October 21st 2018: Peter Gleave

Peter Gleave-Oct182 Kings 6: 8-23:

Where are you headed this week? What difficulties lies ahead? What does the church look like? Today, the church seems to be more and more marginalised. It is becoming more under pressure. As we reach out, the more we reach out, the more the enemy will try to stop you and distract you. How will we handle it?

Elisha is an amazing character in the Old Testament, an exciting man of God. The Bible is all about Jesus, from Genesis to Revelation. We see Bible characters who are people like Jesus, a shadow of what is to come in Jesus. Elisha points the way to Jesus. There are so many similarities between Elisha and Jesus, but Jesus is greater by far. Elisha means God saves. Jesus is the Saviour who saves. Both began their ministry at the river Jordan. Elisha fed 100 men, Jesus fed 5,000. Elisha foreshadows Jesus.

In this reading we see:
God gives direction;
God gives power;
God gives victory.

God gives direction:

The King of Aram was at war with the King of Israel. The Aramean king had a powerful army. However, the king of Israel had an advantage – he had a man of God on his side, a man who knew everything the King of Aram was doing and gave the King of Israel direction from God. The King of Aram thought there was a secret agent telling the King of Israel all his plans, but he was told it was the prophet Elisha who knew everything he was doing.

As we look forward, we see Jesus gave direction to His disciples and the early church. He told them what the greatest commandments were. He also called them together and told them to go into all the world and tell. Jesus taught them our priority is to love and worship Him and to glorify Him in our lives and to tell others. He also taught them that we are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Look around at church this morning. These are your neighbours. We do God a great disservice when we show the world we don’t love each other. Sometimes, we only love people in church and not outside. They too are our neighbours. We are to tell others about Jesus. The direction for our church is to love Him, make Him our priority. This is borne out by loving each other, telling others about Him. This is what Jesus taught His disciples and us.

God gives power.

In the Old Testament Elisha and his young servant arrived in Dothan. The King of Aram told his servants to capture Elisha and his servant. All around him the young servant sees the King of Aram’s troops, horses and chariots. The enemy is all around. He cries out to Elisha, ‘What shall we do?’ Sometimes we experience that when personal problems come. When the enemy starts to attack we can feel a sense of panic. The servant had a choice – surrender or wait to be captured. Not great options! He had nowhere to turn, he felt like giving up, like the enemy was winning. Elisha’s response is, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ (II Kings 6:16). The servant was looking at the situation with human eyes. Elisha prayed for him (v17). Immediately, the servant’s eyes were opened, his spiritual eyes were opened. He can see what Elisha could see all along – all around them was the power of a heavenly host. He saw the power of the almighty God protecting him. Prayer is vital. The power of prayer brings peace.

Jesus prayed. He talked to His heavenly Father. If He did it, we too must do it. We need to soak ourselves in prayer. The power of prayer is available to you and I for all the circumstances we face. Faith begins where man’s power ends. When the difficulties come, use your spiritual eyes, fix your eyes on Jesus, not the enemy. Jesus stands with you.

God gives the victory (verses 19-20):

The enemy comes to capture Elisha and his servant. Elisha prays. Instead of asking for eyes to be opened, he now asks for eyes to be closed – the enemy’s eyes. When they were closed he then took them all the way to the stronghold city of Samaria. They were captured. The King of Israel became very excited. He didn’t know what to do with all the people who have been captured, whether to ‘strike them down’ or not. Elisha told the King that it was God who had captured the enemy, and the king should now feed and water them before sending them back home. Oh what grace! The young servant had had his spiritual eyes opened and seen the enemy captured. Victory had become a reality.

The spiritually open eyes look to Calvary – the victory has already been won. Jesus died for you and me, for all who put their trust in Jesus and confess their sins, God gives the victory. Eyes that are open to this, show us the direction we should go. The victory is won for you and me. Jesus wants us to tell everyone how He can make a difference. Share the good news. It is life-changing news for your friends and neighbours!

Our desire is to be like Jesus. Show others we love God. Summon God’s power so that eyes are opened. Serve God, the victor, in your life, the life of your church and the world. Revolutionise your community!

Advertisements

October 14th 2018: Alan Davison

Alan Davison Oct 18Joshua 7

The Bible is often described as a picture book which contains many accounts of historical narrative. But we also see these pictures as illustrations of Christian life which we can apply to our own lives today. There is a spiritual element to everything.

Here in Joshua 7 we see that sometimes the Israelites did not fully see and understand what was happening but they knew God was sovereign. The fall of Jericho came about as a result of the Israelites simply following God’s instructions. The occupation of the Promised Land now starts to be fulfilled.

