

COMPLETED - Even as the people of Judah give thanks to God for His enduring love, the invaders turn on one another in confusion & destroy one another. This is without any intervention from the armed forces of Judah.King Jehoshaphat arrives to find the dead bodies of his enemies, & it takes three days to carry off all the spoil. God has completed a victory without the need to be ‘helped’ by His people.

2 Chronicles 20:29-30.
‘The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard of how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.’ 

COUNTRIES - The surrounding countries are full of the fear of God when they hear this, & King Jehoshaphat has God-given peace as a result. 

2 Chronicles 20:31-34. 
‘So Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king of Judah, & he reigned in Jerusalem for twenty five years. His mother’s name was Aruba’s daughter of Shilhi. He walked in the ways of his father Asa & did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The high places, however, were not removed, & the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their fathers. 
The other events of Jehoshaphat’s reign from beginning to end, are written in the annals of Jehu son of Hannah, which are recorded in the book of the kings of Israel.’ 

CONTINUATION - For twenty-five years, Jehoshaphat reigns as king of Judah, he walks with God as his father Asa did, & seeks to do what is right in the sight of the LORD. The recurring problem of the high places for idolatry indicates that they are not completely removed & that there are some people who do not set their hearts faithfully on God alone. 

2 Chronicles 20:35-37.
‘Later, Jehoshaphat king of Judah made an alliance with Ahaziah king of Israel, who was guilty of wickedness. He agreed with him to construct a fleet of trading ships. After these were built at Ezion Geber, Ekiezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the LORD will destroy what you have made.” The ships were wrecked & were not able to set sail to trade.’ 

CO-OPERATION - Jehoshaphat had His weak spot. Just as earlier he had co-operated wrongly with King Ahab of Israel, so he makes an alliance with King Ahaziah, King of Israel, who is wicked. God causes the ships that he co-constructs with King Ahaziah to be wrecked, in accordance with the prophecy given against King Jehoshaphat by Eliezer. An otherwise good & righteous man fails by having unhelpful liaisons with the ungodly, & this resurfaces in older age. Here is a warning to established Christians! 

A sign under the clock face on the Methodist Church we used to go to in the West Midlands has these words on them :- 
“It is time to seek the LORD.” 
God showed me a picture back in 2003 of the clock reading 11.10 p.m.
Ten years later in 2013 it read 11.45 p.m.
Now in 2020, it reads 11.55 p.m. 
Time is short. Therefore, take heed. 
“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, & break up your unploughed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes & showers righteousness on you,” Hosea 10:12. 

God showed me seven lessons that we need to learn :- 
  1. “The first lesson to learn is that of humility
Humble yourself My precious child
Let pride be cast into the Refiner’s Fire
Only when pride is purified can it come forth
As gold in the form of humility.

  1. The second lesson is that of repentance
Turn your back completely on your sins, My child
Leave your sins at the foot of My Cross
Do not return to them My child but lay them down
Never to pick them up again. 

  1. The third lesson is that of cleansing
Only when you confess & repent of your sins My child can you be cleansed
What you want must die so that what I want to do for you & through you may live.

  1. The fourth lesson is holiness
When you have been cleansed the hot coal plucked from My purifying fire will touch your lips, then you will speak out words that are holy & true. 

  1. The fifth lesson is worship
When you are made holy you will be fit for My divine purposes. 
That is to worship in spirit & in truth. To worship is to serve, so by serving Me you will be taught how to serve others & put them before yourself. In this remember, though, I alone am Sovereign & worthy to be thanked, praised, worshipped, adored, honoured & glorified. I alone am Holy. 
You shall have no other gods before Me. I alone am the Sovereign LORD. 
I AM Who I AM. 

  1. The sixth lesson is suffering
You will suffer for living My way, My child, but it is the Only Way. For I am the Only Way, the Only Truth, the Only Life. You are to follow Me on the narrow way & not deviate from your course. 

  1. The seventh lesson is perseverance 
You will learn how to persevere through long-suffering &/or patience. 
This will ensure that you are prevailing in prayer, know that only the Holy Spirit can preserve you & provide you with everything you need to stand firm & fight in the Battle. Remember My child, the Battle does not belong to you. 
The Battle Belongs to the LORD!”

I Hear His Whisper ... “Let joy be your war cry.”
“I have equipped you for battle. I will stand before you, beside you, & behind you. My gift is victory today. My promise is victory tomorrow. How you rest in this promise of victory will determine your level of peace & joy, today & in the future. 
Did I not say to My disciples in the midst of their storm, ‘Be brave & don’t be afraid. I am here!’ (Matthew 14:27)? These are the same words I say to you today. Shout for joy! Shake off discouragement. Do all that I have called you to do with sacred delight, for I am blessing you beyond measure - more than a hundredfold. 
Let Your joyous laughter be heard in your home & in the midst of trials. Laugh in the face of adversity. Let joy become your war cry! Hold nothing back, for the enemy is threatened when you taste My joy & enter My gladness. Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice! Then watch what I do to change your situation. Joy will launch you into the new place I’m calling you to. Today is the day made for you, so rejoice & be filled with gladness, for I am your God!” 

‘My heart & soul explode with joy - full of glory! Even my body will rest confident & secure,’ Psalm 16:9 (TPT). 

So when we are CONFRONTED, let us remain COMPOSED, because God has CONFIRMED that you & I will be victorious. When we remember to CONSULT God we will overcome other COUNTRIES. In our CONTINUATION, we choose to wholeheartedly follow God, just as we remember also the promise God made to King Solomon back in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves, & pray & seek My face & turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven & will forgive their sin & heal their land.” We need to CO-OPERATE with God & not make alliances with the wrong people or things. 

Let us remember & put into practice the words of Isaiah 55:6-7 & also Hosea 10:12, 

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way & the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, & He will have mercy on Him, & to our God, for He will freely pardon.” 
“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, & break up your unploughed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes & showers righteousness on you.” 

“Ask & it will be given to you; seek & you will find; knock & the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; He who seeks finds; & to him who knocks, the door will be opened,” Matthew 7:7-8. 

