September 23rd 2018: Gaius Douglas

Gaius - Sept18Hebrews 12:1-3

Throughout Jesus’ life Satan tried to thwart His plan. Jesus willingly went in obedience to His Father, ‘I have finished the work which you have given Me to do.’ (John 17:4). Isn’t that marvellous! Satan could not slay Him, death could not hold Him, Jesus is risen from the dead.

Hebrews is just like all the books in the Bible, in that we realised what a loving Saviour we have. What does it teach? Quite often we may have our own thoughts and ideas of what we want from the Bible. We don’t change our thoughts to man’s teaching, we look to the Bible. People around Jesus didn’t like the things He said. He did the things the Father told Him to do. We have to stand up for what the Bible teaches.

Hebrews 12:1 begins with ‘Therefore’ indicating something has occurred previously. In the previous chapter we read of great men and women of faith who went out saying, ‘I will go.’ Abraham went, not knowing where he was going to go. He went because God told him to go. God led him (Hebrews 11:38-40).

‘Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.’ (Hebrews 12:1). We need to be part of this verse, to bring us into a greater nearness to our Saviour. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses – brothers and sisters who have gone before, surround us, encourage us. Those who have gone before us have fought the fight and finished the fight. They saw something so great in Christ, they carried on.

We are to look ahead. It matters not what others are doing, our eyes are fixed on Christ. We are looking at the one who has gone before, who accomplished all, who came in obedience to His Father. Look unto Him, not to Him, unto Him. He humbled Himself. He says He has made it possible for us to reach the goal and we will! We will get there because it is not by our might or power, but by the Holy Spirit. Because He lives, we will live also. Let’s be encouraged. We’re going to get there. The eyes of the Father sees us perfect in Christ, one in Christ.

Let us set aside every weight. The Bible says set aside those things that will hold us back from following the Lord. Focus upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Sometimes we bring things that become a dead weight – traditions, practices, encumbrances, unprofitable conversations – which hold us back and become a drag. Even though we want to go on, we are held back. These things stop us from following Jesus. So often we miss out. What is stopping you and me, holding us back?

The Lord Jesus Christ went and sat by a well and spoke to a lady no-one else wanted to speak to because He wanted to win her for Christ. Nervousness is a weight which prevents us from speaking about Christ. So often we are not bold for Christ. Let us set aside every weight. Jesus reassures us, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy leaden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Jesus willingly laid aside every weight and He spoke for His Father, even in the most extreme circumstances, when His life was threatened.

The Bible says, ‘Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.’ (Hebrews 8:12). Sin entangles us and it ties us up in knots. Satan says ‘You can’t go.’ Sin that so easily entangles us, nags at us – Satan is a nagger. You don’t want to go or say something because you remember that sin, it nags us. The Lord Jesus Christ has forgiven us of all sin and He has chosen to forget. Every time Satan brings these things to memory, we should remember this. Do you think there is a sin in your life Jesus Hasn’t forgiven? You cannot lose your salvation. You are safe and secure because the blood of Jesus Christ saves us from all sin, ‘ But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship on with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.’ (1 John 1:7). Sin ties us down and traps us from going on. If sin holds you back, it shouldn’t. Put it behind you because He’s done it already. ‘But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:13-14).

Let us run with patience. It does not come easily. Patience takes us to the foot of the cross. We see the one who was patient in every aspect of His life, the one who went to Calvary’s cross. Time and time again they tried to stop Jesus, yet He waited patiently. Everything happens at the appointed time (John 12).

So often we want to run ahead and do everything our own way. My Saviour has all the energy, all the power, all the might, yet He waited until the appointed time. He could have just said the word but He waited (John 11). He was patient and did everything at the appointed time.

So often we says ‘Let’s go ahead and see what happens,’ and want the Lord to catch up. We strive to be in the position we want to be. We need to be patient. Sometimes we are impatient and go ahead, sometimes the Lord allows it. We then wonder why it goes wrong. ‘Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.’ (Psalm 25:4-5). Wait upon Him, learning patience. Patience marked His footsteps. He was the creator, the Word who became flesh, who went to Calvary’s cross, patiently waiting. Be patient. ‘But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.’ (James 1:4)

In the fullness of time Christ died. He will renew our strength and bring us to blessing. Let’s lay aside every weight and wait on Him. What is holding us back? What are the entanglements in our life that stop us from doing what He wants us to do. Let Him lead us into truth.

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September 16th 2018: Mike Viccary

Mike Viccary - Sept 16th 2018Revelation 1:9-20

Who is this Jesus, part 2.

