January 14th 2018: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards-Jan18

Exodus 12:14-28: ‘Remember, Remember.’

It’s because we are so forgetful that God reminds us: Nehemiah 4:14, 2 Timothy 2:8, Ecclesiastes 12:1, Isaiah 46;9 are all calls to remember. One of the things God wanted Israel to remember was the exodus from Egypt, how God delivered them from captivity in Egypt. Even before it actually happened, God commanded the Israelites to annually observe the feast. Later, entire Psalms would be written to remind them of their bondage e.g. Psalms 78 and 106.

Most of all, the remembrance was to be a twin feast: Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Three times in this passage God tells Moses this was to be an annual feast. They were never to forget the salvation God had given them. Jesus gave us a remembrance feast when he celebrated the Passover feast. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we do so in response to the Lord’s command, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24). The Israelites sacrificed with the death of a lamb. Jesus inaugurated a new feast in remembrance of His death – as the Lamb of God. Sinners are saved by the broken body and shed blood of Christ. We must never forget the salvation God has given us.

What were the Israelites to remember? Salvation from sin. God had delivered them from the land of Egypt out of bondage where they had been slaves for 400 years. As they celebrated the Passover Feast they were to eat bitter herbs – a reminder of the bitter experience in Egypt. The unleavened bread was used to show they were leaving in a hurry, to remind them they fled from Egypt. Most importantly was the slaughter of the lamb, the blood sprinkled on door posts and lintels (Exodus 12:22). The final plague of 10 causes Pharaoh, at long last, to release the Israelites. When they celebrated Passover they commemorated their deliverance. The lamb was a sacrifice – deliverance from sin.

Passover was not just deliverance but also propitiation – God’s just anger turned away because of the penalty of that sin, death, had been paid by another. Passover was a double blessing: deliverance and propitiation. We are reminded that we are all sinners and all face the wrath of God. The destroyer who came to Egypt that night lays claim to us – there is no one righteousness, no, not one. All are under the sentence of death. We are in bondage to sin and we face the wrath of God because of that sin. But a sacrifice has been made through the shedding of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are delivered from bondage to sin and saved from the condemnation it brings. We are saved from the power and guilt of sin. As we partake of the bread and wine we remember that God, in His love and mercy, sent His only begotten Son to break sin’s bondage, to turn away the holy, just wrath of God against us, that we may know forgiveness and blessings of eternal life.

We are saved for sanctification in order to be holy. Passover was followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread which lasts for a full week. There were strict instructions. The Israelites were not to eat anything with yeast. Yeast was a symbol of the corrupting power of sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). When the Israelites ate the unleavened bread they were reminded of the need to keep themselves pure, clean. God wanted more than to just get His people out of Egypt, He wanted Egypt out of them. He was saving them to holiness. During the Feast of Unleavened Bread every trace of leavened dough was to be removed. People would sweep their houses to make sure there was no leavened dough at all in the house. In spiritual terms the Israelites were not to bring with them any corrupting influences of Egypt.

What are we to remember as we come to the bread and wine? We are sinners saved by grace. We have been saved for a purpose. We are not meant to carry on sinning. Romans 6. God’s purpose in bringing salvation is to save. The power of sin has been broken. You have been freed from the power and penalty of sin. God wants us to remember we are sanctified. He calls us to be holy. Even a small sin is dangerous. Like yeast, it wants to spread. God has a zero tolerance when it comes to sin. God delivered us from bondage to rid ourselves of sin, not to indulge it.

We are saved to obedient working. Israel bowed its head in humble adoration (Exodus 12:27). They worshipped God and praised Him for the deliverance they were about to experience (Exodus 12:28). The theme of the whole book of Exodus is obedient worship. God saved His people for His glory so they would obediently serve Him. This worship and obedience proceeded their deliverance – it’s before the deliverance takes place. Prior to the exodus they give obedient worship as they trust in God.

We trust and obey God, the God of covenant faith who keeps His promises. The experience of the fullness of our salvation we will only now in heaven. Bring saved to be sanctified, we should do whatever God tells us to do with willing hearts. Submit to the lordship of the Saviour.

The Christian life consists of many things but essentially two things: getting down on our knees to worship God and getting up on our feet to worship Him.

