August 25th 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards - July 2019‘You shall not murder.’ Exodus 20:13

A Sunday school teacher, in the process of teaching the Ten Commandments to her class, reminded them that they had learned the commandment to honour their fathers and mothers. She then asked if there was a commandment that refers to brothers and sisters. One girl replied, ‘You shall not murder!’ We smile and enjoy the humour of the story, but if we stop for a moment, there is a disturbing truth. All of us have harboured murderous thoughts towards others. They may be hateful glances, ‘If looks could kill …’ All of us have been angry enough to throttle someone for what they have done to us. It is extremely unlikely someone here has murdered someone. However, we’ve broken this Commandment in thought, word and deed and we are in need of forgiveness.

What is murder? The modern versions of the Bible has replaced the word ‘kill’ with ‘murder.’ In certain conditions the taking of life is permitted, for example, animal life. Some argue we should not kill animals, but Genesis 9:3 gives permission to kill to eat. Equally, God ordained capital punishment, allowing the state to kill one who deliberately kills another (Leviticus 24:17, Exodus 21:12-14). The Bible allows for the pursuing of a just war, which inevitably leads to death (Deuteronomy 20). Outside of these exceptions the destruction of life is murder. Therefore the murder of another, whether a baby still in a mother’s womb, or an elderly person coming to the end of their days, is an evil act.

There are three reasons why we should not murder another person:

  1. The sanctification of human life. God made us to enjoy fellowship with Him and gave us the capacity to have fellowship with Him. That’s what distinguishes us from the animal kingdom. We proclaim all people, irrespective of lifestyle, are to be respected. This does not mean we have to agree with them or endorse their sin, but they share in the same dignity by being created in His image (Psalm 8:5-6). Each and every human being has a God-given life that is sacred and He alone brings it to a close. For man to destroy another man’s life is to usurp the authority of God. It shows utter contempt for a God-given life (Genesis 9:6). Murder is an act of evil.

  1. Committing murder is following in Satan’s footsteps. It is the way of the devil to murder (John 8:44). From the very beginning it has been Satan’s purpose is to destroy human life through sin and death. In the Garden of Eden he pretends to Adam and Eve he is on their side. His desire is to bring death into the world and upon Adam and Eve. From the very beginning Satan has been a murderer.

  1. Murder is the elevation of self. Murder is a great evil. It’s the ultimate experience of selfishness. It’s the taking over the right of someone else to life. It is out of sin-ridden selfishness (Mark 7:21-23). Murder is one of the clearest experiences of the fallen-ness of the human heart as it is gripped in its own selfish concerns.

We are living where the respect of the sanctity of human life is in decline. We have become immune to scenes of murder in television programmes. People are enthralled by blood thirstiness. We are confronted by images of people being shot, maimed or killed. When we hear of teenagers being stabbed to death we think or feel nothing. We may say it’s sad, but then just carry on. Computer games encourage people to act out violence. Every week scores of unborn children are murdered simply because it’s an inconvenience for them to be born. People are increasingly concerned for animal rights. Dear friends, life is becoming increasingly cheap as we, as a society, turn away from God and indulge our self-centredness. Oh how we need to pray that God would have mercy on us.

Whilst we have not physically murdered anyone, the characteristics of murder are to be found in our hearts. Haven’t we refused to acknowledge the dignity of another, refused them common courtesy? It is seen in the racism of our age, where one group views another with disdain and contempt. We may despise an individual. Haven’t we taken devilish delight in bringing someone down a peg or two or been cruel in thought or action?

The Lord rightly points out the keeping of the sixth commandment includes dealing with the murderous attitudes of our hearts (Matthew 6). Inside each one of us lurks a murderer. We are all guilty of breaking the sixth commandment and all need to admit it.

But there is forgiveness. Amongst those who God forgives their sins are murderes. Even Moses, who the Commandments were given to, was a murderer (Exodus 2:11-12). Then there was King David, who arranged for Uriah to be murdered so his sin could be covered up (II Samuel 11). David was a murderer. Throughout the centuries there have been those involved in the most evil murders, including one of the closest associates of Paul Pott, yet who was saved through faith.