Let us remember that God will indeed fulfil His promises to us when we diligently seek Him with the whole of our hearts. 
“Amen! 
Praise & glory & wisdom & thanks & honour & power & strength be to our God for ever & ever.
Amen!” 
(Revelation 7:12). 

                                                     Sunday 3rd May 2020


       CHRISTIAN WORSHIP CENTRE 


WELCOME EVERYONE. Today the message from God’s Word is from Joshua 6:


       TOPIC: Marching Towards Victory

TEXT: Joshua 6: verses 1-27






INTRODUCTION


                           Read Chapter 6: verses 1-5 and verse 20 (NKJV)


1 “Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out and none came in 


2 And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor


3 You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days 


4 And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.


5 It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him” ( will go straight in)”


Verse 20 “So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets.And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him and they took the city”


Context of this passage:


The children of Israel had been delivered from Egyptian bondage. Miraculously the Lord had made a way through the Red Sea  for His people .He took care of them in the wilderness feeding them with manna.

Now the children of Israel have crossed the Jordan miraculously as God  did for them at the Red Sea. It  required a step of faith then and now at Jericho they must trust God again. 


Illustration:

A  phrase we have used at some point in our lives is this -‘hit a wall’. It means coming up against an obstacle or problem that stops or impedes your progress. An example is when you are working on a project, say, to build a leisure centre, then you find out you do not have the funding to carry on with the project.You have ‘ hit a wall’


 The Israelites are on the verge of entering the promised land of Canaan. They are ready  spiritually having consecrated themselves to God through the circumcision ritual and celebrating the Passover ( Ch 5) . They have separated themselves as unto God and they are in fellowship with God ,feasting with Him and filling themselves with Jesus


The Lord tells Joshua the details of how Jericho is going to be conquered. From this page of Israel’s  history, here are three truths that can help you to  overcome and enter into God's abundant blessings for your lives


1- the people have a Problem 

2-the people follow God's Plan

3-the people Prevail



BODY


Firstly, The people have a Problem: 

( verse 1)


Jericho lies on the outer edge of the Promised Land. God’s people are ready to move into this land of abundance. The land however is occupied by enemy cities. Jericho is a key city to be conquered by the Israelites if they are to possess Canaan. 


Jericho is a fortified city with massive walls- these walls  were erected mainly as a defence against any attack. To give you an idea what the children of Israel are up against there were two walls: -the outer wall was 6 feet thick and about 20 feet high

          - the inner wall was about 12 feet thick and 30 feet high, and 

        —-between the walls was a guarded walkway about 15 feet wide

          

You have to get past these walls if you wanted to take the city of Jericho. This is a major problem for the Israelites. The first challenge  for God's people is Jericho.

 So claiming this as the Promised Land would not  come easy for them. 


Verse 1 says “The gates of Jericho were kept tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites; no one was allowed to go in or out”

So Jericho had stopped its usual activities in preparation for an attack by Israel.Even THEY were fearful, ‘their hearts sank’, because they had heard of God's mighty works, like at the Red Sea, for His people  ,as we read in Chapter 2. So the gates were securely locked making Jericho as safe as can be and difficult to penetrate ….impregnable from outside attack


Perhaps Joshua is thinking about what can he do to break through those gates and take the city.


For God's  people , this would be a first- the first city they would see that was surrounded by huge walls  of massive proportion . These walls must come down in order for the children of Israel to take hold of the place God has promised. It sounds like an impossibility seeking to conquer Jericho with such walls,, “mission impossible” as they say.



>>Undoubtedly, there are  obstacles that we have faced or  are facing either personally or otherwise. The coronavirus is not the least of them .It’s a first for us - We have not experienced anything like this before. For with the measures in place our lives have been rearranged.You feel isolated perhaps asking “what is next?” It is impeding our activities and usual ways of living and even ‘being church’


Other examples of obstacles in your way might be the struggle you have with a particular sin, financial trouble and  family/ relationships difficulty. You are wondering “how do I deal with this? 

…I can’t deal with this !!…..How can I overcome this obstacle ?”


These are obstacles to us, apparent dead-ends in the natural; to God they are opportunities for the outpouring of His power. For the power of God at work is manifested in us and through us when we have ‘hit a wall’ and cannot move forward.




This brings us to the second point:


2-The people follow God’s Plan


So while you're wondering how can this obstacle be removed, God has already made a way


Perhaps Joshua and his men of war are looking at the Jericho walls thinking “ how can these walls ever come down?”


Verse 2 shows God’s promise - The Lord gives a promise to Joshua even before they do what is required in His plan.God lets Joshua know the outcome even before they engage in battle :

“See I have delivered Jericho into your  hands along with its king and its fighting men….”


The tense used  here is past tense….the Lord has already given  Jericho to His people .It has  already happened prophetically 


Joshua is commanded to see ,understand and reflect on this truth that the Lord had already given the victory.Joshua is called to see with the eyes of faith that Jericho is destroyed .As far as God is concerned Jericho is defeated…It's a done deal !


This is a great start to God’s outlined plan for it is something we all can hold on to in difficult times


 Verses 3-5 specifically give the instructions that the children of Israel need to follow

  • march around the city once a day for six days in silence( v3,10)
  • March with the Ark of the Covenant ( v4)
  • Put seven priests in front of the Ark (v4)
  • On day 7, March around Jericho seven times (v 4)
  • Have the priests blow ram’s horns as they march(v4)
  • On the seventh time around on day 7, have the people shout (v5)
  • When the people shout, the walls will come down(v 5)
  • When the walls collapse, enter the city and conquer it ( v5)


Marching while you can't talk, blowing horns ,shouting .You might ask, ‘ is this the battle plan?’

No weapons , battering rams and  no scaling ladders- from a military standpoint it's not going to work. It is not logical.

Then for six days there is the same routine- Monday you march around the wall ,Tuesday you get up early , march around the wall…Wednesday ,Thursday the same thing…

“How much longer ?” they might be thinking


>Seems that many of us have a similar routine with the current lockdown measures. Everyday seems to be the same in one sense. Yet we are to remember His mercies are new every morning.We are to listen to what He is saying to us ,His people and lovingly obey Him


God’s plan here : It is like taking prescribed medication for an infection. The doctor prescribes antibiotics and you are to follow the instructions : take it with food , say one tablet  two times daily for seven days. And even if you are  improving you are to finish the course .The point here is that you are to follow the instructions to benefit in a therapeutic way with the plan


Well here you see that God's plan is unconventional, highly unusual .He uses different  kinds of ‘weapons’  in His plan to bring victory to His people.

