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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: 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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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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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?". 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 - 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 - The Story of Rachel (Genesis 29v14-30)


Rachel had a fairly complicated family structure, so lets try to unravel it! Rachel's sister Rebekah was Jacob's mother. Rebekah trained Jacob to scheme in order to gain his father's blessing and promised him that she would take the results of the deceitful act upon herself. Rachel became Jacob's wife, but only after Laban had tricked him into marrying Leah, the older daughter first. We can wonder if Rachel encouraged Jacob in his trickery, or if she was influenced by him to think first of herself at the expense of others. Whether his mother and/or his wife influenced Jacob, or indeed if he influenced them, both Rebekah and Rachel serve as examples of the outcome of sinful deceit and discontent.

Introducing Rachel's personal details

So, who was Rachel?

  • Born in Aramea (Syria)
  • Daughter of Laban
  • Second wife of Jacob, her first cousin.
  • Mother of Joseph & Benjamin.
  • Ancestress of three tribes of Israel- Benjamin, Ephraim & Manasseh (Sons of Joseph).
  • Possessed great beauty (Genesis 29:17)
  • Devious (Genesis 31:19, 34-35)
  • Not single-minded in devotion to God.
  • Probably did not put away her idols until shortly before she died.
  • Her sorrow is depicted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah. 31), to signify the sorrow of Israel's people at the exile of Israel to Assyria and Babylon.

 

Now let us look at some of the main people involved in the life of Rachel: her father, sister, husband and children.

1. Her Father

2. Her Sister

3. Her Husband

4. Her Children

The Story continues

 

Conclusion

Perhaps there are 3 kinds of people here tonight. Firstly, if you are a Christian here tonight, how and in what way are you like Rachel? As you go through your day, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you ways in which you may well be deceitful, vengeful, dwelling on the past bitterly or engaged in constant self-pity. Are you like Rachel, headed downhill on a course of dissatisfaction that may end in dishonesty and deceit, or in disappointment and despair? Accept God's love. Believe that in every trial He desires us to draw closer to Him, so that we can be energized by Him and realize that He alone and only He is enough. Ask for forgiveness for dwelling on the past and any inappropriate behaviour where those things were involved. God is faithful and just and will forgive if you go to Him with a penitent heart. Then no long dwell on those things, for they are in the past, are forgotten and not to be remembered any more. So forgetting what is past, go into the future with a new outlook of service to God and others. That way your life will be a living prayer and a living witness to others about the great God you serve, love and worship.

Secondly, you may be a Christian but you are the victim of somebody else's deceit and dishonesty - then forgive them before God and as far as it is possible, ask that person for forgiveness. Bitterness, envy and pride can eat away and cause much misery, sin and depression.

Thirdly and finally, if it happens that you are not a Christian, then please do know that you can be free from a life of dissatisfaction, deceit and dishonesty - both as the victim and perpetrator of such things. Know that Jesus Christ is above deceit, never dissatisfies and is never dishonest - His word is true and He seeks you, to be in a relationship with you, where His love is always serving, always humble and always satisfies.

 

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When Jesus returns back as King

Revelation 21-22

 

Introduction

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We maybe about 5 months away from Christmas but as you know, at Christmas, we celebrate Jesus Christ coming to earth as a human. Christmas is a time where the Church and our community celebrate Jesus Christ's first coming as a baby.  The community like to think of Jesus as a baby, because a baby can be controlled. Somewhat.  Though that is coming from the perspective of somebody who has never had children!!!  Society in general, is comfortable with leaving Jesus as a baby.  However, Jesus is not a baby now, He is King and what a King.  He is coming again, not as a baby this time, but as King and judge.  Both ideas are affirmed by Jeremiah and John.

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!

Prepared!

When I have to go away by myself, I know that when I get home, I know I am expected and loved.  My wife has my favourite meal prepared.  The heating is on and the proverbial pipe and slippers are ready.  Everything I like, that makes it a home for me, is done for me!  After my first week down here, I returned back there, and was showered with balloons and all manner of things, because I was expected and she loves me!!

Similarly, when we get to heaven, Jesus has prepared a place for those of us who love Him, trust Him and obey Him as King.  Our King is waiting for us!  He is expecting us, wanting to lavish His love upon us.  We know He loves us now, but that is only in part.  When we are with Him eternally, we shall have the full picture of Jesus.  He is with us now in Spirit, but then we shall be with Him physically and face to face. Heaven is a prepared place of majestic beauty.  John portrays his visions for us, building up layer upon layer of words, as a painter painting a painting.  Laying on the colours, layer upon layer until finally the painting is finished.

