March 1st 2020: Gaius Douglas

Gaius-March19The Steps of a Surrendered Life

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.”

Psalm 37:23

The steps of a man are established of the lord. Seven steps are identified in studying the scriptures of the surrendered life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our thoughts are often on ourselves. We are saved by His grace yet so often we go from ourselves to compare to the Lord Jesus Christ, but we should go to the Lord Jesus Christ and see how we measure up to Him.

We see Christ, a surrendered life to the glory of His Father, always living, always abiding in the presence of His Father, God. When we are studying the Word of God, Augustine said, The Old (Testament) is in the New (Testament) revealed.” If the Bible is the only book you ever read, this is all you need to know because the Spirit of God is your teacher. You will know everything you need to know about God. How often Jesus quoted from the Old Testament.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23). Who is the man? It is not the unbeliever, it is the believer in Christ, the person who is being established in God. The world hates the believer in Christ. The world has to come to Christ. The Bible says, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world,” (John 17:14).

In everything you do, if you know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, you know God is the one who is in control, directing your ways, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps,” (Proverbs 16:9). So often we plan this and that. Afterwards we add the strap line, ‘God willing.’ Shouldn’t we have gone to God first? God allows it. There is a well-known quote, Man proposes but it is God who disposes.‘ God opens the door, but many blessing we ignore because we turn away from His path. We say no and shut the door on God. He is gracious and opens it again, but again we say no. When He opens the door are you willing to walk through it?

We are who we are because of who Jesus is. He is our example, He is the one who has gone before us, who made those first steps. Now He says, ‘Are you going to follow me?’ This man is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father sent the Son, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world,” (1 John 4:14). He was the one God used to establish His way. He delighted in His Father’s words and His Father’s ways.

“Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in His inhabited world, And my delight was with the sons of men (Proverbs 8:30-31).” Who is this man? It speaks of the man Christ Jesus, who delighted in His Father’s thoughts and actions. He was daily His delight. He rejoiced in everything the Father did and said, in every aspect. His delight is you and me, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16). The Father loves us, gives us the richness of His blessings. Whatever the Father asks Him to do He will do it (Psalm 16). Who enjoys being in the presence of God? None other than the Lord Jesus Christ. There is enjoyment, excitement. The steps of the Lord Jesus Christ followed, He sought His delight in His Father.

He is the one who spoke the world into being, He came from the Father and is one with the Father, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” (John 1:1). He dwells in the bosom of the Father. Where do you dwell? Where are you living? It’s a challenge to our heart. Where we are dwelling depends on what comes out of our mouth. Our words and actions show where we are dwelling. He was dwelling in the bosom of His Father. He lived in Nazareth, played games and enjoyed life. He associated with you and me so we can’t say ‘You don’t know what it’s like on earth’ because He came! Aged twelve, He was found in a synagogue – a child teaching and debating, doing His Father’s business, dwelling in the bosom of His Father. If the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, found it necessary to dwell in the bosom of His Father, what about you and me?

Does it mean no-one else can live this life because it is too high? Surely He allows us to slip here and there? The Lord Jesus Christ never slipped, He never allowed any latitude, “Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.  And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” (John 8:28-29). If the Lord Jesus Christ is my Saviour, my Lord, then surely He is able to bring me into the ways of Himself, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day,“ (Psalm 25:4-5). Without Him we can do nothing; we can’t walk one step which is pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Can we live this life?  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14). The Word became flesh. He identified with people. He wanted to save, to show them how to please His Father. He wants us to be able to call him, ‘My Father.’

So I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8). He came, became man, became like you and me  – apart from sin. He walked in this world and says, ‘You can do it because I did it.’

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13). God says you can do it! You can walk this life because of Jesus Christ. We can look at our failings, our weaknesses, yet ‘I can do all things through Christ. “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” (Colossians 3:3).

