March 15th 2020: Tom Baker

Tom Baker - March 2020-Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
    and passing over transgression
    for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
    because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
    into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
    and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
    from the days of old.

Micah 7:18-20

Micah is not a well-known book. Micah is not a well-known man. Unlike most people in the Old Testament, we are not told his family name, who his father was. He was a nobody, not from an impressive family. We are told he came from Moresheth, about 22 mile from Jerusalem. Isaiah was in the city of Jerusalem at this time. Moresheth was a small, forgotten place in the countryside, in the middle of nowhere. But Micah is not concerned with knowing who Micah is. His theme is us knowing who God is. Is this your testimony? You are not concerned with people knowing who you are but about who God is? Or are you obsessed with yourself – either being terribly arrogant or terribly despairing – thinking too much or too little of yourself? Do you know the freedom of turning away from yourself and turning to God?

Micah’s name means ‘Who is like the Lord?’ Micah starts and finishes his book with this. His name follows him and tells him who he is. Micah here is determined to preach to us God in all His glory. Who is like Him? He is speaking particularly of what he sees; God’s people have sinned in a number of ways. There is rampant idolatry, turning to lesser gods than their own. There is a particular issue with the corruption of the leaders of the nation. To make it worse, they sin in that they offer sacrifices to God without any humble repentance, just going through rituals. But Micah has also seen the greatness of God revealed in great judgement against His people. God, as He administers that judgement, feels a deep compassion. It grieves Him to see that. We see a great one who will take chaos and sin and put it all right, someone who will be a great ruler, righteous and holy. We see the great deliverer and salvation that He will provide.

Today, we still live in a messy world with messy lives, but He is still a great God and still great salvation is available in Him today. Micah saw Him and he was amazed. Are we? God is greatly to be praised. He is greatly to be feared. Some may not like this, but there is nothing more fearful than the love of God. God is to be feared because He is a God of love; you can stand on the rocks on the cliff face  at St. Davids and be fearful, yet still in awe of lies before you. God is great. We fear the sheer size of Him. There is nothing at all in existence that is greater than the love of God. When we first see the love of God our reaction is ‘Wow!’ Micah sees the great God says, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” (Micah 7:18).

He is a God who is infinite in every way: in His holiness, knowledge and power. He always has been a great God and always will be. Every great thing you have ever seen, He made it. Everything belongs to Him. He is greater than all of it put together.

Perhaps the most distinctive, amazing thing about God is He is a God of mercy, showing love to His people.

Let us explore:

  1. The mercy of God
  2. The faithfulness of God.

 

  1. The mercy of God. God sees us and our sin and still He loves us. Micah saw God’s people and their offences against God. We have offended God in many ways. Micah highlights our iniquity (our twistedness), our transgressions (our lawbreaking, doing what we known we should not do) and our sin (falling short). Because we are a sinful people, even the best we offer falls short. When see our offence, we see all this together.

Like those of Micah’s day we have turned away from God. Our great offence against God is simply we fail to acknowledge God and give Him the honour He deserves. We happily receive the things from His hand but wish He would clear off. We have failed to acknowledge God for how great He is. We attempt to solve our problems ourselves. We think more of ourselves than we ought to, thinking we do not need Him. God should be angry with us. We get angry with people who have offended us, God is angry with His people who have turned from Him. We are those people. All have sinned and are under His judgement. Micah is all the more amazed when he sees God is a God of mercy. He pardons them and removes all their guilt. It’s amazing!

Micah picks out two lovely images of how God deals with our sin, “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea,” (Micah 7:19). He treads our sin underfoot and casts it into the depths of the sea. As Jesus hung on the cross, He took all our sin. God crushed our sin. Christ was cut off and died so we wouldn’t. He took it on Himself. God stamped out all my sin. He casts our sin into the depths of the sea, He takes it all and throws it into the deepest part of the sea – all of them, so they can’t come back. All sin, even the ones you are most ashamed of and the ones you can’t even remember, are cast away, never to return.

Are you still carrying your sin or has it been laid on Jesus Christ? Do you still carry a sense of guilt and try and make it up to God? Take it all to Him. And if you’ve done that, leave it there. Christ has dealt with it. Don’t feel you need to tidy up your life first. Come to Jesus Christ in all your need, see the great mercy that He displays – most strikingly at Calvary. The first thing He says on the cross is, “Father, forgive them,” (Luke 23:34). See the mercy of God. Lay hold of the grace of God, know His love for Jesus’ sake.