Purity (v.1-4)

Heaven is a prepared place. Secondly, it is a pure place.  We all suffer in some way.  For myself in the recent past, I have suffered a brain haemorrhage and I have lost three days, I will never regain.  I continue to take medication for blood pressure and hypothyroidism in the morning and in the evening I take anti-convulsants.  I take so many pills I rattle when I walk.  With the medication, come all manner of side effects.   I find it difficult doing certain activities.  Sometimes my entire body aches and groans in protest at my actions.  We suffer, don't we.  My father died 10 years ago from a misdiagnosed hiatus hernia.  My mother suffers with arthritis and hyperthyroidism.  One of my brothers suffer with clinical depression.  A lady I know back in London, Pam, is sleeping in her front room because her leg is so swollen she cant get up her stairs to her bedroom.  We suffer don't we?

One day soon, we will have perfect bodies and full health.  We only have to look at the news on TV or read the papers to see global suffering. When our King returns, there will be no more terrorism, missiles, guns, wars or bombs.  No more will man's inhumanity to man be allowed.  No more torture, rapes, muggings or robberies.  No more poverty or famine.  No more religion, idols or icons.  No more gossip, fornication, adultery, lying or debauchery.  No more cowardice.  No more pain.  No more death.  No more suffering. No more sin. Suffering of any kind leaves some sort of scar or mark.  Do you have scars?  Physical, emotional or mental scars due to sickness, somebody else sinning against you or as a result of your own sins?  Scars come as a result of human life.  Much like a house that has lovingly lived in.  Scratches in the paintwork.  Dents and knocks in the wood.  Our human bodies are the same, yet... 

Yet, one day they will be gone!! Vanished!!  A pure body you will have!! And I will have! No need for annoying spectacles.  There will be no Specsavers or Stannah stair-lifts in heaven!!  No more wheelchairs.  No more walking sticks or frames.  No more hearing-aids.  No more braces or dentures.  No more doctors or dentists!! Perfection attained and it is to the glory of God and His majestic doing, that this will occur.  Do you believe it? Do you live it? Are you suffering today from sickness?  Are you suffering today because of somebody else?? 

Well one day, one glorious day, all suffering will be banished for those of us who love Him.  Read with me verse 4, "God will wipe away our tears.  There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying and no more pain, for former things have passed away."  Take that verse to heart.  What a glorious day it will be for those of us who love Him now.  God Himself, with our face in His hands, wiping away our tears...  It will be a place where we will live the fruit of the spirit eternally.  A place where  "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Gal.5:22-23)  are both permanent and universal. That is part of our King's manifesto.  What a day, that will be!!  We will enter those gates, thanking Jesus, looking back at how we suffered.  Not only medically, but also for His sake under persecution.  We will be able to say with Jeremiah and John "It was worth it all.  The sufferings I endured  and overcame for the sake of Jesus, was all worth it, so as to be here eternally and living with our King."

Pearly gates (v.21)

Heaven is prepared for us and it is a pure place.  Lastly we enter through giant gates of pearl.  Do you know how a pearl is formed?  When an oyster gets an irritating grain of sand within its shell, it covers the grain of sand over with layers of mother-of-pearl until the irritation and the suffering is no longer felt.  Now what do you think the suffering was that created  these giant pearls that are the gates (v21)?  I think they are to remind us of the cross and the suffering and pain that Jesus endured.  People denigrate the cross.  I have had people say that "the cross doesn't matter"  and "your religion is as good as mine thank you very much."  Others state "that all religions lead to heaven". 

However, the very gates of heaven tells us that these things are wrong.  They tell us that it is only through the cross, that we get to pass through and enjoy heaven in worship and service of God.  Only through the pain, the agony and the suffering that Jesus endured, culminating in His death as He cried out "My God! My God!  Why have You forsaken me?" Our King Himself has suffered for us, so that we may enjoy His company forever and ever, if we only trust and obey Him now and place our faith in Him while we are here in this our temporal home on earth.  We know in part now, but then we will know in full. This makes the sins that we commit while we are here on earth trying to follow Him, even more serious. 