We can be strengthened by Him. We are learners at His feet. Jesus called Matthew, saying ”Follow Me.” Matthew got up and followed Jesus, “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him,” (Matthew 9:9). We don’t read anything about Matthew’s responsibilities, his family. He got up and followed Jesus. The fishermen left their nets and followed. Peter was married, loved his mother-in-law. He had responsibilities but he left and followed Jesus. James and John were with their father Zebedee but they left all and followed. Jesus says to you, to each of us, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19). He is not just saying, ‘Do your very best.’ He has saved you for His glory, His honour, His blessings. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3). After Jesus met the woman at the well she preached immediately. She was so full of energy!

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord,” (Psalm 37:23). The Lord Jesus Christ identified with us in coming into this world. He established steps. How can we follow? Remember where He went and how He went. As we come around the Lord’s Table, remember He came down from glory, went lower down to death. In becoming a Christian He is asking us to death. We have to die; there is death to things of the past in exchange for life in Christ. He was baptised into death. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

We are now washed, sanctified. Christ’s death on Calvary’s Cross has washed and clothed us, made us righteous, a son of God. We are sanctified, set apart, for His glory, honour and praise because Christ has done it. You have been justified. God has declared it so. We are no longer condemned. You are one in Christ. You have everything necessary to follow Him. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. It happens at re-birth, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” (Ephesians 2:1).

Jesus wants you to join Him, share in His glory, all the things the Father has given Him.

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

January 12th 2020: Chris Benbow

Chris Benbow - Jan 2020Acts 2:38-47

Imagine we are all going to be involved in a group project to build a car. We all get together and different jobs are assigned to acquire a piece of a car and bring it back to the group to assemble together. Simple enough? The roles are delegated. Soon, one person comes back saying, “I have good news. I’ve secured my piece for the car. A wonderful set of magnificent wings.” All agree the wings are wonderful – but not quite what they had in mind! Time passes, another person comes back and says, “I’ve secured a piece for the car. It’s going to be the best bit – a top of the range sail.” Again, it is wonderful but not what was wanted. As we all know, cars don’t have wings or sails. Before getting started on the project, the people should have got together to ask, ‘What is a car? How are we going to build it? Unless we establish that we won’t get very far. We need unity and clarity. It’s a simple example. The question this morning is a little bit different, more important. What is a church?

Over the years both Christians and non-Christians have needed a lot more unity and clarity when it comes to answering ‘What is a church?’ Do we have unity and clarity on this point? It is helpful to consider what a church is not. For some, church is a building, used for an hour on Sunday then left for the rest of the week. That is not the whole picture. It is a traditional picture given by some older people but it does not give the complete story. There is a younger mistake, the complete opposite of the traditional view. It is that the church is believers, no more, no less. Is that it? You get together with other believers in a coffee shop and that is church? Surfing believers gather together, then you get church on the waves? Matthew records, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them,” (Matthew 18:20). But that’s not all a church is. Let’s move from the negative to the positive and look at church characteristics.

The over-arching principles of what church is and what activities it is about:

Calvin speaks of the invisible and visible church. The invisible church is all generations, of all times, come together. We see a snapshot of this in Revelation. The visible church is visible in local collections of believers that practice certain things. What does the church do? Repent. Healthy churches hate sin, their own personal sin. That’s the life-cycle of a Christian – repentance, repentance, repentance! Is there a sin we are hating in our lives? The church is to be repentant. But is also to be baptised – full submission baptism, completely taken under water and raised. This is a visible sign, died to sin and raised to Christ. If you’re a Christian, have you been baptised? Are you a Jesus loving, born-again Christian? You need to be baptised in the name of the Lord It’s all about Him. You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is our security. The Holy Spirit seals us. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit; they are signed and sealed. And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,“ (Acts 2:38).

Who is this promise for? Everyone! “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself,” (Acts 2:39). Church groups can do very effective programmes – children’s work, work for senior citizens, but this is not the church. The church is multi-generational. Church programmes are not the church. Church is family and families are diverse. Are you building a church or church programmes? There is a difference.

