June 2nd 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards-June19Exodus 20: 8-11

Our great grandfathers called it ‘Holy Sabbath,’ our grandfathers called it ‘The Sabbath,’ our fathers called it ‘Sunday.’ Today, it’s referred to as the weekend. The fourth Commandment has increasingly become ignored as Sunday becomes just another day of the week. Previously we learnt that Sunday is a holy day devoted to specially to Him, a day of rest, a day free from the rest of the week, a day in which we can enjoy fellowship with God. It is a day of blessing; God grants us the benefits of His presence.How can we make the best of this special day, maximum its benefits?

  1. Sunday is a day for reflection.
    2. Sunday is a day for renewal.

    Sunday is a day for reflection:

The first word of this Commandment is ‘Remember.’ Most commandments begin with a negative, ‘You shall not’ but this one begins with a positive call, a call to reflect on the past. It points back to the rest of God after six days of creation.

In Exodus 16 we remember that the Israelites were not to collect more manna than they needed for that day. They were to depend upon the Lord each day for their daily needs. The exception was the Sabbath, when they were to collect no manna at all but collect two days rations the day before.

We are to remember that God rested on the seventh day, to remember that God declared that manna was not to be collected. Later, when Moses reiterated the Commandments, they remembered how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. So another purpose of the Old Testament Sabbath was to reflect on God’s dealings with them as their Saviour. He is Creator, Provider and Saviour who brought them out of captivity in Egypt.

The New Testament Sundays have the same purpose, ‘On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight’ (Acts 20:7). A central part of the Sabbath was to remember the Lord’s death in partaking of the bread and wine. When they gathered, they listened to the Apostles’ teaching, reflecting on who God is and what He has done. The Sabbath remains of great importance as a day of rest from the business of life, set apart to praise God’s name as we reflect on who He is, what He has done in providing all our needs.

We are to set aside Sunday as we remember God and His goodness to us. It is a day to praise and thank Him. If we don’t guard our Sundays we will soon forget about God. There will be a rapid decline in zeal for the work of the gospel. Keeping the Sabbath is essential to our spiritual health.

Attendance at church services is so important. It is the best means of fulfilling the purpose of the day. Of course, we can reflect on our own, but it is best done in the company of the Lord’s people. We hear the Word of God preached and we reflect deeply upon Him. We are to be as devoted to the teachings of the Apostles as the early believers were. It is the heart of the worship of God. It is in the Word was encounter our risen, glorious Saviour. It is in the preaching of the Word that we remember the Lord Himself and grow in our love for Him. As we come together around God’s Word we encourage one another. We come to remember the Lord’s death until He comes, by sharing in the bread and wine, to remember His sacrifice at Calvary. It is important we are present when church gathers around His table to remember His death until He comes. The best way to keep the Sabbath holy is to come together to honour God and give maximum benefit for our souls. It is a priority for our spiritual health.

 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:8-11).

Sunday is a day for renewal:

Exodus 31: 12-18. There are two things about the Sabbath:
(i) it is a day of renewing commitment. God says people’s obedience to keeping the Sabbath holy was a sign of their Covenant commitment. God will be their God, they will be His people. A sign of their commitment was to be the sharing of His day. If they broke the Sabbath, they broke the terms of the Covenant, they no longer regarded themselves as His people. That is why the penalty for breaking the Sabbath was to be death. We might think this over-the-top, but what was involved was a clear renunciation of God, a bold act of treason and rebellion. It was an incredibly serious thing. However, when the people kept the Sabbath, it showed renewing of this commitment to the Covenant.

The Sabbath is a day in which we renew our commitment to God in keeping it holy. Being bold enough to say or show commitment to the Lord’s Day is a reflection of our commitment to the Lord. If we renew our commitment to God Himself only as far as it suits us, we are not committed at all. Of course, there are occasions when something crops up that keeps us from church – demands that need our urgent attention. Jesus understands this. Our commitment to the Lord’s Day is a testimony to the world that we put God first. There is no doubt, people can tell what our priorities are by the way we behave. It applies to the Lord’s Day as it applies to anything else (Eric Lidell).

