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?’

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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.

August 26th 2018: Alun Johnson

Alun Johnson - August 18Acts 2:42-47

Acts is a roadmap of the progress of the church, it presents Christianity on the march. Do people outside our churches see us as Christians on the march, or closing ourselves away from the world around us? Perhaps it is a little uncomfortable for us – Christianity on the march suggests action, marching for Christ.

In Jesus’ eyes there is no such thing as Christians not on the march (Acts 1:8). The early chapters of Acts link to the end of the gospels, the disciples being witnesses to the ends of the earth. Yet they stayed in Jerusalem waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit. This was the key. The promised Holy Spirit came, those ordinary Galilean fishermen stand up for the cause of Christ in front of thousands of Jews to fearlessly to proclaim the gospel. As Peter stands and preaches a wonderful sermon, Christianity begins its wonderful march.

Christianity on the march stands up, has confidence in the Bible, makes much of the death, resurrection, reign and return of Jesus Christ and tells the world to repent.

What does Christianity on the march look like? What does a Spirit-filled church look like?

The early days of the Christian church were the best times. But in chapter 5 behaviour comes into church that you wouldn’t expect. These verse have much to teach us.

  • A Spirit-filled church is a church that learns (verse 42). The early Christians were devoted to the apostles’ teaching. Interesting, their 3,000 new converts had just witnessed a massive supernatural event. Yet, for them, they didn’t want more miracles, they wanted to learn, they were hungry to know more. They were hungry for instruction. Throughout the New Testament believers grow from listening and studying the Bible (2 Timothy 3:14).

The question is, what did the apostles teach and preach? 2 Timothy 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:23, 1 John 1:1. They taught and preached Jesus Christ – that’s it! The person and work of Jesus Christ as witnessed by them first hand. What about us? Are we devoted to what the apostles taught and preached? Do we spend time devoting ourselves to the Bible? Do we live by this scripture day by day? James 1:22

What is our attitude as we come to church Sunday by Sunday? Do we come with expectation, that the Word will do something in our lives? After the service, what is the nature of our conversation?

  • A Spirit-filled church is a church that loves (verse 42). We use the word ‘fellowship’ a lot. Fellowship comes from the Greek word ‘Koinonia’ which means ‘to have in common.’ What did the early believers have in common? They had God Himself (1 John 1:3, 1 Corinthians 13:14). Our church fellowship is Trinitarian, with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What gets us through the hard times is having God as our ‘koinonia.’ The early church believers also had in common what they shared as believers, what they gave as well as what they received. They shared their possessions (verse 45). As modern, Western, affluent Christians these are disturbing words. Do we literally sell all possessions and give everything to the poor, like monastic orders? The answer comes in verse 46 – we can observe that the early Christians still had homes. In verse 45 we can see they gave as they had need. Giving was occasional and met certain needs. Giving was voluntary (Acts 5). But, you can’t avoid reading verses like this and seeing there was a huge generosity among the Christians, particularly with regard to the poor and needy. They early Christians loved in deed and word. They shared and gave, shared and gave. I John 3:17. Are we generous? We have gifts from God to give away. Do we truly care for the needy in our world? James 2:14

 

  • A Spirit-filled church is a church that worships (verse 42). The early Christians were devoted to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. They were devoted to corporate worship, they were devoted to the Lord’s Supper and to the prayer meetings. They were devoted to remembering the Lord’s Supper. When we see communion laid out, what’s in our hearts? JC Ryle states, “No wonder that an ordinance was specially appointed to remind us of our Saviour’s death. It is the one thing which poor, weak, sinful man needs to be continually reminded.’ Are we glad of the opportunity to break bread together as a company of God’s people, to have a chance to be bowled over by Him?

The early Christians were also devoted to prayers, the prayer meeting. Isn’t it striking that these new believers weren’t devoted to asking for more miracles but to the prayer meetings? What is my attitude to the prayer meeting? Do we ache to be at our church’s prayer meeting? Daniel was devoted to prayer (Daniel 6:10). He prayed even when it meant the death sentence for him.