Remember, remember. As we partake of the bread and wine we remember we are sinners, but praise God, a Lamb has been sacrificed and the blood shed at Calvary. We are delivered from the power of sin and saved from the wrath of God against sin. We are blessed beyond all imagination. We are saved to live lives to the glory of God, turning away from sin. We do that because our lives are now taken up with the obedient worship of God. Give Him all the glory, all the honour and all the praise!

 

 

The Light of the World has Come

 

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When I think about Christmas, I realise that I came into the world having nothing to do with my birth. I showed up without planning it. When Jesus came into the world it was the most dangerous mission ever undertaken by a Baby. He came knowing the battles He would face and knowing the ultimate end of His life on earth would be a week like no other in human history. He came to live, die and be raised to life again in the greatest drama mankind has ever seen.

Rome was a corrupt government morally and spiritually; its sins were shamelessly committed for all to see. The death of innocents in the Coliseum was a major form of entertainment. Its emperors wanted to be worshipped and their gods were evil creations. Rome spread the darkness of paganism in every place that they had influence.

Herod, was an infamous madman and was made king by the Roman Senate, which proclaimed him “King of Judea.” Once in power, he immediately killed forty-five of the wealthiest citizens and confiscated their property for his own use. He was incurably ill, nearly 70-years-old, and insane in Matthew chapter 2 when the Magi came looking for Jesus. While the killing of all the male babies in Bethlehem under two years of age shocks us, it was typical of Herod. He had slaughtered his sons and executed his favourite wife, Mariamne. Even the good guys, the religious Pharisees, would be enemies of Jesus. His message would unsettle and irritate them until they would finally conspire and bring about His execution in the most agonising way possible – crucifixion.

The world was dark when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, amongst the immoral Romans, heinous Herod and self-important religious leaders, it wasn’t a place we would have chosen to enter. Yet, Jesus came into that world voluntarily.

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It was a wicked world that received the Baby in Bethlehem; but because of His willingness to enter our darkness, the angels were able to announce: “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Christmas means that God was willing to come into a dark place and bring the light of salvation and because of Him, salvation is available to all of us.

            Robert Robinson was an English clergyman who lived in the 18th century. Not only was he a gifted pastor and preacher, he was also a highly gifted poet and hymn writer. However, after many years in the pastorate his faith began to diminish. He left the ministry and moved to Paris where he indulged in an ungodly lifestyle.

            One night he was riding in a carriage with a Parisian socialite who had recently been converted to Christ. She was interested in his opinion on some poetry she was reading:

“Come thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing thy grace,
Streams of mercy never failing,
Call for hymns of loudest praise.”

When she looked up from her reading, the socialite noticed Robinson was crying. “What do I think of it?” he asked in a broken voice. “I wrote it. But now I’ve drifted away from him and can’t find my way back.”

            “But don’t you see?” the woman said gently, “The way back is written right here in the third line of your poem: ‘Streams of mercy never failing.’ Those streams are flowing even here in Paris tonight.” That night Robinson recommitted his life to Christ.

            For the wanderers like Robinson, for the religious like Nicodemus the Pharisee, for the Roman collaborators like Matthew the tax collector, and for all of us, salvation has come. Jesus has entered our unlit world to bring the light of salvation to everyone who will believe. This can be the most wonderful Christmas ever for those who realise that “streams of mercy” are still flowing because of that first Christmas.

September 3rd 2017: Norman Rees

Norman Rees-Sept 17II Kings 6:1-7

Elisha was a great man of God. Jesus refers to him in the New Testament. Elisha was used by God, he had a mighty portion of God’s Spirit resting on him. He was a teacher of students. They lived in Gilga, an important place in the Bible. This was where Joshua camped, it was where men were circumcised, where Samuel preached. There was a college in Gilga where Elisha taught the students. They sat at his feet and learnt from Elisha. Elisha loved the Lord. God used him greatly. The students were greatly blessed and grew in number. As they increased, they asked Elisha if they could move and build a bigger place.


They suggested to Elisha that they moved to the Jordan and live there. They would have water (there was a drought in Gilga), and they could expand the work and live for God, then go out themselves as prophets. The young men wanted the counsel of Elisha and asked him if they could go. He said yes, but they wanted him to go with them, ‘Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”’ (II Kings 6:3). They were keen for Elisha to go with them so they could learn more from him. So Elisha moved with them from Gilga, walking 35 miles to the Jordan across rough terrain to serve the Lord.