How can God forgive murderers? Because Jesus died in the place of a murderer (John 18). Here, this morning, no-one has picked up a knife or gun, but we are all guilty of that sin in our hearts. May be someone here has had an abortion. But there is forgiveness because the Lord Jesus Christ died, even for murderers. The good news is God forgives the sin of murder because Jesus identified Himself as responsible for the murder that lurks in your heart and mine. As we stand condemned by murderous thoughts we can rejoice the Lord Jesus Christ died for us. If we come to Him today all we have to do is repent, acknowledge our sin and no longer indulge in excuses. As your word examines me, I stand convicted. I throw myself on the mercy that is yours and can be mine. What a great God!

Finally, if you come to Jesus Christ and repent of your sin and are restored to a right relationship with God, everything changes. Instead of murder comes self-sacrifice. It leads us to make positive contributions to the life of others. Love does no harm to its neighbour. You have no difficulty in loving yourself. We are to desire to work towards our neighbours good, even more, to fellow believers (1 John 3:15-16). Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer. Dear friends, in so many churches it seems we’re more intent on murdering one another than laying down our lives for one another. The Christian should be willing to lay down his life for another. We need the mind-set of Christ (Philippians 2). We are to enter into the Saviour’s mind-set. We are to become increasingly like Him in our union. We must love one another, we must lay down our lives for each other. We must put the interests of everyone else above our own interests. When we do that we fulfil the sixth commandment.

Replace murderous thoughts and actions with true love. You cannot walk with the Lord whilst wishing harm to someone else. We are to be willing to suffer loss to secure that well-being for others, to give up everything as He gave up the glory of heaven and even His life for our salvation. Surrender all rights and privileges, then the love of God is with us.

July 28th 2019: Philip Meiring

Philip Meiring - Juy 19 -1And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” II Kings 5:16

Have you ever had a strange prescription from the doctor? Here, Naaman, a very important gentleman, is told to wash seven times in the Jordan, then his flesh would be completely healed. This story is an illustration of the good news we have of Jesus. God has given us a prescription which is signed off by God Himself, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.’ This prescription is for us as rebellious people full of sin. The gospel prescription is wonderful!

Naaman’s reaction is a good illustration of how people react to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is an interesting twist to this story. Naaman is not only healed but he is a man changed in his heart too. He came to know the living God that the servant girl knew.

Naaman was commander of the army of the King of Syria. His CV was long and impressive. He was a man who led from the front, a ‘valiant soldier.’ He was a brave, strong man, one of the most important people in Syria. He was even used by God in battle. He was a deeply religious guy but he had leprosy. That’s how it is with us. Naaman began to lose sensation in his fingertips. Pale white marks spread on his skin. It was about to ruin him. That’s why Mrs. Naaman was so upset, wondering where to turn. This man didn’t realise he had a deeper problem than leprosy.

We have put men on the moon, can listen to wonderful musical compositions, think about black holes on the edge of the cosmos. God has given us a wonderful world. But the Bible tells us we have a deep problem within our hearts because we are sinners. We have this disease which spoils everything. For all that we are as human beings, this disease spoils us. It’s in our hearts. It spoils the world we live in. Naaman was going to have to have his skin healed, but wonderfully, he was going to have his heart changed too.

How did God sort out Naaman? How does God sort us out? Look at verses 9-16. Naaman was used to being in control of his life. He sort of controlled the gods around him. He was deeply religious but he didn’t know the God who made the world. Everything revolved around Naaman. When he arrived at Elisha’s home, the neighbours must have been surprised to see the chariots roll up. The neighbours would have expected Elisha to come to the door but instead Elisha’s servant came out and gave instructions. It doesn’t sound like Elisha had a lot of respect for Naaman. But this was the man of God. He was giving Naaman a prescription that would change Naaman’s life and cause the pride of this man’s heart to be broken before God. The prescription was designed to humble Naaman. He would have to know his place.

Naaman’s reaction is what happens when a lot of people hear the good news about Jesus. The good news is Jesus died in your place. He took the penalty for that rebellion in your heart, that sinfulness. From the time you and I were born we were cut off from God. But Jesus died on the cross in your place and my place as a punishment from sin which has separated us from God. And if you come to Jesus and thank Him for taking the flack for your sin, if you truly believe in Him, you will be saved and have a relationship with God. It’s wonderful to know Him! Jesus lived a perfect life on my behalf. I’m so thankful. He took the penalty for my sin and I can go free. Believe and you will be saved.

