July 18th 2021: Paul Daniel

Acts 5: 12 -42

We are sitting here, on a lovely sunny day in Roch, because two thousand years ago men and women stood and were beaten for the sake of the gospel. It is a privilege to come together, knowing that others before us took a beating so they could share the gospel, and then their sons and daughters could share the gospel, and their sons and daughters could share the gospel, and we have that beautiful privilege of meeting in freedom today.

This passage of scripture is quite challenging. I don’t know how you would respond if you were living at that time, and you were told not to go and tell people about Jesus, or you would be put into jail. What would you do?

The Book of Acts, Luke’s second volume, records for us what the early church was like. Luke’s first volume, his gospel, tells us all that Jesus did and taught. His second volume, Acts, tells us all that the risen Jesus did. So, we see here is Acts of the Apostles, or you could say, Acts of the Risen Jesus. We now look at everything Jesus did through His Spirit. He has ascended into heaven, and He sent His Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit lives and dwells in His people and they are helping His people live for Him. When you open the book of Acts you realise that there is a small group of people who follow the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the people who turned the world upside down. You and I stand on their shoulders.

Has God’s Spirit changed? Is the Holy Spirit who helped Peter on the day of Pentecost, when he preached to thousands, changed? Has God’s mission changed, to save a people for Himself? Has Jesus Christ changed? Has the cross changed? Is the cross not the same cross that Jesus Christ bled and died on and that is the only means and way of salvation? Has anything really changed? No! Nothing has changed. When Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, the Bible says He is waiting to return. We live in the last days, waiting for Jesus Christ to return. God’s Spirit has not changed and the cross stands still as the only means of salvation. God’s mission has not changed. He desires a people for Himself, even from Roch. The Commission has not changed. God has not changed. Until Jesus returns our mission hasn’t changed – we are called to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. Take the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and share it with others who do not know him.

Pray drives evangelism. The apostles were doing many signs and wonders, and people were being healed. In chapter four, the apostles had already been arrested (4:29-30). They prayed and their prayer was answered. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. If you believe this and have a God-Man who intercedes for you, you can pray to Him. The apostles prayed and were able to do extraordinary things. If you think, ‘Well, I couldn’t do that,’ you would be right. But God can! Christ healed a blind man, the deaf and the lame. God can do all those things because He is God. Evangelism is driven by prayer. God is the one who opens all the doors, who gives us opportunities, the one who answers our prayers. It is ludicrous, as Christians, we don’t pray to the God of heaven, the giver of all things. Pray for an opportunity to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Evangelism is about speaking life. The apostles were arrested because they were preaching and they were healing. They were doing all sorts of wonderful things. But the High Priest didn’t like it, the Sadducees didn’t like it. They arrested them (v.17). They put them in a public prison. But an angel of the Lord brought them out and said, ‘Get on with it! Go and stand in the temple court and speak to the people words of life.’ (v.19). The apostles got together (v.21). Did they have a big discussion whether they should obey the angel? No. An angel of the Lord comes and tells them what to do and they do it. They are obedient and they go. At the Ascension Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and a cloud hid Him from their sight as they were watching. Immediately two angels come down and said, ‘What are you doing looking at the sky? Why are you looking up there when you should be looking all around you and getting on with the task of evangelism?

Evangelism is about speaking life. It is so important that an angel of the Lord comes and breaks them out of prison and tells them, ‘Get on with it.’ My friends, this is not a message about purchasing some goods, what colour paint you should buy, what your homes or gardens should look like. It has got nothing to do with this. This is about the words of life. This is about life that every one of us needs, that we live in a beautiful but broken word, that sin has entered in and the wages of sin is death. We experience sin in our bodies and we get old and we creaky and things fail. Yet Jesus Christ came to deal with the problem of sin and death. The good news about the gospel is not just having your legs healed and about being able to see. There is much more than that. It is about having this new life where you have a relationship with God, where you will know Him now and forever, into eternity. We are called to go out and give the words of life. Jesus Christ is the only way. There is no other way in which men and women, boys and girls can be saved. We need to know what God is calling us to do, what is He calling us to be more urgent about in our speaking to others?