The students cut down trees to make booths. They used axes. They were poor. One of the students did not have an axe but he wanted to join in, so he borrowed an axe. However, as he hammered away at a tree the iron axe-head flew off into the water and sank. Panic set in. The River Jordan is a fast flowing river, there was no chance of rescuing the axe-head. Yet the young man was conscious that he was responsible and needed to make good, he knew he had to pay back what he had lost. He was distressed he had lost something belonging to someone else. He was poor. God chooses poor people. We should be ready to serve Him.

The young man was part of a team – he didn’t want to let the team down. We need to be careful of the way we act. The man cried out to his Elisha, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.” (II Kings 6:5). He went to Elisha, to the right place, to the man of God. We believe God is sovereign. We may pray in the morning, ‘I’m in your hands Lord, whatever happens today is in your control.’ God is involved in all situations, even when things don’t go our way. God sends these things that can affect our reaction. We have a conscience to admit when we’re wrong. The Lord allows these things to test us. What is important is how we react. The student went to his master, Elisha. We go to a greater Master, Christ. People view our reactions, they should see Christ in us.

Elisha was concerned for the young man. He asked, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float.’ (II Kings 6:6). Elisha did not tell the young man off. When things in our life go wrong, Jesus asks us to tell Him about it. He knows our situation, He knows our thoughts.

Elisha lived close to God and knew the Lord. The student showed him where the axe-head fell. Elisha then threw a stick into the water and the iron axe-head floated to the surface of the water. A miracle was worked by God through Elisha. God made gravity, God can overcome gravity – as He did when Jesus ascended into heaven. God can make the impossible possible. The situation was hopeless to humans but not to God.

We pray for the axe-heads, sinners sunk in sin. Every one of us is born in sin. We pray for people, maybe for many years, who have sunken iron hearts, sunken in sin. What is your axe-head this morning? God is the God of the impossible, the God of grace, the God of Salvation. God will bring an end to the Devil, an end to sin. Christ can save you, He saved me, He can save anyone. Elisha is no longer on the earth, he’s in heaven, but his God is still here on earth.

Whatever give us anxieties, take it to God. God is a God of the impossible. He will deliver. Be sure to glorify Him and praise Him. Praise Him more.

August 27th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian-Aug 27th 2017Romans 5:12-21

Israel has two main bodies of water – in the North is the Sea of Galilee, 13 miles long, 7 ½ miles wide, a well-known fishing area with 22 sorts of fish, as well as lush vegetation on the side and a beautiful, fruitful shore. It is a beautiful body of water. In contrast, 60 miles south lies the Dead Sea, 47 miles long, 9 ½ miles wide, full of salt and mineral but with no life, no vegetation, even the shore is barren. This stark contrast is a portrait of spiritual humanity. One sea is full of life and fruitfulness, the other is death and uselessness. There are two classes of people – those in the person of Adam and those in the person of Christ. Adam represents death and uselessness, Christ leads to life. The two men represent the whole of humanity. It is essential we grasp the central message of the Bible. Believers used to be in Adam but now we’re in Christ.

We are all born in Adam:
Paul examines the consequences of Adam’s sin. Adam serves as our representative. He sinned and this sin was applied to every person who has lived or ever will live. Adam perfectly represents humanity. God chose Adam to be our representative. We are sinful. We should be glad God chose Adam, God always knows what He is doing. Some may say that they don’t want to be represented by Adam, they want to represent themselves. The truth is, if you and I had been in the Garden of Eden, we would have committed exactly the same sin.

Christ is our representative as well, He has acted on our behalf too. Adam sank our spiritual boat but God has thrown our life-preserver to us. Adam served as our representative; we are every bit as guilty as he was. But we’re also guilty sinners because we’ve sinned.

The results of sin:
Even before the 10 commandments, sin had exercised power over humanity. But sin is not imputed when there is no law. Imputed means to charge to one’s account. Sin is there but is not accounted as a legal matter. It cannot be punished if there is no acknowledgement. After Adam, God gave no more explicit commands until the time of Moses. Although people sinned from Adam to Moses, people died because they had sinned in Adam. They shared Adam’s punishment because he was their representative.

