October 22nd 2017: Andy Christofides

Andy Christofides-Oct 2017One life, what’s it all about?

For our Mission Sunday morning service Andy spoke on three points about heaven:

Where is heaven?
What’s it like?
What’s the key to the door? How can I be sure of going there?

Where is heaven?
In 2010 55% of people in the UK believed in heaven. 95% of people in South Africa believed in heaven. Belinda Carlisle once sang that ‘heaven is a place on earth.’ It’s not! People tend to believe it’s ‘up there somewhere.’ It’s not so much ‘up there,’ it’s a real location. The Bible explains heaven is the unreached presence of God. Sometimes, a little bit of heaven impinges on earth. The shepherds on the hillside saw and heard an angelic choir as God burst in. Heaven appeared briefly when the disciples witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration, then disappeared again. There will come a time when the trumpet will sound and His glory will appear. Heaven is the immediate presence of God.

What is heaven like?
In John 14 Jesus Christ speaks a little about heaven, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubles. You believe in God; believe also in me.’ (John 14:1). Trust in God, give Jesus the same amount of trust. When the Apostle Paul thinks of his troubles, he thinks of them as being light and momentary, not worth comparing to eternal glory. Troubles are very real to us but there’s something coming far better for the believer that wipes it all away. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls heaven ‘My Father’s House.’ It’s a lovely phrase. It’s a place where families get together – one dwelling place. We are all together, there are no divisions, we all get along. “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). The King James Version states, “In my Father’s house are many mansion.” It is spacious. All have a place to dwell. It’s a great truth. There are some pretty great mansions on earth with spectacular views, but these are nothing compared to what we will have in heaven.

When Paul writes to the Corinthians he quotes Isaiah, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love Him,” (I Corinthians 2:9). Those who love Him  – that’s the key to entering heaven.

Paul also writes (in the third person, although he is speaking of himself), ‘I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. And I know that this man … was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.’ (2 Corinthians 12:2 &4). Paul had a glimpse of the third heaven – the dwelling place of God. He saw and heard inexpressible things. What will heaven sound like? The sounds of heaven will be far superior to anything we’ve ever heard.

Heaven is a place prepared for us, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). Everything is prepared, nothing will be out of place.

Our body is just a shell. I’m an eternal soul. I’m spirit. My body can move. I’m the bit that thinks, communicates ideas, thoughts and soundwaves. When I die my body goes into the ground but my spirit lives on. When Christ returns I get a new body.

Jesus Christ had a physical resurrected body. He could eat and drink. He could appear and suddenly disappear; at the Ascension He was talking to the disciples then disappeared. So our resurrected bodies will be physical, spiritual bodies, able to move around freely, travelling great distances.

Revelation 21 is highly symbolic of something wonderful. It’s a parallel to Revelation 7:16-17, ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘He will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” We will never again hunger or thirst. Eating and drinking will have no side effects. There will be feasting. There will be no sorrows, no painful memories of things that happened on earth. The judge of all the earth will have done right. There will be no sin in heaven.

Isaac Watts writes,

Sin, my worst enemy before,
Shall vex my eyes and ears no more;
MY inward foes shall all be slain,
Nor Satan break my peace again.

Heaven will have mansions of glory and endless delight. Heaven’s gates are always open and light always shines. Heaven is home. It’s there we will be satisfied.

How do we get there?
Thomas asked Jesus “How can we know the way?” To which He replied, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

‘I am’ is ego-centric. Too many people make the fundamental mistake of wanting to reform their own lives. It won’t get you to heaven. Going to church is very good, something you should do – but it won’t get you to heaven. Even going twice to church, attending mid-week meetings, reading the Bible and praying is all great – but it won’t get you to heaven. In every other religion it’s what you have to do. Even in some churches! There are some parents who believe that because they are Christened they will go to heaven. Or they may think that because they have family who believe they are Christians so this gives them access to heaven. Some say they believe in God – even demons believe in God – and tremble!

Jesus is the one who gets you to heaven. He is the door, the gate to the sheepfold. It’s not what you do that gets you to heaven. If you want to get to heaven, it happens through Jesus Christ, He is the only way. He is the only one who has dealt with the problem – sin. Our concern ought primarily to be God. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). Love God. He is your creator.