Evangelism is driven by prayer, evangelism is about speaking life, but evangelism is about what God is doing. The apostles go back into the temple courts (v.27) and once again they are brought back to the Council, questioned and told, ‘We strictly told you not to teach in this name, yet you are doing the things we told you not to do!’ And they reply, “We must obey God rather than men,” (v.29). Scripture calls us to obey the authorities. In one sense, they are obeying the authorities. They get arrested and they don’t oppose being arrested. They let themselves be arrested. There is one thing we cannot disobey and that is we must be obedient to the laws. But here they are in Acts chapter 5 saying they must obey God rather than men. Even though they are told not to speak in the name of Jesus, they say,’ No, we must obey God, because here are the words of life that people must hear, for there is no other name.’ That’s what Jesus did, isn’t it? He obeyed the will of His Father, not His own. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was sweating drops of blood, knowing what He would go to, yet He did it, “Not My will but Yours.”

You and I face many dilemmas today, we are faced with complicated situations. We live in a very privileged society, in a very privileged country where there really isn’t that much dilemma about obeying God. We have freedoms, and as we have these freedoms we are not challenged, are we? There is no-one really threatening to put us in prison here in Roch. Don’t get me wrong, there might be cultural variations, there might be regional variations, there might be other variations, maybe a part of a city where it might be more difficult. But it is not about what is happening there, it’s about what is happening here. What is God calling you and me to do?

We have this word of life, and we are living in not difficult days but complex days. With God’s help, we will all know is it that God is calling us to do.

Evangelism is driven by prayer, evangelism is about speaking life, evangelism is about what God is doing in and through us. God is the one who is saving. Finally, the way we live can really help (v 38-39). The apostles are persistent, they are not giving up, they are willing to be put into prison time and time again. If it is from God, God is not going to fail. If this is from God, don’t get in the way or you will be opposing God.

My friends, as you and I live out our lives, as we go about sharing the gospel, the way we live really can help people to hear the gospel. You and I might not have a single conversation with somebody this week, but the way you live really can influence the way people listen to the gospel.

Evangelism is driven by prayer, evangelism is about speaking life, evangelism is about what God is doing in and through us as we are obedient to Him, and the way we live can really help us in our evangelising.

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!

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

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.

February 25th 2018: Paul Daniel

Paul Daniel-feb 18Philippians 3: 1-15

It is crucial to repeat messages. Even Paul said, right at the beginning of this chapter, “To write the same things to you is no trouble to me.” Have you ever been conned? We live in a society where we shop online. People put reviews online, sometimes complaining because they don’t want anyone else to get conned. When you look at this chapter, it’s all about Paul writing to the Philippians to safeguard them from being conned. It’s a joy to him to remind them.

C.S. Lewis said Jesus is either a liar, a  lunatic or Lord. If He really is who He says He is, you can’t afford to ignore Him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). When you consider what Jesus says, is He trying to con people into following Him? Paul is trying to safeguard the people into following Jesus, not being conned by others. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness. He died on a cross, not because He was guilty, but so others could be forgiven of their sin. He rose three days later and later appeared to others before ascending into heaven. Today, there is a God-Man in heaven who intercedes on our behalf. Paul wants to make sure people don’t get confused. The moment you think you can’t get conned is the moment the devil begins his work. It is necessary to repeat the gospel message.

Paul warns us to watch out for legalism. Listen to Paul. He was circumcised on the eighth day as God’s law required. He was chosen by God, part of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews, full of tradition, wanting to do everything in every area of his life. He was a Pharisee, one of those who would take God’s word so seriously, they started making their own laws. He was righteous under the law. Paul wanted the people to listen to him. All his qualities and heritage (verse 7), he counted as loss, as rubbish. Here is the one person you think ought to listen to, yet he says all his achievements are worthless because he knows that those things can’t make you righteous before God. He knows if you try and work so hard to keep the law, you are under a curse. No-one is justified by works. Achieving all these things, as impressive as they are, doesn’t deal with sin – separation from God. The wonder of the gospel – none of us deserves anything but God’s judgement and curse – but Christ comes to redeem us, to buy us back by becoming a curse for us. When He hangs on the cross He deals with all that stands against us.

How do you measure yourself? We measure ourselves often by what people say. The real measure is what people can’t see or can’t hear – when no-one’s eyes are on us, what we think inside our minds. It’s all the hidden sins. God sees and hears everything. Do we measure ourselves by what we portray ourselves to be? God sees us as sinners who have broken His law and are under a curse. Yet He still loves us, sent His Son for us, and is still willing to keep us. All that we are and all that we’re not, and all that we’d like to hide, God still loves us. Let’s not con ourselves and be conned.