“And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2: 40-41). I once went to a church where there was a gifted, intelligent, well-liked guy who was heavily involved in church. He was a holiday club leader, visited people in a pastoral role, involved in lots of activities – a deacon in everything but name. But he wasn’t a member of the church. Was he part of the church or not? For all intents and purposes yes, but actually no. Because when people get saved they join the church. Church membership tends to be unpopular these days.

What is a church? It is local, multi-generational, baptising and has members. It is all about Jesus Christ. The church is characterised by certain things. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers,” (Acts 2:42). They devoted themselves. Devoted is habitual. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, the teaching of the scripture. Everything we do should be peppered with the Bible. We should be devoted to the Holy Bible, it is God’s word. The people of the early church devoted themselves to church fellowship. The local church knows each other and spends time with each other.

The church also devotes itself to the breaking of bread, the Lord’s Supper. Communion is central to everything we do. Why not have it every week, every Sunday? The Bible does not give us a template but ‘devoted’ implies constantly.

The teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. Prayers make us a listening and speaking community to our heavenly Father. Your heavenly Father does indeed hear you.

“And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles,“ (Acts 2:43) This is another controversial point. I don’t know where you stand on Spiritual gifts but are we are expecting God to move? Are we prepared to see what He is doing? What is God going to do next? Is there expectancy?

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common,” (Acts 2:43). How is that worked out in practice? Do you have a statement of faith on your website? Do we declare what we believe so there is unity as a purpose within this? Our statement of faith provides clarity in a generation of confusion.

“And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need,“ (Acts 2:45). In the early church they gave as they could, sacrificially, for the church of God. Another mark of the church is giving.

Let’s encourage one another. Let’s all evaluate where we are in the light of scripture. By His strength and grace we can move forward.

October 20th 2019: Gaius Douglas

Gaius-March19‘Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.’
(1 John 3:1-3)

Moses was so blessed to be in the presence of God and God was pleased to bless him and the people of God. Do we ask God to show us His glory? Do we feel bold enough to pray to God and ask Him to show us His glory? Those saints who have died in Christ are in the presence of the Lord. We have the privilege of being able to see the Lord face to face – one day it will be a reality. How blessed! The Lord says, ‘Because I live, you will live also’ (John 14:19).

‘Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (1 John 3:1). We see something remarkable, wonderful. John is focusing upon God’s love, it is all about the love of God. “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.” (Stuart Townend).

The four gospel writers bring us characteristics of Jesus Christ. Matthew speaks of the King, Judaism and Christianity. Mark speaks of the Servant King. Luke speaks of the manhood of Christ. John is totally different to the other gospel writers. He is the one who leaned upon His bosom, listening to His word. John speaks of the son-ship of God. The gospel of John records a wonderful verse, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). John saw something of God’s wonderful love and wants to share it,  His immeasurable, divine love, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1).  

John says, ‘Behold,’ – take notice, consider. “Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;
He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high,” Isaiah 52:13. In Isaiah 40-45 we see a similar word, ‘Look.’ He wants our attention to be drawn to the man, Christ Jesus. What manner of love? Divine love. It comes from God alone, God is love, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love,” (1 John 4:8). That’s the essence of Him. We have been loved with that great and wonderful love. God the Father has this great love for His children that we should become the sons of God. We have been brought into the family of God. We are more royal than royalty. We have been made children of God. God actions then take us, we have been adopted into the family. We have been brought into this relationship out of love. It is a divine love. Relish it! Enjoy it! It means we can come into His presence anytime.

We are accepted in the Beloved. There is no comparison (Isaiah 40). His love is matchless. It can’t be compared to anything we know. For each of us who has been loved with that great love, we know it. Regardless of where we are, we know we are loved and no-one can take it away.