When things go wrong people shake their fists at God and blame Him. Yet when things go right it’s all ‘me’. God sent His Son Jesus, the second person of the Triune God, to deal with sin. Why? So we can go to heaven. Why? Because He loves us. God sent Jesus to earth. He lived a perfect life. He met God’s demands. He’s our representative. He went to Calvary, laid down His life. Isaiah foresaw this 700 years earlier, ‘But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.’ (Isaiah 53:5). When Jesus went to Calvary He took on Hell. It’s love. ‘But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8). He died the death for us. Because He did nothing wrong, death is conquered.

Jesus Christ is the only one who has dealt with the problem. All I need to do is rest in His finished work.

Will you be there? If you are not sure, why not? The door is wide open. Faith implies repentance, repentance implies faith. The good news is God wants us in heaven. What do you want for eternity?

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October 15th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian March 26th 2017I John 3 ‘Blessed Assurance.’

Assurance of love is essential. Our Heavenly Father needs to discipline us for our good that we might share in His holiness and be assured of His great love for us. ‘See what kind of love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is it did not know him.’ (I John 3:1). God wants His children to feel His arms of love around them.

I john 3-1

– An important question to ask: Am I a Christian?
– Vital love
– A central perspective.

An important question to ask: Am I a Christian?

The enemy of our souls tries to drive a wedge between us and God. The devil’s work and our conscience can condemn us as we compare ourselves with to others and to the Word. It is right we compare ourselves to God’s standards. It is right we love others but this can be hard. We may have difficulty praying for others.

For many the question ‘Am I a Christian?’ may seem ridiculous. They may answer, ‘Of course!’ It’s a vital question to ask. Be careful how we ask and answer it. We also need to meet it head on.

The creator God is here, we proclaim, as a church. There is one true God, all powerful, who created everything and is intimately involved. Why is it then that there is so much suffering? Why do so many people feel disconnected from God – not basking in the wonder of who He is? Why do we not always feel Christian? Perhaps we should ask ourselves what is a Christian? A Christian is a child of God. It is not someone who is generally good or goes to church. A Christian is a child of God, therefore it is someone who can call upon Him as ‘My Father.’

From the New Testament we know that a Christian is someone who is in Christ, someone who has entered into a wonderful, mysterious union into Jesus, clothed with Christ. We are intimately united with Christ. Faith has brought us into Christ.

People can be:

  • Unsaved and know they are not in Christ and are not bothered about this. They will be in Hell.
  • Be saved but not know they are saved. May be they don’t experience it all the time.
  • Be saved and know they are children of God. This is blessed assurance.
  • Not be saved but they seem to believe they are. This is false assurance. We do not want people to think they are going to heaven when they are trusting in themselves rather than Jesus.

In response to the question, ‘Am I a Christian?’ if I am I know I have the love of God in me, I am a child of God. To help you and encourage you there is to be a love in the heart of the believer. ‘By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him.’ I John 3: 19). 

I John 3-18

‘By this’ refers to the previous verse, ‘Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.’ (I John 3:18). There is to be this love in a Christian. It is defined in terms of direction:

  • It is not love towards cars, jobs, wives, husbands or me. Here is the grace of God displayed – it is love directed towards Jesus Christ, a love towards the person of Jesus. God sent His Son to live a righteous life on our behalf. When Christ willingly hung on the cross and suffered in agony He was thinking of you. Therefore, it’s Jesus we love because of what He did for us. Now we can put our trust in Him and now we can love Him. My love is not what it ought to be. The key thing Peter was assured of was that even when he failed, he could still say he loved Jesus. No matter how great our failings, we can still say we love Him.
  • There is a love for righteousness.
  • There is a love towards other Christians – not just certain Christians, a love for all of them. It’s testimony to God’s saving grace we can say we love the church.