What does Paul want to do when he sees all his achievements as rubbish? He wants to count everything else as loss, he wants to know Christ, to know his Saviour. Nothing else compares, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Philippians 3:7). It’s a really hard thing to say that you count everything as loss. Knowing Jesus is worth more than my health, my house, bank balance, friends, my reputation, anything else. In the context of eternity, all that we strive for lasts a short time. Knowing Christ, being with Him for ever and ever, is our desire. Stop investing in yourself, don’t rest in earthly achievements. Pursue Christ and His kingdom. Seek Him. Be satisfied in Jesus and in Jesus alone. Don’t think you can find life and eternity and resurrection apart from in Jesus, in Christ. Don’t be conned, don’t miss out. Paul doesn’t want anyone to miss out (verses 11-15). He’s pressing on to what lies ahead. We want to see Jesus. We need to hear the gospel and share the gospel. We want people to come to Jesus and put their faith in Him.

February 11th 2018: Dave Evans

Dave Evans -Feb 18Philippians 1:27 – 2:15

There is something special about the Christian life, the way we’re called to behave. This passage is broken into various exaltations:

1:27   ‘Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel.’                  2:4      ‘Let each of you look not only to his own interests.’
2:12    ‘Work out your own salvation.’
2:14    ‘Do all things without grumbling or disputing.’

In the very centre of the whole section the Apostle sets before us the very foundation of why we should behave in this way, ‘Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 2:5). Paul is pointing us to the Lord, our Saviour, and His behaviour. Paul reminds us that our Christian life isn’t something that’s simply outward. Our thoughts and actions work themselves out in our outward behaviour.

In verses 5-8 we read of our great example. We must always be clear that the gospel in not just simply Jesus as our example, it is clear the gospel begins with the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour of sinners, ‘She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ (Matthew 1:21). Until we have committed ourselves to Him for forgiveness He can never be an example to us. But having become Christians, knowing the forgiveness of sinners, Jesus then becomes the supreme example of behaviour. His mindset is to be our mindset, our foundational attitude, our whole approach to the Christian life.

Verses 6-11. What do we see of the mind of Christ in these verses? Our Lord’s humility, His amazing self-denial, is exhibited in these verses. Firstly, in verse 6, ‘He was in the form of God.’ We see the great, permanent, unchanging nature of Jesus. Paul is saying the Lord Jesus Christ has always been in the form of God, that He is divine in every way, the co-equality of our Saviour.

It’s only when we realise how high He is we realise the depth of His humility. Equality with God was His by right but He did not cling to it, He made Himself of no reputation. When the plan of salvation was made in eternity, He took the form of a servant and came in the likeness of man. It’s staggering! The Lord of glory should become a man, a God-Man, who walked among the people of this earth. He came to be born as a bond servant – born in a stable into a humble life. This is no other than the Lord of glory! The Lord Jesus Christ, though He became a man, did not cease to become God (verse 8). He set aside so much of what was His by right yet He was ever God.

What did He give up? In heaven Jesus had no guilt, no burden of sin, but in becoming the God-Man He took upon Himself the burden of guilt. He gave up the riches which were His. His outward earthly life reflected the depths to which He humbled Himself. He was dependent on friends and disciples to give Him a place to sleep. He remained truly divine, became a servant so that our salvation might be possible. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death on the cross.

It’s a staggering thought that the gospel takes the Lord of glory to the cross to die an agonising death in our place. The cross was horrific, a death reserved for slaves, rebels, the most  vile of criminals. It was the cruellest of deaths at that time. No Roman would talk about it, such was the horror. Our Saviour’s sufferings go deeper; He not only suffered physically but also He suffered God’s judgement. In those three hours of darkness God poured out His wrath on His Son. He bore all that, humbled Himself so that we might be forgiven. Have we come to realise for ourselves what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for lost sinners? Do you see He died for you sin so we could escape the awfulness of Hell and judgement?

The promise of Scripture is all who come to Him will be saved. This humility is our example, our standard. That’s a staggering thought for us. If Christ could humble Himself in such a way, how willing must we be as believers to humble ourselves in our Christian walk, that we exhibit the humility of Christ in our life? Loot to the Lord Jesus Christ, the great standard. May we be those that follow His example and glorify Him.

OCTOBER MISSION 2017

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

22426163_1524777674285716_7909090176629269353_o.jpg

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’

22365343_1523075241122626_578886614808325449_n.png

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!
22365568_1522241074539376_5184210635408513872_n
 

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! 🎊🎉

22366304_1522211034542380_4487669357450279551_n.png

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.