  1. The faithfulness of God. Great is His faithfulness. Not only does He see His people in sin and shows them love anyway, but He stands by them anyway. He is firmly committed to them and will be with them forever. We see two things:
    (i) the temporary anger of God and
    (ii) the permanent smile and favour of God.
  • The temporary anger of God is a just anger. He is angry with sinners. Some will reject Him forever. Yet that anger can be turned away; Christ has turned it away from all those who belong to Him. He bore it. I deserved it but Christ turned it to Himself.
  • Those who trust in Jesus Christ never have to face the anger of God. Instead, the Christian knows the permanent smile and favour of God. Why? He is a God who delights in steadfast love. What makes God happy? To show eternal steadfast love to sinners. It is mind-blowing! It is Life changing! God loves you because He enjoys it. He has bound Himself to you – not because He has too, but because He wants to.

How do you imagine God looks at you – smiling or frowning? If you are in the Lord Jesus Christ you can know the smile of God, unchanging, forever. God shows that same favour towards His Son. He always has and always will. He is proud of Him. When He sees His Son it just makes Him smile. If you are in the Lord Jesus Christ that is the same for you. He is faithful.

Why does God stick with you? Because you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. How much faithfulness will He show? Even when Christ was dead and buried, He brings His Son up from the dead. There is nothing now that could take Him from us. We can never lose His favour if we belong to Jesus Christ, “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 1:6). He started loving you, He is not going to stop!

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?” (Micah 7:18-20). Then Micah ends. There is no response, just resounding silence . . . because there is no-one like Him in all the earth. What a Saviour He is. There is no-one like Jesus!

 

Coronavirus Update

PenuelCovid19

In line with government guidelines, all services and meetings at Penuel are cancelled for the moment. This decision is not done lightly as we love to gather together and encourage one another.

We do this in order to protect those who are vulnerable and limit the spread of Covid-19. The latest government guidelines ask that people (including religious groups) do not hold non-essential gatherings as much as possible, regardless of how big they may be.

This includes our Thursday Bible Study & Prayer meetings, Friday Children’s Club, Saturday Guardians of Ancora Club and both Sunday services.

As a church we really do wish to support each other and our community as best we can. If you would like to chat, a prayer or any practical help, we would be very happy to do so – please send us a message either through our website or soical media.

We do not have the facilities to live stream our services, However, the EMW has created a daily devotional which you can sign up to here: www.emw.org.uk/daily

We will put a few link to church’s who are holding online services on our facebook page at the weekend.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 4:11

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March 8th 2020: Owen Jones

Owen Jones - March 2020“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:14-17

We reach the heart of the Epistle of Romans in chapter 1, in verses 14-17. All we see here is worked out; the Lord Jesus made statements concerning coming Himself in John’s gospel, the ‘I am’ statements, His claim to deity.

When we come to the Lord Jesus Christ we see He claims to be none other than God Himself. And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” (Exodus 3:14).

We are going to look at 3 ‘I ams’ of Paul:

I am bound (verse 14)
I am so eager (verse 15)
I am not ashamed (verse 16)

I am bound:Paul is under obligation. He saw his Greek culture and philosophies. He was bound to bring the gospel to them, to tell them. He has something more to give to them then they have now. He owes it to them because God has saved him, justified him by grace. In light of this vast blessing he owes it to the Greeks and barbarians to tell them. There is a sense in which we are bound to tell others. Do we feel under any obligation as Christians to tell others, to share your testimony? Let’s be like Paul. An obligation has been laid upon us by God.

I am eager: Paul is saying there is a readiness – go anywhere, do anything. There was a yearning, a burden for Paul. He was ready but God prevented him going at that time. Paul prepared to preach the gospel to people in Rome. We see that the people he wanted to go to were God’s people in Rome (Romans 1:7). Paul wanted to go to the difficult areas.  There is no greater privilege than telling the Lord’s people, in encouraging them. Paul was eager to come to them. Christians need to be preached to evangelically; we are not past the delight to be preached to.