Central Perspective: We must be convinced of God’s great goodness. ‘For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.’ (I John 3:20). We are assured of God’s great love towards us. It is not based on my love, my understanding or my feelings. Whenever our conscience condemns us, when the devil condemns, we turn to the greatness of God. Our hearts condemn us but God is greater. He knows all things. Don’t put your trust in yourself, trust in Him. Listen to what He says about you. He is always aware of us, where we are, what we feel, our thoughts. But He also knows we are His. He sent His only Son to die for you, to clothe you in righteousness. Be assured, God is greater than our hearts. Are you able to say, ‘Yes, I love Jesus?’ Be confident in Him.

 

July 30th 2017: Gerald Tait

Gerald Tait July 2017The Mis-understanding of God’s Love and the reality of it.

People ask where God’s love is when disasters happen, such as the Grenfell Tower. God’s love is not like human love, which starts and stops, people fall in love, marry and divorce. How sad that picture is – it is nothing like the love of 1 Corinthians 13, which is the exact opposite. Human love looks after itself, looks after number one.

God’s chosen example for His love for us is marriage. In the Old Testament God gives a shocking example of the marriage of Hosea, which describes the way God saw His people. It is a picture of what is happening in our world today. In the Old Testament the Jewish people were described as the adulterous wife of God, in the New Testament they are the Bride of Christ. Satan is trying to destroy the very image God is using to portray His love for us. Satan is at work, working against the church, destroying married life.

The reality of God’s love is demonstrated on the cross of the Lord Jesus. The only way you can understand the love of God is by looking at the cross, it is the starting place. In the event of you are not confident in your faith, if church has become a drudgery, if you’re losing your appetite for God, the place to go is the Easter story.

We have to return the love that is given to us. We love someone for what they do for us. We love the Lord Jesus for what He’s done for us and what He’s still doing for us.

‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30).

‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.’ (Ezekiel 36:26).

‘Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the loving God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.’ (2 Corinthians 3:3).

Our love comes from within us. God has given those who trust in Him, a new heart. We need to tell Him we love Him. Let’s return the love that has been showered upon us. The cross as a symbol will stand the test of time. God’s love doesn’t start and stop, He doesn’t divorce us. The Prodigal Son is about a father waiting for his son to come home, waiting to embrace him.

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Loving-kindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

William Rees

Tell the Lord how much you love Him. Thank Him for what He has done for you. Let His love become a reality for you.

Philippians 2-2

 

Sunday 26th June – Morning Service

Aaron

Character & Conduct

This morning’s worship was led by Aaron Davies-Whitfield who continued his study of Philippians, preaching from chapter 2 verses 14-16 – such a relevant scripture after what has happened in our nation.  The Word of God challenges us and changes us. Often the Word of God, which is ‘sharper than a two-edged sword’ (Hebrews 4:12), challenges us. It shows us things about us which do not line up with the Word of God. We must humble ourselves and acknowledges our shortcomings and confess. We need to repent and turn to someone we are in great need of, turning away from sin to Christ, asking for forgiveness and grace. The process of taking out sin in our lives is painful but necessary. This Word is a challenge to us all, it’s a good challenge.  Character is our reputation, conduct is our behaviour, and how we conduct ourselves. Paul is talking about a Christian character and conduct. He covers three areas:

  • Our relationship with God – This always comes first. Before we do wrong to anyone, we have first done wrong to God.
  • Our relationship with others
  • Ourselves

When Paul says, ‘Do all things’, this shows us that nothing is left out. God asks that our Christian life is one of affecting every area. We are born again, we are a new creation in Christ Jesus. Our life is to be different in every single aspect.

‘Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am Holy’ (1 Peter 1:15-17). Paul here is talking to believers. Our holiness first comes with Salvation, it is not just about morals, it is about being the people of God. We are set apart. Because we are His people, we are to be different. We belong to Christ, so we have to live as the people of God.

Verse 15 – we are the sons and daughter of God. The pulpit is not a place of politics. It’s the place of God. Whatever our views of the Referendum we must not fight. The body of Christ goes far deeper than our political views. Whatever we voted, we must love one another. We are one body, inextricably bought with the blood of Christ, we all belong to the same Father. We must come together as a Church.  If the people of God cannot come together, how can we be an example to others?