The gospel is designed to make God big and us small, to give all the glory and praise to Him. You cannot pay for this good news, to be washed clean. It’s free. Jesus is the one who paid the price. You and I just have to accept the grace of God. That’s what Naaman experienced that day.

This morning, whatever you think is holding you back from a relationship with God, be assured, God can forgive. Humbly accept it, freely accept it. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. There is no other way, it’s just Jesus. He is the only way.

How was Naaman healed? He went storming off in anger. Like all of us, he rebelled. But he had some wise men around him who told him to be humble and accept the prescription. Eventually, Naaman sees sense. He repents. What is repentance? It’s a change of mind and a change of direction. He turned to God. He washed himself seven times in the Jordan – seven is the perfect number.  He was healed. That’s how it is with Jesus. All you have to do is believe in Jesus. Naaman believed the promise that had been given to him. You need to repent and change your mind about God and what He is offering you. Believe. Trust Him to be your Saviour.

October 29th 2017: Alun Johnson

Alun Johnson - Oct 17

Acts 2:14-41

Acts – the clue is in the title. It’s about the Acts of the Apostles, what the early church leaders did, about the early church being set up and spreading. It’s about Christianity on the march. Is our Christianity on the march today? Do others in the community see us as being insular? Christianity on the march suggests action – getting out there. The early Christians did not consider it an action not to march. Jesus Christ said, “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace.” (Acts 18:9).

  • What does a Christianity that is on the march do?

We live in a society that is hostile to Christ and the gospel. How do we march? Acts 2 tells us exactly how. Acts chapter 1 links to the end of the gospels. After Jesus’ ascension the disciples are to be witnesses to the ends of the earth but they stay in Jerusalem. Why? Because they are constantly in prayer, waiting for the Holy Spirit. ‘And, while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “You heard from me; for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”’ (Acts 1:4-5).

Chapter 2 is the Day of Pentecost. 120 disciples were altogether in one place. Here we see the wonderful miracle of tongues of fire and the other wonder of wonders, Galileans speaking in other languages. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. There was a mixed reaction to this. Jews from all known corners of the world were there. Some utterly amazed, others made fun of them, saying they were drunk. It’s here Christianity begins its march.

‘But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.’ (Acts 2:14) Peter stands up. This is a very different Peter we see to the Peter of Matthew 26:74 ‘The he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” It is also a very different group of disciples compared with the disciples in this chapter of Matthew. There has been a dramatic change. This is not a Peter who is terrified of what others think of him. He shows remarkable authority. He is standing up physically and spiritually. He sought out Jews who had been mocking them and says, ‘For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.’ (Acts 2:14). It’s customary for Jews not to drink on the Sabbath or during festivals. They would fast, having not eaten or drunk. It was only 9 a.m.

What has brought about this change in Peter and the other apostles? ‘This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses.’ (Acts 2:32). These disciples had seen Jesus being crucified on a Roman cross and being brought back to life three days later. Jesus had beaten death, proving He was really who He said He was. The disciples were transformed by the resurrection of Jesus. We serve a risen Saviour. We trust in Christ who lives forever more. As Christians we are going to be resurrected one day because of what Jesus has done. ‘But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.’ (1 Corinthians 15:20-21). This is also seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:16

These disciple weren’t only able to stand up for Christ in front of hostile Jews, Peter and the other disciples stood because they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). The resurrection and ascension of Jesus meant that His promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit would be fulfilled. Peter stood because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Do we have God in us? Do we crave to be filled by the Holy Spirit in such a way that we can stand for the cause of the cross, whatever the cost?

  • Christianity that is on the march has confidence in the Bible (Acts 2:16-21)

The scriptures prophesied what was seen. Peter quotes Joel, ‘”And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.”’ (Acts 2:17). God’s plan for the world is much bigger than you or I think. It includes not just Jews but Gentiles as well. This would have been a very big deal for the crowd. Peter is showing he has confidence in the Bible. He knows he is part of the purpose and promises of God as prophesied in the Old Testament. They have God on their side. They are living out the very purpose of God. They are part of something huge – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as prophesied in the Old Testament.

Peter trusts the Bible. Do we have the same trust in the scriptures? Are we confident that the Bible is the inherent word of God and that we are in the Bible? ‘By grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ (Ephesians 2:6). Fantastic! See also John 17:20.