I am not ashamed: This is  the very heart of being, it is based in the gospel. Paul is immeasurably and unspeakably proud of the gospel. There is an ironical statement here, a litotes (an ironic understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary). The gospel is the only news that can bring the hopeless any hope at all. We see the power of God, dunamis. We get the English words dynamic and dynamite from this word. Dynamite has a dual role; it has a destructive power and a constructive power, to knock down and to build up. What needs to be destroyed in the lives of men? Every barrier raised against the gospel in your heart. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can do that, there is no other philosophy. Then, when everything is being blown down, something begins to grow. The foundation that is laid – the gospel. The Word of God, the gospel, is the power of salvation to whoever believes.

Paul saw the gospel for everyone who believes, wherever you come from, whatever age. This gospel alone will bring you to God. As for our works, achievements, trying to work for salvation, God says ‘You’re bankrupt!’ Look to Him. When Christ died upon the cross He died for the unjust. He is our righteousness. Trust Him and He will clothe you with His righteousness. Where do you stand? Do you stand in righteousness before God right now? It is a righteousness from first to last. My righteousness is God made. It is from heaven. Nothing you and I can do can make us righteousness. “Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God?” (Job 9:2) Be unspeakably proud of this gospel, bring it to men!

March 1st 2020: Gaius Douglas

Gaius-March19The Steps of a Surrendered Life

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.”

Psalm 37:23

The steps of a man are established of the lord. Seven steps are identified in studying the scriptures of the surrendered life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our thoughts are often on ourselves. We are saved by His grace yet so often we go from ourselves to compare to the Lord Jesus Christ, but we should go to the Lord Jesus Christ and see how we measure up to Him.

We see Christ, a surrendered life to the glory of His Father, always living, always abiding in the presence of His Father, God. When we are studying the Word of God, Augustine said, The Old (Testament) is in the New (Testament) revealed.” If the Bible is the only book you ever read, this is all you need to know because the Spirit of God is your teacher. You will know everything you need to know about God. How often Jesus quoted from the Old Testament.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23). Who is the man? It is not the unbeliever, it is the believer in Christ, the person who is being established in God. The world hates the believer in Christ. The world has to come to Christ. The Bible says, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world,” (John 17:14).

In everything you do, if you know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, you know God is the one who is in control, directing your ways, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps,” (Proverbs 16:9). So often we plan this and that. Afterwards we add the strap line, ‘God willing.’ Shouldn’t we have gone to God first? God allows it. There is a well-known quote, Man proposes but it is God who disposes.‘ God opens the door, but many blessing we ignore because we turn away from His path. We say no and shut the door on God. He is gracious and opens it again, but again we say no. When He opens the door are you willing to walk through it?

We are who we are because of who Jesus is. He is our example, He is the one who has gone before us, who made those first steps. Now He says, ‘Are you going to follow me?’ This man is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father sent the Son, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world,” (1 John 4:14). He was the one God used to establish His way. He delighted in His Father’s words and His Father’s ways.

“Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in His inhabited world, And my delight was with the sons of men (Proverbs 8:30-31).” Who is this man? It speaks of the man Christ Jesus, who delighted in His Father’s thoughts and actions. He was daily His delight. He rejoiced in everything the Father did and said, in every aspect. His delight is you and me, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16). The Father loves us, gives us the richness of His blessings. Whatever the Father asks Him to do He will do it (Psalm 16). Who enjoys being in the presence of God? None other than the Lord Jesus Christ. There is enjoyment, excitement. The steps of the Lord Jesus Christ followed, He sought His delight in His Father.

He is the one who spoke the world into being, He came from the Father and is one with the Father, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” (John 1:1). He dwells in the bosom of the Father. Where do you dwell? Where are you living? It’s a challenge to our heart. Where we are dwelling depends on what comes out of our mouth. Our words and actions show where we are dwelling. He was dwelling in the bosom of His Father. He lived in Nazareth, played games and enjoyed life. He associated with you and me so we can’t say ‘You don’t know what it’s like on earth’ because He came! Aged twelve, He was found in a synagogue – a child teaching and debating, doing His Father’s business, dwelling in the bosom of His Father. If the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, found it necessary to dwell in the bosom of His Father, what about you and me?