  His ways are not like our ways .In Isaiah 55 v 8 the Lord declares : ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts ,Nor are your ways My ways.’ There is no plan ‘B’ .This way they can live in His land of abundance as promised


 He is bringing His people into total dependence on Him even when His plan does not appear right or rational.The Lord  tells Joshua in Chapter 5 verse 14, “I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Lord’s army”. The Lord has come to take over and lead them into victory 


As the Israelites march, God's visible presence as represented by the Ark is with them.It represents Jesus in all His fullness of life and power. So in Jesus you have all you need to have the victory by faith  over all obstacles.

 The Lord’s presence is also proclaimed by the trumpets. This is  prominently displayed and central to all that they do in pursuit of the victory over Jericho.The Lord is with them



>>  My brothers and sisters  and friends, today you are not alone in your  crisis. Whatever the obstacles ,you are not facing them alone in your own strength for the Lord is with you. 


He  is your strength and salvation.You are to  remain abiding in Him even when life does not make any sense.Draw strength from the Almighty God.Remind yourself that human strength and earthly wisdom are not going to bring victory.

We cannot improve God's  strategy, we can only follow His strategy to victory. God's wisdom and God's power will bring us victory !



So the people follow God's Plan for their Problem and now…the people Prevail

This is the third truth from this passage:


3-the people Prevail


The children of Israel follow the instructions obediently. They march around the city, they sound the trumpets and they carry the Ark of the Covenant as they march for six days. No doubt they would have to contend with the taunts and jeerings of the people in Jericho . 


Yet their faith levels are high, they trust their God as they move into day 7, compassing the city seven times. They are learning that the city cannot be conquered in their strength but by trusting in God's power. They are learning that marching means following God's lead  ,the Captain of the army. And often this implies waiting…waiting for God's timing


Now they are waiting on Joshua’s cue, ready to give a shout …a great shout! This is a shout not of fear but it is a shout of praise to their God…the Promise Keeper, the Miracle Worker ,the Victorious One !

What God, the Commander-in-Chief, is saying in effect, ‘when I say shout, I want you to open your mouth, give Me glory and you’ll  see what I do’ 


V 20 says …”when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in and they took the city” for the Lord . Hallelujah ! Hallelujah!!


When the people shouted as loud as they could, the walls of Jericho crumbled and fell before them, and the people of Israel poured into the city from every side and captured it !


Praise the mighty name of Jesus! This is what a ‘faith shout ‘ does .It causes walls to crumble,It removes obstacles. So I declare today ‘up with faith , down with walls in Jesus’ name !’


>Friends , something happens when you decide to praise God .God may not come when you want Him to but when He comes you will want Him. He is always on time !!


It may require some self - discipline on your part so that you follow His path to victory and not your own which can lead to defeat.His Spirit enables you


The God who was with them and their ancestors for forty long years proving Himself faithful over and over again ,shows up for His people ! They prevail as the walls of Jericho come crashing down.The big hindrance between them and God’s best for them is torn down!!


>The Lord’s promise is like a banner you can march under with boldness and confidence .




CONCLUSION 


Hebrews 11:30 tells us how the walls of Jericho fell. “It was faith that brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down after the people of Israel had walked around them seven days as God had commanded them”


Brothers and sisters, friends, God responds to the faith and obedience of His people .We are not to look at the wall. We are to look to the Commander-in -Chief and do what He says and stay in faith. 

Keep marching, don’t stop because you’ve hit a wall. Keep serving ,keep praying .Don’t look at the wall with questions about how it's going to be resolved.Look to Jesus ,He is the Answer!


The Lord told Joshua “see I have delivered Jericho into your hands”.Jericho is already defeated so in faith see the promise on the other side of the wall…the land of promise! God calls into being things that don't even exist yet (Rom 4:17)


God says to you today ‘I got this wall’—the wall of illness, of a broken relationship, of a disturbing doctor’s report, of some besetting sin, of fear and anxiety. 


Whatever the wall looks like ,God says “ I want you to see what I see. So build your life on the  truth of my Word and not the facts of the crisis or situation you are facing


The truth is bigger than the facts …facts will change. Jesus is the Truth and He will not change.

He is holding you faithfully in His love. ‘The  eternal God is YOUR refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27)


Faith acknowledges God's total ability to do for us what appears impossible. His means of victory involves faith which Jesus births within us and then He leads us forward into faith’s perfection 






APPLICATION 


Whatever your Jericho experience looks like today know that  your victory comes by God’s  sovereign plan of deliverance. His plan ,not yours


How can you respond to this ?


James 4:8 - Draw near to God ,let your heart move closer to God, and He will come even closer to you. If there are things that need cutting away from your heart , allow the Spirit of God to work. 


So you become more like Jesus as you grow in faith and loving obedience to Him

Spend more time with Jesus, let Him nourish your soul.Use the lockdown measures to spend  more time with your Saviour

In your time of Communion today let the Spirit refresh you as you partake of  the bread and wine -His body and His blood



Hebrews 12:2 Fix your gaze on Jesus…worship Him and declare His greatness, His awesome power and majestic beauty. He is greater than the wall or obstacle you face.Use worship as a weapon to bring the wall down in your life




Pray to end:


Father we thank You today that with You all things are possible 

There is no one like You Jesus- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders


Today , Lord  by Your mighty hand and by Your outstretched arm thank You that You are bringing  us out of crisis , You are healing those who need your healing and a miracle.You are removing obstacles and bondages that prevent us from enjoying Your best for us .


And so we praise Your great and awesome name for You always lead us in triumphant procession because we are in Christ .Amen


NOTE:This  Sunday , 3rd May we will be celebrating the Lord's Supper / Communion at 12:00noon. So please have your bread and wine ready to join "where you are, or in your homes". Let us embrace this precious time together with our Lord and Saviour,Jesus. Let Him remain Lord in our homes. Thanks.