What about the style of worship? The style of worship of the early church had to be varied (verse 46). It took place daily in the temple courts as well as in spontaneous meetings. It is a good balance to have.

Observe, their worship together was both joyful and reverent. They broke bread in their homes and had glad and sincere hearts. What do you expect! They were Christians so had every reason to be joyful. They were understandably overjoyed that they were Christians, they were chuffed to bits. Are we amazed to be in this privileged position? Do we meet together in exaltation? John Stott wrote, ‘It is right in public worship to be dignified; it is unforgiveable to be dull.” The early Christians were reverent, filled with awe. They saw God’s holiness, His majesty, His otherness. Do we have that view of God? Isaiah 40.

  • A Spirit-filled church is a church that has an impact on the world around it (verse 47). The climax to this passage, which also should be the climax of our hearts too. The Lord added to the number daily. The early believers had not forgotten the world; they were witnessing. A Spirit-filled church evangelises. The book of Acts shows Christianity on the march. Even persecution doesn’t stop them from witnessing. Acts 8:4. They gossiped the gospel wherever they went. Who is bringing the people to new life? God, the head of the church. That’s why, however we feel about our own witness, we carry on witnessing because it’s out of our hands, it’s in the Lord’s. The witnessing has to be constant, daily.

Let’s pray we show more of the marks of a Spirit-filled church.

August 19th 2018: Alan Davison

Alan Davison - August 18“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:21-23

The Lordship of Christ

These are strong words from Jesus, looking at those who truly accept Him as Lord and those who don’t. Verse 21 is associated with the parable of the Way. Jesus gives a warning of a merely verbal profession of faith. He is demanding we make an absolute choice. If Christ is not your Lord, you are not saved. There’s only one way to God.

There are contrasts to be seen here. When you go to the wide gate you can carry a lot through – sin. But you need to give this up to go through the narrow gate. We must come to a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Everyone travelling along the wide path seeks their own way. Those who travel on the narrow path travel in fellowship, it has clearly defined boundaries, God’s word guiding us in how to behave. Jesus’ direction is for our own benefit. Matthew 11:29-30. He will help us.

There’s also a sharp contrast in the destination. The narrow life leads to life, the broad way leads to destruction. The problem is this grates with our culture which likes choice, it doesn’t want to be restricted.

Jesus follows up this parable by warning against false prophets. These are found by the narrow path, preventing people from taking the narrow path. They will likely affirm that they are followers of Jesus, but do not have Jesus as their Lord.

‘Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). What is holiness? J. C. Ryle states, “A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He knows his own heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation.”

Jesus considers this to be an important issue because He expands in verse 22. He says there will also be people who not only make a verbal profession of faith, but also an intellectual profession. Many even think they are Christians themselves (Simon the sorcerer, Acts 8:9-24).

We see Jesus follows this statement with the parable of the two builders. Why do so many people fill their lives with all sorts of things – possessions, careers? They realise something is missing. They look for a belief system that can accommodate the rest of their lives but Scripture tells us they will be like the foolish man who built his house on sand.

Jesus presents us with a stark choice; build on the rock, Himself, or something else. Both of these men in this parable hear Jesus. Neither is ignorant, but one has decided not to listen. There is a parallel with 2 Corinthians 5:17. To be a new creation means we start again, we are re-born spiritually. Building on a new foundation will mean change. We will have a different perspective. We will look at things in light of scripture.

Foundations are only tested when the storm comes. Both houses are subjected to the same treatment. As Christians we still have troubles but we have Jesus Christ to take us through them. To be a Christian is to acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

Jesus offers Himself. We can depend on His foundation. Every human being faces a stark choice. Jesus is the one who saves us. It will be a difficult path at time but eternity lies at the end. We don’t want an intellectual understanding. We need to out our faith into practice.