Does it mean no-one else can live this life because it is too high? Surely He allows us to slip here and there? The Lord Jesus Christ never slipped, He never allowed any latitude, “Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.  And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” (John 8:28-29). If the Lord Jesus Christ is my Saviour, my Lord, then surely He is able to bring me into the ways of Himself, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day,“ (Psalm 25:4-5). Without Him we can do nothing; we can’t walk one step which is pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Can we live this life?  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14). The Word became flesh. He identified with people. He wanted to save, to show them how to please His Father. He wants us to be able to call him, ‘My Father.’

So I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8). He came, became man, became like you and me  – apart from sin. He walked in this world and says, ‘You can do it because I did it.’

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13). God says you can do it! You can walk this life because of Jesus Christ. We can look at our failings, our weaknesses, yet ‘I can do all things through Christ. “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” (Colossians 3:3).

We can be strengthened by Him. We are learners at His feet. Jesus called Matthew, saying ”Follow Me.” Matthew got up and followed Jesus, “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him,” (Matthew 9:9). We don’t read anything about Matthew’s responsibilities, his family. He got up and followed Jesus. The fishermen left their nets and followed. Peter was married, loved his mother-in-law. He had responsibilities but he left and followed Jesus. James and John were with their father Zebedee but they left all and followed. Jesus says to you, to each of us, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19). He is not just saying, ‘Do your very best.’ He has saved you for His glory, His honour, His blessings. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3). After Jesus met the woman at the well she preached immediately. She was so full of energy!

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord,” (Psalm 37:23). The Lord Jesus Christ identified with us in coming into this world. He established steps. How can we follow? Remember where He went and how He went. As we come around the Lord’s Table, remember He came down from glory, went lower down to death. In becoming a Christian He is asking us to death. We have to die; there is death to things of the past in exchange for life in Christ. He was baptised into death. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

We are now washed, sanctified. Christ’s death on Calvary’s Cross has washed and clothed us, made us righteous, a son of God. We are sanctified, set apart, for His glory, honour and praise because Christ has done it. You have been justified. God has declared it so. We are no longer condemned. You are one in Christ. You have everything necessary to follow Him. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. It happens at re-birth, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” (Ephesians 2:1).

Jesus wants you to join Him, share in His glory, all the things the Father has given Him.

February 16th 2020: Thomas Kitchen

Thomas Kitchen - Feb 2020Luke 24:13-35

This is a great way to start a story – two people walking on a long road to home. It is a blank canvas, anything can happen. The two people are sad, distressed, confused; something terrible has happened and they are wondering how to cope and move on. Then another man enters the scene. This is what really drives the story along. But it is not just a story. It is from the Bible, the words of God on a page, 100% true. Everything is built around verse 26, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” The story is hinged around this one sentence.

We know from the start it is Jesus who joins them – the risen Jesus who has conquered death. The two people don’t know. Look at our hope as Christians, if you’re trusting in Christ today.

The two people are Cleopas and another, who is unnamed. It could be his wife or a friend. They are walking to the village of Emmaus, a little, unknown village. Still, even today, we are not sure where it is. Why is it mentioned at all? To give a real historical location – it is a real place with real people. Secondly, it is such a small, irrelevant place and this shows Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance is real. If you were trying to make up a story about Jesus risen from the dead, you’d want to do it in a place people knew to give more credibility. But no, because it is true, it actually occurred in a small, obscure village.

The two disciples were talking intensely. They were distraught, unable to process what had happened. How will Jesus’ death affect them? And someone joins them, but they do not know who it is. “But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” (Luke 24:16). They were kept from knowing who it is Jesus. This is because Jesus needed to teach them important truths about Himself before they knew who He was. As far as they were concerned, Jesus was dead. We can be disappointed with life and cry out to God, ‘Where are you? Help me make sense of all this!’ To help you know Christ more intently we face trials. We can be spiritually blinded so Christ can be known to us in a more glorious way. Part of the drama of the story is when will the two disciples discover the mystery man is their Saviour?

Jesus asks, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.” (Luke 24:17). This man had obviously overheard the two talking about Jesus yet still asks what and who they are talking about. They stood still, shocked He did not know what had happened. “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” (Luke 24:19-24).