 


   Sunday Message for 26th April 2020



God bless you all dear friends, brothers & sisters in Christ, this Sunday morning. 
Today we’ll be looking at a portion from the Sermon on the Mount :- Matthew 6:19-34.

SIMPLICITY in verses 19-23
Our attitude to wealth should be such that we are not seeking to live to gain money. Our heart is where our treasure is, & that should be in spiritual things. We also need simplicity to look at the darkness or sin inside of us & have or dealt with by Jesus - the Light of the World. 
SINGULARITY verse 24, the Christian must be single-minded in serving God & not ‘mammon.’ ‘Mammon’ stands for being dominated by money & materialistic considerations. 
In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus commands that His disciples give their full allegiance to God - “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” - rather than the accumulation of wealth - “treasures on earth.” He gives three reasons :- 
  1. Material things offer no security, since they themselves are susceptible to destruction (v.20).
  2. The quality of personal character (the heart) is determined by the object of commitment & devotion (v.21). 
  3. The attempt to divide allegiance between God & money is doomed to failure; it can only lead to self-deception (vv.22-23) & the despising of God (v.24). 

God supplies & provides for all our needs, but not things that we selfishly want. David & I (Rachel) have been so blessed by the ways in which God has provided for us since we have been here in Playa Blanca. 
Many people from the Christian Worship Centre here in Playa Blanca have helped us move furniture into the house & given us lovely things for the house. Before we are able to be move we have the current provision of staying in Mom & Dad’s villa, which is again another answer to prayer & we have financial support to keep us going too. So God is good! 
But it would be wrong to rely on material possessions. I love my keyboard, but if I love it more than Jesus then I’m wrong. I can worship God through playing my keyboard, but it’s not essential. I can worship Him with my voice wherever I am. What is vital, is to maintain my constant relationship with Jesus. The words from the following hymn sums it up better, I believe :- 

‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hands. 

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today. 

I’d rather have Jesus than man’s applause 
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
I’d rather be true to His holy Name. 

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything 
This world affords today. 

He’s fairer than lilies of fairest bloom
He’s sweeter than honey from the comb
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs
I’d rather have Jesus & let Him lead. 

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything 
This world affords today.’ 

This hymns was written by Rhea F. Miller with the tune written by George Beverley Shea. This poem, penned in 1922, was left on a piano in the Shea home by Bev. Shea who wanted her son to find it & change the direction in which his life was headed. The lyrics inspired George so much & conveyed to him about his own goals & ambitions in life. He sat at the piano & began singing them with a tune that seemed to fit the words. Shea’s mother heard him singing & requested that he sing it at Church. George’s life direction did change. He was presented a popular music career with NBC, but years later chose to work with Evangelist Billy Graham & sang this hymn around the world at Billy Graham’s crusades. 
You never know who is watching or listening to what you say & do. 
You never know how an action such as leaving some words on a piece of paper on a piano can change the course of someone’s life around & point them in the direction of Jesus. Even if you feel that what you are doing is only something small & holds little significance, see what Jesus can do with it. Many people have been led to Jesus through the preaching of the Evangelist Billy Graham & their lives have been impacted through hymns such as ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus,’ & ‘Just as I am without one plea.’ 

Give Jesus what you have & He will use it to extend His Kingdom here on earth & as an instrument to draw many more people to Himself. 
Consider the boy who had five loaves & two fish & how Jesus used it to feed 5000 men (plus women & children) & still had twelve baskets left over. 
We serve a mighty, miracle-working Saviour. Praise the Lord! 
Thank-You Jesus, that You are the same ‘yesterday, today & forever.’
You still perform signs, wonders & miracles even today. Hallelujah! 
We bless You & magnify Your holy Name! 


Jesus goes on to indicate that worry is just as destructive to the spiritual life as is greed. The disciples must not worry about the basic needs of life (v.25 & reiterated again in vv.31-32), for such worry stems from little faith (v.30). Rather the disciples recognise that the Heavenly Father is able & willing to provide for all of their needs (vv.25b-30). Indeed, as the disciples invest themselves in the work of God in the world, they will be freed from all anxiety regarding the future (vv.33-34). 

SERENITY Matthew 6:25-34
Nature tells us that God cares even for birds & flowers.
““This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing? “Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they? So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life? “ And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these!”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:25-29‬ ‭TPT‬‬

What does it mean for you & I not to be worried? 
These following two examples are NOT what it means :- 
  1. Many of us will have seen the film or even the musical ‘The Lion King.’ 
In it there are two characters Timon & Pumbaa who have a rather laid-back take on life. They sing a song called ‘Hakuna Matata.’ 

‘Hakuna Matata! 
What a wonderful phrase 
Hakuna Matata! 
Ain’t no passing craze.
It means no worries 
For the rest of your days
It’s our problem-free, philosophy 
Hakuna Matata!’ 

  1. There’s another song, that also came to my mind. This time one of Bob Marley’s ‘Don’t worry about a thing/Three Little Birds’ 

‘Don’t worry about a thing 
Cause every little thing gonna be alright 
Don’t worry about a thing 
Cause every little thing gonna be alright 

Rise up this morning, smile with the rising sun 
Three little birds pitched by my doorstep 
Singing sweet songs of melodies pure & true
This is my message to you.

Don’t worry about a thing 
Cause every little thing gonna be alright 
Don’t worry about a thing 
Cause every little thing gonna be alright.’ 

Better to remember the words of ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’ 

‘Why should I feel discouraged? 
Why should the shadows come?
And why should my heart feel lonely? 
And long for heaven & home? 
When Jesus is my portion
My constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches over me
His eye is on the sparrow 
And I know He watches me. 

And I sing because I’m happy
And I sing because I’m free
For His eye is on the sparrow 
And I know He watches me. 

“Let not your heart be troubled”
His tender word I hear
And resting on His goodness 
I lose my doubts & fears 
Though by the path He leadeth
But one step I may see
For His eye is on the sparrow 
And I know He watches me
His eye is on the sparrow 
And I know He watches me. 