(ii) Sundays are a day for renewing the soul. Exodus 31:12 links observance to the Lord’s Day to holiness, sanctification, ‘And the Lord said to Moses,  “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you’ (Exodus 31:12-13). Sunday has a role in increasing the holiness of God’s people. Sundays spent in the presence of God, in fellowship of other Christians, is the best preparation for the week ahead. God equips us to serve Him in the days ahead. Sundays are important to our spiritual growth and serving the Lord. Sundays are most spiritually profitable. Ensure maximum spiritual benefit.

So we are to look forward to Sundays and delight in praise and fellowship with God’s people. Know the delight of the Lord’s Day with the Lord’s people and the Lord’s Word. If we want to grow as Christians, to be sanctified, to be better servants, we will keep the Lord’s Day and make the best use of it and be present in services and encourage one another. The Lord’s Day is a day of reflection, a day set aside, given to considering the greatness of God as our Creator and Provider and Saviour. It is a day to renew our commitment to the Lord, who committed His all to us in dying on the cross for our sins. It is a day for spiritual renewal, in fellowship with one another as we praise the Lord and encourage one another. It is a day to cherish and look forward to. May the Lord so encourage us. Have joy in knowing the Lord’s presence, worship His majesty and splendour in the company of His people.

March 3rd 2019: Gareth Edwards

20991230_1910562232550470_632853575_oExodus 20:4

It is not enough we should worship God alone, we should also worship in the right way. The Bible is full of instructions how God is to be worshipped in our lives, especially corporately. Worship of God is far too important to be treated to man’s imagination, which is fallen and inclined to false worship. It is God Himself who declares the way He is to be worshipped. This declaration is found in the second Commandment.

The Roman Catholic Church includes the second commandment as part of the first commandment and splits the Ten Commandments in to two to make up the ten. The use of pictures and symbols is then permitted if they are said to be of the true God. To Roman Catholics, this is a continuations of the first Commandment.

Along with all Protestant churches, there should be no idols that represent God because any representation of God will be a misrepresentation. It will distort the truth concerning God. Why?

God is unique in His nature. There is nothing in the whole universe like God. Isaiah 40:18. People have tried to explain the Trinity as being like three states of water or a shamrock. However, all fall short of Biblical truth and is therefore blasphemous. You cannot make a true representation of God because He is unlike anything you have ever known or imagined.

Secondly, God is Spirit. John 4:24. He is not a spirit like angels, He is Spirit. God has no form or shape and is invisible to human sight. So it is that in Deuteronomy 4:12 Moses only heard God’s voice. When we read man was created in God’s image we’re often tempted to reverse this and create God in our image. We shouldn’t think that God is like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It might be a glorious piece of art but it is rotten theology. God is altogether different from us in nature and character. We are in His image in that He created us for a relationship in the spiritual realm. God is Spirit, He is not physical.

Thirdly, God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. He cannot be restricted and restrained and subject to human control. In the Old Testament we see time and time again God is not a tribal God. Psalm 22:27-28. The nations create idols and rituals around these idols. That’s the way in which human mind work. But Jehovah, the one true God, is a God above influence and control. He cannot be contained in time and space. He is omnipotent and omnipresent.

So this commandment tells us it’s blasphemy to create an image of God. No image can be used as an aid to worship God. They are misrepresentations and distractions and will lead to false worship of God.

There are those who would encourage us to imagine and visualise what God is like. Now of course we must think upon God. But to imagine and create an image internally of God is just as bad as creating an external image. No man has seen God. He cannot be dreamed about. You cannot have an image of His shape or form. These are equally idolatrous.

