July 1st 2018: Pete Hilder

Pete Hilder-July18Psalm 133

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Christmas Day 2016: Rev. Dr. Gareth Edwards

isaiah-9-6Our Christmas morning service was led by Reverend Dr. Gareth Edwards of Hill Park Church, who preached from Isaiah 9. Gareth began by telling us that God has given us the main present – the Lord Himself. We are also told in Romans that God also gives every good gift.

The year of Isaiah 9 is around 735 B.C. Uzziah, King of Judah, had just died. There was a time of stability during his 12 year reign. We read in chapter 7 that Isaiah says a child will be born who will be Imannuel, ‘Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.’ (Isaiah 7:14). The two kings who the people dreaded would be wiped from the face of the earth. However, it was not all good news; an even greater enemy would come and destroy them – the Assyrians – the great super-power of the day. God’s message to Judah is that, because of sin, judgement will come at the hands of Sennacherib of Assyria. But Isaiah also speaks about a future day, the coming of another, Immanuel, who will bring salvation. This suffering servant will die for the salvation of His people. Here is chapter 9 Isaiah looks to the future, it’s the day when God will raise up the one who will be the Saviour, and all of the blessings that will come through Him. In Matthew 4 we read that the majority of His three year ministry is spent in Capernaum – a fulfilment of these very words from Isaiah, spoken many centuries before. This will be an invasion not of terror but now of grace and goodness, of the gospel.

Isaiah speaks of 5 blessings:

  • Light takes the place of darkness.

It is the light of hope. We know the light has come, the Saviour has come. We have the hope of eternal life in Him. Our future is better than our past. Everyday our future gets better, every day we experience more of the grace of Jesus Christ. It’s a step nearer. The best is yet to come.

  • Joy:

There will be no more gloom, it will give way to joy; the joy of being restored from the hands of the Assyrians. But Isaiah looks further to the future – the joy of Salvation of the Lord, that eternal life that comes with the Saviour’s birth.

  • The release from the burden of sin.

The message of forgiveness of sin, the message Jesus preached personally, brings release from bondage. The Saviour has come, the joy of salvation is our release from sin, is all because a ‘child is born, a son is given.’

  • Peace with God.

His name, Isaiah tells us, shall be, ‘Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end.’ (Isaiah 9:6). It’s a peace that passes all understanding. There is little peace in Syria today, or in Iraq, or in Pembrokeshire. People in Pembrokeshire don’t face the bloodbath of Syria, but they are oppressed by the cars of this world, but the materialism of this world. There is so little peace. They do not know the peace of God, they are in sin and have rebelled against Him. But a Saviour has come who has taken upon Himself the responsibility of the rebellion and offered Himself for the sacrifice of this sin, for those who take Him to be their Lord. All hostility has ended. They now receive the peace of God and know what it is to face an uncertain world, the anguish and difficulties, but on their own. They know that, ‘All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.’ (Romans 8:28). Through it all, God’s purpose is to bring glory to Him.

  • The kingdom:

Isaiah speaks about a kingdom. The government will be upon the shoulders of the child. There is one empire that is eternal, the empire of God’s grace, in the person of Jesus Christ. This empire is an empire of justice and righteousness. The rule of the Lord Jesus Christ is a rule that is marked with infinite kindness, it is omnibenevolent – all good. He has come and He has conquered our lives and subdued us to His will. In righteousness He leads us and guides us. His loving kindness that fills us day after day in a harsh world, where there is little kindness; we experience His abounding benevolence, day after day.

‘For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given.’ Praise God!

Sunday Morning 10th July 2016

lawrence Mitcehell-July 16It was lovely to welcome so many visitors to our service this morning, when our guest speaker this morning was Lawrence Mitchell, who preached on John chapter 12, focusing on verse 34, “Who is the Son of Man?” This is a title used throughout the Scriptures, as well as the Son of Abraham and the Son of David. He is the Messiah of Israel and the world. He is the Son of God and we rejoice in that. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We believe in His deity, in the Trinity. In the previous chapter the Pharisees decided to put Him to death. The Council that met, the Sanhedrin, was made up of 71 mature men, yet they did not understand Jesus. They should have known and loved Him but it was the exact opposite. Jesus stood in their midst. They were afraid of their positions, of losing out. Throughout history many have tried to destroy the gospel, but it is an eternal gospel. When Paul stood before the Council he preached on the Resurrection; he was not afraid of offending them, he was willing to exalt and honour the Word of God. The Lord Jesus Christ was the source of the message that was preached and is preached.

Who is the Son of Man? Matthew tells us He was Lord of the Sabbath, the creator who is in complete control. Luke tells us He has come to seek and to save those who are lost. There was a day when we were lost, when we were outside the kingdom. We are lost without Christ. He gives us peace and wonderful blessings. In Mark’s gospel we find the Son of Man has power to forgive sins – no other religion has power to save and keep, only Jesus has power to save. We need to give all to Him, God requires all that we are. Turn to Him and trust in Him. He is the one that is coming back again. 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord I the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

What a hope, what a blessing we have!
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