We see the crowd’s reaction in verses 28-29. There is no indication here of anyone coming to faith. These people play out the negative side of the parable Jesus has just told. In Matthew 8:1 we see Jesus had many followers. Some may have referred to Him as Lord, but this may be just verbal. His teachings elicited astonishment but they did not put it into practice. They needed to recognise Jesus was God. Even though He made it quite plain – (verse 21, ‘My Father’) – a direct claim to divinity, and again in verse 22, in Jesus’ name, and again in verse 23, He will sit in judgement in the role of God Himself – still they people denied Him as Lord.

See Jesus for who He truly is. Earnestly seek to build holy lives.

August 12th 2018: Ian Jones

Ian Jones-August 18Luke 15:11-24

The beginning of this chapter sets the scene; people gathered to listen to the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the groups who loved to gather were the publicans and sinners. The Lord Jesus spoke to them in a very special way in which they were drawn to listen to Him. Amongst them were the Pharisees and Scribes, who complained because Jesus received sinners and met with them. In response, Jesus spoke three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. In each, all have the same meaning – to rejoice when something lost is found. This is something which the Pharisees knew nothing of.

This Prodigal Son is probably the best known of all Jesus’ parables. The younger brother represents ourselves, the Father is Himself and the eldest brother the Pharisees. The younger son comes to the Father and says, ‘Give me my inheritance’ (verse 12). He has little respect for his father. He doesn’t say, ‘Please,’ or ‘May I have?’ No, he says, ‘Give me.’ Right fromstart the relationship is revealed between the young man and his father. He wants his money now. In other words, he wants he demands his independence, he wants to live his own life and not be tied down. If ever there was a boy who broke his father’s heart, it would have been this prodigal son. He is saying, ‘I don’t love you, I don’t want to be in your presence anymore.’ He wants his father dead so he can have his inheritance, an inheritance which wouldn’t usually be given until his father had died. It’s an unlikely event. The father is loving, kind and generous but the son days he doesn’t want any more to do with him.

With God, our Father, this is how everyone has reacted. We want to live our lives our own way, the way we want, not to go His way and be in His presence. It speaks volumes about ourselves. We may not be completely like him – he’s extreme – but in some way or other we’re like the prodigal son. It speaks of a time before our conversion, some of us may still have God outside our lives.

The Father responds by dividing the inheritance; one portion to the younger son and two portions to the older son. The younger son received a lot as his father was rich.  Why did the father give him what he wanted? We don’t give everything our children ask for. Why should God allow us to live our lives as we choose today, knowing the lives we would choose would not be good for us? Our lives are not ours. We’ve been created by God. The prodigal son went off and lived as he chose. But there’s a day coming when we have to appear before God.

It didn’t take long for him to pack up and leave (verse 13). He went as far away as possible. That’s what lots of people do today, they don’t want anything to do with God. Most people are in that far off country, enjoying themselves, doing as they please.

It doesn’t take long for the prodigal son to waste all, he has expensive tastes. He just thought about living it up, enjoying himself. His lifestyle was one of excess. During that time friends came and joined him. They were living away from God. Not surprisingly, he lost all. Then there was a severe famine. He began to be in want. His plans hadn’t worked out as he thought, he was now in debt. With the famine, work was hard to find. It was a bad experience. This can happen to us. Something happens, goes wrong in our lives. What are we to do?

The best thing for the prodigal son was to go home. Now all his money was gone he was on his own and had nothing. We see people today who go through all kinds of difficulties, yet they will not turn to God.

The prodigal son stuck to a person of that country (verse 15). He was a foreigner, yet he attached himself to a person who didn’t know him or care for him. Because he didn’t care for him he sent him into the fields to feed the pigs. Jesus, in telling this story to a crowd who didn’t like pigs, who didn’t eat pork, was showing them how terrible it was for this man. He was now found amongst the lowest of the low, in a job a Jew would have found to be the worst of all. The situation became far worse. The famine was so hard there was not enough for the young man to feed himself, he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pigs’ food. He wanted to get amongst the pigs and eat their food. This man had fallen so low, it couldn’t have got any worse.