Whenever I am tempted
Whenever clouds arise
When songs give way to sighing
And hope within me dies
I draw closer to Him
From care He sets me free 
For His eye is on the sparrow 
And I know He watches me
For His eye is on the sparrow 
And I know He watches me. ‘ 

Those with a special relationship with God should not worry, therefore, about provision of needs, now or in the future, but seek to please God first by seeking as a priority His kingdom & His righteousness. This is not to encourage laziness, but to highlight the need for faith & trust to be placed in Jesus. 

Corrie Ten Boom was an amazing woman of God & her quotes are inspirational. Often they would have been written during her time in the concentration camp in World War Two. 
She wrote these words, ‘Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.’ 
‘Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.’ 
‘Security is having the Word of God in your own language. Peace is having the Word of God in your heart.’
‘Nobody can take away from you those texts from the Bible which you have learned by heart.’ 
‘It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability that counts.’ 
‘When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can step inside the ability of Jesus.’ 

The proper priority 
““So then, forsake your worries! Why would you say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For that is what the unbelievers chase after. Doesn’t your heavenly Father already know the things your bodies require? “So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:31-34‬ ‭TPT‬‬

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus’ reasoning culminates in the famous directive, “But seek first His Kingdom & His righteousness.” This climactic command draws the listeners back to a key verse from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus declared in Matthew 5:20, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees & the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of heaven. The word “seek” in this context means that the disciples are to make the Kingdom of heaven the centre of their continual, daily priorities. They have already entered the Kingdom of heaven & are to live with that reality, drawing on God’s ordering of their lives. In doing so, they will “seek first His Kingdom & His righteousness.” 
While His disciples pursue God’s Kingdom & His righteousness their daily priorities & activities, they will have all of their needs met by their 
ever-caring, ever-watchful Heavenly Father - “And all these things will be given to you as well.” 

Eliminating Worry
In Matthew 6:34, Jesus returns to the specific issue - worry about God’s daily care for their needs. If God’s ordering of the disciples’ lives includes His provision for all their daily needs, “therefore” one certainly should not worry about tomorrow. Learned reliance on God’s care for present needs will cause His disciples to develop trust in Him for their future needs. The two expressions in this verse, “for tomorrow will worry about/take care of itself” & “each day has enough trouble of its own,” reiterate the same basic truth. All the worry in the world can do nothing about the cares & problems of tomorrow. As the disciples learn to let God care for them today, including their “daily bread” (6:11), they will become increasingly secure in His care for them tomorrow, regardless of whatever evil may come. 

365 times in the Bible it mentions phrases such as “Do not fear,” “Do not be anxious,” “Fear not,” “Do not worry,” “Do not be afraid,” and so on. God knows what we are like as individuals & that we are prone to these responses. Therefore, we need these reassurances from Him - 
one for every day of the year! 

I would like to share with you two Scripture examples from the Old Testament & then two Scripture examples from the New Testament :- 

‘When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul,’ Psalm 94:19.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you & help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10. 

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom,” Luke 12:32. 

‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer & petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus,’ Philippians 4:6-7. 

Two books I like reading for challenging & encouraging me are ‘Hinds Feet on High Places,’ & ‘Mountain of Spices,’ both By Hannah Hurnard. 
One of the central characters begins with the name ‘Much Afraid’ & comes from a family called the ‘Fearing clan.’ 
‘Hinds Feet on High Places’ follows her journey to the High Places & her experiences along the way. It tells of how the Shepherd (Jesus) transforms her character & name from ‘Much Afraid’ to ‘Grace & Glory.’ 
Her two companions on the journey ‘Suffering’ & ‘Sorrow’ are also transformed in the process. Their names are changed to ‘Joy’ & ‘Peace.’ 

I’m so glad that what Jesus the Good Shepherd did for these characters changing ‘Much Afraid’ into ‘Grace & Glory’ & transforming ‘Suffering’ & ‘Sorrow’ into ‘Joy’ & ‘Peace,’ He has also done for me & I believe will do for you if He hasn’t already done so! 
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Apostle Paul reminds us that, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ 

The second book/sequel ‘Mountain of Spices’ continues to describe the journey of ‘Grace & Glory’ & her two companions ‘Joy’ & ‘Peace’ by referring to the Fruit of the Spirit being outworked in their lives. It demonstrates how living the life the Shepherd, Jesus, has called them to bears much fruit. It draws members of the ‘Fearing’ clan into following the Shepherd too. 

The Shepherd changes each of the following characters & gives them new names :- 

‘Craven Fear’ becomes ‘Fearless Witness’
‘Mrs Dismal Forebodings’ becomes ‘Mrs Thanksgiving’
‘Pride’ & ‘Superiority’ become ‘Meekness’ & ‘Gentleness’
‘Self Pity’ & ‘Helpless’ into ‘Endurance’ & ‘Willingness’
‘Bitterness’ & ‘Murmuring’ into ‘Strength’ & ‘Sweet Content’
‘Timid Skulking’ nicknamed ‘Moody’ into ‘Free Indeed’
‘Umbrage’ into ‘Bearing-with-Love’ or ‘Forgiveness’ 
‘Tit-for-Tat’ into ‘Acceptance-with-Joy/Joy’ 
‘Gloomy’ & ‘Spiteful’ into ‘Praise’ & ‘Compassionate.’ 

‘It is no secret, what God can do
What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you
With arms wide open, He’ll pardon you
It is no secret, what God can do.’ 

“Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭TPT‬‬
“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
‭‭I Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. [Ps. 55:22.]”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

So rather than worry, what is the best thing for you & I to do? 
How can this be outworked in our daily lives? 
By giving the whole of our cares, anxieties, worries, concerns, once & for all to Jesus, for He cares for us affectionately & cares about us watchfully. 
Just as His eye is on the sparrow, you & I can know that He watches over us.

‘Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know, I know 
He holds the future
And life is worth the living 
Just because He lives.’ 

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Thank-You, Jesus. Hallelujah, we praise You Lord, that we can cast all our cares, anxieties, worries & concerns on You, because You care for us. 
Thank-You that You fill us with Your Peace that passes all our human understanding. 
Thank-You, God, that you haven’t given us a spirit of timidity, nor of cowardice, nor of craven fear, but You have given by Your Holy Spirit power, love, a calm & well-balanced mind which results in us being disciplined & self-controlled. 
Help us to seek You & Your Kingdom first & Your righteousness. 
Thank-You that You supply all our needs according to Your riches in Glory. 
In the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord & Saviour, we pray these things. Amen! 