In Adam we can see a number of principles in Jesus:
       – Adam and Jesus were both real persons;
      – Adam and Jesus both served as representatives for the whole of humanity;
     –  They both drew the world for themselves, one for evil, one for good;
     – Both effected the course of humanity through one single act (Adam taking the                fruit, Jesus dying on the cross).

Humanity is either in Adam or in Christ, it can’t be in both. Death reigns for all mankind in Adam.

All believers are in Christ:
God’s grace is readily available to those who out their faith in Jesus Christ. The promise of eternal life is a free gift. 7 times grace is mentioned in verses 15-21. Salvation is a free gift, no strings attached.

God’s gift brought life to all who are in Him (v.15). Grace is always more powerful than sin. It is a free gift but it was purchased at infinite cost – it cost God the death of His only Son. To think we can earn grace is an insult. Salvation is freely given to you. What a great cost has been paid for you so you can be rescued from Adam’s domain.

‘For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.’ (Romans 5:17). ‘Reign’ comes from the word ‘king.’ We also think of authority, of influence. All of these words are to be applied to you – for you are in Christ and you are to reign in Christ. We have no idea of the sphere of influence we have. Justification is the beginning of salvation. Sanctification is to bring heaven down to earth, to live as God has called you to live in Christ. God is equipping us to rule the world to come.

Instead of us being condemned eternally for our sins, Jesus was condemned. We don’t realise just how much we have received. It’s been given to us at a great cost. Christ brought freedom to the human race, He signed our liberty with His own blood on the cross. Having trusted the Saviour we have the power to turn from sin and live in Him, to live in righteousness. He is our great emancipator.

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.

July 16th 2017: Ian Jones

Ian Jones-July 17Luke 7:36-50 A Sinful Woman Forgiven

Puzzling questions:

Why did the Pharisee ask Jesus to eat with him?
Normally, there is always a good reason to invite someone to dinner or others to invite us. But here, there seems no reason why Simon, the Pharisee, should invite Jesus, ‘One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.’ (Luke 7:36). This was not like the occasion when Jesus was invited by Mary and Martha to their home, where Jesus was welcomed. It was not like the occasion when Jesus invited himself to Zaccheus’ home and was warmly welcomed by Zaccheus. In Simon’s home there was no welcome. Jesus says, ‘I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oi, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.’ (Luke 7:44-46). Jesus received none of the customary greetings of the day. So why did Simon ask Jesus to come to his house? Because he was one of those who wanted to discredit Jesus, to prove that Jesus was not a prophet, not the Son of God. Therefore he did not give the normal hospitality to Jesus.

Simon was quick to judge the woman and Jesus. There are many like Simon today; when we meet them they want to discredit Jesus. We even have an example in the apostle Paul, who persecuted Christians until he met with the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). People want to resist Jesus, to resist the grace of God. Many have come to a meeting to cause havoc but have been struck by the word and come to Jesus. None are too far from the Kingdom of God – Christ’s message is for all, that all might receive Him gladly.

  • Why did this woman enter Simon’s home?
    It would have been easy for the woman to have stayed away, she knew she would not have been welcomed. She came because the Lord was there. The custom of the day was that anyone could come into another one’s home. We would find this difficult today! There, they would have been onlookers – not participating in the meal but standing by the walls, looking at the table and chatting with those around it. Luke tells us, ‘And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment.’ (Luke 7:37). Luke draws out attention to the woman, ‘behold, a woman of the city.’ The men would have recognised her. They classifies her as a sinner. She brought an alabaster flask of oil. It would have been a shock when she entered the house. Possibly she was a prostitute – which would have been even more shocking. She stood behind the Lord Jesus with a costly flask of fragrant oil and began to pour it over his dusty feet. His feet wouldn’t have been washed. Her tears fell onto those feet. She undid her hair, which would have been another shocking thing. She used her crowning glory to wash his hair, and kissed His feet in a loving, respectful way. Ointment was poured. All eyes were on her. Everyone was silent. Watching.

Why did she come to Simon’s house? She wanted to show her love and devotion to the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus had obviously changed her life. She was no longer a practising sinner as she had been before. Jesus changed that when He came into her life. Has He has changed our lives? Do we have the same love as she had? Have we come today in that same manner, wanting to express our love?

