Sunday Morning: 17th April 2016

Aaron April2016Sunday morning’s worship was led by Aaron Davies-Whitfield who preached from Philippians chapter 2 verses 12-13, which he titled “Work out what God works in.”  Aaron preached on two points:
Our Work
God’s Work

Our Work:
‘My Beloved’ shows us that Paul was preaching to people He loved. We need to be obedient to those who preach the Living Word of God. Paul knew the Philippians had obeyed. His heart goes out in this letter as he writes from prison. He says that as he was obeyed when he was with the people, it is even more important now that he is not with them, that they must obey. Acts 26: ravenous wolves will seek to destroy the work of the church.

If you want to see what someone is truly like in their work with the Lord, see what they are like on their own. As Christians we can play games with God; we see Salvation as our eternal future, future only. We forget that it is for now and we treat God and His Salvation like it’s a Sunday thing and the rest of the week it’s all about the pleasures of life. We wear Sunday Christian clothes on Sunday but worldly clothes for the rest of the week. We see church as a place where worship God and rest. We need to see Monday to Saturday as a time to work for God and see His Blessings. There is never a day when you should not be living for God.

The Philippians would have been anxious; Paul was not in their midst, they were living in a time of persecution, living in fear. But Paul has already said in chapter 1 that God will perfect His work in us. There is something we have to do – but we are not on our own. We need to act on God’s Word. We get out of this Christian walk what we put in. When God created Adam and Eve He created them to work. We need to work. The joy of our Salvation will be based on our work for the Lord, following the steps of Jesus, the Light and witness of our life. Work out your own Salvation. Paul is saying we are already possessors of this glorious Salvation, now we must work it out. We fear and tremble from a sense of awe, a sense of being moved by the fact that God wants us to work for Him. It is important we realise God has given us something to do.

God’s Work:
We can only work out what God has worked in. It is God which works in you. The Creator is at work in our life. We are on the potter’s wheel. God’s greatest work is taking place now, conforming you and me to the image of His own Son. His hands continue to work in you and me. He is moulding and shaping us to be what He has always wanted us to be, to display His Glory for all eternity. Our trials and difficulties is God at work, refining us. Our shortcomings mould us and shape us to be more like Him. His hands are upon us in love and grace. God is never going to give up on you. When God is at work, you can be sure it will be glorious. He gives us the ability, the will, to live more like Him, to live a life serving, honouring and worshipping Him. God takes pleasure in changing you and me to be a people that He wants us to be. God finds delight in your life. When all you see is failure and shortcomings God is like a potter at the wheel and knows what the finished article will be. He knew before the foundations of the world what you would be. It is awesome!

Sunday Morning – 3rd April 2016

andy-millership-3This morning’s worship was led by Andy Millership who preached from Jeremiah chapter 24.

God sends a vision to Jeremiah – a clear vision which is obvious what is going on. There are two baskets of figs, a basket of good figs and a basket of bad figs. The good figs represent those who were sent to Babylon. The bad ones were those who stayed at home. What is it that makes these baskets different from another?

The good figs are those who were sent into exile in Babylon. The hostages eventually turned back to God. They understood they had no strength in themselves, they understood the Covenant with God. God had set his heart upon His people. Just as clear as it is there was a movement towards God with the good figs, there was no change of heart in the bad figs. Zedekiah, the King, was only interested in promoting himself and living for the day. He and the people didn’t care about God and wanted nothing to do with them. They committed atrocities with in the name of false gods and prophets. Jeremiah was God’s man and had God’s Word.

Both baskets of figs were laid at the very gates of God. They were offerings. The good figs were the first fruits- the best of the harvest, only the very best for God. The people only gave their best for God. The bad figs gave no more than an afterthought to God, they kept the best for themselves and gave God the leftovers. Here we can see a clear similarity to Cain and Abel.

What basket are you? When God considers you, when He looks at you, what is it He sees? When you consider God, when you think about Him, what is it you think of? Do you think His demands of you are justified? Everything we have is already His. Do you obey Him and give Him the first fruits? Or is it once you have maximised your own pleasure, then perhaps you will nod in His direction; you will come on Sunday morning, but the rest of the week is yours? It takes a degree of uncomfortable honesty to answer that? If God is not getting enough from me, there is a question to be asked. What is it about God’s plans for you that could give you reason to abandon Him and jump into a basket of wrong figs?

