July 8th 2018: Dave Norbury

Dave Norbuy-July18Philippians 1:1-11

This is a significant book written to a significant church in Philippi. Paul knew this was the place God wanted him to be. He was about to plant the first church in Europe. God directed him here. This church has to grow and succeed. We are reading about our family history. This church in Philippi was set up against all the odds. Two people were converted here. Firstly, the Lord opened Lydia’s heart. It so happens that she was a business lady who had a big house which people could meet in (Acts 16). Paul is imprisoned. There again, God meets with the jailor who asks how he might be saved. He was converted.

The church at Philippi is established. From this seed, others are planted. Like every church it is fragile. Philippi was a strategically important church, light in a very dark place. Churches are strategically important. We are a vital, strategic church to our area, as Philippi was to its area. 95% of people in the UK know nothing about the gospel. Just as Philippi was fragile, so can we be too. The world, the flesh and the devil are out to destroy God’s work.

Paul is writing from Rome to Philippi. As he writes, he writes to you too. Timothy is probably doing the writing, Paul is dictating. It’s a servant leadership – just as Jesus was a servant. They are writing to all the saint in Jesus Christ, it’s a letter to the leadership and to every single person in the church. Paul wants us to see the hallmarks of Christianity – grace and peace (Philippians 1:1). Grace is kindness which we don’t deserve. We should ooze with this. We are trusted with inestimable kindness by God. We should have peace, even though we have rough edges, peace in our own hearts knowing we can trust the God we love. These are the hallmarks of God’s church. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). This is the outworking of grace and peace – the interest of others.

Paul looks back. He pours out his heart to the people he genuinely loves. He’s remembering them with great love and appreciation. He has joy when he thinks of them. He thinks of them and a smile comes to his face. Isn’t that what we, as a church, want to be? The Philippians have sent gifts to Paul and his fellows regularly. Epaphroditus risked all to reach Paul, to support and encourage him. We should be partners with others in the gospel, that’s what the Philippians were, sending support.

Paul also rejoices because God is at work in them. There is a real fellowship. Paul is speaking of a deep knowledge of God, he knows their faith is real, their lives have been turned inside out. He knew they had been born again, so he rejoices.

It’s when you go through personal challenges you grow. Be encouraged – this is when you will grow most! God will take you to a place you never wanted to go – and achieve things you could never achieve.

Paul looks up (Philippians 1:6). There’s an absolute certainty that the work God began will come to completion. He looks up and he rejoices. You and I were lost sheep, in darkness, dead in trespasses and sins. He, in His kindness, began a work in us and will bring it to completion. God works in us. He continues the work. Believe Him, trust Him. We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). This should give great encouragement. God is at work in you. Paul is delighted, we should be delighted too because of His glorious work.

Paul looks forward. What does he want for the church to succeed and grow? Love abounding more and more, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9). Biblical love is not sentimentalism – it’s anchored deeply in the love of scripture and Christ. It’s a wonderful thought that our churches should abound in love. Pray God will help you. Love abounding – with knowledge and all discernment. It’s a love that knows what’s right. Discernment – it is not blind love, it knows what is right and what is wrong. We are encouraged to know what is right and wrong and to prove the things that are excellent. There’s a testing going on. Growing in love is about maturity. We need to be blameless, our characters need to grow.
Don’t get distracted, have your integrity intact. When we make mistakes we should be the first person to say sorry. We should be humble, the first to admit we’re wrong.

We should mature and grow in Christian character, knowledge and discernment. Ask God to help you. Articulate this in your prayers. Be filled with the fruit righteousness produces. They’ll be many and varied. What joy it gives to God’s heart when fruit is produced in your life and mine. Praise God. Be a joy to others, have confidence He will complete the work He has begun, be mature, blameless, growing in maturity, full of integrity, growing in the work of the Holy Spirit.

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July 1st 2018: Pete Hilder

Pete Hilder-July18Psalm 133

This is a Song of Ascents – a song sung by people as they journeyed to Jerusalem to feast. The people enjoyed singing as they met together to worship God, just as those who go to the EMW Aber Conference or similar conferences, enjoy the fellowship. This psalm is a picture of people as they journeyed for days before they converged in Jerusalem. The church family came together; it was a time of great blessing.