Joshua dealt with difficulty. What was it? In verse 2 we read that Joshua sent out scouts to do a recce on the next target – Ai. Joshua is taking on some of Moses’ responsibilities, following what God declares he should do (Numbers 27:21). Sending out scouts was normal for an attack, so Joshua followed the normal procedure. The spies report back that 2,000 – 3,000 men would be sufficient to take the city. Joshua chose 3,000 men, but they were defeated. ‘The hearts of the people melted and became like water.’ (Joshua 7:5). This was the same phrase used by Rahab. I wonder what Rahab would have thought of this attack? Why didn’t this attack succeed? We find the answer in verse 11, ‘Israel has sinned.’ It had stolen and lied. Even if Joshua had sent the entire fighting force against Ai, they would still have been defeated (v.13).

Defeat was certain because there is sin in the camp. God had given the people strict instructions not to take anything from the fall of Jericho (Joshua 6:18) because it would be ‘accursed’. It is a corporate responsibility that runs through scripture. However, accursed items had been taken.

How does Joshua respond to it? Initially, in verse 6, he is shocked and grieved. He and the elders came before the Lord. They recognised the attack should have worked and realise failure has come from God (v.7). Joshua knows God has brought about defeat. Joshua’s concern is for the glory of God’s name (v9).

Sometimes, in our fallen world, life just hurts. We need to turn to God to heal our pain.

God tells Joshua the consequences of sin in the camp (v12). They are ‘doomed to destruction.’ His chosen people, after the glory of the victory of Jericho, are now doomed. The sin of one man now accursed Israel. It is Eden all over again. In order to be sanctified it needs the removal of the accursed thing.

What did Joshua do? He simply obeyed the Lord. God tells Joshua exactly what needs to happen. Achan had coveted what rightly belonged to the Lord, therefore, he and everything that belonged to him had to be destroyed (v25). Achan and his family were stoned and their remains burned.

Achan confessed his sin yet he was still killed. Why? It was not God’s will that Achan died. God had given a warning not to take anything from Jericho yet Achan coveted. When Achan took items, he didn’t confess until the last moment. He continued to seek to deceive, putting himself before the nation. 36 men died as a direct result of his sin. The items he stole were set aside for the Lord’s service. Even if Achan had not confessed at the last moment, his tent would have been searched and the items found. However harsh we consider this punishment (similar to Acts 5), Achan maintained his deception.

In this case Israel was in its initial stage. This sin had the potential to derail Israel. Achan had to be destroyed. Achan’s heart was selfish; he wanted riches for himself, he didn’t care for others. Where are our hearts? Achan’s heart was set on physical treasure but it should have been set on God. Our hearts should be set on heavenly treasure.

Even as Achan’s sin had severe damaging consequences for Israel, his death had consequences for Israel – the sin was removed. The Israelites are told not to be afraid – God is with them. God tells them He has given Ai into their hands (Joshua 8:1). Everyone went to war. God wanted everyone to witness it. The riches were there for all.

Difficulties will afflict us all. We need to come to God and come to Him in prayer. Often we can help the situation ourselves. Everything we do should be based on God’s Word. Prayerfully consider God’s Word. We need the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to apply it to our lives.

October 7th 2018: Ian Middlemist

Ian Middlemist -Oct18Hebrews 4:11-13

After the writer has been speaking about the fullness of God’s rest, here is an urgent plea to strive – don’t throw away the offer of God’s rest. We are to be diligent to enter God’s rest otherwise we are following the example of the disobedience and obstinacy of the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness because of their rebellion.

Now the focus is on the Word you must believe. We must now allow that Word to fall on deaf ears. The aim of this plea is to enter into God’s rest. It’s the goal of our lives. Our God is the end of the journey. To enter this rest we must believe in Jesus, we must trust in Him. To believe in God, to know what He is saying, you need to hear and read His Word. We need to be diligent. The message is given, we must believe it. Here, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, is the voice of God.

The Bible is active, living.

God’s Word is living (verse 12). He exists, He is the living God. Because He exists, His Word cannot be separated from Him, therefore His Word is living. In God’s hands, by the Spirit, it is living. It doesn’t need up-dating. It’s eternally relevant. Our job is to communicate its relevance to God’s people. In Isaiah 4 and 5 you can just see how pinpoint accurate it is to our generation. The grass grows, the flower fades but the Word of God lives forever. It imparts new life to dead sinners. Because of sin, because of mankind’s natural rebellion against one another, against God Himself, all of us enter this world dead in trespasses and sins. We’re so dead we can’t even recognise our Creator God. A dead sinner cannot bring himself or herself to life. God is pleased, by His Holy Spirit, to impart new life to dead sinners. Jesus died. Because He rose again by His own will, He brought us forth by the Way of Truth. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

New life for dead sinners:

God’s Word imparts renewed life to His saints – to renew, to revive and to sustain His people. His Word is perfect. His Word is active, it’s effectual, it does something. It changes things. It accomplishes what God intended to do. It is living. We need to seek God’s blessing, to pray that the Word of God will be active and change us.