Even when the people were in exile God provided for them. He would bring them home. He claims them as His own. When His Son was on the cross the earth groaned. He loves us just as much as He love His Son. He will bestow on us every blessing in the Heavenly realms.  He will do this today all because of His great love for us. Our inheritance that can never fade away is there for those who obey and follow God himself. What precisely about the here and now that is worth abandoning this for. The love of God is poured out for us, it will never end. We will one day be like Him in glory.

For the bad figs there is no future, God’s love is free. The exiles were sent away for what they have done. They had done nothing to earn God’s favour. What can we do to earn God’s favour? Nothing. He will show us mercy and grace if only we would offer Him the first fruits. He asks that we should, love, honour and obey Him today. It is not something we have to wait for. When we are called, just come to Him. Take hold of the free gift of Salvation, then His promises will be for you today and all eternity. He will make every provision for your soul. He will open the glories of Heaven for you. Take a fresh look at yourself. But more to the point, reconsider Him. Do you want God’s love for you?Everything He made He made for you. All He longs for is that you would return to Him, for He has such wonders for you if you will.

Easter Sunday: 27th March 2016

Ian Jones-March 2016Our Easter Sunday morning service was taken by Ian Jones who preached from Luke chapter 24. He began by asking us how we view the Resurrection. Is it a living hope? The Resurrection points us to Jesus’ return and we will rise again. Ian then gave an overview of the chapter showing how a person is saved. In the Resurrection account there are three stages of night turning to day:

• Darkness
• Dawn
• Day break

Darkness:
There was darkness when the women set out (John’s gospel). This is important because not only was there a physical darkness, there was a spiritual darkness too. The women may have talked about how things had happened so quickly, who would roll the stone away so they could put spices on the body? They were not the only ones in darkness. The religious leaders did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, they thought He was an imposter. They placed guards at the tomb so Jesus’ body could not be taken by the disciples. The disciples were also in darkness. On the road to Jerusalem Jesus told them He would rise on the third day, but even when the women told them Jesus’ body was gone they would not believe them. Even when He later appeared they still not initially believe – they were in darkness. Once, we were in darkness, we lived in darkness and didn’t know the truth. Many people are still like this today; they hear the Easter story but it means nothing to them. They don’t see what we see. The world loves the darkness rather than the light. We were born in darkness but we didn’t stay that way.

Dawn:
Out of darkness the light began to shine – dawn came, a wonderful part of the day. As the women approached the tomb, dawn began (Matthew). It was only when dawn came that they got to the tomb and they began to see. The stone had been rolled away, there were angels, the guards were like stone. There was a lot of emotion; fear, tears being shed. The angels tried to console and encourage the women, then they began to see what had taken place.

This happened with the disciples as they sat in the upper room and the women told them what had happened. Initially they wouldn’t believe them. Peter and John then ran to the tomb. They looked inside together. Peter saw the folded linen garments. He wondered what had taken place. The two men on the road to Emmaus had great hope that Jesus was the promised Messiah. As they returned home Jesus appeared to them and unfolded the Scriptures about Himself. They were challenged.

In the upper room, when the Lord was in the midst of the disciples, He challenged them. He helped them try to understand. We have also been in that situation. We were in the darkness ourselves, the Lord came and brought light and we were challenged by what we heard and wanted to know more. Jesus came into our lives and the true light shines. We seek Him as our lord and Saviour.

Day Break:
There comes a time when Jesus calls us out of darkness, we see the light and we embrace Jesus. We see this with Mary Magdalene; when Jesus speaks her name she recognises Jesus for who He is, the risen Saviour. When both disciples saw the empty tomb they knew of Jesus’ Resurrection. When the two men on the road to Emmaus took Jesus home and He broke bread, their eyes were opened. They returned to the disciples in the upper room because they were so full of joy, like Mary Magdalene. They wanted to share the news. Then Jesus appeared and showed Himself and they all believed. Thomas was not there and had an unwillingness to believe. But the next time the disciples met, Thomas was there and the Lord spoke specifically to him so he might believe. We have to get to the point where we see the day light, that we recognise the Resurrected Jesus. Have you come to that point of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ? He wants us to believe in Him and come to Him. Paul says we were once in darkness, not just in darkness, but darkness itself. We have come into the light, we need to stay in the light and have fellowship with one another. Live for Him and serve Him in the light.