His love is boundless. There are no barriers, nor boarders. He is infinite. His love is infinite. His love is so great, so vast. “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God, “(Psalm 90:2). His love has no beginning or ending. “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you,” (Jeremiah 31:3). His love draws us. 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells me this, faith and hope will cease, but love will abide forever. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

His love is a transforming love. If we know the Lord Jesus Christ we have been transformed. Every day we are being transformed by His loveliness, His beauty, His glory. He brings us into the wonder of His graces (Ephesians 2). What we were before, love has transformed us. By nature we are dead in trespasses and sin. We were haters of God. But now we have been saved by grace, by His precious blood, we are being made more like Him. There is a lovely picture of this in John 3, in Nicodemus, who came in the night to talk to Jesus. John 19 speaks of two disciples, two secret disciples: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. They hid their Christianity in Christ, yet He loved them. They came out and asked for Christ’s body. They were no longer in hiding. The love of God is so overwhelming it just transformed them. This is only shown by John.

God’s love is an unquenchable love, “Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it, (Song of Solomon 8:7). Regardless of what we go through, the love of God is more powerful. Scripture tells me love is stronger than death, it overpowers death (Song of Solomon 8). The more we drink of it, the more we want. God’s Word will satisfy us.  Take this unquenchable love from the one who has designated glory to us. I have a reserved place in heaven. Have you? Satan will never be able to take away the love of God. And he tries.

God’s love is a conquering love. He is victorious. He bore our sins on Calvary’s tree, made them His own. O praise the Lord for His wonderful love, in bearing our sin. He was taken to a tomb, where the wonderful words of the angel were heard, “He is not here; for He is risen,” (Matthew 28:6). “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) – that’s love! Nothing can touch us. That’s the power of love.

It is a forever love. For ever and ever and ever. Do not be afraid of it. I am not earth-bound. I do not belong here. He has promised He will take us to be with Himself. So often we try to put roots so firmly in this world. Go to the place where there is love, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you,” (John 14:2). Love will never end. It is inexhaustible, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

January 6th 2019: Gareth Edwards

gareth edwards-jan19Exodus 20:1-2

The Ten Commandments

In Psalm 19:7-11, David underlines the importance and splendour of God’s law; it is a thing of rare perfection and beauty as it reflects the majesty and beauty of God. The law brings many benefits to those who follow them. At the very heart of the law of God stands the Ten Commandments.

The opening two verses of Exodus 20 set the context for the giving of those Ten Commandments. At the very beginning of the chapter the authority and power of the law is revealed; the Ten Commandments are given directly by God. God spoke. God Himself inscribes the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone given to Moses. God did not speak through an intermediary. Deuteronomy 5:22. God spoke and then wrote them on two stone tablets. God directly gave the law, thus giving them the authority of God’s sovereignty. They carry the full weight of divine power. Each and every Command bears the mark of divine power. The Commands of God have been given and need full obedience.

Some suggest the commands were only meant for Moses’ day and are not applicable in our modern Western world, but they are permanent, for all mankind. God literally set them in stone. They are fundamental, even today. God did not give us ten suggestions but Ten Commandments. We must not to treat them as optional. Our Creator has enforced them. We ignore them at our peril! They demand full compliance, total obedience. Any failure is a rejection of not just the Law but of God Himself. We cannot have a relationship with God and refuse to obey His commands. We cannot pick and choose between the Commandments, accepting some and rejecting others. The Ten Commandments are a single unit, each as binding as the others. We are bound by them all.

God spoke these Commandments. Why? Did God really expect people to keep these Commandments without transgressing them? God knows, by nature, we are sinful, disobedient; it’s our natural inclination of our hearts. Exodus 20:20 causes men to think and restrain themselves from doing evil in His sight. His purpose is to reveal the holy standard of perfection which God demands from man, which he cannot reach. In Galatians 3 Paul tells us how the law was given to highlight man’s sinfulness; there is no hope of earning Salvation. Paul adds that since the promised Saviour has now come, the law continues to act as a teacher (Galatians 3:24).