By nature, man exalts himself and brings God down. Many today seek to bring God within reach, within control. God does heal. Praise Him. But He’s not at our beck and call and under our influence. Others make Him human in His character and attributes and more like us. This is called the domestication of God – to bring Him under our control – all a direct breaking of the second Commandment.

At least twice in the Old Testament the children of Israel turned symbols into idols of worship: 1 Samuel 4 – they turned the Ark of the Covenant into some sort of talisman. They used a symbol of God’s mercy and grace and turned it into something to be worshipped in itself. In Numbers 21 we read of the bronze serpent. In II Kings 18 Hezekiah smashed the serpent because it had become an idol.

Man’s great weakness is he wants something to see or touch to aid his faith. Symbols of salvation are abused and become a snare, a cause of idolatry. It’s for this reason that the cross is absent from our buildings. It’s not the focus of our devotion. The Lord of Calvary is the focus of our devotion, not the cross on which He died.

Man wants something tangible to worship. It’s not only ornate Catholic cathedrals, but some today who turn worship into a show of lights and music, intoxication that whips up an atmosphere. God is mentioned but it is the experience of atmosphere that is worshipped, not God. Our desire must always be to go past symbols to substance of worship itself.

If we’re not to worship God by symbols or images, how can we worship God in keeping with the second Commandment? Worship Himself in our lives – in His Word and in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s revelation of Himself; everything we need to know about Him is given to us there, the glory of His character is displayed before us. It is possible to know Him personally in repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In plain black and white, it’s all there.

How are we to worship God? By immersing ourselves in His Word, by being a living testimony to His glory. That’s what the Saviour meant when He spoke to the woman of Samaria. Worship in Spirit and truth. The only way to worship God that is not idolatrous is to be Biblical, not to speculate, but know what He says in His Word. We need to know what is pleasing to God and acceptable to God. We worship God when we encounter Him in His real and living Word. Open the scriptures and prayerfully seek to know Him in His Word. God reveals Himself to us in the scriptures. It’s not we only learn about Him, but the Holy Spirit allows us to meet with God in His Word. The Bible is central to everything we do.

Here, the Lord’s Table is situated under the Word of God, so the pulpit is central. This is where God is known. There is one and only one authorised image of God. Colossians 1:15, Colossians 2:9. Jesus Christ is God’s revelation of Himself in human form. John 14:9.

If we want to know anything of God, we see it in the person of the Saviour. We serve Him, declare His glory and desire, by the Holy Spirit’s work, that we would be more like Jesus. The only way to be Christ-like is surrender. Worship God as we encounter Him in His self-revelation found in the scriptures, in the Lord Jesus Christ. Emmanuel, God in our midst. We worship God as we not only learn about Him in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ but as we come to know Him in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. As that happens we become more transformed by the Holy Spirit.

The second Commandment is so very important. It is the fundamental basis on which other commandments rest. We are not to worship false gods but worship the one true God, in the right way, in spirit and truth. There are to be no images, no imaginations or ritual aids to worship. These are only distractions. True worship is found in the living Word of God. May God truly reveal Himself to us in Scripture, may we truly worship Him in Spirit and truth.

February 3rd 2019: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwrds-Feb 19

‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ Exodus 20:3

The first four commandments are about our relationship with God and lay the foundation for the remaining six, which refer to our relationship with others. To be right with God is our first priority, it gives the basis on which we can be right with others. Even within the first four commandments there is a logical progression. The first commandment acts as a cornerstone on which the rest are constructed. ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3) is the prime directive for life.

Each of the commandments is expressed as a negative, ‘You shall not.’ The purpose of the commandments being presented in negative language is to underline a positive. The first commandment tells us that we are to worship God alone. God is demanding an exclusive commitment to Him alone. All must be put aside (verse 5). The Lord speaks about Himself as being a jealous God. He will not share us with anyone or anything else. God is jealous for His people. They are His, they belong to no other. He is jealous for all His creation. Therefore, the devotion of our lives in worship belongs uniquely to God (Isaiah 42:8).