The heart of this parable is verse 17, ‘He came to himself.’ It came from being in a state of need. It implies he had not been in his right mind, living in a way that wasn’t real, wasn’t reality. He awakes to his situation. He sees himself. This is the work of the Holy Spirit convincing him of his need to return home, to come back to God. He recognises how futile it is to live as he was. Friends, have you come to yourself?

God is merciful. The son rehearses what he will say when he returns to his father (verse 18). He is truly repentant. He arose the next day and went home. He put into practice what he thought.

On his way home, when he was still a great way off, his father saw him. He knew the son couldn’t make it on his own, that his lifestyle had made him weak. He needed his father. It’s a picture of Jesus seeing us when we were a long way off. Jesus died for our sins on that cross. Here is true repentance, seeing yourself as nothing, looking upon the Lord Jesus Christ as your lord and Saviour, the one who died on the cross for us.

The father saw his son and rushed out to meet him. Oh what love! Why would God want us when we’ve turned our backs on him and rebelled? God waits, looks and observes us. The moment we repent He comes to us with His open arms, ready to receive us. The son starts talking but the father spares his humiliation (verse 22). The son was raised up to be the son of the father. He was given the robe of righteousness. When we repent, He delights in us. There is great rejoicing in the child of God who returns to His Father. What joy there is in church when we see people returning to God. Do you know that joy? Have you lived that prodigal life and returned?

August 5th 2018: Ian Middlemist

Ian Middlemist-July18-Hebrews 3:7-19

In Pilgrims Progress John Bunyan names people appropriate to their character. Christian tries to persuade Obstinate that their city is about to experience the wrath of God. The answer to this is the Bible. Obstinate thinks Christian is mentally unbalanced and returns home. Obstinate is hard-hearted, a grumbler. He has a lack of faith and will refuse to turn from his ways. In the Old Testament we read of a whole generation marked by their obstinacy (Hebrews 3:16).

God’s patience with man will one day come to an end. Often, in this life God gives to man what he wants. Today we have the greatest opportunity – to turn, if we will not harden our hearts.

This letter to the Hebrews addresses the problem of apostasy. Believers are reminded of Israel’s failure in the wilderness. We must go on believing day by day, serving, living in the gospel. We must come to the cross,  rely on the cross, day by day. Are we still believing in the gospel?

What is the gospel? To believe in the gospel you believe in Jehovah alone who sent His own Son into this world. He lived a perfect life. We have not lived a perfect life. We have fallen far short of the glory of God. But Jesus died once for all our sins – sins past, present and future – sins are forgiven. We are joined to Him by the powerful working of the Holy Spirit. We would be lost without Him, but Jesus has personally joined Himself to us therefore we must look to Him.

We’ve gone wrong – messed up. But now, because we’re in Christ, we’re where we ought to be – living in Christ. When you’re in Christ, you’re the person you’re meant to be. We must live in Him, joined to Him in faith. That’s how we experience dynamic growth.

In Hebrews 3 we see the reflective working of Psalm 95. This psalm was regularly preached each Sabbath day in the early church. The Sabbath is the day of rest, a day of resting in the Lord, trusting in Him to do it all for you. This Psalm is a reference to those unhappy events of Exodus 17 and Numbers 20. The people forgot their previous deliverance and complained about present difficulties. God was deeply grieved by His people’s doubts and loyalties, so they did not experience the Promised Land. It is a warning. Do not harden your hearts and fail to look to Jesus Christ so that you can enter into rest. Don’t let troubles of this world divert you away from the gospel. Turn afresh to Him now before it’s too late.