Sometimes we take a rather blasé attitude to sin.  We excuse it as only a minor thing and of no consequence.  Each time we sin as believers, it is as if we are spitting in the very face of Jesus.  Our desire should be, to be Jesus and to be like Him.  I long to be perfect.  When I make a mistake and sin, I cry out in frustration to be perfect now!  However, I also know that God is taking off my rough edges to continue making me purer, more like His Son and our King, under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. I won't be entering heaven because I am Australian and showing my Australian passport.  Although I consider that a very close second.  You won't even be able to claim your entry into heaven by showing your British passport, let alone as a member of the European community.  No... we can only enter heaven, our new home, through the cross.  When we first decided for Jesus and turned over our lives to Him, that is when our eternal life with Him commenced.

Conclusion

Be encouraged, heaven is for you if you are trusting and obeying Jesus and have Him as Lord of your life!  Remember.  Whatever your attitude and how you judge Jesus now, 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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Sermon - Understanding the Kingdom (John 3:1-21)

 

1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
(John 3:1-21) New Living Translation

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Introduction

I wonder what you think the Kingdom of God is.  In the Old Testament we learn of all kinds of different earthly kingdoms. Each one of these kingdoms were doomed to fail from the start, because of the promised commencement of a new and everlasting kingdom. Perhaps by having a brief overview of what Jesus in the Gospels said about the Kingdom will help us understand more about it before we focus on just a couple of aspects. From what Jesus said, we learn that:

  • The kingdom had small beginnings.
  • It advances slowly and unspectacularly.
  • It works in an unseen way, like yeast in dough.
  • It grows side by side with evil and error.
  • The members are drawn from every part, for it is a universal part.
  • When discovered, it is the source of true joy and fulfilment.
  • It requires sacrifice, submission and surrender.
  • It ends in an eternal separation of the good from the evil, of the true from the false.
  • It centres only on Jesus Christ (Luke 9:28-36).

So having seen these descriptions, mainly from Matthew 13, we can now go on to a main definition of the kingdom. We find this ultimate definition in Romans 14:17 'For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.'

This is the experience of salvation. Every believer, all those who trust in Jesus Christ, has entered it and been accepted by Jesus when He died on the cross. So, having described it and then defined it, the next question we ask is how do we enter the Kingdom of God. Well, after such a long introduction, we are going to look at this aspect of the God's Kingdom based on our reading of John 3:1-18.  So, if you haven't done so already please do have your bibles open at that passage - John 3:1-18.


1.      Birth (vs. 1-7)
a. Pain - Human birth involves pain, both for the parents and for the baby. So does spiritual birth. At Easter we are reminded this of the pain Jesus endured on the cross so that we might become members of the Kingdom of God. Believers in their Christian life should endure the pain of persecution, suffering, and prayer and witness as we seek to win new people to Christ.
b. Nature
- Children inherit the nature of the parents, and so do the people in the Kingdom of God. We take on the divine nature (2 Peter 1 :4). As believers we should naturally have an appetite for the things of God (2 Peter 2:2-3). As believers we should have no desire to go away from the Kingdom of God (2 Peter 2:20-22). As believers we are to feed on the Word of God and grow in spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5: 11-14).
c. Life
- Human birth, involves life and spiritual birth into God's kingdom involves the life of God. John uses the word 'life' about 36 times in his gospel. The opposite of life is death, and anybody not in the Kingdom of God, do not and cannot have God's eternal life in His kingdom.
d. Future
- Human birth involves a future, and we are born again to a living hope, both in the present and the future (1 Peter 1:3). Police cannot arrest a newborn baby because it has no past, and the future is in front of that baby.  When born again into the Kingdom of God, sins are forgiven and forgotten, and the future is bright with a living hope in the Kingdom of God.

2.      The wind (vs. 8-13).

It is possible that the evening wind was blowing just then as Nicodemus and Jesus sat the housetop talking. The 'wind' in the Bible, signifies the Spirit. When Jesus used this symbol, Nicodemus should have remembered Ezekiel 37:1-14. The prophet Ezekiel saw a valley full of dead bones; but when he prophesied to the wind, the Spirit came and gave the bones' life.