  • Why did Jesus come into this house, knowing what Simon was like?

Simon was not a seeker, like Mary, Martha and Zaccheus. Why did Jesus go into his home when His time on earth was short? He would have known all about Simon, ‘Now when the Pharisee who had invited him say this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”’ (Luke 7:39). Jesus answered him. He knew what Simon was thinking as well as his guests. So why did Jesus come? It was for a very important reason – to teach an important truth. He distinguishes a contrast between Simon and the woman.

Jesus has a parable, a very simple parable: a creditor had two debtors. One owned a lot, one very little. Both couldn’t pay. The creditor freely forgave both. Then Jesus asked a question of His own – which debtor would love the creditor the most? There is any easy answer, but Simon struggled, saying, ‘The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.’ (Luke 7: 43). We see, as Simon answers, ‘I suppose,’ that he didn’t want to give an answer. Jesus tells him that he has judged rightly (before he had wrongly judges the woman). Then Jesus turns to the woman and says to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.’ (Luke 7:44-46). He wanted Simon to focus on the woman. He directed his attention to her. The important truth was, ‘Her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’ (Luke 7:47). The reason Jesus came to that house was to declare to Simon and us, the more we recognise our sin, the more we realise we are indebted to our God, the more we love Him. The more we see why Jesus went to the cross and bore our sins, the more we will love Him.

  • Why should we want to come into that house?

If we could go back in time, why would we want to go there? ‘And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”’ (Luke 7:48). Those who sat at the table asked, ‘Who is this, who even forgives sins?’ Do you and I need to do something amazing to have our sins forgiven? The Lord Jesus gives us the answer, ‘And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ (Luke 7:50). We won’t be saved by our good works or our family connections, but by faith. Salvation is by faith. How do we come by faith? By the word of God. Turn from sin, express your thanks to God. Jesus told the woman, ‘Go in peace.’

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No matter how many times we hear the gospel message, we need to be reminded of the truth, that by faith we are saved. When we leave this world and face death, we know we have been saved by faith if we have repented. Faith saved the woman, she can now go in peace. Might we have the peace of God as we know the Lord Jesus.

May 21st 2017: Mike Viccary

 Isaiah 25 – 26.6

Mike raised three points:
            saved at Calvary
            saved on the day
            saved when He returns

Isaiah is one of the books of the Bible which is just amazing. It is packed with references to the Lord Jesus Christ, packed with gospel references. Isaiah is a prophet who had a ministry. From chapters 13-23 he is giving messages to all the nations roundabout. In chapter 24 he has this word to whole world, a message for today. The earth is doomed for destruction. Peter picks this up in 2 Peter 3.

In Isaiah 25:1-5 Isaiah is praising God for what the Lord has done, ‘O LORD, you are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.’ (Isaiah 25:1)

In verse 7 Isaiah looks forward to what the Lord will do, ‘And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people. And the veil that is spread over all nations.’ Our salvation is in Christ on the cross. The Lord has come for salvation. He also came to divide those who would follow Him from those who won’t. The second coming is for final judgement. It will declare judgement for all. He is also coming for salvation.

‘And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9). This is a pivotal verse on which Isaiah 25:6-12 is balanced. We can say when the Lord returns, “Behold, this is our God.”

The phrase ‘This mountain’ is used three times. What does this mean? Turn back to Isaiah 2:2, ‘Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.’ The mountain is the Lord’s house.

‘You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept, and gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute, to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the Mighty One of Israel.’ (Isaiah 30:29). The mountain of the Lord is where the Lord dwells. Isaiah also uses the phrase ‘My holy mountain / hill.’ It’s also in the Psalms, ‘Yet I have set My King on my holy hill of Zion.’ (Psalm 2:6). ‘I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.’ (Psalm 3:4). The mountain is where God is.

Another theme in Isaiah is the banner. This is also in John 3:14, ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.’ This refers to Jesus’ death on the cross. In Numbers we read the story of the Israelites being bitten by snakes. In order to be saved they had to look at pole / banner / standard. (Numbers 21:4-9). The pole is fixed firmly into the ground. It reminds us of the crucifixion. ‘And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.’ (Isaiah 11:10). This is a reference to where the Lord will be found.