There is a greater ‘in or out’. Are people in the Kingdom? There is a greater cross to put by your name – the cross of Jesus Christ. The gospel still carries on, it is the greatest need, the greatest light and the greatest message. It travels throughout divisions. It has travelled throughout history. This gospel must carry on. It should be the most important thing in a Christian life. Glorifying Christ is the greatest work, the gospel is the greatest campaign.

‘Do all things, without murmurings and disputings’. Our delight is to please God.  The children of Israel were on a journey and murmured. Don’t murmur to God, He loves us, He is the sovereign. Remember the character of God and let it change you.

Our conduct should be ‘Blameless and harmless’ to others. We need to be different and love one another, serve and help one another. This is the beauty of the church. Manifest His love, care and compassion.

‘Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you’ (Matt 5:44). We can be one thing in church and something different behind closed doors.  In your whole life, in your very thought life and deeds, in private places, strive towards the Saviour. Don’t settle for remaining to be the same people, strive to be more like Jesus, wanting to be more and more a holy people. Strive for a closer walk with God, this is the path to glory. We are to be ever more increasing in our life to Christ. There is always a need to confess our sins, to grow in grace. What is on the outside should be the same all the way through, displaying Jesus on the inside and outside.

‘Crooked and perverse generation’ – we live in a fallen corrupt world. It is dark, it is evil. As the Church, as the people of God, in a nation that is split down the middle, we need to be an example. We need our light to shine before men, to show the light in a very dark time. God knows we live in a dark, evil world and this is why He asks us to shine. We are the light, we are different, we are changed, and we are the people of God. Our love is for God not the world. Our desire is not for ourselves but for God. We need to shine. The church must set the example, we must hold first to the Bible – the light. It is the truth in the midst of corruption and lies, it is the testimony we are to hold. We need to practice what we preach otherwise we are empty. Let people see unity and love in us, see something different in us.

‘I may rejoice in the day of Christ.’ Live this life for Jesus, whatever the cost, whatever the price, whatever the mockery and scorn. Be a light shining continually in the storm, in calm, but always shinning for the Lord. Let this message change us.

Good Friday – 25th March 16

cross-671379_1920Our Good Friday morning service was led by Rev. Dr Gareth Edwards who preached from Mark 15:21-28.

The journey of Christ to the Cross was a unique journey, a solitary journey that only the Saviour could make as He carried the burden of our sin to Calvary. The Holy, innocent Lamb of God took away our sins.

Each condemned man carried the cross beam to his crucifixion, but evidently the Saviour was too weak so the soldiers compelled another to carry the cross for Him. Simon was clearly converted (Roman 16 v13) and this was a great turning point in his life. The Saviour was already at breaking point before He reached Golgotha, close to death (Mark 14 v34). In Gethsemane he was already laid down. He could not bear the weight of the cross because He was carrying the unimaginable burden of our sin on His shoulders. Such is the weight of our sin He struggles under His burden. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to make us aware of our sin, then the Holy Spirt points us to Calvary and we see it is the Saviour who has carried that burden to the cross. We have been set free from sin’s burden and its consequences.

The King identified with sinners; the piece of wood carried around His neck bore the crime. Jesus was accused of proclaiming Himself as being a King and rival to Caesar- a false accusation. He is a King, the King of Kings, and the eternal, omnipotent Lord of all. Yet, He was crucified amongst two thieves. The King of Kings died among common criminals, taking my place and yours. He completely identified with us. He was made to be sin although He knew no sin. In the eyes of the Father He was us, He bore our punishment, died our death. What unbelievable love is this? Such was His love He was prepared to be a Servant King; He submitted Himself to the undignified action of washing His disciples’ feet. He set aside His glory because He loves us so. We should be devoted to Him, the King of Kings, our Creator. Why is He devoted to us? Because He is determined to love us. On the cross He has travelled from the height of Glory to the depths of hell to bring you and I Salvation. We are to bow to Him, our Lord and Saviour. He identified so fully with us. But there is more . . .

