OCTOBER MISSION 2017

In October we will be holding our first Mission Weekend – Friday 20th October  – Sunday 22nd October, yay! 🎉 

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On Friday 20th October we will be welcoming Annmarie Miles (http://www.annmariemiles.com/) , an Irish Author and Speaker to our Ladies’ Curry Evening . This is a great opportunity to learn about the Christian life through Annmarie’s testimony – ‘This is my story. This is my Song’

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You are warmly invited to our Penuel Men’s Breakfast. It is a great opportunity to come and learn more about the Christian faith and get to know the members of Penuel.Our Guest Speaker is Stuart Dainty, Farmer & Pastor of Libanus Evangelical church, Swansea. Cooked & Continental Breakfast provided. A warm welcome awaits!
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On Saturday afternoon we are so looking forward to families from the local community joining us for our Family Fun Afternoon  As well as a beautiful park to play in, there will be a bouncy castle, face painting by the talented Gabrielle Swales Face Painting Artist​, crafts,  balloons,🎈 a Bible story by guest speaker Andrew Christofides​ and an amazing football cage kindly loaned to us by Scripture Union Cymru​.🥅 Enjoy a sizzling BBQ and chat over a cup of tea. Come along and join in the fun! A warm welcome awaits! 🎊🎉

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September 24th 2017: John Funnell

John Funnell - Sept 17Ruth 1:1-22

The world is changing, and there is all sorts of political unrest. It is much the same as it was during Ruth’s life. She lived during the period of Judges, when Israel had no king. As a people they were fighting to survive against foreign influences, foreign gods and foreign invasion.

You will see the word “Moab” a lot in the earlier verses of our reading. “Moab”, is essentially a word for “Foreign”. Foreign means. “Bad”, “Bad”, “Bad”, “Bad”! But not in a racist way – the entire book is about how Ruth, a foreigner, is welcomed into God’s family. ‘Foreign’ here means ‘away from God and His promises.’ You can almost replace the word ‘Moab’ with ‘away from God.’

So what we see here is a tale of a man called Elimelek who takes his family away from God (which is bad) and away from their identity at the same time in history when God’s people are battling for it. Elimelek takes his family away from his people because of a famine. Essentially, he goes away from God for profit, for worldly gains. And such a decision brings complications.

We are told in these verses that in God’s land there are lots of men, but away from God, the men die. In God’s land there are women getting married and having children, but away from God, women (Naomi, Ruth and Orpah) with no husbands or children. Elimelek went away from God, left His identity and as a result he suffered the consequences for it! Death!

Naomi becomes desperate so she thought best to go back home, back to God which is? …good! As she embarks on her journey we then read ten verses of goodbye. It is like a train station goodbye. Naomi in verse 8 tells her daughters to go, and blesses them in the name of God. The daughters wished to come with Naomi so in verse 11 she reiterates further why they should go from her.

Stay with your people and find husbands.

It would appear Naomi has learned her lesson on leaving her own kin to go to the foreign land. A lesson that cost her all the men in her life!

She obviously did not want her Moabite daughters in law to suffer the same.

V13 the Lord’s hand has turned against me – Naomi says before graciously sending them away in tears.

A touching moment……or is it? If we look at the context we see Naomi is in the mire! We know from Deuteronomy, Israel had provisions for their widows.

Naomi, would have also known the shame that was ahead of her as a returning Jew, who left her people at a time of great need (famine) to go to land of a sworn enemy, Moab for profit.

So, I propose, with the context in mind, that this loving “train station” goodbye is not what it seems. I believe Naomi was in fact preparing for her homecoming! She was concerned that returning with two foreign Moabite women would cause her even more shame? “Naomi’s back and she allowed her Jewish sons to marry Moabites!”

Could this be why Naomi was sending her daughters in law, Ruth and Orpah away? Not in love, but to ease her return back to God? This knowledge changes this dialogue into an argument!Naomi’s tone changes from v6 to a desire to feed her family, to (v12) palming them off on other men!

