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 March 2017: Alan Davison

Luke 3:23 – 4:15: Satan tempts Jesus

alan davison march 17In our culture family trees are very popular. The Bible uses genealogies a lot. They were very important to the Jews; even in the time of Jesus, Salvation was thought to be dependent on being a Jew.

The temptation of Christ, as well as His baptism, are very important aspects of the gospels, being recorded in three of the synoptic gospels.. Luke alone inserts this genealogy between the baptism of Jesus and His temptation. Luke wants to make the point that Adam was the son of God. He did not have biological parents, therefore we can genuinely think of him as a son of God. Jesus is referred to as the last Adam, ‘And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.’ (1 Corinthians 15:45-56 NKJV). We see both Adam and Jesus were tempted by Satan. Jesus overcomes but Adam fell.

At the beginning of Luke 4 Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads Jesus in His ministry, not into temptation. The Holy Spirit is present with Jesus during the temptations. It comes immediately after His baptism, where the Spirit is also present. There is a parallel in our own lives; we have a spiritual feeling that uplifts us. Satan attacks but the Holy Spirit is always present to help us.

The temptations are recorded in a different order in Matthew and Luke, but this is not important. What is important in both gospel records have the same details, are upheld and complement each other.

‘Being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.’ (Luke 4:2). 40 days is the practical limit for human endurance to go without food. Jesus responds with scripture to all of the temptations. He specifically quotes from Deuteronomy (the repetition of the law, used to explain laws to the lay men).

‘And the devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”’ (Luke 4:3). At first glance the temptation is about food, but it’s really about trust. Adam was tempted by food, this also was really about trust. Jesus’ trust is in the Father is being tested here, “If you are the Son of God.” Jesus, of course, responds with scripture, But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ (Luke 4:4). In the Garden of Eden, Eve did not quote exactly what God said, she didn’t fully trust in God but listened to Satan. Jesus’ response allowed no manoeuvre for Satan. Jesus was never really alone, neither are we.

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountHolyain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”’ (Luke 4:5-7). Satan offers Jesus authority over all the kingdoms of the world. At the start of Job, notice that Satan cannot act until God allows him to. Satan opposes God. He is a powerful being – don’t underestimate him but don’t overate him. Satan offers Jesus absolute political and military authority. Many of Israel would have been happy with this but it would elevate Satan above God. Jesus rebukes Satan before quoting scripture. He will not only trust God the Father, but all the glory goes to the Father. ‘And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’ (Luke 4:8). The coming of Jesus has changed the balance of power forever. Jesus gave power and authority to His disciples. We too can submit to God, in the name of Jesus, and have power over Satan. ‘Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.’ (James 4:7).

In Revelation 20 we read a long description of Satan’s efforts to rally against God, but it is all over in 2 verses (Revelation 20:9-10). Satan is so easily dealt with. For us, as believers, worshipping anything but God doesn’t make sense. To serve God is to be absolutely committed to Him and Him alone. Anything else is spiritual adultery.

‘Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. For it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.”’ (Luke 4:9-11). Satan’s final attempt – he offered Jesus a good reputation. He wants Jesus to put Himself first, even finding the nerve to quote a scripture. Satan quotes from Psalm 92: 11-12 ‘For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ However, when quoting, Satan deliberately leaves out the words, ‘In all ways.’ This changes the context of what he is quoting. Psalm 91 speaks of walking along a path, being supported as a friend would, giving you a shoulder to lean on. This psalm actually speaks of God’s care and attention, abiding in God’s will and not seeking our own way. We should seek for what God wants us to do.

God makes clear the sanctity of life. We do not deserve certain things. ‘Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of every man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever shed’s man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”’ (Genesis 9:5-6). Pride leads to destruction. ‘By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.’ (Proverbs 13:10). Strife comes because of our pride.

 The word ‘tempt’ could also be translated as ‘test.’ Jesus rejects the temptation, ‘And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”’ (Luke 4:12). Jesus will not test His Father. Satan then retreats but seeks an opportune time to return again, ‘Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.’ (Luke 4:13). When we are tempted we too are to turn to the scriptures, to God. He provides His own way. We may also have opportunities to receive accolades and awards, but He alone is worthy to receive honour. Give glory to God. It is also good to have a good reputation but we ought to take care less we become proud.

Our original father, Adam, failed at the first temptation. We are all sinners because Adam sinned first. But Jesus resisted every temptation. He did so by using things which are available for us to use – He used the scriptures. Praise His Name.

Morning Worship: Sunday 29th May 2016

13313338_1706659629607399_676368890_oIt was lovely to welcome some of our regular summer visitors back as well as see some new faces. We had a truly blessed time with Hugh Michael of Pembroke Dock who preached from John 16, ‘Jesus teaches about the Holy Spirit.’ In Old Testament times the Holy Spirit visited people and then left, it was not until the New Testament that the Holy Spirit came to stay. His work has many facets. In this portion of Scripture Jesus explained to the disciples the Holy Spirit would have a ministry to the world and to the church. If Jesus did not go away, the Holy Spirit would not come. The promise of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful thing.

The Holy Spirit will convict unbelievers of sin. We have all sinned and broken the greatest commandment. There is an unforgiveable sin – not to believe in Jesus Christ. If I have committed the greatest sin He is able to forgive me but if I do not believe in Him, where do I go for forgiveness? There is no place I can go. If I have not believed in Christ I have cut myself off from Jesus. There is no other Saviour for us. He died, arose, ascended and is coming again.