God’s Word is sharp and piercing:

Psalm 19. We don’t know how to rationalise and distinguish our emotions. The sword of God opens us up. Once the ugly thoughts and rebellion are out in the open we need to humble our stubborn pride and let God’s Word work in us. God’s Word is so sharp it cuts deeply and precisely – not with the purpose of leaving us with scars; but to bring us to healing. Surgical incisions are made in a precise way. Sin a like a cancer growing inside us. Untreated, it will be fatal. Left too long it causes problems. Our sin must be killed. Many people criticize the Bible because it criticizes them. Pray, ‘Instil within our hearts a deep desire to hear your voice.’

The Word of God is revealing.

It reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Anger – which men keep hidden but which God knows. Morally wrong thoughts. It’s not wrong to have a critical friend. God’s Word is able to act as a critic. The work doesn’t begin with our behaviour, it’s begins within us. God’s Word is precise and timely. Pray, ‘God speak to me what I need to hear today.’

God’s Word is powerful.

By His strength we can repent. God sees everything. We cannot hide from God. We stand naked and helpless on the inside with God. He has spoken of the rest offered to God’s people. You can enter God’s rest today. The Word of God exposes your sin. It’s hard. But we have a great High Priest, Jesus. He’s there, He’s completed His work on earth. He will help you. You must come and trust in Him and He will lead you into rest. Strive to enter that rest.

Harvest Service: September 28th 2018 Steffan Jones

Steffan Jones Sept 18

Colossians 1:1-23

We take the vastness of the universe, food and all that it provided for us for granted. It is good to stop once a year and thank God for His sustaining provision of this Earth. There are all sorts of reasons to be thankful – for church and its blessings. But let us go deeper. The blessings of this earth will one day cease. We need to consider spiritual blessings.

In Colossians 1 Paul, in prison, gives thanks to God for the church in Colossae – that they love the saints (Christians) around them, they love the church. Give thanks to God for the people He has given you, the people here in Roch who still acknowledge Him as Lord and give light and hope to a dark world. Praise God there are a people here still clinging to the Word of God.

The church in Colossae loved one another. They didn’t just meet one another, they cared and supported one another in all the trials of life and rejoiced in all the blessings of life. They have all things in common. Paul gives thanks there is a church in Colossae and there is love for one another.

Give thanks for a book – the Word of Truth. Paul gives thanks the people have accepted the Word of Truth, the message of the Bible, the 66 books of the Old and New Testament. It is a book which we can all turn to, to find hope, love and forgiveness. The Word of God speaks to our souls and brings light. It makes us wise for salvation.

Paul gives thanks for a place. He gives thanks that the people realise there is a place beyond this world where God dwells – eternity, heaven. The Bible tells us of a place beyond here and now. Our world is a fallen world; there is drought, famine, poverty, death, disease, our bodies waste away, our time in this world will come to an end. We long for something greater. Paul gives thanks that the people know there is an eternity. There is judgement. They will see God face to face.

The people of Colossae have discovered a person. They have faith in Christ Jesus. Give thanks there is a Saviour. The Christians believe in the facts of Jesus’ life. It’s historically accurate, what Christians of the period believe. Jesus was born, grew up in Nazareth and was a teacher who drew crowds with remarkable things. They believe He was raised from the dead. But there is something deeper. They believe in Him and place their faith in Him, accepting spiritual and supernatural. Christ is the creator who was in the beginning, who created all, who created us. But it goes deeper. We acknowledge we need Jesus in our life. Without Him we are in a hopeless position. Christians know about Jesus Christ, they know the history, they know the creator. But there is even more; we know we are sinners who haven’t given Him the thanks that He deserves. We are sinking and need forgiveness. There is an eternal life – heaven and hell. And so we cry out ‘Help, I know who you are, you came into this world, Immanuel. Help, save me, rescue me.’

 Because we’ve asked Him to be our Saviour we know we’re going to heaven, we cherish His Word and worship Him together. Give thanks to Jesus Christ for forgiveness today and hope for tomorrow. We have so many things to give thanks for. Count your blessings. Give thanks for the church which proclaims Him, the Word of God, heaven and Christ Himself.