Naomi is not pleading with her daughters-in-law to come to the God who provides for His people. No! She is clearly trying to persuade both Ruth and Orpah of the many material benefits they will have if they stay in Moab (v9) a new home and a husband!

On Ruth’s insistence to stay, Naomi’s reply in verse 15 becomes a rather coarse and short reply. Naomi clearly does not want her daughters in law, the baggage of her past shameful choices to come back with her.

But as we read Ruth remains honourable and faithful and insists (v16) that She wants Naomi’s God to be her God too! V18 ends the discourse…..“Naomi stopped urging her”. What you have here is a car ride home with a loved one just after an argument.

So how does this argument between two women, thousands of years ago help us today? We are all like Naomi. We have all disobeyed God, gone to foreign lands and done terrible things. And going away from God is always…..bad!

When we realise what we have done is wrong, we then have a desire to repent, so say sorry to God and come back to Him. Often with big ideas of how to make things right by ourselves, we often try to hide our shame, our daughters of Moab, from Him.

But God sees all and knows all and on the cross as He hung naked between two criminals, He took the shame for you, that you deserve for you wrong doing and in His resurrection He beat it!  And if you give Jesus your shame, He can turn those things that once damned you into greater blessings. He can turn a foreign daughter of Moab, Ruth, into a grandmother of Christ Himself!

Do not think that you can’t come to God until you have sorted yourself out. Do not think you have to wait to be an adult before accepting Jesus into your life. Do not try to hide your Moabite daughters’ in-law from Him as you prayerfully return!

He will accept you today for how you are – warts and all! Give yourself over to Him completely and He can turn your problems into wonders of grace for His Glory!

This is the Gospel! The good news! That God saves sinners! Of which I am chief!

Ruth in faith came with Naomi – and that faith lead to God’s embrace. As you will see if you read the rest of the book, Ruth is welcomed in and marries Boaz and her identity changes.

She has a child called Obed, who was the Father of Jesse, the Father of David!

Ruth the Moabite – the Moabite! – becomes a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ our Lord as a result of her faith! Imagine what God could have done if Naomi let Orpah came too!

Do not be like Naomi is here and let your past and present sin hinder your relationship with God today. Do not wait until your life is good enough for God, before coming back to Him, because it will never be good enough without Him.

Bring your shame (your daughters of Moab) to the cross and see God Bless you.

Come to Jesus today and instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance.’ (Isaiah 61:7)

Amen

 

 

Anniversary Service: August 7th 2017: Dave Norbury

Dave Norbury - Aug 2017John 20

We have a gospel and a faith, which to some extent is under attack. There are groups of people in the U.K. who would say our faith is a blind faith with no evidence. I beg to differ.

Our faith is rooted in history. There is objective evidence to what we believe. Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again. We have solid, reliable evidence on which our faith is built.

‘Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.’ (John 20:1). Here we have the reality. Mary Magdalene was a wonderful lady who loved the Lord deeply. Mary had watched the unjust trial and was with Jesus every moment of His awful suffering. She had suffered the trauma of seeing Jesus crucified, losing the one she loved most. She turned up at the tomb and found His body had gone. The stone was taken away to reveal an empty tomb. ‘While it was still dark’ tells us Mary Magdalene had not had much sleep.

Jesus had told his disciples repeatedly that He would die and rise on the third day:

‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’ (Luke 9:22).

‘And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.’” (Luke 13:32).

‘For He will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise.” (Luke 18:32-33).

This is pretty clear. It was the third day yet nobody thought, they didn’t believe Jesus would rise from the dead . . . Yet they came to believe. Why? The Bible tells us the disciples saw Him a number of times. They ate with Him, they touched Him. 500 people saw Him at one time.

Some people say they made it up. Let’s examine this. If you were to make it up, the last person you would say Jesus would meet would be a woman. Women in those days were not seen as reliable witnesses and were not even allowed to give evidence in court. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus, even though she was of low status.