There are over 300 Old Testament prophecies about Jesus Christ, some in minute detail. Jesus fulfilled everyone to the letter. We need to tell people about them. Do we spend time meditating on it? Does it pepper our conversation? Do we live by it?

  • Christianity on the march makes much of the death, resurrection and reign of Christ (Acts 2:22-36).

Peter talks about the historical Jesus, but he is not merely giving a history lesson. There’s one pronoun repeated time and time again here. ‘You.’ Peter makes it personal to his listeners. He’s telling them ‘You saw Jesus yourselves, you put Him to death. Peter is not being subtle! He means for his listeners to see the horror of what they have done. The death of Jesus is not an awful accident. The key phrase is in verse 23, ‘This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.’ God meant for the death of Jesus to happen. Jesus’ death was purposed by God. Christianity on the march makes much of the death of Jesus Christ; it is God’s answer to the world’s greatest problem – sin. Without sin being forgiven we can never be with God. But, the fantastic thing is sin can be forgiven because God planned for Jesus to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Do we make much of the death of Christ?

Christianity on the march also makes much of the resurrection of Jesus. ‘God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.’ (Acts 2:24). It is plainly obvious that Peter is at pains to prove that the resurrection of Jesus really did happen and it was also prophesied in the scriptures. Christianity is on the march because the resurrection of Jesus really did happen.

Peter also quotes Psalm 110 in which David points prophetically to Jesus’ resurrection, ‘The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ (Psalm 110:1) The climax can be seen in Acts 2:26, ‘Let all the house of Israel therefore known for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Christianity is on the march here because God’s plan goes beyond the resurrection of His Son. Peter answers the question of verse 12, ‘What does this mean?’ by showing that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s own answer to the problem of sin and death.

Jesus ascended and poured out His Holy Spirit. Do we have the same confidence? Do we believe in the reign of Jesus Christ? ‘Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the sun, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Philippians 2:9-10).

  • Christianity is on the march because it tells the world to repent (Acts 2:37-41).

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, convicts His listeners of their sin and need for righteousness. Peter had just called the listeners murderers. They were not offended. By the Holy Spirit they feel the need of an answer, asking “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). They know they are in trouble. In order for us to be saved from our sin we need to see our sin and need. The answer is not popular. Our message is the same as Peter’s, “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.” (Acts 2:38).The people needed to repent. Nobody wants to be told they are wrong, they are sinners. Repentance shows a change of heart. From the mess of our lives we can receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2-38

Do we ache for the lost to be saved? Do we warn people and plead with them? ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ (Acts 2:40).

What is the result? ‘So for those who received his word were baptised, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.’ (Acts 2:41). Isn’t that what we want – 3,000 added to our number this day!

 

Good Friday 2017: Rev. Dr. Gareth Edwards

Isaiah 53. Mark 15:15-20

Easter - crosses

In the past few weeks we have seen again the suffering of the people of Syria. We’re moved to sadness seeing the plight of men, women and children as evil men inflict untold misery. It moves Donald Trump into action, it moves the world to condemn. Yet when it comes to watching the suffering of our Saviour, the world, even perhaps you and I, remain unmoved. Why? Because we are responsible for this suffering. To be moved would be to acknowledge our guilt. It is right that the world is moved to tears by the people of Syria, but, oh how we should be moved by the tears of Christ.

The verses in Mark 15:15-20 fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah 53. We must consider the awful reality of the Saviour’s sufferings and repent.

Isaiah 53-5

Isaiah tells us, ‘by His stripes we are healed.’ (Isaiah 53:5). The Saviour had already suffered; His face had been beaten beyond recognition ‘And some began to spit on Him and to cover His face and to strike Him, saying to Him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received Him with blows.’ (Mark 14:65). Now He is scourged. This was common practice so the person being crucified was weakened before the crucifixion. Many died at this stage. Jesus would have been stripped and forced to bend over and flogged with a whip of thongs, to which were attached metal and bone. In Jewish law a man could only receive 40 lashes, but in Roman law there was no limitation. Jesus would have been whipped until the flesh was removed from His back. Unimaginable pain and suffering.