The Holy Spirit will tell us what we should do, to know the way of righteousness.

It is important now to prepare to meet God, to seek Him while He may be found. There is a day of judgement for the unconverted.

The Spirit of God has inspired the Bible, all Scripture is inspired by God. The Bible will lead us into truth, what is the right thing to do when we have decisions to make. The Holy Spirit shows us where truth lies, He will guide us.

One of the prerequisites of God revealing Himself to you is a willingness to do His Will. If you are willing to do His will, even if you do not know what it is, the Spirit of God will guide you. When you say, ‘Yes Lord,’ God’s Word in God’s Way will never lack God’s support.

The Holy Spirit of God takes the things of Christ and you feel it, it is revealed to you.

Sunday Morning 22nd May 2016

Gareth Evans - May 16.jpgWorship was led by Gareth Evans of Port Talbot, who preached on Romans chapter 8 verses 18-27 – one of the most famous chapters in Scripture and one of the great theological chapters of the apostle Paul – from suffering to glory, from sin to holiness.

Earlier in the chapter we see the work of the Holy Spirit, now the apostle wants to deal with where the Christian is going. He says our troubles are just for a while, but there are great things to come. One of the great assurances of the gospel is we are not under condemnation (v.8)  The end of the chapter gives us the assurance that sin has been conquered because of what Christ has done for us. There is nothing that can separate us from Him.

Why is there suffering from the day we are born until the day we die? From Eden we are under a curse. The giving of the Holy Spirit into our hearts is the first fruits of what is yet to come. Through the work of the Spirit we know nothing can separate us from the love of God. The suffering we have in this world is nothing compared to the future glory, our eternity. We must first suffer with Christ. Suffering is the condition in which we enter the final glory with Jesus Christ. The world is out of kilter due to sin, the whole of creation groans. We are here in the now, in the ready, in a state of suffering. But Paul says we are not to focus on the suffering because this is nothing compared to the glory that is to come, the glory we will be partakers of. We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption. We are yet to see the full fulfilment of this adoption. When Christ comes back we will be redeemed, our bodies will be like the body of Christ. We have this encouragement from Paul. Don’t worry or be anxious about our suffering, there is soon coming a time when we will be glorified with Christ.

We must have Christian perseverance. We must be willing to grow, to fight the good fight against sin. We are the people of God so we have to fight against the old nature. We have the first fruits of the Spirit within us, calling us to holiness, to Sanctification. We must persevere through the suffering, God has given us all we need. We must constantly examine ourselves. We are not to be anxious about our suffering, it is a sign that there is something greater to come.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. Sometimes we don’t know what to pray for but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us. The groaning is a sense of longing for fulfilment of our salvation. The Spirit was sent to be our helper, the Spirit encourages us to walk with God. Though we live in a world that struggles with sin, we wait in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed – those who truly love Him with every fibre of their being. There is great liberation coming – but not all will be saved. There will come a day when it will be clear who are the sons of God, a day when God will judge.

Don’t be anxious. See our suffering from a different lens. Treat our suffering with godliness, calling for the help of the Holy Spirit to deal with it, asking God what He is teaching us. We are to persevere through difficulties. The Spirit helps us in our Christian walk so we can be those who reflect the glory of God.

Sunday 7th February 16 – Morning Service

Ian-Feb16Ian Middlemist, evangelist at Hill Park Church, Haverfordwest, took last Sunday’s service in which he preached on the final verses of Acts chapter 3. His sermon began by saying that too easily we give way to the culture around us. However, Peter says we are not to do this. Our God has a great plan – it’s about having an encounter with the risen Jesus Christ. Ian’s sermon raised three points:

Receiving Christ The Sent Christ and Restoring all things.

Christ must be received into heaven before He is sent. The author of life was killed – without Christ there is no life (Hebrews 1). He was murdered on a cross. But the wonderful truth is death could not hold Him. He is risen. Jesus then revealed Himself to His disciples. Later they saw Him ascend into heaven. Jesus told them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. This was still not the end – the church grew and the name of Jesus Christ spread into the world. We are still waiting for more to come. Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of God. He sits. He has completed His work of Salvation. He sits as a perpetual reminder than sin has been dealt with. He sits because He is reigning. He is not simply the king of the church but He is king of the universe, the King of Kings. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him.

Christ sends His disciples and preachers into the world. They respond to His call to share the Gospel which is spoken with Holy Spirit authority. Peter quotes Moses (v. 22). Moses didn’t just speak about the coming of Christ, Moses was like Christ. The Israelite’s were crippled under the reign of pharaoh, not unlike the cripple at the gates. Peter draws our attention to the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only one to give us hope – not Moses or anyone else. Too often we hear the voice of the community around us who want nothing to do with the future, with the second coming. They want to hear about now. Our purpose is not to reform society. Peter says it is to give the message of repentance. The people around us don’t need our help, they need the gospel. Christ has defeated death, sin and Satan. He has truly secured a victory.

Everything in history is leading up to when Jesus will be sent. The great event creation is moving towards. Is Jesus coming again – that’s the answer for this world. He will come ‘with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16). He will come to restore all things. We are waiting for Christ, for His second coming. Jesus is coming very soon!