On that mountain the Lord will do three wonderful things:

There will be a feast, ‘And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees.’ (Isaiah 25:6). What Christ did on the cross is our meat and drink. Our very life depends on us feeding on what Christ has done for us. In this mountain the Lord will make a feast for all people – it’s open to everyone, no-one is excluded. When you read this verse in Hebrew it is very lyrical, it bounces. The food described is the best – abundant and full. It is 100% distilled wine served with choice pieces. When we think of the death of the Saviour at Calvary, this is our feast.

Even more remarkable is the death of death. Death is not what we were made for. Christ’s death brought life. Death is separation. God is all about community. ‘He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.’ (Isaiah 25:7-8). Here we see the consequences of death. Death is sorrowful, horrible. We die because of sin. We die because we rebel. Death is a rebuke to us. God will destroy death. God is rich in mercy. IN verse 8 there are four really impressive statements of what God had done:

  • He will swallow up death forever. On the cross Jesus swallowed up death. The veil in the temple is torn from top to bottom;
  • He will wipe away tears from all faces. God is right in the midst of our tears. When you are suffering, He is right with you;
  • He will take away rebuke
  • He will bring restoration, He will bring life.

For the Lord has spoken. This gives us certainty. From Isaiah’s point of view, this is what will happen because God has spoken.

Isaiah 25:101-12. God will deal with the problem of sin. Moab will be trampled. Moab was the son of Lot. Lot’s name means ‘covering.’ Moab is Isaiah is castigated for pride. Here we have a picture of pride. Moab is the offspring – just like his father Lot chose the wrong way. Moab chose to follow Lot. In verse 10 we read of the ‘hand of the Lord.’ This is Christ. He will do everything that needs to be done, ‘For on this mountain the hand of the LORD will rest, And Moab shall be trampled down under Him, as straw is trampled down for the refuse heap.’ (Isaiah 25:10). Verse 11 speaks of the Lord, ‘And He will spread out His hands in their midst as a swimmer reaches out to swim, And He will bring down their pride together with the trickery of their hands.’ (Isaiah 25:11). A swimmer pushes everything behind him. Pride will be swept aside. Pride is the beginning of sin. Pride turns to lies. The Lord spreads out His hands, just as Christ did on the cross, when all pride was dealt with. In the death of Christ He can deal with all of the things we wrestle with. ‘The fortress of the high fort of your walls He will bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, down to the dust.’ (Isaiah 25:12). God will trample on sin. There is such richness in the book of Isaiah.

October 23rd 2016: Ian Middlemist

Our service and communion was led by Ian Middlemist who preached on 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11, focusing on verse 9, ‘For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Ian began by asking us, ‘Are you ready to stand before the judgement seat of Christ?’ He is coming again and we need to be prepared. This life is not all that there is, this life is passing – here but for a moment. We need to be ready for what is to be. There is an appointment to meet with the Lord Jesus Christ who will judge all men – Christian and those who are not Christians. Many assume there is nothing after this life, they agree with the mindless words of John Lennon, ‘Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky, imagine all the people living for today.’

The believers in Thessalonica were worried about those who had passed away – how would they fare? They were also wondering how would they, themselves fare on the great day. There are three things to note: to stay alert, to know salvation is in Jesus Christ, to encourage one another.

To stay alert (verses 1-8):
Some people hide away. Some believers thought if they could pinpoint the day Jesus would return again then they would be prepared. The first thing to note is that nobody knows the date or time when Jesus Christ will return again. Jesus told the apostles, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.’ (Acts 1:7).

Picture the scene of the thief in the night. The burglar never announces when he is going to burgle our houses, there is no text message, he comes unexpectedly. Second, we have a picture of sleep. Burglars generally come at night time; it’s dark – often the time when most evil is done. Shame is less of an issue at night. It is a time when most arguments take place in homes. It is a time when may feel safe and secure in their houses under their duvets – maybe after a few glasses of wine. People feel safe and secure but not ready, thinking about comfort, not safety. Switched off.

Are we ready for the coming of Jesus> Are you spiritually alert? The problem with those who do not know Christ is that they are in the dark, they will totally be shocked at His coming. They will be whisked away to everlasting punishment. They must wake up. We need to be alert ourselves. Those who do not know Christ need to walk in the light and anticipate His coming.

