Archive for the 'Sermons' Category

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Sermon - The Humanity of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:5-18)

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Hebrews 2:5-18 (NIV)

5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified:
‘What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?
7 You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honour
8 and put everything under their feet.’
In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,
‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.’
13 And again,
‘I will put my trust in him.’
And again he says,
‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

1. Jesus made fully human

  • Be focussed only upon Him

2. Humanity of Jesus Christ

  • Jesus the man
  • Major Errors Concerning
  • Jesus’ Humanity
  • Why would Jesus become a man?

Conclusion

As Christians, because of God the Son becoming a human, in the man we know as Jesus Christ:

  • we were bought at a price
  • we have a new position before God
  • we were bought out of slavery to sin, into being servants to, of and for God the Son, Jesus Christ alone
  • we are Jesus’ personal possession and family
  • we are in an amazingly intimate and dynamic relationship with God.

Oh how easy it is to forget these things. Is it just me that forgets such things easily? I know that when I am disobedient towards God, have sinned against Him and others, that I have indeed forgotten these things – at least subconsciously.
Because of Jesus: you are his brother or sister, he loves you and because of his death and resurrection, you are in His family, if you have made that decision to be so. Because he loves you, you are being transformed into His image. You still have, and will continue to have your own identifiable personality and traits, but you are being changed and transformed into the likeness of Jesus. One day you will be normal just like me. Remember, because Jesus Christ died, rose again and ascended back to the Father, so will all those who claim Him as their saviour – we as Christians will live, die and rise again to ascend into glory. The Apostle Paul tells us that in Colossians 3.

God is wanting all people to be in relationship with Him. But it is our responsibility to choose that way! God does not force – He leaves it as a choice for humans to make as individuals. God’s love does not force, because if it did, it would not be love but tyranny. However, God’s love is compelling, magnetic and attractive, calling people into relationship with Himself. God’s love for humanity is exemplified in the Cross of Jesus Christ as we saw in part tonight. Let’s go from here to tell somebody this week about this God of love! We can at least ask, can we not?

Just as God loves each of us, as individuals, we are also to love others in our Christian family and those outside it. Jesus said that those outside the Church will know who we Christians are, by the love that we have for each other. Loving others within the Church is evangelism, a witness to those outside the Church, of and for the God of love we proclaim and live for. For example, if you know somebody has a need, and you can fill that need, why not be the answer to their prayers? That is love in action.

You and I are loved by God, as exemplified and exhibited in the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ – fully God and fully human. Let each one of us go love other people with this love to the glory of God the Father, through the name of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within you, seals you as God’s child and unites the Church as family.

Let’s go tell and show others about this Jesus and how he can help people – just as he has helped you and I and countless others today and down through history. Will there be one other person in heaven because of you and what you have said or done?

If you are not a Christian yet, and you want to hear more about becoming a follower of this Jesus, do ask somebody here to help you. Jesus is calling you by name to be in a loving, dynamic and intimate relationship with God. Jesus died so that you could be.  Jesus, the ideal man, the God-man says: “Come and follow me.” Will you start following him, even from right now?"

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Sermon - Revelation 21-22

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When Jesus comes back as King

Revelation 21-22

 

Introduction

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At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus Christ coming to earth as a human. At Easter, we celebrate, Jesus' deather, resurrection and ascension. We celebrate knowing that Jesus Christ is coming back again. His first coming was a baby.  Society in general, is comfortable with leaving Jesus as a baby.  However, Jesus is not a baby now. Jesus is a King and what a King.  Jesus is coming again, not as a baby this time, but as King and judge. This idea is affirmed by Jeremiah in the Old Testament and John in the New Testament, as well as other writers in the Bible.

Christ's reign

Have you ever wondered what the book of Revelation was all about? The writer is the Apostle John, now approaching 100 years of age and he is almost blind.  John was in exile on Patmos, put there by the Romans due to his witness for Jesus.  There was open persecution of Christians at the time.  This is the same John, who was the apostle Jesus loved.  John saw Jesus walk on the water.  He seen and heard Jesus command a storm to cease! He saw Jesus weeping.  He saw Jesus in righteous anger clearing the Temple courts.  He seen Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons.  He had his feet washed by Jesus.  He saw Jesus transfigured.  He saw Jesus die. He had seen Jesus risen and ascended. John now sees Jesus in all the fulness of His glory and Jesus shows him the new city!