‘Then the other disciples, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead.’ (John 20:8-9). Did Jesus show Himself first to Peter and John as a risen Saviour? No, He showed Himself to Mary Magdalene. What an amazing, wonderful Saviour we have. He broke the cultural norms.

This is powerful, clear evidence, therefore the resurrection happened, then everything is OK. Jesus is really who He says He is. It is really true.

We have a faith that rests in the risen Jesus Christ. ‘But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.’ (John 20:11). Notice the wonderful way John opens this truth to us. Mary Magdalene had been through a terrible trauma. Jesus had gone. She saw two angels in front of her, ‘And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain,’ (John 20:12). She saw Jesus but did not know it was Him, ‘She turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.’ She had two angels in front of her and Jesus behind her. When we’re overwhelmed, remember there are two angels before you and the Lord behind you. You are not alone. Mary Magdalene finally understood when she heard her name being spoken by Jesus. If you could hear Him today, He would be saying your name tenderly. Mary Magdalene then clung to Him as she put her arms around Him, but , ‘Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ (John 20:17).

Our faith experiences God Himself. This is not just objective, it is subjective. You and I, with all our sin, can be forgiven and experience God Himself. Mary held onto Jesus, but Jesus said not to hold on to Him. There are different interpretations of this. In my view you don’t need to hold on to Jesus now because He has ascended. We now have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is a greater experience than holding onto Jesus personally. The Holy Spirit is with us.

Have you known the touch of God on your life? Have you received a glimpse of His glory? There’s a personal, close experience you can know. You and I do not have blind faith. Our faith is rooted in history, it’s a faith that rests in the risen Jesus Christ. He comes to us in His Holy Spirit. He is known to us in a personal, subjective way. Our faith experiences God Himself.

 

5th February 2017: Dave Norbury

david-norbury-feb-17What is so wonderful about the gospel we believe?

  • It is rooted in history.

Many of the people who stood under the cross of Jesus rubbed their hands – they had captured the troublemaker. Yet in Isaiah 53, written 700 years before, this event is predicted and described in detail. Our message is rooted in history, in an event that really happened. ‘And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offering; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.’ (Isaiah 53:9-12).

The gospel is for the very worst of people. The two robbers crucified on either side of our Lord were genuinely the sort of people you should fear, the very worst of people. They too, reviled Jesus, mocking and humiliating Him. ‘And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.’ (Matthew 27:44). Yet what we find Jesus tells one, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ (Luke 23:43). Amazing!

Jesus Christ takes the very worst of people and makes them secure in heaven. He came into the world to save sinners. Hypocrisy sets you above people to look down, but you and I have wickedness within our hearts which is equally detestable. ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3:23). This gospel isn’t restricted to the kind and good, it’s for everyone who is a sinner, everyone – the worst of the worst. And Jesus demonstrates it in His last moments of His life on the cross.

  • The gospel is about miraculous change.

During the crucifixion there was darkness between 9 and 12, but at 12 one of the robbers had changed completely. ‘One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39). God has changed him. It’s almost beyond belief. Suddenly he has come to believe there’s a God. So many people think there is no God. Every single one of us during our lives, has a consciousness of God. Suddenly this man believes there’s a presence so much greater than his own. He had no conscience, but now he has God. He realises he is guilty. This is true of everyone who becomes a Christian; we become conscious of our own sin and failure. We have to believe that this message we have is about miraculous change.

  • The gospel call people to personal faith.

Not only does the gospel take someone who mocks Jesus at 9 o’clock but at 12 o’clock he worships Jesus Christ. Suddenly the man is speaking to the Lord Jesus Christ in a very personal way. He speaks to the Lord Jesus who has a kingdom. He saw, when they were carrying the crosses to the execution, Jesus spoke to the women on the road, he heard how Jesus didn’t respond to the taunts of others, how Jesus spoke to His Father. His heart moved right towards the Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t do it ourselves, but as we cry out to God, then our wonderful God draws near to us. This gospel calls us to personal faith in Jesus Christ. What a great message!