Why is this so? There are no other gods. He is the only supreme God (Isaiah 44:6). There are no other gods, but men invent them. When men refuse to worship the true God they make false ones. They have a natural desire to worship. If they refuse to worship the one true God, they will worship a lie (Romans 1). There are no gods – just the foolish rebellion of men (1 Corinthians 8:4). God expects the exclusive worship of our lives. He alone is deserving of worship.

He alone has done all. The Ten Commandments are set against the context of God saving Israel against tyranny (verse 2). They were to worship God not only because of who He is, but also because of what He has done for them. For them and for us there is nothing better than to spend our lives in the worship of the one who gave us life in the first place, and whose grace has brought us spiritual life through the death of His Son at Calvary.

It’s unjust and ungrateful that we should give away our worship to anyone but God. It is He who gives us life, He who gives us our daily blessings, He who gives us new birth and eternal life.

What are the implications of the fist commandment?

  1. The Almighty is God alone, therefore we should render to Him alone the adoration and worship of our lives. This is the very purpose of our existence – to fulfil a calling to worship God and to give to Him the unadulterated commitment of all we have. The Westminster Confession begins ‘The chief end of man is the glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.’

Psalm 144:15. There’s nothing more worthwhile then the worship of the triune God in every part of our lives. It is a particular grace and blessing of God that we come together to enjoy worshipping Him. That’s the purpose of this day, a day set apart in which we come together to glorify His name and to enjoy Him. Did you come this Sunday morning to have the privilege of worshipping God and to enjoy Him, to meet with Him? The songs and sermon are the means to the end, to enjoying God.

We were made to know God. When we sacrifice our lives for His glory we experience what it means to be truly human. This commandment is for our blessing.

  1. What fools men are. They will worship everything and anything rather than the one true God. There are those who will worship idols – the gods of man’s imagination. Romans 1:21-23. God declares men either worship Him or waste their lives in the pursuit of imaginary gods. Those who reject Him come under His curse. Malachi 2:2.

Men, in their sin, reject God and are rejected by Him. Our nation is under the curse of God. The lives of our friends and family members are under the curse of God because in their sinful rebellion they do not worship Him. They have gods of their own imagination and creation. There are those who will think they are so intellectually complete that they think they are wise and can look disdainfully down on us. Were we once not with them – devoted to other gods? Did not God, in His grace and mercy, have compassion on us and open our eyes to see, open our ears to hear and open our hearts to know Christ? How gracious God has dealt with us. He has called us to Himself. Will we not pray for our friends, our family, the people of Roch, of Wales, Europe and the world, that God will have mercy upon them as He has mercy on us? Their greatest need is to know Him, to know that there is but one God and that He is to be worshipped for who He is and what He has done. Will we not tell them, preach to them, by the lives we live, declaring here is the Lord Almighty, and you must know and worship Him, have your sins forgiven? Man is a fool until God’s grace comes.

  1. You cannot worship God half-heartedly. He demands our all (Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30. He’s unwilling to share this with anyone else. This doesn’t mean we can’t serve our community and others. What it means is it’s shaped by our desire to glorify God in all that we do. In our love for our family, to do a good job of work, primarily our deepest desire in doing all of these things is that He will be glorified. In all we do we are to have a single-minded dedication to the Lord which puts Him first, above all else. We must guard against doing anything in the name of the Lord which, in fact, we are doing for ourselves, for our own praise. That is a denial of the first Commandment. We cannot play games with God. This is the most serious business, the worship of the Lord Almighty. Because it is so serious we need the help of God, God the Holy Spirit, when we fail in this duty, which we so often do. We need to know the saving grace that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh gracious God, grant to me the strength, the faith, the desire to honour you in all things. You are worthy to be praised.

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!