We see that Heaven is:

  • Prepared
  • Pure place
  • Pearly gates

Conclusion

Be encouraged, heaven is for you if you are trusting and obeying Jesus and have Him as Lord of your life!  Remember, that whatever your attitude and how you judge Jesus in this life, is how He will judge you when He returns!  Are you following Him and treating Him with respect and reverence?  If you aren't, then it isn't too late to change your mind and then the reward of eternal living in heaven will be yours! Are you suffering?  Suffering will soon be gone.  When you sin against God, keep a short account and ask for forgiveness as soon as you recognise that you have sinned and the Holy Spirit has convicted you of it. We yearn to be with our King for ever and ever.  Yet, we are to keep one part of our mind on Heaven and the other on the responsible work we have been set to do, here on earth.  We are not to be so heavenly minded, that we are of no earthly use. 

Conversely, we are not to be so earth bound, that we are not tied to King Jesus in our eternal home. Go tell somebody.  Won't you go tell somebody this week, this message.  Heaven is a great big place, and there will be room for everybody in this town, this county, this nation and this world to enter through one of those twelve gates!  Go and share this good news with somebody this very week, so that there may be somebody in that magnificent City, because you told them. Christ is our King of Righteousness.  Trust Him and live a life worthy of Him.   Look for His coming! Be expectant, the King is coming back for us soon!  Critics of the church sneer "Where is your God?" and "The end of the Church is surely near".  They are so impatient!! 

Well... our God will appear soon.  He is coming back as King of Righteousness, judging evil and rejecting those who reject Him whilst rewarding those who patiently trust and obey Him.

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Chocolate Christianity

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Chocolate Christianity

Have you ever noticed that chocolate melts under pressure & heat? If you haven't, take a piece of chocolate and hold it between your fingers! It will soon melt! If you are a Christian, you need to be active in your local church so that you don't melt under pressure and you will remain firm in your faith! Otherwise you will be a chocolate Christian who easily gives up under the stress and pressure of every day life! At a church local to where you live, you are needed regardless of who you are! Perhaps this is you?

  • Interested observer but not a committed Christian
  • Not bothered
  • Not good enough
  • Just want to be left alone
  • Don't know how to be involved
  • Don't know why being involved is important
  • Too busy

But why should you be involved? Download the mp3 to find out more!

Why? You have talents to be used!!

Why? We are dependent on each other

Why? Improve your serve!

Why? To follow Jesus

GO!

So if you find you are currently inactive in your local church, then please go and make yourself available to serve there! Ask your pastor or church leader how you can help out! By doing so, and submitting yourself to the Holy Spirit who indwells you, the lives of other people could be changed for God's greater glory because of your acts of service and worship.

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Sermon: Food Sacrificed To Idols (1 Corinthians 8)

1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: we know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.

4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: we know that ‘An idol is nothing at all in the world’ and that ‘There is no God but one.’ 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling-block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

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Ancient Corinth was one of the largest, wealthiest and therefore most important cities of the ancient world. It had a large mixed population of Greeks, Romans and Jews. The streets of Corinth were lined with temples to all manner of gods. Not only Greek gods but also because Greece was now under the Roman empire, temples paying homage to Roman gods. This of course included those giving homage and worship to the Roman Emperor, who at the time this letter was written, was probably the Emperor Nero. More than that, some of the Greek gods were merged with Roman gods, in order to make new gods and therefore more temples were constructed.

In these temples, sacrifices were made to appease these gods and were acts of worship to and of them. For if the gods were not appeased then it was thought that all manner of things may happen to a person, internally and externally, for the gods would be angry and send their demons and spirits to inflict all manner of ill on a person. The meat from these sacrifices was then, in part, given to be eaten by the priests conducting the sacrifice, and the rest sold to the general public for consumption.

We see therefore, from a Christian perspective, Corinth was a city deeply immersed in idolatry and immorality. What of the Church there in the midst of such a place? Paul had helped start the Church about 6 years ago. You can read about that in Acts 18. To discover more, please listen or download the mp3 using the links available

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Sermon: Church: Past, Present and Future (Matthew 16:13-20)


The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly caused people and nations of the world, – even nations who are enemies of each other, to globally stop and think together. That is also true of the Church, globally. As you are aware because this is going straight to YouTube instead of being done physically at Poulner Chapel as part of a Worship service. I know some people who didn’t think internet Church was really Church. That is until now. They soon changed their minds., I don’t know when you are viewing or listening to this, but if you are in the year 2021 or even the year 2121, a few months ago things changed almost overnight in the way that most people engaged with Church and also Church practise was also changed. Let's go on to investigate more about this Church and the role we have to play in Jesus Christ building His Church. He is building it, not us, but He does use us to do so! Come on in!