Again, it was the combination of the Spirit of God and the Word of God that gave life. The nation of Israel was dead and hopeless, and in spite of the morality and religion of the people, they needed the life of the Spirit. The new birth from above is necessary to enter the Kingdom of God, but it is also a mystery. Everyone born of the Spirit is like the wind: it is impossible to explain or predict the ways of the wind or the Spirit of God.Nicodemus came "by night' and he was still in the dark! He simply could not understand the concept of new birth even after Jesus had explained it to him. Jesus insisted that Nicodemus' Old Testament knowledge should have given him the light he required (John 3:10). Yet, he still could not see how to enter the Kingdom of God.
What was his problem? Religious leaders would not submit to Jesus' authority and witness (John 3: 11). The religious leaders continued to believe Moses, yet would not believe Jesus (John 5:35-47). "I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?"

3. The snake on the pole (vs. 14-18).

This story from Numbers was certainly familiar to Nicodemus. It is a story of sin, for Israel rebelled against God and had to be punished. God sent fiery snakes that bit the people, so that many died. Yet it is also a story of grace, for Moses intercede for the people and God provided a remedy. He told Moses to make a brass snake and lift it up on a pole for all to see. Any sick and dying person could look to the brass snake on the pole and be immediately healed. So, it is also a story of faith, punishment, salvation and faith. The phrase lifted up means to be crucified (John 8:28; 12:13-24) and also be glorified and exalted. John points out that our Lord's crucifixion was actually the means for Him to be glorified (John 12:23). However the cross was not the end of His glory, it was the way He achieved His glory (Acts 2:33).

Much as the snake on the pole had to be lifted up, so the Son of God, Jesus had to be lifted on the cross. This happened to save all people from sin and death. In the camp of Israel, the solution to the "snake problem" was not in killing the snakes, or taking medicine against the poison, or pretending the snakes were not there, or passing anti-snake laws or by climbing the pole. The answer was to look in faith at the lifted snake. Now, the whole world has been bitten by sin (Romans 6:23). God sent His son to die, not only for Israel, but also for the whole world. The Kingdom of God is not just for Israel, or England or even the United States of America. How does a person enter the Kingdom of God? By being born again from above, which means believing on Jesus and looking to Him in faith.

Each of us that are believers have therefore entered into the Kingdom of God and are spiritually living. The difference between living spiritually and being dead spiritually is faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus could well have come to this world as a Judge and destroyed every rebellious sinner; but He came in love. Jesus came into the world as our Saviour, to guide us into the Kingdom of God, and He died on the cross, Jesus became the "uplifted snake".
The brass snake in Moses' day brought physical life to dying Jews; but Jesus gives eternal life to all who asks and trusts in Him. He brings the Kingdom of God for a whole world, Nicodemus eventually entered the Kingdom of God, when he spoke up for Jesus in John 7 and came into a "sunlight of confession" when he identified with Jesus at Calvary bringing the spice to prepare the body for burial (John 19:38-42). He realized that the uplifted Jesus on the cross, was the path into the world-wide Kingdom of God

Conclusion

Therefore lets go over tonight's lessons from the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus. The definition of the kingdom of God is exposed from Romans 14:17 which we also see as the experience of salvation. "For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." The path into the kingdom of God, was defined in the 3 distinct pictures Jesus told to Nicodemus. Firstly in the picture of new birth from above, secondly in the picture of the blowing wind or spirit and thirdly in the Old Testament picture of the snake on the pole.

As we finish, what are we to say. For those of us who are in the kingdom of God: are you growing in your faith and immersing more of yourself into the Kingdom of God. Is your story or testimony of what Jesus is doing in your life up to date, or are you living on past memories, last Easters' prayers and past Sundays' sermons. The testimony of how we are living in the Kingdom of God is vital for our witness in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus commanded us to go and tell, so go and tell the wondrous news of an eternal kingdom - one which will never end! God has promised and He always fulfils His promises.

Now finally, what stops people from entering into the Kingdom of God?  People want to continue to do things against God, and this keeps them from coming out of darkness into the light of the Kingdom of God. This is because the closer someone who loves darkness gets closer to light, the more their evil ways are exposed to the light of God. It is not any intellectual problems that keep people out of the Kingdom. It is a moral and spiritual problem. It would involve a change of lifestyle, of being 'born again' as it was.

What is your reason, for not being yet a believer and follower of Jesus Christ? If for some reason, you are not part of God's kingdom yet, then your opportunity is here. You may not get another chance. You might just walk on out of here tonight, not having entered into the eternal Kingdom of God, and die. It really could be that shocking and happen. Take your opportunity now.  Please do come and see one of the leaders about how you can enter the Kingdom of God this very night!