 

 

December 25th 2017: Gareth Edwards

gareth-e-sept-2016In 1647 Christmas Day was not celebrated. No church bells rang, no services were held. Christmas was not to be celebrated by an Act of Parliament for a few years. Why? Was it because M.Ps were against the gospel? Because there was no love for Jesus Christ in the land? Perhaps a great disaster had struck in the land so Christmas was cancelled? No. The people who passed this Act of Parliament loved Jesus Christ with all their hearts. So why then? The people were concerned to underline the importance of Sunday worship. Over the centuries the church had added saint feasts, there was concern to point out the only command is to worship the Lord on the Lord’s Day. They wanted to establish the Lord’s Day as a worship day for the nation.

The people were also concerned that Christmas was celebrated with drunkenness, gluttony and little or no reference to the birth of Jesus Christ. They thought it such a travesty that they cancelled the celebrations. Perhaps we should cancel Christmas? After all, isn’t it true that Christmas is nothing more than an excuse for gluttony, revelling and with little thought of Christ? An increasing number of children do not know Christmas is anything to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.

What about us? How much are we conscious we gather because of the birth of a Saviour? What is wrong with the nativity scenes that are presented to us? It is highly unlikely Jesus was born in a stable. It is not likely animals were present. One thing in the usual nativity scenes in Christmas cards and presented to us is definitely not part of the nativity – the wise men weren’t there. Herod slaughtered boys up to two years old. The wise men would have taken a substantial time to travel to Herod. We are not told the wise men found Jesus in Bethlehem – they came to a house where the young child lay.

Our Christmas is so full of different ideas and notions and bear little or no relation whatsoever to the birth of Jesus. Let’s cancel it. We don’t need a special day of giving thanks to God … But perhaps Christmas is worthwhile, worth keeping if we, like the wise men, come to worship. If that’s our true motivation.

The wise men brought three gifts. The gold symbolised the kingship and royalty of Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Frankincense is a very aromatic spice used in the temple as part of worship of God. The priests prepared it. The wise men brought frankincense to one who will be the great High Priest of His people, representing His people before God, bringing sacrifice for the atonement of sin. Myrrh is associated in the New Testament with the death of the Saviour. It was part of the preparation of herbs and spices of Jesus’ body by the women. He came to die. Myrrh is a symbol of death. Perhaps Christmas should be celebrated if it’s us coming to worship the King of Kings, the great High Priest, the Lamb of God. If that’s why we gather, then certainly it is right we do so. But how sad so many are careless they celebrate what they do not understand or know, they reduce worship of the King of Kings to nothing more for indulgence.

Perhaps too, Christmas is worth keeping because God has given us, in Him, the gift that really matters. There are presents you can open anytime, not waiting for a certain day, presents offered by God. Angels spoke of them. Presents embodied in the baby. He is the gift, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ (John 3:16). This is God’s gift. It brings us joy. There is a difference between great joy and great fun. For most, Christmas is just great fun. But at some point the laughing stops. But joy continues. There is a difference between great happiness and joy. Happiness depends on circumstances. But circumstances can change. Adverse things can overtake us and our happiness is spoilt. Great joy, deep satisfactions of the soul, is knowing God, having contentment which means we know it is well with our souls and nothing can change that. The laughing may stop but the joy goes on, knowing God’s presence because a baby was born to die for our sins. It’s not only joy, it is peace, that peace with God, being made right with God. God was justly at war with us because of our sin. He shed the blood of His only Son to bring peace.

God’s gift in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ is so we can enjoy every moment of every day. It is worth celebrating Christmas if it’s thanking God for His great gifts to us. We can show the concern of 1647 but maybe we don’t have to cancel Christmas if we truly come to worship the King, trusting in Him as the sacrifice offered for our sin, thanking God for joy unspeakable and peace which passes all understanding that He has given us – Jesus Christ.

May this day be a blessed day as we spend it having fun, being happy, but full of joy and peace in Christ Jesus, our Saviour. Amen.