At first glance their response seems focused; they give a true picture of who Jesus is – a good prophet who did good things, who might have done good things if He had stuck around. ‘Redeemed’ here is linked to a political leader, a victorious ruler on the earth. But that is not why Jesus came. They missed the real ‘why’ of Jesus’ coming. They are clearly very passionate about Jesus but also disappointed. The Messiah had failed in their expectations. They do love Jesus but they don’t understand what is going on. Their hopes have been quashed. Their hopes were in the wrong thing. They lapped up all of Jesus’ teaching but now He had died they have tried to transfer their hope to something else but they couldn’t. They realised Jesus was the answer, but Jesus was dead.

Jesus replies to them with a rebuke, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26). Jesus is disappointed in their understanding. He is saying, ‘You think I’ve come to save you from Rome, but I’ve come to save you from sin.’

Knowing His followers don’t understand why He came, Jesus guides them through the Old Testament. He starts with Moses and the prophets – the entirety of the whole Old Testament – making it clear why He had to die and where His death was prophesied in Scripture. He rips the curtain away to show the full reality of the Messiah coming back to life. Jesus’ main concern is to unpack His suffering, death and resurrection. Without His suffering and dying, Jesus couldn’t come back to life. If He hadn’t conquered death, sin would not have been conquered. Jesus died and powerfully came back to life again to show authority over Satan and sin, so we can trust in Him and crucify and bury our sin (1 Corinthians 15). He lives, He rules and reigns! He rules above all and every other king. Jesus teaches these two disciples the Old Testament in a New Testament era.

Like these two people on the road didn’t understand, we have masses of people who don’t understand. In Christ’s strength we now do what Christ did – open the scriptures and explain who Christ is – a Saviour to be worshipped and who will save them. Jesus begins to open their eyes that had been spiritually closed. We can know everything Jesus did; some people know the Bible far better than Christians, but they don’t know the Lord who walked the Emmaus road. Knowledge is important, to understand the gospel we have to understand it to affect us – but it must go to our hearts.

Ultimately, it is God who works in us. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts, who moves. The Holy Spirit is the comforter – the person of God working in you right now, helping you understand the things in this passage. The Holy Spirit shows us our sin, the wrong things we do each and every day. He is the one convicting you, telling you, you cannot stand before God where you are. As an unbeliever, you are spiritually dead. You need the Spirit to open scripture for you, to show the Cross and what Jesus did for you.

For Christians, believers, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are also walking the road to Emmaus. We doubt. It is easy to trust our Saviour when the sun is shining, but when storms arise you can feel lost. You can lose sight of Him, get angry with Him, wonder why He is doing what He is doing. If so, walk the Emmaus road and ask Him to open up the scriptures to you. Read Jesus’ words in scripture and hear Jesus’ voice. Pray and your relationship with Him will deepen. He has promised to be with us always. We don’t always believe that; we can sometimes think if we can’t feel His presence He is not there. But we need to trust, no matter how hard it is. He is there.

Remember those two people, nobody’s, one we literally don’t know who they were. Jesus first appeared to shepherds. He stoops and humbles Himself to know us. The one who died for us isn’t going to forget us. That is why He died for us – to know Him and love Him more and more. He is a victorious Saviour. He is our hope. We trust in a living, breathing, holy Saviour who has conquered sin and death. He will sustain us. I still sin but Christ deals with it every day. We gather here because we worship a living God. If you’re trusting in Him He is living in you, shaping you to be more like Him. It is not deserved but given to us because God loves us.

The two disciples saw Him in His glorious state at the dinner table. Do you want your eyes opened in a new way? Go home, pray, open you Bible. Trust Him. Trust He is alive and reigning in heaven. Amen.

February 9th 2020: Alan Davison

Alan Davison-Feb2020Titus 3:4-8

The doctrine of regeneration.

We glory in the fact we are redeemed, justified before God because of what Christ has done. When Christ rose, He rose to a new quality of life. He was transformed. He earned this for us too (Ephesians 2:5-6). This is what we will experience. By coming to faith we’re made spiritually dead to the world. Our spirit has been renewed (Colossians 3:1-2). We still have to deal with the same bodies, the same weaknesses and sicknesses, but we’re to seek heavenly things. The power used to raise Christ from the dead is the same power He uses to sustain us. If we try to do something in our own strength it is like going in second gear. We need to surrender to God, to truly trust in God, not our limitations (Ephesians 1:19-20).