God’s purpose in speaking the Ten Commandments is both to encourage men to do right, but more importantly, that they are incapable of meeting the standards and need Jesus Christ. Whenever we come before the Ten Commandments we must be convicted that we have broken every single one in thought, if not in action. For example, the seed of animosity and hatred that leads to murder is in my heart and yours. The Law looms over us as a great obstacle in reaching God. The Law convicts us of our sin. It reveals to us that in God’s sight we are rebellious and we are, therefore, cut off from God – under God’s curse of judgement. But then, at this low point, the gospel comes and points us to Christ and His death on the cross.

Christ offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sin, bearing in His body the wrath of God against us. (Galatians 3:13). His precious blood poured out as the sacrifice for our sin. For my sin He suffered so. Here is the hope of salvation. The Law exposes all of our pretentious belief that we might be good enough. The Law reveals that we are without hope, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The gospel comes. Through His perfect life and sacrificial death, the purity of His life is credited to us. He accepts the responsibility of your sin and mine. We are clothed in His righteousness. He pays the penalty of our breaking the Law. He demolishes the obstacle of the Law, separating us from God. The curtain that separated the Holy of Holies split into two, the very way into the presence of God is now open to all who trust in Christ for forgiveness of sins.

We’ve been saved, freed from the curse of the law. But we’ve not been freed from the law in our daily lives. ‘Do not think that I came to destroy the Law of the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil’ (Matthew 5:17). Christ did not come to make the Law unnecessary but to change people’s relationship to God.

Before being a Christian, the Law is a great barrier to approaching God. But when someone becomes a Christian, by God’s grace, the same law becomes an internal standard of holiness. The believer delights in endeavouring to keep the Law. The Law becomes a thing of delight to our souls because now our desire is to please God, God who created us but God who is also our Saviour (Jeremiah 31:33). There is a change of relationship; the Law is no longer a threatening force that condemns but an external delight that we might know Him. The keeping of the Law is to our benefit.

The Jewish order of the commandments includes Exodus 20:1-2 as the first commandment, seeing it as integral. Here is the God who, in His loving mercy, brought the Jews out of slavery. He is now instructing them how they should live so that it might go well with them (Deuteronomy 6:1-3). When a person becomes a Christian, the Law becomes a delight and a source of blessing. God has changed us and so it remains important to us to obey the Ten Commandments – not as a means of gaining or strengthening salvation – rather as the duty of love that we delight to do, as the expression of our thanksgiving for His grace.

It’s to our spiritual and physical good that we endeavour to keep the Law. We are greatly blessed in knowing that the Lord is pleased when we keep His Law. He is the God who is faithful. We can no longer be condemned by the Law, it can no longer put us in that place where we are objects of God’s wrath. But the breaking of the Law brings consequences. To be disobedient to God always has consequences. There are always sorrows and sadness when people break God’s Laws. Christians are not immune to that. Our walk with the Lord will be disturbed if we break the Commands. We will not lose our salvation but we can lose the joy of our salvation. If we show a disregard for God, the sacrifice of Christ, as if it has no great value, if we persist in sinful disobedience, we will still break the commands because there is no perfection in our lives. That’s why we continue to rely on God’s atoning sacrifice. But now that we are citizens of God, it’s become our delight to keep it as we are no longer under its terrifying condemnation. The Law is given to us to keep as we desire to please Him and as we delight in knowing His good pleasure in us. The Law will also destroy all hope in men earning their own salvation. We need to rely on the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary.

God has used the Law in your life and mine to point us to the cross. In Christ alone my hope is found. He alone is my Saviour and in Him I have eternal life.