Sunday 19th April 2020 





Welcome Friends of the Christian Worship Centre and Brothers and Sisters in Christ 

Welcome to the Sunday sermon 


Introduction:


I hope that you had a good Easter time ,despite the  special measures that continue due to Covid -19. For many of us the celebrations may not have been as  grand as it would have been if there was no lockdown. Yet you still engaged in a time of reflection and celebration of what God has done for us through Jesus, His Son, however different it would have been for us


Thanks for your encouraging comments to us ,Rachel and I  during these challenging times too. ‘God is good ,all the time’


>>>Illustration/ice breaker : Sequels tend to continue the story or develop the theme of a previous story.If you're into films , I am sure you can recall some films with sequels ( feel free to shout out a few now!)


Today I am sharing a message with the title Live the Life- the Resurrected Life! This is like a sequel to the recent  Easter themes .We have shared on topics like Christ our Passover, Victory in the Cross and Appearances of Jesus 


So I ask you : now that the Easter celebrations are over ,what's next? Do we wait for the next one to come around again in 2021?


Reflecting on Jesus’ death, thanking Him for the price He paid, then echoing in joyous tones, “Hallelujah, He is risen indeed!”….

Are these just religious exercises ? Are they rhythms of religious routines we follow traditionally every year? 


As a believer in Christ, this is your testimony …your life, my life  has been changed because of what we commemorate  at Easter time. God through Jesus’ finished work “has already rescued us from the devil’s dominion of darkness and has brought us into His own Kingdom, the Kingdom that belongs to the Son He loves”


Paul tells us in this passage what happens next following the transformation that Christ brings into our lives. It’s like the sequel to the event we celebrated last week.

       

                   READ PASSAGE: Colossians 3:1-4


>Paul writes to the believers at Colosse. Paul is encouraging them to stand firm in their faith in the truth, as there were some false teachers spreading heresy. As he proclaims the Lordship of Jesus Christ ,Paul counteracts these heresies. He encourages the believers during their difficult times to remain united in faith and love and to honour Jesus in all they do.


So as we look at this passage today, we begin to see in this part of Paul’s letter that he reminds the Colossians of the freedom and responsibility that result from what Jesus did. This is the start of the practical part of this letter to the Colossians.


Body:


In verse 1, Paul continues by saying : “SINCE you have been raised with Christ, you share in His risen life”.We are raised to new  life with Jesus because we died with Him. 

For when Jesus went to the cross, He took our sins and He took us too.When Jesus was buried in the tomb, we were buried with Him. And when Jesus rose from the dead, just as He said, we rose to new life too. 


We are joined to Christ in His death, burial and in His resurrection.This means that once we were dead in sin but now we are  alive in Christ by faith in Him. His resurrected life ,this new life is ours! We share in His risen life.


By using the word ‘since’ ( or ‘if’ as in the NKJV), Paul makes a declaration.This is the believer’s spiritual position in Christ .By faith you accept that you are now spiritually alive …to the the new life in Jesus. The past with it's old nature is dead -it's no more .The old ways of living are gone and in Christ Jesus new life has come.



And with that  position you now have responsibility. The apostle Paul outlines it by giving two commands

Firstly you are to set your hearts, on heavenly things as we see in the latter part of verse 1. This is where Christ is - Christ is seated in heaven at God’s right hand  ‘enthroned at the place of all power ,honour and authority.’  


Paul encourages the believers to yearn and strive for the rich treasures and joys of heaven.These are the things of eternal significance  after which you are to seek constantly. It's like a new direction you are taking  When you are doing this, you are identifying with with Christ, following Him as a true disciple into His Kingdom purposes. The fruit of this will be godly living for Christ is central to all you do and say


Secondly, as in verse 2, Paul says , “ set your minds on things above, not on earthly things”.This means that your mind should be focussed on heavenly things. There is a new perspective to your thinking, affections and   feelings.  Jesus taught His disciples  to think with faith and not just what they were seeing around them in the natural. 


Worldly thoughts restrict your heavenly view. There are lots of things that can distract us all in this life. This includes the current challenges of lockdown and the Coronavirus. While we do not ignore  everyday concerns, it is easy to set our minds on these things ,become overwhelmed and live in defeat .


How often we’ve told someone or someone told us ‘ try not to worry’ about this or that. It is because we are seeing things from our perspective, not God’s .So our circumstances get bigger and our God , seemingly becomes smaller. Somebody ,years ago said that “ worry is a misuse of the imagination”. It is never constructive and helpful


Paul encourages the believer to see things from God’s perspective. As you  do  there is a change in your behaviour as you address everyday concerns.  You are not limiting God as to what He is able to do for you and through you.Your new  focus is on what the Spirit desires and not what the old sinful nature wants


Pursuing this course means that you are living in the power of your new nature in Christ Jesus.You are living the Life as Christ-like character is being formed in you.

And because Jesus is now seated at the Father’s right hand ,He lives “continually to intercede”on our behalf.His blood keeps us in God’s mercy so we're free from judgment and condemnation 


So the responsibility you have in living this Life is for your heart and mind to be heaven -focussed 


This is the result of God placing you in His Son because your old life is dead and your new life is found IN Christ .Verse 3 says that “For you died with Christ …”——your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life. V3 continues.. “your life - your true life is now hidden away with Christ-in God!”

This means that you are safe and secure in Christ .That is where your life is in the present. And Christ is seated in heaven! What a place to be , what a position to have !! It is something  that unbelievers cannot understand. Yet it is truth that every believer needs to  embrace daily to live a holy life ,pleasing to God


This is a key truth in the relationship you have with God now: You live in God and He lives in you by His Holy Spirit ! And nothing can separate  you from this relationship. 



The Queen said in her Easter message, in part, “The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave His followers new hope and fresh purpose..”



Sisters and Brothers ,Jesus is your life now. He is the very reason for your life now. In verse 4 ,Paul says “ And when Christ WHO IS YOUR LIFE, appears,”- meaning when Jesus returns- “you will also appear with Him in glory when He comes again” .