  • The gospel proclaims wonderful promises to the worst of sinners.

The Lord Jesus replies and says to the robber, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ (Luke 23:43). We have wonderful promises we can rely on for eternity. We are told, ‘Call unto me, and I will answer thee.’ (Jeremiah 33:3). ‘He shall call upon me and I will answer him.’ (Psalm 91:15). There is a death, there is judgement, but this robber will be in Paradise. What a place!

  • The gospel is filled with encouragement but there are also warnings.

We have the encouragement of heaven. Sadly, there is a great warning. One of the thieves refused to trust Jesus Christ. There is judgement. God will deal with our sin and failure. Jesus died on the cross to save sinners, but for those who reject Jesus, they will be rejected themselves.

In summary, the gospel is rooted in history, it is about miraculous change, it calls people to personal faith, it proclaims wonderful promises and filled with encouragement, but there are warnings too.

 

 

 

Contentment in Christ – whatever our situation

Do you ever think ‘What if’, ‘if only’ or ‘why me?’ I know I ask these questions and all too often! It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we ourselves can alter and shape the future. We evaluate our situation and if we are not completely satisfied the questions begin. As someone who is far too familiar with the ‘valleys’ in life, the doubts and questions can become burdensome. We’ve been taught that contentment is linked to our accomplishments or accumulation of satisfaction from the world. These questions can never be fully answered and since there is no end to our desires to acquire or do more, the horizon is always moving. We will never experience contentment following this line of thinking.

The true meaning of contentment is being satisfied with what you have and with who you are – right now, always being content that the Lord provides everything you need. Despite the many trials Paul went through he understood how to be content. In Philippians 4:11-13 he wrote,

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Contentment doesn’t have anything to do with external influences; rather it has everything to do with God and how He is moulding us and refining us all for His glory. The good news is that we all can learn how to become fully content with who we are, what we are, and what we’re doing.  Through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can learn how to be content by thanking God for what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

The key is to be confident in the knowledge you can do all things through Him who gives you strength. This only occurs by faith, moment by moment.

The apostle Paul highlighted the importance of living life as we are called to do. 1 Corinthians 7 verse 17 states ‘Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.’  Paul emphatically states that God has sovereignty over all things and He has assigned each believer with a place in life, and it is from where we are situated now that the Lord will use us. Every day, God places us where we need to be in order to serve Him. Our ‘place’ in this world is not determined by chance, but has been carefully crafted and weaved into a grand design.

So what happens when we reach the valley and all looks bleak? In our own strength we crumble and cannot cope with the burdens of life, but with God everything is possible. We may feel unable to carry on, but the God of the mountaintop is still the same God in the valley.  He is able to remove us from the difficult situation, but that isn’t always helpful. There is always a reason for our circumstances – whether to learn something new or to remold us in Christ. But the most important thing, above all else, our circumstances are given to us to glorify the Lord and become trophies of His grace. God is Sovereign over all things – good and the not so good. The difficulties we experience don’t happen to us by chance, but we know that there is good in every situation. We may not see it immediately and we may ask. ‘Why is this happening?’ but during these times we need to thank God and trust in Him.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  – Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

September 11th 2016: Aaron Davies-Whitfield

Worship was led by Aaron Davies-Whitfield who preached from Philippians 2: 19-24, which he entitled “Not my will, but Thy will be done.’ We find Paul is in a place of uncertainty. His letter is written from Rome when he was under house arrest, which can be likened to the bonds and chains of the gospel. Paul is facing possible execution. He truly was an incredible man of God, a giant in the faith. It is staggering how God changed this man, who was out to destroy the church but now he is willing to lay down his life for the church and Christ.