 

 

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13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’
14 They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
15 ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
16 Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
17 Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
(New International Version)
Matthew 16:13-20

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God Comes To Town!

Ezekiel 1:1-4, 24-28 to 2:2

Introduction

I wonder if there anybody here that is 25 years old?  Anybody turning 25 this year?  How about those who wished they were turning 25 this year? Imagine you are a 25 year old and being trained for the family business.  Then suddenly your enemies invade your city and take you away to a foreign land.  That's what happened to Ezekiel 5 years before this passage of Scripture, Ezekiel 1-2, when the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar in 597BC took 3000 Jews back to Babylon.  This was the first deportation.

1. Ezekiel - who was he and how did he get there?

2. How does Ezekiel describe this vision of God?

3. God is Holy God

4. God is Universal: Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Mission minded & Personal

5. What does all this mean? Worship & Tell others

6. We speak God's word

Conclusion

I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like I am in exile.  I don't mean as an Australian living in England, the mother country! Although sometimes it does feel like I am in exile!  We are living in a country, which despite its Christian heritage, evangelical non-compromising Christians are being increasingly marginalized by a society, which decrees that, all religions or none are equal, and that to declare otherwise is simply arrogance and divisive.  How are we to react? When you are faced with a crisis or some trouble, how do you react?  Are you like the ancient Israelites that Ezekiel was sent to?  Do you trust in the holy, all-powerful, all knowing, personal God or do you trust in other things?

  • God is coming again!
  • Be Holy and be obedient!
  • Live a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Trust fully in the God of your salvation
  • Go tell somebody!

Finally, if you need prayer for something related to what I have said today, then find somebody to pray for you.  And if you cant find somebody to pray for you, then come and find me.

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David's Final Prayer

1 Chronicles 29:10-20

Introduction

Tonight, we delve into the book of 1 Chronicles and this great and perhaps last public prayer of the great King David! It is a fabulous piece of Scripture, I am sure you agree, that tells us a lot about God we as Christians claim to know and love, as well as how we are to respond to Him. Originally 1 & 2 Chronicles were one book. It was the final book of the Jewish Canon, probably written by Ezra and was also known as the "the events of the days", "the things omitted" which would suggest that Chronicles were to be regarded as additional to the books of Kings and Samuel. It's a book which was written for those from the nation of Israel who are now in exile, to remind them of their spiritual heritage - the journey & history of Israel as a nation. For us though, not least I, it issues certain challenges to us all.

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Here is the great king David!

What has happened so far?

1. WOW factor of God! (v10-13)

2. David - its all God (v14-20)

3. So what?

Firstly, we saw the wow factor of God: a God who exudes greatness, power, glory, victory and majesty. Then we saw David's utter adoration and dependence upon the God that he knows intimately. So, finally, what does all this have to do with us? How often do we receive from our God, but not thank Him for it? We are to be thankful for every good gift that is given to us. We offer praises and thanks to Him, for who He is and for His generosity and grace towards us. Tonight's bible passage was a superb piece of thanksgiving.

When was the last time you thanked God for all the things He has given you? How can we put this thanks and praise into action? Lets see quickly! Firstly, I am convinced there are enough wealthy Christians sitting in churches in the West, who could make significant donations and virtually eradicate a lot of the poverty in the developing world and indeed their own countries. This would be active Christian giving on a radical scale. In biblical stories, such as this from 1 Chronicles 29, its always those who had the most, gave the most as an example to others of God's generosity. After all, God owns it all anyway and it's only given as a loan from God and not a transference of ownership.

As Christians, we are to desire to mature spiritually - growing in adoration, obedience and commitment to God. Perhaps the greatest indicator of today, concerns our giving. Giving is to be done whole-heartedly and cheerfully. It is also not so much about how much is given, but how much is left after giving and the attitude behind it. God looks beyond that which is given to the motive and attitude behind it. All our money and possessions belong to Him anyway, as we have seen, so giving is to be in response to this. Our money and possessions are a leasehold agreement not a freehold one. Giving done willingly is also not done to boost our own egos or for the feel-good factor, but rather to bring glory and honour to God as a thankful response to His giving all things to us.