What was the purpose? The Romans weren’t concerned with God’s purpose. Jesus was so brutally beaten and whipped as punishment for your sin and mine. ‘Then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes.’ (Psalm 89:32). By His suffering our sin is forgiven. As horrendous as this description of the Lord’s suffering is, it doesn’t tell us of the depth and anguish of His soul as He bears the wrath of God against your sin and mine. Each stroke was blow from God for a punishment for my sin. The healing was only made possible because of the great sufferings of Christ, ‘by His stripes we are healed.’

This picture of Christ’s mutilated body should cause us great sorrow. We take sin so lightly, we excuse it. We see its true significance here. Sin is an affront to God’s nature, the most sickening sight. It must be punished. Every fibre cries out justice for your sin and mine. It demands the sufferings of hell. The Lord Jesus Christ suffered hell for your sin and mine. We must despise sin and repent of it. Trust in Christ and receive the forgiveness His sufferings alone can bring.

Isaiah also says Christ was, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter.’ (Isaiah 53:7). The Lord had been bound and led around all night, dragged from one place to another. Here again, in Mark 15, we see Him being dragged around by the soldiers, first led to the barracks, ‘And the soldiers led Him away inside the palace (that is the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion.’ (Mark 15:16). They spitefully abused, mocked and spat at as they degraded Him. Then they dragged Him out to be crucified, ‘And when they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the purple cloak and put His own clothes on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.’ (Mark 15:20). This glorious Lord subjected Himself to be led about like a common criminal. He willingly submits. Why? Because He willingly agreed to do His Father’s will, to submit to God’s punishment for your sin and mine, ‘like a lamb that is led to the slaughter.’

Isaiah 53-7

Jesus did not resist or reject because, in love, He was going to die for me and you. What great love Christ has for us that He could endure such treatment. It’s impossible for us to see our Saviour’s willingness to die for us not to render ourselves completely to Him. He loved me so shouldn’t I love Him with all my heart, all my being, all my life? Should I not worship Him, praise Him, serve Him and love Him?

The Saviour’s experience reflects the reality of sin in hell. There is no freedom in hell, no possible escape. The opportunity for freedom lies this side of the grave. It is Good Friday because it’s the day in which the hope of Salvation came to those in bondage and set them free to serve Him. The Lord was bound so that we might go free.

‘He was despised and rejected by men.’ (Isaiah 53:3). We have already seen in Mark 14:65 that Jesus had already been mocked by the soldiers of Herod, He was now treated with contempt by the Roman soldiers. This was prophesied in Mark 10: 33-34, ‘See, we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him. And after three days He will rise.’ The Romans despised the Jews, so when the Roman soldiers had the opportunity they took great delight in ridiculing them. Now, even though Jesus was innocent, they call out the whole cohort, about 600 men, to mock Jesus. They dress Him as an emperor and mock Him as if He is a king. Mixed in with this sport was further cruelty as they force a crown of thorns on His head. They spit their revulsion in His face, then they put His own clothes back on Him and take Him to be crucified. ‘He was despised and rejected by men.’

The young Campbell Morgan, after passing his doctrinal exams to become a minister, then had to preach a trial sermon. After being told he was not successful, he wrote to his father one word, ‘Rejected.’ His father’s immediate response: ‘Rejected on earth. Accepted in heaven.’ Campbell Morgan went on to become a great evangelist. We are only accepted in heaven because Christ was rejected on earth. Those who mocked Jesus as the King of the Jews will have to face Him as the King of Glory. One day they will bow the knee and be filled with awe and fear at His appearance. And so it will be for all those who mock Christ today. What degradation that Jesus endured – not only physically assaulted but psychologically abused as well. He emptied Himself of all majestic glory in paying the price for our sin. Again we see that the penalty of sin is extreme – because sin is extreme. It’s the extreme rejection of the goodness of God. It justly deserves the wrath of God. The terrifying thing is those who despise and reject Christ today will be despised and rejected by God for all eternity. What a terrible fate! If men would just humble themselves before the Lord they will know the love and acceptance of God for eternity.

Romans 10-9 KJV

In Christ’s suffering we see how real our sins are, for His punishment is the punishment of our sin. We see in Christ’s suffering the greatness of His love for us. He willingly bore the torture of punishment that we might be forgiven.

Gaze upon Him and marvel that for us, He died. ‘Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life.’ (John 5:24).

John 6-47

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.