August 20th 2017: Gareth Edwards – Baptism Service

Reading: Colossians 2:6-15, Preaching: Acts 2

Today is not about Meg, it’s about the Lord Jesus Christ. It is all about what He has done, not what Meg has done. What Megan is doing is a response to what Jesus has done, ‘Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”’ (Act 2:38-39).

When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost there was: conviction, conversion and consolation.

Conviction:
Everybody who comes to be baptised has experienced conviction of sin. Peter is preaching about the Lord Jesus Christ and how the people had wrongfully, spitefully put Him to death. They listeners were cut to the heart, crushed under the enormity of their sin. They knew they were guilty and had no excuse. They had killed the anointed one of God, the one the nation had wanted to see for so long. Yet they rejected Him, He wasn’t the Messiah they wanted. Ultimately, they had Him killed. Now they are told by Peter that He had been raised from the dead. Perhaps they thought He wanted revenge? Crushed under the sense of their sin, perhaps they wanted to know was there forgiveness? In helplessness they cried out to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

There is nothing harder to penetrate than the heart of a sinful man. When we are confronted by the wrong that we do, we suggest if there’s anything wrong in what we’ve done, surely it’s outweighed by the good we’ve done. Some refuse to acknowledge they’re sinners. It is a natural human reaction when confronted by wrong. But these people were convicted – as those of us are who have come to know Jesus. We too are convicted as we saw ourselves as we really are – sinful and broken. We were brought to grief. Have you been convicted of your sin? Has your conscience been grief-stricken at your actions and words in the sight of God?

Isaiah proclaimed, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). There is no hope for the self-righteous. Meg is not here because she thinks she is a good person, she is here because she knows she is a sinner, like me. There is hope only for those who are convicted of sin.

Conversion:
Peter shows the people the way of Salvation. First they repented. Repent means to make a U-turn. All of us have to complete a U-turn if we are to have the hope of forgiveness of sin. In repentance we acknowledge we have done wrong in the sight of God and nothing we can do can save us. Repentance is knowing that there is nothing we can do to impress Him. Everything about me in the sight of a holy, righteous God is an abomination. However, God Himself has come in the person of Jesus Christ into our world. He identifies Himself fully with us, He died on the cross for my sin and gives to me the perfect righteousness, so I am acceptable as He is before God. It’s nothing of me – it’s all about Jesus. Jesus, by His saving grace and power, changes me and makes me acceptable to God. Therefore, it’s important to be baptised. Being baptised doesn’t make me right with God. Praise the Lord, Meg is already right with God. Jesus has taken her to be His own. Now she’s being baptised as a witness to what Jesus had done. A sinner can only be saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. Your old sinful nature dies with Him on His death on the cross. It brings newness of life in Christ, through His resurrection. Baptism shows this. Every one of us here needs to be converted, without exception, from the youngest to the oldest. Meg wants you to know it’s not because of anything she’s done, it is all because of what Jesus has done.

Consolation:
‘So those who received his word were baptised, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.’ (Acts 2:41). The people gladly received the word, the message of salvation which convicted them of their sin. It also thrilled them.

Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ (Matthew 5:4). Receiving Jesus, they are assured their sins are forgiven, they are right with God. Their hearts are gladdened. They gladly gave themselves 100% to serving the Lord and Saviour in the life of the church. They have such great consolation, great comfort. Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, no matter what their troubles, have the peace of God which can never be taken away or destroyed because Jesus is the Saviour and Lord. The gospel never leaves people in the pit of despair but leads to the joy of salvation in Jesus Christ for all who repent and believe in Him. It’s available to all, free of charge, you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to improve yourself; all you have to do is trust Jesus as your saviour. The gladness, the peace that passes all understanding, is freely available – just acknowledge your sin and trust Jesus Christ as your saviour. Then, being born-again, you can be baptised, as Meg is being baptised. Our salvation was purchased for us at such a great cost. As we witness Meg’s testimony to Jesus Christ, we should also acknowledge our debt to Him.