We see how Christ consciously suffers. When they finally reach Golgotha, the soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh, which would have acted like a mild anaesthetic, but Jesus refused to take it – the one concession. He rejected any relief from pain so he continued to feel the agony as the cross was raised into position. He must suffer the full wrath of God. Our sin draws from God the full wrath, He cannot show even the slightest mercy. The only way we can have mercy is for God to show no mercy to Christ. How great was the suffering Christ bore for us – the pain, the torment, the torture. But much worse – the wrath of God breaking Christ’s body, causing Him the most excruciating agony of soul.  He takes every blow of God’s wrath, all to make sure we would not have to suffer, to make sure all our sins were paid for in full because He loves us so.

Not everybody was concerned about what was taking place as Jesus hung on the cross. The soldiers were just concerned about the one perk they had, casting lots to see who had the clothes of the crucified. Whist the Saviour of the world was making atonement for sin, they were only concerned with who would win the prize for the victim’s cloak. They did not see the King of Kings suffering for their sins. Today there are many people doing the same, so many who are unconcerned about Calvary. They are more concerned about making and spending money. They are oblivious to salvation. His death alone bough atonement for their sins. We look upon His death and see Him hanging there in our place and we say “Hallelujah, what a Saviour!” From condemnation He has set me free. We come to reign, we come amazed at His love, and we come to praise and worship Him. We ask that he would enable us to give our all for Him as He gave His all for us.

Sunday 8th November – Sunday Morning

AaronNovOur visiting speaker today was Aaron Daview-Whitfield, who has been studying the book of Philippians with us. As we came to the end of chapter 1 today, it aptly tied in with Rememnbrance Sunday as he preached from chapter 1 verses 27-30, which he entitled “Christian soldiers in the fight of faith.”
We were reminded that the Gospel is Good News, God’s Good News, God’s message of Salvation. The message centres on the cross, Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ ascended, Christ coming again. Paul says we are citizens of heaven who no longer belong to this world and its principles if we have come to the cross. We belong to the lord, to the kingdom of heaven, therefore, we should act and live our lives in a changed way. We must live different lives.

The Philippians were to shine out the Gospel by their conduct and manner. Before we come to Christian conduct we must first realise Christian doctrine. Paul always emphasied in every epistle we must know what the Gospel is before we start living out that life, otherwise we become a church of moral conduct. We are the Church of Christ, washed in the blood of the Lamb, we belong to the Lord, we are a new creation. The Christian faith is not just a rule book, it is living out the Gospel that has transformed us. We must know this faith in order to share the faith. We must bear fruit in our lives. James writes, ‘Faith without works is dead.”

The Christian life is about standing strong. There will be conflict, people seeking to attack the church and the Bible. As troops have fought for king and country, standing together, moving forward together against the enemy, we too must come together and bear one another in love. The church must know commitment. We must all support the work of the church. We need not be afraid, for we are on the winning side. We must stand with the sword of the Spirit. The enemy’s work is to divide and conquer, but God is love and peace. Do not be afraid (Psalm 21).
One of the greatest problems today is there is no fear of God, a watering down of the doctrine. The wrath of God will be revealed to those reject Him. Hell is a reality.

Suffering and affliction was marked by the Saviour’s feet. We must all suffer in various degrees. We should not be surprised by this. When afflictions come our way we may feel hurt, offended, grieved. Jesus suffered infinitely more. If we suffer for Christ we do not suffer alone. Christ is with us, all around us. There will be blessings and great joy, times of great advancement in the Gospel, but there will be times of suffering too. Fight the good fight of faith, looking unto Jesus, our victory.

Sunday 25th October – Morning Service

GauisNaomi

This morning’s we listened to the Word of God being preached from 1 Samuel chapter 30, which our guest speaker, Gaius Douglas of Calvary Church, Haverfordwest, referred to as “The Pain of Loss.” We were shown that David was a man after God’s own heart. At his most difficult times he grieved, yet he encouraged himself in the Lord. God allows His people to come to that point so that we may realise that we have no control, we need to find our strength in the Lord. We may go through desperate situations but we need to encourage ourselves in the Lord, to wait upon Him. Matthew 11:28 promises “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We need to exercise our faith, to meditate on God’s goodness, on what He has done for us. Don’t try to do things our own way; see the Saviour who came into this world and showed His love, the love of God. Rely on His promises, they will never fail. Put your hope, your trust in Him. Go forward in God, listen to God, hope in God.

Matthew 11-28