Now that  Jesus is your life, your desire is not for this world. Your desire is for Him.This is the Christ - centred life we are all called to live. God is very much aware of the needs and circumstances ,stresses and worries of your life because of this close relationship .


He cannot be separate from your needs and circumstances….You know, like God over there and me and my problems over here and I am trying in my own  so called strength to solve my problems. What a mess I will make.!!  


Jesus is your life so He is your power source, not you, He is your strength! “ His strength is made perfect in your weakness…..The Lord says.. “ My grace is always more than enough for you and my power finds its full expression through your weakness” (2 Cor12:9) 


So when there are feelings of discouragement and defeat, remember your  position in Christ.Re-focus on Jesus for He is your life now.


Your life is totally united with Christ. So in the future when Christ is revealed in glory, you, the real you will ‘ shine with Him in all His glories’

This is your sure and certain hope


Conclusion:


 Christianity is a relationship with the living Saviour. As you live in this dynamic, growing relationship, you will realise that what is true of Jesus is also true of you. And so your life is shaped  after His kingdom principles. All that matters is that you live a life of faith that is expressed in a life of love for God and others

You are a channel of Jesus’ power , life and love and it is “ in Him you live ,move and keep on living” ( Acts 17:28)



Application:


What does it all mean for us today?


We are called to live a different, distinct life with a heavenly mindset.In Luke's sequel to his

 gospel, the Acts of the Apostles we see a snapshot of the lifestyle of the early believers



Acts 2:42-47 succinctly describes how we can live the Life  :(READ THE VERSES)


“They (the believers)faithfully devoted themselves to being taught God’s Word by the apostles and to sharing their lives with one another in love. They were also committed to the breaking of bread, recalling all that Christ had done for them, and to praying together.


V43 says, There was a sense of awe among them because of the miracles and wonderful works that God performed through the apostles. 


V44 - All the believers lived as members of one Body and shared whatever they had with one another. V45- They sold possessions and gave to everyone who was in need


V46-47 say , They continued to come together in the temple courts every day.They also met in one another's homes, sharing the Lord’s Supper and eating their meals with glad and thankful hearts. They praised God and were shown favour by everyone .And every day the Lord added to their numbers those who were being saved or “ coming to life”( as the The Passion Translation  says)


Here are four dimensions of what the Life that God intends for us to live looks like:


1- there is devotion to God’s Word ,desiring to be obedient to His Word


2- there is devotion fellowship: the believers met together. Close mutual relationships -so in good times when there is no lockdown or in hard times of  fear, anxiety ,pain and suffering we can still remain part of His kingdom community, helping and encouraging each other


3-there is devotion to the breaking of bread- the believers shared Communion / the Lord’s Supper together. “Eating with Jesus” ; this is a privilege we must embrace


4- there is devotion to prayer: in seeking the Lord’s will as they share His Life with others, encouraging believers to pray effectively 


These are some key verses that describe the lifestyle that we can emulate as we seek to live the Life , the Resurrected Life in Jesus


Amen


Prayer:

Lord we thank you for Your resurrection life and what that means for us.We have a relationship with You whereby Your power, love and life flow in and through us. By the Holy Spirit , You are making us more like Jesus so we can continue to express Your glory .


We thank You for the victory that we have in the name of Jesus. So no virus will overcome us - it will not overwhelm us for we live in Jesus ‘ resurrection life . For those who need healing in their.  bodies, in their lives, we command healing through the powerful name of Jesus 


Thank You Father, that the blood of Jesus covers us and the Holy Spirit comforts us and enables us always .For the glory of your name, let your kingdom come ,let your will be done. Amen





                               Easter Sunday / Resurrection Sunday Message by Pastor Rachel



Christ is Risen, Hallelujah! 
We celebrate today the Resurrection of Jesus our Lord & Saviour from the dead & from the grave. 

Let’s begin by looking at ‘The Appearances of Jesus’
Why did He appear? 
To confirm what God had said what would happen 
To give living proof that He had risen from the dead
To dispel doubt, so that more would believe in Him
To bring peace & joy to the hearts of His disciples 
To bring comfort & assurance to all to whom He appeared & the promise of the Holy Spirit

To whom did He appear? 
First to Mary Magdalene, probably because she needed His comfort the most (John 20:1-18 gives an account of this). 
Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb early, while it was still dark. She sees that the stone, such as would normally be placed across the entrance of the tomb to keep it safe, had been taken/rolled away. She naturally assumes that someone had violated the tomb & stolen the body of Jesus. Grave-robbing was a fairly common crime then. 
With this news, she runs off to Peter & the beloved disciple, John. The two of them run as fast as they can to the tomb, & the beloved disciple, presumably the younger man, gets there first. He bends down to gaze into the tomb from the outside & his eyes are struck by the sight of the grave clothes lying there. When Peter arrives he, as usual, is more daring & goes into the tomb. He notices the more intricate details - the different wrappings all lying neatly in place. 
Note before, Lazarus came out of the tomb with the wrappings still on him. This was resurrection of another kind, in which the form of Jesus’ body seems to have changed so that it could slip out of the grave clothes without disturbing them. No one removing the body would have left the grave clothes behind. 
The boldness of Peter encourages the beloved disciple also, so he enters the tomb & views the evidence more closely & believes what has happened. 
As the Lord had gone, there was no point in staying at the tomb as far as the men were concerned. Somehow, though, they had not communicated this to Mary. She remains weeping at the tomb as it was the place with which her Lord had last been associated, & she did not know where to look for Him. When they ask her why she is weeping she simply answered from her own human understanding. He has been moved from the tomb & she doesn’t know where He has been taken. 
Turning round she sees the risen Jesus, but doesn’t recognise Him. To His question about tears, she continues along the same lines of trying to discover where the dead Jesus is. Only the use of her name, no doubt in a familiar tone of voice, makes her realise that it is Jesus. Her apparent desire to cling to Him is forbidden. He must ascend to His Father. She must go & tell the disciples, His newly-made brothers in the Christian family, & tell them that she has seen the risen Lord. 