Salvation is ours (verses 9-10):
Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who knows our future. Everything is dependent on Christ who is looking at our life right now. On that great day it is heaven or hell – no second chances. Hell is likened to a prison, where the prisoners are in ‘chains of gloomy darkness.’ It’s an eternal prison. Verse 9 is all about salvation, ‘For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ What is salvation? We recognise that we need it, that we need to be saved. What does it mean to be saved? It is to be rescued. But what are we to be saved from? Our greatest need is salvation from the wrath of God. This is what Christ saves us from. On that day of judgement God will judge all people for those sins against Him. He will do this because He is holy and righteous. The law is a reflection of God’s character. He will be vindicated. He will judge. Your sins have caused a separation between you and God. It is God’s wrath we are to be concerned about above everything else. We need to be saved from it by faith in Christ. He is the one who brings salvation through His work on the cross. The gospel is Jesus died for sinners, was buried, rose again from the dead and HIs sacrifice turns away the wrath of God so we are appointed to the grace and smile of a holy God. We have great reasons to praise God for His great salvation.

Encourage one another (verse 11):
The apostle Paul says in verse 11, ‘encourage one another.’ This letter is one of great encouragement. We should take up our responsibility to encourage one another. We live in a tough world. It’s difficult, particularly for the believer. It’s easy to get hurt. Bereavement was an issue for the believers in Thessalonica. How comforting are the words of Joseph Scriven’s hymn:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

We need the encouragement of one another. We need the church. The world offers so much to a troubled people – escape through television, entertainment, drink and drugs, experiences that make you forget your pains. These are all temporary and damaging. We as Christians turn to these things as well. We can turn to professionals to help us, to counsellors, but for our personal salvation we are a body of people who are not to leave it to someone else. It is my responsibility to care for you. You belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Encourage one another, build up one another. Let’s do that more and more.

Are you in the light or the dark? Are you alert to the coming of Christ? Where will you be on that great day? Encourage one another, especially when we are weak. Press on until He returns!

 

August 21st 2016: Matthew Maxwell-Carr (Morning)

 ‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
and I will not remember your sins.’
Isaiah 43:25

We were blessed to sit under the ministry of Matthew Maxwell-Carr from Hill Park Church, who preached on the theme of forgiveness.

God offers forgiveness to the world through Jesus Christ. It is the message of salvation, the message of the righteousness of God.

  • Who forgives sins?
  • What is the forgiveness of sin?
  • Why does God forgive sin?

Evidently sin can be forgiven. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much sin we’ve accumulated or what the world thinks of us, there is forgiveness, there is hope.

The judgement of God is upon us, sin needs to be forgiven. God promises He will never remember our sins. This is the message of the gospel, of forgiveness.

Who forgives sin?

The Lord God, ‘I, even I’. Have you put your trust in other ways? Some people can’t forgive themselves – they may go to a psychiatrist or psychologist who says, ‘Don’t feel guilty!’ But they have no power or authority to forgive sin. People march themselves down to the River Ganges to cleanse themselves, but that doesn’t work. A guilty conscience will hunt you down but thanks be to God, He can forgive you, heal you.

The only one with authority to forgive sin is God. ‘I am the first, I am the last; and beside me there is no God.’  (Isaiah 44:6) He alone has the power. This is why, when Jesus came into this world, they called Him a blasphemer. Even the whole Old Testament sacrificial system didn’t do away with sin. The author of Hebrews tells us those animal sacrifices had to be repeated again and again, year in, year out. Sin was never dealt with properly. Then Christ came. Once. For all. He has offered the final sacrifice. This alone can deal with sin, deal with a guilty conscience.

Some people just come before God and forget the cross. They forget God is a righteous judge; sin has to be dealt with and paid for otherwise God would be unjust. The only way is the way of the cross, He is the propitiation of our sins. Jesus is the propitiation; upon the cross God poured out His wrath on His only begotten Son, sin has been paid for. Justice has been paid for. So now, when you come to God through the cross, there is forgiveness. Apart from this, apart from the cross, there is no forgiveness. This is why the Apostle Paul can say, ‘Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.’ (Romans 8:33)

Heaven holds nothing against you, you have every right as a forgiven person to go in peace. He will watch over you and protect you. You are forgiven by the only one who has the authority to do the impossible thing, by way of the cross.