Following on from last week’s sermon on the opening verses of Revelation 1, this message focuses on the voice of the Lord (verses 9-10) and the vision of the Son of Man (verses 10-16). John is on the island of Patmos because he loves Christ and has confessed Christ. He is in exile, in prison. One Sunday he was in the Spirit, putting aside the things of this world, to worship Jesus. He has focused his heart and mind. All of a sudden he heard a loud voice, like a megaphone. This is not the first time in Scripture we have the Lord speaking behind someone (Isaiah 30:19-22 – a very pregnant prophecy, Ezekiel 3:12). People are learning from teachers. As we share one another’s lives and share the scripture, we are teaching one another. One who witnesses or testifies to Christ is a martyr. Their testimony of Jesus Christ is the word of God in person. Talk to one another about it, it becomes part of who you are. John heard the loud voice of the Lord Jesus, a megaphone. Sometimes we need a megaphone because we’ve become lethargic. Hebrews 2:1. We have to find time to eat the word of God.

The loud voice here is a declaration stating truth. It is also instructive. The Bible is full of calls to wake, to stand up for your faith. The revelation came to John and then he is told to write it down for you and I, the entire church. This is God’s love letter to you. It alone is the objective truth (Revelation 1:5, Hebrews 1). Each and every one of you ought to have a personal revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s very easy to come to Bible study and say, ‘That was good.’ But we need to know Him. You may not hear a voice but have a deep conviction. John could only pass on what he received because he witnessed it (Revelation 1:2). You and I must be concerned to witness what you and I have witnessed.

2 Peter 1. God is so powerful. He gives us everything we need to live a godly life through the knowledge of His Son. When you want to seek God, get into scripture and each other. 1 Timothy 1:5. What do I need to change about the way I am living? Be ready to witness for Christ.

The vision of the Son of Man. This is Christ, the risen, conquering King. This is holiness – the whole of Him is holy. We are called to holiness. His eyes see right into our hearts. His feet are on fire, white and hot. The brass symbolises stability. It is an awesome picture of the Lord. The voice is like a trumpet, but also the sound of many waters. God’s Word may be disobeyed now but when the Lord comes we will be speechless. The seven stars are the pastors, leaders of the church. The two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) cuts right to the chase. It goes forth. Christ’s countenance, His whole being, was radiant in glorious beautiful array.

September 9th 2018: Mike Viccary

Mike Viccary -9thSept18Revelation 1:1-8: Who is this Jesus?

What does the future hold? What will happen to the world in the next decade? What new technologies will change and challenge us? Such questions are being asked continually. What does the future hold?

The Lamb that was slain is on the throne. There’s an appeal to all of us to come to Christ. We need to know Him more today than yesterday. Revelation is also a book of warning to those who choose not to love Christ.

This is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It came from the Father, about the Son. This is different to the book of Genesis. Genesis is a book of history, Revelation is a book of prophecy. It bears a close relationship with the book of Daniel. John was brought into heaven and witnessed these things. This books is a blessing to all those who read it, to those who heed this prophecy.

After the general introduction in verses 1-3 we are then given John’s greeting in verse 4. The greeting is not just from John but comes from the Trinity. How wonderful! The Trinity say to you this morning, ‘Grace, Peace.’

In verses 5-6 we hear a doxology. Every time we read the Word of God we should praise His name. Then, in verse 7 we are given a declarative warning. We look forward to the coming of Jesus Christ, but there’s a warning of judgement.

The opening is about the statement and revelation of God.

Christ Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. The Father is represented first. The seven spirits refers to perfection, completion, the action of the Spirit of God in all He does. The seven churches are representative of the churches in all the world. The order of the Trinity here is not the usual Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but Father, Holy Spirit and Son. The focus is on Jesus Christ.

In verse 5 we see three title given to Jesus Christ:
the faithful witness;
the firstborn of the dead;
the ruler over the kings of the earth.

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness. This is so comforting. We also read this in Revelation 3:14, 19:1, so it is not just a passing reference. He is the Amen. Why? He has given us this revelation. He is before all things. He alone has come from outside creation into creation and He spoke. He is the objective. He is also Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. He encompasses the entire span of history. He stood amongst the seven lampstands. He is here, at the lampstand of Penuel Baptist Chapel. He is walking amongst us. He knows our situation. He can see deep into the heart. He speaks truth. He instructed John to write down what he said so that we might benefit. When God speaks it is written down and preserved.

Christ is the only person to die voluntarily, to rise again and come back to new life in a new spiritual body. No-one has seen God at any time. When we see Jesus we see the Father – that’s how we see God. Only Jesus has seen God in all eternity.