Many prayers seemingly go unanswered because God is waiting on people to be obedient to Him, in order to answer the unanswered prayers of others. . We are to be generous with everything we have, not just in the area of money but with our very lives. We all have time, information, knowledge imagination, gifts and talents. All these too are to be given back to God . That may well take radical action to do, but radical giving is what we are called to do. God has given everything so that you and I may live and have life, so by caring and giving, we will reflect that. Let's be radical church together and encourage others to be likewise.

But, as we have seen, it's not only about giving money and resources. Giving is also to include skills, information, imagination and knowledge. Remember, the priests and craftsmen were waiting to give in the building of and service within the Temple. Churches, particularly these days, need to capture the imagination of those looking for a church home, and get them involved. Involvement in such a way that it builds up commitment to God and a growing adoration of Him. If people are involved, they will stay. It means training them up, to be fit for service within the church. If training for service doesn't occur, then commitment and dedication to God is likely to be diminished. If the same people do the same thing year after year, that local church will eventually die out. Each local church is only one generation away from closing its doors permanently. Giving, as we saw in tonight's passage, is also a community affair. This Church is to be a community, both within the church and outside of it, where the strongest members support the weakest members - including their time, possessions, money, knowledge and wisdom.

But, as we also saw tonight, it is not just for leaders to give! Giving is to be for everyone! Every church has a fantastic array of knowledge, wisdom, possessions and imagination. Let us share that with people outside the church. Who knows what our caring and giving will do for them as it reflects the glory of God! Too often, we are found turning a blind eye to the suffering of others where the necessities of life are in sparse existence. Too often we neglect to give up our personal space, time, imagination, information and money generously to help the poor and needy in our local, national and global communities. By doing this giving collectively, we will show our faith to be real and practical. There are people out there in our local community just waiting for somebody to give generously to them. We need to be seen to be radically giving to all - of our money, our possessions, and also our time, imagination, knowledge, practical help, care and love. Let us show our relevance to our local community, particularly at this time of Corona Virus Pandemic. So if I could summarise all this up in one sentence, it would be something like this

"Ask not only what your God can give to you,

but what great things you can do and give to your God."

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A Strategy to Cope (Hebrews 3)

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I wonder how you have changed over the years. It is almost 40 years now since I first became a Christian and started following Jesus Christ. I haven't fallen away from Him in that time, but I have known some people who have. A question as we start: "How can we, as 21st century Christians, keep from falling away?" Particularly at this time when we have a global pandemic due to the Corona Virus. The answer I believe, is what I would call it the COPE strategy: Consider, Persevere and Encourage.

1. Keep Considering! (Hebrews 3:1-6)

  • Moses was cool
  • In Comes Jesus
  • How is Jesus better than Moses?
  • What about us?

2. Keep Persevering! (Hebrews 3:7-12, 15-19)

3. Keep Encouraging! (Hebrews 3:12-14)

Conclusion

If you would call yourself a Christian and you are unsure where you are, then please do look back and remember what Jesus has done for you. Consider Him as you look back to your first profession of faith in Him. Consider that just as He died, you died in the waters of baptism. Consider that just as He rose to physical life, you rose from the waters of baptism and will also rise again when you physically die. Consider that just as Jesus will be glorified, so too will you be glorified before the Father - if you hold out until the end. Be assured of who you are - you are a child of the living God - hold out to the end. He has a firm grip on you, so maintain your grip on Him! Remember who you are! The way to cope with the rigours of 21st century life as a Christian believer is to keep considering, keep persevering and keep encouraging. Thank you...

 

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Sermon - A Prayer of Anger

A Prayer of Anger - Psalm 94

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I believe that I would be right in saying that most of us here have prayed. Whether in joy and happiness; or in sadness and grief; in need or in want; in praise or in worship or in confessing sin, or in other ways we have prayed. But how many of us have prayed in anger, following the example of the writer of Psalm 94. Have any of us prayed out of anger to a God who is a judge? Have we cried out in anger to a God who punishes evil? By anger I do not mean that short burst of temper when something happens to us against our will. The kind of anger that rises when somebody does something against you, and you retaliate against them.

No, the type of anger I am talking about is the anger we should feel inside us that occurs when we see injustice being done; when we see sin being done to assist in the systematic abuse of other people. The sort of anger that the church should have felt in Germany during the 2nd World War when the creatures of the Nazi regime held mock trials of so-called criminals such people as Dietrich Bonhoeffer for opposing the ungodly views of the state.

The type of anger we should feel when we face today on our television screens when we see the pictures of the innocent victims of war in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Iraq or any region where people abuse people for the sake of their own power and glory. The sort of anger that should make us cry tears of sadness and humility when faced with the utter poverty of the families living on the streets in the cities of the world such as New Delhi, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paolo. George Bernard Shaw once described poverty as the greatest of crimes.

