9th April 2017: Gaius Douglas

Luke 19: 11-27

A survey carried out by the BBC and reported on this morning’s news has suggested ‘a quarter of people who describe themselves as Christians in Great Britain do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus.’ Furthermore, ‘exactly half of all people surveyed did not believe in the resurrection at all.’ This brings to mind Romans 10:9 

Romans 10-9 KJV

‘Occupy till I come.’ On the authority of the Word of God, if Christ is was not raised from the dead then there is no life. Some people can take a bit of the Bible and not accept it. You cannot do any work for the Lord Jesus Christ if you don’t believe in the Bible. You can’t be a Christian if you believe in only parts of the Bible. The Word of God is living. If you know Christ, you are indwelled by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Philip, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seem me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?’ (John 14:9).

In the parable in these verses the nobleman, before travelling to a far country, ‘called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, ‘Occupy till I come.’ (Luke 19:13). The number 10 in the Bible speaks of God’s authority. ‘I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.’ (Isaiah 45:5). This is the God we serve. Not even Satan in all his power can do anything to you without God allowing it.

“Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13) Are you occupied? Are you looking forward to the Lord Jesus Christ, to seeing Him, to His coming? In the very last prayer in the Bible we read, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ (Revelation 22:20). When Paul introduces the remembrance of the Lord we again read, ‘For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.’ (1 Corinthians 11:26). He is coming! Whether we are looking forward to it or not, He will come to receive us to Himself. He has redeemed us, not for this world, but for Him. Wonderful! We shall be like Him forever. Pray the reality of His coming will take us away from our circumstances. The cry of our heart should be, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ (Revelation 22:20).

‘Occupy’ is not a passive word, it is active. We are doing something for Him. In this parable the nobleman chose ten servants. He gave them a £1 each and said, ‘Go and do something with it.’ Nine of them used their initiative, one of them did not. One of them thought, ‘There’s a risk. Let me weigh up the master’s character – he’s an austere man.’ Are you frightened of your Saviour? If so, you don’t know Him. The servant wrapped up the coin he had been given and put it away, making sure no-one touched it. In the past many kept the Bible under lock and key so the masses could not read it. So often we keep the Word of God under lock and key.

What has Christ done to your soul? He has saved it by grace – not because of anything you and I deserve – it’s for His glory. He saved us because He loves us, He bore our punishment and redeemed us. Now He wants us to do something for Him – to occupy till He comes.

The Lord gave the ten people in this parable something to do. He had redeemed them and brought them into newness of life. He gave them something and wanted them to do something for Him. Occupy. Do we take an interest in the Word of God? If Christ has done something in your heart you should be able to say, ‘I love the Lord Jesus.’ So many of us are like the last servant, we wrap up the Word of God and blend into this world. There was a time when Peter blended into the people, when he denied the Lord. So often we just want to blend into the world, we don’t want to be different. If you say, ‘I can’t testify for the Lord,’ you don’t know the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is there to give you the words. If you love Him, don’t wrap Him up. The Spirit of God gives you the liberty to tell others about Jesus Christ.

The Lord says to this servant that he was one of his. He wasn’t lost. Which of the servants are you like? If you want to be like the first servant, pray. So many of us are like the last servant – we don’t want to stand out, we’re not occupied. The Lord used the servant’s own words to condemn that man. ‘And he saith unto him, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an autere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?”’ (Luke 19: 22-23)  (ursury – interest).

When the Lord sends us into His vineyard, He sends us where He has already sown, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.’ (John 4:35). We are to reap. We just need to open our mouths and say, ‘Jesus loves you.’

Christ has gone out of His way for you. He gave His life for you. What are you going to give Him? What are you doing to tell others that Jesus saves? What are you doing to save them from hell? He says ‘Occupy till I come.’

The servant lost the joy of his salvation. When we miss opportunities we lose something of this joy. Psalm 51 was a psalm written by David after he had committed the sin of sending Uriah into battle, after sleeping with Uriah’s wife. The Lord was angry with David. David cried, ‘Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.’ (Psalm 51:12). This man had lost something of the joy of his salvation. We are told in Philippians 4:4, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’ If we’re not rejoicing in the Lord we will struggle to tell others about Jesus. We are not living in the blessings that He’s bestowed upon us. Jesus doesn’t want us to lose the joy of salvation. Hopefully, the last servant went away realising what he had done so he might enjoy the blessings and bounty of Christ. The Lord gave equally to all His servants. When we get to glory we will all be equal. Those who are barely saved are brought in. His grace has saved us and He will never take away that salvation. If the Lord gives us a testimony and we don’t use it He will take it away and give it to someone else, He takes away and gives to those who will make use of it, not someone who will hide it. The joy and testimony will diminish   – but Salvation remains.  The challenge is ‘What are we doing with the £1?’ What are we doing with what God has put in our hearts?