When we fully trust in God He infuses every aspect of our lives. This starts with regeneration – it is only of God. Its impact upon our lives should be ongoing and obvious.

  • Regeneration is a work of God alone.

The life of faith is initiated by God (John 1:13). When we are born again all three persons of the Trinity are involved. It is the Father who initiated our faith (James 1:17-18, 1 Peter 1:3). The Resurrection of our Saviour is the means used to obtain our regeneration. Our rebirth is of the Spirit (John 3:8).

He has raised us spiritually from death to life, to the realities of the spiritual realm. It is mysterious to us. We don’t understand it but we still give thanks. Scripture tells us God’s ways are not our ways.

Whilst regeneration is of the Spirit, it should affect every aspect of our life (2 Corinthians 5:17). I still have the same physical body but it now serves God. God’s salvation is holistic, it saves the whole person. Our bodies are a creation of God, originally described as ‘very good.’ Regeneration – God has done it all

  • Regeneration comes before saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Once regenerated we come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God has to work that in our hearts. We know that the faith we have can ebb and flow, but regeneration is from God (John 6:44, John 6:65).

Acts 16:14 is an example of this working out. God acted on Lydia’s heart so she would respond positively to Paul’s call. But the reverse can also be true (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).

Look for evidence to see if someone is regenerated. From the moment we realise we have been saved, we have a desire to read the Scriptures, a need to pray. We seek a meaningful ongoing relationship with God. God has done this and will not revoke it. God wants us to build upon the regenerated heart He has given us.

  • Regeneration is confirmed by a changed life.

It is an ongoing process fed by sanctification. The power of sin that used to be in our lives is no longer present. While sin continues to hamper us, God’s seed is in us. We penitently confess our sins, asking God to change us – we must have God’s help to do so.

We are a daily witness as we seek to put others first, not ourselves. Not to do this is to take on the world’s attitudes. (1 John 5:3-4). God has won the victory for us. Since we are regenerated we have overcome the world in God’s strength. Regeneration will protect us from Satan (1 John 5:18). Satan will bicker at us but God won’t let him succeed, He won’t let Satan pull us out of His grasp. Satan whispers doubts in our ears, but the fact you are grieving shows God at work in your life.

Regeneration is something we can depend upon as we live our lives (Galatians 5). The fruit of the Spirit should be nurtured. It is not a check list but character traits we will see as an ongoing basis in our lives.

Jesus tells us what He expects from our lives – fruit in the people we become. He looks at what we will become, not what we’ve done.

February 2nd 2020: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards - Feb 2020Isaiah 42:5-9

There has never been a more important announcement than God sending His servant into the world to bring the benefits of His Kingdom to men. We would expect the news to be serious but to have joyful tones and to be dramatic. That is the case in these verses here. God underline the enormity of this announcement as He first addresses the servant Himself and then the people of Israel.

  1. God is identified in verse 5.
  2. God addresses the servant – verses 6-7
  3. God addresses the nation – verses 8-9

(We know God addresses the servant in verses 6-7 because the ‘you’ is singular. In verses 8-9 God addresses the nation; ‘you’ at the end of verse 9 is plural).

God’s serious intent is to bring about a remarkable change amongst men by the greatness of His love and power. There will be a distinctive intervention in the person of the servant, the Lord Jesus Christ. We trust we will be thrilled to hear the good news of what God has done for us, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. The announcement comes directly from God,

‘Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:’

    Isaiah 42:5

It emphasises the word for God, underlining He is the uncomparable one, the only true God, the one who effortlessly laid out the universe, who unfolded the whole of the universe with consummate ease and ultimate power. He is the author of all human life, the one who is to be listened to and obeyed. He is the one who we must pay the utmost attention to as He speaks. The ‘Lord speaks of His covenant faithfulness. He came for all He has created. He did not abandon the universe and men to sin. He cares and maintains all creation.

He sustains men by giving them breath. Here is the God who has created this universe and set men in it. He is committed to the welfare of it, He does not stand idly by. In love and mercy He sends His servant to be the Saviour. He does not stand aloof from His creation. He is intimately concerned for men. The Lord Jesus Christ reflects this in His life. We see God’s commanding control over nature and disease, His care for sinners.