This is what our daily journey is to be like. We are pilgrims heading towards the New Jerusalem, heaven. Lots of people are searching for this type of thing – they join a club with the desire to be united together. As Christians we are truly united as church family. David knew the importance of having a special relationship with his spiritual brothers. David and Jonathan had this special relationship and were united. But David made great mistakes. In David we see how good and pleasant it is when things work, but also we see trouble. This is what church life is like.

The first thing we are told in Psalm 133 is ‘Behold.’ It is an important word. We are to step back, look, take time to consider. ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’ (Psalm 133:1). ‘Good’ is a fact and ‘pleasant’ a feeling. It stirs something in your heart. It’s a fact that the church is good, but we should also feel the wonder of fellowship, the wonder of new creation, a bond in the Holy Spirit.

Sadly, it is not always the case. We lose sight of the beauty that there is to be. In the early chapters of Acts (Acts 2:42) we see a wonderful church, where they shared things and enjoyed the teaching. Again we see this in Acts 4:32. Wonderful! This is what a church is to be. Sadly, it is not always like that. In Acts 5 we read of lying over money, and in Acts 6 of favouritism. So often in the life of the church there can be division – because of money or favouritism. How well do you actually get on together?

In John 17 Jesus talks to His disciples about what is important. They were just like us – wanting the most important positions. Jesus, at the end of His ministry, highlights the importance of unity. We are to have identifying marks – our love, our unity – we are one. This expresses God’s nature, love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We’ve been drawn into the Trinity. This is God’s design. ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’ (Psalm 133:1). It is essential we are a happy family. When people see a loving church, a sacrificial church, it is noticed. This is God’s way. But it is also noticed when churches act in a hypocritical way.

In this passage we’re given two illustrations to demonstrate unity. They may seem obscure today, but they are God-given. Firstly, ‘It is like a precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments (Psalm 133:2). This illustration comes from the world of theology, referring to the anointing of the high priest. Precious oil is used, it is valuable and set apart. When did you last have an induction or a baptism? We have special times in the life of the church. This is a picture of something special in church. We focus on Jesus Christ. We see Him at work. We are encouraged. Jesus is working today, extending His kingdom. God would have what we experience on those special days to be our everyday. We need to keep focused on what we’re about – getting the gospel out in our community.

The anointing of the Holy Spirit. We want to stimulate and maintain unity. He is the one who blesses us. Jesus Christ is now our High Priest. He has our names on His heart – it overflows down His garments onto us and we are blessed when we trust in Him and He is the centre of our lives. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus if we are to enjoy the blessing of the unity of God’s people, to be His family. Ultimately, it’s only those in His family who are blessed.

The second picture we get of unity is from the physical world, ‘It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing – life for evermore.’ (Psalm 133:3). This blessing is like dew. Here we see the physical landscape of Israel. If we get up early we see there is dew, even in hot weather. There is daily dew on the ground. In this verse there are two mountains mentioned: Hermon and Zion. Hermon, in the north, has an abundance of life, it is green and flows with a river and sends out blessings.  Zion is in the south and is arid. IN the Old Testament it is where God had chosen for His name to dwell. The dew of Hermon descends on Zion. Jesus is the place of God’s blessing. He is like Mount Hermon, a place of dew, a place of blessing. God has given us life, In our arid lives, He sends the blessing down to fall on us so we are transformed from naturally being arid, lifeless and barren. We’ve been separated from God but Jesus brings the dew, the blessing.

Dew is quiet and unseen. Come to Jesus to receive life. It is wonderful. Then we can become those who disperse life to others, to dispel the oil on others. As we serve, we dispense the oil on new Christians. Be a gentle, quiet influence in the daily lives of one another. Let there be spiritual dew on people’s lives. Stir a desire in others to know more about Jesus.

Some people in church can be devisive, they don’t show love. Churches can be infiltrated by people who think they’re Christians but are not (Parable of the Sower). We need a loving influence in church.  

‘For there the Lord commanded the blessing – life for evermore.’ (Psalm 133:3). Do you believe this? Do you believe John 17? God ‘commanded.’ It is in the past tense. We are a blessed family. This comes in many ways, one us the blessing of new life. Children are born, in the church new Christians are born-again. Church should be a maternity ward – new life being born the church. It should be on-going. Is our church a place where people are converted and growing?