That deep seated anger that should be amongst us as Christians when we see the oppressed and the poor being used and abused by those who are in positions of power to help them. We are all quite comfortable with the God of Psalm 93, the God of majesty, strength and magnificence who is from everlasting to everlasting. The God who is mightier than the greatest seas! The God whose glorious holiness covers his house eternally!

Yet something, somehow, makes us uncomfortable about praying to God for justice. Perhaps our view of God is too small. For sure our God is a God of mercy but he is also a God of justice. Our God is a God of love, but He is also a God of wrath. His written word affirms all these things.

So the writer of the Psalm calls and prays to God for justice to be done. That He, the judging God might be glorified. Has the writer made this up? No, because God has described Himself as Judge and Avenger (Genesis 18:25; Deut 32:35). How many of us here, have prayed for justice to be done? Perhaps we should pray on occasion for burden of injustice to be lifted off the poor and oppressed peoples of this world. But, before we go any further on this thought, let us consider together 3 things about Psalm 94.

1. Whom is the writer praying to (Vs. 1-3)?

The obvious answer to this question is God. But what sort of God is He? Let's look at all the various descriptions given to us about God in this Psalm. A God who avenges (v. 1). To avenge is to seek revenge on behalf of somebody else. Here God is asked to avenge for the poor and innocent against the wicked and guilty people A God who judges (v. 2). To judge is to decide which is right and which is wrong.

Here God is asked to judge the wicked and guilty people for their wrong doing. A God who created and creates (v. 9), disciplines (vs. 10, 12); teaches (vs. 10, 12). A God who knows all things (v. 11) through omniscience. A God who relieves (vs. 13), assists (vs. 14, 17, 18), loves (vs. 18) and supports (vs. 18). He is a God who consoles (vs. 19), and who is incorruptible (vs. 20). A God who is strong and dependable (vs. 22) and a God who is a refuge (vs. 22). But he is also a God who repays and destroys (vs. 23) evil men for their wickedness. Is your vision of God still too small?

2. Why is the writer praying (Vs. 4-7)?

The writer js praying because he has seen the wickedness of mankind and has a deep inner anger against the brutality and evil deeds of the wicked. These people may not be foreigners, since many Jewish leaders were also brutal, for example the evil King Manasseh or the cynics of Isaiah (Is. 5: 18ff).

What sort of things are these evil people doing, and what sort of people are they? Arrogant and boastful (vs. 4), crushing (vs, 5), oppressing (vs. 5), slaying widows and foreigners (vs. 6) murdering orphans (vs. 6). The people who do this sort of thing are the object of the writer's anger. They are not only content to do evil deeds, but also add hard speeches, boasting, threatening and insulting the saints of God. The insults are used so often that they become a natural part of the language.

That is the idea behind the phrase "pour out" in vs. 4. Words often wound more than swords, they are as hard to the heart as stones are to the flesh; and they are poured out by the ungodly against the godly. According to verse 4, they even talk to themselves, and of themselves, in spiritual arrogance, as if they were doing some good deed in crushing the poor and killing the widows, orphans and foreigners.


Their error is that they believe that God cannot see their doings, and even if He could see, He wouldn't do anything about it any way. These evil people, who grind the people of God with oppression, crush them with contempt claim that God cannot see them, and so therefore reason that there is nothing to stop them from doing their evil works.
There is no limit to the pride and arrogance of these wicked people, as they have lost their senses (vs. 8 ) and lost all common sense. It is natural for them to boast, just as it is natural for godly men to practice humility.
The God of Jacob heard him and led him throughout his life and said concerning Jacob "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm", yet these proud and arrogant people proclaim boldly that God neither sees nor knows what we do.
It is true that those whom God will destroy, He leaves to the madness of their corrupt hearts.

What is God going to do? In verse 14, is the answer to verse 5. The Lord has not rejected his own people. He has not forsaken those who are his. To do this, would go against God's very nature. As his inheritance, God has marked out all those who are his saints. God takes a peculiar interest in their well being and delights in them; He has an eternal covenant with them. I will be your God, and you will be my people. Will God not defend his people?

In verse 14, we have the answer!! The Lord will not withdraw His love or leave people totally on their own against the evil persecutors. For a little while, He may leave them with the design to benefit them, yet he will never utterly destroy them. He will discipline His people, but never destroy them.