This announcement should be accompanied by a great fanfare because it is good news. The coming of His servant, the lord Jesus Christ, proves it. The love of God is so great for the world He made, which rejected His rule, He desires the well-being of His creatures. He must condemn fallen mankind because of their sin. But He shows ‘common grace’, His goodness, to all men. His particular love towards His people is all embracing. We should be comforted to know that our Creator cares for us, even when we all others desert us.

  1. God addresses the servant. Just as God does not abandon creation, He will never abandon His servant who He sends to bring salvation,

‘I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
     to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.’

(Isaiah 42: 6-7)

He promises to accompany His servant, to take Him by the hand, to make His success certain. Consequently, the servant will be the embodiment of God’s covenant. Every commitment He has made to men will be fulfilled through His servant. Man, in his rebellion, has plunged himself into bondage and sin. God sends His servant to bring light into darkness, and freedom from their bondage. He will restore His people to true freedom. The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s light to a world wrapped in the darkness of unbelief (John 8:12). God sends Him to release men from their bondage to sin. He brings light and freedom where there is darkness and bondage.

By nature we all live in the darkness of sin (John 3:19). We have lived lives in sinful indulgence, in bondage to our sinful desires, full of darkness of godlessness. This is the terrible predicament of all who reject God. But God in His mercy has sent the Lord Jesus Christ to solve the problem. In His perfect life we see what man is supposed to be. But He is more than our example; by offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sin, He offers a relationship for us with God, which brings light into our world. He offered Himself willingly up to that cross that we might now the freedom of knowing Him. The freedom of what we are supposed to be – children of God.

  1. God turns to address the nation,

‘I am the Lord; that is my name;
    my glory I give to no other,
    nor my praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
    and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
    I tell you of them.’

Isaiah 42:-8-9

He declares that His concern is rightly for the honour of His name. Here is the God of glory, the God who is able to do all. He is a jealous of His own name. He will not share His glory with any other (idols). God tells them of a new era in which His glory will be demonstrated more fully than before. All that He has done so far will fade into comparison to the new things He will accomplish with His servant. It will eventually blossom into the new heavens and new earth (Isaiah 65:17, Revelation 21).

God is speaking here of how His past glory had been magnificently demonstrated but it is nothing of the glory to be demonstrated in the future – in the work, life, death, resurrection and return of His servant, which will lead to the new heavens and new earth. With the coming of His servant, God’s glory would shine for all to see. The glory given to God through all His other servants, through all His works, are totally eclipsed by the glory gained through His servant, the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, God’s glory is displayed to the nations. He declares, ‘Sit back and see what I’m going to do through my servant and marvel!’ (Colossians 1:19, John 1:14).

‘It Started With A Cell’

Come along to Victoria Hall to hear the first talk in a series exploring the wonders of the human body. Our speaker, Mike Viccary, is a former research scientist and science teacher. Evolution or designed by God – ask your questions!
This free event is open to all. A warm welcome awaits.

Cell Poster-Feb

January 19th 2020: Thomas Kitchen

Thomas Kitchen-Jan2020Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
    vindicated by the Spirit,
        seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
        taken up in glory.

1 Timothy 3:16

There are lots of mysteries in the world, for example the Bermuda Triangle; lots of aircraft have flown into this space only to disappear. The Antikythera was an analogue computer of 100 BC used to determine the position of the stars and planets, yet it is a mystery why it would be about another 1000 years before this technology was found and used again. Turning to this passage to day (1 Timothy 3:14-16) we are going to focus on verse 16. What is the mystery of godliness?

This is a verse short verse yet it is packed with such a lot of truth. The gospel, the good news, is explained here, and the importance of the church is explained.

“He was manifested in the flesh.” This is evidence that Jesus really is God. He didn’t start life as a man, He has always been around, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). It is wonderful to hear this gospel. This wonderful news doesn’t begin with one of us. This is someone who became flesh, this is Jesus, who created everything we see, know, hear, taste and feel.  Jesus comes into this world He created and lives among humans, the ones He created. So many have no idea He is the creator of their own soul and body. He is the one who is above all, God incarnate. We see glimpses of this across the Old Testament – with Adam and Eve. Moses, the prophets. Then Jesus comes, God in the flesh. He showed Himself to us completely. In Isaiah 40:12-15 we see humanity’s worthlessness against the King of Kings.