To His disciples (an account of this can be found in John 20:19-23). 
Jesus passes through closed doors & greets the disciples with a measure of peace, which now held a new & wonderful meaning for them. The proof that He really is Jesus has to come not only from His words, but also from His body. The marks of crucifixion are displayed to them. No wonder the disciples are filled with joy. Jesus then repeats His word of peace & commissions them for mission in His Name. He breathes on them & imparts the Holy Spirit to them. Their mission & the gift of the Holy Spirit through which alone they could accomplish it (compared with Acts 1:8) are connected with the forgiveness & retention of sins. 

To Thomas (an account of this can be found in John 20:24-31). 
For some reason, Thomas has not been present when Jesus appeared to the disciples on the evening of Easter Day. When the disciples tell him of the resurrection experience in the simplest terms ‘We have seen the Lord,’ Thomas asks for more detailed evidence by sight & touch before he will be convinced. 
A week later comes the answer for Thomas. Again Jesus passes through closed doors & once more He gives them His greeting of peace. Then He invites Thomas to view the evidence of the resurrection & put it to the test which he had wished see it with his own eyes, in order to believe. It seems that touch was not necessary, the evidence of sight was sufficient. Thomas cries out in adoration, ‘My Lord & my God!’
The Gospel has reached its climax. Jesus is concerned about those who will believe in later generations & in different places. He pronounces His last blessing upon those who have the privilege of sight, but who exercise the gift of faith. 
As the climax has been reached, John - the Evangelist - rounds off his work. He reminds his readers that the signs recorded are only a selection of all that Jesus did, & that they are selected for a purpose - to induce a faith in Jesus as Christ & Son of God which will bring life. 
‘Then by believing, you may have life through His Name,’ applies to those who believe in Jesus & continue to believe in a Him & those who will in the future come to faith & believe in Jesus. 

What is the application & significance for us today?
What were the results of His resurrection & appearing?
Death defeated - conquered by Christ 
“Now, I tell you this, my brothers and sisters, flesh and blood are not able to inherit God’s kingdom realm, and neither will that which is decaying be able to inherit what is incorruptible. Listen, and I will tell you a divine mystery: not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in an instant—in the twinkling of his eye. For when the last trumpet is sounded, the dead will come back to life. We will be indestructible and we will be transformed. For we will discard our mortal “clothes” and slip into a body that is imperishable. What is mortal now will be exchanged for immortality. And when that which is mortal puts on immortality, and what now decays is exchanged for what will never decay, then the Scripture will be fulfilled that says: Death is swallowed up by a triumphant victory! So death, tell me, where is your victory? Tell me death, where is your sting? It is sin that gives death its sting and the law that gives sin its power. But we thank God for giving us the victory as conquerors through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. So now, beloved ones, stand firm, stable, and enduring. Live your lives with an unshakable confidence. We know that we prosper and excel in every season by serving the Lord, because we are assured that our union with the Lord makes our labor productive with fruit that endures.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:50-58‬ ‭TPT‬‬
https://www.bible.com/1849/1co.15.50-58.tpt

(Read out as a poem)
Song ‘Where, O death, is your victory?
And where, O death, is your sting? 
Death has given way to victory 
It has been triumphed over 
Through Christ our Glorious King
Because of Him, the fear of death has died. 

Sing praises to Christ our Saviour
Because of Him, the fear of death has died 
He has risen and ascended into heaven
Because of Him, the fear of death has died. 

Where, O death, is your victory?
And where, O death, is your sting?
Death has given way to victory 
It has been triumphed over
Through Christ our Glorious King 
Because of Him, the fear of death has died. 

Rejoice in Christ our Redeemer
Because of Him, the fear of death has died 
At His Father’s right hand interceding 
Because of Him, the fear of death has died. 

Where, O death, is your victory?
And where, O death, is your sting? 
Death has given way to victory 
It has been triumphed over 
Through Christ our Glorious King 
Because of Him, the fear of death has died. 

Worship Christ, our Glorious King 
Because of Him, the fear of death has died 
Soon He is coming to rule and reign
Because of Him, the fear of death has died. 

Where, O death, is your victory?
And where, O death, is your sting? 
Death has given way to victory 
It has been triumphed over 
Through Christ our Glorious King 
Because of Him, the fear of death has died. 
(Words I wrote in 1993-1994 & Music 11/04/2013). 

Doubt defied - peace prevails

Devil denied the ultimate victory
“He canceled out every legal violation we had on our record and the old arrest warrant that stood to indict us. He erased it all—our sins, our stained soul—he deleted it all and they cannot be retrieved! Everything we once were in Adam has been placed onto his cross and nailed permanently there as a public display of cancellation. Then Jesus made a public spectacle of all the powers and principalities of darkness, stripping away from them every weapon and all their spiritual authority and power to accuse us. And by the power of the cross, Jesus led them around as prisoners in a procession of triumph. He was not their prisoner; they were his!”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:14-15‬ ‭TPT‬‬
https://www.bible.com/1849/col.2.14-15.tpt


In our current situation this poem I wrote on Sunday 29th March 2020 seems particularly relevant :- 

Only One Wears the Victor’s Crown! 

‘Corona’ meaning crown
Yet, there’s only One Victor
He Who bore the crown of thorns
Yes, there’s only One Victor! 

Risen, ascended, in Glory, wearing the Victor’s crown
Yes, there’s only One Victor
He’s crowned with many crowns
Oh yes, there’s only One Victor!

One Victor, Who rules & reigns
One Victor, Who triumphed over the grave
One Victor, Who breaks the captive’s chains
One Victor, Who’s coming back again! 

Jesus is the Victorious One
He is the Victor, God’s One & Only Son
Jesus is the Victorious One
He is the Victor, the Battle has already been won!

So rise up, Church, you are victorious 
Rise up & worship King Jesus - Who is Glorious
Rise up, conquerors, united in purpose, with one voice sing
Rise up, radiant, worshipping Jesus - Lord of lords & King of kings! 

As I bring this message to a close, let’s be encouraged through the following passage :- 
‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written : 
“For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, ‘ Romans 8:35-39 (NIV, 1984 Edition). 

That is the confidence that we can all have as believers, because of our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Saviour. Hallelujah, What a Saviour! 
Jesus, King of kings & Lord of lords. Amen!