There’s a great opportunity. There is a contrast with Moses and Jesus (Hebrews 3:1-6), followed by another contrast, this time between Moses and the Israelites (Hebrews 3:7). The Israelites were not faithful, they wanted things their own way. They had been set free from the bond of the Egyptians, yet this was not their greatest opportunity. They entered the Promised Land – still this was not their greatest opportunity. There is a rest that is coming that is better – rest in Jesus Christ. You can enter God’s rest today. Now!

Opportunities in this life are here just for the moment. Too often we miss out because we are waiting for them to fall into our life whilst they are tapping on our shoulder. Respond to the call to turn and trust in Jesus Christ. The Israelites thought life would have been better in Egypt, but they were living in a fantasy world, not reality. There is nothing better than Jesus Christ. Respond today. Turn to Him today. True rest will be yours.

How do we turn? Hear, believe, obey and share the Word of God.

Hear. Psalm 95 is quoted three times; ‘hear’ the Word. Don’t listen to this world, to sin. Tune into the sounds of heaven. Daily we need to hear the Bible. We need to be people of the Word. We need to spend time daily hearing heaven. Pay less attention to the sounds of this world.

Believe. The person who listens to this world will certainly fall away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). Believe in what Christ has done.

Obey. Act upon the Word immediately, not tomorrow. We’re under grace, we must obey.

Share the Word. Daily, we need to follow the Lord, exhort one another. It’s a daily exercise. In the New Testament there is nothing of Sunday, only Christianity. Here is a picture of daily exhorting – through visits, meeting up, phone calls, texts, letters, offering practical help. This is to be done daily, urging one another not to be distracted by sin. We think people are OK because they are sitting in the pew. The world is powerful, be aware of the seriousness of sin. Daily encourage and exhort one another. Let’s learn from the Hebrews of old and not harden our hearts. We must turn to Jesus Christ. Let’s encourage one another to turn away from this world and focus on Jesus Christ.

Anniversary Service: 4th August 2018: Adrian Brake

Adrian Brake-August 181 Peter 2:4-12

This passage of scripture enables us to stand back and take stock, to ask two important questions:
Who are we?
What are we here for?

What is our identity as a congregation? What is our purpose? The apostle Peter tells us, if we’re the Lord’s people, who we are and what we are here for.

Who are we?
We are the people of God. Peter’s emphasis, in verse 10, is that this hasn’t always been the case. We were fallen, unredeemed men and women, a hotch-potch of individuals. By nature, we are almost completely individualistic in our thinking. We made ourselves the centre of everything, promoting our own causes. Few of us will help others unless there is something in it for us.

Through the gospel, God replaces individualistic identity with a corporate one. He unites people to one another, making a people, making a nation, making a church. The grace of God builds relationships. We are part of a community, part of a church. This community the Spirit creates through the gospel. We all have the same experience. We all live to glorify the God who has rescued us.

We are children, citizens, stones, sheep in the same flock. We are a people united in Christ, looking to serve, to minister one another, displaying the Spirit of Christ. Through the express will and purpose of God, we at Penuel are a local expression of Christ, bound together, serving one another. Do you see yourselves bound as a people in love? Do we have fellowship together, sharing in common the Christian faith? We are planted here with an opportunity to show people something different. In the church there is love, there is care. The relationship we have with one another can act as a powerful evangelistic tool – grace, forgiveness, love. May we serve one another. We are a people, a community placed together by God. We have a corporate identity, a corporate life.

Peter says we are the people of God. We belong to one another because we belong to God. We are God’s own special people. We are His and His alone. He owns us exclusively. We once belonged to Satan, but now to Jesus Christ. He will never abandon us. We are delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of love. His forever!

Unbelievers long to know they belong. We are all made for relationships. Our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, the creator and sustainer of everything. By belonging to Him, we belong to one another.

