March 10th 2019: Gaius Douglas

Gaius-March19Hebrews 12:1-3

A recent BBC news article written by a researcher was entitled ‘The Era of declining faith.’ One of the greatest problems is the name over the door of a place of worship. So often that name prevents people from associating with you. We must remember we are members of the body of Christ, of the household of faith. We are not Baptist, not Pentecostal, we belong to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the head and we are part of the body. We are members of the body of Christ.

During my last sermon we looked at those who bore the testimony of faith and the others. The others were not mentioned by name but were those who walked that path of faith and who continued in the faith. We also looked at what we should be doing and the hindrances that hold us back. We are not to get entangled in the yoke of bondage but to lay aside entanglements that hinder our testimony, the sin that so easily ensnares us, the pollution of the world. We often, as Christians, like to sit on the fence. We don’t like others to know we are Christians and hide Christ. Some Christians speak to other Christians lovingly, but then speak to others in a totally different way. The language we use with each other is the language we should use with others.

We should run with patience the race that is set. So often we’re so impatient we’re not prepared to listen. We need to run with endurance. What is the race that is set before us? It’s primarily run by Christians. Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Do you know what a Christian should look like?

The people who know the Lord Jesus Christ are called the Elect, the saints of God. The first people to be called Christians were at Antioch. The word Christian is only used three times in the Bible. A Christian is a person who has confessed Jesus as Saviour, who is born again of God, born of the Spirit, washed in His blood. Christ has redeemed us, bought us to Himself by His precious blood. Zechariah 4:6.

Saying you are a Christian does not make you a Christian. Have you been born of God, redeemed by His precious blood? Jonah made this wonderful testimony when vomiting out of the big fish, ‘Salvation is of the LORD,’ (Jonah 2:9).

So we’ve been redeemed. In this race that we’re in there are visitors and those who will try to prevent us from running it. The race has been determined already, set out by God Himself. The length of the race has been appointed already. There is an opposition to us running that race. But the Bible tells us we will be victorious because God is in that race. He will be with us. We’re running here in Roch. Every part of us is in that race. You cannot be a Christian today and not tomorrow, a Christian in the chapel today and not tomorrow outside. You belong to Jesus and Jesus belongs to you. You cannot be a part-time Christians. We’re in His race. It involves every part of us; physically, emotionally and spiritually. Jesus saved every part of us and brought us to newness of life. We are a new creation. He has changed a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. The race is run in the world.

There’s a prize – eternal glory. Are you excited about the glory to come? Jesus has gone back into heaven, He is crowned with glory and honour. He’s promised that glory to every believer in Christ – the eternal glory, born of His Spirit, born of His blood. John 17:24. In the race we are running we are being changed day by day, being more like Him.

It’s a race of endurance, looking to Jesus. How wonderful! The Lord Jesus Christ is the example, He is the one who has gone before us, He is the forerunner in this race. There is nothing that we will experience in this race that He can’t help us with and guide us with. There isn’t a situation that you will ever come across that He can’t help with. In Galatians 2:20 we read Paul was crucified with Christ, yet alive. Christ lives in me. He is the one who has died for us.

Sometimes, in our Christian life, we don’t want to face situations we don’t want – suffering, those who will hate us. John 17:14. The Lord Jesus Christ said we will suffer if we stand for Him.

There are also other runners in this race. Matthew 13, the Parable of the tares and wheat illustrates this. Wheat has a very identifiable head but the tares, a type of rye grass, are very similar. In the parable the servant recognised in the field something else was growing besides the wheat. He pointed it out to the owner, who said it must not be pulled up but grow together with the wheat. It would be rooted out at harvest time and burned. This speaks of judgement. In churches there are those who are true believers and those who are not. Some never trust Christ as their Saviour but attack Christians. Being a member of a church doesn’t say you know Christ as your Saviour.

To know Christ is to confess Him as Saviour, being washed by His previous blood. You need to know where you stand. We need to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 11:28. We need to share Christ with others. We are to live Christ, to live for the glory of Christ. As we run this race He wants us to share Him, to bring satisfaction to His Name. As we share Christ in our Christian path, others will want to know Christ.

The same one who has run that race, a perfect race, is the same one who is helping us to run that race, who wants us to share Christ, live for His glory and be a testimony. Let us not be afraid of the Word of God. Live it! Run it! Come unto Him, Isaiah 40, For His glory and His Praise.

April 30th 2017: Norman Rees

Norman Rees - April 17Hebrew 11:8-12:12, focusing on 12:1-3

This epistle, or letter, to the Hebrews was possibly written by the apostle Paul. We don’t know for certain. However, it is the word of God. It was probably written by a Jew who was writing to Christian Jews. The writer says, ‘Look, I know you’re going through a tough time, but I need you not to look back to the Old Testament sacrifices, but to live by faith.’ This is what every Christian in the New Testament did – live by faith. If this was Paul, he would have seen Christ on the road to Damascus. Others lived by faith without seeing Christ. They struggled. They were used to seeing sacrifices. The devil is saying, ‘You don’t believe just faith will get you into heaven, do you? Why not sacrifice again? Why not be apostate?’ (Hebrews 6). This is a test for them and for us. Is our faith in what Christ has done for us on the cross and His resurrection?