Enjoy ‘life for evermore,’ looking to eternal things. It’s a picture of a wonderful family. All families, apart from this family, have deaths. But to die for a Christian is different. We live for evermore – fully perfected in our spirit and body. God desires that this blessing will come down to us. We must focus on the gospel, be gentle – just like dew. Do you believe in God’s design and the importance it can have? May He help us, may He stir us.  

June 24th 2018: Dave Evans

dave evans-june18“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The Bible describes a Christian in many different ways. We are citizens of a new country, His sheep, branches of the vine. Perhaps there is no more amazing statement then to say we are a new creation. Paul is writing years after his conversion, after missionary journeys, yet he still has that sense of wonder that has happened to him and every believer. The apostle’s heart still seems to throb with wonder, surprise and the joy he experienced in Damascus, when his eyes were opened physically and spiritually. This note of surprise and wonderment spreads its way throughout the Bible (Isaiah 43:18).

There is a great promise, new things will be accomplished. The Bible speaks of a new man, a new song, a new creation, new heavens and new earth. In Revelation 21 we read of John’s great vision, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) On that final day the alterations in this universe will be beyond our imaginations. The truth is, even seeing the wonder of our universe now, will be lost in the glories of the new heavens and new earth.

There is going to be the new heavens and earth, but if we are believers, we are already God’s new creation. To be a Christian is to experience the new birth, regeneration. A Christian is not someone who has outward physical change, someone who has been air-brushed and looks better than reality. Ezekiel speaks of one heart, and a new spirit, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19).

The greatest change is the change of heart; we’re a greater wonder than ever the new heavens and earth will be. Are we believers? Have you known this alteration in your life? Old principles have been changed with new views of truth. Does God speak through the Bible to you? Your destiny is seen in a new light, a new aim of your life.

How has this change come about? “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18). All things are of God. Genesis tells us that the first creation came into being when God spoke. His divine power is the source of creation. The great tragedy is, since the Fall, all humanity is plunged into disaster. We are dead in transgression and sin. But God is still sovereign, His power is still at work. Every believer has experienced the creating power of God’s Word and grace in this life. It is God who commanded light to shine into darkness. What we could never do for ourselves, God has done (Ephesians 2).

If this is what God has done, on what basis has He done this? We are sinners by nature, hostile to God. Our sin cries out for judgement. How then can there be newness of life? God has reconciled Himself to us. The barriers that separated the sinner from a holy God have been removed.

Generally, when we speak of reconciliation, we speak of two parties coming together. Here, this reconciliation is all God’s work. Whilst we were at enmity with God, He worked reconciliation through His Son. How? By not imputing our guilt to us. That which we deserved has been imputed to another, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God has taken our sin and laid it upon the Son, and in Hs death all those who come to know Him are looked upon as having the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christ rose from the dead, we how share in that newness of life. The risen Christ sends for His Holy Spirit and breathes life into those who were dead.

The challenge is how do I know whether I am a Christian, a new creation? Paul highlights just two evidences:

  1. This change has brought about in Paul a great change of attitude (2 Corinthians 5:12). Paul is obsessed by God, “For the love of Christ compels us.” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Now he has come to true soundness of mind and understanding. He is compelled by the love Christ has for him, a love beyond explanation, to proclaim the gospel. Does your love of God compel you to share the good news?
  2. Paul is compelled to live his whole life for Christ (v.15). Paul challenges us to consider where our first priority lies. Too many people today live for things which will ultimately destroy them. What is your first priority – work, family, possessions? These are all important but if we are living for them, then there is something wrong. We are called to live for Christ. Ever seek to maintain to put Christ first. Be like Paul who lived sacrificially.

As believers we have a change of attitude to the person of Christ and others. Paul says his view of Christ has changed (v.16). There’s a change in Paul’s thinking. How do you see Christ – just as a teacher, a moral person? Or do you see Christ in an altogether different light – as a God-Man, eternal God, the only hope for lost sinners, whose unfathomable love led Him to die so you have reconciliation with God?

Has there been a change not only to how you see the Saviour but to others? How do you see people? Do you see by nationality, skin colour or gender? Paul now views people according to this new light – those in Christ or out of Christ, those who were a new creation or those who were lost.