Meg has poignantly spoken about not so happy days, but she would never exchange the happy days, when God’s saving grace changed her life, to be free of all the unhappy days. For the happy day, when Jesus washed our sins away, is an eternal day. It’s a day that outlives beyond the grave as it will never end. It’s a day to rejoice in. So as Peter preached this sermon on the day of Pentecost, there was a mighty work of conviction, conversion and consolation. The joy of salvation happens to everyone who is truly a Christian.

15.01. 2017 – Andy Millership

andy-millership-jan-17We welcomed Andy Millership who preached from Esther chapter 8. So few sermons are preached on this chapter, yet it is so wonderful. It is the only scripture where God is not mentioned by name. The conversation in this chapter took place around 473 B.C. between Esther and King Ahasuerus. The King tried to assimilate Greece into his empire but was defeated. This was something new to him and he sought comfort in his harem. His number one wife disobeyed him, so he got rid of her. He then launched a competition to find the world’s most beautiful woman and make her his wife. He found her – Esther. She was a Jew, an exile, in Babylon. Some exiles in Babylon had a deep-rooted racial aggrievance against Jews. Haman hated them with a passion. He was found out and executed. Esther was aware there was an on-going issue. Here, in chapter 8, Esther pleads emotionally with Ahasuerus for her own safety and the safety of her people.

Esther’s first argument was ‘if it pleases the king.’ Ahasuerus was Esther’s husband. The clothes, crown and sceptre signified a great man, the most powerful man on the face of the planet. Kingdoms cowered at his presence. A word from him and borders would be changed. He was a mighty, mighty man. Some criticised Esther for marrying him, yet she had no choice – he was sovereign over all. Esther’s opening argument, ‘If you are willing,’ shows that if Ahasuerus wasn’t willing, then nothing would happen. If he wouldn’t save the people, they were lost.

‘If this thing seems right before the king.’ Esther saw a need for safety today and for future safety. Ahasuerus could be unstable and unpredictable. Esther could not afford to leave the security of her people just for today. Esther pleads for the security of Israel.

Esther shines a light n herself and her own security, ‘If I am pleasing in the King’s eyes.’ She was pleasing in Ahasuerus’ eyes. He had seen her and he had chosen her.

When presented with all these arguments, how could he refuse? The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honour. The security of them as a people was certain, nothing could overturn that.

Why are we here? Why do we gather here in chapel week after week? May be we are reassuring ourselves that we are OK. We are here because we understand we are unable to sort ourselves out, we cannot secure our own future. In order to be saved we need to approach the King. Without His interaction, what hope do we have? What about you? Do you understand? Are you familiar with the light and joy? Are you saved? Do you know a fixed anchor that is immovable in the midst of chaos?
There is joy in knowing a Saviour who loves you and cares for you. The truth of the gospel is what we are here for. We have done nothing to deserve this. If you are to know what it is to be safe and secure, take your plea to the King. He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. All power and authority is in His hands. Is He willing to save you? ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’(John 3:16). He gave His own Son on your behalf. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him. Is He willing? More than you can ever imagine!

If we are to approach God and His sovereignty, then what is right and just is our condemnation and for Him to turn His back on us. We need to be careful if we approach God on the grounds of justice. He sees our rebellion, our self-centredness. God cannot brush over anything because He is just. There is nothing pleasing. We have a problem. But remember just how willing He is to save you. There is one who is pleasing in His eyes. Remember, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’(John 3:16).  His Son is the one who finds favour in His eyes. In His Son, justice is satisfied. We are lost unless the King Himself wants to save us. There is no hope outside Him. All the willingness of God to save us is seen in His Son Jesus Christ. All the justice was met in His broken body on the cross. Do you know light and gladness and honour? It all rests on Christ. Bring you pleas to the King, you have no other hope. Know He is willing to save you.

 

 

 

Morning Worship: Sunday 24th July 2016

Aaron2Morning worship was led by Aaron Davies-Whitfield who preached from Philippians chapter 2 verses 17-18 which he titled “A life poured out.”  