In vs. 15, the great Judge will come, the reign of righteousness will begin, justice will be done and then all the godly will rejoice. The vehicle of right will be driven down the streets of evil, and all those upright in heart will follow it in joyous procession. Are we as the people of God today, following the path of righteousness or are we trampling somehow on the poor and oppressed? Are we keeping silent when we should be speaking out? Some governments of this world, have for sometime been using their power to oppress, but the cry of this prayer will bring back righteousness to the throne of government, and then every upright heart will proclaim loudly with joy!

3. What is the writer praying (vs.8-23)

a) Help!!!! (vs 16-19). The writer is praying for God to judge injustice, and avenge the oppressed (vs. 2). But not only that, as he is also crying out for help (vs. 16). Who is going to rise up against the evildoers? He obviously needs help, and his friends are not there for him, so he calls out to God for help! The soul is safest and at rest, after calling all others to assist and no one comes, when total trust for help is upon God.

Today the church sees error and evil coming into her, and faithful godly leaders seem to be a minimum, and fewer still are bold enough to stand up and defy the enemies of truth. Our great hope is that the God of the Bible is with us, and He will call out his champions to defend Him. Are you one of God's champions? Is your foot slipping, are you feeling weak at this moment in time and need help?

Take courage, we feel our weakness, and see our danger, and in fear and trembling we cry out. Our inbred sin is dragging us down and we need help. God, in His supreme mercy and love, helps us and our joy is that His mercy endures forever, and is always available to help us in times of danger to support us. From my sinful and proud thoughts, my thoughts of sorrow, my cares, my conflicts, I will hurry to the Lord. This is a cry of the writer, yet are we the same? The Lord alone is consoling, and yet not only consoling but delighting in me.

How sweet are the comforts of God the Comforter, the Holy Spirit? Who without feeling joy, can think about eternal love, trustworthy promises, the coming to earth of the Redeemer in Jesus Christ, the risen Saviour and his next coming again. The little world within us, that is full of confusion and strife becomes calm when we rely upon Jesus to say "Peace be with you!"

b) Can a corrupt throne be allied with you? God enters into no promises with those governments who are corrupt, and He gives no help to unrighteous laws. No assistance does He give. They might legalize robbery and violence and then say in defense, it is the law of the land, yet it is still evil and wicked. No injustice is permanent, for God will not set His seal upon it, nor have any fellowship with it, and therefore one day it will fall. An example of this was the slaughter of the Jews during the 2nd World War. The German church in general, allied itself along with the laws and decrees of Hitler, and changed its theology to that of white supremacy. We all know that the plans of the Nazis failed.

Or take for example South Africa, which up until recently had a policy of separating whites and others. For a long time the mainstream Church held as its theology that this was true. Since then, the walls of apartheid have fallen, and the church has confessed this sin to God. No evil regime lasts very long. The unrighteous join together, in order to attack the righteous. The guilty join each other to attack the innocent. No crime is too great for them.

Yet there is good news. Let the ungodly join together, the Psalmist is not afraid, but sweetly sings that the rock upon which he stands his the Jehovah God, Yahweh who is his fortress and refuge. Firm is the rock of God's love, and in Him we go for shelter. He is indeed a tremendous lover. As if in answer to his own question of verse 16, "Who will rise up for me against the wicked and evildoers", the final verse gives us an answer. The natural result of oppression, against the innocent, the poor, or the righteous is the total destruction of the ungodly. The great God who is judge, will repay their sins, and destroy their wickedness. While the bread and food they have stolen is in their mouth, God's wrath will slay them. God himself, visibly and noticeably, visits them and reveals His own power to them. 

So now what can we say in conclusion.

Firstly, our vision of God should not be too small. We need to acknowledge him as a great lover, but also as a terrifying Judge. Remember, it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). To quote John Stott - "God is not at odds with himself, however much it may appear to us that he is. He is 'the God of Peace', of inner tranquility not turmoil. True we may find it difficult to hold in our minds simultaneously the images of God as the Judge who must punish evil-doers and of the Lover who must find a way to forgive them. Yet he is both, and at the same time."