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The Story of Athaliah & Jehosheba (2 Chronicles 22-23)

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Because Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada, was Ahaziah's sister, she hid the child from Athaliah so that she could not kill him. He remained hidden with them at the temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled the land. (2 Chronicles 22:10-12)

Jehoiada and his sons brought out the king's son and put the crown on him; they presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him and shouted, 'Long live the king!' When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and cheering the king, she went to them at the temple of the Lord. She looked, and there was the king, standing by his pillar at the entrance. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets, and musicians with their instruments were leading the praises. Then Athaliah tore her robes and shouted, 'Treason! Treason!' Jehoiada the priest sent out the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops, and said to them: 'Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.' For the priest had said, 'Do not put her to death at the temple of the Lord.' So they seized her as she reached the entrance of the Horse Gate on the palace grounds, and there they put her to death. Jehoiada then made a covenant that he, the people and the king would be the Lord's people. All the people went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars. (2 Chronicles 23:11-15)

 

This story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster! I can see Angelina Jolie playing the role of Athaliah and Julie Andrews as Jehosheba! What do you think? As hard as it is to believe, our two characters tonight are related! There is their family line. Clearly there is a lack of creative imagination in the naming of children though! Jehosheba had the same father as Ahaziah and was Athaliah's step-daughter! All very confusing! With that in mind, let us persevere together.

 

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Sermon - God, the Church and the Internet

(John 17:13-19 & Romans 12:3-13)

13 ‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17v13-19)

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality. (Romans 12v3-13)


Introduction

We are, as I am sure you are aware, in the midst of the COVID19 global pandemic. All gatherings of Christians to gather in Churches has had to cease. How has the Church responded to this. They have gone online and using the internet! But why are they using it when before they largely eschewed it? Let's look together at the what, why and how Church can also fit in with a biblical world view.Not just accepting it but embracing it fully, taking advantages of all the opportunities it affords as well as being wary of any liabilities or warnings. Let's go!

Symptomatic of human history has been the development of different technologies. Each generation seems to have had a great leap forward in some way! Think of the wheel, the printing press, the wireless, the combustion engine and the silicon chip!

One of the developments that I am sure that you have noticed is the internet. Everything is on the internet now it seems – increasingly so at a government & banking level! Everybody here has used it – either directly or indirectly. The internet is here. It isn’t going to go away and it will continue to develop and expand.

Likewise, the church is here too. It also isn’t going to go away (at least at a universal level) and it also will develop and expand. So let’s tonight look at what this internet is, why the Church should be using it and lastly how the church can use it for the glory of God. By using it, I do mean more than just a website with the latest information, events and sermons on it!

1. What is the internet?
2 - Can God interact on the Internet?
3. Why should the Church be on the Internet?
3a. Go into the world but don’t be part of it (John 17:13-19)
3b. Go serve, you gifted people! (Romans 12:3-8)
3c. Love in action (Romans 12:9-13)
4. What are some of the benefits?
4a. Reach out to the world!
4b. Assisting Housebound & disabled people
4c. Assisting the Geographically Isolated


Conclusion

Tonight we have looked together very briefly at God, the Church and the Internet. I hope that you have been blessed by our time together. We saw how God can interact on the internet. We saw why we should be using the internet for God’s Glory as well as some suggested ways as to how to do this. We are on a mission. A mission to tell people the Good News of Jesus Christ and to disciple them.

Part of this mission is the use of our Spiritual Gifts, which each of us have. We are to use every opportunity to develop them, use them and enable others in the use of them. For this is God’s will for you and it reflects His love of you to a world that is dying to know Him. We are to use our Spiritual gifts with the aid of our God-given imagination and creativity. Just because you can’t think of a way to do something, doesn’t mean somebody else can’t think of a way! Just because we don’t understand something, does not mean it is wrong! Don’t limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination! What is more, don’t limit others because of your own limited imagination.

Let’s use the internet communities of Facebook etc to uplift, encourage and support each other. I personally get more encouragement from those outside the church, non-Christians, than I do Christians. They are usually always the first to notice if I am absent without telling them or to tell me some good news.

Let’s go! Let’s go and fulfil our mission – on the Internet as well as in our streets and roads. It will mean more than just having an internet website with the latest events and sermons on it, but we can do it! Are you willing? Let’s go!

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