It is utterly astounding what Christ did for us in coming into the world. There is lots of build-up in the Old Testament, glimpses and clues, but now Jesus has come salvation is put into action, the plan worked out before time itself. Jesus – fully God, fully human.

“He was vindicated by the Spirit.” He was justified by the Spirit. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit – the third person of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This speaks of Jesus being blessed. God is pleased it is His Son carrying out this work of salvation for us. He is pleased with His Son, who is without sin, who is justified and perfect to carry out this task. It had to be Jesus, the Son of God. He was willing to do His Father’s will even though it was hard for Him. But He knew what it would accomplish – the saving of His people.

“Seen by angels.” This is an odd sentence at first glance. You would have thought it would have been seen by men and women next. But this phrase is important. It is talking about God the Father’s hand in guiding Jesus. Angels were there at His birth, ministered to Him in the wilderness, at the Garden of Gethsemane, when He rose from the dead and went back into heaven. Angels were with Him every step of the way.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world,  taken up in glory (1 Timothy 3:16).

God is there in the entire process, working in us, through us and for us.

“Proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world.” The nations refer to Gentiles and Jews. The Gentiles are everyone other than Jews. Jews considered themselves to be very different and holier than others. Jesus Himself was Jewish and was brought up with Jewish customs. This matters because Jews considered themselves to be a chosen people which brought them above and beyond other nations. But Jesus wasn’t like that, He knew that no person in the nations was holy. We are all sinful, we are all a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15). But one of the best things about the gospel is it is for all. There are certain blessings in the Old Testament for Jews, but the New Testament is opened up for all. The gospel is proclaimed to all, not just the Jews. It is an invite for all to come to Jesus Christ – and only Jesus Christ. The gospel is for all languages, all peoples, all nations and all tribes. That is how heaven is described.

God had made Jesus Christ salvation for all. This message for us is ‘Come to Jesus Christ.’ He is not just an example for us, He not only bore our sins and we start with a clean slate, He took all our sins and gave us His robe of righteousness. He takes our filthy rags and He gives us our royal robes. One day, if we are trusting in Him, we will be with Him, worshipping Him face to face. We will be perfect, with a new body, eternally with our God. What a day that will be!

“Taken up in glory.” This, of course, refers to Jesus going up into heaven. He rose from the dead, showed Himself to many people, to many witnesses, and ascended into heaven. Jesus was taken up into glory to be at the right hand of His Father where He prays for those who trust in Him. Jesus also had His trials, His difficulties. He can empathise with us. He is now praying to the Father for you. This is the glorious message which can never be destroyed. He gives you the faith you need. God does it all, He is the one who raises us from our deadness in sin, He is the one who opens our blind eyes. It is God who brings us back to life (Ephesians 2:1).

What is the mystery of godliness? Looking back to the original language, the Greek word for mystery is mystírio. This is something that is unknown unless God reveals it. What has been revealed to us? The person of the Lord Jesus Christ – who He is, what He has done on the cross. He has been revealed to us. It is unknowable unless it is revealed by God. We can know Jesus for ourselves because God has revealed this to us through His word, the Bible. Of course, there are mysteries we can’t fully understand – for example our Creator God being nailed to a cross, bleeding and dying. This is fact we can’t understand completely. We know this happened but we have to decide if we are going to submit to Him and worship Him forever.

He was raised to glory. One day He is coming again. Every knee will bow. The mystery of His glory will be revealed. Then it’s heaven or hell. Knowing about the gospel is all well and good but it has to go to our hearts. Knowledge without repentance is just a torch to light you to hell, “Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell” (Thomas Watson). If we know the gospel but do nothing about it, then all that knowledge is lighting our way to hell. There are many reasons why sinners go to hell, but there is only one reason sinners go to heaven – they have been washed by the blood of Jesus.

There are Christians who say they know everything they need to know, but we need to be reminded of the gospel every day. We need to hear God’s word, to pray and to preach to ourselves out loud, on our own, reminding ourselves what the He has done for us, what the gospel has done. Say to yourself, “He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world,  taken up in glory,” (1 Timothy 3:16). No matter what happens, that is our hope. Our identity is in Christ. If our identity is in marriage and our marriage breaks down, we lose our identity. If our identity is in our job and we lose our job, we have lost our identity. Preach to yourself and you will be encouraged and helped by the Spirit.

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day