 

 

12th February 2017: Mike Viccary

Mike preached from Isaiah 2:1-5. He began by saying that Isaiah is known as the fifth gospel. It is not just a collection of sermons. The opening chapter brings Isaiah’s message to the kings of Judah and Jerusalem.

The prophet begins his message on what we would call a bit of a ‘downer.’ He has the Lord in a courtroom scene. The Lord has a word against the people. He sets the word quite sharply. Mankind is in a desperate state because he does not know God. We were created to be in a relationship with God. The prophet goes on to talk about man’s lost state, a degenerative condition. The implications of sliding into sin has an effect on the nation. The nation is also under condemnation; we have a terrible picture of Zion as a little shack in a vineyard. ‘Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city under siege.’ (Isaiah 1:8). People don’t know God and are falling into sin. ‘Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations – I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.’ (Isaiah 1:13-14). Mankind’s condition is centred in greed and rebellion. It is a lost condition. These people are outside God’s care and concern. In John 3:36 we read, ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.’  The Lord is inflicting judgement on those outside of His love. ‘Therefore the Lord declares, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, “Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes.”’ (Isaiah 1:24).

Isaiah chapter 1 is all about the lost state of man. In chapter 2 Isaiah speaks about the second coming of Jesus, the day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:10-21). In Isaiah 2:10 we see an appeal to enter into the rock – an appeal to put their trust in Christ, ‘Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendour of his majesty.’ The terror of His majesty will be such an awesome occurance people will be throwing their silver and gold away to flee the terror of God. ‘In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendour of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.’ (Isaiah 2:20-21). This image is also seen in Revelation. It is a righteous revenge (Isaiah 2:12-18).

Woven throughout these passages in chapters 1 and 2 are the promises of God. ‘Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.’ (Isaiah 1:18).

So the contest of this is that man is lost, judgement is sure, God has a plan.

‘It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it and many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.’ (Isaiah 2:2-5).

‘But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.’ (Hebrews 1:2)

‘But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.’ (2 Timothy 3:1).

We are in the period of the last days. Isaiah 2:2-5 points to the gospel age, the days in which we live. God has set His blessing upon the mountain and his house. God has set His blessing upon us but we must not be proud, we should have the mind of Christ, we ought to be servants. The Lord spoke about Himself as being lifted up, ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.’ (John 3:14). He was pointing to the cross. Christ is the suffering servant. We are children of God, yet we should be humble servants. The kingdom of God has come in Christ (Isaiah 2:3-5).

What is it like to live in the gospel age? Isaiah 2:3 we are told to ‘Come.’ If you’re someone who says ‘Come’ you are inviting someone to an event. ‘Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.’ (Psalm 46:8). For us, this event is Christ crucified. It’s a celebration, there’s enthusiasm. In this gospel age many people will say, ‘Come.’ There’s an excitement and joy, there is no time to wait or delay, there is an urgency. ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.’ (Revelation 22:17). There is a sense of welcome. Do we go out and invite people into chapel? We may welcome them when they’re inside, but what about outside? We have a great gospel and a great Saviour. We should be enthusiastic and welcoming about saying, ‘Come!’ We need, as a church, to be much more inviting by being out in the world.

‘Let us.’ (Isaiah 2:3). This is corporate, not just individuals, but the whole church. It’s our job to go into all the world and preach the gospel. There’s a sense of inclusiveness. All of us are created by God in His image. There is unity in that there is only one way of Salvation. This is our one hope. We all have different talents and gifts – with the aim of getting others to know who Christ is. We are in the world as salt and light.

We need to be forgiving. There should be a humility about us. Christ came down from heaven and mixed with sinners, with the outcasts. You and I are ambassadors and ought to be representing Him in the world. We’re to be heavenly minded, to go up and think about heavenly things.

The people were called to the mountain of the Lord’s house (Isaiah 2:2). We need to tell people about this wonderful person we love – Immanuel, God with us. God has come down and is ready to receive man. You and I are also a temple of God. We are inviting people to come to the house of God – to Christ Jesus Himself – it is not a place.

He will teach us His ways (Isaiah 2:3). Even in the difficulties, He is the one who will teach us. ‘It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.’ (John 6:45).

God’s word will go forth from Jerusalem. You and I have been commissioned to take it out. If we do not do it, God will find a way. It is His mission.  He will teach us His ways. Spend more time with Christ. After Pentecost nothing could stop the disciples, they could not stop speaking of Christ.

So what’s it like in the gospel age?
Come – the central important thing – to the Lord Jesus Christ. Come because He is going to teach us. He will judge and make us right. Come let us go to the house of the Lord Jesus Christ. We invite people to come because we know He has done wonders for us. Follow the Lord, let us walk in the light of the Lord.