As you go out and stand in a queue, in a crowd, people watching, do you now look at people and think, “I wonder are they Christians or lost and need the gospel?” Paul became an ambassador for Christ, his greatest desire. Is that our desire – to be ambassadors, to proclaim the gospel? If we are those who know this wonderful change, may Paul’s experience challenge us.

Community Fun Afternoon

You are warmly invited you to join our *free* Family Fun Afternoon at the chapel.

Saturday 21st July @ 2:00 p.m.

We have an afternoon packed full of exciting activities planned for all the family to enjoy:

– Bouncy Castle 🏰
– Arts and Craft activities 🎨
– Toddler and young children’s toy play area
– Free Welsh- themed refreshments ☕🍰

– Welsh Cake Bake-Off Competition. If you would like to enter our Welsh Cake Bake Off then please bring along 8 of your best Welsh cakes ready for judging by our visiting American friends from French Camp Academy One Fine Place, Mississippi.

SummerFamilyFunJuly

A warm welcome awaits! 😀 🎉⭐

June 17th 2018: Ian Middlemist

Ian Middlemist-June18Matthew 26: 36-46

We are invited to come and behold, to see the agonies of the Saviour. As Jesus walked through the city for the last time, people were busy at this festival time. Jesus came to the foot of the Mount of Olives and to Gethsemane, a large walled retreat of trees. Jesus would often come here. Judas knew it well. It was a favoured place the Son of Man came to pray, teach and sleep. As Christians we might have favourite places to visit and be refreshed, where we have spiritual memories and maybe heard the gospel in a powerful way. Here, in the Garden of Gethsemane, it may be a place we could enter into and behold the Saviour’s face at that particular time.

The shadow falls (verses 36-37). We’re all affected by suffering in different ways; not all show their pain, some wince at the smallest things. God gives strength to those in times of need. In Gethsemane Jesus left eight of the disciples waiting whilst He went further into the Garden to pray with Peter, James and John. He shares with them how He is feeling. It is important to listen to each other and hear what we are saying. Jesus is in torment. A man, who until now, is not given to such feelings. It is truly harrowing. Jesus shares His own words, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38). The dreadful sorrow and anxiety is not an expression of fear or shrinking away, rather the alienation from God in the judgement of sin. As He contemplates horror, He is sinking under the horrors of it. It brings to us almost a déjà vous of the cry of dereliction spoken on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46).

D o you take the Saviour and His sufferings seriously? Are you listening to Him even now, as He cries out? Can you hear Him praying to the Father? He has revealed His deepest emotions. He tells the disciples to wait and see. I’m inviting you to contemplate the Saviour’s deep agony. The Saviour wants to draw the disciples to the cross – that’s where we must be drawn. The shadow falls.

View the look on His face, the wonder of His love. In the Garden the Lord Jesus was beginning, in His suffering, the full extent of guilt for sin, to face the pain of sin and its consequences. We see something more of how serious sin is. At first, sin seems so attractive, so thrilling to get your own way. It promises so much. We fall for it, all that it offers. Sin leads to emptiness, loneliness. Look at the face of Jesus, see His agony. For whose sin? For our sin, our guilt. He had no guilt, He had no sin.

In the Garden of Gethsemane we see the face of Jesus and we see something has gone terribly wrong with humanity. That is sin, rebellion against God. Jesus is experiencing the pain of sin on our behalf so that He could lead us through it in His death and resurrection.

As we survey the wondrous cross we see the heart of God. How greatly He must love us that He willingly entered the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing that the cross would come. The Father sees His Son in great torment. We see the Father’s love. His Son weeps in agony in the Garden, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39). Why doesn’t God stop everything and pull Him out? The Son knew that the Father loved the Son, but He loved you and me so much He sent His Son to suffer in this way. Jesus died for us because God loves us.

As we come to communion, view, listen to the Saviour’s agonies. It is beyond comprehension, none of us can truly contemplate the sorrows the Son took on for us in the Garden of Gethsemane. It shows us the seriousness of sin. Run away from it, don’t treat it like a light thing. In the Garden we see the love of the Father and the obedience of the Son. How much He loves us!