In verse 19 we read, ‘But I trust the Lord Jesus.’ Paul was so captivated by Christ, his every thought and deed were always attached to Christ. He was under house arrest by the wicked Emperor Nero, who prosecuted and martyred Christians in the most horrific ways. Paul does not say, ‘I trust – if the Emperor allows.’ No, he states, ‘I trust in the Lord Jesus.’ Our future must fall into that place, like Paul. When you come to acknowledge Him as Saviour, He is not only your Saviour, He is your Lord. You give your life to Him. Paul faces possible execution, yet Jesus is the one who holds Paul’s future. Notice, in verse 24, Paul write, ‘But I trust the Lord.’ His future was not bleak but wonderfully glorious because of Christ. Whatever comes our way, our future is glorious in Jesus.

Paul was a spiritual giant but he also had feelings. This mighty man of God needed to be encouraged. He says he hoped to ‘send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort’ (verse 19). Paul was anxious for the Philippian Church. Notice his feelings were all encompassed in Christ. He was concerned but that didn’t waiver him, his trust was in Christ. We are reminded, ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.’ (Proverbs 3:5-6). Paul was trusting in the Lord. Trust in Him, lean on Him when you don’t understand and He will direct your path.

I wonder how many people visited Paul when he was under house arrest? It’s a challenge to us. How do we feel about those who minister the gospel to us? Do we love and care for them? It’s not always easy to sit under preaching – sometimes it will rebuke and chasten. We don’t pick and choose, it’s His Word. There can be that in us that doesn’t receive the Word. Let the Spirit of God work in us. We need to humble ourselves. Love those, even in their faults.

Paul found no-one like-minded but Timothy, his son in the gospel. In verse 21 we read, ‘For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.’ Where is your heart today? What is your greatest ambition? What are your motives and desires? Where is Jesus in all these things? How sad Paul was surrounded by Christians but none of them sought Christ’s Will. When Christ came to this earth He thought nothing of His own will, He sacrificed everything for the gospel. He laid aside everything.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan the priest and the Pharisee walked passed the man who was beaten and left for dead. It was the Samaritan who stopped and helped. It’s a challenge but one to take on board.

As Christians we can be more mindful of seeking salary not a Saviour. If Paul came to the church this morning, what would he say of us? Everything in this world will fade away – our job, salary, even our families – but all done for Christ will last. Make His name great in our life and your name full of insignificance. ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’

Looking at the churches around I see an absence of men in the gospel work. God is calling men to the work. The harvest is ripe but the labourers are so few. One of the reasons is we have too glamourous minds – certain things have to be in place before we consider God’s work. The ultimate questions is, ‘Has God called you?’ If God has called you, then He will provide. Men and women look to salaries and locations. In the New Testament, being a gospel church meant being in prison. Where is Christ in your life? We may not be called to preach the gospel but we are all called to live for the glory of God and make disciples, to follow Him whatever that means. Salary, reputation and comfort will all fall aside. We need to go wherever and to whoever if the Lord is calling. Jesus called the disciples – they did not know where they were going and they would lose their lives but they went willingly. ‘All seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.’ We live in a world of ‘My, my, my, me, me, me’ but what about Jesus? In light of all He has done for you, He asks you to be willing to serve Him, He will do everything else. All Jesus is asking is for you to say, ‘I’ll go Lord.’ God is calling.

‘And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) God is calling you to something. He wants you to be a faithful witness to family and friends or even to the other side of the world. Seek Christ. Seek His will in your life. Surrender your will into His hands.

In verse 22 we read of Timothy, who we know was not a well man; he was a weak and fragile young man but he was willing to go, whatever the cost. When it came to conscription in the Great War men had to leave everything and go to war. We need to serve Christ, to take up the banner of the cross.

The church must go on, the gospel must carry on. But it needs labourers, people willing to forsake their wants for God’s wants.

‘So I will go wherever He is calling me
I lose my life to find life in Him
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
I bow my heart, take up my cross, and follow Him.’

(From the hymn, ‘What Grace is Mine.’)

You may also like to listen to the hymn, “Here I am Lord’
which is based on Isaiah 6:8
https://youtu.be/EcxOkht8w7c