Secondly, can we rightly pray, in the light of the New Testament, for the vengeance of God to come down against the ungodly? No, we cannot, for then we would be no better than those who do not know Him. The vengeance of God has already come down upon one man. One day his judgment will fall, and it is from this terrible event that this man is our deliverer. This man, the Lord Jesus Christ when He died on the cross, for you and me and all our enemies, took upon Himself the full vengeance of God. He took the anger of God upon himself, so that no-one may face the judgment of God without first having the opportunity to turn to Jesus in repentance of sins. We should be praying for the governments of this world that abuse the widows, orphans and innocents of today, that they will see their errors and turn away from them. And not only that, we should pray that the members of these governments will turn to God in awe and wonder to worship Him. One day all men and women will be called upon before God to give an account of themselves to Him. If they do not know this Jesus as their Saviour, then God will cast them from His holy presence. We should also pray that godly men and women will become members of the governments of the world to help protect the innocent and the righteous, that leaders will be raised up, who know God personally to stop the abuse of the innocent.

Thirdly, even in the face of abuse and persecution, we should turn to the living God for comfort and help in our circumstances. Too often we rely on ourselves or others for strength in times of trouble. It is God alone who can help us, and it is God alone who will destroy the evil in the world. The judgment of evil, according to Psalms, is a time for universal rejoicing. Ps. 67:4; 96:12-13; Ps. 35:24. Let us rejoice together when good overcomes evil in this world.

Finally, let us pray and cry out in anger against the suffering and evil in this world. And not only pray about it, but do something about it. We, as Christians, should be as light and salt to the world of darkness and evil. What will you and I do about being light and salt to a world where the innocent suffer, the widows and orphans are abandoned and murdered?

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Sermon - Genesis 18

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Genesis 18

“God's Visitation to Abraham & Sarah”

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There I was in Mamre. A distance way from Ur where we used to live quite comfortably. Sitting in the opening to our tent, under the shade of the great trees, in the middle of yet another swelteringly hot day. I was looking down into the dust and wondering to myself what was going on. My wife, now called Sarah, was inside the tent doing whatever it is that wives do in the middle of a hot day here. A mystery to me, as I am just a mere old male.

I am remembering back to a day when our life changed back in Ur. That was when God said he was going to bless me and made promises to me! Little old me - Abraham of the Chaldees! Not only to me but also to Sarah, my wife!
God told me specifically and with authority:
• I will be the father of a great nation (Genesis 12:1)
• I will receive personal blessing (Genesis 12:2)
• I will receive personal honour and a grand status (Genesis 12:2)
• I will be a source of blessing to others. (Genesis 12:3)

What’s more, there will be blessings on those who bless me and the nation which comes from me (Genesis 12:3) just as there will be curses on those who curse me and that nation (Genesis 12:3).

I have been called by God. Personally, and explicitly. Not only me, my wife Sarah as well. That was 25 years ago now. Not too bad for somebody 99 years old is it. It all seems rather inconceivable really seeing as both my wife and I are aged. God made a promise to Sarah too! She would be having a baby. Inconceivable it seems, doesn’t it? Sarah, my wife, is beyond the normal child bearing age to start conceiving a family. The way of motherhood has passed her by. In our culture where we are from, to be a childless couple, the majority of the stigma is cast upon the woman. It is a shame upon her. But regardless, I stepped out in faith, trusted the Lord and here we are on a journey.

Then suddenly!! I looked up from the dust and I saw them. Much to my surprise. How did I not see them coming from a long distance off? Am I seeing things? They seemed to appear out of nowhere. Three men. Three men just standing there looking towards me. I am sure that I recognize the one in the middle. Have I met him before? I still can’t work out how I never saw them approaching. I hurried to them despite my great age and the searing heat. I wanted to show them an even greater welcoming honour than the one my culture usually allowed to strangers. I bowed down as low as I could get. Even lower than normal to convey a great honour upon them. I asked them to come in for a little light refreshment before they continued their journey in the heat of the day.

They replied. “All right. Go and do as you have said.” Their blunt response stunned me a bit, if I am being honest!

So, I scurried back. I ensured water was taken to them and returned to Sarah in the tent. “Quick! Sarah! We have visitors! One of them maybe the Lord again. I am not sure. They are all in the appearance of men. Cook up some of that unleavened bread from the recipe your mum taught you! The bread that doesn’t take long to cook. I will go get a good tender calf and have one of the servants prepare it for eating. While he does that, I will get some yoghurt and milk to accompany it all. I will serve them out under the shade of the trees. As is our custom, you please stay here, my love.”

So, there I was. Waiting on our visitors as per the custom of our day, treating them to the hospitality of our culture. When all of a sudden, out of the blue, our guests asked “Where is Sarah your wife?”

How did these folks, these men, if that is what they really are, know her name? Any doubt that this was the Lord God began to leave me - after all He would know Sarah’s name. He is the one who changed her name!