God rejoices over us, His face is towards us, He holds us in His hands. We are the apple of His eye. His ear is always open to our cry. We are unspeakably precious, His jewels. He stores our tears in a bottle. Our suffering moves Him. He dries our eyes and stores our tears. How much are we worth? The blood of His precious Son. How valuable, how precious we are to our Father. The apostle John says, “God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-11).

When Satan comes to you, you suffer. Go to the cross. God loves you enough to send His Son to take your guilt. The Bible tells us Jesus went to the cross out of love for us. Do you know we are part of Jesus’ reward for enduring the cross? We have been given to Him, we are His people. We are the Father’s love gift to His Son. Paul speaks of the glorious riches – we are Jesus’ inheritance. Jesus regards us as a gloriously rich inheritance.

We are a people drawn together, united to Jesus, bought by Him, belonging to Him. Because we belong to Him, He has a responsibility to care, to provide and to protect us. When He bought us He committed Himself to look after us and provide for us in every way. We are His people, nobody else’s. We are to be loyal, obey Him and walk in His ways.

We are a ‘holy’ nation (verse 9), set apart, consecrated. To love the world, to obey the world, is to commit adultery to our God. It’s a challenge. Are we a holy people, dedicated to God, devoted to Him? Can people see who’s we are? Is it clear in our community that we are God’s people? The church in our land is often losing its distinctiveness. May we be a people totally devoted to Him.

How do we become the people of God? We are a chosen generation (verse 9). God chose to set His love upon us. He chose to make us one of His jewels. There was nothing in us that would recommend us. We had nothing to offer Him, we were in no ways deserving. We haven’t earned it. It has been freely given in an act of grace. God has gifted you a place amongst His people. He has chosen the unloved to be the lovely. Free, unlimited, undeserved love. It is so humbling. It magnifies God’s grace that He chose me, before the beginning of time. We are a people bought with the life blood of His own Son at Calvary.

God called us to Himself out of the darkness into His marvellous light. In darkness, eyes are closed to truth about ourselves and God. By nature we are oblivious that we are sinners under the righteous wrath of God. We can’t grasp it. In the dark we are blind to eternal reality. But by the grace of God, the Spirit shone the light of truth into our darkened eyes. Suddenly, the light of truth shone and all makes sense. The Spirit called us into the light of saving knowledge, to repentance, to the need to turn to God for forgiveness. We are called to the light of the gospel.

Just as God sent light to dispel the darkness of creation, so He sent light to dispel the darkness of our lives. At our conversion there was light. Praise God He shines ever increasing light as the Word is preached week by week. In verse 10 Peter tells us we are a people who have obtained mercy. He delights to show mercy. We deserve to be punished, condemned to Hell for all eternity. But God has chosen to pardon us, judgement fell on His Son.

We have been formed into a people, united in Christ. We are not here by accident; God has forged this congregation, you are blessed to be part of Penuel, Roch. God bought you, called you, pardoned you and rescued you.

Peter’s readers were battered and bruised, undergoing a fiery trial (1 Peter 4:12). Peter wants to comfort them, to strengthen them. He points them to who they are. The world writes them off as worthless, but God loves them and God loves you. He has given us things that can never be taken away. He loves us, He has taken us on freely. He has shown us mercy. We are to serve the Lord in difficult times too. We have been chosen, bought, called, loved, the recipients of mercy. Let us keep this at the forefront of our minds.

Privileges have been bestowed upon those who have turned from sin. They are channelled to us in Jesus. Have you looked to Him for grace and pardon? Perhaps you haven’t come to Christ. What you enjoy now can be taken from you in a moment. We are here to declare the praises of Him who did all this. He wants you to be declaring His excellencies, His attributes, His unmerited love, to Him in song and in prayer. Tell one another of the great attributes of God. He is all powerful, all wise, faithful. Encourage one another. Stir one another. Declare the gospel to those in darkness. Bring the greatness of God before them. We have a purpose, we are called for special work.