The philosophy of the world that we find ourselves in is ‘Drink and be merry for tomorrow we die’ – accumulate all you can and enjoy life to the full, become successful, seeking wealth, fame and popularity, for who knows what tomorrow brings. That’s the philosophy of a world without God. However, there is a wonderful contrast in the Bible. Jesus said, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me’ (Matthew 16: 23-25).

How different the mentality and position of Christians. Our lives are to be lives of not drinking in but pouring out for the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, Paul is telling the Philippians that his life is poured out. Paul is under house arrest in Rome. He has already suffered much for the Lord Jesus Christ: he has been beaten, mocked, kicked out of churches, his name has been shunned and ridiculed, he has been shipwrecked – all for Jesus Christ. We must pay attention to his words, of the words of a man who has forsaken all and taken up his cross for the Lord.

We first read of a drink offering in Genesis 35: 14. A drink offering has value; it is not water, it is wine – something that takes time and toil. As the wine was poured on the burnt offering it would produce a wonderful fragrance, a sweet smell to the Lord. Our lives are not the main sacrifice, they will never come up to the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He alone was the only one worthy to take our place on the cross. He was spotless, pure and without blemish. Our lives, in comparison to what He has done, seem so insignificant. Yet, when we offer ourselves to Him it comes as a sweet fragrance.

Paul was beheaded under the reign of Nero. We have seen a lot on the news of terrorism. The path of Christ is totally different. We don’t seek to destroy life but to save souls, to change people by God’s grace. We don’t go around with swords and explosives but with the Word of God. There may come a time of persecution. Christianity and Christ is everything – it’s all or nothing. There is no compromise, no sitting on the fence. The greatest status anyone can ever have is that you are saved and serving Him.

Today’s baptisms speak of our old life dying, our old life being crucified with Christ and a new life starting. Your life is no longer your own. Christianity is, ‘I do everything for Jesus.’ He is our Lord.

The philosophy of the world is ‘I am the master of my future. For those in Christ it is the complete opposite; He is the Master of our lives, the captain of our Salvation. He is the Lord.

Christianity is not forced on you. Paul says, ‘Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God’ (Romans 12:1). We were once slaves to sin and the culture of the world, now we come and offer our lives to Him. Present our lives as an offering, as a sacrifice, as a drink offering.

Isaiah 53 tells us ‘He poured out His soul unto death.’ What is a sacrifice today? It is sacrificing your time, your gifts, the things God has given you. Give your gifts to His glory. Give money – there is a part we must give to the work of God, a tenth. It must come from the heart, be something that you gladly want to give to the work of God. Give yourself. Give Him your heart.

Sunday 4th October – Morning Service

Ian2

Our morning service was led by Ian Middlemist, evangelist at Hill Park Church, who preached from Acts chapter 1 verses 1-10, Peter healing the crippled beggar. We learnt that as Christians we all have something to give, something perfectly relevant to whatever situation we find ourselves in. The beggar held out his hands hoping for silver and gold, but he received so much more. As the world holds out its hands, waiting for riches – for what it thinks it needs, we have the greatest message to give, what the world needs – the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. Those who are spiritually dead can be raised to a new life, to walk with God, to praise God. We need to bring the message to a needy people, to a crippled world, to let them hear about Jesus Christ.

Sunday 30th August – Morning Service

alan-davison - aug 15

This morning’s worship was led by Alan Davison from Carmarthen Evangelical Church. He preached from Hebrews chapter 2, verse 17, focusing on the prerequisite, purposeful, propitiation of Jesus Christ. Once again we were blessed with the fellowship of visitors over a cup of tea and refreshments after the service. Our Sunday worship continues at 4 p.m. when Alan will once again led us for a Bible study and informal discussion in the vestry. A warm welcome is extended to all.

Hebrews 2-17 KJV