If it was the Lord, we had indeed met before! It must be! It must be the Lord my God. The other two must be angels in disguise. I guess. If this really is the Lord God, then this is the one who blessed us and honoured us when he changed our names to Abraham and Sarah. He called us out of our life in Ur.
I offered in response to our guests, “She is inside the tent.”

Then almost surprisingly, one of them said that he will return in a year and by then Sarah and I will have had a child, a son! It was then, that my wife Sarah chuckled quietly. Almost silently, she talked to herself. “No way! I am outside the age of normal motherhood and Abraham is also a bit old now too.”

But my guests still heard that quiet laugh and that comment. Then I was questioned! Me! “Why did Sarah laugh mockingly and dispute what I said about you having a child? Is there anything that is too hard for God to do? This time next year you will have a son. Be assured of that and be of good courage, the pair of you. What I have said, I will accomplish. I always keep my promises!”

At which point, my dear Sarah who had clearly been eavesdropping, responded by denying that she had laughed. She did this to cover her embarrassment of being found out.

“Nope! You did, Sarah. I heard you!” the Lord God gently rebuked her for telling an alternative fact.

With that, our guests arose and looked out towards that evil city of Sodom. Being a good host, I arose and walked with them to see them safely away, wondering why they were going to such a place renowned for injustice, oppression of the innocent, wickedness and unrighteousness.

The one I identified as the Lord, started speaking quietly to Himself. He was asking himself a question and then answering it for himself. Or so it seemed. I guess he could have also been talking to the other two. Regardless, I could hear what he was saying.
“Hmmm. Should I tell Abraham concerning my plan for Sodom? He, Abraham, will certainly become a mighty and great nation. Indeed, the whole earth will be blessed by Me through him. Abraham will instruct and direct his family and ancestors in the way to follow Me rightly and justly. I have promised Him and I will do it. I am the Lord, and I keep my promises. I uphold my end of the deal.”

“I have heard such an outcry from the innocents there, that we are going to see if things really are as we have heard. A cry of pain from those being oppressed and violated. An outcry against injustice by those who are weak and oppressed. I don’t rely on gossip or hearsay. I have heard and I care for them. I want to see the full story for myself and see if anything has been left out. I am a compassionate God and I seek to act on behalf of those wronged and put things right. Does the hullaballoo and noise match the reality of oppression and injustice?”

Two of our guests then continued their journey onwards to Sodom. However, the third one, the Lord waited with me and seemingly also waited for me to respond to Him. Waited for me to talk to him.

Therefore, I neared him and said, quite boldly yet humbly, “In that place Sodom, where you heard that outcry from the innocent, will you really deliver judgement upon both those who are righteous and those who are wicked? What about if there are 50 such innocent righteous folk there? Are you going to do away with them as well as those who have transgressed against you and others? Will you not spare the city for their sakes? How can you, a righteous yet just and merciful God, destroy both the wicked and the righteous together? Why would you want to do such a thing? You are the Judge of the whole earth and you should do right, surely? Can you, O God, deny yourself and do contrary to your very nature?”
Then I went silent, allowing the Lord to respond. “Abraham. If there are 50 righteous people there, I will spare the city.”
“Ok Lord. I know that compared to you, o Righteous and Holy One, I am but mere dust and ashes. I am not worthy to be speaking to you. However, what if there were only 45? Surely you won’t decimate that city because of 5 people short of your number?”
“Nope. Not for the sake of 45 people.”

“Forty folk?” I asked yet again.
“Nope. I the Lord, won’t destroy the city if we find 40 righteous and innocent people.”

Ok, I was really still concerned for those people. I imagine that it’s a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of God! So plaintively I progressed: “30 righteous people?”
“Nope. Not if I find 30.”

“Ok Lord, in my boldness, how about 20?
“No, Abraham. Not if I find 20.”

Then I thought to myself, one last push, Abraham. “Lord God. Do not be angry with me, I am concerned for the innocent ones. One more request, a final one. How about if there are only 10 found there?”
“Abraham, I will not destroy for the sake of 10 innocent & righteous people.”
With that, the Lord God finished his conversation with me, and went on to meet his companions. Meanwhile, I went back to my tent and pondered all these things further. Lot, my nephew was near Sodom. I hope that he and his family are ok and will be ok.

Well that is Genesis 18. That is all a bit exciting, isn’t it? Please do download the mp3 using the link below to hear my explanation. Thank you.

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