Christ is the firstborn of the dead. He died in our place to pay for all our sins, to provide to us with the righteousness that comes by faith. He is the Lamb slain. He is the firstborn, the one who has the Father’s inheritance. He was prophesied in Psalm 89. In Colossians 1:15 we read He is the heir to all things. Will you share in His inheritance? The meek will (Matthew 19) inherit the earth, life forever (Matthew 25). We read of our inheritance in Ephesians 1:18. In 1 Peter 1:4 Peter writes we come ‘to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.’ Earthly inheritance doesn’t last but the inheritance we have will never be spoiled – and it’s eternal! We, as joint heirs, will inherit too.

He is from the dead, born into this world of dead (valley of dry bones – Ezekiel).Christ came into that and He lived amongst them. Nothing could harm Him. He had to submit to death but is risen (Revelation 1:18). He alone is the source of life, the author of creation and the new creation. Do we live to God or do we get caught up in the world?

He is the ruler over the kings of the earth. There are two kingdoms – the kingdom of this world (1 John 5:19) and then there are those of the kingdom of the ‘Son of His love.’ (Colossians 1:13) Nothing happens in this world unless God allows it. He always brings good out of things. For our comfort we need to remember He is the ruler of the kingdoms. The responsibility of believers is to demonstrate what it means to ‘Kiss the Son.’ Christ loved us, He actually washes us. As you read the Word of God, know His cleansing experience. He makes us kings and priests in the new kingdom.

In verse 8 we are given a self-revelation of Christ. There is a problem here if you are reading the NIV as there is an omission. The text is pointing us to Christ, Christ is the Alpha and Omega. Jesus is the beginning and end. Don’t worry! Before time began, after time has finished, Jesus is God. The Lord Christ is our faithful witness to salvation, to who God is, to who we are. He is the one who has told us how it is. Are we faithful? When we hear His word, do we say ‘yes?’

September 2nd 2018: Ian Middlemist

Ian Middlesmist-Aug 18Hebrews 4:1-13

What are you seeking, dreaming of? Thomas Moore had the concept of Utopia, a desire to explore the idea of a perfect society. Today, the dream still pervades. This is probably different for each one of us. Perhaps it’s memories of better times, happier days?

What is your greater Sabbath?
We are a restless people. On the seventh day God rested from His creation. Sabbath is the seventh day. God rested from all His work. What does that mean? He put His feet up because He had worked really hard? He had a snooze? Our God could have created a billion universes in one moment if He wanted. We are His interest – men and women. The Lord’s rest was not inactivity. The universe is held by His power. He’s been active ever since. God is intimately involved in creation and our lives. It’s good to rest. Creating men in the image of God was not the end of His work – His purposes were not fully achieved, there was more to be unveiled. The purpose of rest is to point us to the eternal rest. The Saviour was a shadow of the things to come, the reality is found in Christ (Colossians 2).

The promise of rest requires a response (verse 1). The promise of rest for Israel was more than entering the Promised Land. It’s a promise that still stands. Disobedience, grumbling, complaining – refers  to the knowledge God has of our hearts. God knows our heart. He knows if we are believing or unbelieving. He knows some could attend church just to prove a point, He knows if we are not going to listen. He knows some will open the Scriptures but will not listen. In the end God will expose it all.

In verse 2 we are given the reason for the Israelites’ unbelief. Even though the gospel was proclaimed, it was met with unbelief. They perished. The gospel invitation goes out though churches and ministries all the time – to receive rest in Jesus Christ. It is a command of the sovereign Lord, come to Him. Great things have been done. Jesus Christ has come, become man. His miracles proved His deity. All has been done for you to believe. Turn to Him today. Rescue has been demonstrated. Jesus really died and really rose again. He lives! Look to Him. Believe in Him.

Will you believe? The promise is there, the invitation stands. Have you repented, confessed your sins? The time for that response is now – today.

The nature of rest (verse 8). Jesus is compared with Joshua leading the Israelites into rest in the Promised Land. However, this is far inferior to the work of the Jesus. Jesus provides us with eternal rest for our soul. Psalm 95 is quoted again. God’s promised Israelites would come to a land of milk and honey, a land where they were free to worship God. Yet the people go through a time of turmoil because they were not trusting in Jesus but doing what they wanted. David wrote a warning in Psalm 95 as well as a promise – it is possible not to enter God’s rest. The Canaan rest is just a shadow of the promise to come.

The nature of the rest involves ceasing from your own work, trusting in the work that has been done. It is a rest in the Lord, He has done it all. Trust in Him. Rest in His goodness, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11.28). Ultimately, the promise is of eternal rest.

We are again and again encouraged. He will give us strength ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13). The life I live, I live by faith. Learn to function from a position of rest and truth, to avoid burnout. Utopian dreams will fail. Rather, listen to the word of God and obey. Be thankful for the Sabbath rest, remembering Jesus has done it all.