What is the forgiveness of sin?

According to God, forgiveness is a blotting out, a wiping away.

‘As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.’ Psalm 103:12

‘Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassions upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.’ Micah 7:18-19
‘And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth, unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.’ Revelation 1:5-6

Christ blots out our iniquities and washes them away. People must realise they’ve broken God’s law and hang over the gates of Hell. Every moment of our life has never been anything but sin. When have you ever loved your neighbour as yourself? Every single one of us has dishonoured God’s authority. The shed blood of Christ completely blots out all your sin. ‘I will not remember your sins.’ He extinguishes your sins from His memory.

What happens when your conscience is cleared? The guilt is gone and taken away forever. If God has wiped away your sins, no matter how bad they were, then you ought to forget them too. You ought to believe the Word of God. The biggest sin is the sin of unbelief, it remains in our hearts and minds. You must not allow the Devil to set you on a guilt trip. Refuse to condemn yourselves. 

‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ Romans 8:1

God holds nothing against you, so you have no right to condemn yourself. You are not the judge! Strive, by the spirit of God, to forget our past and move on. Get on with life and live for God’s glory. He has called us to peace and we ought to live in peace. The Lord completely justifies and vindicates you. You have received the righteousness of God by faith. You are absolutely blameless in the sight of God, that’s the forgiveness of sin.

Why does God forgive sin?

He doesn’t do it primarily for our sake. That will help unburden your soul!  ‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
and I will not remember your sins.’ He does it for His own sake, for His glory, the revealing of His kindness. Our forgiveness is a means to an end. We are forgiven to glorify God and reveal how tremendous He is. A forgiven sinner knows how wonderful God is. Because God forgives primarily for His sake, in as much as you live in the light of His forgiveness, that is how much you glorify Him. We’re a washed people, you’ve been set apart as Holy. Don’t hold things against others, or yourself, this dishonours God. When you condemn yourself or others you make it all about you. It’s not about you, it’s all about Him. He forgives you, be at peace. Instead of spending your life in bitterness and worry, spend it in praise and glory to His name.  

 

 

Sunday 15th November – Morning Service

ian-august 15

This morning’s worship was led by evangelist Ian Middlemist, who preached from Acts chapter 3 verses 11-19. Here, the congregation before Peter were ready to give him all the praise for healing the crippled man. However, there were incredibly wrong to do this in three ways: they tried to give glory to men, not God, they rejected Jesus, they wanted to stick to their own principles.

The first act of ignorance was to try to give Peter the credit for the healing which had taken place. We need to give all the credit to Jesus. Peter asked them why they were surprised the man had been healed. No one should be amazed because in Jesus’ world this is what happens. The crowd were ignorant in giving glory to the men. People today give honour to human icons, crowds give praise to men. This can also happen on a spiritual level (John 12, verse 43), when men prefer the praise of others rather than God’s praises. Praise belongs to the Lord and the Lord only. Give the glory to God.

The second act of ignorance was rejecting Jesus. In contrast to the honour the Lord gave to Jesus, we see the great dishonour shown by the inhabitants of Israel. They denied the holy, righteous one. They killed the author of life. But no-one could over-throw the Prince of Life, who is risen again. The author of life suffered on the cross; it is by His Grace we are here today.
The third act shows the people being persistently ignorant. Christ’s death was no accident, it was always in the eternal plan and purpose for the Son to be crucified. God is in total control. Those who caused the death of Jesus did it in ignorance. Many people believe they cannot be held accountable. Peter is not giving them an excuse; every person who walks on this planet knows of the existence of God. No-one has an excuse to reject Christ.

Peter calls for their repentance. Forgiveness is necessary. Everything that happened to Jesus was foretold. Wrath is coming, judgement of God is coming. Stop making excuses. Repent. Start again. Don’t try to fix things yourself, turn to Jesus. What men planned for evil, God planned for life.

The cross brought resurrection. We can have newness of life because we are forgiven. Forgiveness is not for all. We must repent then blessings will flow – sins will be wiped out, Christ will come and complete the work He began.
The crippled man praised God, we too should praise God for the wonderful Salvation He has given us. Look to Jesus, He who deserves the praise.