 

Morning Service: Sunday 17th July 2016

Ian-Feb16Our morning service was led by Ian Middlemist who preached on John 4: 15-26, Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman.

The opening verses sought to show how this whole encounter seemed to be choreographed, controlled in some way. The Saviour seems to know more about the lady than He seems initially to let on. Everything that takes place in under control and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

On the surface the woman seems to be using diversionary tactics. Jesus knew she had had five husbands, but she avoids the issue by changing the subject: ‘Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship,’ Jesus is in control of everything and does not allow the woman to divert the conversation. He sees her with absolute compassion and gentleness. The Saviour knows what He is doing in our lives. Sometimes our circumstances seem out of control but the Saviour knows what is happening.

Look at the progression of the argument:
                   verses 1-15:           He shows her the living water
                   verses 16-19:         He shows her the prophet
                   verses 20-24:       The Saviour who makes true, just worship
                                                possible.
                   verses 25-26:       Jesus is indeed the Messiah.

From her perspective:
In verse 15 the woman sees the water is a gift. She didn’t understand the nature of the water the Saviour speaks of, yet she got the concept that if she wanted the water Jesus had to give it to her. In verse 10 Jesus mentioned it was a gift of God. She now asks for the water. She knew it needed to be given as a gift. Jesus now needs to show her two things: she is a sinner and Jesus is the Saviour of sinners. We need to realise that while the Saviour gives, it is a gift – we can bring nothing at all. Jesus is giving the water of life, we just need to be empty and have open hands.

Understanding the nature of the water. The woman must realise her true thirst. Jesus knows her past. Notice the time of day – the 6th hour, midday. It is not the time anyone would go to get water as it is the hottest time of the day. The woman is alone, possibly an outcast of society. It is a painful daily routine she longs to get over. It is right at this point of pain that Jesus meets with her. Jesus asks her to get her husband but there is no-one who will help her. Jesus is moving into her inner life – and that is what the Gospel must do for you. Behaviour and manners are important aspects but the Gospel is so much more interested in our inner life, our heart. Jesus is fascinated with us, what we fill our hours of the day with. The Word of God is cutting us open, exploring us, but not publicly – the woman is safe. Jesus is going to make her feel secure, to make her whole again, at peace, beautiful. Jesus is forcing her to deal with her inside. Her heart has been locked away for so many years. As we go deeper, the Father in heaven draws her, He is seeking her.

The conversation is then directed towards worship. Let’s be a prayerful people and ask that the Saviour does the same for us. Let’s pray that the searching light of the Gospel would search our life, grow in sanctification. Only Jesus Christ can give living water.

Worship. The woman wants to talk about worship but her she is focused on the location of worship, not worship itself. She has just been offered water that will last forever and forever but all she thinks about is the location of worship. This woman’s life has become a life built on externals – she is dead on the inside.

Are you putting the Saviour first or have we allowed other loves to take His place? The issue is not about where we worship but the direction of our worship. This woman found nothing in her husbands. Many people move in different directions, from church to church, from one person to another. Only drinking from the water of life will fill us. Let’s find our salvation in Him. Jesus showed the woman that the water wasn’t based on externals.

‘Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.’ (Revelation 22: 17)

Sunday 26th July – 10:30 a.m & 4:00p.m

Time

This afternoon we said goodbye for another year to the mission team from French Camp, Mississippi. Ian began the meeting with prayer, followed by Jessica leading the worship, including ‘Cornerstone’, ‘Jesus Paid It All’ and ‘Lord I need You’.

Once again Mr Cox spoke on the subject of suffering.We were reminded of Christ’s suffering for us and the lengths God went to in order to have a relationship with us despite our sins. We read Revelations and thought upon the glorious truth of eternity, where we will be face to face with Jesus.

We are so grateful for the friendships we have with French Camp Academy, Mississippi and look forward to their return next year!