We started the race when we were born again. We have to keep our eyes on Jesus. Our Christian life is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It’s a long, hard struggle. Satan will see to that! The ‘cloud of witnesses’ are people cheering on.

Hebrews 12-1 NKJV.jpg

 We are not told who the witnesses are – angels, the Spirit of God? Whoever they are, they encourage us to keep going. God is with us and encouraging us.

Before these people were in the race, in the marathon, there had to be preparation. When people run they are stripped down to the bare minimum, setting aside every weight. Paul says then that the things which hinder us need to be set aside. These things are sins which hinder us – things which take up too much time in our lives and detract from our Christian life. The ‘sin which so easily ensnares us,’ are things we know are not right. We need to set aside such sins.

We need to run with patience, with endurance. God has set the race, Christ has endured for us. It’s a privilege and a blessing to be chosen unto salvation, to have a seal. We have to endure and make sure things do not get in the way.

The Christian life is not an easy life. The devil will see to it we will have a hard time. Don’t despair. Rejoice! Christ has endured before us. We want to see ourselves bearing fruit. Christians in Galatia were getting discouraged. Paul wrote to them, ‘’Don’t faint, don’t get weary – it’s the devil’s work, he’s playing mind games with you.’ God is a God of the impossible. Abraham never thought he would have children in old age. His wife Sarah laughed at the thought. Yet with God all things are possible.

People have prayed for you that you might be saved. God is a great God. Pray for others. The devil attacks our thoughts. He did it with Elijah; Jezebel was going to kill him so he ran. The devil plays mind games.

In Pilgrims Progress Passion wanted everything now. Patience is willing to wait for God to work things out, to patiently endure. Sometimes we want God to get a move on. He is in control.

The people in the marathon are running for a prize. We are still running in the Christina life. Running is the grace of God.  In 2 Corinthians Paul says people run for an earthly crown but this will pass away. Focus our minds on the eternal race. Our prize is in heaven, in glory with Jesus Christ.

Keep our minds focused. Look to Jesus. The moment we take our eyes off Him we’re in big trouble. When we take our minds off spiritual things, look to Jesus. Don’t look to yourselves. We’re all tainted in some measure. We have to look to our Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Consider the Lord Jesus Christ, look what He has done. He started us on our race, He knows the state of our race. He knew the state of man was in a damnable position. He gave us hope. We deserved death but Christ was made sin – not a sinner. When He endured the cross, those three darkened hours, separated from the Father, we see one who was willing to suffer because before Him was the Resurrection, accomplishing the work of salvation for you and me. Look to Jesus who endured the cross.

Hebrews 12-2 NKJV

Jesus never became weary. He kept going. We are on a great race of life. Do not look back. Sometimes there’s a temptation to take an easier path. There’s no easy way to heaven. When you’re a backslider, repent, come back to God’s word. God can still use you. Rely on God’s promises. Perhaps there’s a person in your Christian life who has hindered you. In Revelation, when writing to the churches in chapters 2 and 3, John finishes each letter with blessed words to each one, ‘To him who overcomes.’

When you feel like giving up, persevere. Jesus will use you. You will have the morning star, Jesus Himself. Jesus will be waiting with the crown of life. He will give us zeal and energy to carry on. God has saved us. ‘I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s and.’ (John 10: 28-29). We are in His hands. No-one can pluck us from death. We are as safe as those who have gone before us. Where we are, God has put us to live and run the race for Him. Lay aside sin and weights that hinder us. He’s the author and finisher. He started our race. Keep looking to Jesus. The devil gives us much to be discouraged about but, as we sang earlier,

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I fell it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Take my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it from Thy courts above!

(Come thou Fount of every blessing – verse 3)

Thoughts for a new month – March 2016

As a new month begins may be have a greater desire to know and worship our Heavenly Father. May we endeavor to  act as it is written in Ephesians 4: 2-3; with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

We are to continue to grow in Grace. As Christians we will never understand the pain, suffering and humiliation we deserve for our sins as Jesus paid it all. He hung on a cross taking the wrath that was meant for us. We are expected to live holy and Godly lives despite the sinful world we live in.

God’s Grace is truly abundant and is translated as merciful kindness. We should forgive others no matter how painful and difficult, if we want forgiveness ourselves. Holding on to grudges is what Satan wants us to do; he has come to steal, kill and destroy – and we as Christians are his target.

In the race of life, Satan endeavors to rob us of our joy. We are reminded in Philippians not to give in or give up,  God will give us His strength to press on towards the goal. Running the race means growing in Grace.

Pride will keep us from growing because when you pretend that you’ve got it all together you won’t make an effort to become more spiritually mature. No one has it all together – we all need a Saviour!

We need to stop focusing on our problems, worries, and concerns and begin put all our focus on Christ. Pray through our difficulties, for we call out to a Father who listens and cares for us. His grace is sufficient to meet all our needs and more! Sometime our situation may not change immediately as we are being refined and He wants to change us for the better through  these circumstances.

No matter where we are or what happens in our life, what circumstances surround us or situation we find ourselves in, our goal remains the same. The most important reason for our living should be to know Jesus and experience his Grace and love deeper every day.

No one knows how much time we have left in this race on earth. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but what we do know is that we need to keep running and drawing closer to our God.

Here are a few verses to consider and think about this month:

Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

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

Mark 11:25&26  -And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Psalm 20:4 – May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!

All verses are taken from, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.